O Captain My Captain: America’s Aid for Israel’s Political ‘Continuum’

By Clive Hambidge *

A military conquest

“… We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours … When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry round like drugged roaches in a bottle.” (Rafeal Eitan)

American aid to IsraelA ‘moral articulation’ by successive American administrations as to the primary reason for their unilateral support of 0.001% of the world’s population, namely Israel, is not standing up to international law or American scrutiny. The perpetuated myth of an surrounded by mortal enemies, battling heroically for its democratic rights against all odds fades as the world of right mindedness recognises in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip the daily abuse and horror for Palestinians under illegal occupation in Israel’s ‘battlefield’ to test new weaponry. That abuse, brought into sharp focus by the U.S Department of State in early 2004, is systematic; perpetrated by Israel in 2011 and paid for by U.S tax payers’ dollars in the form of indiscriminate, unwise and illegal aid according to America’s own laws. The reason? Unquestioning support for Israel’s militarised political continuum, where de jure occupation became de facto annexation, and where, according to Special Rapporteur Falk “the unbridled assault upon Palestinian rights” continues.

If one consciously moves in time backward and forward, that is in American/Israeli time, one finds the same pattern no matter the date. There is no change no progress. It is like watching a film, a play no matter where you cut, what montage you see, what curtain is lifted and what scene you view, it is the same film, the same play, the same day, from the same violent script. It is a continuum of brutal actions designed to oppress Palestinians enough to make them leave their own land. Pick a date at random and one finds the paradox of continuum. Israel is waiting for Godot

“Estragon: All the dead voices.
Vladimir: They make a noise like wings.”

Matt Bowles, writing for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, makes plain the facts: America for decades allowing Israel to place “US aid into its general fund, effectively eliminating any distinction between types of aid. [means] Therefore, U.S. tax-payers are helping to fund an illegal occupation, the expansion of colonial-settlements projects, and gross human rights violations against the Palestinian civilian population.” Facts continually denied by Israel, as it ruthlessly pursue ‘the doctrine of politics free from law’.

Israel’s persistent but illusory claim that its ‘international human rights treaty obligations do not apply in the OPT‘ has been, according to Amnesty International, ‘rejected’ by the U.N Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Against Women, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the ’, and every conscionable citizen on the planet.

So to February 2004, the U.S Department of State in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices makes clear the egregious human rights violations and status of Israel in the OPT 2003, “The international community does not recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.” All accredited missions are to be found rightfully, and legally, in Tel Aviv. “Israel’s overall human rights record in the occupied territories remained poor and worsened in the treatment of foreign human rights activists.” These abuses came in a fiscal year 2003 where Israel received from the U.S “a foreign military financing grant of $3.1 billion and a $600 million grant for economic security.” (Jewish Voice for Peace – JVP); U.S dollars used in the advancing of Israel’s policy of ‘continuum’ namely the illegal colonisation of Palestinian lands, the tormenting of its people and those that would assist them. Lest we forget, it was in March 2003 that Rachel Corrie, an American citizen performing a fundamental rule of law principle by campaigning for human rights in the OPT, lost her life under the tracks of a caterpillar bulldozer: ‘Made in the U.S.A’.

The U.S Department of State found in the bloody year of 2003 that amongst other violations of :

  • “Israeli soldiers placed civilians in danger by ordering them [Palestinians] to facilitate military operations.”
  • “Israeli forces sometimes arbitrarily destroyed, damaged, or looted Palestinian property”.
  • “Israeli security forces often impeded the provision of medical assistance to Palestinian civilians.”
  • “Israeli security forces harassed and abused Palestinian pedestrians.”
  • “Israel conducted mass, arbitrary arrests in the West Bank during military operations, summoning and detaining males between the ages of 15 and 45″
  • “Israel carried out policies of demolitions, strict curfews, and closures that directly punished innocent civilians … Israel often demolished homes after suspects had already been killed or arrested.”
  • Israel “maintained” according to the Department of State “that such punishment of innocents would serve as a deterrent against future terrorist attacks.”

These insidious patterns have been sustained by all Israeli administrations and represent a ‘continuum': a calculated militaristic policy of intimidation and worse toward the innocent civilians of . This being so, I must add my concerns to the concerns of the Rachel Corrie Foundation that “the State Departments Country Reports on Human Rights systematically exclude the State Departments own analysis of Israel’s failure to perform a credible investigation into the killing of Rachel Corrie,” and further concerns that “reports generated by international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and , which noted a pattern of negligence in Israeli investigations into civilians killed by the IDF, were ignored in the creation of the Country Reports.”

