Wise leaders in Jerusalem and Washington were given a great deal of very useful information yesterday in Israel when a popular action led to hundreds of Palestinian refugees crossing the border into Israel, leading to the deaths of ten of them.
But it’s worthwhile for us to learn those lessons, and maybe with enough effort, we can get a message through.
1. This was a popular action
The Israeli government was quick to try to score political points from the Nakba Day tragedies by concocting a conspiracy theory involving Iran and Syria. Sadly, Barack Obama’s administration followed its recent trend of ceding all leadership to the Netanyahu government and almost immediately followed the Israeli lead.
The problem is this, more than most conspiracy theories, is demonstrably wrong.
Organizing for this action began months ago. I was seeing calls about it on Facebook and on e-mail lists well before the Arab Spring began. Syria, much less Iran, had nothing to do with it, nor was their involvement in any way needed.
On the contrary, while Syrian President Bashar Assad might have welcomed a chance for the world to put Israel once again in the position of being the one killing civilians, he is not anxious to see more popular organizing, least of all among the Palestinian refugees in Syria.
As Oklahoma University professor and Syria expert Joshua Landis told my colleague Ali Gharib at ThinkProgress. “They’ve all had the same response to people who have protested to demand justice and human dignity: They’re blaming it on foreign governments and infiltrators.” Continue reading