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Commentary Last Updated: Jul 25th, 2006 - 00:38:11

When leaders serve foreign interests, everyone loses
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 25, 2006, 00:34

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The gap between facts on the ground and Middle East coverage in many mainstream US media is harmful to US public interest.

The fruits of Israeli militarism in the past two weeks included over 500 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians killed (including entire families), 20 percent of Lebanese civilians displaced, over $4 billion of Lebanese civilian infrastructure destroyed, and whole neighborhoods flattened by US-supplied weapons. The Israeli army (already 4th or 5th strongest in the world) will see its budget increased by nearly $500 million and the US is rushing delivery of aviation fuels, bombs and munitions all funded buy the US taxpayer.

Meanwhile, one-third of Israeli children and two-thirds of Palestinians live below the poverty line. Yet, many TV and newspapers simply regurgitate lies generated in Tel Aviv and parroted by a well-funded network of lobbyists for Israel in the media, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House.

The fictional narrative goes something along the lines that "the troubles started" when Hamas "abducted" an Israeli soldier and Hezbollah �kidnapped� two Israeli soldiers. As to why this happened, it is argued that Hamas and Hezbollah are fanatical terrorist groups genetically predestined to make trouble unless crushed by massive military force. But Israel is a colonial and occupying state that has left two-thirds of the 9 million Palestinians as refugees or displaced people by a systematic process of ethnic cleansing, land grabs, and attacks on civilians, all perpetrated well before the establishment of Hamas (acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement) in 1987. In fact, the first suicide bombing came only in the mid 1990s after the massacre by an Israeli settler of 29 worshippers in the Ibrahimi mosque in Alkhalil (Hebron).

The Israeli government (backed by the US) responded to the massacre not by punishing the colonial settlers but by rewarding them and punishing the native Palestinians (clearing whole Palestinian neighborhoods to satisfy the few settlers).

In our visit to that ancient city two weeks ago, we observed how 400 fanatical colonial settlers (supported by nearly 4,000 Israeli occupation troops in the area) have displaced thousands of native Hebronites and kept nearly a hundred thousand as virtual prisoners.

Hamas skirmished with the occupation forces, resulting in the capture of an Israeli occupation soldier, an act of resistance supported by all existing International laws (Gaza is still occupied, even by UN standards). By contrast, nearly 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners are held illegally in Israeli jails. They were kidnapped from their own homes and towns and illegally transported to Israeli jails.

Similarly, Hezbollah is an indigenous Lebanese resistance force that formed AFTER the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. For those with short memories, it is important to recall that tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians (the latter refugees from 1948) were massacred by the Israeli occupation forces and their proxies in Lebanon in 1982 alone. Hezbollah earned wide popularity and support among all sectors of Lebanese society (including its Christian population) for its success in ousting the brutal Israeli occupation machine from most Lebanese territory.

Of course, Israel remains illegally occupying Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Sheba Farms, and the Golan. Israel also continues to defy international law by preventing Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes and lands. All Arab countries agreed in Beirut three years ago to a comprehensive peace plan based on international law. As John F. Kennedy rightly pointed out "If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable."

Why does the US government refuse to call on its client state to accept a ceasefire in Lebanon let alone peace based on international law? Why does the US veto UN resolutions critical of Israel even when the vast majority of countries support such resolutions?

The reaction to a paper on the Israeli lobby by two respected professors at Harvard and University of Chicago (Mearsheimer and Walt) should give us hints. There was a paranoid overreaction about this research simply because it showed that Zionists push their interests at the expense of US interests.

Hundreds of millions around the world look in horror at the US complicity in Israeli war crimes. Campaigns of boycotts, divestments and sanctions on Israel by civil society are now gaining steam. Unless the US government changes course and accepts applicability of human rights and International law, US economic interests around the world would also be affected and we may be embarking on a perpetual war in which everyone loses.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, FABMG, is a US citizen who just returned from occupied Palestine and is a member of the steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Occupation

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