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 The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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