Why did Barack Ombama respond so quickly to the humanitarian crisis facing the Yazidis but failed to respond to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza?

Robin Beste

What was Obama’s response to the United Nations declaring Gaza a humanitarian disaster, as essential resources ran out and medical facilities collapsed, following Israel’s brutal assault that killed two thousand Palestinians — most of them civilians, over 400 of them children — and injured ten thousand more?

Did Obama say the “international community” cannot stand by when such an atrocity is taking place, and authorise military strikes to stop Israel’s random bombing of hospitals, schools, water and sewage facilities and power stations?

Did he rush military “advisors” to see how the siege of Gaza could be broken, as he did when it was the Yazidis in Iraq who were suffering a siege?

Did he organise aid drops by the US airforce to bring food and essential supplies to the people of Gaza under siege, as he did to the Yazidis?

Did he call Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell him the barbaric attacks had to stop immediately or else the US would end its support and annual aid to Israel of $4 billion a year? Without this political and economic support, Israel could not continue its endless violations of international law during the 66 years that it has stolen Palestinian land and oppressed the Palestinian people.

No? Then what did Obama do about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza?

When Israel’s fuel stocks for its armed forces in Gaza were running low, Obama rushed a tanker to Israel to enable stocks to be replenished, so the Israeli campaign of mass murder could continue.

And as Israel’s profligate use of shells and bombs thinned out its stock of weapons, the US opened its ammunition stockpile to make sure the world’s fifth most powerful military force could continue bombing the population of one of the world’s most crowded areas.

No wonder Netanyahu was so effusive about the support Israel got from “best friend” Obama during the attack on Gaza.

Not only did Obama and Cameron support “Israel’s right to defend itself” with this mass slaughter, they had little to say about Israel’s inhmane siege of Gaza that has brought unimaginable suffering to its 1.8 million inhabitants for over seven years.

Why the discrepancy between the response to the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Yazidis and the lack of action to alleviate the parlous condition of Palestinians in Gaza?

Simple. Israel is a pivotal ally in the US and UK strategy to maintain control of the region that contains the world’s most valuable asset: oil.

Israel, like the swathe of Arab dictators and despots in the region who serve US interests — from Egypt to Bahrain — can get away with war crimes, torture and mass murder of opponents, without the slightest risk of a “humanitarian intervention”.

Ending the siege of Gaza will require the continuing growth of the worldwide solidarity movement for Palestinian rights. On 9 August 2014, hundreds of thousands protested on the streets of cities and towns across the world. These included the 150,000 protesters in the largest ever UK demonstration for Palestine.

We need to turn this movement into pressure on our political leaders who support Israel crimes against the Palestinian people, whatever atrocities are committed. Central to this movement must be the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign that has grown so significantly in recent years: it needs to have a real economic impact on Israel, just as the boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa did.

War is spreading — in Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Polls show consistently that the majority of people, in the US, UK and allied countries, oppose the war policies of their governments. The need for an anti-war movement that actively mobilises to give voice to the anti-war majority was never clearer.

15 Aug 2014

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