No More Israel?

Palestinian and Arab suffering in the Middle East must end, and to do so it should be recognized that the problem does not lie solely with Israel. It’s time we admit it: if Israel would all of a sudden withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, or, to take it further, if Israel would altogether disappear, it wouldn’t do any good to the Palestinian people in specific or the Arab people in general. The average Arab man or woman on the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad or Riyadh would still be living under the same oppressive regimes. The Palestinians, other than knowing that the person ruling them was Palestinian, would be subject to the public execution of political rivals and dissidents under the title of “collaborators,” and the further embezzlement of their tax and international aid dollars by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.
Homosexuals and democracy-advocates in Cairo would still be jailed and tortured. The dissident in Damascus would keep silent for fear that they and their families would be publicly executed. The Palestinian living in Beirut will still be barred by Lebanese law from over 70 occupations–from “banking to barbering” as noted by the McGill Middle East Report. The Sunni in Baghdad will live in fear of saying one word that could be misunderstood, so that his/her fate would not be like the 5,000 Kurds Sadaam gassed in the 1980s, and the hundreds of thousands murdered since. The woman in Riyadh would still be pushed into burning buildings if she dared escape without wearing her traditional garment, and the Christians would still either be stoned to death or expelled.
Were Israel to disappear overnight the Middle East will loose its only true democracy. I do not intend to belittle the hardships of the Israeli-Arab population or the Palestinians in the territories, but it is important to remember that Israel is only place that all peoples, be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish can run for public office or turn to a Supreme Court for justice.
So why isn’t the Sparticus Youth Club making a stand on Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Syria? Perhaps the Columbia Anthropology department, who signed almost wholesale the petition calling for divestment in Israel, should also focus their attention on calling for the end of discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon, or the end of Syrian colonialism.
As educated individuals in a democratic country we should work for the rights of all humans, whoever they are. No one has the right to kill anyone else. And in recognizing this we need to focus on the might that gives these countries their perceived right: Oil.
The only reason the Saudi government can afford to keep it’s women out of the workplace, and off the roads, is that they have so much oil wealth that they can hire foreign workers to do their dirty work. Syria’s Asad Dynasty has kept power partially through the revenue it has gleamed off of smuggled Iraqi oil, and Egypt’s Mubarak is building his own dynasty thanks to his black gold and gas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Further westward, Europe has been deeply involved in both Iran and Iraq’s quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Chirac, who used to call Sadaam his brother, helped build the original Osiraq nuclear reactor, while Russian scientists are in Iran helping them on their quest towards entrance into the Nuclear club. Russia and France did not attempt to block the US in the UN because they have higher moral standards. They were protecting the billions of dollars both countries have invested in the country, and knew they stood to loose in the case of a “regime change:” an American and British liberation of Iraq would put in jeopardy France, Russia and China’s current controlling stake in Iraq’s oil and oil related products, as noted by William Safire of the New York Times and Peter Beaumont and Faisal Islam of the Observer.
Those of us who are opposed to oppressive regimes have only one hope: to band together. Those of us with a long-memory still remember the tears of relief we shed when the Declaration of Principles was signed on the White House lawn in 1993. We still remember the feeling that the war was over, that we could finally be friends and live together, side by side.
Let’s find a way to reconnect to that feeling of oneness, that common sense of purpose we felt then. We must, together, work towards the freedom and liberation of all peoples in the Middle East from tyrannies and oppression.
There is one thing that allows these tyrannical regimes to act as they do: Oil. Oil and oil wealth has enabled the region’s countries to ignore their local population and keep large armies and intelligence forces whose swords are eternally unsheathed.
Together we can work to eliminate these tyrannical regimes. United, we can work for a cleaner, more democratic world, a world in which tyrannies will be eradicated and peace will be possible.

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