Tuesday, June 30, 2015

(+Video) Col. Kemp tells UNHRC it’s become “tool of Hamas’ murderous strategy”

...Mr. President, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas, to its eternal shame, did more to deliberately and systematically inflict death, suffering and destruction on its own civilian population, including its children, than any other terrorist group in history.

UN Watch..
29 June '15..

Address of Colonel Richard Kemp to the United Nations Human Rights Council Debate on report of the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza Conflict - Geneva, 29 June 2015

Mr. President, I fought in combat zones around the world during 30 years’ service in the British Army. I was present as an observer throughout the conflict in Gaza.

Mr. President, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas, to its eternal shame, did more to deliberately and systematically inflict death, suffering and destruction on its own civilian population, including its children, than any other terrorist group in history.

Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and weapons in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack these targets, which were a clear and present threat to the lives of Israel’s own civilian population.

Col. Kemp's visit was hosted by UN Watch & NGO Monitor. He spoke on behalf of Amuta for NGO Responsibility. Video is copyright of UN Watch (c) 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuasVo6Dxu4

While the IDF made efforts, unprecedented in any other army, and exceeding the requirements of the laws of war, to save Palestinian civilian lives, including warning them to leave target zones, Hamas forced them to remain in those areas.

Unable to defeat Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among their own people in order to bring international condemnation against Israel, especially from the United Nations.

How the UN Human Rights Council report shot itself and human rights in the foot

...This latest UNHRC inquiry and report is only as reliable as its sources of information. When these are overwhelmingly unreliable political NGOs, as well as those who support and facilitate terrorism, any true champions of human rights cannot take its findings seriously.

It is unclear whether the Commission of Inquiry 
was aware of Gilbert’s views and was 
unconcerned by them, or whether it 
failed in its basic due diligence.
Gerald Steinberg..
i24 News..
30 June '15..

The report from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the 2014 Gaza conflict has no surprises: it is another pseudo-legal and immoral case of Israel-bashing. Like the discredited Goldstone Report and virtually every other UN “inquiry” on Israel, political NGOs (non-governmental organizations) provide the basis of the investigation and findings. In the UN report, NGOs appear on almost every page: B’Tselem is cited 69 times; Amnesty International, 53; Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), 50; and Human Rights Watch (HRW), 22. To anyone familiar with the political agendas of these NGOs, the UN’s latest “findings” – namely, condemnations of Israel – come as no surprise.

Like the NGO publications, the Commission of Inquiry report on the Gaza war is filled with unverifiable accusations based on the testimony of nameless witnesses. Although the Commission recognized that testimony from Gaza is unreliable, acknowledging “fears by Palestinian witnesses of reprisal by armed groups and local authorities,” in practice, the report relies extensively on such anonymous allegations. For instance, in the section discussing attacks on houses, witnesses are quoted on the most essential legal and moral questions, apparently without concern for intimidation or lying to prevent self-incrimination: “According to the witnesses, all of those killed were civilians”; “they insisted that there had been no military activity in the building.”

The latter claim is augmented by statements given by the same witness to PCHR, asserting “that no family member belongs to the ‘Palestinian resistance.’” Reading between the lines, we see that the eyewitnesses themselves were likely selected by NGOs, such as PCHR, and delivered to the UN investigators.

The NGOs cited by the UNHRC also lack expertise and access to crucial information. These shortcomings are exemplified by the “fact-finding mission” of the Israeli organization, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), produced in collaboration with the Palestinian NGOs Al-Mezan, Gaza Community Mental Health Program and the PCHR. The PHR-I investigators “did not have access to [relevant] UNRWA facilities…They could therefore investigate neither the public health impact of displacement in these facilities, nor the allegations made by the Israeli government regarding the abuse of such facilities for military purposes.” Similarly, they had “no access to evidence regarding the conduct of Palestinian armed combatants within Gaza.” Yet, the UNHRC deemed PHR-I’s investigation credible enough to cite its findings 16 times.

