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July 25, 2014

Guest view: The truth behind the Israeli-American War on Palestinians

For almost all Palestinians and the vast majority Arabs and Muslims worldwide, the version of events as presented in the American mass media -- including the Belleville News-Democrat -- is about as far from reality as possible.

The notion that by bombing Gaza, Israel is protecting its people from Hamas is not only tragic, it is absurd.

We Palestinians and our supporters are not crazy or delusional and we have billions of supporters worldwide.

Only a tiny fraction of these people are outright supporters of Hamas. Hamas' support among Palestinians is limited. Many, including Palestinians in Gaza, believe Hamas has made serious miscalculations.

But we agree that Israel is the sole aggressor, not Hamas. The war against Hamas is a war against all Palestinians.

This conclusion follows from our history. It very simple. Here's the gist of it.

Between 1917 and 1948, non-Jewish Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population of Palestine. By 1948, European Christian Anti-Semitism, which had no counterpart in the Muslim world, culminated in the Holocaust.

So many European Jews sought refuge in Palestine that Palestinians became a shrinking percentage of the population of their own country. In 1948 they were turned into an absolute minority when the Jewish state was created in about 75 percent of historic Palestine. Most of the non-Jewish Palestinian population was expelled and never allowed to return.

Palestinians call what happened in 1948 the Nakba, the catastrophe. The Nakba marked the beginning of the destruction of our society.

The Nakba has continued from 1948 to this day. In 1967 the rest of historic Palestine came under Israeli rule, and with the Oslo Accords of 1993 the PLO bargained away all rights to the land lost in 1948. Today the population of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank had doubled. The PLO failed its people and so Hamas won elections, fair and square, in 2006.

Israel, backed unconditionally by the U.S., has done everything in its power to destroy Hamas.

What is going in Gaza today is the latest stage in the process of divesting Palestinians of land, rights and the ability to survive that began almost 70 years ago. That is why destroying Hamas in Gaza is the same as destroying Palestinians. According to U.N. figures, 80 percent of the victims are civilians and a quarter of those are children. This is a massacre aimed at a whole people.

Why is Israel hell-bent on killing Palestinian civilians?

It is the logical conclusion of the Zionist project to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

Israel cannot be a Jewish state and a democracy -- where Jews are the majority -- when the indigenous population and half the total population under Israeli rule is non-Jewish.

The very logic of Zionism requires the ongoing destruction of Palestinian society. This is how our history explains the bloody events unfolding before our eyes in Gaza today.

What is less clear is why the United States and the American mass media unequivocally support a state whose very existence is predicated on the presumed superiority of one ethnic and religious group over others.

Lord knows the U.S. has not always lived up to its democratic principles. But American democracy is based on the principle -- if not always the practice -- of equality regardless of religious or ethnic origin.

Why, then, is everyone in the U.S. government unanimous in their support of Israel"s bombing of Gaza?

Fortunately, not all Americans buy the US-Israeli line. Two demonstrations against the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza (over 800 killed at this writing) have been held in St. Louis. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in this global wave of protest, contact the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (www.stl-psc.org), the St. Louis chapter of the Council on Islamic American Relations (www.cair-stl.org), or the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org).

All these groups are committed to the global non-violent boycott, divestment, sanctions movement (www.bdsmovement.net) to pressure Israel to recognize Palestinian rights. Together, we can make the difference where our government has failed us and Israelis and Palestinians.

Ours is a truly multinational, multi-religious, anti-racist big tent.

All Palestinians have demanded from Day One is equality in their land. It is simple.

Join us.

Steve Tamari is a Palestinian American Associate Professor of Middle East History at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and member of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. He can be reached at steve.tamari@gmail.com

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