Sunday January 4, 2009
Transnational Institute - A worldwide fellowship of scholar activists
UN complicity in the massacre
Hameed Abdul Karim
The Sunday Times
'How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn't see'
- Bob Dylan
The line from Bob Dylan's immortal song 'Blowin' in the Wind' made famous by legends like Stevie Wonder and the trio Peter, Paul and Mary and himself among others takes on a new and poignant relevancy in the context of Israel's vicious attacks on the Palestinians in Gaza.
The man who is supposed to see the misery of the Palestinians and do something to redress their plight as they suffer yet another Israeli pogrom is the UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon. Instead he comes in front of TV cameras and repeats the mantra that Israel has the right to defend itself against terror and then went on to blame regional players who he claims have not done enough to bring peace to the Middle East with nary a word of criticism of Israel.
Obviously he is unaware of the Arab push for peace in the Middle East in 1992 on condition that Israel retreats to its 1967 borders as outlined in one of the many UN resolutions. But Israel and its main sponsor, the United States, rejected this offer. When Moon criticises any other nation, he does not have to preface his comments with the usual mantra like the right of states to defend themselves from external threats. But with Israel he has to be careful. He is supposed to - in fact required by the UN mandate - to bring Israeli leaders to book and to ensure peace in the world. But we have him shifting the blame on Israel's current atrocity in Gaza on anybody but the perpetrators of the crime.
Here we have Israel ignoring all UN resolutions that have been passed since the world body created the Jewish state. Ban ki-Moon's UN should apply pressure on Israel to abide by these resolutions especially the one which created two states out of historical Palestine, one for the European Jews and the other for the natives of Palestine who had lived on this land for as long as history can remember.
Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary a few months ago. Israel has gone beyond its demarcated borders and is the only state that has no defined boundaries. Palestine has still to emerge 60 years after the UN resolution was passed. 'How many years can some people exist before they are allowed to be free'.
The UN secretary general would be uncomfortable making any demands of Israel. Maybe he might even lose his job if he does that... For Israel controls the UN via the US as is detailed by Phyllis Bennis in her book 'Calling the Shots - How Washington Dominates Today's UN'.
Any other country outside the Western hemisphere would have faced punitive sanctions had it behaved in the same way Israel has. Cases in point are Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran and Cuba.
Virtually all Israeli leaders have committed crimes against humanity. In this case humanity is the Palestinians, so maybe an unwritten law exists that makes them lesser human beings and thus disqualified for justice. A couple of Israeli leaders have been awarded the Noble Peace Prize even though there is no peace to talk about. Rwandan and Serbian leaders have been hauled before the World Court for similar if not lesser crimes.
Then compare the response of leaders of the Western world when people all over the globe protested against China's tough policy on Tibet with that of the response the same leaders and people have shown to Israel's savagery in Gaza and you have a picture of a lopsided reaction. The protests against China were plainly meant to embarrass the nation prior to the Beijing Olympics. Even a schoolboy knew that. Leaders like Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown and George Bush among others showed their displeasure at various public forums and even threatened to boycott the opening ceremony. Supporting its leaders, the Western media painted the town red with an anti China propaganda blitz.
Today the very same leaders and the same media are quite oblivious of what Israel is doing in Gaza preferring to blame the victim for the crimes of the villain. As if this was not bad enough, they paint the Palestinian resistance as acts of terrorism. In terms of the Geneva Conventions - if they are still valid -- people have the right to resort to violence to rid their country from an occupying force. The rest of the world is required to support such a cause. Instead we have the whole world turning against the Palestinians as they fight all alone for their land - the land tilled for them by their forefathers since time began.
'How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died'? Bob Dylan's words echo in my ears as Al-Jazeera shows more grotesque pictures of little Palestinian children as they are placed in a morgue.
* The writer is the vice-president of the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine.
The Sunday Times International – Sunday January 4, 2009