Sunday, January 24, 2010

America, Meet Henry Siegman!

Jim Wall, former editor of the Christian Century, continues to advocate "change" in the equation between Israelis and Palestinians. His regular blog ( keeps introducing us to persons who contribute insight and make practical suggestions for genuine change.

In his current issue, he quotes from an article in NATION by Henry Siegman, a veteran Jewish author who is respected in the "peace camp" (though of course, not favored by Zionists).

America is oblivious to what is obvious to the rest of the world: that the US supports an Apartheid, exclusively Jewish nation which continues to disenfranchise the natives of the land.

In its relentless efforts to "settle" the entirety of Palestine, (at the expense of the natives), the former and present Zionist enterprise fuels anti-Americanism, betrays our ideals, energizes Osama bin Laden, and our al-Qaeda adversaries. We conduct our "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and confront Iran and now Yemen, as though our efforts are not being viewed through the lens of support for oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine.

It will take more conversation with your neighbors, Congress persons, and the present administration, to begin withholding support for the Israeli state as it is now conducting its affairs. Of course our President doesn't want to commit political suicide, nor do our congress persons want to lose their positions. But friends, it has to start somewhere. When Moses began to confront the Pharoah, he was not a popular guy. But he kept insisting that his people be "free" to follow their God. What seemed a hopeless endeavor finally yielded results.

I'm sending you the last half of Jim Wall's current blog. For the complete article, please go to . Better yet, subscribe to receive his material on a regular basis. The following then, is from Wall's blog:

His [Henry Siegman's] latest Nation essay,“Imposing Middle East Peace”, includes this cogent analysis:

Sooner or later the White House, Congress and the American public–not to speak of a Jewish establishment that is largely out of touch with the younger Jewish generation’s changing perceptions of Israel’s behavior–will have to face the fact that America’s “special relationship” with Israel is sustaining a colonial enterprise.

Our “special relationship” with Israel is unique in American foreign policy. We have funded and endorsed decades of illegal and immoral conduct by a nation claiming to be a democracy, while, in fact, it has hidden behind America’s protective screen, to build a racist state with policies antithetical to democratic values.

A compliant and controlled American media, a bought and paid for Congress, and a succession of presidents intimidated by both the media and the Congress, have allowed Israel to create a false image of a democracy seeking peace.

Israel’s current leaders believe they can continue to bamboozle the West into believing the state of Israel is so special that its colonialism is merely following the pioneering spirit of western colonial powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Israel just got to the party a little late. After World War II, colonialism was passe.

Before the 20th century and modern communications, colonialism was known as “expansion”. Exploitation of indigenous populations by Western powers was viewed as a race to power. May the empire with the superior ordnance win!

The American western plains and the jungles of Africa were not exposed to a 20th century technology that sees all and tells all.

Modern Israel’s founding parents knew that modernity had created a different climate for empire building. Winning the hearts and minds of the western world, and selling the West on the Israeli narrative, has always been as important to Israel as having a powerful American sponsor for its military and economic development.

Israel established its own “don’t ask, don’t tell”, agreement with the US. Don’t ask us, and don’t tell others, about our expansion plan and our Dimona nuclear program, and we will provide you with your very own colonial outpost in the heart of the Middle East.

Those Israeli founding parents created an ethnic cleansing plan which had to remain hidden, because after World War II, ethnic cleansing was no longer kosher.

It was not until Israel’s own New Historians, led by scholars like Ilan Pappe, began to dig into Israel’s pre-1947 plans to colonize Palestine, that outsiders could see the meticulous planning that allowed Israel to peddle itself as a new nation led by brave frontier fighters. Moshe Dayan meet Andrew Jackson.

Henry Siegman opens his Nation essay with some of that history:

Israel’s relentless drive to establish “facts on the ground” in the occupied West Bank, a drive that continues in violation of even the limited settlement freeze to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed himself, seems finally to have succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project.

As a result of that “achievement,” one that successive Israeli governments have long sought in order to preclude the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from “the only democracy in the Middle East” to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.

To describe Israel as an apartheid state, is to attack Israel at its most vulnerable spot: its image as a democracy. To identify Israel with South African apartheid was a dangerous crack in the wall of ignorance behind which Israel has conducted its oppression of the Palestinian people. Siegman again:

When a state’s denial of the individual and national rights of a large part of its population becomes permanent, it ceases to be a democracy. When the reason for that double disenfranchisement is that population’s ethnic and religious identity, the state is practicing a form of apartheid, or racism, not much different from the one that characterized South Africa from 1948 to 1994.

What Israel has become, is what its founding fathers planned from the outset. Siegman explains:

The democratic dispensation that Israel provides for its mostly Jewish citizens cannot hide its changed character. By definition, democracy reserved for privileged citizens–while all others are kept behind checkpoints, barbed-wire fences and separation walls commanded by the Israeli army–is not democracy but its opposite.

The Jewish settlements, with their supporting infrastructure spanning the West Bank from east to west and north to south, are not a wild growth, like weeds in a garden. They have been carefully planned, financed and protected by successive Israeli governments and Israel’s military.

Their purpose has been to deny the Palestinian people independence and statehood–or to put it more precisely, to retain Israeli control of Palestine “from the river to the sea,” an objective that precludes the existence of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state east of Israel’s pre-1967 border.

Colonial enterprises conquer indigenous populations and make the land their own. Justice is not in their playbook; control is.

Facing such a formidable and intractable problem, how should Obama proceed? Henry Siegman believes:

Middle East peacemaking efforts will continue to fail, and the possibility of a two-state solution will disappear, if US policy continues to ignore developments on the ground in the occupied territories and within Israel, which now can be reversed only through outside intervention.

President Obama is uniquely positioned to help Israel reclaim Jewish and democratic ideals on which the state was founded – if he does not continue “politics as usual.”

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