Friday, May 9, 2008

Israeli Occupation of Palestine

Wow, Israel is fucked up. Even when my friend Rachel Corrie was purposely run over and killed by one of their bulldozers a few years ago, I didn’t fully understand the conflict over there. Now I'm starting to. In John Pilger’s book, Freedom Next Time, he writes, “Israel is the undisputed world champion violator of international law- an international law founded as a consequence of the crimes of the perpetrators of the Jewish holocaust.” This is ironic because they are some of the worst abusers of human rights since the Nazi’s. The Palestinians were living peacefully until in 1948 the Jews were awarded the right to a homeland. They started Israel and began kicking out all Arabs in the region. They started a campaign of destruction, killing and ethnic cleansing that continues to this day and goes virtually unchecked by the rest of the world. They are trying to oppress and wipe out Palestinian culture. Thousands live in refugee camps that are completely walled in. There are checkpoints everywhere and it often takes hours and hours to try and get through one. They cannot leave, go to school, see the doctor or anything without permission from the Israeli army. Ambulances are often not allowed to pass as the wounded bleed to death within sight of them. There are many cases of pregnant women not being able to pass a checkpoint to reach a hospital and having to give birth in a car and their babies usually die. Within the Occupied Territories there are Jewish ‘settlers,’ living in heavily fortified and guarded communities set up inside the camps. Inside these walls are rich suburban homes and affluent Jews watering their lush green lawns, while just meters away, beyond a wall, drinking water is very scarce and hundreds of children are dieing of starvation.

Israels excuse for this behavior is that they are battling terrorism. This stems from the fact a Palestinian organization, Hamas, attack them with suicide bombers. This is relatively new tactic in the region starting in the 1990’s (suicide bombers never existed in Iraq before the Anglo- American invasion.) Children growing up in the refugee camps have never known anything but war. Most have seen death first hand, often times members of their families. They live in constant fear of being bombed or shot. One of the most disturbing tactics Israel uses in its occupation is the targeting of children. From 2000 to 2004, 618 children were killed, over half shot in the head or neck, indicating sniper shooting. Most killings occur in their homes, school, or workplace. The trauma in these kids runs deep. The only weapon they have is themselves and they are very confused. The idol worship surrounding “Martyrs,” as they call them, is intense. Ten year old kids are becoming suicide bombers because they don’t know what else to do and and frankly, they don’t want to live. As well as starting the entire situation, Israel also provokes them. For example, in 2001, they wanted to attack and re-occupy the regions and try out their new jets and bombs, as well as send in 30,000 troops. But they needed a ‘revenge factor’ to motivate the troops for maximum killing, as well as to have an excuse for their actions within the international community. The problem was Sharif Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas had reached a secret deal that the suicide bombings would stop. Well, the Israelis heard about the plan and decided to assassinate the Hamas leader to provoke a response. It worked. Inevitably, 12 days later a new wave of suicide attacks occurred. Shortly thereafter, Israel attacked with unprecedented force.

The most despicable man alive is probably Israel’s leader Ariel Sharon. This man is a monster. His most notorious crime occurred in 1982 with his invasion of Lebanon. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was based in Beirut and he wanted them wiped out. In the first two weeks 14,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed and 20,000 injured. According to UNICEF, 10 children were killed for every one Palestinian fighter. Eventually the PLO retreated and was evacuated by an international force. Women and children remained in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, assuming they would be safe. Wrong. Sharon deemed them “terrorists.” He allowed a fascist trained group called the Phalangists to encircle the camp and systematically murder every child, women, and elderly person. The Israeli army sat in watchtowers making sure no one escaped. The events were sanitized in Israeli propaganda. One of Israel’s public control methods is to accuse anyone critical of them of being an Anti-Semite and therefore pro Nazi. This, and a well-oiled propaganda machine, has let them get away with atrocity after atrocity. Another one that springs to mind occurred in 2002. For three weeks, the Israeli Army had invaded and occupied Ram Allah in the West bank, the capital of the Palestinian Authority. They said it was to ‘destroy the infrastructure of terror’ (Israel conveniently jumped on the ‘terror’ bandwagon after 9/11). The actual aim was, according to John Pilger, “to destroy the infrastructure of an organized society.” Pilger toured the area ten days after the occupation. Desks and textbooks in schools had been trashed, musical instruments looted, computers destroyed and hard drives stolen. Their cultural center was demolished. The master tapes of one of the best collections of Palestinian cinema were all destroyed. Every piece of equipment in the town’s radio station was wrecked. The soldiers shit everywhere: on artwork, in drawers, on floors, flowerpots and books. The children’s art section had been pissed on and vandalized with the Star of David and phrases like “Sons of bitches- you fuckers- I was born to kill.” Gardens with cypresses and fruit trees were bulldozed. This is a very common practice in the Occupied Territories. As soon as any prosperity occurs, like agriculture, the army comes in and sets them back a few years, motivated by spite. There are horror stories after horror stories, I could go on but it is just to fucked up. They have even started stamping the hands of their prisoners, a sad echo of the way their people were treated 60 years ago. Israel are not the only ones to blame. America supplies them with their jets, helicopters, and bombs while Britain helped put the country together with the Balfour Declaration. The fact that both these countries turn a blind eye to what is happening is a crime against humanity in itself.

