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The White House, the Empire, the forked tongue and the withering institutions of International Human Rights  


The Native American people have a saying about their white masters who became the founding fathers of American democracy as we know it today. “The white man speaks with forked tongue”. It behoves people the world over to pay serious heed to this wisdom of the Sioux sages. The Sioux natives of America were willing to share the land and resources with the invading settler colonialists but instead were virtually wiped of the face of the earth by their colonizers. The Sioux natives were honourable, spiritual, creative, free and loving but they were opposed to imperialism and capitalism. In the words of Crazy Horse, one of the greatest leaders of the Sioux Resistance to American Colonialism “You cannot sell the earth upon which people walk”. The Sioux were a God conscious people, in tune with the land that they inhabited and the Creator who created their souls. Hence they believed that all of the land, which is God’s creation should be shared by all of the people, whom God created equally. A libertarian socialist economy if we are to use contemporary political language is what they believed in and lived by. They were massacred en masse by the white man and his forked tongue. In the haunting lyrics of Pocahontas, Neil Young captures this “Paddles cut the water in a long and hurried flight. From the white man to the fields of green, and the homeland we’ve never seen. They killed us in our teepees and they cut our women down, they might have left some babies crying on the ground”

Crazy Horse and the Native Americans refused to surrender to the colonialist and instead of capitulation and collaboration chose the path of martyrdom and resistance. Though there was no military parity whatsoever between the native people and their oppressors, in such a situation they chose the route of Hussein, to fight and die for freedom, dignity, truth and justice rather than live as slaves to oppressors. American democracy was founded on the victory of colonialism and capitalism over native libertarian socialism and a military defeat and annihilation of the native people.   South African democracy was founded on the electoral victory of the national liberation movements of the native people of South Africa. While both the United States and South Africa are electoral democracies, the ideological roots of our democracies are worlds apart to put it mildly.

As South Africans with a progressive national consciousness, we stand in solidarity with all national liberation movements and the oppressed, native and first peoples the world over from Africa, Asia, America, Palestine, Canada, New Zealand and Australia etc. whose rights were violated by white settler colonialism. In the current conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, people should not be surprised that the majority of South Africans stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. From the Government to the ruling party the ANC as well as former national liberation movements like the PAC and Azapo, the Trade Union Movements and the biggest black and socialist opposition party, the EFF.

Today the institution of the “white man” that the native Americans warned us about is the institution of the White House.  Not too long ago in order to justify the American Invasion of Iraq, The White House had the world believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that the secular Iraqi Baathist Government of Saddam Hussein worked in collaboration with Al Qaeda. Everyone now knows that these were lies manufactured by the US administration to manufacture consent for the invasion of Iraq and an Imperialist Islamopobic war.  Since October 7th the US government has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli Zionist government in its aggression, war crimes and genocide against the Palestinian people, shamelessly parroting the line and lies coming from Tel Aviv. President Biden, a self-proclaimed Zionist even tried to discredit the number of the Palestinians killed and when the names and identity numbers of the Palestinian dead were publicly released, there was no retraction from Biden and his administration. Palestinians will never forget nor forgive Biden and the US administration for their complicity in the genocide and war crimes committed against them.

There is currently some hullaballoo about a shift in direction in the language of the White House which some interpret as a change in the US policy and position. President Biden has recently said that too many Palestinian civilians have been killed. Vice President Kamila Harris said that the number of children killed is “devastating”.  Has there been a change in policy and position? Is the White House concerned about Palestinian civilians and is it seeking to stop the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian children or is again another expression of the forked tongue of the White House.

