FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What is Israel Hiding?

by Joshua Ruebner And Khalid Turaani

With extremism gaining adherents in both communities, the notion that Muslims and Jews can work together for a similar vision of peace between Palestinians and Israelis may surprise many. The idea certainly piqued the interest of U.S. Congressional staff members who were invited to participate in the first joint American Jewish-Muslim staff delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sponsored by American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) and Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI).

The bi-partisan delegation intended to spend six days traveling throughout Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, American and international humanitarian organizations, and U.S. government officials. Staffers acknowledged this as a unique opportunity to get a balanced view of the situation on the ground. This, they said, could only help in the development of a constructive American policy toward the region and peacemaking efforts there.

Perhaps more surprising than the group’s sponsorship was the fact that Israel’s Interior Ministry denied entry to the delegation, which attempted to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge on August 8. After five hours and without explanation, Israeli security personnel informed the delegation that the Ministry of Interior had refused entry to the six Congressional staffers and the two AMJ staff members. While Israeli authorities held the passports of all nine members of the delegation, an Israeli policeman urged the group to get their passports and leave, saying he hoped the situation would not lead to “blows.”

Since April, Israel has turned away or expelled hundreds of humanitarian relief workers, peace delegations, and journalists, not to mention the U.S.-sanctioned UN fact-finding mission established to investigate the Israeli invasion of Jenin. An official staff delegation from the U.S. Congress, however, is a new addition to Israel’s list of undesirables.

Six Members of Congress — the institution that appropriates to Israel $3 billion of U.S. taxpayer money every year–sent their staffers on this delegation to help inform their positions on this critical issue. Instead, they were sent on their way with “denied entry” scrawled in red in their American passports. Only after three days of high level intervention from the U.S. State Department and Embassy in Tel Aviv were the staffers finally allowed entry–though without their American Muslim hosts. Israel managed to compress what was to have been a six-day fact-finding mission into little more than two days. Such strange behavior on the part of America’s purported ally in the region should prompt members of Congress to ask: what is Israel trying to hide?

Despite the abridged schedule of the delegation, once on the ground, it became obvious what Israel was attempting to hide: an onslaught against the Palestinian people designed to subjugate them to Israel’s indefinite military occupation. In the West Bank, the juxtaposition of destruction and construction was terrifyingly staggering. On dozens of hilltops, there was evidence of brand new settlements being established in defiance of U.S. outcries to halt this illegal practice. Israeli bulldozers worked feverishly to clear land and build new settler-only bypass roads to facilitate the movement of settlers while further choking off already constricted Palestinian bantustans. The Israeli checkpoints leading in to Ramallah and Bethlehem have been, literally, concretized, perhaps permanently severing these cities from Palestinian East Jerusalem. At the same time, according to figures cited by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),! Israel has completely destroyed at least 1,600 Palestinian homes since September 2000, leaving many thousands homeless.

Israel’s desperate attempt to entrench its military occupation, which everyone agrees must come to an end in order for there to be a just peace, has wreaked incalculable damage to Palestinian infrastructure and society. USAID reports skyrocketing malnutrition among Palestinian children and 70% of Palestinians living below the poverty line. In the Aida refugee camp, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, the delegation saw the meager belongings of one refugee utterly ransacked and his house partially destroyed by Israeli troops who reoccupied the area during a spring invasion. Endless coils of barbed wire, which have proliferated at nearly every turn, imprison Palestinians in their own homeland. In Hebron, Hebrew graffiti repeatedly urges the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank with such vile slogans as “Death to the Arabs” and “No Arabs, No Attacks.” No wonder that Israel attempted to keep this delegation out.

Members of Congress would be wise to visit the Palestinian Occupied Territories to see this for themselves. At the very least, they should listen to what Palestinians told the delegation about their feelings toward the United States. Although the tone varied, the message was the same: the United States’ unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel’s occupation and its brutal policies are embittering Palestinians toward the U.S. government. If our government is truly interested in improving its image worldwide, then it must change substantively those policies which are so offensive to those seeking peace and justice.

Joshua Ruebner is co-founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel. Khalid Turaani is executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem. Both groups are based in Washington, DC.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 30, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Can the Impossible Happen in Britain?
W. T. Whitney
Why Does the United States Beat Up On Capitalist Russia?
Patrick Cockburn
We Can’t Let Britain to Become a Vast ISIS Recruiting Station
Michael J. Sainato
Leaks and Militarized Policing: Water Protectors are Proven Right
Ted Rall
What Do the Democrats Want? No One Knows
David J. Lobina
The Israel-Palestine Conflict and Political Activism
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again, Mainstream Media Does Pharma’s Bidding
David L. Glotzer
Social Security: Clearing Up the Financial Nonsense
Edward Hunt
If They are Wrong the Planet Dies
Lawrence Wittner
How Business “Partnerships” Flopped at America’s Largest University
Guillermo R. Gil
Poems Must Never be White
Martin Billheimer
Strategies of Rose and Thorn in Portland
Tony Christini
What isn’t Said: Bernie Sanders in 2020
Chandra Muzaffar
Fasting for Palestinian Justice and Dignity
Clancy Sigal
Even Grammar Bleeds
May 29, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
No Laughing Matter: The Manchester Bomber is the Spawn of Hillary and Barack’s Excellent Libyan Adventure
Vijay Prashad
The Afghan Toll
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post’s Renewed Attack on Whistlblowers
Robert Fisk
We Must Look to the Past, Not ISIS, for the True Nature of Islam
Dean Baker
A Tax on Wall Street Trading is the Best Solution to Income Inequality
Lawrence Davidson
Reality and Its Enemies
Harry Hobbs
Australia’s Time to Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty
Ray McGovern
Will Europe Finally Rethink NATO’s Costs?
Cesar Chelala
Poetry to the Rescue of America’s Soul
Andrew Stewart
Xi, Trump and Geopolitics
Binoy Kampmark
The Merry Life of Dragnet Surveillance
Stephen Martin
The Silent Apartheid: Militarizing Architecture & Infrastructure
Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail