As many may be aware, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, will be speaking on the U.S.-Israeli relationship at AU on April 22. Many may not realize the significance this talk may have, others may be basking in the superficial glory of his political title, others may be further motivated to work towards remedying the stark realities in the region that Oren and the state he represents have an overwhelmingly large hand in.
The realities of Israel’s apartheid, ethnic cleansing and systematic violence against the Palestinian people, and the scope to which Israel, Israel’s lobbies and Zionists in the U.S. and right here at AU go to shift peoples attitudes towards the conflict speaks poorly to the 20th and 21st centuries as a whole. Between 1947-1949, 700,000 Arabs were forced from their homes or chose to leave temporarily because of unprecedented Israeli violence and were never allowed to return, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris.
Israel is getting closer than ever in achieving Zionism’s stated goal of achieving a Jewish majority state. In 1948, there were only two ways to achieve this goal - apartheid or the expulsion of Arabs from their land; we now see that they have used both these tactics over the last 62 years to near their final goal.
Moreover, studies by Israel’s own Central Bureau for Statistics indicate that nearly 20 percent of the state of Israel is comprised of Palestinians who are the descendants of the families from 1948. They continue to fall victim to brutish oppression.
Israel is a segregated society to such a degree that it falls well within the 1973 United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of Apartheid. This crime against humanity pervades all aspect of Arab-Israeli’s lives. Israel’s Population Registry Law requires all citizens to register with their ethnic group and religion; this further serves as the basis for ‘justified’ segregation when it comes to allocation of social services, community funding, building permits, etc. Viability of Palestinian life in Israel is constrained by apartheid policies and it is very clear that social and economic privilege is given to Jews. Separate is never equal.
Such apartheid policies speak towards the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Most recently, the extensive scope of this crime towards humanity can be seen by the Israeli Defense Force’s broadened ability to deport and jail Palestinians from even the West Bank - further breaching the Geneva Conventions Israel already disregards by the illegal occupation and colonial settlements as a whole.
When Michael Oren attempts to legitimize these actions and speaks to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, we should not be comforted by the fact that the relationship currently seems ‘strained.’ The United States has and continues to be Israel’s most steadfast ally who guarantees the continued oppression, occupation and injustice towards Palestinians and humanity as a whole. It is clear that without the over $3 billion per year in direct military and economic aid that the United States gives Israel that the occupation could not be sustained. It is clear that if the United States was confronted for consistently breaching the U.S. Arms Export Control Act that provides the state of Israel with weapons that maintain the illegal occupation and violence against a defenseless and stateless peoples that Israel’s disregard for human dignity and fundamental human rights would not be tolerated. It is clear that if the United States did not consistently use its veto at the United Nations to shield Israel of the responsibility and necessity to abide by Security Council Resolution 242 which calls for Israel’s withdrawal of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other international laws that mutually ensure and embrace Palestinian self-determination and their right to return to their homes, then Israel would have to present genuine and physical concessions towards peace.
We cannot allow our humane resistance against such oppression to be marginalized and eventually silenced by those who insist that our actions and words ‘polarize’ the debate. Human dignity is not debatable and the unjustifiable can never be justified.
Senior, School of International Service and College of Arts and Sciences