Human rights: Time for US to walk the talk
There is an explanation as to why the United States continues to support Saudi Arabia’s war and says the Saudis and their coalition partners don’t have to answer to the suffering they inflict on the besieged people of Yemen.
Fars news agency has more on this under the heading of “Human rights: Time for US to walk the talk.”
The Trump administration's record of human rights violations is poor and the State Department has just announced that it won’t cooperate with United Nations investigators regarding their complaints about such issues in the US.
This is while the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has issued a report on "devastating inequality" in the US and the Trump White House has left unanswered at least 13 official requests from UN special rapporteurs on human rights since last May. The deliberate failure to respond began a month before Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty, issued a scathing report detailing "devastating inequality" in the US, made worse by the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.
According to Alston, Washington’s refusal to answer questions and cooperate not only leaves issues including inequality and the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers unaddressed in the US, but also sends a harmful message to other human rights abusers leading countries around the world. In his words, "This sends a message that you can opt out of routine scrutiny if you don't like what is being said about your record on human rights.”
Obviously, the dismissive Trump administration officials see domestic human rights violations as an internal matter - the same officials that draft resolution after resolution against other nations at the UN regarding similar issues. They even call the UN study "patently ridiculous" and claim no human rights violations exist in the US, which is ridiculous. There is well documented evidence of growing income inequality, the police brutality against people of color, the Muslim travel ban and anti-immigrant policies, the use of solitary confinement in prisons, and the Department of Homeland Security's forcible separation of thousands of children from their parents.
Such attitude demonstrates a rather inappropriate arrogance, at a time when human rights not just in the US but also in neighboring Canada are far from perfect, where three quarters of a century after the UN Charter, human rights are similarly and manifestly far from being realized (enjoyed) by far too many people. Despite some progress, the gap between declaration and real experience remains wide and, for some, stark, and the persistence of that shortfall brings into doubt the sincerity of their commitment and even their values.
On the other hand, the US has already withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, for being “preoccupied with Israel”. But why is the Council preoccupied with Washington’s surrogate? For a start, the usurper regime of Israel has committed serious human rights abuses that are worthy of the Council’s condemnation. It is absurd for Washington to claim that the child killer regime of Israel has “committed no offence”.
The recent killings of Palestinian protesters, targeted killings, illegal settlements, forced evictions, war crimes, the Gaza blockade and, most fundamentally, an ongoing occupation of Palestine that has lasted for more than 50 years, will cause critics to proliferate.
Nevertheless, that does not explain the Trump administration’s dismissive attitude toward the UN, rejecting even legitimate condemnation by the Council, and deliberate refusal to walk the talk and end scale of human rights abuses within its borders. Regardless of its causes, it is fair to expect that US human rights violations not be dismissed outright.
Long story short, the US, the only country in the world that has failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, cannot play a leadership role in human rights. It has withdrawn from the Human Rights Council and refuses to cooperate with United Nations investigators regarding their complaints about human rights violations in the US, which are too numerous to mention, but which include torture and the highest proportion of incarceration in the world.
It’s been a telling yarn for decades that Israel is using Palestine as “laboratory for testing, refining, and showcasing methods and weapons of domination and control.”
This has helped the usurper regime to market its military technology as “battle-tested” and “combat-proven”. As a consequence, not only have Israeli arms exports, including banned weaponry, quadrupled between 2002 and 2018, the regime is leading supplier of drones, and was even given a contract by the US to build a high-tech “virtual wall” on the US-Mexico border in 2014.
Less than one month after Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza dubbed Operation Protective Edge - in which more than 2,100 Palestinians were martyred, including more than 500 children - Israel hosted an annual drone conference. Organized in partnership with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” offered Israeli weapons’ manufacturers an opportunity to show their products, many of which were tested on Palestinians earlier that year. One of the sponsors of that conference was G-NIUS, which was formed as a joint venture between Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, two of Israel’s most prominent arms manufacturers.
Because of its use during the assault on Gaza, G-NIUS was able to present its product as “combat-proven.” It so happened that Elbit’s stock jumped to its highest level since 2010 during the 2014 Gaza attack.
A piece in Bloomberg Businessweek explained, “The conflict between Israel and Hamas is fueling speculation that Elbit Systems Ltd., the nation’s biggest listed developer of military technology, will see more government orders for its defense products.”
One product that was deployed operationally for the first time during Operation Protective Edge was Elbit’s Hermes 900, an advanced aerial attack and surveillance drone. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “The Israeli army used this drone to deliberately target civilians during the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza, killing scores of Palestinians.”
In East Al-Quds, the Zionist regime of Israel has used black sponge bullets against Palestinian protesters. These bullets are manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems, a Pennsylvania-based firm that also supplies the usurper regime with tear gas. The company’s brochure for these bullets contains a note marked “Caution.” It reads: “Shots to the head, neck, thorax, heart or spine can result in fatal or serious injury.”
According to Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli brigadier general, who works at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel-Aviv, Israeli arms companies use the fact that their products have been tested on Palestinians to gain international business. He says, “Israeli marketing professionals try to use any advantage and if they can use the advantage that this system was tested operationally and it worked, they will, of course, use it for marketing.”
On balance, and despite international criticisms and condemnations, “proven combat performance” is still one of Israel’s strongest military technology and weapons sales promotions. The international civil society has the legal means and tools to stop Israel from using Gaza and the West Bank as its weapons lab, or the unarmed and defenseless civilian Palestinians as guinea pigs in a deliberate conflict that is a profitable business for Israel and its American partners.
There can be no denying that Israel profits from the prolonged conflict and from the testing of arms on the population Israel occupies and then the marketing and sales of these weapons as “combat proven,” on the more than four million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. As is often the case, Israeli wars serve as little more than laboratory-style experiments to evaluate and refine the effectiveness of new military approaches, strategies and weaponry, allowing them to develop and market systems for long-term surveillance, control and subjugation of an “enemy” population.
The lessons learned are clear: It is in the best interests of the international community that they not remain silent, or worse, buy Israel’s “combat-proven” weapons. Capitalizing on widespread horror at Israeli human-rights abuses, it is still possible for the United Nations to successfully integrate Palestinian human rights into the larger anti-war and progressive agenda at the General Assembly.
Palestinian human and civil rights should be right there at the center of the UN General Assembly as many member states fight Israeli racism and terror, resist US-led wars of aggression and terror, and brighten the landscape for Palestinian rights with anti-Israeli apartheid resolutions and sanctions.
However, there is still a lot more works to do at the UN to get the United States and other Western governments to respect Palestinian human rights. This includes pressuring Western companies to withdraw from contracts and operations in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and to withdraw from joint ventures in arms manufacturing and sales.
By ratifying so many resolutions against Israel at the UN, the international civil society has made it clear that it doesn't want to whitewash Israeli human rights abuses and it doesn't want to see the deepening of relationships between foreign governments and institutions responsible for Israeli violence and terror in occupied Palestine. It’s a sign that the tide has turned at the national and international levels towards support for Palestinian rights and away from backing Israel’s occupation.