Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hanan Ashrawi Discusses Critical Situation in Palestine

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hanan Ashrawi Discusses Critical Situation in Palestine

Article excerpt

After a very difficult trip leaving Palestine to reach the ADC Convention, Hanan Ashrawi gave a riveting address to banquet attendees on June 8, 2002.

"I can tell you honestly that not since the Nakba of 1948 have we witnessed or have we undergone such a decisive, critical and painful moment in history," Ashrawi said. "I haven't seen such a concentration of raw pain in Palestine and an unleashing of violence, unbridled violence, on the innocents."

She is worried about an increasingly fundamentalist mindset, she said, "particularly in Israel, where we are witnessing a reversal into fundamentalist Zionism with people like Sharon saying they want to complete Israel's war of Independence and take us back to the either/or equation. We are also witnessing a revival of the discourse of fear, of survival, of exclusion, and a systemic and brutal and cruel daily assault on the essence, on the core of Palestinian reality, identity and cause..."

Israel's agenda is no secret, Ashrawi observed: "Sharon said from the beginning that he is going to unravel, destroy the peace process, the signed agreements, the declaration of principles, even the Oslo process with all of its flaws, if it's the last thing he does, and he has succeeded. He wants to enter into a period of longtime transitional arrangements and agreements without achieving any kind of peace agreement or peace treaty. He wants to reach a state of nonbelligerency, as though there can be a state of nonbelligerency or peace between occupier and occupied."

Sharon thinks that the occupation can be normalized, Ashrawi said, and Palestinians can be tamed to become "nice, peaceful, docile natives." Israel has been allowed to use the full force of its military, the fourth strongest army in the world, against a captive, defenseless, and largely civilian population.

However, Ashrawi warned, "No people in a situation of occupation or colonialism will ever accept the loss of freedom, will ever adapt to enslavement, and will continue to struggle and to yearn for freedom, for independence, for dignity, for liberty on their own land." Vowed Ashrawi, "No amount of military force or military brutality can crush the spirit of these people or stop the struggle or yearning for freedom."

Ashrawi called for a clear plan of action, a clear road map, and separation--not with fences, but by third parties, and right now: troops, monitors, international forces to put an end to this cycle of violence and revenge. …

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