What Business Is It of Chirac?

Honestly, should Jacques Chirac care that last week the Israeli authorities demolished three homes in the village of al-Khader?

A European journalist was asked to write about the wall being built around Anata, which will transform it into an enclosed ghetto within Jerusalem. Sorry, she said, the paper's editors are only interested in the disengagement. It has it all: upbeat news, lots of action, Jews cursing Jews, Jews beating up Jews. We're fed up with the repetitious details of the wall's damages.

The other side of that coin is the affection with which Ariel Sharon was welcomed in France last week. And honestly, should Jacques Chirac care that last week the Israeli authorities demolished three homes in the village of al-Khader? And is it his responsibility that a short distance from there, the illegal settlement of Efrat continues to expand at the expense of the biblical landscapes of al-Khader?

What is it to him that the crossings Israel is now building, east of the Green Line, rob hefty square kilometers from West Bank territory and the private property of hundreds of families, with a transparent objective of institutionalize them as "international terminals?" And why should he and other European leaders be shocked by the news that the West Bank's main roads have nearly no Palestinian traffic, as though a transfer has been implemented there? Israelis are not shocked by this information.

Who can find the words to explain to Europe's newspapers that once every few weeks, Israel Defense Forces soldiers prevent all residents of the northern West Bank from driving south? At the Za'atara checkpoint south of Nablus, near the illegal settlement of Tapuah, they send people packing as the IDF declares a "hot security alert." In the creative diction of the IDF, this is called "separation." They separate between Judea and Samaria. Sometimes this lasts four days, sometimes 10. As usual, whoever is determined to reach his destination finds a roundabout way that takes several hours, between hills and dales, rocky terrain and olive groves. But most forgo their right to mobility.

Why should Chirac and Le Monde, or Le Figaro, be interested in shepherds in the southern Hebron Hills whom IDF soldiers kicked off their grazing lands on Monday, shouting distance from another illegal settlement?

Why should Chirac and the other European leaders take an interest in the millions of trifles of the calculated dispossession, which dictate the lives of the Palestinian people? Trifles that add up to a clear picture: Sharon is determinedly striving to realize the master plan - integrating most of the West Bank into the sovereign State of Israel.

The Jordan Valley, the settlement blocs that continue to merge into each other, the monumental Jews-only roads, the demilitarized zone long since annexed to Israel, the area annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, the de facto annexations of the fence - these already cover most of the West Bank. They will call the densely populated Palestinian pockets that will remain a state, and the world will applaud.

Reasons abound for not taking an interest in the trifles of this dispossession: a mere three and a half million people are at stake, with no oil and no support from any international power; their brethren in the Diaspora and in Israel do not constitute a lobby. There are places in the world where tens of millions are being wronged far more cruelly, and nobody makes a peep. And, after all, Israeli colonialism doesn't even come close to the murderousness of the European variety.

But Europe does take an interest. The billions of dollars it's pouring in here prove that it knows that this "little" usurpation is being perpetrated at a highly sensitive juncture. Perhaps European leaders are hoping that the money being showered on the Palestinian Authority - and effectively on Israel, which thus escapes its responsibility as the occupying power - will compensate for their impotence. It was they, after all, who failed to implement international decisions regarding the illegality of the settlements.

Europe and its media - which were hoodwinked by the peace propaganda of Oslo while Israeli colonization accelerated - has a duty to stop ignoring the reality depicted by their diplomatic envoys to the region. Israel is perceived as part of the West, the enlightened world which presumes to have drawn lessons from its colonialist and Nazi past and to combat racism.

The Citizenship Law and the law against intifada compensation which passed in the Knesset, along with other laws, contradict proclaimed European concepts of "combating racism and discrimination." But Israel participates in European sports tournaments and maintains close economic, scientific and cultural ties with Europe, as though it met the criteria of the human rights charter.

Indeed, it is impossible to separate, historically, the establishment of the State of Israel from the genocide of European Jewry. Therefore, Europe bears historic and moral responsibility for both peoples living in our land - the occupied Palestinian people and the Jewish-Israeli people - the occupier.

This should be enough to obligate Europe not to assist Israel in implementing its master plan, regardless of whether or not that plan jeopardizes the security of the region and the world.