Monday, May 23, 2011

The Time Has Come Today

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US Congress this week. President Obama gave a major speech regarding the Middle East and also addressed AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Netanyahu rejected Obama's suggestion to abide by UN Resolution 242. Congressional leadership and the President should have clearly conveyed that the time has come for Israeli intransigence against peaceful resolution to the Palestinian crisis be ended once and for all. Sadly, they did not.

Why? Because we have been indoctrinated with a singular History of the Jews In Palestine; that Palestine is the Jews' rightful home. We have learned by rote and repetition, that Israel, as the region's sole democracy, is beset by 22 hostile Arab states with cultures of death to infidels. We do not protest, even in these harsh economic times, when $3 Billion of our tax dollars (not counting back-channel and black ops expenditures which some estimate as high as an additional $6 Billion) per year, are funneled to Israel, that money used to build illegal settlements in the West Bank and to repress Palestinians daily. We completely understand the clear difference of Hamas "terrorism" (firing small, ineffective rockets into Israel accounting for 16 deaths from 2001 to 2008) and the "defensive" Israeli assaults on civilian populations; for example, Operation Cast Lead which, in just three weeks, resulted in 1400 Palestinian people killed, most of them women and children, or Operation Peace for Galilee which resulted in the destruction of Beirut and 18,000 civilian deaths in just the first days of the 1982 Lebanon invasion. We never think to question Israel's use of state-of-the-art weaponry/tools of repression (courtesy of the US) to commit daily acts of murder, humiliation and illegal occupation of the Palestinian people. Nor do we wonder at the pre-emptive invasions of sovereign nations that Israel carries out at will and whim.

We all believe that Israel is acting in self-defense. That notion is fiction. In fact, Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity. A crime of gigantic proportions perpetrated upon some ten million human beings.

Historical truth:
Jews claim that Israel/Palestine is their rightful home. Yet, the Semitic peoples whom were to become the Jews, originally came to Palestine as invaders. The only time in 4000 years of history that the Jews actually ruled in the region was under King David and son Solomon, again under the Maccabbees and currently under the Israeli government; a span of time constituting less than 4 percent of the region's history. There is no evidence that Jews ever comprised a majority in Palestine.

Palestinian Arabs' roots go back thousands of years, generation upon generation operating under tribal laws despite whatever absent authority claimed to have control there. These Palestinians have lived upon the land of Palestine, as nomads, as tillers of its soil, all having harvested its bounty for most of Palestine's existence.

And then came Zionism. Theodor Herzl's plan to have Jews from all over the world return to Zion and build a state. The first wave of illegal Jewish immigration (First Aliyah, 1882 - 1903) found a Palestine with less than 25,000 Jews living there, mostly in Jerusalem; constituting less than 5 percent of the population. The second wave of illegal immigration (Second Aliyah, 1904 – 1914) brought the number of Jews in Palestine to 85,000 or just 10.6 percent of the population.

We often hear how the Mandatory for Palestine, Great Britain, "promised" Eastern European Jews by way of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the whole of Palestine as the home of Jews. That view is clearly refuted by the Churchill White Paper of 1922 which maintained that the Balfour Declaration did not mean "the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole." Nor did it mean that Palestine, "as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be found in Palestine." It should also be understood that the Balfour Declaration stated, "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

The Mandate document (Council of the League of Nations, 24 July 1922) outlined the responsibilities of the Mandatory. Great Britain was to guarantee that Zionist immigration would be allowed only "under suitable conditions" (Article 6) and that the Arab majority's civil and religious rights would be protected (Article 2). Further, Article 17 of the British Mandate document prohibited armed defense groups ― like the Zionist underground group Ha-Shomer started in 1907 which burgeoned into Haganah in 1920 which split into Irgun, LEHI, and the Stern Gang ― unless such groups operated under the "supervision of the Mandatory." Despite this proscription these groups operated on their own perpetrating terrorist acts until Israel was proclaimed a State in 1948.

The illegal immigration of Eastern European Jews continued unabated until, at the close of the Third Aliyah (1919 – 1923), Jews comprised 18.7 percent of the population in Palestine.

Numerous pronouncements from Zionist leaders (Herzl, Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion, etc) made clear that Zionists wanted all of Palestine (Eretz Yisrael). More and more land was confiscated from Arab Palestinians until in 1936 an Arab revolt erupted. Outlawed Jewish terrorist organizations indiscriminately murdered thousands of Arab Palestinians. As the British cracked down on the illegal immigration and fought the Jewish terrorists, the various illegal armed groups targeted the British military. A protracted round of murderous terrorism convinced the Brits to turn the Mandate over to the United Nations. In 1947, a special committee was convened (UNSCOP) to study the situation. Its recommendation was to divide Palestine into two separate states. At this juncture, Zionists comprised 33 percent of the population yet were offered 55 percent of Biblical Palestine. Of course, the Arab Palestinians refused the offer, much as any humans would if their home had been thieved and then offered only the attic and basement in which to live.

Then, in 1948, Israel self-declared statehood and conducted the Nakba (Catastrophe) which was the forceful expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. All that was left behind was confiscated by the nascent nation of Israel; "80 percent of the entire land area of Israel is land abandoned by the Arab Refugees. Nearly a quarter of all the standing buildings in Israel had been occupied by those Arabs. Ten thousand shops, stores and other firms inside new Israel had been Arab. Half of all the citrus fruit holdings in the new State had belonged to the Arabs now made refugees. By 1954, more than one-third of the entire Jewish population of Israel was living on 'absentee property' ― most of it now 'absorbed' into the Israeli economy, and unilaterally sequestered by Israeli legislation against a 'global' compensation offer." [The Other Exodus; Erskine Childers; The Spectator Limited; 12 May 1961]. Those refugees are still refugees. In fact, one third of the world's refugees are Palestinian.

Israel started the 1956 Suez war and confiscated the entire Sinai. Israel proceeded to start the "Six Days War" (1967) and grabbed more land, Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The UN passed a Resolution (242) demanding Israel return the occupied territories. Israel has refused ever since.

Israel is in daily violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids population transfer into territory occupied in war. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, such population transfer is also a war crime. The illegality of the settlements was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in July 2004. Israel's "Wall of Separation" was determined to be illegal by the International Court. Israel continues to build that wall and continues to send religious zealots into the territories to make "facts on the ground" nullify any two-state agreement.

Israel points its finger at Iran as to nuclear proliferation although Israel has engaged in its own illegal (non-signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) nuclear weapons program with missile delivery capability of warheads and has done so without joining the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency; Iran has). The United States supports this criminality and, in fact, champions sanctions against Iran for merely enriching uranium for its peaceful nuclear energy program but says nothing about Israel's 200 plus weapons of mass destruction.

The current situation in Israel is one of apartheid, of brutal repression of an entire people. Days ago, 12 Palestinians commemorating the Nakba were shot and killed by Israeli Occupation Forces, another two dozen wounded. Imagine the worldwide outcry and rush to action if Jews commemorating the Holocaust were indiscriminately murdered.

Amidst democratic aspirations of the "Arab Spring" and 63 years of ruthless Israeli tactics to deny the Palestinians their own rightful home, the President of the United States should have stood up to Israel and issued an ultimatum: Justice for the Palestinian people (a two-state solution along the lines of the 2003 Arab Peace Initiative and UN Resolution 242: A Palestinian state based upon pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital) or Israel loses its "special relationship" with the US, including the end of weapons transfers and billions in foreign aid. President Obama chose not to so. That act of choice makes America complicit in Israel's continuing crimes against humanity; a complicity for which Americans shall surely pay.