Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time and again, US backs Israel

Washington will attempt to keep the resolution on Goldstone report out of the UN Security Council

  • By Linda S. Heard, Special to Gulf News
  • Gulf News, Oct 20, 2009

  • Image Credit: Illustration: Ramachandra Babu/Gulf News

Imagine that heavily-armed neighbourhood thieves break into your house, steal your property and shoot a family member. Naturally, you would call law enforcement. You know the names of the criminals and expect the police to arrest them. But what if the police hear the murderers’ names, look embarrassed, shrug their shoulders, say ‘sorry, can’t help you,’ and simply walk away?

Imagine that you complain to the chief of police, who is sympathetic at first, but quickly shoos you away when you told him who the perpetrators are. Imagine that the courts, government and international bodies were all determined to protect your attackers even if this meant throwing you to the wolves. You would think the world had gone howling mad, wouldn’t you?

Surely, nobody on earth has immunity from justice. Encouraged by the lack of come-back, imagine that the villains return again and again while all purported defenders of justice continue to turn a blind eye. What would you do? What could you do?

The above scenario may sound outrageous but this has been the essential plight of the Palestinian people for over six decades. They have been forced to remain silent while their lands have been robbed, their olive groves destroyed, their dignity trampled on, their homes demolished or bombed, their freedom to travel denied, their children locked-up and their lives imperiled.

Yet each time they have sought justice or recompense through recognised international legal channels, the door has been firmly barred. And when in utter frustration they have attempted to take justice into their own hands — which, by the way, international law deems their right as a people under occupation — they have been labelled ‘terrorist’.

Time and again, they have cried out to the international community for help to no avail. That isn’t to say that the majority of the world’s nations approve of Israel’s actions. If it was up to the UN General Assembly Israel would have received its come-uppance a long time ago and there would be a state called Palestine in existence today.

But, unfortunately, the UN’s power rests in the hands of a few major powers that hold a power of veto. Shamefully, one veto-holder in particular, the US, is committed to protecting Israel’s interests unconditionally, irrespective of the rights or wrongs, and bludgeons its allies to support its stance.

I’m sure you already know about the dozens of non-binding UN Resolutions upholding Palestinian rights that Israel has studiously ignored along with the judgment of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which characterised Israel’s apartheid ‘fence’ illegal. And you are probably aware that Britain has been tipping-off alleged Israeli war criminals concerning their imminent arrest should they land on British soil.

It seems to me shocking that the very countries that place themselves on a pedestal of human rights and wag their fingers at others for not coming up to scratch, behave like the three not-so-wise monkeys when Israel is involved.

Still not convinced? Last Friday, the UN Human Rights Council voted to affirm a Gaza war crimes report compiled by their own investigators, led by a self-ascribed Zionist and Israel-supporter South African judge Richard Goldstone. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved with 25 in favour, six against and 11 abstentions.

Only two permanent members of the UN Security Council voted ‘yes’ — China and Russia. It goes without saying that the US voted against, while Britain and France chose the road of cowardice by not registering any vote only to be condemned by Israel for not voting against.

By logical progression, the draft resolution calling upon “all concerned parties including United Nations bodies” to ensure the implementation of recommendations in the report, should now be endorsed by the Security Council. Those recommendations include the referral of Israel and Hamas to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the event the parties fail to conduct open and credible investigation within a six-month period.

To the ears of any fair-minded person, this procedure will surely sound fair and reasonable. Both the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas have welcomed the endorsement, but, predictably, Israel once again cries foul. It calls the resolution terrorist-supporting and threatens to bury the peace process. And we thought it was already dead and buried!

Tragically, the Goldstone report is destined to be buried too. Washington will attempt to keep the resolution out of the Security Council, failing which, if push comes to shove, the US will use its veto.

But all is not lost. The report has placed Israel’s crimes under a magnifying glass and Israelis are debating on the worldwide wind of change that is slowly eroding their de facto immunity status. Moreover, if the US is forced to wave its power of veto, thus negating the value of a serious investigation, it will face the loss of any smidgeon of credibility it still retains as an honest broker in the conflict.

Such a move would also embarrass Nobel’s latest peace prize recipient President Barack Obama. Indeed, following America’s ‘nay’ vote on Friday, the President of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner called the peace prize winner’s “protection of a state that has committed war crimes” an “abomination”. Bravo to that!

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at Some comments may be considered for publication.

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