It has been impossible for me to sit back and watch the scenes of carnage displayed every night on the news as the Israelis continue their offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza — and now in southern Lebanon — without writing about it.
Yet, what jumps out at me in watching the news and reading about the situation is the blatant hypocrisy within the United States and much of Europe when it comes to the treatment of Israel vs. Palestine. Consider for a moment that if a Palestinian militant carries out a suicide attack against Israeli civilians, this is condemned — as it should be — for being an act of terrorism. At the same time, when we watch Israeli jets attack a bridge or a school, this is not condemned as terrorism.
Were the Palestinians to claim that they were "retaliating" against the Israeli occupation, would that be good enough to justify attacking civilians? This is not a rhetorical question, because this is precisely what has been said at times. In fact, Palestinians involved in bombings have claimed that — in view of the overwhelming military superiority of the Israelis and the level of armament among Israeli civilians — that there are no military targets. How can the Israelis respond to such arguments when they seem to have a casual, if not cavalier, attitude toward attacking Palestinian civilian targets?
There is a provocative question that has circulated that asks whether an apology would be accepted if a Palestinian militant blew up a bus with Israeli civilians and the militant's group claimed that the target was the bus and that unfortunately the civilians got in the way. Yet, as preposterous as this may seem, the Israeli actions are not that different.
When they allegedly target Palestinian leaders for assassinations and civilians are killed, there is generally an apology — the tragic casualties of war, we are told. Yet, this continues to happen, and now the ante has been upped through the attacks on civilian targets such as power plants, bridges and schools in Gaza and Lebanon, the Beirut International Airport among them.
There is a term for the actions being carried out by the Israeli government — "collective punishment." The Israeli government has thrown a wide net and decided that power stations, airports, schools, etc. are all military targets and, as the U.S. mainstream media so diplomatically claims, are "points of pressure" that the Israelis are exerting on the Palestinians (and now on the Lebanese) in order to get them to act "reasonably."
Years after atrocities have been committed, the people of the world generally look at one another and ask "Why were we silent? How could we have let that happen?"
Rather than being a co-conspirator in the destruction of the Palestinian people, the U.S. government must assert support for the United Nations resolutions on Israeli withdrawal.
Such resolutions cannot exist to be used at the discretion of the great powers or those with greater military strength.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a longtime labor and international activist and writer.