Why Did Congress Shamelessly Pander to Israel?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Last week, soon after the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups condemned Israel for blocking deliveries of vital aid for wounded civilians in Gaza, and with the Palestinian death toll at 700, the U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions that not only blamed Palestinians for the bloodbath, but praised Israel for its conduct of the assault.
The House resolution, co-sponsored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., commends Israel for bringing "humanitarian aid to Gaza with hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian assistance and numerous ambulances entering the Gaza Strip since the current round of fighting began."
Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who co-sponsored the Senate resolution with Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., stated before the vote, "The Israelis ... are responding exactly the same way we would." Reid added: "When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the state of Israel … "
In a recent article on AlterNet titled, " Virtually the Entire Dem-Controlled Congress Supports Israel's War Crimes in Gaza," Stephen Zunes, chairman of the Middle Eastern studies department at the University of San Francisco, argued that the resolutions not only fly in the face of international law, but undermine core humanitarian principles established as far back as the Magna Carta.
Zunes writes that nothing Hamas has or has not done would "absolve Israel of its responsibility under international humanitarian law for the far greater civilian deaths its armed forces have inflicted upon the Palestinians in Gaza. Indeed, it has long been a principle of Western jurisprudence that someone who is the proximate cause of a crime cannot claim innocence simply because of the influence of another party."
Zunes also calls out progressives for demonizing American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Republicans, while letting Democrats off the hook -- after all, the resolutions were co-sponsored by Reid and Pelosi -- and points out that until otherwise-liberal politicians are held accountable for supporting Israeli militarism, the United States will continue to pursue policies at odds with international law and commonly accepted principles of human rights.
In response to the article, AlterNet readers voiced some strong opinions about our government's unqualified support for the Israeli war on Gaza.
Dr. Brian marvels at unprincipled stances taken by U.S. politicians:
I've treated the injured under fire and been arrested and nearly executed for it. So when I see my colleagues in Palestine, both expats and Palestinian, working around the clock and in danger to save lives, while Israel uses U.S. weaponry to extinguish lives, I marvel at the diametric opposition of ethical principles.
Our government tells us its objective is to eliminate terrorism, but who can doubt that the carnage in Gaza juxtaposed with its gleeful endorsement by our government will swell the ranks of angry young men seeking revenge?
Alex Lawyer agrees, pointing out that the unequivocal and vocal support American politicians give Israel is not only unethical, but plays to the advantage of so-called terrorist groups:
Our Congress has endorsed the rule of law: the law of the jungle, red in tooth and claw. As the Athenians told the Melians, "The strong do what they will, and the weak endure what they must."
This isn't new. Both the U.S. and Israel have long been scofflaws and hypocrites. A look at human rights treaties reveals that they are usually in the company of regimes they otherwise deplore.
Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Jaamat Islamia and Hamas must be absolutely giddy at the public relations and recruiting coup we have handed them.
But James Allen argues that in condemning the atrocities in Gaza, many liberals go too far in the other direction and wrongly exonerate Hamas.