Last week, in a rare act of foreign policy sanity, the U.S. joined other United Nations Security Council members in criticizing Israel for its ongoing policy of planting settlements and settlers in West Bank territory.
The vote followed the announcement of the Israeli “legalization” of nine settlements described by Brett Wilkins of Common Dreams as “illegal even under Israeli law. Under international law, all settlements, in which anti-Arab apartheid is strictly enforced, are illegal.”
Following the UN vote, Israel launched a deadly daylight attack on the Palestinian city of Nablus, killing 11 and wounding more than 100 people.
According to the Jewish Voice for Peace, “The Israeli military reduced a building in the center of the city to rubble and left storefronts riddled with bullet holes. Among the Palestinians killed were a 16-year-old child and a 72-year-old man. Throughout the brutal attack, reports claimed that Israeli forces blocked Palestinian medical personnel from treating the wounded.”
And, by the end of the week, armed Israeli settlers – illegal occupiers of part of the West Bank – descended on a village near Nablus and shot two Palestinians who came out of their homes to see to investigate the commotion.
As its name assures us, JVP cannot be accused of anti-Semitism. It opposes the rightwing policies of the Israeli government – as fair a target for criticism as any other government.
Of course, Palestinian Arabs are Semites, too. Advocating that they receive the same considerations as Israeli Jews is pro-Semitism.
This year opened with Israel announcing plans “to forcibly displace over 1,000 Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta region of the illegally occupied West Bank,” according to Jessica Corbett of Common Dreams, who also shared the following tweets:
• From JVP: “Just days after the new Israeli government is sworn in, families in Masafer Yatta are already facing more ethnic cleansing. The Israeli military’s ongoing expulsion of Masafer Yatta residents will now be accelerated at an even faster rate. Don’t look away.”
• From U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN): “Not even one week into 2023, the new far-right apartheid government is moving to ethnically cleanse entire communities—which would displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents, including 500 children. All with American backing, bulldozers, and bullets.”
That backing is substantial. A 2016 treaty with Israel guaranteed $3.8 billion in annual U.S. aid for the ten years from 2019-2028. Since President Harry Truman’s ill-advised recognition of a specifically Jewish state, Israel has received more U.S. aid than any other country.
Our backing makes us complicit – blood on our hands – in last week’s attack on Nablus, which JVP notes, “comes amid a horrific and violent year. At least 55 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or Israeli settlers since the beginning of 2023.”
I certainly don’t condone Palestinian attacks on Israelis either. It is cowardly to kill unsuspecting innocents on either side of a conflict.
Yet, JVP suggests: “This is not a conflict or a cycle of violence between two equal parties – this is a military terrorizing an occupied people. The Israeli government’s domination and oppression of Palestinians is the root cause of each tragic death.”
Stefanie Fox, the executive director of JVP, decried the current situation where, “The horrifying and brutal actions of this new (Israeli) government prove exactly what Palestinians have been saying all along: Israel is an apartheid state carrying out ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
Speaking on Face the Nation Feb. 19, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jewish himself, said: “I think the United States gives billions of dollars in aid to Israel. And I think we’ve got to put some strings attached to that and say you cannot run a racist government. You cannot turn your back on a two-state solution. You cannot demean the Palestinian people there. You just can’t do it and then come to America and ask for money.”
It’s hard enough getting any American politician to say something this strong. But, unless he and others put some teeth into our official position, we can expect only more terror and death in Palestine.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)