Illegitimate Israeli occupation & blind American support


I’ve just returned from more than a month in occupied Palestine. What I saw and experienced was appalling and illegal, much of it made possible by American taxpayers.

In the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, where I stayed much of the time, I witnessed heavily-armed Israeli forces constantly rousting people by demanding their paperwork, searching their belongings, and subjecting them to hands-on-the-wall pat downs, all for looking like the Palestinians they are.

— On the first Friday of Ramadan, Israelis closed all streets around the Old City to vehicle traffic and marched machine-gun toting troops down the sidewalks and main thoroughfares past Muslim pilgrims and residents in a jackbooted parade clearly intended to instill fear and intimidation.

— Long lines of Israeli police gleefully attacked our completely peaceful protests of the US Embassy relocation to Jerusalem, an embassy move in contravention of all international law and diplomatic norms. Israeli forces threw demonstrators to the ground, pummeled, and dragged them on the pavement. They did this repeatedly in an attempt to disperse and scatter the peaceful demonstrators, but we only renewed our efforts and did not flee.

— On Nakba Day — anniversary of the 1948 forceful ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces of nearly one million Palestinians from their homes into refugee conditions — Israeli occupation forces attacked our peaceful street demonstration in Bethlehem with tear gas and rubber bullets. The peaceful protest included women, children and seniors, all forced to scatter in wild panic after the tear gas rounds were shot into the middle of our crowd. Ambulance sirens wailed throughout the chaotic afternoon. The Bethlehem attack was only a day after another Israeli military massacre in Gaza that killed 60 people and wounded more than 2,500,

— I saw Israeli armed forces controlling all access points to the Al Aqsa Mosque grounds in occupied East Jerusalem, the holiest site in all Islam behind only Mecca and Medina. I saw Israel make a point of displaying scores of heavily-armed forces around the Lions Gate entrance to the Old City as thousands of worshipers streaming out after midday Ramadan prayer services, making sure to film the crowds and observe from adjacent cemeteries rather than provide medical and watering stations in the broiling heatwave.

Whatever you think about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, let’s get one thing straight: there is no war going on. After the 1967 war, Israel took control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. Since then, Israel has been a military occupation force on a subjugated Palestinian population.

As a military occupation force, Israel is required by international law to follow certain standards and obligations. No objective fair-minded third-party observation believes Israel is following its legal requirements or even attempting to do so.

What I was not able to witness first hand includes a litany of growing crimes and discriminations against Palestinians including redrawing borders, refusal of family reunifications, prohibitions on child ID registration, systematic discriminatory home demolitions, and residency plans designed to forcibly expel Palestinians from Jerusalem and elsewhere in order to meet Zionist Jewish majority demographic goals.

As one veteran observer there told me, “Those efforts to forcibly transfer Palestinians are increasing. Definitely. Definitely increasing. We are seeing it increasing with the laws in Jerusalem, but also the bedouins who are being forcibly transferred around Jerusalem. From Hebron being heavily colonized. Like in 1948, it’s the same idea.”

Israel receives more annual funding, at least $3B, and loan guarantees, at least $8B, than any other foreign nation. It is also the largest cumulative recipient nation of US foreign aid since WWII. America funds the continuing occupation of Palestine, pure and simple.

One more thing, this time with a very personal twist. My hometown and current residence is Peoria, Illinois, the historical base of Caterpillar, Inc., the world’s largest mining and earthmoving equipment manufacturer.

On May 25, a wide coalition of Cambridge University student groups demanded that the school end its partnership with Caterpillar Inc. and other firms due to the companies role in enabling violations of international law by Israel and other countries.

For decades, Caterpillar has knowingly sold equipment, especially its D9 bulldozers, directly and otherwise to Israel which weaponizes the equipment and uses it for Palestinian home demolitions and other activities recognized as crimes by the international community.

The Presbyterian Church USA, Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) and The United Church of Christ have all passed successful divestment resolutions against the company.

Caterpillar also has been removed from the MSCI’s Environmental, Social and Governance indices. MSCI is a leading provider of socially responsible investing indices that funds use to monitor, and determine, their investments.

And TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services organization that manages nearly $500 billion in assets, has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its socially responsible investment portfolio and sold its Caterpillar shares.

Apparently, the occupation is not so very far away. []




Israeli troops marching down Saladine Street, a major business artery in occupied East Jerusalem, on first Friday of Ramadan in a provocative jackboot display. Peaceful Palestinians dive for cover as first tear gas attack hits directly among a group of unarmed protesters far from the military launch vehicle & personnel and behind the frontline vanguard of marchers on Nakba Day 2018 in Bethlehem.  (L. Maushard video stills)Lions Gate exit of Ramadan pilgrims subjected to heavy Israeli armed presence & film survellience. Rising tension evident as times during hours long procession during heatwave. (L.Maushard photo.)