Thursday, June 21, 2007

Double Standard: Two Sides of the Same Coin

While the US government and much of the mainstream media blame Hamas for the current crisis in Palestine, more indepth reporting provides a deeper understanding as evident by former President Jimmy Carter comments in a Reuters report this week. He warned that plans to assist Palestinians in the West Bank were an attempt to "reward them," while continuing to "punish" the 1.5 million aid-dependent Palestinians in Gaza. "This effort to divide Palestine into two peoples now, I think it is a step in the wrong direction," he said.

For more commentary and analysis on the crisis, see the collection of articles at the bottom of this message.

Double Standard: Two Sides of the Same Coin
The definition of a double standard is "an ethical or moral code that applies more strictly to one group than to another." Many critics of US foreign policy point out clear examples of double standards in current events, namely, the U.S. allows itself the right to "preventive aggression" but forbids others the same right, even in self-defense. The U.S. coerced international support and eventually invaded Iraq in 1991 for its occupation of Kuwait despite decades of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In his new book, "Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," Noam Chomsky writes that double standards are misleading and more accurately should be described as single standards. The single standard reads "all for ourselves, and nothing for other people." Clearly, this standard applies to current conflicts in the Middle East.

The US practices torture in Guantanamo and Iraq, supports torture in "friendly" Arab nations, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and condones Israeli torture and detention against Palestinian civilians.

US coerces UN action on Iran's civilian nuclear program, yet encourages India's nuclear weapons program in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Israel, with the world's sixth largest nuclear weapons arsenal, says it may "go it alone" with threats to attack Iran's nuclear sites in the face of Iran's pronouncements. Both India and Israel have refused to sign onto the NPT, while Iran maintains its obligations to the treaty. US reserves the right to threaten Iran, clearly also a violation of the NPT agreement. Diplomacy is critical to reduce Iran and Israel's war of words. [1]

Israel claims every deadly raid into the Palestinian territories is in search of "wanted men." Meanwhile, Israeli politicians can promise to ethnically "cleanse" (Ayalon, 5/25/07) and "cut the water and power" in Gaza (Netanyahu, 5/18), or on the topic of a full-scale Gaza invasion "the question is not if but how and when" (Barak, 6/17). The Israeli military kidnaps dozens of Palestinian government officials and civilians, destroys crucial civilian infrastructure, while boldly announcing an open assassination policy.

The single standard means Israel builds the separation wall/fence deep in the West Bank and continues to expand illegal settlement colonies, taking the best land and water resources. The International Court of Justice ruling against the wall in 2004 is rejected. Non-violent resistance to the theft of land in Bil'in is met with teargas and rubber bullets, while Israeli soldiers have injured hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters, and killed several. Suggestions that Palestinians have a right to defend their land are never discussed in the mainstream media nor debated in international forums.

On May 14, the Israeli consul-general Baruch Binah visited Kansas City for a talk sponsored by the International Relations Council titled "The Middle East in the Shadow of Iran." During the talk he claimed Israel "must take seriously their threat" in four theaters -- Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Iran. His talk was largely meant to justify Israel's invasion and conquest of land in the 1967 war with Syria, Jordan and Egypt, arguing that Israel is following international law and human rights.

However, he confirmed the single standard with his claim of a united Jerusalem, never again to be shared between Israel and Palestinians, or kept as a open city as originally intended in the 1947 UN partition plan. He rejected negotiations of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, while ignoring voracious settlement colony growth, stating "there are no new settlements." He used a deceitful interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 to claim that Palestine is not occupied despite clear international law against the occupation of West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (no settlers, but prison conditions persist according to B'Tselem, an Israeli HR group). Israel interprets the single standard as "might makes right."

Israeli anthropologist Dr. Uri Davis was in Kansas City on May 1 before traveling to Lawrence, Kansas to give a talk to Univ. of Kansas students. Uri Davis presented a refreshing alternative to the consul-general with his argument to use international law in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalling the end to apartheid and reconciliation between blacks and whites in South Africa. He cited the 1947 UN partition plan as the foundation for Israel, despite this plan being "as bad as Balfour" for Palestinians, but suggested it is legally supportable. He went on to point out UN resolutions establish the critical issues defining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- borders, settlements, right of return for refugees and east Jerusalem.

His hopeful message reflects international civilian opinion that negotiations on these issues are the best approach to resolving the conflict. A majority of civilians in nations in different parts of the world acknowledge the unresolved conflict as the most significant danger to world peace -- next to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. [2]

-- Matt Quinn
Citizens for Justice in the Middle East

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[1] "Twenty Reasons against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran," May 2007, CASAMII
[2] Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 13, 2006 - "America's Image Slips, But Allies Share U.S. Concerns Over Iran, Hamas"

Additional reading on the Palestinian crisis -