Surprise, surprise: Once again the word Palestine was erased from the discourse of a Presidential debate. Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama, nor any of the American voters asking questions, uttered the word Palestine. Nor did the words Gaza or the West Bank cross anyone’s lips. Instead they danced around the daily invasions, assassinations, home demolitions, destruction of homes and olive groves, the pollution and theft of water, the siege on Gaza. Likewise an entire history of ethnic cleansing and massacres of Palestinians that continue unabated went unmentioned. Interesting that Americans are very worried about nuclear weapons landing on “Israel,” but no one seems to be worried about the fact that if nuclear–or any other weapons from Iran for that matter–landed here Palestinians would die too. Here is the question and the responses from both mainstream candidates on the subject of Iran and the Zionist state:
Shirey: Senator, as a retired Navy chief, my thoughts are often with those who serve our country. I know both candidates, both of you, expressed support for Israel.
If, despite your best diplomatic efforts, Iran attacks Israel, would you be willing to commit U.S. troops in support and defense of Israel? Or would you wait on approval from the U.N. Security Council?
McCain: Well, thank you, Terry (ph). And thank you for your service to the country.
I want to say, everything I ever learned about leadership I learned from a chief petty officer. And I thank you, and I thank you, my friend. Thanks for serving.
Let — let — let me say that we obviously would not wait for the United Nations Security Council. I think the realities are that both Russia and China would probably pose significant obstacles.
And our challenge right now is the Iranians continue on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons, and it’s a great threat. It’s not just a threat — threat to the state of Israel. It’s a threat to the stability of the entire Middle East.
If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, all the other countries will acquire them, too. The tensions will be ratcheted up.
What would you do if you were the Israelis and the president of a country says that they are — they are determined to wipe you off the map, calls your country a stinking corpse?
Now, Sen. Obama without precondition wants to sit down and negotiate with them, without preconditions. That’s what he stated, again, a matter of record.
I want to make sure that the Iranians are put enough — that we put enough pressure on the Iranians by joining with our allies, imposing significant, tough sanctions to modify their behavior. And I think we can do that.
I think, joining with our allies and friends in a league of democracies, that we can effectively abridge their behavior, and hopefully they would abandon this quest that they are on for nuclear weapons.
But, at the end of the day, my friend, I have to tell you again, and you know what it’s like to serve, and you know what it’s like to sacrifice, but we can never allow a second Holocaust to take place.
Brokaw: Sen. Obama?
Obama: Well, Terry, first of all, we honor your service, and we’re grateful for it.
We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. It would be a game-changer in the region. Not only would it threaten Israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but it would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
And so it’s unacceptable. And I will do everything that’s required to prevent it.
And we will never take military options off the table. And it is important that we don’t provide veto power to the United Nations or anyone else in acting in our interests.
It is important, though, for us to use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the scenario where we’ve got to make those kinds of choices.
And that’s why I have consistently said that, if we can work more effectively with other countries diplomatically to tighten sanctions on Iran, if we can reduce our energy consumption through alternative energy, so that Iran has less money, if we can impose the kinds of sanctions that, say, for example, Iran right now imports gasoline, even though it’s an oil-producer, because its oil infrastructure has broken down, if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need and the refined petroleum products, that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them.
Now, it is true, though, that I believe that we should have direct talks — not just with our friends, but also with our enemies — to deliver a tough, direct message to Iran that, if you don’t change your behavior, then there will be dire consequences.
If you do change your behavior, then it is possible for you to re-join the community of nations.
Now, it may not work. But one of the things we’ve learned is, is that when we take that approach, whether it’s in North Korea or in Iran, then we have a better chance at better outcomes.
When President Bush decided we’re not going to talk to Iran, we’re not going to talk to North Korea, you know what happened? Iran went from zero centrifuges to develop nuclear weapons to 4,000. North Korea quadrupled its nuclear capability.
We’ve got to try to have talks, understanding that we’re not taking military options off the table.
While this wasn’t the vapid race to profess love that we saw when Joe Biden and Sarah Palin debated, it was equally disturbing. It is disturbing that these would-be leaders think that it is Iran that is the threat to stability in the region. There was no instability in the region until Americans and Europeans invaded the region and unleashed their war machine on Iraq. The U.S. invaded Iraq by its hyperbolic warmongering and by spreading unfounded fears and deceptions masquerading as facts that made this possible. The same is true when they misquote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement about the Zionist state’s existence. Ahmadinejad has said two key things on the subject: one, that Palestinians should not have had to pay for a European problem (i.e., the Nazi holocaust) and two, that the state of Israel is a racist, colonial state that should not exist. That does not mean that he is calling for a second holocaust. Rather, it means the Zionist regime is illegal and illegitimate. As illegitimate as the French in Algeria or as the English in India. By not talking about Palestinians as indigenous people whose rights have been violated for over 120 years, since Zionist colonialism began in earnest, and by bandying about words like “second holocaust” they play right into the hands of the Israeli lobby. They are continuing in this grand tradition of using the Nazi holocaust as a weapon to push through billions of dollars in military aid to the Zionist regime. Interesting that with all these fears about the economy not one American at this town hall can make the connection between this obscene amount of aid–obscene in its amount and obscene in terms of how it murders Palestinians and Lebanese on a regular basis–granted to the state of Israel and the economic woes that face the U.S. today.
