Imagine life in occupied territories
Dear Editor:The longstanding assessment of human rights organizations worldwide is that a travesty of justice exists in Israel’s Occupied Territories. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion, including mine, this is an indisputable fact.Palestinians were ejected from land their families had farmed for generations to build “Jewish only” settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel invaded and has occupied for almost 40 years. Restriction on travel in the Occupied Territories is implemented through roadblocks, checkpoints, curfews, and closures, which creates a patchwork of isolated villages and cities, disconnecting areas from one another and from essential services. To travel between “cells,” Palestinians must receive a special permit. Numerous cases have been documented by Physicians for Human Rights (www.phr.org) of medical complications and even death resulting when ambulances are denied access, and of pregnant Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints because they were banned from passing while on their way to the hospital.Those on both sides of the argument can produce a multitude of facts to justify their position, but to get to the heart of the matter we must put those facts into perspective. Would these deplorable conditions, imposed upon the minority population by an occupation government, be justified if they were happening in a country other than Israel?There is little doubt that if it were any other country, those who offered arguments for the continuation of unjust and inhumane policies would be castigated, and those who argued against it would be praised. But with Israel it’s the other way around. This shows how deep American prejudices go regarding the Arab/Muslim population of the Middle East and how uninformed we are about Israel’s role in the cycle of violence.We can all imagine how terrible it must be for Israel’s Jewish population to live in constant fear of suicide bombings, but that is only half the story. Imagine yourself living under foreign occupation where your basic rights and freedoms are denied. Imagine the daily difficulty of traveling to your job, school, medical facilities, or to visit relatives. Imagine the humiliation and sometimes life-threatening implications of being denied access. Would you fight to restore liberty and justice to your people? Would you use every means possible to resist the occupying power? Would you consider yourself a freedom fighter as opposed to a terrorist?If we imagine what it’s like to be a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories, we can reach only one conclusion; there can be no peace without justice. For both Palestinians and Israelis to achieve security and live together in peace, the atrocious occupation of Gaza and ALL of the West Bank must end, and a viable cohesive Palestinian state must be formed. We would demand no less from any other nation on earth.Sue GrayCarbondale
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