Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein: U.S. policy to Israel, Palestine must change
Dr. Jill Stein, the prospective Green Party presidential nominee, just released a policy statement regarding Israel / Palestine on her website (which follows below).
For those who have longed to hear a U.S. Presidential candidate bravely step up with a Middle East policy platform grounded in international law, human rights, and equality and justice for ALL, her statement will not disappoint:
United States policy regarding Israel and Palestine must be revised to make international law, peace and human rights for all people, no matter their religion or nationality, the central priorities. While the U.S. government sometimes voices support for this principle in name, in practice U.S policy towards Palestine and Israel has violated this principle more often than not.
In particular, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace within Israel and Palestine, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights. There is no peace or justice or democracy at the end of such a path. We must reset U.S. policy regarding Israel and Palestine, as part of a broader revision of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.
On taking office, I will put all parties on notice – including the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and the Hamas administration in Gaza – that future U.S. support will depend on respect for human rights and compliance with international law. All three administrations will also be held responsible for preventing attacks by non-state actors on civilians or military personnel of any nationality. The parties will be given 60 days to each demonstrate unilateral material progress towards these ends.
Material progress will be understood to include but not be limited to an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Failure by any party to demonstrate sufficient material progress will result in the end of U.S. military and economic aid to that party. Should the end of U.S. aid fail to cause a party to redirect its policies and to take steps resulting in sufficient material progress within an additional 60 days, I will direct my State Department to initiate diplomacy intended to isolate and pressure the offending party, including the use of economic sanctions and targeted boycott. In this way, U.S. policy will begin to become consistent with its practices regarding other violators of human rights and international law in the region.
Consistency in U.S. policy regarding human rights and international law will begin, but not end, with Palestine and Israel. I will apply this same approach to other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, among others. I will also ensure that the United States begins to honor its obligations to protect human rights, and will expect that the world community will hold us to the same account we hold others.
Finally, as President I will put the full weight of the United States behind the establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of human rights violations to one based on trust and bringing all parties together to seek solutions. Any stakeholder who enters into this process must pledge to work for a solution that respects the rights of all involved. This will bring America’s Middle East policy into alignment with American values. I understand that in the end, a dedicated commitment to justice will further American interests in the region much better than the current policies of supporting abuses and violence by one side against the other. And I believe that this is in the best interests of all people living in Israel and Palestine.
WATCH: MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Bemoans US’s Lack of ‘Loyalty’ to Egypt’s Brutal Dictator
Last Friday, Chris Matthews appeared on Morning Joe where he questioned the Obama Administration’s character for not showing proper loyalty to one of the Middle East’s most brutal dictators, Hosni Mubarak. He tells Joe Scarborogh and Mika Brzezinski:
Americans think upon ourselves as the good guys, and being good friends, and loyal. And these are values that mean a lot to us as people … Was he our friend for 30 years? Are we denying that? […]
And we’ve been with him for 30 years and now we say “It’s time for the gate”. […]
I feel ashamed about this. I feel ashamed as an American the way we’re doing this. I know he has to change. I know we’re for democracy, but the way we’ve handled it is not the way a friend handles a matter. We’re not handling it as Americans should handle a matter like this. I don’t feel right about it.
And Barack Obama — as much as I support him in many ways — there is a transactional quality to the guy that is chilling.
I believe in relationships. I think we all do. Relationship politics is what we were brought up with in this country. You treat your friends a certain way, you’re loyal to them, and when they’re wrong you try to be with them, you try to stick with them. As the great old line was “I don’t need you when I’m right”. You gotta help out people when they’re in trouble. […]
You’d think Matthews was defending a law-abiding respectable statesman — someone whom he merely opposed on ideological grounds — who has now fallen on tough times. You wouldn’t expect this sort of sappy loyalty babble with regards to a ruthless tyrant who has terrorized the citizens of his country for upwards of thirty years.
Either Matthews is ignorant about Mubarak’s brutal reign, or his notion of loyalty is royally fucked up. Obviously, loyalty is an admirable trait, but what if the person in question has imprisoned people indefinitely without trial? Tortured them? Murdered them? Robbed a poverty-stricken country blind of its national treasures?
Sounds as if Matthews believes that a country’s political elites — regardless of their crimes — should be accorded immunity merely for being an ally of the US and Israel.
He’s a leader too … I think we have to think about America here and our character. And I go back to the question of shame. Do the American people like the image of this guy being hauled out of that country?
When I heard the other day that some clown, and I mean clown, living in Italy somewhere in the Alps — Alpine, Italy — said he wants a trial for Mubarak. Now here’s a guy who’s an expatriate to begin with, and I don’t think much of expatriates, but what is this guy saying they’re going to bring out at trial? … You start talking about trials it’s like unconditional surrender. You want the war to last longer? Do you want to have this guy fight to his death?
Talk about a trial. What … we should get the army over there and immediately start negotiating with the fact a … one: this guy will not stand charges for anything. If he wants to leave he can leave. If he wants to live peacefully in his country we’re going to do what we can to make that possible. But the idea of trying the guy before he’s even out of office is exactly the way third world countries behave. You lose an election, you’re hanged. If that’s the way it works, these guys are never going to give up power. Would you give up power if you knew the next step was “Oh it’s not a peaceful retirement. It’s not teaching at some college. Oh, you’re trial is next, and guess what? — the Islamic Brotherhood is your judges.”
To fully appreciate how anti-democratic Matthews’ line of thinking is, you need to consider the degree of Mubarak’s despotism.
