Goldstone report Hamas Israel Israel Defense Forces

The Israeli response to Goldstone: “Trust us, we know what we’re doing”

The first half of the official Israeli response to the Goldstone report is a detailed explanation of why the world should trust the second half of the Israeli response to the Goldstone report.

It offers a summary of Israel’s system for reviewing alleged military misconduct, and refutes the charge that the military is not capable of investigating itself. The message conveyed to a world that has lost all trust in Israel is: “Trust us. We know how to find out if our generals and soldiers violated the laws of war and we will prosecute them if they did.”

The second half gets into some specific allegations made by the media, NGOs and the Goldstone report about Israel’s conduct during the Gaza operation. I admit that I had a rooting interest in finding detailed refutations of those allegations. I did not want to believe Israeli behavior was as monstrous as its critics claimed. I hoped to find reasonable explanations for what I saw on my television screen and read about during and after the conflict.

The report asserts that, all told, the “IDF investigated 150 incidents that allegedly occurred during the Gaza Operation involving violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.” When there are detailed responses to specific, grave allegations, they make a strong defense of IDF behavior. For example, the report does not accept the claim that Israelis attacked the local infrastructure and deliberately caused the local population to suffer, as charged by Goldstone et. al.

After reviewing satellite imagery and other evidence, the report denies that water wells were bombed. On the contrary, it notes, there were standing orders against attacking water installations. It denies that a sewage plant was bombed or strafed by bullets, though it leaves open the possibility that some of it was damaged by the IDF (but not deliberately). It says a flour mill was hit by shells during a firefight, but not because there was a pre-planned assault meant to deprive Gazans of food.

There are also matter-of-fact admissions of “intelligence and operational errors,” such as the mistaken targeting of a home rather than a neighboring weapons storage facility and an attack on the lead car of a UNRWA convey. And the report claims there are orders to fix what was broken and ensure such errors don’t happen again.

So far, so good.

But there are very few other detailed refutations, very few examinations of specific incidents. With a handful of exceptions, most of the allegations are conveyed through statistics and we have no way of knowing what they involve or how serious they are. Plus, much of the investigative work is still not finished. For example, we’re told that of 90 individual incidents which were referred for “command investigations” (where there is no criminal activity alleged) only 45 are complete. And of those, 7 have been referred for further criminal investigation. Of the total of 36 “criminal investigations,” 28 are still going on. In other words, “Trust us. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

A blog post can’t do complete justice to a 46-page report, but for the most part, the rest of the responses fall into two categories:

1) “Trust us. We’ve already investigated these and reported on them. See the earlier report we did, `The Operation in Gaza.'”

or

2) “Trust us. We’ve already investigated these. The Military Advocate General (at the highest rung of the investigatory ladder) has sometimes found problems, but, for the most part has exonerated our soldiers.”

I want to trust the Israeli military. But I’m afraid I can’t trust the military in any country to investigate itself honestly and thoroughly. I certainly see no reason to trust the IDF more than I trust B’tselem, or Breaking the Silence, or the other NGOs that have put forward serious allegations.

All of the Israeli arguments, including the detailed ones, are like those made by a defense lawyer at a trial. But the prosecutor alleges something else. That is why the report does not make a convincing argument against an independent assessment by people outside of the Israeli military, which thus far Israel has refused to do.

If Israel really is innocent of most of the charges, why not allow an independent investigation? Even Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly wants that, but the Israeli defense establishment is blocking him. That is not a good move. It will do more harm than good to Israel. Because if the goverment is banking on this latest, woefully incomplete report to stop the p.r. assault against Operation Cast Lead, it has made a mistake.

40 thoughts on “The Israeli response to Goldstone: “Trust us, we know what we’re doing”

  1. Dan,
    Do you think of the Gaza events as:

    1. Entirely reasonable (if exceptions in cases)
    2. Excessive but justified originally
    3. A planned war crime
    4. Genocide

    or some other descriptor

  2. Perhaps you two should grab a weapon, put on a uniform, and stand watch. Nice to be the moral arbiter. But I’ll give you both this. At least your not like Phil (Hitler should have finished the job ) Weiss. And his young sidekick and youthful ward. Adam ( lithe and sinewy body ) Horowitz.

  3. How about Hamas?

    1. Entirely reasonable. They are under siege by a brutal government that is willing to cause suffering to 1.5 million people.
    2. Excessive, but justified originally.
    3. A planned war crime.
    4. Hitler reincarnated.

    My own response–3. The same I’d give for Israel. Nobody “has to respond” when their own actions are going to be criminal or when they’ve already given provocation.

  4. I think the first part of the report, as I read it, is more than “trust us”. I think it’s more like trust us because what we do to investigate these matters is similar in kind to what four Western democracies do, i.e. the UK, Canada, Australia, and the United States. I think the purpose of the first part of the report is to assure the United Nations that Israel is capable of investigating the allegations. I have the feeling that, as the weeks unfold, the specifics that friends of Israel crave will be forthcoming, first in the form of the detailed IDF report that is already written apparently and, it seems more and more likely that a more independent entity (the contours of which appears to depend upon the outcome of the contrasting views of Netanyahu and Barak).

  5. I agree with Dan on 2 for Israel.

    And, I agree with 3 on Hamas, noting that within Hamas, the elders of Gaza residents urged that the factions not resume shelling, while the young and diaspora urged to resume shelling.

  6. Yes Richard, indiscriminate fire from Hamas rockets which kill 3 Israeli civilians is a war crime–indiscriminate fire from Israelis which kills hundreds of civilians is only excessive.

    And the oppression and coercion Israel inflicts on Palestinians on a daily basis is just so much background noise, not something that needs a response.

  7. You’re almost right, Donald. There might have been war crimes committed by the Israelis; that’s unclear at this point, which is why Dan is right and we need an investigation by other parties. But if there were Israeli war crimes, those crimes did not involve deliberately and systematically targeting civilians, as Hamas did. They involved firing or bombing military targets with the knowledge that both civilians were there and that “excessive harm would result, when balanced against the anticipated military advantage.” That is the Law of Armed Conflict as defined by the Israelis themselves. It’s a subtle distinction, but somehow one form of monstrous behavior –deliberately targeting ONLY civilians– seems more monstrous to me than the other (which is also monstrous, don’t get me wrong!).

  8. I think the distinction is mainly a bad faith one employed by Western powers with superior weaponry. There’s plausible deniability when you claim you didn’t mean to kill civilians, though in this case the Israelis threw the plausibility part of that excuse away when various civilian and military officials announced ahead of time that they intended to “punish” the civilian population in the next war. Anyway, you get to “punish” the civilian population, even killing some of them, teaching them a lesson and then deny that’s what you were doing.

    And don’t get me wrong–Israel is not unusual in this. The US targeted civilian infrastructure in the Gulf War in 1991 and the sanctions were meant to prevent repairs. This is very much like what Israel has done. Americans are just as schizoid as Israelis and their defenders on this subject–we want to be able to use our military power against civilians as a form of pressure and simultaneously deny we’re doing any such thing if someone calls us on it.

    Anyway, the amusing thing (in a dark sort of way) is that Hamas is learning to speak the Western lingo–a few days ago they denied that they had targeted civilians. See, that’s the spirit. Soon both sides will speak exactly the same rhetorical language.

    Another point made at the dreaded Mondoweiss (though noticed by me and countless others long before) is that Tom Friedman last January claimed that Israel was trying to “educate” the Gazans and nobody except a few lefties batted an eye, because he wrote this in a tone sympathetic to Israel and with the unspoken assumption that this is a perfectly acceptable way to communicate with civilians if they are happen to be Arab. Goldstone makes the same point, but in a condemning tone, and all of a sudden people realize “Oh, he’s saying Israel committed war crimes” and then the denials begin.

