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The Consequences of Occupation

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Yesterday I was listening to Mike Malloy and he talked about an event in Seattle sponsored by KPTK AM 1090 last Saturday. Mike Malloy, Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, and Thom Hartmann were the featured speakers at that event. Ed Schultz talked about his support of Israel's right to exist as if he were the only liberal talk radio host who takes that position. The subliminal message to the crowd was that he, unlike his colleagues on the left is not critical of Israel's occupation. This was not well received by the crowd nor did it sit well with Malloy.

Schultz has criticized our occupation of Iraq on his show yet seems to think that the 40-year occupation by Israel since 1967 of the West Bank and Gaza falls into a different category. Whatever the justification for Israel's occupation in 1967, it has not benefited the interests of Israel or the United States. In fact, what used to be a compliant group of Palestinian refugees have now become insurgents similar to what we are facing in Iraq and every other occupier in human history. The question has to be asked. How long does it take for nations to understand this concept?

There is no such thing as a good occupier whether the nation is a democracy or totalitarian. From the point of view of the occupied people, it is of no moment what form of government the occupying country has. The fact that Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East is no more of an argument for occupation than our ruthless occupation of Iraq. But, it seems that Americans think there is a difference. And the strongest argument has always been that the Arab nations have always called for the destruction of Israel.

The fact is that the Arab totalitarian leaders since the establishment of Israel had pursued this policy for many years. These leaders have been oppressive to their own people and have used Israel as a common enemy to blame for the suffering of their own people. Sound familiar? Oppressive governments have a tendency to scapegoat. Unfortunately, Israel after 1967 did not pursue a foreign policy that would have been in its own best interest.

After WW II, the United States did occupy Japan and Germany temporarily. But, the U.S. recognized that a defeated enemy in poverty would not be a proper policy for the future. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Western Europe and created an environment for our former enemies to become our friends. Egypt and Jordan had treated the Palestinians shabbily prior to the 1967 war. Would it not have been prudent for Israel to have a similar Marshall Plan policy for the occupied lands? Instead, Israel pursued a plan of expansionism and building settlements beyond its international borders. This is not a way to inspire positive reactions from other countries.

This expansionist policy promulgated by the leaders of Israel was a typical reaction to a great military victory. As a consequence, the government of Israel created an internal as well as an external political problem. The settlers in the occupied territories as well as the Arab nations became the opposition to Israel's occupation policy. There had become a sort of zealotry of biblical proportions within Israel to keep the occupied lands similar to our own "manifest destiny." It is hard to argue that in hindsight that a more progressive policy would have benefited Israel and the rest of the world.

The standard reaction from the American Jewish community has typically been unconditional support of Israel and its policies because of an understandable Holocaust mentality. I had a similar reaction especially since my parents were born in Poland and lost close family during the Holocaust. However, the Holocaust was a direct result of 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitism. Genocide was a typical response to Judaism by the European Christians. That is why Theodore Herzl created the Zionist movement. Herzl's rational belief was that anti-Semitism in Europe was so strong that it would be impossible for Jews to assimilate into European society.

The crimes against the Jews in Europe, culminating with the Holocaust had nothing to do with the Arab nations or the Muslim community in the Middle East. The Christian countries of Europe perpetrated this crime before the War and abandoned the Jews for the most part. After WW II there were 500,000 displaced persons in Europe living in conditions similar to the Palestinian refugees. Did the U.S. and other countries allow these people to immigrate freely into their countries? Jewish immigration did not occur after the war. Had the United States and other countries allowed the displaced persons free access to their countries, the immigration of these 500,000 people probably would not have flowed to Palestine. Most European Jews would have wanted to be Americans.

It is strange that when Castro took over Cuba in 1959, the U.S. allowed unlimited immigration of hundreds of thousands of Cubans. Could that have been done for the 500,000 survivors of the Holocaust who had suffered so much? The State Department's policy headed by George Marshall was intrinsically anti-Jewish as it had been before the War. Accordingly, the Jewish survivors had no other place to go. They immigrated to Israel, which was the great dream of the original Zionists. Accordingly, Europe and the United States dumped the problem of Jewish refugees upon the Arabs. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia was an ally of the United States, which put our nation into further conflicts of interest.

The bottom line of all this is that the Middle east problems we have today were directly caused by a sequence of events created by Christian anti-Semitism. The right wing evangelicals who support Israel now for political reasons have put Israel squarely into the bulls-eye of scapegoating by the oppressive dictators of that region. And it feeds into the very reason that terrorism is so pervasive in that region of the world.

There was a movie made in 1959 called, The Mouse That Roared. It starred Peter Sellers who played 3 roles. The premise of the movie was that a little country could declare war on the United States with the goal of surrendering to receive lots of foreign aid. That idea was not so far fetched in that aiding a former enemy is the best way to build a friendship. The Palestinian refugees were not responsible for the actions of Arab nations that attacked Israel in 1948 and thereafter. They became collateral damage of the Six Day War, a result they were no more responsible for than the 500,000 displaced persons of Europe in 1945.

Until Israel and the United States recognize that occupation is the great enemy of humanitarianism, the same mistaken beliefs and generalizations will be made about our so-called enemies. The end of occupation in the West Bank, Iraq, and other Arab nations is the quickest road to peace and ending Muslim terrorism.

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Sheldon Drobny was the co-founder of Nova M radio and Air America Radio. He has supported many philanthropic causes. Mr. Drobny specializes in business and tax matters and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court as a non-attorney. Less (more...)
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