Even the mainstream media is beginning to pick up on the hypocrisies generated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ‘Hypocrisy’: Lawmakers fighting Israel boycott now all-in for Russia sanctions reads a headline at Politico. The article quotes Yousef Munayyer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Arab Center. “We are watching at this moment a really horrific set of violations of international law and human rights in Ukraine, and we’re seeing an international response that is unified, robust and also completely hypocritical,” he says. “So it really shows that the issue is not that the tactics are illegitimate, (rather) a time-honored tactic that allows people in all parts of society to take a stance on issues of grave importance when it comes to human rights.”
A piece in The Guardian picks up the same issue and quotes Labour MP Julie Elliott’s recent remarks in parliament: “The Palestinians are looking to us to speak and act in the same terms. We sanctioned Russia over Crimea, and we are now likely to impose more sanctions, with which I wholeheartedly agree, yet Palestinians ask why we do nothing to end Israel’s occupation.”
The most succinct example of the double standard was on display at a White House press briefing this week. NPR correspondent Asma Khalid boxed in Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki with precision. “Does the White House support the Ukrainian people’s right to resist the occupation and, essentially, through any means necessary?,” she asked.
“Well, we certainly support the rights of the Ukrainian people to fight back. I would note that we have seen many Ukrainians; many, many members of the Ukrainian military; and certainly President Zelenskyy in leadership fight bravely, courageously over the course of the last 12 days.“
“I think it’s also true that the world needs to be prepared for a very long, difficult road ahead. While they are fighting bravely and we are standing with them and supporting them, the Russians are still intending to grind out military advances in the short term just by sheer manpower and firepower.“
Let’s turn back the clock to last May. While Gaza was being attacked by Israel, journalist Said Arikat asked State Department spokesperson Ned Price whether Palestinians had the right to fight back. “Broadly speaking Said, we believe in the concept of self-defense. We believe it applies to any state,” said Price.
The AP’s Matt Lee had a great follow-up question. Here’s that exchange:
LEE: Just a – it will be extremely brief. One, in your response to Said’s earlier question about whether the Palestinians have a right to self-defense, your answer, you’re going to know as soon as I read what your answer was that there’s a big problem with it. You said – well, not a problem, it just doesn’t answer the question. We believe that it, meaning the right to self-defense, applies to any state. Well, you see the problem, right? Yes?
PRICE: Do you want to —
LEE: Do regard Palestine as a state?
PRICE: I wasn’t referring —
LEE: Do you think —
PRICE: But it —
LEE: You don’t in the context of the ICC and the UN.
PRICE: I —
LEE: So are you saying that you do not – if it applies to any state, are you saying the Palestinians don’t have a right to self-defense?
PRICE: I was making a broader point not attached to Israel or the Palestinians in that case.
LEE: So they do have a right to self-defense?
PRICE: Matt, I’m not —
LEE: No, no, no, it’s not that difficult a question.
PRICE: I’m not in a position to debate the legalities from up here.
LEE: All right.
The same week that Psaki voiced support for Ukrainian resistance, the House added an additional $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome into the bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Agreement. The spending bill was promptly passed.
The Iron Dome funding easily cleared the House last year, but has held up in the Senate by Rand Paul (R-KY) for reasons completely unconnected to Palestinian suffering. That extra money came on top of the annual $3.8 billion in taxpayer money that Israel gets every year, as a result of an agreement worked out by the Obama administration in 2016.
So, to recap. Ukrainians can resist Russian occupation by any means necessary, but Israel should get $4.8 billion to sustain their own occupation. Whether or not Palestinians have any right to combat this oppression is a legal issue that the administration is unprepared to debate.
Reaction from Pro-Israel Groups
All this talk of double standards has created at least a little anxiety among pro-Israel groups and lobbying organizations. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute over territory by two peoples who both have historic claims and connections,” tweeted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “The path to resolution is through building engagement and ultimately a two-state solution that provides security, dignity and self-determination to both.”
“To compare this complexity to Russia’s brute use of force against the sovereign & peaceful nation of Ukraine is to intentionally misrepresent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is deeply insensitive to the security and humanitarian crisis confronting Ukrainians today,” he continued.
Greenblatt’s tweet received a response from Jehad Abusalim, AFSC education and policy coordinator: “During THE FIRST TWO DAYS of its attack on Gaza in 2008, Israel murdered THREE HUNDRED Palestinians. THREE HUNDRED people were killed in less than 48 hours!! When it comes to the scale of violence and brutality, you can’t obscure the asymmetry of power and loss like that! 300!”
Israel Policy Forum Chief Policy Officer Michael Koplow felt compelled to write a whole post debunking any comparisons. “It is not credible to view all of Israel’s activities in the West Bank as completely justified and without fault, and there are plenty of abuses to be highlighted,” he writes. “But as with the charges of Israeli apartheid across every inch of land that Israel controls, something can be bad in its own right without insisting that it is the same as another bad thing.”
Read that one back a couple times. It’s truly a work of art.
Odds & Ends
✈️ Mike Pence traveled to Israel on Miriam Adelson’s private jet to meet with the Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Knesset’s only member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, or the “Jewish Power” party. They were joined by Baruch Marzel, who was banned from running for office in 2019 after inciting racism. Otzma Yehudit calls for a Greater Israel, annexation of the West Bank, and unrestricted settlement expansion.
