9/11 is Skewing our 20/20

The rest of the world is either with us or against us in the “war against terror.” It’s that simple, apparently.

Well, it’s not that simple. When we allow an ally — who receives more than $3 billion a year in taxpayer’s hard-earned money — to exploit an American tragedy under the guise of “war against terror,” there is something seriously wrong. Israel, the greatest beneficiary of 9/11, has murdered hundreds of Palestinians; prevented human rights organizations from delivering urgently needed food and medicine; disallowed journalists from covering the conflict; placed the Church of the Nativity under siege and attack; and destroyed every facet of Palestinian society EXCEPT its will to be free from Israeli Occupation.

For all of the Israeli rhetoric on their so-called fight for survival and the necessity of a military solution, the Israelis just don’t get it. The latest incursions have sadly created more suicide bombers. Why? Because desperate kids who have nothing to live for are not going to fear a Merkava tank, F16 bomber, or Apache helicopter.

The greatest irony in Israel’s unprecedented bloodshed is that Israel’s own Knesset is debating the correctness of the Israeli incursions. But not our Congress. Support has never been stronger.

The US Congress, created by Article 1 of the US Constitution, has a variety of legislative powers, including coining money and maintaining a military. Congress also frames US foreign policy. The US Constitution is arguably the greatest among sister nations’ constitutions, and the vision of the US Constitution’s architects has generally materialized.

But what our founding fathers probably never banked on was the influence of soft money and lobbyists. They couldn’t have imagined that our foreign policy would be guided by pocketbooks and interests which defy the values our nation was founded on, such as freedom and dignity for all.

Israeli interests are promoted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), recognized as the most powerful foreign lobbying organization on Capitol Hill. Since 1978, AIPAC has contributed more than $34 million dollars to congressional candidates — translating into funding for more than 1,700 candidates. In fact, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, AIPAC contributed $2,044,606 during the 1999-2000 election cycle. And in the world of politics, it is money that makes the Hill go round.

The ability of Jewish-American Zionists to rally around Israel using such methods as mass harassment of US media [as Eric Alterman of the Nation pointed out recently in an MSNBC article], as well as the harassment of US politicians [which former Congressman Paul Findley pointed out in his book, “They Dare To Speak Out”] have also contributed to the notion that Zionists manipulate the domestic political climate on the Middle East

Has all of this been effective in silencing Congress in recent weeks on the Israeli bloodshed in the West Bank? Well, as Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby told the Los Angeles Times, “There is reasoned discourse [over the Middle East] in almost every sector of society except Congress.”

Consider Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). “I think that . . . support for Israel is important and critical.” Interestingly, Daschle was criticized by the Republican Party for recent comments about America’s war on terror in Afghanistan. Daschle had questioned the continued success of the campaign, and further stated that if ex-Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden were not captured, “we will have failed.”

“How dare Sen. Daschle criticize President Bush while we are fighting our war on terrorism, especially when we have troops in the field,” said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., in a written statement. “He should not be trying to divide our country while we are united.”

One can apparently assume that the bi-partisan congressional chorus of dissent against President George Bush’s repeated calls for Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian Occupied Territories does not divide the country, or make our foreign policy seem ludicrous in the face of worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

A friendly reminder to our elected officials: when Americans died in the Revolutionary War, they did it for freedom. When we committed unmentionable violence against the British, we did it for freedom. Freedom is what our nation stands for. Who are we to side with Israel against the Palestinians when they are fighting for freedom? The Palestinians are not the Taliban. Palestine is not Afghanistan. We were innocent victims on 9/11. Israel is occupying another people.

Apparently, our Congressmen and policy makers haven’t taken their annual eye exams.

Sherri Muzher, who holds a Jurist Doctor in International and Comparative Law, is a Palestinian-American activist and free lance journalist.

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