An Article from the Colorado Daily published By Alex Lubin, (A professor at CU Boulder on February 15th 2001).
U.S. guns and helicopters pose a serious threat to Mideast peace Published February 15th 2001 By ALEX LUBIN The recent election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister of Israel represents a serious setback to any attempt at a just peace for Palestinians. Sharon has been lionized in Israel as a military commander. Yet to Palestinians Sharon will always be remembered as the general responsible for the massacre at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Moreover, Sharon has been a staunch opponent to any concessions to Palestinians. Sharon's election only adds weight to the harsh history of Israel's military occupation of the Palestinian homelands. I write this editorial to voice my opposition to the policies of the state of Israel, and to the United States' role in supporting this occupation. I believe that being critical of the policies of the state of Israel and calling for the creation of a bi-national democratic state is in the interest of Jews and Palestinians, and that maintaining the status quo poses a dangerous threat to everyone.
But we cannot comprehend a democratic state without first being honest about the history of occupation. I recently taught a class about the history of Anglo colonization of North America in which I told students that the dispossession of the indigenous population in the United States was achieved in part by demonizing the indigenous population as racial "others" and by constructing a new history of the continent in which American Indian presence was erased and Anglo destiny was substituted. I taught my students that Anglo sense of mission, and their confidence in God's purpose for them, led them to justify a form of genocide.
This was an ironic teaching experience because as a Jew, I am aware that a more modern and technological form of dispossession is taking place in the Middle East in my name. Like all colonial formations, the dispossession of Palestine rests on a new construction of history that erases historic Palestine, and the construction of a modern racial order that casts Palestinians and all Arab people as demons. The consequence of our colonial understanding of the Middle East is that Israel becomes naturalized as the only legitimate state in the region, and Palestinian opposition is seen as random aggression by a violent-prone and irrational population. American understandings of Palestine and Israel are shaped by a history that erases and forgets important facts, and by a culture that racializes all Arab people. As a Jew -- someone for whom, I am told, Israel must exist -- I write to support the anti-colonial intifada (uprising) in the West Bank and Gaza, and to criticize U.S. backing of Israeli military occupation, the second-longest military occupation of the 20th century.
I was raised to believe that Israel was created after the Holocaust as a safe haven for Jews, a place where Jews could always migrate to escape anti-Semitism. Moreover, I was taught that Arabs and Jews were natural foes, that Israel needed military support from the United States because it was in an especially anti-Semitic region of the world where its future was in constant peril. I was never taught that well before World War II, some military leaders attempted to occupy Palestine and create Israel; that the creation of Israel in some peoples' minds was not linked to the Holocaust. Nor was I taught that Arabs and Jews had co-existed in the region for thousands of years. The Israeli occupation benefits from the kind of historical amnesia that shaped my education about the region. My own historical understanding was influenced by the motives of colonialism which ignore the fact of Palestinian existence, and that view the state of Israel as an inevitability, existing outside of history. I have come to recognize that my own understanding of Israel has been shaped by what W.E.B. DuBois, in another context, called the "propaganda of history." Our historical memory of the creation of Israel ignores the fact of Israeli occupation of Palestine, and as such, serves to perpetuate harsh colonial relationships in the present. In 1948 Israel occupied and erased 78 percent of historic Palestine. Around 870,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homeland and made refugees. More than 400 villages were destroyed and replaced with Kibbutzes and Israeli settlements. Today approximately 4.5 million Palestinians are refugees as a result of the initial takeover in 1948. In 1967 Israel completed its conquest of Palestine by occupying the West Bank of the Jordan River and Gaza. Today Israel controls all of the initial 78 percent of Palestine it occupied after 1948, and 60 percent of the West Bank and 40 percent of Gaza.
What occupation means for Palestinians evades United States media accounts of the conflict. The Israeli army controls the borders, the security forces, and the water in the occupied territories. Moreover, new settlements are developed every month which fragment Palestinian territory. Israeli forces control Palestinian movement between and within Palestinian territories. Palestinians are required to carry apartheid-inspired passbooks whenever they travel.
