Shirin Abu Akleh: Lawyers say the US is not an ‘objective observer’

Washington DC – Amid billions of dollars in annual US aid after the assassination of Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Abu Akler, voices are growing that the US should “look in the mirror” and re-evaluate its unconditional support for Israel.

The U.S. State Department has called for an “immediate and comprehensive” investigation into the killing of US citizen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank this week.

But US-based activists say such statements ignore Washington’s “involvement” in Israel’s human rights abuses.

“Calling for an investigation when US officials really need to look in the mirror is very deep, deep hypocrisy and irony,” said Elias Elias, communications director for Ifnat Now, an American group of youth-led anti-youth leadership. .

“When it comes to supporting hardline politicians who unconditionally support the Israeli government, they must look in the mirror and in fact our unconditional funding is an important factor in enforcing these human rights violations by the Israeli government.”

President Joe Biden and his top aides have repeatedly pledged not to limit US aid to Israel, which is worth $ 3.8 billion a year.

Jinan Dina, national organizer of the US-Arab Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADC), said Abu Akhle became the leader this year after Omar Asad, 78, died in custody. Was the second American citizen to be killed by Israeli forces. West Bank in January

Dina said her government did not consider it a defense when Palestinian-Americans like her went to Palestine to visit their families.

“We are Americans, we pay taxes and the money is really being misused to bring our families home and the Palestinians back home,” Dina told Al Jazeera. “Most of us are too scared to go [to Palestine] This year. ,

US ambassador ‘very sad’

On Friday, Israeli forces stormed a funeral procession for Abu Akleh in Jerusalem, raiding mourners and coffins, and tearing down the coffin of a slain journalist.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken said the footage of the attack had caused a worldwide sensation and that he was deeply concerned about the images. “Every family deserves a dignified and uninterrupted rest for their loved ones,” he tweeted.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US special envoy to the United Nations, also said she was “deeply saddened”.

But Thomas Greenfield made it clear – before the US Senate confirmed him in office last year – that protecting Israel from UN criticism was one of his top priorities.

Israel has been America’s No. 1 ally in the Middle East for decades, and presidents and legislators on both sides have demonstrated their strong commitment to the country. In addition to providing $ 3.8 billion a year in aid to Israel, Washington added $ 1 billion this year to “refill” the Iron Dome missile defense system after the May 2021 conflict in Gaza.

In this context, Maya Berry, executive director of the Washington-based think tank Arab American Institute (AAI), made it clear that Washington was not playing a fair role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are not an objective observer here,” Berry said in an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this week. “We fully support the state of Israel in committing these abuses.”

In recent years, progressive activists and US lawmakers have tried to limit aid to Israel or to condition an end to the aggression on the Palestinians, but the push has largely been limited to the Democratic left.

As a 2020 candidate, Biden dismissed the idea of ​​controlling aid to Israel as “strange,” which Senator Bernie Saunders defended in the Democratic primary that year.

Following her election to the presidency, her key aides, including Vice President Kamala Harris, pledged not to limit aid under any circumstances. The situation has not changed, even with major human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Israel of Palestinian Racism.

“The US government has committed Israel’s war crimes because of aid, unconditional support, and blank checks given to them,” Dina told Al Jazeera.

“The United States is 100 percent in agreement with Israel on these abuses.”

A Palestinian man rides a bicycle in front of a mural in Gaza City in honor of Abu Akleh [Mohammed Abed/AFP]

Legislative effort

Last year, Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCallum introduced legislation to prevent Israel from using US aid to abuse human rights.

The resolution has 32 co-sponsors, but it is subject to legislative process beyond official presentation.

McCallum told al-Jazeera: “The killing of any journalist is a tragedy, but the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shirin Abu Akler, who is covering the occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government, is a crime that requires accountability and results.”

“I call for a ban on US aid to Israel so that our taxes do not fund major human rights abuses – if Israeli security forces are responsible for Shirin’s death, this restriction must be strictly enforced.”

Omar Badal, a Palestinian-American political analyst, is well-known among Americans, especially Democrats, for imposing US aid on Israel, according to opinion polls (PDF).

He told Al Jazeera, “However, in a political climate that influences Israeli lobbying policies, in a US-backed political climate, our political class is dominated by old perspectives that never question Israeli support.”

However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Israel’s human rights record.

“But we must continue to build it and increase public pressure until it translates into a real policy change,” he said.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlieb has denied US aid to Israel following an attack on Abu Akle’s funeral on Friday.

“It’s an illness. Violent racism, facilitated by $ 3.8B of unconditional US military funding,” she wrote on Twitter, in response to footage of Israeli officials beating Abu Akleh’s coffin with a stick.

“Racism in Israel” [government]Shirin’s life does not matter – her humanization continues even after her death. ,

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