Palestine and Israel

by Michael W. Stowell

March 19, 2001

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When I contemplate the state of affairs in Palestine and Israel I am faced with the whole of human conflict at its primal level; the human family fighting over a pile of rocks. I'm also faced with a deplorable question; will we destroy our humanity in our quest for ownership of the Earth?

Since its origins the Zionist movement has been contrary to the revolutionary solution of what was called the "Jewish Question." The movement itself was a product of rampant capitalism therefore its aim was not the revolutionary overthrow of the oppressing system but the creation of a Jewish state on Palestinian soil; Euro-capitalist colonialism with a religious spin.

The Zionists did not propose abolishment of racism and other injustice, but instead transferred it in a triumph for counterrevolution. The Jews have now recreated all the fanaticism and segregation they have been victims of, those who had suffered disgrace and intolerance are now disgracefully intolerant of others. Furthermore, Jewish history reveals stunning examples of prejudiced behavior and violent oppression, so we should not be surprised at the present situation for it is merely a repeat of history by those who refuse to learn from it.

Recently, the Israeli Army has started to surround towns with trenches. Jericho was first and on March 7, Birzeit, a small city that is home to Birzeit University, was cut off from the rest of the world. In the middle of the night a series of trenches 2 meters deep and 1.5 meters wide were cut through water pipes and phone lines. Soldiers in armored cars are preventing people from leaving on foot and no one has any idea why Birzeit was chosen for this total isolation.

In Hebron there's another twist. In one section of the city 30,000 Palestinians have been confined to their homes since the new intifada began. This is for the safety and convenience of 400 Jewish settlers who live in the area. Settlers shoot Palestinians and damage their property all over the territories, yet settlers have never been put under a curfew.

Three miles south of Gaza City, an Israeli tank blocks the main road forcing traffic to detour onto a narrow strip of beach. By severing one of Gaza's main roads the Israelis create another disruption amid an economic crisis caused by Israel's closure of its borders. For the Palestinian economy the impact has been devastating. The Palestinian gross domestic product has lost half its value since late September 2000, $8.6 million for each working day, the United Nations reported last month. To the Palestinians, the economic blockade is just another form of terrorism.

A rift has developed between the intellectuals, Palestinian pundits blame Israeli pundits for abandoning the cause of peace in defense of the occupation. Israel would believe the Palestinians are aggressors squatting on holy ground and the political/religious think-tankers must justify the "chosen people." This claim by Palestinian intellectuals is weakened by their diffidence of addressing the criminal acts of murder that have been carried out by the Palestinian side.

Palestine's pseudo-revolutionaries cheered or were at least cheerfully quiet at the abominable murder of two Israeli captive soldiers in Ramallah. When two innocent Israeli citizens were pulled out of a restaurant in Tulkarem and murdered in the street because they were Jews there was silence in Palestine, humiliating silence. Deafening silence hung over the murder of that youth from Ashdod. Where was the voice of the Palestinian peaceniks when these atrocities occurred? If justice is their demand let it cry out from the rooftops.

On March 8, 2001, the Bahrain Tribune reported that Palestinians are preparing for the worst with the accession of Ariel Sharon's right-wing government. Pleas were made that the United States would not allow Israel to escalate the violence that has cost 430 lives since the latest eruption last September. Pleading to George W. Bush for leadership in what can only be a true revolution is less than futile and it is an indication of how far we are from a non-violent solution.

Indeed, Bush is not inclined to intercede on behalf of the Palestinians and will probably not involve himself in the "peace process." Promises made to Arafat will be broken and terrorism will increase. Early this month a spokesman for the militant group Hamas said that Palestinian resistance was legitimate and would go on under Ariel Sharon's leadership as long as Israel was occupying Palestinian lands. Asked if he expected suicide bombings to continue, Ismail Abu Shanab, speaking for the political wing, said "We understand something; that the strategy of resistance will continue until the Israeli full withdrawal. All tactics are in the hands of the military wing."

Meanwhile, tensions have heightened throughout the Arab nations and the propaganda war is raging. Three major Jewish organizations -- the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- are demanding that Lebanese officials ban the forthcoming "Revisionism and Zionism" conference in Beirut, March 31 to April 3, which the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) is sponsoring. The U.S. State Department has also weighed in against it. You may recall that the IHR has held conferences outside the Arab world and it has been reported that they deny the Jewish holocaust ever occurred. Investigate the claims yourself.

When people wait for "divine intervention" to solve problems and disputes the results are usually catastrophic. When revolutionaries appear it's only to sympathizers. In the stillness of rest, at the end of a long journey many years ago, a memoir was given to me. It was the memoir of a man who lived and died thousands of years ago in occupied Israel. It began with the rape of a young woman.

A child was conceived and her family, who feared a self-righteous synagogue, moved the maiden to safety. She was rescued by her espoused who believed her innocent of wrong-doing and when the child was born he looked quite Jewish except for his light-colored eyes, the inheritance of his Roman father.

In those days there were many insurrections in that land for the Jews sought a leader who would overthrow the Romans and deliver Israel. The Roman protectorate was quick to execute all who banded together for violent rebellion but when the young man appeared with teachings of compassion and charity he was largely ignored and denigrated. A true revolutionary had arisen among them, a fair-eyed Jew who embodied his message of peaceful co-existence.

That very insightful person appealed to the poor and repressed but when he encountered the religious leaders and rebuked them for their corruption they sought a reason to have him and his message destroyed. When he and his followers entered Jerusalem for observance of the Passover, many expected him to unite the people and overthrow the Jewish leadership. Instead, all but a few failed to recognize him.

Before his death he told his followers that Jerusalem, the "city of peace", would fall to the Romans because of violent rebellion. "When you see the armies of destruction surrounding the city know that the time is at hand and get out. These walls, though they be ten feet thick, will fall and no one inside the city will survive." Many of his followers did not understand him and left him to the wrath of the Jewish court.

In 70 AD, forty years after that very insightful man predicted its demise, Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome. The only survivors were those who remembered the warning or had enough common sense to leave the city.

There is a message here for Israel and Palestine, Jew and Moslem alike.



       Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of The City of Arcata Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission, Humboldt County, CA. When interviewed by the Arcata City Council for a position on the NWFZ Commission, Michael was asked why he wanted to participate. His answer was that 40 years ago when he entered grade school, the boys lavatory was in the basement of the school, and on the wall was a sign that read "Nuclear Fallout Shelter." When he asked what the sign meant, he was frightened by the answer.

Many events have occurred in the last 40 years that have caused the concerns about nuclear weapons to become widespread and Michael believes that serving with Arcata's NWFZ Commission is a fine opportunity for expressing his concern and acting upon it.

[Ed. Note: The City of Arcata, incorporated in 1858, is located in Humboldt County, on California's Redwood Coast, at the juncture of California Highway 101 and 299 West. The city is approximately 289 miles north of San Francisco, 150 miles west of Redding and 760 miles north of Los Angeles. The 1990 census reported Arcata's population as 15,197 and the county population as 119,118.]


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Published March 19, 2001
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