  9. Donald:

    As well-informed as you sound, as biting a wit as you employ, it is with due respect that I point out the absolute nudity of your arguments in terms of factual predicate.

    Donald, you assume indiscriminate fire on civilians sans evidence; your reference to what Tom Friedman wrote last January, to what is written on Mondoweiss, and your tongue in cheek delight in the public relations proclivities of Hamas may do well with like-minded thinkers, but it still leaves you making arguments without evidence, naked in a realm that some of us still take seriously.

    Dan’s post is about what the Israeli government wrote to the United Nations with respect to how it investigates itself, and what it has found thus far. With respect to the specific findings in this preliminary report, even the most excessive haters of the State of Israel have not yet responded with any modicum of evidence to refute that, in fact, Israel did not target water sources, Gaza’s largest flour mill, and the water treatment plant referenced in the Goldstone report. And this is the preliminary report. The principal in-depth report shall come out in the coming weeks.

    Now, as to independence, where I respectfully disagree with Dan is his non-recognition of an important point Israel makes in this preliminary report, namely that its procedures for investigating alleged war crimes is at least equivalent to the procedures employed by, respectively, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States. The debate between Netanyahu and Barak in the Israeli cabinet is not whether Israel must go beyond these procedures, but how it will do so.

    In this context, what I see are haters of Israel and many well-intentioned people who are absolutely afraid to defend her against an international onslaught of condemnation alike paying lipservice to a Goldstone report that even Goldstone confesses is not based on the type of evidence we rely on to dispense justice in environments wherein due process is revered, while at the same time condemning Israel, again sans evidence beyond innuendo, for not going beyond normal and recognized measures of due process.

    I want Israel’s investigations to meet the demands of even the most vociferous haters of her very existence, but I know and I think all honest people know that no matter what Israel does it will never be enough. Still, I want to satisfy those who hate her. And, of course, I am not alone. But, between us guys, let’s at least be hones in between sticking tongues in cheeks about what’s going on here.

  10. My evidence comes from the various human rights groups–they all seem to say more or less the same thing. Indiscriminate fire.

    As for my “tongue-in-cheek delight”, I’m being politely snarky rather than expressing the full level of my disgust. I don’t think Israel is worse than the US –as we see with Obama, there’s no stomach for any serious investigation (let alone prosecution) of American war criminals and this is why I expect the Israeli thugs to escape prosecution. The last thing Western officials want to establish is a precedent where they themselves can be held to the same legal standards they like to apply to Third World dictators who’ve been deposed and outlived their usefulness. You can take comfort in the fact that Israel is no worse than the US if you wish–I find it nauseating. And as an American I think our own war crimes are quite enough–why should our taxes go to subsidize the brutality of others?

    The human rights groups (Amnesty International, HRW, etc) all give a fairly similar picture of what happened in Gaza last year. Hundreds of civilians died, white phosphorus was used in urban areas (which is obscene) and the destroyed buildings can’t be repaired because Israel and Egypt maintains their sadistic blockade. And Israeli officials basically told us what they were going to do ahead of time. This is more or less the same sort of evidence we have in most war crimes–it’s only in rare cases where we can go further and actually put people under oath, look at secret government records, etc…

  11. “The human rights groups (Amnesty International, HRW, etc) all give a fairly similar picture of what happened in Gaza last year.”

    Indeed. Heck why quibble over investigations when the professionals already know the outcome?
    Investigations? Why bother?

  12. I think the important focus is on making change.

    The history of animosities is of pendulum swings, rather than reconciliation.

    So, the change that I consider important is of the character of the pendulum, that it swing less by the process of acceptance of the other.

    Donald’s and other dissenters’ view is defined by what appalls, mostly not stated in the context of what is sought.

    And again, Donald in a way apologizes for Hamas in the description of “only three dead” from the rocket-fire. He ignores that that followed seven years of indiscrimminate periodic shelling, and that following 8 years of gruesome intimate terror directed solely at civilians.

