Finally, A Ray Of Light Through Dark Clouds: Shackles of Israeli Stranglehold

08 July 2015

By Tariq A. Al Maeena

It comes as a pleasant surprise to hear that 19 members of the US Congress have signed a letter calling for prioritising the human rights of Palestinian children living in occupied West Bank

The United States is ruled by three branches that make up its government. The executive or presidency, the judiciary or the courts and the legislature, which is called the Congress. There are 100 members of the Senate and 435 members of the lower house called the House of Representatives. This is the body that makes and passes federal laws.

This body has been so carefully vetted and manipulated by a lobby serving a foreign power that it is at peril of crafting legislature in conflict with the interests of the US. The lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which was previously known as the American Zionist Council, is continuously manipulating members of the legislative party towards looking positively at Israeli interests over anything else. It would take columns of a newspaper to describe how each member of the US legislature is targeted with gifts and favours and an occasional twisting of the arm by this lobby, which then steers lawmakers to its version of Middle East realities.

Tanya Cariina Hsu, a noted British political researcher and analyst and one of the first to break the barrier against public discussion of the Israeli influence on US foreign policy decision-making once said: "One of the most influential lobbying groups in America, it is often argued that no politician can be elected to office without Aipac's support. No president can take the White House without affirming unbreakable allegiance to Israel and attendance at the annual Aipac meeting is mandatory. Once in office, every member of Congress is expected to act, vote and defend the state of Israel on almost every issue, or face the consequences."

Editor, author and historian Alison Weir also offered her insight into the strangling chokehold of Aipac on US foreign policy. "The Israel lobby is one of the most powerful and pervasive special interest groups in the United States. It consists of a multitude of powerful institutions and individuals that work to influence Congress, the president, academia, the media, religious institutions and American public opinion on behalf of Israel."

It was to the Congress, a body that is expected to comprise of selfless legislators determined to do as well as they can for their constituents, that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the ‘self-declared nation state of the Jewish people' addressed not so long ago and had Senators and Representatives jumping up and down like puppets, applauding his latest presentation of the Likud line. It was a nauseating spectacle of self-interests in defiance of all diplomatic protocol.

Aipac is discreetly generous with those who come under its influence. Mark Steven Kirk, the Republican US Senator from Illinois and a previous member of the US House of Representatives, is alleged to be one of those lawmakers who has benefited from Aipac's gifts to the tune of almost $700,000 (Dh2.57 million)! Another Republican, Senator Mitch McConnell, representing the state of Kentucky, allegedly received nearly half a million dollars. It does not take much to figure out what is expected in return. And there are more such US lawmakers — trust me, many more.

Now having said this, it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear that 19 members of the US Congress have signed a letter petitioning the US Secretary of State to "prioritise the human rights of Palestinian children living in the Occupied West Bank in the bilateral relationship with the Government of Israel".

Shackles of Israeli stranglehold

A 2015 Unicef report on Israeli treatment of Palestinian children stated "the ill treatment of children who come into contact with the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised from the moment of the arrest until the child's prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing. More than 7,000 Palestinian children ages 12 to 17 have been subject to military detention and abuse that violates international human rights standards".

It finally prompted the conscience of some members of the legislature to defy the shackles of Israeli stranglehold and act.

A press release from one of the signatory's office said the letter "specifically addresses Israel's ongoing military detention of Palestinian children in which they are arrested, interrogated, held incommunicado and frequently physically abused. Israel's military detention of Palestinian children is an indefensible abuse of human rights. I hope this letter results in State Department pressure on the Government of Israel to end this systemic abuse immediately. Palestinian children should be treated exactly the same as Israeli or American children, without the fear that one day soldiers will arrest them, beat them, and lock them away in prison".

Calling these abuses "cruel, inhuman and degrading", the letter indicated that the Israeli military's detention structure targeting children is an "anomaly in the world", noting that no other country systematically subjects children to trials by military tribunals.

Finally! Finally somebody broke through the massive Israeli money and spin machine and saw the light. Finally somebody in the US government had the guts to stand up and speak the truth — a truth that fosters much of the unrest in the region today. Hallelujah.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 


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