Israel: Not Everyone’s Promised Land

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In his column “Why Israel Deserves America’s Support” (Vermont Cynic, October 15), Russel Henderson states that since neither Egypt nor Jordan wants Gaza and the West Bank back, then the Palestinian people should ‘acquiesce,’ as well. Since neither Canada nor Mexico wants to occupy the US, we should then let the Chinese or Russians occupy this land militarily if they want to, right? Who cares about the US population’s self-determination, right?

Henderson promotes Israel as a “liberal democracy.” That is an outrageous delusion at best, and at worst, an insult to the concept of democracy. Since when has the definition of a democracy included denial of basic human rights to its own subjects? Or laws written specifically to prefer a certain class of the population and to discriminate against others? Doesn’t a “liberal democracy” require the separation of Church and State which Israel lacks? Doesn’t it also require the right to vote for ALL citizens, which Israel also denies? How about a constitution-does Israel even have one written? No, in fact they do not.

Henderson further asserts that the “occupied territory” issue is a myth. Well, in these “mythical” territories, there are over three million living, breathing human beings who have to live under subjugation every single day. If Henderson considers the accounts of brutality merely a myth, I’d like to invite him to live in these areas among the Palestinians. Can he survive with only one-fifth as much water as the Israelis drink while the Israeli settlers around him live very comfortably in their freshly seized-then-renovated housing, complete (according to Israel human-rights group B’Tselem) with swimming pools, lawn fountains and irrigated gardens?

Food, education, medical and economic condition for the occupied people are even more dismal than the water situation, with people in Gaza surviving on less than $1000 annually and over 60% unemployment rate,

compared to Israelis’ $20,000/capita annual income. Not to mention the animal-like treatments the Palestinians receive daily from Israeli settlers and soldiers alike. Never mind that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born equal in dignity and status.”

Can Henderson understand that a democracy does not deny liberty to anyone, a concept fundamentally incompatible with the notion of militarily occupying another people’s land? To many nations all over the world, the way that Israel behaves is indeed very recognizable, and not as a “liberal democracy.” The rest of the world calls that “colonialism”: the bitter, humiliating pill that “Third-Worlders” had to swallow daily until our elders finally decided enough is enough. In South Africa, I believe that policies such as Israel’s were grouped under “Apartheid,” something most of humanity rightly condemned. People who fail to see the similarities are usually those who profit the most from such systems.

Finally, there’s the anti-Semitism charges pointed at those who dare to speak up against Israel’s actions. I’d say that in addition to Arafat and his thugs, the label would be more appropriately applied to Ariel Sharon, his mercenaries and their supporters here. As Arabs and Jews are both Semitic peoples, killing Palestinian children is an act far more anti-Semitic than protesting against the Israeli government.

Both sides in this conflict are to blame for committing reprehensible acts toward each other. Whenever Israeli civilians get killed, I feel saddened that innocent lives are lost and that the Palestinians aren’t any better than their oppressors. However, when I see Palestinians old and young murdered by Israeli soldiers, I feel responsible and ashamed because I know that that’s my hard-earned tax dollars at work. Over three billion dollars in official US foreign aid to Israel works out to about $1 in tax every two weeks that I get paid, just enough to pay for a bullet. Americans can, and should, refuse to send Israel this blood money every paycheck.