These and other unreliable claims are found throughout the report. But it is the prominence given to the notorious Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor solicited as an “expert” on Gaza health, which discredits the UNHRC on a deeper level. Gilbert has a well-documented history of abusing his position as doctor to promote hate and conspiracy theories, and is known to have blamed the 9/11 terror attacks on the “policy that the West has led during the last decades,” asserting that “the oppressed also have a moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with.”

Predicition: We’re not on the verge of war — yet

...I don’t see an immediate danger of war, although low-intensity conflict will continue and probably get worse. But then, the same could have been said in early 1914!

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
29 June '15..
Link: http://abuyehuda.com/2015/06/were-not-on-the-verge-of-war-yet/

Someone recently asked me if I thought we would be at war again soon. Not just Gaza, but the big one — Hizballah and Iran. As the West’s red lines crumble, it’s a forgone conclusion that Iran can have a bomb as soon as they wish; and with President Obama rushing to relieve sanctions and unfreeze Iranian assets, the regime will have all the money it needs to fund its aggression, nuclear and non-nuclear.

So what is Israel going to do about it? After all, I don’t think the traditional position of the Israeli government that it will not allow any of its regional enemies to obtain nuclear weapons has changed.

There are good reasons not to attack Iran today. Most of Iran’s deterrent rests with its expeditionary force, Hizballah in Lebanon. Although Israel would very much like to pull the fangs of this particular snake, Hizballah has entwined its rocket launchers and command centers deeply with the civilian infrastructure, and destroying it will destroy the homes and many of the lives of the population of southern Lebanon.

Israel would be completely justified in doing this. We aren’t obligated to commit suicide to protect civilians who have rocket launchers in their garages and cellars. This would be tragic for those people, but it’s a tragedy for which Iran and Hizballah would be fully responsible.

Israel too would suffer home front casualties, predicted to be worse than in any war since 1948.

Nevertheless, we know from the example of the recent war in Gaza — in which Gazan casualties were comparatively modest — what the reaction from US President Obama would be. We can expect an immediate embargo on weapons and ammunition, support for UN demands for a disadvantageous cease-fire, and who knows what other punitive measures. Paradoxically, the better our defensive systems perform and the fewer Israelis die, the greater will be the pressure on us to stop fighting.

Obama’s strategy is perplexing, because the initiative to tilt toward Iran against Israel and the conservative Sunni Arabs is not particularly in the interest of the US. The enemies of America are the radical Islamists of both streams, the Sunni IS and Iranian revolutionary Shiite regime. These are the forces that are metastasizing terrorism throughout the world in an attempt to put an end to Western hegemony. Allowing Iran to nuclearize in the hope that it will bring stability is a potentially disastrous policy. It also alienates former US allies like Egypt and the Jordanian and Saudi regimes, and of course Israel, whose aspirations do not include bringing down the West.

I think, however, that this policy is not being implemented out of a consideration of true long-term American interest. Rather it is based on the personal predilections of Barack Obama, his reverence for Islam and the post-colonialist ideology that characterized his mentors Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi, etc. Michael Oren said that if you want to understand Obama, look at his Cairo address of 2012. Unfortunately, as we saw during the Gaza war last summer, this ideology is the opposite of pro-Israel.

Wondering Why Flotillas Sail to Gaza, Not Syria?

...Activists seek to go to Gaza, however, for one clear reason, and it has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns. Arabs who are engaged in conflicts with other Arabs don’t interest them no matter how many people are killed or how much suffering is caused. Even at the height of the fighting last year when hundreds of Palestinian civilians were unfortunately killed as they were caught in fighting provoked by Hamas, the casualties there were dwarfed by what is going on in Syria. But it is only when Jews are involved in defending their state that the human rights community discovers a crisis.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
29 June '15..

Today, the latest publicity stunt by pro-Palestinian activists ended harmlessly as the Israel Navy intercepted a ship off the coast of Gaza that was attempting to break the blockade of the strip in order to draw attention to what is passengers claim is a humanitarian crisis. But, like previous Gaza flotillas, the effort has little to do with the plight of the people of Gaza and everything to do with the long war being waged to end Israel’s existence. More to the point, the continued focus on Gaza by those calling themselves advocates for human rights at the very moment that a genuine human catastrophe is occurring inside Syria without much of response from the international community tells us all we need to know about the hypocrisy of Israel-bashers.

The fact that it was Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who today pointed out the fact that flotillas aren’t sailing to Syria doesn’t make it any less valid. Thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered by the Assad regime that is backed by Iran and Hezbollah terrorists with more being killed by its tacit ISIS allies. The carnage has created millions of refugees who are living in squalor inside the country or in camps in neighboring Jordan.

But as Netanyahu knows, there will be no peace activist flotilla to Syria to bring aid to people who really need it. Nor had those on the Swedish-registered Marianne that was diverted by the Israelis gotten lost on their way to help those truly in need. Instead, they were on the way to try and help the Hamas government of Gaza that has been rightly isolated by the international community since the bloody 2007 coup when the Islamist group seized power.

While the situation in Gaza isn’t pleasant, the popular notion of a humanitarian crisis there is a myth. That’s because there is no shortage of food or medicine in the strip since Israel allows daily convoys of such supplies into Gaza every day, including those when Hamas is shooting rockets over the border at cities and towns inside the Jewish state. It is true that there is a shortage of building materials inside Gaza. Given the scale of the destruction wrought by the war Hamas launched against Israel last year, that’s a problem. But the reason why such materials can’t be brought into the strip without restrictions was revealed anew when Hamas showcased a new terror tunnel that it claims reaches into Israel on Iranian TV on Sunday. Most of the concrete that is brought into Gaza is being used for such tunnels or for the construction of elaborate fortifications that will enable Hamas to shield its arsenal and other structures intended to make it harder for Israel to repress rocket fire aimed at civilians.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Realistically, What to Make of the UN's Special Commission Report on Gaza?

...What does one say about a report whose author forthrightly admits that, had she had real information, “it would have looked different”?

Benjamin Wittes/Yishai Schwartz..
24 June '15..

The UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza war, released last Monday, is a bad piece of work—bad in almost entirely predictable and boring ways, but no less bad for being bad and predictable. It is also no less important for being boring. Even if one has no great interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the standards and approaches the UN is embracing will not remain confined to that conflict. Israel is, as always, the canary in the IHL (International humanitarian law) coal mine. Approaches that begin as a way of constraining Israeli military action quickly migrate to constraining U.S. military action. The effort by the Special Commission to find war crimes in civilian deaths in urban targeting situations in which non-uniformed fighters exploit civilians for combat cover is thus worth some attention.

Let’s start with a basic fact: the commission’s job here was impossible. It is impossible rigorously to analyze whether a given strike or set of strikes complies with IHL without a detailed investigation of what the operators and commanders in the moment knew and why they decided to act as they did. It is always tempting to look at large numbers of dead civilians and assume that the fact of the bodies implicates a targeting decision. But that’s rarely right. Without knowing who the target was, what calculations as to civilian deaths commanders made, and what the expected military advantage of the strike was, a rigorous investigation simply can’t be done.

It is thus not simply an inconvenience but a debilitation that the commission got no cooperation from Israel, got no access to Gaza from Israel or Egypt, and did not have key questions answered by Hamas. That the commission received cooperation from Palestinian authorities—who do not control Gaza, in fact—is not much help.

The instinct of both Hamas and the Israelis to decline the privilege of addressing the commission’s concerns is understandable, though for different reasons. Hamas, having an entire strategy built around violation of IHL, cannot answer questions about its conduct without implicating itself. Israel, meanwhile, has a deep and well-founded suspicion of UN activity, particularly activity of the Human Rights Council. And there was reason to expect this commission to be worse than earlier ones, not better. The result was that the commission was left making judgments based on a combination of the public record and interviews with victims about matters the merits of which centrally depend on the viewpoints of commanders and operators. There’s no way to do this well.

There are a lot of ways, however, to do it badly.

The Israeli calculation was wrong in one key respect. The report is not worse than prior UN efforts. It’s better. It actually lacks the overt bias of prior UN investigations. It makes some notional effort at evenhandedness, finding information “pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups,” violations that “may amount to war crimes.” It criticizes the “inherently indiscriminate nature of most of the projectiles directed towards Israel by [these armed] groups and to the targeting of Israeli civilians.” And it spends a fair bit of space analyzing Palestinian conduct.

There are two major oddities, however, in the commission’s discussion of this conduct. The first is the degree to which the commission gives the benefit of the doubt to armed groups that made no secret about their intentional targeting of civilians. On page 18, for example, the commission introduces the subject of rocket attacks into Israel by describing Hamas’s military wing as focused chiefly on attacking military targets. “Security experts have noted that while the Al Qassam Brigades may have targeted civilians in the past as part of its military strategy, in 2014 its declared official policy was ‘to focus on military or semi-military targets and to avoid other targets, especially civilians.’”

If this does not sound like your memory of the Gaza war, we feel your pain. And It doesn’t take too many pages before the reality catches up with the wishful thinking. On page 21, for example, the commission notes a Qassam Brigades statement that it had launched rockets at the city of Dimona. Three pages later, it notes the announcement that the group had mortared Kibbutz Nirim and other communities. On page 25, the commission cites Israeli government statistics that 4,000 or 4,500 rockets and mortars were aimed at Israeli cities, towns and communities, and about half of the rest landed in Gaza. Yet the commission keeps coming back to uncertainty as to Hamas’s targeting aims and practices, despite at the same time repeatedly citing statements by Hamas that they were targeting Israeli cities and civilians (see pp. 26-27, in particular).

They'll do anything except make peace

The latest pathetic, and tragically boring, effort by the Palestinians to abuse the International Criminal Court against Israel just shows how doggedly opposed they are to real peace. Only Western bigots and enemies of peace could support it

The Commentator..
24 June '15..

If, by now, after all these years, you really wanted to do it -- and some surely will -- you could easily make a point by point refutation of the latest forlorn effort by the Palestinian leadership to divert all attention from their unending efforts to avoid making peace with the State of Israel.

If you can suppress the yawns, it's all about "Palestine's" foray into the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague over alleged Israeli violations of international law, ranging from "colonisation" on the West Bank to "war crimes" in Gaza and elsewhere.

They're due to, "hand over a file running to hundreds of pages" to the ICC on Thursday, as the Guardian glowingly reports it.

With Barack Obama in the White House, they're probably hoping it might create something more than a headache for the world's one and only Jewish state. But even if they do, what would this nonsense ultimately mean for Israel, international diplomacy, and the geo-politics of the Middle East?

No-one who backs decency for Israel should ever get complacent, but Obama will be gone by January 2017 and if he ended up in any way shape or form supporting the Palestinians on this lunacy, it would be knocked straight out of the sky by the next administration as soon as it took office.

The real issue to bear in mind here is that this ruse is just the latest in a pattern of conduct going back to the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

(Read Full Post)

Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

But it is not suicidal

...Israel did not ask for Operation Protective Edge as it did not desire any of the wars that have marked its history to date. But the Jewish state and the IDF can look in the mirror of morality without shame, because unlike those around us, in every IDF soldier there is a man reluctant to kill. On the other hand, Jewish morality does not dictate suicide or passivity in the face of aggression, and it does not judge acts according to the identity of the perpetrator but by an objective scale of moral values. It is strange to receive lessons from those who never practice what they preach at us.

Shraga Blum..
i24 News..
25 June '15..

With publication this week of the report on Operation Protective Edge, the UN Human Rights Council has reached new heights of hypocrisy and a new moral abyss. Put aside the anti-Israeli opinions of those who chaired this committee, the fact that it took at face value the claims of Hamas or pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs but cast doubt on everything that emanated from official Israeli sources, and the whole composition of the Human Rights Council that turns it into a grotesque farce.

