Will the U.S. Demand an End to Israeli Settlements

Will the U.S. Demand an End to Israeli Settlements

by Sheila Musaji

On July 26th, Alan Dershowitz made a statement in an article that the Palestinians ‘Played A Significant Role In The Holocaust’ .  This was debunked by Matt Duss in his wonkroom blog.  Matt Duss also pointed out that: “This is obviously not scholarship, but nor is it simply polemic. It is the attempted slander of the Palestinian people, in order to diminish their historical claim to a state with Jerusalem as its capital. In his Cairo speech, President Obama importantly recognized this claim as being co-equal with Israel’s, and admirably rejected the childishly one-sided narrative of the conflict that Dershowitz is peddling.”

On July 23rd AFP reported that “Israel’s ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered embassies abroad to use a photo of Adolf Hitler meeting a top Palestinian cleric to counter international criticism over a Jerusalem settlement project, a senior Israeli official said on Wednesday.”  This attempt at connecting the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim communities with Nazism and/or fascism is not new.  The term “Islamic-Fascists”, activities like David Horowitz’ Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, the promotion of films such as Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad, and other “Totalitarian Demonization” of our communities have been thoroughly debunked, and the actual story of the Muslims who fought against the ‘Real’ Fascists has been told.  None of this will however stop the Israeli propoganda machine.

On July 23rd, Jonathan Cook exposed the fact that twitterers were being paid to spread Israeli propaganda, and Muzzlewatch pointed out that “That commenter on your blog may actually be working for the Israeli government.”

On July 21st Benjamin Netanyahu was a principle speaker at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conferenceThe organization’s founder, Pastor John Hagee, addressed Netanyahu—who was in Israel—by satellite, telling him that 50 million Christians support “Israel’s sovereign right to grow and develop the settlements of Israel as you see fit and not yield to the pressure of the United States government.”

On July 13th, Richard Silverstein reported that:  “A former insider at AIPAC has spilled the beans on a major secret initiative by The Israel Project (TIP) designed to counter opposition in the US to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Douglas Bloomfield, former chief lobbyist for Aipac, writes that TIP, a group dedicated to promoting Israel’s positive image among the US media and policymakers, has circulated a 140-page primer designed to prompt supporters in their exchanges with US journalists and key decision-makers when they are arguing in favour of the settlements”

What do these and many other recent developments have in common?  They are Israeli propaganda pure and simple, put out by the Israeli Propoganda Machine  This propoganda machine and the Israeli lobby are not new, but they seem to have gone into high gear since President Obama’s Cairo Speech.

“When President Barak Obama said in his Cairo speech that “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” he cut to the heart of the four decade old conflict in the Occupied Territories, slicing through the thicket of “confidence building,” “security walls,” and “road maps” that have derailed one peace attempt after another.”  ( The Settlements and the Quartet a make-or-break issue, Conn Hallinan http://www.counterpunch.org/hallinan07102009.html )

In January of this year a secret Israeli database was discovered that revealed the full extent of illegal settlement and put the numbers at about 290,000.

In May, President Obama urged Israel to halt expansion of settlements. 

The number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank now stands at more than 300,000 people, according to government figures published by the Haaretz newspaper on July 28, 2009.  And, according to other sources:

“There are more than 450,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Peace Now, an Israeli organization that opposes the settlements. Some of them are Americans. And some of the most influential, militant figures in the settler movement have been Americans, too. Among them were Baruch Goldstein, the doctor from Brooklyn who fired 100 shots at worshiping Muslims in Hebron in 1994, killing 29; Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Kach party, which was banned in Israel in 1988 on the grounds that it was racist; and convicted terrorist Era Rapaport, a member of the Land Redemption Fund, which coordinates the acquisition of Palestinian land in areas targeted for settlement expansion.  ...  Evangelical Christians in the United States also support the settlements, raising millions of dollars for them, according to a recent National Public Radio report. The Colorado-based Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, for example, encourages churches and ministries to connect with “the pioneers of Biblical Israel” through the “adopt-a-settlement program.” Sondra Oster Baras, director of the organization’s Israeli office, estimates that more than half of the West Bank settlements receive direct or indirect support from Christians, according to the NPR report.”  ( Want to Stop Israeli Settlements? Follow the Dollars, Ronit Avni http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062503427.html )

Whatever the precise number, Jewish settlers have doubled their numbers in the West Bank since the 1990s when the numbers were around 116,000.  And, these numbers continue to increase, as in spite of Obama’s urging Israel to freeze settlements, Israel continues to defy this demand, and in fact has authorized construction of 300 new homes in the West Bank.  “In its latest challenge to Obama’s repeated requests to freeze all its settlements construction and expansion plans, including the new ones in East Jerusalem, Israel approved mid-July a new plan to build apartment blocks for Jewish people only in occupied East Jerusalem, specifically in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.”

