Senate Republicans: Wrong on Gaza
On July 29, Senators McConnell (Kentucky) and Graham (South Carolina), along with other Republican Senators, took to the floor for an hour and spoke on the importance of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, and the importance of the US-Israeli relationship. The Republican Senators spoke again and again about the need to reject any UN or international ceasefire that does not insure Israeli victory. In these words, the Republican Senators have signaled that any deal between Israel and Hamas would be scuttled in the US Senate if the United States wishes to broker an end to hostilities.
The US Senators either spoke to, or alluded to, Israeli moral superiority. Such a belief, of course, does not exist in war. The state of Israel is not morally superior to Gaza because Israel, like Hamas, has decided to enter into open conflict. The Senators on the floor all spoke on why they believe Israel entered the latest conflict – every Senator talked about the number of rockets fired from Palestinian Territory into Israel. Neither McConnell nor Graham talked about the abduction of three teens in mid-June, and their subsequent murder, and the discovery of their bodies on June 30th. McConnell and Graham failed to mention the violation of Palestinian sovereignty, by Israeli Security forces, during this crisis, and the arrest of 530 Palestinians, the following days.
BuzzFeed reporter Sheera Frenkel was the first of many journalists who has begun to shed light on the murderers, and, has found that the group that killed the teens is not affiliated with Hamas (http://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/who-was-behind-the-kidnapping-of-three-israeli-teens-and-why). This reality was confirmed quietly by an Israeli government document. So, when Netanyahu and other top government officials took to the airwaves following the horrific murder of the three teens and said Hamas is responsible, Hamas will pay, they were wrong. When Israel breached the sovereignty of the Palestinian state she all but invited Hamas to retaliate. Instead of calling upon Palestine to aid Israel in her hunt for the lone cell that perpetrated the initial act of terror, she ostracized local law enforcement and arrested Hamas’ leadership.
It must be made clear that the ongoing conflict in Gaza was not brought about by rockets being fired by Hamas on Israel. No, it was brought about by Israel’s insistence to breach the sovereignty of a neighboring state and arrest the leadership of Hamas. Yes, Hamas has fired rockets on Israel, and has perpetrated terror acts in the past. But, the conflict raging on today in the Middle East was not started by Hamas. To have serving US Senators take to the podium and suggest Israel is the defender in the war is wrong and misleading. Hamas retaliated to Israel’s violation of Palestinian sovereignty.
Furthermore, the Republican senators defended Israel’s internationally shamed offensive that has killed over 1,300 people and wounded 7,000. McConnell and his colleagues said, “Israel uses her missile defense to protect her civilians, whereas Hamas uses her civilians to protect her missiles.” In short, the Republicans in the Senate seem to believe that because civilians are present in and around Hamas’s launch sites, then they are no longer civilians, they are active combatants, and Israel should not be told by the US or the UN or any other organization that their offensive has been sloppy, that they have unnecessarily killed and targeted civilians.
Strategic pundits have said that Israel is exercising an “eye for a tooth” military policy. Understandably, this massive operation, involving thousands of rockets, dozens of tanks, and half a million soldiers, is meant to be a signal to the people of Gaza and the West Bank that Israel will use her military deterrent if a threat practices itself from the Palestinian territory. That is understandable from a militaristic standpoint, and from a political and diplomatic standpoint. I will not argue that Israel does not have the right to defend herself with overwhelming force. I will not argue that Israel does not have the right to target civilians. But, I will argue that the Senators serving the American people must not continue to mislead the American people. Our Senators have to be honest with the American people and tell them that they want US tax dollars to go to Israel in the form of military aid, our Senators have to tell the American people that they want to support a regime that is, through its actions, targeting civilians in very large numbers.
Our Senators have to be doubly clear that they do not want the United States to broker or support an equal and immediate ceasefire. Our Senators have to tell the American people that the life of a Palestinian child is equal to that of the freight of an Israeli child. Our Senators have to tell the American people that a quarter of the civilians killed by Israel are children. Our Senators have to tell the American people that Hamas has, in this three week war, only killed one Israeli civilian. Our Senators, on both sides of the political debate, have to be honest. The American people have to know how this conflict started, and how it is playing out on the ground, the American people have to know who our government is funding, and who our government is not treating as an equal political player.
The Senators talked about the need for Hamas to listen to Egypt and accept the Egyptian ceasefire offers. The Senators have failed to point out that the leadership of Hamas was never invited to Cairo to discuss this potential ceasefire with the diplomatic leaders of Egypt, the US, and Israel. Where is the equality of sovereignty? How can the American people expect Hamas to accept a ceasefire it had no hand in forging?
The lights will be out in Gaza tonight. Gaza, a strip of land four times smaller than New York City, has no air defense, has no standing army of its own, and has no empowerment. Until the people of Gaza can be educated, enlightened, and empowered through equality, there will be support for Hamas. Until the people of Gaza can be insured of their own protection, there will be support for Hamas. Israel, a state that many in the United States support, needs to take the moral high ground. They are the state with the missile defense shield; they are the state with the tanks, jets, ships of war, and technology. Israel must act with dignity and put an end to the practice of targeting civilians. Until Israel reaches out to the people of Palestine, as equal partners in the war against terror, Israel has no right to cling to the mantel of morality. The moral high ground has been submerged in the blood of the innocent.