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FDL 7/30/14: Democrats' unapologetic support for Israel enables daily war crimes against Palestinians

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  • Rick Kissell
    Democrats Unapologetic Support for Israel Enables Daily War Crimes Against Palestinians  by Kevin Gosztola Firedoglake Wednesday July 30, 2014 Politicians
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2014
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      Democrats' Unapologetic Support for Israel Enables Daily War Crimes Against Palestinians 

      by Kevin Gosztola
      Wednesday July 30, 2014

      Politicians from the Democratic Party in the United States have expressed fervent support for Israel's assault on Gaza, even going so far as to sponsor multiple resolutions which demonstrate unwavering solidarity and appropriate more funds for weapons and the US-funded missile defense system known as Iron Dome. This support has worked to ensure that the political climate discourages condemnation for war crimes, which Israel now seems to be committing on a daily basis. 

      Many of the comments in this story could easily have come from the mouths of Republicans. There simply is no political opposition in Congress to the ongoing war in Gaza. In fact, many Democrats are cheering Israel to "finish the job" and "restore the quiet" by doing whatever it takes. 

      Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined numerous Democrats (and Republicans) and condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council on July 29 for passing a resolution "accusing Israel of human rights violations." 

      "The resolution was so incredibly one-sided in its anti-Israel bias, that it makes zero mention of Hamas and the atrocities Hamas has committed by indiscriminately barraging Israel with rockets and using Palestinian civilians as human shields," Reid complained. "Hamas perpetrated this conflict. They wantonly fire rockets into Israel, and they don't care who they hit."
      Reid described the rockets used, the tunnels Hamas relies upon, and how it was a "sham" that only the US voted against the resolution. Then, he shared, "I was watching the News Hour, and they had [a] commentary section from [New York Times'] David Brooks and [syndicated columnist] Mark Shields. David Brooks aptly noted that what Hamas is doing represents ‘a rare moment in military history where a party rejects a cease-fire in order to get more of their own people killed.' And that is what is happening; Hamas is saying ‘kill some more of our people.'" 

      On July 11, when the House unanimously passed a resolution in support of the "state of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization," Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared, "With Israel's citizens once again under assault, our bipartisan resolve to stand by Israel is firm and unwavering," and, "No family should be forced to endure constant threats to their lives or the persistent fear of rocket attacks. We call on Hamas to cease their attacks on Israel and stop endangering Palestinian civilians by using them as human shields." 

      During a July 28 rally for Israel at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the United Nations, New York Senator Chuck Schumer cried out, "No ceasefire as long as Hamas' weaponry is not gone! It's plain and simple." He received roaring applause from the nearly fifteen thousand people in attendance. 

      California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, along with Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt, introduced the "Updated US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act" on July 28. The legislation, backed by 70 senators, would authorize an "increase of $200 million in the value of US weapons held in Israel, to a total of $1.8 billion." The "emergency" stockpile "intended for US forces in the event of a crisis," and can also be used by Israel, would be expanded. 

      Reuters reported that the US military, which runs this "emergency" stockpile program called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel, had offered to grant Israel access to the stockpile. This happened despite the fact that Israel had not come to the military citing an emergency need for more munitions. As such, Israel was able to "resupply itself with 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds to deplete older stocks that would eventually need to be refreshed." 

      The introduced legislation also would require the Obama administration to move to allow Israel to "be included in the top-tier category for license-free exports of certain US technologies and products." It requires Obama to study expanded cooperation between the US and Israel on "cyber security" and to provide "more frequent and more detailed assessments on the status of Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors." And it would encourage the administration to add Israel to the Visa Waiver Program so Israeli citizens could "travel to the United States without first having to obtain a visa." 

      Boxer, on July 18, stated, "It is particularly shocking that Hamas is using Palestinian men, women, and children as human shields to deter Israeli attacks. In recent days, Hamas has urged residents of Gaza to ignore Israeli warnings of impending air strikes and remain in their homes. The Israeli government has also compiled extensive evidence that Hamas has intentionally placed rocket launchers and other military objects in densely populated civilian areas." 