“Since the 1967 occupation, Israel has spent an estimated one hundred billion dollars to build settlements on Palestinian land.  To protect the Israeli settlements on Arab land, an elaborate, immune infrastructure had to be built over the past four decades.  In and around settlement communities, there are limitless security structures, roads designated exclusively for settlers, hundreds of checkpoints, luxurious water and other utility systems, intimidating cement barriers, punitive barbed wires and a massive “security” wall, that eats up a major part of the West Bank and separates Palestinian villages and cities from one another, and from Israelis communities.”  ( Israeli Settlements: Netanyahu Plays “Deal or No Deal”,  Ghassan Michel Rubeiz   http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/200907251869/Opinion/israeli-settlements-netanyahu-plays-deal-or-no-deal.html  7/25/09)

 

The settlements are clearly illegal, and yet the U.S. doesn’t cut off funding to Israel until they comply with International Law, and in fact we continue to pump $3 billion a year in military aid to Israel (In addition, there is the more than $1.5 billion in private U.S. funds that go to Israel annually in the form of $1 billion in private tax-deductible donations and $500 million in Israeli bonds):

“The international community has repeatedly asserted that the building of Jewish settlements on lands occupied by Israel in June 1967 for Israeli civilians is illegal and in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2004, the International Court of Justice at The Hague yet again affirmed that the settlements were illegal when it considered an appeal against Israel for building a wall inside occupied territory. All settlement construction, including that for “natural growth,” is clearly rejected by the “road map” agreement that Israel signed and that the Knesset approved.” ( Are settlements blocking peace? Of course they are, Daoud Kuttab http://www.losangeles-tribunes.com/finance/ 7/15/09

Not only do we continue to blindly support Israel and it’s policies, we also continue to ignore the incredible pressure put on anyone who does attempt to speak up.  Recently in New Mexico, a local group put up billboards asking for an end to U.S. funding of Israel until the settlements are stopped, and the billboard company took them down under pressure.  It would seem that U.S. aid to Israel actually undermines our stated policies and even our free speech rights as American citizens.  Ordinary folks like these in New Mexico or even folks on facebook face difficulties when they attempt to speak up.  More high profile people face a well orchestrated campaign of innuendo and lies that can damage the reputation of even people like the journalists Ramzy Baroud, or John Pilger, or professors like Walt and Mearsheimer, and even former president Jimmy Carter, or retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The settlements are clearly illegal, and yet U.S. citizens are funding them without any penalties:

“Renco Group Inc. founder Ira Rennert and bingo entrepreneur Irving Moskowitz are among U.S. donors who have given $25.4 million in five years to build Jewish homes in Arab parts of Jerusalem—the same areas where President Barack Obama is pressing Israel to stop such construction.  The American contributions, detailed in Internal Revenue Service records, have gone to organizations such as Ateret Cohanim. The group says it bought at least 45 properties, most in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter, to advance its goal of settling a Jewish majority in the now predominantly Arab Old City. “
( Obama Presses Israel to Halt Plans Funded by Rennert, Jonathan Ferziger http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aJ9nbfeqX2Es 7/27/09 )

Christian Evangelicals in the U.S. have pumped $100’s of millions into Israeli Settlements.  And, as David Ignatius has noted“Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes. ... A search of IRS records identified 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.”  These are the “legal” charities.  There are also illegal charities like Jack Abramoff’s that diverted $140,000 from a charity ostensibly to benefit inner-city youths in the U.S. to militant Israeli colonists who had usurped land in the Palestinian West Bank.

All of this seems to prove that Avigdor Lieberman was correct when he said that the U.S. will accept any Israeli policy decision.  According to the article in Haaretz:  “The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office. Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets.”

As Uri Avnery asked in an article this week:  “The question is whether Obama has the power to follow through, as no preceding president since Dwight Eisenhower has done.  Netanyahu does not believe so. His American partners — the defeated Republicans, the neocons who are now in hiding, the almost-silent Evangelical preachers — this defeated camp is hoping to recover its fortunes by encouraging the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government to provoke Obama. Netanyahu, who has mobilised Congress against the White House in the past, believes that he can do it once again.”

That is the question that needs to be answered.  And, answered soon.  As retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu has clearly statedThe Israel-Palestine crisis is the most urgent problem for the world to solve ...  that if it remains unresolved, no other issues – from the war on terror to nuclear disarmament – will ever be resolved.  And, the settlements are at the heart of the inability to find a peaceful solution.


BACKGROUND

A guide to Israeli settlements http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-gorenberg28-2009jun28,0,6704423.story
Land expropriation and settlements http://www.btselem.org/English/settlements/
The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary http://www.newsweek.com/id/206021
Israeli settlement policy Factbox http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE56P0C720090726
Statistics and tables on settlements http://www.fmep.org/settlement_info/overview.html
Timeline of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories http://www.lebanonwire.com/0805/05081003AFP.asp (1967-2005)
Timelines of Israeli settlements http://www.fmep.org/settlement_info/settlement_timelines.html

ARTICLES:

