A World Full Of War Criminals: “There Are No Wars Without War Crimes And War Criminals”.
CALLING ARTISTS & WRITERS
War Criminals Watch is planning a volume of evocative and inspiring artwork and writings. The focus is on the torture that began under the Bush administration after 9/11. We're calling on artists and writers to submit pieces that are positive, uplifting, thoughtful and thought-inspiring, depressing, shocking, heartfelt and meaningful. For further info and a submission form, please click here.
CAMPUS ORGANIZER INTERN NEEDED!
We plan to organize this fall at colleges and universities where accused war criminals are based. The intern would do a lot of telephone contact to build activity and network among students and student organizations. Some travel may be involved but most of the work would be out of New York City. If interested, please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org .
War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
The brutality with which the US government exercised its “war on terror” is condemned both by the court of international public opinion and by the principles of international law governing human rights. Wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture of detainees are clearly defined as war crimes by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture and other treaties to which the United States is a signatory.
The Principles of International Law, recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, provide no defense for war crimes. Similarly, the Convention Against Torture, which defines torture as a war crime, provides that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
The prohibition on war crimes is absolute, not relative, meaning that there is no justification for war crimes despite the particular circumstances in their respective countries. U.S. Justice Robert Jackson proclaimed at Nuremberg: “No grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy. The same applies to other war crimes as well. The war crimes of one’s opponents are no justification for one’s own.”
War Criminals Watch exists for one and only one reason: to ensure that prosecutions of high officials of the Bush administration who are guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors" take place now. Key actors in the Bush administration must be held accountable and prosecuted for the crimes they stand accused, in the eyes of world public opinion, of having committed. Editorialists may demand action. Politicians will call for it. But only an energized and politically active public can make those prosecutions happen. They need to be publicly shamed and prevented from occupying powerful or influential positions within our society. As in other cases where authorities have gone beyond US and international law as well as the laws of decency, only a public accounting will restore lawful conduct.
War Criminals Watch calls on people of conscience to publicly scrutinize those whose acts require prosecution. Former officials now have new roles in society: professor, lawyer, corporate manager, etc., etc. Students and professors, especially, have an obligation to act as many of these accused war criminals head back to the universities to let them know that there will be no safe haven on campuses. It is our responsibility to call them out and to demand that legal proceedings take place and in a timely fashion.
It was thought by many that President Obama would put a stop to the madness, to the wars, to the Bush administration’s nightmarish approach to national security. After six months, this is "the change" we have:
- $5 billion have been spent on recruiting efforts to increase US military forces. This is a clear expansion of a military machine involved in two illegitimate occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan (associated with torture and abuse of detainees in Bagram and mass civilian deaths).
- Since Obama became president, US air strikes have killed quickly growing numbers of Afghani and Pakistani civilians, including women and children.
- Prisoners are still enduring prolonged isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation and force-feeding. These techniques cause extreme mental anguish and permanent physical damage and they are not permitted under international law. Make no mistake, the US still engages in torture.
- Prisoners are being rendered not only to "black sites" outside the US but also in the US. For example, Syed Fahad Hashmi is a Muslim American student held in solitary confinement for the past two years in downtown Manhattan.
- Obama has refused to release photos of the brutal torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is censoring the US public. It is not the peoples of the Middle East who will become more informed with these pictures. They are experiencing attacks and abuses from the US on a daily basis. It is primarily the US population that is being kept in the dark.
- Obama insists on “moving forward” by avoiding the recognition of crimes committed by the government, allowing the worst offenders of the Bush years to avoid prosecution. He appears perfectly willing to move ahead with the excessive secrecy. He has both granted amnesty to the CIA agents involved in torture and offered legal defense if anyone else were to prosecute them.
- Prisoners in secret detention centers or "black sites" around the world are not allowed to gain access to courts, lawyers or even to know the charges or evidence against them.
- Obama has proposed "Preventive Detention": imprisoning people because the government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future.
- Several of those who have been accused of Bush-era war crimes have continued into the Obama administration -- for example, Gates,Petraeus, Rizzo, Fredman and McChrystal.
