• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Israel’s Carte Blanche for War Crimes in Gaza

The latest disgraceful Israeli attack at a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians is one more indication of Israel’s lack of moral compunction in the killing of innocent civilians, particularly children.  At least six UN schools and shelters have been attacked, and more than 140 Palestinian schools have been struck in a campaign to terrorize the people of Gaza.

The many Israeli wars against the Palestinians and their aftermath in recent years have demonstrated Israel’s ease in destroying homes and olive groves, but the increased killing of children raises serious questions about the absence of any moral compass among Israeli leaders, both civilian and military leaders.  It is long past time to address Israel’s mindset.

There is no question that the Holocaust plays a direct role in Israel’s emphasis on self-defense and self-reliance.  The Holocaust is a regular reminder of the evil acts carried out against European Jewry and that no nation and no group of leaders can be counted on to help or to challenge such evil.  The Palestinians, of course, had nothing to do with these events during World War II, but the Israelis have conflated the German threat to European Jews into the challenge from their Arab neighbors, including the stateless Palestinians.

The Holocaust has given the Israelis a siege mentality that includes the need for an “iron wall” between themselves and the Arabs.  The wall that meanders today through the West Bank is a key part of that mentality.  Despite their overwhelming military superiority in the Middle East, the siege mentality remains supreme and prevents any sign of compromise or conciliation that the Israelis believe the Arabs would view as a sign of weakness.  This mentality has produced an extreme intransigence, and there is no better example of this intransigence than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In comparing the Israelis and the Palestinians recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed to a “deep and wide moral abyss” that separates the two sides.  According to the Israeli leader, “they sanctify death while we sanctify life.  They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion.”  He should try explaining these remarks to the hundreds of Palestinian parents who have lost their children to Israeli rockets and artillery.

There are other elements of Israel’s sanctimony that permit Israeli leaders to pursue military actions that can only be described as immoral and unconscionable.  A key factor is the view that Israelis have expressed to me that Moslems kill Moslems regularly, but it is only when Israelis kill Moslems that there is an expression of outrage.  A recent email exchange that I had with a very successful Israeli businessman was typical.  He referred to the absence of any international concern for the recent suicide bombings in Afghanistan; the killings in Syria and Iraq; and the regular attacks in Nigeria.  Israelis seem to believe that it is only when they are responsible for the deaths of civilians, which they have convinced themselves to be unavoidable, that there is any international revulsion.

Israelis also believe that continued anti-Semitism in Europe and even the United States justifies the extreme measures that they take against the Palestinians.  Israelis who travel regularly will tell you that only Jewish places of worship or education have security, even armed guards, and that no other religious denomination has such concerns.  Again, these views appear to rationalize, even justify, the extreme measures that Israelis believe they must pursue against defenseless Palestinians.

Finally, there are those Israelis, such as the current Israeli Ambassador to the United States, who genuinely believe that only Israel exercises restraint and genuine humanity in its pursuit of war against the Palestinians.  Ambassador Ron Dermer, who is extremely close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, suggested last week that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given a Nobel Peace Prize for its use of “knock on the roof” warning shots before they destroy homes that often house numerous members of extended families that are simply seeking shelter.

Israelis don’t believe that they can have a “rational dialogue” with the Palestinians, and they don’t even want to pursue a rational dialogue with their only ally in the international community–the United States.  Unlike the European states, where there is increased opposition to Israeli intransigence and militancy, the United States has shown great forbearance toward Israel, repeatedly proclaiming that the Israelis have a right to defend themselves.  As a result, Israeli excesses have been largely ignored, and the few steps that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made to arrange a dialogue have been dismissed or ridiculed.

The United States doesn’t even challenge the obnoxious personal attacks on its leaders by Israeli officials.  Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Secretary of State Kerry “obsessive and messianic” in pursuit of a peace agreement.  Israeli intelligence chief Yuval Steinitz called the secretary’s comments “offensive, unfair, and insufferable.”

The sad fact is that American presidents have for the most part given Israel carte blanche to pursue heavy-handed actions against Lebanon, the West Bank, and particularly Gaza, which has been correctly described by the British Prime Minister as an “outdoor prison.”  Occasionally, Republican presidents such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, and Richard Nixon have applied some pressure on Israel that mollified its policies, but Democratic presidents have been largely unwilling to do so.  It is long past time for the United States to demonstrate openly and emphatically its revulsion over obvious Israeli war crimes and to end U.S. military and economic aid that makes it so easy for Israel to pursue its cynical policies.

Melvin A. Goodman (and Carolyn McGiffert Ekedahl) are the co-authors of “The Wars of Eduard Shevardnadze” (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997).  Goodman is also the author of National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (City Lights Publishers, 2013).

 

More articles by:

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His forthcoming book is American Carnage: Donald Trump’s War on Intelligence” (City Lights Publishers, 2019).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
May 23, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Belligerence of Empire
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail