Vice President Biden’s speech in Israel on March 11 sounded like an official American statement, providing absolute support to all the crimes committed by Israel. Biden’s speech was full of anachronisms aimed at polishing the image of Zionism tarnished by the blood of civilians, particularly children. Biden was not hypocritical like most Western politicians. He was candid and transparent.
In his speech, Biden said: “I had said in a speech in the United States some years ago for which I got some criticism, if I am not a Jew, I would be a Zionist. And it got a lot of national publicity, how could I say that, until I was reminded by my father you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist”. I do not know why the Vice-President should feel proud about being a Zionist and what are the achievements of Zionism that make Biden want to belong to it. Is it the displacement of millions of Palestinians from their homeland, Palestine, the incarceration of millions of others in the big prison called Israel, where they are subjected daily to ethnic cleansing and where their children, women and elderly killed and imprisoned?
There are 321 children imprisoned by Israel with the only charge against them being throwing stones at armed Israeli settlers who attacked their homes and neighborhoods, insulted them and killed their families. The people of Gaza are still suffering hunger, disease and poverty after a war described by all investigators as a crime against international humanitarian law. Nevertheless, Israel prevented even the EU foreign policy commissioner and others from visiting Gaza so that they do not see the real face of Israeli Zionism.
Vice-President Biden sees Israel’s history as “a tale of remarkable accomplishment, on a perilous patch of desert with sparse natural resources”. When was Palestine an empty desert? Isn’t it the land of milk and honey which was coveted by invaders like the Romans, the Crusaders and the Zionists? Isn’t it the cradle of Jesus Christ, the prophets and messengers? Was it ever an empty desert, or rather part of ancient Arab civilizations from which the West learnt trade and mathematics, architecture and electricity, arts and literature? Wasn’t Jerusalem a place of pilgrimage for the followers of the three monotheistic religions for centuries? This is as if the Vice-President has not seen the olive trees, hundreds of years old, in Palestine, and as if he is ignorant of the arts and letters developed by Palestinians for centuries and taken back by the Crusaders who returned to a Europe fully swamped at the time by fanaticism and ignorance.
The Vice-President attacked all Arabs – without discrimination between the non-compliant and the moderates – for calling for the destruction of Israel, while “every day, Israel faces bravely threats no country should have to endure.” He adds that the US stands shoulder to shoulder in facing these threats. This is as if Biden does not know that the Arabs have made an initiative for a just and comprehensive peace; and he ignored Egypt and Jordan which made peace with Israel decades ago without this preventing the latter from attacking its neighbors. Biden has ignored the whole Arab reality as if it were “an empty desert”.
Biden thinks that his audience is stupid to the extent that they believe that what is between Israel and the Palestinians is simply a “difference of opinion”. What racism inhabits the minds of Zionists when they believe that Palestine is an “empty desert”? Does Biden think that five million Palestinians do not exist?
No doubt the American Vice-President has not read about the twelve year old child Hasan al-Muhtasib, who was put on trial by the Israelis, and while in court, he was given a red balloon by a lawyer to play with. He has not read about his Zionist friends running over Palestinian children with their cars on a daily basis. Maybe he supports the Zionists when they arrest sleeping children.
The only prisoner mentioned by the Vice-President was Gilad Shalit, while the eleven thousand Palestinian prisoners are part of the “empty desert” which Biden cannot see; and that is why their life and suffering has no value. He even decided that Hamas is responsible for the misery of the people of Gaza, while all investigations and international reports written by the Justice Richard Goldstone and the UN’s Richard Falk, accuse Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza and using internationally-banned weapons against unarmed civilians to kill Gaza’s inhabitants, destroy their schools and institutions over their heads and violate international law.
But on the other hand, if Biden is proud of his Zionism, although he is not Jewish, and goes against the facts of history and geography to justify his support for the crimes committed against unarmed civilians in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and Gaza, where are the rulers of Arab and Muslim countries? Where is the sense of solidarity with their Muslim brethren and with al-Aqsa mosque? Have they left the whole issue to the children of Jerusalem?
Representatives of Arab countries squabble for hours over an expression in order not to upset Israel and its Zionist allies. They end up considering the confiscation of Arab land mere “settlement units”, ethnic cleansing against Palestinians as “demographic change”, the brutal attacks against unarmed Palestinians praying in al-Aqsa mosque and its sanctuary as “clashes”, and brutal Israeli attacks against unarmed women and children in their homes and neighborhoods as mere “confrontations”.
The Zionist perspective, which is essentially an annihilation of Arabs and their rights from existence, deserves an Arab stand in support of Palestinians who have been courageous fighters for the cause of freedom and justice. If building fifty thousand colonial settlement units in East Jerusalem does not deserve an assertive position by all Arabs and Muslims; if it does not deserve withdrawing ambassadors and changing history, what does?
Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer and professor at Damascus University since 1985. She has been the spokesperson for Syria. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org