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Thursday, February 05, 2009

One-sided views of Gaza

Normblog looks at the one-sided views of Gaza among 'human rights activists' and in the media, and discusses why they are unwilling to look at human rights violations on Hamas' side (Hat Tip: Instapundit).
[T]he commission of war crimes, so far from being incidental to the way Hamas fights, is integral to it; Hamas fights from within the civilian population it purports to, and to some degree does, politically represent. It fights so that its enemy, Israel, can only with maximum difficulty hit military targets - Hamas fighters or weapons or installations - without at the same time endangering Palestinian civilians. Israel is obliged, nonetheless, by the laws of war to take every step it reasonably can not to jeopardize these lives. My point is not to acquit it of that responsibility. It is, though, to emphasize that Hamas has exactly the same responsibility, one which it flouts by the very methods of self-defence it uses, methods putting 'its own' civilians at risk and leading to regular violations of the laws of war.

How could the angry chorus denouncing Israel, and only Israel, have missed this? It is unambiguous in the laws of war what Hamas's responsibilities are. Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:
The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations
Article 51/7 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions (adopted in June 1977) specifies:
The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.
Does Hamas respect these constraints? The evidence from press reports suggests that they do not.


But lost it well and truly has been on many of Israel's denouncers, all those who have been able to see only war crimes committed by Israel but, on the very same field of battle, none of the crimes of Hamas. That suggests a different hypothesis is needed as to what has been the cause of public outrage over Gaza. It is not so much human suffering as such but human suffering in so far as Israel was responsible for it. The identical human suffering in so far as Hamas has been responsible for it - to this the denouncers seem to have been rendered blind. For it is no longer now a matter of weighing numbers of deaths and magnitude of suffering caused by Hamas's rockets in Israel against the suffering caused by Israel in Gaza. No, what we are looking at is a quantity of suffering in Gaza for which Hamas as well as Israel is responsible. By its methods of fighting Hamas virtually ensures that any military reaction from Israel will incur civilian casualties. I have already said that under the laws of war this does not clear Israel of the obligation not to deliberately target civilians or to put them recklessly in jeopardy. However, that obligation, of which Israel's one-sided critics are so well aware, rests just as squarely on the heads of Hamas, who regularly disregard it; and yet those critics somehow fail to see the obligation on the other side of the conflict or else lose their voices when it comes to saying something about its consistent violation.

It might be said here in defence of the one-sided critics that their stand is motivated by a belief that Hamas's cause is a just one whereas Israel's is not. It's not a view I share, but I'll let that pass because it isn't relevant to the issue. The laws of war, and the requirements of ius in bello (governing how one fights), oblige not only those whose cause is, putatively, unjust but also those presumed to have justice on their side. The silence over the crimes of Hamas that have brought death and disaster on the Palestinians in Gaza - just as Israel's military campaign has - is the silence of rank prejudice. Twinned with a vocal outrage against Israel, it tells us that it is not only a concern for human suffering that has been at work; a plain political animus is also present, funnelling the outrage in one direction only.

To hold Israel to the standards of international humanitarian law, the elementary standards entailed by codes of human rights, is only right and proper. But to hold Israel to those standards, but not also its regional adversaries, suggests a special hostility towards it that needs some explanation. Not all of this hostility can be accounted anti-Semitic. But some of it is. Only the blindest can ignore the plain manifestations of anti-Semitism now evident both amongst Israel's regional adversaries and within the worldwide protests against Israel's actions in Gaza and disfiguring them. As worrying is the fact that the same liberal-left aforementioned that populates these protests and in doing so looks away from the crimes of Israel's opponents, a liberal-left that is, to a man and a woman, proud of its anti-racism, proud of its sensitivity to 'Islamophobia', is silent about this growth of anti-Semitism, shamefully silent, having forgotten in just the one case its avowed duty of solidarity with the victims of prejudice everywhere. Not much more than 60 years after the Jews of Europe were nearly annihilated, before the world stood back aghast to take the measure of what had been done and allowed to be done, the Jewish state has become an object of special opprobrium - opprobrium beyond that criticism which is justified, equitable, applied in equal measure to other nations when it fits. And the Jews of other countries are once again anxious - almost unthinkable, this, only a decade ago - as to how many friends the Jews have.

In the outpouring of hatred towards Israel today, it scarcely matters what part of it is impelled by a pre-existing hostility towards Jews as such and what part by a groundless feeling that the Jewish state is especially vicious among the nations of the world and to be obsessed about accordingly. Both are forms of anti-Semitism. The old poison is once again among us.
Read the whole thing.

I would attribute much less justification to the 'Palestinian' cause than he attributes, but his outline of the double standard by which Israel is being judged is among the best I have seen.


At 5:22 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - its anti-Semitism. They are not protesting a particular Israeli government policy. Israelis such as yours truly and outsiders like myself don't always agree on the direction in which Israel is going. Such criticism is motivated by a love of Israel, a desire to understand her short-comings and to urge her to do better and to rise to the best of which she capable. That is all one wants for any man - or any nation. It is a reasonable expectation to be had for the Jewish State as well.

What I have in mind with the anti-Semitism of Israel's adversaries is criticism of Israel's rights, legitimacy and existence. That is crossing a line when the Jewish State is treated in terms no other country would ever be subjected to. Both hyper-critical morality that holds Israel to a standard of moral perfection on the other hand and uncommented excuses for the barbarity against Jews and approving of the hatred against them by her enemies demands in effect the impossible of Israel and says that if Israel doesn't do the impossible, Israel's destruction is an acceptable objective. If not encouraged, this sentiment is not denounced and in our day, this kind of anti-Semitism has become
normal not just in the Jew-hating fever swamps in the Middle East but increasingly evident as well in the West's "enlightened" circles.

All of this goes into the one-sided of Gaza and the desire to judge Israel is not marked by a standard of fairness and a willingness to weigh all the evidence before reaching a judgment. To the contrary, Israel has been judged and all that's left is to carry out the sentence. So we know why and what is driving this process against Israel and it not out of a concern for the welfare of the Gazans, for Israel's adversaries happen to be selectively silent about genocide and crimes against humanity in other of the world. No outrage is directed there but Israel is a target.

Truly, by their fruits we shall know them and the rotten and vile fruit behind the international witch hunt of Israel is anti-Semitism.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Ros Morris said...

You only have to see the outpourings of anti-Semitic comments on the various newspaper sites to recognise that it IS anti-Semitism and nothing less.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger sassinfras said...

your argument is wrong and self serving.israel has prevented the population from escaping a war zone. there are countless examples of israel targeting the innocent, even the UN. israel has yet to prove that hamas was using human shields but the same can not be said of the IDF who did use palestinians as human sheilds. there is bias in media reporting esp. in the US, which is pro israel.
critisizing israels racist policies is not anti semitism. israel supporter have always flopped off any critisism as anti semetic but really there is a case to be answered.


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