Author’s Note: “America’s Tar Baby” is the last chapter of a manuscript, “The Tar Babies,” which explores those ideas and customs of our culture which have become quagmires in which we struggle with great difficulty to overcome approved responses and accepted beliefs in order to find the truth of our own convictions and experience. Those quagmires are Original Sin, Marxism, Political Correctness and the Federal Government, and, in this last chapter, our absolute, unqualified devotion to Israel despite evidence of human rights abuses to the Palestinians for more than fifty years. From her own experience as a college professor of Humanities, Clara Rising is appalled by intelligent friends who blame Islam for Israel’s troubles. Islam, after all, did not invade Palestine in 1948, cause over a million Arabs to flee into refugee camps, and accept billions of dollars in “aid” from American taxpayers. This is an effort to set the record straight.
For its size-smaller than New Hampshire-Israel must be the best-funded terrorist state in the world. It can certainly claim the prize for the most self-righteous arrogance. The Jews were kicked out of Palestine by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 A.D., two thousand years ago. But after World War I the Zionists cranked up the propaganda that the Jews needed to “return home.” That would be comparable to the ancient Britons demanding to rule England after the Roman, the Danish and the Norman invasions! Moreover, the Zionists had the effrontery to pretend that the land was empty. That God promised it to them. That they had done nothing wrong in taking it. These are not the ideas of radicals. Even the grandmotherly Golda Meir let her mask of a kindly schoolmarm slip when she pronounced: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian peopleï¿½.It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.” This was in 1969, long after the bloody 1948-49 and 1967 wars, and after over a million Arabs had fled into Lebanon and Jordan, into miserable refugee camps which the clever Israelis called “guerrilla strongholds”-an excuse for strafing them with those shiny new F-16 fighter planes provided by Big Daddy Deep-Pockets in Washington.
Why do we call it a state? We don’t say the “state” of England or the “state” of France. Is this some kind of Freudian slip, or even an attempt at justification, since we have funded ï¿½with BILLIONS of dollars–the Jewish land grab of Palestine and the incessant elimination of its indigent Arab population by the Israelis for half a century? Long enough for the U.S. taxpayer to get used to a give-away until it becomes almost normal, like the monthly light bill? A necessity built into our expenses? Or perhaps, since we remember that story of Uncle Remus, our biggest Tar Baby.
For years the American media has under-reported the correct amount of this yearly gift. The figure was separated into economic and military aid– conveniently so, since the economic was $1.2 billion, the military $1.8 billion. Together, this would mean that Israel has received, each year, at least $3 billion dollars. For the fiscal years 1978 through 1982, our surrogate state received 48% of all U.S. military aid and 35% of U.S. economic aid, worldwide. From 1949 through 1997, the total aid the U.S. sent to sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean totaled $64 billion, $127 million, $500 thousand dollars. But Israel, smaller than the state of New Hampshire, received more: $71 billion, $77 million, $600 thousand, in spite of the fact that it cannot claim to be in the same economic situation as third-world countries qualifying for the Great Give-Away from Uncle Sam. In 1997 the per capita gross national product of Israel was $16,180. That figure puts it, according to Richard H. Curtiss in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “on a par with Ireland, and well above Spain.” Israel, in simple terms, is NOT an impoverished, poor country with starving people. In mid-1999 the population count in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America numbered 1.142 billion people, while Israel’s population was 6.l million. Yet over the next three years (1999 until 2001), Israel’s total foreign aid increased to $80 billion, $97 million, $600 thousand.
But wait. The figures we have quoted avoid totally the “extras” buried in the Pentagon budget, which has increased annually by an average of 12.2 percent. Nor do they consider the fact that Israel receives its foreign aid during the first month of each fiscal year, instead of in the usual quarterly installments. This little convenience adds another $1.947 billion in interest paid by the U.S. from advanced payments. As of October 31, 1999 Israel received $91 billion, $816 million, $507 thousand, $200 dollars from 1949 to 2000. This figure does not include the $10 billion in loan guarantees, nor the fact that every dollar of U.S. aid has to be raised through borrowing. This interest, paid by the American taxpayer over the past FIFTY years, must be staggering. Added to this price tag is the $50 billion bribe given to Egypt since its peace with Israel in 1979. Since then, Egypt receives two-thirds of the Israeli give-away each year.
Where does it stop? Not with the tax-deductible one billion dollars given annually by U.S. organizations as donations to this helpless little country, whose citizens have received $75,260 of “foreign aid” for every Israeli family of five, or $15,052 for every Israeli. One wonders how many Americans who choose Israeli citizenship do so for this reward. Certainly, no American citizen or family of five can expect such largess from Washington. One Congressman recently joked that Israel was certainly not our fifty-first state-no state in this country could expect to receive, with no strings attached, the billions we send to Tel Aviv. As for the Israeli propaganda of a “Greater Israel”-which would include not only Lebanon but Jordan and Syria– Bernard Weinraub, in the New York Times (May, 1982), answered bluntly: “All this delusion of imperial power would stop if the U.S. turned off the tap.” But the tap is still flowing.
We are stuck, in any event. The relentless American funding of the Israeli Apartheid against the Palestinians has become almost a carte blanche issued by the U.S. Congress, just another item buried in the yearly foreign “aid” package of F-16 fighter planes or helicopter gunships or missiles to be fired from tanks against teenagers throwing rocks. Moreover, we have defended this investment relentlessly. Noam Chomsky reports in The Fateful Triangle that in 1982 “the U.S. stood alone in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling for simultaneous withdrawal of Israeli and Palestinian armed forces from Beirut, on the grounds that this plan ‘was a transparent attempt to preserve the PLO as a viable political force,’ evidently an intolerable prospect for the U.S. government.” During the 1998-99 UN session, of the twenty-one General Assembly resolutions relating to the Middle East, all were anti-Israel. Except for the U.S. and Israel, only one other country voted “No”-Micronesia. A similar lock-step protection of this sanctified “state” can be witnessed daily on Capitol Hill as the appropriations for Israel solidify into granite tablets reminiscent of those that came down from Sinai. Israel proper (without the West Bank and Gaza), is, as we have noted, smaller than New Hampshire. Yet by 1998 it was the fourth most powerful military nation in the world, with the sixth largest air force, 4,000 tanks and a nuclear weapons arsenal kept secret until an Israeli whistleblower named Mordechai Vanunu gave the story to a British newspaper in 1986. The Israeli secret service immediately kidnapped him and brought him back to Israel, where he has been in solitary confinement ever since.
Congress and the CIA had good reason to suspect that our good ally, that “beautiful democracy” in the Middle East was not exactly our “strategic asset.” The arrest of Jonathan Pollard in 1998 revealed a massive loss of classified documents sold to Israel-800,000 pages of satellite photos, systems analyses and other information on U.S. defense capabilities. According to Joseph diGenova, the lead prosecutor in the Pollard case, “He revealed our most sensitive sources and methods data, threatening not only technical intelligence but also our human sources.” This was no short-term activity. This was twelve years after Mordechai Vanunu blew the whistle that landed him in solitary and twenty years after the theft of 206 pounds of highly enriched uranium from the Apollo (Pennsylvania) plant in 1977, a theft Congressman Morris Udall called “a scandal in the same league with Watergate and My Lai.” Why? Because the CIA had managed to obtain a sample of highly enriched uranium from Israel with a chemical “signature” which specifically identified it as uranium that had been enriched at the U.S. plant at Portsmouth, Ohio, where the Pennsylvania plant’s uranium came from. Like North Korea, Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Now we know why.
An even more obvious, more flagrant crime against the U.S. by its favorite ally was the destruction of the USS Liberty, an American intelligence-gathering vessel in international waters off the Gaza Strip in 1967. The weather that June was beautiful. Israeli reconnaissance planes had been flying overhead for hours-in fact, crew members and pilots even waved to each other. The Stars and Stripes were plainly visible. Then, without warning, unmarked Israeli aircraft began an attack. The Liberty radioed for help. Two aircraft carriers in the Med launched fighter planes, but these were recalled by the White House. Incredulous, Admiral Geis, commanding the carriers of the Sixth Fleet, called Washington to confirm the order. President Johnson said that the aircraft were indeed to be returned, that he would not have his ally “embarrassed”-and he didn’t care who was killed or what was done to the ship. Admiral Geis, under orders, had no choice but to comply. It wasn’t long before the
defenseless Liberty fell victim to five torpedoes from an Israeli motor boat. Thirty-four Americans died in the attack, 172 were injured. President Johnson, that night on television, announced that ten sailors were killed in a “six minute accidental” attack. The Israelis said they thought the Liberty, with a big satellite dish antenna on the fantail and 10-foot high letters on the bow, was an Egyptian horse carrier, one fourth the size. There has never been a Congressional investigation.
But those appropriations keep coming. Pat Buchanan may have said some stupid things in his political career, but one remark is memorable: “The U.S. Congress is Israeli-held territory.”
