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Israel Must Accept Equality In Peace Accord

During the summer of 1995, I visited the West Bank after 10 years of absence. At the time, there was a severe schism between the Palestinians who wanted the Oslo Peace Accord and those who did not.

Some wanted to live a normal life. They were tired of living in horror. They wanted their children to have a safe future. The Oslo Peace was the opportunity they held onto and supported. On the other hand, for some Palestinians the Oslo Peace Accord was an unjust deal.

Under the Oslo Peace Accord, the West Bank has become isolated clusters of Palestinians separated by Israeli settlements and Jewish-only bypass roads to confine the Palestinians (non-Jews) to narrow ghettos.

I left the West Bank torn between the two sides. I agreed with those who wanted to live a normal life with no terror and secure a safe future for their children. But at the same time, I agreed with those who opposed racism and saw the Oslo Peace as a treaty that not only accepted but also enhanced racist acts.

During the summer of 1996, I went again to the West Bank. This time I found the majority of the Palestinians frustrated with the Oslo Peace Accord. The continuation of closure and settlements expansion, land confiscation, administrative detention, house demolition, kidnap and torture of civilians by settlers; Jewish-only bypass roads and daily humiliation by Israeli soldiers at every roadblock are only some of the racist acts that made Palestinians realize that accepting this accord of peace means to live without dignity.

The Palestinian uproar we witness today is a response to a racist regime that has no respect for the lives of those who are not Jewish (e.g., Sept. 26, 1996, Israeli troops, helicopters, and tanks fired live ammunition into crowds of demonstrators). This regime has no respect for non-Jewish holy and ancient places (e.g., excavating and opening a tunnel at one of the most sacred sites of one billion Muslims).

Real peace does not come by force through oppression and racism. As long as Israel does not recognize the human rights of the Palestinians and treat them as equal partners, real peace will continue to be a dream.

Rima Askalan G