Monday, January 26, 2009

60 Minutes: Is Israel's free ride almost over?

Last Sunday, "60 Minutes" ran a segment on Israel and Palestine, and for the most part they did a good job of covering some of the very real issues there. But according to segment host Bob Simon, "Demographers predict that within ten years Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank, or they could give the Palestinians the vote." What? Democracy is not a good option?

Although Simon struggled valiantly with presenting a fair view of the so-called "settler" situation on the West Bank, there were a couple of scenes on that subject that made me almost want to laugh. Instead of showing us footage of the thousands of modern (by American standards) condos that have been built on Palestine's West Bank so that we could get real-life glimpses into the lives of some of these so-called "settlers" as they hung out on their verandas, sipped coffee in their posh living rooms or watched their big-screen TVs, Simon showed us footage of some grubby woman in a headscarf as she wandered around on some rock pile out in the middle of nowhere, wielding a pickax.

This woman had obviously never seen a pickax before in her life. This woman appeared to be straight out of central casting.

But here's one possible scenario script that "60 Minutes" left out, taken from a description of an incident related to me by the head of an American NGO currently in Gaza:

Gaza woman: "I have ten children."

Israeli Defense Force soldier: "Pick out five of them to be shot."

Gaza woman: "I cannot do that."

IDF soldier: "If you don't, then I will." Soldier then picks out five children randomly and shoots them.

And here's another scene possibility, based on witness verification, that "60 Minutes" missed:

Gaza father: "Please! Do not shoot! I only want to retrieve the body of my daughter!"

[IDF soldier shoots at Gaza father, forcing him back.]

Gaza father: "Please! She is only four years old! Let me bury her! Please!

[This scene is repeated many times over the course of five days. IDF soldier then shoots at the child's brother and cousin as they try to retrieve the body, killing them both. Several times, dogs arrive and start chewing on the corpse of the four-year-old. And, in the next scene, IDF soldiers then release their own dogs to chew on the corpses of other dead civilians in Gaza.]

And who is paying for these horrific scenes, now on the cutting room floor? American taxpayers, of course.

American taxpayers, even as many of us are now losing our own homes in these economically-troubled times, are also paying for all those settlers' condos on Palestinian land, many of which are being used as vacation homes by Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S. for most of the year and only fly over to Israel occasionally to relax and enjoy their holiday homes on the scenic West Bank.

American taxpayers are also paying the Israeli Defence Force soldiers' salaries as they go kill children in Gaza. Perhaps the Israeli neo-con government sees this as a form of birth control?

Israel's struggle today is not to keep the Arabs from pushing Israel into the sea. Israel's struggle today is to get American taxpayers to buy them more condos -- at any price.

Without the seemingly endless flow of U.S. taxpayers' dollars flooding its way into Israel, it would be forced to shrink back to a reasonable size, the horrible violence in the area would end and all those Israeli-Americans might be forced to give up their luxury winter condos.

Isn't it time for Israel's free ride to be over?

PS: I just got an e-mail from a Jewish friend, who wrote me, "Jane, a one-state solution in Israel-Palestine is still the only option because as soon as the civil rights struggle there -- similar to the one that took place in the American south in the 1960s -- wins equal rights for all, two-thirds or more of the Jewish-Israelis in Israel-Palestine will go home. Why? Because they are not there to be friends with their neighbors or because they are religious. They are there for the socio-economic perks. I strongly suggest you read the book "Flowers of Galilee" by Israel Shamir. It makes a good case for a one-state solution and brings up the taboo subject of the Jewish-Israeli tyrannical control over discourse. You can also read his writing for free at"