- Last week, a mobile billboard appeared on the streets
of Washington, DC. That in itself was no novelty, but this billboard was
designed for the first time to confront DC residents and politicians with
the Naqba. The word means catastrophe, and it refers to the beginning stage
of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
- While Israelis and their supporters began a celebration
on Washington's Mall of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Israel,
the Naqba billboard was meant to face Americans with the grisly cost of
Israel's birth: The expulsion, including many killings, of nearly 800,000
Palestinians from their homes, farms, towns and villages. While the Palestinians
fled to surrounding territories and neighboring countries of Lebanon, Egypt,
Syria, and Jordan, the Israelis set about destroying the evidence of Palestinian
culture, taking over and literally erasing towns and villages.
- The Naqba catastrophe started in 1947-some say in the
19th century, but it never has ended. Slowly but inexorably the Palestinian
people have been crowded into less and less of their historic homeland.
Today they occupy less than 10% of it, and the process goes on. New Israeli
settlements spring up in Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, in Palestinian
towns and farmlands, while more Palestinians are harassed, killed, wounded
or imprisoned. Those who object in any way violently are treated as terrorists.
- All of this happens in a world that seems insensitive
to the plight of the Palestinians. Few people criticize; none interfere
with Israeli operations. And the United States facilitates Israeli repression
of the Palestinians by (a) providing no-strings-attached grant aid of $3
billion a year along with (b) even larger loans of military assistance
funds. Those loans-which are routinely forgiven-are used by the Israelis
to buy and sustain the modern weapons, aircraft, helicopters and bulldozers
they employ to control the Palestinians while confiscating the tiny remainder
of the Palestinian homeland. Nearly 40% of America's economic aid
goes to Israel, and at $10 billion or more a year, Israel is the largest
US military aid recipient. Contrary to US law, but without US objection,
Israel uses US military equipment to pursue its unrelenting takeover of
Palestine from its people.
- It is worth remembering in this context that in the past
sixty years only two American Presidents, both Republican, have put the
screws to Israel for doing things we did not like. Eisenhower ordered the
Treasury to put financial heat on the Government of Israel until they caved
and got out of the Sinai. Much later George Herbert Walker Bush roughed
up Prime Minister Shamir in a set to over loan guarantees. Compared to
the damage that blind support for Israel has done to the US reputation
and interests in the Middle East, those examples would appear to be small
- To be fair, the United Nations has tried on numerous
occasions to get governments to agree to condemn and restrain this Israeli
campaign, and most governments have been receptive, but the United States
has always said no. Over the years the United States has vetoed over 40
UN Security Council resolutions that targeted Israeli misconduct. Various
US officials have tried what they call "quiet diplomacy" to persuade
the Israelis to conform to international law and humanitarian practices.
These entreaties, seldom if ever publicized, are invariably ignored, while
officials who persist often find their jobs terminated and/or their career
- Numerous commentators have noted the captive, at times
openly slavish behavior of the United States where the subject is Israel.
All list one or more reasons why that is so. High in the roster are the
so-called "Jewish vote" and access to Jewish sources of campaign
financing. Since all major US presidential candidates find it necessary
to make obeisance to Jewish community and Israeli leadership--as they have
once again in 2008--those arguments seem compelling. As Barack Obama has
discovered, competing candidates and their supporters do not hesitate to
suggest that he is not a "strong enough supporter of Israel."
This argument can and has been made to sound anti-Semitic. As various Internet
blog sites show, Obama has done considerable damage control around this
allegation. One of his first speeches after winning the nomination was
to tell AIPAC how much he loves Israel.
- On support for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC) lurks in the background, along with the Anti Defamation
League, ready to pounce on anyone who may be made to look non-supportive
or anti-Semitic, or especially on any so-called "self-hating"
Jew who objects to Israeli policies or conduct. Those ideas package nicely
with a powerful AIPAC suggestion that any lack of support for Israel is
anti-Semitic. The US Congress recently showed how captivated it is by such
arguments when it voted almost unanimously for a resolution saluting Israeli
statehood. Only one member bothered to mention Palestine's plight, and
no member voted against the resolution.
- There are holes in the case. There are dissenters both
in Israel and in the United States. Among several Israeli groups, Peace
Now is a large non-governmental group in Israel with a sizeable popular
base. It works to achieve an independent Palestinian state within boundaries
defined by Israel's 1967 borders. In the United States the landscape has
been virtually unchallenged pro-Israel until quite recently. Now the unpretentiously
named "J Street" group has emerged as a challenge to AIPAC and
an American pro-Israeli peace group. The websites for both of these groups
(peacenow.org and jstreet.org) are well worth studying.
