Blood on Israel’s Hands from Palestine to the Mayan Highlands

A protester shot by a tear gas canister in the West Bank during Nakba protests. Photo: Allison Deger.
By Greg Hom
May 17, 2013

For this post, Greg Hom discusses Israel’s role outside of the Middle East region, and a win for the BDS movement.

What does the sentencing of former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt have to do with the politics of the Middle East?  Israel armed the government of Montt, making it possible for the army to commit genocide against the Ixil people, and gave military training as well, based on Israel’s experience of “handling” Palestinians. The Middle East Research and Information Project lays out the story from a detailed 1986 report

While the United States had legislation against supporting Central American dictatorships from the 1970’s under Carter, Reagan’s government was very concerned about the leftist movements growing in the region.  Israel was able to “aid” the United States in keeping imperial order.  While the news of the guilty verdict is important for the people of Guatemala and the broader region, it of course remains unlikely that United States or Israeli advisors to the bloodshed will be punished.

For a broad reading of the role Israel plays in political repression worldwide, check out the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s online pamphlet. You can read it in Spanish as well as English.

Meanwhile, back in Palestine, the 65th anniversary of the Nakba was marked by resistance from Palestinians to their ongoing colonization and ethnic cleansing. Mondoweiss journalist Allison Deger reported from the West Bank about clashes outside the Ofer prison.

There remain different mindsets about the role of the Palestinian Authority, who chose to have a festival with musical and dance performances in Ramallah.  While some would say that this is celebrating the resilience of the Palestinian people and culture, clearly an important act, others view it as just not enough in the way of resistance.

Lastly, on a different note of a win for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, physicist Stephen Hawking recently turned down an invitation to an Israeli conference on the sciences.

According to the Guardian newspaper “He has not announced his decision publicly, but a statement published by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine with Hawking's approval described it as "his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there."

An opinion piece in the Guardian made the point that Hawking’s boycott of the conference is notable because of the role that science and technology play in Israel’s economy; as noted above in the section about Guatemala, the export of military technology is central to Israeli foreign relations.  The prestige that Israel has in the broader world of academia has a strong military application.  From the article: “Israeli universities amply supply the Israel Defence Forces with the sociological, psychological and technological methods it employs to suppress Palestinian protests against the occupation.”  These methods get shared with Israel’s military partners, as well as police departments across the United States.

As Palestinians continue to resist the ongoing theft of their land and murder of their people, we should remember not only our solidarity
with Palestine, but the ways in which their struggle and ours is a global one against Israeli military influence and U.S. imperialism.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Greg has written book reviews for Left Turn Magazine, and volunteered with Prison Radio.

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