Israel is getting away with murder — with American support

Israel is getting away with murder — with American support

Avi Shlaim writes:

On 7th January 2009, while Operation Cast Lead was in full swing, I wrote an article in the Guardian. “How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe”. This was Israel’s first major assault on the Gaza Strip after its unilateral withdrawal in 2005. Further major military offensives followed in 2012, 2014, 2021 and 2022, not counting minor flare-ups and nearly 200 dead during the border protests in 2018 known as the March of Return. By my count, the current war is the sixth serious Israeli assault on Gaza since, and by far the most lethal and destructive. And it also raises the ominous spectre of a second Palestinian Nakba.

The only way to make sense of Israel’s cruel and self-defeating wars in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. From whatever perspective one chooses to view it, the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. Three quarters of a million Palestinians became refugees, and the name Palestine was wiped off the map. Israelis call it “The War of Independence”; Palestinians call it the Nakba, or the catastrophe. The most horrific event in the suffering-soaked history of the Jews was the Holocaust. In the history of the Palestinian people, the most traumatic event is the Nakba, which is not in fact a one-off event but the ongoing process of the dispossession and displacement of Palestinian people from their homeland that continues to this day, in the unspeakable horrors being visited by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Gaza.

The United Kingdom was the original sponsor of the Jewish state, going back to the Balfour declaration of 1917. But by 1948, the United States had replaced the UK as the principal backer. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state, although they themselves had enabled and empowered the Zionist takeover of Palestine. The conditions that gave rise to the Nakba were made in Britain. Yet no British government has ever accepted any responsibility for the loss and suffering it brought upon the people of Palestine.

In the period since 1948 the western powers, led by the US, have given Israel massive moral, economic and military support, as well as diplomatic protection. The US has used its veto power in the UN Security Council 46 times to defeat resolutions that were not to Israel’s liking. America also gives Israel around $3.8bn in military aid each year, with more this year to enable Israel to sustain its military offensive in Gaza. The trouble with American support for Israel is that it is not conditional on Israeli respect for Palestinian human rights or international law. As a result, Israel gets away, literally, with murder. [Continue reading…]

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