- Polls show that most American Jews vote on the basis
of candidate positions on bread and butter issues, national security, welfare,
and basic governance matters. In short they vote like most other Americans.
Moreover, all American Jews do not vote for one candidate, although in
eight out of the last nine presidential elections they voted overwhelmingly
for Democratic candidates. The exception was 1980 when the vote was split
pretty evenly between Democratic and Republican, which helped give the
election to Reagan. Some observers suggest a similar Republican bunching
of Jewish votes could occur this year.
- However, this is not merely about the Washington clout
of Jewish voters or Israel lobbies. When George W. Bush met with Ariel
Sharon at the White House in March 2001, he brought to the meeting a great
deal more than support for Israel in the narrow Washington political sense.
He had behind him the political backing of his Christian base.
- That Christian base is not important as a beneficiary
of Israeli/Jewish political clout or financial "largesse". It
has played no significant role in the recent debate about the Israel lobby
and the undue influence that lobby has on Washington political decisions.
But parts of that base appear to have a direct spiritual, if not operational,
alliance with the Zionists. That alliance is much less interested in the
health of the State of Israel or its political clout among American politicians
than it is in the preconditions for the End of Days. The driver of this
alliance appears to be a basic religious deference to the Israelis because
of their role in biblical prophecy. The net effect across much of Christendom
is reluctance, if not outright refusal, to criticize Israeli policies and
- A genuinely perverse feature of this American Christian
outlook is that it ignores the situation of a sizeable number of Arab Christians
in the Holy Land. That number is said to be diminishing as many of them
realize there is no future for them where they are. It is perverse indeed
when the Holy Land itself has become unsafe for Christians. However, those
who remain are subject to either religious persecution or to treatment
as second class citizens. The latter is their precise situation in Israel.
- There is no broad agreement in Christendom on the End
of Days. But critical to those who believe strongly in the book of Revelations
and the prophecies of Daniel is a sequence of events that require that
the Jews rebuild the temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. To
do that, they have to be in charge of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. There
is considerable difference of opinion across the Christian world as to
how important the temple is to the unfolding of the End of Days. However,
the central argument is that the Antichrist who appears on the scene must
stand in the temple, assert that he is God-a false god to be sure, and
put an end to sacrifices that conventionally occurred in the historic temple
and presumably would be occurring in the new one. The Antichrist obviously
cannot fulfill this prophecy if the temple has not been rebuilt. Therefore,
interest in rebuilding the temple is strong at least in parts of Christendom,
and efforts reportedly are being made to do so.
- Efforts have gone so far as to establish that the original
site of the temple can be used to rebuild at least the inner court-where
the Antichrist must stand to assert his authority--without disturbing the
Al Aqsa Mosque with its sacred Dome of the Rock. Al Aqsa has standing
in Islam behind only the Kaaba in Mecca and the mosque in Medina, the burial
place of Mohammed. In religious terms, all of this is important because
the End of Days is of equal importance in Christian, Jewish and Muslim
religions, even though that fact is seldom mentioned in Christian discourse.
- The prophecies of Daniel have given the Zionists a hold
on American fundamentalist Christian loyalty that is blind to the humanitarian
costs of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians or to the human costs of
the End of Days scenario. To be fair, a number of denominations,
for example, the Presbyterians, as well as the National Council of Churches
have sought to distance themselves from Israel by such actions as persuading
firms to stop doing business with Israeli organizations that take part
in repression of the Palestinians. However, that campaign is hardly visible
to most Americans. The core of Christian right support for the Bush administration
appears to want no part of it. Bush apparently feels he can count
on the Christian right commitment as he blindly supports the Israelis and
ignores the Palestinians.
- Most, if not all Palestinians are sons and daughters
of Shem. In strict biblical terms therefore, they have equal rights to
dignity and respect with any other person in Israel, greater Palestine,
or, for that matter, anywhere on earth. But in the eyes of many Americans
and Europeans, the Zionists have constructed the narrative of Middle East
history cleverly to saddle the Palestinians with a collective guilt. Many
Americans simply have bought the notion, cultivated by media, that the
word "Palestinian" is a near synonym for "terrorist".
Americans widely have also bought the assertion, central to the Zionist
narrative, that every violent objection of any Palestinian to having his
home invaded, his family members killed or imprisoned, or his entire tribe
herded into an open air prison like Gaza is mere mindless terrorism.
- Recent US official posturing has reinforced that image.
Bush can justify current policy to his base because he has the Palestinians
under Mahmud Abbas cooperating with the Israelis. That means Palestinians
in the West Bank are at least not actively interfering with preparations
for the End of Days. Meanwhile, throughout the sketchy landscape of Palestinian
territory in the West Bank, Israeli settlers are taking more land, slowly
but surely eliminating the last vestiges of Palestine.
