Clintonites in Democratic Party Back Settler Colonialism (Not a 1905 Headline)

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Clinton loyalists debating the Democratic Party platform have defeated an amendment that would have called for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and condemned Israeli squatter settlements illegal.

The Democratic Party, in other words, backs the principle of colonialism no less than if it declared that the British should take back over India, that French commandos should storm the presidential palace in Algiers, or that the US army should march through the streets of Manila and reoccupy the Philippines. Maybe, in fact, the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party would like to rescind the Declaration of Independence and accede to the United Kingdom? With Scotland talking about leaving, there might be a place opening up, and we could get the redcoats back to harass us.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) was not originally illegal in international law, since it grew out of the 1967 Six-Day war, and wartime occupations are a recognized legal category.

However, the Israeli government has not abided by the most basic provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which include:

“the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.


“Art. 49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

Israel expels Palestinians all the time, and does things like cut down their olive trees or undermine their village wells to encourage them to leave. All this is illegal. The relatively high rate of Israeli incarceration of stone-throwing children has to be considered a latent act of hostage-taking. Israeli troops invade people’s homes all the time without a warrant and there are allegations of theft on occasion. Palestinians are routinely humiliated on a daily basis. There are allegations of torture of Palestinian prisoners. Recent Israeli practices whereby knife-wielding resisters to occupation are shot dead even if disarmed and helpless or even if easily disarmed directly contravene (d) above. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the Swedish foreign minister for even daring complain about it. The Israeli establishment is openly contemptuous of the Geneva Conventions, which were passed to forestall the recurrence of the abuses and atrocities committed by the Axis powers during World War II.

The Hague Regulations forbid collective punishment. Israel routinely blows up the homes of Palestinian resistance fighters even if their families had no idea of their plans. That is not the only sort of collective punishment in which Israel engages.

Moreover, the Geneva Convention and its 1907 predecessor, the Hague Regulations, do not envisage occupations lasting for 50 years. They category is for the short term, during and immediately after the war. In fact, one of the actions forbidden to the occupying power is to alter the status of the occupied population. It even should have had to maintain Palestinian judges appointed by Jordan and allow them to rule on the law in accordance with 1966 statutes. Israel has occupied the 4.2 million Palestinians in Palestine for so long that their 1967 statuses are completely unrecognizable.

Most important, Art. 49 says,

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

So the hundreds of thousands of Israeli squatters on Palestinian land are engaged in an illegal act, an act which is aided and abetted by the Israeli government and by the government of the United States.

So, this is no longer a legal occupation. It has evolved into a permanent colonial Apartheid society, with the Palestinians left stateless and without basic human rights and ruled or besieged by the Israeli military. South African Blacks who lived under Apartheid and have visited the West Bank have in tones of horror pronounced the Israeli system much worse than Apartheid had been in white-ruled South Africa. It is an intolerable hell on earth with no end in sight.

If the Democratic Party can’t even just state that the Israeli squatter settlements are illegal, which is what the US signed on to when it ratified the Geneva Conventions, then it should change its name to the Colonial Party.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Cornel West: For Too Long, the Democratic Party Has Been Beholden to AIPAC [CC]

19 Responses

  1. The Democrats held a sit-in at the US Congress in protest of their liberal gun laws, so many Americans call for the tightening of gun control after every mass murder, if only they were not blinded by the media today, they would feel the need from similar outcries, for a review of US military support to Israel after all the crimes committed against Palestinian civilians.
    The Foreign Assistance Act allows president Obama to “Substantially reduce or terminate security assistance to any government which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
    Have you heard, IT, kills boys and girls and, IT, hides their bodies? wait till you know what, IT, is. It is not a clown, though Netanyahu’s smile is a clown’s smile, the IDF soldiers of Israel kill people, woman, men, and children. If the shot doesn’t kill them IMMEDIATELY , they wait for DEATH. They hide the bodies so the suffering relatives can’t have closure and the need for revenge. If elected President, Hillary Clinton promises impunity for Israel as Obama has, indeed and in silence.
    It is beyond belief, my own country, the United States of America could be the backbone of such crimes against humanity. Bernie Sanders is the only one to crack the tightest sealed horrors of LIFE in Palestine, a very small crack for media consumption. And who would believe that President Obama, John Kerry and most all of the U.S. press would provide cover for, IT….

  2. Definition of rogue state in English:
    rogue state
    A nation or state regarded as breaking international law and posing a threat to the security of other nations.

