Mohamed Khodr’s Column
The suicide bombing in Tel Aviv killing 17 Israelis and injuring dozens (June 1) is another tragic loss of life in the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israeli’s. The nine month Intifadah began the day after Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to Islam’s Haram Al-Sharif mosque in Jerusalem on September 28, 2000 when the next day Palestinians protesting his visit threw stones at armed police who then killed five Palestinians and injured others. For the next three months Palestinians protested with only stones while Israel used live ammunition to kill Palestinian youths. For three months the world was silent as long as Palestinians, not Israeli’s, died.
As a physician in training in Beirut in 1982, I experienced first hand Sharon’s indiscriminate shelling of the city from land, sea, and air. He even turned the water off to see the city burn. Sharon’s overwhelming modern weapons in his siege of Beirut as in his siege of the occupied territories were Made in America courtesy of the American taxpayer.
As a nation we’re constantly bombarded by overwhelming media pictures and stories of the “deaths du jour” in this conflict, especially of Israeli’s. As I watched CNN and MSNBC show the footage of the horrific carnage in Tel Aviv over and over, I wondered why such exhaustive coverage isn’t shown when Palestinians are the victims. The answer must be that either Palestinians lives are insignificant and thus not worthy of coverage or someone in power makes the deliberate decision not to cover the overwhelming losses of a people under a brutal Israeli occupation to protect Israel’s “civilized, democratic image.” Both explanations are racist and prejudicial. The untold story of this Intifadah is that Palestinians are resisting a brutal occupation by a regional superpower, supported by American money, weapons (F-16’s), and U.N. vetoes.
On June 4, 1967, a day before the 1967 war, there were no Palestinian suicide bombers, no drive by shootings, no illegal settlements, no house demolitions, no uprooted olive trees, no bypass roads, no checkpoints, no deprivation of food and medicines, no closure of schools, no assassinations by Apache helicopters, no defiance by Israel of dozens of UN Resolutions, no embarrassing American vetoes, no Yum Kippur war, no oil embargo, no fabricated wedge between America and the Islamic world, no loss of American lives and credibility. All of this and more began on June 5, 1967 when Israel attacked the Arabs. Ezer Weizman, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Moshe Dayan have all gone on record that Israel faced no Arab threat in 1967 but that Israel decided to launch a preemptive attack simply for territorial gain.
Americans hold the media in low esteem and many instinctively know that they’re only getting one side of this conflict, the Israeli side. Americans are admittedly uninformed on the Middle East and Islam but upon hearing the factual truth of this conflict their sense of outrage at the media and government becomes apparent. Thanks to the Internet that bypasses agendas and lobbies, Americans are learning of Israel’s history and our supporting role in its aggressions. As Bob Dylan said: “The Times, they are a changing.” When it comes to the Middle East, Americans must ask themselves: Are we leading or being led? The obvious answer when it comes to our foreign policy in the Middle East is that America is being led to a perilous path by a small powerful, influential, rich Jewish Lobby more loyal to Israel than they are to America and its national interests. As long as this lobby owns, controls, and intimidates our media, Americans will be deprived of the truth about the conflict, as well as deprived of their money in support of the killing machine of Israel.
History will judge our nation poorly for our role vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will show that despite our lofty democratic values of freedom, peace, and prosperity, our Pro-Israel policy in the region will forever be our Achilles Hell veiled with hypocrisy and double standards. Our nation was founded upon resistance to tyranny and occupation. Just like us, the Palestinians want their own “Declaration of Independence” from Israel’s occupation.
How many Israeli’s and Palestinians must die before we and the world do the right thing? We launched the Persian Gulf war for oil but are silent at the death of Israeli and Palestinian children. Without us they have no option but war, media spins, and blame games. With our forceful balanced involvement they have hope for peace. Bush and Powell can’t remain aloof from the daily killing in this conflict, especially of Palestinian civilians on the receiving end of America’s latest weaponry in the hands of Israel’s army and Settlers who see no value in the life of a Palestinian child, only to surface when politically motivated to condemn Arafat while letting Israel off the hook for domestic considerations. Is Powell capable of fighting for life as he was in “killing it”?
Sharon will surely and massively retaliate for this latest bombing. In fact given Israel’s unrelenting blame on Arafat for all acts of terrorism it’s not surprising that Israel may assassinate or expel him. Israel’s daily media campaign to label, chastise, curse, and demonize Arafat can only be a buildup to his ‘liquidation”. As usual according to Israel’s logic, they were forced to kill him to defend their citizens. For decades Israel has assassinated all of Arafat’s moderate aides around the world. If Arafat should be killed, Israel’s peace partner will be Sheikh Yassin of Hamas. America’s support of Israel emboldens its illegal occupation which emboldens Palestinian resistance.
America must muster the courage to enforce the only viable peace plan available, U.N. Resolution 242, adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council adopted November 22, 1967 which the Arabs, Israel and the PLO accepted. It clearly calls for Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in its pre-emptive attack in 1967. That means the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights; no ifs and buts. Adopting 242, “two states for two people”, is the ONLY guarantee of peace and security for Israel and the region. The US and UN should call a “242 International Conference” of all parties concerned and impose if necessary such a solution. If Israel accepts, the entire Arab and Muslim countries should immediately establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Until this day no one, not Israel, not America, not even the rest of the world have come up with a logical explanation as to why Israel, the world’s most powerful “Rogue”, should not implement U.N. Resolution 242 and bring peace to the Holy Land. For 34 years Israel, with America’s support, has lied, misrepresented, misinterpreted, manipulated, massaged, and maliciously delayed implementing this resolution; all the while it confiscates more Palestinian land, demolishes more homes, builds more settlements and roads, buys Jewish settlers to settle illegally in Palestinian land, and evicts, kills, or imprisons Palestinians standing its way. This is “Justice, the American Way.” Perhaps someday the Palestinians can nourish their remaining Olive Trees with “water” and not with “blood.”
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.