Why won’t the US investigate Israeli violence against US citizens?

The US has failed to advocate for justice for those of its citizens injured or killed by Israel.

Tess Scheflan ActiveStills

Earlier this month, fifteen-year-old Tariq Abukhdeir, a US citizen from Tampa, Florida, was savagely beaten by undercover Israeli police in the Shuafat neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The attack was caught on video, showing Israeli police repeatedly kicking and punching Abukhdeir in the face and head as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

According to the Palestinian human rights organization Addameer, Abukhdeir was arrested without charge and denied urgently needed medical attention and access to his family for five hours. He was released on bail after three days in Israeli jail and placed under house arrest before returning to Florida on 16 July.

On 5 July, the US State Department called “for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force” in Abukhdeir’s beating. However, in previous instances of Israel injuring and even killing US citizens, the United States has pressed similar demands, only to have Israel thumb its nose at its benefactor.

History of attacks

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old activist from Olympia, Washington, was run over and killed by an Israeli soldier operating a militarized Caterpillar bulldozer as she nonviolently attempted to prevent a Palestinian home from being demolished in the Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003. Although the Israeli government promised the United States a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation into her death, the State Department informed the Corrie family that the Israeli investigation did not meet these standards.

But instead of taking up her case, the US government left the family to its own devices, counseling the Corries to “use the Israeli court system” to seek accountability. The case is now on appeal at the Israeli high court, after a lower court ruled against the Corrie family, blaming Rachel for her own death.

On 5 April 2003, Brian Avery, a 24-year-old activist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was shot in the face in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin by Israeli soldiers who fired machine guns from an armored personnel carrier.

Tristan Anderson, a 37-year-old activist from Oakland, California, suffered permanent brain damage after Israeli forces shot him in the forehead with a high-velocity tear gas canister as he observed a protest in the West Bank village of Nilin in March 2009.

Furkan Doğan, an 18-year-old Turkish resident born in Troy, New York, was killed aboard the Mavi Marmara in the Mediterranean Sea on 31 May 2010 as a flotilla of international activists attempted to break Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and to deliver humanitarian goods. The United Nations’ General Assembly Human Rights Council found that Doğan was killed by Israeli naval commandos in an “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution,” shot five times, including a shot to his face at “point blank range.”

Broken promises

According to documents obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) through a Freedom of Information Act request, State Department officials were promised by the Israeli foreign ministry that “each incident” on the flotilla involving US citizens “would be thoroughly and transparently investigated by appropriate GOI [Government of Israel] agencies and that information from those investigations will be made available to the [US government] as soon as they are available.”

CCR concluded, however, that “the Israeli government at every step of the way declined to provide the US government information regarding the investigation,” which was eventually released without “any information about how and under what circumstances Furkan was killed.” Nevertheless, as of February 2013, the Obama administration still had not “conducted its own investigation into the killing,” instead continuing “to defer to the Israeli government’s investigation,” according to CCR.

The same day that Israel killed Furkan Doğan, 21-year-old Emily Henochowicz of Potomac, Maryland, participated in a protest against Israel’s attack on the flotilla at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem. An Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister at her face, causing her to lose an eye.


Israel’s pattern of injuring and killing Americans has drawn a woefully inadequate response not only from the White House, but from Congress as well, and is symptomatic of the broader impunity the United States affords Israel to commit systematic and egregious human rights abuses against Palestinians and anyone standing in solidarity with them.

A resolution introduced in 2003 by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) called for a US investigation into Rachel Corrie’s killing and garnered 77 co-sponsors but died in committee. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a resolution in 2010 merely calling on the United States and Israel to “intensify their cooperation in determining the circumstances” of Tristan Anderson’s injury; it gained a paltry four co-sponsors.

A US Senate report accompanying a 2011 appropriations bill would have required the State Department to report on actions taken “to conduct thorough, credible and transparent investigations” of these and other incidents in which US citizens were harmed by Israel; however, this reporting requirement was rendered moot since Congress failed to pass separate appropriations bills that year.

It is atrocious enough that the US government has failed in its most elemental duty to advocate for justice for those of its citizens injured or killed by Israel. This disgraceful position is even more scandalous given that the weapons used to injure or kill these Americans was, definitely in some and potentially in all of these cases, provided to Israel by the United States as part of its more than $3 billion per year military aid package. Thus, ironically, the US taxpayer is funding the Israeli military to injure and kill US citizens with US weapons with the US government failing to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

Last month, after US forces apprehended Ahmed Abu Khatallah — suspected of involvement in the attack on State Department and CIA installations in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans — President Barack Obama declared unequivocally “that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans.”

It is high time for the United States to end the double standard that affords Israel impunity to injure and kill Americans and to see that justice is done for them.

Josh Ruebner is the author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Policy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.




We are the cowardly lion. We are ruled in our government by a cabal of Israeli Firsters and Christian Zionists, neither of which have an ounce of human decency between them. Israel may believe they are somehow prevailing, but in the end it will be the downfall of zionism. Look at the riots and demonstrations taking place all across Europe and the USA against Israel. Anti semitism is on the rise and that is not a good thing, but it is a product of the behavior of Israel.


What do you mean by anti-semitism? We know that a lot of jews oppose the Israeli occupation too. This is not about being anti-semitic, this is about being anti-zionist.

