by Jack Dresser, Ph.D.
I’m referring of course to the Israel lobby. US Middle East foreign policy is so tightly linked to Israel’s self-proclaimed needs that some have asked why Israel doesn’t become our 51 state. The answer given st is that Israel would then have only two senators. As it stands now, Oregon alone provides it with two.
Senator Merkley is shamefully obedient to the Israel lobby, which represents a first-world country that extorts the largest foreign aid allowance in the world from American taxpayers and has for over five decades received knee-jerk protection by US vetoes in the UN Security Council from accountability for its numerous war crimes, continuous crimes against humanity, belligerent occupation, illegal blockade, invasions of all its contiguous neighbors, hideous massacres, bullying and degradation of helpless people under its fist, and resolute defiance of UN resolutions and international law.
Both our senators embarrass me as an American citizen and Oregon resident, but it is Merkley who is now up for undeserved re-election. To fully understand the embarrassment we all should feel, it is necessary to know at least the basics of “Holy Land” history, which I’ll try to encapsulate as succinctly as possible in a few pages. We all should know much more than either of our senators, who act as if they know very little. Since most people including politicians are uncomfortable with deliberate lying, it serves their political interests to remain – or appear to remain – largely ignorant and to accept the falsifications provided by Israel and its robust American lobby. “The Lobby” as it’s known in Washington, led by AIPAC, controls and directs substantial campaign funding that it cannot directly contribute as representatives of a foreign country – enough to make or break any political campaign and which few incumbents or aspiring candidates for office ever dare to challenge. The Israel lobby has unseated numerous US legislators who opposed it, including former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee William Fulbright, Senators Charles Percy and James Abourezk, and Congressional Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McClosky, and Cynthia McKinney, with Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib now in its crosshairs.
Before continuing further into specifics, I want to emphasize the clear distinction between Zionism and Judaism. Judaism is a religion that began in Palestine, as did Christianity. Palestine’s people are of Arab ethnicity, having descended from a common ancestry over some 4,000 years of archaeologically recorded history. Institutions of state and great urban centers began in the early Bronze Age, c. 3200 BCE. This included invention of the Semitic alphabet and construction of public buildings, temples, palaces, and fortification systems. Cities of Jericho, Jerusalem, Nablus, al-Ramla (now Ramallah), Nazareth, Tiberius, Safad, Hebron and the ports of Gaza, Haifa, Acre and Jaffa arose. Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires passed through, leaving their architectural and institutional marks and urban processes of economic diversification, social stratification and political governance. Jesus was a Palestinian Jew during the Roman period.
Following the Muslim conquest in 637-38 Palestine was governed within a larger Arab administrative province until World War I, interrupted for some 90 years by the Crusader Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12 century. As political dominance shifted, the population shifted predominant religious practices th adaptively. Early in the 20th century the population of Palestine was about 70-75% Muslim, 20-25% Christian, and about 5% Jewish. They spoke Semitic languages, predominantly Arabic, and had a complex, distinctive culture with large, well-developed cities and public institutions. The Jordan Valley of Palestine along with the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon had long formed the agriculturally rich western arc of the Fertile Crescent.
Myth #1 Thus the Zionist claim that it was “a land without a people” was preposterous and recognized as absurd by all the peoples of the Near East, North Africa, eastern Mediterranean and Europe that had been conducting vigorous trade with Palestine for centuries and recognized Palestine as a geographically and culturally distinct breadbasket of the region with abundant grain, citrus and other fruit orchards, and olive groves producing olive oil of unique quality. But due to our abysmally inadequate education in world history and geography, most Americans are wholly ignorant of this and therefore easily deceived. Our grotesquely ethnocentric education, which serves the grandiose collective self-image necessary for America’s violent imperial aggression with little citizen objection, has also served Israel’s creation myth involving similar violence and regional aggression that has remained ongoing for over seven decades.