Click map for bigger image.

An image from the Sabra and Chatila massacre.

EDIT: June 2nd. I met a man at a BBQ last week who served four years in the Israeli army. Every young man has to over there. We had a long talk and and he confirmed all of the above article. He told me he had committed violent acts at the checkpoints for the first year of his service, then wised up and mellowed out. The word he most often used to describe the settlers, politicians, and the situation in general was "fanatics".

1 comment:

Slabfinder said...

good article, from 2000

The United States of America (USA) has been an outspoken advocate for international human rights since the creation of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. Peter Burleigh, the acting U.S. ambassador to the UN, released the following statement in 1998 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UN's creation of 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. Burleigh reaffirmed the USA's commitment "to continue to fight, struggle, and eventually triumph in this great cause [human rights], both at home and abroad. It may often be difficult, but the cause is too great. The world together must continue to fight for all human rights for all." The United States' position is continually reinstated during press conferences and televised appearances of US officials. The United States' determination to uphold human rights worldwide may not apply to the situation between Israel and Palestine.

Madeleine Albright, the Clinton administration's Secretary of State, presented the importance of the international struggle for human rights as a measure of self-preservation. Albright's summarization of the 20th century recounts that "virtually every major act of international aggression has been perpetrated by a regime that repressed political rights. Such regimes are also more likely to spark unrest by persecuting minorities, sheltering terrorists, or secretly building weapons of mass destruction". This observation applies particularly to the Middle East.

The Middle East is continually erupting in violence. Much of the ongoing hostility is based on a complex and historical struggle for land. This arid land is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Two nations are fighting for a homeland that both believe is rightfully theirs. Western involvement and manipulation of these nations has further complicated and extended the turmoil. These peoples are both of Semitic origin with a common belief in one God. They are known to the world as Palestinian and Israeli.

Modern Israel came into existence through financial and military support provided by the United States of America and Western Europe. The continuing support of the Western world allows Israel to maintain their nation. The United States currently gives 3 billion dollars per year to Israel. That is 25% of the total foreign aid provided annually by the USA. This figure does not include military supplies and support. Why does the United States give money and support to a country over 5,000 miles away that offers no obvious economic or national interest? The answer will become clear through the course of the following document. To better understand the underpinnings of the current hostilities we must locate and define the source of those hostilities.

The beginnings of both Judaic and Palestinian tribes stem from a common ancestor. This ancestor has his roots in the foggy and fantastical realm of campfire discussions and storytelling. His name is Abraham or Abram, the patriarch of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. As the traditional story is told, Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, from two different women. Ishmael was born from an Egyptian named Hagar. Isaac's mother was Sarah or Sarai, the wife and half-sister of Abraham. Isaac is Abraham's lawful descendant, but Ishmael is the first born. Ishmael's descendants became the Arabic peoples, while Isaac founded the Jewish nation.

God promised Abraham a great land that his descendants would rule. This nation would be "from the river of Egypt [Wabi River] to the great river, the Euphrates."(Genesis 15:18) This area came to be known as the Promised Land. Unfortunately, God did not designate which son would rule this land, nor did God specify the boundaries of the Promised Land. This ambiguity is the basis of the ongoing conflict between Jew and Muslim within Israel and Palestine.

The history of the 20th century recounts the story of the Zionist dream realized at the expense of the Palestinian people. The Zionists are a group composed of religious and secular Jews. Religious Jews are those who practice the religion of Judaism who are culturally Jewish. Jews who do not practice their religion, but participate in their culture are considered secular Jews. The founding Zionists were originally of European stock, also referred to as Ashkenazic Jews. They were Jews who had been raised in Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary primarily. Modern Zionism exists worldwide among Jewish populations. Zionists believe that Palestine is a crucial part of the Promised Land that their God gave to them. Their prophets handed this ideal to the Jews in the sixth century BC.

Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia states that "Zionism as an organized political movement originated in the late 19th century". (Zionism) Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the Zionists tried various tactics to gain control of Palestine. Several of these plans are explained here. In 1896 the Zionists asked the Ottoman Empire to give them Palestine. The Turkish rulers politely listened to their requests, but were not sympathetic to the Zionist cause.

In 1934 the Zionists joined with Nazi party members, their beliefs of race superiority and a segregated society were reflected in the Nazi belief in Germanic superiority. The Nazi's were promoting a segregated, yet equal society within Germany. At this time the Nazi party had not begun the infamous death camps that would eventually destroy many of the Jews living in Germany. Dr. Joachim Prinz, a leader of the 1930's Zionist community stated "we want a state built on the purity of nation and race. For only he who honors his own breed and his own blood can have an attitude of honor towards other nations" (Prinz150) This supremacist mentality resulted in the 1975 United Nations resolution 3379. Resolution 3379 compared Zionism to Apartheid and determined "that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."(United Nations) Zionist Rabbi Yaacov Perrin summarized this sentiment with his infamous statement: "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail."(Hoffman)

Zionist desire to take over Palestine was unrealistic since the Zionists did not have the military force to take Palestine. The opportunity was not presented until "during World War I, when the British wooed the Zionists in order to secure strategic control over Palestine and to gain the support of world Jewry [Jewish people] for the Allied cause." (Zionism) In part to gain funding from the wealthy Jewish community, Great Britain passed the Balfour Declaration in 1917. The declaration promised the "Jews a Jewish home…within the biblical homelands"(Dunnigan67). The problem was that the 'biblical homelands' were within the borders of modern day Palestine. This problem was not addressed within the Balfour declaration, but put aside until later.

The Ottoman Empire controlled the majority of the Middle East prior to World War I. The British Empire needed military help to expand Britain's borders into the Ottoman Empire. With Arabic support, the British Empire overthrew Palestine. Historians state clearly that "World War I was a disaster for the Ottoman Empire. Russia invaded Anatolia; the British, aided by an Arab revolt, swept through the Fertile Crescent; and eventually the Allies occupied Constantinople."(Ottoman). In exchange for Palestinian aid, Britain promised them self-government under British protection. Palestine had been promised to two radically different societies. The Arabic peoples, who occupied the freed territories, and the Zionist Jews who wanted to remove the occupants and take the land for their own people.

Europe as well as the United States were compelled to control the Middle East at the end of World War I. Britain feared that they could not control the actions of Palestine if the Palestinians were to join with their fellow Arabic Muslim neighbors. The Arabic nations were becoming cohesive and therefore a threat. The threat of Soviet expansion and the beginnings of the Cold War were brewing. A nation that practiced the Western Democratic way of life would allow for Western intervention within the Middle East if that lifestyle became threatened. Israel provided a lookout point for the expansion of communism within the Middle East. The formation of Israel also allowed access to the countries that controlled the majority of Petroleum exports worldwide. The strategic placement of Israel amongst the strengthening Arab nations would serve the United States and Great Britain.

The final decision to give the land to the Jews rather than the Palestinians was made inadvertently by the Nazi regimen. When the "Jewish leaders demanded that the Balfour Declaration be carried out, the British and French put off a response to their demand until Hitler's Holocaust made any Western opposition to a Zionist state impossible." (Dunnigan67) Western sympathy for the Jews ran strong during and after the Holocaust of World War II. Fear of being associated with the Nazis prevented politicians from speaking out against the instatement of the Balfour Declaration. The Zionist leaders had found an ideal opportunity to take advantage of the Western public's support for the Jews.

With Jewry in the spotlight, the Balfour Declaration could no longer be kept hidden in the realm of politics. The media presented the horrors of the Holocaust to the public, instigating continual support and compassion for the Jews. The Zionist lobbying groups acted quickly to ensure US support for the creation of a Jewish nation. Palestinian interests were not represented, considered or presented to the public. The welfare of the Palestinian people was negated in light of the recent atrocities suffered by the Jewish community of Germany. Britain gave Palestine to the newly formed United Nations to divide and distribute to the Zionists as they saw fit.

Palestine was divided into two segments. The State of Israel was put into place in the larger portion. The indigenous people were forced to flee into the remains of Palestine as a new population moved into their country. In an attempt to fend off the invading armies, the Palestinians protested and eventually used force. The surrounding Arabic nations intervened on Palestine's behalf. The superior military provided by Western Europe and the United States allowed Israel to defeat the Arab armies as well as secure more land within parts of Egypt and Syria. Rather than admonishing Israel for its hostile actions and deliberate defiance of the United Nation's partition plan, the Western countries continued to give Israel aid to further advance their expansion. In 1947, the United Nations officially recognized Israel as a country.

