Defying a U.S. request, Egypt declined to condemn a suicide bombing that killed eight Israelis on Wednesday and instead said Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation was justified.
I’ll bet the Bush Administration nearly fell over backwards when they heard this reply. As a matter of fact, I almost did myself, considering Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid. But you know what? I was delighted with Egypt’s response. Don’t get me wrong. In no way do I condone suicide bombings. I don’t condone them anymore than I condone missile strikes in Palestinian villages and refugee camps that kill innocent men, women, and children. I don’t condone them anymore than I condone Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes that leave thousands of innocent children homeless. I don’t condone them anymore than I condone the hundreds of human rights violations committed by the Israeli government in their brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.
When Palestinian suicide bombers strike, it seems that the United States is the first to condemn these acts and demands all other countries to do the same. Yet when the Israeli government commits over 100 political suicides killing numerous women and children in the process, the United States makes no response. When Israeli troops kill 3 teenage boys with a tank shell only because they “looked suspicious,” the United States says nothing. But just let one suicide bomber kill innocent Israelis and George Bush, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice, are in a foot race to be the first one at the microphone on the White House lawn to condemn these “inexcusable acts.”
What about the 3 Palestinian teenage boys killed while walking to a friends house only because they looked suspicious? Or what about the pregnant mother and her unborn child who never survived the trip to the hospital because of unending road blocks and checkpoints? Do you call these “excusable” acts? Just last week in this latest Israeli incursion into Palestinian villages and refugee camps a group of Palestinian policemen were captured by Israeli soldiers, disarmed, made to kneel in a hallway, and then shot to death. These men were not terrorists; they were Palestinian policemen who were rounded up by Ariel Sharon’s soldiers and murdered in cold blood. Why haven’t we heard President Bush demand an explanation from the Israelis? Why haven’t we heard Colin Powell or Condolezza Rice condemn these bloody acts. Do they not consider them “inexcusable?” Why is it that only Israelis who are killed by Palestinian suicide bombers get responses from the White House? And what about our Congressmen and women? Seems that they can’t wait to condemn the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat anytime a suicide bomber strikes but, God forbid, if they would consider condemning Ariel Sharon. Just today, Representative Tom Lantos of California, ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, was pushing for a vote on a resolution expressing support for Israel, and Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, had a bill to designate the Palestine Liberation Organization a terrorist group. These are the same senators who have accused the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat for initiating and encouraging Palestinians in this 19 month old intifada. Maybe someone should send them a copy of Amnesty International’s 1999 Report on Israel and the Occupied Territories. This report was written months before the intifada and months before the suicide attacks.
It wasn’t Yasser Arafat or the Palestinian Authority that sparked the intifada; it was the oppressive humiliation and brutal occupation of the Israeli government. According to Amnesty International, “the Israeli authorities have demolished at least 2,650 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. As a result 16,700 Palestinians (including 7,300 children) have lost their homes.” Did we ever hear Tom Lantos or Dianne Feinstein ever condemn these brutal acts. Can you imagine what they would have done if Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority demolished just one Jewish home, let alone 2650? Maybe someone should remind these Israeli parrots that Yasser Arafat is a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and Ariel Sharon is about to go on trial in the Belgium Courts for “war crimes.”
Even before this latest military incursion by the Israeli military that has left more than 500 Palestinians dead, some 400 Israeli army reservists had begun to question the relentlessness of the military tactics against a largely impoverished civilian population. It’s time for the United States to do the same. History has proven that a continued blind eye to Israeli violence have led to nothing more than cloaking the continuing oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people in new robes. The ongoing bloodshed on both sides is more than a far away tragedy. Our tax dollars have financed Israel’s continued violation of human rights and the violence will continue until Washington’s stranglehold by Jewish interest groups is finally lifted. A just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be achieved if U.S. policy is based upon American moral principles and a strict adherence to international law, which run counter to the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of basic rights of freedom to Palestinians under Israeli military rule.
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 nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.