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January, 2004

America Needs To Stand Up To Israel
By Karen Nakamura

 

   Palestinian-American "Afif" was unfazed by the arrest of Saddam Hussein on December 14. "As far as I'm concerned, the whole thing was a diversion from more important questions. When is Israel getting out of Palestine and what is the role of the US and Israel in the Middle East?"

   He was also unimpressed with the Geneva Accords, the unofficial set of negotiating points developed by former and present Palestinian and Israeli officials.

   "There are good ideas there. I really haven't looked into them enough to make a judgment, but the Israeli government isn't going to give up an inch of Palestinian soil. So, why bother? Sharon will throw us a bone to shut us up for awhile but he'll continue stalling any real plan to end the occupation. He'll remove a few illegal settlements with a couple hundred people the Israeli courts said he has to anyway while at the same time, he's building fortresses around settlements that contain hundreds of thousands of people."

   Afif is right and the world agrees with him. Ariel Sharon, father of the settlements, right-wing Israelis and conservative Jewish-Americans have no intention of giving up Palestine. From the Jordan to the Sea has always been their cry. They talk their talk while they refuse to alleviate Palestinian suffering until Palestine is completely leveled. Why not? America, the only country that can reign them in considers Israelis innocent sufferers despite overwhelming evidence the country has conducted genocide against Palestinians for 30 years. Israeli suffering is nothing compared to the daily death and subjugation of the Palestinians. We know that. It has become very clear in the past three years. Even Israeli soldiers see that.

   And while polls show over 50% of Israelis are willing to see either a two-state solution or a secular, one man, one vote state, most think Ariel Sharon should be involved in bringing about the peace initiative. That's as likely as Hitler easing up on the Jews surrounded by the Warsaw Wall. His declaration on Dec. 18 that if the Palestinians don't force the Resistance to surrender, he's going to act unilaterally only proves the point.

   It's time Israeli and the United States face reality. The U.K. Political Cartoon Society named a cartoon in The Independent as the best in 2003. It shows Ariel Sharon devouring a Palestinian child while screaming "What's wrong? You never seen a politician kissing babies before?" In the background helicopters drone "Sharon! Vote Sharon!" as they bomb the West Bank. Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are rising exponentially around the world. It has nothing to do with Jewish suffering in World War II. It has nothing to do with the Arabs jealousy over American freedoms.

   It does have everything to do with Israel's continuous and blatant war crimes against Palestinians. It has everything to do with the United States turning a blind eye to the most vicious armed camp in the Middle East, of allowing that country's leaders to commit gross violations of international law and going out of its way to shield the same leaders from being held accountable. By allowing Israel to continue its genocide of the Palestinian people, the US is hated around the world. Do we care? No. Israel is our friend while Germany and France can be sloughed off in blink of an eye. If Israel commits slaughter on a daily basis so what? It's got powerful lobbyists in Washington. Besides, Sharon is smart enough to use the same excuses the US has used to promulgate its own aggressions.

   This attitude is making itself felt in the coming presidential campaign. Within two hours of the announcement of Saddam Hussein's capture, political pundits were trying to show the world that now George Bush was sure to win the election. They say if the US hadn't gone in, Saddam would still be in power. The fact is if we'd had an enlightened leader, we could have given the UN inspections another six months and agreed to removing sanctions after fair and free elections. UN peacekeepers could have maintained order for another year or two until democracy was stabilized.

   Instead, on C-SPANN, Dec. 19, Jeanne Cummings, political reporter for the Wall Street Journal, spilled the beans. Asked about Howard Dean, she replied that he was vulnerable because he didn't go along with the plan. When pressed by Brian Lamb about Dean's perceived flaws, Cummings answered that Dean had given the wrong answer on the Israeli/Palestinian issue. She didn't elaborate but stated that Bush and Cheney were certainly not going to let his answer pass, that, and his disagreement about going to war in the first place, was going to hurt him bad.

   Let's step back a minute. Okay, the Bush/Cheney spin-doctors are aiming for Howard Dean because of his position on the Israel/Palestine conflict. So what is Dean's position? He thinks we should act in a more balanced manner, to be an honest broker. Apparently, he's dared to think all people are created equal and possess certain inalienable rights. All Howard Dean is saying then, is that the Palestinians have the right to be heard, to enjoy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

   Is this the state into which we've fallen in the past year? That to side with the oppressed, the hungered masses yearning to be free and not solely to serve at the pleasure of the rich and powerful is considered worthy of vilification?

   The plan Ms. Cummings so carefully sidestepped is to keep the white boy network and their sons in power, and well, okay, a couple Jews and other minorities but only if they submit to the divine intervention of the Anglo-Saxon way. Bush, Cheney and gang are terrified of what could happen if there is true democracy. Isn't that what's hanging up elections in Iraq? They might want another form of government.

   There is another way. Many Americans have tasted the liberation of giving everyone their due. We live in a world composed of the diversity that creates unity. We live in a world of Palestinian children playing with Israeli children, of black and white mothers talking about the needs of the school, of Iranians watching the Samurai flicks on Saturday night with their Russian and Fijian neighbors. It's about the other America, the beautiful America, compassionate and living in peace and harmony. It's about standing up when anyone, anywhere, is oppressed. It's about answering their cries for help, just as liberals rightfully did for the Jews after World War II and what we should be doing for the Palestinians now. The founding fathers would certainly approve. 

 

 

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