‘Declined to Comment’


No comment










‘Decline to comment’ is the most versatile expression that can be used when policies were knitted in the dark.



One of the most interesting frequently consumed terms in media is ‘declined to comment’. When such term is used in stories related to protecting personal privacy, one understands why that person ‘declined to comment’. I do sympathise with individuals harassed by some media colleagues who insist on squeezing the yeast out of people to ferment the gossip columns. But when the ‘declined to comment’ is used in political articles, and when the matter is related to policies, one can be sure that there is a fishy thing going on behind closed doors.


Readers are often offered incomplete information, and spreading such limping news is certainly going to benefit some devious people somehow, regardless of the different possibilities emerging from such propaganda.


The term ‘declined to comment’ is not as it sounds like. One should not be mislead to think that the person who declined to comment does not know what is going on.


Sometimes the same person who declined to comment happens to be the same person behind leaking the information he is been asked about. I know that this might not seem common sense, but no one can claim that politics has to make sense. As a matter of fact most of the time it does not, and it is not meant to.


‘Decline to comment’ is the most versatile expression that can be used when policies were knitted in the dark to steal something, or when a certain rotten plan has fruited big scale damage. Let’s look at an example where ‘declined to comment’ has been used lately.


On Thursday Jul 24th 2008 we read:

The US has declined to comment specifically on Israeli plans to expand a settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley but says that in general such talk was not helpful. “We don’t think talk of additional settlements is helpful. I don’t know about that particular settlement,” said spokeswoman Dana Perino. While an Israeli official said “We are currently in the process of constructing 20 housing units in the Jordan Valley settlement of Maskiot”

So, the mighty US declined to comment not because it has no knowledge of such plans. But because no fig leaf in the whole wide world can cover its shame. What could the US comment in such occasion?


US aid to Israel surpassed a cumulative total of $90 billion this year according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service. No one with an intelligence of a frog will believe that the US did not know where American tax payer money is going to be spent on in Israel.


According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in the first half of 2005, there was a 28% increase in settlement housing compared to the same period in 2004. And on December 26, the Ministry of Housing released tenders for the construction of 228 housing units in the West Bank settlements of Beitar Ilit and Efrat; on December 19, the Ministry of Housing published tenders for constructing 137 new housing units in the West Bank settlements of Ariel and Karnei Shomron; and on December 14, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz’s approved the construction of approximately 300 new homes in the West Bank settlements of Maale Adumim, Bracha and Nokdim. And the spread of settlements is still going on. The Israeli government also has made it clear that, it plans to build 3,500 housing units in E-1 and to include Ma’ale Adumim and E-1 on the western side of the wall. Should any one dare to question what is going on; of course US speakers will decline to comment.


How can the US justify that? There are millions of Palestinians living in exile now because Israel forced them out of their homes, driven them out of their country, and stolen their lands.


How can the US not decline to comment on that, knowing that since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of US foreign assistance? According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service report, “Israel: US Foreign Assistance”, US aid to Israel in the last half century has totalled a whopping $81.3 billion. Should one ask the US officials how much they contributed to build Jenin, the city that was bombed and levelled to the ground by Israel?


How much help did the US offer the Lebanese after Israel has wiped most of their cities? I guess the answer expected to be heard is ‘declined to comment’.


Israel remained the top recipient of US military and economic assistance. The most commonly cited figure is $3 billion a year, with about $1.8 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants from the Department of Defence and an additional $1.2 billion a year in Economic Support Funds (ESF) from the Department of State. In the last decade FMF grants to Israel have totalled $18.2 billion. In fact, 17% of all US foreign aid is earmarked for Israel. Should any one ask US officials, did you know that one million cluster bombs you have supplied Israel have been showered on the children of Lebanon? The answer of course would be ‘declined to comment’.


The same Bush administration that offered Israel in 2003 $2.76 billion in foreign aid, stood in 2008 watching the people of Gaza die under siege, bombed by the Israeli army. The US watched Israel prevent the people of Gaza from receiving medicines or aid from any source.


The US, which brags about democracy and freedom, is killing civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq while claiming it is doing so to bring them peace and justice. How can the US comment on such atrocities? I’m sure it will decline to comment.


By 1975 the United States was convinced that Israel had nuclear weapons. But the US also knew that Israel began actively investigating the nuclear option from its earliest days, when in 1949, Hemed Gimmel a special unit of the IDF’s Science Corps, began a two-year geological survey of the Negev desert, hoping to discover uranium reserves. Although no significant sources of uranium were found, recoverable amounts were located in phosphate deposits. We are in the year 2008, where the US fighting and threatening Iran after more than 58 years of Israel’s endeavour, claiming that Iran is considering doing what Israel has done long ago. Of course if US officials were asked ‘why International rules should apply to Iran but do not apply to Israel’? The US will certainly ‘decline to comment’.


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