Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused
to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express
this conclusion publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe
the catastrophe could have been prevented if any U.S. president during
the past 35 years had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all U.S.
aid until Israel withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967
The U.S. lobby for Israel is powerful and intimidating, but any
determined president-even President Bush this very day-could prevail
and win overwhelming public support for the suspension of aid by laying
these facts before the American people:
Israel's present government, like its predecessors, is
determined to annex the West Bank-biblical Judea and Sumaria-so Israel
will become Greater Israel. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who maintain a
powerful role in Israeli politics, believe the Jewish Messiah will not
come until Greater Israel is a reality. Although a minority in Israel,
they are committed, aggressive, and inflluential. Because of deep
religious conviction, they are determined to prevent Palestinians from
gaining statehood on any part of the West Bank.
In its violent assaults on Palestinians, Israel uses the
pretext of eradicating terrorism, but its forces are actually engaged
advancing the territorial expansion just cited. Under the guise of
anti-terrorism, Israeli forces treat Palestinians worse than cattle.
With due process nowhere to be found, hundreds are detained for long
periods and most are tortured. Some are assassinated. Homes,
orchards, and business places are destroyed. Entire cities are kept
under intermittent curfew, some confinements lasting for weeks.
Injured or ill Palestinians needing emergency medical care are
routinely held at checkpoints for an hour or more. Many children are
undernourished. The West Bank and Gaza have become giant concentration
camps. None of this could have occurred without U.S. support. Perhaps
Israeli officials believe life will become so unbearable that most
Palestinians will eventually leave their ancestral homes.
Once beloved worldwide, the U.S. government finds itself
reviled in most countries because it provides unconditional support of
Israeli violations of the United Nations Charter, international law,
and the precepts of all major religious faiths.
How did the American people get into this fix?
Nine-eleven had its principal origin 35 years ago when Israel's
U.S. lobby began its unbroken success in stifling debate about the
proper U.S. role in the Arab-Israeli conflict and effectively concealed
from public awareness the fact that the U.S. government gives massive
uncritical support to Israel.
Thanks to the suffocating influence of Israel's U.S. lobby, open
discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been non-existent in our
government all these years. I have firsthand knowledge, because I was
a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in
June 1967 when Israeli military forces took control of the Golan
Heights, a part of Syria, as well as the Palestinian West Bank and
Gaza. I continued as a member for 16 years and to this day maintain a
close watch on Congress.
For 35 years, not a word has been expressed in that committee
or in either chamber of Congress that deserves to be called debate on
Middle East policy. No restrictive or limiting amendments on aid to
Israel have been offered for 20 years, and none of the few offered in
previous years received more than a handful of votes. On Capitol Hill,
criticism of Israel, even in private conversation, is all but
forbidden, treated as downright unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic. The
continued absence of free speech was assured when those few who spoke
out-Senators Adlai Stevenson and Charles Percy, and Reps. Paul "Pete"
McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, and myself-were defeated at
the polls by candidates heavily financed by pro-Israel forces.
As a result, legislation dealing with the Middle East has been
heavily biased in favor of Israel and against Palestinians and other
Arabs year after year. Home constituencies, misled by news coverage
equally lop-sided in Israel's favor, remain largely unaware that
Congress behaves as if it were a subcommittee of the Israeli parliament.
However, the bias is widely noted beyond America, where most
news media candidly cover Israel's conquest and generally excoriate
America's complicity and complacency. When President Bush welcomed
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sometimes called the Butcher of
Beirut, as "my dear friend" and "a man of peace" after Israeli forces,
using U.S.-donated arms, completed their devastation of the West Bank
last spring, worldwide anger against American policy reached the
The fury should surprise no one who reads foreign newspapers or
listens to BBC. In several televised statements long before 9/11,
Osama bin Laden, believed by U.S. authorities to have masterminded
9/11, cited U.S. complicity in Israel's destruction of Palestinian
society as a principal complaint. Prominent foreigners, in and out of
government, express their opposition to U.S. policies with
unprecedented frequency and severity, especially since Bush announced
his determination to make war against Iraq.
The lobby's intimidation remains pervasive. It seems to reach
every government center and even houses of worship and revered
institutions of higher learning. It is highly effective in silencing
the many U.S. Jews who object to the lobby's tactics and Israel's
Nothing can justify 9/11. Those guilty deserve maximum
punishment, but it makes sense for America to examine motivations
promptly and as carefully as possible. Terrorism almost always arises
from deeply-felt grievances. If they can be eradicated or eased,
terrorist passions are certain to subside.
Today, a year after 9/11, President Bush has made no attempt to
redress grievances, or even to identify them. In fact, he has made the
scene far worse by supporting Israel's religious war against
Palestinians, an alliance that has intensified anti-American anger. He
seems oblivious to the fact that nearly two billion people worldwide
regard the plight of Palestinians as today's most important
No one in authority will admit a calamitous reality that
is skillfully shielded from the American people but clearly recognized
by most of the world: America suffered 9/11 and its aftermath and may
soon be at war with Iraq, mainly because U.S. policy in the Middle East
is made in Israel, not in Washington.
Israel is a scofflaw nation and should be treated as such.
Instead of helping Sharon intensify Palestinian misery, our president
should suspend all aid until Israel ends its occupation of Arab land
Israel seized in 1967. The suspension would force Sharon's compliance
or lead to his removal from office, as the Israeli electorate will not
tolerate a prime minister who is at odds with the White House.
If Bush needs an additional reason for doing the right thing,
he can justify the suspension as a matter of military necessity, an
essential step in winning international support for his war on
terrorism. He can cite a worthy precedent. When President Abraham
Lincoln issued the proclamation that freed only the slaves in states
that were then in rebellion, he make the restriction because of
If Bush suspends U.S. aid, he will liberate all Americans from long
years of bondage to Israel's misdeeds.
Paul Findley, a Representative from Illinois 1961-83, is the author of
three books related to the Middle East, the latest being Silent No
More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam. He resides in
For the facts about the USS Liberty, visit:
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