Move the Embassy: End the Charade

Originally published January 31, 2017 in CounterPunch

 

Move the Embassy: End the Charade

Among Donald Trump’s first acts as President was suspending Barack Obama’s last – a grant of 221 million dollars in discretionary humanitarian aid to Palestine.

But why pause before the next move against Palestine? Move the US Embassy to East Jerusalem right now and end this charade once and for all.

Politics

US politicians like to preach from on high about justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike… as if the pathway of pain for occupied and occupier is one-in-the same… as if these two dramatically different ends of the scales of justice can, indeed should, be balanced.

When it comes to Palestine, for decades the United States has hidden behind a cheap frilly veneer of neutrality all the while subsidizing, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, a vicious, often deadly, criminal occupation that has used impediment and stalling tactics to re-sculpt a landscape that has been home to Palestinians for the millennium.

How often do we hear from US politicians that Palestine is a complex issue? In point of fact, Palestine is very complicated only when confusion provides opportune cover for delay. Of course, ethnic cleansing knows no better cover than delay.

The debate about the whens, wheres and whys can go on and on as not much more than the allure of excuse. There are, however, certain fundamental truths about Palestine that cannot be denied even by those largely European immigrants who have become expert at rewriting history to suit a land grab of epic and on-going proportion.

Population

While figures vary from source to source, in 1914, Palestine had a population of between 600-738,000 Palestinians (Muslim & Christian Arabs as well as other religions) and 59-94,000 Jews. In 1922, the census showed some 660-725,000 Palestinians and 84-89,000 Jews. In 1931, it is recorded that 4,075 Jews immigrated to Palestine while 1245 Christians and 213 Muslims immigrated there. In 1935 it was 61,854 Jews, 903 Arabs and 1390 Christians and others. In 1937 it was 10,500 Jews, 743 Arabs and 1196 Christians and others. By the end of 1944, the Jewish population had increased to 528,702 of which 117,226 were natural and 327,686 were immigrants. The Arab population had increased to 1,061,277 of which 453,405 were natural and 18,695 were immigrants. Christians and others increased to 149,645 of which 51,616 were natural and 18,948 were immigrant.

Four years later, in 1948, when land designated as Israel was ripped from the heartland of Palestine by UN political fiat, the two sides were ill-matched. The Jewish community in Palestine was much smaller: approximately 608-630,000 to the Arab, Christian and others 1.3-1.7 million… roughly 30 or so percent of the overall population. In spite of all Israel’s efforts, the Jewish population remains in the minority (as it has since at least the 5th century).

Land

As of 1922 Jews owned roughly 3% of the land in Palestine which increased to some 7% of its total over the next decade. When the State of Israel was established, Jewish ownership of land stood at 8.6%, with 3.3% owned by those who were to become known as Israeli-Arabs while another 16.9% of land was abandoned by Palestinian owners who fled in advance of the war that was to come.

Following the UN pronouncement, some 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their farms and villages with estimates running as high as 20,000 civilians killed, twice as many injured and hundreds of rapes carried out by marauding terrorists from the Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah. Hundreds of villages and towns were eradicated.

In the war that followed, another 400 to 600 Palestinian villages were sacked while urban Palestine was almost entirely extinguished. Out of about 400 Jewish settlements built post 1948, 350 were fabricated on Palestinian refugee property. Between 1948 and 1950 some 369 Palestinian villages were erased and replaced by 161 new Jewish settlements. During that same period, Israel seized two-thirds of all cultivated land which had been owned by Palestinians who were forced to flee.

Reliable estimates indicate that ultimately 80% of the Arab inhabitants, in what became Israel, left or were expelled from their homes, swept out by a colonial design that has run unabated since 1948… one in which the US has been very much a willing partner, indeed, enabler of the ethnic cleansing that has ensued.

Fast Forward 1993- The Wasted Talks

The Oslo Peace Process of 1993 was intended to lead to a final negotiated settlement between the parties within five years. Among other things, it divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B, and C. The first two were the smallest and were to be home to just Palestinians subject to varying degrees of Palestinian oversight. Area C, the largest at approximately 75% of the West Bank, was “gradually” to be transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. It also led to the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA) with responsibility for the administration of territory under its control.

Oslo I was signed in Washington D.C., followed by Oslo II in 1995. Among other things, this agreement, also known as the Taba Agreement, called for prompt Israeli withdrawals from various Palestinian areas and expanded Palestinian self-rule.

Following Oslo I, in rapid order, came: The Gaza-Jerico Agreement also known as the Cairo Agreement (1994);The Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities Between Israel and the PLO ( August 1994); The Protocol on Further Transfers of Powers and Responsibilities (August 1995); The Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron (January 1997); The Wye River Memorandum (October 1998); The Sharm el-Sheik Memorandum (September 1999); The Camp David Meetings in (July, 2000); The Agreement on Movement and Access (November 2005); and, most recently, during 2013-2014, the unsuccessful attempt by now former Secretary of State Kerry to restart the so-called peace process.

Although these dozen or so hollow agreements, protocols and meetings made for powerful photo ops and fine dining, in practice they provided little more than cover… cover for Israel to steal more and more Palestinian land and moral cover for the US to speak of justice while, in reality, stoking the flames of racial and religious hatred through billions of dollars for Israeli settlements and weapons.

The Growth of Settlements

To some degree, the Oslo Accords are based upon the 1978 Camp David Agreement that resulted in a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. At the time of the agreement, there lived some 7,400 settlers in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), and 500 in Gaza.
Fifteen years later, at the time of the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were some 262,500 settlers in the West Bank.

Seven years later, at the Camp David Summit of 2000, there were a total of 362,945 settlers in the West bank with 169,969 in East Jerusalem.

By 2013, some 20 years after the Oslo Accords, the number of settlers grew to 520,000, across the West Bank,including 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

Today, there are approximately 250 settlements and “outposts” in the West Bank… home to some 800,000 illegal settlers… constituting approximately 13% of Israel’s population.
Among them are 13 settlements and 12 solely Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem where 200,000 Israelis live. The population of East Jerusalem is now down to 37% Palestinian. Area C of the West Bank is now 99% settler occupied.

Empowered by the election of Donald Trump and his nomination of David M. Friedman, long aligned with its settler far right, as Ambassador to Israel, it has approved more than 3,000 new units in the occupied West Bank, and signaled a green light to take what little else remains.

The Bleeding Hearts of the Whitehouse

One need not be a soothsayer to note a steady unbroken pattern of Israel swallowing more and more of the occupied West Bank even as US politicians, republican and democrats alike, convene feel good peace conferences or wax on about the need for justice for Palestinians.

As then President, Jimmy Carter noted “There has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years.” Ronald Reagan, spoke of “autonomy talks to pave the way for permitting the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights.”

George H.W. Bush criticized the presence of illegal settlements in the West Bank noting “Outposts, yeah, they ought to go.”

President Clinton opined about the need for the creation of a new Palestinian State based on the idea of self-determination for the Palestinian people.

George W. Bush called for a halt to Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands needed for a state.

Several years ago Barrack Obama decried…“more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time.”

Though these sentiments have been echoed by each occupant of the White House over the last 40 years, in reality they’ve reflected little more than a conspicuous political subterfuge to garner votes while providing Israel unlimited funds to support its endless aggression.

The cold hard reality is US politicians care far more about the domestic political mileage and influence of American Zionists than they do abstract notions of international law or justice for Palestinians.

One simply can’t have it both ways… calling out for justice while subsidizing Israeli hatred and violence with an open checkbook and empty rhetoric. It’s just not possible to be a neutral and detached arbiter at the same time courting votes.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Israel simply does not care. 68 years of its history, and counting, has shown that it has and will continue to do whatever it wishes to Palestinians unless and until the United States holds it accountable by ripping up the blank check or until the pain and suffering of its colonial enterprise becomes just too much for Israelis to bear.

Enter Donald Trump

Donald trump is a simple man with a simple mind. It’s his way or none. He loves the challenge of being the smartest, toughest and most creative thinker in the room even when he knows he’s far from it. To Trump there’s nothing like the grand dare, even when he knows he’s not up to it. And when all else fails, he simply makes up the narrative to suit his view. In Trump’s world honesty is for the weak, reality for those who can’t lie and then simply move on.

For decades presidents have determined that they could pontificate to the world about justice for Palestinians but finance Israel in its drive to purge them from the river to the sea without costs that they were unwilling to bear.

However, these same presidents discerned a bright red line beyond which they could not cross without unleashing consequences far too explosive to contemplate… namely, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital of Palestine in Jerusalem.

Apparently Donald Trump does not care.

To the politically naive, such a move would be of little practical consequence… a mere symbolic gesture. To millions of Palestinians, indeed hundreds of millions of Arabs, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem without their specific invitation would constitute a point of no return… a veritable disaster in waiting.

In one fell swoop, it would signal an end to two separate yet related fictions that, since Oslo, have helped to enable a relative calm in Palestine even in the presence of the loss of much of it to settlers: 1) that the United States was interested in even the semblance of neutrality and 2) that the PA has the ability to represent the traditions and aspirations of the Palestinian people with meaningful capability and authority.

So, Mr. Trump, proceed at your own peril. If you feel, as Ambassador-to-be Friedman does, that Jerusalem is “Israel’s eternal capital”… proceed with your folly. Move the Embassy.

To millions of Palestinians, the only answer will be militant and fierce resistance, and it will come… as sure as the early morning call to prayer.

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An Open Letter to American Jews

Originally published in Counterpunch November 25, 2016

“An Open Letter to American Jews”

Proud Jews are those that can look others in the face who commit or support crimes against humanity in Palestine and, with no hesitation whatsoever, shout-out “J’accuse” … the self hating ones are those that commit the crimes or simply walk away in boneless silence.

Israel and its sightless, obedient supporters have now come full circle in absolute perverse denial. For years they’ve successfully packaged and sold the fairy-tale that Zionism and Judaism were one in the same… an historic enlightened conflation of shared purpose and belief which, in reality, was born of little more than vicious political convenience (or is it connivance?) in eastern Europe.

Like Malcolm said, the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. It’s finally backfired. It’s about time.

Through massacre after massacre, outrage after outage, whenever anyone dares to condemn Israel’s systematic brutality of millions of Palestinians the indictment always comes down the same… “anti-Semite”.

Challenge the illegal occupation… you’re a Jew hater. Confront Israeli apartheid… you’re a Jew hater. Battle ethnic cleansing… you’re a Jew hater. Support BDS… you’re a Jew hater. And if you’re Jewish and hold Israel accountable for the grand obscenity it’s proven to be since day one, you are worst of all…a self hater. On and on and on the crafted diversion goes and long has, fleeing the very public reality of Israel’s enduring inhumanity to millions of stateless people.

Of course, when hundreds of Holocaust survivors who live in Israel called the most recent high tech carnage in Gaza in 2014 “genocide”, it drew the line. Even the Zionist state was not so crass or politically craven as to publicly label them Jew haters because they had the principled audacity to call it to task for the slaughter of thousands of defenseless women, children and elders. No, that would be exploiting the exploitation called the Holocaust that Zionist cheerleaders have employed for 70 years as so much cover for one of Israel’s own making… as it thumbs its nose at the world and commits unspeakable mayhem against Palestinians. To Zionists, survivors who screamed out with dignity and honor… “genocide,” were pathetic… just old and feeble.

For years, with little more than sleight of hand and a large Western rubber stamp, Zionists have been able to package and vend, with brazen bully success, the message that one cannot attack deadly and criminal Israeli policies without mechanically crossing the line into the hinterland of antisemitism. Well… those days are gone… as team Israel has finally foisted itself upon its own petard.

One need not have surgical precision in their view of the political universe to observe that as the world has become increasingly educated and, thus, more sympathetic to the desperate plight of Palestinians, Zionists have raced to develop new, even more brutish, strategies to recast a narrative based on little more than pure Hollywood fiction. Sorry… Exodus is very much an obsolete illusion, today, with all of its heroic figures long since passed on to old age.

The hallway of Zionist hard-sell is today very public. In its most glaring form it includes intimidating Western countries such as the UK, Canada, France, and Netherlands who shudder at the mere thought of being called “anti-Semitic” for the audacity of permitting their citizens to speak their minds openly and freely about the malevolence that is Israel. To them, and other states that seek to silence those who support BDS as a peaceful grassroots means of expressing opposition to a tyrannical state, Israel owes a great debt of thanks. After all it’s not easy to welcome, indeed embrace, conspicuous ignorance as you draw a deep cloud of denial around the object lesson of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. No matter what your flag, war crimes are still war crimes whether carried out against or by you.

