Powell And My Grandmother
By Sam Bahour
August 2, 2004
Where Israel is concerned, U.S. foreign policy never ceases to amaze. When
Palestinian in-fighting took place in Gaza last week, Secretary of State Colin
Powell had the following to say about the United States' position: "Just have
to watch it unfold." Interestingly enough, my grandmother's position was the
same and it is unclear who announced it first.
The majority of Americans may just brush over such ridiculous comments from the
U.S. Secretary of State, but I, for one, refuse to allow it to pass without
comment. As a tax-paying American citizen, my tax dollars deserve to be better
employed. Hiring senior policy advisors who can't tell the difference between
cause and effect does not serve the American people's interests.
Consider the following historic causes of this seemingly never- ending conflict,
Cause #1: The U.S. closed its borders to Jewish immigration during the
Holocaust fearing an influx of Jews fleeing the tragedy brought upon them in
Europe. In fact, both of these acts -- closing the borders and carrying out the
tragedy -- are two of the most blatant anti-Semitic chapters ever registered.
Both had nothing to do with Arabs in general or Palestinians in specific.
Instead of opening its own borders, the U.S. put its entire might behind
transforming Palestine, an Arab country in the Middle East, by force, into a
Jewish-only (i.e., in today's terminology, Apartheid) state.
Cause #2: The U.S. historically, and even more so and more bluntly under the
current Bush Administration, financially, morally and politically supports
Israel in maintaining one of the world's longest-lasting withstanding
military occupations of another people, the Palestinians. When added to the
newest American occupation in Iraq, many are correctly acknowledging that U.S.
determination to maintain these two military occupations, albeit under different
names and modalities, is part of a larger U.S. policy in the Middle East that
aims to further plant U.S. hegemony in the region.
Cause #3: U.S. arms manufacturers, in full coordination with both houses of
government and with billions of U.S. tax dollars in funding; continue to provide
Israel with a non-stop supply of deadly weapons that Israel illegally -- as per
U.S. Law, not to mention International Law -- uses to oppress Palestinians. The
U.S.'s military-industrial complex is so intertwined in the corridors of U.S.
policy making, it is no wonder that the continuance of conflict has become an
American way of life.
Cause #4: As the world community, in near unanimous
consensus, for 50 plus years has condemned Israel for gross violations of
Palestinian human rights and most recently, for building an illegal landgrab
Wall, the U.S. willfully and systematically defends Israel's illegal actions.
Instead of taking the moral high ground and measuring the historical injustice
against the Palestinians with the same yardstick that was used to, albeit late,
measure and dismantle Apartheid, the U.S. prefers to challenge the entire world
order for the narrow interests of Israeli fundamentalism.
Cause #5: Whereas the U.S. has shown the resolve to mobilize an international
peacekeeping force in dozens of hot spots around the world, in Palestine, U.S.
policy amounts to watching Israel -- after arming it to the teeth -- wield its
first-world military might on a helpless Palestinian civilian community.
Cause #6: While a good number of Israeli illegal settlers (more accurately
called colonists,) who have implanted themselves in the so-called settlements
throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, hold U.S. citizenships and come
from Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Florida to wreak havoc, the U.S. pretends that
they have no responsibility toward these violent thugs. More recently, the U.S.
applauds Israel when it offers compensation packages for settlers in Gaza,
forgetting that it is U.S. tax dollars, to the tune of $4-5 billion per year,
that enable Israel to compensate these people who have broken international and
humanitarian law for more than three decades.
Effect: To be honest, as a Palestinian American who has lived through the last
ten years in Palestine, the hardest ten years in this just struggle for national
liberation, I'm astonished that so little Palestinian in-fighting has taken
place. Clearly, the Palestinian resolve when confronted with unimaginable odds
will only be fully understood after the world realizes what it is that the
Palestinians are really up against. I'm even more astonished that the
Palestinians are still willing to negotiate to resolve the conflict, let alone
maintain a working society without the basic elements of society: law,
security, freedom of movement, etc. If Israel proportionately killed the same
number of Americans as it has Palestinians in the last four years alone, it
would amount to over 250,000 people! Any other people, above all Americans,
would have long ago equipped themselves with deadly weapons to resist such a
brutal foreign military occupation.
If after four years in office and after contributing, firsthand, to the
indigenous Palestinian people being battered with U.S. weapons and because of
U.S. political stubbornness, the best Secretary Powell can do is agree with my
grandmother, then it's time he moved on, maybe back to his beloved military
career. As Palestinians, we will not allow someone to pull the trigger that
kills us and then come to walk in our funeral.
If U.S. interests in the Middle East continue to be hijacked and jeopardized by
a rapacious Israeli state, then maybe not only the West Bank, East Jerusalem and
Gaza are occupied territories. Maybe we need a peacekeeping force immediately
sent to Capital Hill. In the meantime, Palestinians' eyes will be fixed on
Washington and we will "just have to watch it unfold."
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the besieged
Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank and can be reached at email@example.com and runs a mailing list at
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