I have just returned from a two week peace and justice fact finding trip to Israel and Palestine. I am certainly not anti-Semitic but the suffering and hardship imposed on the Palestinians by the Israeli army occupation of the West Bank is horrendous. Longstanding Israeli government policy encourages illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and all around the city and throughout the occupied territories – a clear violation of International law governing occupation. Israeli military or police routinely forcibly evict Palestinians from homes their family has occupied for generations so settlers can move in the same day and establish an outpost. Israel has erected a concrete wall which snakes throughout the West Bank enclosing settlements and vital aquifers, surrounding Palestinian villages, cutting right through Palestinian property and separating farmers from their fields and water and livelihoods. Palestinians stand for hours morning and night at Israeli checkpoints to get to and from work or or school or to get to vital medical services. This is not myth or propaganda. I saw all of this personally and heard even grimmer detail from Israeli soldiers who have joined Breaking the Silence because they are dismayed by their experiences while serving in the occupied territories, and from Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and human rights workers. Essentially the conflict is not about religion, but about land and water. Israel believes that all of Palestine was given to them by God in accordance with the Old Testament and that they are morally justified in using any means to ethnically cleanse ‘their’ land of Palestinians. It is ironic that they are using the same brutal military ghettoizing tactics against Palestinians as the Gestapo used against Jews in Germany. They have not resorted to mass extermination – though they routinely use indiscriminate collective punishment of innocent civilians in response to any terrorist attack – but the incredible hardship imposed by military occupation has certainly created concentration camp and apartheid conditions.
I am totally disheartened by ongoing US support of the Israeli occupation and for its flagrant disregard for human rights and international law. Congress and the Obama administration are y well aware of what is actually going on, but Congress is totally controlled by the Jewish lobby, the Zionist Christian lobby, and the military-industrial complex which profits from arms sales to Israel. Anything other than authorizing continued major subsides and continued public support of Israel is political suicide. Israel effectively controls the media internationally and at home. Most Americans have no idea what is really going on and most Israeli citizens do not want to know. Ironically, Israel’s policy in not in their own longterm best interest because the brutal occupation is not sustainable and their ongoing usurpation of Palestinian land and water makes a viable two state solution virtually impossible. Our knee jerk support of Israel is certainly not in our own national security best interest either because all the Arab nations are well aware of what is going on in Palestine and Gaza and, as General Petraeus recently pointed out, that untenable situation is inciting terrorist activity against both Israel and the US.