Justice from the Hip
This is Justice from the Hip, an adaptation of the American Wild West to the modern Middle East...
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The American readers of this article may chuckle at the former paragraph; yet, for an Israeli citizen, writing it is a serious offence against the state. In the recently published Goldstone Report, this fact has been finally recognized, thus putting a serious question mark over Israel’s self description as a democratic society.
The UN has responsibility for human rights in territories under military occupation, since the treatment of civilians in such places falls under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Moreover, the UN granted independence to Israel under conditions broken by the latter, thus the role of the UN in this conflict is doubly important. Moreover, the UN has the necessary authority.
Following the Israeli attack against Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009, a massacre named by the Israeli authorities “Operation Cast Lead,” the UNHRC sanctioned the creation of a commission to investigate “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people.” The commission was led by Richard J. Goldstone.
Judge Richard J. Goldstone is a former South African Constitutional Court judge who served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 15 August 1994 to September 1996. He gained there a reputation for fairness and objectivity. It has been made public that he is a Zionist Jew, thus making his appointment as head of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict an extremely sensitive one.
On September 15, 2009, the judge presented the 575-page Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to its mandating authority, the United Nations Human Rights Council. On October 16, 2009, the report was overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly.
Judge Goldstone stood up to his reputation. There was no better testimony of that than the wild attacks against him in the Israeli media; obviously, in the best of the Phariseo-Zionist tradition, all of them were irrelevant. The Jerusalem Post published on October 16 an article by Herb Keinon, a Nationalist Religious Jew, in which he seriously claimed:
“The more likely scenario is that the issue will be taken up by the General Assembly, which, because of the automatic anti-Israeli majority in that body, will likely kick the issue over to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ), the body that took up Israel's construction of the security barrier and issued a decision against the fence in 2004.”
“Everybody is against us,” this reporter is claiming. This claim is the cornerstone of the Israeli society. No love, no faith, just “everybody is against us.” It was time for the UN to address this ridiculous claim and Judge Goldstone did so.
In article 1674, the report states that Israeli policies in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory did violate international human rights and humanitarian law.
Article 1675 defines Israel’s policy of blockade in the three years prior to the attack as a collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip. It also claims the military operations and the manner in which they were conducted considerably exacerbated the blockade effects. The result, in a very short time was unprecedented long term damage both to the people and their development and recovery prospects.
In Article 1678 the report describes the first visit of the mission to Gaza, and the devastating effects of the operations on the population which were unequivocally manifest. In addition to the visible destruction of houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings, the sight of families, including the elderly and children, still living amid the rubble of their former dwellings—no reconstruction possible due to the continuing blockade—was evidence of the protracted impact of the operations on the living conditions of the Gaza population. Reports of the trauma suffered during the attacks, the stress due to the uncertainty about the future, the hardship of life and the fear of further attacks, pointed to less tangible but not less real long term effects. The following article states that women were affected in significant ways. In this issue, the report states in article 1683 “that deeds by Israeli forces and words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that as a whole they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the enemy but at the “supporting infrastructure.” In practice, this appears to have meant the civilian population.”
The Israeli Government planned thoroughly and extensively the Gaza military operations, claims article 1680 and adds that while the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defense, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole, especially due to its resilience and support of Hamas as it is added in article 1681.
Since the international community seems to have certain difficulties remembering uncomfortable facts, the report reminds in article 1682 that “It is important that the international community asserts formally and unequivocally that such violence to the most basic fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals should not be overlooked and should be condemned.”
The report also addresses evil angles of the actual operation. Article 1684 states: “The timing of the first Israeli attack, at 11:30AM on a week day, when children were returning from school and the streets of Gaza were crowded with people going about their daily business, appears to have been calculated to create the greatest disruption and widespread panic among the civilian population. The treatment of many civilians detained or even killed while trying to surrender is one manifestation of the way in which the effective rules of engagement, standard operating procedures and instructions to the troops on the ground appear to have been framed in order to create an environment in which due regard for civilian lives and basic human dignity was replaced with the disregard for basic international humanitarian law and human rights norms.”
If that wasn’t serious enough, article 1686 states that “The repeated failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians appears to the Mission to have been the result of deliberate guidance issued to soldiers, as described by some of them, and not the result of occasional lapses.” Article 1687 states “…They were also to a large degree aimed at destroying or incapacitating civilian property and the means of subsistence of the civilian population.”
These statements are in accord with interviews published by the mainstream Israeli media.