Abramoff and al-Arian: Lobbyist’s “Charity” a Front for Terrorism, Juan Cole http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11456.htm
ADC Files Complaints against US Tax Exempt Organizations Raisings Funds for West Bank Settlements http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/adc_files_complaints_against_us_tax_exempt_organizations_raisings_funds_for/  3/27/09
B’Tselem report says 58% of Ofra Settlement Built on Private Palestinian Lands http://www.imemc.org/article/58118
Christian Evangelicals Pump $100-Million into Israeli Settlements, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2005/03/07/christian-evang/  3/7/05
Defending the indefensible settlements, Richard Silverstein http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jul/13/israel-west-bank-settlements-obama  7/13/09
Enforce a Ban on Settlements, George Bisharat http://www.counterpunch.org/bisharat08272005.html  8/27/05
Five years after ICJ ruling, Israel expands its Illegal Wall onto more Palestinian Land,  Ben White http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64938 7/28/09
Global Peace Index for 2009 (Israel ranked in bottom 20%)  http://www.visionofhumanity.org/images/content/GPI-2009/2009-GPI-ResultsReport-20090526.pdf
Greek Orthodox Church: No Israeli Settlements on Our Land http://www.aljazeerah.info/News/2009/July/28%20n/Orthodox%20Church%20No%20Israeli%20Settlements%20on%20Our%20Land.htm 7/28/09
Palestinian prime minister says Jews would be welcome in future state http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/135325
Obama urges Israel to halt expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank   http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Obama+urges+Israel+halt+expansion+Jewish+settlements+West+Bank/1641862/story.html  5/29/09
Israel: Bush Officials Agreed To Settlement Building http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/03/israel-bush-officials-agr_n_211006.html  6/3/09
Israeli Lobby - Article Collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/israeli_lobby_article_collection/
Israeli Propoganda Machine, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/israeli_propoganda_machine/0017471
Israeli right welcomes US envoys with racist rally http://mondoweiss.net/2009/07/suddenly-the-relationship-doesnt-look-so-special-israeli-right-welcomes-us-envoys-with-racist-rally.html 7/28/09
Israeli Settlers Attack Palestinians in Nablus and Qalqilia, Injuring Six Civilians http://www.aljazeerah.info/News/2009/June/1%20n/Illegal%20Israeli%20Settlers%20Attack%20Palestinians%20in%20Nablus%20and%20Qalqilia,%20Injuring%20Six%20Civilians.htm  1/6/09
Israeli Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein kills 30 at holy site http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/25/newsid_4167000/4167929.stm  1994
Israeli settlements: more than obstacles to peace http://imeu.net/news/article0017056.shtml  7/28/09
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance in Hebron’s Old City http://imeu.net/news/article0016205.shtml  4/12/09
Israeli Settlers attack Palestinians following outpost evacuation http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1101547.html  7/20/09
Israeli Settlers burn Palestinian lands west of Nablus; third attack in four days http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=212273 7/15/09
Israeli settlers attack West Bank village http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/04/2009487194819575.html  4/09
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian, Israeli youth protesting land confiscation http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=211629  1/7/09
Israeli settlers’ attack on Palestinian family captured on video http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0613/p99s01-duts.html  6/13/08
Israeli Settlers attack Israeli police disguised as Arabs http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/03/29/69467.html  3/29/09
Israeli settlers in masks go on rampage after army moves in http://www.smh.com.au/world/masked-settlers-go-on-rampage-after-army-moves-in-20090724-dw75.html 7/25/09
Israeli Settlers attack Palestinian School Girls in Hebron http://www.eappi.org/en/photos-videos/photos/84-photo-essay-israeli-settlers-attack-palestinian-school-girls-in-hebron.html  11/07
Israeli Settlers beating up Palestinians http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7451691.stm 6/8/08
Israeli settlers burn olive groves in ‘price tag’ retaliation attack http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6721173.ece  7/21/09
Israeli settler violence (article collection) http://www.btselem.org/english/publications/Index.asp?TF=01
Jewish Extremism and Terrorism - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/jewish_extremism/ 
Jimmy Carter interview with Reza Aslan http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-01-29/carter-on-iran/
Militant Jewish settlers set up 11 outposts in the occupied West Bank http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/28/jewish-settlements-west-bank
“No, You Can’t!” - Israel tells Obama, Fareed Mahdy http://www.indepthnews.net/news/news.php?key1=2009-07-26%2019:52:54&key2=1 7/26/09
Obama-Abbas: It starts with the settlements, Daoud Kuttab http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obama_abbas_it_starts_with_the_settlements/
PALESTINE - ISRAEL - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/palestine_israel/
Reaction to Netanyahu’s Speech, compiled by Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/netanyahus_speech/0017397
Reaction to President Obama’s Cairo Speech , compiled by Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/reaction_to_president_obamas_cairo_speech_article_collection/0017372
Seeing Through Israeli Delay Tactics, Yousef Munayyer http://www.counterpunch.org/munayyer06232009.html 6/23/09
Settlement expansion: Un-natural Growth http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/settlement_expansion_un_natural_growth/ 7/11/09
The Settlements Facts - responding to “natural growth” justification, Daniel Kurtzer http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061203498.html  6/14/09
Spinning Israeli Settlements (Israel Project’s Guide) http://www.prwatch.org/node/8464
Want to Stop Israeli Settlements? Follow the Dollars, Ronit Avni http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062503427.html
Yes, you can! —Uri Avnery http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009%5C07%5C28%5Cstory_28-7-2009_pg3_5


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