    Is there any question that Israel is a rogue state? Prof Cole sez the Dem party should change it’s name because it supports a rogue colonial power. But really both parties, the Congress and the Executive branch of our government ALL support this rogue colonial state. So, Prof Cole, what should we call our government? or our country?

  3. Israel has such a powerful hold on US political life that using the words “democratic”, “republican”, “free” has become a mockery.

  4. No need for name change; DParty means oppression, imperialistic war, poor education and health services, kleptomania and oligarchy. . . .
    Thanks for calling this psychopathy out.

  5. The problem is that all international law is subservient to politics. And when it comes to competition in domestic elections, international law means virtually noting. Recall both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates (Kerry and Bush, in 2004) said they would ignore the ruling of the International Court of Justice that the wall built by Israel on the east side of the Green Line was illegal under international law.

    Indeed, it was a political process that created the UN in the first place. And it was created by the victors of the Second World War, as was the Nuremberg Tribunal.

    That’s just the way it is.

    Israel has absolutely no respect for international law, believe the UN is biased against Israel, and, in any case, stands opposed the deeper and more profound law that Jews are entitled to ethnically cleanse historical Palestine because of Jewish historical rights. This Mr Netanyahu has enunciated this attitude many times.

    • wjm: “Indeed, it was a political process that created the UN in the first place. And it was created by the victors of the Second World War, as was the Nuremberg Tribunal.”

      The UN isn’t a judicial body, wjm. It is – and always has been, and always will be – a political forum.

      If you don’t believe me then ask this simple question: can the UN “make” international law?

      The answer is “no”.

      International law is either created by states signing treaties wherein they agree to be bound in some way (“international treaties”, of which the UN Charter is itself a classic example) or by their behaviour being so consistent and so widespread that this behaviour is regarded as a custom (“international customary law”, of which the Hague Regulations are a classic example).

      But the UN can’t create either treaties or customs, precisely because it is not a state: it is a public forum where states shout at each other and, yes, occasionally act in a common cause.

      • Resolutions passed by the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly become part of the body of International Law as do precedents established by by international tribunals of which the Nuremberg Tribunal was the first.

        A part of the UN is the International Court of Justice, which meets at The Hague, as is the recently incarnated International Criminal Court.

        The UN Security Council may determine the existence of threats to the peace or breaches of peace and may authorized the use of force or apply economic or other sanctions in cases of breaches of the peace.

  6. I have to admit my statement about Hillary Clinton showing her real policies on November 9th was wrong. She and her accomplices are already making it obvious we will have a dystopian future under a president Hillary, but Donald Trump is no better.

  7. Yes to all Juan says. Also, ultimately Israel’s violent appropriation of others’ lands and sadistic treatment of the people they’ve isolated and oppressed, leaving them also stateless and without any true legal recourse whatsoever, will spell Israel’s downfall and doom in one way or another, and for all the right reasons.

  8. As long as a large majority of our nation believes that Jesus will return in Jerusalem this will not resonate among voters.

  9. This is so terribly disturbing and distorted . If the US would withdraw its support of occupation and genocide, the illegal actions of Israeli government could not survive. US cowardly support of Israel’s war crimes will haunt those who are complicit as a crime in itself. US and Germany are notorious enablers.

  10. I once heard an interview with an American academic who was teaching at the University of Auckland New Zealand. He said that international law was pretty much a joke in U.S. universities (which is why he migrated to NZ). So it’s not just the politicians unfortunately.

  11. “…and we could get the redcoats back to harass us.”
    Be serious, man. This time, we colonize them.
    Burn the palace and everything. It’s be fun.

  12. The democrats are only better than the republicans. They have been described as symbiotic. I have been hopeful of the republican disintegration since palin arrived. I am more hopeful now. Possibly when the republicans disintegrate the democrats will melt down and new parties rise up. This is as far as I can go.

  13. Defeating a platform motion opposing Israeli settlements does not of itself guarantee support for them. However, it does cast a light on the much broader issue of US double standards. The greatest problem for the US in the next administration could prove to be Europe drifting away. The signs are not hard to discern and some of the more aggressive support postured by European leaders could be to balance a growing groundswell of public impatience which at its most basic might be summed up by a quote from a disgruntled UK soldier: Why should we fight America’s wars for them. It’s scarcely possible the US is unaware of this and some consider the moves to build up NATO are the means by which the US seeks to maintain control of the European theatre.

  14. Thanks to Juan Cole for this brave position in defense of the Palestinian people. It will surely be seen as antisemetic by those trying to cleanse “their land” of those unfortunate enough to have been born there, even if their forebears have been there for millena.

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