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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Caroline Glick: First thing we do is kill all the lawyers

Caroline Glick has a complaint about the legal profession. And she's right.
N. wrote that most IDF officers and soldiers were deeply disappointed and distressed about Israel’s performance in the 2006 war with Hezbollah, because they recognized that the IDF’s failure to defeat Hezbollah rendered the jihadist force the victor.

But one faction of Israeli society viewed the war as an out-and-out victory. That faction is the legal fraternity.

Due to the widespread outrage over the war’s progression, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert was compelled to form the Winograd Commission to study the military and political leadership’s stewardship of the war.

In testimony before the Winograd Commission, then-attorney-general Menahem Mazuz extolled the war as “the most ‘lawyerly’ in the history of the State of Israel, and perhaps ever.”

It wasn’t that IDF commanders put legal considerations ahead of operational and strategic goals. It was worse than that.

According to Mazuz, the generals and the political leaders limited their goals from the outset to what they hoped would conform with perceived legal restrictions. This restraint, he bragged, was “the result of a sort of education and internalization that have taken place over the years.

“I remember periods when there was a great deal of friction with the senior military level regarding what is allowed and what is prohibited. But today I think there is more or less an understanding of the rules of the game, and I can’t identify any confrontation… or… demands to ‘let the IDF win.’” According to then-IDF military advocate-general Brig.-Gen. Avi Mandelblit and Mazuz, legal advisers were present at all levels of command in all the relevant service arms and in the security cabinet.

At each level the lawyers were asked to judge the legality of all the proposed targets and planned operations before they were carried out. And as the two explained, in their decisions, these lawyers were informed not by the goal of winning the war but by their interpretation of international law.

Law professor Ruth Gavison, who was a member of the commission, found their testimony deeply disturbing.

“I find this analysis harsh,” she chided. “I think that you have ignored the fact that international law is plagued with problems of selective enforcement and that the application and use of international law in the context of international conflicts is very biased and very political…. Therefore, [reliance on international law] seems to me to be a position that is possible to argue on a rhetorical level, but to internalize it as a real position, that looks to me like a strategic danger.”

Unfortunately, Gavison’s warning fell on deaf ears. Not only has the power of radicalized lawyers with a distorted view of the laws of war not been rolled back in the intervening years. It has expanded, to the point where today, staff officers in the military refuse to carry out lawful instructions from the government.
What's ahead, according to Glick, is worse.
As a consequence [of the Mavi Marmara incident], Israel formed the Turkel Commission charged with determining whether Israel’s system of investigating charges of war crimes meets the requirement of international law.

In the event, in February the commission submitted a 1,000-page report to Netanyahu. It concluded that Israel’s system does abide by the requirements of international law.

Yet, despite this fact, it recommended removing the authority to investigate war crimes allegations from the IDF and transferring it to the attorney- general and the military advocate-general who would no longer be subordinate to the IDF chief of General Staff.

Moreover, the commission recommended that Israel’s political leadership and General Staff be held criminally culpable “for violations committed by their subordinates, if they do not take all reasonable measures to prevent these violations or do not bring those responsible to justice when they find out about violations after the fact.”

The strategic implications of the Turkel Commission’s recommendations are earth shattering.

They mean that from now on, when defending Israel from its enemies, both government ministers and generals will be at the mercy of a self-appointed, radical, unaccountable legal fraternity whose interpretation of the laws of war has but a glancing relationship with the laws of war.

As Mazuz explained its interpretation back in 2007, “The laws of war, or international humanitarian law doesn’t concern itself with relations between two states, but with the relationship between civilians and states. That is, it places the two warring states on one side of the divide and the citizens of the two states on the other side, and the goal of international law is to protect the citizens of the two states and to say: You’re big kids. You want to fight, go fight, you have rules… and the rules aim to minimize as much as possible the consequences of the war.”

In other words, just as the civil administration officers argued, following international law means caring more about enemy populations than you care about your own. Civilian and military leaders who seek to secure Israel are now being subordinated to lawyers whose primary concern is the enemy.
This is a recipe for disaster.
 Read the whole thing. Glick - and Shakespeare - had it right.

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At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet lawfare used against israel in world courts are real event. You have Shurat Hadin and other lawyers who specialize in international law use their legal knowledge to fight for the Jewish state on this level. Whether you like it or not this is a real battlefield and something that can harm Israel and the Jewish people not only in the immediate but can also do a lot more damage than some idiotic commissions that actually believe in human rights laws. Don't be so quick to dispel all the lawyers.

At 2:57 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Carl, there is only one Caroline Glick! Too bad that she cannot be cloned. She has NEVER written anything bad that I can recall. And she is, as usual, spot-on with the comment.


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