- On the other hand, Bush support for confinement of Hamas
supporters and other Palestinians in Gaza can be presented as avoiding
interference with long term plans for Israeli ownership and control of
all of Palestine. That open air prison can remain full and its people
desperate and many Americans will not care, so long as Gaza does not interfere
with Israeli control of the Temple Mount or with work toward rebuilding
- There may be other ways to explain why the western world
remains so blatantly insensitive to the needs of the Palestinian people.
However, no conventional political argument makes any sense. Palestine
is in desperate need of help, and that help simply is not forthcoming from
civilized society. Feeding the hungry is a humanitarian act, and that
mostly is occurring, but merely feeding people because they are the victims
of deliberate confinement and punishment-without doing anything to relieve
their situation-is a perverse and inhuman strategy.
- The Palestinians surely are in need of a just God. Perhaps
hard to believe, that is not the God around whom Christians contemplate
the End of Days. As conceived by egocentric true believers, that God chose
to honor the Christians by assumption, while punishing Jews by killing
them if they did not convert to Christianity, and ignoring everybody else
on the planet. In this formulation, the Palestinians are already largely
ignored by the true believers who want the Temple Mount in Israeli hands
at whatever cost to others who may actually have historic rights to the
real estate. Those, in essence, are the Palestinians who don't count in
this self-serving fundamentalist calculus. But then there are only about
two billion Christians out of the world's nearly seven billion people.
In principle, under the typical End of Days scenario, those non-Christian
folk would simply not be considered in the assumption. If this is the scenario
that actually plays itself out, a more just God is surely needed to see
to the interests of most of mankind while the world destructs in cataclysmic
Armageddon as fundamentalist Christians are lifted up to heaven.
- The Zionists actually have calculated this scenario pretty
carefully. Their hold on the loyalty of American fundamentalist Christians
has more to do with immortality than with religion. By hewing faithfully
to the importance of control over the Temple Mount, the Zionists have captivated
the Christian right and, in principle, the Zionists can do no wrong so
long as that control is assured. This imperative seems so compelling as
to obliterate virtually every humanitarian consideration of the appalling
human conditions created by Zionist repression of the Palestinians. In
a perverse way, support of Israel by American politicians puts them on
the side of the angels where the Christian right is concerned. Thus US
Congressional actions that uncritically support Israel pass as good political
judgment, while the shambles that is American Middle East policy continues
to mock long term American interests in the region.
- It is vital to look directly at the results. American
standing in the region has never been lower. Out of 500 million people
in the region we can count on about 5 million as friends. Egypt and Jordan,
who receive a third of total US economic assistance for their recognition
of Israel, are allied with the US in the War on Terrorism because that
helps them control their political opponents. America's much touted democratization
program is actually frustrated by the War on Terrorism, because that war
allows virtually every oligarchic regime in the region to suppress its
opposition groups by labeling them as terrorists. Cooperating actively
with Israel in bottling up Palestinians in the West Bank and confining
those in Gaza in an open air prison makes the United States part of the
problem, in no way part of the solution. In essence we spend two-thirds
to three-quarters of all US economic assistance to help Israel keep its
control of the Palestinians from coming unglued. Ultimately we do much
more to promote dissension and the accumulation of human grievances that
lead to terrorism than we do to promote real American interests.
- Fortunately for the Israelis, for other regional peoples,
and for us, the Palestinians continue in overwhelming degree to suffer
in silence. Primitive rockets into Sderot and other areas of the Negev,
occasional body bombers and rock-throwing children are a surprisingly small
human reaction to Israel's slow dispossession, murder and confinement of
the Palestinians and constant harassment of them. To remind people of what
is happening here, we are watching the slow and painful repression and
dispossession of nearly 5 million Palestinians. Anywhere else on earth
this would be genocide, and the political as well as practical consequences
of it would be enormous.
- In a world driven by rules of justice and equity, this
simply would not be happening. Only the sheer arrogance of power allows
it. And only a political system as open as ours to blatant and corrupt
orders of manipulation allows it to go on. Such orders of power and corruption
nearly caused the end of human civilization on several occasions in our
ancient history. Part of the problem in those days was the arrogance and
corruption of the gods themselves. Christianity emerged from that experience
as an escape from chaos by discovery and adherence to a just God. The Palestinians
now need the services of that God more desperately than any other people
on our planet.
- 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 rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US
Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman
of the Department of International Studies of the National War College
and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency
Planning. He will welcome comment at firstname.lastname@example.org