My Turn: America needs to be fair in Mideast

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

First, I would like to say that I am as outraged as any American about the Sept. 11 attacks and I support cleaning out the rat's nest of terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

If we are serious about eradicating terrorism, however, then we had better start examining our actions a little more closely. The recent United States response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is especially baffling to me. The coalition is in danger of unraveling over this issue. Is this in our national interest?

In order to understand world, and particularly Arab, reaction to the U.S. position, we must remember who Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is and what he represents. Simply put, he is a war criminal. The only reason that he has not been indicted in the Hague is that his crimes predate the court's jurisdiction. It was Sharon, at the time Israeli defense minister, who in the early 1980s knowingly stood by in southern Lebanon with the Israeli Army and calmly watched as the Lebanese Christian militia entered two Palestinian refugee camps and systematically massacred some 1,500 unarmed men, women and children. For this he received no punishment from the Israeli government and in fact remained in the cabinet. It is a testament to the eagerness of the Palestinian Authority to reach a settlement that they try to negotiate with this monster at all. The Palestinian Authority has been calling for a FULL implementation of the Mitchell report (as in former Republican United States Sen. Mitchell) INCLUDING international observers. Israel will have no part of international observers. Why? It is obvious that Sharon has no intention of ever making peace with the Palestinians.

For Israel to simultaneously demand that Arafat stop terrorism and cripple his means to do so is transparent to everyone in the world except, apparently, most Americans and their president. Let's not forget that Israel was born in terrorism. Menachim Begin was head of an organization that bombed the King David Hotel in 1948, killing some 88 British soldiers. Some three Israeli prime ministers had their political roots in terrorism. Now that the Jewish Defense League has been caught red-handed attempting to assassinate a U.S. representative, it will be very interesting to see if 1,000 Jewish-Americans are rounded up and held in detention indefinitely without charges, or if the J.D.L. suspects are tried under a military tribunal. Somehow I doubt it.

Does anyone remember that Israel made a full-blown attack of the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967? The Liberty was a surveillance ship in the Mediterranean during Israeli mobilization for the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a war Israel wanted to claim was a "surprise attack." What other country is allowed to get away with attacking us militarily and still be considered an ally? Does anyone remember a few years ago that we arrested an Israeli spy? Some ally! Why isn't Israel held accountable for its actions like any other nation? Please everyone, read your history. Question what is happening.

I am not "anti-Israel" or "pro-Arab." I support both Israel and Palestine's right to exist - peacefully. Our government must insist that Israel stop its military occupation and settle up with the Palestinian people, and demand an end to violence from BOTH sides. Please don't call me anti-Semitic. Do yourself a favor and look up the definition of "Semite" in the dictionary first. Nor do I defend many of the actions of the Palestinians. They are, however, by any definition, an oppressed people. Rocks are no match for missiles. The United States has the opportunity to display some leadership by fairly mediating between these two conflicting parties. Instead, we choose to side with one party at the expense of another. That is our worldwide reputation, the underlying cause of many terrorist movements focused against us, and what we must change. Do we really believe in "liberty and justice for all," or is it a meaningless mantra that we mutter? We need to adapt a more impartial approach if we are to be part of the solution instead of continuing to be part of the problem. If we are not willing to do this, then maybe we should pass the torch of world leadership somewhere else, perhaps to Europe.

Rob Miller is a longtime Juneau resident and, in his words, an opinionated citizen.

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