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Why Don't "They" Like Us?:  Israel

A continuation of Why Don't "They" Like Us?:

From the LA Times, 9/16/01:

Anti-Israel Feelings Limit Arabs' Support

Coalition: States' backing is key to cutting off terror groups. It could also keep a Western assault from being seen as a struggle against Islam.


CAIRO — Many Arab countries are reluctant to give unconditional support to a U.S. strike against suspected terrorists because of hard feelings and anti-Western sentiment resulting from the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Support of the Arab community is essential if Washington is to avoid having its campaign against terrorism defined by enemies as a religious struggle by Christians and Jews against the Islamic world.

It also is a key element in the Bush administration's efforts to isolate extremist groups, cut off their funding and eliminate their havens. U.S. officials have said that Afghanistan-based Osama bin Laden is a prime suspect in Tuesday's attacks and have issued a "with us or against us" ultimatum to other countries.

The United States is likely to win at least the rhetorical support of most of the key players in the Arab world. The enormity of the tragedy has made it virtually impossible for all but the region's most isolated leader, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, to do anything less than condemn the attacks. Even Libya's Moammar Kadafi has offered condolences.

But the issue for Arab leaders is more nuanced.

While it appears that most Arab leaders are speaking the same anti-terrorism language as the Americans, in many cases they do not agree on what constitutes terrorism. Officials here say, for example, that talk of terrorism must also address Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Perhaps recognizing their depth of feeling, President Bush has pressured Israel to resume talks with the Palestinians, so far to no avail.

"You go in any salon in the country and everybody is saying terrorism must be stopped," Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said in a telephone interview Saturday. "But they consider occupation also as an act of terrorism."

Syrian President Bashar Assad has written to the White House condemning Tuesday's attacks and committing his country to help fight terrorism. But Syria also supports the Lebanese group Hezbollah, saying it is a liberation force. The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist militia.

"Arabs have always been fiercely opposed to terrorism in all its forms," the Syrian official daily newspaper Al Baath said in a recent editorial. However, it said they also support "legitimate resistance against occupation."

Saudi Arabia, America's most important Persian Gulf ally, has so far provided the strongest support in the region. It has said it will help find the culprits and will cut financial aid to the Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan and offers sanctuary to Bin Laden.

Key American allies Egypt and Jordan have been more cautious.

Jordan, with a population that is more than half Palestinian, has been very critical of America's role in supporting Israel during the current intifada, or uprising. For almost a year, Israeli forces have battled Palestinians in a conflict that has left more than 740 people dead, about 80% of them Palestinian.

"Officially, we told them that Jordan is beside the United States to confront this monster and we have to finish off terrorists everywhere," Minister of Information Saleh Qallab said in an interview Saturday. "We told the United States that we are with them. In practical terms, we have to negotiate what they need, what they want."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak explicitly condemned the attack but has also noted that he has been warning for years about the globalization of terrorism.

Nabil Osman, director of the state information service, said Egypt has urged a U.N.-sponsored effort to fight terrorism.

"We are not talking about military coalitions, we are talking about a system," he said. "No country should give terrorists asylum, for example."

Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told reporters Saturday that Egypt is committed to supporting America's search for the terrorists, but he cautioned against hasty action.

In Lebanon, where officials try to straddle the divide between Syria, which has de facto control of Lebanon's political process, and their country's need for Western investment, officials talk of an unconditional commitment to help America—but not without mentioning the need to address the Palestinian question.

"We have 100% sympathy with the Americans," Hariri said. "We understand that terrorism is against humanity and against our religion and principles and against everything we stand for. On the other hand, we want to see all the problems in the region resolved."

In deciding their stance, Arab leaders are keeping an eye on their own streets, where citizens are increasingly suspicious of what is viewed as the United States' rush to blame Arabs. Their concern is compounded by worries that America will use its war on terrorism as a pretext to settle old scores.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

Do "they" dislike the West...or just America?
More points on the anti-Israeli sentiment:

Re "Islam Must Challenge Its Dark Doctrines," Commentary, Sept. 13: Yossi Klein Halevi conveniently de-emphasizes the U.S. government's blind and unconditional support of Israel as the preponderant cause of the string of terrorist attacks against the U.S.

