Palestinians are Dying to Make Jerusalem an Issue in the Presidential Election

The Lesson of Vietnam

The lesson of Vietnam, which the Arabs and Palestinians have learned well, is that it is possible for the weaker to defeat the stronger if they are willing to endure what, to their stronger adversaries, seem like intolerable losses.

In the last four days, 28 Palestinians and two Israelis in unrelated incidents have been killed. Yet, the more Palestinians die, the more soon to be dead 12 year olds appear on the front page of the New York Times, the less secure is Israel's hold on Jerusalem. The Palestinians are signaling that they will never accept Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.

The funny thing is that Israel's claim is illegitimate, a violation of the basic tenets of the United Nations Charter that no nation should be allowed to profit from its aggression, and not recognized internationally. The same people who howled for obedience to "the rule of law" in President Clinton's impeachment are falling all over themselves in support of Israel's illegal claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem.That is because millions of voters are American Jews who also donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican and Democratic candidates. Domestic politics is driving foreign policy.

The Lesson of Iraq

How did the United States get involved in a war with Iraq? Iraq is a third world country, like Vietnam, that had never attacked the United States. The outcome of an Iraq - United States war was a foregone conclusion. So, why is Saddam Hussein still in power and George Bush in retirement, trying to make a comeback through his son?

George Bush made a critical miscalculation in Desert Storm. He decided that once Iraqi territory was invaded, the humiliation would cause a rebellion that would result in Hussein's downfall.

The idea that a nation is a defined piece of land, with clearly demarcated boundaries, is a product of a culture with plentiful rainfall. Traditionally, the desert, which is useless without water, has been treated by the people of the Middle East the same way the oceans are treated by westerners, open to anyone brave or stupid enough to try and traverse them.

So the American invasion of Iraq was a non-issue to the Iraqis. To make an impact, the armies would have had to invade the populated, irrigated regions, and then there would have been horrendous casualties and a permanent American occupation.

Saddam Hussein understood that he could buy American television time with Iraqi blood. For him, 100,000 lives lost in the war and 10 years of sanctions with an additional 500,000 dead children, was not too high a price to pay for the illusion of equality with the United States on American television. Calling Saddam Hussein another Hitler was actually a compliment. Hitler was the leader of a technologically advanced country that could fight a two front war with France, Britain and the USSR. Iraq was really a third world country pretending it was equal to the United States.

The Palestinians are going to continue to fight and die until George W. Bush and Al Gore state their positions on the issue of Jerusalem. The Palestinians are dying in an attempt to influence in the U.S. presidential election debate. It is also fatuous for anyone to think that the Democrats can nominate the first Jewish candidate for national office in the history of the United States, and then finesse the issue of Jerusalem in the election campaign.

The Palestinians, like the Iraqis, are buying American television time with the blood of children. It is criminal for the major political parties of the so-called world's last superpower and the Israelis, a technologically advanced country that claims to be civilized, to permit this mass child abuse.

George Bush is running as the rich kid candidate who is so tough he does not care how many poor people he has to kill at home or abroad to maintain the unfair status quo that has vaulted him and his family to power. And Al Gore is running as the hypocrite who writes nice books about caring for the environment while tolerating massive human rights abuses supported and perpetrated by the administration of which he is an integral part.

And then both Gore and Bush agree to participate in rigged debates where minority viewpoints are excluded because the inclusion of Buchanan and Nader would require a real discussion of the twin issues of oil and the Israeli claim to Jerusalem. Palestinians will continue to die until Bush and Gore come out of the closet on these two issues.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf