War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
On Tuesday May 18, Amnesty International released a report calling Israeli home demolitions and evictions of Palestinians as war crimes. On the same day, Israel killed 20 Palestinians, most of them civilians and demolished many more houses in Rafah (now nearly 2000 homes were demolished just in that area alone). Ironically, also on the same day, according to CNN, “The (US) president got two dozen standing ovations in an address before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group whose political support has been courted by the administration, particularly as Bush faces re-election.”
Amnesty International also called on the US to halt shipment of weaponry and equipment (such as Caterpillar bulldozers) used to carry out such large-scale violations of International and Humanitarian law. In fact, this also violates US arms export laws, which prohibit export of weapons to countries that engage in gross violations of human rights and International law. Yet in 2003 alone, the US sent over $5 billion in direct and indirect aid to Israel. The day after all this, on May 19th, helicopter gunships made and paid for by the US and flown by Israeli pilots fired missiles into civilian crowds killing 23, mostly children, and injuring dozens of non-violent protesters.
It is no coincidence that the latest intensification of such human rights violations in the occupied territories is talking place in the context of a media fixated on events in Iraq. It perhaps explains why many Israeli apologists in this administration have pushed for the invasion of Iraq well before the attacks of 9/11/01. In fact, Richard Perle chaired a committee of neo-conservatives with close Israeli ties and submitted plans to wed Israeli and American governmental interests by toppling the government of Iraq back in 1996. The public document titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm “ was submitted to then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.* The “realm” is of course the Israeli realm. It called on toppling governments, increasing and focusing our outward military posture in close coordination with Zionist interests.
That the occupation in Iraq and Palestine are linked goes beyond the implementation of the roadmaps articulated in such documents as “A clean break” to training and advise provided by the Israelis to our forces in Iraq. They go to strategic collaboration in weapons development and to sharing intelligence. But we are told Israel is a democracy and we are bringing democracy to the Middle East. I would say that if we were truly after democracy, why not start with our client states of Israel and Egypt. In Egypt, Husni Mubarak is grooming his son to take over after two decades of his US-supported vassal dictatorship. Egypt actually gets more financial support from our tax money than any other state except Israel. As for Israel, Amnesty once described it as follows: “In Israel for example, several laws are explicitly discriminatory. These can be traced back to Israel’s foundation in 1948 which, driven primarily by the racist genocide suffered by Jews in Europe during the Second World War, was based on the notion of a Jewish state for Jewish people. Some of Israel’s laws reflect this principle and as a result discriminate against non-Jews, particularly Palestinians who had lived on the lands for generations. “ Israeli Prime Minister Shamir once said “The Jewish State cannot exist without a special ideological content, we cannot exist for long like any other state whose main interests is to insure the welfare of its citizens.”
And it gets much worse in the occupied West Bank and Gaza where Israel transplanted 400,000 colonists to settle them on confiscated Palestinian lands. Those Palestinians, unlike the ones Amnesty was referring to, are not citizens and have essentially no legal rights. The Israel Supreme Court thus gave the military full freedom to do things like the mass demolitions in Rafah. These 3.5 million Palestinians are herded like cattle, surrounded with walls, assassinated and imprisoned without trials, and starved. Statistics like 70% unemployment, 60% poverty rate, and 40% child malnutrition rate only scratch the surface of the incredible suffering, caused by the illegal 37 year old occupation. US taxpayers and US governmental diplomatic support support all.
We live in an Orwellian world where human rights and basic justice are trampled for the sake of domination and power and where hypocrisy and double standards are rampant. For occupying Iraq and violating a handful of UN resolutions, Iraq civilian infrastructure was obliterated and the country subjected to a 14-year regime of sanctions and siege that (according to UN reports) caused the death of 5000 Iraqi children every month. When Secretary of State Madeline Allbrights was asked about on 60 minutes” whether the death of half-a-million Iraqi Children was worth it, she said yes. For violating 65 UN resolutions (and shielded from 35 others by US veto power), Israel receives massive US governmental subsidies. As Israel intensifies its ethnic cleansing and apartheid program, many continue to ignore the racism, violence, and injustice that we fund with our taxes. Many continue to bury their head in the sand and talk about “staying the course.” Yet the world does not ignore the US governmental history and lessons of slavery, Native Americans, Vietnam, and Apartheid South Africa. The only question is for how long will the American public allow this current charade to continue.
*Document available at http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm