The Israeli piracy attack in the international water against the aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade once again highlight how Israeli intransigence has created an extraordinarily dire situation in the tiny Gaza Strip. After Hamas won the Parliamentary election in 2007, Israel with the help of Egypt has effectively sealed off Gaza with water tight control over its sea, air, and land access, including the 8-mile border with Egypt. Gaza has been turned from an occupied territory to an imprisoned state to the point where it’s termed as the “largest open-air jail on earth”.
The illegal blockade has severely confined imports to essential medicines and the most basic food staples – a bare minimum supply of humanitarian goods – prevented all exports, and blocked border crossing almost entirely. Israeli strategy, with Egypt’s tacit cooperation, is to bring down Hamas and force it to recognise the Jewish state. And to achieve the strategy, the devious plan is to strangle and starve the 1.5 million people of Gaza, crumble Gaza’s infrastructure, and shatter the nerves of the populace so that they rise against Hamas and become subservient to Israel. Israeli destruction of thousands of buildings, which still lay in ruin for want of building materials, during the incursion into the Strip in January 2009, was part and parcel of the plan to keep Gaza under its thumb poor and oppressed.
Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, characterised the blockade as a “massive form of collective punishment”. How severe the punishment and how restrictive the blockade is. UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, lists household items that have been refused at various times by Israelis to enter Gaza. The list includes light bulbs, candles, matches, books, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, shampoo and conditioner. When Senator John Kerry visited Gaza in 2009, he was surprised to learn that Pasta was not permitted in. “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid, only rice shipments”, a UNRAW official told Senator Kerry.
Though, Egypt denies any collaboration with Israel in the blockade of Gaza, however, the inhuman blockade could not be effective and successful without Egypt’s very cordial cooperation; it has helped, not so covertly, to enforce the blockade by not only keeping its border with Gaza closed for goods transportation but also refusing any peace convoy into Gaza with vital humanitarian aid for the besieged and starving people.
When the desperate Gazans dug tunnels near the Egyptian border to bring in food, medicine, and other every day commodities, denied to them under the embargo, Israeli warplanes and Egyptian border patrol destroy them. Egyptian authorities fill the tunnels with poisonous gas killing people inside them. Since it’s difficult to discover and monitor the secret tunnels, Egypt, under the mounting American and Israeli pressure, is constructing an underground steel wall along its border with the Gaza Strip, in a bid to prevent digging of tunnels into its territory. The wall is said to be nine to 6 miles long, and 60 to 90 feet deep into the ground. Egyptian sources say, it will be impossible to cut or melt the steel barrier – perfect noose to kill the lifeline that had kept “the caged animals barely alive.”
Israel, a considerably small country, gets away with all the things it does, and it does without repercussions and with complete impunity – invades and occupy the territory of neighbouring countries, flagrantly violates human rights of the people it occupies, bulldozes Palestinian homes and farms, exiles natives from the occupied territory, ignore United Nations resolutions, systematically flaunt international law, sends death squad to foreign countries for target killings – the list of international crimes and crimes against humanity at home perpetrated by Israel is very long and getting longer by the day.
How Israel gets away with such vicious crimes of international dimension that are characteristics of only a rouge and pariah state.
Jews enjoy tremendous power and influence in the Washington and European capitals and the world Press. Their power of influence can be seen from getting the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to U.S. veto of the U.N. resolution in 1976 calling for recognition of the Palestinian right of self-determination to making scrutiny of holocaust a crime in some European countries to U.S. refusal to censure Israel for the bloody massacre in the international water. In Reagan Administration alone, the most pro-Israeli administration, the U.S. invoked the veto 18 times to protect Israel, and thus gave it a free hand to play havoc in the region.
The Israeli influence in Washington is well known and well documented to write any further. It’s exerted through commanding Jewish organisations, powerful Israeli lobby, and Christian Zionist organisations. The Jewish influence has no equal or precedence in American political history or in the history of any other country. The US’s uncritically sympathetic and unstinted support comes to the point where it gets ludicrous and racist.
Recall the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 that killed 34 US seamen and wounded 171. For the first time in the U.S. history an attack on U.S. navy ship not only remained un-investigated but ludicrously a gag order was imposed on the sailors of the USS Liberty. This incident leaves little doubt how overly fawning relations U.S. has with Israel. Compare the American reaction on Israeli attack on USS liberty with the outrage generated after the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 from an inflatable boat in Yemeni port of Aden.
Remember Israeli-obsessed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton’s infamous statement made during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, “I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts, and those caused by Israel’s self-defence”. Racism is readily seen in Bolton’s cynical utterance.
One can understand and appreciate the special relation between the U.S. and Israel based on their shared Judeo-Christian heritage. Israel certainly enjoys a special place in the tradition and beliefs of all Christians. President Johnson toasting Israeli President Shazar said, “Our Republic, like yours, was nurtured by the philosophy of the ancient Hebrew teachers who taught mankind the principles of morality, of social justice, and of universal peace. This is our heritage, and it is yours.”
By contrast, the culture and heritage of Arabs and Muslims are different and alien to the U.S. (and Europe). It’s neither expected nor necessary that the U.S. accommodate Arabs and Muslims in the same manner as it does Israel. However, the U.S.’s illogical and totally biased and historically blind support of Israel and singling out the Jewish state for immunity from criticism has eroded U.S. credibility as a fair and impartial mediator; it sapped America’s moral strength and position. When U.S. plays the role of a mediator, everybody knows there’s a big fat thumb on the scales in favour of Israel.
U.S. demonised Iran for developing nuclear programme. It invaded Iraq on the suspicion of developing nuclear arms, but when it comes to Israel the U.S. pretends they do not possess nuclear arsenal. Israel has nuclear weapons, perhaps as many as 400 of them. The Federation of American Scientists puts the number at between 100 and 200. How the U.S. can hold high moral ground and maintain any sense of credibility when on one hand it lashes out Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons and on the other it opposes efforts to single out Israel and allows it to have as many nuclear weapons as it likes.
Israel’s bloody act of piracy by its navy commandos in the open sea is condemned by almost every country and human rights organisation. It’s Only the U.S. that refused to condemn the Israeli act of state terror, merely expressing “concern and regret”. It’s for this reason of double standard that routinely ignores Israeli acts of terror that the U.S. is despised and its image is tarnished in the Arab and Muslim world.
The U.S. must take the high moral ground and maintain decorum of justice as embodied in the principle of equality of human lives and due process. Only then the U.S. will be respected not for its military power but for its values. And the U.S. can be just and fair without jeopardising its special Judeo-Christian bonds and commitment to the Jewish state and its own security and influence. And, if the U.S. continues on its present course of nod and wink attitude with Israel, rest assured, the world will remain in turmoil and terrorism will remain the order of the day.