For the entirety of Mubarak’s reign, Egypt has remained under martial law — a police state. From suspending all constitutional rights, to censoring all media; from outlawing all political expression and organization (unless expressly approved by Mubarak himself), to indefinitely detaining and torturing political dissidents without trial, one could reasonably conclude that Mubarak is nothing more than a brutal thug.
Knowing full well how Mubarak engaged in torture, the United States eventually began to outsource the torturing of its own apprehended suspects to Egypt, which housed some of the CIA’s infamous black sites.
Additionally, Mubarak pillaged the country’s wealth for himself, amassing a fortune reported to be upwards of $70 billion (exceeding that of both Bill Gates & Warren Buffet) making him a likely candidate for the wealthiest individual on the entire planet. He’s reported to have stashed his swindled fortune in Swiss and British banks, plus UK and US properties. He did all this while the Egyptian people suffered massive unemployment, and dire living conditions. Forty percent of Egypt’s population (or 33 million people) live below the poverty level.
The Corruption Perception Index rates the corruption level of 178 countries around the globe, from least corrupt (1) to most corrupt (178), and Egypt placed 98th.
Matthews’ remarks exemplify the conventional inner beltway mentality, where egregious crimes of the ruling class are never to be tried in a court of law. Political elites are supposed to be loyal to one another. After all, loyalty, he contends, is the important quality that Americans value most.
Their punishment should simply be getting rebuffed at the ballot box, and then they should be allowed to enjoy their post-Presidency days teaching at a prestigious university in the country of their choice. Because, according to Chris Matthews, the rule of law is something only a Third Word Country would try to impose upon their political class. It’s so “transactional”.
U.S. Officials Privately Admit They Overstated Damage Inflicted By WikiLeaks
Reuters is reporting that Internal U.S. government reviews confirm what many of us had cynically assumed all along: that the US government was intentionally embellishing the damage done to US interests abroad by WikiLeaks documents:
A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.
“I think they just want to present the toughest front they can muster,” the official said.
But State Department officials have privately told Congress they expect overall damage to U.S. foreign policy to be containable, said the official, one of two congressional aides familiar with the briefings who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,” said the official, who attended a briefing given in late 2010 by State Department officials.
Ironically, it is precisely attempts like these — by government officials to mislead the American public — that has made whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks all the more essential to the viability of our democracy.
I suspect this Administration is most concerned about the leaks exposing its own, or its predecessor’s, wrongdoings. This Administration has gone to great lengths to cover-up and to squash any investigation — any judicial proceeding — against the Bush Administration for its alleged criminal activities.
They have got to be worried that the leaked documents could end up incriminating government officials in such a way as to push the entire topic of government accountability back into the public discourse.
For instance, it has been long reported that WikiLeaks is holding potentially incriminating military documents on Guantanamo Bay, where detainees were allegedly subjected to torture. What if these documents were to provide an iron-clad case against the highest-levels of the Bush Administration?
The US is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture — a binding agreement ratified under President Ronald Reagan. The Obama Administration therefore has very clear legal obligations that it has long been evading. Whenever there are indications or allegations of torture, it is incumbent on the Administration to investigate. It is NOT merely an option to mull over for its potential political ramifications. It is the RULE-OF-LAW.
Here are those legal obligations:
A State Party’s Undertakings
Most of the provisions of the Torture Convention deal with the obligations of the States parties. These obligations may be summarized as follows:
(i) Each State party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture. The prohibition against torture shall be absolute and shall be upheld also in a state of war and in other exceptional circumstances (article 2);
(ii) No State party may expel or extradite a person to a State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture (article 3);
(iii) Each State party shall ensure that acts of torture are serious criminal offences within its legal system (article 4);
(iv) Each State party shall, on certain conditions, take a person suspected of the offence of torture into custody and make a preliminary inquiry into the facts (article 6);
(v) Each State party shall either extradite a person suspected of the offence of torture or submit the case to its own authorities for prosecution (article 7);
(vi) Each State party shall ensure that its authorities make investigations when there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed (article 12);
(vii) Each State party shall ensure that an individual who alleges that he has been subjected to torture will have his case examined by the competent authorities (article 13);
(viii) Each State party shall ensure to victims of torture an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation (article 14).
By not only evading their required responsibility to investigate torture, but by aggressively threatening other nations to end their investigations and criminal proceedings, President Obama and his Attorney General are themselves violating international law.
After George W. Bush boasted, during his recent memoir tour, that he authorized water boarding, Amnesty International’s Senior Director Claudio Cordone issued a pointed statement saying:
“Under international law, the former President’s admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA’s obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him,”
“His admissions also highlight once again the absence of accountability for the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance committed by the USA.” […]
“Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W Bush. In the absence of a US investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”
The Obama Administration and the DOJ would obviously prefer to aid and abet the Bush Administration in evading justice in complete secrecy — hidden away from all public scrutiny.
The last thing they want is for WikiLeaks to publish documents that so undeniably incriminate upper level administration officials — either Bush’s, or Obama’s — that they in turn feel public pressure to actually do the unthinkable: to hold the political class accountable to the rule-of-law.
Former Justice Dept. Chief: Obama Gave Bush Officials ‘A Get Out of Jail Free Card’
In an exclusive interview with Brad Jacobson for The Raw Story, a former acting Justice Department chief J. Gerald Hebert (who served the DOJ in various positions between 1973 and 1994), had this to say about the Obama Administration’s failure to hold public officials to account: “It’s one thing to want to appear like you’re […]