I have followed the story of Israel’s colonization of Palestine and subsequent apartheid since I was a freshman at the College of Saint Teresa in the mid 1960s. At an international education conference, I met Palestinian students who filled me in on their history after the formation of the state of Israel. (I find Phyllis Bennis’s book, “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer,” extremely helpful background.) This is not “an ancient animosity.” It had a good start when indigenous people were expelled and their villages destroyed, creating generations of Palestinian refugees.
In the early 2000’s, I hosted Peace Potlucks with video screening at my home on the subject of settlements, the “apartheid wall” and the non-stop demolishing of Palestinian homes. I watched again (the last time was 2014, and before that 2008) when my tax money was used for unrelenting Israeli Defense Forces bombing the occupied Gaza strip, seeing then, as now, huge high rise apartment buildings collapsing. As of today’s count, 40,000 Gaza residents have been made homeless, nearly 200 dead, including 60 children.
Now the mainstream media speaks of “de-escalation on both sides” as if the sides were equal. This the most famous false equivalency in politics. Headlines also refer to Israel vs. Hamas. Israel is a country. Hamas is an elected political party. The two entities in conflict are a country and an occupied people.
Are the Palestinians occupying the state of Israel? No. Israel is occupying the land it acquired by war and controls the Palestinians in all ways, controlling their borders and their freedom of movement.
Is the United State government supporting a Palestinian state with 3.8 billion dollars of military aid each year? No. First, there is no Palestinian state. The U.S. attacks and prevents recognition even of “the territories” in the United Nations. Second, even humanitarian aid to the Palestinians was cut off by Trump.
Biden spouts the cliché, Israel has a right to defend itself.” Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves from occupation, oppression, illegal settlements that steal farmland and water (West Bank) and blockade (Gaza). Israel has prevented flotillas of aid from many nations from reaching Gaza, even killing those who attempted (In 2010, 9 Greek and Turkish activists killed by Israeli forces boarding their boat).
Do the Palestinians have a fleet of bombers and high-tech weapons, including a so-called “Iron Dome” missile shield to protect their civilians? No. In just the last 20 years, if you take a tally of Palestinian women and children killed by Israeli forces compared to Jewish women and children killed there is no comparison. This is the first week I’ve heard of any Jewish children killed by rockets…
Do the Palestinians have thousands of Israeli men, women and teens in their prisons? No.
Do Palestinians come into Israeli homes and take up residence? If they can’t take over, do they bulldoze the homes? No. Land is constantly being appropriated by settlement building and the horribly high “security wall” (Have you seen photos of it? Even worse than Trump’s border wall), and just this week, you can see viral videos of occupiers from Brooklyn going into Palestinian homes claiming residence.
Do the Palestinians cut off electricity to Jewish homes for hours a day? Create roads that only Palestinians can travel on? Practice collective punishment on families of Jewish soldiers and assassinate their politicians? No. No. And No.
False equivalency. Which brings me to language. IDF members are soldiers. Palestinian fighters are militants and terrorists. Just in this current war, what happened first, the rockets fired at Israel or IDF firing rubber bullets and teargas into the Al-Aqsa mosque during prayers?
Several analysts have noted that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—under indictment for corruption, and like Trump, is fighting to keep himself in office to avoid going to jail—has undertaken these attacks to increase support for his right wing governance with no regard for what the international community has to say. There are even demonstrations within Israel against their government’s handling of the pandemic and the erosion of democracy (they are now having a fourth election to try to get stability).
Resolution after resolution in the United Nations on Israel’s building of settlements on occupied Palestinian land (totally illegal) have condemned this abuse, yet it continues. This week, the U.S. has prevented the UN Security Council from issuing any statement on the current situation, as it has always done. The U.S. has been the outlier supporting Israel, even when every other country has voted the other way.
I have been trying to write this for days, so must stop and post. I know my distress is tiny compared to what is being suffered by Palestinians right now.
Below are some of my sources in addition to the Facebook posts taken from Democracy Now.