The United States of America is the world’s only superpower. After more than eighty days and 21 000 Palestinian deaths, the majority of them women (6400) and children (8000) the US government is vehemently opposed to a ceasefire. The General assembly which represents all of the countries of the world voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ceasefire with 153 countries calling for an immediate and permanent cessation of the war. But the US government opposed the resolution for a ceasefire. The world watched embarrassingly as the raised American lone hand of shame in the United Nation opposed the ceasefire. The United States, Uncle Sam, the only superpower in the world is acting like it is God on earth. The people of the world and all the countries of the world demanded a ceasefire but the United States opposed it in its blind support for Israel.   The United States of America is a Superpower, it is not an NGO. Yet when it says that far too many Palestinian civilians have been killed and Israel must do more to protect Palestinian civilians, its words are softer and weaker than any limping NGO on the planet when it comes to Israel’s violation of International law and human rights of the Palestinians. Is there anyone that really believes that America cares or is concerned about Palestinian lives?  While expressing concern for Palestinian lives, the American government is providing political and diplomatic cover for Israel and simultaneously financing Israel and providing it with weapons which are being used to slaughter Palestinian civilians.

There is a most definitely a schism between the governments in the U.S and the U.K and their citizenry. The people of these countries have demonstrated in their millions that they are against the war and want an immediate ceasefire. It’s a difficult dance for the political elites in the U.K and the U.S who are Zionist absolutists, providing unconditional support to Israel and recently expressing words of concern for Palestinians.

Feigning concern for Palestinians and struggling with a crocodile tear UK foreign secretary David Cameron and his German counterpart Annalena Baerback penned a recent op-ed and began with the words “As parents it breaks our hearts to see so many children killed or wounded. Each death of an innocent one since October 7 is a tragedy”. Later the forked tongue, reveals itself “But our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today”…..” Let us be clear we do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate ceasefire hoping it somehow becomes permanent is the way forward”.

Their own words evidences their doublespeak. They express the love of a parent for a Palestinian child and at the same time give the green light to the IDF to continue killing Palestinian children and provide arms to Israel to kill Palestinians.

Human Rights Watch on Dec 12, through Yasmine Ahmed reported “The UK provides at least 15% of the components in the F-35 stealth bomb aircrafts currently being used in Gaza’. “The Uk should follow its own laws and immediately suspend licences for arms and military equipment to Israel”.

Josh Paul a staff member in the US state department resigned because of the US selling arms to Israel to commit war crimes in Gaza. “It is my opinion that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza right now”.

The US government usually makes public its weapon sales to Ukraine but keeps its sales to Israel secret. Bloomberg published a leaked pentagon document that the U.S. has delivered 200 hellfire missiles that can be launched from Apache helicopters as well as others including 36 000 rounds of 30 mm cannon ammunition, 1800 of the M141 requested bunker buster munitions and at least 3500 night vision devices.

Lloyd Austin, U.S defense secretary told the senate “We are flying security assistance to Israel at the speed of war”.

Several high ranking officials in the US government are deeply connected with the military industrial complex which profits from wars and the killing of people. Lloyd Austin is a former board member of Raytheon, the military contractor that co-produces Iron Dome receptors with the Israeli Company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Zionist Anthony Blinken co-founded West Exec Advisors in 2017 which has apparently worked with military contractors and Israeli companies. Blinken according to his own financial disclosure has advised the defense contractors BOEING. BOEING recently rushed to transfer 1000 smart bombs and 1800 GPS guided bomb kits to Israel.

Let’s not kid ourselves. If the US wanted to stop the violence, it could have done so and it should have done so. It hasn’t because Israel wants to go on killing. If the United States was concerned about humanitarian wellbeing about Palestinians, it would have ensured that all the humanitarian aid goes through to the people of Gaza, it hasn’t because Israel does not want aid to go into Gaza.

