Blinken lied through his teeth about Israeli and U.S. accountability to victims– that’s the real scandal

Daniel Larison made the central point about the Ilhan Omar controversy. People should be outraged about Antony Blinken’s comment and not hers.

“The real outrage in this exchange was Blinken’s claim that victims of U.S. and Israeli war crimes can get justice from the governments responsible for those crimes, because all of us, Blinken included, know that this isn’t true.”

Israel and the US are not accountable to their victims.  This is a question of power.   Proclamations about being democracies and having justice systems ignore the fact about their actual behavior.

When Blinken said that Palestinians can get justice through Israeli structures he was lying through his teeth.  

I believe, whether it’s the United States or Israel, that we both have the mechanisms to make sure there is accountability in any situations where there are concerns about use of force, human rights, etc. I believe that both of our democracies have that capacity

He simply wiped away all the facts gathered by all the human rights groups and this didn’t cause even a whiff of scandal. As the human rights group B’Tselem said of four Israeli attacks on Gaza over 12 years:

Despite the horrifying, lethal consequences of intentionally bombing civilian objectives – which constitutes a war crime – Israel has never been held accountable, or forced to pay any price, for implementing this policy.

Kamala Harris played a similar game in her response to a New York Times interview of the Democratic Presidential candidates in the summer of 2019.  Asked about whether Israel lived up to her human rights standards, she acted like she had no idea what the question was about– “What specifically are your referring to?”– but then answered that Yes it does. No scandal.

Instead, the entire uproar is about Ilhan Omar the troublemaker, the foreign antisemite who lacks patriotism  because  we can never discuss the obvious truth of her remarks but only what is supposedly wrong with what she said or how she said it. Now the rule is as it was for Jeremy Corbyn. You can have some discussion of Israeli apartheid in the press, but if it reaches the point where politicians start talking about it, they have to be Corbynized. We must speak of Israel and the US with reverence and just make passing hand-waving remarks about their imperfections.  

It never crossed the minds of most pundits or politicians or Democrats to be critical of Blinken’s pathologically dishonest response. His response was normal, entirely mainstream, precisely because Israel is an apartheid state and the US is a superpower and neither is accountable to their victims and we aren’t supposed to notice the lack of accountability.  

The idea that we have functioning justice systems is just part of the joke.  We do have systems and they function as they are supposed to, which is to prevent accountability on these issues.  And the entire mainstream reporting about Ilhan Omar’s heresy treats it solely as a political spat in which the Democratic Party establishment maintains discipline. The New York Times didn’t bother to ask Palestinians or victims of US bombs or sanctions or Steven Donziger (look him up) or human rights groups about US or Israeli or British or French accountability.  

The Germans only just got around to admitting their genocide in Namibia over 100 years ago.  They were only accountable for the Holocaust because they picked a fight with most of the rest of the West and the USSR and lost.  Were the Soviets accountable for their crimes or the West accountable for the crimes of centuries of imperialism?  Of course not.  

Accountability is not something that comes naturally to powerful people, whether in democracies or not.  A democratic society in theory allows for discussion and protest, but if the victims are not voters in that society or if they are an oppressed minority then those protests and discussions can go on for generations before any sort of change occurs.  This is so obvious from history it shouldn’t need pointing out, yet somehow in these mind-numbingly stupid American discussions about “ our democracy” and how it functions, people mysteriously forget what should be clear to a well read ten year old child.

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