The United States and Palestine: Business as Usual
A report on June 11, 2013 from Reuters calls Richard Falk, the United Nations human rights investigator for Palestine, ‘embattled’, apparently because he has once again refused to dance to the U.S.-Israel tune. At a forum of the U.N. Human Rights Council, he called for an inquiry into what he sees as the torture of Palestinians in Israeli custody. The U.S., of course, with its own shocking record of torturing its political prisoners in Guantanamo, Iraq, and who knows where else, boycotted the debate. Israel did the same, accusing the forum of anti-Israel bias.
One must wonder, yet again, why the U.S. and Israel refuse to investigate accusations of torture, unless they have something to hide. If Israel isn’t, in fact, torturing Palestinian prisoners, why not let the investigation happen? Why not prove to the world, if it is so, that Israel treats Palestinians with respect, provides them equal justice under the law, and is constantly acting in good faith to bring about a peaceful solution to the decades-old occupation? The reason is clear: Israel, an apartheid state, does none of those things. It is only interested in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which it proceeds to do on a daily basis, with home demolitions, arrests without charge, checkpoints, humiliation and murder.
So what has Mr. Falk said most recently to bring about the displeasure of the U.S. and its puppet-master, Israel? Let us look at his provocative statement: “The occupation is not a neutral reality, but is extremely abusive to the people subject to it, who have endured it for far too long with no end in sight. And that this message needs to be delivered, especially to these citadels of power and influence.”
Is the occupation extremely brutal? A few facts shed some light on that concept, for anyone left on the planet who may be in doubt about it.
- Whenever Israel decides it wants to build a new, illegal settlement on Palestinian land (it is really unnecessary to refer to an ‘illegal’ settlement; that is redundant, since all Israeli settlements are illegal according to international law), it simply brings in its bulldozers and demolishes Palestinian homes. Sometimes, the Palestinian families living in those homes are given two full days to move their things out and find a new residence. Frequently, however, they are aware of the fact that they are being illegally evicted only when they hear the bulldozers approach.
- For most of the people in the U.S., Israel, and much of the world, getting from home to either work or school involves taking the most direct route. For Palestinians, however, this is not the case. A Palestinian student may be able to see his school from his home, but it may take him hours to get there. This is because if he is driving, he can only use the sub-standard roads available to the Palestinians; he is not allowed on the smooth, modern highways built for the exclusive use of the Israelis. Also, he will have to pass through numerous checkpoints, where he will, eventually, be asked for identification. If a checkpoint is closed, and when they are open and closed is left completely up to the discretion of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) terrorists manning them, he must take any available sub-standard road to another checkpoint, which may or may not be open. If it is open, there is no guarantee that the queue will move quickly; that too depends on when the IDF terrorists condescend to speak to the student.
The same is true for people getting to work. A woman may work five minutes, as the crow flies, from her home, but she, too, must endure the endless, arbitrary checkpoints.
- Palestinian children can be arrested without charge and held for months with no access to family or legal representation. Palestinian adults are sometimes held for years without charge. This, of course, only mirrors U.S. policy for its self-described enemies.
- The Gaza Strip, home to nearly 2,000,000 Palestinians, is often described as the world’s largest outdoor prison, with Israel the cruel prison guard. Its population density is over 10,000 people per square mile. Compare this with New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the United States, with a population density of 1,205 per square mile. It is close to the population density of Washington, D.C., yet it doesn’t have the high rise residential buildings of the U.S. capital.
Israel controls Gaza’s borders, and prohibits all but the most minimal imports of medical supplies. It has prevented the import to the Gaza Strip of many common items, including lentils, tomato paste, pasta, soda, juice, jam, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies, candies, chocolate, paper, crayons, soccer balls, musical instruments, and most construction materials. . This list is not exhaustive, but seems to indicate that these measures, ostensibly to protect poor, vulnerable Israel from the big, bad wolf of Palestine, have nothing to do with security, but everything to do with oppression.
- Israel has said categorically that it is not starving Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It is keeping them hungry, but there is a difference between hunger and starvation. So there.
Mr. Falk would like these situations investigated. One would think that the U.S., that self-proclaimed leader of all that is good in the world, would support such an investigation. Why, then, the boycott of the U.N. Human Rights Council? Oh, we forgot for a moment. Human rights are all well and good, as long as they don’t jeopardize that reliable stream of campaign donations, funneled to Congress through the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).Those millions of dollars are far more important than such lofty, esoteric concepts as ‘human rights’. So what if millions of Palestinians are suffering under a cruel occupation? Members of Congress need money to run their reelection campaigns, and the bottom line for the U.S. is and always has been the almighty dollar. While the U.S. isn’t above blatant hypocrisy, it’s a bit much, even for them, to denounce occupation so soon after the end of their own in Iraq. So they play along with the belief that Israel is only oppressing, humiliating, torturing and killing Palestinians, stealing their land and driving them into refugee camps to maintain their own security.
But there do appear to be some cracks growing in that façade. The world seems to be finally paying a bit of attention to Palestine, as Israel becomes more and more marginalized in the world community, standing only with the U.S. and a few other nations in continuing its unspeakable horrors. The question, however, is if it is too little too late. Eventually, without some major global effort, Israel will eventually steal all of Palestine, and that nation will cease to exist. If that should happen, it will be impossible for history to judge the world too harshly.