By William A. Cook
One might hope that the newly elected Democrats that constitute the majority in both houses would be able to think for themselves on the issue of Israeli apartheid and not be led by the prejudicial opinion of their presumed House leader. Pelosi’s statement denies the reality that exists in Israel now on two counts: first, she denies the reality of the present government in Israel because with Olmert’s acceptance of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into his government, he, and therefore his government, has acknowledged what this man and his party endorse, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and the denial of citizenship of Palestinians living in Israel; secondly, she denies the reality of the Jewish state’s "Declaration of Independence," as noted by Dr. Uri Davis in his work, Apartheid Israel, "The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel – known as Israel’s Declaration of Independence – does not declare Israel an independent State, nor does it declare Israel a sovereign State, it rather declares Israel a Jewish State … the Jewish State in the political Zionist sense of the term was to be an apartheid state." Dr. Davis’ work records the acts of "ethnic cleansing of the majority of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people from the territories that came under the control of the Israeli army and razing some 400 Palestinian rural and urban localities to the ground …" and the plantation of Jewish settlements and subsequent annexation by the State in "violation of both the UN Charter and of international law."
Pelosi speaks as though she were the voice of AIPAC chastising its minions to abide by their presumed commitment to the Zionist cause, a commitment it could count on in the six years of Republican rule. She also speaks for all Democrats, apparently excommunicating the most senior Democrat of all, former President Jimmy Carter whose new book occasioned her outburst because he spoke the truth about Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land as the actions of an apartheid state. And finally, and perhaps most tellingly, she speaks for all Jews not understanding that hundreds of thousands of Jews have condemned the actions of the Olmert government and of the prior Sharon government for the savagery of their treatment of the Palestinian people.
One need read only Gideon Levy’s recent article ("The Cease Fire Will Go Up in Flames," 12/3/06 Harretz) to realize that it is Israel’s Olmert government and the IDF that prevents peace in Palestine, not the Palestinians. But Pelosi gets her news from AIPAC wrapped in its most recent resolution it wants our congress to pass supporting the apartheid government that she denies exists.
On November 7th, the American people made it abundantly clear that they repudiated the policies of the Republican Congress and the Bush administration. The new Congress must address the failure of the Bush/Neo-con war in Iraq and defuse the world-wide anger and outright hatred of the United States for its support of the state of Israel for its inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people, what President Carter called on Good Morning America the "’prime cause’ of continuing violence in the Middle East." (Ron Bryneart, 11/27/06).
This new Congress cannot afford to retreat before the onslaught of AIPAC that will slither its way beneath their office doors to cajole and entice them with euphemisms and lies. They must face their responsibilities with minds open to the truth and with the guts to stand against the rhetorical flood that will follow any statement or action that seems to qualify their blind support for Israel. Perhaps the answers to three questions would help our new Congress assess where they stand. 1. Why does the United States stand alone in its unqualified support when the actions of the Israeli state are so blatantly illegal and unjust? 2. How can Pelosi claim that the state of Israel is not apartheid when the evidence is so overwhelmingly the obverse? 3. How can anyone deny that Israel is and has been ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their land when documented research demonstrates the opposite?
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has just appointed Bishop Tutu to lead an investigation into the Israeli atrocities in Beit Hanoun in Gaza, specifically the deaths of 13 members of a family, mostly children and five other adults, while they were sleeping. This follows a resolution on the massacre proffered in the Security Council where the U.S. stood alone in vetoing the condemnation of Israel, followed by a special session of the General Assembly where 156 nations voted to censure Israel for its actions while the United States, the Federal States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau voted against it.
Why does the United States not see what the rest of the world sees? Why does the United States continue its string of vetoes in support of the ruthless actions of the Israeli state while virtually all other nations condemn their atrocities? Why does the United States damn Iraq and Iran for defying a few UN resolutions and not damn Israel for defying the 160 UNGA and 60 UNSC resolutions condemning Israel? Why do we mock the world’s intelligence belligerently thrusting our own ignorance before it as righteous truth? What does it profit America to stand before the world as the sole defender of a state bathed in the blood of apartheid and deny it is so?
Consider the reality of Israeli apartheid, not the mealy-mouthed mutterings of the presumed Speaker of the House: "Israel is the only Western country and Jerusalem the only city that systematically deny permits and demolish houses of a particular national group. These actions, reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa and the Serbs in Kosovo, clearly violate international covenants of human rights." (Jeff Halper, "The Message of the Bulldozer"). Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions; he knows whereof he speaks. But lest one reference be discarded, let’s note that in December 2001, Harretz published an article, "Five Minutes from Kfar Saba," that described Jewish settlements on land it labeled "state-owned." In fact, the settlements reside on Palestinian land as recent leaked information from Israel makes clear.
"… the settlement enterprise in the Occupied Territories has created a system of legally sanctioned separation based on discrimination that has, perhaps, no parallel anywhere in the world since the apartheid regime in South Africa." (Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank, May 2002). Let’s add our former President’s words to this discourse, words from a man that has spent 30 years witnessing the actions of a state that has thwarted the peace initiatives of U.S. presidents before Bush Jr. "And contrary to the United Nations resolutions, contrary to the official policy of the United States government, contrary to the Quartet so-called road map, all of those things – and contrary to the majority of Israeli people’s opinion – this occupation and confiscation and colonization of land in the West Bank is the prime cause of a continuation of violence in the Middle East … Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land. In order to perpetuate the occupation, Israeli forces have deprived their unwilling subjects of basic human rights. No objective person could personally observe existing conditions in the West Bank and dispute these statements." Need we go any further to prove our point? An open mind and a caring heart will arrive at the only viable answer, the Israeli state is an apartheid state and U.S. support for it is a travesty of our fundamental principles of justice and equality.
Now let us turn to our third question, does Israel condone and practice ethnic cleansing? Ramzy Baroud cites this definition of ethnic cleansing: "The term ethnic cleansing refers to various policies of forcibly removing people of another ethnic group. At one end of the spectrum, it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population transfer, while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide." ("Ethnic Cleansing and Israel’s Racist Discourse," 12/1/06, ZNet). Based on this definition, Baroud claims the "Palestinians have been and remain victims of a determined and unwavering ethnic cleansing policy that began in 1947-48 and continues until today." Historians no longer debate the ethnic cleansing undertaken by the Israeli forces in 1947-48; even Israeli historian Benny Morris describes in detail how it was carried out and what logic was used to defend it. An estimated 13,000 Palestinians were killed and more than 850,000 evicted and forcibly removed while approximately 400 towns and villages were demolished. That was the beginning; it continues to this day as Carter demonstrates.
Now let’s turn to Lieberman, the avowed racist and proponent of ethnic cleansing. He has spoken openly of the need to kill off the entire leadership of the Palestinian government: "They have to disappear, to go to paradise, all of them, and there can’t be any compromise." But he doesn’t stop there, he would also execute the Israeli Arab members of the Knesset who met with Hamas and didn’t celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. He advocates the complete separation of the Jewish and Arab populations in Palestine, in effect, forced transfer. He and his followers, now an integral part of the Israeli government, oppose the peace process especially the U.S. backed road map.
Justin Raimondo lists a litany of his racism in AntiWar.com (Oct. 27, 2006) including this: "Destroy the foundation of all the [Palestinian} authority’s military infrastructure … not leaving one stone on another. Destroy everything (civilians included)." Following that he would use the Israeli air force to bomb all Palestinian "commercial centers, including banks and even gas stations." Harretz, the moderate Israeli newspaper wrote about Lieberman after his ascension to power with Olmert, "The choice of the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around for this job constitutes a strategic threat in its own right." And we never heard a word of dissent from our press or TV anchors.
Raimondo makes this cogent point as a result of Lieberman’s current position, the one Pelosi forgets to mention: "If the Israeli government is going extremist, the moral and strategic implications of our continued assistance (to Israel) is grave: will we be complicit as Israel "transfers" hundreds of thousands of Arabs, many of them Israeli citizens? As hard-right ideologies embark on a campaign of aggression aimed at creating a \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’Greater Israel,’ will U.S. tax dollars continue to fuel the Israeli war machine?"
These are the thoughts that should resound in the halls of Congress as the new Democrats take their seats. Does the United States continue to finance a rogue state that defies not only the desires of the United Nations, but the desires of all Presidents prior to our current one? Does the United States stand with all the Jews who condemn the actions of the Olmert government or do we support the idiocy of Olmert who has joined forces with a corrupt ideological party led by a fanatic who should be placed in the same group as those who lead the Islamic fanatics we so forcefully condemn?
Does the United States government abide by its own laws, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, Sections 502B and 116 (a) that states "No assistance may be provided under subchapter 1 of this chapter to the government of any country that engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment …" or does it continue to support an Israeli government that defies these laws? Does the United States stand by its own laws that forbid the use of U.S. military equipment against a civilian population or does it continue to permit the Israeli government to hurl its disproportionate U.S. supplied military weight against the civilians living in Gaza and the West Bank? Finally, does the United States begin to show the world that it is a law abiding state that practices what it preaches, repudiates its alliance with the apartheid state of Israel, and rejoins the international community by supporting justice for all not hatred of the few.
-William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s Mideast Policy He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU.