by Mariah Leung
Following the teapot tempest generated by Pacifica Forum’s hosting of the infamous Mark Weber, it’s time to return to matters of actual consequence.
My personal focus this year is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, knee-jerk support of which has been the primary source of terrorist motivation against the U.S. from the 1982 Beirut barracks bombing to 9/11. Two authoritative recent books by prominent scholars also identify pressure from Israel and the Israel lobby as definitive influences behind the Iraq War. Israel's relentless inhumanity and defiance of international law is well-known to the world outside the U.S., from whose citizens the truth has been concealed by a government-complicit media. In response to my question to Americans, "What was Al-Nakba?" I want the public to learn of the terrorism and Arab "catastrophe" through which Israel was established in 1948, and of the 59-year continuation of ethnic cleansing that has produced over 4 million Palestinian refugees and enraged the Arab, Muslim and wider worlds.
I both cry and get "cold chills" reading Israeli historian Ilan Pappe's account of village after Palestinian village brutally cleansed by the founders of the state of Israel, and knowing full well it continues to this day. Until we call these crimes by their true names, and acknowledge our own unprincipled military, diplomatic and financial support of them, we will never see a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. This interconnection between the Palestine problem and those of the entire Middle East was emphasized by James Baker's Iraq Study Group, and these are issues that CALC et al. refuse to acknowledge and address for unknown reasons, but reasons that cannot be justified by any organization seriously committed to peace.
Pacifica Forum members are keenly aware of the "progressive" community's blatant omission(s) and hypocrisy, and they become the only group to talk about "the Lobby," perhaps misusing it as a lead-in to murky racist agendas that feed on people's dark side. CALC, the "AHTF" and other peace affiliates were misguided and just plain wrong for a variety of reasons to have attacked Pacifica Forum with their signature ad, op-ed, and letters. This hurt many people. The unfairness of these actions, and knowing that American rabbis reported support for Israel as their No. 1 High Holy Day focus in 2006 after Israel unleashed a murderous and unjustified attack on Lebanon, helped the PF "white separatist" cabal sink in their heels and gain more influence in the group.
What happens? Pacifica Forum leans toward any source which criticizes Israel and Jews, and the progressive "peace" community hijacks the issue to concentrate on Holocaust and anti-Semitism education rather than the urgent and much more important anti-Arab genocides in Iraq and Palestine ongoing today.
With easy access to Internet information sources, it is no longer possible to deny the (continuing) atrocities committed against the Arab/Palestinian people. But the new taboo subject is Israel's massive West Bank land theft and bantustanization of Palestine that has made a viable two-state solution unfeasible. This leaves only the option of a single, unified, multiethnic democratic state in which a Jewish majority could not be assured. Abunimah, Halper and Tilley, as well as others, explain in detail how Israel has already effectively taken control over the whole place and describe a one-state model as the only realistic option. But despite his "facts on the ground" realism, Jeff Halper, a Jewish Noble Peace Prize nominee, said he is not allowed in some synagogues because he does not subscribe to the two-state solution. A single, sectarian state would require abandonment of the original "Zionist Project" conceptualized in the late 19th century which is, after all, a racist mode l not unlike Jim Crow in our own South or Apartheid in South Africa. But if Mississippi can outgrow it, so can Israel.
The time for a realistic two-state solution satisfactory to the Palestinians is long past, and continued fruitless discussion of it only buys time for Israel to establish more settlements and acts as a smokescreen to divert conversation from just and humane solutions that would incorporate refugees' right-of-return and establish a true democracy in Israel/Palestine.
Curiously, Jeff Halper appeared in Portland and as close to Eugene as Corvallis, but I did not recognize any of the usual Eugene progressive crowd there, nor any of the usual Pacifica Forum critics. Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jewish man who rebuilds bulldozed Palestinian homes, sometimes three and four times, is not worth driving 45 minutes to hear? And what mention does the progressive peace community give Rachel Corrie, the International Solidarity Movement worker from Olympia killed trying to prevent the bulldozing of one of the 18,000+ Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel since 1967?
I remain ever hopeful that the Eugene "peace and justice" community will become more aware of the formative history, grossly unbalanced power dynamics, and our own dysfunctional role in this problem, and the serious risks to our country by maintaining uncritical support of a long-ongoing injustice inflammatory to millions around the world.
May 30, 2005
Civilians suffer most in war
President John Kennedy once said, "People have not been horrified by war to a sufficient extent. ... War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today."
What kind of questions could our youth ask while viewing the dedication of the Vietnam War Memorial at South Eugene High School? As they mourn the loss of the 10 alumni, will they recall entire Vietnamese villages that were wiped out?
Will they ask themselves if there is any degree of difference between our suffering and that of the Vietnamese?
Will they ask a Vietnamese student or family how they feel about this tribute, this memorial?
Will they ask themselves if Iraq is any different? Will they ask themselves uncomfortable questions about the civilian death rate in Iraq? Will they ask themselves about Israel's U.S.-financed holocaust against the Palestinian people?
Will they ask themselves, "Is there another way besides violence to resolve conflict?"
I hope the students and faculty of South Eugene High School consider balancing the attention given to this war memorial by installing a Civilian War Memorial on the campus. Incorporate a peace studies curriculum as a viable alternative to militarism.
Show the six-film series "A Force More Powerful." Study the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi. Give guidance and respect to those students who are conscientious objectors.
Let us all ask ourselves who the real heroes are and give them equal honor.
| ‘Al-Nakba denial’ pervades letter
Claire Gumbs’ Dec. 4 letter, “Palestine no longer exists,” provides a flagrant example of “al-Nakba denial.” No less objectionable than Holocaust denial, our human rights community should protest this ignorance.
Gumbs’ letter reflects a carefully orchestrated, 59-year campaign of al-Nakba memoricide in an attempt to legitimize an apartheid state supported by U.S. taxpayer money. Gumbs states, “there is no such thing as ... a Palestinian.” Please tell that to the indigenous refugees and their families of the 531 villages and 11 urban areas that were brutally ethnically cleansed in 1948. Palestinians with U.N.-registered claims against Israel now number more than 4 million, the world’s largest refugee group, now spanning four generations.
Called “al-Nakba” (“the catastrophe”), this Arabic term should be as familiar to us as the Holocaust which it soon followed. The campaign to expel as many Arabs as possible — in any way possible — was executed against a largely defenseless population by the Jewish terrorist groups Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang.
Israel’s Palestinian victims continue to be denied their basic human rights under the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and some 90 U.N. resolutions against Israel. Peace in Israel-Palestine will elude fruition until Israel’s 1948 crimes against humanity are acknowledged and the right of return or just compensation is granted to the refugees as required under U.N. Resolution 194 and pledged by Israel upon admission to the United Nations.
For background, read Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.”
Dec 14, 2007