Friday, August 28, 2015

A voice speaks out for Palestinians

As I have written here often, I find it impossible to say who is right or wrong in the Israel-Palestine territorial controversy.   Both sides have claim to the land at different times in history, and each side has justifiable grievances against the other.   In such situations, I tend to favor the underdog, the one with inadequate resources or power to make a fair fight for justice.

Here is a voice speaking out for the Palestinians.   Alon Ben-Meir, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Affairs, NYU, wrote this article several weeks ago: "Susiya:  Injustice on Display." 

He writes about the Palestinian village of Susiya in the occupied West Bank that is under order for demolition and forced removal of hundreds of Palestinians whose families have been living in that land from the time of the Ottoman Empire.    They have ownership deeds to back up their claims.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's excuse for expelling the Palestinians is that it is the site of archeological remains of both a 5th century synagogue and a 10th century mosque.   But, Ben-Neir writes:

"The real reason is that Netanyahu is leading a coalition government which is committed to preventing the Palestinians from building anywhere in Area C, which represents 61 percent of the West Bank, and is openly seeking its outright annexation. 

"This policy is repeatedly reinforced by the government's refusal to grant building permits to Susiya residents, when at the same time it is providing all the funding for facilities and security to a religious communal Israeli settlement established in 1986 with the same name only a short distance south of Palestinian Susiya.

". . . It is hard to express how outrageous the behavior of Netanyahu's government is when only hours after Israel's High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of two illegally-built structures in the West Bank [Israeli] settlement of Beit El, Netanyahu authorized the immediate construction of 300 units in the same settlement. . . . 

"The implications of this inhuman action, should it be carried out, transcends the demolition of one Palestinian village. It points out not only the hypocrisy of Netanyahu and his cohorts, but the moral decadence of a government that seems bent on defying the international community and the basic tenets of civilized behavior.

"Susiya is but another example of the Netanyahu government's flagrant and callous disregard of the Palestinians' fundamental right to live with dignity . . . .  At a time when Israel's image is tarnished, demolishing Palestinian Susiya will only intensify the already massive international condemnation of the Israeli occupation and the Netanyahu government's insatiable thirst for more Palestinian land.

"Netanyahu's demagoguery has been time and again put on full display when he talks about a two-state solution, but then continues to expand the settlements by providing them with amenities while at the same time depriving scores of Palestinian villages of their basic need for water and electricity . . . .  

"After 47 years of occupation, the time has come for all decent Israelis to think about the future of their country. Where is Israel heading, and for how much longer can the occupation and the injustices continue without jeopardizing Israel's very existence . . . [and] destroying the moral foundations on which Israel was established?"

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Yes, in order to form a new government after the recent elections, Netanyahu had to build a coalition with some of the ultra-orthodox political parties on the far right.   But actions like Ben-Meir describes predated this further tilt to the right.   It has been Natanyahu's pattern all along.

World opinion is turning against Israel's current actions -- and mine along with it.   Israel, as it was originally conceived, was a noble idea of democracy and sanctuary;  it's leadership was of the highest moral caliber.     It grows increasingly hard to remember it in those terms.   That is very sad . . . and tragic for everyone.


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