As they have been doing with random regularity for nearly 70 years now, Israelis and Palestinians are once again slaughtering each other. Militant Palestinian groups, notably Hamas, periodically wreak savage violence on Israelis, especially by bombing public places, thus provoking ferocious Israeli retaliations.
Because of Israel’s overwhelming military might, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, the Palestinians, as usual, are getting the worst of these latest hostilities — far worse, in fact. In as much as 1.8 million Palestinians are packed into a narrow 139 square mile coastal strip that is essentially hemmed in by Israel, they are like fish in a barrel. As of this writing, the Palestinian death toll is 20 times that of the Israelis, and most of the Palestinian casualties are civilians, including many children.
There has been plenty of demonization and finger pointing between the Israelis and Palestinians as to which is the guilty party in the current civilian carnage, and there is much side-taking in the United States and around the world.
But, whether choosing sides or not, it is important to consider the seminal historic cause of this conflict — Palestinian outrage at being forced to share their country with overwhelming waves of Jewish settlers. Imagine if some outside power forced today’s Americans to share or give back the ancestral homelands of Native Americans to millions of descendants of those Native Americans.
Native Americans, by the way, might understand Palestinian outrage. After all, they were driven from their homes, their lands confiscated by relentless waves of white settlers whose hunger for tribal lands was insatiable. Outnumbered and outgunned, American Indians did the best they could to resist, often resorting to savage violence to repel the invaders. Today, we would call some of their tactics terrorism.
In response, the U.S. military indiscriminately slaughtered the Indians, wiping out entire villages down to the last infant. The Indians were considered to be subhuman savages. The genocidal mantra was “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Those Indians not killed by guns, disease or starvation were interned on reservations.
Americans rationalized this wholesale theft, ethnic cleansing and internment as “Manifest Destiny,” which included the belief that their god intended for Americans to possess and settle the continent from sea to shining sea. The Indians were just in the way.
Similarly, Palestinians are in the way of Jewish settlement and possession of what once was ancient Israel. Zionism is Israel’s Manifest Destiny. According to the Hebrew Bible, their god gave this land to the Israelites and commanded them to take it from the established inhabitants — and so, once again, they are.
Consequently, Palestinians are increasingly relegated to something like reservations. Gaza is one such place. And like the American Indians whose reservations shrank whenever white settlers wanted the land, Palestinian territories are steadily being confiscated by Israeli settlers.
Today, Americans regard the historical brutal, mistreatment of Native Americans as shameful, yet by providing Israel with more than $3 billion in military aid annually, with virtually no strings attached, America is effectively supporting similar shameful behavior by Israel. Currently, Congress is preparing to award an additional $225 million in emergency military aid to Israel, which is apparently running low on bullets and bombs in its latest efforts to keep the hostiles on the reservation.
America’s absolute and abiding support of Israel comes with significant costs beyond expensive military aid. The seething enmity of Israel’s Muslim neighbors, who perceive America’s Middle East policy as blindly prejudiced in favor of Israel and its apartheid-like suppression of the native Palestinian population, is certainly a major contributing factor in Muslim terrorist attacks on the United States. These attacks have initiated America’s war on terror with its expanding police-state that has not only compromised America’s Constitution but also its sense of morality. America now spies on its own citizens and tortures prisoners.
And what does America get in return for this costly support? Does Israel have any critical exports America needs? No. Would America necessarily even need Israel as a well-armed ally in the Middle East if America had not alienated much of the region by its staunch, unquestioning, support of Israel? Unlikely.
So what explains America’s devotion to this small, troublesome nation?
American Jews are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the United States. Their influence, therefore, is disproportionately great relative to their numbers — less than 2 percent of total U.S. population. That influence is augmented by the support of America’s evangelical Christians who believe the Judeo-Christian holy land must belong to the Jews to perfect Biblical prophesy.
Regardless of religious beliefs and Jewish influence peddling, the best interests of America are not always or necessarily congruent with Israel’s.
If there is a solution to be found to this chronic conflict, other than the wholesale ethnic cleansing of one side by the other, America needs to start evaluating the situation objectively and recognize that its support of Israel cannot continue to be unconditional, nor its foreign policy in the matter so one-sided.