Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When appeasement becomes racism

Dear friends,


It is a fundamental right of every individual to be judged equally amongst his peers. Without it, democracy becomes unsustainable. And yet, multiple standards are almost intrinsic to human nature.    Double standards infect almost every realm of human endeavour.  A prime example is the use of human shields.


Outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, the use of human shields is decried by all.  The former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, denounced the use of human shields by guerilla rebels in refugee camps of West Timor.

So what action was taken in Palestinian villages presided over by the UN?  UNWRA headquarters in Jenin was used as cover for Palestinians to shoot at IDF soldiers. Human shields were, and are, a common tool. Terrorists were even caught opening fire while taking cover behind a woman holding an UNWRA flag. 


How was UN condemnation phrased on this occasion? The Weekly Standard described it well. Local UN officials fabricated an Israeli army "massacre" of "unarmed civilians" and UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Hansen gave dozens of lip-smacking interviews recounting his eye witness account of Israeli atrocities. But the Weekly Standard concluded, based on foreign journalist and international observer evidence, that Hansen "is a bald-faced liar."


This determination to vilify Israel and exonerate Palestinian fabrication is evidenced in any event where Palestinians being used as human shields are accidentally killed – whether by Israelis as collateral damage or by Palestinian "work accidents." Deep indignation is loudly shouted.  By contrast, Palestinian murder of deliberately targeted Israelis is addressed by a muted voice whispering mild concern.


The Palestinians have well understood that the international the media and politicians will grant rewards for every civilian death in their struggle against Israel – whether of Jew or Arab.  President Mahmoud Abbas publicly declared that Palestinians must avoid civil war, and turn their guns against Israelis.  And the world declares amen to depictions of this man as a "moderate" deserving of hundreds of millions in arms and military training.  Media reports adopt his language: "Jerusalem church leaders alarmed at worsening relations between two main political parties are calling for an end to violence and an urgent return to the "real priorities" of Palestinians." Code words lifted almost directly from the Palestinian leader's speeches; quickly translated: Stop killing each other and get back to killing Jews.


The human shields themselves have also reached a new level of boldness and sophistication.  Knowing that Israel will avoid killing "innocent" civilians, they call for the murder of their Israeli counterparts, while protecting terrorists and arms caches with their homes and their bodies. 

In recent months, Israeli security forces have used telephone calls to warn Palestinian militants and others near alleged militant safe houses and weapons caches, giving them up to a half hour to evacuate. When militia leader Mohammed Baroud got the call Saturday, he enlisted neighbors to protect his house from the Israeli military. They've now set up a system of shifts to protect the house around the clock.

"This kind of [peaceful] resistance cannot replace the rocket resistance," says Jamila Shanti, a female member of Hamas who helped organize a permanent presence of female human shields around the house. "The popular resistance is to protect the people from the bombing. The rocket resistance is to confront the Israeli machinery." (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1120/p01s02-wome.html)

The US, on the other hand, solves the dilemma by simply following the rules of war. According to the Geneva conventions, as Kofi Anan pointed out in Timor, armies are not required to protect human shields.  Whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or more recently Somalia, the results have been devastating.  But the world quietly applies the international standard, as long as the attacker is "one of us." Israel, as "the other," must respect human shields deliberately hiding terrorists and their weapons.  Palestinians, "the lesser," are not up to these international ethical norms.  Using human shields and murdering civilians are minor faults which cannot be allowed to distract the flow of international aid.

However you slice it – that's racism.

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