The Portuguese Nobel prizewinner for Literature, Jose Saramago, has made declarations attacking the Israeli policy in the occupied territories. His comments are hotly disputed by Tel Aviv.
On a visit to Israel, Jose Saramago declared to Portuguese radio station Antenna 1, that “It must be said that in Palestine, there is a crime which we can stop. We may compare it with what happened at Auschwitz”.
He added that only by visiting the territory and seeing first-hand the repressive policy adopted by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians, could the injustice of the situation be understood. He reported that he had seen an ambulance carrying a pregnant Palestinian woman stopped at the border. She was refused entry and the baby was delivered in the vehicle. Others have not been so lucky.
In one incident, in October 2001, a pregnant Palestinian woman was left dying in the street near a checkpoint which had refused her entry, with the Israeli soldiers standing around laughing and jeering at one less terrorist being born.
Saramago is a member of an eight-person commission sent by the International Writers’ Parliament, to assess the situation. He is accompanied by Nigerian Nobel prizewinner, Wole Soyinka, Christian Salmon, Juan Goytisolo, Bei Dao, Breyten Breytenbach, Vincenzo Consolo and Russel Banks.
A spokesperson from the Israeli Foreign Ministry accused Jose Saramago of “total blindness” and “a surprising historical amnesia”, pointing out that the plight of the Palestinians is the responsibility of their leaders, who refuse to accept Israel’s offers of peace (while colonies are illegally being built on the lands stolen from the Palestinians by Israel).
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru