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I expect that some will be angry at what I say in this post, but I do believe it must be said.
The United States has said it will back up the nation of Israel and will do anything necessary to ensure it’s continued existence. I think that is good policy, but I believe we should exact a price for that guarantee. We should demand that Israel withdraw its army of occupation from the Palestinian territories and we should demand that it close the illegal Israeli settlements in those territories.
Here is some relevant history on the issue. The modern state of Israel was created in 1948 against the furious opposition of Arab states and the Palestinians. The opposition was expressed in various ways over the years. In 1967 those nations and the Palestinians launched a full scale attack on Israel, with the clear goal of destroying Israel and returning its territory to Muslims. Israel defeated its opponents in 7 days.
When it was over Israel left an Israeli occupation army in Palestine. Those troops are still there.
Since then, Israel has allowed its citizens to move to Palestine and establish permanent Jewish only settlements there. Currently there are 163 such settlements. And about 500,000 Israelis live in them. Often land for the settlements was taken from Palestinian owners with little or no compensation. Often too, Palestinian homes were destroyed to make room for the settlements.
The army of occupation is illegal and so are the settlements. International humanitarian law prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Fourth Geneva Convention, article 49). The Hague Regulations prohibit the occupying power from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area, unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population. But Israel has refused to back down. These armed forces, and the settlements have been a constant irritation, inflaming hatred of Israel among its neighbors.
It could have been different. Consider American actions after World War Two. After the war with Germany we launched the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Europe, in which the United States gave $13 billion (approximately $130 billion in current dollar value as of August 2015) in economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II. The money went to our allies in Europe, of course, but it also went to Germany to help it rebuild.
The plan was created by George Marshall Secretary of State in the administration of President Truman. Marshall was convinced the key to restoration of political stability lay in the revitalization of national economies.
You know the rest of the story. From 1948 through 1952 European economies grew at an unprecedented rate. Trade relations led to the formation of the North Atlantic alliance. Economic prosperity led by coal and steel industries helped to shape what we know now as the European Union.
Germany had been led by a mad man. It engaged in unspeakable crimes during World War Two. Yet our enlightened treatment of it after the war helped it become an outstanding citizen in the world of nations. And this occurred without our leaving a permanent army of occupation in Germany.
After the 1967 war, Israel could have done something similar for its defeated enemies. Some of its attackers were rich. But the Palestinians and some of Israel’s other opponents were poor and had very limited economies. Israel could have provided agricultural technical assistance and financial support to help them modernize their farming industry.
In the late 1800ds Jews began immigrating in large numbers to Palestine. First most came from Russia. Later they came from Europe, Africa and other places.
When they got there they found a land that was mostly desert. But they developed a number of ways to make the desert bloom. Now almost half the country is still desert. But agriculture is a thriving, major part of their national economy.
Their success resulted from close cooperation and interaction between scientists, extension
services, farmers, and agriculture industries. These four elements have joined together to transform agriculture in Israel into an industry that is globally renowned for its efficiency and productivity. In 2010, agricultural exports (fresh and processed) amounted to $2.130 billion, or 4.2% of the country’s total exports.
If Israel had helped the Palestinians and other neighboring nations to re-create this agricultural miracle in their own lands, and provided financial support to help them do it, Israel might now be surrounded by grateful friends rather than dedicated enemies.
Supporting Israel while they continue their present actions in Palestine does Israel little good. It also gives Muslims a reason to hate us. It helps groups like Al-Queda and Hezbollah to persuade ordinary Muslims to attack the United States.
I do believe we should firmly defend the state of Israel. But, if only to protect ourselves, the US should demand that Israel withdraw its army of occupation from the Palestinian territories and we should demand that it close the illegal Israeli settlements from those territories.