      On July 28, New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand submitted a resolution along with Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, which condemned the "use of civilians as human shields by the terrorist group Hamas" and, again, showed support for "Israel's right to self-defense." A similar resolution was introduced in the House by Democratic Representative Ted Deutch and Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who are both from Florida. 

      "The use of human shields by Hamas is deplorable," said Gillibrand. "The international community must stand up against this terrorist organization that is putting the people it claims to defend in harm's way and support Israel's right to defend its citizens." 

      This fierce support for Israel has come as journalists and humanitarian workers in Gaza continue to witness and report attacks on innocent Palestinian civilians. 

      On July 30, Israeli military forces shelled the Jabalia Elementary Girls School, which was being used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to house "thousands of internally displaced people." Children, according to UNRWA, were "killed in their sleep." The shelling killed at least 19 people and injured dozens. 

      The Nation's Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has been in Gaza, reported on July 28 that Israeli had struck the Al Shati refugee camp and killed ten people, including eight children, who had been playing between a "swing set on the sidewalk and a small grocery shop selling sweets and chips. He also reported on the shelling of another UN-run school in Beit Hanoun, which killed at least 16 Palestinian refugees and wounded over 200 people. 

      At this point, well over 1,300 Palestinians have been killed. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported [PDF] on July 29 that around 74% of those killed have been civilians. Only 16% of those killed have been members of armed groups. Ten percent are "unknown." This means by a conservative estimate Israel is killing three civilians for every single militant that it manages to kill.
      Democrats are choosing to be moved by Israeli propaganda and uninfluenced by the horrific images of warfare coming out of Gaza. They thoroughly believe that Hamas is, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it, that Hamas wants to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use — it's gruesome — they use ‘telegenically dead Palestinians' for their cause." They will repeat this talking point with just as much enthusiasm as a right-wing Christian Zionist like Pastor John Hagee. 

      Yet, as Georgetown Law University professor Noura Erakat wrote for The Nation, this "insidious" talking point "blames Palestinians for their own death and deprives them" of their victimhood. There is no proof, as international human rights organizations have found, that what they are saying is even true. In fact, it is Israeli soldiers, which have used Palestinians as human shields while waging war and defending their military occupation. 

      Additionally, it was Israel, which chose to launch the latest offensive. Netanyahu provoked the war when he blamed Hamas for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens without any proof that Hamas was behind their deaths. The army, according to Larry Defner of 972Mag.com, then proceeded to raid, destroy, confiscate and arrest "anybody and anything having to do with Hamas." Palestinian protesters were killed and 60 members of Hamas freed in the Gilad Shalit deal were put back in prison. 

      Democrats conveniently ignore the Dahiya Doctrine," which has a lot to do with why Israel is targeting civilians. As Erakat pointed out, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said [PDF] while Israel was engaged in "indiscriminate attacks on Lebanon in 2006?: 

      What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. 

      The UN Fact-Finding Mission's Goldstone Report [PDF] concluded that this doctrine had been employed in Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1,400 people. The report expressed this concern:
      …In the framing of Israeli military objectives with regard to the Gaza operations, the concept of Hamas' "supporting infrastructure" is particularly worrying as it appears to transform civilians and civilian objects into legitimate targets. Statements by Israeli political and military leaders prior to and during the military operations in Gaza indicate that the Israeli military conception of what was necessary in a war with Hamas viewed disproportionate destruction and creating maximum disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve not only military but also political goals… 

      Nevertheless, with the exception of Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, who has called for an end to the blockade on Gaza, it would seem there is no limit to the support for Israeli war crimes among Democrats in Congress. They will gladly join Republicans in issuing reactionary statements blaming the death and destruction on Hamas and permit Israel to prolong its campaign of terror in Gaza without facing condemnation from American politicians for acts, which target and kill civilians. Some will even go so far as to blame Palestinians for humanitarian crises created by the blockade, which Israel has been perpetuating for over six years. 


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