“We’re all Israelis now!” This was the cry that went up from the War Party in the wake of 9/11, and as a prophecy regarding our treatment of Middle Easterners in America, it is certainly coming true. Amid reports that Israel has as many as 5,000 Palestinians in custody comes the news that between 1,000 and 2,500 Middle Easterners have been rounded up in California and detained. Are certain sections of Southern California coming to resemble the occupied territories?
It was actually a pretty clever ruse that lured them dumb Ay-rabs into INS offices: the Immigration and Naturalization Service instituted a new rule that required all male resident aliens over the age of sixteen é from a list of twenty Arab or Middle Eastern countries é to register with the authorities. Monday was the deadline for Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, and Sudanese, and, in Southern California, where many thousands of Iranians fled the repressive regime, they came in droves to comply with the law é and soon found themselves behind bars.
Welcome to America, buddy, the land of the formerly free. Welcome to our “colorblind” society, where the same people calling for the scalp of a man who dared whistle “Dixie” are applauding the mass internment of Arab residents. Welcome to America, which is fast morphing into Israel writ large, at least in this one particular area.
We are often told, by Israel’s apologists, that we must side with “the only democracy in the Middle East”: we are natural allies because their society bears such a resemblance to our own. Now, as the Israelization of America proceeds, we are beginning to see that the differences are far from subtle é even as they disappear.
Israel may have democratic elections, a relatively free media, and its founders may trace their legacy back to the European Enlightenment, but there is nothing enlightened about their treatment of the Palestinians. Israel’s “democratic” rules don’t apply to their helot class, and this permits them to treat the Palestinians like dirt under their feet, to be swept up and disposed of. In Israel, about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held indefinitely, without trial, and as suicide bombings increase so has the repression. Associated Press points out that “at the peak last summer, troops ordered Palestinian males, from teenagers to the middle-aged, to gather in public places for questioning and locked up anyone arousing suspicion.”
What happened to Abdel Karim Barghouti, a 38-year-old entrepreneur from Ramallah, is part of everyday life for all non-Israelis in the Promised Land. Stopped at a roadblock last year, he was kicked and beaten by Israeli soldiers and detained at a military base. Transferred to Ashkelon prison, Barghouti was grilled for eight hours daily, blindfolded and bound to a chair:
“‘The interrogators spit in my face and said, ‘No one leaves this place healthy,’ Barghouti recalled. At night, guards would bang on the doors to keep the detainees from sleeping, saying, ‘Why should you sleep while we have to work?'”
Meanwhile, in Southern California:
“‘My father, they just took him in,’ one young man told reporters. ‘They’ve been treating him like an animal. They put him in a room with, like, 50 other people and no bed or anything.'”
After all, why should the detainees get to sleep when a bunch of fat-ass INS prison guards have to work?
According to human rights activists, prisoners in Israeli custody are tortured, in spite of the recent prohibition on physical abuse promulgated by Israel’s Supreme Court. Deprived of sleep for days on end, Palestinian detainees are “forced to stand for hours as their feet swell with pain,” as interrogators tell them their families have been slaughtered. They are told they must confess, or else the bulldozers poised to demolish their homes will be given the go-ahead.
But at least the Israelis make no bones about their behavior, and don’t try to hide the nakedness of their repression behind the see-thru gauze of liberal “democracy” and the rule of law. In Israel, they set up roadblocks and haul away anyone who looks “suspicious” é in America, we have them come in and “register.” In this way, people who have lived here and paid taxes for years are simply hauled away, stripped of their rights, and deported back to the murderous tyrannies they fled.
“It is a shock,” said Sabiha Khan of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “You don’t expect this to happen. It is really putting fright and apprehension in the community. People who come from these countries é this is what they expect from their government. Not from America.”
“I think it is shocking what is happening,” says ACLU executive director Ramona Ripston, “It is reminiscent of what happened in the past with the internment of Japanese Americans. We are getting a lot of telephone calls from people. We are hearing that people went down wanting to cooperate and then they were detained.”
Yes, even I’m shocked. My opinion of the U.S. government has always been quite low, but whomever in the federal bureaucracy thought up this rancid scheme to rope in the unwary-but-law-abiding has got to be the lowest form of filth on earth. Is it really necessary to explain why terrorists in our midst wouldn’t come in to “register” with the authorities? Some idiot supervisor had to bring in his or her quota of detainees, to impress the top brass in Washington and give the appearance of a crackdown on illegal immigration é and we are none the safer for it.
Meanwhile, our “colorblind” President has just agreed that some illegal aliens are more equal than others by adding Mexican citizens in the U.S. to the Social Security rolls, as the Washington Post reports:
“Pushed by the Mexican government, the Bush administration is working on a Social Security accord that would put tens of thousands of Mexicans onto the Social Security roster and send hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits south of the border.”
Our southern border with Mexico is so porous that the Mexican government can demand é and get é massive subsidies from the U.S., lest an even more massive invading army of Mexican illegals is incited to cross the Rio Grande. Instead of fortifying the border, and protecting the lives and property of Americans who live near it, the U.S. is ethnically cleansing Southern California of Middle Easterners, under the guise of the “war on terrorism.”
I have long been an immigration restrictionist on the grounds that an influx of foreigners is bound to increase the power and weight of pressure groups that lobby for U.S. intervention on behalf of the “mother country.” Furthermore, I remain unconvinced that, in a free society, there wouldn’t be any restrictions on travel to and through private property. In such a society, all property would be private, by definition, and therefore the right to “free immigration” advocated by some libertarians is, at best, a misnomer, since no such “right” can be derived that is consistent with the idea of private property rights.
However, in this case, the U.S government is not treating all illegals alike. Some illegals (or former illegals), namely those of Mexican descent, are to be welcomed with open arms (i.e. government subsidies), thanks to the delusions of Republican strategists who believe they can convert “Hispanics” into another Republican constituency, like Cuban-Americans only more numerous. Other illegals are treated like é well, like Palestinians held captive in their own land.
“This is what they expect from their government. Not from America.”
It’s the ultimate joke on the neoconservative ideologues who prate about how they want to “liberate” Iraq and export “democracy” to the Middle East at gunpoint. Instead, the U.S. is exporting thousands of people whose dreams of freedom have been smashed by pitiless bureaucrats. The INS is sending them back to spread the story of how they were betrayed, how Americans are lying hypocrites who hate all Middle Easterners é except Israelis é and single them out for abuse.
So much for those ads the U.S. bought on Arab television worldwide, depicting happy Arab immigrants without a care in the world. Nobody believed them, anyway. But what’s up with the deliberate cruelty of luring Arabs to this country with such bait as Radio Sawa, which entices the Middle Eastern masses with the careless hedonism of Madonna and the siren song of Western prosperity, only to imprison and deport them when they take the bait?
Mr. Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com