The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Clinton speaks out as Israel hardens

with 8 comments

Good news and bad news from the Middle East.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized Israel for planning to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem, saying,

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and S...
Image by connect2canada via Flickr

“Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the ‘road-map’… It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem.”

What a relief it is to hear an American diplomat admit, for once, that Israel is out of line.  Perhaps this is a signal of some movement toward fair play in U.S. foreign policy.  That could help the region a great deal.

Prof. Juan Cole points out that she’ll be besieged by Zionist critics in the USA for daring to say it, and urges “Please consider sending her a supportive message for daring [to] speak out on the issue. In fact, urge her to use a stronger word than “unhelpful” the next time.”

Now the bad news:  Israel’s new hard-line government will probably press ahead on a plan to build 73,000 new settler homes in the Occupied West Bank, doubling the number of Zionists living on Palestinian land to 600,000.  One can only imagine the despair and outrage this theft of the homes of Palestinians will cause throughout the region.

If they do so, Cole believes the two-state solution will be utterly dead:

Susya settlement, West Bank

Image by delayed gratification via Flickr

[T]his massive expansion of the squatter population would be the final nail in the coffin. … currently over half the world’s some 9 million Palestinians are stateless… No stateless Palestinians enjoy the basic rights and freedoms granted Americans by the US Bill of Rights, because their occupiers or hosts will not grant them and the Palestinians have no state representation of their own. […]

There are not two sides to this issue, whereby someone could argue that Palestinians don’t deserve citizenship in a state and it is good for them to be expropriated at will. It is a scandal and a crime that they remain stateless after all these decades. And, no, it is not the “Arabs” fault. The “Arabs” did not expel the Palestinians from their homes, and since Israel kept the Occupied Territories after 1967, they are its responsibility […]

The future, he believes, is bleak without a massive change of direction:

There will not be a positive outcome in the Mideast. We are in for a fifty-years war, which Israel is very likely to lose in the long run, and during the course of which there will be enormous violence and terrorism, including, probably, further attacks on the United States for its knee-jerk support of Israeli expansionism and aggressive total wars on Arab civilian populations. […]

Aljazeera English reports on Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and its refusal to grant building permits to Arab families, while building new housing for Jewish families. These policies violate the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1949 Geneva Convention on occupied territories, which forbid the settlement of citizens of the Occupier in the conquered area, and forbid significant alterations in the lifeways of the occupied population. Israel has single-handedly reduced the Geneva Conventions to irrelevancy, since it flouts them and strong-arms the United States into acquiescing in and supporting the flouting.

Susiya homes burned by settlers
Homes burned by settlers; Image by michaelramallah via Flickr

A dear friend wrote, not long ago, that he thought if Israel did nothing, it would be overwhelmed, while if the Palestinians did nothing they would continue as they are.  It appears the opposite is true.

Israel is engaged in an ethnic cleansing, a robbery as brutal and complete as the American subjugation of native Americans, Australia’s wanton destruction of the Aboriginal peoples, and South Africa’s vicious apartheid.  And it gets away with it because America supplies the weapons, the cash, and the U.N. vetoes.

Write something.  Publish it in your blog, if you have one.  Write Sec. Clinton (at the link above).  Write your Senator (see links in the right margin).  Write the President.

You can bet the Zionists have already begun.

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  1. If Barack Obama had refused to put a freeze on construction of new housing for Blacks in Chicago, would that have resulted in the same kind of spin from your paper?

    Your paper refers sometimes to a freeze on “all construction” that is being requested of Israel. But it actually is not “all construction”, it is a freeze only of Jewish construction. Since 1950 the Arabs have built twice as many new settlements in Judea and Samaria as the Jews. Anyone reading your paper wouldn’t know that.
    The Arabs fill those new settlements with Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians and Iraqis, and mirabile dictu, they are “Palestinians”. Your paper hasn’t told that story.

    Here is a story the LA Times recently carried concerning the square in Ramallah named after Ms Daliel Mughrabi. Fatah may have waited until the day Biden was leaving to celebrate the dedication of the square to this “martyr”. This is how Mughrabi earned this honor:

    “The first person Mughrabi and her gang of terrorists encountered was Gale Rubin, an American photojournalist taking photos of birds near the beach. They killed her and continued on their deadly path.

    They then hijacked a bus full of happy families returning from a Saturday excursion. On their way to Tel Aviv, the terrorists shot at passing cars and killed more innocent people.

    The terrorists tied all the men’s hands to the bus seats. When Israeli security forces stopped the bus, the terrorists ran out while throwing hand grenades into the bus, setting it on fire. The men inside were burned alive.

    The three of us writing this article each have experience with Palestinian terrorists. Seven years ago this month, on March 5, 2003, our children were killed by a Palestinian suicide murderer who exploded the bomb he was carrying on a city bus in Haifa. Seventeen people, mostly children on their way home from school, were killed.

    Our children were just beginning their lives when that bomb exploded. Tal Kehrmann was 18 years old. Yuval Mendelevich was 13 1/2 . Asaf Zur was almost 17 years old.

    We don’t believe people who murder children should be held up as heroes. Though the official Ramallah ceremony was canceled, Mughrabi’s name will remain on that square. And she is already commemorated in Hebron, where a girls school is named after her.”

    Gail Rubin was the niece of Senator Abraham Ribicoff. It seems to me that was far more insulting to the US than the inadvertent timing of an announcement of processing papers on construction in Jerusalem. Fatah representatives at the ceremony on Thursday described Mughrabi as “a courageous fighter who held a proud place in Palestinian history.” “We are all Dalal Mughrabi,” declared Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. The Palestinian Authority is to celebrate shortly.

    It would be fair to say that not long ago the US Administration said they would no longer contest Jewish construction in Jerusalem after Netanyahu promised a 10 month freeze of construction in the West Bank. Not mentioned in Bronner’s story. The square is outside the Palestinian Authority’s National Political Guidance. Political guidance chief Gen. Adnan Damiri said a statue of Mughrabi would be erected in the square.
    The Arabs issued a warning that the Jews planned to destroy Al Aqsa mosque on the temple mount. This led to a riot. Why? Don’t the Arabs know the story about the boy crying “wolf “. A search on google will show 67,000 links about allegations that the Jews, since the 1920s were planning to destroy that mosque. In 1929 that false rumor resulted in the death of 133 Jews in Hebron and Jerusalem.
    In 1948 the British trained and supplied Arab Legion under the leadership of British General Sir John Bagot Glubb, fighting on behalf of Jordan in its invasion of the newly independent State of Israel, conquered East Jerusalem. Following the truce and armistice, Jordan destroyed all the synagogues in East Jerusalem, some 58 to my recollection, including the newly rebuilt Hurva synagogue. It expelled all the Jewish inhabitants of the area, uprooted Jewish tombstones and used them for paving and to build latrines. It even built a latrine against the holiest Jewish site, the Western Wall. East Jerusalem was juden rein from 1948 to 1967. It appears that Barack Obama is supporting Arab efforts to keep it that way. Your paper hasn’t reported that we should support efforts to keep East Jerusalem juden rein. He hasn’t said that the Arabs issued a call to violence against the rebuilt Hurva synagogue.

    After the 1967 war, Jerusalem’s population was 74 percent Jewish and 26 percent Arab. 40 years later, in 2007, Jerusalem’s population is 66 percent Jewish and 34 percent Arab. According to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, the gap between the city’s Jewish and Arab population is narrowing by about 1 percentage point a year. Tell your readers that.

    The Arabs changed the name of Judea and Samaria to “The West Bank”. Why? Wouldn’t the Arabs look silly if they claimed that the Jews were illegally occupying Judea?

    Wallace Brand

    March 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    • Wallace, I am sorry beyond measure for the loss of your precious children in that savage attack. There is no justification for such acts anywhere, anytime.

      Nor is there any justification for the assassinations you describe. They are appalling.

      They illustrate why killing civilians is not only immoral but also counter-productive: they have so intensified your feelings toward Palestinians generally that you pitch arguments against them that are more angry than reasonable. Thus, they have worked against peace.

      As you know, the IDF has killed 100 Palestinian men, women, and children for every Israeli life lost. Fathers on the other side – fathers who did no wrong – weep as you have wept, and are driven deeper into the assumption that what Israelis want is to kill them all.

      The Obama illustration is inappropriate: no international law prohibits anyone from building in Chicago.
      The murders of Israelis match murders of Palestinians just as savage.
      And no one – outside zealots of either side – believes murderers should be held up as heroes.

      As long as Palestinians and Israelis falsely condemn all those who oppose them as murderers and terrorists, murder and terror will continue. Those terrorists killed your precious children because someone convinced them that Israelis were unreasonable, savage animals; it’s the very argument you pitch about Palestinians.
      And as long as people look for more reasons to justify their animosity toward the whole in the actions of a few, children will perish.

      Hate can only beget hate; it will never end a conflict. The whole world awaits heroes of both sides – Gandhis – who will beat their swords into plowshares and unstoppably pay any price to insist upon peace. This conflict is too great for anything but love to resolve.

      Will the tragedies prove too great for the heroes of Israel to rise above fruitless revenge? May the loss of precious children call men and women to bravely reject the self-indulgence of hatred and begin to war against war, so that no child of any human being must pay such a price.


      March 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

  2. I certainly have no need to defend him; these things do not look good, that is true.

    I felt from the beginning that I would be a part of the opposition no matter who was elected. Not the party-based opposition, but the unofficial suspicious-of-power opposition. While I want to give him the benefit of the doubt where possible, I’m convinced that power is inherently seductive, and those who hold it must always be expecting accountability from those who don’t. This guy hears a little better than the last one, and driving these messages home to him is the name of the game, I suspect.
    Keep hammering!
    Much respect,

    Monte Asbury

    March 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

  3. I hope you are right, Monte. I so very deeply hope you are right, but, even if you are, the costs of these political feints for we only hope higher goals are SEVERE, and he’s doing a pitch-perfect job of maintaining the status quo. So I am beside myself with loathing right now, even if you turn out to be right about this… even though it would be a huge relief if you were. I mean, it’s so bad now that no matter how noble his intent, his means have destroyed my trust in his human decency. I can’t think of anything that would win it back.


    March 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  4. I’m afraid it won’t have been enough to overshadow the huge loss of Chas Freeman today, Monte. I am beside myself. I’m bursting with the worst hostility toward Obama, at least on a par with that I felt toward * and Fudd. They’re making all kinds of excuses, and Schumer’s trying to take the blame, but all Obama had to do is say, “It’s Freeman, and that’s final,” and we would have had a decent shot at a decent NIC and as decent a Middle East policy as we could manage, but, no, that’s out the window with the cruel swipes of The Holocaust Industry, and I am crestfallen underneath my synapse-melting ire right now.

    It just boils down to X more incinerated Palestinian babies.

    That’s the bottom line. :-(


    March 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    • Indeed, that is a grave loss.
      I believe that Obama’s lay-low strategy is intentional. He knows that if Israel perceives a glimmer of anti-Israel attitude, those on its right – including the new government – become instantly intractable. Obama, then, wants to keep them guessing, avoiding pro-Palestinian gestures, knowing they’ll result in reduced possibility of negotiated settlement. It’s a matter of subtle signals to both sides.

      Don’t forget, George Mitchell, the Special Envoy to the region, is an Arab-American. It’s no accident that Obama’s chief of staff is Jewish, and his Special Envoy is Lebanese. Those are big signs of hope for both sides, which just might keep them in the game long enough to accomplish something.

      Obama usually avoids making gestures so definite that they tip his hand. This sends the left into spasms, for we want so much to see truth vindicated. But I think he’s more interested in accomplishing the real vindication than in shorter-term appearances – even to the point of sacrificing some things he’d really like, like Charles Freeman.

      I hope, further, that the sending of troops to Afghanistan is designed to demonstrate a commitment to slug it out in order to gain a negotiated settlement without doing so. Again, this makes us crazy, for it looks on the surface like same old, same old. I’m betting it’s a feint, and the look is the goal.


      March 13, 2009 at 10:27 am

  5. Well, that’s a change. Not sure I can believe in it, though.


    March 10, 2009 at 6:15 am

  6. hi monte- just wanted to let you know that i read this- and i want to thank you for doing so- and for your efforts to try and make clear- what we are being told and what is actually going on are two different things indeed!

    Monte Says: Ah, you encourage me to keep at it. Thanks so much!

    karen todd

    March 6, 2009 at 9:31 pm

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