Sweden and Britain Have Spoken. By Miko Peled


I was thrilled to hear that the Swedish and then the British parliaments voted to recognize Palestine, or rather the State of Palestine. I think that this is a joyous day for all peace and freedom loving people.

So now we can expect to see the Israeli military pulling back, checkpoints being dismantled and that grey ugly and very costly wall come tumbling down at last.  Soon Shuhada street in Hebron will be open for business and the settlers will vacate the homes they stole and return to wherever it was they they came from. Now there is no longer need for Palestinians in the old cities of Hebron, Jerusalem and Silwan to remain in their homes for fear that they be taken by armed Jewish settler mobs.

I can see the faces of the mothers and fathers of the thousands of prisoners who will now finally be released. The children who never saw their fathers, wives who had been alone for decades reunite with their husbands. Surely there will be celebrations in Ramallah, the flag of Palestine will be raised in Yaffa and in Haifa, in Akka and in Jerusalem.

Soon we can expect to see the long lines of people going to the polls to vote for the first real democratic elections, in the free State of Palestine. Posters of Palestinian leaders and campaign rallies will be seen all over the country.  Surely posters with the faces of soon to be released Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat, along with other, lesser known names will be plastered everywhere.

Palestinian fathers like my friend Iyad Burnat, who for years could not explain to their young children why they are not allowed to go to the beach and why they are not free to travel to Jerusalem as I do, and visit the sacred Al Aqsa mosque will now be able to do so.  Now millions of Palestinians can take their families to enjoy a day in Yaffa or Haifa and spend time on the beach, spend the night in a local hotel and then the next day they will be free to go to Jerusalem to shop and pray and then return to their villages in the West Bank. Surely now that Britain and Sweden both recognized the State of Palestine, Palestinians can travel as free people in Palestine without the need for permits.

One can expect a committee will urgently be formed to accommodate the return of Palestinian refugees to Palestine. The refugee camps will be dismantled, those who wish to return will soon be able to do so and those who do not wish to will receive appropriate compensation for their loss and their suffering, much like Jewish people did after the holocaust.  This committee will discuss how restitution is to be distributed and where to house returning refugees whose villages have been wiped off the map.

Now that Sweden and Britain have spoken the Gaza strip will be open in no time and the forces that had destroyed it will now rebuild it. Surely there will be money set aside from the US foreign aid and money that is given to Israel and money from the UK and Germany all of whom supplied Israel with the money and weapons used to murder innocents in Gaza, this money will now go to rebuild Gaza and compensate the families who lost their bread winners. The families of the inured will be given the finest medical care  in modern facilities in Be’er Sheba, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The state will pay for their medical expenses and care for them for as long as is needed.

Surely monuments can now be built to commemorate the thousands of innocents brutally murdered by the Zionist regime. A monument for the brave young Palestinians who fought and died in Gaza, who gave their lives to free their people will to be erected and the memory of their courage will be forever be etched in our minds, not to say the history books of the newly recognized State of Palestine.

Surely British and Swedish parliamentarians had all this in mind when they cast their courageous vote. Why, anything short of this would be hypocrisy. Anything short of a free State of Palestine, over all of Palestine would be merely an empty gesture.  No member of parliament that respects themselves would vote for an empty gesture, a symbol with no meaning or content.

A vote that is any less than recognizing a free State of Palestine over all of Palestine, and calls for the Zionist regime to be removed, would merely be the Europeans once again trying to wash their hands of a problem they created and supported.  One can hardly believe that they would cast such a meaningless, cowardly vote that makes not one iota of difference to anyone.

Surely before casting their vote they asked whether this vote will bring the urgent relief needed in Gaza, or whether it will male it easier for children in West Bank villages to go to school? Will it have an effect on the distribution of water, or lack their of, to Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills? Will the village of Nabi Saleh receive the same services and water as the brutally violent settlers who live in Halamish, a settlement built on Nabi Saleh land? Will the people of other Palestinian villages now have access to the roads and highways. Will they be able to travel freely to work, school and to their own leisure throughout all of Palestine? They must have asked if this vote of recognition in the State of Palestine will allow Palestinians of 1948 to live and work freely, marry whomever they wish, build their homes and their communities as free, independent people.

Sadly, however,  Sweden and the UK have chosen the easy way out. Instead of dealing a real blow to the apartheid Zionist regime in Jerusalem, instead of sending a message that violence and racism will not be tolerated, they chose an empty gesture, they chickened out and voted for nothing.

As one wise Palestinian lady said: “They can keep their vote.”

My Comments at the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, Orange County Awards banquette

I thank you all for this gracious award, for Courage and Conscience. But I must say that for someone who comes from a privileged class, as I do, to come out and talk about the injustices committed by that same class, this is not called courage it is called duty.
So I dedicate this award, which I humbly accept and for which I am grateful, to 16 yr old Majd Burnat from Bili’in who is now recovering from surgery after being shot by an israeli solider, and to his father my friend Iyad Burnat who for 10 years has been among the leaders of the Palestinian unarmed resistance against the Israeli occupation and oppression. Because of his daring to stand up against Israel, Iyad the father was not permitted to travel to jerusalem to be with his son in the hospital at this crucial time.
I dedicate this also to my friend Bassem Tamimi and his wife Nariman Tamimi Tamimi from Nabi Saleh. Bassem and Nariman are almost regularly imprisoned, their house raided and their children harassed by Israel for the crime of being dedicated to the unarmed resistance to the israeli occupation and oppression of Palestine.
I dedicate it also to the brave people of Beit Ummar, the fearless Youth Against Settlements شباب ضد الاستيطان in Hebron, to the brave fighters in Kufr Kaddum and Maasara, all of whom are dedicated to freeing Palestine from the racist, brutally violent, apartheid regime under which they suffer, and believe me, they pay dearly for their courage to stand up.
I dedicate this to Free Shireen Issawi Campaign, a young Palestinian attorney, freedom fighter and political prisoner. She is the sister of Samer Issawi,( The Free Samer Issawi Campaign ) who holds the record for the longest hunger strike in history, 266 days. I dedicate this to her and the thousands of other political prisoners held in Israeli jails.
And finally, I wish to dedicate this to the undefeatable people of Gaza. To the thousands who were murderd in cold blood by Israel this past summer. Murdered in cold blood, with the full support and financing of the US as we, and the rest of the world watched and did nothing. I dedicate this to the brave Gazan fighters who facing the daunting and merciless forces of the Israeli war machine, fought bravely, did not surrender, and exacted a heavy toll on the Israeli military. These Palestinian fighters, who will be remembered as some of the bravest freedom fighters in history, realized that Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, are not faced with an option to resist and be killed or live in peace but rather are presented with the options to be killed standing up and fighting or be killed sleeping in their beds. These brave young Palestinians showed the world what it means to fight oppression and to die standing tall.
I dedicate this to the fathers and mothers and children in Gaza who buried their dead with dignity and now go back to their schools, such as they are, destroyed by the Israeli army. They continue to show us that books are stronger and more valuable than guns.
I dedicate this award to all of them and I add in closing that Palestine can be free, must be free and indeed, all of Palestine will be free in our lifetime and sooner than most people think.
Thank you.