By Ali Abunimah, Nigel Parry and Laurie King, The Electronic Intifada

Dick Armey speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)


Last night on MSNBC’s popular program Hardball, House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) recommended the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and endorsed Israel’s illegal conquests of the occupied territories.

Armey stated that he was “content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank” and was “not content to give up any part of Israel for the purpose of a Palestinian state.”

“We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland,” Armey continued, asserting that “the Palestinians should leave.”

Hardball host Chris Matthews repeatedly gave Armey the opportunity to clarify that he was not calling for the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from Palestine, but Armey was unrepentant:

MATTHEWS: Well, just to repeat, you believe that the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?

Rep. ARMEY: Yes.

Armey’s remarks are only the latest of a number of calls in the mainstream media for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip and the targeting of the Palestinian civil infrastructure.

Last year, on 15 August 2001, in an article titled “Mideast Violence: The Only Way Out”, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called for a ‘Berlin Wall’ type solution to separate Palestinians from Israel and:

A lightning and massive Israeli attack on every element of Arafat’s police state infrastructure — the headquarters and commanders of his eight(!) security services, his police stations, weapons depots, training camps, communications and propaganda facilities (radio, TV, government-controlled newspapers) — with a simultaneous attack on the headquarters and leadership of Arafat’s Hamas and Islamic Jihad allies.

Krauthammer further counselled Israel to:

Strike and expel.

This year, in February 2002, USA TODAY columnist Emmanuel A. Winston penned a call for “resettling the Palestinians in Jordan” (See USA Today publishes call for ethnic cleansing, The Electronic Intifada, 22 February 2002).

Source: Hardball with Chris Matthews (9:00 PM ET) – CNBC, Wednesday May 1, 2002

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Congressman Dick Armey of Texas leads the Republicans in the US House of Representatives.

Congressman Armey, Mr. Majority Leader, why is the Congress about to pass a resolution supporting Israel at a time that the president is trying to walk a line between Israel and its Arab neighbors?

Representative RICHARD ARMEY (Republican, Majority Leader): Well, we’ve had—we feel very strongly in the House of Representatives that we have a moral obligation to protect the safety, security and freedom of Israel. And the Congress wants to speak on that, both bodies want to do so. We’ve discussed it with the White House, and everybody is comfortable. We will go—go ahead with that tomorrow. It is very important to the world that Israel be—the freedom of Israel be protected and honored.

MATTHEWS: What good is this going to do anybody?

Rep. ARMEY: Well, I think, again, we—we want to make the point…

MATTHEWS: To whom?

Rep. ARMEY: The president of the United States is trying to make a transition in foreign policy from what it has been to what it must be in the future. We can no longer appease aggressors in the Middle East. There obviously will never be a peace. The goal is no Jews between them and the sea, and we must make it very clear that if you want to talk about peace and talk the talk, you must walk the walk, and that must be respect for Israel’s right to live freely, safely and securely.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let’s talk about the realities over there. There’s a fight between the Arabs and the—and the Israelis over who owns the Pal—all of Palestine. Do you support the idea that there be a Palestine state alongside Israel?

Rep. ARMEY: I am perfectly content to have a Palestinian state alongside Israel if it is a state that honors others borders.

MATTHEWS: You are in total, 180 disagreement with Tom Delay who said this week that the entire West Bank belongs to Israel and it belongs to that country that’s not an Arab country.

Rep. ARMEY: I…

MATTHEWS: It should not have a statehood.

Rep. ARMEY: No, I’m perfectly content to have a Palestinian state. I am not content to give up any part of Israel for that purpose of that Palestinian state.

MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Tom Delay’s, whose resolution you’re going to put on the floor tomorrow and schedule, has said that the entire West Bank, he calls it Judean Samaria, belongs to Israel. How can you say that this resolution doesn’t support the Delay position which is Israel has a right to grab the entire West Bank?

Rep. ARMEY: No, I—I’m content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank. I’m also content to have the Palestinians have a homeland and even for that to be somewhere near Israel, but I’m not content to see Israel give up land for the purpose of peace to the Palestinians who will not accept it and would not honor it. It is time to…

MATTHEWS: Well, where do you put the Palestinian state, in Norway? Once the Israelis take back the West Bank permanently and annex it, there’s no place else for the Palestinians to have a state.

Rep. ARMEY: No, no, that’s not—that’s not at all true. There are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land and—and soil and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian state.

MATTHEWS: So you would transport—you would transport the Palestinians from Palestine to somewhere else and call it their state?

Rep. ARMEY: I would be perfectly content to have a homeland, just as—most of…

MATTHEWS: But not in Palestine?

Rep. ARMEY: Most of the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world to that land and they made it their home. The Palestinians can do the same, and we’re per—perfectly content to work with the Palestinians in doing that. We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland.

MATTHEWS: Right, no. No, that’s not the question and that’s not your answer. The question here is: What is the future of the Palestinians who are fighting Israel right now? You say there future is somewhere besides Palestine. That runs in the way of US policy going back to 1948. It runs—it runs completely against the president’s policy and every policy I’ve heard a president take, which is that Israel has to give up its settlements on the West Bank and give it back to the Arabs in exchange for peace. You say the deal should be the Palestinians leave?

Rep. ARMEY: That’s right. Palestinians say the deal should be the Israel—that—that the Israelis leave.

MATTHEWS: Have you talked about this with the president?

Rep. ARMEY: I happened to believe that the Palestinians should leave.

MATTHEWS: Have you ever told George Bush, the president from your home state of Texas, that you think the Palestinians should get up and go and leave Palestine and that’s the solution?

Rep. ARMEY: I’m probably telling him that right now. This is…

MATTHEWS: Have you thought this through?

Rep. ARMEY: I have thought this through. I’ve thought it through for a lot of years. I believe that Israel is the state for the Jewish people. It needs to be honored. It needs to be protected.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. That’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying Israel should expand its borders to the Jordan River…

Rep. ARMEY: No.

MATTHEWS: …and kick out all the Palestinians? That’s what you just said.

Rep. ARMEY: I am—I am content to have Israel occupy that land that it now occupies and to have those people who have been aggressors against Israel retired to some other arena, and I would be happy to have them make a home. I would be happy to have all of these Arab nations that have been so hell bent to drive Israel out of the Middle East to get together, find some land and make a home for the Palestinians. I think it can be done.

MATTHEWS: So the president, who has been dutifully, for the last couple of weeks, trying to get the Israeli army to withdraw from the West Bank, should stop that, let the Israeli defense force take over the West Bank and hold it and make it part of Israel? You completely disagree with the president’s policy then?

Rep. ARMEY: I am—I am perfectly content to have Israel hold and occupy the land that it has at this moment.

MATTHEWS: Well, how about though-how about the Jenin in Samaria? Tom Delay, whose measure you’re putting on the floor tomorrow, says that all the West Bank, Jenin, Judea, Masada, everything belongs to Israel. It’s not occupied territory. It’s Israeli. Is that your position?

Rep. ARMEY: Well, first of all, Chris, I think we have to be real careful on how you are interpreting jo—Tom’s provision. I think Tom’s provision is principally and primarily that the Jewish people have a right to defend themselves.

MATTHEWS: Well, just to repeat, you believe that the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?

Rep. ARMEY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. More with Congressman Dick Armey coming back. You’re watching HARDBALL.

Problems

1. Ethnic cleansing is morally unjustifiable – Calling for the removal of Palestinians from their own land, occupied for the last 35 years by Israel is akin to calling for the removal of Jews or African Americans from New York or Alabama. In response to similar calls voiced by Slobodan Milosevic in 1998-99, the US and NATO launched a war on Serbia for trying to ethnically cleanse Albanians from Kosovo. Following the ethnic cleansing horrors of the previous century, there must be zero tolerance of politicians, media commentators and publications that express or give space to extreme racist views. An entire new regime of international law has been refined and codified over the last half century to prevent ethnic cleansing and other similar atrocities.

2. International law prohibits these measures – International Law clearly forbids the acquisition of territory by force and the expulsion of civilians by an occupying army.

