The Partners To War Crime
In The Holy Land

Terrell E. Arnold

With growing force Western and Islamic country critics are charging that Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people is an ongoing war crime. Ever more clearly the fact is coming into the open that Israel is not alone in carrying out this crime, but is aided and abetted in financial, legal, material and spiritual ways that mount quickly toward direct involvement of outsiders in the crime. In effect, Israeli abuse, persecution, confiscation of property, denial of rights, and outright murder of Palestinians has morphed into an international war crime.
In November the Israel Defense Force (IDF) massacred 18 people in the Gaza community of Beit Hanoun. Most of them were women and children as well as senior citizens. President Bush expressed his regrets at the killings, but the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking to stop Israeli military operations, to investigate the Beit Hanoun killings, and to call on Israel to comply with the Geneva Conventions. Ten members of the Security Council voted for the US-blocked resolution, while four members abstained. European media mostly decried the Beit Hanoun incident as just another unfortunate episode in the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. If the story made the front pages of any newspapers, it quickly faded from sight.
In the meantime, IDF targeted killings of Palestinians and destruction of homes and businesses continued uninterrupted. As a de-facto announcement of intent, Israel has established border posts on the Jordan Valley frontier with Jordan, effectively annexing this large piece of the West Bank into Israel. There has been no objection to this blatant act of confiscating Palestinian lands by Jordan, the United States, or by the UN which, because of US vetoes, cannot effectively record what its member states might think. In short, the ongoing war crime designed to disrupt and destroy any remaining Palestinian society, confiscate all Palestinian lands, and kill, confine or dislocate any Palestinians, armed or unarmed, goes on unimpeded by any international moral or legal authority.
Israel claims that IDF forces occupy Palestine to protect Israelis. On the average IDF forces kill, imprison or dispossess hundreds of Palestinians for any one Israeli who is killed or injured. However, the outside world, principally Western nations, buy the Israeli excuse that they are acting in self-defense. The gross double standard involved is crystal clear in the facts of the present Israeli assault. The Israelis hold upward of 10,000 Palestinians prisoner, mostly without any charge, but Palestinian resistance to that condition through lobbing primitive rockets into Israel is called "terrorism", while Palestinian militant capture of one soldier appears accepted by the international community as a sufficient excuse for IDF forces to carry out a virtual scorched earth program in Gaza.
This body of crime, altered over the decades only by Israeli acquisition of newer weapons, began before the state of Israel was recognized by Harry Truman in 1948. In anticipation that such a state would be created and at least eventually recognized, Israel's Zionist founders already had formed terrorist groups to acquire the land needed to make that state a reality. Starting immediately with the massacre and forcible expulsion of the villagers of Deir Yassen, these groups (Stern and Irgun and the followup Haganah) began the systematic clearing of Palestinians village by village, emptying hundreds of communities of clans and families who had lived there for centuries to make way for newly-arriving Israelis, and eventually their sons and daughters.
That systematic confiscation of Palestine from its people, once begun, has yet to stop. No peace process, however widely touted, has interrupted the Israeli land grab. Today creeping settlement building, a meandering wall and forceful denial of Jordan Valley access to Palestinians daily add new acreage to the expanding state of Israel.
On Christmas Day 2006, it is deeply troubling to see what this Israeli campaign has done to the most sacred of Christian sites, the "little town of Bethlehem." Because it was the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, a present-day town of 28,000, is the oldest continuously inhabited site of Christendom and for that reason has been the most frequently visited by pilgrims and tourists for time immemorial.
Today people cannot get into Bethlehem or out of it. As reported by a Palestinian Christian--see Ray Hanania in the Arab American News and on town is surrounded in part by the meandering Israeli wall that cuts the town off from Jerusalem; travel is impeded by razor wire barricades, roadblocks and checkpoints that impede not only the movements of visitors but the daily lives and movements of the Palestinian people; the Biblical site of Rachel's Tomb has been surrounded by Israeli forces, while Israeli settlements take over the surrounding hills. Palestinian Christians, whose lineages often go back to ancient times, are trapped, unable to move in or out and barely able to practice their faith. Not only the Biblical site of the birthplace of Jesus but also the surrounding lands--among the best watered in the West Bank--are being confiscated by the Israelis. And that process of steady expulsion of the Palestinians continues while Israelis bluster about their need to defend themselves against people they daily seek to destroy.
Before the eyes of the world the oldest continuing war crime on the planet--more than six decades of it--progresses unopposed except by Palestinians who fight back and are called terrorists for doing so. A war crime of this magnitude--the Israeli confiscation of roughly 90% of Palestine and willful displacement, slaughter, imprisonment, and prison camp confinement of Palestinians now numbering at least four million--cannot go on without help from outside.
Israel receives a great deal of help. Jewish financial groups, communities, and individuals worldwide have poured money into the venture, while governments, mainly western and principally the United States, have kept Israel solvent while it used its armed force, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to fend off angered Palestinians, to protect land stealing settlers, and to confiscate more land for Greater Israel. The white European Ashkenazi Jews who perpetrate this crime, as well as their white Christian right supporters of the George W. Bush presidency, seem totally indifferent to the ongoing Israeli repression of the native peoples of Palestine. The fact that those Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Jews are descended from the people of the book appears to give them little weight in the Zionist or Christian right conscience.
While its treatment of the Palestinians made Israel a pariah in the Muslim world, early on in this process, Israeli leadership figured out how to protect its status as a nation state. Israel achieved virtual immunity from criticism, while assuring through political bribery and spurious charges of "anti-Semitism" that its crime would go un-remarked, if not unnoticed.
Those tools also assured that Israel (a) would become the single largest recipient of US aid (40 to 50% or more of total US foreign assistance each year), (b) would be the recipient of even larger annual loans that regularly are forgiven--in short, donations, (c) would have no strings attached to its receipt of US assistance, and (d) would be protected from international objections to its behavior by US veto of any UN Security Council attempts to criticize or moderate Israeli actions.
With the bulk of its remaining annual foreign aid package, the United States also buys the general silence of Jordan and Egypt, pretty much no matter what Israel does to the Palestinian people. Subject to the same political bribery as the White House and the rest of the Executive, the Congress goes along with this program, although there is said to be plenty of cloakroom griping and contempt for it among members of Congress.
The enduring tragedy of this situation is that it has become a war crime with no end in sight short of total dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinian people. The harsh truth of it, however, is that this crime persists because it is widely shared. Europeans and many other nations have a hand in it because they have not objected seriously enough to Israeli behavior to moderate it. Middle Eastern states have helped the Palestinians financially from time to time but have not exerted forceful enough pressure on other governments to pressure Israel into stopping.
The United States, however, is a willing and complicit participant in the war crime. Putting aside likely reflex protests, let us look at the facts. Start with US recognition of the new state of Israel, even though the expulsion of Palestinians had already begun. Track a pattern of five decades of US defense of misbehaving Israelis. Jump to last summer's Israeli invasion of Lebanon. While the United States played along with Israeli efforts to achieve a decisive victory against Hezbollah, and Israel's air force used the time virtually to destroy the Lebanese infrastructure, the US completely ignored the fact that a similar scorched earth assault was being conducted against the Palestinians in Gaza. That assault, which led to the Beit Hanoun massacre, continues undiminished.
Meanwhile, the United States and Israel are attempting to starve the Palestinian people into unseating their Hamas-led government, freely and fairly elected though it be. More directly, there is little doubt that without US aid grants and loans Israel's IDF would be unable to pursue its harassment of the Palestinians.
But the bottom line US contribution to this war crime is allowing the Israelis freely to use US-supplied military helicopters and other weapons to harass, confine, assassinate, and control the Palestinian people. US arms export control regulations prohibit such uses of American weapons, and there is no Israeli exception to them. There is no doubt that if US funds and weapons were prohibited for such uses by the Israelis, it would become difficult if not impossible for the IDF to continue the crime.
If US authorities were to discover that any other government was financing like attacks by a terrorist group, the outcry would be immediate. In this case, the US objects regularly to supplies of weapons and other support to the Palestinians by Iran and Syria, while remaining unmoved by criticism of US weapons and financial support for Israel's IDF.
