Even by the standards we have come to expect from Israel’s powerful supporters, yesterday’s speech by the senior White House adviser Susan Rice was a sickening demonstration of intellectual dishonesty and mealy-mouthed hypocrisy. At a public ‘solidarity’ meeting convened by Jewish groups in Washington, Rice criticized the United Nations human rights council for its ‘unfair treatment’ of Israel, in voting for an inquiry into war crimes violations committed by Israel during the conflict.
Rice then repeated the lie that ‘Hamas initiated this conflict. And Hamas has dragged it on.’ After reassuring Israel that it could always count on American support – even while Israel was briefing against the US Secretary State, she then slipped into the pseudo-humanitarian posture favoured by all Israel’s apologists and defenders, and expressed her ‘deep concern about the suffering and deaths of innocent people that arise from a conflict like this one, In Gaza as well as Israel.’
This ‘concern for both sides’, which so many of Israel’s supporters have expressed again and again during the last two weeks, is so utterly fake that it is actually a kind of moral obscenity. So far three Israeli civilians have been killed in the war, while seventy percent of the 1,080 Palestinians killed in the war are civilians, according to the United Nations. To suggest, as Rice did, that this grotesque disparity belongs to some kind of common tragedy is a shocking evasion of what is actually taking place.
But then all deaths, according to Rice, are not the fault of Israel, but Hamas, because ‘The people of Gaza, many of whom disapprove of Hamas and suffer under its misrule, are trapped in the crossfire. The loss of children has been particularly heartbreaking.’
Somehow one suspect’s that Rice’s heart will be able to endure this strain, and one really has to resist the urge to vomit at her vile presentation of mass murder as a ‘crossfire’ – and interpretation which entirely disregards overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
But her crocodile tears aren’t just an expression of hypocrisy They are in fact a form of collusion in the hideous massacre that Israel is perpetrating in Gaza, and a green light to Netanyahu to escalate it still further.
Such collusion is not unique to Rice or even to her government. It extends to the European Union and its member states, all of whom have expressed similar sentiments. It includes the British government and its equally dishonest foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who expressed his government’s ‘grave concern’ about civilian casualties last week, while simultaneously expressing his support for Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ and his sympathetic understanding of the ‘difficulties’ faced by Israel in conducting its military operations.
All these governments and institutions have enabled and facilitated Israel’s monstrous act of collective punishment in Gaza, while simultaneously pretending to care about its impact on Palestinian civilians. The best that can be said about such behavior is that it is a form of base moral cowardice. At worst the refusal of the ‘international community’ to criticize Israel for anything at all is the work of aiders and abetters of Zionist violence who know perfectly well that this war has nothing to do with Israel defending itself but everything to do with crushing Hamas by crushing the Palestinian population.
The same can be said about the handwringing liberal commentators who have rushed to Israel’s defense, such as the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, who has tried to hard to help his readers understand Israel’s ‘security concerns’, while ignoring completely any concerns that Palestinians might have; or the atrocious Bernard Henri-Levy, the man who once warned the world of an impending ‘massacre’ in Benghazi and now loudly supports Netanyahu’s war and urges the Israeli army to ‘liberate’ Gaza from Hamas.
So remember these positions and statements, the next time these pseudo-humanitarians evoke universalist moral imperatives as a pretext for the next ‘humanitarian intervention.’ Remember it next time Susan Rice or Samantha Power call on your help to stop genocide. Remember it when Obama or Cameron denounce the ‘unconscionable’ crimes carried out by this or that dictator as a cassus belli, and the world cannot stand idly by etc, etc
Remember that in Gaza the world did stand idly by, and not because its attention was distracted, or because it couldn’t figure out what to do, but because for most western governments and their liberal interventionist supporters, military violence against civilians is entirely acceptable as an instrument of national policy, providing the state responsible for it is on our side or doing it for reasons that we approve of.
Remember that behind the thin facade of humanitarianism that western governments have used to justify the new wars of the 21st century, there is the same old heart of darkness, the same cold-blooded, merciless realpolitik, and for Israel, the same get-out-of-jail card that allows it to do anything to anyone, safe in the understanding that there will always be a moral fraud like Susan Rice ready to stand up and blame the victim while pretending to really, really care.