GAZA CITY – The Israeli air force attacked several targets across the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday morning, witnesses and Israel’s army said, with no casualties reported.
The first airstrike hit an agricultural area in eastern Gaza City near the ruins of Gaza International Airport at around 4:00 a.m, locals told Ma’an.
The second targeted a military site of the Hamas military wing Al-Qassam Brigades, also near the Gaza International Airport, and three missiles were fired at a Hamas military site in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israeli fighter jets then fired a missile at a military site located in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, used by Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees.
The strikes came after a rocket fired from the strip struck southern Israel late Tuesday, causing no casualties or damage.
The Israeli army said it struck “four terror infrastructures in the southern Gaza Strip” in response to the rocket attack, according to AFP.
“The reality that Hamas’s territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel is unacceptable and intolerable and will bear consequences,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said in a statement.
Hamas has not assumed responsibility for the attack, while Israel’s military initially believed Islamic Jihad to be behind the attack.
Shortly after the rocket was reported, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior decided to evacuate security headquarters in Gaza in anticipation of Israeli retaliation, while denying that Islamic Jihad leader Nafez Azzam had any link to the incident, according to a press release.
The incident comes as Palestinian residents of Gaza continue to recover from last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups that left over 2,200 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, and 73 dead on the Israeli side, mostly military personnel.
Tuesday’s rocket was the third fired from Gaza since the ceasefire, in addition to two mortar bombs reportedly fired at Israel since September, according to the Shin Bet internal security agency.
The UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) released a report Monday saying the ceasefire that ended the latest war remains “perilously fragile.”
While Palestinian armed groups have test-fired around 150 rockets into the sea, Israeli forces have carried out a range of military incursions into the coastal enclave, including two air strikes, the report said.
Gaza-based Israeli watchdog Al Mezan documented Israeli forces opening fire in the border areas inside of the Gaza Strip six separate times during the first ten days of May, leaving four injured including one child.
Wednesday’s air strike was the third since the end of the 2014 war.
AFP contributed to this report.
The European United Left group of MEPs has demanded the abolition of partnership agreements with Israel due to its indiscriminate aggression against the Palestinians, Arabs48.com reported on Friday. The demand was made in the wake of the acknowledgement by dozens of Israeli soldiers who took part in the last summer’s Israeli offensive in Gaza that they targeted civilians intentionally; some claimed that they targeted Palestinians “for fun“.
In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the EU group, Angel Vaina, demanded that Europe’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini answer several questions regarding the Israeli human rights abuses. Beside the witness statements of the Israeli soldiers, he noted, there is a UN report which proves that Israel killed 44 civilians and wounded 227 others in UN shelters during the Israeli war against Palestinian civilians.
Vaina said that the Geneva Conventions ban aggression against the offices of humanitarian organisations. “As such, we demand an end to economic preferences and dealing with this aggressive state.”
He pointed out that Israel signed an agreement in 2000 that guarantees human rights, but violates it repetitively. As an example, he cited Israeli violations in respect of 26 foreign activists on 3 May, when police cracked down on a peaceful demonstration in Tel Aviv against institutional violence and racial discrimination targeting Ethiopian Jews.
Bothaina Al-Najjar, 42, is fearful and cautious while harvesting the wheat and barley on her farm. She can hear the Israeli tanks roaring just a couple of hundred metres away from the Gaza Strip city of Kuza’a. On Friday, Israeli snipers positioned on the Gaza border in the north of the besieged territory shot a Palestinian farmer, causing him serious injuries.
This is an almost daily experience, she told Anadolu reporter Hani Al-Shaer. Israeli tanks could be seen from time to time aiming their barrels towards them during the interview. They also felt that they were in the cross-hairs of Israeli snipers.
Wearing her traditional dark dress and almost hidden by the wheat crop, she said, “I come to my farm in the early morning and start working very fast in case I am targeted by the Israeli forces.” She does not know why the Israelis target the Palestinians in their land. “We are civilians and they know very well that we pose no danger to them.” Al-Najjar added that she and her family have been there for decades.
Nearby, the Anadolu journalist spotted a 70-year old man who was, along with his wife and sister, harvesting their barley crop. Mahmoud Qdeeh had arrived on his farm at 9:30am. When Al-Shaer approached to speak to him, gunfire could be heard, fired from the Israeli side of the border.
Qdeeh ignored the shots, but his sister insisted that he should leave. They collected what they had harvested, packed it onto a donkey cart and fled.
Recalling her youth, Al-Najjar told the journalist that at harvest time the farmers used to prepare big meals and invite their neighbours to eat. “But, after 2000, the Israeli occupation razed hundreds of acres of Palestinian farmland and made our lives hell.”
Operation Protective Edge, launched in early July 2014, was the third major Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in six years. It was also the most deadly. By the conclusion of hostilities some seven weeks later, 2,200 of Gaza’s population had been killed, and more than 10,000 injured.
In these pages, journalist Mohammed Omer, a resident of Gaza who lived through the terror of those days with his wife and then three-month-old son, provides a first-hand account of life on-the-ground during Israel’s assault. The images he records in this extraordinary chronicle are a literary equivalent of Goya’s “Disasters of War”: children’s corpses stuffed into vegetable refrigerators, pointlessly because the electricity is off; a family rushing out of their home after a phone call from the Israeli military informs them that the building will be obliterated by an F-16 missile in three minutes; donkeys machine-gunned by Israeli soldiers under instructions to shoot anything that moves; graveyards targeted with shells so that mourners can no longer tell where their relatives are buried; fishing boats ablaze in the harbor.
Throughout this carnage, Omer maintains the cool detachment of the professional journalist, determined to create a precise record of what is occurring in front of him. But between his lines the outrage boils, and we are left to wonder how a society such as Israel, widely-praised in the West as democratic and civilized, can visit such monstrosities on a trapped and helpless population.
302 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-92-3 • E-book 978-1-939293-93-0
Available from OR Books
An Israeli soldier said that he and his colleagues bombed civilian targets in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war on the enclave for entertainment.
During an interview with French Le Monde newspaper in Jerusalem yesterday, the soldier who identified himself as Arieh, 20, said: “I was called to service early on July 2014 and was deployed to the Gaza Strip but until that time the operation [Operation Protective Edge] was not announced yet. Only some soldiers speculated that there will be war, but later our commander told us to imagine a 200 metre radius and to immediately shoot anything moving inside this circle.”
“We bombed civilian targets for entertainment,” he said, adding that “one day at about 8am we went to the Al-Bureij; a highly dense residential area in central Gaza, and the commander told us to select a random target and shoot it, at the time we did not see any Hamas fighters, no one shot at us, but the commander told us jokingly: ‘We have to send Bureij a morning greeting from the Israeli army’.”
“I remember that one day, a soldier from our unit was killed and our commander asked us for revenge so I drew the tank randomly towards a huge white residential building, just four kilometres away from us and fired a shell at the 11th floor. I must have killed civilians who were absolutely innocent,” he continued.
He pointed out that the target was to destroy Gaza’s infrastructure, not only Hamas, saying: “We entered the Gaza Strip on July 19 2014 to search for Hamas’s tunnels between Gaza and Israel, but our goal was to destroy Hamas and the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure and to create the largest possible damage to the agricultural land and the economy. Hamas had to pay an expensive bill in order to think twice before entering into a new conflict with us.”
“We destroyed many Palestinian buildings, farms and electricity poles. They told us that ‘we must avoid civilian casualties as much as possible’, but how could you do that when they ask you to leave behind so much destruction,” he added.
He stressed that what happened in the Gaza Strip violates what he learned in the army. “I learned in the army that you are responsible for setting goals and hitting them. We have also learned during our training that you cannot play with the trigger, even on a trial basis, but what happened in the enclave was contrary to our consciences.”
Arieh said: “During the operations in the Gaza Strip, the unit commander said: ‘If you see someone in front of the tank who does not immediately flee, you must kill them.’ so he could see that there are civilians.”
Arieh added that the limits for the battle were very broad and based on personal decision.
“If you see something suspicious in the window of a Palestinian home, or were afraid while you approached a house with a tank, you could fire immediately, even if there was no actual threat. This principle was contrary to everything we have learned in previous military exercises before the July 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
“We used shells excessively, when I saw anything moving, if an open window, I would shell it. If I saw a moving car, I would fire a rocket. We fired missiles at moving objects and not individuals. We did not see moving individuals in our surroundings, but we fired anyway. We only saw women and children and elderly in the ceasefire which lasted only for a few hours, but I was so afraid that there were suicide bombers among them that I thought to shoot near them.”
“I can confirm that we only saw civilians, we did not see any Hamas fighters. We knew they moved through tunnels. We would enter an area and suddenly they would start firing at us and we would retreat. We were more afraid than Hamas spies who stood on rooftops with their phones to reveal our locations,” the soldier explained.
Arieh said the Israeli army would fire at any house if they saw someone holding a telephone and standing on the rooftop. “We considered anyone with a telephone on a rooftop a Hamas spy, even if that person was a woman.”
Arieh is one of about 60 Israeli soldiers who agreed to testify in a report prepared by Israeli human rights organisation Breaking the Silence.
The 237-page report concluded that the Israeli army left “unprecedented harm” among Palestinian civilians during the war through random firing and the application of loose rules of engagement.
The Israeli army launched a 51-day war on the Gaza Strip on 7 July 2014, resulting in the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians and wounding about 11,000 others, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, 68 Israeli soldiers and four civilians were killed and 2,522 more were injured including 740 soldiers, according to official Israeli figures.
Amnesty International has issued four reports on the Israeli massacre in Gaza in 2014.1 Given the scale of the destruction and the number of fatalities, any attempt to document the crimes committed should be welcomed. However, these reports are problematic, and raise questions about the organisation itself, including why the reports were ever written at all.2 They also raise questions about the broader human rights industry that are worth considering.
July 2014 marked the onset of the Israeli massacre in Gaza (I will dispense with the Israeli sugar-coated “operation” name). The Israeli army trained for this attack for several months before finding a pretext to attack the Gaza Strip, shattering an existing ceasefire; this was the third such post-“disengagement” (2004) attack, and possibly the worst so far. At least 2,215 people were killed and 10,000+ wounded, most of them civilians. The scale of destruction was staggering: tens of thousands of houses were rendered uninhabitable; several high-rise buildings were struck by huge American-supplied bombs; schools and hospitals were targeted; 61 mosques were totally destroyed; water purification and sewage treatment plants were damaged; Gaza’s main flour mill was bombed; and all chicken farms in the territory were ravaged. There was incalculable devastation.3
Israeli control over Gaza has been in place for decades, with violence escalating over time, and the Palestinians there have been under siege for the past eight years. The Israelis have placed Gaza “on a diet”,4 permitting only a trickle of strictly controlled goods to cross the border, enough to keep the population above starvation levels. The whole Gaza Strip is surrounded on all sides, blocked off from the outside world: military bulldozers raze border areas, snipers injure farmers, and warships menace or destroy fishing boats with gunfire. Periodically, the Israelis engage in what they term “mowing the lawn” massacres and large scale destruction. It is this history that must serve as the foundation of any report that attempts to describe both the intent of the participating parties and the relative consequences.
Context-challenged – by design
The ongoing crimes perpetrated against Gaza are chronic and, indeed, systematic. Arnon Soffer, one of Israel’s Dr Strangelove types and “intellectual father of the wall”, had this to say about the enclave:
Q (Ruthie Blum): Will Israel be prepared to fight this war?
