The United States government knows Israel is guilty of numerous human rights abuses against the Palestinian people and has done for many years. However, the US government chooses to overlook Israel’s numerous crimes against humanity and breaches of international law because it feels it is a country of strategic importance. The United States government has persuaded the American people since September 11 that a war is being raged against ‘terrorists’, that ‘terrorists’ are Arabs and therefore all Arabs are ‘terrorists’. Israel could not have asked for more from its most powerful supporter.
Israel’s government has maintained a fear of Palestinians amongst its population. A fear that has allowed it to do whatever it wants to men, women and children of any age from Palestine, all in the name of security. If an 8 year old girl or a group of 10 year old boys die in the West Bank or Gaza so what, they were just victims of our fight for ‘security’ conclude many Israelis. The US regime has also instilled a fear of Arabs in the hearts of the American people. This fear has provided the basis for an illegal war in the Middle East, which America has used to obtain key resources in the region and to establish an Iraqi regime conducive to America’s future plans for the region.
Hence there is a level of support between two countries not found elsewhere. Two populations, both in fear of ‘terrorists’, both fighting the other, the Arabs. As long as the US government maintains Arabs are the enemy, Israel can justify to the American people and Western media that civilian deaths, failed peace agreements, disregard for international law and the collective punishment of Palestinians is part and parcel of their personal fight against ‘terror’. If Israel’s actions are in the name of defending ‘terror’, the US regime will defend Israel’s actions, and the innocent men, women and children who die when Israel next conducts a military invasion will again be forgotten because they are Arabs, and therefore terrorists or supporters of terrorists.
Theodore Herzl wrote that the state of Israel would only be realized and maintained with the assistance of a foreign power. Herzl could never have dreamt of a power such as the United States, a power so willing to blindly support the Zionist cause, which remains the driving power in Israeli politics. Indeed, the US has overlooked so many human rights abuses conducted by Israel that were a miracle to take place and the state of Israel brought to trial for its crimes, the US would not be allowed to sit in the visitors gallery. The US government knows what is happening in Palestine, it knows the daily human rights abuses performed by Israel and knowingly supports Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinians.
US foreign policy has always supported Israel. The US has vetoed more than 30 UN resolutions against the state of Israel. By using its veto power, America has supported Israel’s crimes against humanity, the building of illegal settlements, 547 checkpoints within in occupied Palestine, Israel’s disregard for Security Council and UN resolutions, numerous breaches of international law, Israel’s use of collective punishment and the building of the illegal ‘security’ fence.
Were Israel brought to trial, America could not say it didn’t know.
The Israeli government, with the support of the United States, is guilty of daily human rights abuses. But guilt does not reside only with the US and Israeli governments. The citizens of Israel, who choose to ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people, must also bare responsibility. Israel does have citizens who disagree with what their government and its right-wing Zionist members and supporters are doing to the Palestinians. But they do little about it. Israel has a small number of citizens who have dedicated their lives to fighting the Israeli government and the occupation of Palestine but they receive little support. Israeli citizens do not protest each week to end the occupation, to end the suffering of the people they displaced not so long ago, or to allow the Palestinians to live normal lives on what land they have left.
The state ensures Israelis don’t see the occupation through a system of checkpoints and Israeli only highways. Out of sight and out of mind appropriately describes Israel’s policy toward Palestine. However, to what extent are people in Israel really ignorant of the situation? Have they not all served in the army? Have they not all seen the checkpoints that Palestinians are herded through like animals? Have they not seen at least once the unjustified treatment and collective punishment of Palestinian civilians?
The people of Israel prefer however to accept whatever the government tells them, despite many knowing that much of it is a lie. Walking the streets of Tel Aviv one can feel so far away from the conflict, which is less than 50 km away. Why should they concern themselves with ending a 60 year long conflict if it doesn’t directly effect them? The answer is because it is the right thing to do and because the Palestinians deserve to have what the Jewish people spent so many years fighting for, a state of their own where they are free from persecution.
But Israel’s government does not want to end the occupation.
As long as Israel can occupy Palestine, it can continue taking land and harassing the Palestinian people, inching month by month closer to a time when a withdrawal from Palestinian land is no longer possible because to many illegal settlements, to many illegal homes, have been built. Since the beginning of the 2nd intifada 7 years ago, 50% of the settlements in existence today have been built. This is the benefit to Israel of fighting with the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon did not keep troops in the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque for no reason. He did so because he wanted unrest, he wanted fighting, he wanted conflict. Sharon knew he could keep hiding behind biased media, which depicts Palestinians as the terrorists, as the oppressors, whilst he illegally expanded Israel. Sharon and Israel wanted a 2nd intifada and the 2nd intifada has allowed Israel to acquire additional land whilst increasingly controlling the lives of Palestinians.
Conflict allows the stronger side to get what it wants. The Iraq war has allowed America to overthrow a government, gain control of precious resources, install the people it wants in power, kill innocent Iraqi civilians and all the time hide behind the war on terror. Israel is no different. Israel hides behind the conflict it perpetuates with Palestine, behind images of Palestinians resisting, which are conveniently interpreted by the public as images of terrorism. The US government, the Israeli government, the people of Israel, and the biased media together seem an unbeatable force. Will Palestinians ever succeed against them and gain their right to self-determination and a country of their own?
So we ask, what about this peace agreement? Isn’t Israel trying to bring about peace in the region by going to Annapolis? No, it is not.
Palestine is ready for peace. It has been for some time now. People may laugh at this suggestion, but Palestine and the Palestinians surprisingly enough no longer want a country occupying them. If another country invaded you, took control of everything and killed your innocent friends and fellow countrymen for fighting back, would you not resist? Would you not make life difficult for those occupying you, those hindering your right to freedom? You would. Palestine has resisted but they have also worked toward peace. They have complied with almost every demand made of them by the Israeli and US governments. Today they are ready.
Alas, Israel is not.
Influential Ministers in the Israeli government have made it quite clear they do not want to talk about peace, not now, not in the short term, because in the long term they will have acquired more Palestinian land, passed bills to ensure Jerusalem is never divided and guaranteed that peace will come about on Israel’s terms and without compromise.
The upcoming peace conference may be the last opportunity to achieve a 2 state solution and an end to years of conflict. Palestine is doing its utmost to negotiate a final agreement to end the conflict. They are trying to do all that is being asked of them whilst Israel sits back and thinks of new hurdles for the Palestinian government to jump over so they don’t have to compromise and hinder the dream of an all Jewish state. The latest demand has been that Palestine recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which is a tall order considering citizens of Israel have yet to decide whether they are a Jewish state or not and approximately 20% of their population is not Jewish.
Israel will continue to find ways to prolong the occupation and to continue expanding settlements. The United States will continue to support Israel, and the Middle East will remain unstable, broken by war. We want it to stop, but those in power do not, and when the pages of history are turned to this conflict in years to come, they will hopefully read that Israel was tried for crimes against humanity, and the United States was found guilty for always being the knowing, supportive accomplice.