Archive for March, 2005

The Dough of Peace

March 15, 2005

By Samia Khoury
Thursday, March 17, 2005

I remember the first time I heard of volleyball was in 1952, when I signed up for the sport during registration at Southwestern University in Texas. Every semester we had to have one course of physical education. I had no idea what it was all about, for all we had played in my high school was netball (for girls) and soccer (for boys). It was the influence of the British mandate, I suppose. Anyway, wearing shorts and tennis shoes, there I was in the gym.

I watched one of our team members pass the ball to another one, who passed it on to me, and then I proceeded to pass it backwards to another player on our team. It was only then, when everybody on the team started shouting at me for making such a stupid move, that I realized they had been setting up the ball for me to slam it over to the other side of the net. I learned fast, and could not afford another embarrassment, especially being a foreigner.

I thought of that volleyball experience as I listened to the news this past week concerning U.N. Resolution 1559. This is the resolution pertaining to the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. It is right that Resolution 1559 should be implemented, for U.N. resolution should be implemented, in general. But the pressure put on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, “or else,” seems very ironic in a region where the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 still prevails. Israel has never been confronted or threatened with the similar possibility of sanctions or forced military action to end its occupation.

The USA has been setting up the scene for some time now to slam Syria. It has been accusing it of opening its borders for infiltrators, for harboring “terrorist organizations,” for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs, and for strengthening its ties with Iran. We watched closely the U.S. prelude to the Iraqi war, and the many reasons it presented to justify that war despite all the protests and mass demonstrations. It started with the issue of weapons of mass destruction (which after all the devastation, turned out to be a fallacy). Then there was the need to abide by U.N. resolutions, and of course the need to topple a dictator and provide democracy to the people.

So Syria was aware of the repercussions if it was to defy U.N. Resolution 1559, especially after the assassination of Rafiq Harriri. It was perfectly timed to prepare for the final set-up before the slam — which makes one wonder who the real assassins were and what the real motive was.

A very similar situation came about with the events of September 11, 2001. How could the Americans have empathized with Israel and its security phobia if they were not made to get a taste of “terrorism”? Again, the timing was perfect, and indeed a blessing in disguise for Israel to justify its war against “terrorism.” Not only did the U.S. administration give its full support to that “war against terrorism,” it actually became its champion, and just as obsessed with the security of Israel.

Unfortunately, the whole issue of “terrorism” and security has been used to derail the peace process, and will continue to be used by Israel despite the many handshakes that have been taking place between Palestinians, Israelis, Egyptians and Jordanians. With every handshake Israel grabs more land, making it literally impossible to establish a Palestinian state, let alone a contiguous one.

Israel’s actions certainly do not indicate peacemaking. We have a saying in Arabic: “The one who does not want to knead the dough keeps sifting the flour.” It is becoming very clear now that Israel has been sifting the flour for too long, and might not be capable of kneading the dough of peace.

As a Jewish state with so many different ethnic groups, as well as different political and religious factions, it seems Israel cannot really survive as a state except based on the “lack of peace.” Therefore it is high time for the international community to actually challenge Israel on its intentions for peace. The implementation of U.N. Resolutions 242, 338 and 194 could be a starting point.

Ironically, and impudently, Mr. Sharon is calling on the international community to pressure Syria to abide by U.N. Resolution 1559. Israel has defied 60 U.N. resolutions, and furthermore, it has been protected by a veto by the USA in the Security Council about thirty times. Maybe it would be appropriate for King Abdallah, who thinks “the ball is in our court,” and Mr. Mubarak, who has been hosting so many meetings, to call on the international community to pressure Israel to implement U.N. resolutions and to abide by international law. After all, the peace agreements which each of those countries forged with Israel before its implementation of U.N. Resolution 242 encouraged Israel to continue defying U.N. resolutions and international law, and to get away with it.

Why 1559 and not 242? Why 1559 and not 194? WHY? Can Mr. Bush genuinely and honestly and morally — since he is so concerned about morals — justify why? And can Mr. Annan continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s defiance of U.N. resolutions and international law, and maintain at the same time his own personal credibility and that of the United Nations? Mr. Annan has graciously accepted the invitation to participate in the inauguration of the new Holocaust museum in Israel. Commendable, but unfortunately a visit to the new Palestinian ghettos trapped behind the apartheid wall, considered illegal by the International Court of Justice, was not worthy of his visit. Yes, the U.N. has a credibility gap, as some in the West argue, but it is for other reasons than they argue. Just as the Syrian occupation of Lebanon should end, Israel must cease its occupation of the Palestinian territories.