Posted January 13, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s passing at the age of 85, after eight years in a coma, has been the fuel for discussion on the long, long, troubling saga of the Israel-Palestine relationship. People can only imagine what the soul who was Ariel Sharon is experiencing now, after leaving this Earth and entering the world of spirit. As one guest on Democracy Now recently pointed out that it is not proper to speak ill of the recently passed, I will abstain from speaking in a derogatory way, but to say that Mr. Sharon has been given perhaps “god-like” praise which diverts from legitimate acts of mass murder and war crimes.
Some say that every man and woman has been and done it all through hundreds of lives/incarnations, so it is difficult to judge another for actions which one may have taken in a previous lifetime. All I can say about the Israel-Palestine issue is that it is long past the time when the Palestinians became treated fairly and justly. There are many men and women who have a greater knowledge of the history of this area of the Middle East, having advanced degrees in Middle East Studies with whole libraries devoted to the region’s history.
So, with all the experts and all the knowledge – with men and women who live in Israel and Palestine and have spent very serious time and study and discussion – there is still no independent Palestinian state. It seems the entire world community understands the need for a two-state solution but for Israel and the United States. Virtually everyone knows the unfair living situation that Palestinians have had to endure for decades, and that solving the differences between Israelis and Palestinians would go a long way toward establishing peace in the Middle East.
Given human nature, failure to resolve the problems in Israel and Palestine are probably attributable to geopolitical, business, and financial factors. The situation devolved into chaotic and unjust conditions around the time period when Lyndon Johnson was president, around 1967. Looking back to that time, a significant event that occurred was the Israeli military’s attack on the USS Liberty, an action which was to be blamed on Egypt to bring the United States military into the Israel-Egypt War.
The attack was what is termed a “false flag”, which was carried out to guarantee that none of the over 300 American soldiers survived, a deception agreed upon by the Lyndon Johnson administration and the Israeli government. If it were not for the ingenious actions of the sailors on board the Liberty, which allowed them to communicate their plight to the nearest US battleship, the entire crew would have perished. Lyndon Johnson recalled rescue planes that were scrambled out to help defend the crew of the Liberty, Johnson trying to make sure the “plan” succeeded.
The plan did not go as Johnson and the Israelis wished, and the Liberty limped to safety with survivors who were then sworn to secrecy – the event was falsely attributed to mistaken identity by Israeli fighter pilots. If the plan had succeeded and all on board would have perished, the United States had prepared to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Egyptian city of Cairo – a plane was in the air toward Cairo with the nuclear weapon when fortunately the “false flag” became foiled.
The 1967 attack on the USS Liberty was perhaps the greatest act of treason ever carried out by a United States president, and still remains out of the awareness of most Americans – to this day never investigated by any committee of Congress. There is a documentary on this site which describes the attack on the USS Liberty, and is found in the archives. It is important that every American know about this event, perhaps the most shameful event in America’s history.
So, since that time the United States and Israel have collaborated to make sure the Israeli agenda becomes carried out with relation to Palestine. Given the importance of the Middle East region, it being the most important geopolitical region on Earth with the world’s greatest energy resources of oil and natural gas, many nations have an interest in the political and military events there. Unfortunately people who live in the region who have no interest in political, financial, and military power and control simply get crushed between those who do.
This is the case for the Palestinian people, who have had to endure apartheid conditions for well over 35 years, and who have had their dreams and aspirations denied for far too long. Despite a long line of American administrations’ fine rhetoric about wanting Israel-Palestine peace to come about, the actions which they have carried out do not match the high-sounding speeches. Unfortunately American actions have guaranteed that no real solutions which allow discontinuance of Palestinian suffering and apartheid-like conditions are realized.
The failure to resolve the Palestinian issue through the decades has led to Israel becoming seen as a pariah state, the United States as a collaborator in the continued injustice felt by the Palestinians, and resentment by people in the Middle East from their view that the Israeli-American actions are intentionally meant to keep the Palestinians in difficult living conditions. Failure to justly resolve this issue has led as well to less peace in the region than could be attained by coming to agree on a two-state solution, which almost the entire world sees as necessary.
On Democracy Now’s report of Arial Sharon’s passing Professors Emeritus Avi Shlam and Noam Chomsky, and Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University Rashid Khalidi shared their thoughts. Having some familiarity with the views of Mr. Chomsky, I found the following video of Rashid Khalidi talking about his recent book, “Brokers of Deceit” at Poetry and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C..
Having never gotten into the Israel-Palestine issue in any serious way, I decided to listen to what Mr. Khalidi had to say, hoping to gain a better understanding. He asserts that the actions of Israel and America through the decades have never been designed to accommodate Palestinian wishes for relief and an independent state of Palestine. Unfortunately, despite the noble-sounding speeches mentioned earlier, real efforts have not been pursued to end the apartheid occupation, the obstacles to the world’s recognized need for an independent Palestine, or generally remove the terrible conditions the Palestinian people have lived under for over 60 years.
Mr. Khalidi suggests that American policy must change in order for the status-quo to end, while leading to genuine improvements in the Middle East region. The U.S. government must relinquish the decades long role of enabler and bankroller, through over $115 billion in military and other forms of aid to Israel since the 1970’s. He gives the examples of Libya, Iraq, and now Syria to illustrate the profound need to squarely and responsibly do the right thing with regard to Israel and Palestine. He notes that it is time for the United States to not just say that they are “honest brokers” but to actually become honest brokers.
Unfortunately, the average men and women in the Middle East have had to suffer and endure the actions of powerful, wealthy people who have agendas which do not take the health and well-being of the people in the Middle East into consideration. The voices of everyday Palestinians, and everyday citizens of all countries in the Middle East, are never heard in political or media narratives. Professor Khalidi recommends three documentaries on the region:
Five Broken Cameras
The Law In These Parts
The talk by Professor Khalidi gives people who have not delved into Israel-Palestine historical issues and problems a good knowledge of the region.
He notes, “Any country on Earth would be a better mediator than the United States, but no country wants to put its head in the meat-grinder.”
A real concern for the people in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the entire region of the Middle East – a profound compassion and empathy for the people’s far too many years of pain and destruction – must be found and widely embraced before true healing can come to the Middle East.
(Thanks to Poetry and Prose @ YouTube)