BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Vice President Joe Biden’s rebuke of Israel over proposed settlement expansion in Greater East Jerusalem is not only ineffective, it’s hypocritical, said Professor Rafael Reuveny, a researcher on Middle East violence and political economy at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington.
“The United States has been funding the Israeli colonial project for decades,” Reuveny said.
While Israel annually receives billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and weapons, money and easy loans are then passed on to Israeli settlers to build homes and businesses in Palestinian territory. “It is terribly difficult for Palestinians who have very few rights in their homeland,” Reuveny said. “Not only has such colonialism come to be rejected everywhere else in the world, it defeats U.S. and Israeli interests and gravely risks their national security.”
As the United States struggles with security problems resulting from Israel-induced anti-Americanism, Israel faces a demographic bomb. “Because Palestinians have one of the highest fertility rates in the world, they will become the majority within approximately 10-15 years,” he said. “When that happens, Israeli colonial control will resemble South Africa or Rhodesia, essentially creating a system of apartheid. As a result, international pressure will mount for a bi-national state, which is a receipt for endless violence in the Middle East and around the world.”
According to Reuveny, who first arrived in the U.S. from Israel in 1992, the only way to secure peace is for Israel to dismantle all settlements, evacuate all settlers, and return to the 1967 border. “Obama’s idea to freeze settlement expansion in order to bring about peace is not going to do a thing, similar to if we simply freeze the level of heroin consumption in order to bring about detoxification,” he said. “By now, many Israeli citizens have come to agree with this, but religious Zionist settlers and the Israeli right wing do not, as in other efforts toward decolonization since 1945.”
History has shown, he said, that a “cold-turkey,” full-scale withdrawal is the only way to end wars of decolonization. “As Israel’s bankroller, it is time for the United States to stop enabling Israel and force an immediate West Bank decolonization by cutting financial and military support to Israel if it does not comply. In 1991, George H. Bush was not afraid to stand up to Israel. And it worked.”
Pointing to President Obama’s speech in Cairo promising to bring peace to the region, Reuveny said the president has the opportunity to finally end this long-suffering conflict that plagues the world.
“He will then, undisputedly, deserve the Nobel Peace Prize,” Reuveny said.
Reuveny is the author of “Healing and Reality in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Tikkun (2009); “The Last Colonialist: Israel in the Occupied Territories since 1967,” The Independent Review (2008), “Condemned to Endless Struggle? Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Foreign Service Journal (2007); “The Bi-national State and the Colonial Imperative: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Historical Perspective,” The Arab World Geographer (2005); and “Fundamentalist Colonialism: The Geopolitics of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Political Geography (2003). His most recent book is Complex Transformations: Democracy and Economic Openness in an Interconnected System (Cambridge Press, 2009).
Reuveny can be reached at by e-mail at rreuveny[at]indiana.edu.