Friday, January 20, 2012

Must A Palestinian Set Himself Ablaze?

                Desperate situations call for desperate actions.   In Morocco, 5 students, occupying the Defense Ministry for a week, set themselves ablaze after they poured gasoline on their bodies when police would not allow food to enter the building.  They were protesting lack of jobs, especially for college graduates.[1]
This desperate action has become a norm in Arab countries after Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian vendor, set his body ablaze when a police officer humiliatingly slapped him, confiscated his vegetable cart and then fined him an equivalent to a day wage.[2] The vegetable cart was Bouazizi’s livelihood.  This desperate action sparked the Arab Spring and within 10 days after his death on January 4, 2011 the rule of the dictator President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was over in Tunisia.
Americans know very well the concept of this human spirit, although not to the extreme of setting oneself ablaze.  Yet, whether one sets himself ablaze in Tunisia to protest the laws of a dictator in 2010 or dresses up like an Indian and dumps the tea imported from England as a way to protest the tea tax imposed by the British King in 1773, the human spirit is expressing the same concept—the will to be free from all forms of tyranny, including “taxation without representation.”  Still American’s have forgotten the revolutionary spirit, having been liberated from England over 230 years ago.  

Americans do not understand that the human spirit to be free did not end when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.  People around the world are still governed by tyrants, kings and presidents-for-life to this very day.  The human spirit to be free still cries out for freedom in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, The Gulf States, and Palestine, as well as many other places around the globe.

            In Palestine, the Apartheid State of Israel operates a “taxation without representation” system of government over the Palestinians.  Apartheid Israel collects customs and Value Added Tax on goods that ultimately are sold in the Palestine. It is Apartheid Israel and not the Palestinians that sets the tax rates on customs and Value Added Tax thus taxing the Palestinians without any representation as Palestinians do not have the right to vote in Apartheid Knesset elections despite Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Rick Santorum’s belief that the West Bank is captured territory and therefore is a part of Israel.  As such, Apartheid Israel taxes the Palestinians without representation.

            While other conditions point to an obvious apartheid system in the way Israel is treating the 4.5 million Palestinians under its occupational control, this one aspect of Apartheid Israel’s tight grip on Palestinians cries out for social justice.  By controlling and collecting the customs rate and the Value Added Tax on goods imported into Palestine, Apartheid Israel controls the Palestinians ability to use these funds for public services such as electricity, health care, public service salaries, public works and other government run agencies. This has never been more to the point when in 2006-2007 Israel withheld the collected taxes from the Palestinian National Authority because the Palestinian people democratically elected a Hamas run government.  This financial blackmail was used again this past autumn when Apartheid Israel withheld collected taxes as a punishment for the reconciliation attempts between Fatah and Hamas.
            This control of revenues by Apartheid Israel is absolutely absurd.  The fact that Apartheid Israel has used the control of these funds to twice punish the Palestinians for actions that it did not approve of is unacceptable. Palestinians must rise up against this strong-arm scheme to manipulate it into what Apartheid Israel wants. 

This situation is desperate by itself.  However, the situation in Palestine is much worse. With the hundreds of checkpoints that control every move of the Palestinians; the destruction of thousands of acres of olive groves; the siege of Gaza; the daily policy of fear inflicted by apartheid Israeli soldiers; the continued confiscation of Palestinian land to build illegal settlements; and the apartheid system of government run by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza where there are two different laws for two different peoples, the situation in Palestine has become more desperate than ever. 

But does this desperate situation require a Palestinian to set himself ablaze for the world to take notice that Apartheid Israel needs to be exposed?  The human spirit resonates within every human being; it did not live in the hearts of the American revolutionists and then die off. No! It lives in every human being. Americans need to understand that as long as the human spirit in any people around the globe is not free, we are all not free. 

(  © Copyright, Fadi Zanayed.  Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)

[1] Jobless protesters set themselves alight in Morocco, Euronews, English;خمسة Euronews عربي مغاربة يحرقون انفسهم احتجاجا على البطالة      

[2] Rania Abouzeid, Time Magazine Friday, January 21, 2011,9171,2044723,00.html

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