non-binding resolution that expressed unequivocal support for the state
of Israel, and heaps all the blame for the current conflict on Hamas and none of it on Israel. It was a unanimous voice vote in the Senate and I can only conclude that both our Senators favored the resolution. The recorded vote in the House lists Representatives Pingree and Michaud as voting in favor.
A UN Security Council resolution in the same time-frame called for a
cease-fire in Gaza and passed 14 - 0, but with a U.S. abstention, thus
seriously weakening its impact.
This lock-step like voting in Congress and the UN doesn't reflect a
considered analysis of the situation and the circumstances that are
taking place in Gaza. Votes of this nature certainly undermine any ability that the U.S. has remaining to be influential in peace negotiations.
Much is often made about who started what when. It is reminiscent of
squabbles between siblings - "He hit me; no, she hit me first." I
find that this particular squabble is more like that of a seventh grade
bully picking on a third grader. The third grader has no chance to
prevail in the absence of adult intervention.
Yes, Israel has been subjected to rocket attacks, which until three
months ago averaged around 10 per month. Three months ago Israel
placed increasing restrictions on goods flowing into Gaza and created
considerable hardships for the civilian population. Not surprisingly,
increasing numbers of rockets began to land in Israel. Israel
tightened the borders and the flow of goods even more, resulting in
more rockets and longer ranges. Then came Israel's full-fledged air
and ground attack on Gaza. And the Bush administration and the
Congress rewarded and stood by the "bully."
"Israel has a right to self-defense," proclaim members of Congress. I
do not take issue with that position; it is a right that belongs to
every sovereign nation. However, what the Israeli Defense Forces have
been doing in Gaza is not self-defense. It is naked aggression.
When President Bush proclaimed, "You are either with us or against us,"
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon took that as a blank check. Increased
settlements in Palestinian territory and the invasion of Lebanon
followed. With few exceptions that policy has continued. And it
continues with the full support of the US government, in terms of arms
shipments, vetoes or abstentions in the UN, pledges of unwavering commitment without demands for modifying its tactics, and frequent inhumane treatment of residents in the Palestinian territories.
Back to the "bully" analogy. Israel has superior power and influence
with respect to the Hamas government, whose resources, be it military,
diplomatic or economic, are in no way comparable. It is like the
disparity characteristic of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet the
"bully" does not prevail. What are we to make of this?
Naked aggression against a significantly weaker adversary only results
in increased resistance. For each child killed in Gaza by Israeli
actions - and approximately one-third of the more than 700 civilian
deaths in Gaza have been children - 20 family members are converted to
hatred towards the Israelis and perhaps Jews in general. This is a particularly convoluted way of achieving the security of Israel - assuming that that is the goal.
Crimes against humanity are being committed. Children are starving.
People are dying. Medical help is being denied - and the then
President, the President and the Congress are silent. Has AIPAC got
Fintan O'Toole, Irish Times resident philosopher-in-chief asked, "When
does the mandate of victimhood expire? At what point does the Nazi
genocide of Europe's Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the
demands of international law and of common humanity?"
I say the time has come, and we have reached that point.
President Obama, Senators Snowe and Collins, Representatives Michaud
and Pingree, be not afraid of being labeled anti-Semitic if you act
Israel deserves to be regarded as a nation among nations - no less than
others, but also no more.
Herbert Hoffman of Ogunquit, Maine is a retired psychologist who recently ran for U.S. Senate in Maine. He is Jewish by heritage and ethnicity.