Co-Authored with Lisa Chieco
Our fellow Americans and Earth citizens could benefit from historical perspective. The mantle of American Exceptionalism, a garb that resembles an emperor’s new clothes, becomes more transparent with each passing year.
Americans carry a lot of shame for things we’ve done to this planet that no other government in the world can match, such as the atomic bomb and agent orange (all of this inflicted on civilian populations, explaining it as “collateral damage”).
We have murdered peoples, starved them and spread deadly smallpox virus via “gift blankets”, a virus previously unknown in the Americas. These gift blankets exposed native populations to a disease that spread like wildfire. Did you learn this in history class?
From trains passing westward millions of bison were murdered. Stacked, the bison heads rested thousands high with a deliberate goal: starve the natives and their nations. Our collective memory ascribes the slaughter to sportsmen shooting from the comfort and safety of train cars. There is a little more to that story. Those “sportsmen” disembarked from the locomotives to murder as many bison as humanly possible and thereby remove the buffalo as sustenance to Native America. We learn soundbites. “The Indians used every single part of each buffalo.”
Where the Buffalo No Longer Roamed
But connecting the dots leading to genocide is never taught. George Washington as a youth chopped down a cherry tree and owned up to it. Andrew Jackson is the president we have on the twenty-dollar bill. His nickname was “Stonewall.” We store soundbites in our memory and we pass them down to our grandchildren. No mail delivery on Presidents Day, banks close but schools are in session and there are sales at Target. Congress passed a law making Presidents Day a Monday holiday…
We murdered millions of First People to get what we wanted, promises broken as greed expanded.
We witness the same dynamic in the Israel/Palestine Conflict. The misinformed think in black and white terms: Philistina does not exist. I use the name Philistine because that is what they call themselves. Bill speaks to the distinction between Philistine and Palestine here.
This is the Arabic word:
It looks like a series of squiggly lines but evokes a familiar biblical tribe: the Philistines.
British and the United States bound by “a special relationship” snap the Israel into existence in 1948, a catastrophe for the people already living there. The world was still reeling over the disclosure of concentration camps built by a country with a genocidal dream: Third Reich Germany. We forced villagers living near the camps to march through and to bury the dead found in those camps. Israelis and Americans know little or less about the daily human rights abuses in Israel and the occupied territories. It doesn’t help that the New York Times is corporate and NPR is sponsored by corporations. An independent press is our lifeblood.
There is an American camp established to house “enemies of the state” without legal recourse, or representation: Guantanamo, an American naval base from the days when Cuba was ours to manipulate.
We invaded, without provocation, the independent country of Iraq in 2003. My husband and I participated in one of many rallies in the days preceding that war, also a catastrophe. We were already in Afghanistan under the guise of chasing the terrorist responsible for the horror of 9/11 in New York City. We lost 3000 that day: it was genuine horror. We responded by murdering innocent civilian “collaterals.” Those fighting back are fighting for their autonomy and the right to own their nation without the foreign interests who run their government. The British set borders in their Middle Eastern colonies to contain rival religious sects that could fight one another and leave the governance to the halls of empire. Divide and conquer.
Lawrence in Arabia reviewed in The Guardian
And we are that remaining world power that installed the puppet Saddam Hussein! But perhaps just say “mistakes were made,” accidents happen. But to the victors go the spoils.
Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East
So our uninitiated young people and our more simple and hardline conservatives, tricked and lied to with a propaganda team that manipulates a language of fear alloyed with ignorance, have been at this war for 16 years! In keeping with this embarrassing situation – we also are a, so far, sole superpower gone wild in Israel. We want to make up for what started as humiliation and provocation by the Third Reich and murder of millions of Jews in Europe.
And now the shoe is on the other foot. Out of a vindictiveness, and resources available to the Earth’s fourth largest military, centuries old olive groves are bulldozed to break the spirit and humanity of the Palestinian people. Using humiliation as a daily means of control, cornering them in the same kind of ghetto that the Jews endured in Poland. Install a man with the skills of Joseph Goebbels to orchestrate. Without a military and with weapons on a par with those of the former Ottoman Empire, they revolted using these meager “weapons” and couldn’t gain their freedom.
