The Palestinian Police States

8 Aug

It is common knowledge that there are many obstacles to Palestinian statehood and the legitimate recognition of Palestinian civil liberties. Israeli policies represent the biggest roadblocks to peace, and for 40 years, Israel has starved, sanctioned, apartheid-ed, and waged indiscriminate warfare on the Palestinian people. Here in the US, Congress, influenced by the hawkish AIPAC, supports and cheers on nearly every act of terror Israel commits against its neighbors, while publicly denouncing Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians. The media also has a very pro-Israel bias, and both the mainstream Left and Right shroud this incredibly complex and delicate issue with black-and-white, good-vs-evil rhetoric.

What is less discussed, but just as harmful to the peace process, is the dictatorial and oppressive governments that control the divided Palestinian territories. There are two police-states in Palestine; Hamas keeps its iron fist over the Gaza strip, and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) bullies its subjects in the West Bank. These two groups bitterly oppose each other, and in their simultaneous struggle for power and control, Palestinians are caught in the middle.

As the power struggle continues, Palestinians are subjected to random bomb blasts, assassinations by masked gunmen, excruciating torture while detained, no access to lawyers, politically motivated arrests, and the banning of peaceful demonstrations. The Preventive Security Services (PSS) of the PA has been accused of torturing to death Hamas detainees, and human rights groups have expressed concern about frequent Hamas police raids and Palestinian citizens tried in military courts on death row for “collaboration with the enemy,” backed by dubious testimony or hearsay.

The US plays an important role in these Palestinian police states. The Pentagon has a history of funding both sides of military conflicts around the globe, especially off the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is throwing a billion dollars at the Palestinian Authority rather than sending medicine and food to the Gaza Strip that’s in ashes from last Christmas’ blitzkrieg. Their enemies, the Israelis, get $3 billion a year to subsidize settlements, crush Palestinian resistance, slaughter its neighbors, and run its socialist-military-economy. Why are we funding both sides of a bloody, bitter, and complicated conflict?

The twin-police states governing the Palestinian territories are a direct result of brutal Israeli policies, and the cycle conflict continues. Anytime Israel decides it needs a little elbow room (especially when its election season) and decides to drop a million (internationally banned) cluster bombs on dense concentrations of defenseless Arabs, it strengthens the legitimacy of the PA, Hamas, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. These groups exist as a violent response to Israel running the largest open air prisons in the world in its Occupied Territories, denying any resemblances of rights to Palestinians, bulldozing their homes, and frustrating every peace deal that would actually work. Constantly finding reasons to seek war and create enemies is Israel’s forte; besides, what else would it do with its massive military might (courtesy of you and I, the taxpayer)?

The Obama Administration’s slightly less friendly stance towards Israel is a positive and welcoming sign, but what this delicate region needs most of all is for the US to mind it’s own business. Ending military aid and remaining neutral would give both sides the incentive to sit down and actually negotiate with each other. But the Pentagon has this paranoid fear that if there is something happening in the world, the US must send arms, influence governments, and arrogantly stick its nose where it doesn’t belong.

I sympathize with the Palestinians, who most of the time act defensively against Israel’s criminal occupations. The last thing they need, however, is for the US to throw matches on the fire with its unnecessary meddling.

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