Friday, 30 March 2007

Final thoughts

If only life was simple. Nablus is caught up in one of the most complex problems in the world with a tangled web that seems to involve every country in the world. Yet the people we met in Nablus just want to live.

The young people are protesting because the two cinemas in Nablus are both closed (mainly because of religious sensitivities). The priest is unable to tend his flock (Israeli controls on movement). The businessman cannot conduct his business (restrictions on the movement of goods).

Our DNTA constitution requires us "To encourage visits by individuals and groups to and from the linked cities, including children and young people and the development of personal contacts and by doing so to broaden mutual understanding of the cultural, recreational, educational and commercial activities of the linked cities."

There is no doubt that these very cultural, recreational, educational and commercial activities are just what is constrained in Nablus. We saw how Israel has constructed borders between Nablus and Israel on the outskirts of Nablus - NOT on the border (Green Line). Nablus cannot even trade with its fellow Palestinians. Yet Israeli (Jewish) settlers are allowed to move freely within Palestine (West Bank), to build houses and to develop agriculture and industry. Sadly, I have to say that this is clear and deliberate disrimination (by Israel) in favour of Jewish Israelis. It is sad because I am strongly against racism and yet this is what I observed.

I first heard of the holocaust when we were shown photos at school during the 1960s. I was truly shocked and remain so. I am also shocked by suicide bombing. But what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is a deliberate takeover of Palestinian land and resources for the benefit of the Israelis. This is explicitly prohibited by international law and it is shocking that the world has accepted it.

In broadening the understandings between Dundee and Nablus it is unavoidable that we draw attention to these illegal actions and press for the human rights of the Palestinians to be respected. Equally, we must stand up for the human rights of the Israelis.

Indeed, this is my main feeling. That the Palestinians should demand the same rights as the Israelis demand. The right to govern their own state, the right to the rule of law and the right to have their human rights respected - i.e. to live in freedom and peace. I sincerely hope that current peace moves can bring this about for the benefit of Palestinians, Israelis and the wider world.

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