Sunday, May 19, 2013
Letter to the Editor
On Feb. 10, the newspaper carried an article about the visit of Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police, to Israel to learn about anti-terrorist techniques. The article was interesting for what it said and what it did not.
The piece presented a picture of an Israel besieged by surrounding enemies and thus reasonably concerned for its security against "extremism." It gave little sense about the burdens imposed on Palestinians by a regime meant for complete control over that population, in order to sustain an inordinately prolonged and oppressive occupation of Palestinian lands.
There was no mention of the many checkpoints within the Occupied West Bank which bedevil the daily lives of ordinary Palestinians, nor of the punishing blockade of Gaza and the virtual imprisonment of its people.
Was Williams invited along on an Israeli midnight raid on Palestinian homes? Did he gain full appreciation of the prison-like character of the wall the Israelis have erected? Was he introduced to the Israeli practice of holding alleged offenders indefinitely without trial or charge?
Does he understand that most Palestinians are subjected not to ordinary civil law but to military jurisdiction under which security and not justice is first priority? The result is the resentment that leads to acts of resistance, which the Israelis call "terrorism."
Williams was subjected to a one-sided propaganda exercise (there are similar ones on the Palestinian side) financed by an organization, the Anti-Defamation League, notable for its uncritical support for Israeli governments -- including Benjamin Netanyahu's extremist one -- and its readiness to label those who resist Israeli occupation nonviolently as anti-Semitic. If we Americans are in need of advice about security or anything else from the paranoid and polarized Israeli-Palestinian setting, we are in a sorry state indeed.