But one of the most serious aspects of this report is that it establishes an ethical equivalence between a democracy respectful of the rule of law and a terrorist organization that unscrupulously tramples humanitarian principles. Although the findings of this commission have no legal force, they will help fuel the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic atmosphere created by the Palestinian Authority in its global war against Israel. To associate the words "Israel," "Hamas" and "war crimes" is a crime against truth and justice.

And something tells me that this report is the only one that will prevail in the international public and media arenas, not the one written by 11 international military experts who concluded that they "know no other army in the world that takes such great steps to avoid civilian casualties" and that "Israel goes further than most armies to remain faithful to international law and to protect civilians."

Israeli leaders - of the government and the Zionist opposition - soon realized where the main fault of this unjust report lies: the amoral and abject juxtaposition between Israel and Hamas, which could set a dangerous precedent with practical consequences in the fight of democracies against terrorism.

In its conclusions, the UN fact-finding commision officially erased the moral line that distinguishes the attacked from the attacker, the one who protects his people from the one who protects himself with his people, the one who regrets every death of an Arab child from the one who considers the death of a Jewish child a victory, the one who sanctifies life from the one who regularly proclaims that he "loves death as much as the Jews love life."

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Terror: now you see it, now you don't

...True to Reuters policy, its editors manage to tell the story of Friday's massacre in the Kuwait mosque as well as the November 2014 massacre in the Jerusalem synagogue with no mention of terror in either case. So does this mean we are closer to a solution? Are we better off this way? Is there anything we can learn from this? Stay tuned.

Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 June '15..

A killer, motivated by ideological passions, enters a house of worship and launches a frenzied attack that results in a great deal of spilled blood, numerous deaths of the faithful, and devastated families.

It's terrorism, right? Well, that depends on who's doing the editing.

Terror attacks in Kuwait, France and Tunisia echo Isis methods | The Guardian, June 26, 2015

Headline says it all.

Five Israelis killed in deadly attack on Jerusalem synagogue | The Guardian, November 18, 2014

The murders of unarmed Jewish worshipers are described as a "frenzied assault", the most lethal incident in the city (Jerusalem) in years. But the word 'terror' appears only when it's part of a direct quotation from comments made by two people: an eye-witness and the US Secretary of State.

Terrorist Attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait Kill Dozens | New York Times, June 26, 2015

Headline says it all

Israel Shaken by 5 Deaths in Synagogue Assault | New York Times, June 26, 2015

Terrorism not mentioned. The attackers are termed "assailants", the massacre is an "attack" and an "assault". The savagery is framed as part of "the rising religious dimension of the spate of violence, which has been attributed mainly to a struggle over the very site the victims were praying toward". Does the reporter see the victims as part of that "spate"? Were the men at prayer involved in a "struggle"? Are any Israelis to be considered outside that struggle?

(Read Full Post)

Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

The making of an "accidental Zionist"

..."I found myself on one of my visits at Hadassah hospital [in Jerusalem]. I have visited many hospitals, but the most exciting thing was actually when we were in an elevator in Hadassah. I was with a very busy doctor, and I looked around the small, packed elevator. What I saw around me was a Muslim lady in an abaya and hijab, next to her a man who looked like he was from the 18th century with a striped jacket, white socks and a special hat, next to him was a man with payot. In front of me was the busy modern-Orthodox doctor, and I am the one who is the Muslim who looks like she is secular. "And I realized that all my worlds -- the people I used to treat in Saudi Arabia, the patients and doctors in New York, my modern-Orthodox friends, Israelis living in America -- all of my worlds collided in this elevator.

Dr. Qanta Ahmed
Photo Credit: Yonatan Shaul
Dror Eydar..
Israel Hayom..
26 June '15..

These last few years, I have been toying with the idea of gathering an assembly of intellectuals, political leaders and public opinion leaders to discuss the perils and prospects of Western civilization. Men and women who understand Israel's role as a dam protecting the Western world from flooding and ultimate drowning. People of truth who would be decent enough to explore the complexity of the Israeli story, who would be prepared to stand courageously by Israel and defend its just cause.

