This letter is a follow up on Professor Finkelstein recent presentation on Gaza at Sinclair.
As a faculty member at Sinclair, I believe it is incumbent upon educators to educate our students about global issues and the degree to which we interact with world affairs and conflicts. The subject about Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a significant one because of American interests in the region and the massive US support and aid to Israel.
Historically, both US media and foreign policy have been pro-Israel, and the Palestinian narrative has not been heard or given fair, equal, and balanced approach. I will start by stating facts (can be researched and verified through UN and International human rights organizations, publications and governmental sources), then followed by thoughts, opinion, and suggestions for conflict resolution.
Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank territory (including Gaza and East Jerusalem) in 1967. Israel has not formally or legally annexed the Palestinian territories; as such, Palestinians never became Israeli citizens and found themselves living under Israeli military rules and laws. Israel launched an Apartheid and ethnic cleansing campaign depriving Palestinians from basic human and civil rights, driving them out of their ancient homeland.
Over the years, Israeli soldiers and armed Israeli settlers have systematically killed and injured thousands of Palestinians, demolished thousands of Palestinian homes, confiscated their lands, destroyed their farms and crops (uprooted thousands of acres of fruit and Olive trees). Israeli soldiers and armed settlers have carried out extrajudicial executions at military checkpoints. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons, subjected to systematic torture and inhumane treatment.
Palestinians are banned and need special permit to visit Jerusalem or Israel. Palestinians are banned from living in Israeli settlements and are prohibited from using same roads, highways, and airports that Israelis use. As Professor Finkelstein indicated in his presentation, some Israeli peace groups and soldiers gave testimonials about the brutality of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Israel occupation policies have crumbled the Palestinian economy. Palestinian unemployment and poverty rates are among the highest in the world. Israel built a segregation wall, enforces barriers and military checkpoints to disrupt the free movement of people, resources and goods, undermining infrastructure and socioeconomic development. Israel deprive Palestinians from using and receiving their fair share of water resources; Palestinians have to go hours and at times days without water or power. Israeli farmers are allowed to market and sell their crops in Palestinian markets; however, Palestinian farmers are not permitted to sell their crops in Israeli markets.
Supporting and financing occupation is illegal and immoral. As our tax money, military, political, and economic aid to Israel finance occupation make us complicit in the long standing Palestinian suffering. It is immoral, racist, and evil for companies, groups, and individuals who are profiteering or receive financial gains from the occupation. Boycott and divestment from the government of South Africa have helped ending the Apartheid and facilitated socioeconomic development of the country as nations and corporations increased their foreign investments. It can be argued that similar measures toward Israel can produce positive change.
I totally reject the notion that if you are critical of Israel then you are anti-Semitic! Nothing further from the truth. There are many notable and honorable Jewish individuals and groups who are critical of Israeli policies. On the contrary, it is an insult to the Jewish faith and Jewish moral tradition to equate Israeli oppressive policies as being Semitic!
Palestinians and Israelis deserve to have equal economic and political rights, to enjoy freedom and democracy, and to live in peace. Israel can choose to end the occupation and allow Palestinians to have their own independent Palestinian state as one path to solving the conflict; another potential path is for Israelis and Palestinians to live in one democratic state where everyone can enjoy justice, equality, liberty, and freedom as the core foundations for building peace.
Professor of Economics
Sinclair Community College
Dayton, OH 45402