In other ways, demonstrably racist activity has moved Israel into a leading role in the effort to stage-manage 21st Century cyberspace. For example, under the autocratic shine of national honor, it has inspired, if not empowered, Zionist hackers to attack pro Palestinian web sites worldwide spewing forth Islamaphobic rage at those with the temerity to seek an alternative view about unfolding events in Palestine otherwise largely ignored or censored by Western media.

So, too, it has employed an army of social media activists skilled enough to read jejune slogans but completely at a loss when confronted with the dark, fact-based truth that is Israel. After-all, how many times can a cue card equate Muslim with Jew hater before a mindless 18 year old paid $10.00 an hour finally says enough and saunters off to the beach?

Likewise, during its last two onslaughts upon Gaza, Israel moved quickly to shut down all of its internet passage-ways in an unmistakable effort to prevent the world from learning in real-time about the nature and extent of its brutal assault upon the enclave’s two million defenseless residents.

While these are but a few of the most recent public moves by Israel to intimidate or silence political or social opposition, with alarming frequency its policy has been to break bread with some of the most hateful, supremacist groups and activists in the world.

How long ago was it that neo-Nazis sought to march in Skokie Illinois, in Nazi uniforms screaming out zeig-heil while they carried placards that read “White Free Speech” and “Free Speech for the White Man” to a community with a population of thousands of stunned Holocaust survivors? And in that same year, the KKK sought to hold, in the same town, a rally for its brand of racist ideology.

Yet, today, Zionists seem to have no problem whatsoever sitting down strategizing with proud supporters of the Klan and other white supremacist groups. Indeed, the Zionist Organization of America will fete, this weekend, noted white supremacy and antisemitism promoter, Steven Bannon, at its yearly hate fest.

This celebration of religious and racial supremacy and intolerance should come as no surprise given the organization has signed onto the Trump plan of profiling Muslims, calls Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and has warned college students against inviting such notables as Noam Chomsky and former President Jimmy Carter to speak at campus assemblies lest they spread their “dangerous messages.”

Make no mistake about it Bannon and his fellow purveyors of hate have never been shy in exploiting abhorrence of Jews and a host of other minorities based upon race, religion, sexual identity or immigrant status. Nor have they been timid at all when it comes to exalting calls for violence to sweep clean an America they perceive as being too black, too immigrant, too Jewish, too Muslim and too soft.

Indeed Bannon is a member of a Facebook page that has openly featured explicit racist and violent material replete with overtures for deadly criminal activity. Thus, for example, their posts feature an image of the president dressed as an SS officer. In other places they celebrate the Confederate flag and urge a military coup in the United States. Elsewhere, they highlight a photo shopped picture of Obama with a watermelon and praise a police officer who called the President a “Fucking Nigger”… that ought to be “executed as a traitor.” This is the message that inspires the President’s chief advisor.

Yet, today, Zionists celebrate Bannon as he and his Klan buddies have finally figured out it doesn’t take much to get a free pass for their palpable hatred of Jews… all they need do is to offer up their much in demand backing of an Israeli state driven by the same treacherous supremacist views.

It seems to Zionists a healthy dose of unabashed antisemitism… directed at Jews… is suitable today as long as it’s dressed up in obedient support for Israel… especially when it comes from the mouth of the top advisor of the President-elect and his inner circle of friends.

Bannon has long been denounced by democrats, republicans and civil and human rights organizations, alike, for having made the Breitbart website a welcome forum for neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites. Nevertheless, his appointment was welcomed by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States who noted that “… we look forward to working with the Trump administration… including Steve Bannon, in making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

There is nothing at all new about the selective application of the all too expedient brand “anti-Semite”. Indeed, it is the mark of Cain quickly applied to principled students and faculty who support the peaceful effort of BDS to bring about justice for Palestine, yet is completely ignored when confronted by classic anti-Semitic vitriol coming from the mouths of pro Israel patrons.