Myth #2 Zionism is a political movement that arose in Europe among a Jewish population believed to have originated in Khazaria, a medieval trading empire of Turkic ethnicity that inhabited the Caucasus and region around the Black and Caspian seas including eastern Ukraine and southern Russia before converting to Judaism in the 8 century CE and emigrating west into Europe and north into European th Russia. Like Christianity, Judaism had been a proselytizing religion that established Jewish communities throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southwest Asia including Iran – which now has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel – and Khazaria. Thus Europe’s principal Jewish forbears were not from Palestine.
Myth #3 The World Zionist Organization was established in Switzerland in 1897 with the objective of finding a national Jewish homeland and soon set its sights on Palestine. Upon finding that Palestine was already populated, they determined that the Arabs must be expelled – a plan described by Zionist leader Zev Jabotinski in his 1923 book, The Iron Wall behind which he proposed the Arabs be permanently displaced. Both world wars were used by the Zionist movement to secure their hold on Palestine. WWI was used to manipulate the UK and League of Nations after defeat of the Ottoman Empire into assigning administration of Palestine to a British mandatory authority that permitted massive Jewish immigration. Unfortunately, the British failed to suppress the Jewish terrorist groups Haganah, Irgun and Lehi, while disarming the Palestinians. WWII opened the door to manipulation of a new, weak, USdependent United Nations to facilitate Zionist takeover of most of Palestine by their terrorist forces – a violent takeover in 1948 known to Palestinians as the Nakba or “catastrophe.” This immediately undermined the UN Charter that prohibits the use of force to acquire territory. Thus Israel was not established because of – but was in fact enabled by – the Holocaust. (European Jews – the Ashkenazim – are distinguished in Israel from Mizrahim or Arab Jews, who in general have occupied a lower social and economic status in Israel, which is a highly stratified and – according to Jewish friends who have visited or lived there and left – an appallingly racist society. Arab Jews had been actively recruited following the 1948 ethnic cleansing to enlarge Israel’s Jewish population and have largely been exploited to serve its European colonial ruling class.)
Myth #4 Zionist seizure was concealed behind a fourth commonly recited myth – that the UN gave Palestine to “the Jews” (i.e., Zionists, who DO NOT represent all Jews). Here’s what actually happened. The UN appointed a commission – UNSCOP – to make recommendations about Palestine despite the fact that Palestine was 93% Arab-owned with a 2/3 Arab population even following the heavy Jewish immigration. The UN Charter called for majority determination in the emergence of post-colonial nations and the UN had no legal standing to decide otherwise. The UN did not own Palestine and had no authority to arbitrarily partition it or give any part of it away. Nevertheless, UNSCOP under heavy US and Zionist lobbying recommended that 55% be given to the 30% Jewish minority, a recommendation that was narrowly confirmed through outright US extortion by UN General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947. Recognizing its illegitimacy, this recommendation was never ratified by the Security Council which was instead developing a 5-year UN trusteeship plan when well-organized, well-armed Zionist militias launched a unilateral, well-planned offensive that drove out some 300,000 helpless Palestinians and seized their properties even before the British had withdrawn in mid-May 1948 and with no UN force capable of stopping it.
Myth #5 Following British withdrawal, scattered Arab forces from newly decolonized countries intervened to protect areas that had been designated by UNGA 181 for the Palestinians and succeeded in saving just half – 22% of the intended Palestinian 45%. It is yet another favorite Zionist myth that Israel was attacked in 1948, when in fact these were defensive efforts against Zionist incursions into areas recommended by UNGA 181 for a future Palestine. Myth #6 Israel long claimed that the Palestinians left voluntarily or were directed to do so by Arab leaders. Israel’ own historians following declassification of Israeli archives in 1979 debunked this thoroughly, finding no evidence of this whatsoever.
During the 1948 Nakba and the following year, almost a million Palestinians were driven from their homes and communities, their properties confiscated by the Zionist forces, and expelled into 58 refugee camps in four neighboring countries established by the UN under a new agency for that explicit purpose – UNRWA – that still exists to care for these refugees. They have never been allowed to return despite the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights and UN Resolution 184 affirming their right to return, Israel’s 1949 pledge to allow their return as a condition of its UN membership that remains unfulfilled, and annual UN confirmation of that right ever since. Expulsion of Israel from the UN for its defiance of this and numerous other international laws is prevented only by the US veto in the UN Security Council. The vast majority of the world opposes Israel, resents its contemptuous disregard for the rules determined by and for the rest of humankind, and disrespects the US for supporting this. This is seen clearly in UN votes. In 44 of the 45 US vetoes cast in the 15-member UN Security Council that have protected Israel from international justice, no other UNSC member has joined us. In the 192-member UN General Assembly, there have been well over 100 resolutions condemning Israel. Each time there are only five predictable votes supporting Israel: the US, Israel, and three South Pacific island US protectorates who obey our directives – Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. During the Nakba, over 300 Palestinian villages and a dozen cities were depopulated or destroyed, its disarmed and helpless people terrorized by 33 massacres into fleeing from the path of oncoming Zionist brigades, with Palestinian properties confiscated and given to the colonial occupiers. The rightful owners – many of whom retain their deeds, titles and front door keys to this day – were prohibited from returning in defiance of UN Resolution 184 and Articles 13b and 17b of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirming their rights to return and regain their properties, and Israel’s 1949 pledge to allow this as a condition of its UN membership – a pledge that has remained unfulfilled for seven decades. This right has been re-confirmed annually by the UNGA ever since.
Myth #7 This is a myth within a myth – that “God gave us the land” – which appears to be an invention even within Old Testament mythology. Many Orthodox Jews say the Torah prohibits Jews from returning to Palestine until God sends a messiah to lead them. I don’t believe Ben Gurion carried his grandiosity quite that far, but in 1948 Menachim Begin did claim to be the world’s greatest terrorist.
Myth #8 In 1967 Israel attacked and occupied areas in Egypt, Jordan and Syria on the pretext that imminent attack was threatened by these three Arab states. IDF General Matti Peled stated at the time that this was ridiculous, that the Arab armies were unprepared for war and no threat whatsoever – which is why it took only 6 days to defeat them, seizing the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Long-proclaimed as a great Israeli victory, this initiated our unwavering support for Israel even though on June 8, 1967 Israel attacked and attempted to sink our USS Liberty intelligence vessel off the Sinai coast to monitor possible Soviet intervention to support Egypt, killing 172 American sailors. Only the Sinai has been returned, in exchange for generous US foreign aid to Egypt that endures until this day. Menachim Begin admitted in a 1982 address to the US War College that Israel’s attack was deliberate and unprovoked.
Myth #9 is Israel’s preposterous claim that its attack on the Liberty was “mistaken identity” confusing it with a much smaller 1920s-vintage Egyptian cargo vessel. Israel in fact attacked the Liberty to prevent identification of its war crimes nearby in the Sinai and/or its troop movement north to attack Jordan and Syria which the US opposed.
Myth #10 is Israel’s claim that it was invaded by Arab armies in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, from which the US rescued it through Operation Nickel Grass airlifts of supplies and air surveillance information on Arab troop movements. These battles were fought not in Israel but in the Israeli-occupied Sinai and Golan Heights where Egypt and Syria were attempting to regain lands stolen from them in 1967.
