Talk Big and Wag Your Finger

On Monday, October 22, 2001 an international appeal was made for an immediate end of the Israeli occupation of Bethlehem and surrounding Palestinian towns, where brutal force and absolute tyranny had reigned for five days.

Coincidentally (?), on the night of Monday, October 22, the Bush administration issued a harsh warning to Israel to permanently end the occupation. From a written statement, State Department spokesman Phil Reeker said, “Israeli Defense Forces should be withdrawn immediately from all Palestinian controlled areas and no further incursions should be made.”

When I first read these words in the early morning hours of October 23, I was heartened. Finally, at least a semblance of balance would be restored. But as I continued to read the Washington article, “US to Israel: Get out now” by Janine Zacharia, I felt the now all too familiar bile rising in my throat. The international community demands a just peace in Palestine, so the United States government talks big and wags its finger at Israel. Consider excerpts from the article and see if you don’t agree.

“We deeply regret and deplore Israel Defense Forces actions that have killed numerous Palestinian civilians over the weekend. The deaths of those innocent civilians under the circumstances reported in recent days are unacceptable and we call upon Israel to ensure that its armed forces exercise greater discipline and restraint.” These brave words also came from Phil Reeker.

When Reeker mentions the circumstances under which innocent civilians were killed, could he be alluding diplomatically to the death of 19-year-old John Talgeya, who was gunned down in cold blood before he could say his prayers in front of the Nativity Church? Hmmm? Or perhaps he had in mind the little 10-year-old girl who was killed when an IDF tank shelled her fourth grade classroom from 10 meters? Or maybe he was thinking of the 22-year-old mother of two who was shot through the neck when she went out to buy milk for her children? Of course, I realize that our government must be careful in who we criticize when discussing the random killing of innocents, since we do it all the time, but still. C’mon. Call it like it is-cold-blooded murder, unacceptable under ANY circumstances.

And then there’s the second part of the sentence, calling on the IDF to exercise greater discipline and restraint. Greater??? That implies that they have any of either to begin with. And besides, which is it going to be? Get out now and stay out, or okay you can stay but try to behave yourselves? The world would prefer the former of course, but the latter is worse than throwing Christians to the lions and asking the lions not to eat them. The lions can be expected not to obey because they’re dumb animals. I’ll let you finish that thought for yourselves.

The article continues that “. . .sources in Jerusalem last night said that Israel has no intentions to withdraw immediately and that, following Ze’evi’s assassination, Israel is doing what any other nation would do in similar circumstances to protect its citizens.” I see. The Palestinians cannot defend their citizens from targeted assassinations, but the Israelis can. The Palestinians are not cavorting through Tel Aviv in armored tanks, shooting children in the head, murdering mothers who break the military curfew long enough to buy milk for their children, gunning down a deaf man who went out to buy bread for his family or shelling ancient, revered Christian churches and Muslim mosques. (Oh, sorry, I meant Temples. The previous two are not allowed in Israel.) No, the Palestinians are under 24 hour curfew and if a few brave men choose to take on armored tanks with ancient rifles, while futile, I have to admire their courage. But the Israelis call it terrorism and a threat to their citizens.

And then, the article dissolves into complete complacency. During meetings between government officials from both Israel and the US, with names like Rumsfeld, Burns, Shoval, Peres and Riedel, the focus turned to Arafat’s failure to round up the people responsible for Ze’evi’s assassination. That, together with what sounds like an unconditional surrender by the Palestinians, is the only way that Israel will end the occupation of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Kalkilya, Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. In one classic statement, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said that the US should “press Arafat to arrest the trouble makers.”  Excuse me. Didn’t big Daddy United States of America just issue an unconditional demand for the Israelis to withdraw and stay out forever? How did the negotiations slide back into the whining cesspool of demanding that the US do Israel’s bidding? Never mind. Don’t answer that question.

Finally, without belaboring the rest of the jingoistic, patently false, typically biased article, I would like to conclude with something that struck me as very odd and which might have some value.

During conversations, the article reports that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld thanked Peres for Israel’s support in the war on terrorism. Huh? Since when? If Rumsfeld is talking about a bunch of grown men riding around in tanks, decked out in the latest GI Joe uniforms with bullet proof vests, visored helmets and AK47’s who take delight in target practicing on fleeing children, I must misunderstand the meaning of terrorism. On the other hand, perhaps Israel has made some generous offer that we don’t know about yet. Perhaps they’re going to send some of our money back to us for our endless war on terrorism? Or better yet, since this is really their war, maybe some of those IDF guys would like to see some real action. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

I propose a night drop of IDF soldiers with all of their fancy gear into Afghanistan, the whole gang, right in the heart of the country. They’re touted as one of the world’s best fighting forces. Let’s let them show their stuff! Why should we sacrifice only our guys on the ground? The Afghanis aren’t under 24 hour military curfew-and they aren’t unarmed. Let the IDF play target practice with a few thousand guerilla fighters in impossible terrain, without their armored tanks and Apache helicopters. Let them scramble the way the Palestinian children do and know the fear of being out numbered, out gunned and out flanked. And let them fear our US bombs going astray and blowing them to smithereens.

That would be the end of our war on Afghanistan. We’d have to declare peace so that we could go in to rescue a bunch of grown men who would be wringing their hands, hiding behind rocks, crying that the Afghanis are anti-Semitic.

I know. It’s too good to be true. Just like any US administration, but especially that of King George IV, actually backing up a demand for Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories. We Americans need to start demanding, loudly and clearly, that we don’t want our precious, hard earned money going to Israel by the tens of billions so that heavily armed grown men can butcher women and children. That would bring peace and stability to the region once and for all. A bankrupt, corrupt bandit state cannot survive, and talking big and wagging a finger would no longer be necessary.