The Palestinian people forced to live under Israeli occupation have suffered many of the same injustices inflicted upon the Jews in earlier years. Israel Shahak speaks openly concerning "the old hates of classical Judaism towards Gentiles [non-Jews] and to the indiscriminate and ahistorical use of all the persecutions of Jews throughout history in order to justify the Zionist persecution of the Palestinians"(Shakak72). The World Newsletter of the United Nations states that the "Palestinians have suffered displacement longer than any other refugee group of comparable size. Since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the creation of Israel, wars in the region have uprooted many families two, three or even four times. The fourth generation of Palestinian refugees is now growing up in camps constructed by their great-grandfathers "(UN High Commission). These camps are slowly turning into replicas of the Nazi death camps of WWII. The June 26, 1988 Data Base Update quotes Hebrew University Professor Yehosua Leibowitz, in an article in Israeli periodical Kol Hair, June 24-"The only difference between Israel and Nazi Germany is that Israel hasn't built the gas chambers yet." The genocide perpetuated by the Israelis against the Palestinian people is becoming more like the Nazi extermination of WWII every year.

Several newscasters and politicians from the United States have viewed the brutality inflicted by the Israeli's upon the Palestinians. These atrocities are never aired openly on the evening news. J. A. Roach, a news and broadcast producer for KUER-FM in Salt Lake City has witnessed the routine beatings of Palestinians in their own country. After a brief stay in Israel he realized that "the brutalization by the Israelis is widespread and obviously is an Israeli policy". (Torres) Many Israeli disagree with the indiscriminate abuse inflicted upon the elderly, women, children, and dying amongst the Palestinians. An Israeli soldier anonymously reported witnessing fellow soldiers "smearing a child prisoner who was perhaps 10 years old against barbed wire to cut him up". (Torres) Can any crime warrant this abuse? According to Article 5 of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights', which the USA supports; "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". Certainly, this applies to 10-year-old children. Atrocities committed against the Palestinians have become so common place in Israeli occupied territories that the newspapers seldom print the atrocities any longer.

The multiple attacks of Israeli terrorist groups within North America and Israel are not spoken of either. The FBI has closely watched the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in connection with arson and murder. The JDL has the simple slogan of 'Never Again!', in reference to the Holocaust. This slogan only applies to Jews however, as their reoccurring theme is 'All Arabs, Out of Israel Now!'. The US Media portrayed Baruch Goldstein as a disturbed individual who acted alone in the attack of an Islamic Mosque. The truth is that Goldstein was a member of Kach, and extremist Zionist group dedicated to the aggressive removal of Palestinians from Palestine. His premeditated and highly organized actions resulted in the injury of 250 Palestinians and death of 50. These attacks are not relayed to the US public; however the occasional group of Palestinian boys throwing stones grabs front-page attention.

The Western media portrays a kibbutz as a communal farm where people work together for a common good. The Media goes on to present the settlers who inhabit these communes as 'peace loving hippies' making great strides towards human understanding. The reality is that the settlers are heavily armed and come after the military has removed the Palestinian inhabitants and tore down their farms. The kibbutzim are put in place, as an organized stronghold by the Israelis to ensure that the Palestinian families do not return. Article 17 of the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' declares that "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property". This too seems to be an acceptable exception according to the United States' interpretation of UN policy.

The United States took military and political action when the Jews were being threatened during WWII, but does not support the same rights of the Palestinian people when being persecuted by the Jews. For what reason does this dichotomy of rights exist? Is it simply the ignorance of the American people who do not know what is actually happening? Do the Jewish lobbying groups, such as the National Jewish Coalition or Zionist Organization of America, provide funding to U.S. politicians, encouraging the turning of a blind eye? This funding encourages the further discrimination against Palestinians within their own country. If the United States did not support the hostile take over of Palestine by Israel, then Israel would not have been able to take the land originally, nor able to occupy it currently.

