End The Illegal Occupation Of Palestine
This is by far the most detailed and exhaustive page on my website. Since most Americans have a completely erroneous view of the relationship between Israel and Palestine and its effect, not only on international relations in the Middle East but also on foreign and domestic policy with the United States I thought it was necessary to be as exhaustive as possible yet nevertheless be brief enough so that the average reader can give it a complete evaluation. I have broken the page down into the following sections:
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs…
As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”
-Mahatma Gandhi 1938
Most Americans get their news from the US media which is now ranked 57th in the world in terms of freedom of the press. This is because only five corporations own approximately 11,000 television and radio stations and about the same number of newspapers, journals and periodicals. It is because the press in the United States is controlled by these five corporations that most Americans were so easily misled about the reasons for invading Iraq.
By now most Americans realize that the US media was complicit with the Republicans and Democrats lied to us about why we were invading Iraq. Nevertheless, unless you get your news from the Internet most of what you know about international relations is filtered through this corporate media. When it comes to the Palestine/Israel question most Americans have been lead to believe that Israel is the good guy and Palestine is the bad guy when quite the opposite is the case.
BRIEF HISTORY: HOW DID ISRAEL COME TO BE
Before the Hebrews first migrated into what was then called the land of Canaan around 1800 B.C.; current day Palestine was occupied by Canaanites. Between 3000 and 1100 B.C., Canaanite civilization covered what is today Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and much of Syria and Jordan. Those who remained in the Jerusalem hills after the Romans expelled the Jews in the second century A.D. were a potpourri: farmers and vineyard growers, pagans and converts to Christianity, descendants of the Arabs, Persians, Samaritans, Greeks and old Canaanite tribes.
All of these different peoples who had come to Canaan were additions, to the Canaanites. The Arab invaders of circa 600 A.D. made Moslem converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arab that we cannot tell where the Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin.
The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine. The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years. Then it fell apart. Even if we allow "independence" to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David’s conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at only a 414 year Jewish rule.
In the middle of the 19th century the group of extremist Jews decided that they should have their own homeland. Not being able to find one in South America they sent a rabbi to look at Palestine. The rabbi wrote back to the group "the bride is beautiful but she is married to another husband". Meaning that this was a great place but it was already occupied. This extremist group of Jews calling themselves "Zionists" decided to relocate nevertheless.
So for over 1200 years the land of Palestine was inhabited by Palestinian Arabs. By the middle of the 19th century these consisted of approximately 400,000 Muslims, 75,000 Christians, and 25,000 Jews. For centuries these groups had lived in harmony: 80 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, 5 percent Jewish.
So as mentioned above, in the late 1800s the radical group of Jews decided to colonize the area. These "Zionists," consisted of an extremist minority of the world Jewish population.
At first this immigration created no problems. However, as more and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine — many with the express wish of taking over the land for an exclusively Jewish state — the indigenous population became increasingly alarmed. Eventually, there was fighting between the two groups, with escalating waves of violence.
"We shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."
Theodore Herzl (the founder of Zionism)
U.N. PARTITION PLAN
Finally, in 1947 the United Nations decided to intervene.However, rather than adhering to the democratic principle espoused decades earlier by Woodrow Wilson of "self-determination of peoples,"in which the people themselves create their own state and system of government, the UN chose to revert to the medieval strategy whereby an outside power arbitrarily divides up other people’s land.
Under considerable pressure from high-placed American Zionists, the UN decided to give away 55 percent of Palestine to a Jewish state — despite the fact that this group represented only about 30 percent of the total population, and owned under 7 percent of the land.
"There can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased". (Eder then asked the commission that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms.)
David Montague Eder (a member of the Zionist Commission) 1921
THE 1948 WAR
When the inevitable war broke out the outcome was never in doubt, according to U.S. intelligence reports from the time. The Zionist army consisted of over 90,000 European-trained soldiers and possessed modern weaponry, including up-to-date fighter and bomber airplanes. The Arab forces, very much a third-world army, consisted of approximately 30,000 ill-equipped, poorly trained men. The U.S. Army, British intelligence, and the CIA all agreed: it would be no contest.
By the end of the 1948 war the Jewish state — having now declared itself "Israel" — had conquered 78 percent of Palestine — far more than that proposed even by the very generous UN partition plan.And three-quarters of a million Palestinians had been made refugees. Over 400 towns and villages had been destroyed,and a new map was being drawn up, in which every city, river and hillock would receive a new,Hebrew name. All vestiges of the Palestinian culture were to be erased.In fact, for many decadesIsrael — and the US, following its lead — denied the very existence of this population.
"We have come and we have stolen their country....We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return....(and 10 years earlier had written his son) We will expel the Arabs and take their places....with the force at our disposal."
-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion 1948
THE 1967 WAR
In 1967, Israel conquered still more land. Following the Six Day War, in whichIsraeli forces launched a highly successful, Pearl Harbor-like surprise attack on Egypt, Israel occupied the additional 22 percent of Palestine that had eluded it in 1948— the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It also occupied parts of Egypt (which since were returned) and Syria (which remain under occupation).
"There is no such thing as a Palestinian."
-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir 1969
There are two issues at the very core of the continuing conflict and escalating violence in the Middle East:
First, there is the inevitably destabilizing effect oftrying to maintain an ethnically preferential state, particularly when the exclusionist entity is of largely colonial origin.Remember, the original population of what is now Israel was 95 percent Muslim and Christian. And yet,Muslim and Christian refugees are not being allowed to return to their homes in the current "Jewish state."Israeli peace negotiators refuse to even discuss the possibility of applying this UN guaranteed right.
Second, Israel’s continued confiscation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza is being resisted by the Palestinian inhabitants. It is these occupied territories that, according to the Oslo peace accords of 1993, were going to become a Palestinian state. However, when Israel continued to take land in these areas and to move its citizens onto it, the Palestinian population rebelled.This uprising, called the "Intifada" (Arabic for "shaking off") began at the end of September 2000 and continues to this day.
THE POWER OF THE ISRAELI LOBBY - AIPAC
AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is widely regarded as the most powerful foreign-policy lobby in Washington. Its 60,000 members shower millions of dollars on hundreds of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. It also maintains a network of wealthy and influential citizens around the country, whom it can regularly mobilize to support its main goal, which is making sure there is "no daylight" between the policies of Israel and of the United States. Richard Cohen published in the Washington Post shows that 60% Democrat Party's fundraising and 25% of the Republican Party’s fundraising in 2006 came from Jewish-funded Political Action Committees (PACS).
No matter how much the Democrat and Republican candidates tell you how much they differ, they openly agree that they support precisely the same policy with respect to Israel. Both Obama and Hillary have threatened to destroy Iran and Syria -- the two remaining countries in the Middle East (the other was Iraq) who are opposed to Israel's hegemony in the Middle East and its continued occupation of Palestine and its policy of ethnic cleansing with respect to the Palestinians. The situation in Palestine is not apartheid; it is genocide.
So, when Congress votes so decisively in support of Israel, it's no accident. Yet, surveying US newspaper coverage of the Middle East in recent months, shows next to nothing about AIPAC and its influence.
AIPAC is not the only pro-Israel organization to escape scrutiny. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though little known to the general public, has tremendous influence in Washington, especially with the executive branch. Based in New York,the conference is supposed to give voice to the fifty-two Jewish organizations that sit on its board, but in reality it tends to reflect the views of its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein.Hoenlein has long had close ties to Israel's Likud Party. In the 1990s he helped raise money for settlers' groups on the West Bank, and today he regularly refers to that region as "Judea and Samaria," a biblically inspired catch phrase used by conservatives to justify the presence of Jewish settlers there.
Because of the Lobby's power the US has unconditionally supported Israel's wars of aggression since 1967.Its influence also led to the US Gulf war in 1991 and the second Iraq war begun in 2003,now raging out of control and seen by some noted analysts as unwinnable and causing potential irreparable economic and political harm to the nation. Nonetheless, it persists with no plan agreed on to end it.The Lobby also guaranteed this country's unconditional support for Israel's illegal wars of aggression against Lebanon and Palestinewith all the devastation they caused and the horrendous consequences from them unresolved.The Palestinian conflict still rages under the radar, and the status in Lebanon hangs by a hair triggerready to erupt again any time Israel decides to resume hostilities. But inflaming the Middle East powder keg to a near boiling point is the strong possibility theUS and/or Israel will attack Iran because Israel wants it and the Jewish Lobby put its powerful support behind it.
