Saturday, August 31, 2013

President Obama Holds Syria Accountable for Human Rights Abuses

I agree with the president that Syria's leaders need to be held accountable for the atrocities - and there certainly ARE international "standards" as President Obama said yesterday in his remarks preparing us for an attack on Syria. 

As I watched President Obama speak, however, I wondered why the president thinks it is so important to hold Syria accountable to international standards, but not Israel...

When Israel used phosphorus in Gaza in 2009, the US did not attack Israel in retaliation for their violation of "international standards." The widespread and repeated use of white phosphorus in heavily populated areas, including refugee camps and a UN school, was documented by Human Right Watch in their report of their investigation: Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza. "Read a summary of the report or access the entire report. But the US did nothing to retaliate or punish Israel.

In 2009, no one talked about attacking Israel in response to their illegal use of white phosphorus. Instead we give them more money--now $3 billion per year, much of which is given in the form of military assistance. Human Right Watch reports that in Gaza, "All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found were manufactured in the United State in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace...." 

White phosphorus explosions at UN compound in Gaza, January 15, 2009 - The Times of London
Between 20 September 2000 and 26 December 2008, the beginning of "Operation Cast Lead") Israeli security forces killed 4858 Palestinians (source: B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories). During Israel's attack on Gaza, 1398 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and the West Bank. Since Cast Lead, 520 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinians have been waiting more than 45 years for Israel to withdraw from their land, but my tax dollars support this injustice with $3B in military aid to Israel every year.

I wonder why the US response is so strong in the case of Syria, while we do nothing to stop Israel from killing Palestinians in the areas it has occupied since 1967. 

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