Arnon Soffer: […] Instead of entering Gaza, the way we did last week, we will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Kassams, because they will know what’s waiting for them. Second of all, when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.5
To determine the reasons behind Israeli actions, one only has to read what such Dr Strangeloves say; it is no secret. The aim is to create miserable conditions to drive the Palestinians off their land, warehouse the population in an open air prison called Gaza, and to repress any Palestinian resistance disproportionately. Israelis have to “kill and kill and kill, all day”. Such pathological reasoning puts Israeli actions into perspective; they are major crimes, possibly genocidal. Recognition of such crimes has some consequences.
First, the nature of the crimes requires their recognition as crimes against humanity, arguably one of the most serious crimes under international law. Second, Israeli crimes put the violence of the Palestinian resistance into perspective; Palestinians have a legitimate right to defend themselves against the occupying power. Third, the long history of violence perpetrated against the Palestinians, and the resulting power imbalance, suggests that one should be in solidarity with the victim, not the aggressor.
Amnesty, though, refuses to acknowledge the serious nature of Israeli crimes, by using an intellectually bankrupt subterfuge. It insists that as a rights-based organisation it cannot refer to historical context; doing so would be considered “political”, in its warped jargon. An examination of what Amnesty considers as “background” in its reports confirms that there is virtually no reference to relevant history or context, such as the prior Israeli attacks on Gaza, who initiated those attacks, the Goldstone Report, and so on. Hey presto! Now there is no need to mention serious crimes. It also doesn’t recognise the nature of the Palestinian resistance, and their right to self-defence. Nowhere does Amnesty International acknowledge that Palestinians are entitled to defend themselves against Israel’s military occupation. Finally, the rights group cannot express solidarity with the victim because, hey, “both sides” are victims!
At this point, once Amnesty has chosen to ignore the serious Israeli crimes, it takes on the Mother Teresa role of sitting on the fence castigating “both sides” for non-compliance with international humanitarian law that determines the rules of war. Thus, Amnesty criticises Israel not for the transgression of attacking Gaza, but for utilising excessive force or targeting civilians. The group’s favourite term to describe such events is “disproportionate”. This is problematic because it suggests that there is no problem with the nature of the action, just with the means or scale of it. While Amnesty bleats that a one-ton bomb in a refugee camp is disproportionate, it would seem that using a 100kg bomb would be acceptable. Another favoured term is “conflict”, a state of affairs where both sides are at fault, both are at once victims and transgressors.
Notice that while Amnesty avoids recognising major crimes by using its rights-based framework, it suddenly changes its hat, and takes on a very legalistic approach to criticise the violence perpetrated by the Palestinians. It manages then to list the full panoply of international humanitarian law which it deems to be applicable.
The key thing to watch in the upcoming International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of the 2014 massacre will be whether the court will copy the Amnesty approach. Any investigation that doesn’t focus on the cause of the violence and who initiated it will result in another fraud, and no pixel of justice.
Criminalising Palestinian resistance
Amnesty dispenses with the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves by stating that the rockets fired from Gaza are “indiscriminate”, and proceeds to call their use a war crime. Palestinian resistance groups are also told not to hide in heavily populated areas, not to execute collaborators, and so on. While Palestinians are told that their resistance amounts to war crimes, the Israelis aren’t told that their attacks are criminal per se; for them, it is only a matter of scale.
The “Unlawful and deadly rocket and Mortar Attacks…” report condemns repeatedly Palestinian rocket firing with inaccurate weapons, deems these “indiscriminate”, and ipso facto war crimes. Amnesty confuses the term “inaccurate” with “indiscriminate”. Examining the table below suggests that Israel killed proportionately far more civilians, albeit with more accurate weapons. It is quite possible to target indiscriminately with precision munitions. There is also a possibility, which Amnesty International appears to disregard, that the Israeli military targeted civilians intentionally. Indeed, it is likely that Israeli drones targeted children intentionally. A report by Defence for Children International states: “As a matter of policy, Israel deliberately and indiscriminately targeted the very spaces where children are supposed to feel most secure.”6
Regardless of the accuracy of the weapons, the key issue is one of intent. Amnesty dwells on an explosion at the Shati refugee camp on 28 July. On the basis of one field worker’s testimony, Israeli-supplied evidence and an unnamed “independent munitions expert”,7 the organisation concludes that:
Amnesty International has received no substantive response to its inquiries about this incident from the Palestinian authorities. An independent and impartial investigation is needed, and both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities must co-operate fully. The attack appears to have violated international humanitarian law in several ways, as the evidence indicates that it was an indiscriminate attack using a prohibited weapon which may well have been fired from a residential area within the Gaza Strip and may have been intended to strike civilians in Israel. If the projectile is confirmed to be a Palestinian rocket, those who fired it and those who commanded them must be investigated for responsibility for war crimes.
Mother Teresa certainly provides enough comic material; an occasional joke makes it easier to read a dull report. The evidence for the provenance of this missile is taken at face value although it is supplied by Israel, but, of course, it requires an “investigation”; Amnesty is suggesting that both Israel and the Palestinians should investigate this incident. If the Palestinian resistance was responsible for this explosion, then it was caused by a misfire; thus, there was no intention to cause the consequent deaths. Suggesting that this amounts to a war crime is rather absurd, but the title of the section advertising the report on the Amnesty International website suggests a motive for harping on about this incident: “Palestinian armed groups killed civilians on both sides in attacks amounting to war crimes”. This conveys a rather warped and negative view of the Palestinian resistance – they kill civilians on both sides – and it suggests that it is not possible to be in solidarity with them.
Tyranny of reasons
After any Israeli attack, the pro-Israel propagandists offer a rationale about why a given target was struck. They claim that there were Palestinian militants firing rockets from hospitals, schools, mosques, the power plant and other civilian buildings. At a stroke, such locations are legitimised as Israeli targets whether or not the propaganda statements are true. What is disconcerting in the two reports on Israeli crimes is that Amnesty International imputes reasons for the targeting of buildings or families.
One finds, for example, statements such as:
- Amnesty International believes this attack was targeting one individual.
