FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The U.S. Response to the Gaza Crisis

by WAJAHAT ALI

Moral relativism, political double talk, and a military juggernaut blind to its violence against an occupied people highlight the most recent, tragic conflagration in Israel and Palestine. In justifying Israel’s most brutal and bloody salvo against Gaza in decades – which has so far killed nearly 400 Palestinians and wounded more than 1800 – Israel’s UN ambassador stated that Israel was “rightfully defending itself from continued Hamas rocket attacks within her borders.” Furthermore, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert forewarned that the offensive “is liable to continue for some time” and Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared it as an “all-out war against Hamas and its branches.”

By affirming Israel’s “right to self defense” and supporting Israel’s contention that the onus is on Hamas to renew the truce, President Bush’s waning administration highlighted its remarkably predictable political incompetence and tone-deaf moral vacancy by squandering yet another precious opportunity to remedy – at least rhetorically – the festering, radioactive sore that is the Palestinian human rights crisis in Gaza and the West Bank. Continuing to spin a broken record, his administration condones Israel’s brazen and repeated violations of international law while simultaneously denying Palestinian human rights, at the precarious risk of destabilizing a hostile and volatile Middle East region.

It goes without saying that this sad reality fails to absolve the illegality of Palestinian violence directed against Israel and her civilians. Hamas’ infractions of international law should be strongly condemned by both the United States and the international community, including Arab countries, many of which espouse reactionary, anti-Semitic rhetoric. But such actions do not justify an escalation into outright war – one in which civilian causalities are almost a certainty due to the density of Gaza – any more than the Israeli blockade of Gaza would justify suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The answer to a festering conflict is to take steps towards resolution, not spiral the conflict into madness.

President-elect Obama conveniently remains silent on the current hostilities (for now) and has thus deferred to President Bush. Nonetheless, earlier this summer he endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself against Qassam rockets by stating, “If someone were sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do anything to stop it.” One wonders, however, if President elect Obama’s principles of safety, dignity and self defense apply to Palestinians as well? If Obama and President Bush’s daughters were forced to suspend their emergency hospital operations due to fuel shortages, beg for 300 essential medicines, drink contaminated water that causes malnutrition and anemia in children, eat bread made of animal feed, and renounce electricity because their main power plant was forced to shut down, what would they do?

That hypothesis tragically exists as a reality for Gaza residents, some of the poorest people on Earth, who have survived Israel’s nearly two-month embargo and blockade that followed another two years of frequent and devastating closures. Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), called the Gaza humanitarian crisis “disastrous” and said the agency has been unable to get needed medical supplies into Gaza for more than a year due to Israel’s blockade of border crossings.

At AIPAC’s annual conference last summer, in what devolved into an embarrassing competition of one-upmanship, both President-elect Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton pledged unyielding support for Israel. Obama promised he would “never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security”; meanwhile, Clinton affirmed “the United States stands with Israel now and forever.”

In order to truly act upon his promise of “change,” President-elect Obama needs to quickly revoke Israel’s perennial carte blanche and “get out of international jail” Monopoly card for the sake of ensuring long-term American and Israeli security and eventually winning the “war on terror.” It would bear reminding that the current US policy in Israel and Palestine is one of bin Laden’s main justifications for his global, violent jihad against Americans and sadly remains a highly successful recruitment ploy for al-Qaeda amongst disenfranchised Muslims.

It warrants a mention that the brutality of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians has transcended the bipolar framework of an “Arab vs. Jewish thing” and is now recognized internationally as a shameful example of human rights violations. After visiting Israel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who opposed apartheid in South Africa, stated he saw “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.” He offered Israel would “never get true security and safety through oppressing another people.” Commenting on Israel’s policies in Gaza and West Bank, President Jimmy Carter controversially declared that it existed as “a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.”

The United States could publicly acknowledge the lopsided and oppressive relationship existing between the nation of Israel and its Palestinian refugees by refusing to implicitly or explicitly endorse and rationalize Israel’s latest offensive incursion as simply a “defensive security measure.” Yet, by continuing to vocally defend Israel as the only advocate and partner of peace while perpetually blaming Palestinians as the sole aggressor, the United States recklessly obfuscates the reality of an Israeli blitzkrieg that repeatedly bombards a beleaguered Palestinian refugee population with an inordinately superior and sophisticated military might.

This changed tone, which would reflect fairness and nuance, would also signal to the Muslim world that the US does not blindly and unconditionally endorse Israel’s prejudicial treatment of Palestinian refugees, its building of illegal settlements on West Bank and Gaza lands, its illegal, extra judicial killings and kidnappings, and it’s most recent gratuitous violence unleashed on Gaza civilians.

Finally, the loss of innocent Palestinian life in relation to Israeli life should not merely be treated as tragic, but necessary, “collateral damage.” Both need to be afforded dignity and value as human beings, who are neither favored nor condemned for sake of advancing narrow-minded foreign policy initiatives and strengthening expedient political alliances.

Wajahat Ali is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. He is a playwright, essayist, humorist and Attorney at Law, whose work, “The Domestic Crusaders” is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post 9-11 America. His blog is at http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Laura Finley
After the Parkland Shooting … Teach Youth About Dating Violence
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Robert Koehler
The Cheapening of Human Life
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Ted Rall
Never Mind Millennial Apathy, Here’s Generation Z Inbox x
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail