September 22, 2009 - Salem-News.com
The Arab states need to lead the way in getting off the fence and doing something, simply in their own self-interest: otherwise, someday the Israeli bell will toll for them.
(JACKSON, Miss.) - When the dust had settled in Gaza in January 2009 and most of the bodies had been buried, it was predictable that someone in the United Nations would launch an investigation of what had happened.
It was predictable that Israel would refuse to cooperate with that investigation. It was predictable that the investigation would hold Israel (and perhaps Hamas) responsible for assorted transgressions. And that is what happened, resulting in the Goldstone Report.
The Israeli and American responses were true to form. Israel denied culpability, inveighing against any and all who crafted or believed any criticism whatsoever of it, as indictable accessories to the architects of the Holocaust. The US expressed "concerns" about the Commission report (details apparently await Israel’s instructions) — in such cases, America’s UN Ambassador really should give her proxy to the Israeli ambassador to save time, and serve coffee to the others.
It is worth remembering that the onslaught against Gaza was just the most recent incident in a long and ill-starred tale of Israeli brutality, against Palestinians and the Lebanon especially. In 2002, for instance, the ravaging of the West Bank refugee camps — most notably Jenin — was the Gaza City of its day, with fewer Palestinian casualties and even more destruction. Then as now, Israel refused to allow a UN investigation; and it had complete control of the borders. It was then that an Israeli cabinet minister fended off the investigation by saying "They’re out to get us!" — the perennial cry of the truly guilty throughout history.
The perpetual Israeli reliance on denial and invective, and the oft-expressed belief that everyone is prejudiced against them, is fascinating. I suppose the uncomfortable reality that Zionism (not Judaism) really is racism — the UN got that right the first time, and should not have backed off it — may account for some of it. Committed racists probably have a hard time not attributing to others what they themselves feel towards everyone else. This is compounded by an arrogance based on the prevailing Israeli belief that having bought the US Congress, dominated the US mainstream media, and cowed the US President, they may do no wrong (or at least not be accountable for it).
That blend of brutality and arrogance doesn’t sit well with people who learn about it, and it will not sit well at all with most Americans as they come to be aware of it. As one Swedish woman wrote following an outpouring of (dare one say it?) anti-Nordic bigotry by an Israeli journalist:
"We don’t hate or dislike Jews or Israel. You can be anything you want. You can be Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, or have no religion at all. All we care about is if you are good people. We do dislike bombs and white phosphorous used on innocent people, and we don’t like countries that can’t take criticism for their actions."
Enforcing a Peace
The prevailing assumption is that either the Commission report will wither on the vine, or the US will veto any serious moves Israel dislikes. But there is no compelling reason for others to let the US stonewall the world community again. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has a mechanism in place for dealing with obstructionism by a superpower. This is the Uniting for Peace Resolution [UNGA Resolution 377A].
The resolution was initiated by the US in the early days of the Korean War to evade Soviet vetoes on the Security Council, with then US Secretary of State Dulles stating that "We must organize dependably the collective will to resist. If the Security Council [UNSC] does not do so, then this Assembly must do what it can by invoking its residual power of recommendation…."
The essence of UNGA Resolution 377A is that where the UNSC cannot act, it is the "final responsibility" of the UNGA to act in accordance with the UN Charter, being called into an emergency special session at the request of any seven members of the UNSC or a simple majority of the members of the UNGA. Vetoes do not apply. But, it can authorize the use of force, impose sanctions, and call on member states to provide forces and humanitarian assistance as needed. And it did so, creating the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF-I) during the 1956 Suez War when British and French vetoes blocked the UNSC.
The mission of UNEF-I sounds precisely like what needs to be done today, making it explicitly clear that the UNGA is doing so in accordance with the principles of international law, and to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people wrought directly by Israel under the protection of the United States. It is important to do this, because most Americans are totally unaware of the situation in the Middle East, and it will come as a surprise to many and a shock to some to find their country cast legitimately in the role of the "bad guy."
And there it is. The world need not wring its hands when the Security Council suffers yet another US veto on Israel’s behalf and says it can do nothing, because the UN can — the mechanism is in place to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza and alleviate the "intolerable"conditions of the Palestinians there. What it takes is courage, if not from the powers of today alone, then from those in the ascendancy as well.
The Arab states need to lead the way in getting off the fence and doing something, simply in their own self-interest: otherwise, someday the Israeli bell will toll for them. Other states, especially from Asia and Latin America and perhaps even Russia, could also participate for various reasons — it would not take many doing much to alter dramatically the dynamics of this conflict. What a way to show Israel and the US that the arrogance of power has its own limits, while ending the foreign oppression of a people.
Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a writer and consultant specializing in national and international security affairs. In December 1988, he received the Superior Civilian Service Award after more than five years of service at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, and holder of the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research. He is listed in WHO'S WHO IN THE EAST (23rd ed.). A Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Dr. Sabrosky's teaching and research appointments have included the United States Military Academy, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Middlebury College and Catholic University; while in government service, he held concurrent adjunct professorships at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Dr. Sabrosky has lectured widely on defense and foreign affairs in the United States and abroad. You can email Dr. Alan Sabrosky at: firstname.lastname@example.org