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December 16, 2011

Un-Peace in the Holy Land

Roy Meachum

You may have missed the week’s stories. Palestine was accepted as a full member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, costing UNESCO 25 percent of its budget: 22 from the United States and 3 from Israel.


Also this week came the raid against an Israeli army base by Jewish “extremists,” who might have been called “terrorists” if the nation’s ruling cabinet had gotten its way. Mindful of the international ears, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the specific recommendation, wanting to reserve that awful word for Islamic organizations. But there was a time in the corridors of Washington, London, Paris and Moscow when putative Israel and its protagonists fully merited the gruesome label.


When the U.S. stationed me in Germany right after World War II, the Stars and Stripes newspaper ran articles about British soldiers found with their throats cut. When I was overseas Jewish “patriots” bombed Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, slaughtering 91 Europeans, Jews and Arabs. The 1948 assassination of United Nations envoy Folke Bernadotte by the Israeli Lehi organization and Irgun Zvai Luemi massacre of the 254 men, women and children in Deir Yassin village smacked of terrorism to the rest of the world. Benjamin Netanyahu was born in 1949, the year after the birth of Israel, godfathered by Harry S Truman; the current prime minister ignores the history of his country.


The “extremists” recently vandalized military bases, torched mosques and desecrated cemeteries; they ruined motor vehicles and farmlands in the West Bank and Israel proper. Aside from being dubbed “terrorists,” they will be subjected to Army arrest, banned from contentious areas and tried in military courts. The unthinkable was thought and acted upon.


Dwight Eisenhower was the last president to stand up to Israel — and maybe the only one; he ordered London’s, Paris’ and Tel Aviv’s forces out of Egypt’s Suez Canal, in 1956. By contrast, as a White House adviser on the performing arts, I witnessed Lyndon Baines Johnson abide Israeli naval forces’ destruction of the U.S.S. Liberty and 34 American seamen. Of the 297-man crew, 171 were wounded. The compensation accepted was somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million. Richard M. Nixon stripped Europe-based American forces of their billions of dollars in equipment for Israel, when Egypt’s Anwar Sadat caught the Jewish state flat-footed in his October 1973 surprise attack.


Shortly after Israel seized East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, the United Nations Security Council Assembly passed unanimously Declaration 240 that tried to straighten out problems left over from the June attack. The international assembly always treated East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as “fruits” of an unjust war, to be returned to the invaded countries.


For 44 years, we have observed the travesties of justice inflicted on Palestinians. Washington has insisted the only viable agreement letting Jews, Christians and Muslims occupy simultaneously the Roman colony Palestine could come about through negotiation; this left Israel with the upper hand, choosing to talk or not and on the subjects Jerusalem chose – an extremely unfair position for the Palestinians.


As a way around the American-enforced impasse, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority decided to seek statehood in the international community, which is exactly why they were voted (107-14) in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In an attempt to blackmail them back under Israel control, Washington, at direction of the Congress, stripped funds at every stage. As I said, UNESCO gave up 25 percent of its annual budget to acknowledge the Palestinians as human deserving dignity.


At this time of year, we frequently sing some version of “Peace and Goodwill” to our fellow men, women and children. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three religions sired by Abraham. The Quran, Muhammad’s recitations, run very much along the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. But their common brotherhood makes them brutal enemies, as we saw this week in the land considered Holy by all three faiths.


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