7 June 2011 — Electronic Intifada
The Government of Israel, which has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967, has stated its intention to complain to the United Nations over the march from Syria on the occupied Golan Heights yesterday. At least twenty persons are reported to have been killed by Israeli fire during a protest marking Naksa Day or the 1967 occupation of Arab lands.
The Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said it would lodge a complaint regarding the Syrian government’s “manipulation of its own citizens to generate violent incidents at the border” yesterday.
The Israeli government is also exploiting the Syrian government’s brutal use of force against protesters in the country in its attempts to evade responsibility for its use of lethal force yesterday:
“Syria is trying to divert attention from the massacre that [Syria] is carrying out against its citizens with the provocation on the border,” a senior official said. “We sent messages in recent days to both Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon prevented the protests, but Syria decided to carry out a provocation.”
Israel has evaded accountability for the execution of passengers aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla this time last year, its wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure and massacring of Palestinians in Gaza during the winter 2008-09 attacks, as well as during the 2006 war on Lebanon, and basically every crime against humanity it has perpetrated since its establishment.
The US’s support of Israel both financially and diplomatically — as evidenced by Congress’ shameless prostration to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address in Washington last month — creates the upside-down situation of Israel crying foul at the United Nations about Syria when it is Israel which gunned down unarmed protesters in Syria attempting to approach the occupied Golan Heights yesterday.
Indeed, during a press briefing today the the US State Department blamed Syria for yesterday’s deaths of demonstrators by Israeli fire:
As we did previously, we condemn what appears to be an effort by the Syrian Government to incite events and draw attention away from its own internal issues. And it’s clear that such behavior will not distract international attention on Syria’s – the Syrian Government’s condemnable behavior on its own citizens. And I just would add that Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself.
State Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner had nothing to say about Palestinian refugees’ rights or the rights of Syria to regain control of the Golan Heights.
During the same press briefing, a reporter asked about Munib Masri, a US citizen who was critically wounded when Israeli forces opened fire during the Nakba march in Lebanon last month. Once again, the US State Department spokesperson evaded the subject:
QUESTION: I’ve got one more on the Middle East here. Last week, I asked you a couple times about this American citizen, Munib Masri, who was shot by –
MR. TONER: Right.
QUESTION: In the – when you –
MR. TONER: And we didn’t get to that on Friday, did we? You didn’t ask me again on Friday. We didn’t talk about.
MR. TONER: Okay. No, it’s okay.
QUESTION: Why, do you have more?
MR. TONER: I just know that he’s –
QUESTION: Because the last answer I got from – the last answer I got from you was that he hadn’t signed a Privacy Act waiver and you –
MR. TONER: Yeah. That’s – okay, that’s what I was wondering if I had –
QUESTION: Well, in fact, both he and his family say that they were never asked to sign a Privacy Act waiver. And as you know, this is something that’s vexed me for many years.
MR. TONER: I understand your –
QUESTION: And so I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to ask CA to ask the Embassy in Beirut if, in fact, they gave Mr. Masri the opportunity to sign a Privacy Act waiver; and if they did, whether or not they recommended that he sign it or not sign it, or they offered no recommendation.
The press briefing transcript goes on between the reporter and the spokesperson about the privacy act and that part of the discussion is concluded with:
QUESTION: Can you just reply on the waiver? Just is that a common procedure for everyone – everywhere?
MR. TONER: For every American citizen, obviously.
QUESTION: Every American citizen, anywhere?
MR. TONER: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. TONER: Normally how it works is whenever we visit an American citizen who is a – I mean, normally it’s when they’re being held in prison or whatnot. We would present a Privacy Act waiver with them that says – there’s various forms of Privacy Act waivers. But the one that we’re most concerned in this room with is whether we can talk to the media about their case.
QUESTION: Change of subject.
MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead …