To the Palestinians who live in the occupied territories, and also the millions of Palestinians who exist as refugees, the founding of Israel 60 years ago means the catastrophe (al nakba in Arabic).
Men, women and children — 750,000 Palestinians — were uprooted form their homes between 1947 and 1949. Sixty years ago and the injustice continues.
Since 1967 Israel has demolished 18,000 Palestinian homes. The 1.5 million people of Gaza live in a stranglehold environment. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, ports and borders. A wall three times the length of the Berlin Wall. Hundreds upon hundreds of checkpoints, unemployment, unfair tax structure and water supply in the occupied territories, all contribute to the daily suffering of the Palestinians. Thousands and thousands of Israeli settlements continue to gobble up more land. Some of these settlers can be considered very militant and extremist. Even though many have not been charged with any crime, approximately 11,000 Palestinians of all ages have landed in Israeli jails.
The occupation is illegal and criminal, yet the Israeli government has been rewarded for decades with billions of U.S. tax money, along with U.S. diplomatic support. Israel receives approximately $7 million American tax dollars every day! Think about this, Israel is the size of New Jersey. In 60 years, this small state has received more U.S. tax money than any other nation on Earth and this support remains mostly unconditional. Also Israel receives consideration in regard to military equipment and oil supply guarantees.
Thanks to U.S. tax money, Israel has one of the most well-equipped, sophisticated war machines in the world. Their air force and nuclear capabilities are equal to countries much larger. Given its size, Israel flexes a tremendous amount of military muscle.
In the beginning, Israel may have needed some help. However, that has not been the case for decades. Israel is not a poor country, rather it is an industrial power. It is not a helpless infant nation barely able to stand on its feet.
This blind support does not make the U.S. safer or for that matter Israel. Hopefully, Jewish peace groups will become more vocal and actively oppose the extremist element in the Israeli government. Americans should urge their elected representatives to stand up to the Israeli lobby and stop funding the government of Israel with billions of dollars year after year. Israel must end the occupation and work to bring about a truly just and meaningful peace with the Palestinians.
Coverage by the mainstream media has been and continues to be a dismal failure when it comes to reporting on the plight of the Palestinians. Compared to the news from Africa, the reporting on the conditions under which Palestinians live is a mere trickle. The international community needs to wake up from its self-inflicted slumber and make the issue of the Israel occupation a number one priority.
Books to read: “Lords of the Land” and “The Israel Lobby.”
Lorraine Smalley is a Langley resident.