Congress Ignores Israel’s War Crimes: It’s the American Way
While many European parliamentarians have been outspoken in their disgust at the “horrific” one-sided atrocity being clearly observed in the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian demonstrators last week, most of their U.S. counterparts appear to have lost their ability to express themselves over the egregious human rights violations being committed by the Israeli Army in Gaza. Sixty-two unarmed Palestinian demonstrators were shot dead and nearly three thousand more were injured by gunfire and tear gas versus no Israelis killed or wounded while a leading Knesset parliamentarian has assured the public that the Army has plenty of bullets left to kill all the Gazans if necessary.
The White House, however, has obviously not seen the video footage of the slaughter, and was instead celebrating the opening of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem intended to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the creation of Israel, which some might also refer to as the 70th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Donald Trump tweeted that it was a “great day for Israel,” apparently having missed watching the slaying of the Palestinians by split screen as the largely American Jewish celebrants yukked it up with a broadly grinning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A short time later someone named Raj Shah at the White House told reporters at a press briefing that “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response” as “a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt.”
And meanwhile over at the United Nations, American Ambassador Nikki Haley vetoed a Russian proposal seeking an investigation into the carnage, explaining that that Hamas, aided of course by Iran, was to blame for the violence. “I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council: who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.” She then walked out when Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Permanent Representative to the United Nations began to speak.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was part of the Jerusalem delegation, even as violence was erupting in Gaza forty miles away, also knew whom to blame, saying “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.” He was not talking about the 200 Israeli snipers firing into an unarmed crowd of Gazans.
To be sure, some Democratic Congressman have expressed horror over what has been taking place. Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum and Bernie Sanders have all spoken up. Sanders said that “Israel should be condemned.” Congressman Mark Pocan declared that “There are better ways to deal with the tensions in Gaza than bullets.” Pocan and Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Keith Ellison, and Hank Johnson all expressed shock and dismay at “the lethal force used by Israeli troops against mostly unarmed protesters demonstrating at Gaza’s border.” They asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to “show utmost restraint, allow for unfettered medical attention for those who have been wounded, and ease the 12-year blockade on Gaza, which has contributed to grave food insecurity, unemployment and a humanitarian crisis for Gaza’s two million inhabitants.”
Congressmen Johnson and Pocan as well as Dan Kildee of Michigan have recently called for the Israeli government to permit them to enter the Palestinian region to see what is happening on the ground there. The three congressmen visited Israel in 2016 but were blocked from crossing into the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration, which operates the borders and entry points, limiting who can enter and leave as well as the flow of such essentials as food supplies. It might astonish some Americans to learn that Israel can stop any U.S. Congressmen from entering Gaza, which Tel Aviv illogically claims is no longer under its control even though it has turned the area into an outdoor prison camp.
One notes particularly the lack of even a single Republican concerned over the completely disproportionate carnage in Gaza. Senator Rand Paul, who one referred to Israeli controlled Gaza as a “concentration camp,” is notable by his absence. Senators Ten Cruise, Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller and Mike Lee (a bit of a surprise that, but he is a Mormon) were all part of the official delegation, which also included a number of GOP House members as well as Florida governor Rick Scott.
Regarding the Democrats, it has long been observed that the party base does not any longer support the philo-Israel policies embraced by the Clintonesque Democratic National Committee leadership. Those congressmen who have spoken out certainly deserve the public’s support when they find Israel’s behavior just too much to take.
It would have been refreshing to see more Congressmen criticizing Israel for what are indisputably war crimes in using live fire against unarmed demonstrators. And they should use the same blunt language they use when criticizing Russia or North Korea or Iran. Unfortunately, even when there have been comments or statements that express some concern, they are inevitably and invariably wrapped in excuses for Israel’s inhumane actions, referring to provocative protests “organized by Hamas,” a claim that is pure Israeli propaganda, and/or blaming “all sides,” which again distributes the fault to make Israel look like a victim as well as the Gazans. It is typical newspeak intended to avoid making Israel and its friends unhappy.
The truth is that what Israel does in its own neighborhood endangers the United States and makes every American who travels through the Middle East a target. I recently returned from a conference in Iran and, as the Gaza tragedy was unfolding, we American participants were all wondering if we would make it home. We considered that Israel, bent on a war with Iran that would drag the U.S. in to do the real fighting, might just choose their moment of apparent strength with the new Embassy and the “successful” slaughter of the Palestinians without so much as a peep out of the White House, as a good time to escalate. How many civilian airliners might get shot down? How many more Palestinians will have to die for the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu’s blood lust truly to be satisfied?