Myth #11 The familiar propaganda barrage that “they are terrorists, we are victims” has been endlessly recited ever since to justify Israeli aggression and repeated atrocities. This is a cynical reversal of reality. In fact, Israel has maintained an illegal, UN-designated “belligerent occupation” of the West Bank since 1967 in defiance of UNSC Resolution 242, an illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 immediately declared null and void by UNSC Resolutions 476 and 478, and a grotesquely illegal blockade of Gaza that meets all criteria defining war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide affirmed by distinguished international attorneys John Dugard and Richard Falk who have served as UN rapporteurs for the OPT. Beyond the intrinsic illegality of Israel’s 53-year occupation of the West Bank, it has systematically violated at least 16 Articles of the 4 Geneva Convention defining the limitations and responsibilities of an occupying power. Inter alia, the convention prohibits violence, degradation and denial of due process to occupied (“protected”) persons, destruction or arbitrary confiscation of occupied properties, deliberate suffering or injury inflicted upon occupied persons, territorial annexation, and movement of an occupier’s population into the occupied territory. It requires the occupying power to provide necessary care for the occupied population and protect their institutions. The West Bank includes 23 refugee camps with 3/4 million Palestinian refugees cared for not by Israel which created them but by UNRWA, and another eight camps in Gaza with 1.2 million refugees for which Israel is also responsible since it remains the occupying power under international law controlling Gazan borders and access to external resources and foreign trade, thereby denying it sovereignty.
Myth #12 Hamas prevailed in Palestine’s democratic election of 2006. Fatah, installed and controlled by Israel and the US, refused to vacate its parliamentary seats in an attempted coup. The truth was inverted to claim that Hamas displaced Fatah/PA legislators who in fact were simply claiming their elected positions. In the armed conflict that ensued, Hamas gained control of Gaza and remains its elected government with its steadfast resistance to Israeli domination used to justify continuous Israeli assaults. Israel first responded by imposing a suffocating blockade in 2007, an act of siege warfare implicitly violating the UN Charter that prohibits all aggressive war. Ever since then, we have witnessed repeated genocidal Israeli attacks on the captive population of this open-air prison.
Myth #13 Palestinian resistance against all these conditions is branded “terrorism” by Israel and the US. Again, reality is turned inside-out by propaganda. The terrorism has been inflicted 99% by Israel, most outrageously in Operation Cast Lead killing 1,400 in 2008-09, Operation Protective Edge killing 2,200 in 2014, and the 2018-19 cold-blooded sniper assassinations of 214 Palestinians conducting their Great March of Return every Friday unarmed near the separation fence, including 46 children. Israelis were apparently terrorized by “arson balloons” that justified inflicting cowardly atrocities upon some 36,100 Palestinian victims including nearly 8,800 minors, often left with deliberately disabling (e.g., spinal) injuries since telescopic lenses of sniper rifles in the hands of skilled snipers can be quite precise. Israeli violations of international law also include its 1982 invasion and 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon including the 1982 Israeli-supported Christian Phalangist massacres in the Sabra-Shatila Palestinian refugee camps enabled by US deception and failure to protect the camps as promised to induce PLO relocation to Tunis. This in turn motivated the 1983 retaliatory attack against US Marines in Beirut by Hezbollah, an organization formed to protect and eventually expel the Israeli invasion and occupation, now a respected political party in Lebanon and a continuing indispensable resource of military defense against Israel, providing a protective ally of Iran as well against Israeli aggression. Meanwhile, for 37 fruitless years the US, rather than enforce international law, has pretended to mediate “peace negotiations” as Israel expands its illegal settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land and properties. We have used only Zionism-friendly, neo-conservative “mediators” such as Dennis Ross – long-associated with the AIPAC-generated Washington Institute for Near East Policy while steadfastly vetoing every UN effort to discipline Israel for its endless atrocities and flagrant abrogations of international law and human rights. Of 28 articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Israel systematically violates at least 14 and thanks to US diplomatic protection and economic extortion, does so with complete impunity.
This brings us to Myth #14, that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” In truth, Israel is a democracy only for the 80% Jewish majority within Israel and for its settlers in the West Bank with Israeli citizenship. Racist Israeli historian Benny Morris criticized Ben-Gurion for not finishing the job in 1948, leaving some Palestinians within their newly declared Jewish state who lived under military occupation for 18 years. Nakba survivors and their descendants now account for some 20% of the Israeli population, a larger minority fraction than Blacks or Hispanics in the US. Yet unlike our own minorities, Palestinians within Israel live under an explicitly apartheid legal system, denied civil rights in almost every fundamental area of life with 67 discriminatory laws capped in 2018 by enactment of the Nationality Law. This Basic Law (these are analogous to a constitution, which Israel doesn’t have) declares Israel “the Nation-State of the Jewish People” and thereby denies the right of national self-determination to nonJewish indigenous Palestinians. This serves no practical purpose but simply makes de facto apartheid conditions de juris and adds profound insult to profound injury. Approximately half the population under Israeli control between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean are Palestinian – about 5 million in the West Bank and Gaza, and almost 2 million within Israel. In the West Bank, Palestinians live under repressive Israeli military law with effectively no legal protections. They are degraded and arbitrarily delayed at military checkpoints – often in cages – irrespective of medical, family emergency, employment, timely harvesting, school attendance, or other urgent needs. They are isolated from each other and even their own lands by the separation wall and Jewish-only roads they cannot use or cross in a diabolically designed bantustan network. Some 55,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished and their families – often multi-generational – displaced. They are attacked, arrested, imprisoned and killed without due process or consequences by settler and IDF assailants, including children seized, injured or shot without even notification of their parents. Some 40% of Palestinian men have been imprisoned at some time by Israel, almost entirely for engaging in some form of political resistance.
Myth #15 Israel claims the “right of self-defense.” But as UN Rapporteur John Dugard has pointed out, Israeli aggressions are protecting its illegal occupation and illegal blockade, which does not constitute “self-defense.” In Gaza two million are held prisoner, fenced in, with everything and everyone going in or out controlled by Israel. They are subjected to nightly Israeli military aircraft overflights, targeted assassinations of leaders, and periodic mass murder by IDF missile and bombing attacks destroying schools, hospitals, public facilities, power and sewage infrastructure, and residential buildings that Israel calls “mowing the lawn,” sometimes followed by armored troop invasions. These are inflicted on any pretext, usually low-tech, face-saving rockets from Gaza in response to relentless Israeli provocations. These rockets lack directional controls with minimal warheads that do little damage and kill about two Israelis a year, yet the Israeli public becomes hysterical, oblivious to their cruel, degrading, unjust, sadistic, despicable treatment of the Palestinians that evoke this nominal retaliation. Moreover, resistance to attack and occupation – including armed resistance – is legal under international law. It is Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations, not Israel, that have the right to self-defense.
Myth #16 is the long-discussed “two-state solution” that Israel has long-ago precluded by its relentless and systematic theft of Palestinian land. Even had the 1949-67 borders been retained, this “solution” would have limited the larger Palestinian population (significantly so with returning refugees) to 22% of land that was originally 93% theirs. It’s far less now. The West Bank is divided into three areas with over 50% under full Israeli control. The only “2-state solution” Israeli has considered would give Palestinians less than 10% of the land, no control of their borders, no military for self-protection, permission for Israeli intrusions, no control of water resources of which Israel already takes a grossly disproportionate share, no access to the outside world except through Israel, and other crippling limitations proposed in the Geneva Initiative, which has remained stalled since 2003. Israel proposes a “solution” no Palestinian leaders could possibly accept, then claims “no partner for peace” and continues its settlement expansion agenda currently focused on seizing all of Jerusalem. Myth #17 is the characterization of this monstrously abusive relationship as a “conflict” implying parity, mutual creation and responsibility, needing mediation and negotiation to resolve. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe described the Nakba as a crime that should be so-labeled. Israeli historians Avi Shlaim and Shlomo Sand in a filmed discussion agreed it was a “rape.” It has certainly been a 70-year armed robbery. In no system of law is the victim of a crime required to negotiate with the criminal on what or how much stolen property must be returned, nor is the criminal allowed to decide the sentence. That is the function of law and its enforcement. But in the Holy Land there has been no sheriff and no honest judge in town.
Myth #18 This history documents the greatest and most insidious lie of all: that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic, a lie the Israel lobby (which falsely claims itself the Jewish lobby) is working assiduously to incorporate into US law state-by-state. Israel itself is profoundly anti-Semitic by declaring itself the nation representing Jewish character, values and culture, and by doing so has become the principal stimulus for anti-Semitism worldwide. None among my numerous Jewish friends and professional colleagues through the years has remotely resembled Israel’s collective personality. None have been bullies, liars, thieves or killers. Expressing their civilized Jewish values, a growing number of principled Jews and Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace strongly oppose the Zionist project, as did many Jewish leaders in the beginning as well.
Israeli professor Nurit Peled-Elhanon had wondered how Israel turns ordinary children into “monsters” and conducting a study on Israeli schoolbooks she found the answer. Israeli curricula at every level grotesquely misrepresent Palestinians as primitive people with a wholly undeveloped culture, implacable enemies to be repressed and punished for any rebellion. Schoolbook maps of Israel show it as the whole region of historic Palestine, with the West Bank and Gaza indicated by dotted border lines denoting temporary status and statements of “no data for this area.” Nurit believes their educational system is designed to prepare students to assume their roles in IDF repression, abuse and displacement of Palestinians and protection of the colonial state from these restive natives. It is startlingly obvious that no Palestinian state or integrated society has ever been seriously considered despite Israel’s international propaganda myth to the contrary. Nurit’s 13-year-old daughter was killed by a suicide bomber, for which she blames her own country. I strongly recommend her book and numerous YouTube videos describing her findings.
There is much more to this reprehensible story (see my detailed website), enough of which should have been known by Sen. Merkley and compelled his fidelity to truth, justice and much more responsible actions. Instead, he has remained fully complicit in supporting this outlaw state despite ample opportunities to learn the truth and responsibility to support it.
Approaching elections, many if not most Americans believe they fulfill their citizenship duties by voting – that is, choosing between whatever corrupted, incompetent and uncaring alternatives our 2-headed political hydra places before them. Campaign speeches and stage-managed debates seize public attention. But when hiring for an important job position, do wise employers rely simply on a resumé provided them by the applicant or a tendentiously prepared, well-rehearsed presentation? The smart employer checks references, former employers, gaps in employment history, and possibly legal records. In the case of applicants for high public office, an extensive resumé beyond self-selection is always available.
So let’s examine Senator Merkley’s resumé from the public record regarding the Israeli takeover of Palestine and repression of its remaining indigenous people while representing the people of Oregon, an illuminating test of self-interest vs. principle – aka character.
2002. As House minority leader in the Oregon legislature, Merkley failed to report an all-expenses-paid junket to Israel funded by Project Interchange, a Washington D.C. lobby group providing “educational seminars” (i.e., pro-Israel propaganda) in Israel for “America’s policy and opinion makers.” This was not exposed until 2006.
2008. While campaigning for his current Senate seat, Merkley courted Palestinian activists and received two $2300 campaign contributions from Palestinian-American personal injury attorney Hala Gores and National Lawyers Guild attorney Tom Nelson who represented the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, but then returned their checks following attendance at a Jewish Federation forum where he had expressed a pro-Israel position, reportedly telling Gores “I don’t know if I am doing the right thing or the wrong thing. I want to win.” Gores had hosted a house party for Merkley at her Portland home, so he knew the facts but followed the long-range money.
2011. Merkley supported S. Res. 238 calling on the UN Human Rights Council members to repudiate the Goldstone report’s central findings and rescind the report. It urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to work with United Nations member states to reform the UNRHC to “no longer unfairly, disproportionately, and falsely criticize Israel.” It requested Ban Ki Moon to “do all in his power to redress the damage caused by the Goldstone report to Israel’s reputation.” And it urged the US “to take a leadership role in getting the U.N. and its bodies to prevent any further action on the report’s findings and limit the damage that this libelous report has caused to Israel and to the reputation of the U.N.”