Yet why shouldn’t it be, some Americans will argue. Haven’t the Jews suffered enough, from the Holocaust? Don’t we call ourselves, not a Christian country, but a Judeo-Christian country? After all, we share a long religious tradition. Remember Deuteronomy? Didn’t Yahweh, our own Jehovah, tell His “Chosen People” to invade the land on the other side of the Jordan “where the sun goeth down,” to “smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword” and “save nothing alive that breatheth”? Why? Because “the lord thy God doeth give thee for an inheritance the cities of these people” and “thou shalt utterly destroy them.” We even call it “the Promised Land.”
You can’t argue with that. Or don’t dare to. Or, if you dare you will be branded anti-Semitic, a stigmata comparable to moral B.O. It’s easier (and more acceptable) to see the Israelis as Americans-under-the-skin, some kind of latter-day pioneers with a Manifest Destiny, and their inhuman treatment of Palestinians not unlike our own desecration of the American Indians on the great altar of Progress. They have merely exchanged the covered wagon for the kibbutz. Westward-Ho.
We must, if we are to understand anything about the current crisis with the Palestinians, examine without prejudice why and how we have arrived at the brim of this black hole of ignorance and stubborn recalcitrance that will get us nowhere, no matter how much we talk of “occupied territories,” Israel’s “right to exist,” “settlers” on the West Bank, or “peace and security.” Violence is a child’s toy, a reaction, not an action. But the memory of undeserved violence by Palestinians is worse because it begs for vengeance-and starts the roller coaster all over again. Meanwhile, we can’t seem to see or hear or remember the facts, despite our vaunted journalists and those talking heads on TV. The reason for our confusion is simple: the political propaganda of the Israelis must be the best in the world. They take our words and throw them back in our faces. Why is Israel America’s “strategic asset” in the Middle East-because of those secret nuclear weapons, perhaps? A teenage boy with a rock is a terrorist, not an Israeli tank shelling an Arab neighborhood, while a helicopter pinpoints an assassination from the air. CNN savants keep repeating, like a tribal chant, that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East” ï¿½with the implication that a democracy can simply do no wrong. But one needs only to read Bernard Avishai’s The Tragedy of Zionism to realize that Zionism, by its very nationalistic nature-conquering and occupying the land of others—prevents the establishment of true democracy. Israel may have a Knesset, but the modus operandi of Zionism from the beginning has been the uncompromising central authority encouraged by its founder (the Satanist Moses Hess, who influenced the young Karl Marx) and executed by its most honored hero, the ruthless General Ariel Sharon.
In September, 1982, after defeating Yasser Arafat and virtually destroying West Beirut, Sharon bowed to international (and U.S.) pressure to allow the remaining PLO fighters to leave, under guarantees for the safety of their dependents left behind in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The Palestinians were hardly out of sight when Sharon orchestrated the massacre of those refugees by his henchmen, the Christian Phalangists, while his soldiers, camped nearby, could hear the screams of women and children being murdered. Noam Chomsky writes that by Friday, September 17 a Norwegian journalist “attempted to enter the camp but was turned back by a bulldozer with the scoop filled with dead bodies.” U.S. envoy Morris Draper demanded that the massacres be stopped. Prime Minister Begin’s reply to the Commission of Inquiry was that “2,000 Palestinian guerrillas were concentrated in the area.” In Sabra and Shatila the death toll of women and children was estimated to have been 3,000. Sharon’s Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, far from being sympathetic, summed up the situation with a focus both brutal and uncompromising: “We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all foursï¿½.When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.” This was quoted in The New York Times April 14, 1983. And this has been the agenda of the Israeli government ever since.
Such zeal seems insane, until we remember that the word zeal explains the Zealots, the Jewish majority in Galilee in Roman times. The Dartmouth Bible notes that these ardent patriots were responsible for millions of Jewish lives during the first seventy years of the Christian era. The slaughter did not end until the Jews were expelled from Palestine in 70 A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Titus. The final dispersion came in 133 A.D., after a Jewish revolt under the Roman Emperor Hadrian. So, for two thousand years the Jews lived in their adopted countries, until the establishment of modern Israel in 1948. That was the year when the Orders from Headquarters in Deuteronomy were finally obeyed. Under the onslaught, over a hundred Arab villages disappeared from the face of the earth. In one, after the Israeli soldiers had finished, 35 bodies of women and babies were found stuffed in a well, some not dead yet. Even if we discard such an atrocity story as battlefield propaganda, there is one fact that cannot be ignored. More than a million Arabs fled-into Jordan and Lebanon, into refugee camps–those “guerrilla strongholds” that served as target practice for the Israeli air force. Unless, as in Sabra and Shatila, the efficient General Sharon didn’t get there first.
Sadly, the stain of the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila-or any other Israeli atrocity past or present-would be predictably short-lived, quickly scrubbed clean by American and Jewish propaganda. The New York Times in November, 1982 claimed that these “events” reflect Israel’s anguish [!] which “is only appropriate for a society in which moral sensitivity is a principle of political life.” A month earlier the same newspaper defended the Israeli army by saying that “the Israeli Defense Force has from the start been animated by the same righteous anger and high moral purpose that has guided Israel through its tumultuous history.” (My emphasis.) So now brutal murders are blessed by the pro-Israel American media as “high moral purpose” and “moral sensitivity.” A whitewashing report of the Israeli Commission into the Beirut massacres in February, 1983 evoked “new raptures among the faithful.” The New Republic proclaimed with ridiculous enthusiasm: “this grim document set a sublime standard of moral and political action in this extraordinary country, this brilliant democracy.”
We are talking about the unprovoked murder of women and children penned like cattle in two refugee camps, and yet The New York Times, in an editorial called “Cry of Conscience,” praises Israel for facing up to the horrors of Sabra and Shatila not through any compassion for the victims but for “lifting Israel onto a higher, civilized plane.” “How rare the nation,” the Times writer gushes, “that seeks salvation by revealing such shame.” So now the slaughter of innocents becomes a
means of salvation! We can’t seem to get away from Deuteronomy. Nor can we escape the the fact that, once Israel has taken onto itself the role of a God-given wrath, as Noam Chomsky writes, “the U.S. can proceed with no qualms to pay the costs of the Lebanon invasion as the Times had recommended while the attack was reaching its peak of ferocity, meanwhile also funding the concentration camps and prisons, the settlements in the occupied territories, the oppression there, and whatever will come next.” And for everything else since 1982, one could add.
In 1996, when Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister, he knew who to turn to to complete the job. He appointed General Ariel Sharon to be the minister of national infrastructure. That may sound harmless, until one realizes that infrastructure means roads, and roads mean the confiscation of Arab land and the crisscrossing of that land with highways until a viable geographical entity for a possible future Palestinian state will be impossible. Infrastructure also means building, in this case vast apartment
complexes which the Israeli government calls “settlements”(another “feel-good” word like “occupied territories”– with the implication that a kind-hearted Israeli government has merely contributed to the well-being of its inhabitants). In the most recent effort to salvage any remnants of civilized behavior in Israel, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, in April, 2001, called for a construction freeze. He hoped, in what has come to be known as The Mitchell Report, to overcome the Israeli claim that more housing on Arab land is needed for “natural growth” (another “feel-good” word). Surprisingly, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed. On May 30, 2001 he announced in the Kenneset that he accepted the report unconditionally. But on the same day Sharon’s housing and construction minister Natan Sharansky approved construction bids for 496 new housing units in the settlement of Maale Adumim outside of Jerusalem and 217 units in Alfei Menashe, near Tel Aviv!
Yet nothing in all this is new. Back in 1948, in a published protocol, the founder of Israel and its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, wrote that if a war should break out, “We will be able to cleanse the entire area of Central Galilee, including all its refugees, in one stroke.” He rejected the offer of mediators who spoke of “Galilee without war.” Again, he uses that Kosovo word cleansing: “What they meant was the populated Galileeï¿½.which we could have only by means of a war. Therefore if a war is extended to cover the whole of Palestine, our greatest gain will be the Galileeï¿½.only by using the troops already assigned for the task, we could accomplish our aim of cleansing the Galilee.” Cleansing the Galilee. Of what? Of those drugged roaches, of course.
The Jewish faith, however, is different from those hoping for rewards in a next life. Although Judaism believes that death is not the end of human existence, throughout the Old Testament it focuses on this life, and elsewhere dogma concerning a hereafter in Jewish religious writing is ambivalent at best. An orthodox Jew can believe that the righteous soul can go to a place similar to heaven or it can be reincarnated through many lifetimes or it can be resurrected by the coming of a messiah. One can argue ad nauseam the niceties of the Torah, the Talmud, Pharisees, Sadducees, Chasidic sects or mystics and find hell as a place of remorse (comparable to Purgatory) or total death, or a punishment suffered by the sinner whose sins have become tormenting demons. Similarly, heaven (Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come), can be a banquet hall and earth a lobby where we wait. But throughout the most exhaustive investigations of Judaism one item, made clear in the Old Testament, is central to this faith: the unequivocal judgment of Jehovah, which brings either instant punishment or instant reward. Saul and David were wealthy and successful because Jehovah chose them to be. Everything depended on obedience, as with Abraham willing to kill his son Isaac, or Adam in the Garden of Eden. Nothing was postponed; everything was here and now, on this earth.
