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Leading by Example

by Remi Kanazi - 10 June 2005

With the US condemned for its abuses in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, who will force Israel to abide by the standards set forth in a 'democracy?', asks Remi Kanazi.

Last week Amnesty International released a report that said, "When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity."

This recent revelation by Amnesty International is damning for a few reasons. Since the Nixon administration, we have seen unquestioned support for the state of Israel and all its endeavors. In these recent times of open aggression in Iraq and disregard for international law, it makes one even more wary of the blank check Israel has been granted. If American troops and agents can't conduct themselves in a proper manner in "prisons" such as Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, how can they expect their counterpart, the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF), to act anything but accordingly in the Occupied Territories? The Bush administration's lacking support for humanitarian law and just protection of civil liberties is even more concerning since it began outsourcing terror to "terror states" such as Syria. If Syria is part of the axis of evil, I'm wondering which axis the US would fall under for working with them?

Ariel Sharon and his administration have been watching closely since 9/11 and like other US allies, such as Egypt and Russia, they have used "terrorism" as an excuse to further their own means. Sharon has used the guise of security to encroach even further into Palestinian land with the illegal Apartheid Wall. Under his instruction thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished in the last four years, inciting anger and despair, rather than promoting peace and justice. While the illegal settlers run around the Occupied Territories with impunity, burning down olive trees, killing cattle, and beating—even killing—Palestinians, no rule of law has been in place to corral Israel's aggression.

Since the recent trip of Abu Mazen to the US, people have wrongly assumed that President Bush will put pressure on Sharon to implement parts of the road map and follow the guidelines of resolution 242. One can easily expose the charade as it is. Bush's moves, like his predecessor President Clinton, are that of a paper tiger: requests with no action to follow up on it will lead to unanswered requests. After Mr. Bush bid adieu to Abu Mazen, Ariel Sharon was busy expanding his grip on East Jerusalem. Israel has decided to demolish 88 homes in the neighborhood of Silwan. While citing archeological findings, the demolition will leave a thousand Palestinians homeless—so much for even handed peace. This came after the "historic" release of 400 prisoners from Israeli prisons. Many forget however, that most of the released prisoners had already served two thirds of their sentences, and were let free months later than the proposed date. Even Sharon readily admits the prisoners were not "enemies of the state of Israel." This counters the mythical notion that the Sharon administration is making back-breaking concessions in the name of peace.

The state of Israel has entangled the conflict with checkpoints, curfews, daily incursions into the Occupied Territories, extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, confiscation of land, water restriction, and other horrific acts of aggression that can make even the strongest person disheartened. The question still remains however, who will force Israel to abide by the standards set forth in a "democracy?" Unfortunately, it won't be the United States, "the guiding light", which seems to be raveled up in its own atrocities and ambiguity, making them a hindrance, not a support group, for peace in the Middle East.

- Remi Kanazi - from  Middle East Online

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revised 18 November 2005