Palestine: let it not fade from view

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Armed with lots of U.S. weaponry and taxpayer money, Israel has mercilessly repressed Palestinians for more than two years now, in full view of the world. Imagine what could happen when our eyes are elsewhere, when global attention is riveted on another war just a short distance away, against the people of Iraq.

The Israeli military has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in this recent period, most of them civilians. Eight thousand Palestinians have been “detained” without charge. Tanks destroy homes, missiles assassinate political leaders and curfews lock up cities, towns and villages for days, weeks, months. Endless checkpoints humiliate people with hellish delays, beatings and curtailment of movement — to school, to jobs, to the hospital, to the market. Roads are routinely gutted and computers and books and records destroyed; water and electricity are a sometime thing.

And now Israel is building a giant, imprisoning wall around the West Bank. Some call it the Apartheid Wall. It’s being erected on confiscated agricultural land, cutting off Palestinian access to desperately needed artesian wells. It will have watchtowers, barbed wire, motion sensors, a moat, and lots of soldiers with guns.

These nightmares are already happening. But what Israel’s rightwing government has in mind, while the U.S. attacks Iraq and no one may be looking, is even worse. Outright ethnic cleansing; a full-scale “transfer” of Palestinians to other countries. To cover their tracks, officials think they may bar foreign and local journalists from the area.

Palestinian Emergency Committees have formed to organize their communities and issue “An Appeal to World Public Opinion from Palestinians Under Siege.” In Israel, appalled peace activists have taken out a newspaper ad in Ha’aretz warning soldiers against taking part in mass expulsions.

Try though some might to separate the antiwar and Palestinian rights movements, the two are inextricably bound together. The U.S. ruling class is determined to control the Middle East, and Israel’s proxy army and nuclear capability are key to that design. Our job here in the U.S., in the eye of the storm, is to shine a bright light on our government’s dirty deeds in both Palestine and Iraq. We cannot allow Palestine to drop out of sight. And as we stand up for the self-determination of both beleaguered peoples, we strengthen our muscles for fights to be waged here, on the home front, against our own sinister government.

Just who is the terrorist?

The TV news image prompted visions of the huge dark cloud above Hiroshima six decades ago. But it was March 11, 2003. And the explosion that shook the earth in the Florida desert was a pretest of a new bomb — the largest non-nuclear explosive in existence. It’s called the “Massive Ordinance Air Blast” (MOAB).

The terrifying message of the test, coming just days before a March 17 deadline the U.S. had set for a UN vote on war against Iraq, couldn’t have been clearer. The real test of the bomb’s destructive power will take place in Iraq.

The Pentagon is not saying what this 21,500-pound monster bomb is capable of. But its predecessor, the Blu-82 “Daisy Cutter” used in Vietnam and Afghanistan, has a “lethal radius” of 300 to 900 feet. The MOAB, of course dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs,” is much bigger. It explodes a few feet above ground and propels a wave of fire across hundreds of feet that will kill enemies, flatten trees and knock over buildings.

Pictured in the newspapers on the same day were terrified and wrathful Iraqis. “You disarm us, and then you come and kill us,” they accuse. Iraq has been forced to destroy much of what defensive weapons it had. Clearly, the sandbags that dot Baghdad’s streets will not protect its people from MOAB and a multitude of other sophisticated weapons that the U.S. military is eager to experiment with.

For the U.S., war against Iraq should be a relatively safe and very profitable conflict. Its “Operation Shock and Awe” is designed to be a no-contact war. Push-button, unpiloted missiles and bombs will wipe out people, weapons and infrastructure. At least 500,000 Iraqi soldiers will die before Yankee forces even disembark. If all goes according to plan, the job of the U.S. army in Iraq is not so much to fight, but to occupy the country while it is “rebuilt,” according to American specifications. U.S. construction firms are already bidding for postwar contracts worth a billion dollars, corporate welfare courtesy of the government.

This is not war. It is massacre. And the people with the power to stop it are the American people. Soldiers can refuse to use the weapons of mass destruction. Workers can withdraw their labor. Everyone can take to the streets. It’s up to the people of the U.S. to stop the monster bomb before it finds its target.

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