Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Israel calls UN Gaza report 'anti-Semitic'.

This is simply tiresome:

A UN report on Israel's 22-day offensive against Hamas-controlled Gaza is anti-Semitic, an Israeli government minister said, as the Jewish state prepares to formally respond to its allegations of war crimes.

"The Goldstone Report ... and similar reports, are simply a type of anti-Semitism," Diaspora and Information Minister Yuli Edelstein told the YNet news agency ahead of a trip to New York, where he will present Israel's rebuttal on Thursday.

Israel can have many reasons for disagreeing with the report, but to claim that this is anti-Semitism is simply the laziest defence that the Israelis could possibly muster.

Perhaps the Israelis are forgetting that we all witnessed the conflict in Gaza and many of us thought that we were witnessing war crimes. We all saw the wanton destruction, we all saw the use of white phosphorous, we could all see the appalling amount of civilian casualties.

Indeed, I note that as we today cheer the rescuing of persons found under the rubble in Haiti, that the Israeli government continue to impose a cruel embargo upon the citizens of Gaza, an embargo which many of us would describe as an act of collective punishment.

One does not have to be anti-Semitic to think that Israel's behaviour in Gaza was - and continues to be - criminal.

So why do the Israelis feel that they can get away with this? Why do they feel that they can ignore the United Nations and even go so far as calling it - and anyone who supports Goldstone's report - anti-Semitic?

Gideon Levy, an Israeli columnist, has a theory:
As long as Israel feels the United States is in its pocket, and that America's automatic veto will save it from condemnations and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world's policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways.

Illegal acts like the occupation and settlement expansion, and offensives that may have involved war crimes, as in Gaza, deserve a different approach. If America and the world had issued condemnations after Operation Summer Rains in 2006 - which left 400 Palestinians dead and severe infrastructure damage in the first major operation in Gaza since the disengagement - then Operation Cast Lead never would have been launched.

It is true that unlike all the world's other troublemakers, Israel is viewed as a Western democracy, but Israel of 2009 is a country whose language is force. . . . When Clinton returns to Washington, she should advocate a sharp policy change toward Israel. Israeli hearts can no longer be won with hope, promises of a better future or sweet talk, for this is no longer Israel's language. For something to change, Israel must understand that perpetuating the status quo will exact a painful price.

Israel of 2009 is a spoiled country, arrogant and condescending, convinced that it deserves everything and that it has the power to make a fool of America and the world.
The United States has engendered this situation, which endangers the entire Mideast and Israel itself. That is why there needs to be a turning point in the coming year - Washington needs to finally say no to Israel and the occupation. An unambiguous, presidential no.
It is simply impossible to imagine any Western journalist speaking on this subject with such force, but Levy is correct. Israel can behave in this way only because she is sure that the United States will back her, no matter how outrageous her behaviour.

Even as Netanyahu treats Obama and his plans for peace in the Middle East with barely disguised contempt, he knows that Obama, when push comes to shove, will always back him.

It is that guarantee which gives Israel the nerve to accuse anyone who backs the Goldstone report of being anti-Semitic.

The United States has for so long backed every Israeli policy, no matter it's legality, as to be considered complicit in Israel's crimes.

I had hoped that the election of Barack Obama would change that dynamic, but, so far, that hope has been tragically misplaced.

Having started out very well, calling for the Israelis to stop the illegal building of settlements on Palestinian lands, Obama has quickly backed down and backed off.

Indeed, the Obama administration were amongst the very first to question the validity of Goldstone's report. The United States continues to be an enabler here.

Those of us who expected this situation to change under Barack Obama have, so far, been bitterly disappointed.

As Levy points out, the current US position - of backing every and any Israeli action - is not only bad for the US, it is bad for Israel herself. We are still waiting for what Levy calls, "An unambiguous, presidential no."

Click here for full article.

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