U.S. promotes double standards

T By Sana Ansari

the recent events around the globe have made it quite clear the world is not a safe place. Our planet has been inundated and marred by civil wars in South America and Africa, assassination plots against the interim government in Afghanistan and skirmishes between bordering nations like India and Pakistan. But the events that steal the international headlines are the ones that deal with President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” and “war on terror.” Among the car bomb attack on Bali’s nightclub, the believed terrorist attack on the French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, the shots fired at U.S. troops in Kuwait and North Korea’s admission that it has a secret nuclear program, somewhere embedded in the news is probably a fleeting statement about Palestinian deaths in refugee camps, which were infiltrated by Israelis as retaliation to Israeli deaths caused by a suicide bomber or simply as “self defense.”

As a keen observer of the treatment of world issues by the Bush administration, I see a clear, gathering and present double standard when it comes to Middle East issues.

According to the U.S. Department of State, in 2001 Israel received $840 million in economic aid and nearly $2 billion in military aid while the Palestinians languishing in refugee camps only received $400 million in economic aid. I vouch for economic aid, but why are tax-paying individuals paying for military aid to Israel? Personally, I have a moral objection to this military aid. Furthermore, the U.S. government attached conditions to Palestinian aid by overwhelmingly passing a measure cutting virtually all U,S, aid to the Palestinians if they declare statehood unilaterally. Knowing very well the controversy surrounding the status of Jerusalem, the U.S. government unilaterally approved a law – U.S. Jerusalem Law – calling for the U.S. embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The law stipulates Jerusalem must be referred to as the Israeli capital in official U.S. documents. How and why is U.S. unilateralism paramount to Palestinian unilateralism?

In 2001, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave human rights violations human rights. In 2000, the human rights group Amnesty International condemned Israel’s military tactics in the occupied territories, saying they could amount to war crimes. Amnesty research director Claudio Cordone stated: “If a kid is throwing stones at you but not posing any other risk, you don’t shoot him.” President Bush, in his speech to the United Nations last month regarding Iraq said, “Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape.” In April 2002, Israel stepped up its Palestinian arrests by arbitrarily detaining more than 4,000 Palestinians during its offensive in the West Bank. Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rebuffed calls for Israel to halt its offensive. Twenty-eight Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Palestinians were killed in a span of eight days during the Israeli offensive. Sharon said Israel was engaged in a war for its survival, that the army had to “finish the job” and that Israel would continue to operate against the terror and its infrastructure. Most, if not all, of the 100 Palestinian deaths in those eight days were civilians. How is it that the United States is blind to human rights violations committed by Israel but has 20/20 vision to the human rights violations committed by Iraq? Bush is wholeheartedly willing to go to war with Iraq based on points like human rights and the Iraqi desire to build nuclear weapons, but he says Israel’s human rights violations and its present nuclear arms capability, which it refuses to disclose, are “self defense.”

The most flagrant display of U.S. double standards comes in the wake of North Korea’s admission to having a secret nuclear program. The Bush administration has indicated it wants to try resolving the North Korean issue peacefully through negotiations and diplomacy. At the same time, the United States is rallying for war with Iraq because the Bush administration thinks it might develop nuclear weapons in the near future. Both North Korea and Iraq are included in Bush’s “axis of evil.” But how is it that negotiations and diplomacy are the solution to one “rogue” nation’s nuclear program and war for the other nation, whose nuclear program is yet to be developed?

I notice the double standards every day and realize that someday I will be put on trial to explain why I helped pay for the death of Palestinians, for the death of Iraqis and for the deaths of the Americans who will fight the wars for our nation. Neither my allegiance nor any immunity will matter in this court because I will be guilty of violating the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” because of the double standards of my one nation under God.

Sana Ansari is a recent University graduate. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]