Turning the Other Cheek…Again In the Name of Friendship?

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Something big is happening these days.  Apparently, international media recognizes the news except our own American media.  Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon may be tried for war crimes as he played a role in the Sabra/Chatila massacres where hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees were murdered.  The papers have been filed in Brussels by a Belgian attorney and a Lebanese attorney.  Just recently, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) aired a documentary called “The Accused.”  American law professor, Richard Falk, was asked if Sharon was indictable for war crimes.  The answer was yes.  Since the documentary was aired, Falk has received numerous death threats and has police protection.  Israel has threatened a lawsuit against BBC.

Why should this concern us?  Well, it’s no secret that we consider Israel an ally though many are not sure why.

Do friends blatantly ignore censures by Secretary of State Colin Powell and, in fact, do exactly what they were told not to do ten hours later despite receiving more than $4 billion in American taxpayer dollars each year?

Should  friends expect the US to defend against human rights condemnations — issued by the rest of the world and human rights organizations, like Amnesty International and Israel’s own B’tselem? Do friends embark on policies that are clearly against international law and US foreign policy, such as building illegal settlements?

Do friends refuse to extradite an American for killing another American, simply because his religion happens to be the one that is favored in that country?  Like Samuel Sheinbein.

Do friends offer to sell radar systems to enemy countries that are deemed as security threats to our nation?  Such as when the Phalcon system was offered for sale to China.

Do friends expect clemency for someone who spied for them against our nation, though this spy has been categorized as the fourth greatest security threat in US history?  Don’t forget Jonathon Pollard.

Do friends of the US have apartheid systems where different laws for different people, depending on race and religion?  Israel is considered a Jewish state, so. . .

Do friends of the US demolish homes and give names such as “Operation Enjoyable Song” to these actions?

The answer to these questions is an unequivocal and resounding NO!  So then, why is Israel considered a friend when it is has committed all of the above actions?  Go figure.

And that the Israelis have been guilty of electing a criminal is nothing new.  Menachem Begin, who led the massacre in Deir Yassin; Yitzhak Shamir, who assassinated a Swiss diplomat; and Yitzhak Rabin, who by his own admission, led 50,000 Palestinians at gunpoint out of Lydda are among the few.  But that Ariel Sharon was found indirectly responsible for the massacre of refugees by Israel’s own Kahan Commission says much about Israel’s respect for humanity and their own tragic history.  Sharon, gets the red carpet treatment once again when he meets with our President. How much longer do we turn the other cheek?  Where is the outrage of our taxpayers, who foot a bill of more than $4 billion each year in aid to Israel?  Then again, how can our taxpayers be outraged if they are not told about it in our own media.  And where is the outrage of world Jewry, who have chosen to rally behind this murderer in the name of unity?

In Sabra and Chatila, it’s been said that the killings were gruesome.  People were tortured before they were murdered.  Men were castrated.  Women were raped and disemboweled.  Old men were rounded up and shot. Babies were thrown into heaps of garbage.   Those who were killed inside their houses were covered up with rubble as their homes were demolished with their dead bodies inside.  The perpetrators were Lebanese Phalangists.  The guards of the Sabra and Chatila camps were Israelis.  It was reported that the US Government was incensed at Israel for even thinking of letting the Phalangists inside the camps.  Their hatred for Palestinians and fellow Lebanese Muslims was renowned to anyone and everyone familiar with the politics of Lebanon.  The massacres were easily predicted.

It’s time for our fellow Americans to be told the truth.  We would never welcome Augusto Pinochet.  We wouldn’t welcome Slobodan Milosevic.  So why should Ariel Sharon get a free ride?

Sherri Muzher is a Freelance writer for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Former Executive Director of the Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation.

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