Ethnic Cleansing?

Jordan White

April 24, 1999

Ethnic cleansing. What a horrible concept. It makes you shudder: visions of such inhuman acts as Hitler's attempt to eradicate the Jews of Europe; of countless massacres in African states between warring tribes; images of fleeing Kurds in Afghanistan; and, most recent of all, the lines and lines of terrified and weeping Kosovars being driven from their homes into an uncertain future.

Our government, here in the United States, has consistently taken the position of condemning such activities, to the point of becoming involved militarily in some of these instances. When we chose not to offer armed intervention, we often worked behind the scene to try and achieve a peaceful settlement to the conflicts which threatened the cultural heritage and identity of a group of people facing ethnic destruction.

While many may rightly disagree with the tactics used by NATO and the U.S. Department of State in some of these instances, the basic priniciples involved are hard to argue with. Certainly, persons who share a common ethnic bond have a right to continue to live in their homeland, free of harassment, and to enjoy the freedom to have their own language, customs, culture, and national identity they have known and cherished for many generations.

I believe that the doctrine of "ethnic cleansing" is one of the most evil concepts the human mind can conceive of, and I also believe that we as Americans are justifiably outraged when it occurs, and few of us would disagree that we would be doing the world a disservice if we did not make some kind of effort to condemn it when it does occur.

That is why it is so hard for some of us to understand why, when a major example of "ethnic cleansing" is occurring right before our eyes, and has been occurring for over fifty years, and the American people are not only tolerating it, but are actually helping to pay for it, to the tune of approximately three billion dollars a year.

I wonder if the American population is brainwashed or simply apathetic about this. Perhaps it is just plain ignorance. Perhaps they do not know that by May 14, l948, the day Israel formally declared itself an independent state, it had already expelled 400,000 Palestinians. In another seven months, another 400,000 had been expelled. By the 1960's, of a population of over 4.5 million, only about 40% of Palestinians still lived in Palestine, many of them languishing in refugee camps without proper services and sanitation. 60% no longer called Palestine home, but had been completely displaced, many into surrounding Arab states such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, where they continue to place a huge burden on the native populations. And still the land grab goes on. Jewish settlements continue to grow at a rate of about 9% a year.


Of course, Israel does not use the term "ethnic cleansing" to refer to the removal of the native population of the region. They would have us believe that Israel was a "land without a people and a people without a land", and that it is somehow God's will that they create a state in this "empty space", since God made some sort of immutable covenant with the Jews that permits this sort of behavior.

This God is not my God, and I'd venture to say most of us who believe in God are hesitant to replace our concept of a holy and just Creator who loves all of his created ones equally, with some sort of monster who condones this mistreatment of an innocent people, whose beautiful civilization goes back many hundreds of years and who have asked for nothing but the right to live in their own land in peace.

Let's stop condoning this "ethnic cleansing." Whatever Israel wishes to call it, that's what it is. Let's not continue to send Israel millions of dollars a year without attaching conditions that send the message that we are fed up with their "resettlement" of lands that do not legally belong to them. It is time for the Palestinians to establish their own state on the West Bank and Gaza, and so to be forever free of Israel's plan to eradicate them from the face of the earth.