Opinions on Bush and Sharon's plan, refuseniks and Gaza, compiled by David Merhav
Bush-Sharon plan stupid, but very scary
By Reuven Kaminer *
A cold chill goes down our spine when we are forced, in the absence of any other rational explanation, to realise that George Bush and most of his advisors actually and really believe their own anti-terrorist rhetoric. There can be no other explanation for Bush's blatant political stupidity in complying with Sharon's request for a major shift in United States official policy in exchange for the Gaza evacuation plan.
Faced with a major crisis of U.S. policy in Iraq and all over the Arab world, growingly isolated among the very strata and sectors of the Arab world that he presumably is trying to win over, George Bush has crudely affronted the sensitivities of any who care in the least about the suffering of the Palestinian people and about the chances for peace in the region.
Anyone with a minimum of knowledge of the area could have told him that this is about the worst possible thing that he could have done at this time. Have all the advisors finally and irrevocably learned the lesson that the boss must be told only things that he wants to hear? Bush allows himself to be so ill-advised, because the issues are so clear and simple to him. It is after all a simple question of who are the terrorists, who is really fighting them and who isn't really doing the job. It is just one more example of the Bushites in power believing what they want to believe.
Let's try and look into their head. The terrorists are Palestinians. Sharon is very experienced in the fight against terror. Sharon is our point man because we are fighting terror and need all the help we can get. Arafat may not be exactly a terrorist, but he doesn't really help us against terror. Sharon has requested this from him again and again and he simply doesn't deliver. Sharon must be rewarded for his courage in fighting terror and this will cause others to emulate him. Clear?
As a rule, one should be able to take comfort when our Bushite opponents act like total imbeciles. Sooner than later, people who make policy without any basis in reality are going to suffer reverses and get into big trouble. This has and is happening to the United States under the leadership of George Bush.
So why is this all so scary? Because the United States enjoys an unchallenged monopoly of brute force in international relations and it will tend to compensate itself for inevitable reverses by the use of more and more disproportional force. By its policy of repeating its diktat to all parties to either join its anti-terrorist coalition or suffer the consequences, the United States achieves the exact opposite. Bush's policies swell the ranks of the real terrorists, augment their prestige and improve their standing in their own communities. It might be a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that this is the intended result of Bush's policy. However, one thing is sure: Bush and his administration will continue to point to increased terrorist activity and influence, which stem from their very own policies, as conclusive proof of the correctness of their policy, in the first place.
* Reuven Kaminer is a veteran socialist and peace activist and a member of the national council of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (DFPE: www.hadash.org.il)
"It is my duty not to serve"
On Tuesday, 13 April), 18-year old Daniel Tzal of Jaffa arrived at the induction center at Tel-Hashomer and informed the recruitng officers of his refusal to obey his call-up order and enlist in an army of occupation. He was immediately sentenced to a 14 days imprisonment and sent to Military prison Four at Tzrifin.
From the experience of previous refusers, this is likely to the prelude to a long series of repeated detentions and imprisonments. If he persists in his refusal to serve the occupation, Tzal may eventually face a court martial which could impose a year's term or more.
Daniel Tzal was accompanied up to the military gates by some sixty solidarity demonstrators, including several youths whose own call-up dates are due later this year and who also intend to refuse.
Three months ago, Tzal had written to the army's "Conscience Committee", asking for an exemption but the committee was unwilling even to hear his arguments.
In a letter sent to the Minster of Defence, Daniel Tzal wrote: "The principles of the only democracy in the Middle East have become totally devoid of any content when the country is engaged in the systematic trampling upon the basic rights of three million people, which undermines the basic principles upon which the state of Israel was supposed to be founded.
"It is my moral duty - not my choice, but my duty - to refuse to take part in the occupation and struggle against the institutions which try to abolish basic human rights. A sane person, who is not yet overcome by racism and by fear bears the basic human duty of refusing to take part in a system of occupation and opression such as the IDF has become."
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Ceasefire call from Gush Shalom
A memorandum of understanding issued by the leadership of Palestinian prisoners in Israel under the patronage of jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti calls for a total end to the armed struggle emanating from Gaza if a series of conditions are met. The conditions detailed in the document, or "proposal," sent to Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, includes "complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, including the "Philadelphi Route" on the Israeli-Egyptian border; full Palestinian sovereignty over the Strip, including the sea and air ports; and the release from Israeli prisons of all Gaza residents. In exchange for fulfilling the conditions, "the armed forces in Gaza will be obligated not to conduct any armed actions from Gaza," according to the document.
The document is described as an attempt to complement the dialogue under way among all Palestinian factions in Gaza, and serve "as an appropriate response, which will satisfy factions in Gaza, to the assassination of Abdel Aziz Rantisi." The document proposes defining the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza "as the most important achievement of the Palestinians in the intifada after 10 years of Oslo did not move a single mobile home and during those years, the settlements doubled."
Outside the prisons, the organisations tend to take a harder line, and it is unclear whether they will accept the prisoners' lead.
A senior Fatah official in Gaza said the dialogue among the three main factions - Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad - that began after the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin last month, but was ceased after Rantisi's killing, will resume in the upcoming days. The prisoners' document will serve as the basis for discussions meant to set a date for local elections in the area and to try to reach clear understandings among the organisations over how Gaza will be run once Israel departs.
The official did not provide details, but said that "if there is no agreement on general partnership between the organisations, then there will be a narrower agreement on the management of the Strip."
He did not rule out enlisting Hamas and Islamic militants into the PA's security services "on condition that they cut ties to those organisations. It would be in a new framework of the security services in Gaza and a new definition of their goals and purposes."