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60 years of Palestinian hell
by Jake Highton
May 31, 2008 | 545 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Israel is rejoicing over the recent 60th anniversary of its founding but for the Palestinians it is nakba, unmitigated catastrophe.

The Israelis have usurped Palestinian land, illegally established a Jewish state, imposed a brutal occupation and systematically destroyed the infrastructure of Palestine.

As Henry Siegman, director of the U.S.-Middle East project in New York, wrote in a Nation editorial: “Israel’s occupation is maintained by Israeli Defense Force checkpoints and barricades, helicopter gunships, jet fighters, targeted assassinations and military incursions … it is unrelenting violence against more than 3 million Palestinian civilians.”

Many Palestinians have been exiled from their own land in an unspoken ethnic cleansing. Israeli continues to build settlements on Palestinian soil. It has reduced many Palestinian villages to rubble. It has erected a wall of separation.

Israel chokes fuel supplies in Gaza. Its military strikes are violations of international conventions. It blockades 1.5 million people.

It has established more than 500 West Bank checkpoints that divide Palestinian land and make Palestinian lives hellish.

One Palestinian living in the West Bank, an emergency room doctor, now has a two-hour trip to his hospital, a trip that took 30 minutes before the checkpoints were set up.

Israel has, in effect, imposed apartheid, once roundly condemned in the American South and in South Africa.

Israeli historian Benny Morris has painted a grim picture: “Like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers and daily manipulation and humiliation.”

Despite all this horror, the European Union and the United Nations remain frighteningly silent.

Israel does not want peace. It will not negotiate without preconditions as Jimmy Carter has urged, rendering all so-called road maps to peace worthless.

Israel does not want a Palestinian state. And it will not grant one as long as America gives its mighty and unstinting support to Israel. The United States is backing the gross injustice of land theft. It supports the fragmentation of the land Palestine does occupy.

America has established military bastions in Iraq, protecting Israel and threatening to attack Iran, the archenemy of Israel,

A case could be made that the “Jewish cabal” of Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Richard Perle, with the backing of Vice President Dick Cheney and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged the war so that a Saddam-less Iraq would recognize Israel.

The cost of that war: Iraq destroyed and more than 100,000 Iraqis killed, more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead and thousands maimed in body and mind, expected expenditures of $3 trillion and destruction of much of the world’s belief in America.

Former President Carter had the courage to write a book recently, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” urging the legitimate rights of Palestinians. He had the courage to meet recently with the exiled leader of Hamas, militant Islamist group.

It was the same courage he showed to broker the Israeli-Egypt peace accord in 1978 and the courage to return the Canal Zone to its rightful owner, Panama.

The shameful treatment of the Palestinians raises a profound religious question. How can Israel claim to be a religious state yet treat the Palestinians with total disregard of religious values, morality, decency and humanity?

It cannot.

The occupation is endless. The war of the Israelis against the Palestinians will never end as long as the United States continues to pledge allegiance to Israel.

Nor will that allegiance change no matter who wins the presidency in November. The powerful Israeli lobby and the craven pro-Israeli politicians in America guarantee that. Example: Hillary Clinton vows “massive retaliation” and obliteration of Iran if it threatens Israel.

This inhumane treatment of Palestinians has a lengthy pedigree. In 1969, Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir denied that a Palestinian people even existed.

Another Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that a Palestinian state was incompatible with the historic Jewish right to Palestinian land and the concomitant Israeli right to security.

Such attitudes make it clear that these two bitterly opposed peoples can never live in peace.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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