Who to Trust: AIPAC or Amnesty International?

In a speech recently, President Bush says Israel has a right to defend itself against terror but he made no mention of Israel’s government’s “war crimes.”

Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorism, but does Israel’s government have a right to kill innocent Palestinians?

Does Israel’s government have a right to fabricate excuses that no one can confirm as reasons to ethnically cleanse areas of the occupied lands?

Does Israel’s government have a right to steal lands, expel its Christian and Muslim Palestinian inhabitants and replace them with Jewish refugees who claim a “right of return” that they deny to others?

Does Israel’s government have a right to violate the Geneva Conventions, commit war crimes and literally impose a new form of Apartheid on the occupied population?

Bush was addressing AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Council), a foreign lobbying organization that has as much power in this country as the Electoral College.

AIPAC defends Israel’s government’s right to do whatever it wishes and is silent on its military abuses and atrocities against the Palestinians it occupies.

But rather than address AIPAC, Maybe Bush should have spoken to a gathering of Amnesty International, an organization that is objective and more dedicated to fairness, justice, truth and individual liberties on this planet than AIPAC.

This week, Amnesty issued a scathing 65-page report accusing Israel not only of violating the Geneva Conventions – which Israel does not recognize – but also of committing “war crimes.” (You won’t read much about the report in our media and you won’t find it on the White House web page, so go to Amnesty’s web page at <www.amnesty.org> and read it yourself.)

At least there is someone in this world who does not fear the power of AIPAC or the defamation of those who criticize Israel’s government “war crimes.”

The report said the demolition and destruction are “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are war crimes” Amnesty called on Israel to halt the practices immediately, and said the house demolitions are linked to Israeli intentions to take over West Bank and Gaza land.

Haven’t people been saying that for years?

Amnesty reports “Families are forcibly evicted from their homes, often at night, without prior warning. They are given only a few minutes to leave their home and are not allowed to salvage their possession. The unprecedented scale of destruction has resulted in widespread violations of the right to adequate housing and standard of living for tens of thousands of people and violates fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law.

It goes on to say, “In the Occupied Territories, demolitions are often carried out as collective punishments for Palestinian attacks or to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Both practices contravene international law and some of these acts are war crimes.

The report is devastating and labels the Wall as a violation, too.

Amnesty concludes “Israel’s right to take reasonable, necessary and proportionate measures to protect the security of its citizens does not allow such disproportionate and discriminatory restrictions and collective punishment, which violate international law.”

What that means is this: the two kids at Columbine claimed they were being harassed and bullied by other students had a right to file formal complaints against the other students and to bring the harassment to an end.

They did not have the right to bring in their own weapons and wantonly murder other students as an act of revenge.

That’s exactly what Israel’s government is doing. Of course Israelis have a right to defend themselves, but not to do it in such a way that they are achieving other more sinister objectives such as the theft of Palestinian lands, which is the foundation of Israel’s policies and actions.

I don’t expect AIPAC to replace their blind support for Israel with truth and justice above. And, even tough I am an American who served during the Vietnam War and whose father and uncle served during World War II, I will be accused of being “anti-Semitic” just for repeating Amnesty International’s conclusions.

But you might think that Bush, the guy who goes around the word lecturing everyone about civil rights, freedom, democracy and justice, might be less concerned with appeasing AIPAC. Bush should be more concerned about putting truth and justice above AIPAC’s blind support for Israel, even if it is a presidential election year and he is stumbling in the polls.

RAY HANANIA is the former National President of the Palestinian American Congress. He can be reached at: www.hanania.com.