Perhaps this may explain the phenomenon of Zionism, the root cause of the Jewish obsession with Jerusalem and Palestine. We all have (especially in America) a lost homeland. The Irish are famous for fantasizing an Emerald Isle. But the Jews are different. They have connected their need for a homeland with obedience to an all-powerful God whose commands were explicit, whose punishments and rewards were tangible and immediate and had no connection with good intentions or even with good behavior. Look at Job, “a perfect and upright” prosperous man who made the mistake of asking Why. Every time Job questioned God, another disaster descended. No never-never hereafters here. Job’s nightmare ends only when he grovels and declares himself “vile.” God then rewards Job by giving him “twice as much as he had before.” God is so pleased at this metamorphosis He tells Job to “Deck thyself now with majestyï¿½.Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low.” Why, one could ask, would Job’s newfound humility create the authority to neutralize others-simply because they enjoyed the same self-assurance that God just bestowed on Job? Now God can reveal another power: “I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.” In other words, if you have God on your side, you can do anything. Translated into the land-grab of Palestine, that might read: “If we want it, get out of the way because we intend to take it, especially if we are obeying Orders from Headquarters”. Such an attitude is beyond argument or compromise. It is at the heart of Zionism.
Named for Zion, one of the hills of Jerusalem, this return to Palestine had its roots in the folklore of the Middle Ages. It resurfaced in the poetic fantasies of 16th and 17th century “messiahs,” who served it up as a soothing palliative to mitigate the injustices done to their Jewish congregations in Central Europe. The Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century, with its emphasis on religious tolerance and civic freedom, through new methods of scholarship contributed to a renewed appreciation of Jewish heritage. Interestingly enough, its message was not one of rejecting Western culture but of assimilating into its secular opportunities. Popular in England, Zionism saw as a particularly attractive secular opportunity a return to Palestine that would incorporate, for the first time, the idea of a separate Jewish settlement. When this idea crossed the Atlantic, it blossomed (as so many ideas do when crossing that body of water) into the need for a Jewish state. A man named Mordedai Noah, U.S. consul in Tunis and later sheriff and surveyor of the port of New York, acquired in 1825 Grand Island in the Niagara River, which he offered to the Jews of the whole world as a Jewish state, to be named Ararat. For some reason he must have reconsidered, for nineteen years later, in 1844, he changed the location to Palestine. In England, shrewd politicians saw the advantages of a friendly population in the Holy Land as a means of assuring the overland route to India.
The man who gave the first political justification to Zionism among the Jews was the German socialist Moses Hess, the mentor of the young Carl Marx. His Rome and Jerusalem, published in 1862, preached that the social consolidation of the Jews could only be found in their historical homeland. His counterpart in Austria, a journalist named Theodor Herzl, convened in 1897 the first Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland, with the high-sounding purpose of creating for the Jewish people a home in Palestine “secured by law.” The Ottoman Empire, which owned Palestine at the time, disagreed. England came to the rescue in 1903, offering 6,000 square miles of uninhabited land in Uganda, which the Zionists refused. It was to be Palestine or nothing. Half a century later that “uninhabited” (because, perhaps, it was inhabited by non-human Arabs) land would reap the whirlwind of Jehovah’s wrath, saved up over lo, those many years, since the days of Deuteronomy.
But what would unify them? They would be coming from all over the world. Would just getting the land provide the political safety net so longed for? It would have to be something so potent, so blood-curdling, so universally abhorred that sympathy for the Jews would be forever secure in the civilized world. The Jewish writer Bernard Avishai, in The Tragedy of Zionism, finds that new “unifying myth” in the horrors of Auschwitz. He calls it “the commandment of Auschwitz”– a memory that compels Jews to enshrine those horrors in their hearts lest the Jewish people perish. Why? Why would a people perish if they did not remind themselves-and everybody else-of those horrors? Because, Avishai suggests, those horrors bestow guilt on all non-Jews-a guilt which Jews can use to wield psychological power. Has the “commandment of Auschwitz” made Jews untouchable? I recently found an answer in, of all places, the local feed store. I was there to buy grain for my horse. In the usual conversation with the feed store owner over the day’s news I expressed some sympathy for the Palestinians. A woman behind me overheard, and exploded. “No other people,” she almost shouted, “lost SIX MILLION!”
“BUT THE PALESTINIANS DIDN’T KILL THEM!” I wanted to shout back.
“WE FOUGHT A WAR FOR FOUR LONG YEARS TO GET RID OF HITLER!”
But I knew I wouldn’t say it out loud. I was struck dumb, turned to stone because the Medusa of Anti-Semitism had appeared before me, with a can of fly spray in her hand.
Anti-Semitism, that Moral B.O. that halts conversations, stops thought in its tracks, had me by the throat. Avishai has some interesting observations about this phenomena. He asks some compelling questions-not only about promoting Zionism but about the need for self-righteous violence-even against the innocent-to satisfy “an increasingly idealized rage”: “If American Jews were denied such opportunities to act out vigilance for Israel, what would be left of their Judaism?” he asks. ” Is it possible that American Jews now need to invent anti-Semites to feel like Jews, to perform the commandment of Auschwitz?” And that commandment-which gives Jews guilt-power over non-Jews-inspires the mandate, writes Avishai, “that Israeli politicians, including the guilty General Sharon, should be received in American synagogues with a reverence justly denied at home.” Not all Jews are ignorant of the bloody past of the present Prime Minister. And the woman with the fly spray was not even a Jew, but one of those Americans brainwashed by our pro-Israel media.
This need to keep the autonomy of the Jews pure and unsullied by the surrounding world of non-Jews may explain the fear of a “Palestinian state”-words that have become almost, like a curse, a denunciation of a lower form of life that exists only to be reviled, loathed, or shunned, but never to be legitimized by legal recognition. Maureen Meehan, in a report on Israeli textbooks, reveals the racist propaganda fed to Israeli schoolchildren. The Jews are industrious and brave, determined to improve the country. The Arabs are bloodthirsty robbers and killers, whose ignorance has destroyed the land–until the Jews returned from their forced exile and revived it “with the help of the Zionist movement.” They hear this slander not only from their teachers but their rabbis and government officials. “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail,” pronounced Rabbi Ya’acov Perin when he gave the eulogy for Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer who slaughtered Arab inhabitants of Deir Yasin in 1972. “The very point of the Zionist program is to have as much land as possible and as few Arabs as possible,” announced Yitzhak Navon, a “moderate” Israeli president and labor politician. To “have as few Arabs as possible” Joseph Weitz, Chairman of the Israel Land Authority wrote in 1967 that the only solution was to “transfer all of them, not one village or tribe should remainï¿½only with this transfer could the country absorb millions of our brothers. There is no other alternativeï¿½.” To help that alternative the Israel Land Law provides 92% of the land for-Jews-only. It can’t be sold to non-Jews, who are “non-nationals.” Only Jews are nationals. Even non-Jewish citizens are not considered nationals in Israel. A Jewish student in an Israeli school must be confused. Where are these exported Arabs to go? Why, to other countries, of course-Syria, or Iraq, or anywhere but Palestine, which has become an Israeli state, synonymous with “For Jews only.” Despite the fact that U.S. President George W. Bush, before the UN on November 10, 2001 spoke of a “Palestinian state,” and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated the offensive phrase at the University of Louisville nine days later, by December 12, just a month later, Rush Limbaugh-usually an astute commentator-stated bluntly that “the Palestinians were on Israeli land.” Had he forgotten the history
of the last fifty years? Or was he even more astute than I thought, recognizing that, with the fast-moving events of these last months in the year 2001, the question may no longer be relevant?
Before we go there, it will be interesting to learn just what was said regarding the existence of the Palestinians by all those accords, agreements, resolutions and other fruitless “solutions” set forth by well-meaning politicians in the last 84 years.
The Balfour Declaration, 1917. A letter written by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, declaring that his government would view with favor the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people, but that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestineï¿½.”
UN Resolution 181, 1947. Called for a partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. (Note that the word “state” is used in reference to the Arabs.) Rejected by the Palestinians because it would recognize a state of Israel, and rejected by Israel because Israel would be required to return not only to the armistice lines at the end of the 1948-49 war, but to withdraw to the separation boundaries, including the internationalization of Jerusalem. Eventually rejected by both Israel and the United States. In 1999 the Palestinian Authority tried to reintroduce diplomatic discussions based on the “two state” reference, but by that time such an idea seemed, under heavy pro-Israel propaganda in the American media and in the U.S. Congress, preposterous, if not insane.
UN Resolution 242, 1967. Following June 6-Day War, “242” set forth a two-fold attempt: (1) to call upon Israel for territorial withdrawal, and (2) to expect that the Arab states recognize Israel’s right to live in peace and security. LOOPHOLES: (1) It was passed under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter (“the pacific settlement of disputes” clause) rather than Chapter 7 (which gives the Security Council the capacity to label states as aggressors.); (2) The omission of the word “the” or “all” from “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Thus the resolution avoided defining the extent of withdrawals. Lord Caradon, the UK ambassador to the UN at the time and one of the authors of the resolution, said later: “We didn’t say there should be withdrawal to the ’67 line; we did not put ‘the’ in, we did not say ‘all the territories’ deliberately. We knew that the boundaries of ’67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers; they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier. We did not say that the ’67 boundaries must be forever.” Israelis argued that under no circumstances was Israel required to return to what they considered not just a cease-fire line but precise June 4, 1967 borders. The Palestinians argued that 242 required Israel to withdraw from all territories taken in 1967 (the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the Sinai and the Golan Heights).