- The apparent target was a member of a military group, targeted at a time when he was at home with his family.
- The fighters who were the apparent targets could have been targeted at a different time or in a different manner that was less likely to cause excessive harm to civilians and destruction of civilian objects.
- The apparent target of Israel’s attack was Ahmad Sahmoud, a member of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing. […] Surviving family members and neighbours denied this.
Amnesty parrots the rationales provided by the Israeli military; one only needs to look at the footnotes of its reports to check the veracity of this claim. And Amnesty discounts the intentional bombing of buildings to create misery among the Palestinian middle class and demoralise a key sector of society; and that destroying the power plant amounts to collective punishment. But don’t worry, Mother T will always check with the Israeli military to determine why something was targeted.
AI is not an anti-war organisation
One would expect a human rights organisation to be intrinsically opposed to war, but Amnesty International is a cheerleader of so-called humanitarian intervention, and even “humanitarian bombing”.8 Despite such a predisposition, it was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize, yet another questionable recipient of a prize meant to be given only to those actively opposed to wars. Today, one wonders if AI is going to jump on the R2P (Right to Protect) neocon bandwagon. A consequence of its “not-anti-war” stance is that it doesn’t criticise wars conducted by the United States, Britain or Israel; it is only the excesses that merit Amnesty’s occasional lame rebuke, often prefaced with the term “disproportionate” or “alleged”. This stance is evident in its latest reports; here the premise is that the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip was legitimate, but it is the conduct of “both sides” that is the object of the reports’ criticism.
Can’t see the wood for the trees
Amnesty International is a small organisation with insufficient resources to conduct a proper report on the massacre in Gaza last year. Given the fact that it didn’t have direct access to Gaza approved by Israel, it chose to focus on two aspects of the Israeli attack: the targeting of entire families and the destruction of landmark buildings. Within these two categories it chose to focus on a handful of examples of each. The main problem is that Amnesty harps on about a few cases to the exclusion of the totality; it can’t see the wood for the trees. There is no mention of some of the most significant total figures, say, of the number of hospitals and schools destroyed, the tonnage of bombs dropped on Gaza,9 the tens of thousands of artillery shells used, and so on. The seriousness of the crime is lost by dwelling on a subset of a subset of the crimes committed. Amnesty isolates a few examples, describes them in some detail, and then suggests that unless there were military reasons for the attacks, then there should be an “investigation”. Oh yes, and it has sent some polite letters to the Israeli authorities requesting some comment, but the Israelis have been rather unresponsive. Quite possibly the likes of Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Ganz and their colleagues are too busy rolling on the floor laughing.
Given such a warped framework one would expect symmetry in the way that the attacks are described, but no. While Amnesty provides the total number of rockets fired by the Palestinian resistance, it gives no similar numbers of the tens of thousands of Israeli artillery shells fired, nor the total tonnage of bombs dropped on Gaza. The Israeli military propagandists were all too happy to provide detailed statistics about the Palestinian rockets, and Amnesty does not seem to express any misgivings about using this data. It is also clear that Mother T didn’t ask the propagandists to supply statistics on the lethal Israeli tonnage dropped on Gaza.
Methodology and evidence
Every report contains a methodology section admitting to the fact that AI didn’t have direct access to Gaza. All of its research was done on the Israeli side, and by two Palestinian fieldworkers in the besieged and occupied territory. The inability to enter Gaza possibly explains the reliance on many Israeli military statements, blogs and the foreign ministry about the Palestinian rocket attacks. One can verify all the footnotes to find a significant number of official Israeli statements to provide so-called evidence. It is rather jarring to find Amnesty relying on information provided by the offensive military forces to implicate Palestinian resistance in war crimes. How appropriate is it to use “Hamas’ Violations of the Law” issued by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or “Declassified Report Exposes Hamas Human Shield Policy” issued by the Israeli military?
It is also jarring to find Amnesty referring to Israeli claims that rockets were fired from schools, hospitals and the electricity power plant. This information was provided as a justification for Israel’s destruction of such sites, but in the report Amnesty uses it to wag its finger at the Palestinian resistance.10
Amnesty International’s access to Israeli victims of Palestinian rockets produced emotional statements by the victims, and complied with Israeli propaganda needs. Israeli PR was keen to take journalists or visiting politicians to the border towns to show the rocket damage, and Amnesty seems to have been pleased to tag along. At the same time, Israel prevented any Amnesty access to Gaza; clearly, any information coming out of the territory would not be compliant with Israeli PR requirements. Thus, why send any researchers to the Israeli border area?
Execution of collaborators – who will be criticised?
Amnesty has announced the publication of a forthcoming report on the execution of collaborators, and one can only speculate on its contents. It is odd that while AI is not opposed to wars it is opposed to the death sentence; it is opposed to some deaths, but silent about others. Couple this stance with an unwillingness to recognise the Palestinian right to self-defence and, consequently, AI will inevitably deem the execution of Palestinians who collaborate with Israel as abhorrent.
There are many collaborators in the West Bank and they are evident at all levels of society, even in the so-called Palestinian Authority. The PA has even committed itself to their protection. Collaboration with Israel in the West Bank is thus a relatively low-risk activity. In Gaza there are also collaborators, who are used to infiltrate and inform on the armed resistance groups, and also to sow black propaganda. During the 2014 massacre, collaborators were instrumental in pinpointing the location of the resistance and its leadership. In most countries, treason and espionage in time of war merits execution, but it is doubtful that Amnesty International will accept this, and will instead urge a judicial process with no death sentence.
The key aspect of the forthcoming report will be whether the organisation deems the Israeli use of collaborators as an abhorrent practice. Israel not only uses collaborators to gather information, but they are also meant to fragment Palestinian society, and to sow discord. With a society already under massive stress due to economic hardship and military repression, collaborators are a pernicious means to break morale and undermine Palestinian resilience. Will Amnesty criticise Israel’s use of collaborators, or will its report merely castigate Hamas for the way it deals with collaborators?
