Starve the Palestinians
By William A. Cook Counterpunch 3/21/06

On the third anniversary of America’s invasion of Iraq broadcast in full shock and awe to the world via green TV screens that all might see the night devastation of the city, another invasion was underway in Gaza, a silent invasion of human rights that, in its barbarity, casts its own shock and awe, the starvation of the people of Gaza by closure of that prison’s gates by Israeli IDF. David Shearer of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) stated, “What we were warning before was that stocks (of wheat) were getting low. Today we are saying stocks are gone, and the end point has been reached.” Israel has closed Gaza’s commercial lifeline, the Al-Minter Crossing, these past 50 days in peak harvest time, preventing the export of goods and stopping the import of bread supplies. 3,594 MT of wheat flour contracted to local mills did not enter. Now there is no bread and the 70% of Palestinians living below the poverty line have no food. This barbarity one does not expect from the people who cried for protection from fascist forces when they were under siege.

Perhaps as we watch the Israelis enter their voting booths on the 28th, we might hope that the branding of Israel as a genocidal nation might cause a twinge of moral outrage and put into office a government that would seek reconciliation with the Palestinians rather than devastation of them. Perhaps the world communities might get a chance to see behind the veil of silence that shrouds what takes place in Palestine and keeps the horror from the eyes of Americans and Europeans. Perhaps a new Israeli government would recognize that the election of Hamas is an opportunity for peace since it represents the views of the vast majority of Palestinians and not a threat to be discounted because it did not

represent voters in Israel. Perhaps a free democratic election tells us something we don’t want to admit: justice must be sought for all, not just those the Israelis want to appease because they do what Israelis want. Perhaps the Israeli wall of silence that makes the reality in Palestine invisible to all can be breached because of the democratic elections that have taken place in Palestine if the Israelis will match that effort.

The sower of deceit spreads his seed upon the fertile soil of ignorance, waters it with repetition, and covers it with silence. For five years, America and Israel, under Bush and Sharon, have spread seeds of deceit on minds made fertile to receive it by a controlled press, titillation news programs, and a disinterested public made lethargic by discomfort and fear. But in 2005 the seeds had germinated, broken through the soil and cast their evil smell over the lands, here and in Palestine. Now Bush and the American people await the disassembling of the Bush regime as the Libby lies, the Abramoff payoffs, the DeLay lobbying industry, the Rumsfeld Defense debacle, the torture scenes that never end, the Katrina catastrophe, the isolation of the United States by unilateral arrogance, the terror caused by our subservience to Sharon and his inhumane imprisonment of Palestinians, the ineluctable civil war that engulfs our liberated friends in Iraq, the impending repetition of Iraq in Iran, and death by debt once we are forced to disembark from Iraq’s shores, tear apart the fabric of America.
And now, while we await the elections in Israel, we sense that it, too, will disassemble as the revelations of its spying on America cover the front pages and replace the titillation of our news broadcasts with real news. Witness what even our controlled press must contend with if it is not to remain a joke:

* Two convicted employees of AIPAC, the most powerful lobby in Washington, expose their traitorous behavior before the American people revealing just how “friendly” Israel is to the US thus reopening the gates to prior Israeli espionage that surfaced in 2001 on Fox news only to be silenced by the power of AIPAC.

* On its web site, AIPAC brags that it wrote the legislation that became the Syrian Accountability and Lebanon Restoration Act, thus pushing America into another confrontation in the mid-east as it had pushed America into the war against Iraq despite the lack of WMD or any means whatsoever of invading or destroying America;

* Another Israel support group, PNAC, that is under the control of the Neo-cons that have absconded with our government, declared now the source of the National Security Strategy Report that yokes the Bush administration to Israeli interests, a document that had its origins in 1992 and, in its revised form as a document prepared for Benjamin Netanyahu, “Securing the Realm,” became our official foreign policy under Bush in September 2002;

* Repetition ad nauseam of silencing any criticism of Sharon’s heinous government that has flaunted international law and the United Nations or any activity that represents the Palestinian reality like the stopping of the musical concert, “The Skies Are Weeping” and the play My Name Is Rachel using the ubiquitous “anti-Semitic” to force censorship;

* and, finally, in this litany of cancers inflicted on America by its purported friend, the disclosure that the American taxpayer contributes one third of its foreign aid budget to the 16th wealthiest nation on the planet, with a population that represents .001% of the world’s population, supporting in the process the resettlement of thousands of immigrants from foreign lands to Israel, a foreign country, where they can reside in luxury town homes with lush grounds and pools, while our New Orleans residents, the majority classified African-American and living below the poverty line, remain scattered throughout the country unable to return to their homes.

Perhaps these disclosures will echo through the halls of Congress and the Senate, waking our representatives to their biased and bought support for Israel that has brought America such democratic values as pre-emptive strikes, extrajudicial execution, torture on demand, kid napping to countries we condemn in public and pay off for torture in private (Syria of the Syrian Accountability Act), collective punishment including walling in innocent civilians in Iraq, disinformation to enable willing administration members to lie to the American people as they prepared us for unending war, hidden budget information that covered the reality of our support for the illegal occupation of Palestine, and, in all brazen hypocrisy, to place America before the world as a partner to the allegedly genocidal actions of Sharon’s government as he strangled the Palestinians constituting a war crime of unfathomable dimensions.

