The Oath Of Office Is To America, Not Israel
The Oath of Office is to America, not Israel
Senator, Upholding the Rights of Palestine as well as Israel
is not Betrayal but Justice
By Genevieve Cora Fraser
There is a passage in "A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt that the presumptive heir of the Democratic nomination for President, John F. Kerry should ponder. The words are spoken in a heated exchange between the Lord High Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More and his son-in-law William Roper. After Roper shouts, "So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!" Thomas More responds, "Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?" His son-in-law counters, "I'd cut down every law in England to do that!" To which More replies, "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."
Because "God's Law," or religion as interpreted by a vast array of factions within the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities is very much part of the conflict that plagues the Middle East, if Kerry is elected president then he would be wise to adhere to the strict separation of church and state as proposed by Thomas Jefferson and upheld in the American Constitution and shy away from theocratic involvements. Sir Thomas's More's pivotal speech came to mind recently after reading about the meeting that Senator Kerry had with dozens of Jewish leaders in New York prior to his Super Tuesday mop-up for the Democratic nomination. At the meeting Kerry is reported to have assured the gathering that that he would "continue the Bush administration policy of vetoing any United Nations Security Council resolutions seen as one-sided against Israel."
Not withstanding America's long-standing commitment to Israel in light of our strategic interest in the region (codeword: oil), pledging to veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that Israel dislikes should not be a "given" by President Bush, a President Kerry or any future President. Why? The President's oath of office is not an allegiance to Israel, but to the United States of America. The values espoused by our Declaration of Independence and American Constitution, which are pluralistic, not racist or theocratic, need to be upheld in terms of supporting or rejecting any given resolution. And in the case of Israel, the democratic model they have chosen though on paper may appear to rest on democratic principals, is instead a de facto theocracy with a commitment to apartheid both at home and in the occupied territories. Being Jewish in Israel legally determines exclusion from or inclusion in actual or potential citizenship in a state where even marriage laws are not civil but determined under rabbinical law.
Technically Israeli citizenship is open to non-Jews as well as Jews. There are non-Jews who are legally incorporated into the Israeli body politic as citizens of the Jewish state, and there are Arab Israelis who are elected members of the Knesset (Parliament). But this level of freedom is the exception, not the rule. And the rules of citizenship are many and complex. There are Arabs who live in East Jerusalem that are designated as "permanent" residents who are eligible for social security, may also be granted free movement (not subject to closures i.e. restricted movement) and are allowed to vote in municipal elections. However, they are not allowed to vote in national elections. The majority of non-Jewish residents in Israel are former Palestinian Arabs who once had full ownership of what is now Israel. Their claim to what they owned was denied them by the Absentee Property laws established soon after the formation of the Israeli state and reaffirmed in 1950 where all Arabs were declared absentees even if they were home sleeping in their beds. The majority of Arab Israelis is subject to all manner of discrimination and relegated to the lowest echelons of society, with the government failing to provide them with the same quality education, housing, and employment opportunities.
Writing for the Guardian, Donald Neff states that there are four distinct classes of "citizenship" found within the present borders of Israel. Class "A" citizenship is reserved for the Jews who are given "privileged access to the material resources of the State and the social as well as the welfare services of the State, including utilization of the 93 per cent of pre-1967 Israel, controlled by the Land Agency." (What Neff does not detail is the discrimination rampant within certain ethnicities of Jewish Israeli society. The Ashkenazi Jews of white European descent have the greatest level of power and property.) Class "B" citizens are Non Jews/Arabs taxpayers and citizens with voting rights. However, they are "denied the right to utilize the 93 per cent of pre-1967 Israel controlled by the Land Agency. They are also denied equal access to water and social and welfare services. And they are generally not permitted to serve in the military which means they are automatically denied the many social and welfare services available to those who complete compulsory (for Jews) military service."
Class "C" citizenship, also Non Jews/Arabs are taxpayers and citizens with voting rights, but classified as "absentees". These individuals comprise some 200,000 persons and are likewise denied the right to utilize property in 93 per cent of pre-1967 Israel and denied equal access to water and social and welfare services. "They have also been denied all rights to their own property (lands, houses, corporations, shares, bank accounts, bank safes, etc.) that they owned until confiscated by the Jewish state. This theft was made "legal" by the Absentees Property Law of 1950." The Class "D" citizenship category is comprised of approximately 3,000,000 Non Jews/Arabs who are taxpayers, but without voting rights. Class D citizens are also denied the right to utilize or buy property anywhere in pre-1967 Israel, and have no access to social and welfare services. "Many (mostly those who once lived in pre-1967 Israel) have had all their property confiscated by the Jewish state without compensation and have been forced to live in ghettos spread throughout two areas that today resemble concentration camp," according to Neff.
Clearly Neff is taking the Israeli position that Palestine is within Israel, or at least noting the treatment of Palestine within the overall Israeli scheme. But however much Israel would like to disregard Palestine, Palestine does exist in legal fact as recognized by the United Nations, though not yet organized or "recognized" as a state.
The Arab Israeli population scares the heck out of those who uphold the tenets of Zionist Israel. As Boris Shustef states on his website, "The Growing Cancer," It is the primary obligation of the government to protect Jewish lives. Israel is first and foremost a JEWISH democratic State. It is NOT a non-sectarian, democratic country like the United States. As such, it is absurd for anyone other than Jews to be citizens in the first place! That is why Israel MUST revamp its Constitution making Israel unequivocally a JEWISH State. with NO possibility that any other group will ever become the majority. It is insane to have enemies of the Jewish people living anywhere within its boundaries. So how does Israel put a stop to the explosive Israeli Arab population growth? The same way one puts a stop to a growing cancer. REMOVE IT."
Shustef then prescribes a series of steps that should be taken starting with the removal of the Arab Israelis from Israel. And he is not alone. If one reads the plethora of articles which appear in the free press of Israel, ethnic cleansing of one sort or another is a hot topic. It is also very much a part of the discussion in terms of what to do with the Palestinians. In the "Israelinside" Bruce Ticker speaks with excitement of "the barrier separating Israel proper from the West Bank for which the World Court at the Hague is sitting in judgment" because it "will devastate the Arabs without ever firing a shot." Ticker looks forward to the day when not being able to fight the Israelis will mean that the Palestinians will kill each other. "More importantly, it will starve the Arabs. How can they possibly conduct business? They are landlocked."
This sort of dialogue is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they signed their names to the Declaration of Independence with the words, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Meanwhile, the Associate Press reports that Israel is building a mock Arab town at the Tseelim army base in southern Israel. The so-called town contains "four distinct neighborhoods - a complex of high-rise buildings, a crowded commercial district, a marketplace, and a low-rise, agricultural-type environment." The neighborhoods are designed to replicate conditions in a typical Middle Eastern setting. such as in Palestine or Iraq or perhaps some future Arab target area.
According to the AP, "the town will be fitted with laser technology and video cameras to analyze soldiers' performances, including firing guided missiles from helicopters and checking the trajectory of tank shells." It's all part of a mass marketing scheme, an arms show and seminar on "low-intensity" conflict for defense officials from 20 countries. (Using nuclear bombs is high intensity.) Methods Israel will be promoting "include vastly expanded use of snipers, use of drone aircraft to present field commanders with real time intelligence, and deployment of state of the art radar to identify enemy firing positions."
These are tactics practiced on Palestinians. Resistance by Palestinians (armed with home-made devises and confiscated rifles) to Israel's sophisticated weapons of assault (financed by America by billions per year) is labeled as terrorism by not only Israel but America. Excuse me, exactly who are the terrorists?
Resolutions critical of Israel which were vetoed by the United States in recent years include the 2002 killing by Israeli forces of several UN employees and the destruction of the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse; a resolution confirming that the expropriation of land by Israel in East Jerusalem is invalid and in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and provisions of the Fourth Geneva convention; a resolution demanding that Israel cease construction of the settlement in east Jerusalem, as well as all the other Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories; a call for a UN Observers Force in West Bank and Gaza; a resolution condemning acts of terror, demanding an end to violence and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to bring in observers; and most recently a demand that Israel halt threats to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; and a resolution that seeks to bar Israel from extending the security fence."
Last fall the UN published the "Right to Food" report on the occupied Palestinian territories which graphically outlined the deliberate dehydration and starvation policies practiced by Israel towards the Palestinian population. Since then food convoys such as the one sent by the citizens of Edinburgh, Scotland have been refused entry into Palestine. Israeli policies are responsible for placing nearly one quarter of the population of Palestinian children under five years old at severe risk of permanent, irreversible brain damage. To date nearly 10% of very young Palestinians are so brain damaged they are beyond hope.
Currently 3.2 million people are virtually imprisoned, held against their will through closure policies, the apartheid wall, electrified razor wire fence, Israeli only roads, checkpoints, road blocks, etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile Senator Kerry has declared that a fence is necessary to the security of Israel until they have a partner able to negotiate. Fine words, Senator, but Israel has placed immoveable roadblocks not only in the way of the peace process but in the ability of Palestinians to have free and open elections, such as the one slated for June.
The truth is Palestinians have NO rights based on a simple observation of "the facts on the ground" created by Israel. Only Israel has rights and they have an unflinching belief in their right to act as judge, jury and for many the executioner of Palestinians. Israel's unremitting assaults are not only on the body politic of Palestine but on the bodies of Palestinians. Israel promotes anarchy by bombing, bulldozing, rampaging and indiscriminately murdering innocent men, women and children on a daily basis. Granted, the suicide bombings costing innocent Israeli lives are horrific and a tragedy, but they are acts of despair by a desperate people.... provoked by Israel's extreme violence.
Isn't it time for America to recognize the sanity inherent in the document of human rights espoused within international law. Human Rights should not be an alien concept to America, they are at the foundation of all that is America as expressed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Just because Israel thinks it, wills it, and does it, does not make it right.
Senator, if you are granted the privilege of serving as President on behalf of a Free American People, do not cut down Man's Law as recognized by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations or you may never be able to "stand upright in the winds" of war and peace that blow.
Genevieve Cora Fraser is a poet/playwrite/journalist and Environmental and Human Rights activist.