Is this the change we want to see? Is it really okay if the Bush policies are carried out by Obama? The Obama administration is, in effect, condoning the Bush war crimes by not prosecuting the Bush officials and by carrying some of them over into the new administration.. This makes the Obama officials complict with the Bush war crimes.
People Of Conscience Must Insist On Accountability For The Actions Of U.S.
Officials, No Matter Who Is President. It Is Our Obligation.
Woodrow Wilson: ‘Men Are As Clay In The Hands Of A Consummate Leader.’
He wrote a paper called “Leaders of Men” in 1889. In it, he wrote, “The competent leader of men cares little for the interior niceties of other people’s characters: he cares much everything for the external uses to which they may be put. His will seeks the lines of least resistance; but the whole question with him is a question as to the application of force. There are men to be moved: how shall he move them? He supplies the power; others supply only the materials upon which that power operates. The power will fail if it be misapplied; it will be misapplied if it be not suitable both in its character and in its method to the nature of the materials, upon which it is spent; but that nature is, after all, only its means. It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.”
The double standards under which the major powers of this Earth operate are becoming simply too much to bear and accept for most people, folks who, unfortunately, feel impotent and live in fear of any action they are tempted, even dream of taking against the total lawlessness authored by the “Dictators-Of-Law”, the war criminals and war criminal states of this planet.
We for instance accept the every action of the state of Israel as if we were totally brainwashed, hypnotized or lobotomized. We have bought the “They Are Our Friends To The End”, and the end indeed it may very well be. We are being prepared, soften up for, what I now consider, the inevitable strike on Iran justified by “Nuclear Fear”. There is not overwhelming support for America to Stone Age bomb Iran, but if Israel would strike, you know out of regional concerns and the idiot no-holocaust demagogue; the strike would be accepted with feigned expressions of concern. All the talk of negotiations and open inspections is mere political theater. We have known for some time of “Iran’ s Secret” nuclear installation. Maybe we’ll just give Israel a few MOP bombs as they roll off the assembly line and they can crater whatever portion of Iran satisfies them, and damned be the collateral damage, you know…innocents..war crimes fodder, but excuse me they are exempt from being adjudged of criminality because they are one of “The Dictators Of The Law”.
Why? Because they and we say so…ask Joe Lieberman.
Even a columnist in the Israeli Jerusalem Post can see the double standard displayed by “all of Israel now speaking in one voice (real brain rot) against the Goldstone report”:
“This is the Israeli notion of a fair deal: We’re entitled to do whatever the hell we want to the Palestinians because, by definition, whatever we do to them is self-defense. They, however, are not entitled to lift a finger against us because, by definition, whatever they do to us is terrorism.
Where have we heard that line before? If someone calls someone else a “Terrorist” you are allowed to throw every law book onto the big burning pile of history. In such cases “The Dictators of the Law” have determined that, in today’s world there are no limits on contemporary “declared” rights to self-defined self-defense.
There is no such thing as ‘, illegal or immoral acts of violence. They are “necessary”; therefore, they are justified exceptions to all that has been understood, until now, as acts of war criminality.
Israel can deliberately destroy thousands of Gazan homes, the Gazan parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, courthouses, the only Gazan flour plant, the main poultry farm, a sewage treatment plant, water wells and God knows what else.
The United States has cloaked itself in the same cloth. It is not a war of aggressive if we attack, savage and ravage the nation of Iraq in an attempt to control that nation’s government, people and national oil treasure because we have declared that some of those people are bad folks who mean us harm and we have sort of accepted that somehow some of them well responsible for 911, and anyway once we start a war we are all expected to support it in the name of our young man and women who are simply following orders and being faithful to their oath of service. Please play the national Anthem right now!
And why is it that nations who are members of “The Dictators of the Law Club” can simply scrap every vestige of law, integrity, morality and decency and avoid being held to account?
