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State Of Our Union Reality Check

By Eileen Fleming

27 January, 2011

On 25 January 2011, during President Obama’s State of the Union speech he said, “America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we have begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.”

On 25 January 2011, Chief Correspondent for Channel 4 News in the UK, Alex Thomson reported on Israeli filmmaker Nurit Kedar regarding her film Concrete, in which former soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead allowed themselves to be named and they stated how their commanders would "psych up" the soldiers before an operation so they were ready to shoot indiscriminately.

One soldier said "he was told to shell every house in a neighbourhood" but the official The IDF/Israel Defense Forces reported "its operational orders during the war emphasized 'proportionality' and 'humanity.'

In the report aired on Channel 4 News, thirty-year-old Shay who was in the Elite Combat Unit, appeared "disturbed by taking over the house of a wealthy Palestinian family to fight Operation Cast Lead. He recalls being disgusted that Israeli conscripts had already defecated all over the bathroom of this family house. The family photos had been scrawled over. Graffiti was on the walls saying, ‘long live Israel.’ All the time we were there you could sense this family with us. Meaning they were there. All the clichés. There was a wooden rocking horse, I remember, you’d be on guard and next to you there's a wooden rocking-horse."

24-year-old tank commander Ohad stated, "The order was very clear that if a car came within 200 metres of me I could simply shoot at it. Shoot a shell at it. We needed to cleanse the neighbourhoods, the buildings, the area. It sounds really terrible to say 'cleanse', but those were the orders...I don't want to make a mistake with the words." [1]

I don’t want to make any mistakes with words either and the work that must be done is to cleanse hypocrisy in high places and open the eyes of the American government to their culpability, if we are to ever again be ‘moral examples that shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity’ for only then can we say with integrity that "American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored."

On April 3, 2009 the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council commissioned a fact-finding mission "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after."

The Council appointed the Jewish Justice Richard Goldstone, a South African Constitutional Court judge and the former chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Justice Goldstone issued the 575-page report on September 29, 2009 and the Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza which began two days after Christmas day in 2008, when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.

Over 5,000 Palestinians were injured, 400,000 were left without running water, 4,000 homes were destroyed, rendering tens of thousands who are still homeless because of Israel's targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.

The 22 days of Israel's attack on the people of Gaza was enabled by US-supplied weapons and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America's Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.

During the 22 days of Israeli assault on Gaza, "Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza."[2]

In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.

"Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza," provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.

"Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.

"Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.

“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died." [Ibid]

During the 22 days of attack on Gaza, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called "self defense."

America is the worlds largest arms supplier to Israel and under a Bush negotiated deal with Israel-which Obama signed onto during Christmas time 2009, we the people who pay taxes in America will now also provide another $30 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.

In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza warned the world:

"Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry...people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.

"Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles...Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate...Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.

"Gaza cannot sleep...the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!"

In his State of the Union Speech, President Obama said "the Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending." Obama also said he is "willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without...We cannot win the future with a government of the past...Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility, and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs."

Let us be clear that engagement in the 21st century requires “a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures." - William Fulbright

Only when America uses our might to do right will it be reality that American leadership has been renewed and America’s moral standing restored



1. http://www.channel4.com/news/israeli-soldiers-ordered-to-cleanse-gaza

2. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/9-us-arms-used-for-war-crimes-in-gaza/

Eileen Fleming, A Citizen of Conscience for House of Representatives, Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org, Staff Member of Salem-news.com, A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com , Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010


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