The only surprise regarding November 3, 2009’s vote in the House of Representatives that attempted to censor the Goldstone Report is that 46 fewer Yes’s and 31 more No’s were raised to shield Israel from accountability, than were heard on January 9th with the Pelosi/AIPAC driven House Resolution 34, which recognized only Israel’s right to “defend” itself, reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Israel and the so-called ‘peace process’ -which has never addressed what is required for peace: justice which begins with an end to the occupation and equates to equal human rights for all.
The Ileana Ros-Lehtinen/AIPAC driven House Resolution 867 boiled down to a call for censorship of the Goldstone Report without “any endorsement or further consideration” from the Obama Administration, rife with inaccuracies and undermines support for the universality of human rights.
It is no surprise that Congress is trying to cover their culpable asses for during the 23 days of Israeli assault on Gaza, “Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault were decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza.
One of the few who have been to Gaza, Congressman Baird D-WA, wrote,
H.Res. 867 is very serious business. If, as Goldstone asserts and the evidence I have seen supports, there were in fact gross violations of international law and human rights on all sides, we cannot in good conscience support H.Res. 867.
This is about much more than just another imposed political litmus test that we are all too often asked to perform. This is about whether we as individuals and this Congress as an institution find it acceptable to drop white phosphorous on civilian targets, to rocket civilian communities, to destroy hospitals and schools, to use civilians as human shields, and to deliberately destroy nonmilitary factories, industries and basic water, electrical and sanitation infrastructure. This is about whether it is acceptable to restrict the movement, opportunities and hopes of more than a million people every single day.
At the end of the day, this is also about our own domestic security. If we are seen internationally as condoning violations of human rights and international law, if our money and our weaponry play a leading role in those violations, and if we reflexively obstruct the findings of someone with the credentials, history and integrity of Justice Goldstone, it can only diminish our international standing and our own security.
In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.
“Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
“Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.
“Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.
“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report.
“It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.”
During the 23 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense” and its collective punishment upon Gaza.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked on coals poured out of righteous rage in Morocco after her moronic praise for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “reasonable compromise” in which he “proposed a moratorium on new housing units in the West Bank, but would allow building or finishing about 3,000 more units and would exclude East Jerusalem from any building limits.”
All the settlements are illegal under international law and the precedent of US failure to act was well established by 1973, when Ariel Sharon bragged to Winston Churchill III, “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
Back in 2005, top U.S. law enforcement officials attended a briefing organized by the Council for the National Interest regarding how charities “such as B’nai B’rith and Hadassah were in direct control of the World Zionist Organization and directly linked to a massive money-laundering operation…and the settlements are an indirect generator of terrorism against the United States.”1
It is the American government’s hypocrisy in collusion with Israel’s negation of international law, UN resolutions, and denial of equal human rights for Palestinians which are at the root of the instability in the Middle East.
Beginning in the 1990’s and even more so after 9/11, US politicians blind allegiance to Israel has been furthered by the claim that both states are threatened by Arab terrorist groups and rogue states bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
Many Americans see Israel as an ally and Iran and Syria as our mutual enemies. The “war on terror” has become a tactic to infuse fear while it ignores that much of the anger in the Arab world is in response to Israel’s 40+ years of military occupation of Palestine and The Wall where ever it is built on legally owned Palestinian property which is “financed with U.S. aid at a cost of $1.5 million per mile. The Israeli wall prevents residents from receiving health care and emergency medical services. In other areas, the barrier separates farmers from their olive groves which have been their families’ sole livelihood for generations.”2
On February 1, 2007, Senator Clinton spoke at an AIPAC Conference, “Both Israelis and Americans know so well, a democracy is far more than just holding elections. Democracy has to spring from an active and open citizenry dedicated to tolerance, to respect for differences, to the rule of law, to policies that lift us up not tear us down as fellow human beings, and to the value of human life…
“We also know that the dangers posed to Israel have been compounded by the rise to power of Hamas…Hamas…leaders have refused to disarm, to reject violence, or even to recognize the right of Israel to exist.”
The Palestinian Authority first agreed in 1988 to recognize Israel and reaffirmed this in 1993 during the Oslo Accords. Hamas has repeatedly issued olive branches of recognition to Israel, but Israel ignores all offers to make peace through justice.
On November 15, 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton stood on the Jerusalem side of The Wall and was quoted in Ha’aretz, expressing support for The Wall because it “is against terrorists” and “not against the Palestinian people.”
After I read Senator Clinton’s inaccurate and insensitive remarks in Ha’aretz, I immediately contacted her through her website. My email bounced back to me, for I am no longer a New York constituent, but I was born and lived my first three years in The Village and came of age in Levittown, Long Island.
I snail mailed Hillary a respectful letter informing her that even a little one such as me, knew all about the many gaps and lack of ‘security’ along The Wall that every taxi driver and ANY would be ‘terrorist’ also knew about in order to travel from the West Bank to Jerusalem without having to stop for SECURITY.
I also reminded her that we were in the midst of the UN Decade of Creating a Culture of NONVIOLENCE for all the children of the world. The only response I received from Senator Clinton was to be put on the DNC’s mailing list soliciting funds.
As a Senator, Clinton repeatedly said, “I’ve been a strong supporter of Israel’s right to build a security barrier to keep terrorists out. I have spoken out against the International Court of Justice for questioning Israel’s right to build that fence of security.”
International Law states occupation is to be temporary and maintain the status quo and that the occupiers are not to transfer their population into occupied territory. And what RIGHT has anyone to put a fence up on somebody else’s property?
As a Senator, Hillary said: “I went to see the fence with my own eyes. During a trip to Gilo, a Jerusalem neighborhood, I was greeted by Col. Danny Tirza, who was overseeing the construction of the security fence.
“Col. Tirza’s explanation in his graphic depiction of what was part of the daily life of people living in that one neighborhood, gave me an even greater appreciation for the imperative of the fence and the need to do everything possible to protect Israel against these continuing attacks.”
The truth is that in 2000, before the construction of The Wall began, there were less ‘attacks’ than in 2008 and the Orwellian spun ‘neighborhoods’ are all ILLEGAL colonies for everyone exist on legally owned Palestinian land, NOT on Israeli owned land!
I have seen “the fence” too and it divides Palestinians from Palestinians with 25 to 30 foot high concrete slabs or wire equipped with razor barbs, trenches, sniper towers, military roads, electronic surveillance, remote controlled infantry and buffer zones that stretch over 100 miles wide and deny Palestinians access to their legally owned land, their families, jobs, and resources.
The Wall has eviscerated the sister cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem and will soon completely separate Bethlehem from her sister villages of Beit Sahour and Beit Jala. Bethlehem’s significance to and historic ties with Palestinian East Jerusalem and its economic demise caused by The Wall heralded the beginning of what the BBC reported on November 5, 2009:
Palestinians might have to abandon the goal of an independent state if Israel continues to expand Jewish settlements, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator said, “It may be time for President Abbas to tell his people the truth, that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option.”
Mr. Erekat also dismissed Netanyahu’s, ‘generous offer’ saying it only opened the door to more settlements in the next two years and that “Israel has the choice, settlements or peace.”
Erekat also said Palestinians made a mistake in the last round of talks by agreeing to negotiate without insisting that Israel settlement building be stopped, and added this time things would be different, meaning the alternative for Palestinians is to “refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals” as they would in true democracies.
After Clinton met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, he called for a resumption of talks, “We have to concentrate on the end game and we must not waste time adhering to this issue or that as a start for the negotiations.”
Senator Clinton once said, “It is not enough for us to say the right things; we’ve got to be smart and tough enough to do the right things that will protect American and Israeli interests now and forever.”
Tough and smart would comprehend that America’s best interests and Israel’s security demand justice for Palestine: end the occupation and ensure equal human rights for all. And integrity would have no fear of international law.
- Grant F. Smith, Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal, (2007, Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Washington D.C.) p. 158. [↩]
- Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, p. 43, Jan/Feb. 2007. [↩]