Roundtable: How is the US involved in Palestinian ethnic cleansing?
The Great March of Return, a peaceful rally for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their Israeli occupied land, was conducted in Gaza on March 8 and met with severe violence. The Israeli Defense Force shot 773 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, killing 17 and wounding 1,400. These deadly snipers were deployed when word of protest reached the Israeli government.
Shooting unarmed civilians violates international law, which is nothing new for Israel. Yet no one is holding Israelis accountable for their crimes, and the international apathy only encourages ongoing genocide in Palestine. Staff writers from the opinion section were horrified by these actions.
Opinion columnist Sarah Tawashy
Human nutrition and foods sophomore, member of Students for Justice in Palestine
The Israeli military offensive during the summer of 2014, Operation Protective Edge, resulted in the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians and thousands more injured over the span of 49 days. There were so many corpses that the morgues were filled to capacity, and bodies had to be stored in vegetable refrigerators.
If Israel and Egypt had opened their borders and allowed civilians to escape the onslaught, the death toll would have been lower. Instead, both countries maintained their blockade on Gaza, a strip of land not much larger than Galveston Island, populated by nearly 2 million people.
In February 2008, a former major general of the Israeli Defense Forces openly proclaimed that increasing tensions between Israelis and the Palestinians in Gaza would bring a holocaust on the Palestinians, as Israelis could carry out their violence under the claim of self defense.
Genocide is not only applicable to mass murder but also to the crippling of economy and infrastructure. Palestinians as a whole have no major contribution to an industry of their own, and Gaza’s economy has been crippled by the blockade and worsening electricity cuts. Gazans have not even been able to rebuild their homes that were destroyed in the 2014 Israeli offensive .
The majority of the 2 million inhabitants in Gaza are refugees that were expelled from their ancestral lands in 1948, more than 400 of their hometowns and cities destroyed by Israeli militants or repopulated by Jewish settlers.
It is perplexing that Americans would not consider the mass murder and expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians, and the ongoing efforts to purge their homeland of their presence, a genocide.
It may be because less focus is on the actions that lead up to “extermination,” being wholly placed on a shocking death toll. The U.S. government does not recognize what is being done to Palestinians as genocide because it is a staunch ally of Israel and enables these horrendous acts by sending it billions of dollars every year.
Opinion columnist Brant Roberts
History senior, Public Relations Chair for Students for Justice in Palestine
The 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the Zionist militias, that would later coalesce into the Israeli military, was a violent process of uprooting 750,000 people and sending them into exile. Palestinians were forced to flee into Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, where they created makeshift refugee camps in order to survive. Those who managed to stay in the areas that now make up Gaza and the West Bank live under a brutal military occupation and apartheid.
It is part-and-parcel of why Palestinians continue to resist settler colonialism and the Israeli state to this day.
Past attempts at solutions did not adequately address the right of return for Palestinian refugees, nor did they made any serious attempts toward an economic platform that would lift Palestinians out of poverty. The two-state solution has effectively been a one-state solution, as Israel controls the borders, the economy and the daily lives of Palestinians.
The only viable solutions that could put an end to apartheid are: one democratic state for everyone living in historic Palestine, the right of return, and serious economic changes that give Palestinians the ability to transform their lives after 70 years of occupation.
For more information, I highly encourage my fellow students read “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappé.
Guest columnist Dina Hamadi
Political science and middle eastern studies junior, Outreach Chair for Students in Justice in Palestine
When genocide is embedded into the very founding of our country, it is hypocritical to believe that the U.S. government will intervene in the genocide of another people.
The United States has only ever interfered in a situation when it was in its interests. Otherwise, the government has blindfolded itself to humanitarian crises. The world watched the U.S. blind itself in the face of the Rwandan genocide when it led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda.
The government has failed to recognized the atrocities happening in Palestine as a genocide because the moment it does, it has to acknowledge responsibility.
The United States chose to actively support the Palestinian genocide by funding the Israeli military with $3.8 million in aid every year.
Ethnic cleansing and genocide are at the root of Israel’s mission, as it was founded upon the Zionist view of Palestine as “a land without a people for a people without a land,” even though it was an occupied land. Zionists propagated this idea in the West to justify the establishment of a Jewish homeland. These beliefs are still used today to justify the establishment of illegal settlements in the West Bank.
So long as the United States arms and aids the Israeli military, blood will stain its hands.
Roundtable contributors can be reached at [email protected].