Monday, June 03, 2002

The world was completely outraged when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas at Bamiyan in northern Afghanistan. This destruction appears to have been done for a combination of reasons - xenophobia, iconoclasm, and a general defiance in the face of promised American aggression. The Israelis are doing exactly the same sort of thing in the Occupied Territories, and as usual no one notices. The destruction of cultural heritage is a violation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, a treaty to which Israel is a signatory. The Israeli actions have been condemned by the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee (see under heading XVI). The Director-General of UNESCO has also expressed concerns. The Israelis have been destroying mosques, churches and other buildings of religious, historical and cultural significance. The Israelis have two motives: 1) the existence of historical artifacts and art in the Occupied Territories is inconsistent with the Zionist story that there was no settled Palestinian existence in the area; and 2) the destruction of cultural artifacts is part of the degradation of the Palestinian people and is part of the slow-motion plan of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Greater Israel. The Israelis, needless to say, have excuses for what they do, and really don't like being criticized. If the world is upset at what the Taliban did, the world should be at least as upset by the permanent destruction of art and culture being slowly but systematically carried out by the Israelis against the Palestinians.