Why were these reports written at all?
All Amnesty International reports follow the same formula: a brief overview, a methodology section about data sources, some emotional quotations by the victims, a section on accountability, and then some recommendations. They are trite, barely readable and certainly not very useful either for legal purposes or to educate its volunteers. So why are these reports published and who actually reads them? Amnesty would like to be known as one of the leading human rights organisations and it must be seen as reporting on major human rights violations and crimes. Its volunteers must be given the impression that the organisation cares for some of the wholesale atrocities, and not merely the retail crime or violation.
The timing of the publication of one report (“Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks…”) is rather curious. The report dealing with the Palestinian rockets was published a few days before the Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court. A coincidence? While some Palestinians are gearing up to prosecute Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity, a leading human rights organisation publishes a report which goes on about Palestinians being guilty of war crimes. Amnesty has published reports in the past that were exploited for propaganda purposes; the Iraqis throwing-the-babies-out-of-the-incubators propaganda hoax, for example.11 Those reports were published just in time to provide a justification for war.
Impotence by design
All the reports contain a list of recommendations for Israelis, Palestinians and other states. One is struck by the impotence of the recommendations. The group urges Israel to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry; allow human rights organisations access to Gaza; pay reparations to some victims; and ensure that the Israeli military operates within some legal limits. Given that Israel can more or less do as it pleases in any case – ignoring commissions of inquiry, proclaiming loudly that it will engage in disproportionate attacks (that is, the Dahiya doctrine), and that it refuses to compensate any Palestinian victim of its previous massacres – all these recommendations ring hollow.
Amnesty urges Palestinians to address their grievances via the ICC. It is curious that while international law apparently provides the Palestinians with no protection whatsoever, they are urged to jump through international legal hoops. It is also questionable to suggest a legal framework meant for interstate conflict when dealing with a non-state dispossessed native population. Of course, Amnesty fails to mention that Israel has avoided and ignored international law with the complicity and assistance of the United States.
Finally, Amnesty International requests other governments to assist the commission of inquiry and to assist in the prosecution of war criminals. It remains to be seen whether the commission of inquiry will actually publish a report that has some teeth. The group also urges other countries to stop supplying weapons to “both sides”. There is no mention of the fact that the US resupplied Israel with weapons during last year’s massacre in Gaza. It is very unlikely that the US or Britain will stop arming Israel; as such, Amnesty’s recommendations are ineffective rhetoric.
Amnesty trumpets that it has 7 million supporters world-wide;12 a few months ago this number was 3 million; two years ago it was 400,000, and a few more years ago it was 200,000. One should marvel at this explosive growth. If the organisation really can tap into the support of even a fraction of these volunteers, then it can urge them to do something that has tangible results; it could, for example, ask its members and supporters to boycott Israeli products or products made by western companies complicit in Israeli crimes. Such action would be far more effective than the meaningless recommendations that are ignored regularly by Israel and its western backers. Alas, it is difficult to conceive that Amnesty will issue a call for a boycott to its ever expanding army of supporters. It is difficult for Mother T to change her stripes.
The human rights industry
There are thousands of so-called human rights organisations. Anyone can set up such a group, and thereby specify a narrow focus for the NGO, determine the parameters within which it will operate – even define who is human – and then the new organisation can chime in with press releases, host wine and cheese receptions, bestow prizes, lobby politicians, launch investigations and castigate the enemy du jour. Bono, Geldof and Angelina might even hop along and sit on the NGO’s board. The human rights framework is elastic and can be moulded to fit legitimate purposes, but it can also be manipulated for propaganda purposes. The history of some of the largest human rights organisations shows that they were created originally with the propaganda element foremost in mind.13 This suggests that NGO output, such as Amnesty’s reports, for example, merit scrutiny not so much for what they say, but for what they omit. In the Palestinian context, a simple test on the merits of a so-called human rights organisation is whether it challenges state power, calls for accountability and the prosecution of war criminals, and urges its supporters to do something more than write out cheques or very formal and polite letters to governments engaged in criminal acts.
Another test for the merits of a human rights NGO is whether it is in solidarity with the victims of violence, and whether victims are treated differently depending on their support or demonisation by “the west”. In Amnesty’s case, consider that on the one hand it provides long lists of “prisoners of conscience” pertaining to prisoners held in Cuba, Syria, etc., but on the other hand it explicitly does not make such a list of Palestinian prisoners available. We have no means of knowing how many Palestinian political prisoners Amnesty actually cares about, and whether its volunteers engage in letter writing campaigns on their behalf. One thing is certain, though, that while the majority of Cuban political prisoners are considered prisoners of conscience, only a tiny fraction of the Palestinian political prisoners have been given such status. In reality, of course, Mother Teresa doesn’t give a hoot about political prisoners who might have been involved in violence, so Palestinians are just a stone’s throw away from being ignored by Amnesty International. Some victims are more meritorious than others.
In trying to justify the organisation’s double standard, Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, stated:
“By its nature, the Israeli administrative detention system is a secretive process, in that the grounds for detention are not specified in detail to the detainee or his/her legal representative; inevitably, this makes it especially difficult for the detainee to challenge the order for, by example, contesting the grounds on which the detention was made. In the same way, it makes it difficult or impossible for Amnesty International to make a conclusive determination in many cases whether a particular administrative detainee can be considered a prisoner of conscience or not.”15
It thus provides yet more comic material. AI admits that Israeli military courts can determine who can be considered a Palestinian prisoner of conscience. The only thing that those courts need to do is to keep their proceedings secret or not reveal “evidence”. Alternatively, they can simply imprison the victims without trial or declare that they are members of a “banned” organisation16 and then the Israelis won’t have to reply to those pesky polite letters written by AI volunteers. Once again, double standards in the treatment of victims raise questions about the nature of any human rights NGO.
