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December 7, 2000
The right to criticize Israel

Charley Reese
The Orlando Sentinel


While we're over here, stewing about our election, the Israeli government continues to kill Palestinians and to strangle the rest economically simply because the Palestinians have the audacity to demand an end to 33 years of illegal and military occupation.

Let me tell you something else that's interesting: The United Nations has condemned Israel for using excessive force. The United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights has condemned Israel for using excessive force. The Physicians for Human Rights, an independent human-rights organization, after examining wounds in Palestinian hospitals, has condemned Israel for using excessive force. Amnesty International has condemned Israel for using excessive force.

The United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, says, however, that Israel is a victim of aggression and is only defending itself.

Now that lady is either nutty or evil. If she's so disconnected from reality that she thinks that people with no army, whose dead number 250 and whose wounded exceed 5,000, are a threat to the most powerful military state in the Middle East, she's nutty. If she's deliberately lying, she's evil.

Furthermore, if the United States government treated American Indians or blacks in precisely the same way in every detail that the Israeli government treats Palestinians, people would be screaming to high heaven.

I confess I'm mystified how decent Americans can condone the brutality and abuse that Israel inflicts on innocent Palestinians. If you're thinking that you don't have the right to criticize a foreign government, let me set you straight: Your government has given a cumulative total of 85 billion of your tax dollars through the years to the Israeli government. I think that buys you a right to criticize.

The truth is, I fear, that Palestinians won't get their independence until Americans get theirs. The Israeli occupation forces hold down the Palestinians, and our government appears to be the captive of the Israeli lobby. You might write your congressman and senators and remind them that they ran for office in the United States, not in Israel, and that they took an oath to defend America, not Israel. You might also tell them that it is not in our national interest to be seen the world over as a flaming hypocrite, nor is it in our national interest to alienate 1.1 billion Muslims who happen to control more than 60 percent of the world's oil reserves.

As an aside, let me clear up a matter. In reprimanding a politician for a racist slur against Palestinians who had killed two Israeli undercover agents, I suggested that he use the same slur against Israeli killers of Palestinians. The case I cited was a man whom people in Ramallah believe was kidnapped and beaten to death either by settlers or Israeli soldiers. The Physicians for Human Rights, at the request of an Israeli human-rights group, examined the X-rays and pictures, talked with doctors and family, and came to the conclusion that his injuries were caused by an automobile accident. All of the Palestinian doctors involved in the case, however, disagree with the report and say they plan to issue their own report. So there you have it: a medical disagreement.

At any rate, examples of Israelis killing Palestinians are plentiful enough. There are the children shot to death, not to mention the 28 Palestinian men and women killed by a Jewish settler in Hebron a few years ago. When the Israeli terrorist paused to change magazines in his weapon, surviving Palestinians overpowered him and beat him to death with his own rifle.

The other Israeli settlers who were mighty proud of their mass killer turned his grave into a shrine.


But if he did not want to forgo the unity of Israel, why did be bother going to Camp David in the first place? If he wasn't ready to compromise over the sanctities of Israel, what was the point of inducing everyone to come to the rolling hills of Maryland? The only reasonable explanation for the enigma of Camp David, and from many points of view for the enigma of Barak altogether, would seem to lie in the fact that at some stage the prime minister lost his confidence in Israel's ability to withdraw from the territories it conquered in June 1967. It is difficult to believe that there is any politician at all who does not understand that peace is contingent on the evacuation of virtually all the territories"

This is just a sampling of the Hebrew press. Why can't Sontag login and check out what the Israeli journalists and intellectuals are really saying. Ignoring those voices, as well as the Palestinians', is one main reason why Sontag's reports stand alone in creating a virtual reality of the conflict scene, portraying Israel as the victim, and the Palestinians as the aggressor.

Stubbornly omitting the many reports issued by human rights organizations, which condemn Israel's excessive brutality, has become a scandalous theme in the 'coverage' (rather cover-up) of Sontag et al, but one that we got used to. But ignoring even critical voices from inside the Israeli establishment is truly indicative of premeditated bias, par excellence!


  January 7, 2001