April 9 marks the 69 anniversary of the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre of more than 120 peaceful Palestinian in a village of 600 by Zionist paramilitary forces. Deir Yassin has come to symbolize the many acts of terror that forced 800,000 Palestinians, 80 percent of the population at that time, from their homes so that Israel, a colonialist settler state, could be created on Palestinian land.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, said, “The old will die and the young will forget.” But the old did not die, they passed on their history. The young did not forget, they grew strong by fighting back.
The Palestinian struggle has risen anew from the ashes of every bombing and the bones of every massacre. Sixty-nine year later, wherever they are, Palestinian people are still fighting to return to their homeland. Their voices can be heard from the refugee camps of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, to the towns of the West Bank and Gaza, to the ghettos inside the Israeli green line. This determination and resilience has earned them respect and support of an increasing number of people around the world.
Israel is continued to take Palestinian land. It bombs and massacres Palestinians, destroy their villages, starves them, restrict their movements, and jails or assassinates their leaders. But today Zionism stands exposed. Facebook videos that anyone can access show Israeli soldiers on the West Bank shooting, beating and terrorizing men, women and children.
Claims that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East,” that Palestinians fighting for their rights are “terrorists,” and supporters of Palestine are “anti-Semitic” ring hollow. Worldwide, many Jewish people oppose Israeli policy and have joined the fight against the occupation and against Islamaphobia.
Today, inspired by Palestinian steadfastness, and appalled by Israeli state terror, a new generation of activists support Palestinian rights through a worldwide campaign of political, economic, cultural and economic boycott. These are the same tactics that brought down South African apartheid. Israeli and imperialist governments are fighting this movement tooth and nail, but are unable to stop its growth.
The stinging indictment of Israel we never heard about
The latest attack on Palestinian national liberation took place in the United Nations. A groundbreaking UN report documenting Israeli apartheid against Palestinians was released on March 16, only to be suppressed a few days later at the behest of the U.S.
Coupling the Israeli regime with apartheid, a policy of segregation and discrimination by race, is not new. In 2012, Baleka Mbete, National Chairperson of the African National Congress called the Israeli regime “far worse than apartheid South Africa.” In his life time, Nelson Mandela often compared Israel to South African apartheid.
What is new about the report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia is that 1) its findings were based upon a detailed analysis of Israeli legislation, policies and practices using the criteria of international law; 2) it found Israel practiced apartheid against all Palestinians everywhere: 3) it defined these practices as a “crime against humanity” second only in severity to genocide. Governments, institutions, individuals and UN bodies are urged to end this crime
The document decries the Israeli “strategic fragmentation’ of the Palestinian people into separate territorial units and legal regimes—as citizens with limited rights within Israel, as stateless persons in the West Bank and Gaza, as “permanent residents” in East Jerusalem, or as refugees and exiles with no right of return “as the principle method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.”.
The U.S. and Israel immediately demanded the report’s withdrawal, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres disavowed it. Rather than withdraw the report, committee head Rima Khalaf resigned. The UN has removed the report from its web site. But the cat had already been let out of the bag. The information gathered here will not go away.
This is not the first time that the U.S. had quashed a UN indictment of Israel. Since 1970 the U.S. has vetoed 44 Security Council resolutions that condemned Israel, and scuttled hundreds of UN documents detailing Palestinian oppression. This goes against the will of the majority of the world’s governments, since 140 recognize a Palestinian state.
Progressive change will not be come from the lofty halls of the UN. Palestinian rights will be won by the struggle of the Palestinian people in the streets, and by the grass roots solidarity they receive.
U.S. a partner in Israeli apartheid
This is not the only way that Washington supports Tel Aviv. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid–$254 billion (in 2016 dollars) — since World War II. With a population no bigger than that of New York City, Israel is now the 8th most powerful country in the world.
There is no altruism in this largess. This strategic alliance with Israel is crucial to U.S. domination of the oil-rich Middle East and maintaining the U.S. empire. In the words of former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Israel is the Pentagon’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” Its guns are aimed at the Arab people.
This is why the Obama administration increased military to aid to an unprecedented $38 billion over 10 years, and why, when Trump slashed funds for foreign aid, money to Israel remained untouched.
For decades the U.S. has supplied the weapons the Israeli military uses to suppress oppress and kill Palestinians. This makes Washington a partner in Israeli apartheid.
US ‘peace’ brokering a cover for Israeli aggression
An examination of the so-called “peace process” reveals Washington’s partnership in Israeli apartheid is also political.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, every U.S. administration, Republican and Democrat, has mediated Palestinian-Israeli talks on implementing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Rather than a “mediator” it might be more accurate to describe the U.S. role as Henry Kissinger once did—“Israel’s lawyer.”
Washington claims it is “helpless” to resolve tensions between two groups at each other’s throats for millennia. The “peace” talks are really meant to stall, and go nowhere. They hide ongoing Israeli land theft and repression meant to make a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories impossible.
Gaza was to have an international airport, and a corridor connecting it to the West Bank. Instead, Israel used its U.S. arsenal for massive bombardments of Gaza in 2008-9 and 2014, targeting homes and hospitals. Gaza, only 140 square miles is severely overcrowded with 1.8 million people, most of them refugees. It is without natural resources, including water. It has been embargoed and blockaded since 2007, denied essential medicine and construction materials to re-build homes. Its population is held prisoner, unable to leave.
The 2,000 square mile West Bank is the size of Delaware. Here, Israel is squeezing 2.6 million Palestinians into an ever-smaller spaces, making a contiguous viable Palestinian state impossible. A map of the borders where Palestinians still maintain some control looks like Swiss cheese with the Palestinians getting the holes.
There are 98 fixed physical obstructions in the West Bank, and temporary obstructions averaged 358 a month in 2014. Palestinians die and give birth waiting to get through. Vehicles are not permitted through, even for emergencies. Some 37 miles of roads are forbidden to Palestinians.
A wall which will be 440 miles in length when completed and up to 26 feet high twists through the West Bank, dividing town, separating farmers from fields and water sources (Israel control over 80 percent of the water on the West Bank) and destroying Palestinian social structure and economy.
The population is constantly harassed by Israeli soldiers. Some 40 percent of the men on the West Bank have been arrested, and 99 percent of the Palestinian cases in Israel’s military court end in convictions.
Israeli land theft is accelerating. More West Bank Palestinian homes were demolished in 2016 than in the last decade. Some 600,000 Jewish Israelis live in government-subsidized settlements there–1 out of 10 Israelis. Since Donald Trump became president, Israel has approved the construction of over 6,000 settlement units.
While most settlements are sprawling housing complexes, those in East Jerusalem and Hebron exist between Palestinian homes, and sometimes in the same buildings. These settlers rain down human excrement on Palestinian families, beat them up, shoot and even kill them with government-supplied weapons. They slap Palestinian children in the face on the street.
Israeli terrorist settlers born in USA
The most vehemently racist and confrontational settlers are likely to be U.S. citizens from Long Island, California and Miami. These people are in Israel because of the apartheid “right of return” law, which states that Jewish people anywhere in the world can become Israeli citizens, but Palestinians who have historic claim to the land cannot.
U.S. money pays for these settlements. Washington permits Zionist groups to raise money here tax free as 501 (c)(3) non-profits. From 2009-2013 more than $200 million of such funds has gone to West Bank settlements, including terrorist settlers in Hebron and East Jerusalem.
In February, in a chaotic news conference, Donald Trump appeared to abandon the “two-state solution.” Most progressives feel that it has already been killed by Israel, the U.S. and the “peace process.” While Trump is much more openly pro-settlement than recent presidents, many feel he has parted the curtain and revealed what has been going on behind the scenes all along.
For example, relations between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were described in the media as acrimonious based upon Obama’s disagreement with Israeli’s settlement policy. However, documents supplied by Edward Snowden, and published by Wikileaks in 2014, reveal that at the very same time, the National Security Agency-provided surveillance equipment for Israel to spy on Palestinians, and covert U.S. support included giving Israel access to secret stockpiles of US weaponry.
Obama was no “helpless bystander.” The U.S. is directly and indispensably involved in Israeli aggression. Israeli assaults in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere world be impossible without the constant, generous support and protection of the United States.
In order for the Palestinian people to get their rights, all U.S. aid to Israel, overt and covert, must be stopped.
69 years after Deir Yassin, solidarity with Palestine growing
Today, 69 years after Deir Yassin, there are Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts on every continent . This movement began with a call from 170 Palestinian civil groups to globally isolate Israel until it allows Palestinian to return, grants equal rights for Palestinians, and ends the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Last year the BDS movement compelled the major multinationals Orange and CHS to abandon projects that infringe on Palestinian rights, and won support for the right to boycott for Palestinian rights from the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Netherlands and Ireland, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and hundreds of political parties, trade unions and social movements across the world.
Today tens of city councils, in Spain, Norway and France have declared “Israeli apartheid free zones.” Dublin’s City Council just announced it will fly the Palestinian flag over city hall all for a month in solidarity with Palestine.
In the U.S., the city of Portland, Oregon, endorsed divesting from Caterpillar. The March 8 women’s strike called for the decolonization of Palestine, and the Movement for Black Lives endorsed BDS as part of its platform. Struggles are being waged on campus around the country to get universities to divest from corporations that benefit from Israeli apartheid.
Unable to justify the horrors and humiliations of its occupation, Israel and its backers are fighting BDS with repressive legislation. Israel recently passed a law barring entry to foreigners supporting BDS. Some 16 U.S states have passed anti-BDS legislation. These measures may hurt the solidarity movement, but they also reveal that BDS is hurting Israel.
Sixty-nine years after Deir Yassin, the Palestinian people have shown the world that beatings and bombings cannot kill their struggle. It will not be outlawed either.
(By Joyce Chediac)