Like a comeback of the era of the Catholic Inquisition, any public condemnation of the actions of the State of Israel in the United States is considered an act of heresy, a taboo. Public figures who embark, in the name of conscience and justice, in openly questioning the legality or rightfulness of Israel’s policies and actions are risking a social and political lynching. Ted Turner, high executive of CNN-AOL-Time Warner, was the latest victim of his own candid, critical views of Middle-East politics.
As if following a knee-jerk response pattern, Texas Representative Whip Tom De-Lay bashed the CNN strongman on national television after his views on the Israel-Palestine conflict were published in the British journal the Guardian. Mr. Turner made his remarks reacting to the intolerable levels that the cycle of violence reached in the Middle East. “The Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So, who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism.”
Being an ardent pro-Israel figure in Washington DC, Mr. De-Lay had no trouble in declaring that Turner’s remarks lacked any “moral compass” whatsoever. Furthermore, he demanded Turner to apologize to the people of Israel in the face of such “insults”. He finished by making a collective statement: “Israel is under attack … America will always stand by its ally, the democracy of Israel”.
Only in America it is such a serious “offense” to seriously criticize Israel’s actions. Question this: why is pro-Israelism viewed as a pre-requisite for American public figures to be approved by the people and the media as politically and ethically sane? Is turning an eye away from the suffering and humiliation of Palestinians and blindly embracing and defending Israel considered as the moral high road for Americans in general? Why do people frown at those trying to understand and explain, truthfully, why terrorists are murdering Israelis? Making matters worse, the American leadership is doing a great job in feeding its people a limited version of a tragic, complicated reality. Americans need to wake up and realize what a humanitarian and political disaster this current Congressional and Executive leadership is openly supporting in the Middle East region. Who is Tom De-Lay to speak with such authority of Middle Eastern matters? Nothing else but a Congressman and a puppet of the Zionist lobby, he dares to speak in the name of all Americans about blindly supporting Israel. What he knows, he learned from briefings from those able to discuss politics with him at expensive restaurants, and they are usually representatives from lobby organizations. He demonstrates little, if any, knowledge about the background of the conflict or the human suffering, perpetrated by Israel’s occupation, that bred the suicide bombers. Only by repeating cliches about Israel’s (pseudo) parliamentary “democratic” system, and it’s “right to defend itself against the forces of terror” he is able to create his shortsighted arguments. Where else in the World does a politician demands a citizen of the country he serves to apologize to another country, which happens to be openly violating International Law and has a nasty human rights record (in the Occupied Territories)? If Mr. Turner criticized the Iraqi government for it’s military incursions against Kurdish separatists in the late 1980s he would be praised, for sure, by De-Lay himself. How come there is such a double standard? What is wrong with America?
If there is any entity that owes an apology to America, it is Israel. For many years being the greatest recipient of American foreign aid (5 billion USD yearly until recently, lowered to 3 billion USD, sub-Saharan Africa receiving a ridiculously low fraction compared to this amount), they have used American taxpayer money to sustain a military occupation for 35 years (at the expense of the Palestinians), build illegal settlements (and further ignore international law), wage war with its neighbors, buy American weapons and bulldozers (used basically against Palestinian civilians and militants alike) and many, many others.
This dogmatic and fanatical support for Israel is equally wrong to the global apathy regarding the suffering of German Jewry during the Nazi years, specifically after the creation of the Nuremberg Laws. It may be this very same sense of collective guilt, generated by the Holocaust, that drive many Americans to believe that Israel and it’s policies may be the only alternative to ensure the future survival of Jews worldwide. Lobby groups like AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) are very keen in exploiting such emotions and perpetuating the current flux of taxpayer money into Israeli coffers.
The sad reality is that American policy is deeply influenced by local Zionist political groups. Zionism in essence is not an evil ideology, yet in practice it has been proved to be deadly and ruthless. To create a home for all the Jews of the world is a beautiful concept, but the implementation of the idea resulted in a terrible catastrophe for the Palestinian Arabs in 1948, later in 1967. It continues today, relatively unchanged. Numerous acts of ethnic cleansing, intentional deportations and mass transfers of people, dispossession, wars, and others, all for the sake of making room for “the rightful owners of the land”. It is not correct to blindly support such a corrupted ideology, built over the ashes of a long gone Biblical period and implemented at the expense of 4 million people. Israel’s actions completely contradict the principles of freedom and democracy from which the United States was born and, supposedly, continues to “represent.” By aiding to keep a whole nation under siege for 35 years, with American military and economical resources, it is time for other influential citizens of the United States to wake up and put a stop to this before it is too late.
Cheers to Ted Turner, for he is a brave man for what he did, given the unfriendly climate created by pro-Israel entities in America and abroad and a post 9/11 world jittery about anything related to terrorism. It was perhaps foolish for Congressman De-Lay to come forth to defend Israel because the act demonstrated his historical ignorance and his slave status to the AIPAC and probably a Zionist Jewish community or two in his Texan district (not all Jews support Zionism, therefore one concept is not automatically compatible to the other). Besides, it is Israel’s job to defend it’s own tarnished image, not America’s.
Fernando Zambrana San Juan, Puerto Rico
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