The shooting of US citizen and peace activist Tristan Anderson by Israeli soldiers occurred just days after the 6th anniversary of the killing by Israeli forces of another American peace activist, Rachel Corey. In both cases the killing was unprovoked and intentional but no official condemnation of Israel has been made by the US. It is safe to assume that had Palestinians, Iranians or Syrians killed these Americans, the President would have made a statement by now condemning the shooting and possible scenarios for sanctions if not retaliation would have been contemplated.
What we do hear these days from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is that the US would not support a Palestinian government unless it recognizes the state of Israel and vows to end the violence. While the US promises millions of dollars to rebuild Gaza after the latest destruction inflicted by Israel, these dollars are contingent upon Palestinian recognition of Israel and a unilateral Palestinian commitment to end the violence. But who will guarantee to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli attacks?
As Fatah and Hammas negotiate for Palestinian unity we are informed that they disagree on the issue of recognizing Israel. So let us explore what recognition of Israel means to Palestinians. Recognition means to forgive that in 1948 close to 500 Palestinian cities, towns and villages, were destroyed; to forgive that businesses and factories, mosques and schools were leveled and that Palestinians were forced into an exile that continues to this day. It means to forgive that in 1968, when Israel completed its conquest of Palestine it once again forced thousands of Palestinians into exile while taking over more land. It means to overlook the fact that for over 60 years Israel built towns and cities and farms for Jews only on Palestinian land and it continues to do so to this day in the West Bank.
Israel speaks of creating a Palestinian state but it enacts policies that make the establishment of such a state impossible. Palestinian sociologist Jamil Hilal puts it this way: “Israel’s policy has amounted to a systemic negation of the basic conditions necessary for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.” Palestinians are pushed out of their homes and their land and into small, unlivable enclaves that can barely sustain themselves, much less be considered viable for statehood.
As we see in places like Na’alin, where Tristan Anderson was shot, Israeli response to Palestinian resistance is violent regardless of whether the resistance is violent or not. Israel holds an estimated ten thousand Palestinian political prisoners for belonging to the resistance, regardless of whether they actually participated in acts of violent resistance or not.
So it realistic to expect that Palestinian recognition of Israel will be forthcoming? Juxtaposing the reality in Gaza and the West Bank with US rhetoric one may conclude that the US wants the fate of Palestinian to be similar to that of Native Americans, i.e., complete surrender of their country and their rights. Palestinians are asked, or more accurately, it is demanded of Palestinians that they recognize the total domination of a country that has taken everything away from them and continues to attack them viciously and without discrimination. Again, one is forced to ask: Who is prepared to provide protection for the lives of innocent Palestinians? Sadly, on this issue one hears absolutely nothing from the US or Israel.
The first time Israel took over Gaza was during the Eisenhower administration. In those days Israel was receiving very little money or weapons from the US, but when the American President gave the word, my father, Matti Peled, who was the Israeli military governor of Gaza had 2 weeks to get out. He did it in two days. Today, Israel receives an estimated ten million dollars per day from the US. One would expect that in return Israel would protect the lives of US citizens and respect the human and civil rights of Palestinian civilians.