Representative Richard Armey, the House Majority Leader, a Texas Republican whose views are usually aligned with the White House, is publicly calling for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Appearing as a guest on MSNBC’s HardBall with Chris Matthews, he repeatedly emphasized that his solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was to forcibly remove the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. He suggested that they can be moved to a state carved out of neighboring Arab countries. Chris Matthews pressed him on the point to be sure that Armey had no wiggle room for later retraction. The full transcript of the show is a must read for any citizen concerned about the lunatic fringe who rule the roost in Congress.
Armey’s views are now considered polite conversation in Washington. Tom DeLay, the Majority Whip, publicly shares the same views. While the Israel Firsters in congress usually make an effort to hide their expultionist agenda, they have long made common cause with extremist right wing Likudniks. A week short of Sharon’s visit to the White House, they are making a point of publicly contesting the ‘official’ Bush administration position advocating a two state solution.
Expulsion of a native people from their homeland is an international war crime. It is the same international war crime that the Serbs attempted in Kosovo. The Serb engineers behind that chapter of ‘social experimentation’ are now facing criminal charges in the Hague. Perhaps the State Department should brief House members on the ‘chain of command’ concept.
America will not soon cleanse its House of the ethnic cleansers who make no bones about rallying around a serial war criminal like Sharon. Whatever the personal temperament of the President on this issue, he cannot avoid but cave in to the advice of the Republican leadership in the House, especially when so many ‘liberal’ Democrats like Tom Lantos of California are on the same wagon.
Armey’s bigotry is appalling but all too common in the halls of Congress. When it comes to Palestinian bashing, there is no place on earth as tolerant to the repression of the Palestinians as the House. It is good for campaign donations. Besides, the open appeal to bigots is as American as apple pie.
It is not as if the Israeli expulsionist and their Jewish Lobby advocates need any convincing on the matter of ‘transporting’ the Palestinians. I am sure Armey and his pals will try to work out contract arrangements with Grey Hound, Amtrak or the IDF. Armey’s racist views are shared by half the Israeli public, according to a recent survey by the Jaffe Institute for Strategic Studies. So, there is a real danger that Israelis will take such Congressional backing as a green light to submit to their darkest political fantasies.
Armey is but one of hundreds of Congressmen and Senators who would condemn the Palestinians to suffer a second Nakba. These wicked anti-Palestinian vibes are standard fare among a political class that constantly clamors to get attention from a very generous Israeli Lobby. In all fairness, it should be noted that many Israelis are quite disgusted by Armey’s views and understand that his hate for the Palestinians does not automatically translate into love for Israelis or Jews. For folks like Armey and Tom DeLay, the expulsion of the Palestinians translates into a divine sign that the ‘end is near.’ Its a Bible belt thing you need to understand. By their estimation, sparing the Palestinians from the brutal Israeli rod would just postpone Armageddon. Now, who would want to delay a thing like that?
In what has to be one of the major journalistic scoops of 2002, Chris Matthews made sure that Armey repeated his demonic views over and over again. The full transcript of this show is a must read for every American, every Palestinian, every Israeli, every Arab, every European, every Jew, every Christian, every Muslim, every Texan and every person of color. It is an essential document that will help explain the riddle of America’s anti-Palestinian policies. Every decent human being on the planet concerned with issues of peace and justice should know the wicked heart of Richard Armey and his willing collaborators on the hill.
I am no rocket scientist. But, I bet not a single Congressman or Senator will call this bigot to the floor. And the ugly reason is that our governors are quite comfortable with the idea of ‘transferring’ the Palestinians from the last patch of Palestine they can claim for a homeland. I bet the New York Times and The Washington Post will pretend they didn’t hear what Richard Armey said to Chris Matthews. I can guarantee that our ‘liberal’ media will not make an issue of his racist plan for disposing of three million Palestinian ‘problems’. I bet in private conversation, the Texan Armey brigades whisper about expelling Mexican-Americans and sending Arab-Americans and African-Americans ‘back where they came from.’ If Armey is so comfortable with advocating the expulsion of the Palestinian natives of the Holy Land, I am sure he would lose no sleep over throwing out Asian Americans from these United States. Scratch a bigot on foreign policy and you will find a foul-mouthed bigot of a very domestic variety.
There is no cure for what ails the heart of the majority leader of the House or his fellow travelers. But the world and the Palestinians must be made aware that American policy towards the Palestinians is not cut out of clean cloth. It comes from the dark hearts of men who wish to inflict even greater evils on the Palestinians. Learn Armey’s words by heart and you will know the heart of Congress. It would be a mistake to confuse it with the heart of America. But it would be a fatal mistake to ignore that men like Armey are very much involved in engineering a ‘future for the Palestinians’. If you thought Sharon was an extremist, get to know Richard Armey, America’s very own Likudnik.
Here is just part of Richard Armey’s exchange with Chris Matthews on HardBall (May 1, 2002):
The exchange between Matthews and Armey started out innocently enough on why a House resolution was needed to support Israel, when America was supposedly trying to be an evenhanded third party. Armey responded that it was necessary because the Congress had a ‘moral obligation’ to ‘the safety, security and freedom of Israel.’ It was the standard endorsement of Sharon’s war crimes that is now quite the fashion on the hill. It is no secret that the Republican party is making a major play for a permanent realignment of American Jewish support and the Democrats are desperately worried about losing major financial backers from the Jewish Lobby. No indecent American politician is going to let the repression of the Palestinians get in the way of properly financing their war chests.
Matthews went on to ask Armey if he supported the idea of a Palestinian State besides Israel. Armey’s initial evasive response was that he was ‘content’ to have a Palestinian State ‘near Israel.’ So Matthews pressed the point and asked him bluntly “Where are you going to put the Palestinian State? in Norway?”. Armey’s response was that the Arab states have hundreds of thousands of acres of “land and soil and property” and went on to state that Israel should “occupy and hold the land it has at this moment.” In affirmation of views earlier expressed by Rep. DeLay, another Republican Texan power player, he allowed that he was “content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank.” Sharon has deliberately sabotaged the Oslo accords to annex half the West Bank, but Armey has a more vicious design. Complete annexation and full expulsion. A ‘final solution’ for the Palestinians, courtesy of the House.
Armey had this bit of logic to impart to his MSNBC audience: “Most of the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world and made it their home. The Palestinians can do the same.” So, according to Armey, the original sin of exiling the Palestinians in 1948 is a good enough reason to conduct another round of ethnic cleansing.
Chris Matthews asked Richard Armey, point blank, if he thought the Palestinians should be ‘kicked out.’ Armey responded that, the Palestinians, who Armey refers to as “those people” and “the aggressors,” should be “retired to some other Arena.” His advice to the neighboring Arab states is to “get together, find some land and make a home for the Palestinians. I think it can be done.” Just like Milosovic thought it “could be done”.
Chris Matthews wanted to make sure he heard Armey correctly and asked him “So, you think the Palestinians should get up and go and leave Palestine? Have you talked about this to the President?”. And Armey’s response was “I am telling him now.” Earlier in the day, Armey had a breakfast meeting with Bush to discuss this very matter. If the President doesn’t bother to respond to Armey and Tom DeLay, bet your last dollar he is willing to accommodate their ‘vision’ for a Palestinian state.
Matthews went to great lengths to give Armey an opportunity for retreat. He asked him pretty much the same question, a dozen times, and got pretty much the same answer. But just to nail down the point he asked him “Just to repeat, you believe that the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?” Armey’s response was an emphatic “Yes.”
One can have a more intelligent discourse on the subject with a tree stub, but that is not the point. Armey’s vicious plans for the Palestinians are shared by a majority of his party, a majority of the Democrats, as well as by many in the ‘mainstream’ media. This reality will not change anytime soon. It is time for both the American public and the world community, especially the Europeans and the Arabs, to realize that America’s governors are only capable of obstructing a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. When two major American politicians, from the President’s party, after a breakfast party with the President, come out and publicly endorse the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. When the American government gives a green light to yet another Israeli invasion and allows Sharon to defy a United Nations resolution to investigate war crimes in Jenin. When Netenyahu can stroll up to the Hill and command more attention than the President. When campaign financing comes at the cost of endorsing the mass expulsion of the native people of the Holy Land. When these things are done and said out in the open, while the Church of the Nativity burns. When America frets about Le Pen’s dismal chances in France but does not concern itself with a horde of Le Pens in Washington. We got troubles right here in these United States, right here in our very own Congress. This coming election, let us resolve to clean our own House of ethnic cleansers.
Before the Palestinians negotiate with Israel, they should first negotiate a firm anti-expulsion treaty with the United States and insist that it be ratified by Congress. If America cannot commit to a Palestinian right of return, it must, at the very minimum, make an ironclad commitment to the right of the Palestinians to remain in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Expulsionist like Armey need to be constrained before they make all Americans complicit in a crime against humanity.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).