Amnesty’s scandalous obliquity

Amnesty’s scandalous obliquity

In an apparent effort to sound “balanced” and “unbiased,”  the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International ( AI ) ,  has urged the international community to halt   arms sales to the Israeli apartheid regime and the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, Hamas.

A report issued by the group on  Sunday, 22 February, pointed out that arms supplied to “the two sides” were used in attacks on civilians and civilian objects” which constituted war crimes.

Non the less, a careful examination of the report shows a clear propensity on the part of AI  to create a false symmetry between Hamas, a small  liberation movement resisting a decades-old  Nazi-like foreign military occupation, and Israel,  a manifestly criminal state armed to the teeth,  which has been committing   every conceivable crime under the sun for the purpose of maintaining its colonialist occupation and brutal domination over the Palestinian people.

To be sure, no one claims that Hamas is completely blameless. Targeting innocent civilians is unacceptable.

However, equating the resistance of a long-persecuted  people languishing under an evil military occupation, even if wrongs are done,  with an  immensely superior state terror  unjustifiably perpetrated by an occupying power  is morally  unconscionable, to say the very least.

Indeed,  doing so would be analogous to  equating  European resistance to the  attacking Nazi armies during the Second World War, with  the Nazi aggression itself.

Well, with all due respect to AI and its efforts to safeguard and defend human rights, there is no legal or moral equation  between a rape victim’s right to defend herself against her attacker and the criminal act initiated by the rapist.

I am using this analogy because the enduring Israeli oppression meted out to the Palestinian people is an enduring act of rape.

Yes, firing home-made and other comparatively primitive projectiles on  Israeli civilians  is a regrettable act.  However, the firing of these projectiles, which killed a few Israelis in 10 years of hostilities  (virtually one Israeli per year), can’t be compared with the nearly complete annihilation of  Gaza’s civilian infrastructure  and wholesale  murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

The excessive, disproportionate and often pornographic  use of  deadly violence  against an essentially  imprisoned and unprotected civilian population is more than just  a  mere miscalculation or faulty reasoning   It is rather a deliberate war crime the perpetrators of which are vile war criminals who ought to be prosecuted and punished for their crimes.

More to the point, it is imperative that one gives context if one is truly interested in producing an honest and objective analysis of the recent outrage in Gaza.

Hence, one  must be honest enough to remember that Israel had been forcing  the 1.5 million Gazans  to choose between dying quietly by succumbing to a genocidal  hermetic siege that pushed most of the region’s inhabitants   to the brink of a silent holocaust, or fighting back, using whatever primitive and extremely limited means at their disposal.

I strongly believe it is  absurd and ludicrous, if not outright  malicious, to compare Hamas with Israel as far as the use of violence is concerned.

Hamas is a small movement of  persecuted Palestinians who have been on the receiving end of Israeli persecution and repression.  Hamas poses no real or strategic threat to Israel, a military superpower which also,  to a large extent,  controls American politics and policies.

In its recent genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel used the deadliest weapons of death, including F-16 warplanes, apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, heavy artillery, depleted uranium, chemical agents that eat through the human flesh and eventually cause death, white Phosphorus, dart shells and a variety of other lethal weapons.

On the other hand, Hamas used notoriously primitive weapons, mainly to deter Israel from carrying out a genocide on a wider scale.

During that blitz, Israel knowingly and deliberately targeted civilian neighborhoods, apartment buildings, private homes, mosques, college dorms, university buildings, UN-run schools, grocery stores and businesses. It was a no-holds-barred rampage of murder and terror  against an imprisoned and thoroughly starved civilian population. 

As a result, as many as 7000 Palestinians were murdered, or maimed and injured, many with life-long deformities. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of other Gazans suffered long-lasting psychological  traumas.

On the Israeli side, we are talking about a dozen  Israeli fatalities , some of whom killed or injured by “friendly fire.”

So, we are dealing with an extremely lopsided  situation where the death ratio is nearly  1 -100. Needless to say, one doesn’t have to be a great military expert to realize that this is not really a war, it is rather a huge massacre.

This is why, AI  is called upon to  call the spade a spade and refrain from hiding behind technical jargons that not only fail to communicate the facts about what really happened in Gaza but also give a false impression of symmetry in guilt between Israel and Hamas.

More to the point, it is important to remember that   Israel didn’t impose the draconian blockade of Gaza as a retaliation for the largely innocuous firing of  projectiles onto Israel . The criminal blockade was imposed, first and foremost, as a cruel punishment of Palestinians for electing a political party that Israel didn’t like.

Hence, the imposition of the siege, which is continuing unabated, is per se a war crime or a crime against humanity.

The world betrayed them, the Arab world stood silent, with some Arab regimes even colluding  with Israel to perfect the siege in the hope that Gazans would turn against Hamas and bring it down.

And the hypocritical West  had the audacity to blame the victims while babbling, as usual,  about Israel’s right to defend itself.

This  happened while an entire people was being  imprisoned, starved,  tormented and quietly exterminated, mainly for political reasons pertaining to Israeli territorial aggrandizement.

In short, it was the  Nazi-like Israeli savaging of the Palestinians  that made Palestinian resistance inevitable. The Palestinians, long tormented  by this cruel occupation, have every legal and moral right to resist, using whatever means available to them.

Indeed, instead of blaming the victims for resisting their oppressors, the world, including AI, ought to tell Israel that it can’t just incarcerate  1.5 million civilians within the confines of  an open-air prison, surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers,  tanks, landmines, and other state-of-the-art machines of death, and then expect the victims to display love and understanding toward their tormentors and oppressors.

Israel did transform the Gaza Strip into a real concentration camp, by denying the prisoner population access to fuel, electricity, food, medicine, medical care, and basic consumer products.

Meanwhile, the Israeli death machine never stopped murdering innocent Palestinians, nearly on a daily basis.

It is essential that  AI  and other human rights groups take these facts into account when dealing with the situation in Gaza .

Failing to do so, by cowering before Israeli pressure, would further corrode AI image as the world’s premier human rights organization.