I have often heard it said in this country that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has “nothing to do with us.” Such statements reveal a troubling ignorance that so many Americans have in regard to this and other foreign policy issues. In fact the United States has everything to do with it.
It is the US which has inserted itself into the conflict as being the only foreign agent that can “broker” a peace deal. It is the US that has shut out or suppressed the UN from having any effective voice. It is the US that has emboldened hardliners in Israel to run rip shod over any reasonable and fair settlement by continually declaring itself as an unequivocal supporter of Israel regardless of its human rights abuses and incredible intransigence. It is the US which shapes the language used to describe the issues, the problems and any of the solutions. It is the US which has reinforced a decades long system of apartheid, complete with home demolitions, walls and checkpoints that carve up Palestinian land into what amounts to South African style Bantustans.
The US has looked the other way as Israel built a separate system of justice for Israeli citizens and Palestinians, one more fairer than the other. It has ignored the illegality of the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and ignored the increasing racist rhetoric and violence emerging from them. It has whitewashed or downplayed a brutal and oppressive military occupation and the indefinite detention and torture of children. And it has justified the creation of the world’s biggest open air prison in Gaza, where punishment is meted out collectively on a captive population through bombings, the use of white phosphorus, indiscriminate shooting of farmers and fishermen, home demolitions and a draconian economic blockade that limits and restricts food, medicine and construction materials.
John Kerry recently expressed a sentiment that, aside from the circus-like histrionics of the US media and both Democratic and Republican politicians, is shared by many prominent Israelis, Palestinians and one former US president. When he said that Israel was on a course toward apartheid he was only incorrect in making such a claim as a potential future. True to form, Kerry capitulated to the “pro-Israel no matter what” fanatics and apologized. But the facts remain. An institutionalized ethnocracy has been allowed to flourish. As in apartheid South Africa, this kind of system grows like a cancer. And it eventually effects all aspects of civil life in society.
Insidiously, the US has perpetuated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to suit its own foreign policy objectives as a colonial foothold in the Middle-east. It has continued to support an untenable system because doing so is more advantageous to its neoliberal interests in the entire region. And the recent, momentous failure in the so-called “peace process” should make it clear to everyone, as tensions are at an all time high, that the US has proven itself incapable of being an effective and fair mediator. For the sake of everyone, it is more than past the time for it to remove itself as the sole arbiter of peace.
Kenn Orphan 2014
(Photo: Palestinian child sobbing atop the ruins of his family’s home that was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina/AFP )