Likudist Israel Damned For Pursuing Its Version Of Manifest Destiny
So, Mr. Kerry, welcome home, brother. If you follow the lead of your better-late-than-never, straight-talk censure of the Israel Likudists and don’t slip back into shameless, toad-eating political expediency I’m going to consider you in this case again part of the Peace Movement, a movement that has been slandered and marginalized for the entire 20th century and into this century. (Among reluctant Republicans in Washington, we’re told that toad is the gourmet meal-de-jour as the city prepares for the gala arrival of the Twitter King. Neo-con editor of The Atlantic David Frum reported it was "Toad for breakfast, toad for lunch and two toads for dinner.")
The basic lines of history seem clear. West Bank settlements and the assumption of whole sections of Jerusalem began after the 1967 war in which Israel took the land from Jordan as spoils of war. It must be said, the Arabs are not without sin, here. The world consensus has always been that peace negotiations should have followed the conflict, the goal being a two-state arrangement that would help establish some semblance of peace and justice in the Middle East. That never happened. Instead, with overt and generous US military support, the Israeli occupation of would-be Palestine grew tighter by the year. Ariel Sharon lumbered onto the scene as director of settlement policy and, then, as prime minister. The settlement movement grew steadily; settlers became more and more belligerent vis-a-vis the Palestinian people in the West Bank. Israeli rightists had visions of Israel stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. From the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009 to 2014, the West Bank Israeli settlement population went from 297,000 to 386,000; the East Jerusalem Israeli population grew from 193,000 to 208,000. This amounted to giving the finger to President Obama and others around the world working toward a two-state solution. Israel’s Likud Party stoked fear and hatred and moved farther and farther to the right, until it has become a defacto expansionist party that feels entitled to everything.
I vividly remember the first time the idea of Israeli settlements in the West Bank entered my consciousness. Again, think baby boomer generation. I’m in a firebase along the Cambodian border in the mountainous Central Highlands of Vietnam; from the helicopter arriving at the firebase, it looks like a cigar burn in a shag carpet. Several of us were smoking and joking between the outgoing 105s and the incoming mortars from the North Vietnamese regular unit in the woods outside the perimeter. I was a 19-year-old military occupier without a clue why I was one of 500,000 similarly clueless US soldiers occupying that peasant nation. It was 1967, and Israel had taken the West Bank from Jordan some weeks before. A Jewish fellow in my unit was giddy with delight. I confess I didn’t then know much more about Israel/Palestine or the West Bank than I did about Vietnam. Kerry's idea about being "used in the worst fashion" comes to mind. Being a miniscule part of that huge historic mobilization was later a strong goad for my self-education on Vietnam and post-WWII US military policy. I began reading up on it when I got home, and I have not stopped.