By Kusal Perera –
When I sat to spread my anger from end to end in this short write up, UNSG Ban-ki Moon was on his way to the “region”, meaning to those countries around Gaza. He was to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Doha, Qatar, to “see if the truce could be revived” as reports said. Qatar Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is said to play conduit between Hamas, the armed Palestinian group dominating Palestinian politics and the International community. Hamas has said an emphatic ‘no’ to the conditions proposed by Egypt, for a truce. Egypt, now under military rule, is allegedly funded by the US.
Meanwhile a UN statement said that Ban-ki Moon will be in Middle East over the weekend “to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and to help them, in co-ordination with regional and international actors, to end the violence and find a way forward”. Like US President Obama, Ban-ki Moon will also recognise Israelis and Palestinians as equally worthy of his support. He proves, he is equally with the “criminal” and the “victim”. That’s a little more covert than Obama. The first US President of African descent, after a string of 43 White Presidents, Obama has no qualms supporting Israel, the same way as his predecessors. He had told media, that he defends the right of Israel to defend itself against “Hamas” rockets. That his friends and allies back him on that. In passing he says he is concerned about civilian casualties and Israel should avoid civilian casualties. “Obama” is thus a shorter reference for “high end, empty rhetoric”.
As Obama said, all EU power kegs, Briton, France, Germany at least, stand for Israel’s “right to defend itself”, which is Israeli “right to dislodge Gaza residents, turning them into refugees” with a heavy death toll of Palestinian men, women and children. Briton therefore keeps selling arms and weapons to Tel Aviv. With British arms in use, the death toll in these 14 days of brutal Israeli attacks on Gaza, have run a high of 445 plus with UNICEF records last week indicating at least 73 as under 18 years of age and most, were little kids.
This isn’t the first such savage attack. In 2008 December there was a bloody massacre on Palestinians, living in Gaza that ended in January 2009. This savagery resulted in about 1,400 Palestinian civilians and 13 Israeli deaths. Four out of the 13 said to be from “friendly fire. First massive set back was in 1967 in a 06 day war when Yasser Arafat was the Palestinian hero and his PLO ran armed errands into Israel. With a surprise attack, after many months of provocations and counter provocations, Israel grabbed the Golan Heights from Syria, the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza strip from Egypt and the West Bank and part of Jerusalem from Jordan. Since then its “Occupied Gaza” and no world lobby has been serious in asking Israel to get back to where they were, pre June, 1967.
Leaving the long history of Palestinian struggle for land and a State of Palestine on that land aside for just this moment, the big powers have not been too eager to settle this long running battle for peaceful co-existence of two States. A Jewish and a Palestinian State. No big power in the UN Security Council has allowed any intervention against Israel, with US playing God Father of the Jewish nation State. Recent history of Israeli aggression against neighbouring countries and Gaza have slaughter and massacre of civilians and refugees marked in places like West Beirut, Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, Qana UN refugee shelter and Jabalya in Gaza.
Yet, Israel was and is not treated like Sri Lanka that had 03 Resolutions adopted at the UN Human Rights Commission Sessions since the conclusion of war in May 2009. This international intervention comes with the SL government waging war against its own citizens and against the LTTE that fought for a separate State. Two of the resolutions initiated and sponsored by the US, led to the establishing of an independent investigation on alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and accountability of the SL government during the war.
The same UN and its powerful Security Council members have proved they don’t have the same compassion for the Palestinian civilians. While there are 79 Security Council Resolutions against Israel since 1949 gathering dust and cobwebs, from 2006, the UN Human Rights Commission has also adopted 45 Resolutions against Israel. None there gets going against Israel too. Reasons for such international immunity for Israel have been clearly said in at least 05 UN General Assembly resolutions in 1981 December (36/226 A & B) in 1982 February (ES-9/1), in 1982 December (37/123), in 1983 December (38/180 A & D) and 1984 December (A/Res/39/146).
In 1982 February the Resolution adopted said, the General Assembly, “Strongly deplores the negative vote by a permanent member of the Security Council which prevented the Council from adopting against Israel, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the “appropriate measures” referred to in resolution 497 (1981) unanimously adopted by the Council.” That permanent member was the US and Israel’s strategic relationship with the US undoubtedly encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist military operations against neighbouring countries and the Palestinians. The excuse is always the same. To counter threats to Israel’s existence; first it was the PLO, then Hisbolla and now the Hamas. Every massacre designed and played out by Israel only gets its strategic partner on its knees to plead for a truce, when too much blood had been spilled.
The reason is not very complicated. That strategic partner, the US administration has to live with an American Jewry, that controls not just votes, but the economy as well. Not just investment, but labour too. As Golda Meir writes in her autobiography, “My Life”, from “United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds and fifty other Jewish organisations” she was hosted to huge banquets on her first visit to the US as Israeli PM. That visit also gave her the opportunity to meet the largest American trade union, the AFL-CIO. “I had intended to return home by 05 October, but there was one invitation I couldn’t refuse, and I stayed on an extra day to address the AFL-CIO biennial convention in Atlantic City.” she wrote and adds, “For many years the AFL-CIO had been very close to Israel, particularly to the Histadrut…..Talking to that immense audience of trade unionists, I felt for the first time since I had left Israel that I was really on home territory.”(page 330)
That binding in Jewish identity in the US with Israel, does add to the advantage of Israel. It does as it is with the Tamil Diaspora. They now live and fight for their right to peaceful existence with an identity that was endangered and sought to be wiped away. But how the UN, its agencies, its peace keeping forces and its permanent members in the Security Council avoid responsibility, defer decisions when most necessary, have other reasons factoring in , over and above the US-Israeli partnership.
The Rwandan massacre of 100,000 Tutsis within 100 days was watched by them, debating on what they heard from the ground and it was not about Zionism. In Srebrenica over 8,000 men and young boys were killed, after the UN declared Srebrenica a “UN safe area” under its peace keeping forces. That was in East Europe. The UN plays no role in what’s now happening in Iraq, after it allowed the US backed by Britain, to destroy Iraq on a fake and fabricated charge of piling Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Gaddafi’s Libya is now a destroyed country of poor people, after NATO was allowed to arm and support criminal gangs who still keep fighting against each other. Afghanistan has seen and is seeing its toll of civilian massacres with US Drone attacks, freely trespassing sovereign airspace of independent nations. Syria is a tub of spilled blood and a mortuary of dead Syrians, the major players taking time over shamelessly crafted rhetoric.
The UN is left ineffective for two main reasons. “Energy sources and the military hardware and weapons market”. Raid and ruin in Iraq and Libya to depose Sadam Hussein and Gadaffi, both long running despots, were to take control of petroleum production and distribution, the US and its allies were not in control of, while Sadam and Gadafi were in power.
So is it now in Gaza. Discovery in year 2000 by British Gas (BG) in collaboration with Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) a huge natural gas resource in the coast of Gaza that later was researched to be larger than first discovered, is reason for the hard and brutal fight for dominance over Gaza, camouflaged as “threats to Israel”. The first such effort was in 2008. The UN thus become ineffective as decided by the US and other powerful players in the game. All the blood that is being now spilled on the soil of Gaza would only work out temporary respites in the quest for access to these natural energy source in Gaza.
The issue now is, how we the Citizens of the World, could achieve some semblance of sanity on this planet earth. The world organisation established for world peace after World War II, is no more what it was conceived for. It is now one of the most expensive and corrupt organisations in the whole world. The International community has many new world nations, Japan, Germany, India, Canada left out of all UNSC negotiations. Neither is there any representation from South America and Africa. We have thus left the fate of the world citizenry to vested interests of 05 countries with veto power. All these 05 countries control and live on military hardware productions as part of their national economies. One would not imagine any of these powers living as powerful as they are, if they are not in the weapons market.
Managing conflicts therefore is only postponing human tragedy, till another conflict provides space for manipulation and another weapons deal. Deaths and displacements in Gaza therefore tells us, managing conflict is no answer. Gaza again reminds us, this whole approach in trying to lobby unmovable and frozen permanent members in the Security Council to work out solutions within the UN system, is giving time for more deaths and destruction. We have to find an alternative path in settling conflicts to have stability and peace. That alternative is in mobilising people to force these regimes to act and act now.
World organisations like workers’ trade union movements, professional bodies, Rights organisations, artistes and cultural activists will have to take to streets in every major city across the globe, demanding decency and dignity in life and democracy for all in a conflict free world. While it is about Gaza immediately, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria next door and Iran in the neighbourhood, the campaign is one that would have to reach beyond Gaza, Iraq , Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. Its a campaign that would have to demand a complete stop not just to nuclear stockpiling but to manufacture of all destructive weapons and arms used in warfare in any part of this globe. IF we are to respect all the innocent civilian human lives lost in conflicts, we now need a global federation of people’s activists for a decent civilised world, instead of this corrupt and inefficient UN system controlled by weapons manufacturers and dealers. Seven decades after World War II, the UN as a whole system for global peace, is now obsolete.