While the war crimes being committed in Ukraine mount, the Western news media and government leaders unite in innocence, as if the US invasion of Iraq and other Western violations of human rights had never happened. A US offer for Ukraine to join NATO is revealed in US internal documents, released by WikiLeaks as well as a former US Ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock (a Russia specialist in the US Diplomatic Corps) who wrote recently before the invasion: “Since Putin’s major demand is an assurance that NATO will take no further members, and specifically not Ukraine or Georgia, obviously there would have been no basis for the present crisis if there had been no expansion of the alliance following the end of the Cold War, or if the expansion had occurred in harmony with building a security structure in Europe that included Russia.”
Noam Chomsky, in an interview with Jewish Voice for Labour, made a crucial observation: “There is good reason to believe that this tragedy could have been avoided, until the last minute. We’ve discussed it before, repeatedly. As to why Putin launched the criminal aggression right now, we can speculate as we like. But the immediate background is not obscure — evaded but not contested. It’s easy to understand why those suffering from the crime may regard it as an unacceptable indulgence to inquire into why it happened and whether it could have been avoided. Understandable, but mistaken. If we want to respond to the tragedy in ways that will help the victims, and avert still worse catastrophes that loom ahead, it is wise, and necessary, to learn as much as we can about what went wrong and how the course could have been corrected. Heroic gestures may be satisfying. They are not helpful.”
Chomsky also widened the issue, in order to wake us up: “. . . we should also try to find ways to help a much broader class of victims: all life on Earth. This catastrophe took place at a moment where all of the great powers, indeed all of us, must be working together to control the great scourge of environmental destruction that is already exacting a grim toll, with much worse soon to come unless major efforts are undertaken quickly. To drive home the obvious, the IPCC just released the latest and by far most ominous of its regular assessments of how we are careening to catastrophe. Meanwhile, the necessary actions are stalled, even driven into reverse, as badly needed resources are devoted to destruction and the world is now on a course to expand the use of fossil fuels, including the most dangerous and conveniently abundant of them, coal. A more grotesque conjuncture could hardly be devised by a malevolent demon. It can’t be ignored. Every moment counts.”
Yet, in a speech made last December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the State of Israel as “an example” for Ukraine and this year, on 5 April, declared on the President’s official website that Ukraine “will definitely become a ‘big Israel‘ with its own face.” He continued: “We will not be surprised that we will have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in all institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons.”
Right to resist
With worldwide attention now firmly focused on the human misery being imposed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel’s daily human rights violations are likely to fade even more from public view – no doubt with much relief within pro-Zionist circles. That being the case, the defence of Palestinian human rights must continue to be even more vigorously supported.
In what a UK BBC article described as a “call to defend nation”, Radio New Zealand reported that the Ukraine National Security and Defence Council has urged its citizens to engage in “cocktail resistance” and use petrol-bombs against Russian invaders. It takes courage, for one person, to face a highly-militarised foreign invader with something so small and personal as a petrol-bomb. The Western news media report strongly on the determined resistance demonstrated by individual Ukrainians, yet either ignore or, alternatively, denigrate similar acts of resistance taken by some Palestinians against another invader, the Western-aligned and -financed Zionist regime, Israel. Ukraine‘s highly effective military defence force has successfully managed to slow down the Russian advance but the militarily-Occupied Palestinians remain defenceless.
Israel is subjugating a people whose land it has been gradually annexing for decades. Last month, a young Palestinian man, Ahmed Seif, shot by Israeli forces, died from his wounds. He had been shot in the stomach three times during a protest demonstration in the village of Burqa. The Israeli Army said it had “responded with live fire” because the “rioter” had “hurled a Molotov cocktail at the troops”. Also last month, a 16-year-old youth, Yamen Jafal, was shot dead by the Israeli Army, near Abu Dis, again after throwing petrol-bombs. The Western news media never report such killings by Israel. Nearly 2.9 million Palestinians are forced to give way to around 475,000 Jewish settlers Occupying the West Bank in settlements considered illegal under international law. The forces that impose the settlers frequently invade Palestinian homes, by night and by day, and both the settlers and the military raid Palestinian farmland as well as committing crippling acts of agricultural sabotage. Settlers move freely across the Occupied West Bank, while Palestinians are forced to wait at Israeli military checkpoints for ‘permission‘ to travel – no wonder the people protest!
Israel’s intentionally heartless blockade of Gaza is even more constraining. While Israeli forces enter and leave Gaza whenever they wish, its isolation of Gaza, by land, air and sea amounts to collective punishment and a gross violation of international law. Severe restriction of imports and exports, as well as access to farmland and fishing at sea, means the Gaza economy, infrastructure and vital services are collapsing. The stark reality of this oppression for everyone can be summed up in the recent experience of just one family: On 25 March this year, a 19-month-old child, Fatma Jalal al-Masri, died at the European Hospital in Gaza, as a result of Israel denying her access to the Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, despite her having obtained a medical referral and three hospital appointments there.
Israeli military training – just part of daily life
The Israeli human rights movement, B’Tselem, reports frequently on Israel’s contemptuous and callous military training exercises in the North Jordan Valley. Three Palestinian villages as well as eleven other Palestinian communities in the area are subjected to troops and tank deployment, mortar shelling and the use of live ammunition. People are being driven from their homes while farmland and pasture are being ruined. The Israeli Army blocks access to roads whenever it pleases. Israeli military exercises carelessly leave unexploded ordnance behind them, causing occasional injury and sometimes even death. B’Tselem explains that the military training is part of “Israel’s longstanding policy aimed at driving Palestinian communities out of the area. Instead of openly loading residents onto trucks and removing them, Israel is going to great lengths to create impossible living conditions that will, eventually, push them to leave the area, seemingly of their own accord.” In line with this policy, Israel also demolishes homes and agricultural facilities while encouraging settler violence and denying Palestinians access to basic services, such as electricity and running water.
On the first of this month, Israeli Occupation forces, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, invaded Jenin as well as a number of homes in the Jenin UN refugee camp, killing a 17-year old refugee, Sanad Mohammed Khalil Abu Atiyah, and a Jenin resident, Yazid Nidal Saad Al-Din Al-Saadi. Fifteen people were wounded in the raids. The same day, in Jenin, near the entrance to Araba, the Israeli Army ambushed and opened fire on a vehicle carrying three people, whom the Israeli Occupation described as “wanted” persons, killing all three.
An international duty to resist
Western governments refuse to countenance calls to restrain Israel, and the Zionist regime continues to belong in media bodies such as Eurovision and EU research projects like Horizon 2020. Israel also enjoys lucrative arms deals and huge financial support. The US is Israel’s most generous supporter and European countries also support its military. Besides all that, the Israeli regime continues to enjoy full diplomatic and trade relations with most countries. The international community‘s selective reaction to violations of international law and human rights betrays those victims who are the most defenceless.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, calls for “Russia to be held to account for the war crimes and atrocities committed against innocent civilians.” Why then does she never call for Israel to be called to account?