[News] Robin Hood Meet Mr. Sharon
News at freedomarchives.org
News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 27 17:04:57 EST 2004
The following appeared in the Golbe and Mail
Robin Hood, meet Mr. Sharon
By DAOUD KUTTAB
Friday, February 27, 2004 - Page A19
Call it Operation Robin Hood. On Wednesday, Israeli troops invaded the
Palestinian city of Ramallah. Aided by two computer experts they had
detained the night before, the Israelis entered two branches of the Arab
Bank and a branch of the Cairo Amman bank and emptied their vaults. Just
like real thieves, the soldiers were professional. The first thing they did
was cover the security cameras. They corralled the staff into tiny rooms
and began the process of unloading the cash from the vaults. They also
entered the computers and downloaded the data.
Why label it Robin Hood? Not just because the merry troops wore green
fatigues. Rather it was because of the statement made immediately after the
heist by Israel's Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz. The loot, as much as
$9-million (U.S.), he said, will be spent on "humanitarian goals in
Palestinian society," like health services, food and "improving the
infrastructure at crossing points and checkpoints."
So there you have it, the army of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle
East, is stealing from two well-respected Jordanian banks in order to
improve the conditions at the checkpoints. How much more benevolent can the
Israeli occupation be?
As a Palestinian businessman commented, perhaps the banks should erect
plaques at the new improved checkpoints: "Sponsored by the Arab Bank," or
"Sponsored by the Cairo Amman Bank."
This Israeli heist is not simply a matter of trying to update Israel's list
of so-called terrorists, nor should it be seen as part of what they call
the war on terror. While allies of Israel might see it as the failure of
confidence and communications between the Palestinians and Israel, many
Palestinians see this as yet another clear sign of the absence of a
rationale for the continuation of the Palestinian National Authority.
Ever since the Israeli army decided to cancel the understanding it had
regarding areas of the West Bank under Palestinian security, a vacuum has
existed. Israeli soldiers and security forces come and go as they please.
The problem is that the Israeli security forces don't stay; nor do they
turn over the security powers to the Palestinians when they leave.
The result: In the past few weeks numerous cases of lawlessness have swept
the area. Journalists and media organizations have been attacked by unknown
assailants, and unarmed Palestinian police have been unable to do anything
to stop it. When the television station where I work was attacked a few
weeks ago, we asked the Palestinian police to take fingerprints. They
laughed and said that their laboratory had been destroyed by the Israelis.
The Israelis seem to have the best of both worlds. They can come in to
arrest, demolish and to steal whenever they want, without having any of the
responsibilities towards the occupied people. The Palestinian Authority is
left to pay the salaries of government employees and to receive the wrath
of their own public without having any powers.
The situation can't continue forever. But rather than waiting for Israel to
decide whether it wants to stay in the Palestinians' cities and take over
the responsibilities of occupation, or to leave them without ever
returning, the Palestinian Authority should act. It must have the courage
to throw in the keys and remove the pretence that it has any role in the
lives of Palestinians.
Daoud Kuttab is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds
University in Ramallah.
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