Most estimates, many based on evidence leaked in 1986 by Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, put the number of Israeli nuclear weapons at between 100 and 200. But other experts have said the number is as low as 60 or as high as 400.
The United Nations or the world community must regulate nuclear proliferation–and this, of course applies to the U.S., the only nation to use them against another nation and its own citizens–in a way that maintains equality among all nations.
But back to the settler colonial Zionists who occupy Palestine illegally. I posted a review of a new book by an Israeli historian last year, which seems to be coming out in English later this year. This important book by Shlomo Sand argues that the Jews who colonized Palestine had no historical relationship to this land. Jonathan Cook has a new review of the book in today’s National:
Dr Sand argues that the idea of a Jewish nation – whose need for a safe haven was originally used to justify the founding of the state of Israel – is a myth invented little more than a century ago.
An expert on European history at Tel Aviv University, Dr Sand drew on extensive historical and archaeological research to support not only this claim but several more – all equally controversial.
In addition, he argues that the Jews were never exiled from the Holy Land, that most of today’s Jews have no historical connection to the land called Israel and that the only political solution to the country’s conflict with the Palestinians is to abolish the Jewish state….
Dr Sand’s main argument is that until little more than a century ago, Jews thought of themselves as Jews only because they shared a common religion. At the turn of the 20th century, he said, Zionist Jews challenged this idea and started creating a national history by inventing the idea that Jews existed as a people separate from their religion.
Equally, the modern Zionist idea of Jews being obligated to return from exile to the Promised Land was entirely alien to Judaism, he added.
“Zionism changed the idea of Jerusalem. Before, the holy places were seen as places to long for, not to be lived in. For 2,000 years Jews stayed away from Jerusalem not because they could not return but because their religion forbade them from returning until the messiah came.”
The biggest surprise during his research came when he started looking at the archaeological evidence from the biblical era.
“I was not raised as a Zionist, but like all other Israelis I took it for granted that the Jews were a people living in Judea and that they were exiled by the Romans in 70AD.
“But once I started looking at the evidence, I discovered that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were legends. “Similarly with the exile. In fact, you can’t explain Jewishness without exile. But when I started to look for history books describing the events of this exile, I couldn’t find any. Not one.
“That was because the Romans did not exile people. In fact, Jews in Palestine were overwhelming peasants and all the evidence suggests they stayed on their lands.”
What Sand is saying is no different than Ahmadinejad. It’s just coming from a different source. A source who has researched the subject extensively.
Starting tonight Jews will begin their Yom Kippur holiday. This is a holiday that asks Jews to atone for their sins. Let’s examine some of them, shall we? Perhaps we can evaluate how the Jews of Israel are doing:
You shall not murder.
You shall not steal.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
It seems to me that the foundation of the Zionist state violates these three commandments, those that I personally find the most valuable of the ten. The entire history of the state of Israel is dependent upon violating these very commandments. But it is not just history. It is present-day reality. Take, for example, what happened here in Nablus last night:
The Palestine News reported that dozens of soldiers, members of the under-cover units of the Israeli military, supported by a number of military vehicles invaded on Tuesday morning the Al Far’a refugee camp, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and surrounded a number of homes while firing at random, several residents were wounded; one seriously.
Israeli forces have killed 5,526 Palestinians over the past eight years including 1,010 children under 18 and 340 women and girls, says a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) International and National Relations Department report released recently.
The report was released in commemoration of the eighth anniversary of Al-Aqsa Intifada, the second uprising of Palestinians in the occupied territories. According to the report, 664 of the victims were school students and 11 were journalists.
Furthermore, 33,000 Palestinians were injured and 15,000 suffered from the inhalation of tear gas. More than 7,500 citizens were disabled including 3,600 who were “permanently handicapped.”
The report also highlighted that 247 Gazans died as they were denied travel outside the Gaza Strip for medical treatment.
With regards to demolition of houses, the PLO report recorded 8,300 demolitions including 900 houses in Jerusalem which Israeli authorities destroyed on the pretext that they were built without permits.
According to the report, over the past eight years, Israeli forces have detained more than 65,000 Palestinians, of whom 11,000 are still in Israeli jails. As a result of negligence and dire prison conditions, 76 prisoners died in custody since the beginning of the Intifada eight years ago.
As for military checkpoints and roadblocks, the PLO report stated that since the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada, Israeli forces erected 93 checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers and 537 roadblocks closing different routes across the West Bank using earth and rocks as well as huge cement blocks.
The report concluded with highlighting an escalation in assaults and harassments by Israeli settlers against Palestinian citizens, especially in Hebron in the southern West bank and Nablus in the north. According to the report, 167 Palestinians were killed at the hands of settlers since the beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada.
These checkpoints, illegal settlements, and house demolitions exist because the Zionists covet this land and steal more of it each day. This is, of course, in addition to the widespread murder and theft of people into Israeli jails each day. It seems to me that if such a holiday mattered or of Jews took their religion seriously they would repent and leave or repent and dismantle their state and make it a democratic state for all who live here without special privileges for Jews.
Of course for those of us living in Palestine this holiday also means another closure, lock down in other words. But of course, you didn’t hear any of this in that debate last night, did you?