Moral Imperatives America Needs To Address

Back in June 2009, President Barack Obama stated clearly and categorically that providing Americans with affordable health insurance is not just an economic but a moral imperative. At that time he advocated, and appeared committed to, a so-called “public option” plan that would help create competition in the delivery of health-care… in contrast to the oligopoly status that insurers maintain today.

Nine months later, and with a clear showing of how America is governed – or at the very least legislated through a corporate-interests controlled Congress – a minimalist version of near-universal health-care, without a public option or even a formula to keep costs in check, is being signed into law while an unhappy, GOP-led part of America promises to fight the implementation of such legislation tooth and nail.

Signing of the diluted health-care bill by the President will take place tomorrow, March 23, the same day he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu on yet another diluted version of US foreign policy, and the always elusive prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Two clear opportunities, back to back, to look into this nation’s conscience and ascertain the moral imperatives for both the welfare of its citizens and for world peace.

Truth be said, our American government always seems to operate with a conscience-in-progress, thus circumventing any recognition or acknowledgement of moral imperatives. Forget about Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre or the Golden Rule! And so it happened with the one-year struggle in enacting second rate health-care legislation; and now in our latest surrender to the shaper of our foreign affairs’ conscience, Israel.

It is sad, while laughable, that Israel’s government announced plans to build 1,600 new homes in occupied east Jerusalem while officially welcoming US Vice President Joe Biden on a peace mission; this, one day after the Obama White House had hailed the beginning of indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. Our government’s indignation was said to be great… but for masochist America, when it comes to matters pertaining to Israel, only the anticipated protocol was to be heard. No condemnation by Congress or any other credible act, God forbid… just a verbal slap on the wrist as Bibi Netanyahu kicks our “God Bless America” ass!

A verbal slap that will a day later be taken back, as Hillary Clinton tells omnipotent and omnipresent AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Monday morning (3/22) that US commitment to Israel is “rock solid”… hours before Netanyahu tells this same powerful group, by omission, of his intransigent ways: refusing to give back occupied territories, accepting any part of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, ceasing and desisting in the continuance of more Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian land, and underlining the inappropriate time (too early) for the creation of a Palestinian state. No, Netanyahu’s tripartite approach to any negotiations (political, security and economic) appears as just another boondoggle for leaving things as they are today.

At present, about 8 percent of Israel’s population lives in occupied lands in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, giving Israel grounds for some type of future joint-governing; more so if an Israeli heritage plan announced in February is allowed to go forward. Both reasons and excuses have for years created a continuous impasse in getting to the negotiating table; that, together with the inability of the international community to force a resolution knowing that the United States is predisposed to listen only to what Israel has to say. Time after time the world community, via the United Nations, has condemned Israeli actions affecting the creation of settlements in occupied territories and the treatment of the Palestinian people; most recently, the inhumane manner in which Israel deals with 1.5 million Palestinians who live, as if under siege, in Gaza.

That brings us to the question: if the world at large sees the need for social justice for the Palestinians as a moral imperative, why is it that we do not? And the follow-up question: are we so righteous as to think we hold the truth in our hands, while the rest of the world does not?

Yesterday I was reading a statement by Kaiser Permanente, the not-for-profit health care organization to which I have entrusted my physical well-being. Under the title “Where we stand on health care reform,” KP gave in just a couple of hundred words an account of what health care reform should be. To them, affordable universal health care is, without saying so, a moral imperative.

There is a moral conscience, one that encompasses more than just Judaeo-Christian values, or those of other religions or philosophies. And there are moral imperatives that emanate from that moral conscience. Unfortunately, many Americans, often for selfish reasons, prefer not to address some of them… as in the case of universal health-care, or in social justice for the Palestinians now under Israel’s thumb.