As readers may recall, the Goldstone Report commissioned by the UNHRC to investigate Israel’s 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was headed by South African Jewish Justice Richard Goldstone. The commission concluded Israel guilty of 10 categories of war crimes, including the blockade itself. The air assault began on a school day while students were transitioning between home and school, and schools were even bombed with students in attendance. Deliberate attacks on the civilian population as well as the “foundations of civilian life” including residential housing, food production, water installations and sewage treatment were documented. Use of indiscriminate and inhumane weapons – white phosphorus and flechettes – were described by treating physicians. IDF ground troops were found to have used Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Judge Goldstone came under massive pressure from Israel and its partisans in South Africa to repudiate the report. He finally agreed that he should have awaited Israel’s internal investigation (which was a long time coming) before concluding on charge #10, the use of human shields, although this had been admitted by IDF troops themselves. Israel and its lobbies falsely claimed he had renounced the findings entirely. The other commission members refused to renounce anything. Everything reported had also been confirmed by a National Lawyers Guild delegation including Tom Nelson that visited Gaza soon after the 3-week attack that killed some 1400 helpless, overcrowded Palestinians with no place to escape Israel’s heedless violence.
2011. Merkley supported S.Res 185 that “reaffirms support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states” and asserts that “any Palestinian unity government must forswear terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with Israel.” It “opposes any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between leaders in Israel and the Palestinians” and “urges Palestinian leaders to cease efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including through a unilateral declaration of statehood or by seeking recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations or the United Nations.” It states that “the Senate will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should the PA persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations” and “reaffirms the requirement under U.S. law precluding assistance to a PA that includes Hamas unless that PA and all its ministers accept Israel’s right to exist and all prior agreements and understandings with the governments of the United States and Israel.” This compound resolution regurgitates numerous myths described above that completely misrepresent reality and ignore the fundamental principles of justice that our legislators are obligated to understand and implement.
2011. Merkley supported S.Con.Res.23, “a concurrent resolution declaring that it is the policy of the United States to support and facilitate Israel in maintaining defensible borders” and that “it is contrary to United States policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967.” This again recites the myth of Israel as victim, asserts without rational basis the symbiotic intertwining of Israel’s “security” with our own, and unilaterally grants Israel immunity from international law by American fiat. According to Merkley, it seems that both countries can drive on the wrong side of the street and everybody else can just get out of the way.
2014. Merkley supported S.Res.498, “a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.” This again routinely misrepresents Israel as victim and Hamas as terrorists, horrifically irresponsible in this case during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge pounding Gaza with 500- pound bombs, missile strikes, tank and artillery shelling, and naval shelling inflicting a seven-week genocidal massacre, killing 2,200 Palestinian men, women and children as Israelis cheered them on from West Bank overlooks.
This is an unbroken sequence of flagrant lies. The primary motive was to blame and demonize Hamas with implied threat to the PA to induce Abbas to dissolve the unity government just formed a month earlier. Israel had destroyed Palestinian unity government in 2006, and blamed Hamas, and wanted to pull this off again. Its stated objective was destruction of Gaza’s tunnel system, claiming that Hamas used tunnels to infiltrate Israel and attack its citizens. In fact, not one Israeli has ever been killed by a Palestinian from a tunnel. That would obviously be stupid. It would enable the IDF to locate and destroy the tunnel. Tunnels are time-consuming and labor-intensive to construct, and they have been desperately needed to smuggle in needed supplies from Egypt due to Israel’s suffocating blockade. Forcing Gaza into a tunnel economy and then using this adaptive resourcefulness as an excuse to inflict war crimes is a classic Israeli manipulation.
Every Israeli attack uses Palestinian intransigence that it deliberately provokes as an excuse. Cast Lead in 2008 is another example. Israel and Hamas signed a cease-fire agreement in June. Hamas meticulously honored this, while Israel did not, culminating in a November 4 raid into Gaza by Israeli forces killing six members of Hamas. So blatant an affront cannot be left unanswered. Hamas responses were then used to justify a massive, well-coordinated and carefully planned air attack and armored troop invasion of Gaza that so horrified the world press that Obama ordered it stopped before his inauguration.
