Thursday, February 24, 2011


Susan Rice, Ambassador to the UN wants to be clear. She defended her veto of the UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to stop the building of settlements by saying, “Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should not be misunderstood to mean that we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.” She went on to stress, “that the Obama administration agreed with the resolution’s sponsors but had to oppose it for political reasons.” All fourteen other members of the Council backed the resolution. “Our goal is to bring the sides back to the negotiating table.” She explained

Sounds noble, but with what do the Palestinians have to negotiate? Israel’s military might has already taken everything it wants; land, water, control of Palestinian borders, freedom and dignity.

With what would I have to negotiate when the neighborhood thug takes over my house, occupies every room and forces me to live in the garage? Even when the police come, he continues stealing everything he wants. I find little comfort when the cops say, “We are not going to stop his thieving, even as he hauls away the stuff in your garage. We want you to sit down, make peace and negotiate.” All my other neighbors are beside themselves in the shadow of this bully. After all, they could be next. They protest in the streets and call the sheriff. But, nothing happens. The thug makes huge reelection contributions to the sheriff. So, he says, “I think it is best to just let them talk it out.”

Back to today’s situation. It happens over and over and over again. The United States first used its veto power over the United Nations Security Council on behalf of Israel in 1973. Since then, whether it concerns a condemnation of the assassination of Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, or objecting to the construction of the apartheid wall or the killing by Israeli forces of United Nations personnel, the US has covered Israel’s guilt forty one times with its veto power.[1] Since the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, Israel has known that it can do anything it wants without a word of condemnation from the US government.

As the world declares the settlements “illegal,” the strongest language coming out of the US government is “We are deeply disappointed by the announcement. (of new settlements). State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley found it “counterproductive.” (Whatever that means.) Hillary Clinton said that the settlements were not “illegal,” but simply “illegitimate.” All the while, she “reiterated America’s unshakable commitment to Israel,” and in an 8-hour session with Netanyahu, they reached a tentative agreement that slowed, but did not stop, further settlement expansion.”

In exchange for a mere 90-day “partial” halt, the U.S. would provide Israel with $3 billion worth of F-25 attack jets, make no further demands for a settlement freeze and veto all U.N. resolutions critical of Israel as well as any attempt by the Palestinians to gain U.N. support for a declaration of statehood. Israel will therefore receive a payoff of $1 billion a month for the brief three months it refrains from building more settlements – money that might have been spent putting Americans back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges, caring for the elderly, poor or reducing class size in cash-strapped school districts.

A significant provision of the agreement excludes East Jerusalem from the proposed freeze, giving Israel a free hand to continue replacing the Arab population with Jews….[2]

How long will the citizens of the US look the other way while our “AIPAC bought” politicians continue to do the wrong thing? We talk about being on the side of freedom and self determination but seldom speak of what we are doing to the Palestinians.

So far, the street demonstrations in the Middle East seems to be focused on their internal economic suffering. But both the US and Israel must be asking for how long.

Fahed Abu Akel, past moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA, warns:

The journey to end the Israeli military occupation over the lives of 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Gaza is very long. We need to be clear that our work is in the USA not in Israel or Palestine. We must end the AIPAC occupation over our International policy. The advisors to our president must be on drugs and must be crazy. After what is taking place in Tunis, Egypt and what is going to be in other Arab countries in the near future - our action in the UN is 50 years behind history and we are acting like a colonial power who wants to protect what is wrong in day light. This action at the UN is going to play against our interest all over the Arab and Muslim world.

Israel has made clear that it will not stop building settlements on Palestinian land. Period.
The U.S. has made clear that it will say…What? … Well, Nothing. and Palestinians will continue to be forced from their homes for Jewish only settlements.

Thomas Are
February 24, 2011

[1] Report of the Middle East Study Committee to the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.) Breaking Down the Walls, p.103.
[2] Rachelle Marshall, U.S. Elections Mean a Big Win for the Israeli Right, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2011, p.9.

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