With fell precision, Israel used a false-flag campaign to tell all Arabs living in ancestral homes that an attack by other Arab nations was imminent and they would be better off leaving their homes until the danger was over. 1948: 700,000 Palestinians lived out a modern incarnation of the “Trail of Tears.” So, building upon a lie Israel moved in and took this land from people who were sharing THEIR land with the new state of Israel. In a word, the Palestinians (Philistines) had their land stolen, with catastrophic (Nakba) results. Israel has a 10 per cent population of Palestinians who did not leave in 1948. Their access to the polls limited similar to Jim Crow. On the very day of his reelection Netanyahu famously warned of those “swarming” voters. It’s as repulsive as our Jim Crow laws in the South. Peaceful demonstrations were the beginning in our nation – because the removal of legal slave ownership should have made black people safe and equal – but let’s not be foolish – it did no such thing until black people got sick and tired of it and revolted – and I would do the same.
The Black Panthers were born into a dream denied, to paraphrase Langston Hughes. They demanded equality and freedom, and were also murdered, but the message made it to the fore and legal recourse resulted in affirmative action and enforcement of the 14th Amendment. Now, we have nazi storm troopers of a police armed with military gifted them by the Defense Department who just shoot black people like they’re in target practice! I’m sickened and ashamed – and we are the nation supporting the same shameful behavior of the current governmental leaders in Israel.
I lean on God, knowing in my heart it is the Enemy we need to fight: the evil that flourishes on greed and hate.
5 thoughts on “Jim Crow in Palestine and The American Empire”
The U. S. is a grave sinner, I perfectly agree. If war and famine and refugees massed at borders they cannot cross — along with endless “development” and fossil fuels — don’t destroy the planet, it won’t be our fault, will it? I would only say that along with all these crimes, there have always been people in this country (and in every country) who tried to stop the tumultuous assaults on humanity and nature and make peace with all the world. We must all do the same, as best we can, in the year 2016.
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To say this is an excellent piece is restraint. Although the styles vary, somewhat, the clarity, the candor, the raw truth puts me to the mind of reading Howard Zinn. Splendid in its revelations.
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Hello Peter, I’ve just now discovered your comment from, well, about a year and a half ago. Howard Zinn is another of my greatest heroes, he is a favorite of my son Alan as well. So belated thanks for those kind words, my friend — my co-author Lisa, whom you have now met, thanks you profusely 🙂 Our very best to all and each, including every fellow sentient being you so ably assist! Long live Veganarchism!!
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The “enemy of Allah” are the people who do not want to hear what is inside their heart and not want to see what everything around them has to bring and who think the earth belongs to them.
Europeans and Asians may think “Americans carry a lot of shame for things” but they themselves are not aware of the shame they should bear. their president Even seems to think he can govern not only his own divided United States of America, but considers himself to be the rightful and righteous one to decide what Israel has to do, ignoring the history of that place in the East.
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Thank you so much for reading my blog and for this kind comment. The geopolitical arrogance of this nation’s power brokers literally knows no bounds, having already ethnically cleansed the indigenous peoples under the banner of Manifest Destiny, then an interest in its entire hemisphere, then a blessed-by-God inherent right to staking claim to the entire planet and staking the hearts of those with the temerity to question its authority. So the country with the most guns, nuclear weapons and ambitions to exploit every natural resource, human resource and animal resource within its 25,000 mile reach…
Alexander Haig was Secretary of “Defense” under Richard Nixon. He is attributed with calling Israel a land-based aircraft carrier that could never be sunk.
I was naive enough to think that the US might recognize a blow-back from global interference in 2001, to realize that we created the need for resistance to never ending war and never ending blessings from God. Israel is also a laboratory for testing weaponry and security systems. It’s equivalent to the District of Columbia, a de facto District of Israel. The irony inherent there is enormous — racism is rampant in that country. Ethiopian Jews have no “right of return”, neither do the Palestinians who lived on the incomparably beautiful Mediterranean coast. However anyone with a Northern European skin tone is most welcome. Another grand irony: 700,000 Palestinians were expelled in 1948 and driven into the West Bank and that open-air prison that is Gaza. Now 700,000 settlers literally occupy the occupied again. Imagine kids looking through a fence and seeing settler kids playing in what had been your home. Then there’s that Apartheid Wall…