The Israeli government cynically launches military attacks as elections approach, safe in the knowledge that it always gets away with just a caution, at worst, from the 'international community'
It feels like déjà vu. Nearly four years after Operation Cast Lead, when the Israelis bombarded Gaza from the skies for three weeks, now the Israelis are again attacking the people of Gaza from the sea and air…and some Israeli sources say a land attack could be imminent.
There is little doubt where the sympathies of the British government lie.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said today that "Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis", even as he urged all sides to 'avoid any action which risks civilian casualties or escalates the crisis'.
Too late for that of course. Already more than two dozen Palestinians, including a baby and several children have died. Their deaths have received far less publicity than the three deaths of Israelis from rocket attacks.
The supine government supporters in the media echo the line that Israel has "to defend itself". What a grotesque travesty of the truth. Israel is the recipient of more than $3bn dollars' worth of US aid. It has the most sophisticated weapons in the Middle East, and is the only nuclear armed state in the region.
It has occupied Gaza and the west bank since 1967, and has encouraged illegal settlements of Jewish settlers. Palestinians are denied basic rights and are confined in a Gaza which increasingly resembles a large prison camp, its citizens subject to constant harassment and threat, denied resources and human rights.
The nature of the government is such that it quite cynically launches military attacks as elections approach. No wonder since it always manages to get away with just a caution, at worst, from the 'international community'.
While David Cameron cries crocodile tears about Syrian refugees, whose camp he visited in Jordan last week, we can be sure he will not be so sympathetic to the Palestinians. There will be no calls for sanctions against Israel, no demands for the imposition of a no fly zone over the country and no arms embargo to prevent Netanyahu from buying weapons which are used to murder Palestinians.
The 'humanitarian intervention' which Britain and France are demanding in Syria is not going to happen in Gaza. Instead, all the Western governments will to a greater or lesser extent back Israel, just as they did in 2008-9.
This is in marked contrast to many views in the Middle East, where Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi has condemned the air strikes, recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel and opened the Rafah crossing so that Gazans can get medical treatment. There are protests across the region at this latest attack.
The sympathy for the Syrian opposition which Cameron evokes may fool some people. But it is obvious that the same people demanding intervention there are those also supporting Israel in its attacks on the Palestinians.
The reason is simple: human life and security is way down the list when it comes to considering the interests of US, British and other western foreign policy. At the top of the list is strategic control and power in the region. This is why the West happily dealt with dictators for decades, why it wants regime change in countries not totally under its control such as Syria and Iran, and is at most prepared to gently rebuke the Israelis.
Israel is central to the US and its allies in the Middle East. Hence a staggering level of double standards, and the portrayal of Israel as victim, not aggressor.
The people of Gaza won unprecedented solidarity in 2008-9 worldwide, and will no doubt do so again. We should do everything to support them. But if we want peace and justice in the Middle East, we have to oppose intervention in Syria and Iran as well. It's all part of the same pattern -- and with the same deadly intent.
First published on Stop the War Coalition website.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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