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Israeli Occupation of Palestine Continues Amid Int'l Inaction

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TEHRAN, May 15 (ICANA) – It is now 63 years past the Zionists' first military offensive against the defenseless Palestinian people which led to the occupation of Palestine and 44 years past Israel's military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Beit-ul-Moqaddas (Jerusalem), and the indifferent world sees the massive violations of human rights and massacre of the defenseless people by the Zionist regime, and yet takes no action.
Sunday, May 15, 2011 8:06:08 PM
Israeli Occupation of Palestine Continues Amid Int'l Inaction

The responsibility for the continuing bloodshed and devastation in occupied Palestine, Gaza and the West bank falls squarely on the shoulders of Israel and its continuing oppression of Palestinians, in direct violation of numerous international laws and any reasonable moral standard. As Global Exchange puts it:

 [We] oppose the policies of the Israeli government-and the United States' support for them-which, in our view, prevent any peaceful resolution and guarantee that neither Palestinians nor Israelis can live their lives in safety. Three million Palestinians have lived since 1967 under a humiliating and oppressive Israeli military occupation that deprives them of basic human rights, civil rights, and sovereignty in their lands-the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. International law (the 4th Geneva Convention) prohibits colonization and seizure of territories seized in war, and 46 United Nations resolutions have affirmed Israel's obligation to withdraw. Yet Israel has carried out a policy of annexation and colonization in these areas that includes substantial government financial assistance to settlers.

These facts barely scrape the surface of the nightmare that has been the Palestinian lot for going on for over 4 decades.

Besides the theft of land, resources and culture associated with the settlements and the ongoing separation wall (which will be three times as long and twice as high as the Berlin Wall, and which is already segregating Palestine into economically, culturally and agriculturally unworkable Bantustans), there are the continuing shocking human rights abuses. These include, but are not limited to: firing upon unarmed demonstrators; sniping at children; innumerable raids of Palestinian homes conducted with grave and undue force; crippling restrictions on freedom of movement; illegal collective punishment involving the bulldozing and destruction of family homes, gardens, orchards and community structures; the incarceration of family members as ransom for wanted persons; the undiscriminating roundup and detainment of thousands of Palestinians, held without charge in abominable conditions; and the documented criminal torture, abuse and murder of detainees.

It is time for US citizens to ask why it is that the US has failed to speak out about these violations of human rights and international law, and moreover has actively enabled them, in repeatedly being the sole veto of UN resolutions critical of Israel. And it is time for US taxpayers to ask why one third of all US foreign aid goes to Israel, to the tune of about 3 billion dollars a year (around 120 billion total, so far).

One vague answer to these questions - that US support for Israel reflects the influence of the pro-Israel lobby - has never rung true.

Whatever pressure is being brought to bear on US officials here evidently isn't a matter of gaining votes (or at least, can't have been until very recently, when the 40-odd-% of self-identified born-again Christians aligned themselves with the Zionist lobby, in hopes of encouraging the Second Coming).

Nor does the claim that the US support for Israel reflects the need to help safeguard this island of democracy ring true. Any 4th-grader apprised of the facts could predict what has actually occurred - that the continuing US-supported Israeli occupation of Palestine is a festering arrow in the body of the Arab community, which has done more than any other state of affairs to throw fuel on the fire of both anti-Israel and, as witness 9/11, anti-US hatred. And (as below) the idea that Israel is needed as a US base within striking distance of Russia no longer makes sense.

So what explains the US's deep complicity on what is internationally recognized as one of the gravest violations of human decency extant today? I found the answer in this interview with Jeff Halper, anthropologist at Ben-Gurion University, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and editor of the Israeli-Palestinian magazine News from Within (I have extensively quoted here; but the full answer is really worth attending to):

Elmer: Noam Chomsky has said that Israel is essentially an offshore American base. What strategic role does Israel play in the American empire, and what does that mean for activism within the United States, in terms of ending the occupation? [...]

 

Halper: I don't completely agree with Chomsky - I think he underestimates the proactiveness of Israel, and how Israel manipulates the United States. In a way, if you did a rational analysis, you would say that [America's support of Israel] is counter-productive for the United States. It is messing up the whole Muslim world, it is messing up oil, and now there is occupation of Iraq and its comparison to here [Israel/Palestine]. The alliance of America and Israel made sense in the Cold War - we used to have a joke within Israel that we were America's largest aircraft carrier. Maybe then it made sense, but today?

The key that everyone is missing, though Chomsky has picked up on it because this is what he studies, is that Israel has located itself very strategically right in the centre of the global arms industry. Israel's sophisticated military hardware and military software are very important to weapons development in the United States. Israel has also become the main subcontractor of American arms. In 2003, Israel signed a contract to train and equip the Chinese army. It signed another multi-billion dollar contract to train and equip the Indian army. What is it equipping them with? It is equipping them with American weapons.

Israel is very important, because on the one hand it is a very sophisticated, high-tech, arms developer and dealer. But on the other hand, there are no ethical or moral constraints: there is no Congress, there are no human rights concerns, there are no laws against taking bribes - the Israeli government can do anything it wants to. So you have very sophisticated rogue state - not a Libyan rogue state, but a high tech, military-expert rogue state. Now that is tremendously useful, both for Europe and for the United States.

For example, there are American Congressional constraints on selling arms to China because of China's human rights problems. So what Israel does is it tinkers with American arms just enough that they can be considered Israeli arms, and in that way bypasses the Congress.

For the most part, Israel is the subcontractor for American arms to the 'Third World.' There is no terrible regime - Columbia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile during the time of the colonels, Burma, Taiwan, Zaire, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone - there is not one that does not have a major military connection to Israel. Israeli arms dealers are there [acting as] mercenaries - the guy behind Noriega was Michael Harari, an Israeli, who got out of Panama. Israeli mercenaries in Sierra Leone go around the UN boycotts of what are called blood diamonds, same in Angola. Israel was very involved in South Africa, of course, during the apartheid regime. [...]

Israeli arms dealers are at home, they're like fish in water in the rough and tumble countries that eat Americans alive: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Indonesia, these countries where Americans just cannot operate, partly because of business practices, and partly because they have [Congressional] constraints and laws.

So this is the missing piece. If you read the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) website, the main pro-Israel lobby in the US, there's one piece called 'Strategic Cooperation.' The United States and Israel have a formal treaty, a formal alliance, which gives Israel access to almost all of American military technology.

When AIPAC sells Israel to Congress, it doesn't go to Congressmen and ask them to support Israel because it is Judea Christian, or because it is the so-called 'only democracy in the Middle East,' which it also does. It sells it on this basis: 'You are a member of Congress and it is your responsibility to support Israel, because this is how many industries in your state have business links to Israel, this is how many military research people are sitting in universities in your district, this is how many jobs in your district are dependent on the military and the defense industry,' and they translate it down to the extent to which your district is dependent on Israel. Therefore, if you are voting against Israel, you are voting against the goose that lays the golden egg.

In most of the districts in the United States, members of Congress have a great dependence on the military. More than half of industrial employment in California is in one way or another connected to defense. Israel is right there, right in the middle of it all. And that is part of its strength.

And then we (the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, for example) come to a member of Congress, we talk about human rights, about occupation, about Palestinians, and he says: 'Look I know, I read the papers, I'm not dumb, but that is not the basis on which I vote. The basis on which I vote is what is good for my constituents.'

So in terms of activism, when you are thinking of an international campaign, an important part of it must be to expose Israel's links to the defense industry, the arms industry, Israel's support of terrible regimes and their violations of human rights, and what that is doing to the world.

Indeed. Moreover, as per the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, the selling of arms to Israel is in violation of US Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibit providing arms to serious human rights violators. Congress and the Executive Branch must hold Israel accountable to these laws and insure that US weapons are not used to commit (or finance) human rights violations. (FNA)

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