In an op-ed published December 16 by the St. Petersburg
Times (and syndicated in numerous newspapers nationwide), columnist Bill
We, as Americans,
should be ashamed of ourselves for being partners in a state policy that forces
an entire population to exist as a diaspora -- a stateless people scattered
about as if they are nothing.
In this paragraph, and in many others, Maxwell ignores that
the conflict has been rooted in Arab rejection of Israel's legitimacy, which
led to armed battle by the Arabs against the Jewish State. This war initiated
by the Arabs caused many Palestinian Arabs to flee their homes. A small
percentage of Arabs were forced out, but the majority fled on their own accord.
Maxwell also writes:
Israel must protect
itself. But how? The first step is to acknowledge its role in creating the
violent conditions in the region. The time has come to stop blaming Arafat for
everything. Israel foments terrorism by brutalizing Palestinians.
Maxwell ignores that this same rejectionist, violent
philosophy that caused the War of Independence in 1947-48 is still being taught
to Palestinians today and that it is this ubiquitous hatemongering against
Israel that foments terrorism and the unrealistic demands that
doomed the peace negotiations.
[In the original alert, action items and contact information
were included here.]
The column appears below.
U.S. should reconsider aid to Israel
By BILL MAXWELL, Times Columnist
St. Petersburg Times
Published December 16, 2001
Israel has severed ties with Palestinian Authority President
Yasser Arafat. As an American citizen and a taxpayer, I want to go on record
stating that the United States should reconsider its ties with Israel.
For sure, we should cut off all funds -- as much as
$3-billion annually -- to the Jewish state. Much of that money (American taxes)
is used in ways, including the procurement of military weaponry, that
dehumanize the Palestinian people.
We, as Americans, should be ashamed of ourselves for being
partners in a state policy that forces an entire population to exist as a
diaspora a stateless people scattered about as if they are nothing.
The United States should have nothing to do with this policy
of human dispossession. It is against everything we believe in, including the
written tenets of our Constitution.
Let me try a little raw truth in discussing this mess. I was
in Israel in 1999 when Ehud Barak defeated Benjamin Netanyahu in the election
for prime minister. Shortly before the election, Gideon Levy, a columnist for
the Ha'aretz newspaper, asked Barak what he would have done if he had been born
Barak's response, the most honest one he could give, angered
most Israeli Jews. I was among journalists at the press conference when Barak
said: I would have joined a terrorist organization.
Remember, Barak is not a lover of Arabs. He is one of
Israel's most decorated generals, a man who killed Arabs as a duty.
But even Barak knows the score: You cannot dispossess a
people and then attempt to govern them by occupying their land, by forcing them
to subsist in refugee camps, by blocking roadways to their jobs, by refusing to
let them get medical attention, by cutting them off from their universities, by
discounting their humanity.
Only fools would attempt such folly.
Today, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is living out his dream
of getting rid of Arafat. Sharon's history with Palestinians is a bloody one,
and nothing has changed since he has been in office.
Look at how he got elected. He, a candidate for prime
minister and a well-known public figure, went to the Temple Mount shortly
before the national election. He knew what he was doing. He knew how
Palestinians would react. Even more cynically, he knew how Israeli Jews would
react to Palestinian violence: They would turn Barak out of office.
Sharon came into office with the intention of militarily
bringing the Palestinians to their knees, and Palestinian extremists played
into his hands by carrying out acts of terrorism inside Israel and in the
As myopic as he is, Sharon miscalculated the fury, scale and
longevity of the new intifada.
Now, Sharon has declared Arafat irrelevant. Ironically, the
Palestinian people were declared irrelevant decades ago.
Declaring Arafat persona non grata is self-defeating. Israel
will gain nothing but more violence for another generation by humiliating
Arafat. And if Arafat is killed either by Israelis or by militant
Palestinians Israel will pay a price higher than that of the
Palestinians. Why? Because the bulk of the Palestinian people have nothing left
Does anyone in Israel or the United States believe that the
Palestinian people will simply lick their wounds and disappear into their
refugee camps if Arafat is killed?
Does anyone believe that Palestinians will abide Israel's
hand-picked successor to Arafat?
Does anyone believe that the growing legion of suicide
bombers will reform and start herding sheep and growing olives?
Israel must protect itself. But how? The first step is to
acknowledge its role in creating the violent conditions in the region. The time
has come to stop blaming Arafat for everything. Israel foments terrorism by
Many Israelis argue that Arafat and other Palestinian
Authority leaders do not want peace with Israel. Instead, they want to destroy
Israel. Well, many Jews do not want peace with Palestinians. Many Jews want
Palestinians to evaporate.
But neither side is going anywhere soon.
Instead of taking sides, the United States should become an
impartial broker in a genuine peace process -- a process that does not blame
Arafat for the deeds of every individual madman.
The United States should take another look at its aid to
Israel. The Jewish state should not receive another American dollar until it
moves to help bring real dignity to the lives of Palestinians.