Indeed, the net balance affect has long been a significant driving force in determining when blatant sign-posts of antisemitism were to be over-looked for the broader “good” of Israel; where those who challenge Israeli policies were to be vilified and those who praise them applauded no matter how much or long their distaste for Jews.

The late “Christian Zionist”, Jerry Falwell, is one such prime example. Denounced by Jewish critics for having said that he believed the “Antichrist” would be a Jew, despite this, and other like anti-Semitic statements, Falwell was ultimately resurrected by Zionists who found greater benefit in his overall political support of Israel than his marked distaste for Jews as a whole.

There is nothing remarkable about today’s Zionist reach to build hate fueled bonds with supremacist groups both in and outside of the United States. Zionists have shown a willingness, if not an ease, throughout their 130 plus year history of working with classic anti-Semitic governments and groups to further their revisionist self-centered view of history. There is abundant precedent.

Beginning long ago in Czarist Russia, the Zionist marriage of political convenience went on to flourish with some in the Axis powers during World War II. It later found comfort with its Balfour friends in Palestine, and has reached new heights in the West through an apparently unbreakable bond with the bigoted evangelical right.

Thus, parliamentary votes throughout the member states of the EU to recognize the sovereignty of the State of Palestine have been opposed by a unique marriage of Zionist and local neo-Nazi interests. This coalition of convenience and hatred should come as no surprise however given a joint effort to target a wave of desperate Muslim refugees and a shared aversion to any semblance of Justice for Palestinians.

In Ukraine, Israel abandoned the safety of its shrinking Jewish population to the political expedience it reaped from its support of the neo-Nazi putsch that ousted its elected pro-Russian president. In France, the National Front, with proud age old roots in French fascism has once again risen to significant power. Not at all shy about its racist and anti-Semitic image, the Front has found support nonetheless from Israel which paid one of its leaders a warm welcome when he traveled to the Holy Land to curry votes from French Jews who now call it home. Sound familiar?

There is nothing remarkable or new about Israel’s recent rapport with some of the worlds most repressive … indeed totalitarian and racist regimes. It has never shied from a march down a long passage way filled with the painful screams of political prisoners, dissidents, or those perceived by virtue of their race, religion or activism to pose a threat to the autocratic rule of the state, be it in Israel or elsewhere.

Israel’s support for South African apartheid, ’til literally its very end, is well known, providing materials for the building of its nuclear weapons. Long after UN-imposed sanctions against apartheid Rhodesia, it continued to provide Uzis and helicopters. In more than a dozen other African countries Israel funded and trained military repression of anti-colonial uprisings and/or dictatorship. It sold arms and provided training to Rwandan military and Hutu militia that carried out genocide against the Tutsis.

In South America, Israel armed Guatemalan death squads, Nicaraguan Contras, Pinochet’s Chile, and the military junta in Argentina which resulted in the “disappearance” of thousands of opponents of a regime which not only openly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric, but specifically targeted and disappeared numerous Jewish civilians.

In Southeast Asia, Israel provided aid to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and, in the Pacific Region, funded the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. In Iran, during the rule of the Shah, the secret death squad (SAVAK) received training from Israel and purchased over 150 million dollars in arms from it. Never known for its selfless virtue, Israel was to benefit… the Shah was one of the first leaders in the region to recognize it as a state.

These are but a few glaring examples of dozens of instances where Israel has supported, if not propped up, supremacist and racist regimes… many known for their utter and extreme anti-Semitic vitriol and manifest hatred of Jews. But, with remarkable agility, if not indifference, it has become practiced… indeed expert… at balancing the self interest of its own rapacious agenda with the reality of the often anti-Semitic neo-fascist regimes and movements its supports throughout the world.

With this practiced experience it seems that Zionists are eminently equipped to handle the emerging face of antisemitism, nay, overt odium for Jews which, with Steve Bannon and company, will soon move from the inner sanctum of Trump Towers to the inner circle of the White House.

Given its history of support for anti-Semitic allies it comes as no surprise that Zionists believe they will be able to stage manage overt hatred for Jews and other minorities from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What is, however, stunning is that, for the first time in recent memory, they appear perfectly willing to abandon the false conflation of Zionism and Judaism by supporting a collective of white ethnocentric supremacists who support the Zionist agenda in Israel yet hate Jews in whose name it is claimed that agenda has been built.