Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.20.09



PUTNEY, VT | At this writing, on Martin Luther King Day, I am elated that a black American is about to be inaugurated as my President. Obama's approval ratings have skyrocketed due to the appalling mess left behind by the Bush administration. That said, it is a testament to Americans that they can look past color and vote for the man. Martin Luther King would have been pleased that we indeed voted for "the content of his character" rather than "the color of his skin."

I hope that President Obama will turn his attention to another great injustice that is occurring under our government's auspices. Our great Middle Eastern ally Israel has struck another in a series of ruthless blows against the people of Palestine. They have methodically crushed the Palestinian people under an iron boot.

Their roadblocks make travel and work impossible for most Palestinians. Their tolerance of lunatic settlers on Palestinian territory is reminiscent of our own shame at sending settlers onto Indian land and then, when the Indians tried to defend their territory, used the military to slaughter them.

The following is an excerpt from a speech in the British House of Lords by Sir Gerald Kaufman.

My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her hometown of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians -- the total is now 1000. She replied instantly that "500 of them were militants."

That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the west bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of roadblocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.

It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis' real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.

[Sir Gerald, the author of the above comments, is a Jew.]

Israel makes life intolerable for Palestinians and when they fire their unguided missiles into Israel in a pathetic attempt to fight back they are invaded and civilians are targeted. Despite all the protestations by Israel and despite their closing off Gaza to international reporting, they couldn't stop all of their atrocities from leaking out. U.N. warehouses and vocational schools where refugees were hiding have been hit multiple times. Homes are leveled including one belonging to a Palestinian doctor named Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish. This Hebrew-speaking Israeli-trained doctor has been an vocal arbiter for peace. Three of his daughters and one of his nieces were killed when their home was blasted to rubble by an Israeli tank. Two other children were injured. There were no Hamas fighters in his home, he said. This kind of outrage has been going on for the past few weeks as the civilian death toll rises past 800, including over 200 children.

We hold the purse strings for the Israeli government. We can impose our will on them by withholding funds. We could dictate reasonable terms to both sides in an effort to bring the killing to a close. Instead we listen to Secretary of State Rice say that "Israel needs to use caution" in their endeavor to wipe out Hamas.