If it were true that the terrorists' holy war is really against the West, then why aren't Germany, Spain or Italy, all Western nations, also the targets of their hatred? Because none of those European countries, though supportive of Israel, actively provides the Jewish state with the means—as we do with our tax dollars—to oppress an entire people.

M.C. Magnani, letter, LA Times, 9/17/01

There is no implication of "justification" in the recognition of cause and effect. For anyone with a smattering of awareness of human nature, the Israeli "settlements" and the mind-set that allowed them sent up red flags years ago. America had the clout to persuade the Israelis to abandon that idea and we did not.

Wade Reynolds, letter, LA Times, 10/15/01

After several months during which American aircraft have been used to destroy Palestinian lives and property, how can we be surprised to see some Palestinians cheer the use of American aircraft to destroy American lives and property? Although we have good intentions, the U.S. is not a neutral party in Middle Eastern negotiations, and we Americans are the only ones who don't seem to realize that.

Curt Hagenlocher, letter, LA Times, 9/19/01

There's just no recognition of the amount of animosity that's been created in the Arab world by the American support of Israel, [sending] American military supplies to Israel. This has been years building up, this resentment against American support of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The United States has incurred an enormous amount of anger in the Arab world because of that policy, and while most of the people who are angry about it are not going to resort to terrorism, a small number may well do it, and that's what happened in this case.

Howard Zinn, historian, The Roots of Terrorism, San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/19/01

Letter writers on Oct. 5 continue the familiar theme that Arafat and the idea of an independent Palestinian state are evil. The writers might do well to recall how the Israelis canonized Stern Gang membership in 1947-48 and the United Nations Charter that founded their state. They would do even better to recall that, since 1967, Israeli Jews have felt justified in confiscating land from Arabs wherever they pleased. Later, of course, Ariel Sharon permitted the famous Lebanon massacre of 1,800 Palestinians.

Letters such as these, while claiming to argue for peace in the Middle East, merely perpetuate one of the root causes, that is, Zionist imperialism. Another root cause is perhaps the very shortsighted U.S. foreign policy and Western appetite for oil at the lowest possible price? Another, Muslim tolerance for terrorism in the name of Islam? The truth is that one man's terrorism is another man's struggle for freedom.

Personally, I am very worried by Israel's efforts today, especially by Sharon, to exploit the Sept. 11 outrage in order to strengthen its territorial hold on Palestine.

Mike Strong, letter, LA Times, 10/8/01

Time for sense in the Middle East?

What a horrific day. Since January, the U.S. has been reluctant to interject itself into the conflicts of the Middle East. Our foreign policy appeared to be "let them kill each other"—and so they did. A Palestinian child, an Israeli child; an Israeli shopping mall, a Palestinian neighborhood. Sooner or later the nut cases get loose, get control and then expand their terror to our shores. The self-serving conduct of Yasser Arafat when he refused to compromise and Ariel Sharon when he marched on the Temple Mount have opened the gates of hell. Will they ever be closed?

Frank Ferrone, letter, LA Times, 9/13/01

Re "Call a Terrorist a Terrorist," Commentary, Oct. 7: Todd Stern tries to define the word "terrorist" by drawing a parallel between American and Israeli victims of attacks. This is the problem with our foreign policy—the value we place on lives is not equal throughout the world; but this extends well beyond Israeli victims.

Stern argues that terrorism strictly means violence against noncombatants. I would commend that position if only he had honestly stuck with it and also applied it to the despicable actions of longtime allies.

To his credit he briefly mentions that terrorism is also the work of Israeli extremists like Baruch Goldstein, who murdered Palestinian Muslims as they prayed, but he says nothing of the many acts of the Israeli Defense Forces, which have deliberately killed more innocent Palestinians than settler extremists have.

The fact remains that far more Palestinians, including many children, have been the victims of acts of terror by Israel itself than Israelis by terrorist groups. To ignore this and suggest we should not ally ourselves with the Palestinian Authority while we continue to support Israel is to only increase the number of victims on all sides, including our own.

It is often said that violence begets violence. Perhaps a more appropriate slogan for our time is that acts of terror breed future terrorists.

Without openly addressing the root causes of terror in the world and adjusting our policy based on them, we will never contain the new cancer of the world, let alone destroy it.