UN Resolution 338, 1973. Resolution 242 only recommended a framework for Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Resolution 338, written in the context of the Yom Kippur War and using Chapter 7 (with reference to aggressive states), legally bound the parties to implement 242 in all its parts, and obligated the parties to negotiate a just and durable peace in the Middle East. As a result, 242 has been the sole, indispensable cornerstone of all Arab-Israeli peacemaking attempts. Yet, in its war with Lebanon, with an in-your-face gesture of defiance, Israel started bombing Beirut precisely at 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon of July 26, 1982.
Camp David I, 1978. Established a self-governing authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and a transitional period of not more than five years, at the end of which the inhabitants of those Palestinian areas would become autonomous. As a result, the Soviet Union recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians and in 1981 extended formal diplomatic recognition. The nations of Western Europe announced their support in 1980. The United States, under the Carter administration, honored a secret deal made by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger not to deal with the PLO so long as the Palestinians refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist (which they did in 1988).
Madrid Peace Conference, 1991. First peace conference with Israelis and Palestinians to achieve peace based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. However, Haider Abdel-Shafi, who led the Palestinian delegation, opened a loophole by saying that the Israeli withdrawal “should be almost total from all the occupied territories,” thus allowing for ambiguous “territorial adjustments” which later, in 1995, resulted in approximately 10% of the West Bank being annexed to Israel.
Oslo Accords, 1993. PLO and Israel met for the first time face-to-face. Highlights were (1) mutual recognition; (2) Declaration of Principles, signed by both parties, which provided a transitional period of five years before the end of the Israeli occupation, and (3) an Interim Agreement in which the two parties view the West Bank and Gaza as a single territorial unit and agree to prohibit steps which may prejudice permanent status negotiations. What did this Interim Agreement really mean? Why would “viewing” the West Bank and Gaza as “one territorial unit” improve the chances that both parties would “prohibit steps which may prejudice permanent status negotiations”? The language, as well as the implied intentions, were suspiciously misleading. The PLO saw it as a prohibition against Israel’s illegal expansionist settlement policy, designed to segregate Palestinians in non-contiguous enclaves surrounded by Israeli military-controlled borders. The Israeli government saw it as a protection of settlement activity to facilitate the safety of the settlers. An independent observer might view Oslo’s decision to postpone the “permanent status” issue until the end of negotiations as its principle failure. A skeptic might view the famous handshake between Arafat, Rabin and Clinton that September day in 1993 at the White House as the Wishful Thinking Photo-Op of the century.
Wye River Agreement, October, 1998. Although it echoes the previous accords and agreements with phrases like “the need for a positive environment for negotiations,” the main thrust of Wye River deals with the problem of proliferating Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. But high-sounding pronouncements such as “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement” merely invited more expansion. The Palestinian village of Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, lost 55% of its land to illegal colonies or to the construction of by-pass roads, where 10,000 trees were uprooted and acres of agricultural land were bulldozed. A large strip of land between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Ramallah is now filled with Israeli settlements. Confiscation orders date back to 1988. Caravans (trailers) appear, followed by construction. The Israeli Minister of External Affairs-none other than Ariel Sharon-stated bluntly that every hill in Palestine was going to have a settlement on it. Prime Minister Netanyahu denied in December, 1998 that there was any enlargement of settlements on the West Bank. Even while he spoke bulldozers were leveling and excavating more Palestinian land-on the West Bank. Other concerns of Wye are equally disturbing-the lack of human rights for the Palestinians, the exercise of torture by the Israelis, cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners who are merely suspects. The Human Rights Watch, in November, 1998, concluded that the Wye River Memorandum presents human rights as an afterthought. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak promised to implement the Wye River accord in three weeks. It was more than 10 months before any action was taken, and even then Barak admitted that he intended to delay the Israeli troop withdrawal-with a vague promise that Palestinian detainees would be freed “during the coming weeks.”
Camp David II, July, 2000. Israel Prime Minister Barak proposed (1) to annex 11.2% of the West Bank, excluding Jerusalem, (2) to legitimize and expand Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory, (3) to divide Palestine into 4 parts-surrounded by Israeli territory (thus making it impossible for Palestinians to commute between areas belonging to Palestine–or even to commute into Israel to work–or to move from one place to another without the humiliation of road blocks or interrogation points under Israeli control), (4) to deny Palestinians control of their own borders, airspace and water resources, and (5) to demand that the Palestinians give up any claim to the Israeli-occupied portion of Jerusalem and to recognize the right of Israel to annex all of Arab East Jerusalem.
What did the Israelis give up? Nothing. They would not withdraw their military forces, nor even consider the return of those Palestinian refugees displaced from their homes since 1948. There was no mention of Palestinian autonomy. Yet daily, repeated persistently on American TV, is the myth that Barak at Camp David offered the Palestinians the moon and the stars and Arafat refused, thus causing the continuing violence. In the seven years between Oslo (1993) and Camp David II (2000) the settler population in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, has doubled to 200,000, and the settler population in Arab East Jerusalem has risen to 170,000. Yet the Israeli government insists that the expansion of settlements does not prejudice the outcome of permanent status negotiations.
NOTE: The inconsistencies and double-talk of Camp David II in July, 2000 repressed negotiations and provided a deceptive lull, a calm before the storm. On September 28, 2000 then Knesset Member Ariel Sharon decided to visit the Jerusalem mosque Al-Haram al-Sharif, for the Muslims the site of Muhammad’s ascension to heaven, for the Jews the site of their biblical temple. He did not go alone. He brought with him 1,000 Israeli police officers. This was not a visit to a holy place. This was an act of defiance, a declaration of war, with lethal consequences. How many unarmed Palestinians died that day? I have heard 69. There were more the next day, and the next, and on September 30 we were treated on our TV screens to the killing of a 12-year-old boy as he huddled beside his father on a street in Gaza. Prime Minister Barak-the generous negotiator of Camp David-claimed that Sharon’s provocative visit was motivated by politics, not violence. Shortly thereafter the voters of Israel rewarded the bravely belligerent Ariel Sharon with Barak’s office of Prime Minister. But all the violence against Palestinians, all the pin-pointed assassinations, the terror unleashed by Israeli tanks, gunships, bombs and missiles for the past year-from September 28, 2000 until now as I write this in December, 2001, can be traced back to Ariel Sharon’s brazen, arrogant visit to the Temple Mount.
The Middle East Peace Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Oct, 2000. An agreement by both parties to reaffirm their previously signed commitments with the purpose of resuming meaningful negotiations, with the intent to take corresponding action. Israel would ease restrictions on Palestinian life and both sides would attempt to curb the violence. A commission was proposed to investigate the causes of conflict and to offer recommendations. The Israelis did not want a commission. The Palestinians wanted a UN-appointed commission that would be empowered to make mandatory recommendations. The result was a commission that was a compromise, a weak fact-gathering committee on recent violent events that would offer suggestions on how to prevent their recurrence.
Meeting in Cairo, January, 2001. Repeats the need, discussed at Sharm el-Sheikh, for the parties to establish a meaningful “cooling off period” and to implement additional confidence building measures.
The Mitchell Report, April, 2001. Senator George Mitchell of Maine presented an 18-page review of grievances and attempts at peaceful solutions, ending with a plea that both sides resort to negotiations rather than to violence. Throughout the long lists of frustrations and humiliations on the Palestinian side and Israel’s excessive force and refusal to understand the need of the Arabs to achieve self-determination runs the absolute necessity to face up to the fact that violence must cease. The IDF should abandon its idea that it is at war and learn to discriminate between terrorism and protest. The Palestinian Authority should prevent gunmen from operating in Israeli populated areas. Both sides should abide by the provisions of the Wye Agreement prohibiting illegal weapons. But above all, the core of the problem is the occupation by Israel of Palestinian land and the insistence by Israel that it must have more settlements, which demand more roads, more bulldozed houses, more lost autonomy.
Senator Mitchell meets the problem head-on when he quotes former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, of the Carter Administration, who said in 1980: “U.S. policy toward the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal and has long been a matter of public record. We consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion of the Middle East peace process.” In 1982 President Reagan’s Plan for the Middle East offered an immediate and logical solution: a freeze on settlements. Reagan stated: “The immediate adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.” Nineteen years later, on April 5, 2001, the same month the Mitchell Report appeared, a State Department spokesman in the Bush Administration echoed the Reagan Plan by insisting that “Continuing settlement activity does risk inflaming an already volatile situation in the region.” He described that activity as “provocative.” But they go on. And now, since the attack on the World Trade Towers, President Bush’s vow to eradicate terrorism-and those who harbor terrorists-includes by definition the Palestinian Authority, since Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad groups all operate from Palestinian-controlled areas. Still, an Israeli gunship pinpointing an assassination is not terrorism. An Arab teenager throwing a rock-that is terrorism. David and Goliath have changed places.
