Published in INSIDE BAY AREA (California), at:
TRISTAN ANDERSON, a 38-year-old human rights volunteer from Oakland, is the latest casualty of the century-old effort to create and maintain a Jewish state in Palestine.
He went there with the International Solidarity Movement, which advocates nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
As I write, he lies in a Tel Aviv hospital, the front of his skull crushed by a high velocity tear gas canister illegally aimed straight at him at close range by an Israeli soldier.
Why does the U.S. defend a Jewish state in Palestine when we opposed a white state in South Africa? Why do we justify the expulsion and relocation of the majority Arab population so as to create and maintain a majority Jewish state?
Should South Africa have expelled the majority black population instead of instituting apartheid? Would we say that a white state in South Africa is justified if they created a majority by ethnic cleansing? Would we say that neighboring black states should absorb the displaced population?
These are some of the absurdities that we accept as normal in the case of Israel. This is not an academic argument. It has cost numerous wars and hundreds of thousands of lives. It has poisoned U.S. relations with much of the world. It costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year in direct aid to Israel.
For what? While the hysterical protectors of an increasingly racist and extremist Israel point to an obsolete Hamas charter, and cry that Israel is mortally threatened by the 21st century equivalent of bows and arrows, Palestinian women and newborns die in childbirth at hundreds of checkpoints paralyzing the West Bank, in a process reminiscent of the American Indian genocide.
Even Anderson's ambulance was delayed from reaching its destination; if he had been Palestinian, it might never have arrived, nor would we be reading about him.
The solution is no mystery. As with South Africa, all who call Palestine their home must live as equals wherever they choose. All of the Palestinian groups — including Hamas — have declared their willingness to accept this principle.
Would this mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state? Probably. But why is that a tragedy any more than the end of South Africa as a white state?
Would it mean the end of a Jewish homeland in Palestine? Of course not. Palestine belongs to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Like South Africa, it deserves to be shared without being partitioned. All of its inhabitants deserve to be called Palestinians. Tristan Anderson has also earned the right to be called Palestinian. We would all do well to try to earn that right.
--Dr. Paul Larudee is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement Northern California chapter. He lives in El Cerrito.