Occupied Rafah and Erie, PA: What If?

From Oct. 9 to Oct. 12, 2003, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), laid siege to the refugee camp of Rafah, located in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border. They inflicted, via tanks, helicopters, missiles and bulldozers, the kind of mayhem that has made Israel’s thuggish Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, one of the most despised figures on the planet.

Question: How can U.S. politicians that support Israel sleep at night knowing that the IOF are committing such outrages against the Palestinian refugees? I’m referring to lawmakers, like: Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA).

Americans will read news reports about Rafah, and some will remember that the life of a courageous peace activist from Olympia, WA, Rachel Corrie, was cruelly wiped out there by the IOF, on March 16, 2003. Others will even buy the Israeli yarn that the IOF was looking for tunnels near the border with Egypt, where weapons were supposedly smuggled. Even if weapons were found, it would be no excuse, under International Law, for the IOF to impose collective punishment on the civilians of Rafah.

Somehow, the full horror of the Israelis’ most recent evil deeds at Rafah, won’t hit home with the vast majority of Americans. I think it’s partly because of the power of the awesome Zionist Propaganda Machine. Thanks to media moguls and rabid Israeli Firsters, like Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the Israelis are falsely portrayed to Americans as a besieged minority in a sea of hostile Arabs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The other reason some don’t speak up on this issue is that they fear being branded with that bogus label “Anti-Semite.”

Maybe, if we could bring home what happened at Rafah, it would make a difference about how Americans perceive the Middle East conflict. It might also lead to more activists telling the truth about the serial Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians.

Let’s look at a hypothetical refugee situation. Erie, PA, for example, contains the same number of people, around 100,000, as does the Rafah camp. Erie, in NW PA, borders on Lake Erie. It is a city with all the modern conveniences. The densely populated Rafah, on the other hand, has a total population of 120,000 (Phrmg.org) The camp is a shelter to mostly very poor residents. It exist with a primitive sewage, water, electrical and road system. It has the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the “Green Line” border with Israel on its East.

Imagine if you can, that one dreadful day, the IOF comes charging into Erie, PA, and either by the use of force and terror, or by threats of force and terror, not only destroys the city, but pushes all 103,000 of its inhabitants out of their homes, and transforms all of them, in one fear-filled murderous attack, into stateless, hopeless and embittered refugees.

Suppose further, that the refugees of Erie City are then housed by an agency of the United Nations in a make-shift, shelter camp called, “Erie.” It is situated near their former homes. When the refugees look over to the place where Erie City was once located, they now see new settlements being constructed. In these new settlements, built in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, International Law, and numerous UN Security Council Resolutions, are residing Zionist religious fanatics, who believe that God gave them that land. These illegal settlements, like the original devastation of Erie City itself, and also the budget of the IOF, are subsidized by grants of billions of dollars by duped U.S. taxpayers.

Now, go one step more, try to think about the IOF coming back again to that same Godforsaken Erie refugee shelter to terrorize it. Despite the miserable, pitiful existence of the people, the IDF places the camp under a military siege, killing eight of the inhabitants, including two children, wounding 70, demolishing 120 homes, and leaving 1,240 people without shelter. This is the desperate story of Rafah last weekend! Within the last three years alone, the IOF had actually killed 82 people at Rafah, destroyed 2,000 homes, and made 7,523 people homeless (UNRWA).

The iron heel of the IOF, at Rafah, is just one example of Israeli terrorism that has been going on since 1948. Its rampages against the refugees actually accelerated after the 1967 War. There are presently over 3 million Palestinians languishing in these Zionist-controlled hell holes (See, UNRWA for the latest statistics on registered Palestinian refugees).

Besides the ongoing IOF horrors at the Rafah camp, and at Jenin, too, in 2002, there have been many other Arab towns and villages, that have fallen, over the years, under the oppressive Israeli yoke (Check PalestineRemembered.com for a detailed list).

If only the American people could see through the Zionist Propaganda Machine. And, if they could also begin to imagine a city like Erie, PA, and its 103,000 citizens, being brutalized by the IOF, then maybe they, too, would demand an immediate end to these Israeli “war crimes” (“Amnesty International,” 10/14/03, London, UK).

All of the above brings me back to my original question:

How can U.S. politicians that support Israel sleep at night knowing that the IOF are committing such outrages against the Palestinian refugees?