By Paul Findley
in September 2002
would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused to help Israel
humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express this conclusion
publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe the catastrophe
could have been prevented if any U.S. president during the past 35 years
had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid until Israel
withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The U.S. lobby for
Israel is powerful and intimidating, but any determined president-even
President Bush this very day-could prevail and win overwhelming public
support for the suspension of aid by laying these facts before the American
government, like its predecessors, is determined to annex the West Bank-biblical
Judea and Samaria - so Israel will become Greater Israel. Ultra-Orthodox
Jews, who maintain a powerful role in Israeli politics, believe the
Jewish Messiah will not come until Greater Israel is a reality. Although
a minority in Israel, they are committed, aggressive, and influential.
Because of deep religious conviction, they are determined to prevent
Palestinians from gaining statehood on any part of the West Bank.
In its violent assaults
on Palestinians, Israel uses the pretext of eradicating terrorism, but
its forces are actually engaged advancing the territorial expansion
just cited. Under the guise of anti-terrorism, Israeli forces treat
Palestinians worse than cattle. With due process nowhere to be found,
hundreds are detained for long periods and most are tortured. Some are
assassinated. Homes, orchards, and business places are destroyed. Entire
cities are kept under intermittent curfew, some confinements lasting
for weeks. Injured or ill Palestinians needing emergency medical care
are routinely held at checkpoints for an hour or more. Many children
are undernourished. The West Bank and Gaza have become giant concentration
camps. None of this could have occurred without U.S. support. Perhaps
Israeli officials believe life will become so unbearable that most Palestinians
will eventually leave their ancestral homes.
Once beloved worldwide,
the U.S. government finds itself reviled in most countries because it
provides unconditional support of Israeli violations of the United Nations
Charter, international law, and the precepts of all major religious
How did the American
people get into this fix?
its principal origin 35 years ago when Israel's U.S. lobby began its
unbroken success in stifling debate about the proper U.S. role in the
Arab-Israeli conflict and effectively concealed from public awareness
the fact that the U.S. government gives massive uncritical support to
Thanks to the suffocating
influence of Israel's U.S. lobby, open discussion of the Arab-Israeli
conflict has been non-existent in our government all these years. I
have firsthand knowledge, because I was a member of the House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Committee in June 1967 when Israeli military forces
took control of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria, as well as the Palestinian
West Bank and Gaza. I continued as a member for 16 years and to this
day maintain a close watch on Congress.
For 35 years, not
a word has been expressed in that committee or in either chamber of
Congress that deserves to be called debate on Middle East policy. No
restrictive or limiting amendments on aid to Israel have been offered
for 20 years, and none of the few offered in previous years received
more than a handful of votes. On Capitol Hill, criticism of Israel,
even in private conversation, is all but forbidden, treated as downright
unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic. The continued absence of free speech
was assured when those few who spoke out-Senators Adlai Stevenson and
Charles Percy, and Reps. Paul "Pete" McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney,
Earl Hilliard, and myself-were defeated at the polls by candidates heavily
financed by pro-Israel forces.
As a result, legislation
dealing with the Middle East has been heavily biased in favor of Israel
and against Palestinians and other Arabs year after year. Home constituencies,
misled by news coverage equally lop-sided in Israel's favor, remain
largely unaware that Congress behaves as if it were a subcommittee of
the Israeli parliament.
However, the bias
is widely noted beyond America, where most news media candidly cover
Israel's conquest and generally excoriate America's complicity and complacency.
When President Bush welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sometimes
called the Butcher of Beirut, as "my dear friend" and "a
man of peace" after Israeli forces, using U.S.-donated arms, completed
their devastation of the West Bank last spring, worldwide anger against
American policy reached the boiling point.
The fury should
surprise no one who reads foreign newspapers or listens to BBC. In several
televised statements long before 9/11, Osama bin Laden, believed by
U.S. authorities to have masterminded 9/11, cited U.S. complicity in
Israel's destruction of Palestinian society as a principal complaint.
Prominent foreigners, in and out of government, express their opposition
to U.S. policies with unprecedented frequency and severity, especially
since Bush announced his determination to make war against Iraq.
The lobby's intimidation
remains pervasive. It seems to reach every government center and even
houses of worship and revered institutions of higher learning. It is
highly effective in silencing the many U.S. Jews who object to the lobby's
tactics and Israel's brutality.
Nothing can justify
9/11. Those guilty deserve maximum punishment, but it makes sense for
America to examine motivations promptly and as carefully as possible.
Terrorism almost always arises from deeply-felt grievances. If they
can be eradicated or eased, terrorist passions are certain to subside.
Today, a year after
9/11, President Bush has made no attempt to redress grievances, or even
to identify them. In fact, he has made the scene far worse by supporting
Israel's religious war against Palestinians, an alliance that has intensified
anti-American anger. He seems oblivious to the fact that nearly two
billion people worldwide regard the plight of Palestinians as today's
most important foreign-policy challenge. No one in authority will admit
a calamitous reality that is skillfully shielded from the American people
but clearly recognized by most of the world: America suffered 9/11 and
its aftermath and may soon be at war with Iraq, mainly because U.S.
policy in the Middle East is made in Israel, not in Washington.
Israel is a scofflaw
nation and should be treated as such. Instead of helping Sharon intensify
Palestinian misery, our president should suspend all aid until Israel
ends its occupation of Arab land Israel seized in 1967. The suspension
would force Sharon's compliance or lead to his removal from office,
as the Israeli electorate will not tolerate a prime minister who is
at odds with the White House.
If Bush needs an
additional reason for doing the right thing, he can justify the suspension
as a matter of military necessity, an essential step in winning international
support for his war on terrorism. He can cite a worthy precedent. When
President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation that freed only the
slaves in states that were then in rebellion, he make the restriction
because of "military necessity."
If Bush suspends
U.S. aid, he will liberate all Americans from long years of bondage
to Israel's misdeeds.
NOTE: Mr. Paul
Findley, who served as a Republican congressman from Illinois for 22
years, is the author of 'They Dare to Speak Out' and a member of the
American Educational Trust's Foreign Relations Committee.