by Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
During his recent visit to Israel and the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini revealed rather brazenly his low intellectual capacity, a scandalous lack of honesty as well as stunning ignorance of the situation in this part of the world. He made many strident statements which can be described as, inter alia, hasty, inaccurate, mendacious and ignorant.
While in the small Israeli town of Sderot, a conspicuously complacent Frattini told a group of Israeli jingoists and right-wingers, "You are victims of this extreme entity that is taking hostages its own people and attacking you."
This, of course, is far from the truth; the people of Gaza are victims of the clear genocidal policies of Israel and Israelis. The Zionist state claims that it withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In reality, Israel has maintained absolute control of the coastal enclave's skies, territorial waters and border crossings. Furthermore, Israel imposed a draconian blockade on that territory, inflicting one of the harshest human tragedies in modern history with its collective punishment of the people of Gaza.
Israel claims that the siege was imposed in response to projectiles fired from Gaza on nearby Israeli colonies. However, the truth is that the siege was an established Israeli policy and the Zionist state has violated ceasefire agreements with Hamas consistently.
In brief, Israel wants to retain the "right" to murder and maim as many innocent Palestinians as possible with absolute impunity and without any response from the victims. Various statements from Israeli rabbis – never disowned by Israel's political elite – demonstrate that racism is rife in Israel and non-Jews are regarded as inferior beings.
It is tempting to ask how the Italian Foreign Minister could refer to the people of Sderot as victims and the people of Gaza as aggressors when Israel has killed and maimed thousands of Palestinian civilians; 1,400 alone (one-third of them children) were killed during Operation Cast Lead last year; 13 Israelis were killed. It is safe to assume that Frattini wasn't told by his Israeli hosts that Sderot was built on the ruins of the Palestinian town of Najd from which the Arab population was driven out by Jewish militias on 13th May 1948.
Are Palestinian lives that worthless? Or is Frattini indoctrinated in classical Italian fascism, albeit laminated with a thin veneer of pseudo-liberalism? Frattini told the settlers that Hamas "is taking hostage its own people and attacking you." Even Israel acknowledges that Hamas has been preventing attacks by some splinter groups.
Does the Italian politician know – or care - that Hamas won the parliamentary election in the occupied territories in 2006, an election that was monitored closely by the international community, including the European Union (EU) and US, Israel's guardian-ally? And that the election was declared to be "free and fair"?
It is true that the EU and US rejected the election outcome once it became clear that Hamas, not the western-backed secular puppets, was the winner. The blame for this does not lie with Hamas; it is and remains an expression of western hypocrisy, moral duplicity and false commitment to true democracy.
One of the most incredible statements uttered by Franco Frattini was that "the Israeli government wanted peace". Is the man blind? Does he read the newspapers? Wasn't he briefed by his diplomats before the visit? If he was, and was in possession of the facts of the situation, his statement would be even more scandalous than those made by someone steeped in ignorance.
How can a government that keeps building illegal settlements on occupied territories really want peace? How can a government that makes withdrawal from occupied territories contingent on the outcome of a referendum, in utter contempt of international law, be a true seeker of peace? How can a government be truly interested in peace when it gives heavily-armed, ultra-right wing Jewish settlers carte blanche to attack unarmed Palestinian farmers and vandalise their property? How can a government that includes in its coalition far-right parties whose spiritual leaders claim openly that non-Jews, presumably including Frattini, are merely donkeys and animals, view peace with its non-Jewish neighbours as a prime objective?
To cap it all, Frattini referred to the "danger" facing the whole world from Iran. What was the man talking about? Has Iran ever said that it seeks world domination if it acquires nuclear weapons? There is one aggressor and aggressive state in the Middle East which already possesses a nuclear arsenal; why didn't Franco Frattini ask the Israelis about that?
Perhaps the Italian minister and his neo-colonial mindset still thinks that Muslims have to be pacified and kept under control, at the mercy of a nefarious Zionist state. When people like Frattini represent the West on visits to the Middle East, it is a clear demonstration that it is futile for anyone, least of all the Palestinians, to expect Western politicians to do anything to achieve peace with justice for the people in historic Palestine. In any case, as long as their Foreign Minister thinks that the Israelis want peace and Palestinians don't, Italians can have no constructive role in the region.
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