In the Business of Killing Civilians


While reports slowly spread that President Obama is secretly behind the scenes attempting to end the latest escalation of Israel’s war on Palestine, his public position is clear: the United States is in lock step with Israel’s bloody aggression.

“There’s not a country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said while touring Thailand. “We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on peoples’ homes.”

The mounting Palestinian death toll alone counters Obama’s assertion that Israel is simply playing Good Samaritan defense. As of late Monday, 105 Palestinian civilians were already dead (compared to three Israelis) and countless more injured following five days of intense bombings, with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowing he was ready at any moment to “significantly expand” the war. While most news outlets talk of the “hundreds” of bombs launched by Hamas militants, what’s often left out is that Israel has fired over 1000 murderous strikes of its own into the heart of the populated Occupied Territories, causing far more death and destruction than Hamas could ever inflict.

And murderous these strikes are – so murderous in fact that a few in the mainstream press are finally paying attention. CBS News even ran a feature with the headline, “Frantic diplomacy as Gaza Death toll soars.” The powerful lead photo in the piece depicted Palestinian mourners cradling the bodies of dead kids, victims of an Israeli missile that struck a building in Gaza City last week and killed five children belonging to a single family.

It’s this sort of disproportionate violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people that severely discredits Israeli’s hollow rationale for bombing homes, sports facilities and other public infastructure in the name of self-preservation. Other than President Obama’s open embrace of Israel’s targeting of civilians, the country has very little international support for its actions. Even British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that an escalation of Palestinian deaths would diminish its already languishing sympathy among allies.

Let’s be clear: civilian deaths don’t come by accident, they are a central tenet of Israel military policy.

No question that “strategic” strikes have collateral damage. But these deaths are not only avoidable, they are anticipated. No bombings means no maimed and mutilated bodies. Knowing full well that their missile attacks will kill civilians, Israel is directly targeting all Palestinians with its bombing campaign.

Why is there no outrage echoing throughout the White House or the halls of Congress? Perhaps it has a little something to do with the fact that like Israel’s right-to-strike – especially when these strikes murder innocents – is the exact same policy Obama employs with the U.S.’s extensive drone program.

In “Living Under Drones”, a study released last September by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law, the authors found “significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.” They also accused the Obama administration of misrepresenting drone strikes as “a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer,” which the report of course stated couldn’t be further from the truth.

Surely the same can be said for Israel’s duplicitous air assault that has killed an average of 20 Palestinians a day for nearly a week. Tragically, these civilian deaths will continue to be dehumanized and labeled as “accidental” as long as collateral damage is viewed as an error rather than the true intention of U.S. and Israeli defense policy.

Joshua Frank, Managing Editor of CounterPunch, is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, and of Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His latest book, edited with Jeffrey St. Clair is  Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @brickburner

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”