    Shelling a civilian town is NOT a lesser crime than a military response to the shelling of a civilian town. (The extent and specific targeting is a different question, but my expectation is that Donald would object similarly to ANY Israeli military action – that because of its technological sophistication would be disproporionately harmful).

    The picture of blood-thirsty “Arabs” is constructed by that sequence.

  13. “I don’t think Israel is worse than the US”

    You don’t? To be honest, I cannot – now, in 2010 – imagine a US officer getting away scot free in a case similar to this…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/nov/16/israel2
    … which you can also use as a valuable reference point as to how reliable and how compliant with basic human rights Israeli “investigations” are.

    Of course, everything you say about the two-faced approach to terrorizing civilians is true. Terrorism is not terrorism if dressed up as a “military operation”. This is not a new development either. The various bombing campaigns of WW2, Korea and Vietnam, which killed millions of civilians, all were conducted in the same manner.

  14. Two points since I wrote my comments. First, in response to Koshiro, there is no evidence that any Israeli officer is “getting away scot free” with anything. In fact, Israel’s preliminary report reflects multiple investigations that are ongoing, and some which are criminal in nature, and further reflects that at least two ranking officer, one a brigadier general, have already been subjected to discipline. So it is simply not correct to assume, without evidence, that Israel, unlike other countries, is letting its military personnel escape scrutiny.

    Second, since I wrote my initial post, the Guardian reports that Israel’s claim that the Gazan flour mill was not struck from the air is belied by the alleged finding of a piece of an air-dropped bomb in the flour mill. I had written last night that nobody had yet challenged the factual basis of any of Israel’s findings. The Guardian article is suspect (it claims it has a photo but hasn’t published it) and the alleged bomb conflicts with, inter alia, a photograph in the IDF report which shows no damage on the roof of the building, i.e. no damage at a point where a bomb dropped from a jet would fall. Nevertheless, I want to try to be accurate and I would submit that the Guardian’s allegation needs warrants a response.

    Finally, I spoke of due process. Let me be clear I also and perhaps principally speak with respect to the existence of international double standards. Israel, I submit, is being asked to submit to a double standard concerning the scope and breadth of the investigations she is being asked to undertake. It is a cross the nation bears, as even right-wing Israelis like Netanyahu apparently understand that they must respond for public relations purposes to uniform international calls that Israel do more than other nations. But double standards pollute international norms and in this case, I submit, are yet another example of ongoing and historic discrimination and hatred of all things Jewish.

    I write the latter point with my head held high and with a commitment to a two-state solution that is no different than anything, I repeat anything, that J Street for example has proposed. I believe that one can support peace and not be afraid to point out Jew hatred in the world at the same time. I also believe, as Dan knows, that the failure of J Streets et al to recognize Jew hatred blunts their message of peace and neuters them politically; it saps trust from a Jewish constituency that may be dumb at times but is hardly stupid. The pursuit of peace in the Middle East requires trust of process. That is a given that so many of us ignore.

  15. If one studies history, one shouldn’t be surprised by the Israeli reaction. In WWII when the Allies thought that their survival was on the line they adopted the tactics of their totalitarian opponents–unrestricted submarine warfare, bombing of cities, etc. So it isn’t surprising that when Israel regards its deterrent capability to be crucial to its survival that it is willing to countenance large civilian casualties for the purpose of destroying terrorist infrastruce. Israel has been subjected to Palestinian terrorism since the mid-1930s, so its not surprising that the civilian population of Israel and its leadership isn’t horrified at the prospect of large civilian Palestinian casualties.

  16. “Two points since I wrote my comments. First, in response to Koshiro, there is no evidence that any Israeli officer is “getting away scot free” with anything.”

    Ummm… yes there is? Did you not follow the link? This “Captain R” pumped a 13-year old girl full of bullets at short range and was, quelle surprise, acquitted of all charges. So yes, he did get away “scot free”. Not that they charged him with anything serious to begin with. “Illegal use of his weapon”. Fancy term for flat-out cold-blooded murder of a child.

