Friday May 24, 2013
Any Respect for International Law Left in the US Congress?Dr. Franklin Lamb Salem-News.com
Americans foot the bill for ruthless madness and carnage in Palestine...
(BEIRUT, Lebanon) - This week marks the second anniversary of among the most savage criminal slaughters of human life in long memory. The 522 hour indiscriminate carnage, “Cast Lead” that killed 1,417 Palestinians, mostly civilians, 352 of them children, injuring for life more than 5,300 , indicts Israel as well as those countries that continue to supply it weapons, diplomatic cover and to enforce Israel’s illegal siege on sealed Gaza.
The US administration, as revealed in a State Department cable posted by Wikileaks, has been working overtime with Israel to parry further condemnation of Israeli crimes documented in the Richard Goldstone and Richard Falk Reports, among others. These investigations established massive violations of human rights and international law, war crimes, and possible crimes against humanity while refuting claims by Israel that it acted according to the limited international right of self-defense. Goldstone, Falk and others have demonstrated that it was both the victims of Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara who alone possessed the right of self defense in light of Israel’s agressions, not Israel.
As Professor Falk instructs us, Israeli actions in both cases:
“Are certainly acts of aggression under the UN Charter, and an act of war by reference to customary international law. Whenever force is used in situations other than in situation where a proper claim of self-defense is made, the undertaking is unlawful, and if as here, it is an instance of flagrant non-defensive force, the attacker is engaged in criminal conduct and both the offending state and the perpetrators acting on behalf of the should be held responsible, and to the extent international crimes took place, held accountable.”.
Rather than hold Israel to the "single universal human rights standard that applies to every country”, as Hilary Clinton crowed on Human Rights Day during an appearance before the Brookings Institute, the Obama administration claims others have ‘rushed to judgment’ and it has refused to condemn Israel’s May 31, 2010 murder of an American citizen on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid boat, 19 year old Furkan Dogan.
Rushing to judgment and ignoring International law in Congress
Maybe it requires the moral clarity of 19-year old Layal, and her teen aged friends huddled in a damp, candle lighted, cold subterranean hovel in Shatila Palestinian Refugees camp this New Years in Beirut, to speak the naked truth. In their make shift ‘classroom’ the teenagers tutor camp kids on the three R’s after the youngsters double shift ‘short day’ and too early daily dismissal at Shatila’s overcrowded and undersupplied and understaffed, UNRWA Ramallah and Hemeh schools.
Wrapped in a woolen shawl for warmth, and discussing a planned commemoration of the second anniversary of the 22 day Gaza Massacre, Layal suddenly blurted out, “you know what? The Star of David and Israel’s flag has replaced the Nazi Swastika as today’s symbol of ethnic cleansing, racism and oppression.” She explained to her colleagues, “Israel will remain a pariah state as long as its laws and its policies continue to violate the basic human rights of Palestinians. Israel has no right to exist as an exclusively Jewish State, any more than Hitler’s Reich had a 'right to exist for Aryans only.' We Palestinians will return. Liberty and justice will be achieved. Jews and Arabs can again live together in peace.”
As never before. the international community, increasingly appalled and angered by Israeli crimes is pulling back from supporting or trying to justify Israel’s actions and are shifting attention to the rights of Palestinians to live in their own country, to return from their Nakba caused refugee “sanctuaries” in more than 60 countries and to recognize the State of Palestine. This as some in the international community prepare to escort Israel before the bar of international justice.
But not in the US Congress which is some ways has become a grotesque caricature of what James Madison and the founding fathers wanted and, perhaps naively, as it has turned out, believed they had created.
As the Israel lobby and the Jerusalem Post have been claiming recently, and even as Israel’s most ardent apologists struggle to justify its actions and Israel’s position becomes increasingly untenable, nearly five dozen senators and over 180 members of the House of Representatives have by now issued statements since Cast Lead and the attack on the humanitarian aid boat the Mavi Marmara. Almost all of them overwhelmingly supportive of Israel while ignoring well established international law.
And the list goes on…and on……..
Of course our American problem is not just our Congress. The Israel lobby picked and packed Executive Branch is not much more supportive of American values and international norms. To the shame of the US State Department, its spokesman, Robert Wood sullied and humiliated America when the hapless fellow refused to answer even a simple media question whether the United States considered pasta i.e. macaroni, spaghetti, fettuccini noodles items denied to Palestinians under Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza--a "dual-use item." The American people are better than this and must demand better from our officials.
Currently, there is only a faint hint that Members of Congress, 83% of whom rely on Israeli lobby or arms industry political action committee money to keep their seats and sinecures, have the gumption to advocate a U.S. policy, consistent with American notions of substantial justice or which upholds Palestinian rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Sabra Shatila Foundation. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. He is working with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in Lebanon on drafting legislation which, after 62 years, would, if adopted by Lebanon’s Cabinet and Parliament grant the right to work and to own a home to Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugees. One part of the PCRC legislative project is its online Petition which can be viewed and signed at: petitiononline.com/ssfpcrc/petition.html. Lamb is reachable at email@example.com. Franklin Lamb’s book on the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, now out of print, was published in 1983, following Janet’s death and was dedicated to Janet Lee Stevens. He was a witness before the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry, held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January 1983.
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