Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fatah: "Hamas Are Criminals"

It seems the criticism of Hamas, including blaming Hamas and its supporters for the current death and destruction in Gaza, isn't limited to Israel and its supporters. A Fatah official in Ramallah, speaking on condition on anonymity to the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, said, in part:
"The Iranians and Syrians are using Hamas to undermine the Palestinian Authority and other moderate Arab governments. Victory for Hamas in this war would mean victory for Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. This is something we need to prevent."

So it seems even moderate Palestinians want an Israeli victory in Gaza. The anonymous official also hopes that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians.
"Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."

Funny, if you listen to the U.N. and some media outlets you'd think that Israel was responsible for all the killing and only Israelis could ever be considered war criminals. It seems that objective and honest people, even Palestinians, see things differently.

On the record Abdel Rahman, a senior advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, mocked claims made by Hamas leaders about their successes against Israel. He added:
"The Gaza Strip belongs to the Palestinian people. The Gaza Strip is part of Palestine and not a Hamas-owned estate."

I will repeat my contention that the only hope for peace to ever be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians depends on an Israeli victory in Gaza, not the premature ceasefire the U.N. is pushing for. Hamas must be removed from power and Gaza must be returned to Palestinian Authority control under international supervision.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

International Law and the Fighting In Gaza

Earlier today the Global Law Center issued a report titled International Law and the Fighting In Gaza. The report finds that Hamas has repeatedly violated international law and also cites "Israel's exemplary conduct." Here are a few key excerpts:
"Each one of the 6,000 rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian terrorists on civilian targets in Israeli towns is a war crime. Both the terror squads carrying out the attacks, as well as their commanders, bear criminal responsibility."


"A consortium of Palestinian terrorist groups have held Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado and out of reach of the International Committee of the Red Cross since 2006. This is a clear violation of international law concerning prisoners of war."


"The Palestinian attacks must be seen as terrorist attacks under the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, which makes it a crime to bomb public places (such as city streets) with the intent to kill civilians. Under this Convention, the Palestinian attackers are considered international terrorists and Israel is required to assume criminal jurisdiction over them."


"The Hamas attacks fall within this definition of genocide. The Covenant of Hamas explicitly advocates a religious holy war aimed at creating a regional Islamic entity encompassing the territory of Israel and the disputed areas."


"In contrast to the illegal Palestinian attacks from Gaza, Israeli counter-measures have been legal. Indeed, Israel’s responses to Palestinian terrorist attacks and war crimes have been limited to far less than the full measure of actions Israel could legally have undertaken. In fact, Israel’s responses may be properly criticized on the grounds of international law, if at all, for being insufficient rather than excessive.

Many of the legal criticisms of Israel are implicitly based upon misinterpretations of the relevant international law. Moreover, many of the charges are disingenuously based upon misstatements of fact or misuse of legal terminology."


"Under international law, it is certain that Israel has the right to use force in defending itself against Palestinian attacks from Gaza. If Gaza is an independent sovereignty, and entitled to all the rights of states under jus ad bellum, Israel would be entitled to use force against Gaza by authority of the inherent right to self-defense referenced by Article 51 of the UN Charter. Gaza would have lost its general immunity from attack by repeatedly striking at its neighbor state and Israel’s use of force would therefore be permissible on the grounds of self-defense."


"At the same time, it is clear that Palestinian actions in conducting military operations from within built-up civilian areas, thereby increasing Palestinian casualties, constitute war crimes. It is important to note that Israel is not required to refrain from attacking Palestinian combatants simply because they have chosen to hide behind civilians. As Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention makes clear, the presence of civilians 'may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.' The article also makes Palestinian attempts to use civilian shields unlawful. "

All of the accusations made against Israel to date have come from organizations with a long history of an anti-Israeli bias. These include Arab sources, the United Nations, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The U.N., in particular, stands accused of conducting a diplomatic and political war against Israel in an editorial published in last Thursday's New York Daily News by Anne Bayefsky of Eye On The U.N. Ms. Bayefsky believes that the 63 "Islamic [states] chokehold on the UN" leaves the organization incapable of even defining terrorism. She points to all the various condemnations of Israel and notes that the General Assembly has never found fault with other nations even in clear cases of genocide.
"The same Assembly never managed to hold a single emergency session on the 800,000 people who died in the Rwandan genocide, or the 3 million who are dead or displaced in Sudan."

A former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross once equated the Jewish Star of David with the Nazi swastika. Enough said.

Unfortunately much of the international media seems to share the anti-Israel agenda and serve as willing accomplices in the attempt to strip Israel of any ability to defend itself. Consequently I expect the Global Law Center report will get little or no media coverage. Both the organizations making the war crime changes against Israel and many in the media count on the fact that most people just aren't educated about international law or what it really has to say. We can't have the truth actually get out to people, can we? Rather the media assumes that a lie, repeated enough times, will become the truth.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Great Example Of Why I Love The United States: Today's Senate Resolution

Today the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel's right to defend itself against the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. The resolution was cosponsored by the normally unlikely duo of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senator Reid (D-NV) stated that the resolution would :
"..."strengthen our historic bond with the State of Israel by reaffirming Israel's inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

Senator McConnell (R-KY) made perhaps the strongest statement about why the United States continues to back the Israeli military action in Gaza, saying that Israel
"...responding exactly the same way [the US] would if rockets were being launched into the United States from Canada or Mexico."

