THE Nazi propaganda film, The Eternal Jew, took anti-Semitism to extraordinary levels to the extent of comparing Jews to plague-carrying rats.
Indeed, so deep-rooted was the hatred of the Jewish race in Nazi Germany that what began with a simple boycott of Jewish shops ended in the gas chambers of Auschwitz with the systematic and co-ordinated campaign of terror by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers aimed at exterminating the entire Jewish population of Europe.
Almost a century now from this dark episode, as the world attempts to come to terms with the tragic and incomprehensible barbarity not worth to be associated with humanity, it’s amazing how mankind fails to learn from the past as history repeats itself in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Ironically, it’s the Israelis and not the Germans at the centre of the genocide against Palestinians with the blessings of the West.
According to the Times of Israel, under certain circumstances, “genocide is permissible” because it is directed against Palestinians who are ‘terrorists’ and should be ‘obliterated.’ Not only that, the same paper vomits this bile, “What other ways then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely?”
And as if duplicating Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Moshe Feiglin, the Israeli Deputy Speaker of the Knesset (parliament) fumes, “Powerful voices in Israel’s Knesset have called upon the government to expel the Palestinian population and resettle the territory with Jews”.
It’s amazing to realise how mankind, in spite of his intellect, wisdom and advanced mental prowess has such short memory. For, how are these inflammatory sentiments, spiced with racist undertones that dehumanise Palestinians and condemn them to sub-humans differ from Hitler’s notion of plague carrying rats, a pretext he used to exterminate Jews during the holocaust?
Given this deep-rooted hatred and a complete disregard for human rights, is it surprising that almost 2,000 Palestinians are massacred in cold blood in the Gaza Strip with the international community almost silent? Or is it that the world is still gripped by the holocaust emotions to the extent of being blind to Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip? How are these atrocities different from those in the Central African Republic where the UN was quick to send its forces?
In fact, the West can’t mediate successfully in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for they are part of the problem. Who in the Middle East regards John Kerry, America’s Secretary of State, or Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy, as honest brokers? Subsequently, any efforts by the West to mediate in any Middle East conflict, especially one that involves Israel is doomed due to the hypocrisy and double standards that guide their foreign policy in the region. Indeed, strategic and economic interests are at the centre of Western foreign policy in the region and anything else comes a distant second.
As the US House Speaker, John Boehner reiterates, “At times … people try to isolate Israel,” he argued, but, “We are here to stand with Israel, not just as a broker or observer, but as a strong partner and a trusted ally”. Drawn from this premise, it therefore implies that genocide committed by Israel indirectly implicates the West and Americans in particular. Apart from moral support that Israel thrives on from the West, the latter is the major source of weaponry and ammunition which is used by the former to commit war crimes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Of late, war in the eyes of the West, is big business indeed, worth not only embarking on but fuelling as well. As late as the 30th of July 2014, the Pentagon cleared Lockheed Martin, one of the giants in armament production in the US to sell 5,000 Hellfire missiles to the Iraq government for a staggering $700 million. It is the very weapons being seized by ISIS to terrorise innocent civilians in the region. In fact, it’s well documented that Israel is the US’ largest arms importer and that, in the last decade, Washington has sold to Israel $7,2 billion in weaponry and military equipment, the very weapons being used to commit genocide in Gaza today and the rest of the region.
As the Palestinians still bury their dead from the Israeli onslaught, with thousands displaced and many wounded, the US Congress voted almost unanimously to pledge $225 million to restocking Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defence system and, in that vote, just 8 members of the US House of Representatives voted against providing the funding while 395 voted in favour. Given this hypocrisy and double standards, how can the West claim high moral ground on issues centred on human rights and democracy?
Also, according to a report titled The Role of European Ground and Air Forces After the Cold War, in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the US allowed Israel to access its stockpiles of weapons and ammunition in her war with Egypt and Syria. And, according to a 2014 Congressional research service report, in 2006 the US allowed the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to use its stock piles held in Israel during the Lebanon war against Hezbollah. Indeed, it’s not only Americans implicated in this lucrative but deadly saga, but, other players conceal their hypocrisy under the cover of humanitarian gestures.
