Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bar'el: As occupier, Israel must face up to Goldstone report .

Zvi Bar'el has a really interesting article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper, talking about the Israeli reaction to the Goldstone report, and how the Israelis are wrong to view Goldstone's report as merely a reaction to the invasion of Gaza, but how, in fact, Goldstone uses the word "continuum", meaning that he is viewing the Israeli actions in Gaza as part of what Ber'el refers to as "a link in a chain as old as the occupation itself."

And that's a perfectly valid point. It's impossible for the Israelis to separate the occupation from the reaction of the people being occupied and yet that is what Netanyahu seems determined to do. He seeks to have the Israeli-Palestine conflict viewed as, somehow, part of the war on terror.

Unfortunately for us, the publication of this tome, not its content, has given rise to competition between Israel and other countries: The issue that concerns Israel is no longer the shocking description of the events, but if and where the report will be deliberated, and who will vote for or against. Israel has a score to settle with everyone except itself. Israel is fighting against the microscope.

And the medicine? That, too, is typical. After blaming the messenger, there is a need to look for a real culprit, who has already been found. The occupied and their violent messengers are to blame. They are the ones who attack from schools and mosques, who carry bombs in ambulances and who dare to oppose the occupation using unacceptable means, leaving no option but to kill them without discrimination. If this is so, then it is not the nature of warfare that needs to be changed but the laws that limit it. To legalize the illegitimate war. And a strategy to this end is taking shape called "asymmetric warfare" - an army against groups, an army against civilians; all that is left is for an army of legal experts to develop new legislation and provide new legitimacy to kill indiscriminately, sending Goldstone to the trash bin.
Netanyahu argues that Israel must have the right to defend itself from violent extremists, whilst ignoring the fact that the occupation is, in itself, an act of violence.

And Bar'el raises the interesting point that there have been no similar calls for a commission to examine the acts of US and British troops, even whilst they are in the middle of a war as unpopular as the one in Iraq.
The reason is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enjoy international legitimacy, to some extent in the eyes of the local people. More importantly, the occupation in Iraq has a defined termination date. The Israeli occupation, on the other hand, gives off signs of being eternal. Disgust at this is powerful enough to affect even our friends.
I don't know if I agree with Bar'el's claim that the Iraq war is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the world community, but I certainly accept his notion that the Israeli occupation looks eternal, especially with Netanyahu doing everything in his power to resist peace talks.

Netanyahu seeks to portray Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as no different from how any other state would react to rocket attacks. But, in his version, the occupation is completely irrelevant to what is taking place, whereas to most of us, the occupation is the main reason why rockets fall into Israel.

Action produces reaction. And occupations have always been resisted. That's as old as time. And only people like Netanyahu continue to be puzzled as to why this is so. Which is why he continues to insist that one has nothing to do with the other.


One only needs to read this to see how warped Netanyahu's logic is when it comes to this dispute:
When asked about stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu lamented the loss of precious time due to the Palestinians' sudden "preconditions that weren't there for the last 16 years."

He explained that the Palestinians' key demand, that Israel freeze construction in settlements on Palestinian land, was in effect "committing in advance to the results of the negotiations."

"It's the old technique. Let's agree on what the results of the negotiations will be before the negotiations begin," he said.
He's totally ignoring the fact that the settlements are completely illegal under international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
And the illegality of these settlements has repeatedly been made clear in several UN resolutions, including resolutions 446, 452, 465, 471 and 476 all of which find the settlements to be illegal.

Note that this is of no import to Netanyahu; he finds the Palestinians insisting that he conform with international law to be an outrage. He's also ignoring the fact that President Obama has also asked that the settlement building stop so that talks could begin.

But he doesn't mention him, it's far easier to malign the Palestinians than a popular US President.

Click here for full article.

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