Should Washington State Taxpayers Be Giving 3/4 of a Billion Dollars to Israel? - A Palestinian Perspective

Linda Frank
In spite of drastic cuts to vital services here in Washington State and around the nation, the US government continues to give Israel more than three billion dollars a year in military aid. A 10-year commitment of aid to Israel is costing us taxpayers in Washington more than seven hundred million dollars. Why are we giving billions to a country that's prospering, while our own citizens sink deeper into poverty? And why are we supporting Israel, when they stand in gross violation of international law and Palestinian human rights?

Because of the aid we give Israel, along with the US diplomatic cover for Israeli violations of international law and human rights, Noam Chomsky refers to the US-Israel/Palestinian conflict as murder. This policy has enabled the injustices to continue and even increase over the decades.

Here are ten points to help clear up some of the myths about this on-going travesty in which we are all unwitting accomplices. Please follow the links for more details about what we, Palestinians, and Israelis are up against in a search for peace with justice.

1. Gaza is still occupied. This is contrary to popular myth that Gaza was given its freedom in 2005, when Israel removed from Gaza its illegal settlers and the troops protecting them. When a power controls borders other than its own, it is an occupying power. Israel still controls Gaza's land borders, airspace, communications, and maritime borders, pushing fishermen back from the allowable 20 nautical miles to 2 nautical miles, and sometimes less. Therefore Israel is still the occupying power over Gaza.

2. "Israel is the 5th largest military in the world backed by the world's only superpower waging war on a mostly unarmed civilian population." That's how Gila Svirsky, co-founder of Women in Black and Coalition of Women for Peace Israel, defined the conflict. That means there is no parity in this conflict. Israel is an occupying force and Palestinians a captive people.

3. Contrary to popular mythology, Israel, Palestine at the time, was not "a land without a people for a people without a land" as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir claimed. About 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and villages in what amounts to an ethnic cleansing. Israeli "new historian" Ilan Pappe documents these events, which Palestinians refer to as "the Nakba" [catastrophe], in his book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine".

4. Palestinians  were accused of turning down a generous offer from Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barack at Camp David in 2000 and then starting the Second Intifada [uprising]. What actually was offered by Israel was a bunch of disconnected "Bantustans" much like those "offered" by the white South African apartheid regime as a "state" to black South Africans. If either the oppressed black South Africans or the oppressed Palestinians had accepted the Swiss cheese "state", they would have gotten neither independence, nor viable statehood, but permanent subjugation.

5. The claim is made that Palestinians won't accept Israel's "right to exist". First, Yassir Arafat did accept Israel's existence in 1988. Second, Hamas also has accepted Israel's existence. The statement "right to exist", however, for many Palestinians implies that Israel had a right to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. And the newest version that Israel and the US insist Palestinians agree to now – "Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state" – violates the citizenship of about one million Palestinians that Israel for various reasons allowed to stay in the unilaterally-declared state. The "Jewish state" designation creates additional complications.

And Israel has yet to recognize "Palestine" or "Palestine's right to exist" (even though it existed before the State of Israel was declared). There is much talk of Israel's support for a Palestinian state...but what kind of Palestinian state might Israel "agree" to?

6. In spite of so much emphasis being put on a "two-state solution", the realities on the ground have already essentially rendered impossible a two-state solution. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem in a report entitled "By Hook and by Crook", in 2010 42% of the West Bank was already consumed by the network created for Israel's illegal Jewish settlers. The West Bank and Gaza constituted 22% of what was historic Palestine, leaving less than 13% of that territory for the its pre-statehood inhabitants. Gaza is only 35 miles long by an average of 4 miles wide. That means a Palestinian state would need to be created on a fraction of historic Palestine – and in pieces surrounded by Israelis – rather than on one contiguous piece of land.

7. One consistent message we get from the corporate media is that "Israel wants peace". Israelis Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit outline the opposite in their book "Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process." And Israel's response to recent overtures for a two-state solution by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas additionally belie Israel's claim to want to settle the conflict.

In one of the best books yet about any history of Israel, Miko Peled's book "The General's Son" (with a Foreword by Alice Walker) gives testimony to the decisions made in Israel that territorial gain was to take precedence over allowing the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own. Here's a video of Miko's presentation in Seattle (he also gave a talk in October in Tacoma hosted by the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace). This video – from a member of an esteemed "founding family" of Israel – provides more understanding of the situation than does any other single source.

8. Israel has maintained a stranglehold over the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem through 45 years of occupation. Israel annexed East Jerusalem illegally as a result of the 1967 war, and therefore East Jerusalem has not been recognized as "Israel" by the rest of the world. After six years of holding Gaza under siege (rendering it literally a concentration camp), Israel now officially fits the definition of an apartheid state, with different sets of laws for Jews and for "others".  That is true not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but also within Israel.

9. In response to South African apartheid, people around the world engaged in BDS – Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. South Africans claim that without BDS, the apartheid might not have ended, and the ANC would still be called a "terrorist" organization. Nelson Mandela, who said, "Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians" would still be considered persona non grata instead of being lauded as a widely-respected statesman.

10. In 2005, Palestinians issued a call for help from people around the world to support their efforts to gain their basic and equal rights through BDS. Here are some websites with information in general, and about some individual bds campaigns and divestment campaigns.