By Vic Macks firstname.lastname@example.org
A basic principle of psychodynamic psychology and interpersonal relationships, including groups and societies, is “interpretation stands in place of acting out”. Put another way: history lives in the present and the future unless it is accurately and fully accounted, understood and resolved. In that light, the human family groans under the weight of centuries of problematic, if not immoral, behavior. The consequences continue to play out in the present and the future. This is seen in the historical cultural memory of ethnic groups everywhere. For many people, it is like a birth trauma. This is true for Jews (the Holocaust and 1700 years of Christian culture), for Palestinian Arabs (The Nakba: the tragedy), for Iranians (the American/British overthrow of secular democratic government in 1953 and imposition of 25 years of terror and death), for Armenians (the genocide by Turkey), and on and on. For some, being born into this world is being born into the fear of extinction—-at the hands of fellow humans—-that clouds ones ability to accurately asses current reality. Past wrongs must be acknowledged and righted before one can safely move on to secure living without the need to always be looking back, to be able to trust the present and the future.
Then there is Zionism: a form of European colonialism inflicted on an unwilling Middle Eastern population; one ethnic group’s effort to save itself at the expense of another. From Theodor Herzl—- a significant historical figure in Zionism—-onward, the Arab population is ignored, looked down upon as inferior, and expected to be subservient and compliant. Indeed, Golda Meir stated there are no Palestinians and a Zionist friend said the same to me. Another Zionist instructed me that “God was the first Zionist!” There are profound disagreements as to what is real in these matters and the distortions are historically driven with some level of desperation. One would want to empathically recognize and attend to the trauma but also articulate the current reality. Easier said than done. For example, Israel and America are violating Palestinian human rights on a daily basis. It is Israel and the U.S. who have threatened assault on Iran, including possible use of nuclear weapons. Iran has not threatened an attack on Israel or the U.S. Iran correctly sees Israel and the U.S. as a major threat to peace in the region. Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial has stoked Israeli anxiety to an extreme level and the risk of an unprovoked Israeli assault which has been encouraged by Cheney and Biden.
The Holocaust, arising out of 17 hundred years of Christian culture(1), is a historical fact and a painful, vigilant preoccupation for Jews everywhere. For Jews, the Holocaust is the near extinction of European Jewry, which brings in its wake the extreme intensification of what Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in 1923, “The Morality of the Iron Wall”. The Iron Wall is a fierce, belligerent militarism that would bend and subdue opposition to Zionism and Israel’s terms. This is driven by the sequelae of the Holocaust, a backward looking awareness of vulnerability that is felt as though one were at the margins of existence and fiercely struggling to stay alive. It is as though the Nazi extermination is still being resisted in the present or that an equivalent threat could arise full blown at any time. This is palpable in the Israeli scholar, Avi Shlaim’s THE IRON WALL; a well documented history of the first 50 years of Israel based on Israeli government archive documents. When, for example, Begin, firmly supported by Sharon—-reacting to U.S. President Reagan’s demand that shelling of Beirut be stopped—-on 8-1-82 defended the choice to go to war against Lebanon and the siege of Beirut. He called Beruit “Berlin” and referred to its inhabitants as “Hitler and his henchmen”. Chaika Grossman, a member of the Knesset who had actually fought in the Warsaw Ghetto, implored Begin, “Return to reality! We are not in the Warsaw Ghetto, we are in the State of Israel”. Amos Oz, called the assault on Lebanon “a typical Jabotinskyian fantasy…this urge to revive Hitler, only to kill him again and again, is the result of pain….” In another instance, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was vilified by the Israeli religious right as a “Nazi” who brought “Nazi officers” (PLO) “to the heart of Israel” (signing of the Oslo Accord). Binyamin Netanyahu, born and educated in the U.S., called Rabin’s limited effort at peace making “a surrender”. He saw Arabs as usurpers of the Land of Israel, permanent enemies and a persistent threat, with inevitable future attacks. He saw all the world as hostile to the State of Israel with anti-Semitism as the basis for that hostility. The Oslo Accord carried the expectation that peace would require Israeli recognition of Palestinian right to self determination. Netanyahu rejected the Oslo Accord. He continues to ignore the fact that Arabs were long time residents of Palestine when the European Jews arrived and dismisses the Israeli building of settlements as unimportant. Rabin was assassinated on 11-4-95 by “a young messianic Zionist”, Yigal Amir, who was convinced religious law required it. On 12-14-98, the PLO renounced the intent of destroying the Israeli State, in spite of the continued building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The citing of the Holocaust in defense of Israeli belligerence and aggression is recurrent in documents referenced by Shlaim. As recounted in the same book, Palestinian Arabs pay the price for the suffering and death wrecked on European Jews by European Christian culture. Repeatedly, leading Israelis have asserted and acted to dismiss negotiating with the Arab population in Palestine or played for time and the maintenance of the status quo. Israel is determined that it is and must be a specifically Jewish State. All of Palestine is—-to many or most Israelis—-The Land of Israel. The problem for Israel is what to do with those Arabs in the Occupied Territories controlled by Israel since 1967. Part of that territory—-most of the West Bank and the Arab part of Jerusalem—-Israel is incorporating into its state. Shlaim’s book records Israeli atrocities, repeated group punishment of Arab civilians, war initiated by Israel (Sinai 1956, Egypt/Syria 1967, Lebanon in 1982), and Israeli terrorist acts. In the course of doing so, he recounts the interactions of the Arabs in Palestine and neighboring Arab states, including border clashes and incursions.
Other facts of consequence are as follows: Israel, with essential American support, has occupied all Arab Palestinian land, controlled its borders, bulldozed or otherwise destroyed 23,500 of its homes(2), paid 479,500 Israelis to occupy 227 Jewish only settlements and “out posts” on confiscated Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem(3), instituted numerous internal check points, blockaded essential goods and services, detained 650,000 of its residents since 1967(4), and has assaulted its captive civilian population with the full array of U.S. supplied military weapons. The UN, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, as well as other organizations, have documented and reported on Israeli torture and unprovoked killing of Palestinians. Israel, like the U.S., has normalized torture and utilizes modern torture techniques researched and codified by the U.S.(5) It is impossible to equate Hamas rockets (none of which are financed by the American tax payer) with the ferocious American financed assault on Palestinian civilians. Israeli war crimes in Gaza in January 2009 have been documented by the Guardian UK http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/gaza-war-crimes-investigation, B’Tselem, and other sources.
From 9-29-00 to 2-16-09, 123 Israeli children and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed in the cycle of violence.(6) From 1949 to 2007, 101 billion and 190.8 million American tax dollars have gone to Israel.(7) In 2007, 3 billion dollars per year for 10 years was promised. The U.S. Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-1105 provides an additional “not less than $2,380,000,000” in unconditional aid to Israel. It is now the Palestinian Arab civilian adults and children who face intolerable living conditions, daily human rights abuses, and death from American/Israeli weapons. Hamas and the PLO, of course, have resisted with acts of terrorism. They too perceive themselves as being eradicated.
It is possible to affirm and assertively insist on the right of Jews to exist anywhere in the world and simultaneously recognize that my tax dollars help to deny Palestinians the right to exist in Palestine. Unfortunately, in present day America and Israel, factual criticism of Israel is dismissed, evaded or falsely conflated with anti-Semitism, as though such criticism were even potentially and seriously dangerous to Jewish survival.
Israel is an apartheid state. Israel has no constitution. Only Jews have full citizenship/civil/human rights within Israel itself and in the Occupied Palestinian territories. Freedom of movement for Palestinians is severely restricted. There are roads in the occupied territories that only Israelis can use. Israelis have different colored license plates from those of Palestinians. Israel’s confiscation of land in the West Bank includes control of the water. The numerous Israeli check points within the occupied West Bank keep Palestinians from schools, doctors and hospitals, jobs, farm land, relatives, etc. Between 2000 and 2006, 68 women gave birth, 34 infants died, and 4 pregnant women died at check points.(8) In 1946 Jews owned and occupied 7% of the land in Palestine. Now Israel claims and/or effectively controls about 93% for its own use and occupies and controls the remaining 7% into which Palestinian Arabs, who were not driven out, are compressed. There is no Palestinian state and that is the goal of Zionism, repeatedly stated in documents referenced by Shlaim. Israel, determined to dominate the region, is an essential part of American world domination, the effort to control the world’s resources. That effort will bankrupt America and continue to provoke those who suffer from it. Israel, with the protection of the U.S. veto in the UN security council, violates UN sanctions, the Geneva Convention, and The Human Rights Charter of the UN. Israel has (probably 200 to 400?) nuclear weapons and the 4th strongest military in the world by some estimates. During the Gulf War in 1991, Israel put its nuclear missiles on alert and pointed them toward Iraq. The idea that it is threatened in some serious way is false. Israel has intentionally killed a UN worker, destroyed UN facilities and food aid, killed one American peace maker and seriously assaulted another as well as other internationals. Israel blocks access to foreign journalists and suppresses criticism by Israelis. (9)
Can Israeli citizens feel secure without the Iron Wall? What would it take? Can Americans (4% of the world’s population) relinquish the use of 25 to 30% of the world’s resources? That would negate the related need to fight resource wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, support of Israeli regional domination, etc.) and maintain approximately 800 foreign bases at great expense. These bases are outside of the U.S. around the world where an additional half million military and civilian personnel are stationed. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/02-13 What would it take?
Requirements for a genuine peace process:
- Involve all parties to the conflict, including Hamas, in the negotiations.
- End Israeli occupation, blockade, and remove all Israeli settlers from Palestinian land.
- Return to the 1967 borders and remove the wall from Palestinian territory.
- Negotiate a settlement of the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees (750,000 driven out in 1948).
- Suspend all weapons shipments to Israel based on existing U.S. law that prohibits shipments when they are used to violate human rights (arms export control act).
- Investigate and prosecute human rights abuses by Israel and Hamas.
- End all acts of violence by Israel and Hamas or other Palestinian groups.
- Create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address both Israel and Palestinians
- Provide American and Israeli compensation to Palestinian civilians for the range of human rights abuses suffered and the destruction of their homeland.
- Create an internationally sponsored and financed development plan for the Palestinian territory.
(1) Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll, 2001 Houghton Mifflin Company A scholarly work of broad interest and in particular of Christian culture as the source of Jewish oppression.
(2) Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions http://www.icahd.org/eng/articles.asp?menu=6&submenu=2&article=517
(3) Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land, If Americans Knew http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/settlements.html also Land Expropriation B’TSELEM http://www.btselem.org/english/Settlements/Statistics.asp
(4) Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Detention http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/pal-prisoners.html
(5) The Origins of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, Third Edition, by Jews for Justice in the Middle East, p. 24 http://www.cactus48.com/truth.html also A Question of Torture by Alfred McCoy, 2006 Henry Holt and Co. p74, 192-3, 207-08.(the definitive work on torture and its threat to the very societies that sponsor and implement it.)
(6) Remember These Children http://www.rememberthesechildren.org/remember2008.html If Americans Knew http://www.ifamericansknew.org/
(7) Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel”, Jeremy M. Sharp, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL33222_20080102.pdf
(8) Collective Punishment, If Americans Knew http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/68births.html
(9) Life in Occupied Palestine (A documentary by American Jewish women) at www.AnnaInTheMiddleEast.com (excellent documentation) also If Americans knew http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/ and B’TSELEM Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories http://www.btselem.org/english/Settlements/Statistics.asp history and current situation.
“The Logic of Colonial Power” by Nir Rosen http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/29/gaza-hamas-israel/print
The Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim 2001 Norton & Company New York, NY