Opinion and Editorial

About Time the US Saved Israel from Itself

Sohail Ashraf
Filed on January 13, 2009

First US president George Washington said: “The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

The US support for Israeli raids on Gaza Strip is part of this ‘habitual fondness’ for the Jewish state.By any stretch of interpretation, you cannot term the mass killing of Palestinians, many of them civilians including women and children, flattening of buildings in Gaza Strip, a “war against Hamas terrorists.” Such large-scale military operation causing heavy casualties is unwarranted and reflects Israel’s ‘habitual hatred’ towards the Palestinians.What is more alarming is the justification of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of a heavily populated city by US politicians.

Even the US President-Elect Barack Obama argues that “any country would find it unacceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.”

In an interview to the New York Times last year, Obama had said: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect the Israelis to do the same thing.”

This could serve as an added encouragement to Israel to step up its air assault and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. True, the rocket attacks carried out by Hamas do not offer any logical basis. By doing so, it is merely drawing the wrath of the Israelis on Palestinian civilian population.

Common sense requires Hamas to come to terms with ground realities that no country or entity, howsoever powerful, could be at perpetual war with another or talk of wiping it off the world map.

Hence, the group needs to review its charter that refuses to recognise Israel and even calls for its liquidation. Arguably, Hamas ceasefire with Israel is in itself a tacit recognition of the existence of the Jewish state. You cannot contemplate truce or peace with the opposite party unless you accept the existence of that state or entity.

That said it’s also imperative that that the US plays a more objective and balanced role in the Palestine-Israel conflict. There can be no peace in the region unless the US gives up its policy of one-sided and totally biased support for Israel.

Washington has always closed its eyes to Israeli atrocities perpetrated on the Palestinians. The US has so far vetoed 40 resolutions against Israel sought by the Council since 1972.

Agreed, every country has a right to determine its foreign policy according to its own concerns and interests, as asserted by Hillary Clinton. According to the incoming Secretary of State “The next president must be ready to say to the world… The United States stands with Israel, now and forever.”

But does this support for an ally mean you have to accept its injustice and blatant crimes against humanity as well? Nearly a thousand Palestinians have been killed over the past two weeks. What’s their crime? And how can a country that believes in justice, equality before law and the rule of law can tolerate what’s going on in Gaza even if these crimes are committed by one of its allies?The humanitarian catastrophe of Gaza demands Obama’s urgent and just intervention the Middle East. He needs to go beyond the regulation lip service of successive US governments that promised a state for Palestinians and an end to the violence in the region. Obama’s pledge to work for peace in Middle East must be wholehearted just as he had promised during his campaign: “We are going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East.”

Despite the presence of powerful Israeli lobby in the US, Obama must not give in to any pressure from the group.

Israel has always tried to exploit America’s traditional support for the Jewish state. Its crying wolf about the mythical nuclear weapons in Iraq and Iran has already embroiled the US in a prolonged battle in the region. But now Washington must be ready to say to the world that it can uphold justice and fair play for the Palestinian people and that the US is not a hostage of the Zionists who have turned Holocaust victims into oppressors.Way back in 1977, commenting on America’s Israel fixation former under-secretary of state George W. Ball had said in a path-breaking article in Foreign Affairs: “It is not whether we should try to force an unpalatable peace on the Israeli people, but rather how much longer we should continue to support policies that impede progress towards peace… The unhappy dilemma of Israel is that so long as she refuses to give up the territorial gains from her 1967 conquest and thus prevents possible progress toward peace, she must continue as ward of the United States.”

As Ball puts it, it is about time the US took a firm stand and exerted pressure to “save Israel from herself” to prevent the total destruction of the Middle East. The US must resist its habitual fondness for Israel to bring peace in the Middle East.

Sohail Ashraf can be reached at sohail@khaleejtimes.com

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