Israel's War on Gaza

Israel's War on Gaza, the History behind the Headlines, Part 1 of 2.
Audio clips with brief commentary:
Bob Simon interviewed by Charlie Rose 2009/01/06;
Rashid Khalidi interviewed by Laura Flanders 2009/01/07;
BBC report by Paul Moss, "Who is Hamas" 2009/01/04;
BBC interviews with Tony Blair, Jeremy Greenstock 2009/01/12;
CBC interview Omer Goldman, 2009/01/08.

MP3 File

1 comment:

"foglight" said...

Israel Keeps Shooting the Messenger

By Haroon Siddiqui

(First published in the Toronto Star on September 29, 2009)

In trying to discredit Richard Goldstone's UN report on the Israeli attack on Gaza, Israel and its supporters are shooting the messenger, says another high-profile Jewish public intellectual critical of Israeli policies on Palestinians.

Richard Falk, professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University and prolific author, is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Last December, he was expelled from Israel after characterizing the crippling Israeli economic blockade of Gaza (in effect since 2007) as collective punishment, amounting to "a crime against humanity."

A four-person panel led by Judge Goldstone of South Africa, the former chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, has accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, including deliberately targeting civilians.

Falk said that the panel "confirms the prior allegations that Israel has been acting unlawfully, indeed criminally, but it does so more comprehensively and with a very credible group led by Goldstone, who's known for his sympathy for Zionism and Israel.

"He has deep emotional and intellectual links to Israel but he also has a professional attachment to the rule of law.

"Israel's tactic – I've also experienced this myself – is that rather than discuss the message, they talk about the messenger and try to discredit the person who's critical of their behaviour.

"They don't make any effort to engage in the substantive debate because they really can't do that with any degree of effectiveness."

Goldstone also characterized the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel as war crimes. But Falk said that, contrary to popular belief, the rocket attacks "did not precipitate the Israeli attack. They had basically stopped during the temporary ceasefire. It was Israel, not Hamas, that broke the ceasefire Nov. 4 by launching a big attack inside Gaza."

The Israeli Gaza operation and the Goldstone report represent a turning point. Both have had "a very strong political impact on the Palestinian solidarity movement around the world."

Therefore, overwhelming Israeli military superiority may no longer do. Israel will face increasing calls for an economic boycott, disinvestments and economic pressure.

His overall assessment:

"Israel seems completely unwilling to allow a viable Palestinian state ... The expansion of Jewish settlements, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; the blockade of Gaza, a collective punishment prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention, that endangers the entire population of 1.5 million that includes 53 per cent children; and the changing of the character of East Jerusalem by making it difficult for Palestinians to stay there and encouraging a much greater residential Jewish population" – all seem designed to scuttle any real solution.

What of the argument that Israel does not have a peace partner?

"It's partially true that there's neither Palestinian unity nor acceptable Palestinian representation.

"But that's partly a consequence of Israel's own actions – its refusal to treat Hamas, democratically elected, as a real political actor, rather than dismissing it as a terrorist group. For decades that was done in Northern Ireland, preventing a negotiated resolution."

Falk is not too hopeful regarding Barack Obama's peace initiative, given that the president does not seem to apply to Israel his own oft-repeated commitment to the rule of law. Obama has backed out of his call on Israel to freeze settlements, urging it only to show "restraint."

As for Canada, it "could play a useful role if it were to be independent of pro-Israeli geopolitics and was more balanced and impartial."