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US suspended aid to Egypt after it slaughtered civilians — why not Israel?

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You surely know that the White House in its wisdom has condemned the Israeli shelling of the U.N. school in Gaza that killed 15 or 20 civilians or more (accounts vary). Obama’s press secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday that Israel wasn’t living up to its high standards:

But the shelling of a U.N. facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.  And it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves.

Meantime, Navi Pillay of the UN Human Rights Council made a statement that was far stronger; she said such attacks have occurred time and time again, and she called for international legal accountability for Israel at last, or there would be more schools blown up (thanks to Phyllis Bennis):

For the past week I have been looking at the previous fact-finding missions. They’re all out there, the same kind of attacks occurring now on homes, schools, hospitals, UN premises.

None of this appears to me to be accidental. There have been clear warnings issued to Israel by these very eminent commissions of inquiry. Plus follow-up commissions of inquiry.

Therefore I would say they appear to be defying, deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel. We cannot allow impunity. We cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on.

Every legal system, every just system in each one of our countries is based on the principle that to avoid a recurrence of crime, you investigate, prosecute & punish.
That has not happened here.

At the State Department briefing yesterday, the reporters to their credit heard the official line of condemnation and then many of them asked, What’s next? If you watch the briefing’s first half hour, you will hear one reporter after another ask whether there aren’t going to be consequences for Israel’s action. Many of them ask about suspending aid: That’s what you did with Egypt when it slaughtered civilians. There’s a sense in these questions that there may be growing public pressure on the administration to do something, that some newspapers and public figures (I almost wrote politicians) will call for suspending aid.

Here are some excerpts of the reporters’ questions, with the occasional response from Marie Harf of the State Department.

QUESTION: Are there any policy implications for this?… I mean is it business as usual with Israel after you’ve condemned this shelling? … I mean [the] overall U.S. relationship with Israel. Is there any consequence to the fact that this happened, or are you saying this is a bad thing, we condemn it, but let’s move on, everything else can remain normal? And I say this in the context of this approval ..last week or whenever it was — of the – right, of the additional ammunition…

QUESTION: Do you – are you – do you know at – if any point during the review at the State Department, if even a concern – if any concerns were raised about this transfer?

MS. HARF: I am happy to check. I am not aware of the internal discussions that were had around this until the decision was made, but I can check with our folks…

QUESTION: By continuing to resupply ammunition that is being used in this conflict, what – you say that you’re concerned about the civilian deaths, most of which these deaths are civilian deaths. But don’t you think that those two aims are working at cross purposes?…

QUESTION: How do you think that continuing to supply ammunition is not furthering this conflict?

MS. HARF: Because that’s a simplistic reading of what this military-to-military relationship is like. We resupply allies and partners and friends that we have a military-to-military relationship with when there are requests to do so. That is an ongoing process and a fairly routine process

QUESTION: But when you – when the Egyptians were cracking down the civilian population earlier this year or last year, you quietly suspended resupply to them.

MS. HARF: They are totally different situations, Elise.

QUESTION: Well, why is it totally different?

MS. HARF: Wholly different situations. Our relationship with Israel – our military-to-military relationship is a very strong one….where, as you know, we suspended a large amount of assistance after what happened politically in Egypt.

QUESTION: Fine. But isn’t part of that strength of the relationship being able to say that we think that –… the asymmetry of this conflict is getting out of hand?…

QUESTION: Have they said that they’re not going to use this latest batch of stuff that you’re giving them in the current conflict?…

QUESTION: Do you not worry about the optics of  American-supplied ammunition being used in Gaza and possibly causing even more deaths? Does that not – in a situation where the American reputation in the Arab world is already not great — do you not worry about those optics?…

QUESTION: But Marie, on a – from a policy perspective, when you just said in answer to Elise’s question how different it is from Egypt, can you explain how it is? Because at the time, I remember State Department saying that we have a very strong military-military relationship with the Egyptian military… But it took – the Administration took a long time and then finally suspended delivery of items specifically because they were upset about how those items were being used against a civilian population…

QUESTION: But how – why is it wholly different from what we’re looking at now in terms of weapons being used against a civilian population, which you’ve said is a concern to the Administration?..

MS. HARF: Well, in Egypt, they were using them against their own people. In Israel, they are using them against a terrorist organization to fight a terrorist organization, which we believe is in legitimate self-defense. That’s different, say —

QUESTION: But causing mass civilian casualties —

MS. HARF: Which we’ve said they need to take more steps to lower those numbers.

QUESTION: But using —

MS. HARF: So, A, those are —

QUESTION: — supplies that the United States is continuing to provide —

MS. HARF: I understand the crux of your question, but they’re not comparable situations. In Egypt, you had a government cracking down on its own people. In Israel, you have a government fighting an external threat that’s coming from Gaza that is from a terrorist organization. Those are in no way equivalent situations.

UNRWA is saying that Gaza is on the verge of collapse. There is no power. There is no water. The hospitals are not working, or working on a very minimal power supply. Everything is falling apart. Are you concerned that we are maybe on the verge of a huge human catastrophe there?

I’ve seen about six or seven instances where the Israelis have said that they saw rocket fire coming from that area, and the targets that ended up being hit were not legitimate Hamas targets.

Well, there are places for them to go, but then those places are being targeted also.

is there any thought, given the fact that these – it is so densely populated, that these people have nowhere to go, that even the places that they are going in shelters are being targeted, is there any consideration of any type of safe haven places where you can send these refugees?

So I haven’t heard discussion about that. But look, we believe there should be safe places for civilians in Gaza, period.

You seemed to say that in – the context was different because in Egypt, the Egyptian military was going after its own civilians, or Egyptians and that Israel is different because it’s defending itself from an outside threat. So can we just limit this to the civilian – innocent civilian casualties? There were some in Egypt, people who got caught up in thePeople who, as the government was cracking down on violence or whatever – that people got caught up. I don’t understand how it’s okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people – I mean, it’s not okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people, but it is okay  to kill innocent civilians —

MS. HARF: We condemn all civilian casualties.

QUESTION: Are they not comparable in terms of your arms transfer regulations, or are they not comparable at all?

MS. HARF: The situations are just actually not comparable at all.

QUESTION: Okay. So —

MS. HARF: Some of the same principles may apply at times in both, but the situations are just not comparable.

QUESTION: Marie, if you —

MS. HARF: They’re just not at all.


QUESTION: — is there any consideration on any level of reconsidering the delivery – not the contracts, but the delivery – of any military supplies to Israel right now? I mean, it’s not without precedent to withhold certain armaments because you don’t like the way they’re being used.

MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard….I think we’ve been clear that we are committed to our security relationship with Israel.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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33 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on August 1, 2014, 11:45 am

    Thats not right, they stopped it temporary.
    You think the pro-israel sisi are not going to get his weapons from america?

    • Another Steve on August 2, 2014, 7:53 am

      Yes, the aid was stopped temporarily, which is why the reporter used the word “suspended,” which any good dictionary will tell you means “stopped temporarily.”

  2. Kathleen on August 1, 2014, 12:20 pm

    We know the answer. In the minds of leaders and other power brokers in the U.S. “slaughtered civilians” are not equal. Selective application of moral standards applied unfairly.

    Can you imagine if the equivalent percentage of Israeli’s were being killed as Palestinians in the Gaza. 1500 Palestinian civilians out of 1.4 million?

    • Hostage on August 2, 2014, 10:58 am

      We know the answer. In the minds of leaders and other power brokers in the U.S. “slaughtered civilians” are not equal. Selective application of moral standards applied unfairly.

      Well her response was utter bullshit. “22 USC § 2378d – Limitation on assistance to security forces” says:

      No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act [22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.] to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

      Whether you are targeting your own citizens or not has nothing to do with it. It’s a damn disgrace that the official State Department spokesperson misstated the applicable law on the subject of her own Department’s legal duty so badly and deliberately. This situation demands some follow-up from the press corps.

  3. Qualtrough on August 1, 2014, 12:23 pm

    It’s just different when it comes to Israel. That’s why CNN says Hamas ‘kidnapped’ a soldier, Kerry says he was ‘abducted’, and the White House says it was a ‘barbaric’ violation of the ceasefire. How they can say that after Israel kidnapped and abducted something like 700 Palestinians after the three teens were kidnapped is beyond me. So it is ‘capture’, ‘arrest’, or ‘detain’ if Israel does it, and ‘abduct’, ‘kidnap’, or worse if the Palestinians do it. Got it. And ‘barbaric’ is a term used to describe the capturing of a soldier, but inappropriate to describe the slaughter of 300+ children.

    • annie on August 1, 2014, 1:09 pm

      good pt. btw, i just read an article on haaretz that explained to the israeli people this soldier is a prisoner of war and should be considered as such.

      • Walid on August 1, 2014, 2:19 pm

        Annie, by exception, this time it was not Hamas bragging for all to hear that it had captured a soldier and by exception, Israel was not the one to pretend that an abduction hadn’t actually occurred.

        The capture of the soldier was announced BY ISRAEL, within a couple of hours of it allegedly having happened on Friday morning.

        Hamas is saying that it will not confirm or deny this news, which is rather stupid of Hamas.

        Analysts at Jazeera are now saying that the story released by Israel is starting to have a fishy smell to it. Israel immediately posted a photo and bio of the allegedly abducted soldier which is equally fishy. That the guy is related to the Defense Minister makes it even more so.

        After they’ll finish destroying the rest of Gaza, they should be miraculously freeing the captured soldier.

      • annie on August 1, 2014, 2:31 pm

        interesting walid, thanks.

      • Kay24 on August 1, 2014, 5:22 pm

        Walid you make such a good point. This may be yet another Israeli lie, similar to what happened to the 3 kids who were killed. Perhaps they already know he was killed, or this is sheer zio fabrication to intensive and level Gaza entirely, killing anyone in the way. Knowing how they operate, it is highly possible to blame Hamas, once again.

        No one but the US Congress pretends to keep believing these devious prevaricators.

    • Justpassingby on August 1, 2014, 1:18 pm

      not to mention israel was the one breaching it by attacking Gaza not the other way around.

    • Kay24 on August 1, 2014, 1:30 pm

      When it comes to Israel, it is always lopsided. The occupation is never mentioned, the kids who were killed during the nakba anniversary are never mentioned, the number of civilians killed by the fence is never mentioned, the kids who are kidnapped at night and thrown into jail by the hundred are never mentioned by these US officials. Are they that terrified of Israel, and it’s control, that they conveniently seem to forget these facts?

    • Hostage on August 2, 2014, 11:24 am

      It’s just different when it comes to Israel.

      No, the only exception to the Secretary of State’s duty under “22 U.S. Code § 2378d – Limitation on assistance to security forces” is:

      The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.

      There’s no stipulation that says the security force has to be violating the human rights of its own citizens. The same obligations apply to the Secretary of Defense under Section 8507 of the 2014 Omnibus bill

  4. sandhillexit on August 1, 2014, 1:22 pm

    “Dear colleagues,
    It is very bad situation in rafah, half of rafah neighborhood left their homes and now in Streets, as no transportation available.
    Even no more unrwa shelters opend.
    The scary is widely as no safe placein all gaza strip.
    I received many families in my home.
    I will update you soon.”

    • annie on August 1, 2014, 2:48 pm

      sandhillexit, please do. i have heard over 40% of the strip is now off limits.

