By Richard Edmondson
Israel has just stolen more Palestinian land, and this time a rather sizable chunk of it.
Approximately 580 acres (or 234 hectares) have been seized in the Occupied West Bank near the Dead Sea for construction of Jewish settlements as well as tourism facilities and other commercial enterprises. A Reuters report refers to it as “the largest land confiscation in the West Bank in recent years.”
It is in fact considerably larger than the 380 acres the Netanyahu government had announced back in January that it intended seizing in this very same area. Moreover, this latest land grab comes in the wake of an Israeli killing spree that has claimed the lives of nearly 190 Palestinians just since last October 1.
Yet despite all this, the state of Arizona just became the latest state to approve anti-BDS legislation with passage of a bill this past Monday by a vote of 42-16. The bill, which now awaits the signature of the state’s governor, will prohibit state investment in companies that boycott Israel and will require all entities doing business with the state to certify that they don’t participate in such efforts. The legislation was sponsored by Republican House Speaker David M. McGowan Sr., who referred to Israel as Arizona’s “dear friend in the Middle East.”
But that doesn’t even begin to give a full picture of the problem.
Earlier this month a brouhaha erupted at the University of Minnesota after it was discovered that 81 Minnesota state legislators had signed onto a private letter sent to university president Eric Kaler calling upon him to publicly oppose BDS. Kaler complied. Specifically, he came out in opposition to a BDS resolution scheduled for vote on March 8 by the Minnesota Student Association (MSA), the school’s student governmental body. The vote was quashed–meaning the measure never even got discussed or voted upon. At the outset of the meeting, a motion was introduced to strike it completely from the agenda–both it, as well as a counter-measure attempting to equate BDS with anti-Semitism and that had been introduced by a pro-Israel campus group.
The introduction of the counter-measure was something of a life buoy for Kaler, offering him the means of appearing fair and evenhanded by casting himself as an opponent of both measures. He was, he said, opposing BDS because it could go against the University’s “commitment to the free exchange of ideas,” yet he also disapproved labeling BDS supporters as anti-Semites since this might “limit the prospects for constructive campus dialogue.” It was a slippery-eel sort of statement–issued just hours before the meeting was to take place–and it might have allowed the university president to skate away from the whole affair with his credibility more or less intact–but for the news of the letter which emerged two days later in a report by the school newspaper.
A copy of the letter was also obtained by the campus Students for Justice in Palestine group and posted on its website.
“We as the undersigned legislators of the State of Minnesota–in this bi-partisan and bi-cameral manner–urge you to publicly and resolutely oppose this resolution before this perilous vote is taken,” the state lawmakers entreated Kaler.
Why would these lawmakers view a vote on a student BDS measure as being so “perilous” to the state of Minnesota? In a recent article I reported that Israel’s attacks upon the BDS movement are part of an effort to create a “firewall” around itself, and I mentioned there is now even a nonprofit organization known as Firewall Israel, supported by the Israeli think tank the Reut Institute.
The “firewall” is in essence a “fearwall.” Reut’s aim, as I noted, is to “frame” the BDS movement as anti-Semitic, with the ultimate goal of causing those who support it to have to pay “a heavy political, societal, and personal price.” But apparently there is more on the line than just branding people with the “anti-Semite” label. In January of 2015, Reut sponsored a three-day Firewall Israel “legitimacy hackathon” in Tel Aviv with the expressed intent of organizing “cyber and technology experts to build a network and design technological tools to combat Israel’s delegitimization,” and just last month it was reported that Israel will pour $26 million this year into a covert cyber operation aimed at the BDS movement.
All of this would understandably make Minnesota politicians a little nervous. Israel realizes it is losing–or has already lost–the war of ideas. What Reut’s gambit suggests is that the Jewish state is now willing to resort to fear tactics and intimidation in order to continue to have its way, this while it continues to extort billions in US taxpayer subsidies to further its occupation of the Palestinians and the theft of their lands.
Both the president and vice president of the MSA issued a statement sharply critical of Kaler for his intervention in the student vote on the issue. Hundreds had gathered on the night the vote was to be taken, and the pro-BDS measure had reportedly been endorsed by 35 different organizations. Supporters of the resolution had even designed a logo for the campaign:
“University of Minnesota Divest” urges the logo, with the “I” in the word divest in the shape of an olive branch. Meanwhile, supporters of the counter measure–with apparently the deliberate intention of promulgating fear and intimidation–introduced an altered version of the logo, with the olive branch replaced by a swastika:
Kaler had “intervened in the actions of the undergraduate student government, prioritizing potential [public relations] or legislative consequences over the student voice,” said MSA President Joelle Stangler and Vice President Abeer Syedah.
“People were in a state of feeling that their agency had been taken away from them because the president decided to insert an opinion into the discussion,” Stangler went on to say.
In addition to the fear factor, the greed factor was also most likely driving the 81 legislators’ concern. Trade between Minnesota and Israel topped $91 million in 2014, and there is also an American-Israel Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota, dedicated to being a “catalyst for developing strategic alliances between the business communities of Minnesota and Israel.”
While economic relationships like this might be profitable for a few business owners, do they really serve the long term national interest? Can the 81 lawmakers in Minnesota or Arizona House Speaker McGowan explain how America’s interest, or even that of their own states, is helped by continuing assistance to a country whose transgressions probably meet the legal definition of genocide?
