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Western Hypocrisy: Crimea and Israeli War Crimes


Vacy Vlazna

The velocity with which the US and EU imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its  annexation of Crimea is equal to the mass of hypocrisy on Israel’s creeping annexation of Palestinian land through colonial-settlement expansion held to be a war crime “falling into the provision of Article 8 of the International Criminal Court statutes.”

Following the overwhelming vote by Crimeans to secede from the Ukraine and join Russia in the rushed  referendum on Sunday 16th March, Obama, on Thursday 20th March, 2014 ordered a second round of soft sanctions targeting a list of  key Russian officials, businessmen and bankers sending  some ripples of instability through Russia’s stock market compounded by threats of harsher measures.

Unfazed, the following day, President Putin, formalised the annexation into law which was then passed unanimously by the Russian parliament. In parallel, the EU and the Ukraine signed  a  security and defence co-operation agreement with the added sweetener of reduced tariffs to boost Ukraine’s debt-ridden economy.

Countering the large Russian troop presence on Ukraine’s eastern border, the US raised the stakes in the sabre-rattling game, when the Pentagon cancelled a military exercise, Atlas Vision, in Russia  announcing the inclusion of US forces in the multinational military exercise,  Rapid Trident that will be held soon in the Ukraine, ostensibly motivated  to improve Ukrainian military interoperability with NATO forces.

When, in 1947, the UN  grappled with the idea of partitioning Palestine, it was rejected, outright and rightfully, by the Palestinians. Nor were the entire inhabitants under the British mandate  granted a referendum, as were the Crimeans, on the matter because the indigenous population far exceeded the  Zionist immigrants whom the international community favoured. So when Israel unilaterally declared the state of Israel, after  massacring unarmed  Palestinian children, women  elderly and men, destroying over 675 villages and  forcefully deporting 750, 000 terrified Palestinians, the West did not impose economic sanctions nor lift a military finger to redress the grave violations of international law then, nor over the 67 ifollowing years of recurring war crimes.

Furthermore, the West ignored Israel’s unilateral annexation, on 28th June,1967, of East Jerusalem , including the Old City, that placed its Palestinian residents under Israeli jurisdiction, administration and illegal occupation as well as ignoring Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights. Both annexations have been deemed invalid by many UNSC Resolutions  such as 478, 269 and 497 – all rejected  by Israel who 47 years later relentlessly expands its annexation drive by the expansion of its settlement colonies.

On 20th March, while the Ukrainian crisis unfolded, the Israeli Civil Administration, with Putinesque arrogance, defied the Israeli-Palestinian peace process demand for a settlement freeze, by announcing the approval of more than 2000 housing units  in the illegal West Bank settlements.

Today there are 121 colonies plus 101 offshoot outposts subsidised by the government of Israel and supported by monies from Jews worldwide through rich Zionist organisations  like the apartheid JNF ‘charity’  whose provision of illegal settlement housing and leases on stolen Palestinian lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively”. Moreover JNF’s racist policies and illegal operations are tax-exempt in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Jewish settler militia
Jewish settler militia

Almost half a million illegal colonists reside in the encroaching settlements. They have the right to bear arms, enjoy  the impunity to act as government militia under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces  Systematic settler oppression includes torching fields, uprooting thousands of fruit and olive trees, damaging property, arson, poisoning sheep, defacing graves and mosques, illegal squatting, water and farmland contamination by diversion of sewerage, throwing sewerage on Palestinian passer-bys, road blocks, attacks on schoolchildren and school buses, intimidations,  beatings, shootings, deliberate hit and run, vile verbal abuse, racist and threatening graffiti.

IDF on Al-Aqsa compound
IDF on Al-Aqsa compound

Over the recent months of the peace talks, provocative assaults by settler and military activity against the Al- Aqsa mosque has heightened fears of  Zionist desecration and  judaisation of the Haram Al Sharif marked for the site of the Jewish Third Temple as demonstrated in the  propaganda film featuring Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Billions of dollars to fund the Third Temple are set aside and ready to literally blast away the beautiful Dome on the Rock and the holy Al Aqsa Mosque which are under daily threats by excavations below and above by the Zionist religious and settler zealots impervious to the inevitable repercussion of a regional Muslim conflagration.

The judaisation of East Jerusalem is fundamental  to Israel’s annexation master plan to unite East and West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The relentless coercion of the dispossession and displacement of Palestinian residents is executed by the Israeli government, the Municipality of Jerusalem and Elad, the right-wing settler organisation through the revocation of residency rights,  absentee property laws, discriminatory taxation policies, home demolitions, transfer of Palestinian residents,. In short –  ethnic cleansing in  direct violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons is prohibited.”


Every day, with every brick laid in the colonial settlements, a war crime is committed as Palestine shrinks before the eyes of the world.The very same eyes that have been indifferent to and complicit with 67 years of the longest brutal occupation in modern history have suddenly flared with indignation for the Russian annexation of the Crimea implemented with the blessing of the Crimean people.

It is not only the people of Palestine who are are injured by the political hypocrisy of Western leaders, all of us are the losers when international law is cynically and deliberately abused and disregarded.

First published in Al Jazeera

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters and editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of  Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

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