5 Ways to Fight U.S. Anti-Palestinian Acts
By: John Mason/Arab America Contributing Writer
The recent issuance by Secretary of State of a judgment endorsing the legalization of an Israeli settlement on the occupied West Bank has prompted Arab America to raise awareness of this and other recent anti-Palestinian acts. Here we discuss this latest blow to Palestinian sovereignty and briefly note four other anti-Palestinian acts that readers may wish to express their opposition to through contacting their Congress members: https://www.house.gov/representatives.
The most recent U.S. anti-Palestinian act: U.S. Legalization of Israeli Settlements
A recent U.S. State Department judgment implicitly endorsed a one-state solution. In so doing, Secretary of State Pompeo overturned 41 years of legal judgments that Israel settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal or inconsistent with international law. The Washington Post reported the reversal of this long-held U.S. policy, which Pompeo noted was reasonable because “we have recognized the reality on the ground.” That reality, The Post’s David Ignatius wrote, includes “…the inexorable advance of settlements, despite decades of U.S. and international protest, [which] makes a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem much more difficult.”
Such a sense of “realpolitik,” given its absence of moral, ethical, much less legal principles, however, unfortunately, leaves the Palestinians hanging out to dry. The Pompeo desertion of such principles would reverse the U.S. promise that Palestinian land taken by force following 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars would be returned. The Pompeo judgment underscores the old admonition, “to the victor go the spoils.” But it also undermines the promises of nine previous U.S. Presidents. Let it be known, then, that the 10th of these Presidents, Donald Trump, refused to broker peace negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians and that his motive was two-fold: to bolster his fellow right-wing friend and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and to invigorate his, Trump’s, evangelical Christian base.
In the absence of a two-state solution, the Palestinians are hardly likely to negotiate anything with either Israel, much less the U.S. While the legality of West Bank settlements has to go through Israeli courts, its outcome seems clear—the Israeli government is not going to eject the 700,000 Jewish settlers. These settlers believe that the provinces comprising the West Bank, ancient Samaria, and Judea, are their rightful lands and so far they give no inkling of giving them up. This would result in those settlers, who are the most virulently anti-Palestinian Israelis, gaining from the fruits of war and the absence of world pressure to give the Palestinian people a chance to have their own sovereign state.
1. Share your support with your Member of Congress who countered Pompeo
House Democrats sent a letter to the State Department on November 21 rebuking Mike Pompeo for reversing policy on the illegality of Israeli settlements. Congressman Andy Levin, who represents Michigan’s 9th congressional district, spearheaded the letter to Pompeo, which was signed by 106 House Democrats. The letter expressed disapproval of the State Department’s reversal of the U.S. Government’s Israeli settlement policy, it’s ignoring of international law, and undermining of U.S. moral and ethical standing.
2. Stand with Co-signers of House Resolution: Promoting human rights by ending Israeli military detention of Palestinian Children Act
Quoting Action Network directly, “This is an extremely bold and important piece of legislation, which aims to prevent U.S. aid and taxpayer dollars from being used by the Israeli Army to fund the detention, interrogation, ill-treatment, and imprisonment of Palestinian children in its separate-and-unequal military courts.”
3. Stop your Congressional Reps from trying to Criminalize BDS
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights has advocated for members of Congress to oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. This bill seeks to impose civil and criminal penalties on institutions that support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, or BDS, which includes a boycott of Israeli settlements.
4. Hold Israel accountable to the Leahy law
The purpose of the Leahy Law is to hold states accountable for their actions. Israel believes it is immune from accountability, while at the same time garnering over $10 million a day in military aid from the United States. The Jewish State makes little effort to conceal its human rights abuses. The so-called ‘Leahy Law,’ according to View of The Hill newspaper, “prohibits the United States from providing any weapons or training to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.”
5. Oppose Legislation that will shut down free speech critical of Israel
Bill H.R. 5924 was introduced last year in both the U.S. House and Senate to restrict criticism of Israel at the expense of the 1st Amendment. According to the Arab American Institute, “the legislation includes an overly broad, political definition of anti-Semitism, which includes criticism of the state of Israel. Titled the ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018,’ the bill does not actually counteract the real, disturbing rise in anti-Semitism but rather focuses on suppressing speech critical of Israel.”
“America is now implicitly endorsing a one-state solution,” David Ignatius, The Washington Post, 11/19/2019
“Letter from House Democrats Criticizes State Department for Reversing Policy on Israeli Settlements,” Arab America, 11/22/2019
“Stand with Co-signers of H.Res. 4391—Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act,” Action Network, 2019
“Are your members of Congress trying to criminalize BDS?” US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 5/18/2019
“Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law,” View of the Hill, 8/17/2011
“Take Action—Legislation introduced to shut down free speech critical of Israel,” Arab American Institute, 5/23/2018
John Mason, who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi and the American University in Cairo, served on the United Nations staff in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively with USAID and the World Bank worldwide.