Randy Kehler: Whose side is our government on?

Palestinians stand by the building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

Palestinians stand by the building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. AP PHOTO/HATEM ALI

Published: 10-17-2023 8:00 AM

At the risk of being labeled "anti-Israel," or "antisemitic," or of applauding the use of violence by Palestinian Arabs and/or by Israeli Jews, I want to register my profound and long-standing objection — and often demonstrated opposition — to the use of violence by anyone, any individual or any government, for any purpose, in any situation whatsoever.  

I’ve been particularly opposed to the various (though highly asymmetrical) uses of lethal violence on the part of both Jews and Palestinians against each other, violence that has totally failed to achieve security for either Palestinians or Israelis.  This most recent round of especially horrifying violence has, if anything, set back any hope of a lasting, peaceful settlement.

That said, I am convinced that the biggest obstacle to such a settlement is neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis themselves; rather, it is we, the Americans — that is, the U.S. Government.  This is the case not so much because of what our government says as it is  because of what our government does, which is to repeatedly demonstrate our one-sided allegiance to Israel. 

The U.S. currently gives $3.8 billion in military assistance to Israel every year, more than we provide to any other country (with the exception, recently, of Ukraine, which is being attacked by a much more heavily armed Russia) and far more than Israel receives from any other country. This annual amount was decided by Washington in 2019 and was promised by the U.S. for 10 years.  

With this aid Israel is able to periodically bomb Hamas-controlled Gaza, place armed Israeli soldiers in the streets of every West Bank town and city, and steadily increase its illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank (in continuing violation of international law and multiple United Nations resolutions). 

In short, despite the rhetoric of our leaders, we Americans are not at all neutral, much less “innocent bystanders,” to the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  And the sooner we end our blatantly hypocritical stance, the better it will be for everyone, including ourselves.

​​​​​​Randy Kehler, lifelong peace activist 

Shelburne Falls

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