UN A Surreal Comedy of Cowardice: American Analyst
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior American political commentator deplored the United Nations’ muted response to the Israeli regime’s recent killings of unarmed Palestinians and said the organization has become “a surreal comedy of contradictions and cowardice”.
“I think the response from the Netanyahu government (to Palestinians’ mass protests) reflects a kind of almost delusional arrogance that has been seen before, but rarely this starkly,” John Steppling, who is based in Norway, told the Tasnim News Agency in an interview.
He further deplored the UN’s inaction and said, “The UN has become a surreal comedy of contradictions and cowardice.”
Steppling is a well-known author, playwright and an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theater, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. He is also a regular political commentator for a number of media outlets around the world.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, Gazans staged a third consecutive Friday of protests along the border with the occupied territories, after mass demonstrations since March 30 that have sparked violence in which Israeli forces have killed 35 Palestinians and injured more than 1,500 others. For the past three Fridays, tens of thousands of Palestinians have gathered near the border at five main sites across the Gaza Strip for what has been dubbed the “Great March of Return”. Israel has responded with snipers firing live ammunition, as well as tank shelling and airstrikes. What do you think about the developments and the Israeli regime’s crimes?
Steppling: I think the response from the Netanyahu government reflects a kind of almost delusional arrogance that has been seen before, but rarely this starkly. They believe they are above all international law and they have a total indifference to world opinion. And Avigdor Lieberman, the defense secretary stated that nobody in Gaza was innocent. A normal government would not openly state something that is tantamount to an admission that Palestinians are meant to be eliminated. That is really the reality here. Of course, there were other statements, the usual posturing as victims, the usual attempt to blame Hamas or Iran or whoever, but these statements are made with little conviction. There is a kind of boredom almost in the Netanyahu government. They sound irritated that they have to shoot unarmed protesters. As I say, it is delusional...a collective delusion. Stanley Cohen wrote an article in which he said "Advancing itself as a democracy under siege, Israel has long since abandoned any pretense of equality and justice in its limitless thirst to seize what little remains of Palestine as it exalts a racist de jure Jewish state in its quest."
Tasnim: Israel has rejected international calls for probes into recent deaths and insisted that its open-fire rules for Gaza will not change. Some Western states, particularly the US and Britain, who call themselves champions of human rights, have supported the Tel Aviv regime’s crimes against Palestinians. The UN has also failed to restore the rights of the people. What is your assessment? What role can Muslim countries play in protecting the rights of the oppressed people of Palestine?
Steppling: The US response is utterly predictable. And the thing that has to be remembered here is that the US today is the Imperialist aggressor around the world, but particularly in the Middle East. The recent accusations against (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and the attempt to sell the obvious lie about a chemical weapons attack speak to a genuine insanity in Western leaders. James Mattis, the (US) defense secretary, is himself a war criminal who oversaw and covered up the massacre at Fallujah. A massacre in which white phosphorus was used. And yet a few years later Mattis makes speeches about civilizational norms and how this cannot be allowed to happen. In the UK, you see the same hypocrisy from Theresa May and Boris Johnson. The latter a wanton colonialist who is oblivious to global criticism. The UN has become a surreal comedy of contradictions and cowardice. To answer what can Muslim countries do, the short answer is to reject western Capital, and especially to reject any cooperation at all with the US.
Tasnim: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has recently said that Israelis “have the right to have their own land” and that formal relations between Tel Aviv and Riyadh could be mutually beneficial. Given the fact that the Saudi regime once opposed Israel’s right to exist, what do the comments signal to the world’s public opinion? Do the remarks have an impact on the oppression against Palestinians?
Steppling: Mohammed Bin Salman is a tool of Western Imperialism. It does beg questions about the recent palace coup that consolidated and increased his power. Who was behind that? Whoever it was, the reality is that Bin Salman is a cynical puppet of the US and NATO. The Saudis, of course, see the writing on the wall, too. Their medieval monarchy has no place in the 21st century if it ever had a place anywhere, and a restive population clearly has grown tired and angry with the royal family and their profligate hoarding of wealth -- they are not at all a secure regime right now. And the same can be said for the US, really, and to a degree even Europe. The Israeli state is naked before the world. Criminal, cruel, and determined to now seize all land and simply eliminate, by any means necessary, the Palestinian population. The horrors of this week ...whether acknowledged or not, will haunt the conscience of the West in the same manner the genocide of Native Americans still haunts them. Eventually, such states will finally collapse. And we may be witnessing the first stages of that collapse.