I apologize to anyone who may be offended by my being critical of Israel, but no person and no country is beyond reproach and when we act like we are, we lose our way. I base my criticism on reports from people who have been to Israel and seen how the Palestinians are being abused by the Israeli government and by the Jewish settlers who are encroaching on Palestinian land with the government's approval. "A Gaza Diary" in the October issue of Harper's Magazine presents a brutally, oppressive picture of the way the Palestinians are being treated in Gaza by the Israeli government and is reminiscent of the way black Africans were treated in South Africa. I also base much of this letter on Noam Chomsky's book, "The Fateful Triangle."
Though the United States chides Israel for some of its more violent assaults, the United States never has the audacity to reduce the amount of weaponry and economic aid we supply Israel every year. Aid that is used to finance the most powerful military force in the Middle East and to build new Jewish settlements in the land Israel took from the Palestinians in the 1967 war.
When President Reagan proposed a peace plan in 1982, following Israel's breaking a 10-month cease fire with the PLO, invading Lebanon, destroying Beirut and Palestinian refugee camps in Southern Lebanon, the plan was summarily dismissed by Prime Minister Begin of Israel. Reagan's plan called for a) No separate Palestinian state in Gaza or the West Bank, b) No annexation of Gaza and the West Bank by Israel, c) Self-government for the Palestinians in the occupied territories in association with Jordan and d) Halting Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.
As soon as the plan was rejected by Israel, the U.S. Congress increased the amount of weaponry and economic aid to Israel, and Israeli officials revealed plans for building 57 new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza over the next four years. In regard to Israel's rejection of Reagan's peace plan, the Jerusalem Post wrote (Dec. 19, 1982), "The American government has been financing the very policies it denounces with such consistency that one doesn't have to be an Arab to wonder if the denunciations are sincere."
The goal of Israel, unmentioned in most American media, is to return to its biblical borders by taking over Gaza and the West Bank and driving the Palestinians out by making their lives increasingly miserable.
Former Prime Minister Rabin, who was considered a dove and assassinated by an ultra-conservative Israeli Jew, urged that Israel: "create in the course of the next 10 to 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees (Palestinians) from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein (of Jordan) and not with Yasser Arafat." - Christian Science Monitor, June 1984.
"Begin and Sharon share the same dream: Sharon is the dream's hatchet man. That dream is to annihilate the PLO, douse any vestiges of Palestinian nationalism, crush PLO allies and collaborators in the West Bank and eventually force the Palestinians there into Jordan and cripple, if not end, the Palestinian nationalist movement." - Foreign Affairs, 1982.
Though the Palestinians initially rejected partition or a two-state settlement in 1948, since the mid-1970s they have offered a two-state settlement and have been consistently rejected by Israel. This two-state settlement has been endorsed by almost every country in the world except for Israel and the United States. Yet the Palestinians are always portrayed as the unreasonable ones in the mainline American press. Israel's press is often more honest, and Israeli doves criticize the blind support of the pro-Israel lobby in America for keeping Israeli hawks flying in U.S. warplanes.
At this time, I think things are going the way Israel wants them to go and the Palestinians, for good reasons, no longer trust the United States to broker justice. If I am wrong in this, please prove it to me with facts. Frankly, I wish I were.
Lisle Hebert is a social worker and businessman in Juneau.