This is a perfect example of why I love the United States. The U.S., like Europe, has strong commercial interests in the Arab world, not to mention U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be expedient to criticize Israel to protect those perhaps larger interests in the Muslim world. The U.S., unlike Europe, rarely if ever does that. There is an understanding of the history involved and a moral clarity that transcends the almighty dollar or partisan politics. There is a certain dishonesty in those who would condemn Israel and yet would demand action much like that taken by Israel if their own nations and families were under fire.

Sadly this resolution by the U.S. Senate today received little or no coverage in the American media. I had to go to the Jerusalem Post to find the story.

UPDATE: The Senate resolution actually passed unanimously, as did an identical resolution in the House of Representatives. Every single U.S. member of Congress, without exception, voted to support Israel.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

On Gaza: It's Time The World Sees What American Leaders See So Clearly

Last July President-elect Barack Obama visited Sderot, the Israeli town which has suffered most from Hamas rocket attacks eminating from Gaza. His words then were clear and unequivocal:
If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

In terms of negotiations with Hamas, it is very hard to negotiate with a group that is not representative of a nation state, does not recognize your right to exist, has consistently used terror as a weapon, and is deeply influenced by other countries.

President Bush has been equally clear. On Monday he spoke about the current fighting:
The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas. Instead of caring about the people of Gaza, Hamas decided to use Gaza to launch rockets to kill innocent Israelis. Israel's obviously decided to protect herself and her people.

Democratic leaders in Congress have been almost uniformly taking exactly the same position. This is perhaps the one and only issue in American politics today where there is no partisan divide. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has been a particularly forceful voice:
Israel is acting in clear self-defense in response to heinous rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. As a sovereign nation, Israel has an unequivocal right to take action to ensure the security and safety of her citizens. Indiscriminate attacks by Hamas are a serious detriment to the peace process in the region.

There are very few, even among Israel's harshest critics, who would deny the fact that the current crisis was started by unprovoked rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas. They, however, ignore this issue, reciting tired old lines about Palestinian grievances against Israel to justify Hamas terrorism and decry "Israeli aggression". The usual suspects on the far left and in the international media highlight Palestinian deaths and show us pictures of crying Palestinian children to tug at the heartstrings and turn public opinion against Israel. Outside the United States and Canada they have largely succeeded.

Maintream American media, thankfully, has been more balanced. CNN's Anderson Cooper showed the same disturbing images from Gaza but followed them with photos of Hamas rockets and destruction in southern Israel. PBS program "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" has, as always, shown both sides of the conflict. This seems to me to be the main reason why American public opinion is so different from that in the rest of the world. Americans have all the facts at their disposal, something those who rely on more biased media simply do not have.

The most interesting reaction has been from the Arab world. Oh, the streets and most media outlets have been denouncing Israel steadily, using extreme language and exaggeration together with graphic images to stoke passions against the Jewish state. This is to be expected. Every Israeli action is a new "genocide" or "holocaust". Those words have been so cheapened in that part of the world that they have almost lost any meaning, a tragedy in and of itself.

The reaction from Arab leaders has been far more muted for good reason. Moderate, mainly Sunni Arab leaders know that Hamas is their enemy as well and a proxy for Iran. Douglas Bloomfield, writing in the Jerusalem Post, calls these leaders "Israel's reluctant allies:"
From this tendency of Arab leaders to speak out of both sides of their mouths, one might get the impression that they suffer from a collective case of schizophrenia, but it's actually fear mixed with hypocrisy.

None of these dictators is a candidate for the next edition of Profiles in Courage. They are scared of the influence of the militant Islamists and the popularity of the Palestinian cause on the Arab street. Iran and its allies have focused on creating animosity to the entrenched and repressive Sunni regimes which, in the age of satellites and the Internet, can no longer turn public emotions on and off like a water tap.

That's why they are praying so hard for an Israeli victory.

Defeating Hamas now will certainly result in a tragic loss of life. Many innocent people, the majority of them Palestinians, will certainly die. However, it is time that the bleeding hearts on the left in both North America and Europe realize that dislodging Hamas now will prevent repeats of this war and bloodshed in the future and might, just maybe, revive some slim hope for peace in the future. In the long run letting Israel finish what it has started will save lives. My biggest fear is that world leaders, including American leaders, will allow images from Gaza and public sentiment to sway them into pressuring Israel to end the conflict prematurely.

I also ask those who only mourn Palestinian casualties to think about President-elect Obama's words. What would you want your government to do if missiles were raining down on your home and your family? Can any of you honestly say that you wouldn't want your government to do anything and everything necessary to stop the rockets and save your family?