Sunday, 18 November 2012

Our Responsibility For Israel's War Crimes

Today, the fourth strongest military power in the world is launching air, sea and rocket attacks on refugees it has launched on a ghetto described as "Hell on earth".

Collective Punishment

It seems to have been the case some time ago that in western administrations the incompatibility between Israel's right to exist and Palestinian right to their land was recognised and the decision taken that to deny the Palestinians their rights was preferable to denying Israel its. 

In order to facilitate this, the western world, led in both diplomatic and financial terms by the United States and the United Kingdom, have fought a rearguard action in defence of the State of Israel. 

The two allies have sold Israel weapons, and have given it carte blanche to collectively punish the Gazan people. It is unacceptable for Hamas to fire missiles into civilian buildings in Israel - but it is equally unacceptable for Israel to respond by firing missiles into civilian buildings in Gaza. 

The Gazan people are not, on the whole, massive fans of Hamas. While they won the last Legislative election, they achieved a vote of 44,45% on a turnout of 75%. Extrapolating that, it could be said that for every three civilians Israel kills, only one (roughly )would be a Hamas supporter. 

I cannot imagine a better way of turning moderate Palestinians into Hamas supporters by punishing the people of Gaza collectively for the actions of Hamas - killing civilians who on the whole don't even support Hamas. 

Israel Shielded From International Consequences 

The problem with Israel, however, is that they just don't see that their behaviour is completely disproportionate to what Hamas is doing. They are so used to any criticism of their actions being vetoed at the United Nations by their allies in the US and UK - permanently on the Security Council - that they have become inured to criticism. Criticism without consequences is barely criticism at all. 

Iraq broke two UNSC resolutions. It was promply invaded by the UK and US, at a cost of - at a conservative estimate - some quarter of a million lives. 

Israel has broken - at the last count - 69 resolutions. It has been punished by receiving thousands of millions of euro in aid and weaponry from the US and UK, as well as availing of the full battery of diplomatic resources afforded by the two western allies.

No wonder, that Israel feels it can commit war crimes with impunity. 

Scottish Unionism: Friends of Israel

For some reason, the British establishment is particularly supportive of Israel. It doesn't matter which party is in power (and all three London parties have been part of the British regime over the past three years), the British regime always supports Israel. 

Channel Four's Dispatches programme reports that around 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the corresponding Conservative Friends of Israel - and that at least half of the Cabinet are or were members. David Cameron, the British premier, is a member, as were former Conservative leaders Iain Duncan Smith, William Hague and Michael Howard. 

Other Tory grandees to have been members of the group include former defence ministers Liam Fox and Malcolm Rifkind. Both Scottish, both rejected from Scottish seats, both important members of the anti-Scotland Better Together campaign.

Both recent Labour Party prime ministers, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, have been members of the internal party grouping Labour Friends of Israel. It also includes the disgraced former MSP, George Foulkes, and disgraced former minister Denis MacShane, now the subject of a police investigation for a large-scale theft of public money.

Former STV chairman, and current Labour peer, Gus MacDonald is also a member, as is Jim Murphy, yet another Unionist MP involved in the defence industry (and also, and probably not unrelated, a man who benefited from living in South Africa during the Apartheid years before fleeing his national service. Happy to send our young men to die in illegal foreign wars; not so happy to fight himself).

John Reid, who you will be flabbergasted to read is another former defence minister, is also a member of LFI. 

Scotland's Voice in Israel's Crimes

The British foreign minister, William Hague, says that Scotland's voice is much stronger in the world as long as we are attached to the UK.

David Cameron says that his "belief in Israel is unbreakable and commitment to Israel's security is non-negotiable".

So, where is the Scottish voice in the international stage? In Edinburgh yesterday, a march organised at short notice by Stop the War, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Scottish Trades Unions Congress went from Bute House to Parliament, and was backed by hundreds of demonstrators. 

Scotland's belief in Israel clearly isn't unbreakable. But where is that voice on the international stage? The Scottish government says that it's wrong to collectively punish the people of Gaza for the actions of Hamas. The Scottish people agree. The Scottish Unionist establishment doesn't.

But it's the British government who speak for Scotland at the United Nations. And the British government are saying that it's right for Israel to collectively punish the people of Gaza for the actions of Hamas. 

Is that really Scotland's voice being heard on the global stage? Do the people of Scotland really want to be complicit in the genocide being perpetrated in Gaza today? 

Unionists tell us we are stronger together when a foreign government speaks for us. 

Given that most of the Better Together campaign's leaders seem to be up to their ears in support for Israel and the defence industry, why would we trust them to speak out and do the right thing? 

It's scaremongered that a consequence of our regaining independence would be Britain losing its permanent seat on the Security Council. 

When that voice doesn't deal with the facts or issues, and its commitment to Israel is "unbreakable and non-negotiable", then surely it's time to remove that voice. 

Scotland needs to speak to the world. We need to tell the world that Israel is behaving wrongly. We don't need vested interests, and we don't need blind fanaticism. 

The dismantling of the United Kingdom will be a major step towards peace in our time.

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