Friday, February 6, 2009
SPEECH BY TUN DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD AT THE PALESTINE FORUM
TUN DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
AT THE PALESTINE FORUM
AT CROWNE PLAZA MUTIARA, KUALA LUMPUR
FEBRUARY 5, 2009
1. Thank you for your presence at this forum on Palestine. I think it is important that we remind ourselves briefly of the background of this tragic country.
2. When after the Second World War, the Europeans had to give up their empires; they left behind time bombs, which regularly exploded, making the development of the ex-colonies fraught with danger and obstacles. Nearly all the newly independent states emerging from European colonisation have not been stable, nor been able to develop themselves, giving the impression that these ex-colonies are unable to manage independence. Many even think that they should remain as colonies.
3. Of the ex-colonies which have to manage the continuously exploding time bombs, none is worse than the mandated territory of Palestine.
4. Britain, which was given the mandate for Palestine had no right to carve the state in order to create the state of Israel. It is shameful that Britain should succumb to the terrorism of the Haganah and the Irgun and Zionist pressures and reneged on the conditions of the mandate. It was a totally irresponsible and dishonorable act unworthy of a country that talks so much about honour and integrity.
5. The Arab Palestinian not only lost much of their land but they were driven out of the portion given to the Jews. Their land was expropriated with no compensation and many were massacred at Deir Yassin, al-Dawayina, Eilaboun, Jish, Ramle and Laydda.
6. Since 1948, the Palestinians had to live as refugees in refugee camps under terrible conditions. Their children grew without proper schooling knowing only poverty and squalor.
7. One would have thought that the imperialists who had wronged the Palestinian Arabs would at least help them reclaim their rights in the state that is now called Israel. But instead we find Britain and the United States in particular giving military aid to the Israelis even when they openly seize more Palestinian land and set up Jewish settlements on land that is not apportioned to them.
8. There are some who blame the Palestinians for what they term as terrorism. I have no liking for irresponsible acts which result in the killing of people, innocent civilians whether Jews or Muslims. In fact I am against war i.e. the killing of people as a way of solving conflicts. But when the Arabs mounted a conventional war against Israel to regain Palestinian land, what did the British and the Americans, the people responsible for the outbreak of fighting between Jews and Muslims do? They provided Israel with military support so that the Arab states of Jordan, Syria and Egypt were defeated.
9. Unable to get any more help from the Arab nations, with no sympathy from other nations, the Palestinians finally had to fight an unevenly matched struggle against the overwhelmingly powerful armed might of Israel. Perhaps they should know that they could not win against Israel backed by American forces. But this is their land unlawfully occupied by the Israelis and even if they have to fight alone against their powerful oppressors, they have to do so. After abortive attempts to dislodge the Israelis, without the weapons to match those of the Israeli military, they had no choice but to resort to methods which must be physically very painful and terrifying to them. It is not something people would like to do – tying explosives to your body and blowing yourself up. But desperate people have to resort to desperate ways. And suicide bombings became their main weapon.
10. If they cannot do this what can they do when the Israelis expanded their territory, building roads on Palestinian land, which the Palestinians were barred from using, building high walls to break-up Palestinian families and their villages.
11. I went to Palestine and was shocked to find that entry into Palestine is controlled by Israelis armed with machine guns. Their checkpoints deliberately delayed my entry into Palestine by more than two hours so that I could not visit the village of Jenin where Israel had destroyed houses while their occupants were still inside, where the whole village was reduced to rubble by Israeli guns and bombs. I could not go to Jerusalem because the Israelis declared that it was unsafe, as if they cared for me. And everywhere I saw Israeli settlements guarded by armed militia while the Arabs were forced to build huts and live in them with their animals to prevent seizure of their land by Israelis for their settlements.
12. I was shocked that the Palestinians were not even allowed to call the remaining land that had formed the state of Palestine after the UN carved up a part of it to give to the Jews, the State of Palestine.
13. The Israelis insisted and the international community appeared to acquiesce that there is no State of Palestine, only a Palestinian Authority. Yet the United Nations when it agreed to create a state of Israel on Palestinian land referred to the partition as creating two separate states of Israel and Palestine. How come today there is no Palestine?
14. At any time Israeli tanks could enter Palestinian towns as if land under the control of what is called the Palestinian Authority is actually under Israeli rule. When I was there Israeli armored cars actually drove through Ramallah. I was told Israeli tanks had surrounded the building where Arafat was forced to seek shelter and Israel’s guns kept up a continuous bombardment of the buildings.
15. The Americans and the British insisted that the Palestinians hold elections to determine who should be the Palestinian Authority. The contest was between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas won hands down.
16. The least the British and the Americans could do was to accept the result of the elections. But these backers of Israel rejected the results of the election because they do not like Hamas.
17. If other countries reject the results of elections these so-called democrats would condemn them. But we now see the great proponents of democracy themselves rejecting the results of the democratic process.
18. But perhaps this is to be expected. America and Britain which had previously condemned detention without trial are now detaining people without trial and without even the benefit of the law. And the American Congress went so far as to make torture of prisoners legal.
19. In the meanwhile the Palestinians have been subjected to condemnation for defending as best they could but the Western Press played up the futile retaliation by the Palestinians as terrorism. That the Israelis attack, kill, destroy and arrest Palestinians thus terrifying them does not make them terrorists.
20. In a recent newspaper report in Malaysia, we are told that the Israelis blasted a car in which a terrorist was traveling. We know the Israelis are technologically advanced. But how could they know which car was carrying a Palestinian “terrorist”. Every time a car or a home is blasted by the Israelis we are told by our own papers that there were terrorists in the car or the house. Can we trust the Jewish controlled Western wire service and media to tell the truth?