“Why? Because the club members have decreed a right of justification in a doctrine of “We’re better than Them”, the “Them “being anyone we decide/decree as being a lesser people than ourselves, for example in our aberrant behavior in the Middle East we have empowered ourselves with extraordinary rights and exempted ourselves from accepted recognized standards of right/wrong, law and civility, because we are a “democracy” and they’re a bunch of Islamo-fascists, because our system provides “a culture of life” and theirs is a culture of death. Because they’re out to destroy us and all we are saying is give peace a chance. We are saying to that part of the world: “Let us bring our good, let us show you how we can marry the cross with our flag in our Crusade to remake the world in our superior image. We will set you free of the chains of sectarian dictatorship. We will your women free of the bondage of your decrepit religion. We will train you in the ways of Capitalism and put you on the path to unimagined wealth and give the ultimate tool to control your governments. We will show the light and the right.
We will educate you in the new order and the moral clarity of this new age.
We will show you how to manage the critics of the new world construction by demonizing them as imperiling all that you can have and putting them in their place. They will call all this hypocrisy on our part but we shall frame them as obstructers, cowards, treasonous bastards who, devoid of patriotism, would witness and permit others to question assail and criticize the “Great New Crusade” of Democracy and Jesus.
We will bring to the world the ability to fashion a media of lackeys fawning over our courageous stance and advance, casting aside by silence those who oppose our designs for progress and a new financial world. The media will become our mouth piece in persuasion and perspective and we will prevail over time.
In America criticism of Israel will likened to treason, for they are our friend, our ultimate friend and criticism shall be deemed an act of betrayal and surrender to those who would visit a second holocaust upon those people.
We have all but erased the first amendment when it comes to our insane foreign policy. We have damn near succeeded in repealing the First Amendment by having the Hate Crime Bill attached to the recently passed military appropriations bill. This is the way we are able to fashion the syllogism that: “It is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. Anti-Semitism is a hate crime. Therefore, to criticize Israel is a hate crime.” It has a “moral clarity of simplicity” that we can use against all who oppose our world vision.
We have assumed the chair of the of “The Dictators of the Law Club” and as such the United States Government has thrown up every conceivable road block and legal stone wall in bringing members of the Bush Administration to justice and now we are engaged in deep sixing the Israeli/Gaza issue. That constitutes nothing less than sanctioning crimes against humanity. Our partners and allies have our support in evading and/or immunizing themselves from scrutiny and prosecution.
The Bush Administration was not unmindful of their actions and the illegal and immoral nature of their conduct of our current collection of wars. In 2002, just before invading Iraq, George Bush unsigned the United States from the Rome Statute, (which President Clinton signed), which created the International Criminal Court, thereby removing the United States from the jurisdiction of the Court.
This is evidence that in 2002 Emperor George Bush planned and deliberately decided to commit crimes against humanity and genocide in the Middle East and he never wanted to be tried for them. Just to make sure, in 2002 the Republican congress passed The Hague Invasion Act which authorized the American President to use military force to free any U.S. military personnel, including the Commander in Chief, held by the Court.
Can you imagine President Cheney attacking the Netherlands to free the man labeled a war criminal by the leader of the United Nations? Several additional steps were taken by the administration to establish themselves as being above all International Law. These are all acts of premeditation that clearly establish that the previous administration fully understood that it was guilty of War Crimes”, but with the double standard pen they sought to immunize themselves in retroactive statute manipulation. Those acts must not be allowed to prevail.
Former British Prime Minister, certainly guilty of War Crimes in conjunction with American acts in Iraq, under attack, is nonetheless almost assured of political elevation to the post of the first EU Presidency. However, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Sawers, stepped into the hate crime arena when he told Israel Army radio that the Goldstone report on Israel’s military assault on Gaza contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated.”
A year from now when the Anti-Defamation League has its phalanx of US Department of Justice (sic) prosecutors in place, Sawers would be seized and placed on trial. Diplomatic immunity means nothing to the US, which routinely invades other countries, executes their leaders or sends them to The Hague for trial as war criminals.
In the meantime, however, the Israeli government put Sawers and the UK government on notice that British support for the Goldstone Report would result in the destruction of the double standard that protects the West and Israel and create a precedent that would place the British in the dock for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“London,” declared the Israeli government, “could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document [the Goldstone report].”
Once the DOJ’s hate crime unit is up and running, “self-hating Jews,” such as leaders of the Israeli peace movement and Haaretz and Jerusalem Post journalists, can expect to be indicted for anti-Semitic hate crimes in US courts.