The Arms Export Control Act (Public Law 90-829) says that U.S. weapons, whether given or sold to a foreign country, can be used only for "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense". Use of U.S. weapons against civilians is prohibited. While generally looking the other way as Israel repeatedly uses US weapons against civilians, little specific exception has been taken to such extremes as use of US made bulldozers and gun ships to destroy the town of Jenin, or use of a US made bulldozer to kill a young American protester, Rachel Corry. It is hard to get exact numbers, but since the beginning of 2000, over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis, while fewer than 400 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. The Israeli deaths receive mainstream media coverage in the US. Palestinian deaths seldom do.
More than any previous President, George W. Bush is supported by the American Christian right. Strong believers in the message of Daniel concerning the end of days, the Christian right is avidly pro-Zionist, meaning that nothing Israel does is likely to be criticized by them, while they politically support US financial and military backing of the state of Israel. The lack of outcry from the Christian right, and its strong support for Bush in his unitary support for Israel make the Christian right a party to Israeli war crime, because they do not attempt to stop the willful abuse of the Palestinians in places such as Bethlehem, and that includes the Palestinian Christians.
The UN, while on numerous occasions trying to rein in the Israelis and obtain some justice for the Palestinians, has been turned into a eunuch on Palestine by US vetoes. Those vetoes regularly protect Israel from the international political, legal and moral implications of their abuse of the Palestinians. Those vetoes in effect assure that Israel has a free hand to act as it chooses toward the people of the West Bank and Gaza. US vetoes are cast in such a form that the UN can make no criticism of Israel without making a balancing criticism of the Palestinians. Under those rules, for the past six decades the Israelis have steadily pushed the Palestinian people out of their ancestral homes and lands without being held accountable.
The newest chapters of the ongoing war crime against Palestine are being written by the political squeeze imposed by US and Israeli attempts to starve the Hamas government into submission. That squeeze--essentially denial of funding, including the Palestinian Authority's own money now held by Israel--is supported in varying degrees by the UN, by Britain and European countries, and its goal is to punish the Palestinian people for electing a government the outside world does not like. But the squeeze is only part of the outside support for Israeli war crime.
The crime is aided and abetted by a rigorous double standard. The negotiating posture of the whole western world plus Israel is that the Palestinian people must accept the situation completely and stop fighting. Arab governments, all of which actually disagree with what Israel is doing, have found no effective way to deter a nuclear armed Israel. Thus, the Palestinians must recognize Israel's right to exist, honor all past peace "agreements" or proposals, disarm Palestinian militants, and, in effect, accept continuing Israeli occupation and repression. But the Israelis are not required to concede anything in advance or to change their behavior in any way.
In this manner, Israel's Zionist leadership has cozened the outside world into helping them finish the job they began with the Balfour Declaration of 1917: Take all of Palestine to form a Jewish state. Under the Israel-tolerant rules now applied by leading governments, there is no prospect that the Zionists will be stopped from confiscating Palestinian land or harassing, killing, imprisoning and otherwise coercing the Palestinian people to give up.
If the outside world continues to go along with this process, the final chapter of this war crime will be written as the Israelis create more "facts on the ground" by simply taking more land wherever Israeli settlers want it. The elements of a viable two state solution to the Arab-Israeli crisis existed only so long as lands divided along the 1967 green line made that physically feasible. Major settlement incursions since the beginning of the George W. Bush administration have made that virtually impossible, as the Israelis define "possible".
There now seem to be two options: A single state solution could be adopted under which European Jews and Palestinians of all persuasions live in peace together. That solution appears acceptable to many Palestinians and many Jews. However, present Zionist preferences are for a Jewish state. The Zionist preferred alternative would require eliminating--meaning ethnic cleansing of even the present non-Jewish citizens as well as all Palestinians. In short, the Zionists would prefer to carry their war crime to its ultimate conclusion: all of Palestine without Palestinians. To the extent that the Western and Arab states permit this to happen, they will all be guilty of the war crime of destroying Palestine, while ceding the Holy Land to Zionists who care naught for Christendom or Islam.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counterterrorism, and as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College. Mr. Arnold presents world geopolitical analysis on the third Tuesday of each month exclusively on the Jeff Rense Program. He will welcome comment at



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