Alia Hasan, letter, LA Times, 10/13/01

The legal U.S. definition of terrorism that Stern provided was most appreciated: "The term 'terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets." The confiscation of land, nighttime forced evictions and the bulldozing of homes fit within this definition of terrorism. Thus, the Israeli military occupation of Palestine is terrorism, state terrorism.

I regret that young Palestinians, despairing of living the good life that they see Israelis live in the houses built on what is Palestinian land, decide to blow themselves and Israelis up. I condemn the cause of their anger, the occupation.

Thus, to avoid linguistic appeasement, President Bush's vision of a Palestinian state that recognizes Israel's right to exist must be formed. That would end the terrorism of Israel's military occupation and the source of motivation for most of the terrorism against Israel.

Arch Miller, letter, LA Times, 10/13/01

Re "U.S. Overtures for a Coalition Alarm Sharon," Sept. 26: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is alarmed at American efforts to seek Islamic support against terrorism, stating that Israel will not allow its interests to be sacrificed. There would be no Israel if we in the United States had not ignored our own national interests for over 50 years. The interests of the United States and Israel are not, and have never been, congruent, and our lock-step support of Israel has brought us nothing but grief for decades. Oil embargoes, attacks on American installations abroad and now mass murder on American soil are the direct result of this support. The Zionists practically invented modern terrorism during their battle for an independent Jewish state.

In the wake of Sept. 11, we must reexamine our foreign policy in many areas, and a more sympathetic hearing of legitimate Palestinian aspirations for self-determination is one of those areas.

M. Alexander Ritchaikov, letter, LA Times, 10/1/01

If Israeli Prime Minister Sharon feels that Israel can only count on Israel and that the U.S. is unacceptable, then it is time that Israel cease taking the $3.5 billion in support the U.S. provides each year.

Edward Saade, letter, LA Times, 10/8/01

Ronald Brownstein ("War on Terror Will Test U.S. in Terrible Ways," Sept. 17) claims that no possible change in U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would satisfy Islamic radicals. But there is at least one practical step that the Palestinians themselves have requested which, if it did not fully satisfy both parties to the dispute, would at least work to neutralize the most radical and destabilizing elements on both sides.

Because we annually give Israel $3.5 billion in military aid, we have the decisive influence to prevail upon it to accept international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Such a move, while not in itself resolving the conflict, is probably an essential step in creating the right conditions for going forward, would work to de-escalate the most egregious and deplorable violence, cost us very little politically and would likely reward us with an increase in goodwill among Palestinians and the Islamic world in general. But where in the U.S. government is the leadership for such a move?

Kenneth Canatsey, letter, LA Times, 9/20/01

Re "Bush's 'Vision' of a Palestinian State Is Meddlesome," Commentary, Oct. 3: Robert Satloff's term "meddlesome," referring to President Bush's vision of a Palestine state, is so inconsistent. Didn't the United States and Great Britain "meddle" to help create the state of Israel in 1948? Why was it OK then and not now? Let us be impartial and meddle to correct wrongs that we have created. The world would be a much better place to live in.

Olga Hayek, letter, LA Times, 10/8/01

We must, along with the world coalition that has formed since Sept. 11, insist that the Israelis and Palestinians end their violence and come to peaceful terms. We should go so far as to impose a peaceful solution on these warring peoples. Enough is enough. The greatest move we could possibly make toward finding and ending the terrorist world network would be to end the conflict in Israel and Palestine. That single move would free and inspire the Muslim world to help us find and apprehend these criminals. Short of that, I fear we face endless war and retaliation.

Neil Reichline, letter, LA Times, 9/20/01

The attacks Tuesday were horrible and certainly must be punished. However, we must also look at the root of these attacks and do something positive about them or the cycle of violence will only continue. Israel and the Palestinians have been killing each other for decades. Now this cycle of violence has landed on our shores. It is time for it to end. The U.S. must, in conjunction with its allies, agree on and impose a settlement in the Mideast. Israel must give up land for a Palestinian homeland, and the Palestinians must agree to Israel's right to exist. Incursions by either side into the other must be severely punished.

