James M. Wall
Palestinian people must be determined through "negotiations" between unequal partners, an occupying military power and the captive population it occupies.
OK, so the resolution did not actually say that part about colonialism. But ponder for a moment what really happened in our national legislative halls this month.
By a unanimous Senate vote and a 407 to 6 majority in the US House, the Congress demanded that Palestinian leaders "cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including through a unilateral declaration of statehood or by seeking recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations or the United Nations."
The Congress also demanded that President Obama "announce that the United States will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes before the United Nations Security Council which is not a result of agreements reached between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians".
Furthermore, the Congress, in the words of its resolution, expects President Obama to "lead a diplomatic effort to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations, within the United Nations and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians."
Stephen Zunes understands the American zeitgeist which produced the arrogance behind that resolution. He wrote:
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are still trapped in an early 20th century colonialist mindset which believes that colonized people should only be allowed independence under the terms and conditions granted them by their occupiers.We are all occupied by Israel's army because we are, as Zunes notes, "trapped in an early 20th century colonial mindset". To be trapped in a colonial mindset is to be linked to a a matrix of mind control that deadens our hearts, our minds, and yes, our souls. Not convinced? You still believe that our political leaders, our church leaders, and our media controllers tell us the truth about Israel?
Take note of what riles up the oppressors. Why else would the state of Israel react with such vehemence at the slightest effort to throw supportive and symbolic lifelines to the Palestinian people? Recent example: The Israeli Knesset has just declared it to be a crime to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
That's right, that innocent-sounding Palestinian-inspired effort to call attention to the connection between corporate profits and Israel's occupation has made Israel chip away yet another hunk of high-minded idealism that once led Israelis to dub themselves as "the only democracy" in the Middle East.
Remember that, you delegates to church legislative bodies. You could end up in an Israeli prison cell if you continue to protest Israeli occupation. These people want us to be afraid, very afraid.
You congressional legislators who have come to love the perks and glamour of power, you thought you could be Mr. Smith in Washington doing what is good for your people? The moment a member of Congress endorses a check from supporters of colonialism, they lose their freedom to determine what is good.
It works this way, Madame and Mr. Congress member. Listen well. When AIPAC sends over its latest resolutions, don't bother to read it. Just sign and cast your vote the way you are told. When you have been ground down sufficiently, you will embrace Israel's control the way you once accepted the control of the schoolyard bully who stole that piece of your Mom's apple pie you brought for an afternoon snack.
You will get used to it, so much so that you will find yourself sending out lies and distortions to your voters and believing them, just as you expect the voters to believe them.
After a while, it becomes easy to send out such a letter the way Hawaii's Democratic Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, did recently. The Congresswoman caught on fast. She is serving her first term in Washington:
Stuart Littlewood shared Hanabusa's letter.
Littlewood reminds us just what is in Resolution 268, of which the congresswoman is so proud to have supported in her first term in office:
Resolution 268 actually states that "Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations." It threatens withholding US foreign aid to the Palestinian National Authority if it presses ahead with an application for statehood in the United Nations in September. It also calls for the Palestinian unity government to "publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with the Government of Israel."Got that, you Palestinians? If you expect to keep your 40 acres and the mule, you must talk to no one but us. And, another thing, you must do so under our rules of engagement. Otherwise, as the Mafia guys in my town might say, "we know where you live". Read Hanabusa's letter carefully and take note of the deceptions and distortions members of Congress accept as the price for staying in office.
As the only democracy in the region, I believe that the United States has a special relationship with Israel... During my time in the House of Representatives, I will support our funding our ally and help to forward Israel's efforts to keep their citizens safe, which currently stands at $2.8 billion in general foreign aid, and another $280 million for a missile defense system...
Our foreign aid to Palestine is intended to create a virtuous cycle of stability and prosperity in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians towards peaceful coexistence with Israel and prepares them for self-governance. . ..