To do it in my name I cannot condone, nor sit idly by as America becomes a rogue state that is seen world wide as the instigator of terror not the victim of it. Disassembling democracy demands dissent. I condemn both this government and that of Israel under Sharon because it is my duty as a citizen; I condemn as well the atrocities resulting from those who resort to violence against the civilian as their last expression of vengeance and despair since it, like oppression, fosters only greater evil, and I do so as a brother to all. Yet, having done so, I will be labeled an anti-Semite and anti-American. Neither is the case. Those who say nothing let silence shroud their judgment placing them in the phalanx of those who carry out the crimes.

Let it be said loud and clear, Israel alone can bring peace to the mid-east. Despite its protestations to the contrary, Israel exists as a major military force in the world, a silent member of the nuclear club, the only such in the mid-east. Yet it cries wolf to the world that Hamas threatens its existence even as Hamas stands imprisoned behind Israeli walls unable to leave by land, sea or water without Israeli IDF approval, unable to receive goods of any kind, including weapons of consequence with which to face the third largest military in the world. Thus does the oppressor become the victim.

That is the reality in Palestine and it has forced the people to elect an organization that has no obligations to the Israeli government or to the United States, only to them. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain. The United States extolled the virtues of democracy, the right of a people to choose their own government, especially in the mid-east, and they responded in a manner that puts the elections of 2000 and 2004 in this country to shame only to find that Bush didn’t mean what he said nor did its erstwhile partner in democracy in the mid-east, Israel.

But this election is a victory for the Palestinian people; it is the catapult that can breach the Walls of the Israeli prison which has silenced the Palestinians so completely under the PLO, a hapless group made “irrelevant” by Sharon and Bush. And that reality Israel fears more than any army or terrorism Hamas can field against them; indeed, the continuation of terrorism benefits Israel because it supports their arguments for further lock downs and imprisonment and house demolitions and land confiscation. But if Hamas can invite Putin and Chirac and Chavez and diplomats from around the world to Ramallah, if the TV cameras arrive to put before the world the tangible humiliation that wraps the Palestinian people in the infectious disease of Israeli dominance in every facet of their day to day existence, then, perhaps, the devastating silence, the absolute muffling of their voice, the solitary confinement imposed by Israel on an entire people locked behind Walls of cement and steel, prevented from speaking out against this intolerable and illegal imprisonment, will be broken and the truth revealed to all the world.

That is what Israel and the Bush administration fear, the truth that exposes their lies, their absolute disregard for international law, the defiance of all UN resolutions that have condemned Israel for disregard of human rights, the theft of another people’s land, the illegal imprisonment of 8000 without charge, the abandonment of due justice before the courts as IDF soldiers and settlers who kill at will go free, the infliction of hundreds of military check points throughout the West Bank, the acres upon acres of demolished homes that give the IDF freedom to incarcerate the inhabitants of Gaza, the collective punishment that Israel imposes on the Palestinian people by home demolition, the stealing of land, the destruction of their fields and produce, and by torture. This Israel rightly fears. This disassembling of their total control of what the world sees will be the battering ram that destroys the deceit that has made Hamas the fearsome enemy that can bring devastation to Israel and its people.

When this Wall of silence is breached, when the truth is made manifest, what the world will see and what Jews around the world will see, is that Sharon has destroyed the moral fiber of Judaism. What Jews suffered under the boots of Nazi Germany — the humiliation, torture, powerlessness, and fear ? impressed on them by a racist nation arrogant in their superiority, the Israelis now inflict on the hapless people of Palestine. What Jews suffered in concentration camps, isolated from the world’s communities that did not see their pain, existed because world leaders heeded only the voice of Hitler, tolerated the deceit that hid the reality, and accepted the truth of the oppressor not the truth of walls, and chain link fences, and barbed wire, and guard towers, and ID cards and symbols of identification that imprisoned the Jews in body, mind and spirit. What the Jews of the holocaust bequeathed to all humankind as a moral legacy must not be lost again; it is a legacy at once unique in its awareness of the sacredness of each living being and in its acceptance of the responsibility each has to each, a blessed union built on tolerance for all. Jews throughout the world have reacted against Sharon’s savagery but have been as helpless to stop it as Americans have been to stop Bush from destroying America.

This silence, built like the four hundred miles of cement forms, barbed wire and steel that entombs the Palestinians as though it stood an eloquent testimonial of racism run rampant, Sharon’s epitaph for his life of crime, begins now to unravel as the lies and deceit fall away and the sun’s light rises above the debris left in its wake. The Palestinian quiet revolution, the election of a government by the people, of the people, and for the people, has the potential to let the sun shine in and open the door to peace, if only the world would treat that government with the respect it deserves. And that brings us back to the Israeli election this month, an election that can force its new government to move ineluctably toward real peace or to continue the violence that comes with spreading fear.

Israel can force America to sue for peace before the United Nations, to seek from that community of nations, from the community of Arab nations in particular, a Peace Force to stand along the green line while Israel recalls its forces back to the land it owns and returns to its rightful owners the land confiscated in the 1967 war, acceptance if you will of UN Resolution 242. It can return all stolen land, tear down the hideous monument to fear erected by Sharon, accept the internationally recognized right of return, and abjure violence against the Palestinians even as Hamas and the people of Palestine abjure all violence against the Israelis, all overseen in a new era of openness by the United Nations. It is the sower of peace and prosperity not the sower of discord and deceit that assures the harvest; it is in trust and tolerance not accusation and anger that accord can be reached; it is in recognition of right and justice for all not fanatical beliefs for those initiated that renders peace possible. That is the choice the Israelis bring to the election booth this month, and their choice will usher in a day of calm for all the world, or a day of chaos.

William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush’s Mideast Policy He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU