Category Archives: The Palestinian Plight

After ceasefire, Gazans still don’t feel safe

Report, PCHR, 10 February 2009

Faten, holding her young daughter Nagham, in their home in Rafah. (Malian)

Foreign correspondents and camera crews have now begun to leave Gaza, in search of the next headline-grabbing location. But ongoing air strikes and violations of international law are a stark reminder that there is no real end to Israel’s offensive here.

Since Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on 18 January it has continued to launch strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip. Some families in the southern town of Rafah have been evacuated from their homes up to 10 times in the last 15 days.

Faten al-Shaer, a 31-year-old mother of one, lives just 150 meters from Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. This area, known as the Philadelphi Route has been repeatedly targeted and is now a mass of rubble, sand and bomb craters. Her home is one of the few left standing here, surrounded by the grey concrete remains of homes, and the shreds of tarpaulin that once covered smuggling tunnels.

“I was baking bread when the bombing of the border area began on 28 December,” says Faten. “Thousands of people took to the streets, trying to escape. Everybody was on the move. My mother, my five-year-old daughter Nagham and I ran to my uncle’s house, which is further from the border.” Other family members were scattered at the homes of relatives.

“During the war there was daily bombing of this area — sometimes in the morning, sometimes at midnight,” says Faten. “It went on for 22 days. When the ceasefire was declared we came back to the house but had to evacuate it again the next day because they started bombing again.”

Faten and the 35 members of her extended family have still not spent the night at their home. They come back during the day but always leave before darkness falls.

“The children are suffering real trauma,” Faten adds, as her green-eyed daughter Nagham clings to her. “Some of them are incontinent and they wake up in the night and start crying. My daughter Nagham has to hold onto me all the time. They understand it’s a war.”

The impact of the air strikes and incursions on the children of the Gaza Strip has been acute. Faten’s seven-year-old nephew Dia was in school a few days ago, when he heard an unmanned Israeli drone in the sky. He automatically picked up his schoolbag and ran home, crying “The drones are still over my head. I can’t take it anymore.”

Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still being denied their rights to appropriate living conditions and humanitarian aid is still not reaching many people in need. Families like Faten’s who are not registered as refugees have not received any aid at all.

One of their only sources of income — a small patch of land where Faten’s brother grew vegetables — was bulldozed by the Israeli military a few years ago. Since then they have had to rely on help from relatives in an already beleaguered community. Border closures imposed by Israel since June 2007, have steadily tightened and continue to have a disastrous impact on the economy.

“The international community should intervene,” says Faten. “I just hope they can reach some sort of solution. If the borders were opened for food and fuel then we wouldn’t need the tunnels. It is Israel’s closure policy that has created a need for the tunnels.”

The Israeli-imposed siege has also resulted in a steady deterioration of health conditions. There are chronic shortages of vital medicines and hospital facilities that rely on electricity have been adversely affected by the lack of fuel to power generators.

The psychological cost of the air strikes cannot be underestimated. The bombs that Israeli warplanes are still dropping on Rafah and other parts of Gaza cause huge explosions and earth tremors and lead to sustained feelings of panic and fear among local residents, especially the elderly and children. Civilians often receive automated telephone messages before attacks, urging them to evacuate their houses near the border. But Gaza is densely populated and civilian structures including schools and hospitals sheltering displaced people, have been attacked. People feel there are no safe places left.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is calling upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take effective steps to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to provide immediate protection for civilians like Faten and her family.

“We never feel safe,” adds Faten. “We know Israel will bomb again. We just hope there will be a proper ceasefire so we can come back to our homes and start to rebuild what is left.”

This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ series “Aftermath” that looks at the aftermath of Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population.

Gaza 2009: Culture of resistance vs. defeat


Dr. Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 11 February 2009

Can the brutal 22-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip be considered a victory for the Palestinian people? (Matthew Cassel)

The ongoing bloodletting in the Gaza Strip and the ability of the Palestinian people to creatively resist the might of the world’s fourth strongest army is being hotly debated by Palestinian political forces. The latest genocidal war which lasted 22 days, and in which apartheid Israel used F-16s, Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks and conventional and non-conventional weapons against the population, have raised many serious questions about the concept of resistance and whether the outcome of the war can, or cannot, be considered a victory for the Palestinian people. The same kind of questions were raised in 2006 when apartheid Israel launched its war against the Lebanese people and brutally killed more than 1,200 Lebanese.

