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Guest Opinion in The Oregonian: The truth about Israel

Alison Weir

Former journalist Alison Weir is the executive director of If Americans Knew, a research institute dedicated to providing information on Israel-Palestine to the American public. She lives in Portland.

Alison Weir
The Oregonian
April 4, 2009

After so many violent injustices, it's time to rethink

In his op-ed "If there were no Israel" (March 15), Edward Glick asks what the Middle East would look like if Israel had never existed.

Instead of answering this, however, he simply gives his own xenophobic distortion of the region today. Worse still, he doesn't explore how many of the region's real woes are attributable to Israel's violent creation 60 years ago and of its actions since.

This is as though 9/11 attackers had not only destroyed the Twin Towers but had also remained occupying Manhattan, and as though a columnist asked what New York would be like without 9/11 and went on to describe ruins, layers of dust, and traumatized, angry survivors, suggesting that Americans are inherently inferior -- sloppy, lazy, neurotic, violent citizens.

Glick asserts that without Israel "Palestinians would still be unemployed and unemployable." However, in 2007 the World Bank reported that "Palestinian businesses have the craftsmanship, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. They are reliable, committed and hard-working suppliers of high-quality products."

Glick states, "East Jerusalem and the West Bank would be still ruled from Amman," and goes on to claim that "the Gaza Strip would still be ruled from Cairo." However, none of this was the case for pre-Israel Palestine, which had been under the Ottomans for centuries, and then under the British. Jerusalem was undivided, and Muslims, Christians and Jews were living side-by-side without strife.

When Christian denominations could not decide who should hold the keys to Jerusalem's ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre, they were entrusted to a Muslim family.

Into this multicultural mix came Zionist immigrants with the goal of creating a Jewish-only state -- which meant pushing out the Muslims and Christians who made up 95 percent of the population. As former Time magazine Senior Editor Donald Neff wrote, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "began as a conflict resulting from immigrants struggling to displace the local majority population. All else is derivative from this basic reality."

In Israel's founding war of 1947-49, Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and expelled 800,000 people -- many of these before Arab armies, their combined numbers smaller than Israeli forces, belatedly entered the fray.

Israel refused to allow these refugees to return, appropriating their land and wealth. United Nations analysts estimate that 80 percent of Israel's total area belonged to these refugees, stating that this extremely valuable property was "one of the greatest contributions toward making Israel a viable state."

These now-destitute Palestinian refugees filled the Middle East, forming a desperate, politically destabilizing element in post-colonial nations working to modernize. When they tried to return to their cities and farms, Israel labeled them "infiltrators," shot them and attacked the countries they came from.

Israel, fearing its neighbors might defend Palestinians' rights and wishing to maintain regional hegemony, used a combination of military attacks, divide-and-conquer tactics and great power manipulation to undermine their development. In all of its wars except one, Israel attacked first.

Since it is impossible to know what the Middle East would look like if this violent injustice had not been stabbed into its heart, a more useful effort might be to ponder present possibilities.

What would happen if Americans -- whose $7 million per day to Israel funds Israel's continued, ruthless and systemic violence not only against Muslims but also against descendants of the world's very first Christians -- finally decide to keep our money home?

Alison Weir

Invite Ms. Weir to speak: If Americans Knew is a nonpartisan, educational organization. We are happy to provide information and speakers on Israel-Palestine to individuals and groups of all religious, ethnic, racial, and political backgrounds. To set up an event, contact us.

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