The Height Of Hypocrisy
Apartheid Israel, in keeping with its long-standing disdain for international law, has approved 1,300 new, illegal settlement residences in the West Bank, with an additional 3,000 currently being discussed.
International law condemns the settlements, has declared them illegal, and even the International Criminal Court is including them in its investigation of ‘possible’ war crimes committed by Israel.
And what has Israeli’s might ally, and chief financier – the United States – said about this? State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the following: “We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank.”
This is somewhat reminiscent of U.S. officials’ statements every time there is a mass shooting in that country. They offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the victims, doing nothing whatsoever to prevent more victims because the pro-gun lobby in the U.S. is so powerful. After a time, the funerals are over, progressive voices calling for sensible gun regulation are marginalized and silenced, and it is business as usual until the next mass shooting when the cycle starts all over again.
Being ‘deeply concerned’ about new settlements accomplishes nothing.
But Price wasn’t finished: “We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution.”
What was left out was any talk of measures that could prevent the expansion of settlements: namely, the withholding of the nearly $4 billion that the U.S. sends to Israel every year, more than it sends to all other countries it ‘assists’ combined. But the Israeli government knows there is no risk of that; as a candidate, now President Joe Biden said that he opposes withholding aid to Israel due to its policies in Palestine.
But this is nothing new. During the years of the Reagan administration, Secretary of State George Shultz created a plan to hopefully resolve the situation in Palestine and Israel. He called for 1) the convening of an international conference; 2) a six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip; 3) a date of December 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict. The Israeli Prime Minister at that time, Yitzhak Shamir, immediately rejected this plan, claiming, bizarrely, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”1
Why is this? Why is a nation that gets such a large amount of money from the U.S. willing to defy the U.S. at every turn? Why does the U.S. not sanction Israel, a country with nuclear warheads that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as it sanctions Iran? Why does the U.S. not condemn human rights atrocities committed by Israel on a daily basis against the Palestinian people? U.S. condemnation of any country is hollow due to its own, extreme violations of human rights both within the U.S. and around the world, but it does occasionally issue condemnations, but never of Israel.
Running for elected office at the national level in the U.S. requires huge amounts of money, and pro-Israel lobbies are very generous with their donations to U.S. officials who promise to do their bidding. In the last election cycle, over $30,000,000 was donated by such lobbies to candidates in the U.S. One need not wonder why there is so little criticism of Israeli war crimes from the hallowed halls of Congress.
Let’s imagine for one, shining moment what would happen if the U.S. closed the money tap to Israel. Once Israeli officials stopped accusing U.S. officials of anti-Semitism (an old saw that doesn’t stick much anymore, as more and more people come to the realization that criticism of the brutal, racist policies of the Israeli government is not a criticism of Jews), those Israeli officials would see that getting that $4 billion back wouldn’t be all that difficult. Start by evicting the 500,000+ illegal settlers who never had any business being there anyway; end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and remove all soldiers from the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Should these measures be taken, Israel would not cease to exist. It would still have the borders that the United Nations gave it, so unjustly, in 1948. The Palestinian people could then do such remarkable things as farm their own lands, visit family members throughout the country, travel, and trade with the world.
Israel and the U.S. often condemn Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip, saying that it calls for Israel’s annihilation. Yet those same officials turn a blind eye to the fact that Israel has for decades been slowly annihilating Palestine. With no army, navy, or air force, Palestine can’t even defend itself. Israel, with a powerful military backed by and provided by the most powerful in the world, is in no danger from Palestine. Yet Palestine remains in the grave, mortal danger from Israel.
It is long past time to issue more than ‘sharp rebukes’ against Israel for its violations of international law and crimes against humanity. The U.S. has invaded countless nations with far less provocation. U.S. officials must cut the purse strings and demand that Israel achieve the basic level of adherence to human rights that U.S. law mandates as a condition of foreign aid. The Leahy law, first passed in 1998 and made permanent in 2011, is designed to prevent military assistance to foreign nations that violate human rights with impunity. It could have been written directly about Israel.
Progressive voices in Congress are growing in both numbers and volume; they must continue to demand that the U.S. support the Palestinian people as it would any other nation being so brutally oppressed. Those officials who are on the Israeli-lobby feed wagon must be voted out of office. The people of Palestine have suffered far longer than they would have if U.S. officials were beholden to the people and not to the lobbyists. It is time to elect officials who will support human rights and international law in the U.S. and around the world.
1 Suelieman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., 1995.