Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, January 30.
1) Defining terror down; defining occupation up
In a New York Times op-ed nearly two years ago, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas wrote:
Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the
internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a
political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims
against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the
International Court of Justice.
Now a pro-Palestinian activist, George Bisharat has filled in details as to how this process will work. In Why Palestine should take Israel to court in the Hague he writes:
The Palestinians’ first attempt to join the I.C.C. was thwarted last
April when the court’s chief prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo,
declined the request on the grounds that Palestine was not a state.
That ambiguity has since diminished with the United Nations’ conferral
of nonmember state status on Palestine in November. Israel’s frantic
opposition to the elevation of Palestine’s status at the United Nations
was motivated precisely by the fear that it would soon lead to I.C.C.
jurisdiction over Palestinian claims of war crimes.
Bisharat then cites Col. Daniel Reisner, the one time head of the IDF's legal department:
Israeli leaders are unnerved for good reason. The I.C.C. could prosecute
major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after
the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.
The former head of the Israeli military’s international law division, Daniel Reisner, asserted
in 2009: “International law progresses through violations. We invented
the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there
were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal
molds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of
From the complete context, it's pretty clear that Reisner didn't mean
violations as much as ill defined areas of the law. (Bisharat's
implication is clear: the United States should be subject to ICC
prosecution for targeted killings in Pakistan and Yemen.)
Bisharat makes a dubious claim here:
And it has treated civilian employees of Hamas — including police
officers, judges, clerks, journalists and others — as combatants because
they allegedly support a “terrorist infrastructure.” Never mind that
contemporary international law deems civilians “combatants” only when
they actually take up arms.
Elder of Ziyon has addressed the issue of the police officers in some detail.
This is a critical paragraph, and it highlights Goldstone's
credulity. There is a clear statement from the police spokesman saying
that the police were instructed to face the enemy, which is not a very
ambiguous statement. Months later, when he is reached by commission
members to explain this problematic statement, he seizes the opportunity
to "clarify" that he only meant that they should be doing normal police
What international law "deems" can be fluid.
And Goldstone believes him.
Not only that, his "proof" is an absurd statement that no policemen were
killed in combat (presumably during the ground invasion.) This is a
lie. According to PCHR and my research, 16 policemen were killed from
January 4th and on, 34 policemen were killed, and my research indicates
that at least 16 of them were members of terror organizations.
Even the concept of "occupation," on which Bisharat rests much of his
case isn't as clear cut as he presumes. Eugene Kontorovich wrote recently:
I recently came across a discussion in the U.N.’s International Law
Commission from 1950, as part of the drafting of the Draft Declaration
on Rights and Duties of States. There were quibbles from countries such
as France about whether annexation is always banned, or whether there
might be various exceptions.
The larger problem is that the New York Times continues to promote the
Palestinian effort to avoid negotiations and have a settlement imposed
on Israel internationally, with no editorial objections.
In response, the Secretary observed: “It might be suggested that in
order to constitute a crime under international law an annexation must
be carried out through the use of armed force, with a view to destroying
the territorial integrity of another State.” [See I Yearbook of Int. Law Comm. 137 (1950).]
Indeed, it was not surprising that there was some confusion and
concern about the extent of an annexation norm, since as the delegates
admitted, there were some “frontier adjustments” made by the Allies
Please also see Seth Mandel's The Shameful Attack on Israel from Amnesty International.
2) Iran and Hagel
At the end of a long analysis of the behavior of the Iranian regime, Michael Rubin writes in Deciphering Iranian decision making and strategy today:
Wars in the Middle East are caused not by oil or water but by
overconfidence. In 1988, an Iranian mine damaged a US guided missile
cruiser. In retaliation, President Ronald Reagan ordered Operation
Praying Mantis to destroy Iranian oil terminals. The US Navy decimated
its Iranian challengers in the ensuing battle, the largest US naval
surface engagement since World War II. The red line Reagan established
created a tacit understanding that governed US-Iranian relations for
another 15 years.
As the Iranian leadership has concluded that it could—literally—get away
with murder in Iraq and Afghanistan, that American red lines were
ephemeral, and that the United States was not prepared to stop its
nuclear program, Tehran has grown bolder. Iranian diplomats might talk,
but the powers that be will not abide by any deal. The IRGC and its
proxies will continue to test American red lines until the United States
forcibly pushes back.
This is not calling for America declaring war on Iran, though, I
suppose, some would consider it such. But if red lines are necessary for
limiting the spread of Iranian influence, what does it mean that
President Obama has nominated Sen. Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of
Seth Mandel asks (and answers)Are Hagel and Obama “Soul Mates” on Defense Policy?
They would travel to Iraq together, where Hagel was dismissive and
suspicious of the military’s top brass. Obama would take office and do
the same. Hagel would speak out against tough Iran sanctions, and Obama
would work against them from the White House, opposing several
iterations of them and finally watering them down when he couldn’t
prevent sanctions from passing Congress. Hagel would loudly criticize
even the contemplation of military action against Iran, and Obama would
have his secretary of defense deliver a similar message to Israel. It is
this pattern that has led Hagel’s critics to express concern about his
nomination to be secretary of defense. Many worry Obama shares Hagel’s
views; Obama’s defenders assure us he does not. The Washington Post’s
Bob Woodward says the critics are right, and relays a conversation Obama
and Hagel had at the beginning of Obama’s first term:
Mandel quotes a recent op-ed by Bob Woodward answering the question in the affirmative.
The AP reports:
Iran's elite Quds Force and Hezbollah militants are learning from a
series of botched terror attacks over the past two years and pose a
growing threat to the U.S. and other Western targets as well as Israel, a
prominent counterterrorism expert says.
Operating both independently and together, the militant groups are
escalating their activities around the world, fueling worries in the
U.S. that they increasingly have the ability and the willingness to
attack the U.S., according to a report by Matthew Levitt of the
Washington Institute for Near East Studies. His report points to two
attacks last year -- one successful and one foiled by U.S. authorities
-- as indications that the militants are adapting and are determined to
take revenge on the West for efforts to disrupt Tehran's nuclear program
and other perceived offenses.
The report's conclusions expand on comments late last year from U.S.
terrorism officials who told Congress that the Quds Force and Hezbollah,
which often coordinate efforts, have become "a significant source of
concern" for the U.S. The Quds Force is an elite wing of Iran's powerful
Revolutionary Guard, the defenders of Iran's ruling clerics and their
hold on power.
At a time where it appears that Iran will be more aggressive, President
Obama has nominated someone who will be hesitant to fight back or
establish red lines.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Chuck Hagel, Goldstone Report, International Criminal Court, Iranian nuclear threat, Middle East Media Sampler, occupation, Soccer Dad