Most recently, I became a co-sponsor of House Resolution 268, which reaffirms our support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states. This resolution is also in opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, as well as outlined consequences for Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations. This bill passed in the House on July 7, 2011 by a vote of 407 – 6...(The resolution was sponsored by Representative Eric Cantor, the Debt Ceiling Republican point man. It was co-sponsored by virtually the entire house membership. Visit this site to see how your member voted.)
In the essay he wrote for Truthout this week, Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, describes the history of the colonial mindset which is so slavishly followed by the US Congress. Zunes calls his essay, "Congress and Its Colonialist Agenda". He writes:
Up until the mid-20th century, Western attitudes regarding national freedom essentially went like this: the independence of white Western nations (Great Britain, France, the United States etc.) was a given. Independence for nonwhite, non-Western nations (such as those in Africa, the Middle East and Asia), however, could only be under conditions granted by the occupying powers.
The time at which these nations could be free, their specific boundaries and the conditions of their independence could only be reached through negotiations between the colonial occupiers and representatives (if approved by the colonial powers) of the conquered peoples.The time for freedom, the " specific boundaries" and what will constitute independence, must be negotiated, which is to say, handed down to the "conquered peoples" by their conquerers. Any suggestion that a "third party", say, the United Nations, might be able to suggest a more equitable arrangement for the "conquered peoples", must be resisted vigorously.
There have been many Israelis who have felt the painful burden of having to impose their will on a captive people. These Israelis have spoken out, written about, and sought to reverse the uglier aspects of this occupation, but they have not prevailed against successive hardline conservative governments that buy the US Congress and shape the US media, all with one aim, to deny the reality of colonialism in the 21st century.
President Obama is no stranger to colonialism nor to racial hatred. We keep hoping his sensitivity to oppression will influence him to take his decision-making away from slavish adherence to Israel's dictates. Thus far, he has been a huge disappointment. When he was elected and basking in the adoration that engulfed him in Chicago's Grant Park, that long-ago night in 2008, we thought the matrix was about to crack.
But even before he was sworn into office, the signs were ominous. The President-elect sat by without complaint as President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert completed their dirty business in Gaza, carrying out an invasion which did not end until a few hours before Obama's inauguration.
Then came the appointments. Obama added no one to his inner circle who might have at least suggested to him that Palestinians are people who have been continuously brutalized. Instead, he brought in people like Dennis Ross to guide his Middle East policies.
The American media pontificators give Ross a free ride. Not so the liberal wing of Israel's media, as Stephen Walt (of Mearsheimer and Walt fame) points out in his blog for Foreign Policy:
In case you missed it, veteran Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar has written a scathing denunciation of US Middle East policy - and long-time Middle East advisor Dennis Ross - in Ha'aretz. His bottom line is that Oslo is over, yet the United States is still trying to convince the Palestinian leadership to buy into a diplomatic process that has been a cover for continued settlement building and has manifestly failed to bring them a state. The key passage:
"It would be tough to find a bigger expert than Ross on the myths and illusions related to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For years he has been nurturing the myth that if the United States would only meet his exact specifications, the Israeli right would offer the Arabs extensive concessions."
During the years he headed the American peace team, Israeli settlement construction ramped up. Now Ross, the former chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute, is trying to convince the Palestinians to give up on bringing Palestinian independence for a vote in the United Nations in September and recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people - in other words, as his country, though he was born in San Francisco, more than that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was born in Safed. . . .
Ross is trying to peddle the illusion that the most right-wing government Israel has ever seen will abandon the strategy of eradicating the Oslo approach in favor of fulfilling the hated agreement. In an effort to save his latest boss from choosing between recognizing a Palestinian state at the risk of clashing with the Jewish community and voting against recognition at the risk of damaging U.S. standing in the Arab world, Ross is trying to drag the Palestinians back into the "peace process" trap.There are reports out of Ramallah that the Palestinians may decide not to go forward in their appeal to the United Nations in September. If this is true, and we hope it is not true, then look for the US-Israeli matrix of colonial control to tighten even further.
The picture at top is from Aljazeera. The children are in Gaza. The time is December, 2008, taken during the Israeli invasion.* James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Jim launched personal blog April 24, 2008.