Council for the National Interest

Gaza, Israel, and the Corruption of American Values (and how to hold war crimes trials at home)

Jul 26 2014 / 10:16 pm

By Gilbert Schramm.

The bizarre and pointless Israeli assault on Gaza has exposed the extent to which Israeli pressure has undermined American institutions. That corruption should be of deep concern to every American. Both here and abroad, we will eventually pay an enormous price for it. Notice the following facts.

Our media has been corrupted. Almost every news channel has allowed Israeli military officials to give long, uninterrupted opportunities to frame the conflict in grossly misleading ways, and to repeat their official lies and talking points almost ad nauseam. They are rarely challenged by the media when these lies totally fail to reflect the reality of Israel’s actions. At the same time, there is almost no Palestinian representation in the coverage. Several well-respected reporters have been pointedly recalled or ‘disinvited’ from various networks for filing reports which tried to restore some balance to the coverage.

The Presidency has been corrupted. Obama repeats Netanyahu’s stock phrase that, “Israel has a right to defend itself.” This is not a defensive operation. The president’s statements, and the support they imply, simply ensure continued Israeli aggression and war crimes.

Our mission to the UN and our commitment to international law have been corrupted. Today in the UN Human Rights Council, America cast a lone vote NOT to even investigate the horrors that are on TV every day. In 2013, then US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told Reform Jews that a “huge part” of her job was defending Israel. Silly us—we thought her job was to defend US interests and values. With all that is happening around the Middle East, shouldn’t that keep her busy enough?

Our entire legislative branch has been corrupted. The US Senate just overwhelmingly approved S.Res. 498 – “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.” The words “defend” and “unprovoked” are both lies. Even the phrase “Hamas terrorist organization” is a misrepresentation—Hamas is a national resistance movement struggling to defend the last crumbs of Palestinian land from absorption by Israeli aggressors.  The U.S. Senate voted 100-0 to support Israel’s actions and to ask for a dissolution of the Palestinian national-unity government—even though the lack of a unity government had previously been used by Israel and the US as an excuse NOT to negotiate with Palestinians. Yet, dripping in lies and hypocrisy as it is, S.Res. 498’s co-sponsors range from our own Wyden and Merkley to Paul Rand and Ted Cruz. House votes on these AIPAC/Israel sponsored kinds of resolution are usually even worse.

Even federal agencies charged with ensuring the safety of the US public have been corrupted. On July 22nd the FAA banned US airlines from flying into Israel’s main airport, Ben-Gurion International because a Hamas rocket had landed only a mile from the airport. Israel railed against the FAA suspension, insisting that the airport was perfectly safe!  That is a supremely hypocritical claim. The entire Israeli PR establishment has railed all week about the dire existential danger posed to the entire state of Israel by Hamas rockets. Yet Israeli PM Netanyahu and former PM Shimon Peres lobbied fiercely for the President to reverse the FAA ruling. In the wake of the tragic downing of a Malaysian air jet in a war zone this week, we should ALL be able to agree that being in range of Hamas rockets should certainly rule out all civilian air traffic into Ben-Gurion International until there is a lasting peace. Yet today, even though there was no evidence that the situation on Thursday was any different than it had been the day before, the FAA lifted the flight ban.

Netanyahu or the FAA can no more guarantee the safety of a plane coming into or out of Israel than they can predict a lightning strike. A Hamas rocket could land anywhere almost anytime. Netanyahu simply wants the airport open—even if it means placing US lives at risk to make Israel appear safe. This enormously hypocritical reversal completely undermines Netanyahu’s rationale for the massive civilian casualties in Gaza.

I suggest that everyone hold their own war crimes trial. Simply turn off the sound and watch some video coming out of Gaza. As you do, remember that Israel claims it tries to minimize civilian casualties and that Hamas tries to maximize them. Then remember these key points.

  1. In 2013, prior to the Israeli breaking of the ceasefire, ZERO Israeli civilians had been killed by rockets from Gaza. According to the Israeli watchdog group B’Tselem, 36 Palestinians were killed in the same period.
  2. Since the fighting began, only two Israeli civilians have been killed as opposed to 40 IDF troops (a 5% civilian casualty rate). Some 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, (UN estimates show an 80% civilian casualty rate).
  3. Despite repeated Israeli claims, no independent reporter on the ground has actually seen evidence that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.
  4. This kind of operation has been tried by Israel before and has never worked.
  5. Prior operations of this kind have created far more causalities than they prevent.
  6. A disproportionate military response, even to a real provocation, is a war crime.
  7. Intentionally bombing civilian hospitals, schools and mosques is a war crime.
  8. Israeli warnings of imminent attack are irrelevant—Israeli policy has left Gazans nowhere to go.
  9. During the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto uprising in WWII, the Jewish resistance fought house by house for weeks through the crowded neighborhoods. I don’t recall anyone criticizing their choice of battleground. Like the people of Gaza today, they simply had no choice. What would a 4 hour extension of a 12 hour ceasefire have possibly meant to them?

Above all, everyone should remember that to this day, Israel has not shown any evidence that Hamas was involved in the killing of the three Israeli teens— the act Israel has used to justify breaking their prior ceasefire with Hamas and to create this horrific, pointless, genocidal violence. In fact, reports on the 25th of July showed there is evidence that Israel knows Hamas wasn’t involved.  The only rational verdict I can reach is that the carnage we see today is a conscious and deliberate Israeli strategy— a strategy that is corrupting the US as surely as it has corrupted Israel.

What is that strategy? As reporter David Hirst wrote of the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza, Israel deliberately killed civilians in the hope that the (remaining) civilians would then blame their plight on Hamas. “The ultimate goal was to inflict such pain on the Gazans that they would turn against the regime which had brought down this mayhem on their heads, driving it from power.” (Beware of Small States, by David Hirst, p.401). That, I’m sorry to say, is the only explanation that really accounts for the horrific number of civilian casualties Israel has created in Gaza in the last weeks. This, of course, is just part of Israel’s greater goal of destroying the unity government recently established by Fatah and Hamas. Divide and conquer…

But even if you approve of this strategy (which clearly involves war crimes), it has clearly failed. Gazans aren’t blaming Hamas. In fact, even the more moderate Palestinians on the West Bank are becoming more radicalized and rallying behind Hamas. In fact it’s really not about radicals vs. extremists; it is simply about the people of Palestine trying to defend their land from Israelis intent on stealing it. That is the some 125 years of modern Israeli history in a nutshell.

So even if for some inexplicable reason you have read all this and watched the mayhem in Gaza, and still side with Israel, at least don’t delude yourself. Israel isn’t winning. It is soaking itself in blood and shame and guaranteeing that the future of Israel will be more of the same.

Finally, throughout the world the current catastrophe has served as an ongoing, 24/7, 18 day infomercial for how American values have been corrupted by narrow, vicious, and purely political Israeli interests. A future generation of Americans will pay the price for this. Extremist anti-Americans are being created across the region every second. We have Israel to thank for that. Some ally.


Gilbert Schramm is a peace activist and international educator who lives in Oregon. He has previously lived and worked extensively in the Middle East.

Posted by on Jul 26 2014 . Filed under Commentary & Analysis, Costs to the U.S. . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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