An Introductory Assessment of the Palestinian Condition
cuito61 at onebox.com
Fri Aug 9 12:36:28 MDT 2002
By Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
Israeli Occupation Authority, the Palestinian Authority, and the Legal
The political, legal, and human condition of the Palestinian people is
currently a composite of bizarre factors, bordering on the surrealistic,
with very tragic consequences.
A multi-tiered and varied complex of authority has evolved with various,
often conflicting, influences on the lives of the Palestinians who are
left reeling without proper guidance or genuine leadership.
On the one hand, the Israeli occupation continues unabated, with a multitude
of expressions of direct oppression and authority ranging from military
assaults and incursions, to a stifling siege and apartheid-like "separation,"
to home demolitions and assassinations, to abductions and curfews.
Caught in this maze of pervasive oppressive measures, the ordinary Palestinian
receives "orders" from the military occupation as to the territorial
limits of his/her confinement (defined by military check points and physical
barriers within towns, villages, camps, or even neighborhoods) that form
the immediate "space" available for movement.
Palestinian time, as well, has become subject to the definition of Israeli
military "orders" in terms of the duration of the "curfew" or the few
hours per day/week/month in which a Palestinian is "allowed" to pursue
such things as shopping for food and medicine, or for the simplest form
of direct human communion. Needless to say, luxuries such as work (or
making any kind of subsistence income with which to buy the necessary
supplies), or education, or sustained medical treatment, or trade and
industry, or planning and development, or any other form of institutional
and collective pursuits-all have become unattainable dreams.
A disembodied voice on a distorting loudspeaker on a gigantic tank, APC
or military jeep, is the source of "authority" and instruction defining
the limits of your spatial and temporal dimensions.
The invasion also encompasses a deliberate and cruel incursion into the
spirit and will of a whole people in an attempt to break its spirit of
resistance and to "normalize" this most abnormal and intrusive occupation.
"Taming" by fire and imposing an artificial "docility" are the impossible
objectives that no colonial power has ever succeeded in achieving in
confronting the enslaved people's determination to live in freedom and
Invariably, such a battle of wills will lead to distortions that produce
a mutual devaluation of life and dehumanization of the other.
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if you fail to act." -George Jackson
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