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Hillary Clinton, Gaza and the Right of Civilians to Self-Defense

Ali Abunimah Mar 13, 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a stirring UN Security Council speech on the virtues of democracy, human rights, and US support for them. She contrasted the purity of American motives with those of regional adversaries:

When a country like Iran claims to champion these principles in the region – and then brutally suppresses its own people and supports suppression in Syria and other places — their hypocrisy is clear to all.

Perhaps. Of course Hillary did not examine the hypocrisy of US support for dictatorships in the region that also purport to support democracy but only in Syria, while brutally suppressing their own people.

Last Friday millions of voters in Iran – men and women – chose new legislators from among thousands of candidates in parliamentary elections. Critics may be quite right that the elections are “nothing more than a selection process amongst the ruling conservative elite” (cf. US elections currently underway), but that’s much more than citizens in some US-backed states ever get the opportunity to do.

It was however on Gaza that Hillary’s hypocrisy truly shone. Here’s what she said regarding Syria:

Now the United States believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member-states, but we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense.

Clinton was explicitly supporting the right of Syrians to use armed struggle to resist the government, and even claimed that such armed struggle is morally superior. Very well. What did she say about Gaza, which has been under unprovoked Israeli bombardment for five days killing more than twenty people and injuring dozens?

And let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel which continued over the weekend. We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these attacks. We call on both sides – all sides – to make every effort to restore calm.

That was it. Not one word of sympathy for the families of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israeli attacks. She failed to mention that Israel began the round of violence on Friday with the premeditated murders by its military machine of Palestinians Israel accuses of “masterminding” attacks.

So Israel carried out an extrajudicial execution of people in an occupied territory whom it accuses of a crime. Israel, as I have explained, unlike even China and Iran, does not bother to try Palestinians it has sentenced to death in secret and in absentia. It merely jumps straight to the execution phase.

But this is all perfectly fine for Hillary – she didn’t even mention it. And after 63 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and occupation, do Palestinians ever have a right to self-defense? Are Palestinians ever to be considered, like Syrians, “civilians under siege driven to self-defense”?

Of course not. Instead, Hillary repeated the same old tired slogans.

The only way for Palestinians to achieve anything she insisted – even as Israel bombs and besieges them, executes them, and seizes their land for Jewish-only colonies – is through rigged “negotiations” that have gone nowhere precisely because the US has its mighty hands on the scale in favor of Israel.

Today at the UN, Hillary Clinton once more gave Israel a blank check to do as it wishes, assured of impunity and full US support.

This article was originally published by the Electronic Intifada.

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