Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why should Americans care what Israel does?

Israel is one of many countries in the world. Why should I pick it out for special attention by Americans?

It is because Israel is treated in a unique way by the United States. As mentioned in my first post, no other country in the world gets a free pass regardless of what it does. No other country gets the funding from the U.S. that Israel receives without any quid pro quo.

Vibrant as it is for those acceptable as citizens, Israel is by no means the kind of country that the U.S. is, claims that both are democracies notwithstanding. We would never tolerate for a moment what is practiced over there. But we pay for it to keep happening and THAT is why all Americans should be outraged.

The United States has no business supporting a country that claims special privileges for one group of people, that flouts the international laws on human rights to which both it and the U.S. are signatories and most important of all, that deliberately oppresses an entire group of people, not only threatening them with loss of property but also injury, loss of life, arbitrary imprisonment, eviction, restraints on movement and location of residence.

The lack of a uniform system of justice for both Israelis and Palestinians is the single most flagrant example of what many are calling apartheid. A civil court system exists for Israelis though they settle outside of Israel, while the Palestinians in the occupied territories are subject to the justice of military courts of the Israeli Defense Forces. How is this the rule of law? How is this equal protection under the law? It's incredible but true and we Americans support it, though we would justifiably take to the streets if it were attempted in the United States.

Older Americans may recall the terrible situation in Little Rock, Arkansas when it was necessary to send in federal troops in order to gain access to all-white schools by African-American children. This was a period in our history of which we are rightly ashamed. So also are we ashamed of the treatment of Native-Americans who were swept from their land in the 19th century. But we have learned from these bad times for minorities that there must be equal treatment under a common law for everyone.

So why do we "stand with" a country that engages in discrimination without apology? Democracy exits in Israel for Jews and a representation of Palestinians (20% of Israelis) who have been granted citizenship - always to be a minority that can be controlled by the majority in a Jewish state. Read about how a Palestinian member of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) was treated recently. This harks back to the beating of Senator Charles Sumner in the pre-Civil War Congress of 1856. How is this something that Americans can bankroll?

Too many Americans are ignorant of the history of their own country, so it's not surprising that they know little of what happens, or has happened in Israel. Don't let yourself be one like I was! Expect, demand an explanation from your government for why your hard-earned money is being shipped to one country in large amounts. That link is from 2007, but nothing has improved as you can find out at If Americans Knew. Check out this interactive map of the United States that will tell you how much money your state is sending to Israel for the period from 2009 to 2018 (wait for the U.S. map to appear then click on your state).

So your money goes to a country that practices what the United States would, were it any other country but Israel, condemn. I'm sick of this situation, and it's been going on like clockwork for decades. How about you?

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