An Ode to Light a Fire: In the House and Secretary of State

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.

  1. 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. []
  2. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, p. 43, Jan/Feb. 2007. []

Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at ecumei@gmail.com. Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. B99 said on November 10th, 2009 at 4:50pm #

    Note Hillary Clinton’s use of the word ‘neighborhood’ when referring to Gilo. That’s the Israeli term – deliberately employed by Clinton (and often by the NY Times as well) to endear herself to her Israeli handlers. Gilo is actually an illegal settlement. It’s proximity to Jerusalem does not in itself qualify it as a neighborhood.

  2. eileen fleming said on November 10th, 2009 at 5:54pm #

    Yes and I know more about the illegal colony of Gilo and its closest ‘neighbor’ Beit Jala:

    It was at an Olive Trees Foundation for Peace meeting, that I met a Catholic woman who showed me a photo first published by the Florida Catholic in 2000; a photo that irrevocably changed my life.

    Photographer Debbie Hill, captured three year old George [it is his photo that adorns the banner of my website] of Beit Jala, a once peaceful Christian village a five minute car ride from downtown Bethlehem, the morning after the Israeli army destroyed his sanctuary.

    Israeli forces had retaliated against a few hopeless militants who had infiltrated George’s neighborhood to snipe across the way into the illegal settlement/colony of Gilo, about a mile from the top of the hill not far from George’s home.

    The shrapnel that blew apart the wall of George’s bedroom read ‘Made in USA’ and was delivered via American made Apache helicopters.

    The second I saw George’s eyes, in that photo, my heart said “DO SOMETHING!”

    What could I possibly do I wondered, but I did make a copy of the photo, put it in a frame and placed it upon the altar [a bar high table] in the upper room of my home. Dozens of times a day, I stop and gaze into the eyes of that little boy of Bethlehem and wonder what it will take to end the insane cycle of violence in the Holy Land; which is in pieces-bantustans.

    When I met George for the first time in June 2005, I vowed to him that the rest of my life would be dedicated to doing all I could to help bring about the end of the occupation of Palestine.

    Of course I had no clue as to what I would or could possibly do, or how much of an ‘impossible mission’ I had promised a little child of Bethlehem. But, every morning I wake up and wonder what I can do today in the pursuit of peace and justice; equal human rights for all, for that is the only way Israel will ever be secure.

    A month after my first return home from occupied territory, I put up my website and became a civilian journalist; which is best understood as one who goes out of their comfort zone to report for the benefit of we the people, without orders or censorship from editors or paychecks from conglomerates.

    The rest:

    http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=892&Itemid=200

  3. Kathleen said on November 11th, 2009 at 1:28pm #

    I am not trying to start a war here but in searching for the reason these people in the holy land even have a fight I have run across this snag, are religious “Jews” not supposed to have a state at all?

    I have studied the core text of Judaism and this appears to be forbidden and the reason why Jews have not by religion had a state.

    Also a “Jew” and a “Zionist Jew” is NOT THE SAME THING! Zionism is a political movement dominated by fringe non-religious people who self identify as Jews,

    The Iranian presidents “anti-semitic” rants are all focused on “Zionism” Jews who live in Jerusalem who are not Zionists even experience oppression similar to the Palestinians. Muslims are bound not to attack Christians and Jews because their holy book says they are both “people of the book” and can only be attacked in self defense.

    I feel this is important because these insane people in Israel arent even legit in their own religion and they know it, they intentionally scream anti-semitic knowing that “goy’s” arent going to notice that there is a difference between a Zionist and a Torah jew who believes in G-d. I am not Jewish or Muslim im somewhat of a flaky Christian.

    I am the most shocked that the Athiests instead of learning what people believe- holding them to it and enjoying the food holidays from all the people, they are just saying “god doesnt exist and you are stupid”

    It matters to me that these people arent following their own book- that must tell you that APPARENTLY they are using religions and well meaning religious people to drop bunker busters on their enemies which violates gods laws mans laws and burns and grounds the flying spaghetti monster.

    There is no left or right, there is only the dialectic process, drunk Muslims arent Muslims, jews eating bacon & eggs aint jews, Christian men doing lines of coke off their boyfriends back aint Christians, atheists saying theres no god but who push new age earth religion aint atheists

    We are being ripped off, our men and women will are dying for a LIE muslims are the enemy because they know the difference between a zionist [political con artist] and a Jew [guy who gets used as a punching bag and shield]

  4. B99 said on November 11th, 2009 at 2:43pm #

    Well Kathleen, you’ve said a lot but it seems you have several threads going in it that are not so clear to me.

    To be sure, political zionism was founded by secular assimilated western European Jews – not religious Jews, who for the most part wanted to immigrate to America – if at all. The few religious Jews who wanted to live in Palestine did so – and were not demanding a Jewish state (by definition a secular demand).

    However, I would not say that Zionism is a fringe movement among Jews. The overwhelming majority of Jews believe in Zionism to varying degrees. Thus they range from those that are appalled at Israeli behavior and practice – to those who champion it. (They all of course agree on the legitimacy of the state of Israel.) Jews are those who identify as such – they can be observant (that is, believers in Judaism) or not, in which case it is an ethnicity only. Most Jews in Israel tend to the secular – religious observance is reserved largely for holidays and rites of passage.

    While Palestinians are clearly the victims of Israel, I’m not going to romanticize Islam by giving to much credence to the notion that Muslims won’t attack ‘people of the book.’ That’s asking too much of any people.

    I enjoy the food of Christian holidays. For me, its a shared cultural tradition, one no longer tied to the birth, death or resurrection of a messiah. The atheists I know, including myself, pretty much stay away from New Age religion. Maybe there are some good philosophical points to the New Age stuff, but if one believes there was a conscious creator of the universe then one is likely not an atheist.

    I’m not sure what a flying spaghetti monster is – but you are correct that dropping bunker busters is immoral by any ethical accounting.