A section of the barrier — erected by Israeli officials to prevent the passage of Palestinians — with graffiti using President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote when facing the Berlin Wall, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)
Virtually the entire U.S. news media and almost every national politician bends to the desires of Israel’s government regardless of its behavior, a reality that enables the persecution and even slaughter of Palestinians.
While viewing the massacre of Gazans, you may wonder why 1.7 million Arabs are crowded on that tiny strip of seashore and are being bombed day and night into death and ruins by Israel’s powerful military machine. A glimpse of history is timely.
Facts set forth below are little known in America:
Sixty years ago 800,000 Arabs fled their ancestral homes in rural Palestine fearing death as a Jewish onslaught obliterated without a trace over 500 Arab towns, villages and hamlets. Massacres were reported. Those who fled are forbidden to return home.
Fifty years later, a survey show the refugee problem staggering: 766,000 in Gaza; 741,000 in Jordan; 408,000 in Syria; and 144,000 in Egypt; smaller numbers in other Arab states.
Gaza soon became a part of Israel Occupied Palestine. Refugees and their descendants struggle there for survival. Israeli controls are brutal. Potable water is nearly gone. Most of the population depends for survival on food and water distributed by United Nations officials. If supplies are not increased starvation – not just malnutrition – is certain. Arabs huddle behind high fences equipped with Israeli remote-controlled machine guns. A gate that once served as an occasional opening to freedom is now kept locked by the government of Egypt at Israel’s request.
Gaza has long been described as the largest open-air prison in the world.
Israeli punishment of Gazans became more severe seven years ago when they exercised the right of self-determination by electing the Hamas Party to manage local affairs. Once Hamas took control in Gaza, Israel and the U.S. government conspired in a sustained but unsuccessful attempt to destroy the organization. Hamas was reelected to a second term and recently achieved a cooperative arrangement with the Fatah organization that maintains a measure of authority in the West Bank.
Infuriated because all gates stay closed, Hamas sends rockets over the fence. They do little damage but incite Israelis to launch heavy lethal bombing. Revenge is not commendable, but I understand why people penned up like cattle may welcome pain and discomfort for their oppressors.
The current assault on Gaza is Israel’s third in seven years. This is the first time Hamas has used sustained rocket fire, but it is no match for Israel’s artillery, missiles and bombs. Thanks to U.S. taxpayers, Israel has high-tech missiles that shoot down Hamas rockets while still in the air. Hamas has no such defense, in fact, no defense at all.
The late radical Rabbi Meir Kahane, wrote a book titled They Must Go. In it he contended that all Arabs must be removed from Palestine so an all-Jewish Eretz Israel, the dream of Zionism, can come into being. Eretz Israel consists of entirety of Palestine, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, plus the Golan Heights, long a part of Syria, exactly the Arab territory Israel now controls.
All Arabs are not gone, but approaching two million are imprisoned in Gaza. Elsewhere in Occupied Palestine, 4.2 million Arabs are abused and denied basic liberties. Their property and livelihood are steadily being seized by Israel to provide illegal housing for Jews-only settlements. These Arabs are squeezed into an ever-shrinking part of their birthright. More than one-half of the Palestinian West Bank is now populated by more than 500,000 Israeli settlers. Zionist dreamers can boast they are more than halfway toward their dream.
Who is responsible for this tragic treatment of Palestinians? If you ponder that question, bear in mind that Israel could not possibly commit this criminal behavior without automatic, unqualified, U.S. government support year after year.
Pro-Israel lobby pressure controls all major news media. The U.S. Congress behaves like a committee of the Israeli parliament. No president since Dwight Eisenhower has had the courage to stand up to Israeli wrongdoing. Those who know the truth are afraid to speak out for fear of paying a heavy price – maybe loss of employment.
All citizens of the United States must face the truth: Our government is complicit in Israeli crimes against humanity. This is an election year. We should elect a Congress that will suspend all aid until Israel behaves.
The bloody standoff in Gaza will stop if Israel opens the gate to Egypt and keeps it open. When that happens, Arabs living there can “breathe free,” a precious right our Statue of Liberty proclaims for all humankind.
Paul Findley served as a member of United States House of Representatives for 22 years. His books include Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts About the U.S.-Israeli Relationship.