Saturday, January 29, 2005

This is an article that appeared in the Tehran Times. I have copied it here because I didn't expect it to last very long on the Tehran Times website.

Lies of the Holocaust Industry

By Hossein Amiri

Subjecting an ethnic group or nation to torture under any pretext is quite unacceptable, but it is worse when the suffering is abused, and it is the worst when a group tries to exaggerate the event for political purposes.

By exaggerating the suffering of the Jews during World War II, Zionist groups and the Israeli regime are taking advantage of the situation by raising the issue at international organizations in order to neutralize any opposition to their diabolical plots.

No one is trying to ignore the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, but the suffering of a religious/ethnic group should not cause the world to forget the suffering of another nation or allow those who suffered persecution to do the same injustice to another nation.

Every year on January 27 the media give wide coverage to the so-called Holocaust and Tel Aviv rebukes the world for the historic suffering that they claim they experienced in the past.

Today the Holocaust has very complicated connotations. The exaggeration of this phenomenon can be interpreted as the Europeans’ attempt to salve their guilty consciences by handing over the lands of the Palestinian nation to a people to whom the Europeans believe they have done an injustice.

After the end of the war in 1945, the Allies along with Zionist leaders began formulating strange conceptions about the killing of Jews at Nazi camps which a modern man can hardly accept. By conjuring up images of gas chambers, they are attempting to convey the idea that the Jews have undergone indescribable torture and that the world’s conscience should be awakened to this issue so that the Jews are not subjected to injustice again.

In pursuit of this goal, the West, spearheaded by Britain and the United States, began sowing seeds for the seizure of Palestine and condemned the Palestinians to pay for a crime that the Westerners themselves had committed. Thus, this nation, which claims to have been the perennial victim of violence and torture over the course of history, is now doing the same thing to the Palestinians.

It was not long before a group of revisionist historians in the West began to question the claim that six million Jews were butchered by the Nazis and even asked whether the slaughter of six million Jews during World War Two was possible or not.

The revisionist historians have proven in two decades of study that if Hitler had carried out a systematic program to eradicate the Jews, it would have taken more time than the six years that the war lasted. They have also proven that such an act of ethnic cleansing through the use of the poison gas Zyklon-B, as the Zionists claim, was not possible at the time.

Norman J. Finkelstein, a Jewish professor at New York University critical of Zionist policies, has called the claim the “Holocaust Industry”, which is only meant to boost support for the government of Israel.

Over the past several decades and since the event was questioned, Zionist propagandists have tried to substantiate this claim through various means.

The Zionists are trying to revitalize an issue which has become discredited in the eyes of world public opinion by using the press, radio, television, the Internet, and, most importantly of all, cinema and the great filmmaking industry in Hollywood, since most of the significant players of this influential industry are Jews.

It can be said that any war, and particularly one that affects the world, will always lead to many problems and disasters, and World War II is no exception.

Undoubtedly, the Nazi concentration camps were not holiday resorts and imposed various difficulties on the prisoners, just like any other detention camps in other wars.

Many people in these camps, including innocent men, women and children, died of hunger, illness, and other causes.

The victims were from different nations and ethnic groups, including the Jews, who also lost many people, but the Jews were not the only victims of the war and a greater number of innocent people from other ethnic groups also lost their lives.

The issue of the Holocaust and the anniversaries held for the event are only meant to promote the repressive policies of the Zionists.

The Jews suffered as a result of Hitler’s expansionism, just like other innocent victims but should not be granted special privileges over the others.

The declaration that six million Jews were killed in World War II is an exaggeration of the truth. Furthermore, the suffering and pains of a nation cannot justify their crimes against other nations.

The issue of the Holocaust is only being highlighted to cover up Israel’s crimes in Palestine.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Rabbi: Disengagement caused Tsunami

Mati Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former chief rabbi of Israel and leading halachic authority in the religious Zionist camp said this week that the tsunami that wracked South East Asia was retribution for supporting the disengagement plan.

In the latest edition of "Mayanei Hayeshua", a weekly Torah pamphlet distributed to thousands of synagogues throughout the country, Eliyahu was asked how we are to understand the tsunami.

Eliyahu answered, "The [Babylonian] Talmud [the tractate of Berachot]says that when God is angry at the nations of the world for not aiding Israel - they want to evacuate, to disengage, to interfere in our affairs, He claps his hands, causing an earthquake."

Some 280,000 died in the natural disaster according to the most recent death toll.

Eliyahu also expressed his support for those soldiers who decided to "hand over their guns to an officer and join settlers" against disengagement.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Israeli-Russian journalist calls for castration as anti-terror step

Lily Galili

An article calling for the castration of Israeli Arabs as a means of fighting terrorism was published last week in the leading Israeli-Russian daily Novosti. The article,called "How To Force Them To Leave" and written by Marian Belenki, one of the paper's prominent journalists, said that the threat of castration may be strong enough to encourage the Arabs to leave the country.

The author also proposed that the Chinese method for lowering birth rates be implemented in Israel for the Arab population in order to lower their birth rates. According to this method, people who have more than one child are deprived of various benefits, lose their jobs, and are under threat of exile. Cash prizes for young men who voluntarily agree to the castration will also be provided, according to the proposed method.

The paper's editor, Leonid Petorkovsky, said the publication of the article was a grave mistake, explaining that the editors overlooked the contents of the article and checked only grammar and spelling. He added that after the publication of the article, the paper published a condemnation of the piece, and suspended the editor responsible for three months.

However, what is even more surprising than the fact that the piece got published, is that the paper did not receive any responses from readers or public representatives of the Russian community. It should be noted that the paper is one of two leading dailies of the Russian community in Israel.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

International Conference on Middle East Policies

The Israel/Palestine Conflict,

The Geopolitical Focus Point of a World in Crisis

Peace Palace, The Hague, November 6, 2004

“The United Nations and International Law”

Remarks by Dr. Pieter H.F. Bekker

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have been asked to address the impact of the United Nations and International Law on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I do so from my perspective as a former Senior Counsel to Palestine in the advisory proceeding before the International Court of Justice in the case concerning the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory earlier this year.

The case constituted my inaugural involvement with the Middle East conflict. Never before had I studied that conflict closely, from either side. I side not with Israel or Palestine, but with International Law. My belief, as a former United Nations official and ICJ staff lawyer, in upholding the primacy of International Law convinced me to assist Palestine in the Wall Case. My involvement with Palestine has remained limited to the ICJ proceeding, and I
wish to emphasize that I speak here today in my individual capacity as an international law specialist.

In stark contrast to what Israel has claimed, and the media have reported, the ICJ case was not about Israel’s right to protect itself through a fence, or barrier, or wall, which it is entitled to do as a sovereign state. Rather, the case was about the course, or the route, of the Wall, running for 99% outside recognized Israeli borders and inside Palestinian territory. For this
reason, the Wall is an illegal measure purportedly to protect Israelis against suicide bombings. Those suicide bombings rightly were condemned, in no uncertain terms, in not one but two paragraphs of Palestine’s written statement to the ICJ, and again during Palestine’s oral intervention before the Court.

On July 9th, the ICJ, by 14 votes to 1, with only the U.S. Judge dissenting, found that Israel’s construction of the Wall in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violates various international obligations incumbent upon Israel. In the Court’s view, the Wall must be dismantled immediately, and Israel must make reparation for any damage caused. The Opinion spells out the legal consequences flowing from the Wall’s illegality for Israel, for other states, and for the United Nations.

The 64-page Opinion is a landmark ruling in more than one respect. I submit that the ICJ’s authoritative statements on the applicable international law should change the parameters for any negotiated solution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The legal landscape undeniably has changed since July 9th, and in the next half hour I will attempt to explain how and to explore the ruling’s potential. First, the ruling was the first-ever judicial pronouncement on a current aspect of the conflict. Second, the ICJ authorized Palestine to participate. Third, the Court concluded that the Palestinian territory concerned is occupied, and not “disputed” as Israel has claimed.

Fourth, the ICJ found that the Israeli settlements violate international law. Fifth, the Court concluded that the Geneva Conventions are applicable to the Palestinian territories. Sixth, the ICJ found that international human rights law applies to Palestinians alongside international humanitarian law.

Finally, the ICJ rejected Israel’s security arguments pertaining to the Wall. After highlighting these various pronouncements of the ICJ in aid of the panel discussion that follows, I will address what the Court’s ruling could, and should, mean for the future. First and foremost, the case signaled the first time that a judicial organ has ruled, based on objective facts documented in United Nations reports, on a prominent aspect of the problem in application of the rules of international law. In the past, only the General Assembly and the Security Council, which are the political organs of the United Nations, had dealt with the conflict
with varying results. The ICJ acknowledged that the Security Council, by resolution 1515 of November 19, 2003, had endorsed the so-called “Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” but it pointed out that neither the Roadmap nor resolution 1515 contains any specific provision concerning the construction of the Wall. In other words, the ICJ rejected Israel’s attempt to create a fact-on-the-ground through the
construction of the Wall, to super-impose that fact on the Road Map process, and then
to demand that the Palestinians negotiate their way out.

The ICJ had a clear message for its fellow UN organs. It rebuked the Security Council for having repeatedly failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security as a result of a veto of one of its permanent members. The Court emphasized “the urgent necessity for the United Nations as a whole to redouble its efforts to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, … , to a speedy solution.” It held that “[t]he
United Nations … should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.”

Thus, the Opinion constitutes the guideline for future UN action regarding the question of Palestine. The United Nations, being an equal member of the “Quartet” along with the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, can no longer defer to the United States for mediation of the conflict. It is no longer “business as usual” after July 9th.

Another highlight of the case is the fact that the ICJ allowed the participation in the proceeding of Palestine, an entity which enjoys Observer status with the UN General Assembly. Over the objection of Israel included in a private letter to the ICJ, the Court gave Palestine a voice at the highest legal stage. This was a victory by itself. Never before in the history of ICJ advisory proceedings had an entity that is not recognized as a state by the
United Nations actually participated. Moreover, the Court observed that the existence of a “Palestinian people” for purposes of the right to self-determination is no longer in issue.

Palestine did not waste this unique opportunity. Its legal team before the ICJ consisted of the leading specialists from Oxford and Cambridge, Belgium, Egypt, and myself from The Netherlands. The team comprised Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We readily accepted this assignment at reduced fees because we were all convinced that the West Bank Wall is in breach of international law. Our joint desire to serve the administration of international justice
brought us together. The legal team did not receive any instructions whatsoever from the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah. Ambassador Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, who led Palestine’s ICJ team, wisely let the specialists handle the case.

Another major development represented by the ICJ ruling relates to the fact that it is the first time that an international court has ruled on the status of the territory concerned. The ICJ noted that the territories situated between the line indicated in the 1949 Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, the so-called “Green Line,” and the former eastern boundary of Palestine under the League of Nations Mandate of Palestine were occupied territories in which Israel has had the status of occupying power since 1967. It thus explicitly
rejected Israel’s position that these territories are “disputed” territory.

This point alone should have a major impact on the debate. Since July 9th, neither Israel nor its allies can claim in good faith that the territory that is the subject of the conflict is “disputed,” as opposed to “occupied.” Important legal ramifications flow from this characterization, especially the prohibition on making changes to the status of occupied territory, including by transferring the occupying power’s population to the occupied territory.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the ruling is the fact that the ICJ explicitly ondemned the settlements that Israel has established in Palestinian territory since 1967. Just as in the case of the Wall, Israel justified the settlements as only temporary structures when it began building them some 37 years ago.

While Palestine took a modest approach and did not specifically ask the ICJ to declare the settlements illegal, logic dictated that the Court should come to this conclusion. Palestine had submitted a series of satellite images showing the correlation between the route of the Wall and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Based on this objective evidence, the ICJ observed that, within the Closed Area between the Green Line and the Wall, the Wall’s “sinuous route has been traced in such a way as to include within that area the great majority of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem)” and around 80% of the Israeli settlers. The ICJ found that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.” Even the American ICJ judge stated that “the segments of the wall being built by Israel to protect the settlements are ipso
facto in violation of international humanitarian law.”

The settlements being illegal, no wall can lawfully protect them. That should not be difficult to understand for the media, the general public, and, especially, policy-makers. The ICJ recalled that both the General Assembly and the Security Council in their resolutions have referred, with regard to Palestine, to the fundamental rule of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, or annexation. The Court considered that the construction of the Wall and its associated regime create a “fait accompli” on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case it would be tantamount to de facto annexation. In the
light of this holding, no UN member state can declare, in good faith, that any Israeli settlement constitutes an acceptable fact-on-the-ground, and Israel cannot claim under international law that any land occupied by it since 1967 should be a part of the State of Israel, now or in the future. Thus, Prime Minister Sharon’s Disengagement Plan, which was accepted by the Israeli Parliament on October 26th, violates international law to the extent it purports unilaterally to perpetuate the illegal settlements in the West Bank. The July 9th Opinion has removed any doubt on this point.

Faced with these statements of the world’s highest judicial organ, the Palestinians should not be forced to negotiate with Israel over what has been declared by 15 independent judges to be plainly illegal. The ICJ referred to the need to achieve “as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a negotiated solution” to the conflict. Since July 9th, Israel can no longer claim in good faith that the settlements are legal, or at best “disputed,” and that their fate should be negotiated. Why should illegalities be subject to negotiations which according to the ICJ are to proceed “on the basis of international law?” That is the question which should be the focus of the debate.

The ICJ also decided the threshold question of whether the Geneva Conventions are applicable to Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories. The ICJ found that both the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilian persons in times of war, to which Israel is a party, and the 1907 Hague Regulations on the Laws and Customs on War on Land, a source that is binding on Israel as customary international law, are applicable to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Court noted that numerous
resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council over some 30 years have affirmed the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Thus, since July 9th the Israeli Government can no longer claim in good faith that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to Israel’s operations in the Palestinian territories and that the Geneva protections are not available to the Palestinian population. This brings into play the mechanism of the Geneva Conventions, including through authoritative statements by the Conference of the
High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions. The Conference should be actively engaged in ensuring compliance with the July 9th ruling.

Another significant legal breakthrough accomplished by the July 9th ruling is the fact that the ICJ confirmed that international humanitarian law is applicable alongside international human rights law that is binding on Israel. Israel has denied that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (“ICESCR”), and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, all of which have been ratified by Israel, are applicable to the Palestinian territories. In Israel’s view, these treaties protect only Israeli citizens. But the ICJ pointed out that the protection offered by human rights conventions does not cease in case of armed conflict, save through the effect of (in this case inapplicable) provisions for derogation included in those instruments.

Thus, since July 9th Israel can no longer claim in good faith that it does not have to apply human rights law to Palestinians. The ICJ’s conclusion on this point opens up remedies on the human rights front. Of particular significance also is the fact that the ICJ was not convinced that the specific course Israel has chosen for the Wall was necessary to attain its security objectives. The Court recognized that the Wall is not just a linear phenomenon, but that it comes with a regime of restrictive measures affecting the Palestinian population. In the Court’s view, the Wall, along the route chosen, and its associated regime “gravely infringe a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel.”

After weighing all the arguments, the ICJ ruled that “the infringements resulting from that route cannot be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order.” Thus, in the post July 9-situation, the Israeli Supreme Court, to whose decisions the Israeli authorities and the media prefer to refer, can no longer conclude in good faith that the Wall satisfies the necessity criterion under international law. And if the
necessity criterion is not satisfied, the twin criterion of proportionality becomes moot.
Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in the International Herald Tribune on July 14th that “the court’s decision makes a mockery of Israel’s right to defend itself.” The text of the ICJ’s Opinion, which devotes some eight paragraphs on four pages to the issue, suggests the opposite. The ICJ explicitly recognized that Israel “has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond [to deadly acts of violence against its civilian population] in order
to protect the life of its citizens.” But the Court emphasized at the same time that the “measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.” These latter words are routinely and conveniently ignored in reporting about the ICJ case. But they constitute the very essence of the ICJ’s ruling and its emphasis on the applicability of International Law. The debate similarly should shift to emphasize the Rule of
International Law.

The ICJ concluded that Israel’s violations pertaining to the Wall trigger its responsibility under international law, and found inter alia: (1) that Israel must comply with the international obligations it has breached, including its obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; (2) that Israel immediately must cease the works of construction of the Wall being built by it in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and dismantle those parts; and (3) that Israel has the obligation to make reparation for the damage caused to all the natural or legal persons concerned, either by returning the land, orchards, olive groves and other immovable property seized from any natural or legal person for purposes of construction of the Wall, or, if such restitution is materially impossible, to compensate the persons in question for the damage suffered.

With regard to the legal consequences of the Wall’s illegality for other states, the ICJ noted that the obligations violated by Israel include certain obligations erga omnes, namely, the irreproachable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and certain of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law, which are to be observed by all states because they constitute intransgressible principles of customary international law. This
means that every state in the world has a legal interest in the protection of these principles, which are at the very heart of the Middle East conflict. Presumably, but this remains unclear under international law, this creates a right of action that could be pursued by any state before any international court of competent jurisdiction. Perhaps the time has come for eligible states to initiate a test case, much like the case that Ethiopia and Liberia brought before the ICJ in 1960 following two earlier ICJ Opinions regarding South Africa’s illegal presence in Namibia, the former South-West Africa.

In the Court’s view, all states are bound not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall in Palestinian territory. All states also are bound not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by Israel’s construction of the Wall, and they must see to it that any impediment, resulting from its construction, to the exercise by
the Palestinian people of the right to self-determination is brought to an end. While the ICJ did not address the legal consequences for natural and legal persons such as private companies, presumably this holding means that all states also must discourage their nationals and companies of their nationality from assisting in any form in the construction of the Wall, and if any state fails to prevent or correct the illegal actions of its nationals in this
respect it may trigger that state’s responsibility under international law.

Israel has pointed out, and the media have emphasized, that Advisory Opinions of the ICJ are non-binding. But this non-binding character does not mean that such opinions are without legal effect, because the legal reasoning embodied in them reflects the Court’s authoritative views on important issues of international law and in arriving at them, the ICJ follows essentially the same rules and procedures that govern its binding judgments delivered in contentious cases between sovereign states. An Advisory Opinion derives its status and authority from the fact that it is the official pronouncement of the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Indeed, Judge Higgins, the British ICJ judge who was critical of the ICJ’s Opinion despite voting in favor of it, stated that “the Court’s position as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations suggests that the legal consequence for a finding that an act or situation is illegal is the same” as a binding decision of a UN organ acting under Articles 24 and 25 of the UN Charter. (According to Article 25, “[t]he Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.”) I submit that the fact that the ICJ concluded that the obligations violated by Israel include certain obligations erga omnes, i.e., obligations that are to be observed by all states and which constitute intransgressible principles, or “super rules,” of international law, means that those obligations transcend the non-binding Advisory Opinion that spells out the obligations. In other words, these obligations could be said to apply to Israel and other states independently of the Court’s Opinion. One may attack the messenger, but the message itself is indeed intransgressible.

The question may be asked: what next? As a first step toward implementation of the ICJ’s Opinion, the UN General Assembly voted 150-6 to acknowledge the ICJ Opinion on July 20th, and decided “to reconvene to assess the implementation of the present resolution.” This represents only the third instance in which the Assembly has decided on follow-up action after receiving an Advisory Opinion. This development means that we now know the legal position regarding core aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as judicially determined by the ICJ in its Opinion and as acknowledged by the General Assembly, the
UN organ with primary responsibility for the question of Palestine. The Opinion thus represents the law at large recognized by the United Nations.

The resolution specifically considered that “respect for the International Court of Justice and its functions is essential to the rule of law and reason in international affairs.” Yet Israel’s Finance Minister wrote in the International Herald Tribune in reaction to the ICJ’s decision that “the government of Israel will ignore it.” This stance means that Israel can no longer
claim that it is the only law-abiding democracy in the Middle East, for Israeli law consists of both domestic law and customary international law, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled.

The Advisory Opinion provides a potent instrument in this regard and its potential is unlimited if it is used in the right way. The Opinion is the yardstick for measuring Israel’s compliance with International Law. States by and large comply with the ICJ’s rulings not because they are binding or not, but because they want to avoid being regarded as a bad or “rogue” member of the community of nations. In the current circumstances, the ICJ’s advisory jurisdiction is Palestine’s best, and perhaps only, weapon, which it could use again with the support of the Arab-African membership of the General Assembly.

A New York newspaper’s editorial stated last week in connection with the Israeli Parliament’s vote on Mr. Sharon’s Disengagement Plan: “In what other Middle Eastern country would a nationalistic general and war hero have to submit any sort of controversial plan to democratic scrutiny?” This statement ignores that the Disengagement Plan violates international law to the extent it purports unilaterally to perpetuate Israeli settlements in the West Bank
declared by the ICJ to be illegal. The ICJ’s Opinion is a reminder that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is subject to International Law. The Israeli Government is reminded that the General Assembly’s acknowledging resolution demanded, 150-6, not that Israel and all UN member states comply with the non-binding ICJ Opinion, but that they comply with “the legal obligations as mentioned in the Advisory Opinion,” thereby underscoring that the focus should not be on the ICJ as the messenger, but on those legal obligations.

It is interesting, and instructive, to look at the analogies between the Wall Case before the ICJ and the Namibia Case in the 1970s, which eventually resulted in Namibian statehood, even though the analogy as such is disputed among international lawyers. As you may recall, the ICJ issued an Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia in 1971, finding that the presence of South Africa in Namibia was illegal; that South Africa was under obligation to put an end to its
occupation of Namibia; and that UN member states had the duty to recognize the illegality of South Africa’s presence in Namibia and had to refrain from any dealings with the Government of South Africa implying recognition of the legality of, or lending support or assistance to, its presence in Namibia. The wording of the operative paragraph of the Namibia Opinion is very similar to that found in the Wall Opinion. Indeed, Namibia was the blue-print on which Palestine’s case before the ICJ was built.

In the 1950s, the General Assembly requested, and successfully obtained, several ICJ Opinions regarding the South-West Africa situation. The Assembly could request a new Advisory Opinion on the aspect of Israel’s compliance with the ICJ Opinion of July 9th. The Security Council could do the same, based on the statement in the Opinion that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … continues to pose a threat to international peace and security.” While it undoubtedly would raise the issue of a veto, it should be kept in mind that the Council has never had occasion to decide whether a draft resolution requesting an Advisory Opinion had been adopted despite the negative vote of a permanent member. It is not at all certain that the United States would just as easily use its veto power as it has in the past regarding aspects of the question of Palestine, because it now has an ICJ ruling to contend with. It is a different ball-game altogether.

Perhaps there is an intermediate solution. While South Africa did not immediately comply with the wishes of the world community and the World Court, it effectively was isolated through a United Nations boycott. The ICJ Opinion of July 9th does not in and of itself create a cause of action to prohibit private economic interests from assisting in the construction of Israel’s version of the Berlin Wall. It is the task of the UN’s political organs to demand
that all states and their natural and legal persons refrain from assisting Israel in building its illegal Wall in support of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, individual states should take guidance from the ICJ’s ruling and ensure that their obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by Israel’s construction of the Wall is not frustrated or circumvented by any persons within their jurisdiction. The interference by a state or its nationals with an intransgressible rule of international law arguably provides any other state with a legal interest to see to it that this rule is protected and that the interference is stopped.

In Namibia’s case, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions that not only prohibited UN member states from certain dealings with the South African Government, but also called upon those states to discourage their nationals or companies of their nationality from dealing with South Africa. The Security Council should follow the precedent set by itself and take similar action if Israel continues to construct its illegal Wall and perpetuate the illegal
settlements unilaterally. If a similar process is followed in the Wall Case as that pursued in the Namibia Case, it will be difficult for the Powers that be to act differently in the present situation, lest they open themselves up to legitimate criticism of imposing different standards in like situations.

The power of precedent should be trusted. Great lessons can be learnt from history. Namibia gained independence in March 1990, 19 years after the ICJ’s Namibia Opinion. There is no reason why the ICJ’s Opinion of July 9th should not prove to be a similar catalyst for change in the conflict between Israel and Palestine and will lead, in the shortest possible term, to what the principal judicial organ of the United Nations now has described as “the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours, with peace and security for all in the region.” As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor reminded us a few days ago: “International law is a help in our search for a more peaceful world.”

There is ample reason for hope and optimism since July 9th.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Disengagement from Gaza
Adopted by MERETZ
USA,December 12,2004

After four years of deadly violence and diplomatic paralysis, there is renewed hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may begin to move toward a peaceful resolution.  Several factors have combined: the death of Yasir Arafat, indications that the second Bush administration will be more active in promoting peace,and the emergence of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ’s plan to disengage from Gaza.

While some believe —and the Prime Minister ’s closest aide [Dov Weisglass] publicly admitted — that the disengagement plan was initially designed to put the idea of a Palestinian state and the end of the occupation "in formaldehyde," the momentum imparted by Arafat ’s death and the possibility of a new Palestinian leadership committed to ending the Intifada an moving toward peace, is sufficient for us to declare our support for the Prime Minister ’s plan.

The plan represents both a model and precedent for Israel by mandating the withdrawal from settlements located in Palestinian areas.  It also offers the prospect of coordination with the Palestinian Authority —in effect, negotiations —to assure that Israel does not leave behind anarchy and an incipient terror state.

It is our hope and expectation that this withdrawal from Gaza will be the first step toward a negotiated withdrawal to secure and mutually agreed-upon borders.  In this respect, the disengagement fits well with President Bush ’s Road Map that requires the Palestinian Authority to take steps to contain violence and that Israel dismantle unauthorized settlement outposts.  Thus, we lend our support to the withdrawal as an essential step toward direct negotiations leading to an end to Israel ’s occupation of the West Bank as well as Gaza, and the creation of a viable, sovereign and peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel.  We call on the administration and members of Congress to pursue and support the disengagement plan as part of the Road Map leading to final-status negotiations and, ultimately, a full and just peace..

It is our hope that this will be the first step toward a negotiated withdrawal to secure and mutually agreed-upon borders.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tali Fahima by Roland Rance

At the end of December, Israel charged activist Tali Fahima with several offences including assisting the enemy during wartime, passing on information to the enemy, illegal possession of a weapon and maintaining contact with foreign agents. Tali has been held under administrative detention (the Israeli equivalent of internment without tri8al) since August – the first Israeli Jewish woman, and the first Israeli Jewish leftist, to be subjected to this measure regularly applied against Palestinian activists, and very occasionally against Israeli fascists. During this time, she has been subject to ill-treatment, including sexual harassment, sleep deprivation, prolonged periods of painful shackling, denial of food, cigarettes, soap, shampoo and toothpaste, and other forms of low-level torture.

The gravity of the charges, and the severity of her treatment, suggest that Israel views Tali Fahima as s significant threat to Israel’s security. Yet, according to friends in her defence campaign, the substance of the charges is in fact very little, and relates mainly to documents left behind by the Israeli army when it quit Jenin, and which she is accused of translating into Arabic, a language she does not know, for the benefit of Palestinians fluent in Hebrew.

Why then has Israel laid such serious charges against Tali, and so badly treated her under detention? And what sort of threat, if any, does she constitute to Israeli security?

Tali Fahima is a 29-year-old legal secretary from the poor town of Kiryat Gat in southern Israel; a town established in 1955 on the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages of Faluja and of Iraq al-Manshiyya, in order to absorb Jewish immigrants from Morocco. Structurally impoverished, and far from Israel’s economic, cultural and political centre, Kiryat Gat has always been a stronghold of the nationalist right-wing.

Tali, who voted for Sharon at the last election, has no history of involvement with protest groups or anti-occupation activity. However, with the intensification of the Palestinian Intifada, she did the almost unthinkable in Israel. Instead of accepting the daily propaganda lies about Arab blood lust, she decided to find out for herself why so many Palestinians were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to strike a blow at Israel. So she phoned Zakiriya Zbeidi., commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, to ask him. This conversation led to the first of several visits to Jenin, where she was astonished to be accepted as an honoured guest, and began to see the Palestinians as a people struggling against oppression, rather than the inhuman and unreasoning mass they were portrayed as in the Israeli media.

As her involvement with the people of Jenin deepened, Tali declared her willingness to act as a human shield for Zbeidi, the target of several Israeli assassination attempts. This led to her first confrontation with the Shin Bet, who demanded that she spy on Zbeidi and others. Tali refused, and was summoned to several more interrogations, until her detention in the summer. This was followed by crude character assassination, with the Israeli press repeating false allegations of a sexual affair between Fahima and Zbeidi, and of her alleged involvement in Palestinian bombing attacks in Israel.

Since her detention, the Shin Bet have not interrogated Tali Fahima about her activity, nor even attempted to find out about her contacts in Jenin. Rather, they have engaged in discussion on whether there is indeed an occupation, in order, one told her, “to convince her to be once again a good Jewish girl”.

And this, it seems, is Tali Fahima’s real offence – that, as a working-class Mizrahi Jewish woman from a poor and neglected development town, she has strayed so far from the national consensus. As several of her supporters have noted, what can be contained and ignored in a westernised middle-class intellectual from the wealthy liberal suburbs of north Tel Aviv, cannot be allowed in someone like Tali Fahima. Like Mordechai Vanunu, who at the age of nine moved from a comfortable life in Marrakesh to the poverty of Beersheba, Tali Fahima was supposed to be grateful to receive the crumbs scattered by the Israeli establishment. Their refusal is potentially a far greater than the resistance of the liberal peace camp.

As a supporter, Lin Chalozin-Dovrat of the Women's Coalition for Just Peace, has commented, “If a good girl of Kiryat Gat and a Likud voter thinks that the occupation is a catastrophe, who knows, maybe more people will awake from the coma and find out we are all being screwed? What if tomorrow some more Tali Fahimas will get up and start thinking independently?”

The lesson which the Israeli opposition must draw from this is the need, if they are to build a movement really capable of challenging the establishment, to address the concerns of Israel’s oppressed – the women, the poor, the Mizrahis, who form the majority of Israel’s Jewish population but who have benefited little from the existence of Israel as “Jewish state” built on the ruins of multi-ethnic Palestine.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Like Melanie Phillips, I, too, gave a talk at Limmud on the subject of American neo-conservatives, and I would like to ask her the following questions:

What is "extremely moral" about the neo-cons' support for right-wing dictatorships in central and South America during the 1970s and 1980s for the illegal Iran-Contra affair, and for apartheid in South Africa?

What is "Jewish" about their alliance with the religious right and its project to Christianise America? And, from what Jewish sources do they derive their uncritical and unequivocal backing for the abolition of abortion?

So, according to Melanie Phillips, "neo-conservatism is a quintessentially Jewish project".
Funnily enough, I had never realised that redistributing wealth form the poor to the rich, energetically destroying the environment and refusing to accept the rule of law both at home and abroad were so integral to Judaism.
I'd always thought that rabbinic hostility to violence and oppression should lead Jews to oppose empire rather than celebrate it, and that the notion of tzedakah as justice should lead us to give to those in need rather than cut their benefits on the grounds of "encouraging enterprise".

Does Melanie Phillips really think that intelligent people can accept that the neo-cons are the "front-line" in the defence of Jewish and western values?
The novelist Sara Paretsky, writing this week in the Guardian, relates how her late grandmother escaped from the pogroms of Eastern Europe in in 1911 to settle in the USA to "come home" to freedom.
Now, as Sara Paretsky observes, opinion, in the once so-admired land of freedom, views such practices as imprisonment without trial as a necessary price to pay for protection against terrorism. This echoes the view that teh torture of Jews, Communists and others was a "necessary price" to pay for moving Germany in a better direction.

Telegraph | Expat | The countries that we love and hate

The great American wit H L Mencken contemplated every state of the Union before the Second World War and decided that, judged by any criterion one cared to name, Mississippi was incomparably the worst. It was by far the poorest, ugliest, least well educated and most comprehensively racist.

A YouGov survey for The Telegraph cast its net more widely and invited respondents to rate almost two dozen countries, including Britain, on the basis of 12 separate criteria.

Respondents were urged to name the three countries they thought best in the world according to each of the dozen criteria and also the three they thought worst.

YouGov's findings – set out in the chart – offer a fascinating insight into how modern Britons see the wider world.

It turns out the British have a high regard for their own country but only within limits.

Nearly half of Britons regard their country as being one of the most democratic countries in the world and one of the most deserving of international respect - a reputation likely to be enhanced by Britain's response to the tsunami disaster.

Nearly half also say that Britain is one of the three countries where they would most like to live.

However, most of these figures can easily be looked at the other way. If roughly half of Britons think Britain is a splendid country in which to live, that means the other half would prefer to live somewhere else.

Opinion is also divided on whether Britain is likely, during the present century, to prove dynamic. Roughly one in five thinks it will, but one in eight is far more pessimistic and thinks Britain will be among the least dynamic nations in the world.

Decades after the loss of the Empire, YouGov's findings also show that Britons still see the old white Commonwealth countries – and, to a lesser extent, the United States – as part of their "patch".

A glance down the column headed "The top five" shows the dominance of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada and also the relevant insignificance of countries on the European continent. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are rated unusually safe and Australians unusually friendly. The USA has a more mixed reputation: dynamic and democratic, yes, but also dangerously unsafe.

One in three of YouGov's respondents regards America as one of the world's three "least safe" countries – more than think the same of Israel, Egypt or South Africa.

Moreover, while 19 per cent reckon the US is one of the countries "most deserving of international respect", a considerably larger proportion, 25 per cent, reckon that under this heading it is one of the world's "least deserving" countries. A few countries stand out because of what Britons believe to be their individual attributes.

For example 70 per cent reckon Japan is one of the nations producing the world's most reliable consumer goods, though Japan is scarcely rated in other ways.

Similarly, although most continental European countries scarcely feature in the ratings (and Spain, in particular, does not feature among the top or bottom five in any of them), Italy and France stand out as countries thought to have some of the world's most beautiful buildings and works of art.

Against that, the French and the Germans are thought to be among the world's least friendly people.

While Britain and several old Commonwealth countries have high ratings across the board, the survey reveals some places as being almost pariah states. Large numbers of Britons admire Indian food – but only provided they can eat it here.

Otherwise India rates highly among countries where Britons would least like to live and would least like to go on holiday. Only one in eight thinks India in the 21st century will show significant dynamism.

Russia and China also perform badly in the survey. A glance down the column of the chart headed "The bottom five" shows Russia featuring in a formidable 11 of the 12 categories.

Britons think Russia is undemocratic, unsafe, unfriendly and unattractive in almost every respect. It is credited only with having beautiful art and architecture.

The fact that India, Russia and China are, in their different ways, given poor ratings probably comes as no surprise. More surprising is how little regard Britons are found to have for Israel.

The violence and Israel's continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza appear to have done immense damage to its standing. Israel comes top of the list of countries where people would least like to live and would least like to take a holiday.

It is also the country thought least deserving of international respect. Despite being the only fully democratic state in the Middle East, it is also thought to be among the world's "least democratic countries".

Of the 12 criteria set out in YouGov's check-list, Israel comes out bottom in four cases and among the bottom five in a total of eight. Only Russia has a worse overall score.

Britons clearly regard Israel and Russia in the same dim light that H L Mencken regarded Mississippi.

Several countries – notably the United States – turn out to have "crossover" reputations.

Large numbers rate them highly. Large numbers take the opposite view.

Not only is America seen as a country both much deserving and not at all deserving of international respect, but Britons as a whole seem unable to decide whether the Americans should be counted among the world's friendliest people.

Yes, definitely, say 20 per cent of Britons. But, no certainly not, say 10 per cent, who place Americans in the same category as Israelis, Russians and Egyptians.

The British are similarly ambivalent about the quality of consumer goods from China.

As the figures in the chart show, 16 per cent of YouGov's sample reckon Chinese goods are among the best in the world while 21 per cent reckon they are among the worst.

YouGov elicited the views of 2,058 adults across Great Britain on line between December 17 and 20.

The data have been weighted to conform to the demographic profile of British adults as a whole. YouGov abides by the rules of the British Polling Council.

Anthony King is professor of government at Essex University