Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Middle East: Israel's divine right to impunity

By Julio Godoy
Republished courtesy of
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BERLIN (IDN) - One anecdote being repeatedly told these days is that some 20 years ago, the then U.S. foreign minister James Baker, angry with the Israeli government of the time for the lack of progress in the Middle East peace talks, gave his direct telephone number to his colleague in Tel Aviv, and urged him to call. "But you only call me when you are serious about peace," Baker reportedly said.

Even though the Israeli government of the time and the ones that followed were almost never "serious about peace" -- with the sole and honourable exception of Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s -- Baker and his successors in office kept accepting their calls.

This includes the present foreign minister Hillary Clinton and her boss in the Oval Office Barrack Obama – despite the series of blunders, provocations and crimes Benjamin Netanyahu's government has intentionally perpetrated in recent months.

To recount only the most recent Israeli provocations and crimes: In January, Israeli agents falsified European passports and other identity documents to prepare and commit the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. By so doing, Israel did not only offend its European allies, but also the Dubai leadership, one of the few Arab countries not to support the boycott against the Jewish state.

A few weeks later, the Israeli government obviously intentionally stultified U.S. vice-president Joe Biden just when Bidden had guaranteed once again -- as if there were any doubts about it -- his government's "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel's security".

The Israeli government approved the construction of additional 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem and more than 100 new buildings in the West Bank -- that is, explicitly acting against the U.S. wish to see a stop of the settlements in areas Palestinians rightfully claim as their territory.

The Israeli provocations continued in the spring with the murderous assault of the Turkish aid flotilla, which wanted to break through the illegal, year-long blockade of the Gaza strip.

Then followed the humiliation of the German development minister Dirk Niebel. The Israelis detained him while he was trying to go to Gaza. At the first moment, Niebel did not control his outrage and warned Israel that it had committed "a major blunder" and that it would pay dear for it. But after a couple of days it was Niebel who regretted his reaction. Israel never presented excuses.

That the Israeli government does not think twice to make fools of their best allies -- the U.S. and Germany -- leaves no doubt that this series of acts are not incidental, but very much part of a conscious policy: A brutal, ruthless policy, which includes the further expansion of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the use of illegal weapons such as white phosphorus bombs and repressive methods -- assassinations -- against all Palestinians, civil or not, as in the so called Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009, and the virtual imprisonment and slow motion starvation of hundreds of thousands in the Gaza strip.


This consistent path of violations of international law is not new. It started practically with the foundation of the state of Israel in 1949, and continued throughout the decades. Or have you forgotten the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in1982? Do you still remember the killings of Jenin in 2002?

Misappropriation of natural resources, such as water and land, which under normal circumstances would be under the legitimate administration of a Palestinian state, are part of the Israeli policy.

This misappropriation has been implicitly approved by the U.S. and European governments throughout the decades -- and has found its legal expression in the so-called peace agreement the U.S. government of Bill Clinton in close complicity with Israel tried to impose upon the Palestinian Authority in the late 1990s.

A superficial analysis of this plan explains why Yasser Arafat rejected it. But who cares to undergo the discomfort of giving an objective reading to such a plan? It is obviously comfortable to play into the hands of Israel.

That Israel is not willing to do away with its nuclear programme and forego its atomic arsenal is yet another sign of the special treatment the U.S. and its European allies meet it out.

It is not a surprise, then, that despite the continuous violations of international law since more than 50 years, no Israeli official has ever faced an international tribunal. European governments, otherwise quite easy to show indignation and outrage by other small nations' crimes, mostly remain silent, utter pious words or issue empty warnings to Israel.

But very soon they come back to the eternal litany of their "unconditional support", and repeat again the old mantra of the "Israeli right to existence". Such formulations are not only common among governments. European journalists and commentators, and Left-leaning activists, either trapped in the sense of collective guilt after the Holocaust, or willingly at the service of a monstrous cause, also fall in that trap, ignoring that no one can actually believe that Israel will ever disappear from the face of the Earth.

Most important still: Such behaviour confirms Israel's correct, albeit immoral assumption, that it can do whatever it wants to the Palestinians, it will never be punished for its crimes. Every time U.S. and European officials and activists repeat their mantras, they help to cement the Israeli conviction that it enjoys unconditional impunity.

Therefore it was not a surprise to see Barrack Obama offering a warm welcome to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 6, 2010 in the White House, within months of the Israeli government embarrassing Joe Bidden and the entire U.S. policy towards the region.

The murderous Israeli assault on the Turkish aid flotilla. False European identity documents to prepare an assassination in Dubai. The use of white phosphorus bombs. The imprisonment of hundreds of thousands in Gaza. All forgotten? The humiliation of Dirk Niebel? Who is Dirk Niebel anyway? If the Israeli government ever doubted that it can do whatever it wants, now it is sure of its impunity -- again. (IDN-InDepthNews/25.07.2010)

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