Thursday, November 29, 2012

UNAC Statement on US-Backed Israeli Bombardment of Gaza






UNAC supports the Palestinians right to resist tyranny. We support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel. Palestine solidarity activists in the United States must do everything we can to stop our own government’s unconditional support for Israel’s crimes against humanity. Without this support, Israel would not be able to maintain the ethnic cleansing and continuous land theft of the Palestinian homeland that has been unleashed on the Palestinians for more than 65 years.

UNAC applauds the will of the Palestinians to survive and to thrive and to maintain the optimism that one day Palestine will be free. In spite of daily hardships and repression (80% need food aid; 45% unemployed) - intensified as collective punishment for democratically voting for Hamas in 2006, and still trying to rebuild after the genocidal bombardments of “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-09 - the Palestinians cling to their ancient land and continue to resist. As spoken word artist Rafeef Ziadah says, we don’t teach our children hate; “we teach life!”

A ceasefire between Israel and Gaza has been announced after eight days of Israel’s latest assault on the Palestinians held captive in the world’s largest penal colony. More than 160 Palestinians, including dozens of children, women and elderly, have been killed and more than 1,100, also mainly civilians and children, have been injured. Civilians and vital infrastructure have been deliberate targets, along with journalists attempting to counter the claim of Israel’s simply “defending itself”.

While a halt in the current escalation is good news, it is only a temporary respite as long as the underlying cause is not resolved. The long-term issue is that Gaza remains under a brutal occupation and blockade and the violence before and after “ceasefires” is ongoing, with killings often unreported. There is a long history of ceasefire agreements, honored by the Palestinians, but broken by Israeli targeted assassinations and killings. There is also the harm that is done because Israel restricts food and medicines, contaminates the water, destroys infrastructure, and steals land. Generations of Palestinian children have been traumatized by Israeli violence with crippling impact; food scarcity and restrictions cause malnutrition and widespread growth-stunting anemia.

The war crimes committed by Israel are in full partnership with the United States. $3.1 billion dollars of U.S. taxpayers’ money goes to Israel annually to sustain its illegal and brutal occupation of the Palestinians living under an apartheid, militarized regime and to threaten Iran. The money is used to buy American weaponry. In the past 10 years, almost 671 million U.S. weapons valued at $18,866 billion were delivered. In addition to full military and economic support, the U.S. uses its diplomatic power to shield Israel from the demands of the international community to adhere to international law and from any accountability.

The recent assault on Gaza immediately followed three weeks of joint military exercises involving thousands of U.S. and Israeli military personnel and costing more than $100 million. Part of the mission was to test the Iron Dome missile defense system paid for by the U.S. government, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Wanting to test these systems in real life may have been one of the reasons for the deliberate triggering of the operation. “Make no mistake. The U.S. is 100 percent committed to the security of Israel. That commitment drives this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin. “These are very difficult days [which require] further bilateral cooperation in defense against future missile threats, as well as persistent operations against Hamas and the Iranian terror threat in Gaza, which is likely to intensify and expand,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters.

Both the U.S. and Israeli officials agree on this “partnership”. The Obama administration was briefed just prior to the attack showing that this was a jointly orchestrated operation. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, “This effort (attack on Gaza) could not have been concluded without the generous and consistent support of the American administration, led by President Obama.” President Obama likewise stated that the U.S. is "fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself” and the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing its "unwavering commitment" to Israel.

At UNAC’s founding conference in 2010, there was a debate about what position to take re: Palestine, Israel, and the U.S. For the first time, a large and representative gathering of peace and social justice activists took an unequivocal stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. By a strong majority vote, the conference adopted the demand that the U.S. end all aid to Israel – military, economic, and diplomatic -- and joined the BDS campaign against Israel. This represented a turning point for the American left and we are proud to have played a role in moving the struggle forward.



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