The Mitchell Report came out in April, 2001. It was published on May 20. Ten days later, on May 30, 2001, Ariel Sharon announced in the Knesset that he accepted it totally. And on that same day, 713 new housing units were approved by Sharon’s Construction Minister. David and Goliath had changed places, indeed. In the following months the drama unfolded quickly, with Israeli force followed by Palestinian funerals– the first placidly condoned, the second merely a source of passing interest for American TV pundits and well-padded Congressmen, safely removed from even “rubber-covered” bullets.
As summer moved into autumn, and autumn into the end of the year, tensions in the Middle East tightened with each turn of the screw of violence and murder–and with each failed conference, cease-fire or meeting in which “views were exchanged.” Meanwhile, the smaller headlines told a harder truth: Palestinian children killed, defiant Jewish settlers vowing revenge on suicide bombers, IDF tanks rolling down narrow village streets demolishing houses and bulldozing age-old olive groves, Gaza a besieged, isolated nightmare, the West Bank divided into hostile enclaves of grief and despair. By the end of June Arafat met with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in Lisbon, where both sides “pledged to honor the Mitchell report,” agreeing that the Palestinians should crack down on terrorism and the Israelis should freeze the building of settlements. On June 28 both sides accepted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s call for “seven straight days without violence-to be followed by a six-week cooling off period when the two sides would begin to implement confidence building measures.”
But old habits die hard. On July 4 the Israeli security Cabinet agreed to exercise restraint but also announced that Israel would “step up” what was called the “focused prevention” of terrorism–which would include the targeting of terrorists on their way to carry out attacks against Israelis. How could the Israelis know these people were terrorists planning an attack? Was this retaliation-in-advance for a hypothetical event? Evidently, for in this month of July an Israeli gunship attacked a building in Nablus killing eight, two of them children, age 8 and 10. One of the men was Jamal Mansour, active in Hamas. The reason given: “Security sources said the IDF believed Mansour was planning an attack on Jerusalem.” One might well ask “Who is secure from the security forces?” Another pressing question muddied Powell’s attempt at peace. It was not clear when the Secretary of State’s seven days without violence would begin. On July 4 Arafat said the seven days were over. Israel said the seven days had not yet begun. On July 5, in an effort to gather support for his insistence that the Palestinians honor a cease-fire, Prime Minister Sharon met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin. Sharon must have been surprised when Schroeder offered him some “friendly advice”-that Israel should show “more flexibility” on Jewish settlements. After the news conference with Schroeder Sharon went to meet with the Belgian Foreign Minister, Louis Michel-only to learn that the meeting had been cancelled, “due to a scheduling problem.” One wonders if another problem was not the cause-the fact that Ariel Sharon is still under a war crimes investigation in the Belgian courts for the massacres in Sabra and Shatila, those refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. Old habits die hard, indeed.
As July, 2001 moved into August the headlines took on the repeated rhythms of a drum beat. Aug. 7: Young Israelis vow to hold on. Aug. 8: Suicide attack near Jewish settlement in Jordan Valley. Aug. 10: Israelis killed over 600 Palestinians in last ten months. Aug. 10: Israeli police take over Orient House, PLO Jerusalem headquarters. Aug. 10: F-16 combat aircraft destroy Palestinian police headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Aug. 13: General strike called by the Palestinian Authority effective across the West Bank, Gaza, refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. Aug. 14: 50 Israeli tanks into Jenin; bulldozers reduce two police stations to rubble. Aug. 15: Israeli tanks massed outside Bethlehem in show of force. Israeli soldiers dressed as civilians shoot dead Imad Abu Sneineh, member of the Palestinian Authority, in Hebron. Aug. 19: Children caught in crossfire. Aug. 22: Arab ministers meet re: Palestine. Aug. 22: More violence. Aug. 25: Three Israeli soldiesr killed; two Palestinians killed by other soldiers. August 27: Palestinian guerrilla leader killed.
The “Palestinian guerrilla leader” was Abu Ali Mustafa, Arafat’s most senior member of the PLO and most outspoken opponent of the Oslo Accords, who had returned to the West Bank after thirty years exile in Damascus. When he came back in 1999 he refused bodyguards, depending on his enormous popularity as a steadfast adviser for the Palestinian cause. Israel denied any responsibility for his death. Yet that date-August 27, 2001-opened Pandora’s box. The headlines now read: Israeli regime steps up assault as Middle East girds for war. The Israeli regime is on an accelerated war drive. The escalation of the conflict is headed toward an all-out war by Tel Aviv. Under the headlines paragraph after paragraph invited a re-examination of the peace talks during the fading days of the Clinton administration, especially Camp David. Patrick O’Neill wrote in The Militant: “In that summit, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak placed a ‘deal’ before Palestinian representative Yasser Arafat that would have left Tel Aviv in overall economic and military command of the occupied territories, including the areas falling under a Palestinian administration. Tel Aviv has since used Arafat’s rejection of those terms as a prime justification for its accelerated drive to war.” Another editorial on the front page of The Militant on that fateful date of August 27 wondered how the use of bulldozers, tanks, helicopters, fighter jets and troops qualified for Tel Aviv’s claims of “pinpoint” targeting. “The military incursions into East Jerusalem and other Palestinian towns and cities are not ‘punishments’ for Palestinian resistance. They are deployments in preparation for war.” And that war could spread throughout the Middle East. The writer cites Egypt’s massing of its Third Army on the edge of the Sinai, Syria’s asserting its military prerogatives in Lebanon, even renewed ties between Damascus and Baghdad. Despite Iraqi scud missiles falling on Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, Israel complied with Washington’s request for restraint. But there is no longer an overwhelming U.S. military presence in the region, no immediate deterrent that could stop an Israeli response. These countries are aware of Israel’s nuclear weapons. And, unless they are either asleep or insane, they must be aware that it is Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, the declared war criminal, who is now Prime Minister. The only world leaders who do seem to be day-dreaming are those in Washington. Since the collapse of the sham “negotiations” of the Clinton administration, they are increasingly silent concerning Israeli brutality in its “territories,” and more and more vocal in their sympathy for the “need” for Tel Aviv to “respond” to Palestinian resistance. How does Washington respond? It has no alternative to offer except, in the words of The Militant editorial, “a much-publicized trip by U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell to Israel in June [which] produced no change in Israel’s preparations for war.”
September saw no change either. Violence intensified. Israel rebuked Colin Powell’s advice. Gaza fighting increased despite a cease-fire. Arafat and Peres planned to meet, but Israeli troops continued to kill rock-throwers. On September 7 Sharon doubted that the called-for high level talks with Arafat “would amount to anything.” The problem, he added, was that Arafat’s Palestinian Authority was a “kingdom of terror,” and he would not resume peace talks during the Palestinian revolt [which, since he was constantly provoking it, would be a good excuse to continue destroying Palestinians]. Instead, Sharon endorsed the creation of a military buffer zone separating Israel and the West Bank. In other words, Sharon did not want a peaceful solution, merely a continuation of confrontation. He defended his buffer zone with “Israel is a tiny, tiny country.” A glance at a map would have told him how fragmented and how much smaller the Palestinian areas are-and getting smaller with each Israeli “settlement.” He replied to the Mitchell Report’s advice for a settlement freeze with his usual arrogance, only this time adding the effrontery of attempted humor. “There are young soldiers coming back from the army,” he said. “They want to get married. What are they going to do? They have to get a formal agreement for marriage from Arafat?”
When he was minister of infrastructure, Sharon had successfully, by cutting up Palestinian land with settlements and roads and then with army blockades, cement barriers and checkpoints, made ordinary life for the Palestinians a nightmare. On September 6 Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, said that these restrictions were having a devastating effect on the Palestinian economy and “that unless they were eased, half the Palestinian population would be living in poverty by year’s end.” He also brought the Israelis’ attention to the millions of dollars in tax revenues that they have collected and refused to transfer. Sharon responded by blaming Arafat, not only for the roadblocks but for the failure of Israel to transfer the revenues. “We didn’t feel that we have to pay the wages of those that murder us,” he said, conveniently forgetting that the taxes had been paid by the Palestinians. As for the conflict, he didn’t worry about that. It had been going on for 120 years, and even if a truce were reached, something else would have to be “worked out.” “Oslo failed,” he pronounced. “What was left was Arafat’s Nobel Prize [referring to the Nobel Peace Prize given to Arafat, Peres and Rabin in 1994].”