    The facts of the above case are undisputed. There are two possibilities for interpreting them:
    a) Israeli laws allow emptying your magazine at point blank range into a 13-year old girl who is lying on the ground, gravely wounded.
    b) Israeli laws do not allow this, but the court ignored them.
    Pick your poison.

    And no, this case does not have anything to do with Gaza. It does have a lot to do with the Israeli system of military justice and how much faith one can place in it.

    (And by the way: Please do not make a complete fool of yourself by babbling something about “jew hatred” regarding this case.)

  17. Koshiro:

    Dispense with the name-calling. I have not called you a Jew hater.

    As to this incident, it is horrible, just horrible. I do not condone it. But I would like to read the entire transcript of the proceedings. Have you read it?

    On Jew hatred, my point is that to have two standards in the world, one for Israel and one for the rest of the world, smacks of Jew hatred. If you cannot handle that, then you are not alone; most folks who hate Israel, and even many who don’t hate her, have convinced themselves that the last anti-semite died in a bunker in Berlin back in 1945. I’m burdened by a knowledge of history. Imagine that.

    But, again, I called you not a Jew hater. Perhaps you wanted to brag to all the cool kids that you were accused as such. Sorry dude.

  18. Richard, you’re getting down and dirty over here. Good for you. It’s a refreshing change from the hippy dippy stuff.

    Of course what you say about me is nonsense–I think Hamas actions are war crimes, whatever the number of dead. I think that there is real psychological harm done to Israeli children subjected to rocket fire even if no one was ever killed and that’s a war crime.

    Israel has a right to respond to terrorist rockets if they aim very carefully at the actual location of rocket launching sites and use the smallest possible weapons to minimize any chance of harm to civilians. And I’ve said that before. They do not have the right to impose a blockade far more brutal than any proposed boycott on Israel. And there is no right for Israel supporters to utterly ignore the daily violence inflicted on Palestinians and act as though violence is something that Palestinians initiate and then Israelis respond. Because that’s a lie.

    Of course the issue here is that I fully accept that Hamas’s violence is criminal, but you employ double standards and make excuses for Israeli violence.

    Koshiro–I was speaking in more general terms and thinking of our behavior in, for instance, the Gulf War, where according to interviews conducted by Barton Gellman at the Washington Post, the US struck deliberately at Iraqi infrastructure and intended the sanctions on Iraq as a method of preventing their repair. This in turn was supposed to make Iraqi civilians suffer and that was supposed to either lead to the toppling of Saddam, or at least cause enough pressure on him to force him to comply to UN resolutions. This is very similar to Israel’s actions in Gaza. What’s also similar is the doublethink involved–inflict harm on civilians as policy and then heatedly deny that one is doing it. And pundits like Tom Friedman are there to take both positions–cheerlead for the brutality, which is not recognized as such until pesky lefties make an issue of it.

    Bruce–Good luck with that Israeli investigation. I’m just positive they’ll set a standard of honesty and integrity that will put the US to shame. No, actually, I think they’ll probably match the one we’re setting.

  19. “Dispense with the name-calling. I have not called you a Jew hater.”
    No, but you have a habit of bringing this up, and I just thought I’d warn you because in this specific case it would be utterly ridiculous. With Captain R(1) not being a Jew and all, you know?

    “As to this incident, it is horrible, just horrible. I do not condone it.”
    That wasn’t the question. I do not ask people if they condone killing 13-year-old girls. The question was what amount of faith you place in the legal system that exonerated the killer. And it still is.

    “But I would like to read the entire transcript of the proceedings.”
    So… a)?
    I mean, what do you expect to find in the transcript of the proceedings, which you will probably not be able to procure? The assertion that our good Captain R did *not*, in fact, pump a harmless 13-year old girl full of bullets? That he did *not* state that ‘anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed’? I can assure you won’t find it there.

    (1) Btw promoted to Major since… and given a hefty compensation for his trouble.