  5. cogit8 on August 1, 2014, 1:34 pm

    – – – – – – -ISRAEL- – -HAMAS
    Civilians – – 1250 – – – – -4
    Soldiers – – – 250 – – — -60

    Based on the above score:
    Which army is the most “moral army in the world”?
    Which army exhibits more bravery?

  6. Atlantaiconoclast on August 1, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Because too many are afraid of being called anti-Semitic, and/or fear AIPAC. And among some Jews, I think there is a supremacist element, or they feel guilty speaking out against Israel.

  7. richb on August 1, 2014, 1:50 pm

    The aid to Egypt “cut” was just for show. We always stand on the side of exterminating civilians, always.

    • Justpassingby on August 1, 2014, 2:24 pm


      Exactly, strange that Mondoweiss doesnt know this obvious fact.

      • annie on August 1, 2014, 2:36 pm

        strange that Mondoweiss doesnt know this obvious fact.

        i always love it when know-it-all armchair analysts take quotes (or headlines) out of context to pillory us on what we supposedly do and do not know.

        Many of them ask about suspending aid: That’s what you did with Egypt when it slaughtered civilians. There’s a sense in these questions that there may be growing public pressure on the administration to do something, that some newspapers and public figures (I almost wrote politicians) will call for suspending aid.

        needless to say, any astute reader can see phil is addressing what was said in the press briefing, not writing an article on our history w/egypt. i’m so looking forward to jpb commenting “strange that ALL THOSE REPORTERS don’t know this obvious fact.”

        no fun in that!

      • Qualtrough on August 2, 2014, 12:43 am

        Annie, don’t let it get you down! I think I speak for most here when I say that you, Phil, and other writers are doing an excellent job. Thank you!

      • annie on August 2, 2014, 2:00 am

        thanks Qualtrough. sometimes it does (get to me). we do a lot of work here.

      • Justpassingby on August 2, 2014, 3:52 am


        Yes obviously it gets to you when proven wrong, you are like 70 yrs old, act like that you cant whine about this forever by stopping my comments here.

    • Walid on August 2, 2014, 11:57 am

      rich, it wasn’t only a one-time show, in fact it’s an annual ritual that has been ongoing ever since 1979 when Egypt became the second highest beneficiary of American foreign aid. Under the US- Israel-Egypt 3:2 deal, part of the 2 billion comes by way of USAID, about $400 million annually for education and improvement of life conditions and is subject to internal USAID/State Department directives that compel the suspension of foreign aid to any aid recipient country in breach of human rights conditions. Each year, the full funding to Egypt goes through with exception to the last $100 millions or so because of defaults in Egypt’s HR situation that provokes a holdback for a couple of months until Egypt makes promises to remedy what’s wrong and to which the held-back amount gets released by USAID, but Egypt does nothing about the defaults until the following year when the usual suspensions kick in around the 9th month, the usual promises are given to USAID and the usual release of heldback funds even though promises are not kept. It’s an annual ritual. Sorry I can’t find the source anymore. The following CRS 2008 report somewhat goes into it and describes the holdbacks but without the part about the charade.

  8. Boomer on August 1, 2014, 1:51 pm

    We all know the answer, and it is contemptible. It is based on power, politics, and dehumanizing the Other. Among the techniques employed is the characterization of the Palestinians as terrorists. See, for, example, Glenn Greenwald:

  9. desertsaffron on August 1, 2014, 3:08 pm

    It is absolutely disgusting. The US government can’t even abide by it’s own constitution. How can they say they are committed to protecting civil liberties and at the same time be complicit in crimes against humanity? Hypocrits. Is it not because of the number of rich and high ranking Zionists in the US. Their hands are covered in blood and history will remember!

  10. DICKERSON3870 on August 1, 2014, 3:50 pm

    RE: “US suspended aid to Egypt after it slaughtered civilians — why not Israel?”

    MY RETORT: In the midst of prime time for raising money for the 2014 elections?!?! Money the Democrats desperately need in order to have any chance of holding on to the U.S. Senate!?!?
    Get serious, dude!!!

  11. piotr on August 1, 2014, 5:47 pm

    walid: “The capture of the soldier was announced BY ISRAEL, within a couple of hours of it allegedly having happened on Friday morning.

    Hamas is saying that it will not confirm or deny this news, which is rather stupid of Hamas.”

    The reality is that Hamas fighters cannot communicate by phone, the only way they could possibly operate is as independent groups that coordinate through the use of couriers. As long as Rafah is under barrage, the communication is sketchy at best.

    Moreover, they already announced a capture of an IDF soldier, only to have the group that did it obliterated together with their prisoner. If there is a live prisoner, a premature disclosure that he lives can be a death sentence.

    • Walid on August 2, 2014, 3:24 am

      piotr, it’s actually about the whole story of the abduction being bogus and simply another 0f Israel’s gimmicks to continue on with its atrocities. In another post elsewhere, there was mention of Lieberman having met Arab leaders in advance of the current assault on Gaza to discuss and fund it and the worst of it, this planning meeting to assault Gaza appears to have taken place before the bodies of the 3 teens had been discovered. The link about Lieberman and Dahlan meeting in Paris in the Gulfinthemedia article is on the “Children killed in their sleep” thread. Theories on what is really going on behind the curtain are a dime a dozen.

      • Justpassingby on August 2, 2014, 5:13 am


        Surprised your comment was approved (you are right of course), Mondoweiss seems to deny any link between arab dictators and israel on the Gaza issue.

      • Walid on August 2, 2014, 5:44 am

        News from Richard Silverstein’s blog is saying that the Israeli soldier was being dragged away by Hamas after a suicide bombing that killed 2 other officers and that Israeli soldiers under the Hannibal Israeli thing, opened fire on both the Hamas guy dragging the soldier as well as on the soldier himself to kill him. This horror story went on to say that immediately after having shot the Hamas fighter and the Israeli soldier, Israel carpet-bombed anything that moved in the area to ensure the soldier was dead and killed 50 Palestinian civilians in the process. That’s sick.

  12. Justpassingby on August 2, 2014, 7:59 am


    Surprised that your comment was approved (you are right of course), Mondoweiss seems to deny any link between arab dictators and israel on the Gaza issue.

    • Walid on August 2, 2014, 10:02 am

      JPB, I don’t think it’s so much about not wanting to talk about Arab issues or involvement as much as it’s about covering issues centered on Israel. Maybe Israel is the navel of the universe as mentioned in the Bible and we haven’t accepted it as fact.

      The dubious circumstances covering the death of the 3 teenagers including the possibility that Israel had been aware of the deaths long before they were actually discovered have been discussed here but not at great length. What I added was that Lieberman was reported to have held a meeting with Arabs to discuss the impending attack on Gaza before the bodies were discovered, which shows that if true, it could mean that the attack on Gaza had been in the pipeline long before the 3 teens were abducted and killed.

      It reminded me of Cast Lead that had been in preparation for almost a full year before it started and how Livni had gone to Arab capitals to give them advance notice that Israel would be attacking Gaza. Before Cast Lead kicked off, Israel hired former UN ambassador Gillerman to head a special PR unit of the MFA to train all foreign embassies and missions on how to blitz the TV networks radio and print media with Israel’s propaganda message when Cast Lead would actually kick off. Lieberman’s pre-Protective Edge talks with Arab leaders was exactly the same as Livni’s pre-Cast lead tour and Egypt this time around was exactly like the Egypt of Cast Lead making sure to keep the Rafah gates shut and not allowing in any needed medical supplies. Same shit happening but different players involved; instead of Mubarak you have al-Sisi, instead of Foreign Minister Livni you have Lieberman and instead of war criminal Olmert you have war criminal Netanyahu.

  13. Vera Gottlieb on August 2, 2014, 11:26 am

    How so typical Washington: preaching morality from the pulpit of hypocrisy.

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