But the Oslo Accords of 1993 did not fail. They provided (1) that Palestinians would have civil authority in Palestinian areas, but (2) that Israel would have control of security in those areas. In effect, Oslo gave the Israeli army carte blanche to control the security in Palestinian areas. That might mean-and did mean-that the “Palestinian Authority” was a joke, in name only, without authority where it counts most, in the protection of a people from lawlessness. The Israeli government could now arrest, torture, and even cause the death of suspects, without trial, without verifiable evidence, in defiance of the Geneva Convention-in Palestinian territory. Ironically, as Sharon was making his remarks on September 7, a global conference on racism was gathering in Durban, South Africa. It would declare that Zionism was racism. Predictably, Israel and the United States walked out “in protest at an attempt to label Israel a racist state.” Well, that seems reasonable, a reasonable person might think. Calling Zionism racist seems a bit of a stretch. How could taking land promised by God-even ordered by God to be taken, and taken violently-be racist?
A little history is in order. Remember Sharon’s Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, who wanted Israel to use “the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours”? Or his other little prediction, that once the Jews settled the land, “all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle”? The date of Eitan ‘s remarks was 1983. Move back to 1972, and we find Rabbi Perin pronouncing that “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” Substitute “black” and “white” for “Arabs” and “Jewish” and you have “One million blacks are not worth a white fingernail.” Still, as shocking as this remark was, the racism it revealed was nothing new. Israel’s “founding father,” Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion spoke of “cleansing” the Arabs from Galilee. Golda Meir wouldn’t even admit that the Arabs existed. Menachem Begin was commander of the infamous IRGUN (Stern Gang), responsible for the King David Hotel bombing and the torture of Jews suspected of collaboration with the British. Another member of the Stern Gang was Begin’s protï¿½gï¿½, Yitzhak Shamir, (originally Jazernicki) who was arrested twice by the British and had a price on his head for the murder of Count Bernadotte, the UN mediator in 1948. He escaped capture by returning to Poland disguised as a rabbi; by the time he returned to Israel his buddy Begin was head of the Stern Gang’s own political party, the Herut (“Freedom”). Even Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, that suave, impeccably dressed Philadelphia-bred military hero of Israel’s raid at the Entebbe airport, is an unrelenting hardliner and, some say (with good reason), the brains behind Sharon. Only Yitzhak Rabin (assassinated by a rightwing Jew) and Shimon Peres (recently threatened with ouster because he had uttered the word “Palestinian state”) can be called moderate. Ehud Barak, who aspired to the title with his well-publicized but non-existent great give-away to Arafat at Camp David, is a puppet of the Likud, the Arab-haters. The other prime ministers have either criminal records or credentials that would qualify them for the Mob. When we move back over the years to 1948, we have more than ethnic cleansing or racial hatred cleverly disguised in political propaganda. We have blood.
We need only look at two examples. On April 9, 1948, the IRGUN, led by the future Prime Minister Menahem Begin, and the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lohamei Herut Israel, or LEHI), led by Begin’s successor, Yitzhak Shamir, with 130 men attacked the village of Deir Yassin, on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. The village had a population of some 400 people. Approximately 250 men, women and children were murdered. But the battle had not ended. The village had not surrendered. An eyewitness account, quoted by David Hirst in The Gun and the Olive Branch (1972), tells of the “cleaning-up operations” afterwards. The IRGUN and LEHI “fired with all the arms they had, and threw explosives into the houses. They also shot everyone they saw in the houses, including women and children.” The survivors-minus 25 men hauled to a quarry and shot–were paraded through Jerusalem in their bloody clothes. Another testimony, given by Jacques de Reynier, head of the International Red Cross delegation in Palestine at the time, tells of a visit he had from the IRGUN commander at Deir Yassin. Young, flawlessly correct, with a cold, cruel glint in his eyes, the commander stated offhandedly that since there were only a few dead, they would be buried as soon as the “cleaning up” of the village was over. If the Red Cross personnel found any bodies they could take them. There were “certainly” no wounded. “This account,” de Reynier said, “made my blood run cold.”
“I went back to the Jerusalem road and got an ambulance and a truck that I had alertedï¿½I reached the village with my convoyï¿½The gang was wearing country uniforms with helmets. All of them were young, some even adolescents, men and women, armed to the teeth; revolvers, machine-guns, hand grenades, and also cutlasses in their hands, most of them still blood-stained. A beautiful young girl, with criminal eye showed me hers still dripping with blood; she displayed it like a trophy. This was the ‘cleaning up’ team, that was obviously performing its task very conscientiously.”
Once again de Reynier met the IRGUN commander, with his aide, both dressed in civilian clothes. They presented to him a paper to be signed, stating that they had been courteously received by the Red Cross, and had been provided with everything needed for their mission. When de Reynier objected, he was told that if he valued his life, he would sign.
The massacre at Deir Yassin occurred in April, 1948; the bloodshed at the village of al-Duwayma in August. The following account, given by an Israeli soldier, was printed in Davar, the official Hebrew daily of the Labor Zionist-controlled Histadrut General Federation of Workers in the Land of Israel in September, 1979:
In 1967 Joseph Weitz, one of the founders of Zionism, proposed “A Solution to the Palestinian Problem.” That solution was simple: An Israel without Arabs. At Deir Yassin and al-Duwayma the soldiers were merely following the agenda.
That agenda has stayed on track, not wavering in effort or intensity. But the rest of the world has not been blind or deaf. In October, 2000 the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the International Committee of Jurists-Sweden sent a mission to Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. The evidence of human rights abuses they found prompted an immediate demand that Israel implement de jure the 4th Geneva Convention, that they cease the use of heavy weapons, including helicopters with guided missiles, against civilians. The list goes on: the use of so-called “rubber” bullets (thinly coated iron balls or cylinders which can be lethal when fired at close range), 9.6 high velocity ammunition and LAW rockets, attacks on ambulances and ambulance personnel (and preventing ambulances from helping the injured by blocking roads), the continued confiscation of land (in the Gaza Strip 20 Israeli settlements with a population of 6,000 control 42% of the land, leaving the rest to 1.2 million Palestinians; in the West Bank settler population increased 50%). A year later, in November, 2001, Amnesty International reported that The Committee against Torture (10 independent experts to the UN Convention) found that Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes breached Article 16 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading or Punishment which Israel ratified in 1991. “Over the past year,” the report stated, “more than 500 Palestinian homes have been demolished making at least 4,000 people homeless, the great majority of them children.” It deplored the use of “incommunicado detention”-including children-and interrogation methods, including sleep deprivation in painful positions, shaking and the use of loud noises– prohibited by an Israeli Supreme Court ruling of 1999. Often these detentions were “administrative”-meaning that the detainees could be held indefinitely without trial. Most recently, Amnesty International, while condemning the suicide bombings by Hamas in December, 2001, sent a warning to Israel: “A policy of reprisals against the entire population for attacks by armed groups violates international human rights and humanitarian law standards.” Specifically, Israeli troops targeted Palestinian police stations, which undermines Yasser Arafat’s ability to bring to justice any perpetrators of violence under his jurisdiction-ironically, the one demand made by Israel before Israel would stop its attacks. The roller coaster has turned into a merry-go-’round.
The delegations of Israel and the United States walked out of the Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa on September 8, 2001. That was only three days before the infamous “9-11.” It may not be too cynical to say that Osama bin Laden might have been the best thing to have happened to Israel in a long time. The result was predictable, given the anger of President George W. Bush at the horror of the attack on the World Trade Towers. When he was in high school his nickname was “The Texas Ranger.” Now his ire was focused. His temperament, every fiber of his being rebelled at the tragedy, the overwhelming nerve of a handful of criminals to destroy thousands of Americans without provocation, without cause, simply through an act of madness. His reaction was simple, to the point and thorough. He would wage war not only on terrorists, but those who would harbor them, would feed or support them. Ariel Sharon must have been the happiest man alive. Here was Yasser Arafat, with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad on his home turf. He could now be a major target of American wrath, because, as a defined terrorist, he could easily be equated with Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban-or any other terrorist outfit in the world. Most importantly, the White House did not use the word “restraint” in relation to Israel. It was clear the American president found himself in a box-if not in a tar baby. On October 2 (and again on November 10 at the UN) he mentioned the need for a Palestinian state. But the most immediate, pressing need was the war on terror. And that war, to be successful, needed the carefully created coalition that included important Arab states. Would that coalition be endangered by continued American support of Israel-or would the war effort against terrorists be damaged by even the slightest mention of sympathy for Palestinians, since the American media had so successfully used the word “Palestinian” and “terrorist” as synonymous? By October 5 Secretary of State Powell gave the answer Sharon had been waiting for: “Israel has no better friend than the United States.” With Arafat tainted by association with Bin Laden (and Bush’s hands tied by his own commitment against terror), the situation became an irresistible invitation for the Zionists. That same day Israeli troops raided Hebron.