If the US truly cares about the plight of the oppressed people in Palestine and the death & injury suffered by its own citizens who had been attacked (as according to this article), the first action it should carry out is withdraw their military aid package to Israel. The American public should at least protest about this, if they don't want to protest about the Israeli military attacks on civilians, because that's money they pay in tax to be spent on their own country and their own people... not to buy weapons for arming another country.


To Josh Ruebner and Maggie:

The reasons for US policy are eloquently described by Naseer H. Aruri in
his brief book DISHONEST BROKER. While I feel his remedies are often
characterized by absurd illusion there is no better dissection of US
policy covering US Administrations of both US parties. To Aruri's careful
dissections, I have nothing to add.

Incidentally, he does stint in his devastating criticism of Yasser Arafat.

His analyses do not include (as they should) the policies of the
present Administration. With the wisdom of hindsight, these policies
are clear to many of us. They were not clear when Aruri penned his

Peter Loeb, Boston, MA


I respect and support your organization. Why are you ignoring the 34 fatalities and 171 causalities caused by Israel aboard the USS LIBERTY in 1967?


You forget the massacre of US soldiers on USS Liberty in 1967 (more: www.gtr5.com). Israel army killed 34 marines of USA on that ship and got away with it.


One of the best writers to document Israel's bad behavior is Alison Weir at ifamericansknew.org. She also wrote the book Against Our Better Judgment which is well worth the read.


Why does it surprise anyone that Israel acts with such impunity and aggression, with no fear of consequences, when its main ally and benefactor, the United States, has set such a stellar example?
Both nations were founded on inane religious principals (Zionism and Manifest Destiny) that advocated genocide against the native peoples and resulted in near complete land-theft.
Neither nation has ever had to answer for their commission of war crimes because the "victors" never are, are they? What if it had been Japan or Germany who had dropped nuclear bombs on civilian American populations? WAR CRIME, that's what. What if the North Vietnamese had dropped napalm on American villages....well, you get the picture. The UN is utterly controlled by the United States and the United States is utterly controlled by Israeli interests.
The world would be better off without either of these countries, Israel and the U.S., in existence, and yes, I am an American.


To Gypsy:

Thanks for your comment. It was mostly on target although I doubt Israel and
the US will disappear. (I am an American too!) I unfortunately feel that energies
toward such ends are ill-used and perhaps counterproductive. (Not only do we critics have less money but we also have limited energy.) [I find BDS an excellent
strategy, especially for those of us outside Gaza.]

The term "manifest destiny" is appropriate only for a part of US history. Thomas
Jefferson threatened Native Americans who did not follow his orders with
"extermination" in an 1807 letter to his Secretary of Defense. The religious
"Puritans"/"God's Afflicted Saints" used other terminology. As Michael
Prior CM has pointed out there are roots not only in the Bible but
in other colonial enterprises (eg Crusades, Portuguese and Dutch
colonizations etc.). (See Michael Prior CM---- THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM: A MORAL CRITIQUE.)

I see the "Gaza crisis" as an extension of Zionism's extermination wars against
indigenous residents (in this case Palestinians and other groups, in biblical
words "Canaanites" and others, in Netanyahu's words "biblical concerns".
Michael Prior goes into these aspects in detail. I have alluded to them elsewhere in these comments.

I can only express my profound admiration for the resistance groups.

Of course, it is absurd to blame such groups as the cause----even indirectly---
of the conflict. Israel and the US are the causes in more ways than space
permits here. I do not support a Muslim state. But still I welcome many
groups into a strong resistance to actions of terrorist states such as Israel and
the US. In WW II even Zionists were welcome in resistance movements although
not all were Zionists. Most so-called Zionists were collaborators with the Natzis in organizations such as the"Judenrat" or "Council of Jewish Elders".

Peter Loeb, Boston, Massachusetts,USA


It is a simple affair that started on 9 June 1967 with the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. It was pre-meditated and the legal council for the Navy was informed about political interference from the top to whitewash the issue.

The first duty of a government is to protect its citizens. The first duty of the USA government is to provide political, economic and military cover for Israel which is a strategic asset in a region in the middle of the world, with still the biggest reserves of oil and gas.

The lives of USA citizens are just incidental. Sorry.

Unless of course the citizens wish to take back the state.


I'd like to point out that the greatest slaughter committed against Native Americans---meaning the most deaths resulting---occurred between the end of the US Civil War and 1900, and that the term MD was employed by the likes of Ulysses S. Grant.


To Gypsy:

Despite the fact that you are "not verified ---nor am I--- thanks for the informantion
on numbers of Native Americans slaughtered.

Because the process of slaughter of indigenes has a long, long history
(part of which documented in Michael Prior CM, THE BIBLE AND
COLONIALISM: A MORAL CRITIQUE), I will stick basically to a long-term
view. The story of Native Americans is particularly relevant (including
the "Manifest Destiny" part as you note) to the Zionist extermination in
Palestine. Its basic outlines are similar to many other colonial events over many
Prior pays particular attention to Zionism and wrote parts of this work in
Palestine. He also covers religious roots in Portugese, Spannish, Dutch Reform
(apartheid), and the Crusades. There are others and each has its unique

----Peter Loeb