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Mustafa Barghouti, founder of Palestinian Medical Relief and the al-Mubadara party, speak about the assault against Freedom Flotilla in Gaza

Ramallah, June 3, 2010


I have been waiting for three days before writing, as that's what Israel wants from me: instinct and grudge. They seized my place, and history and land, metre by metre, my freedom, trapped as I am in labyrinths of arbitrariness and prohibitions, they seized my safety, tonight that as any night, perhaps suddenly they will break through this door to arrest us for no reason, and down to our last right - because they can seize us everything, and let us dying by cancer at a checkpoint: but they cannot seize our humanity. Our immunity.

I have been waiting for three days as that's it, and only that's what Israel wants from us: violence and reaction. She looks for war, because in war it is the strongest who prevails, not he who is right. I am aware that we say resistance, here, and you hear terrorism. But we learned to respond to Israel not with our despair, but our beauty and as Hannah Arendt put it, when politics, she said, requires spirit of initiative together with a quasi poetic skill, imagination - and against their nuclear weapons, therefore, dignity rather than tin-rockets, and steadfastness and resilience: and against their settlements, our students who in spite of all still study, against their bombing our life that in spite of all still is alive. Israel looks for attack, for explosion, in order to draw on you the rhetoric of self-defence. Yet our resistance is what happens every Friday in Bi'lin, and Ni'lin and more and more everywhere: it is the boycott of settlers' products and economic sanctions, and the enforcement of the advisory opinion of the Court of Justice on the illegality of the Wall and the obligation to knock it down, it is the Goldstone Report and the universal jurisdiction as in London against Tzipi Livni. Our resistance is thousands of things, and above all: thousands of internationals. Who are with us not only out of solidarity, but justice - those who realized that we do not demand handouts, we claim rights: that Gaza's is not a crisis, but a siege. Those who do not smooth dialogue by uprooting responsibility: because peace is not the calm of the strongest, coexistence between slaves and masters: and normality is not Oslo, it is not normalization. Those who are denied entry by the thought police at the border of the only democracy of the Middle East: because war needs indifference, to become war: it needs account, to become crime - it needs words and light.

As I have been waiting for three days and 43 years: and yet still what strikes me the most is not what Israel does, but what she is allowed to do. Because this is no longer simply a struggle for land; it is a struggle for international law. For a world where it will not be possible any more to break unpunished the most basic rules of coexistence: assaulting, and killing and arresting, kidnapping, and anywhere and anyone, and without restraint: because a world where people remain out of job in France because of loans that are not paid back in Finland, and in Baghdad as in New York, a world where people are killed because of what is decided thousands and thousands kilometres away cannot work if he who is strong enough to act, simply acts. Boarding on our dignity is boarding on your safety. Law is not the luxury for he who does not live sieged by enemies: it is not a restriction that undermines survival, but the wisdom that frees from the state of emergency. And it is international law, not anti-Semitism, that equates all this with apartheid, that sanctions that all this must end - because how else can you define a country where there is no citizenship, only nationality, a country where I am prevented from driving along a certain road or from entering a certain city, and from buying a house, and simply because I am not Jewish, and crimes being equal, a country where my penalty is longer?

But I have been waiting for three days before writing, and because as after Sabra and Chatila - I have been waiting for 400,000 Israelis crowding a square to demand a commission of inquiry against a government that unleashes its pirates to sink its own country. I have been waiting for 400,000 Israelis denouncing an occupation that can reach by a road even the last settler on the most secluded hill, yet it leaves alone one elder out of five, forced to choose between food and medicines, 400,000 Israelis, claiming that freedom is not self-sufficiency, but integration, and the Other not a suspect an ambush, but the opportunity for contamination. And I have been waiting, and as usual, as waiting for Godot I have been waiting for 400,000 Israelis, breaking this siege, and escape from this ghetto where hypochondria is the only form of health, and emigrants are more than immigrants - and simply because beit: Arabic and Hebrew have the same word to say home. And because it is not me, here, the prisoner. I do not live behind a Wall. I never defined my identity by negation. An Israeli, after 60 years, still feels but a non-Arab. And my Palestine instead, is immense wealth: wealth of people, of relations: not of confrontations. My life is led by faith, not fear - I'm free.

I have been waiting for three days before writing, and as usual: I only heard that such an attack has been self-defeating - a simple matter of public relations: not ethics but strategy. Three days and 43 years, and metre by metre, a Bible as atlas, I only saw Israel trying to convert religion to geography. Metre by metre, loosing in the way the wisdom of her spiritual fathers - because God lives, Martin Buber warned, only where He is allowed to enter.

Mustafa Barghouthi with Francesca Borri