Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN General Assembly, has made a name for himself speaking the truth in regard to Israel and in defence of the Palestinian people. Now calling Israel’s actions in Gaza genocide.
Brockmann told the UN in New York: “The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day… The situation is untenable. It’s genocide.”
Judging by the UN definition of genocide, provided by Juan Cole, it is hard to disagree.
Contemporary international legal thinking on genocide does consider destroying the lifeways of a people to be in this category. Here is the UN definition:
‘ In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part . . . ‘
That what the Israeli government is doing is intended to destroy in part the Palestinians as an independent people seems to me incontestable.
As Israeli tanks push deeper and deeper into the Gaza Strip from the north, south and east each night, we feel certain that come morning, Phase 3 of the Israeli offensive will be upon us. Yet the Israeli military seems insistent upon teasing the population, playing a ruthless game of terror against those living in neighborhoods that are at the forefront of the incursions, which are heavily bombarded each night. Each afternoon, four families of relatives who live only five minutes away from us gather their blankets, clothes and valuables and arrive at our front door, fearing that this will be the night. Each morning they return to their homes, thankful that, so far, only minimal damage has been done to their houses during the night. Each morning the Israeli military retreat to their original posts, on the outskirts of the neighborhoods. So far.
Uri Avnery with a really fantastic piece in Counterpunch. My one criticism is his conclusion that “in the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.” While it might be true, and I know his focus is the Israeli persepective, I still find it distasteful to conclude with the Israeli crime against Israel as opposed to the Israeli massacre against Gaza.
Nearly seventy ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called “the Red Army” held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.
Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.
This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if the Germans had won the war.
Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as “hostages” and exploit the women and children as “human shields”, they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.
One of the stories we often hear is that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Israel is in fact an apartheid democracy, in which only Jews have full democratic rights. The area controlled by Israel includes almost equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, which means that almost half of the people under some form or other of Israeli rule have less than full democratic rights. The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza can only vote for non-sovereign governments, and if they vote wrong, are starved. The ‘Arab Israelis’ (who make up 20% of the Israeli population excluding the West Bank and Gaza) face many restrictions, on which Adalah and Jonathan Cook provide good information. Today, Arab Israeli political parties have been banned from running in the nearby Israeli parliamentary elections. Here’s the story from Ha’aretz:
The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.
The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.
The following is a letter signed by attorneys and academics which appeared in The Sunday Timestitled “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime”. As Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 (there is no good reason why international consensus dates the injustice to ’67; it has its roots in the ethnic cleansing of ’48) it is not defending itself, in the legal sense, and is the aggressor. Diana Buttu put it succinctly when she said, “Israel has the right to protect itself it doesn’t have the right to protect its occupation.”
ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.
The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.
The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.
The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?
I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.
On February 29 last year the BBC’s website reported that Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai had threated a ‘holocaust’ on Gaza. The story would undergo nine revisions in the next twelve hours with the original headline — “Israel warns of Gaza ‘holocaust'”– replaced by “Gaza militants ‘risking disaster’“. (The story has been revised again since then with an exculpatory note added to soft-pedal Vilnai’s comments). One can see why an Israeli threatening a ‘holocaust’ might be unpalatable to those who routinely invoke its spectre to deflect criticism from the Jewish state’s criminal behaviour. In a deft move, not only had the BBC redacted the reference to a ‘holocaust’, it also shifted culpability into the hands of the ‘Gaza militants’.
One could argue that the BBC’s radical alteration of the story reflects its susceptibility to the kind of inordinate pressure routinely brought to bear by the Israel Lobby. But, as subsequent examples reveal, this story is exceptional only for its initial candor. The norm is reflexive self-censorship. Continue reading “Another Chorister for Israel”
Avi Shlaim, one of Israel’s new historians, on the crisis: “Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination.”
The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.
I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times. Continue…
From Juan Cole who later asks, why, if militants were firing from the school, would refugees be taking shelter there? It is such an obvious, propaganda based, lie, a lie that has become a knee-jerk reaction from Israel.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660. The Israelis say they took fire from one of the schools. Was it tank fire?
You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today. Continue…