Label Israel what it is — an apartheid state By Terry Ahwal

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The killing of the Palestinian people continues at full throttle. Not a day goes by without maiming, injuring, imprisoning, condemning schools, displacing families, and demolishing Palestinian homes. Yet, when somebody points to the similarities to pogroms, apartheid countries, Kristallnacht, and other examples of state terror, western leaders act incredulous and condemn the people who point to the similarities. They sidestep the actual crimes and terror committed and sanctioned by a powerful state and concentrate on those who stand with the Palestinians. 

I, for one, am not surprised one bit about the terror imposed in the occupied territory by the Israeli government and its settlers. No, it is not just the right-wing Israeli government that is ruled by Netanyahu and his fascist coalition that started the terror. These terrors, in all their forms, have been imposed on the Palestinian people since the creation of the state of Israel. What astonishes me, however, is the continued reaction of even the most progressive human rights advocates in both the U.S. and the European governments. They scream holy hell because someone dares to compare the similarity to pogroms and apartheid. They compete to show off their alliance with the colonial state of Israel – the so-called only democracy in the Middle East. 

The truth is I should not be surprised! During my career in politics, I was taken to the woodshed more than once when I wrote about Israel’s poor human rights issues in my local Detroit newspapers. Some responses advocated for my dismissal from my job, others told me to refrain from writing about Israel. During one Israeli bombardment of Gaza, where buildings toppled on innocent men, women, and children, many of whom were killed while sleeping, I wrote an article and used the word “genocide” to describe the carnage. I was told such a word should not be used in conjunction with Israel. The liberal candidate I was working for at the time did not dispute the killing, nor did he express his sorrow or dismay over the deaths of innocent people. His main concern was about the language I used to describe the continuous killing of the Palestinian people, especially the people in Gaza. 

What I find repugnant is the extent to which liberal politicians in the West take umbrage and offense to people who describe the carnage and devastation Israel inflicts on Palestinians daily in the terms that fit – “ethnic cleansing,” “pogrom,” “apartheid,” and so on.  

So, I have questions for those apologists who support the suppression of my speech because I point out the hard truths on the ground in Israel and the occupied territory. What label do you give to Israel’s revocation of the residency status for thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem despite continuously living in their community for a thousand years?  

How should we describe the deaths of sick people who plead with soldiers at illegal checkpoints that separate families from their medical facilities? Remember, these people must pass through Israeli checkpoints to get permission to visit a hospital.  I personally watched with horror as an 18-year-old Israeli soldier shouted at a heartbroken mother who was forced to choose between leaving her ten-year-old son behind to take her other sick son to a hospital.  The soldier refused to allow the ten-year-old to accompany his mother.  

Or tell me how I should characterize a country that allows its military to seal the main door of a home while the children are inside crying and watching their terrified mother pleading for mercy? In what universe is this not a crime against humanity?  

What do we label a country that shuts down the border to millions of people and separates them from their families? Israeli authorities blockading the Gaza Strip in 2008 went so far as to calculate the minimum calories needed to avert a humanitarian disaster in the impoverished Palestinian territory, according to declassified military documents.

The crimes inflicted on the Palestinians since 1948 fit the descriptions and labels of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Since its founding, Israel has strategically set policies to build a Jewish-supremacist state which would remove the non-Jewish indigenous Palestinian Christians and Muslims and replace them with settlers. Israel intentionally sets laws to prevent Palestinians from living a natural life in their homeland. Yet, despite condemning the illegal activities that Israel commits, the U.S. and European countries are criminalizing anyone who dares to point out this truth. In the U.S., efforts to stifle any criticism of Israel and the freedom of speech have been instituted or are floating in the halls of Congress and state and local governments. What gives Israel the superiority to get a free pass? 

As for the mainstream media, which claims to be free and fair, it plays deaf and dumb to the truth about these atrocities until one or two Israelis are killed by Palestinians. And when they cover the story, they pretend that the occupiers and occupied people stand on the same footing. But all these hypocrisies pail in comparison to the insincerity of Anthony Blinken. Not a day goes by without him touting the U.S. commitment to human rights around the world on Twitter and his speeches.  I find myself enraged by his refusal to condemn Israel’s barbaric actions. For example, this recent tweet:

This tweet came after Jewish settlers, protected by the Israeli military, went on a bloody rampage in various Palestinian neighborhoods, including Al- Huwwara, killing and injuring Palestinians while burning their homes and cars. 

My message to all who are enraged by labeling Israel for what it is, a settler-colonial criminal state, is to heed the words of former U.S. President and humanitarian Jimmy Carter, who said, “aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease.”  The rage should not be about pointing out the accurate facts but about how fascism is the norm in Israel.

Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.  in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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