Monday, November 16, 2009

Dialogue of the Colonizer & the Colonized

"To tell the truth, the style of a colonization does not depend upon one or a few generous or clear-thinking individuals. Colonial relations do not stem from individual good will or actions; they exist before his arrival or his birth, and whether he accepts or rejects them matters little. It is they, on the contrary which, like any institution, determine a priori his place and that of the colonized and, in the final analysis, their true relationship. No matter how he may reassure himself, 'I have always been this way or that with the colonized', he suspects, even if he is in no way guilty as an individual, that he shares a collective responsibility by the fact of membership in a national oppressor group. Being oppressed as a group, the colonized must necessarily adopt a national and ethnic form of liberation from which he cannot but be excluded." (The Colonizer & the Colonized, Albert Memmi, 1965, pp 38-39)

"Just before Yom Kippur, Robi Damelin, 65, an activist in the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace... revealed in [Haaretz Magazine]... an unusual letter of reconciliation that she'd written to the Palestinian sniper who killed her son David, an officer in the reserves. In March 2002, Ta'er Hamad positioned himself with an old carbine rifle on a hill opposite a checkpoint in Wadi Haramiya, killed 8 Israeli soldiers and 2 Israeli civilians - and escaped unscathed. Two and a half years later, in October 2004, he was arrested by an Israel Defense Forces unit operating in his village of Silwad. After learning of his incarceration, Damelin decided to contact him and his family, seeking reconciliation. 'This is one of the hardest letters I'll ever have to write', she wrote them, some months later. 'David was 28, studying for a master's degree in the philosophy of education at Tel Aviv University. He was part of the peace movement and did not want to serve in the occupied territories. He had compassion for all human beings and he understood the Palestinians' suffering. He treated those around him with respect. David belonged to the officers' movement that refused to serve in the occupied territories, and yet, for many reasons, he served when he was called up for reserve duty. I cannot describe to you the pain I have felt since his death. After your son was apprehended, I spent many sleepless nights thinking about what to do: should I ignore the whole thing or try to find a way for closure? I came to the decision that I wish to choose the path of reconciliation'. Robi Damelin waited several years for Hamad's response, which swiftly dashed any hopes she harbored of reconciliation.

"'I recently learned of the contents of a letter by Robi Damelin, mother of the soldier David, who was one of the 10 soldiers of occupation who were killed in the operation for which I was sentenced to 11 life terms', Hamad wrote. 'I cannot address the soldier's mother directly. Not because it is difficult for me to convey my response from prison, but because my hand refuses to write in a style that epitomizes the policy of the occupation, that refuses to recognize and to accept the rights of our people. I cannot hold a dialogue with someone who insists on equating the occupation with its victims. This is my response to the letter of Mrs Damelin, and I hereby criticize her sarcastic style when she thinks that with emotional words it is possible to resolve this decades-old conflict... Mrs Damelin did not explain what led the soldier David to enlist. She doesn't know the iron fact that her son not only took part in the torture of my people, but stood at the head of the perpetrators of the killing and murder. From her letter, it appears that she is living on another planet. She forgets that the late Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) called for peace 35 years ago. I wish to remind the mother of the soldier David that history proves that a people that does not fight an occupation with all means, including arms, cannot obtain its rights. This is the lesson that must be taken from looking at your ally America, who was humiliated in Vietnam, and this is the lesson of your army's withdrawal from Lebanon. You must remove your hands from our land and from our people, and if not, it is our duty to kill the murderers. Mrs Damelin says that she joined the Palestinian and Israeli parents' organization for peace after the death of her son. This is an organization of parents who lost their children in the arena of the conflict, while she is determined to equate our martyrs with their casualties, likening those who are fighting for their rights with the occupiers. Just as I refuse to directly address the soldier's mother, I cannot wish to meet her. I cannot meet with the occupier of our land on the same land. I carried out the operation as part of the struggle for freedom, justice and the establishment of an independent state, not out of a love or lust for killing. Acts of violence are a necessity imposed on us by the occupation and I shall not abandon this path for as long as the occupation continues'." (From Forgiveness of dead IDF soldier's mother leaves Palestinian killer cold, Kobi Ben-Simhon, 31/10/09)

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