Two decades after Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990, this fighter for freedom and justice has become a living example of the fact that those who become immortal are freedom fighters not their jailers. Who remembers today the names of those who imprisoned and tortured Mandela? Who remembers even the names of the rulers who imprisoned him and his comrades? Those rulers thought they were victorious because they were unable to see the torch of freedom and right Mandela and his people were holding. They did not realize that that torch will send them to oblivion while writing with letters of light the names of those fighting for justice and freedom.
The Algerian freedom fighter Jamila Bouhired told me that when she was sentenced to death by the French occupiers of Algeria, her mother visited her in prison and said to her: “Die, my daughter, because your death will light the future of Algeria. Don’t be sad or afraid, because we have no other way but death to gain our freedom and the freedom of our country”. When the mother left her 18 year old daughter waiting to be executed, the woman jailer started to cry. Jamila asked her: “Why are you crying? Have the Algerian freedom fighters killed your husband; or have you heard something to this effect? The jailer said: “No, I am crying because I realize that a people which has women like you and your mother will win this war, and we will have to leave Algeria one day”.
After the liberation of Algeria and the fall of the racist regime in South Africa, the cause of Palestine remained the most important cause of justice for all conscientious people of the world. At the time that the Israelis have used massacres, home demolishing, land expropriation, building segregation walls, imposing brutal blockades, launching wars against civilians, and shelling them with phosphorus and cluster bombs in order to subjugate the Palestinian people and breaking their will, the Palestinian cause has won new supporters all over the world.
What characterizes the first decade of this century is that the world has started to realize that the conflict in the Middle East is not a religious one, nor a war on terrorism as portrayed by Zionist propaganda. It is the result of a racist settler movement which deprives an ancient people, who lived on the land of their ancestors for thousands of years, from freedom. This is why Jews, Christians and Muslims have taken part in demonstrations against the racist wall of segregation and called for lifting the blockade off Gaza and staged sit-ins with the Palestinians in protest against killing children and demolishing homes.
The Israelis, for their part, have only their typical method: assassination. Israel killed the American young woman Rachael Corrie with a bulldozer. It killed the British movie director James Miller, who was making a film on the suffering of Palestinian children.
Only a few days ago, the Israeli army decorated its criminals who committed acts of murder, assassination and other terrorist operations in countries like Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, France and Dubai. This is in addition to the daily killing of Palestinian women, youth and children and arresting over eleven thousand people, some kidnapped from their homes, like members of the Palestinian parliament, 320 children and over 30 women. This is what Israel acknowledges and is proud of.
But this terrorism which aimed at silencing Western politicians and journalists for decades, started to run out of steam after the war on Gaza showed the whole world the real face of Israel’s leaders. We have seen Israeli officials fearing arrest in European capitals; former European ministers forming a team to defend Palestinians right to freedom; Holocaust survivors staging hunger strikes to lift the Gaza blockade; the Jewish Justice Goldstone confirming that Israel committed war crimes against Palestinians.
As usual, an Israeli think tank tried to distort what is going on in the international arena. The Reut Institute report to the Israeli government Thursday said that “Israel faces a global campaign of delegitimization (Haaretz, Feb. 12, 2010), and that “the campaign is the work of a worldwide network of private individuals and organizations. They have no hierarchy or overall commander, but work together based on a joint ideology – portraying Israel as a pariah state and denying its right to exist”. The report names the main centers of this campaign as London, Brussels, Madrid, Toronto, San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley.
The fact of the matter is that the free and conscious people of the world have started to move in support of giving justice to the Palestinian people. The Swedish author, Ulf Stark, has published a novel which deals with the children of occupied Jerusalem who have been denied the simplest of their rights as a result of the racist wall of segregation and the deployment of numerous military checkpoints. Millions of people today wear the Palestinian scarf as an expression of their support to the cause of Palestine. Young people the world over visit Palestine, despite all Israeli oppressive measures, to support the demonstrations of the Palestinian people against the racist wall and against killing and displacement.
BOUTHAINA SHAABAN is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria and was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through email@example.com