Human rights is denatured justice
Pushing for the observance of human rights doesn’t necessarily imply that one will obtain justice. The human rights agenda merely softens the edges of the status quo. As Amnesty’s position on the Israeli attacks on Gaza illustrates, pushing human rights can actually be incompatible with obtaining justice. Human rights are a bastardised, neutered and debased form of justice. The application and effectiveness of international law is bad enough, but a pick and choose legal framework with no enforcement is even worse. If one seeks justice, then it is best to avoid the human rights discourse; above all, it is best to avoid human rights organisations.
Palestinians should be wary of Mother Teresas peddling human rights snake oil. In exchange for giving up their resistance and complying with Amnesty’s neutered norms, they are unlikely to obtain any justice. One should be wary of human rights groups that don’t push for justice, play the role of Israel’s lawyer, and are bereft of solidarity with the victims. When the likes of Amnesty International come wagging their finger, it is best to keep the old blunderbuss near to hand.
- Nabeel Abraham, et al.; International Human Rights Organizations and the Palestine Question, Middle East Report (MERIP), Vol. 18, No. 1, January-February 1988, pp. 12 – 20.
- Dennis Bernstein and Francis Boyle, Amnesty on Jenin: an interview, CAQ, Summer 2002, pp. 9 – 12, 27.
- Paul de Rooij, AI: Say It Isn’t So, CounterPunch, 31 Oct. 2002
- Paul de Rooij, Amnesty International: The Case of a Rape Foretold, CounterPunch, 26 November 2003
- Paul de Rooij, Double Standards and Curious Silences / Amnesty International: A False Beacon, CounterPunch, 13 October 2004.
- PIWP database: list of articles on the politics of human rights
- Families Under the Rubble: Israeli Attacks on Inhabited Homes (MDE 15/032/2014), 5 November 2014.
“Nothing is immune”: Israel’s destruction of landmark buildings in Gaza (MDE 15/029/2014), 9 December 2014.
Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict (MDE 21/1178/2015), 26 March 2015.
The fourth report about the execution of collaborators has not been published yet.
- I distinguish between Amnesty International, the international organization, and its well intentioned letter-writing volunteers.
- Possibly the best overview of the Gaza Massacre 2014 is Al Haq’s Divide and Conquer; http://alhaq.org/publications/publications-index/item/divide-and-conquer
- Statement made in 2006 by Dov Weisglas, one of Israel’s Dr. Strangeloves and close confidant of Ariel Sharon. Source: http://www.corkpsc.org/db.php?qid=1013
- Ruthie Blum interviews Arnon Soffer, ONE on ONE: It’s the demography, stupid, Jerusalem Post, 10 May 2004
- Ali Abunimah , Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group, Electronic Intifada, 17 April 2015.
- Amnesty loves to trot out military experts and dwell on the type of weapons used. First, there is an issue about the military expert, and who they are. What is the ethics about showing up in Gaza with a military person who might still be in the armed forces of, say, the UK? One can hardly expect them to be “independent”. And why dwell on the type of munitions if their use is already criminal to begin with? Focusing on the type of weapon deflects attention from the damage and the victims – that should be the emphasis.
- Alexander Cockburn, “How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More?”, CounterPunch newsletter, April 1-15, 1999.
- While AI reports the total number of Palestinian rockets fired, there is no equivalent number to the totals used by the Israeli military. That number would be of interest because it would indicate the scale of the crimes committed. Tens of thousands of artillery shells were used, requiring them to be restocked by the United States in the middle of the offensive.
- The UN report on the Israeli attacks against schools lists several incidents where the Israelis falsely accused the Palestinians of firing on these schools. Such evidence should reduce the credibility of Israeli statements. See, e.g., Ali Abunimah, UN finds Israel killed dozens at Gaza schools but ducks call for accountability, Electronic Intifada, 28 April 2015.
- In the lead up to the 1991 invasion of Kuwait/Iraq, Amnesty issued a report on the so-called babies out of incubators story. President Bush Senior showcased the report on the eve of the attack, and used it for its full propaganda potential. When it was pointed out to Amnesty that they were pushing a propaganda hoax, it doubled its estimate of the number of children dumped from the incubators. To this day, the organisation has never apologised for playing a role in selling an American war.
- See: https://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/ And notice that in the page after title page of Amnesty International’s reports the number of supporters increases from one report to the next.
- Kirsten Sellars, The Rise and Rise of Human Rights, Sutton Publishing, 29 April 2002. Herein she discusses the origin of Human Rights Watch.
- Malcolm Smart, Letter: Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience lists and the reason for double standards, 9 August 2010 http://www.corkpsc.org/db.php?aid=133223.
- Another technique to rule out sympathetic treatment of Palestinians is to suggest that they are members of a banned organisation. NB: it is Israel which does the banning. Any organisation seeking liberation or to confront the Israeli dispossession or violence is deemed by the Israelis to be a “terrorist organisation”. Currently, Amnesty plays along with this charade, and also ignores Palestinians belonging to “political” organisations.
The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has approved funding for Israel’s missile systems and an amendment authorizing research and development of an anti-tunneling system.
The committee allocated $474 million for the Iron Dome short-range missile system, the David’s Sling medium-range system and the Arrow program. The bills are now awaiting approval from the US Senate.
The $267.6 million funds for research on the anti-tunneling system show Washington and Tel Aviv’s concern about the underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are used by the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas to bring in vital goods and other necessities for the people living under Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.
On April 30, the UN urged Israel to end its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has urged the US Congress to approve the funds.
“AIPAC urges the full House and Senate to include these vital funds in the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2016 defense authorization and appropriations bills,” AIPAC said in a statement.
The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually.
The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights issued its monthly report on Israeli violations against the Palestinians during April of 2015, and said that seven Palestinians were killed, and 375 were injured.
The report documents Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.
