In biology, it is known as reciprocal altruism. In business, it is known by its Latin moniker as quid pro quo. In common idiom, we call it gift exchange. And by any lingo, it refers to a mutually beneficial relationship where I’ll scratch your back with the expectation that you will one day scratch mine. So what, in this context, has Israel ever done to show its appreciation for the largess that American taxpayers have lavished on it over the last half century? Israel has given them a lot of grief in return.
People are now asking, in the cold light of hindsight: Of the three combatants in the recent Gaza war, who was the biggest loser? For my money, I’d have to say the United States.
Wait, the United States? The United States, you would argue, was not an active participant in that dreadful war that cost the lives of well over 2,200 Palestinian civilians and gutted the Strip. True, the US was not an active participant in that war, but only to the extent that it had no boots on the ground there, yet it was in fact very much an active participant in that 50 days of warfare. It was so because the weapons that Israel used to turn Gaza into a modern-day Dresden were US-made, and delivered on a sustained basis, even after it was revealed that the attack on a UN school on Aug. 3 — one of many that followed — was made possible thanks to a US-made Hellfire missile.
Though the carnage that Israel was inflicting on that tormented strip of land shocked the world at the time —and prompted countries like Spain and Britain to suspend their exports of arms to the Zionist state — the US announced that not only would it refrain from doing likewise, it actually sent new shipments of Hellfires to replenish the invaders’ arsenal. Washington provides Israel with roughly $3.1 billion annually in military assistance, and makes readily available to it America’s latest military technology. It provides it with weapons such as F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, missiles
and tank rounds. In the debris scattered across Gaza, the detritus of these missiles and tank rounds is very much in evidence. And of course, Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile defense system is financed entirely by American taxpayers
American Human rights organizations, among other activist groups, are not only calling on their country to impose a comprehensive arms embargo but also demanding that it bear moral responsibility for all the death and destruction wrought on Gaza. In effect, for acting as Israel’s enabler. Even the United Nations has put in its two-cents worth in that regard. “The question that we are asking is this: Is that an appropriate munition to be using in a densely populated area?” said Robert Turner, director of operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) about Israel’s use of its American-supplied weapons. “According to international law, they need to show caution, and is their decision of weaponry showing caution to avoid civilian deaths and casualties?” More tellingly, Brian Wood, head of arms control and human rights for Amnesty International said: “The US government must accept that by repeatedly shipping and paying for such arms on this scale, they are exacerbating and further enabling grave abuses to be committed against civilians during the conflict in Gaza.”
So why is the United States the biggest loser in this war?
Look at it this way: Gazans sustained incalculable losses. Israel’s losses, though different both in kind and in degree, were heavy indeed because it emerged with its image as a brutal and vindictive entity enhanced — an end result that it admittedly gives scant concern for. But the United States, which projects itself the leader of “the free world” and guardian of democratic values, emerged as an “accessory after the fact” in that war, for not only did it deliver those dreadful weapons used to wreak havoc on the people of Gaza, it shipped more of them in the middle of the bloodbath. There is no better evidence of its role as accessory than the 120mm artillery shell casings that continue to lie in the rubble of hundreds and hundreds of destroyed houses around the Strip.
You may feel that it’s a stretch to call the US an accessory (in American jurisprudence, an “accessory” is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of that crime as a participant). So then, if not an accessory, the US is at the very least morally complicit in those horrors inflicted on a civilian population by an American-armed, American-financed and American-supported military force.
Last week, reporters for the Washington Post, filing from Gaza, quoted Saadi Al-Amessi, a Gazan, as he stared at US-made artillery shells lying in the remains of his obliterated home in the town of Berej, saying: “What have I ever done to America?”
Notch up another one for the US: It is losing even more friends — or is it, making more enemies? — not just in the Arab world, but also in the Islamic world and the Third World, as it soldiers on with its bizarre relationship with Israel. Is there any outrage committed by the entity that would bring a blush to America’s face? America’s foreign policy in the Middle East will remain self-defeating so long as Washington has no answer to give for Saadi Al-Amessi’s simple, but pointed, question.
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