It’s time for a change



Can you imagine the outrage, the anger, the condemnation, and the headline news if, for example, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a sidewalk cafe in the middle of downtown Tel Aviv and killed more than 150 innocent Jewish men, women, and children? Our news channels would carry non-stop live coverage 24 hours a day. Our president and other politicians would be out in front of the White House with strong criticism of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Congress would be called in for an emergency session to endorse a resolution cutting off all ties with the Palestinians with immediate economic sanctions taking affect without delay. There would be nothing short of an American response to include a possible military action.

But the above scenario is just an imagination. It is not the real thing. The real thing is even worse. Since the beginning of this month, there have been over 150 innocent Palestinian men, women, and children killed. I say it’s even worse than the imagined scenario because we Americans have hardly seen or heard any outrage, news coverage, criticism or harsh condemnation. We don’t see President Bush or Secretary of State Colin Powell or National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice running out to front lawn of the White House to voice their criticism or condemnation of Israel like they do when 3 or 4 Israelis are killed in a suicide attack. We didn’t see any economic sanctions nor did we see any group of Congressmen/women signing any petition to sanction the State of Israel. Instead, we see President Bush praising Ariel Sharon for pulling back his tanks from the town of Ramallah. It was like kissing your sister after she smacked you in the face. It was a bit embarrassing for me and, I’m sure, to many other patriotic and moral American criticizes. After thumbing his nose to Bush for the past week, the thought of losing an additional $800 million from the American taxpayer seems to have motivated this “war criminal” to withdraw his 20,000 troops and 50 tanks. It seems that the risk of losing a request for an additional $800 million was the only sure thing motivating the Israelis. It’s something that we should’ve been using years ago.

During this spree of killings, the Israelis carried out door-to-door searchers for Palestinian militants, rampaging innocent people’s homes, smashing doors and walls, ransacking within, and stealing elderly people’s personal possessions such as money, jewelry, radios, and more. Many other atrocities were carried out by Israeli soldiers such as smashing ambulances and killing the drivers and medics and even blowing up women and small children. Can you imagine Palestinian soldiers ransacking Israeli homes looking for Israeli militants and in the process smashing doors and holes in walls and stealing women’s jewelry and other valuables? Can you imagine if just one Jewish settler’s home was demolished by a group of Palestinian policemen? There would be all kinds of retaliation from the Israelis as well as complete condemnation by the United States. Yet, Amnesty International reports that the Israelis have demolished more than 2650 Palestinian homes causing more than 17,000 homeless, including more than 8000 children. Have we heard any news coverage about these atrocities? Have we heard President Bush or all his sidekicks condemn the Israelis for these home demolitions? Of course we haven’t. These kind of condemnations don’t bring them any political rewards; instead, it would bring them politically ending careers, and they know it. That’s why there’s been nothing but silence. They know better. It’s their job as well as the job of the media to portray the Jews as the victims and the Arabs as the victimizer. And that’s why we have so much violence in the Middle East, and that’s why we have terror on own soil.

When the Israeli tourism minister was recently assassinated, he was the first and only Israeli political leader to be assassinated. He was the same person who referred to Palestinians as leeches and wanted them all removed from the State of Israel. Although he was the first political leader to be assassinated, the Israelis have assassinated more than 100 Palestinian officials. Do we see any outrage over these 100 Palestinian officials assassinated? Of course not. The only outrage and condemnation and retaliation we see comes from the Israelis and the Americans. The Palestinians have suffered scores of deaths and home demolitions as a result of this one assassinated Israeli official. In addition, the Israelis humiliated Arafat by placing him under house arrest, demanding he arrest every member who was responsible for the assassination before he was allowed to be released. Yet, not one Israeli has ever been arrested for the nearly 100 Palestinian officials assassinated. Do you see the double standard?

And what about the tons of weapons and ammunitions supplied to the Israelis by the United States each and every year at American taxpayer expense?

We’re talking about the best and most sophisticated weaponry on this earth to include F-16 fighter jets, Apache and Cobra gun ships, 155mm howitzers, M1A1 Abram tanks, laser-guided missiles, and so much more. These are enough weapons to destroy any nation on earth but still we hear no outcry from the American public or from U.S. politicians. But when Palestinians try to acquire a shipment of arms and weapons the Israelis go ballistic. It’s like a crime of no other magnitude; it’s like the second holocaust. And the United States doesn’t act much differently. Secretary of State Powell described it as an act beyond belief.

The only thing that is beyond belief is the U.S. unbalanced Middle East Policy and it’s been one big disbelief for more than 40 years. American taxpayers have dished out more than $100 billion to the State of Israel during this period with hopes for a stable and peaceful Middle East. After more than $100 billion there is no more signs of peace and stability today than there was 40 years ago. A wiser investment would’ve been made had the U.S. simply flushed that money down the toilet.

No peace initiative will ever succeed as long as the United States continues to be silent in the face of Israel’s continuing occupation, obediently providing military, political and financial support which only strengthens Israel’s belligerent posture towards its neighbors. As American citizens and taxpayers we must insist that our congressmen and other representatives, in order to bring peace in the Middle East, must comply with a policy based on moral principles and not upon influences from the special interest groups, political action committees or influential lobbyists. No rational dialogue is ever possible when those who dare to speak out are subjected to such intimidation that they fear for their political or professional lives. Americans have a special responsibility to put a stop to Israeli abuses and violations of human rights, not only because they are unjust, but because they are being carried out with our resources and with the military and political support of our government. It’s time we make a change, and the time must be now. It’s time to get tough with Israel.

James J. David is a retired Brigadier General and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.