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Israeli Intransigence and the U.S. Support

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The Israeli piracy attack in international waters against the aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade once again highlights 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 effectively sealed off Gaza with "watertight" 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 has 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 recognize 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 both poor and oppressed.

Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, characterized the blockade as a "massive form of collective punishment". To show how severe the punishment and how restrictive the blockade are, UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, lists household items that have been refused at various times by Israelis to enter Gaza, including 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 UNRWA 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 by 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 the 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, a 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 that it does, and it does so without repercussions and with complete impunity - invades and occupies the territory of neighboring countries, flagrantly violates the human rights of the people it occupies, bulldozes Palestinian homes and farms, exiles natives from the occupied territory, ignores United Nations resolutions, systematically flaunts international law, sends death squads 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 does Israel get away with such vicious crimes of international dimension that are characteristics of only a rouge and pariah state?

Jews who support the Israeli State in general enjoy tremendous power and influence in Washington and European capitals and in the world Press. Their power of influence can be seen from getting the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to the U.S. veto of the U.N. resolution in 1976 calling for recognition of the Palestinian right of self-determination, even to making scrutiny of the holocaust a crime in some European countries, and now to U.S. refusal to censure Israel for the bloody massacre in international waters. In the 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 too well-documented to write any further. It's exerted through commanding Jewish organizations, a powerful Israeli lobby and Christian Zionist organizations. This influence has no equal or precedence in American political history or in the history of any other country. The US's uncritically sympathetic and unstinting support gets to the point where it appears 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 improperly investigated but ludicrously, a gag order was imposed on the sailors of the USS Liberty. This incident leaves little doubt about overly fawning U.S. relations with Israel. Compare the American reaction to the Israeli attack on the Liberty with the outrage generated after the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 from an inflatable boat in the 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-defense". Racism is readily seen in Bolton's cynical utterance.

One can understand and also 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 West). 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 favor of Israel.

The U.S. demonized Iran for developing a nuclear program. It invaded Iraq on the suspicion of developing nuclear arms, but when it comes to Israel the U.S. pretends they do not possess a 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 can the U.S. hold high moral ground and maintain any sense of credibility when on one hand it lashes out at Iran for allegedly 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 blood act of piracy by its navy commandos in open sea is condemned by almost every country and human rights organization. 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 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 will the U.S. be respected, not for its military power, but for its values. And the U.S. can be just and fair without jeopardizing its special Judeo-Christian bonds and commitment to the Jewish state and its own security and influence. But, if the U.S. continues on its present course of a wink and nod attitude with Israel, rest assured, the world will remain in turmoil and terrorism will remain the order of the day.

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Retired engineer from aircraft industry and a freelance columnist.
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