United Nations’ General Assembly and Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968) and 338 (1973), among others, clearly state that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War unambiguously states:

Article 49: Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Solution

Please note: This action item is now closed.

1. Contact Mr. Armey by phone: (972) 556-2500 or fax: (202) 226-8100 or, if you are a 26th District resident, by e-mail, reminding him that the U.S. Government is a signatory to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, citing Article 49, which unequivocally forbids the illegal and immoral ethnic cleansing he recommended on Hardball, while stressing the necessity of the US setting the pace, as a world leader, by respecting and upholding international law. Alternatively, e-mail your representative in congress asking them to comment on Armey’s words.

2. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper deploring Armey’s statement and asserting that no U.S. politician should ever advocate such deplorable actions.

3. Monitor the media you read and watch for future U.S. support for ethnic cleansing and bring them to our attention.

4. Please write original letters and do not simply copy & paste the information above. As always, be brief, polite, quote accurately, and include your name, address, and telephone number (which most publications require to ensure publication). Send copies of any responses or printing of your letter (including the original, if it was edited) to info@electronicIntifada.net. Please forward a copy of any letter you send to info@electronicIntifada.net.

2 May 2002 – Letter from Prof. Francis Boyle

Article 6 (b) of the 1945 Nuremberg Charter defines Nuremberg War Crimes in relevant part as follows:

“War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to…deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory…”

Even the United States government recognizes that the West Bank constitutes “occupied territory.” Armey incited a Nuremberg War Crime against the Palestinian People.

Likewise, Article 6(c) of the Nuremberg Charter defines Nuremberg Crimes Against Humanity in relevant part as follows:

“Crimes against Humanity: namely….deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population….”
Armey incited a Nuremberg Crime Against Peace against the Palestinian People.

— Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois

Follow-up

3 May 2002

Dear Electronic Intifada,

In attempting to determine whether any newspapers had reported Congressman Armey’s call for ethnic cleansing, I discovered the following article in the Dallas Morning News, reporting that Armey’s office issued a written statement attempting to backtrack from his original comments:

“Armey backs off Palestinian view”, by David Jackson, The Dallas Morning News, 3 May 2002.

He has not apologized; rather he claims that he is correcting the “impression” left by his comments:

House Majority Leader Dick Armey issued the statement below following his appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews:
“In my exchange with Chris Matthews tonight, I left the impression that I believe peaceful Palestinian civilians should be forcibly expelled from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This does not reflect my views. I was merely trying to convey my strong belief that Israel should yield no further territory until its security is assured and that the individuals who support terrorist acts may properly be exiled from the area.

“Let me be clear. Israel is fighting the same war on terrorism that we are fighting. I reaffirm my support for their right to defend themselves and secure their peace and security.”

Source: On the Palestinian Situation, Statement on Dick Armey’s website, 2 May 2002.

In my view, this written statement is completely disingenuous. Armey does not acknowledge what he clearly and unmistakably said during the interview. During the interview, Chris Matthews provided Armey with numerous opportunities to retract or clarify his call for ethnic cleansing:

MATTHEWS: Have you talked about this with the president?

Rep. ARMEY: I happened to believe that the Palestinians should leave.

MATTHEWS: Have you ever told George Bush, the president from your home state of Texas, that you think the Palestinians should get up and go and leave Palestine and that’s the solution?

Rep. ARMEY: I’m probably telling him that right now. This is…

MATTHEWS: Have you thought this through?

Rep. ARMEY: I have thought this through. I’ve thought it through for a lot of years…

MATTHEWS: Well, just to repeat, you believe that the Palestinians who are now living on the West Bank should get out of there?

Rep. ARMEY: Yes.

I think it would be advisable for Electronic Intifada to provide an update to the action item on Armey, and offer a critique of his statement emphasizing (1) that the written statement is completely disingenuous given Armey’s previous comments, and (2) that Armey has yet to acknowledge his patently offensive remarks, explicitly contradict what he clearly said, or — most importantly — apologize.

— Deepak Gupta, Georgetown University Law Center

[ends]

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