  20. Donald:

    I think at the threshold we can agree that, in judging Israel, we should start by applying the same standards that are applied to other nations, nay let’s go a little further, to western democracies. Now if you think that that standard is met, and that Israel and, say the U.S., are subjected to the same standards internationally, and that standard is nonetheless inadequate, I respect that. I’m into equal treatment at the threshold and I would like to think that we can agree on that.

    As to the snark, I don’t think it helps your arguments become more persuasive. But that’s the whole internets thing I think.

  21. Koshiro:

    If you are an attorney, and if you have any inkling of how the press covers stories, and if you have any honesty of the relationship between the Guardian and the Jewish State, you would have to understand why one would want to read a transcript. I want to know what was going through the accused’s head, what testimony was adduced to that effect, and I want to know if, pray tell, it is remotely possible that the Guardian may have left out some material facts.

    If you cannot understand that, then to some extent you can be excused if you are not an attorney, but if you live in a democratic society you should nonetheless appreciate my comment.

    Of course, if you want to assume that Israelis are: (a) into murdering 13 year-old kids in cold blood; and (b) into whitewashing unambiguous guilt in such circumstances, so be it. Again, I hardly think you’re alone. But I think such presumptions are telling in and of themselves–not necessarily Jew-hatred, but sad.

  22. Koshiro:

    And, by the way, it’s simply ridiculous to bring up my reference to Jew hatred with respect to this incident, when my comment was about standards applied to Israel, and your comment post-dates my comment. I think you were being disingenuous and making a cheap shot.

    Take solace if you believe that: (a) there is no double standard applied to the Jewish State; and (b) if there is a doulbe standard it can’t have anything to do with historical ongoing and repetitious othering and hatred of the Jewish People. Again, you’d be hardly alone.

  23. “I want to know what was going through the accused’s head”
    Why?

    “it is remotely possible that the Guardian may have left out some material facts.”
    Oh, sure, deny and throw around accusations of lying. And at the same time do not “condone” the killing. Attorney, eh?
    Just FYI: I have followed this case for some time and considered more than one source.

    “Of course, if you want to assume that Israelis are: (a) into murdering 13 year-old kids in cold blood; and (b) into whitewashing unambiguous guilt in such circumstances, so be it.”
    Israeli soldiers *did* kill a 13-year-old kid in cold blood. (More than one, but let’s just talk about this one now.) Nobody denies that. They just say they were justified in doing so. And apparently you agree?

    And by the way, yes: I believe that Israelis are capable of heinous war crimes – and of covering them up. I have the gall not to believe that Israelis are somehow inherently better than other humans in this regard. Shocking, eh?

  24. Koshiro:

    I think you’re being intentionally ignorant; you can’t be that unaware of due process. You want to know what’s going through the accused’s head because you want to determine whether he intended to kill a 13 year-old girl in cold blood, or with reckless disregard for her life, or whether he genuinely believed and had reason to believe that he was acting in self-defense.

    I’m an American who craves due process, who lives for it, who on behalf of working people has spent an entire career spanning twenty-five years fighting for it, and who understands that it is due process that is the stuff upon which a democratic society is built and is sustained.

    Am I shocked by your presumptions to the contrary? Unfortunately I am not.

    On the other hand, I am disappointed that you apparently are unable to deal with rational discussion, and that you instead accuse me of obfuscation and flim-flamming instead of respecting the straight-forward and eminently honest manner with which I offer my thoughts. It is unfortunate–really for you and your credibility and the Palestinian people whom you would allege I suspect that you care more about than I do–that you choose a different approach to discussion and debate.

    So be it, and you may have the last word and then some Koshiro, for I am satisfied with the record that we have created.

    And, by the way, I provide my name with what I write, and I stand by it. You don’t.

  25. “You want to know what’s going through the accused’s head because you want to determine whether he intended to kill a 13 year-old girl in cold blood, or with reckless disregard for her life, or whether he genuinely believed and had reason to believe that he was acting in self-defense.”
    He was not even *charged* with any offense connected to killing a human being. What could have possibly gone through his head that rendered the physical reality of him putting bullets through her head into non-reality?
    And what part of “scot free” didn’t you understand? Where you going to plead insanity, Counselor? (Actually if you were trying to argue that someone who repeatedly shot an unarmed schoolgirl who was lying motionless on the ground believed he was acting in self defense, you might just as well.)

    “obfuscation and flim-flamming”
    I couldn’t have put it any more concisely; the shoe apparently fits. Because you still haven’t addressed the question and apparently never will: How much faith do you put in the legal system that exonerated the killer of 13-year-old Iman?

    By the way: Attaching a last name to your posts is important how? If you provided your home address with it, I might be impressed. For all I know, “Bruce Levine” might be a real name or it might be not. (You do realize that “Koshiro” is an actual name, I hope.)

  26. I choose 2 for Israel too.

    Also–an independent investigation is preferable to the military investigating itself–provided it is an Israeli investigative team.

    I assume that was the recommended alternative.

  27. I’m intrigued Dan, Is he not Japanese, and does he not think Jews are evil. And did Japan not ride roughshod over Asia. Kill a tremendous number of American servicemen and throw in with Hitler. And is the protocols not a big seller in Japan. Please enlighten me.

  28. The funniest thing is that I’m not a Japanese citizen. But I like the way the name induces ethnicism and wholesale condemnation of entire nations, because the Japanese are apparently on the official whitelist (npi) of allowed racism targets. (There’s no way sugarcoat it. Whatever lame-ass rationale one might come up with to justify blaming the entire Japanese people for Japanese atrocities in WW2 and before, there is no non-racist way to rationalize today’s Japanese people having somehow inherited their ancestors’ supposed immorality.)

  29. Bruce–

    I think that Western democracies are given a pass on human rights, so far anyway. I think Blair and Bush ought to be held to account in a court of law and put in prison if it can be shown that they deliberately lied us into the Iraq war. I think various members of the Bush Administration should be held accountable for their torture policies. One could go on and on.

    Israel is currently receiving a fair amount of criticism for Gaza and to that I can only say, good. (It’s not getting much inside the US, however, not from politicians anyway.) I’d like to see Western immunity broken somewhere on some issue–then maybe it’ll spread. But I don’t actually think Olmert or some other high ranking Israeli will ever face prison–there’s no Western leader who wants to see that precedent set and I don’t think they’ll ever let it happen.

  30. Hey Don:

    Greetings from 38,000 feet; with wireless internet now freely available on domestic flights I definitely see the end of civilization.

    Here’s the thing; I’m into Israel doing the right thing but I’m also interested at the core in having her judged just as any other nation is judged. I don’t find differential treatment of Israel to be in any way unhinged from historical treatment of the Jewish People. I’m steadfast on that score and couldn’t care less if some folks would think I’m obfuscating her misdeeds as a result of what I’m asserting. Justice can only come about when that lady with the scales ain’t peeking and has them balanced.

    Moving away from that, however, let me make myself perfectly clear to the extent I haven’t previously, and focus on what Dan writes about above. I have no aversion whatsoever to stating that, if Israel is not able to end the Occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Israel will indeed be administering what amounts to an apartheid system there, and that is untenable. Of course, where I take issue with a guy like MJ Rosenberg, whom Dan for some reason finds credible and who gets off on a Barak referring to Israel and apartheid in the same sentence as if that is an end in itself, is that Israel, unlike the white South Africans, can not ultimately do things without the cooperation of the Palestinians, who in large measure remain committed, along with her allies, to Israel’s destruction. Anyone who thinks that the only thing blocking a fair and just two-state solution along the line of say the Geneva Initiative is either ignorant or, respectfully, dishonest. In any event, it is not at all inconsistent to insist that Israel be treated as any other nation on the one hand, and fearing the outcome of never-ending Occupation, namely something akin to apartheid, on the other.

    On that happy note, cheers Dan.

    Bruce

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