Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Helen Thomas was Partly Right

Helen Thomas was forced to retire as punishment for her assertion that the Israelis who are occupying land belonging to displaced Palestinians ought to go home. Of course, many of the Israelis don't have any other homes to go to, so her prescription wasn't useful in finding an equitable solution to the problem of the people who have been forced to give up their lands so that European and American Jews can occupy them.

The present situation in that part of the world is more depressing today than ever. To me it is obvious that the present leaders of Israel have no interest in finding a compromise that will let the Palestinians have a part of the land they once occupied and had title to. The goal of these leaders is to achieve a "final solution" to the problem by making the Palestinians go away. Of course, the Prime Minister has more sense than to express such a goal openly because it might cost him the support of Israel's American sponsor. Israel is the largest recipient of American foreign aid. Egypt is next. I don't know who's third.

Here's what I think Helen Thomas should have said: The people of Israel are occupying land that they have taken by force from the Palestinian people. It may be unreasonable to expect that they will give it back. However, they should at least pay for the land they have stolen. The Palestinians who still hold titles to property within Israel proper and who can't even visit it deserve just compensation for their property. They should be able to sell it at a very good price to the present occupants.

Moreover, the theft of property goes on. New Israeli settlements often block off farm land from Palestinian farmers. The settlers eventually claim the blocked off farm land for more settlements. There is no talk of compensating the farmers who are suddenly bereft of their livelihood.

The settlers use as their justification the account in the Bible in which God gave the land to Moses and his followers. They are simply reclaiming land that the Romans took by force from their ancestors about 2000 years ago. Muslims claim that the same God gave the land to them when they converted the occupants to Islam. As a practicing, if not devout, Christian I find these conflicting claims quaint. God is an Indian giver. God giveth land to the Jews; God taketh away the land and giveth it to the Muslims. Blessed be the holy name of God.

More seriously, I believe that our government is complicit in trying to establish a religious state in an area east of the Mediterranean Sea. Our government is forbidden by our constitution from establishing a religious state here in North America. It seems wrong for us to do in a foreign land what we must not do at home.

Finally, even though the Israeli government seems immune to our longing for a peaceful, two-state solution to the problem, our President has at hand a means of immediately engaging the rapt attention of Benyamin Netanyahu: simply cut off the money. Stop the subsidy, at least temporarily.


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