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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Former dutch pm speaks out his mind on palestine

Letter from a Dutch American reader: I received yesterday the letter posted below from a Dutch American reader about a website started by the former Prime Minister of Holland. Mr. Dries Van Agt. Van Agt has created a website to promote peace between Arabs and Israelis. He focuses on showing the suffering of Palestinians.

My Dutch reader explained that she would like the website to be more known outside Holland.

This message is published after consent of its author. It is not meant to express a one-sided position on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Dutch statesman’s introduction is published here for three reasons:
1. To connect international peace activists with the Dutch website.
2. To remind people of influence that their silence on what is happening today in the Occupied Territories is tragic, risky and hurting Israel’s long term interest.
3. To send a humble cue to many discouraged Palestinians that they have more friends in the West than they think they do. Palestinians would prevail if they remain steadfast in peaceful resistance.

To Ghassan Rubeiz

From a reader who translated the introduction to the website of Dries Van Agt (Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands)

“I have contacted Mr. van Agt's webmaster with the request that, considering Mr. van Agt's stature as former Prime Minister of the Netherlands his website would reach a far greater audience than just the Dutch. If it were also in English. A number of former Dutch Foreign Ministers (all lawyers) have now joined Van Agt and created a forum which is in English...not yet finished....I let you know when it is.”

“Translation from the Dutch

Just like so many in our country I have always felt a strong bond with the state of Israel. I also believed that Israel, from its inception in 1948, had been attacked by Arabs which threatened its very existence and therefore required our constant support.

In the early 80s, during the Israeli invasion in Lebanon, there were some doubts. Suddenly news bulletins appeared depicting atrocities committed by Lebanese militias in two Palestinian refugee camps; Sabra and Shatila. This slaughter took place in areas controlled by the Israeli Armed Forces. Subsequently an Israeli commission investigating the event determined that Ariel Sharon, Minister of Defense at that time, was responsible. Sharon was made to resign (later managed to become prime minister.)

Only in the 90s when visiting the Holy Land and occupied Palestine did the blinders fall from my eyes (sic)
What I heard there and saw there stunned me. Why was I so completely uninformed about these things?

Between 1977 and 1982 I was Prime Minister of the Netherlands. In those years I never became involved in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with the exception that I heard of the war crimes in the Palestinian camps. But since then, and for quite some time thereafter, I didn't involve myself or cared for the Palestinian issue. Why not? I was blinded and speechless over what had happened to the Jewish people during World War 2 and for a long time lived under the notion that, despite a few missteps, Israel had not violated International Laws. What Israel does, I thought, and so did many others in the Netherlands, should be understandable and at least forgivable.

The reality unfortunately is different. For hundreds of thousands Palestinians, the creation of the State of Israel, 60 years ago, was a disaster. Whatever little was left for the Palestinians has since 40 years been occupied by the Israelis. It is in direct violation of International Law. In addition most of these occupied territories have been annexed to Israel. It is the Palestinian people who pay for the slaughter of the Jews that took place in Europe and in which the Palestinian had absolutely no part. That is injustice in highest degree.

I started my web site for two reasons. First of all to express my anger at the lack of political will, also in the Netherlands, to stand up for International Rule of Law, protection of Human Rights in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. We remain witnesses on how the Palestinian people are trampled and even aid the occupier with regard to the EU which follows in the foot steps of the U.S.

Secondly this web site serves to answer all those who so eagerly insult those who speak on behalf of International Law and Human rights, and are often called anti Semites. Whoever speaks openly about this injustice is often painted as a villain. Attack the messenger is their modus operandi, because they cannot defend their own action, all of which are documented.

Before closing allow me to express my intense admiration not only for the Palestinians and peace activists, but especially for the Israelis who so valiantly fight for a just peace. And also for the Dutch peace activists amongst whom there are many Dutch Jews. It is they who inspire me. (He provides a link which is in Dutch)


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