As if we could think otherwise, article 1688 states that “It is clear from evidence gathered by the Mission that the destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy by the Israeli armed forces. It was not carried out because those objects presented a military threat or opportunity but to make the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population.”
In another attempt to educate Israel in the obvious, Article 1694 adds: “Furthermore, the harsh and unlawful practices of occupation, far from quelling resistance, breed it, including its violent manifestations.”
The brave Israeli government attacked also the people’s dignity, as stated in article 1689: “Allied to the systematic destruction of the economic capacity of the Gaza Strip, there appears also to have been an assault on the dignity of the people. This was seen not only in the use of human shields and unlawful detentions sometimes in unacceptable conditions, but also in the vandalizing of houses when occupied and the way in which people were treated when their houses were entered. The graffiti on the walls, the obscenities and often racist slogans all constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population.”
Eventually, the committee had no other option but to define Israel as a terrorist entity in article 1690: “The operations were carefully planned in all their phases. Legal opinions and advice were given throughout the planning stages and at certain operational levels during the campaign. There were almost no mistakes made according to the Government of Israel. It is in these circumstances that the Mission concludes that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
According to the report’s Article 1691, this terrorist entity undermined the entire regime of international law; they are inconsistent with the spirit of the United Nations Charter and deserve to be categorically denounced.
In contrast to the Israelis, Palestinians displayed a brave attitude. Article 1695 states “The Mission was struck by the resilience and dignity shown by people in the face of dire circumstances. UNRWA Director of Operations John Ging relayed to the Mission the answer of a Gaza teacher during a discussion after the end of the Israeli military operations about strengthening human rights education in schools. Rather than expressing skepticism at the relevance of teaching human rights in a context of renewed denial of rights, the teacher unhesitantly supported the resumption of human rights education: ‘This is a war of values, and we are not going to lose it.’”
In an attempt to hide reality, Israel terrorized critiques, as stated in article 1700: “While the Israeli military offensive in Gaza was widely supported by the Israeli public, there were also dissenting voices that expressed themselves through demonstrations, protests, as well as public reporting on Israel’s conduct. The Mission is of the view that actions of the Israeli government during and following the military operations in the Gaza Strip, including interrogation of political activists, repression of criticism and sources of potential criticism of Israeli military actions, in particular non-governmental organizations, have contributed significantly to a political climate in which dissent with the government and its actions in the Occupied Territories is not tolerated. The denial of media access to Gaza and the continuing denial of access to human rights monitors are, in the Mission’s view, an attempt both to remove the Government’s actions in the OPT from public scrutiny and to impede investigations and reporting of the conduct of the parties in the conflict in the Gaza Strip.”
Article 1745 claims—among other things—that: “Hostile retaliatory actions against civil society organizations by the Government of Israel for criticisms of the Israeli authorities and for exposing alleged violations of IHRL and IHL during the military operations are inconsistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”
The facts are clear. The crimes are obvious. Yet, Israel proclaims itself a democracy. “Interrogation of political activists” is a very mild term used by the committee; there are many proofs of physical attacks by Israel on those of its citizens daring to criticize the government’s actions.
I almost fell of my chair while I reached article 1702, which is part of a section of the report named “The Impact of Dehumanization:”
“As in many conflicts, one of the features of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the dehumanization of the other, and of victims in particular. Palestinian psychiatrist Dr Iyad Sarraj explained the cycle of aggression and victimization through which “the Palestinian in the eyes of the Israeli soldier is not an equal human being. Sometimes […] even becomes a demon [… ]” This “culture of demonization and dehumanization” adds to a state of paranoia. “Paranoia has two sides, the side of victimization, I am a victim of this world, the whole world is against me and on the other side, I am superior to this world and I can oppress it. This leads to what is called the arrogance of power.” As Palestinians, “we look in general to the Israelis as demons and that we can hate them, that what we do is a reaction, and we say that the Israelis can only understand the language of power. The same thing that we say about the Israelis they say about us, that we only understand the language of violence or force. There we see the arrogance of power and [the Israeli] uses it without thinking of humanity at all. In my view we are seeing not only a state of war but also a state that is cultural and psychological and I hope, I wish that the Israelis would start, and there are many, many Jews in the world and in Israel that look into themselves, have an insight that would make them, alleviate the fear that they have because there’s a state of fear in Israel, in spite of all the power, and that they would start to walk on the road of dealing with the consequences of their own victimization and to start dealing with the Palestinian as a human being, a full human being who’s equal in rights with the Israeli and also the other way around, the Palestinian must deal with himself, must respect himself and respect his own differences in order to be able to stand before the Israeli also as a full human being with equal rights and obligations. This is the real road for justice and for peace.”
The Israeli “arrogance of power” is described also in the following Article 1703, and this time by an Israeli:
“Israeli college teacher Ofer Shinar offered a similar analysis: ‘Israeli society’s problem is that because of the conflict, Israeli society feels itself to be a victim and to a large extent that’s justified and it’s very difficult for Israeli society to move and to feel that it can also see the other side and to understand that the other side is also a victim. This I think is the greatest tragedy of the conflict and it’s terribly difficult to overcome it […] I think that the initiative that you’ve taken in listening to […] people […] is very important. The message that you’re giving Israeli society is absolutely unambiguous that you are impartial that you should be able to see that the feeling of being a victim is something that characterizes both sides. What requires you to take this responsibility is the fact that you have to understand how difficult it is to get this message through to Israeli society, how closed the Israeli society is, how difficult it is for Israeli society to understand that the other side is not just the party which is infringing our own human rights, but how they are having their human rights infringed, how they are suffering as well.’”
The college teacher makes a good attempt to justify Israel’s actions. However, when an Israeli officer brags off on his assassination of a granny with a sniper’s rifle and Israeli soldiers coldly comment on the assassination of mothers and children from great distance with similar arms and all this is done openly in the Israeli media and these soldiers are not now in jail, that means the Israeli society as a whole had ceased to differentiate between good and bad.
“Roy Tov is anti-Semite” my few Israeli readers are saying by now. Sure, according to Israeli public opinion so are those who wrote in article 1716: “…The firing of white phosphorus shells over the UNRWA compound in Gaza City is one of such cases in which precautions were not taken in the choice of weapons and methods in the attack and these facts were compounded by reckless disregard for the consequences. The intentional strike at the Al Quds hospital using high explosive artillery shells and using white phosphorous in and around the hospital also violated Articles 18 and 19 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. With regard to the attack against Al Wafa hospital, the Mission found a violation of the same provisions, as well as a violation of the customary law prohibiting against attacks which may be expected to cause excessive damage to civilians and civilian objects.” Israel intentionally fired white phosphorous artillery shells on hospitals.
Israel failed even in the treatment of Palestinians in the hands of the IDF, basically war prisoners, by using them as human shields. Article 1722 reads: “The Mission investigated several incidents in which Israeli armed forces used local Palestinian residents to enter houses which might be booby trapped or harbour enemy combatants (this practice, known in the West Bank as “neighbour procedure,” was called “Johnnie procedure” during the military operations in Gaza). The Mission found that the practice constitutes the use of human shields prohibited by international humanitarian law. It further constitutes a violation of the right to life, protected in Article 6 of the ICCPR, and of the prohibition against cruel and inhuman treatment in Article 7 of the ICCPR.” Article 1723 adds on this that “The questioning of Palestinian civilians under threat of death or injury to extract information about Hamas and Palestinian combatants and tunnels constitutes a violation of Article 31 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits physical or moral coercion against protected persons.”
Article 1732 summarizes: “From the facts gathered, the Mission found that the following grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention were committed by Israeli forces in Gaza: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. As grave breaches these acts give rise to individual criminal responsibility. The Mission notes that the use of human shields also constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion. It is often used by states to delegitimize political opponents, and to legitimize the state’s own use of terror against them. Goldstone’s report doesn’t leave any doubts the State of Israel is thus a terrorist organization, it says so explicitly in article 1690.
Publications on the Hebrew media support this claim. On February 13, 2009, IDF soldiers graduating from Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon made statements regarding their participation in Operation Cast Lead. This was compiled in a document known as the Beit Oranim Transcript. Many of the testimonies there are wilder than anything described in the UN document.
The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. “There was a house with a family inside .... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof,” the soldier said.
“The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.”
According to the squad leader: “The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.
“I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way,” he said.
Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered. This is from soldiers who graduated from schools where it was taught that all Germans were guilty of the Nazi regime crimes because they had the moral obligation to refuse immoral orders. Somehow, Israel preaches one moral system, but implements a different one.
Probably no army in human history has been more insensitive than the IDF to civilian life. In its own version of Extraordinary Rendition, the State of Israel has kidnapped humanity into the quick sands of savage lawlessness.
