Mar 15th 2021

US Policy Ignores Palestinian Human Rights 

 

Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive US administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security. 

It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less ​human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected.
 
Operating from this mindset, the US has given Israel carte blanche, while pressure and punishments have been reserved for the Palestinians. On occasion, policymakers have timidly raised issue with some Israeli practices, but because they’ve taken no effective measures to change these behaviors, Israel has seen no reason to alter its course. As a result, Israel operates with impunity, while Palestinian actions have been scrutinized and condemned and their protests have either been ignored or silenced as disruptive or counterproductive. 

Recent actions by the Biden Administration sadly fit this pattern. In just the past few weeks, they have: condemned the decision of the International Criminal Court to begin prosecution of Israel for its war crimes in Gaza since 2014 and its illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank; criticized the UN Human Rights Council for its condemnation of Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights; rejected tying US aid to Israel’s human rights behaviors; declared opposition to Palestinian calls to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel for its violations of Palestinian rights; and “embraced” the expanded definition of anti-Semitism that includes some legitimate criticisms of Israel.

Especially revealing was one of the reasons given for US opposition to Palestinians taking their complaints to international fora. The US charged that, “Such actions against Israel...increase tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution.” This appears to suggest that Israel’s aggressive land confiscation​, settlement construction, demolition of Palestinian homes, detention without charges or trial of hundreds of Palestinians, collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza​, and Israel’s mass killing sprees of Palestinians in 2014 and 2018, did not “increase tensions or undercut efforts” at peace making. But Palestinians seeking legal remedies against these Israeli actions is disruptive. In short, Israel can do whatever it wants, with US backing. But when Palestinians protest - precisely because the US will do nothing to defend them - then they are at fault.

Regardless of the US intent, what this says to the Palestinians is that their human rights don’t matter and will always be subordinated to Israeli interests.

Listen to this exchange at a recent State Department briefing. A reporter asked:

“Considering your position on the Palestinians now, where should the Palestinians go to get accountability for what they claim to be problem?”

The State Department official responded​:

“Of course the United States is always going to stand up for human rights...That is why you have heard us continue to endorse a two-state solution to this long running conflict...because it protects Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state but it will also give the Palestinians a viable state of their own and fulfill their legitimate aspirations for dignity and self-determination.”

Because the answer was non-responsive to the question asked, the reporter repeated thirteen times “Where do they go?” No further reply was given.

The best this administration has so far offered the Palestinians was the reiteration of a vague commitment to “a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.” But this remains hollow as long as it fails to address the complete and abusive control Israel exercises over Palestinians and their land, and the US refuses to apply pressure to end these Israeli abuses.

Even more telling was a policy address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict delivered by a US Ambassador at a recent meeting of the UN Security Council. It was so Israel-centric that any acknowledgment of Palestinian concerns were either accompanied by caveats or framed in terms of Israel’s interests.

For example, the Ambassador expressed the hope that Israelis and Palestinians would both get COVID-19 vaccines, but sidestepped any mention of Israel’s refusal to accept its responsibility to do this. He recognized “the unsustainable disparity in economic development” between Israelis and Palestinians but weirdly attributed this to “a structural issue that should be diagnosed and addressed,” without acknowledging that the “structural issue” has a name: “occupation.” He stated the US intention to restart aid to Palestinians, but claimed that it would do so because this “ultimately supports Israel’s security.” And then, of course, added that “our efforts to reengage the Palestinian people and leadership do not detract in any way from our commitment to Israel.”

Forty-five years ago, we started the Palestine Human Rights Campaign. Our motto was a simple affirmation: “Palestinians have human rights too!” I also wrote a monograph entitled “Palestinians: The Invisible Victims.” Our goal was to challenge policymakers to recognize the humanity of this long-beleaguered people. Sadly, that challenge remains as relevant today and it was back then. 

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May 2nd 2021
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May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building. Before the US is blindsided again, its leaders must act resolutely to root out extremism in the military."
Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "When we examined the development of nations worldwide since 1820, we found that among rich Western countries like the United States, the Netherlands and France, improvements in income, education, safety and health tracked or even outpaced rising gross domestic product for over a century. But in the 1950s, even as economic growth accelerated after World War II, well-being in these countries lagged.
Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."
Apr 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "New ways of thinking about the role of government are as important as new priorities. Many commentators have framed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a return to big government. But the package is spread over eight years, will raise public spending by only one percentage point of GDP, and is projected to pay for itself eventually. A boost in public investment in infrastructure, the green transition, and job creation is long overdue."
Apr 7th 2021
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Mar 28th 2021
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Mar 24th 2021
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Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive US administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security.  ..... It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less ​human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected."
Mar 8th 2021
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Mar 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Back in 1992, Lawrence H. Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, and I warned that pushing the US Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target down from 4% to 2% risked causing big problems. Not only was the 4% target not producing any discontent, but a 2% target would increase the risk of the Fed’s interest-rate policy hitting the zero lower bound. Our objections went unheeded. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan reduced the inflation target to 2%, and we have been paying for it ever since. I have long thought that many of our economic problems would go away if we could rejigger asset markets in such a way as to make a 5% federal funds rate consistent with full employment in the late stage of a business cycle."
Mar 2nd 2021
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Mar 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Massive fiscal and monetary stimulus programs in the United States and other advanced economies are fueling a raging debate about whether higher inflation could be just around the corner. Ten-year US Treasury yields and mortgage rates are already climbing in anticipation that the US Federal Reserve – the de facto global central bank – will be forced to hike rates, potentially bursting asset-price bubbles around the world. But while markets are probably overstating short-term inflation risks for 2021, they do not yet fully appreciate the longer-term dangers."
Feb 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "To be sure, calls to “build back better” from the pandemic imply some awareness of the need for systemic change. But the transformation we need extends beyond constructing modern infrastructure or unlocking private investment in any one country. We need to re-orient – indeed, re-invent – global politics, so that countries can cooperate far more effectively in creating a better world."
Feb 23rd 2021
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