Saturday, March 8, 2008

Who's Afraid of the Israel Lobby?

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton certainly are. But so is every damn Democrat in Congress. Not one of them voted No this week on a resolution supporting Israel (and rightly condemning Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians) that did not object at all to Israel’s murderous assaults on civilians in the Gaza Strip or to the humanitarian crisis Israel has caused there. The resolution passed 404-1. The one No vote was Ron Paul’s.

Here is some background from Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies: “In Gaza, the five-day Israeli assault left the already besieged, impoverished, disempowered population reeling from the heaviest losses since Israel first occupied the Strip in 1967. The numbers of dead - 125-131, half civilians, at least 22 children, 4 infants - resulted in whole rows of mourning tents lining the torn-up roads in areas hardest hit. At least 370 children were reported injured. Hospitals faced hundreds seriously injured without reliable electricity and with huge shortages of vital drugs, spare parts for medical equipment, and surgical supplies. Ambulances came under Israeli fire, 3 medical workers were injured and at least one was killed. The destruction hit hardest in the bleak, crowded refugee camps; in Gaza City itself, two bombs from a U.S.-provided F-16 jet destroyed the 5-story headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, seriously damaging scores of nearby apartments….”

Only in America is this OK. Bennis continues: “The international outcry was fierce, with even UN and European Union officials condemning Israel's "disproportionate" and "excessive" violence. Israel claimed, as is its wont, that its attack was only "in response" to Palestinian rocket fire. But that claim ignored the immediate fact that the rocket fire itself escalated only after Israel's latest "targeted assassination" of a militant leader in Gaza, which also killed several members of his family. More importantly, it ignored the broader fact that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza. According to John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, "this means that its actions must be measured against the standards of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Judged by these standards Israel is in serious violation of its legal obligations. The collective punishment of Gaza by Israel is expressly prohibited by international humanitarian law and has resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis."

“Dugard appropriately condemned Palestinian attacks that terrorize Israeli civilians, but argued that such acts are an "inevitable consequence" of the Israeli occupation. "While such acts cannot be justified," he wrote, "they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation." His report recognized that violence would continue as long as Israel occupies Palestinian land, and that "this is why every effort should be made to bring the occupation to a speedy end. Until this is done peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue. … Israel cannot expect perfect peace and the end of violence as a precondition for the ending of the occupation."

“Dugard's words,” Bennis writes, “take on particularly powerful meaning in the context of the March 6 gunman attack on a settler-linked yeshiva in Jerusalem that left 8 Israeli students dead and more injured.” Indeed.

Not only has the U.S. Congress, under Democratic leadership, failed to utter even a mute condemnation of what Israel has been doing; it has actually, as Bennis says, “….continued to add fuel to the fire by supplying Israel with more weapons, in contravention of the U.S. Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts. This year, U.S. taxpayers will provide Israel with $2.55 billion in arms shipments, a 9% increase over actual spending in 2007. This is the first installment of a ten-year U.S. commitment to increase arms shipments to Israel by 25%....”

The problem is not just the Democrats; it’s the Republicans too. The hands of the Bush administration, and especially Condoleezza Rice, are dirty up to their elbows in these events, and in the series of Israeli atrocities that preceded them. As much or more than every other administration since the Six Day War, they have bankrolled the Israeli government and given it carte blanche to do as it pleases. But they couldn’t have done it without enthusiastic Democratic encouragement and support. Of course, there are Democrats, a few anyway, who know better; and Republicans too – not just Ron Paul. But fear of the Israel lobby makes cowards of them all. This is why, when it comes to facilitating the government of Israel’s predations, and even egging them on, neither of our two parties is a lesser evil. There is only unvarnished “bipartisanship” at work.


yorker said...

It's almost as bad in the UK now. Utterly pathetic and craven.

Joel said...

Oh, I see. It's completely okay for the Palestinianitwits to launch over 4,000 (that's FOUR THOUSAND, for those of you that don't speak English) rockets and mortars against Israel since it left Gaza. But for Israel to respond by protecting itself against these blood thirsty hatemongers is a holocaust.

It's WAR!! It's time that Israel take off the gloves and act like it's WAR!!

John said...

The Palestinians are launching rockets on their own land from which they were forcibly, and bloodily, evacuated into the giant concentration camp called Gaza when Israel was formed.

When will Israel acknowledge that its territory was seized by force from an existing indigenous population, where Muslim and Christian lived in harmony? Do you think that there was an empty land there before Israel? Have you heard of the Irgun terrorist gangs who slaughtered whole villages of Palestinians and razed their homes to the ground?

Fortunately there are some Israelis who strive to remember these lost villages.