The U.S. has supported the majority of crimes Israel has committed since its inception. Its lofty rhetoric about human rights and self-determination are not applied equally, particularly when it comes to matter of “security.”
An old bromide that both Israel and the United States use to justify ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians is that Israeli “security” is threatened by almost anything Palestinians do. If Palestinians residing in the West Bank wish to go from their home to the store without passing through numerous Israeli-staffed checkpoints, Israel’s security is threatened, and such behavior will not be allowed. If Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip would like to purchase a book from outside of Palestine, Israel’s security is threatened, so the desired book cannot be imported (this writer attempted to send a book to a friend in the Gaza Strip; it was returned, undelivered, after several months). If a Palestinian would like to travel to a foreign country, something most of the world’s population has a right to do (even if most of the world’s population does not have the resources to do so), Israel’s security is threatened, so the Palestinian who wants to travel is forbidden from doing so.
And when, after long harassment, including the killing of innocent men, women and children in the West Bank, and the brutal deprivations in the Gaza Strip, some ineffectual rockets are fired into Israel, rockets that Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights, calls ”enhanced fireworks,” then Israel decrees once again that its national security is threatened, and carpet-bombs the Gaza Strip, and performs mass arrests in the West Bank. The U.S., without whose support Israel would be a struggling third world country, then states that Israel has a “right to defend itself,” apparently believing that it is logical for an occupying nation to “defend” itself against its victim. It provides all the weaponry necessary for the killing and maiming of defenseless men, women and children, so that Israel’s sacred “security” isn’t compromised.
This writer knows he will go to his grave without ever hearing any U.S. elected official show any concern about Palestinian national security, but that is the real issue in this barbaric and uneven conflict. A look at both history and current events will show whose national security is actually threatened.
In 1946, approximately a year before the Nakba (Catastrophe) that established Israel, Jewish communities in Palestine owned about 6 percent of the land in that country. From 1947 to 1948, when at least 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes to make room for the newly-forming state of Israel, the United Nations awarded 55 percent of Palestine to Israel. The national security of Palestine was of no concern to anyone but the Palestinians.
The U.S. supported this action, as it has every crime Israel has committed since that time. Its lofty rhetoric about human rights and self-determination are not applied equally. In 1916, as the planning for the destruction of Palestine was underway, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson said: “Every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live.” Two years later, he reaffirmed this position, when he said: “‘Self-determination’ is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of actions which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.” Yet the president’s Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was uncomfortable with such phrases. He wrote in 1918: “Will not the Mohammedans of Syria and Palestine and possibly of Morocco and Tripoli rely on it? How can it be harmonized with Zionism, to which the President is practically committed? The phrase is simply loaded with dynamite.”
The U.N. is clear on rules regarding occupation, and Israel has no qualms in violating them. Let us look at just a few of the international laws that Israel violates, all of which greatly compromise and threaten Palestinian security:
- International Law: “Private property cannot be confiscated by the occupier,” and ”The destruction or seizure of enemy property is prohibited, unless absolutely required by military necessity during the conduct of hostilities.”
- Israeli Actions: Not even including the at least 750,000 Palestinians who were permanently displaced to make room for the establishment of Israel, it is estimated that 263,500 Palestinians have been permanently displaced, their property stolen with no compensation, since 1967. On a daily basis in the West Bank, Palestinian homes are destroyed to make room for illegal settlements.
- International Law: “Transfers of the civilian population of the occupying power into the occupied territory, regardless whether forcible or voluntary, are prohibited.”
- Israeli Actions: At least 550,000 Israelis have been moved onto the Occupied Territories, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that not one of them will ever be displaced.
- International Law: ”Cultural property must be respected.”
- Israeli Actions: Israel has destroyed entire towns, leaving nothing left of mosques, schools and museums. In one of the most egregious examples, in 2011 Israel bulldozed the ancient Muslim cemetery Ma’man Allah, which dates back at least to the 12th century, so Israel could build what it called “The Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance” on the site.
Prior to the destruction of the cemetery, when its demolition was being planned by Israel, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, whose ancestors were buried there, said this about the site: “This is a cemetery where people have been buried since the twelfth century. People who fought with Saladin in the Crusades are buried there . . . Contrary to what Rabbi Hier said, that parking lot was built over part of a cemetery. The Israeli authorities are basically pushing ahead with the desecration of a cemetery that they have been, unfortunately, slowly nibbling away at for over three decades.”
Another threat to Palestinian security is that one of Israel’s conditions for a free Palestine is that it be completely disarmed. The expectation, apparently, is that Palestinians, who have lived for decades beside a violent nation that has brutally oppressed them since its bloody birth, that is nuclear-armed and that has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, will rely on its benevolence to ensure that Palestine will remain free. The absurdity of this needs no additional comment.
So what does all this have to do with Palestinian national security? The answer is obvious, but we will spell it out for the reader anyway:
- Palestinian land is decreasing with each new, illegal settlement. What was formerly Palestine is now Israel. Over 80 percent of Palestinian land is now permanently occupied by Israel. Can there be any greater threat to a nation than the appropriation of its land by another country?
- Palestinian culture is being destroyed. For example, in June of 2011, the ancient Muslim cemetery Ma’man Allah, which had existed at least from the twelfth century, was bulldozed by Israel for the construction of a “Museum of Tolerance” on the site.
- Palestinians are not free to move, either within what is left of their own country, or outside of it.
- Palestinians die frequently at the hands of the occupiers. As of July 5, since the beginning of 2015, at least 23 Palestinians have been killed by occupation forces.
One must ask, then, how Palestine threatens Israeli security. How does a besieged nation with no army, navy or air force threaten the country that has one of the most powerful military machines in the world and that controls all the borders of the “threatening” nation? How does that occupied country threaten its powerful occupier, which, at least for many decades, has operated with complete impunity, disdaining international law and committing unspeakable war crimes against its victim nation?
At the moment, Israel is focusing on the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, made following months of negotiations with the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom). Israel sees this as its most current “existential threat.” although it has also named the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a grave danger. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has never admitted that his country possesses nuclear weapons, has said that the deal with Iran will bring war and “will spark a nuclear arms race in the region,” thus tacitly admitting that Israel is, in fact, a nuclear power. Does this not further threaten Palestine’s security? If Israel is threatened because it fears Iran will someday have nuclear weapons, how much more is Palestine threatened because Israel already has them?
With the ever-growing popularity of social media, the general public now has more access to information than what is presented by the corporate-owned news media. As a result, Israel’s major “existential threat” is its own behavior, as more people around the world are recognizing its unspeakable crimes, human rights violations and genocidal practices.