Backing Colonial Settler War Crimes & Genocide: Nothing New for the US

ANALYSIS, 13 Nov 2023

Daniel Horgan - TRANSCEND Media Service

Smoke rises in Gaza which is seen from the Sderot city as the Israeli airstrikes continue in Sderot, Israel on 2 Nov 2023 – [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Conditions in Gaza before the latest war:

Over 75% of the people in Gaza were already registered by the UN as refugees, who were expelled (or descendants of those expelled) from their villages in what is now southern Israel in the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe).  (Nakba demarks the UN creation of the State of Israel and seizure of Palestinian Land.)

Over 50% of Gaza’s workforce was unemployed.

Israel restricted nearly all aspects of their economy especially since 2007, when in internationally recognized free and fair elections won by Hama, Israel blockaded The Gaza Strip.  Not much went in and out compared to the needs of the people.

A bombed-out airport done by the Israelis in 2001.  A major seaport in Gaza City lies blockaded by an Israeli embargo.

In 2014 Israel bombed Gaza’s water reservoir and sanitation treatment facilities, escalating the shortage of drinking water while sewage ran in the streets.  It is estimated that 80% of the water was undrinkable in Gaza. 80% of the population was reliant on aid that came in through 500 lorries per day. [1]

Conditions on Lakota and other First Nations Reservations in the US  during the late 1800’s and beyond:

Conditions were marked by poverty, disease, and cultural disruption. The United States government’s policies toward the Lakota and other Original First Nations during this period were characterized by forced assimilation, land seizures, and attempts to destroy traditional ways of life. Some of the key challenges the Lakota and other First Nations faced (and still face):  Loss of traditional lands, cultural suppression, poverty and lack of resources, and health challenges.  Also included was and is the conditions of social and political instability: The policies of the U.S. government including the creation of IRA Governments to replace traditional government structures often led to (and still lead to) social and political unrest among First Nations, as they struggled (and still struggle amidst a strong cultural revival) to maintain their traditional ways of life and resist the pressures of assimilation.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres statements on the current War in Gaza:

“The attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of a suffocating occupation.” (“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”)

Guterres also criticized Israel saying “protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than one million people to evacuate to the south, where there is no shelter, no food, no water, no medicine and no fuel, and then continuing to bomb the south itself.”As for the small amount of humanitarian aid that has been allowed to enter Gaza, Guterres said that it was,  “a drop of aid in an ocean of need”.

One month into the conflict an unprecedented number of casualties:  Over 10,000: dead. Over 4000 children: dead.  An estimated 25,000 were injured.  1.5 million out of 2.3 million have been displaced.  Estimated half of the displaced are children.  The UN Chief said that “Gaza was becoming a graveyard for children.”

The number of UN workers killed by Israel was approaching 100 at the time of this writing.  Guterres said that was, “higher than any comparable period in the history of the UN.”

According to the UN nearly half of Gazan homes have been affected by the bombing, while one-third of the hospitals are bombed out.  16 of the 35 hospitals are shut down, with 51 out of 72 health clinics are closed.  Electricity is mostly run by secondary generators for essential services such as surgeries. and is largely cut from hospitals due to fuel shortages.  The ICRC warns that without electricity, “The hospitals risk turning into morgues.”  On average people are living on 2 pieces of bread per day. The WHO sets a 100-liter minimum of water needs per person per day.  The number of liters currently available per person in Gaza is 3.  UNRWA has warned, “People will start dying without water.”  UN shelters, UN refugee camps, and emergency shelters are pushed many times beyond their capacities.   At one emergency shelter set up at a school, 240 people are living in one classroom.  Men and boys sleep outside.  It is common that 400 people could share one toilet.  Communicable illnesses and diseases are a major challenge. [1a]

Speaking of the whole situation in Gaza the UN Chief said: “More than a humanitarian crisis, it is a crisis of humanity.”

Below is a description by Transcend Author, Chris Hedges.  The description refers to other settler colonial projects that reflect truth to the genocidal policies that the US Government have had toward the Lakota Nation and other First Nations of Turtle Island (North America).

On Friday, Nov. 3rd, the Gaza Strip had all its communications severed. No Internet. No phone service. No electricity. Israel’s goal is the murder of tens, probably hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of those who survive into refugee camps in Egypt.  It is an attempt by Israel to erase not only a people, but the idea of Palestine. It is a carbon copy of the massive campaigns of racialized slaughter by other settler colonial projects who believed that indiscriminate and wholesale violence could make the aspirations of an oppressed people, whose land they stole, go away. And like other perpetrators of genocide, Israel intends to keep it hidden.

Israel’s bombing campaign, one of the heaviest of the 21st century, has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, along with medical workers, teachers and United Nations staff. Those trying to report on the conflict are caught in the cross-fire.  36 journalists are reported to have been killed in one month, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. These are obviously war crimes and blatant violations of the Geneva Convention regardless of whether or not any of the innocent could be considered human shields for Hamas. [2]

War Crimes old or new are war crimes.

From the Book: King Philip’s War, Civil War in New England, 1675-1676:

It was reported that the Pequot Nation had, most likely killed by accident, an English Sea Captain for which the entire Pequot Nation paid the price.

The English set out, with their Narragansett and Mohegan allies, to subdue the Pequots, who, not coincidentally, occupied some of the most valuable land in New England along the Mystic River (in current day Connecticut).  The conflict climaxed in May 1637 after the English and their Indian allies surrounded a palisaded Pequot village on the Mystic River. They attacked one morning before dawn, and in the ensuing chaos, the village was torched.  As far as those Pequot men, women, and children who managed to flee the flames, English men, to the horror of their Indian allies, shot them down with their muskets.  By the end of the day, 600 to 700 Pequots (nearly the entire village) had died.  Most were noncombatants. And most were burned alive.

The Pequot, as well as English allied Indian Nations: the Narragansett and the Mohegan, stood in horror at the scale of devastation used by the English in war.  This was something they had never witnessed before. Word of this massacre spread throughout New England First Nation Communities.  It was realized that the new inhabitants had no laws of war such as they were accustomed to.  (These acts of war in the present day are clearly war crimes under the Geneva Convention. This type of wholesale violence continued throughout the US/First Nation Wars.  The Wounded Knee Massacre symbolized the end of Lakota Nation and First Nation armed resistance to the US government and resulted in up to 300 Lakota men, women and children killed.)

Genocide and impunity in Palestine:

Craig Mokhiber, the director in the United Nations New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced his resignation in a letter shared publicly on October 31st — more than three weeks into the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“This is a textbook case of genocide,” he wrote in an Oct. 28 letter to Volker Türk, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine.”

He added that Western governments “are wholly implicit in the horrific assault.”

“Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations “to ensure respect” for the Geneva Convention, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.”

“The genocide we are witnessing in Palestine is the product of decades of Israeli impunity provided by the US & other western governments & decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by western corporate media.”

In regard to the Palestinians and “the promise” of Human Rights promised to them he also elaborated:

“It is a stunning historic irony that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the same year that the Nakba was perpetrated against the Palestinian people. As we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the UDHR, we would do well to abandon the old cliché that the UDHR was born out of the atrocities that preceded it (The Holocaust), and to admit that it was born alongside one of the most atrocious genocides of the 20th Century, that of the destruction of Palestine. In some sense, the framers were promising human rights to everyone, except the Palestinian people. And let us remember as well, that the UN itself carries the original sin of helping to facilitate the dispossession of the Palestinian people by ratifying the European settler colonial project that seized Palestinian land and turned it over to the colonists. We have much for which to atone.”

This rings similar to the founding of the United States, which in its constitution it is declared: “Liberty for all”.  Among the first dispossessed of its land and liberty by the new federation, was and is of course, the Free Original First Nations of Turtle Island.

Mr. Mokhiber continued how the framework for the Middle East peace process further usurped the rights of the Palestinian Nation:

“Decades of distraction by the illusory and largely disingenuous promises of Oslo have diverted the Organization from its core duty to defend international law, international human rights, and the Charter itself. The mantra of the “two-state solution” has become an open joke in the corridors of the UN, both for its utter impossibility in fact, and for its total failure to account for the inalienable human rights of the Palestinian people. The so-called “Quartet” has become nothing more than a fig leaf for inaction and for subservience to a brutal status quo. The (US-scripted) deference to “agreements between the parties themselves” (in place of international law) was always a transparent sleight-of-hand, designed to reinforce the power of Israel over the rights of the occupied and dispossessed Palestinians.”

