January 16, 2009

JDHURF Responds

in response to previous post.  My post is in italics.

Holy Hyrax said:

”The thrust of JDHURF's comments imply that though Israel has a right to defend itself, the manner in which it is being done is basically a war crime. Specifically the issue of collective punishment, disproportionate attacks and blockades all of which he contends are against International Law (IL) and therefore, immoral. These are his opinions and are also share by humanitarian organizations, which all state they look at the entire situation "objectively." Question is, is there a priori ideology and does it affect how they look at the situation and how does it affect how they interpret IL. And what about morality, how does that play a role?”

You mean to ask: is there an a priori ideology? – and as I have made explicitly clear on JA’s blog: no. Setting aside for now all of the criticisms I would have of what you conceive of as ideology – the left critique of ideology as “false consciousness” and Zizek’s formulation that “the fundamental level of ideology, however, is not of an illusion masking the real state of things but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself” – you must be implying by ideology, political views. Again, as I made clear on JA’s blog, my political views don’t have anything directly to do with my positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am a libertarian-socialist which means that, in principle, I am opposed to the existence of state powers; in the long-term, states should be dissolved. However, when discussing solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dealing with the direct and immediate goals, I support the two-state solution – not necessarily in opposition to my objections to the existence of state apparatuses, but that is another discussion altogether – and this is in contrast to the very serious position being adopted all over Europe by even the moderate left: the one state solution. Very clearly then, ideology has nothing directly to do with the issue for me.

However, it is beyond clear that ideology has everything to do with your positions. The ideology motivating you to disregard the breaking of international human rights law by Israel, Israeli massacres and war crimes is an extreme form of militant nationalism, an ultra-Zionism.

”I think there is no doubt that underlying all of this (an anything0 is ideology. Questions like; does Israel have a right to exist? a right to the land it won? Do Arabs in general want Israel are all examples of ideological questions. Sure, the question of territories is also a legal one, but one cannot deny the ideological basis for each side in trying rationalize the law in their favor. I believe, people like JDHURF and organizations like Amnesty International, ideologically (and therefore also legally) are disgusted by the fact that Israel occupies the territories. This in effect will dictate how they look at the entire situation from now on. It will influence them in how things should be dealt with. This is an important point because now, the tilt will always be, by defintion, slanted towards the benefit of the Palestinians.”

You make a lot of unsupported assertions here – evidence not being required for the ideologically driven, such as yourself – and claim that AI and myself “are disgusted by the fact that Israel occupies the territories,” again, never mind supporting this assertion, that is apparently unnecessary. Are you discussing the OT proper, Gaza and the West Bank, or are you talking about the whole of Palestine? If you only mean the former, then it is not simply that Israel occupies these territories that disgusts fair-minded people who are not driven by nationalism and expansionism – many of whom support the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestine in favor of the state of Israel – it is the way in which Israel occupies the territories (breaking international law, denigrating human rights and committing atrocities).

Further evidence that you are ideologically driven is your disgraceful dismissal and unconcern for such atrocities. That you refuse to address the recent Zeitoun massacre is but one example:

“What is particularly horrifying about the Zeitoun massacre—details of which continue to unfold—is the sadistic behavior of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). This is a mass killing that has unfolded over days.....

[Article JDHURF is quoting is too long. Read the rest about the Zeitoun massacre here ]

That you have nothing to say about these atrocities is not only proof of your extremism, but a disgrace and an utter failing of objective ethics (a concept which defies you).

”For example: How many peole remember, at various times when different humanitarian organizations criticize the check-points that Israel was using? Humiliation! Degradation! they would cry. Of course, they are right. There is a feeling of degradation that the Palestinians would feel. But, is it immoral?”

Let’s take some clearer examples shall we? Examples that, for very straight forward reasons, you want to pretend don’t exist. How about the use of torture? “GSS [General Security Service] interrogators have tortured thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Palestinians.” – B’Tselem.

“Israel’s two main interrogation agencies in the occupied territories engage in a systematic pattern of ill-treatment and torture – according to internationally recognized definitions of the terms – when trying to extract from Palestinian security suspects confessions or information about third parties. Nearly all Palestinians undergoing interrogation are put through some combination of the same basic methods…Thus, the number of Palestinians tortured or severely ill-treated while under interrogation during the intifada is in the tens of thousands – a number that becomes especially significant when it is remembered that the universe of adult and adolescent male Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is under three-quarters of one million.” – Human Rights Watch

The use of torture is made even more heinous when coupled with the kidnapping and indefinite detention of Palestinian civilians – as “administrative detainees – who are held without charge or trial and when charged are usually charged for having confessed under the duress of torture.

Does Holy Hyrax have anything to say about administrative detainees? The use of torture? Not yet, although I have already brought it up. How about house demolitions?

Well, that depends who you ask. To the Israelis, who ideology for the most part does not come from a sociology class but from years of experience will say its a necessity. Do ALL arabs kill Jews? No. But there are enough that do and more than enough that believe its a legitimate way to fight occupiers by blowing themselves up. To the humanitarian worker, its not that Israelis are not important, but its just that more sympathy, almost by default has already been shifted to the Palestinians, hence their grievances are are now more of a priority. Any consequences that might arise, must be treated separately. The fact that bombers will come in becomes irrelevant to the greater cause and all check-points (though they work) are not to be permitted. Of course, someone might respond that sticking them in cattle cars can also work to keep bombers out. To this, there is simply no reply. Actually, there is, but to such extreme examples, there is no point but to simply turn around and sigh to oneself.”

This is actually all fabrication, another staple of the ideologically driven program. Every organization that I am aware of and I myself have no problem with checkpoints and even the separation wall that Israel is building so long as it builds these constructs on its own territory. The problem arises when Israel builds these constructs well into Palestinian land, annexing land, separating families from their farms, annexing valuable resources such as water and so on.





”Coincidentally, this is why people like XGH, Dovbear (perhaps to a lesser degree) and JDHURF SAY Israel has the right to defend itself, but can never figure out how. Their mind is simply torn by the obvious that check-points and walls and blockades work vs. their other ideology build squarely on the legal aspect (ie, Israel can defend itself, but must follow these simple rules). Hence, so far all I have heard from this is that this is just a sacrifice Israel must endure. A missile every once in a while is just the price you will have to pay for living in this region. Of course, this in of itself highly immoral. What government can allow such a thing? But they have no other response or solution. Oh ya, except to say they should talk. That always works. A good example of ideology getting in the way is this:

There could also be argued that there are “all sorts of reasons” for torture, as Alan Dershowitz argues, but that doesn’t matter, nothing justifies torture, nothing justifies collective punishment and nothing justifies the blockade of Gaza.

JDHURF thinks he is being objective here. The problem is he is not. Any reader will see a subjective stance. He believes torture is bad no matter what. He believes blockades are bad no matter what. These are clearly opinions based on his subjective values. Of course, its his right. But to cloak it in anything less than subjective and not objective as he keeps trying to say is plainly dishonest. I believe torture is permissible under certain circumstances. I can bring justification. He can believe otherwise and bring his own justification. This is pure subjectivity at its best based on two different value systems. This is not a judgmental call against him by the way.”

More fabrications. As I have just made explicitly clear, checkpoints and separation walls are fine, if that is what Israelis want, there’s no problem so long as they build these constructs on Israeli territory and not well into Palestinian territory (annexing valuable land and resources). That you here are willing to defend the use of torture is beyond the pale and absolutely evidence of your violent extremism. Why sail from the very shores of civilization you are proclaiming to defend in the first place? Torture is self-defeating. President-Elect Obama’s appointment for Attorney General, Eric Holder, has this to say about water boarding and torture:


”This brings us to the legal aspect. JDHURF has been copying and pasting legal text as proof of Israel committing war crimes. There is a problem wit this. First of all, JDHURF, nor I, are International legal experts. No legal text works in some vacuum on its own. There are any number of factors that play a role. JDHURF often quotes this.

“Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute…A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) (Article 8(2)(b)(i)) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality) (Article 8(2)(b)(iv). Article 8(2)(b)(iv) criminalizes:

Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated”


The problem is, experts can interpret this any which way. What does it mean "excesive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated?" Who decides this? Obviously, JDHURF is interpreting it for his advantage. Someone else will interpret it for their advantage.

This website takes another approach.

Side note: On this same site, the quoted law does not say "concrete" or "direct" in it:

or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality) (Article 8(2)(b)(iv).


So there is always interpretation that plays a role. Do I have any reason to believe that JDHURF who admitted to being a leftists, is somehow looking at this objectively without ideology getting in the way? Absolutely not.”

You are being disingenuous to pretend that my being a leftist has anything at all to do with this conflict, as I made clear earlier in my response. That you cite a blog as an expert opinion is outright laughable. The blog itself goes quite a way in their disclaimer citing as much:

“The information contained on International Law Observer does not represent legal advice and no guaranty can be given for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information/facts presented here. The authors of International Law Observer strive to hold the contents on the newest status yet it can be that information becomes outdated, incomplete or false. In line with the befitting tradition of research conducted in the academic field, it is thus strongly advised to not rely upon facts expressed on this Blog without further investigation on your part sufficient to satisfy you in your independent judgment that it is true.

No assurance can be given by the authors of International Law Observer for the accuracy of information or assessments contained on other websites linked to on this Blog. Moreover, the authors of this Blog can not be held responsible for the contents of other pages (links to other sites - characterized by underlining), which link to International Law Observer or to which the present Blog links. It is to be guaranteed the user responsibility that each selected contents are free from viruses or the like.”

I don’t interpret the law, I cite it explicitly, while you cite blog opinions about the law.

Here is a very explicit case of Israel breaking international law, as reported by the Internatinoal Committee of the Red Cross, which I don’t doubt you will ignore:

“Relief workers found four starving children sitting next to their dead mothers and other corpses in a house in a part of Gaza City bombed by Israeli forces, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

The ICRC accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the hit area and demanded it grant safe access for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to return to evacuate more wounded.