Success moves in mysterious ways. Because of President Bush’s broad-brush definition of terrorism (which included Arafat as an enabler) as the result of Bin Laden in September, the death of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi on October 17 in Jerusalem was precisely the excuse Sharon was looking for. Again and again, throughout the rest of the year, Israeli raids into Palestinian towns would be justified by references to “a cabinet minister”-never mind that a tourism minister is not exactly a “prime” minister (and besides, he was retired!). The PLO had claimed responsibility for Zeevi’s death as retaliation for the Israeli assassination of PLO leader Abu Ali Mustafa in August. But retaliation was evidently a privilege reserved for Israeli officials, who had refused to admit a connection with Mustafa’s death, and now demanded that Arafat hand over the assassins of their cabinet minister or face retribution. They backed their ultimatum by sending tanks and troops into parts of Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin before dawn. Hospital officials said a ten-year-old girl was killed and six people were wounded in Jenin when Israeli tank shells fell on a schoolyard. Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian security force members in Ramallah. The PLO protested Israel’s right to dictate justice in Palestinian territory. The U.S. State Department offered no support to Israel’s demand that it try Palestinian suspects, but ended by saying that jurisdiction “must be decided by the participants.” Not to be outdone, and with an indirect thrust at President Bush’s dilemma, an Israeli cabinet minister said Israel would “act against the Palestinian Authority in the way currently accepted by the international community” if Arafat did not turn over the killers. How clever, to claim affinity with America against terrorism, and at the same time brand Arafat with Bin Laden’s label, conveniently forgetting that Israeli tanks and gunships are not exactly immune from creating some terror of their own as they fire missiles into houses or rumble down narrow village streets killing children in schoolyards.
The next target was Bethlehem, where Israeli troops took positions in the city, and in the adjoining West Bank town of Beit Jala. President Bush told Sharon, in so many words, to get out. On Sunday, October 21, Sharon replied that “Israel had no interest in remaining inside Palestinian territory.” That same day U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell hoped Israel would “soon” pull out. “Hopefully the Israelis will be able to leave the territory that they have occupied recently. I talked to Prime Minister Sharon this morning and he said he did not plan to stay in those areas,” Powell said. But Prime Minister Sharon changed his mind. On Monday, in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya, Israeli tanks and bulldozers raided the city overnight, destroying a Palestinian security force installation and killing a 13-year-old boy. U.S. officials reacted to the raid by saying they “hoped the military operation would not be lengthy”[!]. By Tuesday Reuters was reporting that Sharon was defying pressure from the United States to end Israel’s biggest military offensive against the Palestinian Authority. Sharon insisted that his troops would not release their hold on six West Bank towns until the Palestinians turned over the militants who assassinated an Israeli Cabinet minister (in spite of the fact that Arafat had already made more than a hundred arrests with a police force whose offices were being bombed). Sharon’s recalcitrance paid off. Thousands of Israeli demonstrators in Jerusalem demanded that Sharon expel Yasser Arafat and bring down the Palestinian Authority. Israeli tanks rumbled deeper into Palestinian towns, setting off street battles for a fifth day. Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told the BBC that “the end game which Sharon is now pursuing is to destroy the Palestinian Authority and to destroy the peace process.” By some reports, 690 Palestinians and 185 Israelis had been killed since Sharon visited the Temple Mount in September, 2000.
October moved into November. Israeli troops left Bethlehem and two other Palestinian areas, but on November 5 Israeli tanks invaded the West Bank town of Tulkharm, and the roller coaster started again. Sharon postponed a planned trip to Washington, saying that he “decided to continue with the redeployment of our forces,” that he needed to be present if “terror breaks out.” On November 22 Israeli tanks entered Bethlehem. U.S. President Bush firmly asked Sharon to withdraw. Sharon agreed, then, again, the next day changed his mind. That same day, in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp in Gaza, five Palestinian boys were killed on their way to school. One evidently kicked an unexploded tank shell buried in the ground. Arieh Mekel, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said that with the impending arrival of two U.S. mediators (William Burns of the U.S. State Department and retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who were being sent to enforce a cease-fire) “the Palestinians want to use the incident for purposes of propaganda.” Initially, the Israelis denied any connection. Then Alon Pinkas, the Israeli Consul General in New York, admitted that a booby-trapped bomb had been planted by Israeli soldiers in the schoolyard, and apologized. Not regret, just apology. The next day Muhammad al Astal, 14, Omar al Astal, 13, Muhammad al Astal, 12, Aniees al Astal, 12, and Akram al Astal, 6 joined the hundreds of Palestinian dead in the cemetery. After the funeral about 200 Palestinians marched toward the nearby Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, throwing stones. Israeli troops replied with stun grenades and live rounds, killing a 15-year-old boy. Earlier that day Israeli forces raided Azzarieh, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem, and shut down three offices of the Palestinian security services. Insanely, Israel continued demanding the arrest of assassins while closing down, even shelling Palestinian police stations. The next day, in Gaza, a taxi driver was killed, three of his passengers wounded, two with head injuries. The count goes on. As November ended, more than 700 Palestinians and almost 200 Israelis had died in fourteen months of violence, since Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount.
Sharon could now do as he pleased, which he proceeded to do. Israeli warplanes and helicopters launched their fiercest attacks in fourteen months, destroying Arafat’s helicopters and the main runway at the Gaza International airport. Arafat was now virtually a prisoner in Ramallah. One missile fell near his office, killing a 15-year old bystander and a policeman. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell urged caution, saying that “Israel should be aware of the consequences of any action”-a vague use of language that could mean anything. Were the consequences more Palestinian dead, or a reprimand from Washington? Just to make sure no one would mistake whose side he was on, Powell added that Arafat “could do much more to rein in militants.” But with Palestinian police stations as targets, who would do the arresting? Cleverly equating Israeli efforts against Arafat with American efforts against the Taliban and Bin Laden (thus turning all Palestinians into terrorists), the Israeli cabinet issued a statement that “the lethal and cruel terrorist attacks over the last weekend demonstrate the ruthlessness of our enemies and necessitate action on a broader scale than that opted for until today against Palestinian terrorism.” Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said: “Sharon tonight has declared war.” Israeli wrath was not confined to the Palestinians. Senior U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni, in Israel to try to secure a cease-fire, was heckled by angry Israelis as he laid a wreath to the victims of the bombings.
Ironically, on that same Tuesday, December 4, in Geneva, Switzerland, a conference of the 189 High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (ratified by Israel in 1951) was gathering for a meeting to reaffirm principles for the protection of civilian populations-in particular the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem:
Abuses by Palestinian armed groups, such as Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), did not escape censure. “Through shootings and suicide bombs Palestinian armed groups have deliberately killed more than 230 Israelis, including more than 170 civilians,” the report said. “At least 35 of those killed were children.” UN rights chief Mary Robinson urged Israel to stop the bombings, which she said were terrorizing the civilian population, and to let in international monitors (something the Palestinians had frequently requested, and Israel had refused).
December 7: Israeli warplanes bomb the Palestinian Authority’s main police headquarters. Two four-story buildings become rubble. During talks near Tel Aviv, brokered by U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni, Israeli security chiefs reject a Palestinian request that they ease their retaliation.
December 12: Sharon declares Arafat “irrelevant.”
December 14: To make certain that Arafat is irrelevant, Sharon’s plan is to physically cut the Palestinian leader from his people, divide the West Bank and Gaza into cantons, and make separate agreements with dominant Palestinians in each area. He calls the unleashing of his military force a “restrained escalation,” i.e. a gradual build-up of military pressure that stays within international lines.
December 16: Senior U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni returns to Washington after a three-week truce mission failed.
December 17: Arafat gives speech to mark the end of Ramadan. He condemns suicide bombings and promises to punish all attackers. Sharon’s answer: Arafat’s speech is a “joke.” Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib said the speech “represents an opportunity that Israel should respond to and start peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Mr. Arafat “spoke constructive words, but what’s important is that they be followed up by concrete action.”
December 19: Still blaming Arafat, Sharon tells British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Arafat still has not “made a strategic decision to abandon the path of terror.” In an effort to bring some calm to the situation, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, known as a moderate, said Israel was ready to withdraw troops from areas where the Palestinian Authority is seen as taking tough action against suspected militants. The death count now is up to 840 Palestinians, 242 Israelis.
December 20: Israel orders 52 more F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin.
December 21: Foreign Minister Shimon Peres confirms that he has started talks with one of Arafat’s lieutenants, Ahmed Qureia, aimed at renewing the stalled peace effort. Hamas formally agrees to stop suicide bombings and mortar attacks against Israelis.
December 25: Sharon angrily denies knowing anything about new peace proposals from Peres. Since December 3, Arafat, confined to the West Bank city of Ramallah, surrounded by Israeli troops, has not been allowed to travel outside the city until Palestinian police arrest suspects in the October 17 assassination of Israeli Cabinet Minister Zeevi. Now Sharon bans Arafat from attending midnight Mass in Bethlehem. He has attended every year since 1995. The French government, and others, protest. The Vatican stated that it has taken diplomatic steps to try to head off what it called the “arbitrarily imposed decision of Israel to block Yasser Arafat from attending midnight Mass in Bethlehem.” Israeli soldiers cross the Jordan river into Jordan in search of gunmen who killed an Israeli.
December 26: Sharon admits that he knew about the peace efforts of Shimon Peres. Under pressure from his right-wing Likud party, he refuses to make any concessions to the Palestinians, seen as unavoidable if peace talks resume. Israeli troops invade the West Bank village of Azun, arrest 17 Palestinian militants, transport them to Israeli Security Forces for investigation. Israeli tanks drive into the West Bank town of Jenin, encircle a house where they say they had seen gunmen, and fire into the building. Helicopter gunships also open fire. A 50-year-old Palestinian is killed and two others wounded. Sharon announces that Arafat will not be allowed to travel from Ramallah until Palestinian police arrest the assassins of Israeli Cabinet minister Zeevi, killed in October.
December 28: Israel lifts a military cordon around Bethlehem as a “goodwill gesture,” but keeps a ban on Arafat entering the town despite international protests. The IDF intelligence chief, Gen. Amos Malka, says Arafat is still not doing enough-“the cease-fire will come only if the Palestinians cooperate.” The Israeli army kills a suspected suicide bomber in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority urges U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni to return to Israel from Washington.
December 29: On the CNN “Capitol Gang” program, Mark Shields deplores the Israeli shelling of a hospital in the Palestinian territory. One woman, in labor, was refused entry. She and her baby died. [I could find no mention of this on the usual internet news outlets. Perhaps such an anti-Israeli report had been safely covered up by most of the pro-Israel American media?] Thus the year 2001 came to an end.
On the other side the anti-Palestinian, anti-Arafat, anti-Muslim propaganda is blatant and unrelenting. As usual with propaganda, some of it is true. Hamas and the other jihad boys are certainly no angels. They will gun down a Jewish settler with little provocation. They seem stupid in their readiness to provide Sharon and the hardline Israelis with reasons to justify Jewish intolerance. But when one learns the facts, it is the American public which seems stupid. Hamas was actually encouraged by Israeli occupying forces in the 1970’s as a “countergang” against the PLO. “Hamas,” (like “Zionist”) means in Arabic “zeal.” Its main zeal, especially since the beginning of the intafada in 1987, has been the destruction of the PLO. Was this support of Hamas hypocritical on the part of the Israelis? Not at all, when one remembers the old Middle East saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In fact, it was none other than Ariel Sharon who was instrumental in launching the Hamas movement. Its great value to Sharon would be, with its help, the ultimate annihilation of a Palestinian “state.” An added bonus would be that, through fear of terror, the Israeli population could be manipulated toward war. Sharon would manipulate them through the oldest card in the deck: fear. By staging continuous terror scares, he would accomplish two goals: the Israeli population would support Sharon’s increasingly harsh treatment of Palestinians and at the same time create hatred of the “enemy.” As early as July, 2001, Jeffrey Steinberg wrote of an Israeli businessman who confirmed “that almost nightly, Israeli police enter restaurants, hotels, shops, etc., ordering patrons to evacuate due to ‘bomb threats.’ The businessman, a former Mossad official, was told by Israeli authorities that the scares are in almost all cases hoaxes, perpetuated to traumatize the public into accepting any anti-Arab military actions.” Steinberg reports that, in early July, “Sharon temporarily shut down the Tel Aviv water system, in another psy-war operation, claiming that there was evidence that Palestinian terrorists might have poisoned the supply.” As for Arafat, he became a monster, just another dirty Arab, not much better than Osama Bin Laden, in fact, equated with Bin Laden. Ex-prime minister Ehud Barak called him “a lying thug.”
None of this should surprise a student of Israeli politics. According to the Zionist agenda, Palestine would be just the first step toward a “Greater Israel,” which would ultimately include Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and even Iraq. If this sounds preposterous, one need only go back to the beginning, in 1948, when the first prime minister of Israel, Ben-Gurion, addressed his General Staff. Confident-largely because of American money which had secured Israel’s military superiority-Ben-Gurion told them: “We should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Transjordan and Syriaï¿½.When weï¿½bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo.” Ridiculous? Where would the money come from for such an effort, which would surely cost more than the yearly U.S. give-away-even though that give-away amounts to billions? From the Israeli GNP? But what is the Israeli gross national product? When we lived in England we age oranges from Israel, but I doubt if Florida or California citrus growers should worry about the competition. No, Israel sells more than oranges. The answer is simple, and well-known, despite Israel’s efforts to keep secret its lucrative trade in arms. Not only throughout Central America-Honduras particularly-but in Zaire and Iran, Israel’s “military services” have been considerable. In 1982 Sharon’s visit to Honduras was declared “more positive” than President Reagan’s because “Sharon sold us arms while Reagan only uttered platitudes.” If Israel is selling arms, is it the middleman between the U.S. taxpayer and the buyers? Is this where our tax dollars have gone? Does Israel really want peace, in spite of all its rhetoric, all its blame of the Palestinians?
Once the long-term requirements for a “Greater Israel” are understood, Israel’s consistently clever rejection of any political settlement, any cease-fire with the Palestinians becomes understandable. Conquering Palestine is absolutely essential for further expansion. The one thing Israeli politicians cannot stand is the thought of a two-state settlement. That would nullify those orders received in Deuteronomy-to invade the West Bank of the Jordan and leave nothing alive “that breatheth.” In fact, anyone who would recognize a Palestinian state would automatically threaten “Jewish interests”-and become, God forbid, anti-Semitic.
American support is the one constant in this effort to create a Greater Israel. Noam Chomsky states that Henry Kissinger succeeded in taking control over Middle East affairs by 1970, “and the ‘Greater Israel’ position became U.S. policyï¿½.It has remained so in essence ever sinceï¿½.” Deny human rights to the Arabs of Palestine. Flee in panic at the thought of any serious peace agreement, while posing as the victims of Arab aggression. When the Saudi (King Faud) plan was announced in 1981 one journalist of the time said that if the PLO offered to negotiate with Israel, “the government would undoubtedly declare a national day of mourning.”
But not to worry. With the U.S. government committed to ensuring Israel’s military dominance-even to funding illegal settlements in “occupied” territory-any peaceful resolution will be safely eliminated. Then the Zionist Organization Settlement Branch will be able to accomplish its goal, to settle 400,000 Jews in Samaria by the year 2010, to build highways that will circumvent Arab cities such as Nablus, to finish the brutal “Green Patriot” program initiated by Ariel Sharon when he was Minister of Agriculture under Begin, a program that terrorized Bedouins from encroaching on “national lands”-i.e., lands reserved for Jewish use–all in the name of “ecological concerns.” As for the Palestinians, they have been defamed into a state of nothingness, or at best, a leper colony any self-respecting American would avoid like the plague.
Yet the humiliation and destruction of Palestinian self-respect is only the first step to Greater Israel. On Christmas day, 2001, Israeli soldiers crossed the Jordanian border in pursuit of gunmen suspected of shooting an Israeli. As we noted, on December 20, Israel ordered 52 more F-16 fighter planes from Lockheed Martin. Why would a country smaller than New Hampshire need 52-52 more fighter planes? No, the idea of a “Greater Israel” is not dead. Until now, I have always wondered why the Jews weep at the wailing wall, the only remnant of the temple of Solomon left standing after its destruction in 70 A.D., the year the Romans sent the Jews from Palestine. Now I know. They are crying for the lost kingdom of a glorious past which, by their constant, ritual moaning, they hope to create again. And they will, with the American taxpayers’ help.
The Israeli Jews, too, are caught in this Zionist trap. On January 1, the first day of the new year 2002, Ariel Sharon vetoed a plan by Israel’s president, Moshe Katsav, that would declare a year-long truce with the Palestinians. In fact, a Sharon aide,”who spoke on condition of anonymity,” revealed that Sharon strongly disapproved of Katsav giving a speech to that effect. The idea of such a truce was first raised by an Israeli Arab legislator, Abdel Wahab Darawsheh, who referred to it as a “hudna,” a term from Arab tribal law describing a special period of non-belligerence. When Sharon learned that Arafat approved, he immediately declared the truce a ploy by the Palestinians and that Katsav must have been “misled.” The role of the Israeli president is largely ceremonial, and it is true that it is unusual for an Israeli president to get involved in policy-making. But as soon as Sharon’s feelings were known, Katsav said he “would not act without Sharon’s blessing.” These brave Zionists, who have so efficiently and effectively worked at eliminating the indigenous population of Palestine, now seem trapped by their own dedication to violence as they stand tongue-tied and cowed before a brutal bully, a declared war criminal with the blood of Sabra and Shatila-as well as countless other atrocities-on his hands. Hitler could have taken lessons from this ego-bloated storm trooper and his smooth-talking, equally uncompromising henchman, “Bibi” Netanyahu.
Realizing the culpability of the Israelis (or our stubborn support of Sharon’s ethnic cleansing policies) does not, in any way, justify what happened in New York at the World Trade Towers, September 11, 2001. Nothing could ever justify the murder of thousands of innocent people-even the most vicious hatred cannot explain that tragedy. But understanding the source of that hatred is absolutely necessary before we can begin to come to terms with it. I had a teacher once who said “Thinking is just realizing cause and effect.” Bin Laden himself-although one hates to give him credit for thinking-named the U.S. policy toward Israel as the cause. Even if we refuse to listen to such a criminal, common sense requires that we can’t reject the possibility. Supporting Israel at any cost has become so ingrained into our psyches that we are in danger of ignoring our own preservation. Our older son is a sailor. One of his favorite sayings is “We can’t change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.”