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Impartial broker? Palestinian dehumanization evident in US policies

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“There is no such a thing as Palestinian,” interrupted a gentleman in the audience at the Allen County Public Library during a presentation by Miko Peled titled “Beyond Zionism” in 2013.

Peled, a former Israeli soldier turned peace activist, was invited by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace to offer his honest and powerful perspective on the atrocities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. His story is especially poignant when one considers how deep his roots run in Israel.

His moving story of transformation and account of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians was met with jeers from some people and the aforementioned declaration from the gentleman in the audience that I, and more than 12 million other Palestinians, are just a figment of the world’s imagination.

The experience from about six years ago is not the first nor the last ugly reminder of what it means to be Palestinian, especially in America. I filed that incident in my mind as just that – ugly – because you get accustomed to this sad reality when your life is deemed less than, your own existence is denied, and your truth is challenged every day.

Hyperbole? I beg to differ.

Take, for example, Israel’s former deputy defense minister, Eli Ben-Dahan who, according to Times of Israel, referred to Palestinians as animals in 2013: “To me, they are like animals, they aren’t human.”

In March 2015, then-Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said, in reference to Arab citizens who are not loyal to the state of Israel, “Those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe.” Lieberman went on to become Israel’s defense minister in 2016, only to resign in late 2018 in protest of a truce in Gaza, calling it a “capitulation to terrorism.”

And Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current prime minister, posted on Instagram on March 10 that Israel is “not a state of all its citizens.” His government has been responsible for the worst violence in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 and injured more than 10,000 Palestinians during the 2014 war. The life of a Palestinian is reduced to the price of the indiscriminate bullet that is fired callously toward him.

All of this happens under the watchful eyes and protection of our U.S. government, almost regardless of who is in power. Not only do we annually give $3.8 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, but also, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, the U.S. has used its veto power 44 times against draft U.N. Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel since 1972.

Every time Israel is to be held accountable for its crimes against humanity or violations of international law, our government stands up and gives the rest of the world the middle finger by virtue of its veto power. How exactly are we an honest broker of peace?

Exaltation of Israel as “the only democratic state in the Mideast” and its protection from any and all forms of condemnation or discipline is the most bipartisan issue of all time. In response to peaceful calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel by Palestinians, a move inspired by South Africans’ response to apartheid, 27 states to date (including Indiana) have passed legislation making it illegal for any state-affiliated organization to do so.

And it does not look like that will stop at the governmental level as there is legislation being taken up that would consider any criticism of Israel anti-Semitic, further conflating a Zionist, militaristic, expansionist state with a beautiful religion. We have seen this with the recent backlash Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) received for merely questioning the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, on our politics.

So I ask: If I, as a Palestinian, am not allowed to speak of Israel’s occupation and subsequent ethnic cleansing of my land in June 1948*; and if I, as a Palestinian-American, am to watch my U.S. government unabashedly support my occupier militarily, politically and financially; and if I, as a Palestinian-American, am not to have the right to condemn, criticize or boycott my occupier; then what am I to do?

If every single part of who I am is under attack, fought, discredited, delegitimized and dehumanized, then what am I to do? How do I prove to you that I exist?

This op-ed first appeared in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on March 13, 2019. 

*My family originates from the Palestinian village of Yibna, which was located south of Tel Aviv. On June 5, 1948 the Israeli Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade took control of the village and expelled the last residents, shooting at them as they fled.

Ahmed Abdelmageed
About Ahmed Abdelmageed

Dr. Ahmed Abdelmageed is Assistant Dean of student, alumni and community engagement at Manchester University College of Pharmacy, Natural and Health Sciences.Dr. Abdelmageed is a board member of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the United Way of Allen County.

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9 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen on March 14, 2019, 2:51 pm

    I don’t see any sign of change with any of the current candidates for the next POTUS except Tulsi Gabbard, do you? And she, alone, is being attacked by both party establishments and by the corporate US main media. She recently had a town meeting broadcast on CNN & the host and plants in the audience asked her entirely heavily loaded questions. She handled all of them with poise, sincerity, dignity, and a real awareness of US geopolitics. its history, and what’s the root problem of US foreign policy–I hope the US public saw that.

    • JWalters
      JWalters on March 14, 2019, 7:27 pm

      I agree. Tulsi is a courageously honest voice. The MSM flacks are a disgrace to journalism, the 1st Amendment, and truth itself.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on March 14, 2019, 9:35 pm

      Citizen, I am not too sure if Gabbard is the answer:

      “I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to support bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to bring an end to this enduring conflict.”

