Moscow, June 26, 2010 (Pal Telegraph—Rachael Rudolph): For those of us who have grown up, lived in or gone to a US school in America, the pledge of allegiance recited every morning before the start of our elementary school days still rings in the memory of most, if not all. The opening, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which is stands…”, lingers irrespective of how old one gets, how many years past, or the number of places lived and visited. Nowhere do the stanzas read “I pledge allegiance to the flag of “Israel” and definitely not “for which it stands.” Yet, for some reason, our policymakers pledge their allegiance through their unwavering monetary and verbal support of and policies toward the Apartheid State of Israel, where freedom and democracy definitely do not ring true. One ponders, with the current US Supreme court decision, how much longer shall there be vestiges of democracy and freedom in the United States of America?
This past week the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that bans providing support to groups or individuals designated by the government as engaging in acts of terrorism. A quick sweep of newspaper headlines, news tickers at the bottom of the television screen, or twitter posts would not have many Americans batting an eyelid. I can hear some of my students or those walking across the college campus in rural Virginia, and even my grandfather and brother in mountains of western Maryland, making reference to the US government having a right to ban those who want to aid so-called known “terrorists.”
To diverge just a bit, one should recall the designation of a movement as a terrorist organization or an individual as a terrorist is political. Some non-state actors, engaged in acts of resistance, despite them having a right under international law, are defined as engaging in acts of “terrorism.” State policies intentionally targeting civilians are defined by some as acts of terrorism, and others as necessary in the name of state security. History has demonstrated that states and the international community use this classification as a political tool to designate those they are opposed to as “terrorists” and those they support as “freedom fighters” or “liberation movements.” As the saying goes, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist best sums up US policy of supporting and opposing non-state actors that cross its path in the pursuit of its foreign policy goals.
One need only look at US foreign policy toward Apartheid Israel as one of the more recent examples, or even the US Supreme Court’s decision upholding the lower court’s decision. What happened to the days where the US pursued a foreign policy not designed to interfere in the domestic politics of another state or region? Where are the days when foreign economic aid was provided to help feed a starving population and fund schools for those who lacked an education? When precisely did the tide turn to playing politics, interfering in the domestic affairs of others, and funding states to systematically starve, target and exterminate an entire population?
The problem with the quick sweep of the headlines regarding the US Supreme Court’s decision is that they lay a security blanket over the overworked, average working person. What is being covered up and protected is that the US Supreme Court Decision, which divided the court, is the type of aid being banned. Deemed a criminal act and aiding terrorism are providing advice, counseling or teaching others how to work within the confines of international law, to abide by human rights, and to engage in acts of nonviolent resistance. This decision also bans providing humanitarian aid to an entire population because the government has designated one of the political parties as a terrorist organization. It is only a matter of time before the US government, in its so called “War on Terrorism” begins to target humanitarian and human rights groups that provide aid to the besieged Palestinians.
According to former President Jimmy Carter, the upholding of this law inhibits the work of human rights and conflict resolution groups. The law seeks to criminalize those who want to work within the confines of international law, to promote human rights, and to reduce armed conflict. Where have the values of and respect for that which democracy is supposed to stand for gone? Where is the outrage over the upholding of this injustice?
The defining, promotion and protection of human rights has become a political game waged by states. They have been able to do so because for far too long American citizens, participants in the International Community and concerned humanitarians worldwide have failed to demand accountability of those representing them in the International community. Today, the voices of Americans are heard unequally; the privileged participate more than any other group or segment in society; and, public officials are more responsive to them than to the average and less affluent.
From the many students to the overworked average citizen, the voices complaining about US politics, politicians and government are similar. What does it matter, as our voices are not heard, our votes irrelevant, and our system corrupt. These voices are actually not too different from a study conducted by the Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy. It found that more than 50% of Americans distrust, lack faith in, and feel the US government, its policies and the politicians elected do not represent them. The thesis put forward in that study is the ideal of equal citizenship and responsive government are undergoing threat in the United States due to an era of persistent and rising inequalities. Disparities of income, wealth and access to opportunity are growing more sharply in the US then in many other countries.
It is time for the people of the United States to demand of their representatives to stand for the values enshrined in, and that form the basis of, the US constitution rather than acting as the voice of and representatives for the people of Apartheid Israel. We are two separate entities, and the duty of our elected representatives is to those living in and who are citizens of the United States. Is it not time for the United States to care for its own, the hungry, unemployed and sick that are alive within the borders of the United States? Will we, the people of the United States, continue to allow our representatives to bankrupt our country, thereby depriving our young and future children and grandchildren with a future that our forefathers promised?
An end to military aid to Apartheid Israel will force it to engage in real dialogue, with all Palestinian parties and not just those actors that will acts as its servants, and to find a solution whereby a Palestinian state is possible. Apartheid Israel will remain acting with impunity so long as it continues to receive military and financial support from the United States. While the government of the United States provides financial support and protection to Apartheid Israel, US citizens will continue to go bankrupt. Nonethe lss, as participants in the international community, the United States does have an international duty. Its duty should be the implementation and protection of human rights and not criminalizing the behavior of those seeking to work within international law, uphold human rights and reduce conflict. The US Supreme Court decision and the policies of the US government run contrary to the values upon which American was founded and the principles embodied in international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
When shall the act of systematically starving and killing civilians, including women, children and the elderly become an act of terrorism, one engaged in by the state? When shall aid to a state that carries out such policies be considered providing material support to those known or suspected of engaging in acts of terrorism? Those silent over the many Palestinians that have been injured, harmed and lost their life as a result of the sanctions and siege imposed are just as guilty as those states in the international community that are committing human rights abuses by their enforcement or military aid.
Where is our leadership? Where are our states? The time has come for concerned humanitarians worldwide and states claiming to be our representatives in the international community to stand steadfast and in solidarity with human rights and international law, to join forces, take a stand, and speak out against the unjust, inhumane, and degrading treatment of all, including Palestinians. It is time to end the unjust and criminal siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and aid to Apartheid Israel.
The street or public sentiment are often demonized by others, particularly politicians, who deem them and their voices as being irrational and emotional, unorganized and leaderless, thus hostile for a time being and within a particular context or around salient issues within a given time and space. Some would argue that the voices that speak out do not reflect public sentiment or express public discontent, as the majority is merely submissive and unconcerned. Others argue that the power of the people is nothing more than a myth, a fiction that those living in a fantasy world would like to see be reality. The street or public, however, are part of and form public opinion within a country, region and in the international community.
They may dismiss us as being irrelevant, irrational and governed by emotion, but the louder we speak, the more we act, the larger the crowds that take to the streets demanding action, the more we shall become a reality to be reckoned with. Then, the voice of the voiceless will be formulated into policy and policies that actually reflect reality on the ground and the preference of the people.
Gone are the days when politicians can dictate what we are to believe and an old political order governed by neo-imperialist political elites seeking to control, dominate and subordinate others for their own self-interests. Our politicians and governments are there to represent us and not the interests of other countries. Is it to be the United States of America or the United States of Apartheid Israel? Shall we continue to support our politicians and governments who send funds so that others can exploit, slaughter, starve and enslave a population? While of course at home, the homeless will continue to increase, the unemployment lines will get longer, healthcare will bankrupt the system, and our loved ones will continue suffer.
Governments and those in power may be able to imprison an entire people such as what the Apartheid Entity has done to Gaza; beat and torture protesters; take passports to prevent us from traveling; and, accuse or charge us with aiding terrorism because we choose to work within the confines of international law or send aid to those being systematically subjugated and strangled because of the policies of our government. They, however, cannot stop us from globally mobilizing against injustice, oppression, repression and subjugation. Apartheid, occupation, systematic killing, and targeted extermination must be brought to an end. Let there be no more wars led by (neo)imperialist elites; no more sanctions, blockades and embargoes designed to starve a population into submissiveness; and, no more silence from the street. The days of apathy have ended, and the voice of the voiceless has risen.