Rep. Omar Spoke Truth to Power—And How U.S. Taxpayers fund Israel’s aggression

Ilhan Omar

Rep. Omar, maligned for speaking truth to power. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Two weeks ago, the supporters of Zionism verbally attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar for speaking truth on the House floor; regarding the continued atrocities against the Palestinian people, by Israel. 

Within the same period ultra-nationalist groups have carried out marches in Jerusalem, with some shouting “death to Arabs” and the already fragile cease fire was violated by Israel. What is the “sticking” point is that Rep. Omar Tweeted in part; “..We must have the same accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity..We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.” There is nothing controversial about those comments; they are morally correct, factual and historically documented. What Rep. Omar has yet to realize is that part of the dominant ideology of the U.S. is denial and unashamedly hypocrisy.

There are thousands of governmental and non-governmental documents outlining U.S. involvement in coups, destabilizations, assassinations, and elections; the U.S. has never supported a progressive government, party or Movement anywhere in the world. The U.S. has supported despotic and genocidal regimes in Iran, Indonesia, Bolivia, the Congo, all across Latin America and the Caribbean notably Guyana, Jamaica and Grenada. Through the CIA and its covert action, they have provided “political advice; subsidies to individuals; finance and ‘technical assistance’ to political parties; support to organizations, including trade unions, and cooperatives as well as business firms etc.; covert propaganda; paramilitary political operations designed to overthrow a regime or to support a regime.” This was clearly stated by Richard Bissell who was a senior  officer of the CIA’s clandestine services. Even within its own borders the U.S. has carried out atrocities; consider COINTELPRO and the number of political prisoners still locked up, not the least of them being Sundiata Acoli, Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal. It is within this context that Rep. Omar’s  comments must be seen by all enlightened, honest and objective people, when examining the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The Israel/Palestine conflict although not difficult to understand or complex, is nevertheless an extensive one; there is not enough space in this column to give it due justice. The recent atrocities against the Palestinian people, from May 10 to May 21, is an ongoing war against a sovereign people for at least 73 years, in its current form. Despite the space constraints, I would like to comment on the current state of affairs and why it is imperative that we of African descent especially support the people of Palestine in their struggle against a tyrannical regime that has occupied their territory and subject the people to crimes against humanity. Because the enemy has successfully dictated the subject of the discourse, I would like to begin by stating two definitions of evils that have been perpetrated against the people of Palestine.

The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 2202A (XX1) declared Apartheid a “crime against humanity;” the Security Council endorsed the designation in Resolution 556(1984). Apartheid is defined as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” In addition to the apartheid definition, the General Assembly of the UN declared in resolution 96 (1) of 1946 that “genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world.” Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, lists acts of genocide as: “(a) killing members of a group; (b) causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

All genuinely peace-loving people welcomes the cease fire between Israel and Palestine. The 11 days of bombardment from Israel resulted at last count in the deaths of at least 243 Palestinians with 66 of them being children. The Israeli airstrikes destroyed 19 health care facilities and doctors were killed. An airstrike in Gaza killed 42 people in an area near al-Shifa hospital. These airstrikes on Palestine worsen the already strained condition of the health care services, especially in this period of a pandemic. Israel reported losing 13 people including two children. 

It was Israel that initiated this last period of air strikes and bombings. The Israeli military and police provoked the situation by invading and restricting entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Sheikh Jarrah during the holy month of Ramadan. This is part of the systematic and continual oppression faced by the Palestinian people from the belligerent Israeli government. Defense and retaliation from Palestine are inevitable and justified. If the banal phrase “Israel has a right to defend itself” has any context then, so too does Palestine. Israel is an occupying, apartheid and genocidal force in Palestine.

Even before the final seizure and occupation of Palestine by Israel, Palestine was always militarily outnumbered and outgunned by a superior military force.

Apart from our international solidarity obligation, Israel is no stranger to apartheid and repressive actions. Israel was the main supplier of weapons to the apartheid regime of South Africa, which not only oppressed its own people but carried out military incursions in neighboring states. The mistreatment of the Ethiopian Jews, the Falashas, is well documented and Israel bears no responsibility for their racial discriminatory actions. Ethiopian women immigrating to Israel are forcibly injected with birth control prior to their entry into Israel. An Israeli government official has admitted that women of Ethiopian decent were injected with Depo-Provera, a long-acting contraceptive. This is forced sterilization by any definition. 

Caucasian Jews from anywhere are allowed unrestricted entry into Israel and guaranteed accommodation derived by the forcible moving into Palestinians homes. The Jews of Ethiopia, many of whom are in Israel, practice pre-Talmudic Judaism. Those outside wait 10 to 20 years to get approval for emigrating to Israel and even then, those already residing there all face harassment and questionable recognition from the Israeli government. The African Jews in Israel experience a higher level of socio-economic hardship than the rest of the population. The Intercept has reported that there is a settler organization registered in the United States. 

Separate from closing the border between the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has consistently used excessive and disproportionate force against protestors. They have fired on demonstrators and others approaching fences separating Gaza and Israel. There are certain roadways in Gaza that the residents use at their own risk. They can be shot, traveling on their own road in their own territory. An April 27, 2021 compelling Human Rights Watch report Titled in part “A Threshold Crossed” has stated:” Since the founding of the State of Israel, the government has systematically discriminated against and violate the rights of Palestinians inside the state’s pre-1967 borders, including by refusing to allow Palestinians access to hundreds of acres of land that were confiscated from them. Israeli authorities refuse to permit the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in 1948, and their descendants, to return to the occupied territories…” 

Residency restrictions also prevent many Palestinian spouses and families from living together in Israel. “Democracy Now” reported in an interview with the director of the Norwegian Refugee Council that 12 of the children killed in the bombardment were attending a psycho-social program for trauma. Children and young people are overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness because of the frequent bombings and airstrikes on their territory from Israel. This is an act of genocide, plain and simple.

The Palestinian people are a sovereign people whose lands were forcibly taken from them. They are forced to live in quasi-Bantustan conditions. They have been denied the right to self-determination; denied socio-economic development and prosperity; and, they have been subjected to apartheid and genocidal actions by successive Israeli regimes. 

Israel must be seen for what it is in theory and practice; an occupying colonial dictatorship fueled by a racist and Zionist ideology carried out under apartheid and genocidal conditions. It is encouraging that an international momentum of solidarity is developing; protests are taking place in several countries and need to be broadened. 

The dock workers of South Africa are to be commended for their principled and fearless stand in not unloading Israeli ships. Ireland is preparing to take a vote on the treatment of Palestinians by Israel; if passed it will result in sanctions and boycotts against Israel. It is time the world community cease from letting Israel continue its arrogance and belligerence by ignoring all U.N. Resolutions relating to its occupation, illegal settlements and terrorism against the people of Palestine. The BDS movement must be expanded and supported by all who espouse and end to the occupation of Palestine. They have a right to self-determination and end the illegal blockade.

Here in the United States taxpayer’s money is used to subsidize Israel to the tune of $38 billion yearly, which has nothing to do with the security of Israel. Taxpayers must call on their elected representatives to stop allowing Israel to scare them by using the “anti semitic” baseless propaganda while exercising double standards. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua to name a few, have all experienced and are experiencing illegal and immoral sanctions from the U.S. because they opt to pursue a path of self-determination and not answer to multinationals who plunder their natural resources and use them as a source of cheap labor.

The solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict is simple and straightforward. Israel must withdraw its military forces from the occupied Palestinian territories; end the blockade; stop its demolition of homes; stop it is illegal and immoral expansion of settlements in the occupied territories; end its constant harassment and attacks on Palestinian citizens; and agree to a two-State solution. This must be based on Palestinian rights to self-determination, independence, mutual respect.

Israel was instrumental in the creation of Hamas in 1987 as a means of using the “divide and conquer” tactic to undermine the growing influence of the PLO. You cannot enter a person’s property, chase them from their home; rape their women; kill their children; rob them of their humanity; imprison them on their own property; demolish their home and bring in outsiders and expect to be greeted with open arms or no retaliation. To do so would be unadulterated stupidity and impractical. It is conveniently forgotten that Hamas was elected by the people of Palestine, and they too have a right to defend itself against an occupying and genocidal force with military and nuclear superiority.

Israel is the antagonist in the region and the source of the conflict. It is an occupying force based on national chauvinism, racism and hegemony; carried out on the theory and practice of apartheid and genocidal conditions. The U.S. is complicit in the belligerence of Israel and does nothing to aid the peace process; the Biden administration is hypocritical in its response to the current conflict. 

The President in his elementary-like comments never called on Israel to cease its attack on Palestine; he said “he’d welcome” a ceasefire but fell short of demanding one. At the same time, he said his Administration is going ahead with a $700 plus million arms deal with Israel; this is complicity, hypocrisy and betrayal of the U.S. taxpayers whose money fund the continued decimation of a sovereign people. 

It is U.S. reactionary foreign policy all over again, but just with a different face.

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