      What Gabbard doesn’t mention here, is the fact that the bill she proudly co-sponsored, H.Res.23, was designed to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to reflexively use its veto power in protecting Israel from resolutions that either condemn or pressure it into complying with international law within the UN Security Council.

      Moreover, her co-sponsored bill also condemns the boycott Israel movement, otherwise known as BDS, which puts her in line with the most hawkish Israel lobby-backed members of the US Congress, who are committed to criminalising any form of criticism in regards to Israel’s harmful policies.”

      According to the article:

      “These include her support for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, who is banned from the US for his role in the Gujarat massacres which killed 790 Indian Muslims, and Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi, who is responsible for the murder of thousands of political opponents.

      Her most vociferous supporters on the American left, however, willingly overlook these offences, which have won her support from Steve Bannon, the standard-bearer for white nationalism in the US, and David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, while boasting of her “anti-war” credentials and opposition to military interventionism.”

      https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2019/1/18/the-pro-palestine-lefts-curious-support-for-tulsi-gabbard

      That looks bad, if true.

  2. JWalters
    JWalters on March 14, 2019, 7:24 pm

    The US as an “honest broker” has been clearly revealed as a long-standing lie mouthed by Israel’s puppet governments in the US. And more of the puppet-master’s lies are falling fast. An excellent run-down on many of the “trope” lies is in this excellent article by ace reporter and war correspondent Chris Hedges.
    “Israel’s Stranglehold on American Politics”
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/israels-stranglehold-on-american-politicss/

  3. Kay24
    Kay24 on March 14, 2019, 9:55 pm

    I am so ashamed at the role the US has had in helping Israel dehumanize the Palestinians. For decades we have been sending the occupier billions of dollars, and the weapons they use on UNARMED CIVILIANS. How many of these victims were killed by American weapons? How many times have we shielded the criminals at the UN, by vetoing any resolution criticizing them for their excessive violence against those they occupy? Trump has added to their misery by cutting off the measly aid we send the Palestinians, which is resulting in tremendous suffering, while Obama increased the aid we send to the occupier. Why are we not holding Israel responsible for the loss of lives, the killing of children, the kidnapping of children, imprisoning and abusing them, the stealing of lands, and water, leaving them with contaminated water, which makes them sick. This is INHUMANE treatment of people TOTALLY depended on those who occupy them, and the US does the occupier’s bidding, showing the world that the world’s greatest superpower, when it comes to the I/P conflict does what the occupier says. The Congress has conveniently forgotten about human rights when it comes to the Palestinians, and enables their occupier perpetrate the most horrible crimes against humanity, and ignores the pleas of it’s victims.

    If only Israel was honest enough to make the dessert bloom within their 1967 borders, and not continue to show their greed by stealing lands, building illegal settlements, and abuse those who lived there before them. Whoever claimed this was a slow genocide, was right. Right now Israel is bombing Gaza, and if any civilians are killed, zionist in the US will shrug their shoulders and say they were “defending themselves”. Those rockets, and stones, are a response to Palestinian suffering. Another fact ignored by American leaders.

  4. Misterioso
    Misterioso on March 15, 2019, 10:34 am

    @Kay24

    “If only Israel was honest enough to make the dessert bloom within their 1967 borders,…”

    I hate to be critical of your comment, but is of vital importance to note that it was the indigenous Palestinian Arabs who in fact made the “desert bloom.”

    The Zionist claim that Israel quickly and dramatically increased the amount of land under cultivation within its borders is a fabrication as is Shimon Peres’ assertion that such land was ‘redeemed from swamp and wilderness.’ In reality, as of 1979, “About 80 percent, and probably more, of the 2,185,000 dunums ‘brought into cultivation’ [by Israel] since 1948 constitute farmland belonging to Palestinian refugees.” (Alan George, Making the Desert Bloom…” p. 99)

    During the first three decades of “Israel’s” existence when it received a net import of capital totalling $31.5 billion (Maariv, 1 July 1977), excluding US taxpayers’ massive financial aid, and had the use of modern agricultural equipment as well as sophisticated farming techniques, its record of land cultivation was quite poor. “[T]he area within what became Israel actually being farmed by Arabs in 1947 was greater than the physical area which was under cultivation in Israel almost thirty years later…. The impressive expansion of Israel’s cultivated area since 1948 has been more apparent than real since it involved mainly the ‘reclamation’ of farmland belonging to the refugees; this is probably as true for the Negev desert as for the rest of Israel.” (Alan George, “Making the Desert Bloom…”)

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on March 15, 2019, 9:24 pm

      I was being sarcastic there, Misterso. :))

    • RoHa
      RoHa on March 16, 2019, 1:49 am

      Misterioso, Kay said “make the dessert bloom “. She was referring to Israeli cuisine, not agriculture.

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