The Tyranny of Collective Punishment

Israeli attack on UN school which killed 10 people ‘a gross violation of international law' -- UNRWA

Israeli airstrike near UN school killed 10 people ‘a gross violation of international law’ — UNRWA

Because Israel is at war on largely-defenseless Gaza, America seems automatically at war with the 1.8 million Palestinians struggling for survival there.

No U.S. declaration of war occurred, but almost every member of Congress provided full-throated support, it seemed, for Israel’s war role.

 

by Hon. Paul Findley

 

A lethal Israeli assault close to a UN-operated school in Gaza on Sunday prompted unprecedented criticism of Israel from U.S. government sources. It may mark a turning point in U.S.-Israel relations. It is an abrupt change from U.S. government solidarity with Israel expressed just last week after its heavy month-long assault on Gaza.

The death toll in Gaza topped 1,400 when astounding news appeared last week on the Internet screen: the Houses of Congress adopted a resolution expressing unqualified support and praise for Israel’s assault on Palestinians in Gaza.   Not a word of sympathy for the families of the dead and the thousands of other Palestinians injured. The death toll has since risen to more than 1,800.

Approval in both Houses was by voice vote. No one demanded a recorded vote.  Our government gave further proof of support for collective punishment by shipping $223 million in missiles and other munitions, a gift to replenish Israel’s stockpiles.  On this vote, Senators were unanimous. Eight House Members, four of each party, bravely voted no. Imagine! Voting against always-odious collective punishment becomes an act of bravery.

Children killed by Israeli Navy on Gaza beach

Children killed by Israeli Navy on Gaza beach

Ponder the enormity of this year’s collective punishment. Rockets into Israel caused the death of three Israeli civilians in a month of war measures. During the same period, over 1,800 Palestinians were killed—1,600 were likely non-combatants. The kill ratio was over 500- to- one.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israeli forces did not intend to harm non-combatants. Perhaps so, but he must have known in advance that massive human slaughter was inevitable.

Because Israel is at war on largely-defenseless Gaza, America seems automatically at war with the 1.8 million Palestinians struggling for survival there. No U.S. declaration of war occurred, but almost every member of Congress provided full-throated support, it seemed, for Israel’s war role.

The resolutions make no mention of the horrendous price Palestinian civilians are paying.

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President Barack Obama, like almost all other elected federal officials, stoutly defends Israel’s right to self-defense. Surely, the people of Gaza have the same right, but it went unmentioned in the halls of Congress or by Obama. Thanks mainly to Israel’s daily criminal activity, Palestinians in Gaza now are in their fifth decade of suffering. All these years the U.S. government, already possessed with means of strong leverage on Israeli policy, has never once attempted to treat Palestinians justly.

'We’ve got to get this done,' Reid (Senate Maj. Leader) says about passing legislation to give more aid to Israel. | AP Photo

‘We’ve got to get this done,’ Reid (Senate Maj. Leader) says about passing legislation to give more aid to Israel. | AP Photo

A few years after Israel came into being in 1948, all Palestinians were shorn of full citizenship everywhere. Those who remained in Israel after the l967 Arab-Israeli War became citizens, but it was second-class type. They are denied social and some political benefits available to Jews. In the West Bank, Palestinians have steadily lost ground to the onslaught of illegal settlers and suffer routine violence and indignities in daily life.

The latest resolutions strike at the heart of our most treasured principles and commitments. Members of Congress need a refresher course. In a memorable speech, Abraham Lincoln provided a definition of national defense that is timely today:

“Our defense is the preservation of the spirit that prizes liberty as the precious heritage of all people, in all lands everywhere. Destroy that spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around our doors.”  

The congressional approval of Israel’s killings in Gaza is not only disgusting but ominous.   I pray for sudden Capitol Hill enlightenment on behalf of Palestinian justice.


Speaking Out Paul FindleyPaull Findley, former Member of Congess,served the 20th District of Illinois during eleven terms from 1961 to 1983. He lives in Jacksonville. His latest book is SepakingOut, Lawrence Hll Books, Chicago. Also:  Author of They Dare to Speak Out and Deliberate Deceptions, that outlines three aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict: “Statehood and Conquest,” “Collusion and Conflict,” and “Perils to Peace.” Findley wrote the very first book to analyze the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions from the perspective of Congress. Carefully documented with specific case histories, They Dare Speak out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby reveals how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and presidential elections. First published in 1985 and reprinted several times since, the book criticizes the undue influence AIPAC exerts in the Senate and the House and the pressure AIPAC brings to bear on university professors and journalists who seem too sympathetic to Arab and Islamic states or too critical of Israel and its policies.Findley is co-founder of the Council for the National Interest.

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Posted by on August 4, 2014, With 112 Reads, Filed under Wars. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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One Response to "The Tyranny of Collective Punishment"

  1. Don Nash  August 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Mr. Findley is spot on. Bravely so. Congress’ egregious endorsement of Israeli genocide on Palestinians is shameful if not open treason on human decency. Every last Israel first congressional whore that voiced their vote of “support” is an enemy of our shared humanity. War criminally so. Monday the 4th of August 2014, America’s functionary president signed legislation that sends $230+ millions of taxpayer dollars to, wait for it, Israel. Judas H. Priest, the Obama is one feckless son-of-a-bitch and I’ll not apologize for my profanity.

    America is disgraced by the idiot bastards that are elected to Congress by ‘we the people’. Guess that proves the point that the American people are not only brain dead but utterly devoid of good taste in the over all.

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