Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Is "international law" out to "get" Israel?

Wed - Dickens' law

What a busy time it's been for those who exploit international law to gang up on Israel. Let us count the ways.

Starting with yesterday's UN report compiled by Ian Martin on that incident during Operation Cast Lead at the UNRWA compound in Jabaliya, the one that generated mendacious headlines like "Israeli shelling kills dozens at UN school in Gaza."

In fact, no one sheltering at the school was killed - but about a dozen Palestinians nearby (including gunmen) were when Israel retaliated to Hamas's shelling. While Martin pointedly refused to incorporate the IDF's side in drafting his report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised his cover note to the Security Council will provide some of the missing details and extenuating circumstances.

Don't go confusing Martin with Richard Goldstone's commission, which will be also be investigating the Gaza war. And don't confuse Goldstone with Richard A. Falk's "investigation" for the UN's Human Rights Council.

All this is in addition to the routine "docketing" of Israel at the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, partly instigated by Israel-based advocacy groups, some of which receive funding from the New Israel Fund and foreign powers. The committee's chair is Claudio Grossman, a Chilean national whose connection to the NIF figures is no secret.

If that wasn't enough, there is the Spanish legal system's persecution of top Israeli officials for the 2002 operation that liquidated Salah Shehadeh. Tragically, 14 civilians also lost their lives. But unintended civilian deaths in warfare are not unheard of. Shehadeh supervised dozens of terrorist attacks, killing or wounding hundreds of Israelis. The "universal jurisdiction" claimed by Spain and other countries - even where neither the "perpetrator" nor the "victim" has anything to do with them - verily turns the law into an ass.

Let's not forget the Durban II farce starring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or that it was ostensibly organized as a UN-sponsored "anti-racism" conference.

Finally, there's the unrelenting abuse of international law at every single UN body - except the essentially defunct Trusteeship Council.

WHY this obscenely inordinate investment of time, money and personnel in bashing us?

Because an odd coalition - of progressives and reactionaries - finds itself united in the aim of forcing Israel out of the West Bank, and international law is a potent weapon in their arsenal.

The progressives see Israel as "occupying" only the West Bank and Gaza (though Israel pulled out of there in 2005), while the reactionaries see the "occupation" as extending over all of "Palestine," and Israel's establishment as an inexpugnable sin. This "human rights coalition" is united in the belief that the end - forcing Israel out of the West Bank - justifies the means: exploiting and distorting international law.

That's why it has been made virtually "illegal" for Israel to defend itself. An "occupier" doesn't deserve that right.

The progressives' demand for a West Bank withdrawal is hardly tempered by concern for realities on the ground. Didn't Ehud Olmert offer just about the entire West Bank to Mahmoud Abbas? Hasn't every Israeli leader since Yitzhak Rabin made clear that Israel has no interest in ruling the Palestinians?

If the international community wanted to be part of the solution, rather than the problem, it would tell the Palestinians to stop hiding behind a perverted international law and start negotiating with Israel in earnest.

As for Spain, it's patently obvious that politicians in that country could have intervened to limit the scope of "universal jurisdiction." Their repeated failure to do so speaks volumes. Spanish diplomats and Spanish EU functionaries ought not to be astonished when Israelis show little faith in them as honest brokers.

Are we claiming that Israel - uniquely among nations - never commits human rights violations? Of course not. We are saying that the unprecedented manipulation of international law and global legal institutions to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state is simply not fair. Moreover, it has the unintended consequence of ripping asunder the fabric of international law and morality.

For the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League this may not matter much, but shouldn't it matter a great deal to those who embrace Western values?

No comments:

My Archive