It is very tempting to speak of hypocrisy; yet circumstances hint at a different and scarier possibility. I know them; they truly believe what they are saying and doing. They do not apply moral judgment; they do not comprehend they are committing crimes. To some extent, these soldiers seem to be a modern version of a “golem,” a brainless entity who serves man under controlled conditions, but is hostile to him and others. This is a well rooted term in Jewish mysticism.
Those following my writing for a while know that accurate translations from Hebrew to English are difficult. One of the reasons is a completely different structure of the verbs system. For example, most Hebrew nouns are verbs in present tense. That adds a richness to their meaning which is absent in their English counterparts. This is what happens with the word “golem.”
Golem occurs once in the Bible in Psalm 139:16, where “golmi” (Hebrew nouns can be conjugated, “golmi” is related to “golem” in a way that cannot be easily translated into English) means “unshaped.” However, the Hebrew noun also implies action; the creation of this shapeless form. It has an inherent mystic meaning which doesn’t exist in the English noun. The Mishna expanded the use, referring the term to an uncultivated person. The Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b), Adam was initially created as a golem when his dust was “kneaded into a shapeless husk.” From here on, the term evolved within the mystic circles of Judaism.
During the Middle Ages, passages from the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) were studied as a means to attain the mystical ability to create and animate a golem. According to the mystics, all golems (the correct Hebrew plural would be “glamim,” I adopted “golems” for clarity) are created from mud, as Adam was. They were a creation of those who were very holy and close to God. These would gain some of God’s wisdom and power. One of these powers was the creation of life. On the other hand, no matter how holy a person became, a being created by that person would be but a shadow of one created by God.
It was believed that golems could be activated by the ritualistic use of various letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. In the stories of the Golem of Chelm and the Golem of Prague, a golem was inscribed with Hebrew words that kept it animated. The word emet (“truth” in Hebrew) was written on a golem’s forehead. The golem could be deactivated by removing the letter aleph in emet, thus changing the inscription from “truth” to “death” (“met” means “dead;2 interestingly it was introduced into Hebrew from Persian). Legend and folklore suggest that golems could be activated by writing a specific series of letters on parchment and placing the paper in a golem’s mouth.
A golem is a mixed blessing. It is not intelligent. Thus, if commanded to perform a task, it will perform the instructions literally, displaying perfect obedience. In its earliest known modern form, the Golem of Chelm became enormous and uncooperative. In one version of this story, the rabbi had to resort to trickery to deactivate it, whereupon it crumbled upon its creator and crushed him. IDF soldiers resemble this golem and they may crush under their crimes the State of Israel.
Unsurprisingly, the State of Israel wouldn’t use the word “truth” for activating its golems. The justification for its crimes cannot lie upon truth or righteousness.
Unexpectedly, the entire Israeli violence machine relies on a single short verse from the Book of Numbers 25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them: The following verse explains the reason for this violence: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you…
The Talmud expanded this into a general ethic rule: “haba leorgeha, hashkem leorgo,” which can be literally translated as “he who comes to kill you, you wake up early to kill him.” In other words, “kill before you are killed.” In other words, it was expanded into allowing assassination (the original Hebrew text in Numbers, doesn’t mean killing). This assassination doesn’t demand any legal process. It is enough for you to feel someone is coming to kill you, in order for your killing him to be lawful. An IDF soldier would justify his crime in court, “I felt like killing.”
This is Pharisaic manipulation at its best. They took a verse convenient to their goals and expanded its meaning beyond any rationale. Then, they rejected any other verse indicating something different. For example, while analyzing David’s sparing of King Saul’s life, the Talmud (in Masechet Brachot 58:1) wonders at this, claiming David was morally expected to kill Saul in self-defense.
Eventually, this evil interpretation became the foundation for ethical judgments by Israeli soldiers. The Beit Oranim Transcript mentioned above provides good examples of the extremes it leads to.
There are two main problems Israelis are blind to in respect to this. First, they do not acknowledge they may be wrong. If they did so, they would be much more careful before killing children, women, grannies and other obviously innocent persons with snipers. This is the result of their being indoctrinated as “chosen people.” In their eyes, chosen people act with the will of God, and thus are always right, no matter what.
The second point is more crucial, and was the basis of the teachings of Jesus. With such behavior they have created an endless loop of violence. In their entire history, Jews have never been able to live in peace with their neighbors. Unless they change their moral practices into Godly ones, they will never do so. A brainless Jewish golem is about to fall and crush the State of Israel.
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