We can only hope that becomes the course for the future and that opening the door to Justice once again will lead to more inclusive investigations and prosecutions including former leaders of our own nation. “The Dictators of the Law Club” needs to brought to justice and the hatful, hate-filled mindset that have foisted upon the world needs to be undone.
Blair Should Be Tried For War Crimes, Say Families Of Soldiers Killed In Iraq
Many blamed the former prime minister for the deaths of their loved ones in an "illegal" conflict, and some even called for him to be prosecuted for war ...See all stories on this topic
Try Blair For War Crimes, Say Families Of Soldiers Killed In Iraq ...
London, Oct.14 (ANI): Families of British servicemen killed in Iraq have told members of the official inquiry into the conflict that former Prime Minister Tony Blair should be held accountable for taking the nation to war.
Sindh Today - Online News - http://www.sindhtoday.net/
Arab & Muslim Nations Push For War Crimes Prosecutions Against ...
Objects in history may be closer than they appear” – Eeyore for Vlad.
Vlad Tepes - http://vladtepesblog.com/
Bibi: Our People Will Not Be Tried for War Crimes | The Israel ...
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that Israel committed no war crimes in the recent operation in Gaza and will not accept any foreign governments attempting to try Israelis for war crimes.
The Israel Situation - http://www.israelsituation.com/
UN Human Rights Council Holding Special Session On Israeli War ...
(CNSNews.com) – The U.N.'s Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Thursday to discuss a controversial report accusing Israel of war crimes, after the Palestinian Authority secured sufficient support for the meeting from ...
Infidels Paradise - http://www.infidelsparadise.com/
Israel, Palestinians Argue Over Gaza War Crimes Report
Wall Street Journal
The Goldstone commission recommends the Security Council give Israel and Hamas six months to conduct serious internal probes into the report's war crimes ...See all stories on this topic
Palestinians Urge Israeli Punishment For Alleged War Crimes In ...
By Bureau News
Palestinians urge Israeli punishment over GazaUNITED NATIONS — The Palestinians called Wednesday for global action to punish Israel for alleged war crimes during its military assault on Gaza last winter, warning that the credibility of ...
Breaking News - http://blog.taragana.com/n/
Georgetown Security Law Brief: UN To Resurrect Debate On Israel ...
By Georgetown CNSL
10/08/09: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that The UN Security Council will discuss a report next week that claims war crimes were committed by both sides during last winter's Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. ...
Georgetown Security Law Brief - http://www.securitylawbrief.com/main/
ICC Prosecutor Eyeing War Crimes In Afghanistan
ICC Prosecutor Eyeing War Crimes In Afghanistan
09/10/09: The Miami Herald reports that Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, said Wednesday he is collecting information on possible war crimes by NATO forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
06/13/09: The New York Times reports that the chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, called the political costs of civilian casualties from special operations raids “disproportionate to the military gains,” and said the Special Operations forces needed to become “more Afghanized.”
05/29/09: Jurist reports that a UN Special Rapporteur said in a report that the US has failed to adequately prevent and prosecute war crimes and other abuses during its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report stated that "there have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practices and conduct that resulted in alleged unlawful killings – including possible war crimes – in the United States’ international operations." The report recommended forming a "commission of inquiry" to look into the causes and extent of these deaths. It further recommends hiring an independent special prosecutor.
While additional American troops are being deployed to Afghanistan, George W. Bush's misdeeds continue to handicap combat effectiveness there.
Abbas Faces Uproar Over Deferred War Crimes Vote | By KARIN LAUB (AP)
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Engulfed by domestic outrage, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rushed Sunday to limit the fallout from his decision to suspend efforts to have Israeli officials prosecuted for war crimes over last winter's military offensive in Gaza.
The decision set off a wave of condemnation, not just from his Islamic militant Hamas rivals, but also Palestinian human rights groups, intellectuals and commentators. Leading members of the Palestine Liberation Organization and even Abbas' own Fatah movement quickly distanced themselves, saying they had been taken by surprise.
In an attempt to deflect the anger, Abbas announced Sunday he would have a low-level committee look into the decision-making process. It was not clear whether Abbas himself would come under scrutiny.