🇸🇦 While oil prices surge, Wall Street Journal reports that Saudi Arabia and the UAE declined to meet with the Biden administration. They’re looking for more support for their brutal war on Yemen, help with their nuclear program and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed – who approved the murder of an American journalist. Sure seems like a great time for the Biden administration to indict MBS over the Khashoggi killing or, say, declassify the entire 9/11 report, but nearly impossible to see such things actually happening.
🇻🇪 Meanwhile a U.S. delegation went to Venezuela to meet with President Nicolás Maduro and he immediately released two American prisoners. It’s almost like many countries are looking to find relief from U.S. sanctions and diplomacy works wonders. Tariq Ali was on Democracy Now! talking about the development.
“What we’re witnessing now is an attempt to repair breaches, not for any big moral or political reasons, but they need the oil,” said Ali. “You cut off Russia’s oil you need to fill the coffers somehow and Venezuela is one of the largest producers of oil…I think the release of prisoners is a cover, that could have been negotiated at any time. The real discussions taking place are the lifting of sanctions against Venezuela…whatever the reason for that, it will be a huge boon for the people of Venezuela, who have suffered really badly including period of food shortages, malnutrition, etc. Obviously Maduro is not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and the Venezuelans have always said they’re willing to sell the oil to anyone. It wasn’t their idea to impose sanctions.”
Democratic Senator and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez has condemned the meeting. “Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder,” he said in a statement. “As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food.”
You might recall that Menendez voted in favor of sending Saudi Arabia $650 million worth of missiles and missile launchers last year.
🤐 The Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid recently announced that she was donating the proceeds of her autumn 2022 shows to Ukraine and Palestine. The Instagram account of Vogue had a post about this and they were immediately bombarded by pro-Israel trolls. Eventually they deleted the word “Palestine” from the post, implying that Hadid would only donate the money to Ukrainians. After an online backlash ensued the magazine restored the original caption.
🇺🇸 The House approved $782 billion for the military after yanking COVID relief from the spending bill.
🇮🇱 From Jacobin:
Early on Monday morning, Israeli forces raided the home of French-Palestinian human rights activist Salah Hamouri, before taking him into custody. The move came the day after he published an op-ed in Jacobin detailing the judicial harassment to which he and his family have been subjected for sixteen years.
The New Arab reports that yesterday Hamouri was taken from his home to the Ofer detention center near Ramallah. It cited a member of Addameer — the prisoners’ rights group for which Hamouri has long worked as a lawyer — saying that Israeli authorities have issued no information about his current status. His allies fear that the arrest could be the prelude to his deportation or even “administrative detention” — meaning up to six months in jail, without charges. The thirty-six-year-old has repeatedly been subject to such prison spells, from his teenage years to as recently as 2020, without ever being put on trial.
🦅 The Biden administration has criticized Russia for using cluster bombs but the United States government still hasn’t signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits their use. A new statement from the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and the U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition urges Biden to take action on the issue. “There exists an international agreement to forever ban the use of cluster munitions: the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” it reads. “Unfortunately, Russia is not a party to this treaty, nor is the United States and Ukraine. The failure of the United States to join the international agreement banning cluster munitions weakens the impact of United States’ criticism about Russia’s use of these weapons.”
🇺🇦 I found this Haymarket Books panel on Ukraine very informative.
🗳️ A group of Democrats are trying to tank any hope of an Iran deal. The more things change…
🛢️ Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Cori Bush (D-MO) were the only two Democrats to vote against oil sanctions against Russia. 15 Republicans voted against them.
⚔️ Jeremy Scahill has a piece at The Intercept about United States/NATO weapon transfers and how they could prolong the war:
Even before Russia’s invasion, the Biden administration had begun a process of increasing lethal aid. In his first year in office, Biden approved more military aid to Ukraine — some $650 million — than the U.S. had ever provided. On February 26, as a result of Putin’s invasion, the guardrails came off: an “unprecedented” additional $350 million weapons package was pushed through. There is now wide bipartisan support in Washington for an immediate and aggressive $13.5 billion effort to ship American arms and other assistance, including humanitarian aid, to Ukraine. The package will also cover the cost of additional deployments of U.S. military assets and troops to the region. Historically, weapons shipments to Ukraine have taken months to implement. Now they are moving within days.
🇦🇫 Afghanistan political activist Selay Ghaffar in The Guardian:
Biden may have withdrawn the US military, but he has refused responsibility for America’s intervention in our country. Instead, he has added great insult to profound injury by stealing our scarce financial resources. His actions will make the bread queues longer and the number of children dying of painful hunger greater. This crime against humanity should never be forgotten.
Biden’s policy will not hurt the Taliban that now rules my country and oppresses our people. It is the people themselves who will suffer – those who starve and those who flee in search of food, freedom and safety. Poverty has acted as a recruiting sergeant for terror groups in the past. I fear we will see the same again, further invigorating violence against women and minorities in Afghanistan. The tragic cycle continues.
⚽ Ramzy Baroud has a piece on the site about FIFA’s Palestine hypocrisy.
Stay safe out there,
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