The Bush administration is stepping up its demand that Palestinian leaders dismantle West Bank and Gaza terror structures. This demand comes in the wake of a devastating bomb attack in Jerusalem last week that killed 20 Israelis, including 5 children. According to a senior U.S. official, fresh emphasis will be put on calls to uproot the terror infrastructure.
Prior to this latest suicide attack in Jerusalem the western media had reported a "relative calm" period since the roadmap was accepted by both sides nearly 2 months ago. What the media failed to report were the 22 Palestinians killed and the dozens of homes demolished by the Israelis. And where were the words of condemnation from President Bush or from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice? When Palestinians are killed, the situation is considered "relative calm" even when the deaths are Palestinian children, but when Israelis are killed, it’s called terrorism and the headline news never stops. Is it any wonder that Israel’s most crucial allies include America’s mass media and Washington’s top politicians?
When an Israeli soldier fires a tank-mounted machine gun at a car stopped at a West Bank roadblock three weeks ago, killing a 5-year-old Palestinian boy and injuring his two sisters why didn’t we hear of any demands from the Bush administration then?And what about Israel’s attack, just a few days after accepting the roadmap, that killed two Hamas members? Or what about the attack by Israeli troops that killed Islamic Jihad operative Mohammed Sidr in a shootout in the West Bank city of Hebron, triggering the suicide bus boming in Jerusalem? And just last month Israel thumbed its nose at the U.S. when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Cabinet that Israel should continue building settlements – but quietly – despite his acceptance of a U.S.-backed peace plan that requires a construction freeze. I guess the construction of these illegal settlements do not qualify as terror structures? I guess the killing of 22 Palestinians by the Israelis since the signing of the "Road Map" doesn’t qualify for a step up in demands?
And this is where the basic problem lies. This is why we have no peace in the Middle East. And maybe the 20 Israelis killed last week in Jerusalem would still be alive today if we had U.S. leadership that wasn’t so spineless in dealing with Israeli crimes. Instead, we have President Bush referring to Ariel Sharon as a "Man of Peace" and members of the U.S. Congress signing a proclamation in approval for the Apartheid Wall while the Majority Leader Tom Delay addresses the Israeli Knesset offering unconditional U.S. support.
Maybe someone needs to tell President Bush that dismantling the structure in Washington would do more in ending the violence in the Middle East than dismantling any structure in the West Bank or Gaza. And the first stop should be in the U.S. Congress.
The United States claims to be an "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians yet the U.S. continually ignores Israel’s repeated violations over decades of UN resolutions. While the U.S. accuses Palestinians of "terrorism" for fighting with small weapons, Israel receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid and arms each year, further building up its monstrous arsenal of F-16s, attack helicopters, tanks, and nuclear weapons. In addition, there are two important conditions for receiving U.S. military aid that Israel has violated repeatedly. Under the Arms Export Control Act, military hardware provided by FNS funds can be used only for defensive purposes or to maintain internal security. When the Israelis dropped a one ton bomb from a U.S. supplied F16 fighter jet in a central appartment complex in Gaza City a few months ago that killed 16 innocent Palestinians including 9 children, both conditions of the Arms Export Control Act were in violation. No amount of spin could justify this crime as defensive or an act to maintain internal security. Yet, the Israelis were never censored or sanctioned. These are the kind of acts that build terror structures, and when Washington fails to respond the structures get that much stronger.
We talk about a balanced Middle East Policy but look at what we actually practice. We have one standard for the treatment of Israelis that is so high they cannot be criticized no matter what grisly crimes they commit. Then we have a second standard for the treatment of Palestinians that is so low we publicly finance their ethnic cleansing and torture. We even finance the construction of the illegal Jewish settlements that we admit as being a major cause of the continued violence.
Whenever Israel invades one of its neighbors or kills innocent civilians, the United States is prompt to veto any United Nations resolutions that criticizes Israel. The U.S. could not even bring itself to condemn the Qana, Lebanese refugee camp massacre in which over 100 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed. Sheilding Israel is an international embarrassment and places U.S. citizens in danger around the world.
Many American politicians jump on the Zionist bandwagon simply because they know that is where the power is. The Jewish Lobby has effectively silenced many critics of Israel by smering the character of anyone who opposes aid to that country. The influence of Israel’s lobby and its political action committees has turned Congress and the White House into "yes men" for Israeli interests.
The greatest obstacle to peace in the Middle East is not the terror infrastructure. The terror infrastructure is a by-product of a corrupt, hypocritical, and unbalanced U.S. Middle East Policy. Until we get strong leadership in Washington who refuses to bend to the Israeli lobby in order to advance his or her political career then, and only then, will we see peace in the Middle East. If America is serious about fighting terrorism then it’s time to get tough with Israel and end its generous financial and military aid to the Jewish State.
James J. David is a retired Brigadier General and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served as a Company Commander with the 101st Airborne Division in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 and also served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.