Head of the Ahrar Center Fuad al-Khoffash said occupied Jerusalem remains the most targeted district compared to other Palestinian districts in the occupied West Bank, especially since the soldiers and police conduct daily violations against the Palestinians, their homes and property.
Three Palestinians were killed in the last week of April, while at least 39 others, including four children have been injured.
Two other children were also wounded due to the explosion of a remnant object of the Israeli military, south of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank.
Two Palestinian civilians were killed in two separate incidents in Hebron and Jenin in the West Bank, while the third, who was a child, was killed at a military checkpoint in occupied Jerusalem.
In occupied Jerusalem also, 26 Palestinian civilians, including two paramedics, were wounded during protests that followed the killing of the child; 12 others, including three children, were wounded during other protests in the West Bank and the fourth child was wounded in the Gaza Strip.
Ahrar said the army kidnapped at least 19 Palestinian women, including legislator Khaleda Jarrar, and that most of the arrests took place in the courtyards of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. It added that the army kidnapped at least 55 children, mainly in Jerusalem, followed Hebron and Bethlehem, during repeated Israeli military invasions and assaults.
In occupied Jerusalem, soldiers kidnapped at least 113 Palestinians (including the 55 children), 86 in the southern West Bank District of Hebron, 54 Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, 40 in Bethlehem, 29 in Ramallah, 11 in Qalqilia, 4 in Tulkarem, and one in Salfit.
Palestinians Killed In April, As Documented And Reported By The IMEMC
On 27 April 2015, Israeli forces opened fire at 19-year-old civilian while he was in his farmland near the annexation wall in the west of Arqa village, west of Jenin. As a result, he sustained a bullet wound to the testicles due to which he suffered severe hemorrhage and died hours later.
On 25 April 2015, Israeli forces killed a 20-year-old Palestinian civilian crossing via an electronic gate at the entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque, south of the old city in Hebron, reportedly, after he stabbed an Israeli soldier at the said gate.
On April 24, soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian, near the Zaim military roadblock, east of occupied Jerusalem.
On April 14, a fighter of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, died of serious complications resulting from his injury by an Israeli missile during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza eight months ago.
On April 10, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man during the funeral ceremony of a former detainee, who was denied access to proper medical attention, while being held by Israel.
On April 8, another Palestinian was shot and killed allegedly after stabbing two soldiers, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
GAZA CITY – A 14-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition and has been transferred to Ramallah for treatment after he was hit by a stray Israeli bullet on Friday at his home in the central Gaza Strip, his family said Tuesday.
The family of Fadi Abu Mandil, 14, said that the teen will undergo surgery in his spine as he is currently unable to walk.
His uncle told Ma’an that the child was hit with a stray Israeli bullet while studying at his home when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers.
On Friday medical sources said that the 14-year-old from al-Mughazi refugee camp had been transferred to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah city.
Israeli forces were again firing on Gazan farmers on Tuesday, damaging property and forcing farmers to flee their land, and on Sunday, they shot and injured a 37-year-old man.
Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Gazans since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.
In March alone, there were a total of 38 incidents of shootings, incursions into the coastal enclave, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
That was up from 26 incidents through February, and left seven Palestinians injured and one dead.
The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire to ease restrictions on Palestinian access to both the sea and the border region near the “security buffer zone.”
Norwegian doctor Mads Frederick Gilbert (C) treats a Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli airstrike at al-Shifa hospital on July 17, 2014
Partisans of Israel are not content merely to murder and maim Palestinian civilians. They also launch “weaponized words” against anyone who speaks out against their crimes . . . including the world’s most prestigious medical journals.
The Zionists’ latest verbal salvo has targeted The Lancet, the world’s best-known medical journal. Medical apologists for Israel’s July 2014 assault on Gaza have posted a letter claiming The Lancet’s July 22 2014 article on Israeli war crimes constitutes “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda.” It seems the Israel lobby’s medical division has declared war on The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, and its publisher, Reed Elsevier.
The Zionists, who have bought up the Western mainstream media and are currently targeting Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians in the biggest wave of hate propaganda in history, are hardly qualified to issue such accusations.
The Zionist doctors’ letter accuses The Lancet of a long list of vague and portentously-worded alleged misdeeds. But it offers virtually no specifics whatsoever to back up its hyper-general accusations. The vacuous list of charges against The Lancet includes “ethical and scientific lapses” (such as?), “failure to apply the normal rigorous standards of honesty and transparency” (with no examples given), failure to “publish corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies when needed” (without offering a single concrete example of anything the Lancet published that required any such correction).
The Zionist letter attacks The Lancet’s July 22 2014 article “An open letter for the people in Gaza.” The angry authors bombastically assert: “ ‘An open letter for the people in Gaza’ by Manduca et al contains false assertions, unverifiable dishonest ‘facts’, many of them libellous, and glaring omissions.”
But the Zionists cannot name a single false assertion. They are just blowing smoke, hoping that nobody is paying close attention.
The Lancet Ombudsman had already investigated “An open letter for the people in Gaza” and found no false statements. According to HandsOffTheLancet.com, the Ombudsman did cite a “’regrettable statement’ that, because only 5% of Israeli academics had supported an appeal to” Israel to end the “military operation in Gaza (Gur-Arieh 2014), the authors had been ‘tempted to conclude that … the rest of the Israeli academics [had been] complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza.’”
But what is regrettable about such a statement? Can there be any doubt that the vast majority of Israeli academics, indeed a virtual unanimity of Zionists in Occupied Palestine, were actively or passively complicit in the massacre, and the larger genocide? While it may be regrettable that the Zionists in Occupied Palestine are complicit in Tel Aviv’s war crimes, and its larger ongoing program of genocide, it is not the slightest bit regrettable that The Lancet writers have pointed out such a disturbing but indisputable fact. (Polls show that virtually all Zionists in Occupied Palestine support the Gaza massacres, including the so-called Cast Lead in 2008-2009 and Protective Edge last summer.)
