As the toll of death, injury and destruction rose in Gaza on August 6, the second day of Israel’s surprise attack on the territory, United States President Joe Biden’s administration reiterated its full support for Tel Aviv.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said the administration urges “all sides to avoid further escalation”.
But turning reality on its head, Kirby added that the US “absolutely fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel”.
By late Saturday, 24 people had been killed in Gaza and more than 200 injured, according to the territory’s health ministry. [Editor’s note: By the time the ceasefire took effect, that figure had risen to 46 dead, including 16 children and more than 350 injured.] There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries in Israel from hundreds of retaliatory rockets fired by the Palestinian resistance in response to the Israeli attack.
The United States provides Israel with billions of dollars in weapons annually which are frequently used by Israel to attack Palestinian civilians.
As Washington leads the way, its various client states follow at its heels.
British foreign secretary Liz Truss, the frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, also inverted reality.
“The UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself,” Truss said. “We condemn terrorist groups firing at civilians and violence which has resulted in casualties on both sides.”
In recent years, British arms sales to Israel have surged.
The European Union not only failed to criticise Israel’s latest attacks on civilians blockaded in an occupied territory, but affirmed that “Israel has the right to protect its civilian population.”
Brussels made no mention of the right of Palestinians to defend themselves and resist Israel’s onslaught.
The EU acknowledged that “the ongoing escalation has already led to a number of casualties, with a number of people killed”, but did not specify who caused those deaths.
In France, the government of President Emmanuel Macron said it “deplores” Palestinian civilian casualties without criticising Israel’s attack on Gaza.
By contrast, the Macron government said it “condemns” the Palestinian resistance for firing rockets in response, while reiterating its “unconditional commitment to the security of Israel”.
In a slight departure from the pack, Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said he was “deeply concerned” about the “impact of Israeli strikes on civilians”.
But the Dublin government explicitly condemned the Palestinian resistance for the “indiscriminate firing of rockets”.
What is “indiscriminate”?
But Palestinians use such rockets because they do not possess precision guidance systems — unlike Israel, which receives such technologies from the West and uses them specifically to target civilian objects.
Israel also regularly attacks Palestinians with inherently indiscriminate weapons, such as artillery, as it has done again in Gaza in recent days. Yet the same governments that condemn “indiscriminate” rocket fire remain silent about this.
None of these Western countries — which are collectively shipping billions of dollars of arms to Ukraine to help it resist the Russian invasion — are offering Palestinians weapons that would allow them to precisely target Israeli military facilities, personnel and leaders involved in perpetrating military occupation and attacks on them.
In this context, Western condemnation serves only to legitimise Israel’s high-tech killing of Palestinians, while in effect demanding that Palestinians simply sit quietly and allow Israel to kill them.
UN tacitly backs Israel
This complicity also extends to United Nations officials who are ostensibly charged with impartially upholding international law.
United Nations Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply concerned by the ongoing escalation” and, expressing sympathy for Palestinian casualties, added that “there can be no justification for any attacks against civilians”.
But the UN envoy failed to note that Israel started the latest spasm of bloodshed.
Wennesland moreover specifically demanded that “the launching of rockets must cease immediately”, but pointedly did not demand that Israel immediately cease its attacks on Gaza.
This is all in keeping with a long-standing pattern of racist double standards.
Western officials, including Wennesland, a Norwegian diplomat, often feign sympathy and concern for Palestinians, but habitually reserve condemnation only for violence against Israelis, including settlers illegally occupying Palestinian land.
The net effect is to endorse Israel’s violence while vilifying and criminalising the victims when they try to fight back.
Wennesland’s cravenness is in marked contrast with comments from Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories.
The independent expert noted that as international law “only permits the use of force in self-defense”, Israel’s attack on Gaza is “a flagrant act of aggression”.
Not a single Western government has spoken with such clarity.
Global condemnation of Israel
To be sure, there is strong criticism of Israel’s aggression from countries around the world.
South Africa denounced the Israeli assault on August 6.
“Attacks that kill innocent civilians have no justification, and they are more abhorrent as they are committed by an occupying power which has besieged the Gaza Strip for over a decade in contravention of international law,” the foreign ministry said.
Pretoria added that the “international community” has an obligation “to urgently stop the Israeli occupation forces’ repeated attacks against civilians, especially women and children as well as the illegal blockade in Gaza”.
Turkey, despite its recent cosying up to Tel Aviv, also strongly condemned the slaughter.
“It is unacceptable that civilians, including children, have lost their lives during the attacks,” Ankara said.
Malaysia described this “latest atrocity by Israel” as a “blatant disregard of international law and the many principles of humanity.”
Similarly, Pakistan stated that the “latest spate of aggression is typical of the Israeli atrocities, illegal actions and indiscriminate use of force against innocent Palestinians over the decades in complete defiance of international human rights and humanitarian laws”.
Iran, the only country known to provide direct support for Palestinian armed resistance, denounced “the brutal attack by the apartheid Zionist regime against the besieged Gaza Strip” as well as the “killing of the commanders of the Palestinian resistance and a group of defenseless Palestinian people.”
Even Israel’s close ally and neighbour Jordan condemned the “Israeli aggression”, but this was tempered by a pro forma call from Amman for all sides to return to the long-dead peace process in pursuit of the chimerical “two-state solution”.
It has always been the case that the people of Palestine enjoy strong worldwide support for their liberation struggle, but that has yet to decisively change the balance.
The reality is that it is Western weapons, money and political support that sustain and prolong Israel’s settler-colonial persecution of the Palestinian people and ensure that the blood keeps flowing.
But no matter what atrocities Israel perpetrates with US and European assistance, the Palestinian people have demonstrated decade after decade that they will not surrender to Israeli terror.
[Abridged from Electronic Intifada.]