In recognition of the illegality of American Aid to Israel, the Rachel Corrie Foundation in its submission to the U.N Universal Periodic Review called upon the U.S to “enforce 22 U.S.C. 2304 (1994), protocol on Human Rights and Security Assistance, and the “Leahy Amendments” to the Foreign Operations Appropriations and Defence Appropriations Acts (e.g. P.L. 105-118 570), which prohibit the provision of security assistance to countries and military units that engage in a pattern of gross violations of human rights.” Where, according to JVP, “Massive promotes militarism, which has led to a reliance on military, rather than diplomatic means to work for a solution to this ongoing conflict.”. The planned aim of ‘continuum’.

The Continuum

“Zionism is a colonising adventure and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. There is no other ethic” (Jabotinsky)

The U.N Mission Report (UNMR) on the Israeli operation in between December 27th 2008 and 18th January 2009 highlights that all Israel’s operations must be viewed not as isolated moments in history where Israel feels threatened and then responds but, operation[s] that decidedly fit “into a continuum of policies aimed at pursuing Israel’s political objectives with regard to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a whole.” Reel back, fast forward, press hold, you find ‘continuum': “After we become a strong force, as the result of the creation of a State, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.” (Ben Gurion)

“The continuum is evident most immediately with the policy of blockade that preceded the operations [i.e Cast Lead] and that in the Mission’s view amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip.” (UNMR). Further, the Mission found “An analysis of the modalities and impact of the December-January military operations [also] sets them, in the Mission’s view, in a continuum with a number of other pre-existing Israel Policies with regard to the . The progressive isolation and separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, a policy that began much earlier and which was consolidated in particular with the imposition of tight closures, restrictions on movement and eventually blockade, are among the most apparent.” ‘The plan that never changed’ is the continuum that ever is, until God forbid “There is no more Palestine. Finished . . .” (Moshe Dayan)

Nothing has changed since 2004, nothing has changed since 1948. And nothing has changed in 2011. Pick a date between 1948 and 2011 and one finds systematic abuse, atrocities, and deaths of Palestinian civilians. One might pick Operation ‘Defensive Shield’ 2002, Operation ‘Summer Rains’ 2006 or ‘Autumn Clouds’ November 2006, I have picked December 2008/January 2009 and ‘Cast Lead’ from Israel’s seasonal slaughter. Here’s a U.N Report of 2009.

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The 2009 Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict concluded, “The Mission found numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects (individuals, whole families, houses, mosques) in violation of the fundamental international humanitarian law principle of distinction, resulting in deaths and serious injuries. In these cases the Mission found that the protected status of civilians was not respected and the attacks intentional, in clear violation of customary law reflected in article 51 (2) and 75 of Additional Protocol 1, article 27 of the Four Geneva Convention and articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In some cases the Mission additionally concluded that the attack was also launched with the intention of spreading terror among the civilian population.”

In addition, the Mission found all of this was planned meticulously by Israel, “legal opinions and advice were given throughout the planning stages and at certain operational levels during the campaign. There were almost no mistakes according to the Government of Israel. It is in these circumstances that the Mission [concluded] that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

One would remind Israel’s planners of Article 7 of the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996), “The official position of an individual who commits a crime against the peace and security of mankind, even if he acted as head of State or Government, does not relieve him of criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment.” And of these compassionate words thundering through the centuries from Caliph Abu Bakr to “the first Moslem Arab Army invading Christian Syria:

Do not commit treachery, nor depart from the right path. You must not mutilate, neither kill a child or aged man or woman. Do not destroy a palm tree, nor burn it with fire and do not cut any fruitful tree.” (634 A.D)

After Cast Lead, Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reported that “During and after “Operation Cast lead”, human rights organizations asked the Attorney General (AG) to open an investigation based on prima-facie evidence of gross-violations of international law; the AG rejected our request. Previous requests to the Military Advocate General (MAG) to open investigations into numerous other cases were also denied.” Adalah further found “petitions filed to the Supreme Court against the MAG and AG’s policy of not opening criminal investigations into the killing of Palestinians remain pending years later. It also appears that the Supreme Court’s inaction has resulted in a brake on the submission of petitions by human rights organizations.”

“Israel cannot build a society based on the principles of democracy, human rights, and compliance with international law while brutally occupying another people and their land. The United States is currently paying for that occupation with its annual aid,” (JVP, Statement on Peace, U.S Military Aid and Israel, 2004.) and further, “When Palestinian doctors remove bullets from the bodies of Palestinian children, the bullets are typically stamped. Made in the U.S.A.” Nevertheless, and, in remorseless fashion the United States defies international opinion, its own law and international law in providing massive military aid to its client state Israel. America supplies the boots that fit the feet that press on the necks of Palestinians.

Massive military aid for continuum

“The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as war” (Ben Gurion)

The Congressional Research Service Report (CRSR) of 16th September 2010 U.S Foreign Aid to Israel reported, “Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance.” The Bush Administration unsurprisingly sanctioned an increase of 6 billion dollars in U.S military assistance to Israel in August 2007. And the Obama Administration, also unsurprisingly, responded to the Bush Neo Con reverberation by requesting $3 billion U.S in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Israel for fiscal year of 2011. So, add those figures in your moral mind space to this cumulative ‘conservative estimate’ given by the U.S organisation ‘If Americans Knew’ of “total direct aid to Israel [1949 to 2008] of $113. 8554 Billion. Massive by any standards.

Decades of murder and mayhem began with a trade loan in 1949 of $100.000. God only knows when and how it will end. Today the billions of US taxpayers dollars that pour through the ‘aid funnel’ are used to buy arms and equipment such as made in the U.S; indeed a stipulation by the U.S is that Israel uses “75% of its military aid from the U.S. It funnels this money to more than 1,000 U.S arms suppliers, which in turn lobby for policies that benefit them at the expense of peace in the Middle East.” (JVP).

According to the CRSR, by giving unconditional aid to Israel, America seeks to and “maintains …[Israel's] qualitative military edge over potential threats, and prevent[s] a shift in the security balance of the region.” in fact that aggressive ‘military edge’ keeps Palestinians locked down in interminable suffering and the region a tinderbox. And make no mistake the ‘qualitative military edge’ is not for Israel but for The United States of America and its continued hegemonic ambitions through its proxy, Israel.

U.S blood money was/is for “a militarized Israel that will serve the U.S. interest of controlling the Petroleum reserves of the Middle East … policy debate in elite circles takes for granted, on all sides, the goal of maintaining U.S. control over Middle East petroleum resources and the flow of petrodollars.” (Chomsky, Fateful Triangle). If we take a sordid trip down Israel’s blood soaked memory lane we find U.S Aid increasing in direct proportion to Israel’s military aggression, perceived success therefore usefulness to American interests. Israel’s continuum is vital for American control over the oil reserves of the region.

Stephen Zunes, The Strategic Functions of U.S. AID to Israel, shows how U.S Aid shoots up after Israeli military successes and its long term strategic cooperation with America. From the “spectacular victory” in the 1967 war, through the Civil War in Jordan 1970-71 and the countering of ‘attacking Arab armies’ in 1973, to the “fall of the Shah, election of the right wing Likud, and the ratification of the Camp David Treaty in 1979″, through the years 1983-84 “when the United States and Israel signed memoranda of understanding on strategic cooperation and military planning.” U.S Aid kept rising 450%, 800%, increasing, sevenfold, quadrupling, as did Israel’s aggression. America force feeding Israel with military aid through the ‘aid funnel,’ whilst Palestinian children can scarcely keep mind, spirit, and body together.

Then came Clinton, Bush, Obama, all maintaining Israel’s ‘qualitative edge’, all maintaining Israel’s brutal military occupation. All, letting down the Palestinians’ lawful drive for legitimate Statehood. All U.S Aid equated with destruction, acquainted with death. The long suffering Palestinians sold out with ‘no objections’ from the ‘liberal left of America.’

Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush “I’m doing it for my daddy” junior, and Obama, all preserving ‘Continuity Of Government’ (C.O.G.) indeed, all cogs in the all consuming gas guzzling American machine. It will all end in tears and it won’t be Palestinian tears, for they have wept too much and for too long for their lost freedom and their lost children.

O Captain My Captain

“Our American friends offer us money, arms, and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.” (Moshe Dayan)

Questions are being asked of Captain America from unlikely and likely quarters. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, “The question for the Obama administration, Congress and, in the end perhaps the American public, is given present economic problems, should the United States supply the money to make up for the reductions the Israelis are making in their own defence budget.” A financial question of course. A superior question, because a moral one, is if, the American public, who should be asked first, were informed of the extent, nature and illegality of U.S Aid to Israel, would the American public then sanction any military aid to Israel at all?

As Hassan Fouda of Northern California Friends of reminds, “Congress is planning deep cuts in social security, unemployment compensation, educational grants and other programs that help vulnerable Americans. Transferring billions of taxpayer’s money to Israel now is immoral. Americans need to speak up and be heard.

Valuing Human Rights

Special Rapporteur John Duggard stated, “It is pointless for the Special Rapporteur to recommend to the Government of Israel that it show respect for human rights and international humanitarian law … in these circumstances, the Special Rapporteur can only appeal to the wider international community to concern itself with the plight of the Palestinian people.” (2006). After the end of the Israeli military operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 in Gaza, John Ging the Director of Operations recalled a discussion that he had with a teacher in Gaza about ‘strengthening human rights education in schools’. One would assume that the teacher had for obvious reasons a sceptical view of such an undertaking. In fact, recounts Ging “the teacher unhesitantly supported the resumption of human rights education.” She said, “This is a war of values, and we are not going to lose it.”

* Clive Hambidge is Human Development Director at Facilitate Global. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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