Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Dave Noon has a post on the wingnut response to the new book by History's Greatest Monster, Jimmy Carter.

I'm certainly not surprised by this, as the wingers can always be counted on to cough up blood at the slightest suggestion that there's anything untoward about Israelis treating Palestinians like cattle. What's more disturbing to me is the cowardly response by liberals and Democrats, many of whom have taken pains to distance themselves from Carter's words, words which wouldn't be seen as particularly controversial in any country other than the United States, including Israel.
Carter reportedly states, “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement.” As a result of such excerpts – and the title itself – Democrats in the U.S. Congress made significant efforts in October to distance themselves from their former leader who nevertheless maintains his standing as the conscience of the party. Several have publicly lambasted him and in doing so shown a profound disregard for basic facts pertaining to Israel’s subjugation of millions of Palestinians.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (the next Speaker of the House of Representatives) took the lead in responding to questions about Carter’s book during an online Israel Working Group Town Hall. “With all due respect to former President Carter, he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel. Democrats have been steadfast in their support of Israel from its birth, in part because we recognize that to do so is in the national security interests of the United States. We stand with Israel now and we stand with Israel forever. The Jewish people know what it means to be oppressed, discriminated against, and even condemned to death because of their religion. They have been leaders in the fight for human rights in the United States and throughout the world. It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously."

Right, and Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

Regarding the term "apartheid," I've come to believe that it probably is counterproductive to use the term, first because it allows people to nitpick over historical specificity, and second because the term "apartheid" is simply insufficient toi describe the system of oppression which Israel has designed and maintains through the occupation.

As for support of Israel being in the national security interests of the United States, the next person to demonstrate exactly how that is will be the first. We should maintain a supportive relationship with Israel to the extent that it shares our democratic principles. When Israel, or any country, blatantly and egregiously violates those principles, as Israel has done since the occupation began, the U.S. should withhold support.

Here's a report from human rights worker Joel Gullidge on IDF-supported settler violence against Palestinians near Hebron:
"Your heads will be on the stones if you don't leave this place", threatened an Israeli settler from illegal outpost Havot Ma'on (Hill 833), to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. Captured on video, but ignored by district Israeli police, the threat is part and parcel of daily life for Palestinians - and the reason for the continuous presence of international human rights workers here since 2004. A few days later, during a "routine check", I witness my neighbor being physically abused by Israeli soldiers. Such abuse often ceases when soldiers become aware that internationals are present, filming their actions.

Ancient At-Tuwani is located in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, home to some one thousand Palestinians who reside in natural caves, living off the land and grazing their flocks of goats and sheep. The topography is harsh; there is no running water or electricity. Under complete Israeli control in "Area C," many South Hebron residents have been expelled and had their homes and property destroyed. Israeli settlers have attacked villagers and human rights workers, and destroyed olive trees. Villagers' livestock and one water cistern have been poisoned, an act UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Director Robert Kennedy calls a form of chemical warfare.

The Israeli separation barrier along route 317 near At-Tuwani restricts villagers' access to their farmland and to vital services such as health clinics, education and markets in nearby cities. Multiple UN reports describe the South Hebron communities as "once self-sustainable, now having one of the highest poverty levels in the West Bank" due to the Israeli occupation. Prominent Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reports that the regions' "proximity to the Green Line and the sparse Palestinian population living there make the southern Hebron hills a 'natural' candidate for annexation [by Israel], as well as an attractive site for settlement that will create a contiguous Jewish presence on both sides of the Green Line."

In the village of Sussia, the Israeli military has crushed the residents' cave homes. Now the villagers live in tents. I travel there to take the testimony of a village elder assaulted that day by masked settlers. Days before, settlers had strewn metal spikes across the road attempting to prevent the truck carrying desperately needed water from reaching the community. Three tires were pierced and the water was delayed.

Back in At-Tuwani, my neighbor served me tea as we watched his children play near their home. "It's hard watching my children grow up under the same occupation I did," he says. "I don't want them to live in fear."

Until the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is ended, the basic human and civil rights of such families will never be assured. And the fear which my neighbor knows so well will remain a constant.

Constant, until Americans are made aware of the daily atrocities underwritten by their tax dollars.

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