Sanctions for Russia and a Green Light for Israel to Continue War Crimes

The moral duplicity in the U.S. political class is breathtaking. Squeezed in between news stories of the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, U.S. President Barak Obama announced expanded economic sanctions against Russia for its’ alleged support for what the media calls “pro-Russian separatist forces” in Eastern Ukraine. The U.S. action could not have been a more dramatic illustration of the cognitive dissonance and ethical double standards of the Obama administration and the U.S political class.

This action comes on the heels of unanimous resolutions from the U.S. Congress that placed the blame for the Israeli attack on Gaza on Hamas and defended Israel’s actions as legitimate acts of defense. The U.S. Congress resolutions stand in stark contrast to the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee vote to conduct an investigation into war crimes in Gaza, as well as positions by Amnesty International and international law and human rights scholars and activists from around the world who determined that the Israeli military assault on Gaza violated most of the norms of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Members of the U.S. Congress and most of the corporate media missed what is obvious to many around the world—charges of Russian support for anti-government forces in Eastern Ukraine are still at the level of allegations, while the military support for the state of Israel is a matter of public record. And since it is undeniable that war crimes are being committed in Gaza, applying the same logic that the U.S. applied to the Russians, a logic that asserts that the Russians are morally and politically culpable in Eastern Ukraine, also condemns the U.S. as morally culpable for the war crimes being carried out by Israel. However, being morally and politically culpable becomes irrelevant when imperialist power translates into impunity for crimes against humanity.

By consigning Palestinian humanity to a lesser category, Democrats, Republicans and still too large a sector of the U.S. population, have once again demonstrated contempt for international law, human rights and a basic tenant of humanitarian principles — the equal value of all human life.

While people throughout the world are reacting with justifiable revulsion to the inhumane brutality of the Israeli military machine, U.S. politicians, including the new liberal darlings Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren give moral and political support to Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity, positions that further solidify the status of the U.S. as a rogue state. A status of illegality that is embraced as a badge of honor for most U.S. politicians when it comes to Israel. As Harry Reid, the top democrat in the U.S. Senate asserts — defending Israel is not an partisan issue but an “American principle.”

Therefore, a permanent solution to the conflict will not come from the U.S. or political forces internal to the Israeli colonial state, and with over 80% of Israeli civil society in support of the current military assault on Gaza, nothing of any value toward justice will come from that sector either. This means that a process that can lead to a just solution of the Israel/Palestine issue can only be facilitated by the international community (international meaning beyond the U.S. and Europe).

However, in the short-term ending the carnage in Gaza should be the immediate priority. The Joint declaration by international Law experts on Israeli’s Gaza offensive represents a framework for that. In that statement they call for the international community:

…to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza.

Yet, tragically for Palestinians, even if a ceasefire agreement is secured, as long as Israel and the U.S. are not forced to recognize Palestinian humanity and can violate their rights and dignity with impunity there appears to be no end in sight to Palestinian suffering. After three weeks of air strikes, naval and land bombing, and a barbarous infantry assault, the request from Israel to the U.S. to replenish its depleted munitions, a request granted by the Obama administration, is a grotesque reminder of the criminality that conjoins both counties and condemns more Palestinians to death and destruction.

Ajamu Baraka is a long-time human rights activist and veteran of the Black Liberation, anti-war, anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity Movements in the United States. Read other articles by Ajamu, or visit Ajamu's website.