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“Collective Punishment” Fuels Middle East Crisis

Chris LugoIn the light of recent events in the Middle East, policy makers in the United States must take a stand against state sponsored terrorism. We have a grave moral responsibility in this crisis to take a stand for peace and against retribution.

The people of the United States must acknowledge the role we play in the current crisis in Israel, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq. Our responsibility lies in our support of the state sponsored agression by our government and the government of Israel against innocent women, children and other non-combatants.

The current round of actions against Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which sets out the obligations of occupying powers and specifically prohibits collective punishments, “targeted” assassinations, and destruction of the infrastructure of an occupied territory.

Disregard for International Law Creates More Victims

The Israeli attacks constitute collective punishment of the entire Gazan population and the sovereign nation of Lebanon, and have created a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions in Gaza. While the United States should not support the actions of terrorists against innocent civilians in Israel, neither should it support the actions of a democratic state against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza.

The current actions of the Israeli government must be condemned because they violate international law. It is unlikely that the United States will condemn actions which mirror its foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth of the matter is that US agression against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan has been of a greater magnitude and the suffering caused by our foreign policy worse than the current crisis in the Middle East.

While this may be only a microcosm of the 300,000 killed in Iraq and the $324 billion spent to date, Americans have had an opportunity in the most recent crisis to see exactly how we are seen by the rest of the world. Although Israel does have a right to defend her territory and has a right to protect her people, global opinion is strongly against Israel’s actions, because once again, Israel is collectively punishing an entire group of people for the crimes of a few. There is essentially no difference between this behaviour and our collective punishment of the people of Iraq by destroying her infrastructure as well as our imprisonment, torture and murder of countless innocent Iraqi civilians.

Collective punishment is immoral, and United States policymakers have a responsibility to speak out against this aggression. The eyes of the Arab world are once again upon us and upon Israel. waiting for our response. Will we choose to step in line with international law and the Geneva conventions and deal with terrorism with common sense, or will we bomb airports, bridges, generating stations, water treatment facilities, schools, hospitals and private residences in our quest for revenge?

The odds are not good. We have already committed to spending $6 billion dollars a year to supply Israel with the most effective killing machines we can invent, as we have invested $324 billion to the same purpose in Iraq.

Additionally, the expansion of the military escalation to Lebanon represents a potentially serious threat, especially if there is involvement from Syria. The ongoing crisis is political, not just humanitarian. It reflects the failure of Israeli unilateralism, the failure of the “Roadmap,” the failure of the U.S.-orchestrated exclusion of the UN, and failure of the international community and the UN to intervene.

The Gaza and Lebanon escalation demonstrates once again the need for an entirely new, international (not U.S.-sponsored) diplomatic process based on international law and human rights, aimed at ending the occupation and establishing equal rights for all, the only basis for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region.

The real victims of the war in Lebanon, warning the video footage contains graphic images. This video was added to this story by Bill Larson. I felt it necessary to show this because the corporate news media filters what we see, so as not to offend people. This is bad, because when the news is sanitized, we are not made aware of the true human cost of these conflicts, not in iraq, and certainly not in Lebanon. Instead of protecting their viewers news organizations need to get back to the job of informing the public so that they can make better decisions.

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Chris Lugo
Chris Lugohttp://www.chris4senate.org/
Chris Lugo is a peace activist who has been involved in the movement for peace and global justice for twenty years. He is currently seeking the Green Party nomination for US Senate in Tennessee.

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