One woman I would invite to this fantasy assembly is Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a scientist, intellectual, journalist, physician who specializes in sleep disorders, and a practicing Muslim. Ahmed is an expert on, and ardent opponent of, Muslim radicalization, and a great supporter of the State of Israel.

Ahmed was born in Britain to immigrants from Pakistan. She studied medicine and went to the United States to specialize. She spent time in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere as a physician and lecturer. She now lives in the United States, publishes articles in several journals and is a sought-after commentator in American and world media.

Ahmed arrived in Israel to receive an award from the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, "in esteem of her courageous and relentless fight for human rights in the Muslim world, and for her active and uncompromising opposition to radical Islam and anti-Semitism; and with a sense of gratitude for her friendship toward Israel and the Technion."

I met with her in Jerusalem, at the Begin Heritage Center, where the ancient city walls, seen from the balcony, served as a backdrop and subject for a fascinating conversation.


Q: You describe yourself as a religious person. You have a positive attitude toward religion and spirituality. In Jewish society there is a spectrum of attitudes toward religion. However, if we look at the Muslim world today, we see a kind of a reverse Renaissance, back to the seventh century, to the beginning of Islam.

"I would absolutely agree that there is a revivalism of really extreme practices, but to a degree that never existed in documented history. These are extreme manifestations purported to be a reconstruction of Islam. They were propagated right after the Iranian Revolution [in 1979] and have spread like a huge ripple from Iran to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, including to Pakistan, which underwent Islamization, and on to extreme brands of radical Islamism in al-Qaida and now in ISIS [Islamic State]. Its advocates love to claim that this is a revival of the original and authentic Islam but it is really a fictional construct.

"Even having lived in Saudi Arabia, a state that follows Shariah [Muslim law] without innovation, without modulation, still the kind of barbarity we see now passing in some of these Islamic groups exceeds even the harshest manifestations of Shariah law. So you are right that there is a reverse revivalism."

Q: So what is the difference that you see between the revival of Islam and the Islam in which you believe?

"Well, one example is that nowadays it is not unusual for women to be stoned to death in Iran or in other remote areas, as one can see in recruitment videos indoctrinating Pakistani or Afghani children into the service of radical Islam. This in contrast to the five centuries of documentation of Ottoman history in which there is only one stoning recorded. So even though there are passages in the Quran which might suggest that these kinds of punitive actions can be taken, even in the case of adultery, they did not occur at the level of ferocity and frequency which now we can record.

"That is a deliberate revival which was introduced by the nascent ayatollahs of Iran. They use a special directive called Tazir, which gives jurists the authority by Islamic law to pass a ruling not based on precedent, but rather gives them the freedom to manipulate laws. In the past, this freedom was given only in situations of dire instability, yet they now use this power to the disadvantage of innocent people and punish them in any way they see fit.

"A good example would be the outrageous punishment of Raif Badari, a Saudi blogger who received the punishment of 1,000 lashes for publishing something on the Internet. There could be no precedent for this. Where did they get the number 1,000? This is particularly problematic when a fundamental value of Islam is that you cannot be a real believer if you do not have free will to choose not to believe. What kind of maker would choose compulsion in belief? That would be a weak maker. So Tazir as a phenomenon has been intensely pursued since the 1970s, in a way that really has become a distortion of Shariah.

"I have difficulty with the generalization of 'the Muslim world.' Muslims exist on every inhabited continent. They number 1.62 billion people. In the United States alone there are 69 different nationalities of Muslims. Every year in Mecca, over 183 different nationalities participate in the Hajj. So to talk about the 'Muslim world' is almost like talking about one-fifth of the world's population."

Tying the West’s Hands, Fabricating Israeli War Crimes and Destroying International Law

...In short, it’s impossible for any country to comply with the laws of war when fighting terrorists, because it will be presumed guilty unless proven innocent, and the only evidence acceptable to prove its innocence is by definition unobtainable. And lest anyone miss the point – or labor under the delusion that this precedent won’t be applied to other countries as well – Davis underscored it in a subsequent interview with Haaretz. Asked what solution international law does offer “to a situation in which regular armies of democratic countries fight against terror organizations in the heart of populated areas,” she replied scornfully, “My job is not to tell them how to wage a war.”