At the beginning of the Gaza war, we were told by certain sectors of the Palestinian political leadership that “the two sides are to blame: Hamas and Israel” and that “Hamas must stop the launching of the rockets from Gaza.” Resistance in all its forms, violent and otherwise, was considered, by these same people, “futile.” Now that there are fewer bombs raining down on Gaza, the conflict focuses on whether the outcome of the war was one of victory or defeat. For the Israeli ruling class the answer is clear — in spite of the fact that none of the objectives announced at the beginning of the war have been achieved. It is clear because they, like the defeatist Palestinian camp, simply use the numbers of martyrs, disabled and homeless to determine victory and defeat.

This approach fails to acknowledge that none of the so-called “objectives” of the war have been achieved: Hamas is still in power; rockets are still being launched; no pro-Oslo forces have been reinstated in the Gaza Strip. The question now being raised by some Palestinian intellectuals and political forces, after the (un)expected brutality of the Israeli occupation forces, is “was it worth it?” The “it” here remains ambiguous depending on the reaction of the listener/reader. What is of interest here is the radical change that some national forces, especially the left and their intellectuals, have gone through in their mechanical, as opposed to dialectical, interpretation of history and their role, thereafter, in its making.

The war on Gaza has emerged as a political tsunami that has not only put an end to the fiction of the two-state solution and brought liberation rather than independence back to the agenda, but it has also created a new Palestinian political map given the intellectual debate vis-a-vis the outcome of the war. This new classification of the Palestinian intelligentsia and ruling classes has led to many ex-leftists joining the right-wing anthem of Oslo and its culture of defeatism. Not unlike the Oslo intelligentsia, the new pragmatic left is characterized by demagogy, opportunism and short-sightedness. The conduct of these NGOized intellectuals (those emerging from western-funded “nongovernmental organizations” — NGOs) does not show any commitment to their national and historical responsibility.

Michel Foucault’s famous formulation, “where there is power, there is resistance,” helps us to theorize the political and, hence, the cultural resistance, represented in some of the (post)war discourse. Within the context of resistance, it is worth quoting Frantz Fanon’s definitions of the role of the “native intellectual” during the “fighting phase”: “[T]he native, after having tried to lose himself in the people and with the people, will … shake the people … [H]e turns himself into an awakener of the people; hence comes a fighting literature, and a national literature.”

On the other hand, there are intellectuals who, according to Fanon’s theorization, “give proof that [they] [have] assimilated the culture of the occupying power. [Their] writings correspond point by point with those of [their] opposite numbers in the mother country. [Their] inspiration is European [i.e. Western] …” Hence the adoption of the Israeli narrative by some intellectual sections, including NGOized leftists, whereby Israel was exonerated of its crimes: “we are to blame for what happened;” “we were not consulted when Hamas started the war!” and “the people are paying the price, not the resistance movement;” “Hamas should have renewed the truce;” “we cannot afford to lose so many lives; Hamas should have understood this;” “there was no resistance at all on the streets of Gaza; resistance men ran away as soon as they saw the first tank.”

By the same token, one would also condemn the Algerian, South African, French, Vietnamese, Lebanese and Egyptian resistance to occupation. The same logic was used by the Bantustan chiefs of South Africa against the anti-apartheid movement, by the Vichy government of France, the South Vietnamese government, the reactionary Egyptian Forces against the progressive regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956, and even by the Siniora-Jumblatt-Geagea-Hariri March 14 coalition in Lebanon in 2006.

Obviously, these intellectuals’ assimilation of the Western mentality, through a process of NGOization, and hence Osloization, makes them look down upon the culture of resistance as useless, futile and hopeless. Resistance, broadly speaking, is not only the ability to fight back against a militarily more powerful enemy, but also an ability to creatively resist the occupation of one’s land. The Oslo defeatists and the neo-left camp fail to use people power creatively or even to see that it exists. They are defeated because they want to fight the battle on Israel’s terms — through the adoption of an Israel-Hamas dichotomy, rather than apartheid Israel vs. the Palestinian people — instead of looking at their strengths: that they are the natives of the land, they have international law supporting their claims, they have the moral high ground, the support of international civil society, etc.

One good lesson from the South African struggle is the way it tried to define resistance and its adoption of what it referred to as “the four pillars of the struggle” to achieve victory over the apartheid regime: armed struggle, internal mass mobilization, international solidarity, and the political underground. Alas, none of these pillars seem to fit within the paradigm of the Palestinian neo-left.

The principled critical legacy of the likes of Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said and Frantz Fanon is no longer the guiding torch of the NGOized left — the secular democratic left which is supposed to be, as Said would argue, “someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations [or donors], and whose raison d’etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.” A fascinating, and timely, remark by Hungarian philosopher George Lukacs points the way that the NGOized left should be talking right now: “When the intellectual’s society reaches a historical crossroads in its fight for a clear definition of its identity, the intellectual should be involved in the whole sociopolitical process and leave his ivory tower.”

Decolonizing cultural resistance insists on the right to view Palestinian history as a holistic entity, both coherent and integral. It also reflects a national and historical consciousness that Palestinians are able to be agents of change in their present and future regardless of the agendas of western donors, the Quartet and other official “international” bodies. Yet we see that the neo-democrats of Palestine are unable to acknowledge Palestinian agency because they refuse to respect the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box. This position is meant to synergize with that of their donors and international bodies who have worked hard over the last two years to delegitimize Palestinian agency.

This lack of political consciousness and the search for individual solutions — the major characteristics of defeatist ideology — contradict the collective national reality of the colonized Palestinians. Political consciousness must begin with a rejection of the conditions imposed by the Israeli occupation and the Quartet (Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union) on the majority of Palestinians and even more crucially, a rejection of the crumbs that are offered as a reward for good behavior to a select minority of Palestinians. Indeed, class consciousness is dialectically related to the struggle for national liberation. It is the interests of some NGOized groups, ex-leftists, and neo-liberals, whose defeatist perspective on the outcome of Gaza 2009 is being disseminated with the help of some unpopular media outlets, which is at stake here — not the interests of the Palestinian people who have gained even more legitimacy through their steadfast resistance to the Israeli bombardment.

Osloized and NGOized classes argue that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is the establishment of two states which basically means the creation of an independent Palestine on 22 percent of Mandate Palestine. They maintain that the only way to reach independence is through negotiations, though more than ten years of negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all. The establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the Palestinian people and its national movement the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). No Israeli party, neither Labor, Likud nor Kadima is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The impasse negotiations have reached has proven the oppositional camp correct.

Hence the “shocking” results of the 2006 elections, in which Hamas won the majority of the seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Both liberals and leftists were “surprised” and even felt “betrayed!” Accusations of the “immaturity” and even “backwardness” of the Palestinian people have been thrown around since then. Nothing was mentioned about the failure of “the peace process;” nor the end of the two-state solution, and thereafter, the necessity and need for a new national program that can mobilize the masses; a program that is necessarily democratic in its nature; one that respects resistance in its different forms and, ultimately, guarantees peace with justice.

It is this lack of a political vision and a clear-cut ideological program that allows for the contortions of the Osloized classes. It is this lack that makes it prepared to recognize a “Jewish state” alongside a Palestinian state, including the legitimization of discriminatory practices applied by Israel against its non-Jewish, i.e. mainly Palestinian citizens and residents since 1948, and the end of the right of return of more than six million of refugees. What we are constantly told, is either accept Israeli occupation in its ugliest form — i.e. the ongoing presence of the apartheid wall, colonies, checkpoints, zigzag roads, color-coded number plates, house demolitions and security coordination supervised by a retired American general — or have a hermetic medieval siege imposed on us, but still die with dignity. The first option seems to be the favorite of some NGOized “activists.”

The new, much-needed program, however, must make the necessary link between all Palestinian struggles: the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel’s ethnically-based discrimination and rights violations of more than one million Palestinian citizens, and the 1948 externally displaced refugees. Gaza 2009 was not a defeat but a victory, because in Gaza the Israelis shot the two-state solution in the head; it is a victory achieved with the blood of those children, men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we could live and continue to resist, not surrender. Those Palestinians that are mourning the demise of the two-prison solution are out of step with new facts on the ground: there can be no going back to fake solutions and negotiations; it is time for a final push to real freedom and statehood. They can join other Palestinians, and internationals, in their demand for a secular, democratic state in Mandate Palestine with equality for all or they can walk into the dustbin of history.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and activist residing in Gaza.

The tunnels of Gaza

By Sara Flounders
Published Feb 8, 2009 8:39 AM

Resistance takes as many forms as life itself dictates.

Life in Gaza could not be more impossible. Its tunnels are a symbol of resistance.

Eighteen months ago, outraged when the Palestinians voted for the militant leadership of Hamas in democratic elections, Israel imposed a total lockdown on the entire population of Gaza.

But the entire people were determined to continue to resist. They found a way to circumvent total starvation.

The Israeli blockade led to a new economic structure, an underground economy. The besieged Palestinians have dug more than 1,000 tunnels under the totally sealed border.

Many thousands of Palestinians are now employed in digging, smuggling or transporting, and reselling essential goods. Smuggling constitutes approximately 90 percent of economic activity in Gaza, Gazan economist Omar Shaban told The Guardian. (Oct. 22, 2008)

The tunnels demonstrate the great ingenuity and enormous determination of the entire population and its leadership.

Because millions of Palestinians have been forced into refugee status outside of historic Palestine, large extended families on both sides of the border help arrange the buying and shipping of goods or send funds so family members locked in Gaza can buy essential supplies.

The tunnels connect the Egyptian town of Rafah with the Palestinian refugee camp of the same name inside Gaza. They have become a fantastic, life-sustaining network of corridors dug through sandy soil. Tunnels are typically three-tenths of a mile long, approximately 45 to 50 feet deep. They cost from $50,000 to $90,000 and require several months of intense labor to dig.

They pass under the Philadelphi buffer zone—a border strip of land put under Israeli military control by the 1993 Oslo accords.

The Israeli siege of Gaza, followed by 23 days of systematic bombing and invasion, has created massive destruction and scarcity. Food processing plants, chicken farms, grain warehouses, U.N. food stocks, almost all the remaining infrastructure, and 230 small factories were destroyed. Now hundreds of trucks packed with essential supplies from international and humanitarian agencies sit outside the strip, refused entry to Gaza by Israeli guards. As soon as the Israeli bombing ended, work on the tunnels resumed.

Lara Marlowe reported from Rafah: “From a distance, you’d think it was a horticultural project. Banks of red earth criss-cross the Palestinian side of the no-man’s land between Gaza and Egypt. Every 20 or 30 meters, young Palestinian men work under what appear to be greenhouse canopies.

“The tunnels of Rafah–more than one thousand of them–are a major stake in the war between Hamas and Israel. Israel wants the tunnels shut; the Palestinians say they would starve without them, because of Israel’s 19-month siege of the Gaza Strip. Despite three weeks of heavy bombing, the majority of the tunnels are open.

“The area has as many holes as a Swiss cheese. ‘Sometimes the tunnels intersect,’ says a worker. ‘We try to avoid it. We go under or over other tunnels. It’s like directing train traffic.’

“The smugglers work in jeans, T-shirts and bare feet. ‘We shore up the collapsed parts with wood,’ Hamdan [a tunnel worker] explains. ‘If the Israelis bomb again, we’ll use metal next time, and concrete the time after that. As long as there’s a siege, the tunnels will keep working.’” (Irish Times, Jan. 26)

Food is towed through on plastic sleighs. Livestock are herded through larger tunnels. Flour, milk, cheese, cigarettes, cooking oil, toothpaste, small generators, computers and kerosene heaters come through the tunnels. Every day, about 300 to 400 gas canisters for cooking come through the lines. On the Egyptian side the trade sustains the ruptured economy while corrupt or sympathetic guards and officers look the other way.

Electricity and fans provide ventilation. Essential supplies of diesel fuel are pumped through the tunnels in hoses and pipes.

Rami Almeghari, editor-in-chief of the Gaza-based Palestinian Information Service and contributor to The Electronic Intifada, has described the organization that goes into digging and maintaining the tunnels. The Hamas-led government in Gaza imposed regulations and restrictions on the tunnel trade to avoid accidents and prevent smuggling of drugs and prohibited substances. “However, the besieged Hamas government cannot guarantee an end to the tunnel trade, unless the Israeli blockade comes to a halt.”

Almeghari interviewed one tunnel worker as he loaded cooking oil canisters: “Let Israel besiege us the way it wants, and we bring in what we want. At the end of the day, we will not let anyone repress us.”

Xinhua News headlined a Jan. 22 article: “In spite of Israeli offensive, Gaza tunnels are back to work.”

“We dug tunnels because we have no other alternative. Israel was imposing a very tough blockade on Gaza Strip and the tunnels were the smartest way to defeat this blockade,” Hashem Abu Jazzar, a 23-year-old worker, told Xinhua News.

