EYEWITNESS REPORT FROM A SWISS PHYSICIAN
A member of a Swiss parliamentary delegation visiting Beirut in late May, Dr. Antoinette Corboz, wrote the following article for the Lausanne newspaper "24 Heures.":
I have observed the daily life of Palestinians in Lebanon, which is full of dramatic situations. I lived the Israeli bombing of South Lebanon. I had talks with Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi and Chairman Yasser Arafat. I could see that although they have existed in very harsh and difficult conditions for thirty years - misery, war and dispersion - the Palestinian people have been able to forge, through the PLO, a real structure and organization. They refuse condescension and charity, and ask simply for the recognition of their rights. On the spot, I hardly expressed myself, only speaking concerning the Palestine Red Crescent, the Palestinian health organization. But this does not mean I do not have an opinion.
Once I returned to Switzerland, I was shocked by the laconic style of the Swiss press. They wrote about the bombing of South Lebanon as if it were simply a military exercise. Swiss opinion vociferously condemns any attacks claimed by the PLO. But how does it react when Israeli forces deliberately bomb Palestinian villages and spread terror and death among Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, women and children, without any military objective?
I condemn this hypocrisy. I have seen, in Damour and then in Tyre and its surroundings, houses, schools and hospitals destroyed by Israeli bombs and artillery. Who in Switzerland speaks of the many killed or wounded, or of the 600,000 homeless Palestinians and Lebanese who have fled South Lebanon?
This destruction is called "retaliation" for Palestinian attacks. In war, everyone knows that the others started. "Everyone," but not the Swiss. The Swiss have decided that the Palestinians are always the provokers. My aim is to take a stand against this bias.
Much is said these days about peace, about the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, and about the Nobel Peace Prize awarded Sadat and Begin. But at the moment when Begin and Sadat were congratulating each other at Camp David, Israeli bombs were killing children in South Lebanon.
Is it the total annihilation of a people that is desired, as the American settlers did with the Native Americans? This image, dear to Yasser Arafat himself, reflects the situation of the Palestinian people. Israelis took possession of territory as a result of a United Nations decision. But this territory was not a desert on which they made oranges grow. Women, children and men - Moslems, Christians and Jews - lived in this country. They are to be forgotten, to be penned in reservations. Therefore, why call Palestinian attacks "terrorism," while, on the other hand, celebrating French resistance against the Nazi occupation?
I have no desire to preach violence and war, but as long as the Palestinian people are not recognized as such, as well as their legitimate representative, the PLO, the way to war will remain open and will allow such acts of desperation.
Zionists themselves will admit that the foundation of the state of Israel took place only because of the bad conscience of Western governments obsessed by the genocide of the Nazis. Certainly, the Swiss would do everything in order to forget the "J" marked on Jewish passports during the last war. But at what price?
It seems inadmissible to me that four million Palestinians must pay for our guilt for the crimes of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Therefore, I pose many questions: Why doesn't the Swiss government recognize the PLO? Why is public opinion so badly informed? Why does our 'neutrality' only agree with American and Israeli positions?"
In this respect, Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the PLO Political Department, answering a question from a television journalist, repeated his hope of meeting Mr. Aubert, head of the Swiss Federal Political Department. He made no comment on the postponement of his visit and the participation of Mr. Dayan in this. I remind you that Mr. Dayan was invited to Bern just before the final round of Camp David. He came a second time without invitation, and publicly declared that he disapproved of the Federal Council decision to receive Mr. Kaddoumi. To thank Dayan for this serious interference in Swiss internal affairs, 40 Federal deputies, guided by the President of the State Council, went on a tour of Israel on the occasion of the anniversary of the creation of the state.
I am not a diplomat, but, as an individual, I ask the question: "Who commands our policy in Bern"
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Originally published by The Palestine Liberation Organisation Unified Information as a bi-monthly information bulletin with copy permission granted via the notice "Partial or total reproduction is freely permitted by 'Palestine Bulletin'"
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