Deafening Silence on Israel

Deafening Silence on Israel

While terrorism has been the most important topic of discussion in Washington since 2001, what continues to be considered an irrelevant subject to discuss is American policy toward Israel, which terrorists have used as one of their most important reasons for attacking us. Our government, academic and media institutions indoctrinate us into accepting America”s unconditional support for Israel out of the fear of getting dismissed as irrelevant or even getting branded as anti-Semite. An example is many people”s knee-jerk reaction to President Carter”s latest book on the Middle East, or the reaction by Bill Maher – the host of Real Time with Bill Maher, who is someone that I like — to Michael Scheuer, the former head of CIA”s Bin Laden Unit in a recent exchange. But as someone who has lived under Iran”s propaganda machine for almost two decades, loves this country and doesn”t want to see another terrorist act against it, I strongly believe we should reconsider our unconditional support for Israeli policies.

Here is the dialogue between Bill Maher and Michael Scheuer.

This blogger recognizes Israel”s right to exist, but not its right-wing unilateralism and policies. While the American government has repeatedly portrayed the image that it is in support of peace in the Middle East, it has been the biggest single force in blocking peace and the creation of a democratic Palestine side-by-side with Israel for over thirty years.

Establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights following the 1967 six-day war have long been recognized as illegal by the United Nations Security Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the states parties to the Geneva Convention and International Court of Justice. In the face of the will of the international community, Israel has refused to follow through with its complete withdrawal from the occupied territories with the full support of the United States.

Despite America”s stated policy of support for a double-state solution, it has been a major obstacle in the path to reaching that very end and contributed to the radicalization of opposing forces in the Middle East. In the early 1970s, Sadat offered a full peace treaty to Israel in turn for Israel”s withdrawal from the occupied territories. While Sadat”s offer was closely in line with Washington”s policy, the U.S. put its support behind Israel”s rejection of the plan as the latter preferred to have its army under General Sharon expand into the Egyptian Sinai, driving Bedouins out, demolishing their homes and building all-Jewish cities and villages. It was rejection of this plan that led to the ignition of the 1973 war and gave rise to the Gush Emunim settler movement and the consequent Palestinian resistance during the first Intifada. In 1976, Syria initiated another peace treaty, calling for a two-state settlement on the international borders backed by the major Arab states and Arafat”s PLO, with very much the same wording as that of internationally ratified U.N. Security Council Resolution 242. United States, once again alone, rejected the offer. During the Camp David Accord in 1979, Sadat made the same offer he had made eight years earlier with an amendment to recognize Palestinians” national rights. Once again, Israel and the United States became the only two countries in the international community to reject the offer. And in December of 1989, as Washington announced “Baker Plan,” which was Washington”s official endorsement of Israel”s unilateral rejectionism, the U.N. General Assembly called for an international peace conference to reach a diplomatic settlement based on the pre-1967 borders, which guaranteed the security of all states in the region. The vote was 153 to 3, with the U.S., Israel and Dominica opposing.

Following Arafat”s democratic election in 1996, the U.S. was the sole power to refuse to accept democratic elections in Palestine out of the fear that Arafat would be elected again, giving him farther democratic legitimacy. In September of 2005, Ariel Sharon let the U.N. know that he was going to use any means necessary to disrupt Palestinian elections if Hamas was permitted to run, because of Hamas”s “commitment to violence.” Based on that logic, Palestine should do the same to Israel if Likud or Labor ran, and Iran should have the right to disrupt U.S. elections next year. The fact is that despite America and Israel”s pro-democracy rhetoric, they have an impeccable record of only supporting democracy and elections if their outcomes are favorable to their interests.

In the meantime, Israel continues to consume disproportionately large segments of Palestinians” natural resources, including 80% of water extracted from the West Bank, which has left Palestinians some of the most water-deprived people in the world. In addition, Moshe Negbi, a leading Israeli legal analyst informs us that while Israel claims to be a democracy, its courts have been contributing to the deterioration of democracy by complying to the “thugs of the racist fundamentalist right” by committing acts like imposing a six-month sentence on an interrogator for torturing a Palestinian to death or another for murdering an Arab child, just to name a few. He is not the only Israeli who vocally criticizes his country”s outright and brutal violations of human rights. Others include, diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar, reporter Amira Hass, historian Idit Zartel and Journalist Gideon Levy, all of whom are prominent and mainstream figures in their own fields.

There are three major factors that explain why the U.S. has blocked peace in the Middle East: 1) The power of the absolutist pro-Israeli lobby in America, backed by Jews from the right and also the left, and their influence in Washington; 2) The strength of the American defense lobby, which earns billions of dollars in sales of weapons to Israel because of the conflict and Israeli aggression; and 3) Christian conservatives who have somehow convinced themselves that existence of a peaceful Israel justifies its unilateral, undemocratic and right-wing policies.

It is impossible here to reveal more than the tip of the iceberg of the role that the right-wing U.S. and Israeli politicians have played in continuing the occupation in the face of international opposition. America”s silence about Israelis” nuclear weapons with the latter”s lack of membership to the NPT while maintaining such harsh rhetoric with regard to Iran”s nuclear program, which is legally allowed to enrich uranium as a NPT member is an example of the kind of outright double standard that the United States has been following in its foreign policy. Israel has also maintained a close relationship with the military government in Burma and repeatedly given authorizations to Israeli military contractors to sell weapons to Burma, which the latter is now using to crack down on pro-democracy protests, shooting and killing peaceful protesters and monks and cutting off people”s contact with the outside world.

Regardless of how you feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is now little doubt among intelligence experts that while there is certainly a radical and irrational element to terrorism, terrorists do not attack us out of hatred for our freedoms, but they do so because we continue to place the self-interests of this country before the defense of our principles and suppress any debate that is sought to address this self-defeating strategy.