by Nanjundiah Sadanand, Professor of Physics, Central Connecticut State University | Author of Letter/Academics for Justice List | 29 October 2004
Yet another well funded organization has joined the crusade of the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S to counter the increasing realization on the part of ordinary Americans of the brutal, indefensible realities of Israeli oppression in the occupied territories of Palestine. It is called the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and is headed by Clifford May, who wrote recently in a syndicated column for the Scripps-Howard news service titled, "The New Anti-Semitism; Selling Genocide as a "Struggle For Equality" (October 7, 2004)" [url=http://www.defenddemocracy.org
//in_the_media/in_the_media_show.htm?doc_id=242203] the same is also "anti-Semitic". Which, ergo, is unacceptable in any civilized society. All of this to bolster the unstinting U.S government aid - economic, military and diplomatic- to the Sharon government in its unremitting violence against the Palestinians.
What readers may not know about Mr. May is that his Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has a long list of advisers who are neo-con luminaries like Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer, all diehard supporters of Ariel Sharon and also of the illegal, devastating and disastrous U.S invasion of Iraq.
The supporters of Israel have come to label the historic, legitimate and continuing Palestinian opposition to the Jewish colonization of Palestine as "anti-Semitic". To die-hard Zionists, immaculate Israel can never do any wrong. Any criticism or negative characterization of its oppression of Palestinians must be, therefore, born of an "anti-Semitic" outlook. Such argument forever ends the possibility of a discussion of Israel's inhuman and relentless belligerence against impoverished, beleaguered Palestinians. For nothing can beat the stigma of being labeled "anti-Semitic", or the ostracism that is bound to follow.
This tactic is being used increasingly by desperate pro-Israeli lobbies in the U.S because polls indicate that an increasing number of Americans are seeing through the Israeli smokescreen that turns reality upside down and conflates its state-mandated violence against Palestinians to be part of America's war on "global terrorism".
The reality of Israel is one of a highly militarized society that discriminates against non-Jews much as white-rules South Africa did against the native black South Africans under apartheid. The Israeli government considers itself above the purview of international law or conventions, and violates the fundamental human rights of Palestinians as is well documented by Human Rights Watch in its most recent report after the recent bloody and devastating Israeli military raids in crowded Palestinian refugee camps on the Gaza strip (http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/gaza/). Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions that expressly proscribes the mistreatment of civilians in occupied land. But Israel conveniently redefines reality so that the Conventions are not applicable, by calling the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem as "disputed" territories rather than "occupied" land. The romantic image of Israel presented in articles, brochures, books and movies - of an embattled people fighting valiantly against demonic terrorists, conquering harsh nature and setting a heroic example for all humanity - has never been under greater threat than after the unchecked violence unleashed by Ariel Sharon's government.
But the tide is turning in America, where it counts most because it has been Israel's munificent and limitless benefactor over the years. Images, analyses and news reports documenting Israel's horrific, unjustifiable and unconscionable violence against the people of Palestine are filtering through, thanks , in large part, to the truly open media access allowed by the internet.
Within academia there has started a concerted movement from faculty and students to examine the harsh daily realities of Palestinian life under the Israeli gun and disseminate this to a wider audience that includes the pusillanimous members of the U.S Congress. Religious Christian groups (Presbyterian and Episcopalian) that cannot reconcile the horrific Israeli violence on Palestinian society with their Judeo-Christian faith are pursuing actions such as withdrawal of investments from some U.S companies investing in Israel or operating under Israeli imprimatur on illegally occupied Palestinian land.
No wonder the Clifford Mays, the Abraham Foxmans, the Daniel Pipes have become doubly energized in their "anti-Semitic" crusade, to do battle against, and silence, those who are attempting to set the record straight on this asymmetric, half-century conflict in the Middle East and prevent, thereby, the extinction of yet another indigenous people. Like the legend of the shepherd boy calling "wolf" once too often, dishonest efforts by the shrill Israeli lobby will be rejected as more Americans see the historical record and learn the immutable facts of the Palestinian struggle for freedom with justice.