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
26 June '15..

In the four days since the UN Human Rights Council published its report on last summer’s war in Gaza, commentators have pointed out numerous ways in which it is bad for Israel, the Palestinians and the prospects of a two-state solution. But focusing solely on the local consequences obscures the fact that this report is part of a broader campaign with much more ambitious goals: depriving the entire West of any conceivable weapon – military or nonmilitary – against terrorist organizations and thereby leaving it no choice but capitulation. And though the UN report captured all the attention, the assault on nonmilitary means was also active this week.

On the military side, the goal was already clear last week, thanks to an interview by Israel’s Channel 2 television with international law expert William Schabas, who headed the HRC’s Gaza inquiry until being forced out in February over a conflict of interests. “It would be a very unusual war if only one side had committed violations of laws of war and the other had engaged perfectly,” he declared. “That would be an unusual situation and an unusual conclusion.”

In other words, it’s virtually impossible for any country fighting terrorists to avoid committing war crimes, however hard it tries, because as currently interpreted by experts like Schabas, the laws of war are impossible for any real-life army to comply with. Thus, a country that wants to avoid international prosecution for war crimes has no choice but to avoid all wars; its only option is capitulation to the terrorists attacking it.

The report ultimately issued by Mary McGowan Davis, who took over the inquiry after Schabas resigned, achieved his goal through a neat trick: replacing the presumption of innocence – the gold standard for ordinary criminal proceedings – with a presumption of guilt. As Benjamin Wittes and Yishai Schwartz noted in their scathing analysis for the Lawfare blog, despite admitting that Hamas routinely used civilian buildings for military purposes, the report nevertheless concluded that any attack on a civilian building is prima facie illegal absent solid proof that the building served military purposes.

But as the report itself admits in paragraph 215, in a quote attributed to “official Israeli sources,” such proof is virtually impossible to produce, because “forensic evidence that a particular site was used for military purposes is rarely available after an attack. Such evidence is usually destroyed in the attack or, if time allows, removed by the terrorist organisations who exploited the site in the first place.”

In short, it’s impossible for any country to comply with the laws of war when fighting terrorists, because it will be presumed guilty unless proven innocent, and the only evidence acceptable to prove its innocence is by definition unobtainable. And lest anyone miss the point – or labor under the delusion that this precedent won’t be applied to other countries as well – Davis underscored it in a subsequent interview with Haaretz. Asked what solution international law does offer “to a situation in which regular armies of democratic countries fight against terror organizations in the heart of populated areas,” she replied scornfully, “My job is not to tell them how to wage a war.” The claim that “international law needs to develop standards that more accurately deal with military operations” is unacceptable, she asserted; the only acceptable changes are “to make protection of civilians stronger” and thereby make waging war even more impossible.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The U.N.’s Gaza Report - Both Flawed and Dangerous

...The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless....

Richard Kemp..
NY Times..
25 June '15..

LONDON — AS a British officer who had more than his share of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza, prepared by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, and published on Monday, will do just that.

The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” as well as the blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression.

In an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply” with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.

There is no such sympathy for Israel. Judge Davis accuses the Israel Defense Forces of “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Yet no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal.

Referring to cases in which Israeli attacks killed civilians in residential areas, Judge Davis says that in the absence of contrary information available to her commission, there are strong indications that the attacks were disproportionate, and therefore war crimes. But all we get is speculation and the presumption of guilt.

The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless.

The commission could have listened to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last November that the I.D.F. had taken extraordinary measures to try to limit civilian casualties. Or to a group of 11 senior military officers from seven nations, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Australia, who also investigated the Gaza conflict recently. I was a member of that group, and our report, made available to Judge Davis, said: “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the I.D.F. last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population.”