US, West’s inertia on Gaza smacks of hypocrisy
A few days ago, Al Jazeera flighted a jarring and poignant image of a bloodstained but defiant Palestinian man perched on a makeshift bed being ferried to hospital by his equally distraught colleagues. In spite of his pain, the incapacitated Palestinian man defiantly bellowed out a few muffled but stabbing words that will echo for a very long time on the conscience of an indifferent world:
“. . . why is the whole world just watching when Israel is killing us?”
The fate of this man is open to conjecture, but his words will remain an admonishment to the whole world, particularly the self-proclaimed custodians of human rights, the United States of America and its Western allies, for allowing a tragedy that has claimed the lives of more than a thousand Palestinians to fade from the global consciousness.
Seemingly, the world’s empathy with the Palestinians unseemly fate, that Amnesty International has described as a flagrant violation of International Law, is fading away in the same way the memory of the grizzled, scruffy-bearded guerrilla Arafat, one of the few men capable of keeping his peoples hopes alive at the forefront of global consciousness, is slowly ebbing away.
Nay, the United States of America has not just forgotten Gaza. It has rather invariably provided succour to Israel’s flagrant abuse of human rights and incessant violation of International law on this fast receding strip of land.
To cap its callousness, the United States of America through its Secretary of State, John Kerry, openly defended Israel’s unabated heinous crimes against humanity in front of a helpless world: “War is tough, and I said that publicly and I say it again. We defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing . . .”
The United States of America and its Western ally’s response to the Gaza crisis contrasts sharply with the effusion of sympathy and support that characterised the loss of 298 lives on flight MH17.
In the aftermath of this disaster, Obama and his Western allies, such as David Cameron were quick to point a finger at Putin and the pro-Russian allies for downing the plane before any reliable investigations were set in motion.
Surprisingly, in an act of palpable duplicity, the very same United States of America and its Western allies voted against condemning Israel for committing crimes against humanity at the UN on the pretext that full investigations had to be concluded first.
Worse still, the United States of America’s legendary hypocrisy comes out to the fore when Obama and his coterie of officials condemn Russia for arming pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine, and Crimea yet the US itself is known to be providing ammunition and all kind of support to the anti-Assad militants in Syria.
One does not need to be equipped with esoteric political lenses to see the double standards at play here.
The United States of America and its unquestioning allies are clearly not the custodians of human rights.
To them human rights are not universal but a preserve of a select few like Israel who can wantonly and indiscriminately mete out collective punishment on defenceless and stateless Palestinians under the flimsy pretext of pursuing Hamas.
America’s unconditional support for Israel does not only show that morality can be easily expunged when their interests are at stake, it further shows that of all governments in the world, perhaps the United States of America should be the last one to pontificate about morality, human rights and respecting International Law.
Back home, it boggles the mind that Zimbabwe is still reeling under the burden of ZIDERA on the pretext of human rights violations while countries such as Uganda, Morocco, Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt and Saudi Arabia invariably receive unqualified support from the United States of America and its allies. However, this hypocrisy should not be surprising given that it is the very same United States of America that has propped up despotic leaders such as Marcos in the Philippines, Duvalier in Haiti, and Pinochet in Chile.
Hypocrisy and duplicity in the application and defence of human rights, democracy and International law should not be surprising when it emanates from the very country that dined with apartheid South Africa and until recently branded African liberation heroes such as Nelson Mandela and Tokyo Sexwale as terrorists.
As the global media continues to elevate the Ukrainian crisis in ways that dwarf the more urgent and cataclysmic Gaza tragedy, where 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children are trapped and suffocating in an area of land just 40 kilometres long and 9.5 metres wide, the global periphery including its media needs to speak back, reclaim its voice, as the sole remaining but enduring voice of morality.
The Palestinian people like any other peoples of the world have a right to live, a right to a state, a right to health care and self-determination.
Dr Blessing Makwambeni is a lecturer and research co-ordinator in Media Studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, he writes in his personal capacity.