Freedom Rider: Black America and Palestine
Freedom Rider: Black America and Palestine
by BAR Editor and Senior Columnist Margaret Kimberley
African Americans are the group that most supports the rights of Palestinians to be treated justly - which makes Blacks the most vulnerable targets of the Israel lobby. Effectively controlling the U.S. Congress, the Israel lobby creates endless enemies for the United States, abroad, endangering every American citizen. Yet an imposed silence prevents any semblance of national dialogue on the subject. Relentlessly, the Israel lobby launches political "hit men" to attack anyone who challenges the U.S. alliance with the Zionist State.
"We are endangered by Israel but are prevented from saying so."
A nation that inflicts collective punishment on civilian populations, tortures minor children, uses civilians as human shields, and commits extra judicial killings ought to be condemned by all decent, civilized nations. It seems like a no-brainer. If that country is Israel, those common sense assumption no longer apply. The United States routinely vetoes any and all United Nations resolutions that condemn a variety of Israeli actions.
Israel's existence depends totally on America's largesse, yet Israel calls the shots. That nation receives $15 million aid every single day. In return Israel sends spies to the United States and effectively controls the Congress through its American allies.
Americans are participating by proxy in an ongoing atrocity against the Palestinian people. That is how millions of people around the world view the situation. If "they" hate "us" Israel is a significant cause of that hatred.
Israel's continued occupation of Palestine is in defiance of the wishes of every other nation on earth and causes it to be a danger to the American people. Its allies in this country are the biggest advocates for empire building, first encouraging the occupation of Iraq and now demanding an attack on Iran.
"Israel sends spies to the United States and effectively controls the Congress through its American allies."
America is officially a client state of Israel. The few American politicians brave enough to criticize Israel have all faced well funded opponents and lost their elections. In 2002 two Congressional Black Caucus members, Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney, were both targeted for defeat by candidates with the American Israel Political Action Committee seal of approval and the campaign cash that comes with it.
Black Americans are overwhelming in favor of an approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict that is fair and takes the concerns of Palestinians seriously. Yet they are the group whose elected representatives are most at risk if they represent their constituents' wishes on this issue.
As Israel acts against the Palestine people, the United States emulates its behavior. Dr. Sami al-Arian was a professor at South Florida University until he was charged with aiding Islamic Jihad. A jury acquitted him of the most serious charges lodged against him and was deadlocked on minor charges. He agreed to plead guilty to one lesser charge in exchange for being deported and ending his suffering.
Yet 16 months later he still languishes in a federal prison, and nearly died after a 60 day hunger strike. Dr. al-Arian is a victim of the same ideology that keeps Guantanamo and "black ops" secret prisons in business. He is a political prisoner by any definition of the term.
All Americans suffer because of this twisted arrangement that can turn innocent people into prisoners. We are endangered by Israel but are prevented from saying so. Just ask Norman Finkelstein, an author and professor at DePaul University. He is Jewish and the child of survivors of the Nazi holocaust against European Jews. Finkelstein is also a very harsh critic of the Israeli government. His books such as The Holocaust Industry are unrelenting in their condemnation of Israel and of its American allies.
Finkelstein is now being considered for tenure that seemed to be all but assured but his enemies had other ideas. Alan Dershowitz has taken it upon himself to see that Finkelstein's tenure application is denied. He has compiled a dossier of attacks on Finkelstein and admits sending it to "everybody who would read it."
Finkelstein isn't alone. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer are also university professors, Walt at Harvard and Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago. Both men had the respect and entrée into influence that those titles always bring. They ruined their route to permanent prestige when they decided to cast a critical eye on Israel's political influence in America in their paper, The Israel Lobby.
"Blacks are the group who most support the rights of the Palestinians to be treated justly."
They were compared to David Duke, forced to issue disclaimers that they didn't represent their universities, and were accused of being anti-Semites. Along with former president Jimmy Carter their solid establishment credentials were useless when the Israeli lobby attacked them.
If former presidents and white university professors fare so badly when they dare to criticize Israel, black Americans have no chance whatsoever of voicing their true opinions. We are stuck like everyone else, but our impotence is all the more poignant because we are the group who most support the rights of the Palestinians to be treated justly.
Carter and others represent a glimmer of hope for the United States. There may be time to turn this awful tide that will almost certainly result in an attack on Iran. Bravery that defies logic will be necessary. Politicians will go down to defeat and ordinary citizens will be persecuted and prosecuted for speaking up. Hopefully someone will be up for the challenge.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley' maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.
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