Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday 13 April 2011

In Praise of Israeli Justice: A Riposte to the Boycotters

In the wake of the reprehensible Boycott of Israeli goods that forms part of the platform of the Green Party in New South Wales, and in the wake too of Richard Goldstone's recent mea culpa in the Washington Post, political scientist Raffe Gold has written the following hard-hitting piece,  Entitled "Israel's Record of Self-Investigation: Obvious to Anyone Who Looked," it comes via the antipodean J-Wire service:

'With the NSW Greens so busy demanding a boycott of Israel for various crimes against humanity it appears that they have failed to keep up to date with the news. Richard Goldstone, lead investigator of the UN inquiry into the 2008 Gaza conflict, recanted some of the reports most incendiary findings and praised Israel for her ability to investigate herself and ensure that those few Israeli soldiers who violated the laws of war are brought to justice.

The far-left is hoping that Goldstone’s OpEd article was simply an aberration of history brought on by social pressures. This mea culpa, however, is par for the course in Israel’s long war of fighting not just its Arab neighbors, but the persistent tide of Western left-wing opinion that erroneously believe that the Zionist nation is fundamentally racist, amoral and colonist.

Over the course of her sixty-year history Israel has been forced to fight a number of wars for her survival or to ensure that her citizens remain free from the threat of suicide bombers, sniper attacks or rockets on kindergartens. During this time she has constantly evaluated her actions and taken appropriate measures to ensure that mistakes are learnt from and civilian harm is minimised.

In the aftermath of every conflict with her neighbors there is a major government investigation free from interference. In the aftermath of the 1982 War in Lebanon the Kahan Commission was established in order to investigate the events surrounding the Sabra and Shatilla massacres and found both the military and political echelons guilty to a varying degree.

Israel has consistently been willing to assess and evaluate the conduct of both her military actions and her political imperatives, yet the IDF’s self-investigatory measures pales in comparison to the role that the Supreme Court plays in deciding security policy. Time and again Palestinians have brought cases before Israeli jurists and time and again they have had their petitions to alter certain policies granted. The Supreme Court outlawed physical interrogation despite its proven record, it outlawed the use of the ‘neighbor policy’ despite the fact that it saved lives, and it ordered the IDF to change significant sections of the West Bank security barrier to ensure that it does not unnecessarily impede Palestinian daily life.

In short, Israel has a well-deserved record of self-assessment and investigation, yet more often than not this record is dismissed or maligned in favor of a good media story or scoring political points. The initial accusations made against Israel are usually shouted, yet when the accusers should recant they often do so in a whisper.

Israel’s enemies regularly accuse her of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or massacres. The infamous Jenin Massacre in 2002 occurred when Israel, tired of multiple suicide bombers against her citizens, launched a military operation into the Jenin Refugee Camp which had been a primary base of terror groups. When the IDF finally withdrew there were claims of ‘thousands dead’ being propagated by the Palestinian Authority and greedily being published by a willing media hoping to spin a David vs Goliath story with the Jewish state as the Philistinian giant.

Throughout the few days of combat the rumors of the massacre reached a crescendo before multiple investigations agreed with the IDF assessments that only 52 Palestinians, mostly gunmen, and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed. To this day, the ‘Jenin Massacre’ is still quoted amongst Israel’s list of ‘war crimes’ by her enemies and despite independent verifications that no massacre had taken place the myth refuses to die.

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel was accused of shelling a UN run school in Gaza and causing more than 40 deaths. Eventually, when the smoke cleared, the truth emerged that the IDF had never fired directly on the school, the total number of dead lay at 12 and a number of eyewitnesses testified that Hamas terrorists had fired from the street outside the school. This led to the UN admitting, after a vicious media campaign slandering the Israeli army, that a ‘clerical error’ was to blame for falsely accusing Israel firing on them.

During the heat of Operation Cast Lead, Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan stated unequivocally “the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”. His call for understanding of Israel’s positions fell on deaf ears with Goldstone failing to heed his testimony. However, even with Goldstone’s recantation, Kemp’s words will not change the course of the anti-Israel mantra of ‘denounce first and ask questions later’ that has become the norm for both the international community and the media.

Far too often Israel’s actions, whilst at times deserving of criticism, are condemned prior to any evidence being demanded. The inevitable television shot of a destroyed building is more than enough for people of the world to accuse Israel of crimes that it never committed. Boarding the Gaza Flotilla IDF soldiers were equipped with paint ball guns to defend themselves. With the world too quick to assign Israel blame it seems we must go one step further and arm our soldiers with pillows. Maybe then Israel will get a fair trial in the court of public opinion.'

1 comment:

  1. See this extraordinary claim by Amnesty!


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