Mohamed Khodr’s Column
I am always amazed at the separation of people and state in our nation. While our government in Washington D.C. is moved by instant messaging from special interest groups in its domestic and foreign policy, the American people for the most part are not on the same wavelength as “‘The Beltway Boys.” It’s as if the Capitol beltway, I-495, that surrounds Washington DC acts more like a blood brain barrier, a barrier that separates the centers of power from the people’s true thoughts, opinions, and generosity of spirit and understanding of the issues affecting the world. Most Americans feel disconnected from their government, feel helpless and un–empowered to affect policy or change, feel that our politicians are more responsive to their campaign donors than to them. To paraphrase that great American, Daniel Webster: “The people’s government, made for the people (special interests), made by the people (driven by the media), and answerable to the people (of Israel more than to Americans).” (bold italics mine)
How can it be that in our great democracy the political and economic interests of corporations, the military-industrial complex, and Israel become superior and paramount in the corridors of Congress and the White House than the interest of the American people? Despite the denials one hears and reads in our media, the answer is quite simple. American affluence, geographic separation from the world, poor educational system that is geared more to producing non-thinking analytical students than to students of life, a media monopoly in the hands of a few corporations more interested in serving the needs of the “3 Amigos: multi-national corporations, the military-industrial complex, and Israel” than our citizens by ensuring that only the indoctrinating edited self serving information is provided (such information is reflected in the daily superficial conversation in our nation), its reflected in our apathetic separation from our government reflected in our voting patterns or if we vote its usually out of ideology or a superficial understanding of a 30 second commercial, its reflected in our conformity to fit in, to follow the herd, and avoidance of controversies and confrontation; its reflected in our separation from religion and the empowerment of morality, peace, and justice. Thus while we Americans are the most giving of spirit, money, and blood we don’t respond to issues unless we are massively and emotionally moved to a cause, a cause usually provided to our minds, eyes, ears, and hearts by the media.
As I sat and watched the New York City concert last night for the benefit of the families of the horrific terrorist act of September 11 where pictures, music, and words moved people to tears, I couldn’t help but think where are the pictures of the daily dying of innocents in Palestine, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Kashmir. I have confidence in my fellow citizens that if such pictures were provided of families and children being killed in their camps and mud houses, that America would rise up and demand a revolutionary change not only in our hijacked foreign policy but in the world’s priorities of enriching the rich and enslaving the poor. I can’t help but choke on the endless possibilities for peace and justice and the freedom from fear from terrorism, anthrax, nuclear weapons, hunger, sickness, and thirst. If only America could see the 2 year old Muhammad in Palestine clutching his hands, crying, wearing shabby clothes and without shoes being surrounded by the remains of his demolished homes and dead family. If only America could be shown the hundreds of homes and families in Afghanistan lying in waste from our sanitized war “America Strikes Back”. If only…..If only…..If only……IF ONLY!!!!!
For the second time in ten years America and a President Bush have formed a coalition with the Muslim world to kill Muslims. First in Iraq, now in Afghanistan. America and England alone out of the 1991 coalition and in contravention to the United Nations set up two no-fly zones and on a regular basis continue to bomb Iraqis out of sight of our media who now are clamoring for another war on Iraq after Afghanistan. Apparently, the death of 1.5 million Iraqi’s, the death of 150 Iraqi children daily from malnutrition (5000 a month) is according to Madeleine Albright “worth it” to fight Saddam’s accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, a charge that former U.N. inspectors and Iraqi experts deny. But for Americans, if its out of sight, its out of mind. Besides, our government and media’s propaganda to demonize and personalize an enemy, Saddam Hussein, or Osama Bin Laden, whose death is the benchmark of victory paints us into an untenable corner that we can’t consider alternatives lest we lose face.
