PORTLAND — The uproar about President Obama’s call for Middle East negotiations based on the 1967 border, with points given to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for lecturing Obama in the Oval Office (“Netanyahu defines the real Mideast conflict,” Our Views, May 29) primarily serves to indicate how uninformed Congress and U.S. mass media are regarding Palestine.

Every peace negotiation for 20 years has begun and ended with the 1967 line with mutually agreed land swaps.

It was Netanyahu who was off the reservation in arguing not from “facts on the ground,” as usual (if we can take it, we’re going to keep it), but reverting to the day when Israel, without the fourth most powerful military and sufficient nuclear bombs to destroy most of the Arab world, feared an Arab attack.

Netanyahu was also being silly, since confiscated fertile land, aquifers and illegal Israeli settlements offer no defense against modern rockets.

Actually, dependent on settler fanatics to stay in office, he was telegraphing once more that Israel is not serious about negotiations that will require yielding the West Bank with swaps, sharing Jerusalem and fairly resolving refugee claims.

The Israelis are past masters of framing the issue for gullible American audiences – spinning ethnic cleansing as a voluntary Palestinian exodus, the 1967 attack as self-defense, the confiscation wall as a separation wall, occupied territory as “disputed” and now “claimed,” the long-planned Gaza slaughter as a reaction to Hamas rocketing.


Israeli leaders consistently ignore the norms employed worldwide in judging the Palestinian situation:

Justice, which requires restoring to Palestinians stolen land and resources, and compensation for lost and maimed lives and destroyed property over 64 years.

International law, which outlaws the extended Occupation, confiscation of land and resources, and settlements, and requires repatriation of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian human dignity and human rights, which preclude rationalization of Israel’s designs on more Palestinian land by dehumanizing Palestinians as Untermenschen, animals, and cockroaches.

Jewish morality, which, said the late Arthur Hertzberg, a former president of the American Jewish Congress, holds this as central: “The prime teaching of the Jewish tradition commands me to defend the defenseless.” That, he insisted, includes “Palestinian refugees in the camps or under Israeli occupation.”

U.S. interests and our long friendship with Israel as norms will not bear examination. Israel’s increasingly repugnant crimes against the Palestinians make it an international pariah. So our deep complicity undercuts our international posture as a champion of freedom, and the retaliatory Beirut barracks, USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks have cost us dearly.


Nor can we forget Israel’s betrayals of our loyal friendship: sale of stolen military secrets to China and apartheid South Africa; the deliberate bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967, killing 34 and wounding 171; the murder of Rachel Corrie, and continued illegal settlements – after we promised them another $30 billion.

The facts contradict the assertion that Palestinians are bent on being rid of Israel. Since 1988 Palestinians have agreed to recognize Israel on condition that it end the Occupation and honor the international law it subscribed to in order to gain recognition as a state – recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and to compensate fairly the great majority who would not return.

One sticking point is Obama’s insistence on a mutually agreed settlement, giving Israel a veto on any Palestinian claim on Israel’s stolen loot (land, water, Gaza oil and gas).

A second is the presumption of third-party mediators to decide for the millions of Palestinian refugees whether their moral and legal right to return should be respected – their decision alone to make.

When Congress rewards Netanyahu’s racism, fabrications and usual Israeli fear-mongering with standing ovations, and mass media still buy into the Israeli myth that Leon Uris’ propaganda melodrama, “Exodus,” established – Israel as perpetual victim of Arab hatred – discussion of peace terms here is pointless.

Better that a September U.N. vote for Palestinian statehood pass us by.


– Special to The Press Herald


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