Is Obama Losing Moral Compass?
Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Last week the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Washington D.C. He was invited to stay at the Blair House and have a working lunch at the White House with President Obama. In front of the cameras, the two leaders appeared smiling and shaking hands. Apparently they discussed the Palestine-Israel conflict. Netanyahu declared that he is committed to “peace” with Palestinians and President Obama asserted that the Israeli leader is “willing to take risks for peace.” However, Netanyahu did neither offer any specifics about what he would do to help move peace negotiations forward nor mention a two-state solution to the conflict.
If there was any doubt about relationship between the two leaders, Obama reiterated, “If you look at every public statement that I’ve made over the last year and a half, it has been a constant reaffirmation of the special relationship between the United States and Israel, that our commitment to Israel’s security has been unwavering.”
Yes, Obama is right. Look at what his administration has done for the rogue state! The Israeli government will be getting more military and economic aid from the U.S. government than anytime before in its entire history. Recently Obama and his aides pushed the United Nations Security Council to pass a fourth round of sanctions and have worked with the Europeans and others, pressing them to adopt even tougher punishments on Iran. As to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla attack that killed nine Turkish (including a Turkish-American) human rights activist Washington sided with Israel against Turkey. Obama even told Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey to tone down his criticism of Israel.
This new warming gesture to the prime minister of a state that has been committing war crimes for decades is simply unbelievable, especially from a person who last year won the Nobel Prize for peace. Who can forget Obama’s speeches in Turkey and Egypt that aired optimism for peace and prosperity to billions of people of our planet? It sounded sincere and that change was in the horizon. He promised closure of the Guantanamo Bay prisons. He promised pullout of the American troops from Iraq. He promised fairness and healing of the old wounds. Truly, no American president in our time has been able to create so much enthusiasm and hope as Obama was able to do. All those promises now sound empty and hollow. Obama seems to have either fooled or betrayed us all big time!
To the vast majority of his cheerleaders the sad reality is sinking in that while the presidents may come and go, when it comes to Israel, business is going to remain as usual in the White House.
Just days before Obama was sworn in as the president, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) committed some of the worst war crimes against the Palestinians living inside Gaza. Some 1400 Palestinians were killed – more like in an execution style murderous orgy. Last year, the UN commissioned an inquiry, which was led not by a gentile but by a Jewish and pro-Israeli judge – Richard Goldstone of South Africa (who even claimed to be a Zionist). The commission concluded that the IDF’s actions in Gaza qualified as war crimes. And yet, the Obama administration resisted all attempts both inside and outside the U.N. to reprimand and censure Israel for such heinous crimes. It even condemned the Goldstone report as an anti-Israel, “biased” report.
Last month, the Obama administration did everything within its power to prevent an international probe into the Israeli raid on ships bound for the Gaza Strip, bringing in humanitarian aids. As if we have not seen enough of toothless internal inquiries conducted by the Israeli government to investigate its own crimes, the Obama administration, to make a mockery of the entire sad episode, backed another internal investigation mounted by Israel. Lest we forget, only recently an IDF soldier has been found guilty of the three-week long Gaza massacre of 2008-2009. He was charged with manslaughter in connection with the deaths of a Palestinian mother and daughter who were shot while waving white flags. No high ranking official within the IDF has been put behind the jail. In its April 2010 report, Human Rights Watch stated, “Israel has failed to conduct credible investigations into policies authorized by senior levels of the country’s political and military leadership that may have led to violations of the laws of war.”
It has been nearly 18 months since Obama was sworn in as the president and yet nothing positive has come out of his administration to stop the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Some 1.5 million Palestinians, mostly refugees from the Israeli annexation of their ancestral homes, are now forced to live like canned sardines there. Currently, more than 77 percent of Gaza Palestinians either face or are vulnerable to hunger; of these, 65 percent are children younger than 18. According to UNICEF, 10 percent of Gaza children show signs of stunting, while the World Health Organization maintains that another 10 percent face chronic malnutrition.
Back in 2005 when Israel dismantled its illegal settlements there and withdrew, an American-mediated agreement allowed Palestinians to export up to 450 truckloads of goods a day from Gaza. However, true to her deceptive nature, Israel allowed no more than 70 trucks per day before the siege was imposed to punish the Palestinians. According to the Israeli rights group Gisha, which collects data on Gaza’s besieged economy, since 2007, the total number of trucks carrying goods out of Gaza has been less than 300, i.e., less than a hundred a year. This number is equivalent to just four days of exports under the de-facto pre-siege number – which itself was far less than originally envisioned. As a result, according to the estimates by the Palestinian Federation of Industries, more than 90 percent of Gaza’s factories have closed down or are working at minimum capacity. (Newsweek, July 12, 2010) What more statistics does President Obama need to fathom the grim situation in Gaza?
The near-total export ban from Gaza also tells us that the prime motivation for Israeli action is not aimed at preventing weapons from reaching Gaza but actually to destroy Palestinian economy. Israel is enforcing a collective punishment of the Palestinians for voting for the Hamas. As noted by Professor Juan Cole of University of Michigan, that is a political, not a military, objective, and it is impermissible under international law (e.g., the Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) to target innocent civilians to achieve nonmilitary goals. In German, it is called Sippenhaft or Sippenhaftung.
However, as usual, no one within the Obama administration, including the Jewish senators, children and grand-children of Jewish victims of Sippenhaftung, seems to be concerned about such gross violations of international law. The Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has been a great promoter of Israeli interest. In a recent statement he even endorsed such collective punishment of the Palestinian people. He said, “The Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution… They don’t believe in the Torah, in David… You have to force them to say Israel is here to stay. The boycott of Gaza to me has another purpose — obviously the first purpose is to prevent Hamas from getting weapons by which they will use to hurt Israel — but the second is actually to show the Palestinians that when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement… And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.” With such statements, mostly false, it is clear that these sons of ghetto dwellers have learned the Gestapo tactics quite well! Humanity is not in their soul!
In his welcoming speech to Netanyahu, president Obama said, “We discussed the issue of Gaza, and I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that's been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We've seen real progress on the ground.” This statement distorts the grim reality inside Gaza. It is untruthful and misspoken. Obama said, “I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace… We’ve seen over the last year how our relationship has broadened… And I think a lot of that has to do with the excellent work that the Prime Minister has done.” What a joke!
If war is peace, annexation is liberation, colonization is freedom, piracy is philanthropy, murder is life, and starvation is nourishment, one can understand such misplaced adulation for a psychopathic mass murderer like Netanyahu. In his remarks to the press, President Obama made no mention of settlement expansion or the Israeli commando attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla that killed nine people including a U.S. citizen.
By failing to condemn the Israeli piracy and murder of Turkish human rights activists in the international waters, Obama has sent the green signal for such acts of savagery and heinous crimes without facing any retribution.
So, with such a cavalier attitude towards condoning one of the worst crimes of this decade, the Obama Administration has shown that it is no different than its predecessor – the much hated administration of George W. Bush. With its appeasing words for the Israeli war criminals responsible for strangulating Palestinians in Gaza and murdering the human rights activists it has shown that it has lost moral compass. Whether the Obama administration likes to admit or not, the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla has once again vindicated Goldstone’s report and its central claim that Israel used disproportionate force and deliberately attacked civilians in the Gaza assault—just as Israel, albeit on a much smaller scale, did in the massacre aboard the flotilla. Only a stupid or insanely biased individual can miss to see that writing on the wall.