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New Zealand Goose-steps Towards The Moral Abyss

With its decision to suspend or “pause” funding to the United Nation’s key organisation that is providing assistance to Gaza’s famished, desperate population, New Zealand could open itself up to a charge of participating in a genocide. I first read we had “suspended” assistance to UNRWA in the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, the Straits Times, Al Arabiya and on Radio New Zealand.

RNZ reported the Prime Minister as saying we will not make further payments to the UNRWA until the foreign minister is satisfied over accusations about its staff's involvement in Hamas' attacks. Winston Peters later issued a clarification saying we weren’t “suspending” but were going to do research before deciding if New Zealand would send a scheduled payment.

We take Israel’s charges against a few workers seriously, but we don’t give a flying fig about Israel butchering civilians in their thousands. President Biden called Israel’s bombing indiscriminate, but New Zealand hasn’t sanctioned Israel. Israeli troops, on camera, gunned down wounded people in hospital beds, shot dead journalists and civilians waving white flags, they have shelled hospitals, schools, mosques, crowds of civilians queuing for assistance and have cut off water, fuel and food to millions - and that hasn’t caused New Zealand to “pause, suspend, halt,” or do anything meaningful. Our actions tell the world who we are and what we stand for.

Aid agencies, UN officials, progressive Jewish voices and the bulk of humanity recoiled in horror and disgust as the powerful white-dominated broederbond of US, UK, Canada, Australia, Finland, Italy, and Germany defunded UNRWA following unsubstantiated allegations that a few staff may have participated in the October 7 attacks. By coordinating with these countries, New Zealand has acted in concert with genocide enablers.

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese said these countries were “most likely violating their obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

Participating in the coordinated withdrawal of funding and the undermining of UNRWA hugely advantages Israel and would risk our country being an intentional party to the commission of the most serious crime under international law. It’s a long fall from being one of the world’s more humane actors. No Arab, African or, with the exception of Japan, Asian country has joined this coalition of deplorables.

The move follows swiftly on our participation in the war on Yemen to punish the Houthis – who are disrupting Red Sea shipping in order to apply pressure to lift the US-Israeli onslaught on the people of Gaza.

Tamara Alrifai, a spokesperson for UNRWA, says their work is irreplaceable and life-saving. Their shelters provide support and limited protection to over one million people fleeing the Israelis' attacks.

Prior to last week’s International Court of Justice ruling against Israel, the Zionist state had not lodged any complaints against UNRWA staff. The charges relate to 0.04% of the agency’s workers.

The source of these charges was the current Olympic champion of lying, the Israeli war machine. Remember their story in October of beheaded babies? A lie that Joe Biden pretended he had seen evidence of, only to have White House staff correct him the same day.

True or false, no evidence has been provided about UNRWA staff, no charges have been laid, no admission of guilt forthcoming but the accusations alone have instantly been taken as scripture by these countries. All within 48 hours of the United Nation’s International Court of Justice finding that Israel has a credible case to answer for the crime of crimes: genocide. Coincidence or revenge?

“We are pleading to our donors … not to allow our humanitarian operations towards two million people to collapse,” Alrifai says.

This is collective punishment of a population. It places those countries involved in the pro-genocide camp – actively participating in starving a civilian population at the moment the UN says 500,000 Palestinians are at imminent risk of famine.

Ilias Bantekas, Professor of Transnational Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Qatar) and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, told Neutralities Studies this week: “This is a genocide that is being televised before our very eyes and we see the double standards of the West. The genocide is being continued by the actions of these states.”

Why New Zealand should actively stain its own reputation to support Israel to pursue a policy of extermination and ethnic cleansing is beyond me. Israel has moved so far to the right in recent years that it is unequivocally a fascist state. Where do New Zealand’s core interests lie in all this depravity, this association with grave crimes against the Geneva Convention? Nowhere that is discernible to me.

New Zealand was a better country when we charted a more independent course. The emptying out of anything decent in our foreign policy simply to fall in line with our imperial overlord has brought us to this: we are goose-stepping our way into a moral abyss.

EUGENE DOYLE is a community organiser and activist in Wellington. He received an Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian award in 2023 for community service. His first demonstration was at the age of 12 against the Vietnam War.

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