Israel O Israel!

A nation of people born from injustice
Causing great sorrow in all civilized among us
You claim your only concern to be
Your security
But your true intent is plain enough
For everyone to see

There are Jews among you who detest what you do
But their voices are muffled and they seem to be few
You’re proud and you’re arrogant
Malicious and clever
You seem to think world sympathy
Is going to shield you forever

But the bed is too short, and the covers too narrow
You can’t see the handwriting, for your scope is too narrow
Aggressive you’ve been since the day you were born
From the anguish and misery
Of lives you have torn

Israel O Israel
Where will you be
When the pages have dried
On your history?!

(c) 1982 M. Saalakhan All Rights Reserved

Food for the Thought

The aforementioned poem was written after the barbaric siege on Lebanon in 1982. What follows is an excerpt taken from an essay that I wrote in 1998 entitled “Five Mistakes of US Policymakers in the Muslim World,” published in the March 1999 edition of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Mistake

One of the most needless, costly, and heart-rendering mistakes that America has made to date has been in the area of Mideast policy. There is, perhaps, no other area of foreign policy wherein America has consistently demonstrated a pattern of bias, and a lack of resolve for being a truly “honest broker,” than in this [now] 50 year ongoing tragedy, known as “the Arab-Israeli conflict.” When one examines the facts, and the historical record, it has all been so painfully unnecessary.

The first President of the United States, General George Washington, warned against the pitfalls of a policy which succeeding presidents, and a host of other high level politicians and policymakers, have unfortunately chosen to follow. The President cautioned, in his farewell address to the Union: “A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils, because it leads to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others; which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concession, both by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld.

“It gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens [who devote themselves to the favorite nation] the facility to betray or sacrifice the interest of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.”

What a prophetic observation, when viewed within the context of present day realities. An objective appraisal of American Mideast policy would lead to the following conclusions: (a) the actions of our leaders have violated the most fundamental principles that we as a nation are supposed to stand for; (b) our nation’s Mideast policy has not been in our national interest! One way to understand the immorality of our failed policy in the “Holy Land,” is by revisiting a profound and moving observation made three decades ago by one of America’s premier peacemakers, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King: “Being a negro in America is not a comfortable experience. It means being part of the company of the bruised, the battered, the scarred, and the defeated. Being a negro in America means trying to smile when you want to cry. It means trying to hold on to physical life amid psychological death. It means the pain of watching your children grow up with clouds of inferiority in their mental skies. It means having your legs cut off, and then being condemned for being a cripple. It means seeing your mother and father spiritually murdered by the slings and arrows of daily exploitation, and then being hated for being an orphan. Being a negro in America means listening to suburban politicians talk eloquently against public housing while arguing in the same breath that they are not racists. It means being harried by day and haunted by night by a nagging sense of nobodiness, and constantly fighting to be saved from the poison of bitterness. It means the ache and anguish of living in so many situations where hopes unborn have died.”

How easy it would be to transpose “being negro in America” with being Palestinian in Israel and the territories. For the daily lot of Palestinians (especially in the territories) is one of misery with no end. This is why the so-called Peace Process will continue to fail; without the presence of justice, there can never be peace!

Since 1967, Israel has been the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid; while U.S. Foreign Aid Law prohibits military and economic aid to any country that engages in a “consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” – Sections 502[b], 116[a] of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. To date, American aid to Israel is over $78 billion. In 1996, cuts to America’s poor were $5.7 billion; aid to Israel $5.5 billion. And how is this money used?

In the aftermath of the 1967 War, Israel immediately annexed East Jerusalem and declared the whole of Jerusalem its, “eternal capitol;” while annexing territory taken by force is illegal under international law. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2253, of July 1967, declared the annexation of East Jerusalem invalid.

The Geneva Convention of 1949, Article 49 (paragraph 6) states: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territories it occupies.” To date, Israel has transferred well over 140,000 Jews into settlements throughout the “occupied territories.” These are 100 percent segregated communities, for Jews only, built with taxes from a country where housing discrimination is illegal.

As settlements are being built Palestinian homes are being demolished. Article 53 of the Geneva Accords states: “Any destruction by the occupying power of the real or personal property is prohibited.” Israel has consistently refused to halt land expropriation and home demolitions. Settlement expansion is justified on the basis of Jewish population growth, while little consideration is given the Palestinians who are being displaced. Its been reported that during the tenure of the present Israeli Defense Minister alone (Yitzhak Mordechai), the Israeli Civil Administration has demolished more than 400 Palestinian homes, and dozens of Bedouin dwellings in the West Bank.

The systematic and unrelenting brutality visited upon the Palestinian people should also be a cause for heightened concern within the international community, for this too represents a gross violation of international law. Article 27 of the Geneva Accords states: “Persons under control of an occupying power shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected, especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof.” The UN Human Rights Commission declared that, “Israel’s grave breach of the Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, are war crimes and an affront against humanity.”

For the past 53 years, the Palestinian experience (for Muslims and Christians) has been collective punishment; economic strangulation and acute poverty; school closures; home demolitions; torture (both physical and psychological); mass arrests and detentions without trial; and indiscriminant killings at the hands of the military and settlers.

Unfortunately, America has been a major partner in these crimes against humanity, as a result of the unswerving material and diplomatic support we’ve consistently given to a nation that our policymakers insist on calling the only democracy in the region; a nation that many others consider the apartheid South Africa of the Middle East. – El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan