Effects of disenfranchisement

Mobara, Chiba

In his Sept. 22 letter, “A prevalent form of propaganda,” Greg Leviton addresses a number of points that are often brought up concerning issues in the Middle East. Although I appreciate his ardor in support of Israel, many of these topics are more nuanced than appear. For example, Israel is often cited as “the only democracy in that part of world.” But Iran was a true democracy until the United States helped overthrow Prime Minister Muhammad Mosaddegh in 1953. The 2006 election of Hamas in the Gaza Strip was seen by international observers as free and fair, yet neither the U.S. nor Israel would honor the result.

The very fact that a nation is a democracy does not guarantee that its actions will be just. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos died in the Aguinaldo rebellion after the U.S. seized the Philippines in the Spanish American War. Casualties and torture in Iraq resulted from a war of choice over false pretenses. The good of a nation’s democracy at home is usually lost in its empire abroad. The benefits of Israeli democracy do not apply to occupied Palestinians.

Recent protests in Israel over housing and cost of living demonstrate that there are large financial and social costs to maintaining an empire. While the standard of living may be good, it is noticeably less than it could be due to the resources needed to support the occupation of a large group of Palestinians, who are not citizens and receive none of the rewards thereof. They could, however, become citizens of their own nation through the United Nations as Israelis did, but that peaceful path has been blocked by, of all people, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Barack Obama.

The sad irony is that Israel “has accepted millions of oppressed people from other lands” and settled them on the lands of millions of people that they themselves are oppressing. By declaring themselves a Jewish state, even as the population comprises 20 percent non-Jewish citizens plus a vast number of occupied people, a conflict with true democracy arises.

These internal and external stresses almost pre-ordain abuse of non-Jews. Palestinians cannot get permits to build in Jerusalem, yet they have their houses demolished when they attempt to build them anyway. Spouses of Arab Israelis cannot become citizens.

Use of the expression “savages in the Muslim world” who “teach their children to hate” evinces certain strong beliefs held by Leviton. The vast majority of “those who take their own lives” do so because of social connections or political reasons, not religious.

Michael Scheuer, the CIA man who monitored Osama bin Laden, notes that the main cause of 9/11 was U.S. support for Israel and the Israeli occupation. There are repercussions to our actions.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

kevin gaffney