The Daily Star (Editorial)
April 29, 2008 - 5:30pm

The latest slaughter in the Gaza Strip is generating the predictable claims and counter-claims about responsibility for the loss of innocent lives. The Palestinians say a mother, her four children and another youth were killed by Israeli tank fire, while the Israelis insist that explosives belonging to militants were accidentally set off. As is generally the case, though, whatever the immediate cause on this specific occasion, these and the thousands of civilian deaths that have preceded them are the result of the impunity with which the Israeli government is habitually allowed to run roughshod over Arabs.

The United Nations Security Council has passed literally dozens of resolutions condemning the Israelis for using disproportionate levels of force and/or urging them to abide by earlier decisions aimed at reducing tensions and reviving the peace process. Each of these has been watered down, though, usually at the insistence of the United States - out of fear that America will use its veto as a permanent member of the council to shoot down anything that might actually punish the Jewish state for its actions and lack of remorse. Thus the will of the international community is thwarted, the principle of collective security is trampled underfoot, and the Israelis get away with murder and various other crimes: They can colonize occupied land, starve civilian populations, hold thousands of people - including hundreds of women and children - without either charging them or recognizing them as prisoners of war, and kill scores of innocents with either malice aforethought or criminal negligence.

The worst the Israeli government can expect when it has been up to no good is a reprimand from the Security Council, but the free ride has been going on for so long that Israeli officials tend to take offense even at that. And why not? Like a spoiled child, Israel has learned that there are no repercussions when it misbehaves. In fact, when its depredations cause its enemies to take revenge, it frequently profits from the exchange in the form of extra military hardware and economic assistance from Washington. 

While the Americans certainly deserve plenty of blame for this situation, it has also been made possible by governments around the world that are too timid to speak out. From Arab monarchies to European republics, the great majority of them have failed and even betrayed the Palestinian people by looking the other way. It is as though the capacity for outrage has become atrophied in capitals around the world. Or perhaps they have misinterpreted all those calls for "restraint" from the Security Council to mean that they should not speak out when a scoff-law regime oppresses an entire people. Whatever the reason, the silence is itself a form of complicity in serial criminality, and those who practice it should be ashamed of themselves.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017