Congress is fueling terrorism by denying Palestinans authority and empowerment

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Many are responding with outrage to Congress’s passage of a resolution seeking to block any recognition of a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state. The text of this resolution is not up on the Congressional site, even though Congress passed it. But AIPAC has a copy. Maggie Sager’s full post on the subject appears on Resisting Occupation:

Palestinians are no closer to achieving statehood, and instead are being called upon by congress to continue to engage “without precondition” (read: while simultaneously letting Israel confiscate Palestinian land in violation of international law). Why on earth should they? Simply because Congress is under the impression that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations, despite the utter lack of progress toward a lasting solution, and continuous steps in the opposite direction.

Congressmen Poe and Berman would rather attempt to strong-arm Palestinians and the international community at large into sitting down to Israel’s table. This brings us to the next issue with the bill: the United States government’s insistence on actively interfering with Palestinian diplomacy on behalf of Israel. The United States is perfectly warranted in refusing to recognize a Palestinian state along pre-1967 borders. There are many states within the United Nations that do not recognize one another. However, actively attempting to convince other nations to follow suit, and threatening to veto any legislation that would otherwise pass through the Security Council is not only inherently wrong and prejudiced, but perfectly exemplifies one of the main reasons the United States is a consistent target of terrorism.
Authors of The Israel Lobby John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt contend that there is “abundant evidence that U.S. support for Israel encourages anti-Americanism throughout the Arab and Islamic world and has fueled the rage of anti-American terrorists.” Mearsheimer and Walt go on to explain:
While some Islamic radicals are genuinely upset by what they regard as the West’s materialism and venality, its alleged “theft” of Arab oil, its support for corrupt Arab monarchies, its repeated military interventions in the region, etc., they are also angered by U.S. support for Israel and Israel’s harsh treatment of the Palestinians. Thus, Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian dissident whose writings have been an important inspiration for contemporary Islamic fundamentalists, was hostile to the United States both because he saw it as a corrupt and licentious society and also because of U.S. support for Israel. Or as Sayyid Muhammed Husayn Fadlallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah, put it in 2002, “I believe that America bears responsibility for all of Israel…America is a hypocritical nation…for it gives solid support and lethal weapons to the Israelis, but it gives the Arabs and the Palestinians only words.”
Unconditional American support for Israel was also one of the chief reasons Al Qaeda used to target the World Trade Center in 2001. The 9/11 commission determined in a background study, bin Laden attempted to expedite the attack upon witnessing the beginning of the Second Intifada in the fall of 2000 and again when he learned Ehud Barak was to visit Washington in June 2001. What’s more, the 9/11 Commision Report states Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the so-called “principal  architect” of the attack, had an animus toward the United States that “stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”


In the same vein, Osama bin Laden articulated myriad justifications for targeting the US and its citizens in his global jihad in his 2005 “Letter to America.” First and foremost, bin Laden explains that “it is very simple: Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.” His first example: “You attacked us in Palestine.”

Pre-dating the letter by nine years, bin Laden’s 1996 Fatwa was primarily concerned with the fact that “people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq.” The title of the fatwa was “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.”

Clearly, US foreign policy in general and unwavering support for Israel in particular has contributed greatly to the United States’ problem with terrorism. When politicians advance such potentially destructive pieces of legislation, they must keep this fact in mind, or be prepared to face the consequences –hopefully not with calls to escalate the War on Terror, thereby missing the point entirely.
This is not to say that Americans should yield uncritically to the demands of terrorists, letting them control US foreign policy as citizens cower in fear. Yet the United States consistently exacerbates its own problems by arrogantly dabbling in the affairs of other nations, offering fuel for the fire, and American citizens and troops (not to mention citizens of other countries) pay the price, …all for what? The truth of the matter is that congress is worried that unilateral declaration and recognition of a Palestinian state will not offer Israel the guarantees it was hoping to squeeze out of the PA with the help of its largest benefactor.

Unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and the subsequent recognition of that state by the international community will not solve the conflict. It will simply allow Palestinians to act from a place of authority and empowerment when settling final status issues with Israel.  Without some kind of political capital to rely on, the PA will not be able to guarantee a just solution for its people. Far from being concerned with simply settling the conflict –which the United States could easily do by applying serious pressure to Israel and the PA equally, the US wants to settle the conflict on Israel’s terms.

Some might contend that this characterization is overly cynical, and perhaps congress truly believes negotiations are the answer. Unfortunately, regardless of the veracity of that contention, one can say with confidence that it is the not the way the international community, or the enemies of the United States for that matter, will view such legislation.
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