The U.S. exerted pressure to win a deferral on the war crimes allegations, Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the content of closed-door meetings. The goal appeared to be to keep the hope of renewed Mideast negotiations alive.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last week that pursuing the war crimes charges would deal a deadly blow to efforts to restart peace talks.
At issue is the fate of a U.N. report that accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during Israel's three week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in December and January.
Late last week, the U.N. Human Rights Council considered a resolution to send the report to the U.N. General Assembly for possible action. Instead, Palestinian diplomats said Friday they would agree to delay the vote until March. With the Palestinians out of the picture, Arab and Muslim states did not take the case further.
In going along with the U.S., Abbas signaled that he prefers to protect his strong ties with the Obama administration — and the implied promise of U.S. help in getting the Palestinians a state — even at the cost of losing respect at home.
It was the third domestic setback for Abbas in less than two weeks…
The law defines a war crime to include a "grave breach of the Geneva Conventions", specifically noting that "grave breach" should have the meaning defined in any convention (related to the laws of war) to which the U.S. is a party. The definition of "grave breach" in some of the Geneva Conventions have text that extend additional protections, but all the Conventions share the following text in common: "... committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health."
The law applies if either the victim or the perpetrator is a national of the United States or a member of the U.S. armed forces. The penalty may be life imprisonment or death. The death penalty is only invoked if the conduct resulted in the death of one or more victims.
Amnesty International sends an open letter to Bush, saying that abuses committed by USagents in Abu Ghraib prison were war crimes, and calling on the ...
Jan 17, 2009 ... Jane Mayer's The Dark Side presents a detailed account of the Bush administration's assault on democratic rights, and authorization of ...
U.S. Charged With War Crimes. The Evidence File. Court case against General Franks in Brussels. WARNING: The video and pictures in this report contain ...
War Crimes in Afghanistan. By ERID RUDER. Shocking images from Afghanistan have again exposed the racist barbarism of the U.S. "war on terror." ... www.counterpunch.org/ruder10262005.html
Jul 10, 2009 ... Bush Admin Covered Up War Crimes in Afghanistan. From the New York Times: After a mass killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, ...
The August 26 edition of Newsweek carries a special report entitled “The Death Convoy ofAfghanistan.” An underline on the front cover of the magazine ...
By Thalif Deen
The Obama administration appears determined that such war criminals be granted impunity, said Zunes, who is also chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Program, and who has written extensively on the Security Council. ...
Antiwar.com Original - http://original.antiwar.com/
A U.S. decision to stall Security Council action against Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas for war crimes during the 22-day conflict in Gaza last December has come under heavy fire both from inside and outside the United Nations.
Addressing the Security Council Wednesday, the chair of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt urged the powerful 15-member political body to "seriously consider and act upon the recommendations" of the U.N. Fact Finding Mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone.
But the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama says the charges of war crimes in the Goldstone report, which was released last month, should be within the purview of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, not the Security Council in New York.
Despite reservations by Western nations, the Council agreed to hold a special meeting Wednesday on the Middle East: a meeting which provided member states with an opportunity to discuss the Goldstone report and focus on the serious violations of international human rights during the Gaza conflict, both by Israel and Hamas.
"That President Obama is receiving the Noble Peace prize after his failure to speak out during the Gaza war, and after his administration’s protection of a state that has committed war crimes, is an abomination," Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, told IPS.
The number of Palestinians killed during the conflict is estimated at between 1,387 and 1,417, mostly civilians, compared with four Israeli fatal casualties in southern Israel and nine soldiers killed during fighting, four of whom died as a result of friendly fire.
Ratner said one would hope that the United States would not block the referral of both Israel and Hamas to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an investigation of war crimes committed in Gaza.
"Sadly, its conduct at the Human Rights Council [in Geneva] where it called the Goldstone report deeply flawed shows that it will again do all in its power to try and bury any investigation of Israel for war crimes," he added.
By doing so, Washington is giving Israel a green light to continue to commit atrocities, said Ratner, who heads the non-profit human rights litigation organization
The failure to refer the Gaza matter to the ICC undercuts any claim that the law is applied equally to Israel and the Palestinians, he noted.