“As long as Israel is still imposing the siege on Gaza Strip, I don’t think that we will stop working in the tunnels, but if all crossings are fully and permanently opened, I believe that working in tunnels will automatically stop,” said Abu Jabal, a 45-year-old owner of a tunnel.

Commercial tunnels are used only for food, fuel, medicines and basic necessities. Other totally separate tunnels are operated by resistance groups to bring in small weapons and munitions.

Israel claims it drops 100-ton bombs on the tunnels from F-16 jets to stop Palestinian rockets. But closing off supplies to an entire population or bombing life-sustaining tunnels will not prevent the firing of small rockets.

A population with skills, education, massive unemployment, lots of time and no future will be able to build rockets, mortars, pipe bombs and mines out of the tons of scrap metal and twisted ruins that Israel left behind.

The continued blockade is strictly punitive.

The Israeli military and their Pentagon backers are deeply frustrated. The bombing failed to demoralize the Palestinian people or break their will. It is also clear that the massive bombardment of the Rafah border and the targeting of hundreds of tunnels have failed to close these lifelines of basic supplies.

On Feb. 1, Israel again bombed the border, targeting the tunnels.

What is needed is a broad international campaign to demand an end to U.S.-supported Israeli collective punishment and an end to the intended starvation of an entire population.

The only possibility for peace in the region is through the recognition of the full rights of the Palestinian people to return to all their land. Their sovereignty and economic development must be guaranteed.

The immediate starvation siege must be lifted. The international movement that emerged in solidarity with Gaza must focus world attention on this international war crime.

Open letter to the President of Israel, by Jean-Moïse Braitberg: *


* Published in Le Monde, Paris on 28 January 2009

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you, to ask you to contact those who are authorized to do so, to remove the name of my grandfather from the memorial at Yad Vashem, which is dedicated to the Jewish victims ofNational Socialism. It says “Moshe Brajtberg, gassed in 1943 in Treblinka.”

The rest of my family also perished in the various of the camps to which they were deported. I beg you. Mr. President, to do this, because that which has happened in Gaza, and in other places, and has defined the fate of the Arab peoples of Palestine for 60 years now, disqualifies – to my mind –Israel to be the center which is dedicated to remember the suffering of the Jews, and by extension, that of all of mankind.

Understand me: ever since I was a child I have lived among survivors of the death camps. I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms and heard the stories of their tortures. I experienced the unbearable mourning and shared the nightmares.

I learned that these crimes shall never again take place, that no person, ever again, shall despise another for his ethnicity or religion, and rob him of his elementary Human Rights, just as he has a right to a life lived in decent circumstances, with the hope of better things for his family.

Still, Mr. President, I have noticed that despite innumerable Resolutions of the international community, despite the obvious injustices to which the Palestinians have been heirs since 1948, despite the hopes of Oslo, and despite the repeated recognition on the part of the Palestinian authorities that Israeli Jews have the right to live in peace and security, the only answer of successive Israeli governments has been brute force, blood shed, incarceration, constant controls, colonization and expropriations.

You will tell me, Mr. President, that it is legitimate for a country to defend itself against rockets aimed at its people, or kamikazis who take many innocents with them in death. To which I will answer that my human sympathies do not ask after the nationality of the victim.

You, on the other hand, lead a nation that means to represent the Jews in their entirety, but also claim to preserve the memory of the victims of National Socialism. That is what touches me and is unbearable to me. While you write the names of my loved ones at Yad Vashem, in the heart of Israel, the state holds the memory of my family prisoner behind the barbed wire of Zionism, in order to make them hostages of a so-called authority which – day after day – practices injustice.

So I beg you to take away the name of my grandfather from the memorial that testifies to the horrors suffered by the Jews, so that it can no longer be used to justify the horror which is visited upon the Palestinians.

Veuillez agréer, monsieur le president, l’assurance de ma respectueuse considération.
____________ _________ _________ _________
* Published in Le Monde, Paris on 28 January 2009

http://www.lemonde. fr/archives/ article/2009/ 01/28/effacez- le-nom-de- mon-grand- pere-a-yad- vashem_1147635_ 0.html

Obama, Mitchell and the Palestinians

By JAMES ABOUREZK

Abe Foxman, head of the “Anti-Defamation League”, claims that George Mitchell is too fair to be a broker betweenIsrael and the Palestinians. I guess that Foxman, in denouncing the choice of Mitchell for Middle East negotiator, shows that he is accustomed to such impartial mediators as Dennis Ross, who, when he left the Clinton Administration returned to the Israeli Lobby, whence he came. Or he possibly could be making a comparison between George Mitchell and Alan Dershowitz, the notorious Israeli propagandist. (I once called Dershowitz a “snake” on Al Manar TV, which prompted him to write a column in the Jerusalem Post calling me an anti-Semite. My mistake was to forget to apologize to the snakes.)
I’m sorry to say that, as much as I admire George Mitchell for the public service he has provided over the years, being fair will not be enough to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the brutality that accompanies it.

The gyrations of various administrations over the years, all of whom have put on great shows of “settling” the conflict, has done nothing but waste a great deal of newspaper ink and television time reporting peace efforts, as though the media believed what snake oil salespeople, such as Condi Rice, were selling to the public. What someone in our government should have realized by now is that Israel absolutely does not want to give up the West Bank for a Palestinian state, even though there are warnings that if a “two state solution” is not reached, the Palestinians will be forced into a state of apartheid for the rest of the century. Certainly, the Israelis have no intention of allowing the Palestinians to outvote them in Israel, which leaves South African style apartheid as the only solution.
One can count all the reasons given by the Israelis for not achieving the “peace” that Israel claims it wants, reasons such as:
    1. We have no negotiating partner.
    2. The Palestinians have to recognize Israel’s right to exist first before we talk to them.
    3. They have to end terrorism first.
    4. We made the Palestinians the best offer they could ever have gotten, but they turned it down.
    These are just some of the shopworn excuses trotted out to avoid cutting a deal.
    It seems that very few people have caught on to this scam, even though it has been exposed for many years. So, as the establishment continues to blather about achieving “peace,” Israel continues to swallow up Palestinian lands, beating up, imprisoning and massacring Palestinians on a daily basis.
    It is very clear to me, as well as to anyone else who declines to see the conflict through an Israeli prism, that only when an American President flatly tells the Israelis that they must move the settlers out of the West Bank, there will be no peace, only more occupation, more brutality, more violations of international law, and more bloody slaughters of civilians such as the one we only recently witnessed in Gaza. Anything short of that leaves the Israelis in complete control, and it will leave America with more and more enemies not only in the Middle East, but around the world.
    President Obama mentioned recently that if he doesn’t get the economy turned around in his first term, he will most likely not have a second term. What he has not yet calculated is that the Israeli occupation results in angry terrorism against American interests all over the world. He is faced with the choice of either angering the Likud Lobby by demanding that the Israeli settlers be kicked out of the West Bank, or of continuing the heavy spending required to maintain Israel’s occupation against the wishes of the people they are occupying. What is your guess as to what he will do?
    Surely we should have learned by now that America can no longer afford to listen to the Abe Foxmans and the Alan Dershowitzes of the world. As a nation, we are out of money, bereft of ideas, and incapable of curbing the moral and financial corruption in Washington, D.C., which includes the corruption brought about by the Likud Lobby.
    The result is that the rich get richer, the poor and the middle class become more and more desperate, searching for jobs that no longer exist, and for homes they can no longer afford.
    The likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have brought the world down around our collective ears, and after having done so, they have ridden off into the sunset, happy in the knowledge that they’ve taken care of their rich friends, who have profited from the wars they have started. The oil price surge, the conflicts in the Middle East, which have brought about the surge in military spending has created fortunes for their cronies, all paid for by the people of this country. We are, unfortunately, not finished paying the price for Mr. Bush’s costly — in terms of human lives and of money — puerile adventures for the past eight years. We will be reaping the hatred and the violence caused by their wars, in addition to suffering the economic fallout resulting from their policies of greed and corruption. And we have not yet counted the kinds of misery and poverty and corruption these two heroes have spawned as a result of the Iraq War.
    The cowardice of our presidents and of our Congress keeps Israel in the driver’s seat so far as continuing the occupation. Brutality is the natural product of an occupation that is necessary to keep the land they’ve stolen from the Palestinians. We are in desperate need of “change,” and we hope and we pray that Mr. Obama will have the courage to put it in motion.
    James G. Abourezk is a lawyer practicing in South Dakota. He is a former United States senator and the author of two books, Advise and Dissent, and a co-author of Through Different Eyes. This article also runs in the current issue of Washington Report For Middle East Affairs. Abourezk can be reached at georgepatton45@gmail.com