The root of the Lobby's power lies in the high proportion of Jewish families who are among the wealthiest and most influential ones in the country.Forbes magazine reported that 25% - 30% of the wealthiest families here are Jewishdespite the small percentage of Jews in the population overall. They include billionaires with enormous influence, and along with all others comprising the pro-Israeli Lobby, have created a"tyranny of Israel over the US" with consequences grave enough to threaten world peace and stability,the global economy, and the very future of democracy in this country. (James Petras:The Power of Israel in the United States)
Powerful supporters of Israel raise billions of dollars to support the country's war machineand finance its colonization of annexed Palestinian land plus the Golan Heights (with its invaluable water resources) seized and never returned to Syria after the 1967 war. Israel's economy is not self-sufficient, and without this aid, it would have to make unacceptable cuts in social services, reduce its military budget and curtail its expansionary plans. With it,plus the $3 billion a year direct US contributionand lots more help,US taxpayers (like it or not) have the burden of funding Israel's belligerence and colonization agenda.
Here’s what it all costs:
- $3 billion annually in direct aid.
- Billions more in loans as needed.
- Millions annually for resettlement help for Soviet (now Russian) and Ethiopian immigrants.
- a $10 billion loan guarantee in 1990
- a further $9 billion loan in 2004
- plus billions more for the asking
- and to be forthcoming to pay the costs of the 2006 Lebanon and Palestine wars.
- Since 1981, economic aid made in cash transfers, and since 1985 military aid done the same way.
- $45 billion in repayment waved loans since 1974 and billions more for the asking - free money at US taxpayer expense.
- Since 1982, ESF (Economic Support Fund) cash transfers in one early in the fiscal year lump sum with no strings attached while other countries receiving them are paid quarterly with their use monitored. Israel invests the money in US treasuries costing US taxpayers millions more annually and also gets special FMS (Foreign Military Sales) funding arrangements costing US taxpayers well over $1 billion since 1991.
- Other privileged benefits include financial aid to develop Israel'sdefense industry, transfer of state-of-the-art technology and the latest US weapons, US guarantee for Israel's access to oil, and the likely massive aid still to come to defray the country's "special costs" for its Gaza "disengagement plan" morphing into the colonization of whatever parts of the OPT Israel wishes to annex for new settlements US taxpayers pay for.
- Add to this some$22 billion Israel got over the past 50 years through the sale of its below-market interest paying bonds that have financed half of its development - meaning the colonization of annexed Palestinian lands and military funding for its predatory imperial wars.
"The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress. Open debate about U.S. policy towards Israel does not occur there."--Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, 2005
THE TWO STATE SOLUTION
When I first put together my position statement on Israel back in 2006 I favored a one state solution. I based my thinking both on the position of the Green Party and of the renowned scholar Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian who was forced to leave her home in 1948. Since that time I have done more extensive research especially leaning on the works of Professor Norman Finkelstein, Professor Janice Petras, Professor Noam Chomsky. It is also important to read President Jimmy Carter and Mearsheimer and Walt, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". While I remain sympathetic with the "one state solution" position of Dr. Karmi, it is clear that only a two state solution will work in the area regardless of what would be reasonable and just. I am equally opposed to both the concept of an "Islamic Republic" as well as "Jewish State".
WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN
I cannot put it any better than Professor Norman Finkelstein: "What has to happen is that Israel has to join the international community and accept the principles for resolving the conflict that the entire world has accepted. The last UN General Assembly resolution passed 161-to-7, the seven dissenting states being the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Australia.161 countries said a full Israeli withdrawal to the June ’67 borders and a just resolution of the refugee question.That’s what the whole accepts, and that’s what Israel rejected."
Israel and the US todaywillfully violate the UN Charter, the Hague Regulations and Geneva Conventionsrelative to:
- the conduct of war and when it may be legally waged,
- the treatment of prisoners,
- the use of torture,
- destruction of infrastructure and historical sites,
- and plunder of natural resources to establish client puppet-run regimes exploiting their people in service to the dominant capital and political interests of their imperial conquerors.
Then to quell resistance and tighten security, the US and Israel resort to the most extreme methods including:
- mass arrests and detentions
- the free use of torture
- and targeted assassinations as state policy.
Amnesty International reports since the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006,the US and Israel are the only two countries in the world to have legalized the use of torture.
The US-led killing machine is in full operation in Iraq, and so is the Israeli killing machine in The Occupied Territories. In the occupied territories is being called there"Israel's Final Solution"or the"Palestinian Holocaust,"and it's focal point is inGaza which even unoccupied is the world's largest open-air prisonfor its 1.45 million people in the most densely populated space of its size in the world.
Today the Strip and the West Bank are Israeli-directed killing fields targeting Palestinian civilianshelpless to stop it beyond their courageous acts of desperation with crude weapons and their bodies against Israeli:
- helicopter gunships,
- illegal and immoral terror weapons like white phosphorus bombs and shells,
- cluster bombs that never stop killing and maiming,
- and experimental new weapons that don't have publicly-known names yet.
