American visits Jerusalem...and comes away with some opinions. A CALL FOR WITHDRAWAL
WHAT kind of uprising is taking place in the Israeli occupied West Bank? Our mental picture may be one of fanatical militants, but the fact that hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have died - and only two Israeli soldiers - suggests a different situation. [Eleven Israelis in all have died.] After 20 years of armed occupation, including dreadful discrimination against the people of the occupied territories, the invaded people have begun a largely unarmed uprising. And as a result, with little but stones, burning tires, and passive resistance, the Palestinians have become a threat to the believability - even the security - of Israel.
Amnesty International is publicizing Israel's human rights abuses in the occupied territories - charging child imprisonment, torture, beatings, group punishment, and tear gas thrown into homes, with occupants forced to stay inside.
And support for Israel has been withdrawn by a number of Americans after viewing the scenes of brutal behavior by Israeli soldiers directed at the generally defenseless Palestinians.
ACCORDING to Mubarak Awad, director of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence before he was deported in June, 85 percent of the Palestinians have been practicing nonviolence as a political tactic.
When Palestinian mothers go to visit their sons in prison and are told to go away, they sit down and refuse to move.
When an Israeli mandate comes to clear a city lot, the people in the neighborhood plant trees on the lot. Thousands of trees have been planted.
Some Palestinians are refusing to accept court orders that are written in Hebrew.
There is a movement to buy and use only Palestinian-produced goods, and steps have been taken to establish cottage industries in each village. One specializes in pickles, another in candles, another in marmalade.
Mr. Awad was born in Jerusalem and returned there after studying psychology in the United States. He came back to work with Arab children as a family counselor. He saw the severe difficulties the Palestinians had to overcome, but believed that the problems could be solved from within.
Awad says that practicing nonviolence has empowered many of the Palestinians to hope for and take action for the future. He considers nonviolence a practical political tactic for them.
The Palestinians know they will never be able to match the Israelis in arms. They turned to the United Nations for help and felt they were let down. Many feel that no other Arab country wants to help. So nonviolence may be their only solution.
Not surprisingly, the complete works of Mohandas Gandhi are on the bookshelves of the nonviolence center, and are being translated into Arabic.
The organization has a special interest in the effects of the Israeli occupation on the children. Its publication ``Children of the Stones'' documents the suffering of individual children from beatings and imprisonment.
There is concern for the psychological well-being of the children, who live in fear, while trying to attend school and be about the other business of childhood.
For these children, terms like ``the progress of negotiated peace plans'' are meaningless. Like the children of war everywhere, they bear scars so deep they cannot be healed by ``analysis of a complex political situation.''
So the center, with its latest publication, is calling for direct and immediate intervention to protect the children.
THE question many around the world are asking is, How could Jews treat a minority in this way?
Isn't what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians similar to what has been done repeatedly to the Jews?
The Palestinians have been disarmed.
The Palestinians have curfews.
There are laws that say they cannot open a business that is in competition with an Israeli one.
An Israeli has civil and criminal courts to appeal to; a Palestinian is subject to arbitrary military edict.
Israeli officials are elected; Palestinian areas are under military authority.
Palestinians have special identification cards and cannot get passports.
More than half of the land and most of the water rights on the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been confiscated by the Israelis for ``security or other reasons.''
Two peoples live in the same land: One is privileged, one is discriminated against. Many would see this as a form of racism.
How could the Jews, who have suffered from racist proscriptions for centuries, subject another race to similar suffering?
But - as in separating a battering parent from his battered child - before we can even ask Israel to embrace their presence, we need to separate them from the Palestinians.
The US must intervene and stop the racist violence - stop the torture, beatings, imprisonments. It cannot close its eyes to Israel's vengeance and fear, nor can it close its ears to the cries of the Palestinians.
Last in a series of six articles.