"That the United States attacked the report, authored by Judge Goldstone, one of the pre-eminent jurists in the world, demonstrates that it is willing to debase both the law and a respected jurist in its effort to protect a client state, despite its crimes," Ratner declared.
The Goldstone report has recommended that the Security Council require Israel to report to it, within the next six months, on investigations and prosecutions it should carry out with regard to the violations cited in the report.
During the ruthless military operation, codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’, the Israelis destroyed houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings.
The report also recommended that the Security Council should set up its own body of independent experts to report to it on the progress of the Israeli investigations and prosecutions.
"If the expert’s reports do not indicate within six months that good faith, independent proceedings are taking place, the Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the Prosecutor in the International Criminal Court (ICC)," the report recommended.
The report also recommended that the same expert body report to the Security Council on proceedings undertaken by the relevant Gaza authorities with regard to the crimes committed by the Palestinian side.
But the report’s strongest indictment is not against Hamas but against the state of Israel, which is accused of imposing a blockade on Gaza "amounting to collective punishment" carried out as part of a "systematic policy of progressive isolation and deprivation of the Gaza Strip."
Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, told IPS the Obama administration and Congressional leaders of both parties appear to be continuing the policy of the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush in ignoring and denouncing those who have the temerity to report violations of international humanitarian law by the United States or its allies.
"They are particularly concerned about the matter going before the International Criminal Court where those Palestinians and Israelis guilty of war crimes might actually face justice," he said.
The Obama administration appears determined that such war criminals be granted impunity, said Zunes, who is also chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Program, and who has written extensively on the Security Council.
He said that although U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice had argued just a few months earlier during a U.N. debate on Darfur, Sudan that war crimes charges should never be sacrificed for political reasons, she is now claiming that similar action on the Gaza conflict could be an impediment to the peace process.
"It’s ironic that the Obama administration is insisting that the issue stay confined to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, which they have repeatedly labeled as anti-Israel," Zunes said.
U.S. officials recognize, however, that if the matter is taken to the Security Council, as the Goldstone Commission recommended, it would place debate on violations of international humanitarian law by a key U.S. ally before a body that, unlike the Human Rights Council, has an enforcement mechanism.
"It would also allow far greater media exposure of Israeli war crimes, the bulk of which were implemented using U.S. weapons systems and ordnance," he noted.
Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International representative at the United Nations, called for the prompt establishment of an independent committee of experts in international humanitarian law and human rights law to monitor and report.
Such a report, she said, should be within a strict time frame, to the Security Council and other U.N. bodies, on domestic legal and other measures taken by Israel and the authorities in Gaza to address accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the Gaza conflict.
Last week, the Human Rights Council, prompted by the Palestinians, decided to defer a draft resolution that would have endorsed the recommendations in the Goldstone report.
That proposed draft resolution was expected to be taken up during the Council’s next session in March 2010.
But the deferment created such a political uproar that it forced the Palestinians to do a dramatic turnaround: to support a meeting of the Security Council Wednesday and also a special session of the Human Rights Council on Thursday to discuss the Goldstone report.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said the failure of the U.S. and European states to endorse the Goldstone report at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva "sent a terrible message that serious laws-of-war violations by allied states would be tolerated."
Addressing the Security Council Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff made a predictable statement that the United States continues to "have serious concerns about the [Goldstone] report, its unbalanced focus on Israel, the overly broad scope of its recommendations, and its sweeping conclusions of law."
Nevertheless, he said, "We take the allegations in the report seriously."
"Israel has the institutions and the ability to carry out serious investigations of these allegations and we encourage it to do so," Wolff said.
He also said that Hamas "is a terrorist organization and has neither the ability nor the willingness to examine its violations of human rights."
A People Denied Justice | By Linda S. Heard | Online Journal Contributing Writer
A People Denied Justice | By Linda S. Heard | Online Journal Contributing Writer
Isn’t there something seriously wrong with our world when a people who have been wronged for over a half-century are treated as pariahs? Wherever the Palestinians turn, they find every door shut. Whatever they do to obtain even a fraction of their rights, they face insurmountable obstacles. Time and time again, they pursue international justice only to discover that it doesn’t exist for them. Recognized legal channels lead them nowhere. Promises made that their own state is on the horizon are consistently broken.
