Palestine - Ignoring The
Harsh Reality

By Terrell E. Arnold

There is an incredible information blackout around Palestine that simply screens the American people from any awareness of the human rights tragedy being committed by Israel. This tragedy has been building for more than half a century, and it is now reaching a peak of inhumanity.
But if you had been in the gallery of the US House of Representatives Wednesday, you would have witnessed a love feast between the members of the House and Senate and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he told them--to frequent standing ovations--of his "dream". He assured the Congress that the "Palestinians will forever be our neighbors." He then went on to promote US legislation to deny recognition to the Palestinian Hamas-led government (HR 4681 and its Senate counterpart) and to deny funds to that government to conduct ordinary civil operations. His most disingenuous foray, however, was to suggest that his dream was to have all of Palestine for Israel, but he was willing to give up part of "his dream" so the Palestinians would have a home. In that, he simply told the US Congress what they wanted to hear, but he did not burden them with the truth.
Close watchers of the Israeli political scene, both inside and outside Israel, are well aware of the real land grab that is in the works. Olmert's Kadima party-led coalition has talked, loudly enough to be heard, of a "unilateral" drawing of the boundaries around Israel. That map would include large chunks of the West Bank that are now included in settlements as well as all of the Jordan River Valley from which Palestinians are being systematically removed and excluded. In short the so-called 1967 Green Line, the boundary between Israeli territory at that time and lands Israel took from Jordan in the 1967 war, would be irrelevant. Instead, the Palestinians would be confined in two main enclaves, one the Gaza Strip, the other fragments of the lands between the Green Line and the parched highlands west of the Jordan basin.
The so-called Palestinian "home" would consist of 10-15% of Palestine, and the least desirable/productive and badly watered lands at that. The "Map" associated with this scheme shows the Palestinians surrounded on all sides by Israel, and that means that more than 300,000 Palestinians who live in Jerusalem would be walled out, while all of the new "Palestinian state" would be walled off from Israel. This would not be an apartheid condition--as once existed in South Africa--for the more than 3 million Palestinians, but a separation enforced by 30 feet of reinforced concrete. One must, after all, protect one's self from "terrorists," in this case largely innocent people who will try to fight back against Israeli oppression.
For any humanitarian, the most unnerving feature of this picture is American and European indifference to it. Over the years, Israeli moves have not been secret. The steady expulsion of Palestinians and confiscation of their homes and farms has been obvious to any who chose to see. Present Israeli leadership plans are fairly widely discussed in Israel, but they do not get discussed in US mainstream media. No matter what Olmert told the US Congress yesterday, the most obvious Israeli leadership plan is to use the weakness of Mahmoud Abbas and political objections to Hamas to continue stalling on the peace process while accumulating additional "facts on the ground". That means the Israelis will tighten their grip on the Jordan Valley and slowly add settlements that will reduce the size of any future Palestinian state.
To the extent that US officials object to what the Olmert government is doing, they continue to practice the "quiet" diplomacy that means no public pressure on Israel. The Israelis have shown for decades that quiet diplomacy, as they treat it, is just another term for acquiescence, and they go on slowly taking Palestine away from the Palestinian people. In the meantime they imprison thousands of Palestinians without trial, they destroy homes and workplaces, shoot innocent children and bystanders, assassinate Palestinian "militants", and continue to enjoy the luxury of an American society that, virtually uninformed, considers Israelis the innocent victims of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the real world grows more oppressive in Palestine. Because the Palestinians have fought back, the US Congress is prepared to pass a law that treats all Palestinians as terrorists, tells them they must hold democratic elections, but they must also elect the right people. Because they did not elect the right people, they will be driven into abject poverty, deprived of survival resources, have their travel restricted and their diplomatic representatives refused entry to the United States.
There are two ways to explain America's official reaction to Palestine events at this time. One is that most Americans simply are unaware of the brutal conditions the Israelis are imposing on three million human beings in Palestine. The other is that many Washington politicians will pay any price, including the lives, property and dignity of three million Palestinians, for their next electoral success. Either way you view it, the reality for Palestinians is grim.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, _A World Less Safe_, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular Internet columnist on He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State with the rank of Minister Counselor whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Consul General in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Deputy Director of the State Office of Counterterrorism, and as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College. He will welcome comment at




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