Often, the coverage in the U.S. media of the Israel-Palestine conflict lacks context. Acts of violence by either side are not justified, but it is essential to recognize the larger context in which Israel is an occupying power persecuting the Palestinian people.
From a perspective of Christian morals, our dedication is not to defend a particular people group or ethnicity but rather to defend the oppressed. Historically, the majority Christian U.S. has funded Israeli military expenses and supported them on the international stage. The U.S. gave Israel 3.3 billion dollars in 2019 and around that amount for other years that data exists. By doing so, the U.S. is enabling an oppressive government. According to a Human Rights Watch report released in April, Israel has committed crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
According to the Human Rights Watch report, “The crime of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute consists of three primary elements: an intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another; systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and one or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies.”
These inhumane acts involve the confiscation of land, denial of building permits, and travel restrictions, all with the intent of maintaining a minimum 60 percent Jewish majority in the nation.
Israeli authorities have confiscated over 490,000 acres from Palestinians in the West Bank and over 1 million acres of land from Palestinians living in Israel. Israel has been known to bulldoze Palestinian neighborhoods and build Jewish settlements on top of them. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2017, affirming that Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and the Occupied Syrian Golan, are a breach of the fourth geneva convention.
Palestinians are also denied building permits at a much higher rate than Jews.
The report reads, “Israeli authorities have also made it virtually impossible in practice for Palestinians in Area C, the roughly 60 percent of the West Bank that the Oslo Accords placed under full Israeli control, as well as those in East Jerusalem, to obtain building permits.”
Only 1.5 percent of the applications by Palestinians for building permits in Area C were approved. In the same area, Israeli authorities began construction on over 23,000 housing units for Jewish citizens.
Even though the Occupied Palestinian Territory of Gaza and The West Bank were officially recognized as a single territorial unit by the Oslo Accords, Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians between the two. The general travel ban has been in place since 2007. According to the report, Israeli authorities have also restricted almost all goods from entering and exiting Gaza.
“Authorities regularly deny entry into the West Bank to non-registered Palestinians who had lived in the West Bank but left temporarily (to study, work, marry, or for other reasons) and to their non-registered spouses and other family members,” the report reads.
According to the UN, about 5 million Palestinian’s are refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 war. Many of these have not been allowed back into the nation. As the graphic below demonstrates, Palestinians living in Israel have limited citizenship and travel ability.
Many Israeli authorities have admitted that the unfair treatment of Palestinians is deliberate and part of a larger goal to maintain a solid Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
“Instead of making it easier for Palestinians who want to get citizenship, we should make the process much more difficult, in order to guarantee Israel’s security and a Jewish majority in Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said when he was finance minister.
In 2019, as Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, “Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” but rather “the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them.”
Supporting the Israeli government is in no way akin to supporting the biblical nation of Israel. The United States government should cease all foreign aid to Israel, and therefore end its support for Israel’s oppression of its Palestinian residents. I would argue that the U.S. should halt all foreign aid in general, but stopping aid to Israel would be a significant step in the right direction. If private American citizens would like to give their own money to Israel in some way, they can still choose to do so.