Congressman Endorses Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing for Palestinians

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In a Washington Times op-ed, Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party Republican from Illinois, unveils his new plan for solving the Israel-Palestine problem:

1) Make the occupied territories part of Israel;

2) Give Palestinians who live in those territories "limited voting power" in the new, bigger Israel that they'll have suddenly become residents of. (Walsh doesn't define his euphemism, but no doubt the idea is that Jews get one-person-one-vote and Palestinians get something less, so that Israel can remain a Jewish state.)

3) Palestinians who don't like having "limited voting power" can move to Jordan.

220px-Rep_Joe_Walsh.jpg

There are, of course, people who say that Israel already practices apartheid. Their argument: Israel has ruled West Bank Palestinians for 45 years, shows no signs of ending the occupation (and indeed keeps expanding the settler population), and doesn't let these Palestinians vote in Israeli elections even though Jewish settlers in the West Bank do get to vote. The counter-argument is that, since the West Bank isn't part of Israel, the policies that prevail there can't make Israel an apartheid state. Joe Walsh's plan would end the argument once and for all, making apartheid official Israeli policy.

As for whether this plan would also constitute ethnic cleansing: Well, when you (1) tell members of an ethnic group that the land they live on is being given to another nation; (2) tell them that neither they nor their descendants will be allowed to vote in that nation's elections, even though next-door neighbors of a different ethnicity can; (3) tell them that the only way to avoid this fate is to go to another country--yeah, I'd call that ethnic cleansing, at least of a "soft" variety. (The harder variety, involving physical intimidation, is already practiced by the more extreme settlers--with little success thus far, though it could no doubt work in powerful synergy with Walsh's subtler approach.)

Offhand, I don't recall a member of Congress in my lifetime saying anything so grotesquely at odds with American ideals about ethnic relations and for that matter basic human rights. Will the Anti-Defamation League denounce Walsh? Will the American Jewish Committee? Will AIPAC have anything to say about the congressman whose strongly pro-Israel views its newsletter approvingly highlighted? If not, why not?


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Robert Wright is the author of, most recently, the New York Times bestseller The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic. More

Wright is also a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor in chief of Bloggingheads.tv. His other books include Nonzero, which was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book in 2000 and included on Fortune magazine's list of the top 75 business books of all-time. Wright's best-selling book The Moral Animal was selected as one of the ten best books of 1994 by The New York Times Book Review.Wright has contributed to The Atlantic for more than 20 years. He has also contributed to a number of the country's other leading magazines and newspapers, including: The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Time, and Slate, and the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. He is the recipient of a National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism and his books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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