In both coalitions, Israel was a huge liability for the United States overall mission. This “close, strategic, only democratic nation, largest recipient of all our foreign aid” under Sharon is not only insulting our President and nation comparing us to Nazi appeasers, but is deliberately undermining our coalition with the Muslim world by invading Palestinian control cities, killing Palestinian officials by using our Apache helicopters, building more settlements, rejecting Bush’s and Blair’s declaration that a peace settlement must include a viable Palestinian state. Thus the most powerful nation on earth can move the world but can’t touch ISRAEL. Despite repeated calls by Bush and Powell for Sharon to immediately evacuate from Palestinian controlled areas, Sharon would not do so unless Bush changed his MidEast Peace Plan set to be unveiled next month to not include a call for a Palestinian State. AS USUAL, OUR GOVERNMENT CAVES IN TO ISRAEL. Kol Israel radio reported an angry exchange between Sharon and Shimon Peres where Sharon angrily shouted to Peres: “Don’t worry about America. We control America.” Why would Sharon say this? Simple, ever heard of the most powerful lobby in Washington DC that “terrorizes” the White House and Congress and uses the media to intimidate our politicians and lie to the American people? It’s none other than the few thousand Jewish Americans who work in such lobbying groups as AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Defense League, Zionist Organization of America, American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and many more with affiliates in all states to ensure no politician, no academician, no media, and no citizen is ever allowed to speak or write the truth critical of Israel, or else. Yes, there is an else—from the intimidating label of “Anti-Semite”, to “Self-Hating Jew”, to harassment and even death threats.
Perhaps two recent examples of our Pro-Israel media will clarify for the American people the ‘DOUBLE STANDARD” that the Muslim world has been screaming about regarding our foreign policy in the Middle East for decades and the biased media coverage. Initially, let me point out that despite the fact that there are 7 million American Muslims (more than Jews), and millions of other Christians, Jews, and Americans of other faiths who support a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on U.N. Resolution 242 passed in 1967 with U.S. support (basically says Israel should withdraw from territories it occupied in its preemptive war on Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan—now only Palestine and Syria are affected–which would leave the Palestinians with only 22% of original Palestine), not of these individuals is ever on Television to speak on Islam, the conflict, or terrorism, or the war on Afghanistan, they are not in our paper’s editorial boards, nor do their opinions ever get published. Why? Americans only need to know what benefits Israel, so much for freedom of speech.
Example One: WHEN ITS AGAINST ISRAEL, THE WORLD MEDIA IS IN ATTACK MODE: In May of this year Pope John Paul II visited Syria. During that visit the President of Syria lashed out at Israel for its illegal occupation of Syria and Palestine. The next day you would think Hitler was resurrected. Every paper and television station here and Europe attacked the Syrian President with every offensive name in the book. From calling him Hitler, to an Anti-Semite, to a murderer. Our own President Bush and the State Department attacked him for his comments.
WHEN ITS AGAINST ISLAM, ARABS, OR MUSLIMS, OR AGAINST AMERICA, THE MEDIA IS “SILENT”: Recently, the Prime Minister of Italy in Germany lashed out at Arabs and Islam the faith by saying the West and Christianity is a superior civilized religion to Islam. Speaking at a news conference (Sept. 27) after talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Berlusconi said, “We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed wellébeing, respect for human rights and é in contrast with Islamic countries é respect for religious and political rights.” He hoped “the West will continue to conquer peoples, like it conquered Communism.” I thought our fair minded media and Anti-Defamation League would blast him for his offensive “ANTI-SEMITIC” remarks since the Arabs are the original Semites. The State Department’s spokesman Richard Boucher who usually issues strong condemnation of Arafat and Arabs had “no comment”. But, Alas, no such luck. A total silence. Why? Mr. Berlusconi is NOT attacking Israel. Hence, the Double Standard.
Example Two: When the extremist anti-Arab Israeli Cabinet Minister who favored the total “transfer” of Palestinians from their land, Mr. Rehavam Ze’evi, was assassinated the entire world media and our government which called it “a despicable act of terrorism”. Thus when one Israeli is assassinated our media labels its “terrorism”, but when for the last one year 60 Palestinians have been assassinated using Apache helicopters and F-16 missiles it’s not terrorism but “targeted killings” and “extrajudicial killings” and our State Department simply calls it “provocative acts”. However, Palestinian deaths if mentioned at all are not front page news, don’t get condemned in angry editorials, are not shown on television news, nor do any of our “courageous kosher” Congressman utter a word except as in the case of Senators Joseph Biden and John McCain (and V.P. Cheney) they call it “justified self defense.” Ironically, even the grand convicted spy Jonathan Pollard was quoted in the media as condemning the murder of the Mr. Ze’evi. The media will even go to prison for a Jewish quote and ignore the American people.
Hence the double standard that 56 Muslim nations perceive from our government and media, yet America once again demands that these nations join its coalition or else to kill Muslims. The American people understand that one doesn’t sacrifice our national interest with 56 nations for the sake of one nation, although the entire world with the exception of America and Israel wants to see Israel implement UN Resolution 242 for the sake of world peace. But to our Congress one Jewish dollar in the hand is worth 56 Muslim dollars in the tree.
Beyond our borders and the immense Jewish lobby influence on our government and media one reads a more balanced and honest reporting regarding Israel’s influence on America. Case in point from the Observer/Guardian in London is the article by Richard Ingrams @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4258074,00.html
“Noticeable was the reluctance throughout the media to contemplate the Israeli factor – the undeniable and central fact behind the disaster that Israel is now and has been for some time an American colony, sustained by billions of American dollars and armed with American missiles, helicopters and tanks.
Such has been the pressure from the Israeli lobby in this country (America) that many, even normally outspoken journalists, are reluctant even to refer to such matters. Nor would you find anywhere in last week’s coverage, any reference whatever to things I have mentioned here in recent issues of The Observer: the fact, for example, that Mr. Blair’s adviser on the Middle East is an unelected, unknown Jewish businessman, Lord Levy, now installed in the Foreign Office; the fact that this same Lord Levy is the chief fundraiser for the Labour Party; unmentioned also would be the close business links with Israel of two of our most powerful press magnates, Rupert Murdoch and the newly ennobled owner of the Telegraph newspapers, Lord Conrad Black.”
As an American I am outraged at the doormat, weak, and subservient policies of or government toward Israel. I am outraged that our media, through ownership, control, directorship, and plethora of Jewish American journalists in extreme disproportion to their population (less than 2%), only feeds us a daily kosher diet of pro-Israel words to the exclusion of the views of other Americans. I am outraged at the Arab and Muslim world for their incompetent, impotent, and dictatorial oppression of their own people’s aspirations for freedom, democracy, and human rights. It’s true there is no democracy in the Middle East, but that also includes Israel due to its oppression of its Arab citizens, non-Jewish citizens, and its brutal and immoral occupation and murder of Palestinians. I am outraged at the impotence of the United Nations that has not implemented its 90 UN Resolutions against Israel but implemented one Resolution against Iraq. I am outraged that our military is killing innocent Afghan citizens who’ve endured 25 years of war and hell while we lack a clear vision as to our mission, the threat of widening the war to Arab nations, and a lack of objective for a post-Taliban Afghanistan and world.
All Americans should be outraged that our democracy is being hijacked, that we are being manipulated and used through a patriotic fervor that is now selling cars, beer, and bombs; that our government never involves us in policy decisions abroad that ultimately may involve sacrificing our sons and daughters. Where are the Congressional hearings to debate our policy toward Israel, our wars, and future? Our taxdollars and lives are paying to fight Israel’s enemies who want freedom from occupation. Americans, unlike our government, value all life equally and want to live in peace and security. We don’t differentiate between the life of an Israeli, Palestinian, Iraqi, or Afghani children. We’re all created equally but our domestically dominated foreign policy does not reflect true American values and until it does, no one will have peace. I beg all Americans to get involved and call their Congressman and demand hearings and truth on Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, and any other region where people are oppressed and neglected by the world. We have the power to change the outlook of our media through letter writing, boycotts, lobbying advertisers. Our dollar drives these businesses and they will listen to their pocket book. We should demand the stoppage of all aid to Israel ($150 Billion since 1949 to the 16th richest nation on earth while Africa gets pennies per capita) until Israel withdraws from occupying Palestinian land. All human rights must be respected not just Jewish, European, or American. Until we do we’ll always be afraid to fly on planes, go to malls or movies, or open our mail. Our peace of mind will come when the oppressed and downtrodden around the world whom America directly or indirectly find their peace of mind and freedom.
America I pray we find our own “Intifadah” against those who seek to use our money, weapons, and good name to hurt others while deliberately keeping us in the dark.
My fellow Americans, despite all the talk and print to the contrary that seek to remove Israel and our blind 53 year support for its military aggressions as a main reason for the terror and death of 6000 Americans on September 11, please remember this: ISRAEL IS THE ISSUE. ISRAEL IS THE PROBLEM. ISRAEL IS THE SOLUTION. Do we have the courage to shout this to our government and demand a just solution for both Israelis and Palestinians? Only an American “Intifadah” will silence the intafadah’s of the Bin Ladens.
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.