When, in frustration, they turn to violence, they are branded as terrorists.
Events earlier this month illustrate just how hopeless their situation truly is. That was when their own leader Mahmoud Abbas let them down. Under heavy pressure from the United States, the Palestinian president chose to delay a UN Security Council vote on the Goldstone report recommending Israel’s referral to the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.
According to reports, President Abbas conceded to the weight of Washington’s influence, without prior discussion with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad or consultations with members of the PLO leadership, fearful of repercussions that might endanger the peace process. The question is what peace process?
Certainly, US President Barack Obama’s recent photo-op with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not constitute real progress. Like many before him Obama called for an end to the cycle of violence and for final status negotiations to begin soon. If you feel like yawning, go ahead!
Not only has the carefully compiled report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict been shelved, last late last month, the British Foreign Office engaged in diplomatic shenanigans so that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak could receive immunity from prosecution while on a private visit to London with his wife.
British lawyers acting on behalf of 16 Palestinians had petitioned a Magistrates Court to approve an arrest warrant for Barak in connection with breaches of the Geneva Conventions and for possible war crimes committed in Gaza earlier this year.
However, rather than maintain the court’s independence, the judge in question contacted the Foreign Office for advice. Following a flurry of communications between British and Israeli officials, it was announced that Barak was in the UK on official business and, therefore, held diplomatic immunity.
Indeed, a precedent had already been set in 2004 when a British court granted immunity to Israel’s then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz even though existing rules protected only foreign heads of state and their foreign ministers. Britain also has a shameful record of tipping off Israelis who risk arrest in England or Wales whose courts accept the concept of universal jurisdiction,” enabling them to try foreign nationals for war crimes or crimes against humanity committed abroad. In 2007, the former head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, Avi Dichter, was conveniently warned off from traveling to London where he risked arrest for war crimes in connection with a failed assassination attempt that robbed civilian residents of Gaza, including children, of their lives.
Two years earlier, in 2005, senior Israeli Gen. Doron Almog was told not to disembark from an El Al flight that had landed at London’s Heathrow Airport because the Metropolitan Police were waiting for him with an arrest warrant. Legally, the police were entitled to board the plane as long as it stood on sovereign British soil, but chose not to do so as they feared armed confrontation with air marshals or the general’s security detail.
Well, that’s their story and they’re sticking to it. They certainly had no compunction about detaining the former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1998, even though he had helped Britain during the Falklands War.
So there you have it! Heaven forbid alleged Israeli war criminals should be held to account. Britain, which has always prided itself on its legal system and respect for human rights, actually colludes with Israel to ensure its officials escape prosecution. And, worse, the United Nations cheerfully ignores Israel’s flouting of Security Council Resolutions and is more than willing to bin its own investigations into Israel’s crimes.
Where does this sorry state of affairs leave the Palestinian people? The answer is precisely nowhere. When they are consistently failed by international bodies and the international legal system, is it any wonder that they have resorted to other methods on occasions?
At the root of this mess is the protective umbrella with which America unconditionally shields its Middle East ally. As long as the US has the power of veto within the UN Security Council, Israel can do what it pleases with impunity. At the same time, Britain cannot hold Israelis to account without risking its special relationship with Washington.
Those who believed that President Obama would make a difference are sorely disappointed. He has turned out to be a man of fine words and little action. Indeed, like his predecessors, he is perpetuating his country’s hated double standards. While he calls for a nuclear-free Middle East and wags his finger at Iran for enriching uranium on the one hand, he blesses Israel’s policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity on the other.
In the meantime, the Palestinians are no closer to having their own state than they ever were. The illegal apartheid wall still snakes through the West Bank. Illegal Israeli colonies are still being expanded and Gaza is still being illegally blockaded. What’s more, the international community’s failure to hold Israel to account for war crimes gives it virtual carte blanche to launch more attacks.
But first things first; the Palestinians must get their own house in order. Hamas and Fatah must resolve their differences and unite behind a strong leader who represents the interests of all Palestinians without pandering to Western interests. The only road to peace will appear when all Palestinians speak with one voice and one message that is loudly echoed by their Arab friends.
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.