The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an atrocity on the right to sovereignty and independence. Over the last few months, robust criticism has been leveled against Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and a raft of sanctions imposed to isolate the Russian economy in the global financial infrastructure.
As I am writing this article, the fighting has entered its 9th week since the invasion with over 2,000 civilian deaths. Millions of Ukrainians have fled to neighboring borders of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova. NATO remains an active deterrent on the military front – activating defense protocols and sending auxiliary troops to the Baltic states.
However, the United States is the flag-bearer of the Ukrainian defensive front on the global diplomatic canvas. Supplying arms to Ukraine, rallying European allies against Putin, and tightening economic measures against the Kremlin cohort, the United States seems resilient to push the Russian offensive off Ukrainian soil. It is intriguing to wonder: is the US defending a sovereign state or simply deterring an adversary? The two purviews might appear the same; the underlying intentions vary enormously.
Assuming that the United States is a savior of democracy and a custodian of justice, let us paint a proverbial picture. In 2014, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, the southern peninsula adjoining the Black Sea. The invasion resulted in six casualties – one pro-Ukrainian, two pPro-Russian, two Ukrainian soldiers, and one Crimean rebel. In response, the Obama regime levied crippling sanctions against senior officials of the Kremlin, severed commercial ties with Russia, and approved $2 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. A few months after the Crimean annexation, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) invaded Gaza under the pretext of provocation by Hamas, a Palestinian nationalist organization. The subsequent Gaza war resulted in a massacre of 2,100 Palestinians as IDF soldiers dropped at least 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip. By contrast with Russia’s aggression, the US reaction to the Israeli invasion translated into a classic statement from the US officials: “Israel has a right to defend itself.” The picture is perilously contradictory, isn’t it?
Just last year, the Israeli assault on Gaza killed at least 275 civilians, including 61 children and 35 women. The IDF decimated 18 buildings in Palestine, obliterated 40 schools, and destroyed multiple hospitals. The United Nations (UN) estimated that Israeli airstrikes destroyed 94 buildings in Gaza. The 11-day war displaced over 72,000 Palestinians. And how did the US respond to the genocide conducted by the state of Israel? It vetoed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution denouncing Israel for war crimes and human rights violations.
Since February, the US has called five emergency council meetings to denounce the Russian invasion. Russia was even kicked out of the UN Human Rights Council. Yet, just last year, the US blocked the UNSC joint statement condemning Israel’s military response and calling for an immediate ceasefire three times in a single week. When Russia vetoed a draft council resolution deploring the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US ambassador to the United Nations retorted: “Russia cannot veto the Ukrainian people. Russia cannot veto the UN Charter. And Russia cannot, and will not, veto accountability.” This irony perfectly exemplifies American hypocrisy.
The Static United Nations
In the Security Council, the United States has exercised its veto 82 times; 43 of those vetoes were used to shield Israel from accountability for similar war crimes and human rights violations, each of those being the sole veto against the proposed resolution. The US accuses Russia of abusing its privileged position as a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council. However, the United States has continually screened Israel from global condemnation and intermittently interrupted international efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for genocidal crimes under the UN Charter and international law. While the US rebuffs Russian security reservations apropos of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, the US administrations have time and again defended Israeli atrocities on Palestinians in the name of ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ when Israel is the encroacher on the Palestinian soil. The two drastically antipodal narratives are the manifestation of American duplicity.
Without a shred of doubt, the Putin administration is a despotic, oppressive regime. It has repressed the local opposition, razed prominent critics, and exacted its will on innocent Ukrainians. Today, the Russian forces are savagely trying to dismember a sovereign country to promote Putin’s envisioned sphere of Soviet influence in Europe. By the same standards, Israel should be considered a tyrant state for illegally occupying the Palestinian territory and slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians in the name of deceptive defense.
By the same measure, the United States is also a hypocrite for advancing its ally’s violence on one front while denouncing a rival for the same actions on another. Today, the US sanctions are intended to push the Russian economy into the abyss. Yet, the US still maintains an estimated $2.2 billion stockpile of weapons in Israel. Despite last year’s warfare, the US still provides $3.8 billion/annum military aid to the state of Israel, aid that has been consistently used to subdue Palestinians and expand illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The Naïveté of Zelensky
I don’t criticize the oppressed but use the modest capacity of my voice to project their grievances to the world. Like billions of people around the world, I have been inspired by the bravery and resilience of President Zelensky. His defiance in the face of tyranny is commendable by all measures. Perhaps that is the reason why his recent address to the Israeli Knesset saddens me this deeply. “I don’t need to convince you how intertwined our stories are. Stories of Ukrainians and Jews. In the past, and now, in this terrible time. We are in different countries and in completely different conditions. But the threat is the same: for both us and you – the total destruction of the people, state, and culture. And even of the names: Ukraine, Israel,” he said in his address. In his effort to rally Israeli support against Russia, he embodied the Western double standard towards the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle against a tyrant regime, quite like the Russian autocracy currently upending a sovereign democracy.
It pains me to deconstruct the foreign policy of Ukraine towards Israel. On one front, Zelensky claims to champion the human rights of innocent Ukrainians. He challenges the Western world to intensify its sanctions on Russia, with the view of isolating Russia. However, on another front, his nation has intermittently sided with the oppressor in the Palestinian-Israeli saga. He has pleaded with Israel to impose sanctions on Russia. Yet, in 2020, he blatantly authorized Ukraine’s exit from the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a body protecting the rights of Palestinians in the annexed territories.
I believe Zelensky has a hard lesson to learn before this war in Ukraine is settled. His ambition of becoming the “big Israel” are sadly a manifestation of his naïveté. He needs to perceive that the Western world is as selfish as the little man wreaking havoc on his country. Hopefully, he could eventually learn that Israel and its confederates would only press forward until it risks themselves. Israel would not impose sanctions on Russia, as that would be a tacit acknowledgment of an implicit reality, a reality that requires that the supposed “free world” would impose sanctions when a powerful country occupies its weaker counterpart to dominate its existence with a supremacist colonial design.
While denouncing Russia, the world has again looked past the attacks on Gaza (and East Jerusalem) by Israeli forces. Perhaps an Israeli attack on Palestine is too clichéd for anyone to react to or even denounce. Maybe the invasion of Ukraine carries more impetus than the intermittent desecration of the Al-Aqsa mosque. And the loss of life in Gaza might be too obscurely perceived to connect the dots. Let me then simplify the notion: Russia is to Ukraine as Israel is to Palestine.
This is my challenge to the West. It is high time that you pick a side without sugarcoating the difference in dynamics. Do you stand with the oppressor or the oppressed? Ask yourself. If your answer is not the same concerning Ukraine and Israel, then I’m afraid, hypocrisy is entrenched much deeper than you may imagine in your general psyche!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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