In sum, Israel is reconfiguring the geography of Palestinian territory by replacing Arab homeland with Israeli homeland, and by building bypass roads that allow Israel the ability to expand settlements without having to come into contact with Palestinians. This is a military occupation that operates through harsh repression and through the construction of a new history that legitimizes and naturalizes Israeli claims to the region.
Yet when the media in the United States cover the conflict in the Middle East they ignore the fact of military occupation. In the U.S. media, Palestinians appear only as terrorists, as criminals who unjustly attack innocent Israelis. Terrorism, unfortunately, has been a tactic employed by both sides in the region for a long time. Although terrorist attacks dominate media images of Palestinians, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of casualties in this occupation are Palestinian. This is a conflict dominated not by terrorism, but by the Israeli military, which is one of the most sophisticated in the world.
Thanks to the United States, the Israeli military has Apache attack helicopters, an unlimited supply of guns and ammunition, and at least 200 nuclear warheads. In fact, one of the reasons for the U.S. support is that Israel is one of the largest consumers of U.S.-manufactured weapons. Hence when the media represents stone throwing, or the more infrequent terrorist act, as Palestinian offenses, and not as responses to a harsh military occupation, they perpetuate the colonial logic which guarantees Israel representation, and erases the actual fact of occupation. Moreover, media coverage fails to note that nearly all of the fighting during the most recent conflicts has taken place in Palestinian territories. We must not view children who hurl the rock fragments of their bombed-out villages at Israeli tanks as anything but anti-colonial uprising.
The United States is not an innocent bystander in this conflict. U.S. foreign aid to Israel funds the occupation. U.S.-manufactured weapons suppress the Palestinian uprising. Hence we cannot accept claims that the U.S. is an honest broker to the so-called peace process in the Middle East, and this critique is as much about the United States intervention in the region as it is about the policies of the state of Israel.
This occupation should be opposed, and it can be done so in ways that don't underwrite or ignore anti-Semitism. Throughout the 1980s Americans organized against the apartheid government in South Africa by demanding that their government withhold financial support to the South African government. This activism helped bring an end to apartheid. In order for Israel to prosper in the future, it must end its illegal occupation and work to establish a bi-national democratic state. I agree with Israeli peace activists who argue that Israel will be more secure once it guarantees democracy to all people regardless of religious beliefs. Until Israel ends its occupation, it's essential for American peace groups to speak out against the policies of the state of Israel, and to demand that the U.S. government cease funding the occupation. And as a Jew, someone for whom the occupation is waged, I write to suggest that my Jewish identity is neither protected nor honored by state policies which deny human rights to Palestinians.
Alex Lubin is an American studies instructor at CU-Boulder. CU Faculty for Social Responsibility (FSR) is a diverse group of faculty members unified by commitment to critical analysis of public affairs. FSR presents brief critical essays to the CU community hoping to stimulate lively discussion of important issues. The opinions expressed in these essays are those of the author and not necessarily those of FSR as an organization.
Exert from the Jewish Peace Website www.mecaforpeace.org: Dear Friend, I know you were as disheartened as I was when the Israeli people elected Ariel Sharon their prime minister. I believed, as I'm sure you did, that it would mean a complete end to the already-pathetic peace process and a worsening of living for the Palestinians.
But things have gotten far worse far faster than even I had imagined.
This situation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip has deteriorated completely.
On April 11 in Gaza, Israeli bulldozers and tanks demolished 31 Palestinian homes and an entire grove. And that was just the beginning. Since then teams of tanks and bulldozers have made frequent attacks on Palestinian homes, land and buildings. More than 650 Palestinians have been made homeless in just the past month.
Later this summer I will be returning to the Occupied Territories to deliver funds for food and medicine.
I need your support right now so that I can bring as much food and medicine as possible for Palestinian children.
Earlier today I spoke with my friends Naseer and Imani who live in Gaza City. They told me that their three children - whom I have known all their lives - refuse to go to school. They are too afraid.
Instead of sleeping at night, they stay up screaming because of the constant shelling by the Israeli military. All Gaza's children live in terror.
They are also living in hunger and without medical care. United Nations relief organizations report virtually every Palestinian family in the West Bank and Gaza is suffering from hunger. Never before has the suffering been so widespread.
Lock downs, curfews and road demolitions mean most Palestinians have no access to health care.
Unemployment among all Palestinians is likely to reach 70 percent very soon and is well over that now in Gaza.
Many towns, villages and camps are facing a severe water shortage. Palestinian farms, groves of trees and agricultural lands have been razed, their crops ruined.
Illegal Israeli settlers attack Palestinian civilians, burn their homes and terrorize their families.
And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced the expansion of existing settlements as well as the building of new settlements. He threatens to reoccupy Palestinian land that was returned during the early days of the peace process.
I know that the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon - and its defenders here in the United States - claim that the suffering is the Palestinians own fault. That it is they who incite the violence and bring these reprisals upon themselves.
By any measure that claim is ridiculous. When you look at the sheer numbers of Palestinians who have been killed and wounded compared to the numbers of Israelis, there is no comparison. And many reports, from the New York Times to CNN, confirm that the Israeli attacks are often unprovoked and almost always out of proportion to any threat they might be facing.
I deplore the loss of any life, whether it is Palestinian or Israeli. But I know that it is the brutal Israeli occupation with its violence, terror and humiliation that is the real cause. To stop the violence, end the occupation.
Yes, angry and frustrated Palestinians do fight back against their occupation with the means at their disposal; small arms, stones and the occasional mortar. Mostly their attacks have no effect but to bring down upon them the wrath of the Israeli military.
The Israeli army - one of the best-trained and most well-armed in the world - responds against a civilian population, which has nothing more that a poorly trained and equipped police force, with tanks, helicopter gunships, rocket launched bombs and automatic weapons.
And of course, the bulldozers.
I believe that if Ariel Sharon truly wanted peace and really wanted to stop the violence that he would support the deployment of an international peace-keeping force. This force would protect both Palestinians and Israelis from attack.
Isupport an international peace-keeping force as the right next step towards ending this cycle of violence and returning to the peace table.
But until that happens we must stop the suffering of the children.
Warmly, Barbara Lubin Executive Director Random Thoughts The dominant opinion of the current situations in the Middle East seems to be Israeli retaliation to Palestinian attack movements, It almost seems like the Palestinians have no right to acts of response to Israeli violence, which is at it's climax at this point in time. The Arab countries don't seem to offer much help to the Palestinians although a lot of talk goes around, which is typical of the current middle-eastern governments. Also the fact that Arafat's corrupt organization keeps most of the aid money to themselves, doesn't help the average Palestinian any. Back when Americans fought the War of Independence against the British, the common saying was, "No taxation without representation" Likewise, there are almost 400,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem, who are taxed, but have no healthcare or education benefits, that are induced from partially their tax monies. In addition to that the many mass killings of children, by Israeli soldiers, and the raid against Al-Aqsa mosque, when the killer was apparently insane. Do you not see the controversy there? What I am insinuating is that like the Americans couldn't bear the British policy of the time, and that is what initiated the fight for independence. The Palestinians can only bear so much humiliation before they take action, since their chairman, and the rest of the Arab world doesn't seem to be helping them much.
One theory that was suggested to me is that most of the weapons supplied by the US to the State of Israel, are in the form of grants and the hidden agenda behind this is to allow the US to constantly return to the Middle Eastern Region with the "Peace Process" idea. Hence the US stays on good terms with the oil producing states, which can work to their favor (i.e.: the US government), in maintaining a low inflation on oil prices. This is an articulate point, since the U.S. needs Israel to remain influential in that region, hence keeping a low inflation, and restrictions on the oil market in the Middle East. Professor Edward Said (Palestinian Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University), calls Israel a "client state" for the U.S. The U.S. grants Israel armor because it is more sensible, and beneficial to them to have Israel fight battles in the Middle East rather than having the U.S. intervene. The United States is 1.7 billion dollars late on their United Nations International dues, yet the U.S. supplies Israel with an average of 3.0 billion dollars annually. Therefore the United States was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Panel for the first time since the establishment of this panel. Interpret this as you will, a valid point to consider.