Why does the United States support a country that practices blatant violations of human rights, while it condemns other countries for the same actions? This is a question not so easily answered, yet of ever increasing importance. There is ample evidence to suggest that the United States policies concerning Israel have been tainted heavily by a long history of 'friendships' between politicians and American Jews. Gore Vidal recounts the story of Truman's introduction to Zionism as told to him by John Kennedy. Kennedy tells of "an American Zionist who brought him [Truman] two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. That's why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast." (ShahakVIII)

President Lyndon Johnson's close friend Ephraim Evron was the "number two man at the Israeli embassy during the 1960's. Johnson counted a large number of Israelis and influential supporters of Israel among his friends and advisers"(Christison23). During the Johnson administration many of the United States policies were formed towards Israel. The United Nations then adopted the United States' position, which was biased towards the Israelis, in the form of Resolution 242. The resolution provides guidelines for dealing with the Middle East and Israel in particular. Parts of the provisions state the goal of "achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem"(United Nations) The 'refugee problem' referred to here is the native population of Palestine.

Former President Jimmy Carter said that the Israeli lobby was so powerful that "no one could become President without their support". Former President George Bush hinted at the power of the Israeli lobby by saying "there are powerful forces out there". Bush made that seemingly innocuous statement while defending his decision not to give Israel massive new loans to build more illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Fortune Magazine listed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the second most powerful lobbying organization in the United States.

Through Israeli lobbying groups and US indifference the Palestinians were demoted to Arab refugees. All political power was stripped from the Palestinian government, including a seat in the United Nations. In an attempt to regain the United Nations attention, as well as their lost homelands, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed. Without a country to work from or a military to support them, the PLO was forced to make a stand using any method available. The major activity was raiding Israel from surrounding countryside. This guerilla struggle achieved the aim of bringing the Palestinian people's situation to international attention. The PLO has gained acceptance as the official representatives for the Palestinian people, as well as recognition by the UN. Unfortunately, they were also condemned internationally for their tactics and once again the Jews were viewed as the victims.

Peace talks are now being attempted between the PLO and Israel. Traditionally Israel denies the existence of the PLO, since Palestine no longer exists. The Palestinians have agreed to accept the UN's original partition plan in the hope of regaining part of their homeland. Now it is up to the Israelis to back down and return a portion of their stolen lands to the Palestinians. If this takes place, then it is possible that the fighting will end and although the Palestinians will not have access to their original territory in its entirety, they will have a country to call home.

Israel is a home to Jewish terrorists. The terrorists are both blatant hate groups, such as Kach, as well as cleverly disguised Settler groups Regardless of their methods, the fact remains that terrorism against the Palestinian people is a way of life within the Israeli occupied territories. Albright's statement concerning the removal of groups which practice terrorism, repress political rights, and discriminate against minorities applies directly to Israel. Israel is also the only known Middle Eastern country to have a nuclear arsenal. Israel not only stands in direct violation of United States' stated interests, but also in continual defiance of United Nations policy.

The US can no longer avoid the responsibly of dealing with Israel. As a self appointed moral leader of the World, the United States must make a stand against discrimination, torture, genocide, and illegal border expansion. Through the continual military and economic support of Israel, the USA sends a message worldwide. It is a message advocating hate, bigotry, and an ideology on par with Nazism.

If the United States wishes to fulfill its stated obligations to ensure human rights and equality, then it must support the two-state division of Palestine. If the U.S. continues to blindly accept Israeli propaganda and deny the truth of the atrocities being committed by the Israelis upon the Palestinian people, no peace can be reached.


Works Cited

1. Dunnigan, James F. and Austin Bay. A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Briefings on Present and Potential Wars. New York: William Morrow, 1991.

2. Christison, Kathleen. Bound By Frame of Reference, Part II: US Policy and the Palestinians, 1948-88. Journal of Palestinian Studies. XXVII, no 3 (Spring 1998)

3. Itzkowitz, Norman. "Ottoman Empire". Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.

4. United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

5. United Nations Homepage.

6. Cohen, Michael Joseph Ph.D. "Zionism". Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.

7. Prinz, Dr. Joachim. Wir Juden (We Jews). Berlin. 1934.

8. Shahak, Israel. Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years. London: Pluto Press, 1994.

9. Birnbaum, Jeffrey H. Fortune. December 7, 1998.

10. Burleigh Remarks on Human Rights to UNGA Third Committee, November 9, 1998.

11. 12/3/98 Albright at Rosalynn Carter Distinguished Lecture Series (human rights), Atlanta, Georgia.

12. Bennis, Phyllis. Foreign Policy in Focus: U.S.-Israel Policy.

13. The Student Bible: New International Version. Zondervan Publishing House. Michigan. 1986.

14. Torres, Marianne. PALESTINE PAPERS-Everyday Horrors.

15. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

16. Hoffman, Michael A. II. The Israeli Holocaust against the Palestinian People.