Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can't We Talk

Jimmy Carter wrote a book simply describing Israel’s apartheid policies in the occupied territories and he was immediately condemned as anti-Semitic. Richard Falk, a United Nations investigator of human rights in the occupied territories, declared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as a “crime against humanity,” and he was sent home, “expelled by Israel.” Miguel D’Escoto, head of the U.N. General Assembly compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the former South Africa’s apartheid racial segregation policies and just last Monday, December 15th, received written death threats.

Can’t we even talk about a foreign policy that generates so much international hatred for Israel and the United States? We need to ask ourselves, “Who is occupying whose land?” And exactly who is driving who into the sea (desert)? Who admits to torture, collective punishment and assassinations. Do they never wonder why three of Israel’s Prime Ministers have been labeled by the International Community as terrorists; Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon.

Are we not bothered by the fact that Israel has destroyed over 18,000 Palestinian homes and uprooted probably a million olive and fruit trees since 1967? In spite of the Oslo Agreements and in violation of international law, Israel continues to confiscate land and build settlements. To date, 450,000 settlers cover 30 percent of the West Bank while native born Palestinians are confined to 70 small “Bantustans” separated by by-pass roads and “Jews Only” highways. Do we not consider a 26 foot concrete wall snaking throughout the West Bank, separating families from their places of worship, children from their schools, the sick and injured from medical facilities and farmers from their crops a bit like apartheid? West Bank now has 50% unemployment, Gaza has 80%. Most Palestinians live on less than $2 a day. Do we not consider the control of Palestinian movement by hundreds of checkpoints and Israel’s “generous offer” of self control which left Israel expropriating Palestine’s richest agricultural land and in control of all water, like the abusive domination of apartheid? Israel now occupies 85-90 percent of the land of Palestine. Surely no one has pointed out that following the removal of settlers from Gaza, with no Israeli exposure, Israel launched thousands of artillery shells and missiles into Gaza. Israel has dammed off water supplies, cut off fuel and most International aid leaving 1.2 million people without drinking water, sewage treatment, electricity, or even enough to eat.

Do we not know who blatantly violates Article 43 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a signatory, which states that, “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its population into the territory it occupies.” and who thumbs its nose at more than 57 United Nations Resolutions, including 242 requiring Israel to leave the occupied lands of Palestine?

Unfortunately for any hope of peace in the Middle East, as long as our government treats Israel like the 51st state there will be serious threats to peace. The critics are right. “Israel has a right to defend herself.” But, blowing up bridges, electric plants, water systems and even a school in Gaza is not “defending.”
Of course, most of us don’t know this side of the story because the Jewish lobby and the Christian right just don’t want Americans talking about it.

Thomas Are
December 18, 2008

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