The Goldstone report, which HRW supported, accused Israel of a disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population. Photograph: Hatem Omar/AP
The state of Israel has descended â€“ plummeted â€“ to one of the lowest levels of conscious barbarity that is currently evident in this horrible world.
Any nation that has behaved towards a subject people, as Israel has to Palestinians, is worthy only of utter contempt. On Sunday January 4 I heard a rabbi on the BBCâ€™s morning religious program saying that he supported Israelâ€™s air strikes on Gaza. A man of God actually endorsed the killing of hundreds of people. To say that I was â€“ and am â€“ aghast at the sentiment expressed is to put it very mildly. This religious leader, a person supposed to spread and preach tolerance, patience, charity and peace, was supporting war crimes of immense gravity. His approval of the killing of Arabs was blood-chilling.
And this rabbi was British. Here we have a British citizen supporting hatred and bigotry on a BBC religious program. But of course he isnâ€™t really British. He is an Israeli religious propagandist of British citizenship whose main allegiance is to Israel. There are thousands like him in the UK and the US. They unconditionally promote Tel Avivâ€™s plans and policy and wield amazing influence over politicians and businesses. Killing Palestinians is Israeli policy, and these people spare no effort to justify it.
Hereâ€™s a resident of Gaza talking to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the horrors experienced by Palestinians (and congratulations to Haaretz for having the courage to print it): â€œI keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because itâ€™s dangerous. Theyâ€™re bombing us from the sea and from the east, theyâ€™re bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. Itâ€™s cold and the windows are open; thereâ€™s fire and smoke in open areas; at home thereâ€™s no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say thereâ€™s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?â€
No, theyâ€™re not, is the short answer, and the ruthlessness is epitomized by the evil Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who is using the Gaza war to establish her credentials as a reliably hard-nosed barbarian. She declares â€œthere is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.â€
It was reported on January 5 that Israeli troops are using white phosphorus (WP) artillery shells in Gaza, supposedly to create smoke screens to conceal their advance.
American troops used WP â€“ fondly known as Willy Pete â€“ in their destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, and the US tried to lie its way out of the war crime, but junior officers unintentionally blew the lies apart by writing in the magazine Field Artillery that â€œWP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions . . . and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes . . . We fired â€˜shake and bakeâ€™ missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells (HE) to take them out.â€ In fact WP is an effective killer, and anyone who inhales particles will suffer a particularly hideous and painful death. As recorded by The Independent newspaper in Britain â€œIn the aftermath of the battle [at Fallujah], the State Departmentâ€™s Counter Misinformation Office issued a statement saying that WP was only â€œused very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night [which isnâ€™t the propose of a smoke-shell], not at enemy fighters.â€ When The Independent confronted the State Department with the first-hand accounts of soldiers who participated, an official accepted the mistake and undertook to correct its website.â€ Big deal. Lie, lie and lie again, until youâ€™re found out and itâ€™s impossible to deny the facts. And the Israelis seem to be taking the example, as usual, and are stoutly denying what has been seen by independent witnesses.
Article two, Protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons states: â€œIt is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by incendiary weapons.â€ But Israel is only following the US example. â€œShake and bakeâ€ is such an attractive military option that it would be a shame to spoil their fun, especially when it has rabbinical approval.
Here is part of what is laid out in Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977 . . . General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities: â€œAmong others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate: An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.â€
Israel, supported energetically by Washington (and using US-supplied aircraft, bombs and rockets), has caused â€œincidental loss of lifeâ€ and general civilian casualties on an enormous scale. The Israeli military and the Israeli people knew full well that their genocidal attack on Gaza would kill civilians. The use of white phosphorous in built-up areas is worthy of the Nazis at their most brutal. Stalin and Mao would nod approvingly. It wasnâ€™t considered important that there would be countless civilian deaths. Nobody cares, and least of all American politicians.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuses to comment on the atrocities. The vice-president has been silent. President Obama? As Reuters reported : â€œObama . . . has not commented on the Middle East crisis since Israel launched attacks on Gaza nine days ago. His advisers insist that only President George W Bush can speak for America until then.â€ But it was noted that â€œThe president-elect has commented on the global economic crisis and his plans to try to pull the US economy out of recession.â€
Of course he has. And were it not for the power of Israel in America he would no doubt comment adversely on the slaughter in Gaza, because he is a decent man. But Mr. Obama dare not criticize Israel, even for its use of chemical shells. Nor can any American who wishes to enter or remain engaged in politics. The kiss of political death in the United States of America is to censure Israel. It canâ€™t be done.
And that is why apartheid is permitted in Israel; itâ€™s why the mass-punishment blockade was enforced months before the attack went in; and itâ€™s why the near-genocide in Gaza is allowed to continue.
Does anyone remember the hearing on the so-called Israeli-Palestine peace process in the US House of Representatives in February 2007? Of course not. It was a farce. And why was it such a revolting and hideous charade? â€“ Because it was a three card trick.
The main witness, of the three cards who were called, was one Martin Indyk, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee which is the richest and most powerful lobby group in the country (two of whose members are currently under a mysteriously delayed investigation for spying for Israel). From there, inevitably, he went to be US ambassador in Tel Aviv. (And, incidentally, whose book on the Middle East was the subject of a glowing review in last weekâ€™s Economist.) Another witness was David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (founded by Indyk; itâ€™s all very chummy in pro-Israel sewers), which is funded extensively by American interests that support Zionism. (Among other connections, it is closely associated with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.) And was the third witness a counter-balance to two energetic supporters of Zion? Could he or she present a rather less biased view of the Middle East? Perhaps a person who would make the point that Israel has contemptuously ignored UN Security Council resolutions concerning illegal occupation of Palestinian lands?
Not a bit. The third member was a comic quasi-intellectual character called Daniel Pipes who once declared that Muslim immigrants to the US were â€œbrown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene.â€ (Germanic? â€“ How quaint.) Pipes founded the Middle East Forum (MEF) which encourages university students in America to report lecturers and professors who they consider to be anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian. (In Hitlerâ€™s Germany there were awards given to young people who identified and reported those they thought to be pro-Jewish; I know a very elderly German lady who did this when she was 15. She is now terribly ashamed at the memory, because she actually informed on her own father. How times change. Or donâ€™t, of course.)
In 2006 Pipes was given the â€˜Guardian of Zionâ€™ award, an annual prize to a prominent supporter of Israel, by the Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
With a galaxy of partisan propagandists like Indyk, Makovsky and Pipes being the only people selected to give evidence on Israel-Palestine to the nationâ€™s legislators in Washington, there was no chance whatever that the Congressional Sub-Committee would be presented with a balanced view of the Israel-Palestine problem. The deck was stacked, and the legislators listened. They had no choice, because of the power of the Israel lobby. Theyâ€™ve been shaken and baked.
There is little doubt that the bias towards Israel will continue in the legislature and administration of the United States of America, no matter what Obama might really think, and no matter how many Palestinian children the Zionists have slaughtered. The Israelis are behaving like genocidal people, but those who stay silent about their atrocities are not far behind in the gutter stakes.
Brian Cloughleyâ€™s book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, has just been published by Pen & Sword Books (UK)