This article by Kathy and Bill Christison describes their utter frustration trying to get a real discussion going among supposedly bright minds in America.
We have shown maps and pictures like these myriad times before, but have never been received with quite such disinterest. Here was a group of mostly retired U.S. government officials, academics, journalists, and business executives, as well as a few still-working professionals — all ranging in political orientation from center right to center left, the cream of informed, educated America, the exemplar of elite mainstream opinion in the United States. Their lack of concern about what Israel and, because of its enabling role, the U.S. are doing to destroy an entire people and their national aspirations could not have been more evident.
The first person to comment when our presentation concluded, identifying herself as Jewish, said she had “never heard a more one-sided presentation” and labeled us “beyond anti-Semitic” — which presumably is somewhat worse than plain-and-simple anti-Semitic. This is always a somewhat upsetting charge, although it is so common and so expected as to be of little note anymore. What was more noteworthy was the reaction, or lack of it, among the rest of the assembled, who never disputed her charge but spent most of the discussion period either disputing our presentation or trying to find ways to accommodate “Jewish pain.”
A few people did ask interested questions about the situation on the ground and about various aspects of Israeli policy. After the discussion had centered for quite a while on Jewish pain, one person pointed out that Palestinians too feel pain and live in fear, but no one else picked up on this. No one challenged the first speaker’s personal charge of anti-Semitism against us, and in the end there was almost no mention of the destructive Israeli practices that had been the subject of our presentation.
Apparently, many people just have a hard time imagining what things must be like for the Palestinians. Over and over again, people in America suffer from a failure of imagination. It’s as if American minds have been sucked dry of all empathy and creative spark.
Fortunately, some people in Vermont have made a picture that helps make the situation in Israel a little clearer for the imagination-impaired.
About the Map: Areas for all regions are drawn to closely approximate the relative areas of corresponding regions in the Middle East. The state of Vermont is three-quarters the size of the original Mandate of Palestine established by the British under the League of Nations following World War I.
Following the war and ethnic cleansing of 1948, Israel claimed 78 percent of this territory and refused to let three-quarters of a million Palestinians refugees return to their homes. Since the Six Day War of 1967, Israel has maintained an illegal military occupation and colonization project in the remaining 22 percent of the original Palestine: the occupied Palestinian territories.
The route of the fence-wall in the northern territory (red line) is derived from the completed sections of the separation barrier that Israel is building in the Palestinian West Bank, as well as from the Israeli government’s plans for the remainder of the project.
The number of checkpoints depicted in the northern territory conservatively approximates the relative number of stationary checkpoints maintained by the Israeli army in occupied Palestine. The Israeli military also erects mobile checkpoints and mounds of rubble and dirt to block Palestinian roads, and imposes curfews, closures, and a complex and arbitrary system of internal travel permits.
The descriptions of Montpelier and the Connecticut River Valley represent the current situations in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, respectively, where “Judaization” campaigns have caused thousands of Palestinians to lose their homes, their legal residency, or both.
The injustice depicted by this map is supported in the Middle East by the US Congress and the Bush administration, who give Israel an estimated $5 billion in taxpayers’ money every year.
About VTJP: Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel is a local non-profit volunteer group that works to support the survival of the Palestinian people and end the illegal, immoral, and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine through education, advocacy, and action. We are committed to selfdetermination for the Palestinian people, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and full civil and political rights for all Palestinians in order to promote the equality and safety of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org