Response to President Obama’s Official Statement on Advancing Israel’s Security and Supporting Peace
By Deppen Webber
Dated May 19, 2011, President Obama released this statement on the White House’s official website. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/advancing-israels-security)
“For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”
As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace. -President Barack Obama , May 19, 2011
The fundamental paucity of this markedly biased profession is the lack of concern for Palestinian security. Is it the position of the United States that Palestinian security is not a priority? The answer dolefully lies in the fact that there will not be a similar declaration dedicated to the safety of the non-Jews of Palestine ’48 by the Americans.
According to the CIA’s website, Israel has a $13B defense budget, nearly twice that of Iran, while the Palestinians have essentially no military possessing not a single tank or aircraft. Given the extreme disproportionality of each party’s ability to defend itself, the administration feels disposed to declare its allegiance to the most unlikely victim of aggression.
The recent numbers of civilian deaths reflecting the unbalance of this 63-year-old conflict are staggering, especially those tallying children. According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, in the past decade 1315 Palestinian minors were killed by Israeli forces, compared to 40 Israeli casualties under the age of 18.
According to Obama, and nearly all American officials, the US-Israeli alliance is born from “a shared history and shared values.” But the US is a melting pot of cultures with an emphasis on liberty and a separation of church and state. Citizens are guaranteed the freedom to practice their faiths openly without risk of persecution. Israel was founded as a Jewish state (one religion) and by definition cannot fulfill the right of religious freedom. Israel continues to colonize the land it gained in the Six Day War in 1967, prohibits the rebuilding of Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in 2008, and undermines the Palestinian quest for self-determination. The US withdrew its troops from Germany, Italy, and Japan, never considered colonization, and contributed substantially through the Marshall plan to rebuild a devastated Europe after World War II.
In one sense the two nations have a common history. Both were forged by European immigrants who engaged in ethnic cleansing of the native populations. The Native American population and way of life were essentially exterminated to make way for the arriving Europeans. And similarly in 1948, most non-Jewish Palestinians were expelled and have been denied the right to return to their homes. Certainly these cannot be the bonds of which Obama speaks.
The Native American catastrophe was not the last horror to be realized in America’s history. The abhorrent treatment of African slaves and their African-American descendents was next. Not surprisingly, the African-American community still struggles today, generations after the last slave was freed.
But a few short decades ago, the Civil Rights Movement helped to end segregation and grant voting rights to all it’s citizens regardless of race. With leaders like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, blacks and whites engaged in civil disobedience and acts of non-violence to end the injustices that failed the US.
There was no more waiting for the government to lead the way to justice. It had been too long. And there won’t be a solution to the Palestinian struggle led by any government either. It will be the people who will demand it by boycotting, by divesting, by interrupting, by marching, and by sailing.
For this reason I will join 1500 activists from around the world to sail to break the siege of Gaza, to challenge the naval blockade of the apartheid State of Israel. I will be joined by a former US Colonel, a retired US Ambassador, Civil Rights leaders, a prominent Human Rights Attorney, American Indian leaders, a holocaust survivor, a USS Liberty survivor, spiritual leaders, and many more American citizens including many Jews.
Together, one day, through actions such as these, that challenge the status quo, we will succeed in bringing justice to the Palestinian people who have suffered the longest period of human rights violations in modern history – something this administration will fail to do.
Audacity of Hope passengers: http://ustogaza.org/passengers-on-the-audacity-of-hope/
Free Palestine Movement delegation: http://www.freepalestinemovement.org/delegation.html
Deppen Webber is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, an organizer at Free Palestine Movement, and an active of the International Solidarity Movement – Northern California.