Data published in a new report from the House of Commons in London indicates that the value of all British military exports to Israel currently being processed is worth a staggering £7,9 billion ($12,1 billion) compared to a meagre £17 million of aid the British government is proud to donate to Palestinians as a humanitarian gesture. In fact, the West gain more financially from the wars they indirectly sponsor in the Middle East and other parts of the world than the aid they give. By so doing, they are complicit in committing war crimes just like Israel is being implicated in the Gaza Strip.
An EU report on weapons exports shows that Britain approved military export licenses for Israel worth 5,7 million euros in 2011 and 7,2 million euros in 2010. As Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights angrily condemns the US’s complicity in committing war crimes in Gaza expresses, “they have (Americans) not only provided the heavy weapons, which is now being used by Israel in Gaza, but they have also provided almost $1 billion in providing the Iron Domes to protect Israelis from the rocket attacks, but no such protection has been provided to Gazans against shelling”.
Other culprits embroiled in arming Israel include Italy and Finland. According to Amnesty International, Finland is Israel’s 9th most important supplier of arms and ammunition, and in 2002, the value of trade between the two countries in anti-tank guided missiles has been more than 4 million euros. As if that isn’t enough, serious allegations emerge that Israelis use Palestinians as guinea pigs in the occupied territories to test the effectiveness of their weapons as the armament industry booms.
In a documentary called The Lab , there are claims that four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become more than guinea pigs in military experiments designed to test the strength and effectiveness of weapons needed to meet the unquenchable appetite of the booming armament industry. As Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab argues, Israel has turned the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza into laboratories for refining, testing and showcasing its weapons systems.
And, in most cases, it is the West who supply much of the needed material in the armament industry. Business Week reports that since the Gaza conflict erupted, Elbit Systems, Israel’s leading defence contractor and the company that has several weapons systems being used by the IDF in Gaza, saw her American traded stocks rise by 6.1 per cent in value. In fact, Israel’s sales of weapons and military systems hit a record high in 2013 of $7.5 billion, up from $5.8 billion in 2012 due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is no mean achievement for a country with a population of not more than 8 million people.
In fact, Israel’s stamina is premised on not only military backing from the West but also financial support. According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service Report, Israel: US Foreign Assistance, US aid to Israel in the last half century has totalled a massive $81.3 billion. And, as the Washington Post reveals, since 1992, the US has offered Israel $2 billion annually in loan guarantees. Congressional researchers, it has been revealed, disclosed that between 1974 and 1989, $16.4 billion in US military loans were converted to grants and, as has been the trend, most loans to Israel were eventually forgiven.
Because of this unconditional and never ending financial backing from the West, the Washington Post observes, Israel’s Gross National Product is higher than the combined GNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza with her per capita income of about $14,000 ranks her the 16th wealthiest nation in the world. It is this financial muscle that gives Israel the Big Brother status in the region to the extent of being deluded to act with impunity as evidenced by the atrocities in Gaza today.
What then can be done? Since the UN gave birth to Israel in 1948, it is within the powers of the same body to impose a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as cherished by Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Affairs Minister, based on the 1967 UN Resolution 242. If the UN can station peace keeping forces in the Golan Heights and South Sudan, why not doing the same in Gaza and the West Bank?
In addition, the international community can impose an arms embargo on Israel as Spain has already done. Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade argues, “There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales and military collaboration with Israel. When governments sell weapons into war zones, they cannot absolve themselves of responsibility of what happens when they are used”. Again, a boycott of Israeli goods by the international community can be an effective weapon to force the rogue state to abide by international law.
In addition, cutting of ties with the state is another option, starting with the recalling of ambassadors followed by the expulsion of Israeli diplomats. In Latin America, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador have all recalled their ambassadors to Israel in protest over the massacre in Gaza. Bolivia has changed its policies to require Israelis entering the country to obtain visas.
Given all the evidence above, vis-a- vis Western-Israeli relations and the massacre in Gaza, one can only conclude that concepts of democracy and human rights are just nothing other than mere utopias that mankind dreams of but never fully realised. Nobody should claim the high moral ground for all our hands are dirty indeed!
William Muchayi is a pro-democracy and political analyst who can be contacted on [email protected]