Who really is being besieged?
By Charley Reese, The Orlando Sentinel on October 19, 2000
Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's secretary of state, has made many absurd statements in her time, but she certainly topped herself recently when she said Israel was "besieged" by Palestinians.

Clinton's so-called agreement will fall apart. Both Yasser Arafat and the peace process have been discredited. The Israelis have doubled the number of Jewish settlers in 10 years, cut back water quotas for Palestinians and prevented development in most areas.

Israel is militarily the most powerful state in the Middle East. It is loaded to the gills with advanced weaponry. It has everything from missiles, atomic bombs and advanced fighters to helicopter gunships, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

And Albright says Palestinian boys, dressed in shirts and trousers and tossing stones, are besieging Israel. Who's getting killed? Who's getting sent to the hospital with serious wounds? Whose homes are being destroyed? Who is being placed under 24-hour curfews?

The answer to all those questions: Palestinians. Only a handful of Jews have died.

American politicians would serve America better if they simply would be honest. All they have to do is say, "Look, there are few Arab votes in my elections, so, for my own selfish reasons, I support Israel right or wrong." 

That's a lot better than blaming the victims and making the United States look absurd and hypocritical in the eyes of the world. People all around the world know the score in American politics, but it enrages them when American politicians try to cover up their vote-selling by blaming innocent people.

Those Palestinians are being killed in Palestinian towns not in Tel Aviv or Haifa. The Israeli Arabs who have been killed, likewise, were killed in their own neighborhoods. And most of the Palestinians killed have been killed by sharpshooters, according to Israeli reports in Israeli newspapers.

By definition, sharpshooters don't shoot in self-defense. Their job is to execute people. No civilized country in the world uses snipers to put down demonstrations or even riots.

Unfortunately for America, Arab satellite television has been beaming the truth about the situation on an around-the-clock basis, and the people in the Arab world know who is being killed and who is being besieged. They also know that America is acting strictly in Israel's interests. They know that although Clinton is "working the phones" to free four Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah, he never has made one call to free the dozens of Lebanese kidnapped and held hostage by the Israelis. What's the difference?

Domestic politics.

The brutal treatment of Palestinians has had an unprecedented effect in the Arab world. A half-million people went to the streets in Morocco, a long way from the conflict and a country generally considered pro-Israel and pro-Western. Egyptian and Saudi officials have warned Israel that if it attacks Syria, they will stand with Syria.

There is a tip point in all human affairs, and it appears that it has been reached in the Middle East. The peace process is dead. Palestinians now know that, after seven years, it will result only in an Israeli version of apartheid. Arafat's toss of the dice has come up with snake eyes.

The tragedy for Americans is that we never can provide the leadership the world needs by playing the hypocrite, condoning injustice and blaming the victims.

The blind devotion to Israel, even when Israel is wrong, is going to cost Americans -- and more than the 17 young lives already lost in Yemen. No axiom is truer than, "The friend of my enemy is my enemy."

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