The U.S has done everything in its power at the UN to advance the cause of Israel. Its conduct at the UN Security council vis a vis the most recent security council resolution has been described by leading human rights organisations as callous and disgraceful. The original resolution called for a cessation of hostilities. Israel was having none of it as it wants the war to continue. The US threatened to veto and the other countries in the Security Council tried to appease the United States and came up with a watered down version calling for ‘Urgent suspension of hostilities to allow for safe and unhindered humanitarian access and for urgent steps towards a cessation of hostilities”. This too was not agreeable to the U.S as under no circumstances could the Israeli’s agree to stop killing Palestinians. The final draft that the US agreed to not veto called for “creating conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

This resolution in practice offers hardly any relief to the 2 million displaced and starving people of Gaza and simply preserves the status quo, giving a green light for Israel to continue with its war crimes and genocide on a starving and displaced people. It is noteworthy that since the passing of this resolution, Israel has persisted with its hooliganism and has been killing at least 200 Palestinians every day and increasingly demeaning and dehumanizing the poor people of Gaza as they raid homes of citizens and strip civilians and parade them in public spaces. Former chief of the IAEA Mohammed El Baradei said that the U.N. resolution ‘is not worth the paper it is written on”.

Oxfam’s Scott Paul derided the resolution and said ‘There’s no point in bringing in flour if you can’t bake bread with it”. Oxfam has called the failure to call for a ceasefire utterly callous and a profound dereliction of duty from an organisation established to uphold the UN charter to make peace and protect lives. Amnesty International’s general secretary Agnes Callamard has called it “Disgraceful that the U.S was able to stall and use the threat of its veto powers to force the U.N. Security Council to weaken the much needed call for an immediate end to attacks by all parties”.

If insisting that there be no ceasefire and Israel be allowed to kill more Palestinians is shocking beyond belief, the U.S takes it support for Israeli barbarism even further.  The Original UN draft called for the United Nations to exclusively monitor all humanitarian relief aid to Gaza. But the U.S would have none of it as Israel would not be involved in the decision making process. The resolution was amended again to comply with the US demand to give Israel control over aid going into Gaza. Yes the same Israel that has cut of food, water and electricity from Gaza and which according to Human Rights Watch has used starvation as a weapon of war against Palestinians.

According to the UNICEF report of December 23, there are 1.2 million people of Gaza experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity and more than 80% percent of the young children of Gaza are experiencing severe food insecurity Right now when two million Palestinians have been displaced, forced to live like animals as dictated by the Israeli Minister of Defence, deprived of water, fields without privacy, Israel has been given the licence to massacre and starve the Palestinians.

The US has done absolutely nothing to save one child’s life in Gaza but rather has in fact done everything within its power to allow Israel to continue its policy of infanticide, killing a maximum number of Palestinian children and starving the entire population of Gaza. This genocide will be written in red, in the blood of the children of Gaza. It will indeed be a red reminder of a red reality that no none will forget.

What is the result of the US bullying conduct in the United Nations? It has delegitimised the United Nations in the public mind. Human Rights optimists who have always been calling for the reform of the United Nations are hanging their heads in shame. The United Nations is not a democratic institution. The resolutions of the General Assembly are non-binding. Only the Security Council which has five permanent members with a veto can pass binding resolutions. Therefore the decision making process of the United Nations is anti-democratic and dictatorial. It is also plainly racist. There are no black or Muslim representatives among the five permanent members of the Security Council which is the decision making body of the U.N.

The United Nations has presided over suffering of millions of black and Muslim lives. Since its inception in 1948, millions of innocent black and Muslim people were slaughtered under European colonisation. For more than 75 years after Palestine was wiped of the map of the earth, Palestinians have been colonised, oppressed by Israel and resisting the Israeli occupation in their heroic struggle for self-determination.

In this context where international humanitarian law has been cast to the wind by the most powerful governments of the world. In this background of hypocrisy and double speak which has given the genocidal green light that the South African government has led the way by referring the Israeli genocide to the International Court of Justice on the 29th December 2023 stating that “Acts and Omissions by Israel are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group”. South Africa has asked the court to order Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza which is necessary to ‘protect against further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people. International Human Rights is being championed and advanced here in the global south while the Wild West has been exposed for talking human rights but walking genocide.

Iqbal Suleman

Suleman is a social justice lawyer and former head of the law clinic for Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria.