By Khalid Amayreh
It would be dishonest not to acknowledge the strenuous efforts that Israeli and pro-Israeli circles have made on behalf of imprisoned soldier Gilad Shalit.
Outstanding among these efforts has been the ongoing Shalit family campaign to set their son free. The Shalits have left no stone unturned in a desperate effort to get the Israeli government to release their son by hook or by crook. Their perseverance and enduring vigor are really admirable in more than one sense.
However, it is also true that all these efforts have not achieved the desired goal, thanks to the resilience, patience and determination of the Hamas movement.
In recent days and weeks, a number of international figures made appeals on Shalit's behalf.
For example, French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued an impassioned appeal, calling on Hamas to release Shalit who holds dual Israeli and French citizenship.
"It is time that those responsible for your detention make a decision and end your intolerable and outrageous imprisonment," Sarkozy wrote
Sarkozy called Shalit's detainment a violation of international law.
"I cannot accept that you are forbidden from simple communication with your relatives and from receiving messages from them in return, as if a simple exchange of messages would be a sign of weakness on the part of those who hold you," Sarkozy wrote.
"I urge those who are imprisoning you to immediately permit the Red Cross to meet you and more than that to return you to freedom."
Sarkozy's remarks would have deserved some respect had the French president burdened himself with uttering a word or two about the fate of more than 6000 Palestinian resistance and political prisoners languishing in Israeli dungeons, bastilles and concentration camps.
The fact that he ignored them utterly completely suggests that Sarkozy is dishonest, hypocritical, or that he thinks that those people, who include democratically elected lawmakers, university professors and medical doctors, are either sub-humans or children of a lesser God.
Hence, Sarkozy's total embrace of the Israeli side makes us Palestinians, as well as many honest men and women around the world, treat his remarks with the contempt they deserve.
Besides, Shalit was not abducted as the Israeli lie machine keeps repeating. Shalit was actually taken prisoner in the middle of a battle. He is a prisoner of war. Calling him any other name is a cheap lie and a cheap propaganda.
More to the point, Israel keeps calling Palestinian freedom fighters imprisoned in Israel "terrorists and murderers."
However, the truth of the matter is that these people are freedom fighters and political activists who rose up to fight a Nazi-like occupation that stole their country, destroyed their homes and villages, and expelled their people to the four corners of the world.
This means that Israel is totally disqualified to lecture the Palestinians on how they should resist their tormentors and occupiers of their land.
The French, perhaps 10% of the French people, were involved in the resistance against the Nazis. They too were called terrorists and saboteurs by the Nazi occupation authorities. However, in retrospect, most people in the world, especially in France, salute the memories of those who would have scarified their lives for the freedom of their country.
Similarly, those Palestinians who have chosen to fight the Israeli occupiers should be compared to the 10 % of French citizens who overcame their fears and decided to fight the Nazis, often risking torture and violent death.
True, some of the Palestinian detainees languishing for decades in Israeli jails may have been involved in killing some Israelis. However, this fact must be viewed in the context of the overall conflict in which the occupying power murdered thousands of innocent Palestinians. In the final analysis, those Israelis killed were not killed because they were Jews, they were killed because they were invaders, occupiers and child-killers.
Indeed, it is hard to find an adult Israeli who has no blood on his hands. Zionism, after all, has transformed the Israeli Jewish society into a community of land thieves, child-killers and habitual liars.
In fact, Shalit, too, may have been involved in killing Palestinian children in Gaza or the West Bank. So, we are not talking exactly about a little angel as the Israeli hasbara would caricature the imprisoned soldier.
Moreover, there is no doubt that under normal circumstances Shalit has the right to be visited by representatives of the Red Cross.
However, there is also no doubt that Israel is likely to take advantage of any Red Cross visit to Shalit to locate his whereabouts in order to launch a "rescue operation" in which Shalit himself and many other Palestinians would likely be killed.
The Palestinians have learned the hard way that Israel is the ultimate venomous snake that can't be trusted. This, and this alone, explains Hamas' reluctance to allow the Red Cross to visit Shalit.
Finally, it is imperative to clarify some of the flagrant and callous Israeli practices against Palestinians which are bound to generate tough stances on the Palestinian side.
Israel has increasingly resorted to dumping thousands of innocent Palestinians activists, including intellectuals, behind bars. In 99% of the cases, the only guilt these people are accused of committing is making a public statement or giving a public lecture lambasting the enduring occupation of their country.
Israel calls this illegal and immoral open-ended incarceration "administrative detention." The detainees themselves are not informed of the reasons for their detainment whichmay linger for years.
Moreover, there are hundreds of Palestinians who are kept in jail six month per year, just because their names appear on the Israeli occupation's computer screen.
In short, the wanton abuse meted out by Israel to Palestinians leaves them with very few choices, especially in the absence of a credible Israeli justice system that would address real grievances and guarantee even a semblance of justice
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|