Jerusalem should be governed by the United Nations. Within it, we should build a great university that accepts students from all the surrounding nations. It should also include memorials to the violence done by religious fanaticism. I could see memorials for the Holocaust, the Crusades, the intifada and Tuesday's bombing.

Dave Obert, letter, LA Times, 9/13/01

Bush talks about supporting a Palestinian state and working with Arab regimes. Suddenly, Sharon and Arafat are scrambling to make peace before they get left out of the equation. Not surprisingly, our getting involved and pressing both sides to compromise is producing results.

I'd offer praise, but people have been suggesting this solution for about the last 50 years. The question isn't why the obvious solution is finally working. It's why so many pandering politicians have denied the obvious for so long.

Rob, letter to the LA Times, 10/17/01

Did war stabilize the conflict or destabilize it?
From A Foul Wind by Thomas L. Friedman in the NY Times, 3/10/02:

There is something about this new, intensely violent, stage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that is starting to feel like the fuse for a much larger war of civilizations. You can smell it in the incredibly foul wind blowing through the Arab-Muslim world these days. It is a wind that is fed by many sources: the (one-sided) Arab TV images of Israelis brutalizing Palestinians, the Arab resentment of America's support for Israel and its threat against Iraq, the frustrations of young Arabs with their own lack of freedom and jobs. But once these forces are all bundled together, they express themselves in the most heated anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiments that I've ever felt.

From Shunning a Scarlet Label: 'Made in U.S.A.' in the LA Times, 10/25/02:

Scholars and diplomats here say the Palestinian uprising has fired up the Arab world as have few events in recent memory. A poll released this month by Washington-based Zogby International found overwhelming disapproval in Arab countries of U.S. foreign policy, even as it noted ontinuing admiration for American values and technological prowess. MacDonald said it "might not be too far off" to estimate that McDonald's restaurants and Procter & Gamble—the two most prominent targets of the boycott—have lost as much as half of their business in Egypt this year. And there have been reports that the boycott has had greater success in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations.

Rob's comment
Wasn't it Osama Bin Laden's goal to cause the Islamic masses to rise? Isn't the latest intifada an example of that? Is the growing anger worldwide toward the US's support of Israel helping or harming our interests?

The answers are obvious. Score one for the terrorists.

More on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israel Urged to Adopt Geneva Convention:  [P]roposal could cloud the government's contention that Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are legal.
'Palestine Is Everything' to the Arabs:  While the U.S. debates a war on Iraq, many in the Mideast remain focused mostly on the bloody conflict with Israelis.
Jews, Palestinians are genetically identical

The Indian-Palestinian connection
In his book Indians Are Us?, author Ward Churchill calls the American Indian Movement (AIM) "probably the preeminent native resistance group in the U.S. since 1970." He notes that "AIM and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have long expressed a formal solidarity based in 'united resistance to a common form of oppression.'" In a footnote he adds: "During the 1982 Israeli assault upon Beirut, for instance, AIM leader Russell Means was widely quoted as stating that 'the Palestinians of North America offer sanctuary to the American Indians of the Middle East.'"

So activist Indians are well aware of the parallels between the American oppression of Indians and the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. They've been aware of it for decades.

More on the Indian-Palestinian connection
Good Fox:  Palestine:  Stop the re-creation of "Indian country" in the Holy Land
"[P]arallels between the ongoing genocide in Palestine, carried out by Israel with US support, and the genocide of Native Americans."
Palestinians = Navajos
Zionism, Manifest Destiny, and Nazism
Palestinians dress like faux Indians to protest Israeli oppression
"God Given Right":  Palestine and Native America
Israel Could Have Learned Much From Native Americans:  "Can the early Indian reservations be compared to refugee camps?"
What Indians and Palestinians Share:  "Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continue to experience the post-modern version of manifest destiny."
Camp:  "[T]he Israeli government is treating Palestinian people like America has historically treated Indians."
"Native Americans oppose any system of reservation...and can sympathize with the situation of the Palestinians."

More Native intelligence on foreign wars and conflicts
Native intelligence:  the long view
Prison abuse shows America's values:  the Native connection
The Indian-Iraqi connection

Related links
Terrorism:  "good" vs. "evil"
Diplomacy works, violence doesn't
America's exceptional values
America's cultural mindset

Readers respond
"Palestinians and Indians? Apples and Footballs."

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