Israel's war on Palestine has gone on for nearly six decades, and September 28 marked the eighth (2000) anniversary of the al-Aqsa Mosque Intifada resistance against it that began with Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the holy site in 2000.Israel dramatically escalated the conflict after the minor June 25, 2006 incident at an Israeli military post near Kerem Shalom crossing killing two IDF soldiers, injuring several others and capturing a third still held whose name the corporate media made sure everyone knows but won't ever reveal any ofover-10,000 names of Palestinian prisoners held(the fate of "unworthy victims"). The June clash followed a series of bloody earlier in the month Israeli attacks on Gaza including the widely reported beach shelling that killed eight Palestinians and injured 32 others including 13 children. Much as it did in Lebanon (discussed below), Israel's response was swift, deadly, disproportionate to what happened and planned months in advance as revealed by General Yoav Galant, in charge of Gaza, in a candid interview he gave in Israel's Maariv daily.
Palestine: 60 years of suffering
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented it all including the devastation of the past six years. Overall it created a state of mass-immiseration for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank:
- essential infrastructure affecting power, clean water and sanitation destroyed
- mobility restricted or denied
- imposition of an embargo threatening the collapse of an already weak economy creating unemployment up to 80% of the population
- hostile incursions into the OPT, daily killings, and frequent extra-judicial assassinations
- home and property demolitions
- mass arbitrary arrests, administrative detentions of thousands of Palestinians without charge, and the systematic use of torture on those held including against women and children
- the destruction of a viable Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) through imprisonments of its democratically elected members held without charge or on contrived ones against them as well as the destruction of its civil and security facilities
ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS KILLED IN THE CURRENT VIOLENCE
At least4,789 Palestiniansand1,053 Israelishave been killed since September 29, 2000. (Click on hyperlinks)
American news reports repeatedly describe Israeli military attacks against the Palestinian population as “retaliation.” However, when one looks into the chronology of death in this conflict, the reality turns out to be quite different.
Source:B'Tselem, The Israeli
The figure for Palestinian deaths is extremely conservative, since it is difficult for B'Tselem to report on deaths in the Palestinian territories. ThePalestine Red Crescent Society, (click on hyperlink) internationally respected for its statistical rigor, reports significantly higher numbers of Palestinian deaths. I do not doubt the reliability of their data; I only use B'Tselem's more conservative numbers because they collect data on both populations.
982 Palestinian children killed by IDF in seven years
1 Israeliis being held prisoner by Palestinians, while10,756 Palestiniansare currently imprisoned by Israel.
“Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This forms approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”
Source:The Mandela Institute for Human Rights – Palestine(last updated March 31, 2007) andReuters.
Breakdown of Palestinian Prisoners
Israel is the target of at least65UN Resolutions and the Palestinians are the target ofnone.
Aside from the core issues—refugees, Jerusalem, borders—the major themes reflected in the U.N. resolutions against Israel over the years are its unlawful attacks on its neighbors; its violations of the human rights of the Palestinians, including deportations, demolitions of homes and other collective punishments; its confiscation of Palestinian land; its establishment of illegal settlements; and its refusal to abide by the U.N. Charter and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Source: Paul Findley’sDeliberate Deceptions(1998, pages 192-4). This number only covers resolutions passed from 1955 through 1992.
NoIsraeli homeshave been demolished by Palestinians and18,147 Palestinian homeshave been demolished by Israel since 1967.
“Any humanitarian looking at the sheer number of innocent civilians who have lost their homes can only condemn Israel’s house demolition policy as a hugely disproportionate military response by an occupation army... It is a policy that creates only hardship and bitterness, and in the end can only undermine hope for future reconciliation and peace.” Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of UNRWA
Source:Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions
In addition to the homes demolished by Israel, thousands of Palestinian homes have been destroyed or significantly damaged by Israeli bombing and shelling. On the flip side, while Palestinians have not demolished any Israeli homes, there is one known case of a Palestinian destroying an Israeli home in an explosion.
Video on home demolitions:
On average, the U.S gave more than$6.8 million*to Israel each day and gave$0.3 million**to the Palestinians each day during Fiscal Year 2007.
During 2007, Israel received about 20 times more aid than the Palestinians.
“Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll.Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which isroughly one-fifth of America's entire foreign aid budget.In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year. This largesse is especially striking when one realizes thatIsrael is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.”
- John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"