"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

"The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded," he said.

In unusually strong terms, the neutral agency said it believed Israel had breached international humanitarian law in the incident.

In a written response, the Israeli army said it works in coordination with international aid bodies assist civilians and that it "in no way intentionally targets civilians".

The Israeli offensive launched in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Dec. 27 to end rocket attacks by Islamic militants has drawn increasing international criticism over mounting civilian casualties.

Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances and ICRC officials managed to reach several houses in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City on Wednesday after seeking access from Israeli military forces since last weekend, the ICRC statement said.

The rescue team "found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses", the ICRC said.

"They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses," it said.

In another house, the team found 15 survivors of Israeli shelling including several wounded, it said. Israeli soldiers posted some 80 meters (yards) away ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do, it said.

The ICRC said it had been informed that there were more wounded sheltering in other destroyed houses in the area.

"The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuated the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable," it said.

In all, it evacuated 18 wounded and 12 others who were exhausted, including the children, by donkey cart. This was because large earth walls erected by the Israeli army had made it impossible to bring ambulances into the immediate area.

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, warring parties are obliged to do everything possible to search for, collect and evacuate the wounded and sick without delay, it said.

Dominik Stillhart, ICRC deputy director of operations, declined to say explicitly whether the Israeli inaction constituted a war crime.

"Clearly, it is (for) the International Criminal Court -- not for the ICRC -- to say whether this is or is not a war crime," he said, referring to the Hague tribunal.

Ambulances must be given "round-the-clock" access to the wounded throughout Gaza, Stillhart told a news briefing. "We cannot wait for the next suspension of hostilities for the wounded to be evacuated and brought to hospital."

The Israeli army said any serious allegations would need to be investigated properly after a formal complaint was received, "within the constraints of the military operation taking place". (Additional reporting by Adam Entous in Jerusalem) (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jonathan Lynn)”

”According to the Geneva Conventions, an invading army is responsible for caring for the sick, wounded, and hungry in the territory it controls. Israel clearly does not observe these conventions, effectively blocking the delivery of food and medicine, firing upon ambulances and preventing them from reaching the wounded, and leaving the sick and wounded under its own control to die.

The problem with him bringing this up should be obvious. Israel does not control Gaza. It's not being re-occupied. I don't think any other country though, would call for a 'time-out' and allow for humanitarian aid to come in. But, one thing is important, it's all about ideology that he brought this quote. It's first an emotional response to innocents dying, and then looking for something to aide to bolster that ideology in legal terms. Its nothing abnormal. We all do it. So I am not convinced by the legal jargon. There is no intelligence needed to go to a website and copy & paste legal text. I mean the U.S. has also killed thousands of Iraqis and other than the fringe left (which perhaps should say something there) I don't recall seeing anyone screaming that America should be prosecuted for war crimes.”

This is absolutely shameful. I have gone over this time and time again with you, which means you are simply willfully lying here. To begin with, Israel does control the land, water and air surrounding Gaza and has effective control, however, as I have pointed out time and time again, that is irrelevant because Israel has the same obligations under international law whether it is the occupying force or whether it is engaged in armed conflict. I will simply repeat myself yet again:

“One source of the obligations imposed on Israel toward residents of the Gaza Strip is the laws of occupation, which are incorporated in the Hague Convention (1907) and in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). These laws impose general responsibility on the occupying state for the safety and welfare of civilians living in the occupied territory. The laws of occupation apply if a state has "effective control" over the territory in question. The High Court has held contrary to Israel 's claim, stating that the creation and continuation of an occupation does not depend on the existence of an institution administering the lives of the local population, but only on the extent of its military control in the area. Furthermore, a certain area may be deemed occupied even if the army does not have a fixed presence throughout the whole area. Leading experts in humanitarian law maintain that effective control may also exist when the army controls key points in a particular area, reflecting its power over the entire area and preventing an alternative central government from formulating and carrying out its powers. The broad scope of Israeli control in the Gaza Strip, which exists despite the lack of a physical presence of IDF soldiers in the territory, creates a reasonable basis for the assumption that this control amounts to "effective control," such that the laws of occupation continue to apply.

Even if Israel 's control in the Gaza Strip does not amount to "effective control" and the territory is not considered occupied, Israel still bears certain responsibilities under international humanitarian law. IHL is not limited to protecting civilians living under occupation, but includes provisions intended to protect civilians during an armed conflict, regardless of the status of the territory in which they live. Given that Israel contends that an armed conflict exists between it and the Palestinian organizations fighting against it, which has continued even after the disengagement, such provisions apply. These provisions are found, for example, in the Fourth Geneva Convention, pursuant to which Israel must protect the wounded, sick, children under age fifteen, and pregnant women, enable the free passage of medicines and essential foodstuffs, enable medical teams to provide assistance, and refrain from imposing collective punishment.”