October 8, 2003
My Country Is At War With Palestine
by Richard Hugus
Most US citizens, if asked, would be surprised to learn that their country is at war with the country of Palestine. They wouldn’t be aware that Palestine is a country. They’ve heard of the West Bank and Gaza, not as parts of Palestine, but as territories where Palestinians live, which Israel occupies. They assume the territories were never part of any country and that it is natural for Israel to occupy them.
US citizens haven’t heard of US soldiers being sent to Palestine. How then could there be a war? They are ignorant of the massive support being given to Israel, with their taxes. They are unaware that the US has such power that it can attack another country simply by creating and supporting a compliant power within that country, and let that power do its bidding.
When a country is erased from history, absurdities abound. War cannot be declared against a country which doesn’t exist. When people flee such a country and become refugees, how does one account for them; how does one name them? What does one do with the map, the homes, the culture of the people who lived there before and continue to live there? Palestine is such a country.
Since Zionism began its patently insane program of eradicating the indigenous people of Palestine -- beginning officially with the founding of Israel in 1948 -- some 5 million refugees have been forced from Palestine into the rest of the world. The US is very much involved in the issue of Palestinian refugees because its sponsorship of Israel in large part created them. But because the US war against Palestine is covert, the US must come up with false pretexts for its persecution of Palestinian refugees who have brought the struggle to liberate Palestine to the source -- the United States itself. Through the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and now with the Department of Homeland Security, the US has used alleged violations of immigration regulations as a pretext for harassing, jailing, and deporting numerous Palestinian activists, particularly since the Bush Administration’s two year-old declaration of racism against Arab, Muslim, and South Asian peoples.
Among the Palestinian activists singled out by the US government the following are notable:
• Michel Shehadeh and Khader Hamide of the LA 8, originally arrested in California in 1987, now facing renewed threats of deportation.
• Mazin Al-Najjar, arrested in Florida in May 1997, again in September 2001. Deported in 2002.
• Sami Al-Arian, under surveillance since 1995, arrested in Florida in February 2003, currently in jail awaiting a trial date scheduled for July 2005.
• Farouk Abdel-Muhti, arrested in New York in April 2002.
• Ahmed Bensouda, arrested in Illinois in May 2002.
• Jaoudat Abouazza, arrested in Massachusetts in May 2002.
• Amer Jubran, arrested in Massachusetts in June 2001, and in Rhode Island in November 2002.
The story of the last two has not been widely told.
Jaoudat Abouazza’s treatment in the hands of the federal authorities was unusual in its brutality. In the spring of 2002, orders from the Bush Administration were coming down full force. All the activists above were subjected to imprisonment and solitary confinement after their phony arrests. Violation of Constitutional rights was standard. But Abouazza, following his arrest in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was actually strapped into a dentist’s chair in a county jail and physically tortured by means of forced extraction, without anaesthesia, of several teeth. He was beaten, stripped, repeatedly interrogated, and finally allowed to return to Canada where the FBI and RCMP continued to harass him. His crime? Possession of leaflets for an upcoming protest against an “Israel Independence Day” celebration in Boston.
The case of Amer Jubran is better known. Jubran has told New England audiences who have come to hear him that they have no idea what it is like not to have a country. He has patiently educated thousands about the reality of the theft of Palestine. So close is Israel to the US establishment that for many this education is a process one lie after another must be peeled back and exposed, like the layers of an onion. Jubran has taken many through the process. He is eloquent, likeable, and politically sophisticated. For these reasons, the US government has taken special trouble to bring charges against him, and to try to deport him. It is doing so by means of the usual accusations of violating immigration rules.
Amer Jubran’s immediate family is from a small village near Al-Khalil in Palestine. They now live in exile in Jordan. Were Jubran to be deported, it would only mean sending him from one place of exile to another. The evidence of how fully the US is haunted by what it has done, through Israel, to Palestine, is that with all its power and money it must go to extraordinary lengths to persecute those from Palestine who whisper the truth to people in the US. In other cases, the establishment is content to rely on its bought media to overwhelm dissent. That is, it will allow dissent, knowing that it has provided a thousand effective distractions to drown it out. But not in the case of Palestine, particularly since the Endless War for oil was declared in September 2001. Palestine, though it lacks oil, sets a bad example in Uncle Sam’s eyes for other nearby countries that do have oil. That example is its longstanding resistance to fascism.
The INS, FBI, and the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement appropriately named “ICE” -- are working overtime to silence Palestinians. In the case of Abouazza, their methods are reminiscent of the the Nazis, who were pioneers in medical torture. In Jubran’s case, the authorities have been more circumspect. Their strategy has been to keep him continually entangled in the court system on one trumped up charge after another. The circus that began with Jubran’s second political arrest has now gone on for a year. In July, 2003, his trial was intentionally delayed by the prosecutor, Richard Neville, who wasted an entire afternoon in irrelevant questioning of a witness, and then claimed he had to leave early because his wife had the flu. The presiding judge, the Honorable Leonard Shapiro, obviously had no choice -- allowing the trial to continue would amount to a declaration that a woman with the flu had no right to have her husband at home. In September, the prosecutor delayed the new trial date by claiming that he had travel plans. The clincher was that he had “pre-paid tickets” for these travel plans a fact of such importance that the shrewd judge once again had no choice. On September 25, the day he claimed he would be travelling, Neville was in his office. Jubran’s new trial date is now set for November 6, 2003. On November 6, Prosecutor Neville is expected to announce, “the dog ate my homework,” and be fully rewarded by the judge.
Though it has come at some cost to Jubran personally, the two causes of immigrant rights and the liberation of Palestine have been greatly advanced by this Justice Department attack against him. He and others who are dedicated to telling the truth about the United States’ sordid involvement in his country could not have asked for a better venue. If only we had been able to hear such eloquent spokesmen from the native people during the Indian Wars, the Africans during slavery, anti-imperialists during WWI and II, the Koreans during the Korean War, the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, from Nicaragua and El Salvador and Honduras during the covert wars in Central America, from Panamanians during “Operation Just Cause”, from Iraqis during the last 13 years of US genocide there, from Afghanis as their country became a US battleground for 20 years, from Somalia, from Yugoslavia, from practically the entire world, as it has been attacked the US.
If only the Justice Department had been lunatic enough then, as it is today, to publicly target those who dared to tell the story, we might have learned much sooner of these continent-sized crimes. Today the Bush Administration has committed the fatal mistake of obviousness. They have made it nearly impossible not to see the enormity of US imperialism.
The question for US citizens now is, once you have been delivered of your ignorance, what will you do? Will you defend those whom your country has harmed who have come to tell you the tale?
(The Amer Jubran Defense Committee can be reached at www.amerjubrandefense.org. A campaign is underway to amass support at his November 6, 2003 trial at the JFK Federal Building in Boston.)