The endorsement of the UN Human Rights Council of the report of South African Justice Richard Goldstone on the war on Gaza, despite American and British criticism, Washington’s repeated objections to the report, Israeli threats, the delays and different interpretations of the report, demonstrates that the world has changed. It shows that those with free conscience have started to be fed up with criminals and their war crimes, particularly those committed by Israel’s rulers against unarmed Palestinians for over sixty years. It also shows that despite Israel’s efforts to prevent leaks of what is happening in Gaza and Palestine in general to the world media, some facts have started to surface; and no human being with a free conscience can tolerate or accept them, even if they are Jewish or friends of Israel.
It is remarkable that during the days preceding the vote on the report, Israeli authorities treated the whole world as if it were populated by unarmed Palestinians, warning of the threat to the peace process if the report was accepted. It is as if there were a peace process, and as if the world had not heard the statements made by Netanyahu and Lieberman refusing to stop settlements, rejecting the right of return for Palestinian refugees; as if the world does not see the judaization of Jerusalem, Israeli bulldozers demolishing Palestinian houses and throwing families in the streets, bringing foreign settlers to replace the Palestinians expelled by Israeli oppressive authorities, attack farmers and burn their olive trees.
What Israel is trying to do after it has been exposed on the international arena, is either to threaten to “torpedo the peace process”, which is already stalled, or level random accusations of “anti-Semitism”. These accusations are not convincing to anybody any longer; and Israeli officials and officers have, from now on, to take account of international prosecution and accountability before they commit their crimes against civilians.
As usual, Israel and Jewish lobbies and their agents in the mass media, parliaments and political bodies start a political, diplomatic and media mobilization whenever it is criticized and whenever reports expose the crimes it is committing against civilians. It imposes a comprehensive media blackout, prevents politicians from criticizing it in public and prevents reporters from accessing the crime scene.
This is what happened when Swedish journalist Donald Bostrum published his investigative report about killing Palestinians and cutting out their organs which aimed at initiating international investigations into this decades-old practice which affected the United States itself, where Jewish rabbis were involved in building criminal networks for trafficking human organs. Israel raised a media storm against the journalist and his country, Sweden, prevented him from entering Palestine in order to divert the world public opinion from this horrible crime. Not only that, it also called for prosecuting those who wrote about this crime and tried to uncover it and put an end to it.
Because of the lack of an Arab countervailing frame of reference which could push this file through international forums and courts, and continue to expose such crimes and bring to justice their perpetrators, whether they are politicians, military officers, Israeli intelligence staff responsible for assassination, torture, kidnapping, demolishing houses, shelling civilian areas, and killing demonstrators, Bostrum presented the names and photographs of some of the victims hoping that the investigation will be completed in order to reveal the extent and ugliness of these crimes.
In this context, it is worth recalling the lies promoted by the Bush administration about Muslims’ hatred of the United States. His question in his speeches: “Why do they hate us?” was a mere cover for his war on Iraq which killed a million unarmed Iraqi civilians and aimed to justify kidnapping, torture, and secret prisons. We can also recall the money spent and the efforts made by that administration in order to improve the image of the United States in the world. Today, after a president who respects Islam and Muslims has been elected, it is shown that the problem was not in Muslims and the Islamic world, neither was it in the inevitable clash of civilizations some have promoted, but in the policies of the American administration which promoted wars, killing, torture and destruction.
The world has started to discover that the acts and crimes of the rulers of Israel against civilian Palestinians make conscientious people of the world condemn these crimes and try to stop them. Israel will no longer be able to hammer the world with its never ending blackmail dating back to the Nazi era 70 years ago.
The same applies today to the noise made by Israel about a Turkish TV series which shows clips of what Israel commits on a daily basis against Palestinians, like killing children and the abuse and humiliation they exercise on their checkpoints which have no parallel in today’s world. Instead of feeling shame as a result of committing crimes, Israel resorts to its usual methods, summoning the Turkish ambassador to protest against broadcasting such scenes not against the crimes themselves. It describes the TV series, not the crimes, as “barbaric” (The Independent, 16/10/2009). The question here is: can a TV series be barbaric, terrorist and violent, or is it the crimes of killing children, committed by Israeli soldiers every day, which are barbaric and shameful to those who commit them?
The game began to unravel when Israel started to concentrate on a lie which it invented, like the fake footage of an explosion in the village of Teir Fleisa in Lebanon, only to divert attention from the Goldstone report. The lie, regrettably taken on and promoted by some Arab media, was quickly and competently exposed.
Despite all the efforts made by Israel to cover up its crimes, its foreign minister, Ehud Barak, implicated in assassination and war crimes against unarmed civilians, had to ask for special protection from the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, in order to avoid arrest and imprisonment. Former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had to face a group of students at Chicago University calling for cancelling a lecture he was to give, wondering how the university could receive a war criminal to give a lecture.
The conclusion is that the world has started to change, and that it will not wait for the Israelis to write proudly about their crimes as if they were achievements, as former Israeli security chief, Avi Dechter, did in his lecture about Israel’s role in destroying Iraq. The world has even started to bring Israel to account for its crimes. But this process should continue to the end, until it brings justice to the victims and help the Palestinians gain their freedom and salvation from the last form of slavery in the world.
BOUTHAINA SHAABAN is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org