June 15, 2010
Israel cannot be its own judge and jury
Once again, the White House has set aside right in favor of Israel’s self-interest.
The United Nations and the majority of its member countries seek an international inquiry into the killing of eight Turkish activists and one American of Turkish origin who tried to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza. Turkey is adamant that an independent, transparent process should take place and demands that the siege be lifted.
But Israel rejects calls to end its blockade and says it would not cooperate with any such investigation. Instead, it plans to investigate itself. Nothing surprising there! But it is certainly galling for those who care that justice is seen to be done that the United States has apparently blessed Israel’s plan, which is akin to allowing an individual accused of murder to set up his own court of law and try himself. No other country on the planet would be given a similar green light.
Moreover, the White House has endorsed Israel’s rejection of an international inquiry with a statement that reads, “Israel has a military justice system that meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.” This is simply laughable. When has anyone in the Israeli Defense Forces been held accountable for anything apart from minor infractions during past decades? Even the few declared to have done wrong get away with a rap on the knuckles.
It’s particularly telling that although Ariel Sharon was found by an Israeli commission to have been “indirectly” responsible for the massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatilla camps, he was eventually rewarded with the post of prime minister. Since then, dozens of soldiers who would be declared war criminals by any other nation have been awarded medals.
A striking example of this is the drunken IDF bulldozer driver Moshe Nissim nicknamed “Kurdi Bear” who, in 2002, demolished homes in the Jenin refugee camp without caring whether anyone was inside them. “If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down,” he said, before launching into how much he enjoyed his work. For that, he became a national hero and received a medal of honor from the Israeli Army. The UN actually set up a team to investigate Jenin while the evidence was still in place but as soon as Israel said, “we’re not playing ball” they all went home.
Likewise, Israel has heaped honors on Jewish terrorists involved in what came to be known as the 1950s “the Lavon Affair”— people who placed bombs inside American and British installations within Egypt as part of a false-flag operation endorsed by the Israel’s current President Shimon Peres. After decades of denying any connection with the terrorists, in 2005, Israel showered the surviving operatives with medals. The then US President George W. Bush didn’t care about the admission that Israel had authorized the bombing of American buildings in the same way that no US leader has cared to punish Israel for its attack on America’s research ship the USS Liberty in 1967.
President Barack Obama is either incredibly naïve and misinformed or is being willfully blind for fear of upsetting America’s pro-Israel Congress and lobby. How on earth can he believe that Israel will conduct an honest and fair inquiry when it has torn up the Goldstone report on Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza suggesting that Israelis may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity?
Even more to the point in this particular instance is the fact that Israel’s hard-line, right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his propaganda machine have been spewing lies since the flotilla incident took place. They’ve called the peace activists terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda and have suggested they were armed and ready to murder Israeli commandoes.
Yet Israel not only released those “terrorists” to their home countries, the only weapons on display from the Mavi Marmara were chair legs, slingshots, marbles and metal bars. Let’s face it, could you honestly imagine that Al-Qaeda guys would board that ship with marbles to face off against the full might of the Israeli military? And, secondly, if it was their pre-planned intention to kill Israelis, why did they leave alive the three Israelis who were captured and deprived of their guns?
It’s interesting that the US Defense Minister Robert Gates blames the European Union’s reluctance to embrace Turkey’s membership for Ankara’s drift away from the EU and Israel toward new partnerships in the Middle East. In this case, is he also prepared to blame President Obama for throwing Turkey to the wolves in an effort to appease Tel Aviv and its rah-rah crowd in Washington?
The signs are clear. Israel’s murderous attack on the flotilla will be pushed under the carpet like every other nefarious thing it has perpetrated. And even though the blockade of Gaza has been deemed illegal by the UN it’s not about to be lifted. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described it as “collective punishment” which violates the Geneva Conventions and is a “crime under international law” but who’s listening? I suspect that Israel will ease the flow of goods into Gaza for a while to take some heat of itself and then everything will return to the status quo, which is an insult to those courageous Turks who sacrificed their lives.
Now, there’s another storm brewing. Uri Brodsky, an Israeli wanted by Germany in connection with illegally obtaining the German passport that was used by an alleged Mossad agent to assassinate a Hamas commander in Dubai has been arrested in Poland.
Germany seeks his extradition but Israel insists he should be flown to Tel Aviv for investigation there. Here we go again! Israel admits that the accused is an Israeli citizen and is demanding his return so an Israeli probe can be launched. I know. Feel free to laugh out loud. All eyes are now on Warsaw to see which way this dedicated friend to Israel will jump.
In the meantime, Dubai is mulling whether or not to request extradition itself which will largely depend on whether Brodsky is directly linked to the assassination. Dubai’s police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim says Israel is not a country governed by laws but one that settles its scores “in a gang-like manner”. At least there’s one person in the world who says it like it is!