A year ago today marked the third day in what would become a devastating 51-day assault on Gaza, which Israel tagged “Operation Protective Edge”. This was certainly a social media assault, in addition to the munitions that both sides used. Check out the IDF blog, replete with Israel’s spin.
Americans by and large sided with Israel — last summer and today. That’s really not surprising given our mainstream media’s spin, the legion’s of pro-Israel lobbyists and organizations working in the U.S., and the “special friendship” our country has with Israel. But that support might be cracking. [Young Americans take a dim view of Israel’s actions, Washington Post, July 29, 2014]
A new Pew Research Center poll is the second in the past week (July 2014) to show a huge generational split on the current conflict in Gaza. While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas.
A second poll showed similar results.
Gallup asked Americans whether they thought Israel’s recent actions were justified. While older Americans clearly sided with Israel, 18 to 29-year olds said by a two-to-one margin (51-25) that its actions were unjustified.
Clearly, it seems like an uphill battle to educate Americans about the facts. Many individuals and groups have been trying, but they’re up against some formidable adversaries who prefer that Americans remain in the dark about the Israel/Palestine conflict — such as the military industrial complex, AIPAC, and the growing Christian Zionist movement — to name a few.
So, I’m meeting with my Congresswoman in a couple of weeks in her DC office. She’s familiar with the issue and I consider her to be a genuinely caring person, but she’s also very politically astute and doesn’t want to piss off AIPAC. Last month she refused to sign Representative McCollum’s letter to Secretary John Kerry which urged the State Department to make the human rights of Palestinian children a priority in the U.S. bilateral relationship with Israel.
Why should Americans care about the Palestinian side of the equation in the Middle East? That’s the MILLION $$ question. And why should members of Congress care specifically?
Here’s my list which I’m fleshing out in greater detail. I appreciate any feedback.
- The U.S. gives Israel ALOT of money every year under very favorable terms. By one estimate, American taxpayers have given more than $130 Billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Our subsidy appears to be growing. Can the U.S. afford to be so generous with Israel while ignoring basic needs at home (infrastructure and education to name a couple) and in other less-developed countries?
- In the international arena, the U.S. routinely stands alone, or with the small minority, when voting on Israel’s actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Last week, the U.S. cast the only NO vote at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva against a resolution calling for parties to be held accountable for potential war crimes committed in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. The U.S. knee-jerk support for anything and everything that Israel wants, endangers U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in the volatile Middle East.
- After 9/11, President George W. Bush told the world that the terrorists hate American values. He was wrong. Extremists hate our foreign policies, not our values. We continue down this path of genuflecting before the State of Israel at our peril, and Israel’s peril too. America’s unwavering support for the State of Israel, even when the cold, hard facts show that Israel likely committed war crimes last summer in Gaza, only fuels the extremists. President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said that “extreme ideologies are not defeated by guns but by better ideas.”
- Our basic common decency and humanity calls us to empathize with our fellow human beings — all of them — not just the Israelis running for cover under the Iron Dome. We lose our humanity when we ignore the tremendous lopsided death tolls, the assymetric battles, and the root causes of the conflict.