Sunday, February 1
Palestine and the Anti-War Movement
By LEE SUSTAR, Counterpunch, Jan 31/February 1, 2004
Should the antiwar movement take up the question of Palestine?
Or, to put the question another way, can the movement oppose one element of U.S. domination of the Middle East, the occupation of Iraq, while ignoring the other--the increasingly savage Israeli occupation of Palestine that's funded, armed and politically supported by Washington?
Founded by mainly European Jewish settlers, known as Zionists, in British-controlled Palestine in 1948, Israel was based on the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians through killing and terror, including massacres of entire villages. Jews, who owned 6 percent of the land in 1947, established their state on land that was 94 percent owned, farmed and used by Palestinians.
Israeli historian Benny Morris, whose research has uncovered a series of Israeli massacres in 1948, recently declared that "from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them...Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians."
The Zionists, who justified their demand for a Jewish state by pointing to the horrors of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, created Israel through the oppression of another people. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel seized more territory, and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived under Israeli military occupation ever since. Some 2,200 settlers gained control of 40 percent of the land in Gaza; in the West Bank, 55 percent of the land and 70 percent of the water was seized for Jewish settlers.
* * *
ISRAEL COULD never have come into existence without the backing of imperialist powers. The Israeli newspaper Ha1aretz made this point in 1951: "Israel is to become the watchdog... if for any reasons the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy to the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible."
We saw this dynamic in October, when Syria--already under pressure from Washington in its so-called "war on terrorism"--was hit with Israeli bombs and missiles just 10 miles from the capital city of Damascus. George W. Bush's response: "Israel's got a right to defend herself."
This was only the latest example of a double standard whereby the U.S. bombs Iraq supposedly for violating United Nations (UN) resolutions, but supports Israel's continued violation of them. Israel is also exempt from Bush's drive to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons.