Having a browse of Helen Clark’s tweets of late you could be forgiven for thinking she has no strong personal position on Gaza. A number of retweets, mostly from the BBC, that bastion of British conservatism, reporting casualties in Gaza does not a protest make. Sure she is not the Secretary General but she is in supposedly the third most powerful position at the United Nations and thus carries significant weight and media authority. Why therefore has she not strongly condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza?
Is it because she doesn’t think it’s appropriate, not protocol, not diplomatic? I’m sure the people of Gaza don’t think its “appropriate” they are being massacred.
Is it because, as has been widely reported in New Zealand, she is in the running for the top job when Ban Ki-moon finishes his term and doesn’t want to upset the US and its powerful client Israel? If that is so what are other nations that are so opposed to Israel’s actions (the vast majority) to make of a person who puts personal ambition before morality. Would not she strengthen her cause by breaking ranks or is US displeasure fatal?
Is it because it would be bad for her legacy, her reputation, her other future employment prospects? A number of celebrities are risking their future careers by speaking out forcefully. Musician and producer Brian Eno is the latest to invite vitriolic rebuke by penning an open letter. So too Spanish Hollywood stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. What about Desmond Tutu? Is there shame in Clark aligning herself with him?
Is it because she feels it would be grandstanding and counterproductive, that it is better to work diplomatically behind the scenes? Well Israel has thumbed it’s nose at this approach with US assistance for decades. That approach is long past a cop out. The most powerful response from the UN has not been it’s hierarchy but UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness
Martin Luther King Jr provides a great quote on silence in the face of oppression, suffering and yes, evil.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. – Martin Luther King Jr
And this is a cracker from Scottish activist Jimmy Reid;
Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” – Jimmy Reid
Harsh on Clark? Perhaps but if all those civilians, all those children in Gaza are not worth making a stand on, who is?