And even aside from the narrow, self-serving state-and-national interests, there are also moral issues to be taken into consideration. Israel has systematically displaced an entire people from their homeland. As of 2014, there were 121 officially recognized settlements in the West Bank, all built upon land essential for the establishment of a Palestinian state. In order to maintain this occupation, Israel has engaged in methodical brutality that includes deliberate destruction of peoples’ homes, torture, extrajudicial executions, and incarceration of children. The people who resist this occupation are portrayed as terrorists, while Israeli soldiers are given carte blanche to shoot anyone in any act of resistance, including children with rocks:
That's how we face death , fearless with dignity and honor pic.twitter.com/oEtBP3q6bl
— manal ✌ tamimi (@screamingtamimi) March 15, 2016
The relationship that exists between the US and Israel is precisely the sort of foreign entanglement our founding fathers warned against. America, Thomas Jefferson said, should have “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations–entangling alliances with none.” Washington was perhaps even more blunt: Americans should “act for ourselves and not for others,” by forming an “American character wholly free of foreign attachments.”
The overwhelming majority of America’s present political leaders, however, are in thrall to a foreign lobby, and this is obviously having a disastrous effect on our nation. Even when we elect someone to Congress who exhibits a level of moral integrity, or seems to, the integrity formerly on display disappears after they assume office. Is there a way to turn this situation around? Does the political system, as it presently exists, offer us any hope?
It does, but it takes believing in ourselves and believing in what we can accomplish when we join together. And it also takes the formation of a new political party specifically designed to meet the challenge of the day. I would propose the establishment of the End Aid to Israel Party (EAIP). The vision is to cut off all US money, as well as all other forms of support, until such time as a government is in place in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that represents all its people. By specifically stating the key objective in the party’s name, we help ensure that EAIP members remain faithful on the matter of this one crucial, unavoidable and imperative issue.
Certainly, life is complex, and no political party, just as no government, can survive long by concerning itself with one issue alone, and for that reason, the EAIP’s position on other issues should be articulated as well– though not in the party’s name. What I would suggest instead is a party platform or manifesto. Here our position on a number of other issues, domestic as well as international, could be outlined as well. It might behoove us, for instance, to call for an end to the Federal Reserve, or anti-trust legislation to break up large media monopolies. Obviously a reopened 9/11 investigation would be a high priority as well, as would an investigation into past and present US officials for war crimes.
At the international level we could call for peaceful relations with Russia, open trade ties with Iran, and the disbanding of NATO. It would also be incumbent upon us to take into account the millions of people whose lives have been destroyed by our wars. What I would propose for starters is that we seize the holdings of all media owners who promoted these wars–not just their media properties alone but everything we can get our hands on, including their investments, their yachts, their vacation villas. Then I propose we initiate a program to pay reparations to the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan using the proceeds from these seized assets.
These of course are simple solutions. Other problems, such as preservation of the environment, creating jobs at livable wages, or providing healthcare to the poor, may prove more intractable. But once we eliminate the problem of Zionist control over our government we will find ourselves suddenly with a greater wherewithal and capability of solving many of our other problems as well.
Be prepared. The EAIP will come under attack from the mainstream media naturally. These attacks are likely to be joined by Firewall Israel and the Zionist state’s army of paid Internet trolls, and before it’s over it could all become quite ugly. Expect the Internet to be flooded with caricatures and memes, employing swastikas and other symbols, in an effort to smear and defame our party, to portray it as anti-Semitic and the like. They will attempt to stand reality on its head, to depict the EAIP literally as the opposite of what it stands for. But here is where we get a helping hand–from the people of Palestine. And at this point I would call your attention to the video I posted at the top of this page…
There are any number of videos like this, but I chose this one as it’s particularly powerful. I do not know who the girl is, and it might be nice if someone with the technology to do so were to preserve the video before it is removed from YouTube. But a video of this nature, prominently displayed on the EAIP’s website, has the potential to deflect a whole lot of criticism. When anyone accuses us of “anti-Semiticism,” we simply point to it and say, “This is why aid to Israel must be stopped!”
We can of course answer the accusations against us in many other ways as well, and we should always challenge our enemies to engage us with logic and evidence rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks, but as the old saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words. And a series of images of a terrified young girl struck down by a group of grown men with firearms is like an odyssey into a madhouse, a juggernaut to the cerebral cortex.
The most important thing for a new political party to keep in mind is that it is now possible for politicians to win votes based upon their opposition to Israel. This was proven recently in an election in Ireland, when Gino Kenny won a seat in the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament. Kenny celebrated his victory by waving a Palestinian flag:
The Palestinian flag has become something more than simply the flag of Palestine. It has become the symbol of human liberation and resistance to repression. And this is why the time has come for a new political party in America–a party that spells out its mission right in the party name.
Support the End Aid to Israel Party–and please spread this post far and wide!
Richard Edmondson is an author, novelist, poet, and journalist whose writings often focus on Middle East issues, the Zionist lobby, and religion. His latest novel is The Memoirs of Saint John: When the Sandstone Crumbles, a story about an archaeological team doing a dig in Syria and set amidst the current conflict in the country.
In 2014 Richard attended an International Conference on Combating Terrorism and Religious Extremism, held in Damascus. The book is part two in the Memoirs of Saint John series.
Two other books by Richard are Rising Up: Class Warfare in America from the Streets to the Airwaves, relating his experiences founding and operating an unlicensed or “pirate” FM radio station in San Francisco in the 1990s, as well as a volume of poetry entitled American Bus Stop: Essay and Poems on Hope and Homelessness.
Richard is cognizant of the words of the early Christian writer Tertullian, who in the second century-basically prognosticating the fall of the Roman Empire-wrote: “We have made merry amid the ludicrous cruelties of the noonday exhibition.”