Much the same effect transpired and was perpetrated by the US to the First Nations of Turtle Island in treaty negotiations.

US Federal Indian Law and Broken Treaties with First Nations:

Although treaties between First Nations and the Federal US Government still have not been legally extinguished and still are the Supreme Law of the Land, it was the Doctrine of Discovery and the US judiciary (that used the principles of the Doctrine) that usurped, to this day, the land and legal power of the First Nations of Turtle Island (North America).  Below is a brief legal history of this factual story as reported by the Oceti Sakowin Treaty Council.

Brief of Marshall Trilogy:

Johnson v. M’Intosh, 1823; Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 1831; and Worcester v. Georgia, 1832:

These cases forced to fashion an admittedly fictitious moral and legal justification for colonial rule and ethnic cleansing to accommodate settler colonialism (“Manifest Destiny”), Chief Justice John Marshall in an act of pure colonial power and racism created a body of U.S. law not premised on either US or international law “sui generis,” that applies to this day only to “Indian Nations” and peoples.

The Marshall Trilogy in addition to declaring the nation’s land, ‘terra nullius’, ‘empty’ or “land belonging to no one”, thus free for the taking. (Johnson v. M’Intosh, 1823)

Marshall, also purported US citizen’s as ‘superior’ and declared Original First Nation inhabitants as ‘savages’. He, therefore, held that Native Nations were “domestic dependent sovereigns” in a state of “pupilage,” subject to the “beneficial” rule of the colonial power. This colonial doctrine of racial subjugation is referred to in federal Indian law today as the “trust doctrine” or as the “trust responsibility” of the United States. (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 1831)

Marshall then ruled that out of the principles of Western “trust law,” in addition to concepts of colonial occupation and conquest, the United States as the conquering colonial power and as the racist “guardian” of incompetent Native nations and peoples, assumed absolute, “plenary,” power over Native nations and peoples and their territories, lands, waters, resources, governance, law, religion, education, culture, and even their children.  Under Federal Indian law, this is referred as the “plenary power doctrine” which purportedly authorizes the United States and its three branches of government complete and total authority to act at will over Native Nations and their people without any Native recourse unless allowed by the colonial ruler’s “largess” under its assumed plenary power. (Worcester v. Georgia, 1832) [3]

How this basis of Federal Indian Law affected Treaty Negotiations:

“On the foundation provided by the Marshall Doctrine, the government felt confident in entering into the great bulk of the more than 370 treaties (Vine Deloria documents 400) with Original First Nations by which it professed to have gained the consent of Indians in ceding huge portions of the native land base.  With its self-anointed position of superior sovereignty, it would be under ‘ no legal obligation’ to live up to its end of the various bargains struck.  Proof of this is that before the end of the 19th century, the US stood in default on virtually every treaty agreement it had made with native people, and there is considerable evidence in many instances that this was intended from the outset.”  [4]

This demarks the fraudulent nature of US participation in the treaty process with First Nations, including the Treaties of Fort Laramie 1851 and 1868 with the Lakota and other First Nations.

It is as the resigned director of the United Nations New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said of the Oslo process, a transparent sleight-of-hand, designed to reinforce the power of the US over the rights of the occupied and dispossessed First Nations of Turtle Island.

“Where today are the Pequot?  Where are the Narragansett? The Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people?” asked Tecumseh, The great leader of the Shawnee Nation in 1810.

“Where tomorrow will be, the Palestinians?” …  We must all ask today in 2023.

NOTES:

[1] (TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » A few FACTS about Gaza)

[1a] BBC.com

[2] TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Exterminate All the Brutes

[3] Comments from Oceti Sakowin Treaty Council for the Tribal Consultation on White House Council on Native American Affairs Efforts on Tribal Treaty Rights, Similar Rights and Reserved Rights Sept, 2023

[4] The Struggle for Land, Ward Churchill

_______________________________________

Daniel Horgan is an occasional contributor to Transcend Media Service.  He is a student of renowned Peace Professionals, Johan Galtung & the late Dietrich Fisher.  He studied at the European Center for Peace with students from Israel and Gaza.  He has worked in conflict zones as an Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeper and has taught about peace and conflict issues in the US at the secondary level.  He created this factual video at the outbreak of the first major war in 2007 between Israel and Hamas: Israel palestine conflict video with text final version – YouTube


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Nov 2023.

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