Those who planned the 1967 "six day war" and we the people who came under
Israeli occupation could not foresee its impact on our lives let alone
Americans and Iraqis today. I was a 10-year old kid growing up in the
Shepherd's field at the time the occupation began and my memories of the
initial onslaught are vivid. After I immigrated to the US in 1979, I still
go almost every year and maintain residency there. I saw it get worse and
worse every year from 1967 (and I dread my trip this summer). What can be
said after 40 years of illegal occupation, after over 450,000 Israeli Jewish
colonial settlers in the West Bank, after over 18,000 of our homes
demolished, after causing massive economic dislocation (Palestinian
unemployment is at twice what it was for Americans during the Great
depression), after over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners now in
Israeli jails, after over 10,000 fellow Palestinian civilians killed? Should
we focus on the price the world has paid including the unfolding tragedy in
Iraq and soon Iran? How about the over $1 trillion that Israel cost the US
in these 40 years?
As in most wars, the first casualty is the truth. Israeli General Matityahu
Peled admitted: "The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us
in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only
bluff, which was born and developed after the war...To pretend that the
Egyptian forces massed on our frontiers were in a position to threaten the
existence of Israel constitutes an insult not only to the intelligence of
anyone capable of analyzing this sort of situation, but above all an insult
to the Zahal Israeli army" (Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972).
The clearest evidence of Israel's intentions was the commencement of
immediate Israeli settlement of the occupied areas. Israel also annexed 10%
of the West Bank (expanded "greater Jerusalem") and all the Golan Heights.
Israel hoped that through economic pressures, land and natural resource
confiscations and physical violence, they would be able to annex the rest
once the native population was reduced, especially on the richest land. That
is why Israeli colonies/ settlements (which violate International law) sit
atop the Western and Eastern water aquifers and encircle Jerusalem (all in
the West Bank). It is also why Israel still holds the Golan heights (for
its water). The charade of colonial need for security (from those
irrational and violent natives) has always been the mantra used for further
colonization and expansion, whether by European settlers in the Americas,
the Apartheid regime in South Africa, or in Israel.
For making all of this possible, the US lost credibility around the world.
Votes at the UN General assembly now routinely see 160 countries voting one
way while Israel and the US vote another. Attacks on civilians by US
supplied F-16s, Apache gunship helicopters and cluster bombs are seen in
other parts of the world as state terrorism, not as Israeli "self-defense."
Europeans polled have, by a large majority, identified the US and Israel as
the two most dangerous countries in the world. The shelving of the
investigation of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967
due to the Israeli lobby shows that the war was not what cemented the so
called "special relationship" between Israel and the US (see USSLiberty.org
). Any person with simple library research skills can find ample
documentation of the Israel lobby agents like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith et al
dragging America into endless wars (currently conveniently packaged as a
"war on terrorism").
The rabid attacks on President Carter, Mearsheimer and Walt and all who dare
to question the lobby ironically prove their thesis. Thanks to the internet,
it is becoming more difficult to silence the truth. So even if this article
is not published in a US mainstream newspaper, it will eventually be read by
tens of thousands anyway.
America in the past, and Israel more recently, adopted visions of "manifest
destiny" that justified the conquest of untamed "wilderness," against which
the indigenous people were the main obstacle. Vilifying the natives was thus
a common feature of America culture then as it is in Israel today. The
solutions are not too difficult to imagine and it starts with dissecting the
myths about this "special" relationship that is contrary to US interests.
The history of this issue, and its solution, based on International law, are
well recognized around the world, but are obscured and reviled in America
thanks to the hijacking our institutions by those with ideologies and
agendas that are contrary to basic human rights of native people. At the
core of any viable solution is the right of Palestinian refugees and
displaced people to be allowed to return to their homes and lands (see
palestineremembered.com and BADIL.org). For a real roadmap to peace, all we
need is to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to
implement all relevant UN Resolutions, starting with UNGA 194 of 1949.
Segregation in the Jim Crow South and in Apartheid South Africa were
symptoms of the disease, so why do some still consider them solutions in
It is time to seek genuine reconciliation both in America and Israel. On
June 10, thousands will be in DC for a rally and march demanding an end to
the occupation (see endtheoccupation.org). May the 60th anniversary of the
beginning of the Palestinian dispossession (November 1947) be a new turning
point towards real peace, based on justice and equality and the recognition
that we are all human beings.
Dr. Qumsiyeh is a member of the steering committee of the US Campaign to
End the Israeli Occupation and author of "Sharing the
Land of Canaan".
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