Lunch with Rev. Jessie Jackson
written by Ghassan Andoni
I had the privilege to be invited to join Rev. Jessie Jackson at lunch in the Arab Rehabilitation society-Beit Jala during his visit to Bethlehem. Rev. Jackson and his "Peace Mission" group of Christian, Moslem, and Jewish leaders have been touring Palestine-Israel and meeting with people and politicians.
While Rev. Jackson looked tired after going through an overloaded program and an extensive experience and was apparently looking for a little period to gather his strength, I could not resist the temptation of hearing his account after such an experience.
I took the first opportunity and asked him: "after being in this area for a while, and after such an experience, are you more optimistic, less optimistic, or what?"
To my surprise, and after taking a long breath, Rev. Jackson said: "I am clearer, especially about settlements"
I will not go to the details of the long discussion we had. As important as it was, my mind was much occupied with his first statement.
The question that kept knocking my head was: why even influential and interested people from the United States and maybe from other western countries are unclear about settlements until they come personally and visit?
Is it because we failed to clarify how dangerous settlements are?
Is it because the Israeli powerful media managed to twist facts and create a positive image of settlements and settlers?
Is it because the term "settlement" and "settler" echoes positively in the American history?
Is it because occupation, expansionism, and resistance are very confused in societies that enjoyed stability and prosperity without any interruption for the past 50 years?
How can people realize, without witnessing through their own eyes that "positive acts" like building nice villas and accommodating families can be lethal to others?
How "legal orders" of expropriations and building equipment can be turned into a lethal weapon that can exterminate and transfer a whole nation?
How can people understand that each nice Villa built is an added stone to an apartheid system in process?
I guess there is no way but to come and see for your self.
A week ago, one American visitor told me: "the only place in which settlers were defeated is Africa, they won everywhere else"
I promised my visitor that settlers in Palestine will never win. We need the efforts of each and every one of you to prevent settlers from destroying the people of Palestine. Might be mission impossible but never forget that if they are allowed to win in Palestine, you will be living in an entirely different world, where facts will always overrides rights and were the jungle law will govern us all.
Ghassan - 7-31-02