The roughly 500 Zionist doctors who are fulminating against The Lancet ought to have their licenses to practice medicine revoked. Then they ought to be put on trial for complicity in genocide propaganda. They are a disgrace to the medical profession, like the Nazi doctors who were indirectly responsible for brutalizing helpless people in World War II Germany because they averted their gazes from the crimes of their countrymen.
Unlike the Nazi Doctors (and their mirror images, the Zionist Doctors), the authors of “An open letter for the people in Gaza” could not avert their gaze:
“The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes…”
The Zionist Doctors have not demonstrated a single factual error in the above words, nor in any other passage from “An open letter for the people in Gaza.”
The current assault on The Lancet is not the first Zionist war on a leading medical journal. In 2004, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published “Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes.” According to the article:
“Two thirds of the 621 children (two thirds under 15 years) killed at checkpoints, in the street, on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest – the sniper’s wound… Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorized to shoot to kill children in situations of minimal or no threat.”
The BMJ article was unprecedented. For first time in history, one of the world’s leading medical journals had documented the murder by sniper fire of more than 600 helpless Palestinian children – many of them “hunted for sport” as described by one horrified eyewitness, the journalist Chris Hedges, in his famous article “Gaza Diary.”
The Zionist reaction was swift. BMJ was castigated with the usual blustering Zionist rhetoric. But not a single factual mistake was found. As usual, the Zionists used vicious ad hominem attacks to obscure the hollowness of their arguments.
On December 9th, 1946, an American military tribunal charged twenty-three leading German physicians with crimes against humanity. Sixteen were convicted, and seven were executed.
Will the Zionist Doctors, whose complicity in genocide propaganda has been demonstrated by their attack on The Lancet, one day meet a similar fate?
Hints of the dark place he is taking us
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | April 24, 2015
Obama has been quoted saying he “takes full responsibility” for the two hostages, one American and one Italian, killed recently in a drone attack. At the same time, Obama praised the United States for its transparency in such matters.
What in God’s name does he mean? How can you have responsibility with no consequences? Isn’t that a bit like patting yourself on the back for high principles, having just committed murder? And transparency? That also is a word without meaning when applied to a country which runs a string of secret wars and coups, a country which spies on virtually the entire planet, and a country whose warehouses bulge with so many classified documents it would take a thousand years to review them.
Obama’s use of words has no meaning, much like the lack of meaning inherent in the kind of world into which he is eagerly helping to pitch us.
He has killed two innocent people in the course of an extrajudicial killing of others who were themselves, as is usual in these attacks, mere suspects.
And it is not the first time he has done this, only the first time where we know the names and faces of his victims. We only know the names and faces here because they were an American and an Italian. Our feeble and utterly corrupt press never lifts a finger to investigate who the thousands of others have been.
Estimates vary, but something on the order of 2,500 people have been murdered this way by the United States, almost all of them innocent, ordinary people, and even America’s intended targets, supposed terrorists, are guilty of nothing in law.
If a leader uses the word terror today, he can pretty much do anything he or his sadistic military/ security/ intelligence creeps want to do. I do not see any difference in these acts from those of the former military juntas in South America who made thousands of “undesirable” people simply disappear.
There’s an old saying about democratic governments that you pretty much deserve the government you get, but the glib saying is, of course, considerably less than true. Besides, it is not a great stretch to say of America today that it is about as much a democracy as was the former Soviet Union, with the key difference being voters in America get two choices instead of one on their ballots, each of them however ready to do exactly the same things, with only minor stylistic variations. You might say the choices represent two fashion statements in one official party.
However, if Western people in general just quietly accept the institutional barbarism Obama represents, they will indeed deserve the governments they get.
And what’s hurtling towards us, far more quickly than many realize, is government entirely by and for elites – wealthy, wealthy people with their paid mouthpiece political leaders and the vast military/ security apparatus they employ – the rest of humanity being reduced to unimportant mobs to be kept under control at the smallest sign of their becoming difficult, not so very much different from prisoners and perhaps even livestock.
We actually have an early prototype of the kind of society our leaders are working towards. We see it in Israel. The word “terror” there plays the same ugly role, almost like an air raid siren, justifying literally any response.
Has the world said one word of the 2,200 people slaughtered in Gaza recently and left to rot in its rubble? How about Israel’s treatment of refugees of color? I see no protest over their being horribly abused and even being turned away against international laws and conventions.
And now Israel uses dirty tricks like shipping refugees off to questionable African states whose leaders have been paid bribes to take them. Can you imagine a bright future for any of them under such circumstances? They too are more than a little likely to disappear.
Of course, assassination in many forms and in many places has played a large role in Israel’s brief history. Anyone Israel does not like is expendable, and America’s whole response to “terror” is right out of an official Israeli manual.
Israel loves to sing tired songs about democracy, but half the people under its control have no rights, no vote, no future, and are frequently openly told they are undesirable and should get out. Thousands are kept in prisons, and brutal acts like spraying farm land with filthy waste-water or with potent herbicides or cutting off power supplies are fairly regular events. When those on the receiving end get too uppity, they will be either assassinated or bombed or have their homes stolen through some of the most unjust laws on the planet.
Apart from the ghastly lives enforced upon millions of non-Jews by the “Jewish state,” Israel’s Jewish population demonstrates another part of the social model. Ordinary Israelis have quite unpleasant lives by Western standards, with home ownership out of reach, the price of everything exorbitant, being subject to oppressive army service, and living in a place which in many ways resembles a high security prison with guards, spies, and restrictions everywhere. The elites of Israel do very handsomely, thank you, just as oligarchs anywhere do, all the groaning mass of other residents’ problems and limits providing them with boundless opportunities, and most of the oligarchs freely move back and forth between continents with their dual passports to cut deals or avoid troubles.
That set of conditions and practices has become a model now for the United States, and where the United States goes, so go its weak-kneed allies like Britain, France, Germany, and even our once fair-minded Canada.