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Once again, dragon of double standards rears its ugly head

Jan 04,2024 - Last updated at Jan 04,2024

It is hardly surprising that Israel should announce on New Year’s Eve that the war on Gaza will continue throughout 2024. This is bad news for 2.3 million Palestinians who dwell there, the Palestinian people as a whole, the region and the world. The death toll of those accounted for will rise above 22,000. The unknown number of the slain buried beneath the rubble will swell. Wounded will multiply.

The vast majority of those killed will be innocent women, children and men who are not fighters. Doctors, nurses, farmers, fishermen, shop keepers, lorry drivers, teachers, students, journalists, seamstresses and tailors, mechanics, bakers, plumbers and peace activists are already among the dead and missing. Many with their entire families as Israeli bombs flatten entire neighbourhoods. Nearly 2 million have been uprooted, most multiple times. Meanwhile, in the West Bank Israel will kill, wound, detain and destroy homes, roads and water networks. The world will watch with horror the relentless victimisation of the Palestinian people while the United Nations is rendered powerless by the Biden administration’s use of the US Security Council veto to prevent an end to the cruel war.

Instead of halting arms deliveries to put pressure on Israel to ceasefire, the US administration has fuelled the one-sided onslaught by providing hundreds of millions of dollars in bombs, tank and artillery shells, and other weapons to Israel. To carry on with the arms transfers, the administration has had to get round securing Congressional authorisation by relying on a rarely used emergency measure. The administration has also opened the doors of warehouses where US weapons have been stored in case of US regional — not Israeli — need. While publicly urging Israel to end its “high intensity campaign” by stopping bombing densely populated urban areas and focus on Hamas leaders and fighters, the administration is continuing to provide the very bombs that enable Israel to wreak widespread devastation across Gaza and slay more than a 100 Gazans a day.

The justification President Joe Biden and his team give for this policy is that “Israel has the right to defend itself” even though Israel has been occupying Palestine for 75 years and is committing massive violations of international law in its ongoing campaign to crush the Palestinian resistance — branded “terrorist” — and eliminate the Palestinian quest for statehood. 

Meanwhile, the US continues to arm and give political support to Ukraine in the war with Russia. Again, the justification is that Ukraine is fighting for its existence against the Russian invader and occupier. While this war has inflicted considerable punishment on Ukraine and killed more than 10,000 since Russia launched its war on February 24th, 2022. This figure that covers 22 months is less than half the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in three months. There is no equivalence in the extent of the devastation and the number of civilian deaths between the two wars.

Once again, the dragon of the double standards has reared its ugly head. But the monster is so blatant that the Global South has become fed up and restive. South Africa has filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Israel with genocide, arguing that its onslaught on Gaza is “intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group”. This offensive kills and wounds Gazans and inflicts “conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction” by dispossession and dispersal and denial of water, food, electricity and health care. 

South Africa argued Israel’s actions violate the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The ICJ deals with disputes between countries. Since South Africa and Israel are UN members, they are meant to be bound by ICJ decisions. However, Israel — which has violated 28 binding Security Council resolutions — is notorious for dismissing judgements of international bodies without incurring sanctions.

South Africa’s ICJ case is significant for two main reasons. South Africa was severely sanctioned for practicing the crime of apartheid, racial segregation and discrimination, against the country’s black and brown citizens between 1948-1994. And, it belongs to the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India and China which, since Monday doubled its membership by admitting Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ethiopia. The addition of four regional countries formerly allied to the US marks a pivot to the East and identification with the global South, China and Russia. This marks a major reversal for the US at a time the administration is trying to isolate and sanction both China and Russia.

Last year the UAE — on behalf of the Arabs — played a key role at the United Nations by promoting the demand for an immediate Israeli ceasefire in Gaza. While this effort failed due to Biden administration opposition, the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions attracted overwhelming support. This shamed Washington and undermined its standing as the world’s hyperpower due to its uncritical support for Israel’s systematic destruction of Gaza using US weaponry. The notion that Washington respects the rule of law in international relations and adopts principled stands on human rights and responsibilities has finally been dispelled by Biden’s cruel exercise of double standards.

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