Toxic Texan President George W Bush ordered the US delegates to leave the United Nations conference on racism this week. The US delegation marched out of the conference in South Africa because representatives of many countries had dared to condemn Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinian people.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who led the slaughter of Iraqi civilians and conscripts in the 1991 Gulf War, claimed, 'Israel had been singled out for criticism' and insulted with 'hateful language'. Singled out? The only thing Israel has been singled out for is the highest level of US economic and military aid.
Far from being picked on, Israel has been insulated from condemnation thanks to its allies-the US and NATO. Israeli forces have murdered over 650 Palestinians, overwhelmingly civilians, over the last 11 months. Israel is the only state in the world today which is assassinating the politicians and leaders of a people it is supposed to be in a peace dialogue with.
Israeli army death squads have executed scores of people from across the spectrum of Palestinian politics since the Palestinian intifada (uprising) began last September. The Israeli defence forces have murdered even more Palestinian children, who have only stones to throw back in response. All these victims have one thing in common. They are Palestinian. It is not a question of religion.
About a quarter of the Palestinian dead are Christian, not Muslim. Two weeks ago Israel invaded the village of Beit Jala, a predominantly Christian village on the Palestinian West Bank. The West Bank is under Israeli colonial style occupation alongside the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
They were seized by acts of war in 1967 and 1973. There are crocodile tears from Western leaders over justice and human rights every time they seek to intervene to protect their interests. There is never such an outpouring against Israel. Its worst crimes receive the mildest rebuke, while the flood of military support and subsidies flow in. Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader, is charged with war crimes for the treatment meted out to Albanian civilians.
Ariel Sharon is the Israeli prime minister. As defence minister in 1982 he personally led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The aerial assault and siege of the capital, Beirut, was as bad as anything that happened to Sarajevo and other cities during the Bosnian war of the 1990s. Over 20,000 civilians were killed. Israeli forces secured the perimeter of the Sabra and Shatilla Palestinian refugee camps while Lebanese fascists slaughtered 2,000 people.
Sharon is not charged with war crimes. He is glad-handed by world leaders. The reason is that Israel is the key US ally in the Middle East. And the Middle East means one thing for Western rulers – oil. The oil firms that financed Bush's seizure of the White House, such as Exxon, Amoco and Texaco, look to US and Israeli military might to secure access to the largest oil reserves in the world.
Supporting the Palestinians is not about singling out Israel – still less Jews, many of whom are outraged at what the Israeli state is doing. It is about standing with some of the greatest victims of imperialism and capitalism.