Sunday, October 21, 2001

Rest in Peace, Rehavam Ze'evi

Last week, Rehavam Ze'evi was assassinated in his hotel room, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who's leader Abu Ali Mustafa was killed by Israel about a month and a half ago, claimed responsibility. He was the tourist minister, a somewhat unimportant position considering that tourism has been dead since the war started, but his position of minister gave him a vote in inner governmental decisions, including tactics and strategy in fighting the war. He was a founding member of the right wing "Moledet" or "Homeland" party and advocated transfer of the local Arab population from Israel with Arab agreement as part of a larger middle east settlement.

The coverage of his assassination provides a striking example of the blatant double standard being applied to Israel. In his Obituary in The Guardian, a British newspaper, Ze'evi was referred to as, " rightwing that he barely remained within the outer perimeter of political acceptability." In order to back up this false assertion, The Guardian searched far and wide for quotes to demonstrate his supposed insane right-wing extremism. The best they could come up with was, "There were moments, however, when Zeevi's rationalist mask slipped, as when he condemned Arabs working illegally in Israel this year as 'lice' and 'cancer'." Not exactly politically correct, but I'm sure you can find some quotes by American politicians referring to illegal workers in America in the same tones. The most important thing to notice is that he did not advocate any form of terror against Arabs or any sort of unjustified violence. Further trying to paint his extremist image, The G!uardian continued, "On various occasions he called ...Yasser Arafat a 'viper' and 'war criminal'; while former Labor prime minister Ehud Barak was plainly 'insane'." Well, using civilian neighborhoods to shield one's self from military reprisal while launching military attacks is a war crime, as is, I believe, torture, blowing up school busses, and firing mortars at civilian residences, all of which Arafat and those under his command have taken part in in the last year. And former Prime Minister Ehud Barak did try to give away 22% of Israel to the very people who were conducting these attacks.

To further illustrate the double-standard, look at The Guardian's obituary of Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian Nationalist leader, which was posted June 1st, 2001, after the current war in Israel had begun. "The death from a heart attack of the Palestinian statesman, Faisal Husseini, aged 60, is another hammer blow to hopes for peace and progress in the region... His lofty title only hinted at the respect he commanded. He played a pivotal role in pursuing accommodation with Israel, while championing the centrality of Jerusalem in the Arab psyche."

Now let's look at what he had to say to Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, Aug 27, 1998, "On May 4, 1999, we will announce the independence of the Palestinian state, at which time the Palestinian Authority will forcefully open up our borders with Jordan and Egypt ... there will be violent confrontation and death, but this time on both sides... The Israelis [are] more numerous and better equipped... but the superiority of us Palestinians lies in the fact that we are willing to lay down our lives, whereas for them every death is a tragedy that society cannot bear." Here we have a major Palestinian "peace activist" discussing plans for the war which everybody knew was coming. In referring to the terrorist killing of two security guards, one of them American, at an insurance office on October 11, 2000, he told the Jerusalem Post, "... I have no problem with the deed." In an interview with the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, he announced that the current war is not just another intifada but a war of independence which will not end until the last Israeli leaves the land claimed by Israel in the 1967 war. The Guardian obituary curiously left those quotes out of its glowing obituary.

The Guardian provides a crystal clear example of the double standard. Rehavam Ze'evi did not advocate terrorism or violent solutions, yet he, "barely remained within the outer perimeter of political acceptability." Faisal Husseini gleefully anticipates the current war, has "no problem" with terrorist murder, and yet his death is "...another Hammer Blow to the peace process." We live in a world in which we can look evil in the eye and call it good. Rehavam Ze'evi advocates transfer of Arabs from Israel as part of a wider peace agreement and he is a right-wing extremist. Faisal Husseini advocates the transfer of 200,000 Jews from their homes in the disputed territories by means of war and killing and he is a peacemaker. Well, with peacemakers like Husseini, we're in for a long war.