2017. Merkley supported S.Amdt.4096 to S.J.Res.54, amending a bill to remove US forces from the KSA assault on Yemen to ensure that nothing shall “influence or disrupt any military operations and cooperation with Israel.” Does this acknowledge Israeli involvement in the Yemen genocide in collaboration with our own? And Merkley’s reluctance to set any limits on Israel’s aggression anywhere it chooses?
2019. Merkley’s press release was pure political blather to attack Trump’s “anticipated Middle East peace plan,” not yet unveiled, by reaffirming the “vision” of a two-state solution. Nothing could be more disingenuous than pretending that capitulation to Israel is not enduringly bipartisan. Given the realities, he should be asked to describe his vision in more detail, and how to achieve it without sacrificing his Senate seat to an applicant more favorable to unchallenged total control and repression by Israel. This resolution was supported by J Street – the faux “liberal” version of AIPAC with identical objectives – which has been supporting Merkley since his ascent to the Senate in 2008.
2020. Just last August, Merkley’s press release on new Israel-UAE diplomacy finds him continuing to recite mindless boilerplate about a two-state solution and “Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state.” Calling Israel a “Jewish” state is as racist as calling the US a “white” nation. And it is far, far from democratic as explained above. And Merkley knows it.
So what justice-seeking and non-violent solution should Merkley and our other public servants encourage and support? The only just solution seems obvious to me as well as inevitable, however unpalatable to Zionism. In most religions it is called redemption and atonement. In law it is called restitution. In the 12- step addiction treatment model, it is the prescribed sequential steps of acknowledging wrong, introspectively conducting a “fearless moral inventory,” and making amends wherever possible to people hurt. In Germany, it has meant generous and still-ongoing restitution and unequivocating education of its young in its past crimes of state – something neither the US nor Israel has ever undertaken. This simple formula is psychologically powerful and culturally restorative. It simultaneously heals the victim’s anger and the perpetrator’s guilt, however unconscious. It is an absolute necessity for both to live together in peace, each with repaired identity. This is the one-state solution dreaded by Zionists, including the fauxprogressive J Street. It is the solution offered Israel in Madrid in 1990 by Palestine’s great leader, Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi, which they ignored in favor of intentions secretly embedded in their Oslo plan to gradually steal it all.
This would mean not only allowing but inviting the full right of return, property restoration and/or compensation at the victim’s choice, extended to all Palestinians by Israel. It would necessarily mean renunciation by Israel of its population majority and political domination, exchanged for a normal, constitutional, multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy. A Palestinian biologist I know once wondered aloud, “why does Israel want a tree farm instead of a forest?”
Through its lockstep enabling, the US shares a considerable degree of the guilt. Our $4 billion annual allowance to Israel should be redirected in full to the Palestinians to build the economy they deserve. They are a marvelously steadfast, heroic culture that has achieved remarkable levels of education under such long-embattled circumstances. Together, the Israeli and Palestinian people could build a model society, potentially the most accomplished and productive in the Middle East. Jewish citizens too racist to live in equality with Palestinian Muslims and Christians and agnostics can go elsewhere. Many non-racist Jews who left in disgust may want to return.
A Mizrahi professor who spoke here a few years ago had a similar vision. As a Jewish Arab, she felt more in common with the Palestinian Arabs than the European Jews. Many older Mizrahi immigrants to Israel grew up in Arab societies with Arabic their native tongue. Mizrahim now constitutes half the population of Israel, and with the 20% Palestinian population, only 30% are now Ashkenazi with many leaving for the US and Europe, including Germany which was once their family’s native culture. She envisioned and hoped for an integrated society largely returned to its ancient roots in the Arab world.
It is regrettable that Senator Merkley has shown no such transformative vision based on truth, justice, and democratic imagination.