No: Should the United States provide military and financial support to the state of Israel?
Billy McMahon | Monday, September 8, 2014
Editor’s Note: This column is part of a special Viewpoint Debate which asks the question, “Should the United States provide military and financial support to the state of Israel?” To read the column that answers “yes” to this question, read Tim Scanlan’s accompanying article.
In the past two months, the state of Israel has dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza strip, killing in excess of 2,000 people, most of them civilians. A ceasefire agreement has been reached, but given Israel’s chronic violation of the similar 2012 ceasefire through its continued blockade of Gaza, there is no hope for lasting peace.
Meanwhile, the 2014 U.S. budget allotted $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel. The United States vetoes every U.N. Security Council resolution against Israel and threatens any who would intervene. Every bomb that is dropped, every school that is destroyed, every civilian that is killed is as much the work of the United States as it is of Israel.
Israel and the United States use the promise of the “peace process” to denounce any Palestinian who would use violence in pursuit of liberation. This is the crime of Hamas, we are told. Palestine’s land is occupied, its people are starved, Israel disgraces the very ceasefire it signed, but to lift a gun or to fire a rocket is criminal. This position is a disease even amongst Americans who consider themselves pro-Palestine. Peaceful protest is touted as the answer, while “militant” sounds uncomfortably close to “terrorist.”
But that is no answer. Should the Palestinians take the words of Gandhi, who said that when faced with the Holocaust, the Jews should have thrown themselves from cliffs in order to draw the world’s attention? Or are some things are worth fighting for? Violent resistance against oppression is no crime — occupation is the crime.
Look to South Africa to see how these types of regimes fall. The CIA aided in capturing Nelson Mandela, the “violent terrorist,” but his militants continued to fight. The international boycott of South Africa applied useful pressure, but the armed rebels were the existential threat that forced the elite’s hand. In 1991, Mandela himself gave credit to Cuba’s military defeat of South Africa for “destroy[ing] the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor” and making his release possible. Protest and boycott is useful, but some oppressors must be shot.
Another favorite tactic of Israel is to stress the Islamist extremism of Hamas. Yet those who wish to resist will join whoever is doing so, regardless of ideology. Who could take the place of Hamas? Fatah is moderate and secular, but it has staked everything on the peace process. Every time Israel delays a solution, it discredits Fatah more and more. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) champions workers’ and women’s rights, but campaigns by the U.S. and Britain to destroy the Middle Eastern left have marginalized the group. We don’t have to support Hamas’s ideology, but its right to stand up to Israel must be recognized.
The United States arms Israel while trying to broker a two-state solution through the peace process. But the two-state solution is dead, and Israel killed it. Every day, more Palestinian land is seized and given to Israeli settlers, in order to break up a cohesive Palestinian homeland in the West Bank. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir denied the very right of Palestinians to exist as a people by saying, “There were no such thing as Palestinians [when Israel was established] … They did not exist.” By killing Palestinians and destroying Palestine itself, Israel is committed to nothing less than genocide.
Not three weeks ago, Israeli Major-General Giora Eiland called for starving Gaza into submission, a tactic that the U.S. has denounced as a war crime in Syria. A 2008 Israeli military document revealed the military’s plan to limit Gaza’s food intake to 2279 calories per person per day. For reference, the average calorie intake in Israel is 3540/day, while in North Korea, a country denounced for starving its people, it is 2150/day.
As Israel and Egypt, with heavy U.S. support, destroy the tunnels that act as lifelines for Gazans, we can see the horrors of the blockade in the malnutrition of Gaza’s people. Here is a driving factor of conflict — profound economic inequality. Common Israelis are enticed into joining settlements with the promise of land and wealth and told to blame their woes on the enemy. Dispossessed Palestinians have nothing to lose in joining the fight. For lasting peace, wealth cannot be concentrated at the top, nor across a border.
Will the United States break the blockade, or force Israel’s hand? No. But if it stops the military aid and holds back its veto in the U.N. Security Council, then the rest of the world can work toward a solution, whether that’s an independent Palestine or a unified binational state.
Supporters of Israel claim the U.S. needs it as an ally in the region. This was the rationale for supporting right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, and now the region is filled with anti-imperialist leftist governments.
Injustice cannot last forever, and when the walls come tumbling down, the world will remember who stood for liberation and who stood for oppression.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.