Edwin L. Brown
Asheville Citizen Times (Opinion)
November 8, 2011 - 1:00am

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has it exactly backward when he criticizes the Palestinians for seeking membership in UNESCO and perhaps other U.N. agencies. Rather than blame the Palestinians for having the temerity to seek their rights and freedom, Ban ought to criticize the U.S. Congress for antiquated 20th-century legislation requiring our country to defund any U.N. agency according “the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.” Does Congress think Palestinians so subhuman that they should seek three-fifths membership like the grossly legislated status of antebellum slaves?

The cutting of American funding to UNESCO — 22 percent of the agency’s budget, or some $70 million per year — is self-defeating. Ban may put the blame, wrongly, on the Palestinians, but they can hardly be blamed for nonviolently taking their case to the U.N. after two decades of Israeli stonewalling and propaganda about “generous peace offers” that, in fact, fail to comply with international law.

Shortsightedly, the U.S. is doing all it can to prevent the Palestinians from succeeding in an expected Nov. 11 U.N. Security Council vote on the Palestinians becoming a member state. The Obama administration currently looks as though it has successfully bullied enough of the other 14 Security Council members so as to avoid a damaging American veto.

When the Palestinians give up on the two-state solution, the U.S. and Israel will have only themselves to blame. The struggle will then transform into one for equal rights in one state and will look increasingly like the battle to end Jim Crow in the South and apartheid in South Africa.

Already Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing his utmost to punish the Palestinians for their UNESCO effort. Israel has failed to deliver to the Palestinian Authority $100 million in taxes that are, by rights, due the Palestinians. Furthermore, 2,000 new settlement units are intended as punishment, or the “price tag,” for Palestinians doing what any other people would do — namely insist on Israel ending the occupation.

Rather than moving to cut off $3 billion in military aid to Israel, we’re backing Israel no matter how damaging their policies. Rep. Heath Shuler declared late last month in regard to debt reduction, “We’re saying, ‘Go big, and everything’s on the table.’” But Congress seems determined to cut everything except military aid to Israel.

With Israel, in my opinion, violating international law and oppressing Palestinians, there ought to be financial consequences for stealing Palestinian land and private property. Instead, we’re walloping the very ones who hold the greatest potential for reconciling all her neighbors to Israel’s presence among them. It’s wrong and mocks the very values America claims to represent.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017