In the Matter of the International Community v Israel

In its first full week of a “new” get tough policy, almost 500 young Palestinian demonstrators were injured, shot and maimed, and at least three teens murdered in response to what Israel sees as a rising tide of “militant” resistance against the illegally occupied and, by now, almost completely annexed West Bank. At the same time, the IOF has not only increased its already frequent bombing runs in the embattled, largely defenseless Gaza Strip, but tightened it’s concentration-camp like grip on 1.8 million civilians, reducing even further the trickle of essential goods, food shipments and medicines permitted into the beleaguered territory which has long been central to its criminal policy of collective punishment. Indeed, in Gaza it’s clear that for years civilians have been Israel’s primary targets whether by killing or simply terrorizing them through the destruction of the economic infrastructure of its civilian society. In the years since it was forced to abandon it’s illegal settlements in Gaza with an Hamas government freely elected, Israel has retaliated with applied ruthless psychological pressure and the intentional infliction of physical suffering and destruction of civilian property directed primarily at women, children and the elderly, to punish them for the decisions of their elected government. The cornerstone of this policy has been to mete out cruel punishment that demands of the impoverished enclave, long and expensive reconstruction processes well beyond its ability to absorb.

While Abu Mazen and company continue to posture in what has become by now a yearly ritual played out by the Palestinian Authority of “what’s in it for us,” many thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets throughout Palestine, most notably in Quds, Bethlehem and Tulkarim, in what is now being called the third intifada, or uprising. With the full closure of Al Aqsa, a massive IOF presence throughout the West bank ,including in Ramallah (the seat of PA “political power”, and in Nablus where hundreds of young demonstrators, most in their teens, have been rounded up in the streets or dragged away from their homes in the middle of the night only to be detained indefinitely without formal charges or proceedings with any rights of consequence.

These policies are not new. Costing thousands of civilian lives, injuring ten times as many, with imprisonment and torture very much the norm, they have long served as the lynchpin of the Zionist Apartheid agenda that controls every aspect of Palestinian life, disenfranchising a stateless people in the midst of their own stolen homeland. There is also nothing new about Israel’s recent and desperate attempt to rewrite the history of its own criminal actions or events unfolding on the ground throughout the Middle East. Next to war crimes, media manipulation to control the shopping of the outcome has always been a priority for Israel and among its most successful efforts.

A series of recent outbursts by Israel and its dwindling group of supporters speaks volumes about a state very much in a state of absolute disarray flailing out at any and everyone who refuses to any longer buy into the “woe is me” defense to justify decades of indefensible crimes by the Israeli state. Beginning with a recent series of purchased full page ads in a number of US based newspapers, Zionist cheerleaders proclaimed that it’s Israel against the whole world. For once, I wholeheartedly agree. In what should be seen as a desperate attempt to ward off the growing Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, and likely findings of war crimes at the International Criminal Court and ensuing international accountability expected to come from it, the ads strike a readily transparent cheap appeal to “David”- like sentiments to fight the so-called good fight against the dark Goliaths of the world community who would otherwise seek to bully a “beleaguered” Israel into submission.

My, my, it sounds so much like the closing lines in the classic Judgment at Nuremberg where Nazi war criminals on trial for crimes against humanity point everywhere, but to themselves, in seeking to explain away the unforgivable but “necessary” transgressions they committed, of course, always undertaken for the right reason. Who can forget the powerful exchanges between an international tribunal prosecutor and war criminals who, in stepping up to the prisoner’s dock in Nuremberg before the watchful stunned eyes of the world, sought to defend their unspeakable crimes against humanity by pointing an accusing finger at those they enslaved and murdered for essentially inviting their own demise. How often did they seek to recast the box cars and bombs as appropriate and necessary responses to the problem of Jews and others who, driven by fundamentalist religious zeal and a thirst for political power and control, would swallow up the world if left to their own unchecked devices. Did we not hear the war criminals of the 30’s and 40’s proudly cheer on their own “heroic” role as the few willing to confront the many – more particularly the growing Jewish “problem” with their evil aims while the world otherwise slept all too soundly. Was it just 70 years ago when yesterday’s war criminals, political and military leaders alike, dehumanized their enemies and by doing so reasoned they were not bound by the moral and legal constraints on their treatment of civilians? Sound familiar, Mr. Netanyahu?

Indeed, in his most recent verbal frenzy at the UN, predictably, Netanyahu once again castigated the world community for sitting idly by leaving Israel and Israel alone to defend itself and the rest of us from dark and sinister fundamentalist designs of “bad” Arabs and Islamists who surround the Zionist state; a state with not just the 10th most powerful military machine in the entire world, but one which is the yearly beneficiary of countless billions of dollars in military aid from the West, much of it from the U.S., and which, itself, possesses some 200 nuclear weapons. To watch the Netanyahu show unfold, with its rank appeal to baseless doomsday fear and manipulation of facts and historical events, is very much to hearken back to an earlier successful demagogue who also found great comfort in vilifying an entire religion for the acts of the few, if at all, and who ultimately marched the world into an abyss that sacrificed 60 million of its people to a machinery of death greased with the rhetoric of racial and religious hatred and little else.
Yes, indeed, haters, once again I am drawing a very public and apt comparison between today’s war criminals of Tel Aviv and those in the Berlin that was 70 years ago! If the shoe fits …

In one ad in particular, the American Jewish Council (AJC) paints a dramatic and stark layout which pits the entire world community on one side of the statehood equation with Israel alone on the other and decries the fact that the UN Human Right’s Council has “issued more condemnations of Israel than of all other member states combined … [and] dedicates an entire agenda item in scrutinizing Israel — the only state so segregated. ”  Can it be that for once a body of the world community has finally gotten it right in identifying Israel as today’s preeminent, indeed, most determined violator of human rights in its drive to ethnically cleanse all Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

For 67 years, Israel has viewed itself as very much untouchable, well beyond the reach of long settled-standards of international law and decency, and free to operate as a rogue state engaged in unparalleled human rights violations largely against Palestinians, with periodic assaults upon Lebanon, and elsewhere, in order to cause the greatest harm to the most people as so much a political tactic.

Indeed, with little more than a cursory look at Israel, one can readily glimpse a veritable primer on prohibited criminal conduct long rejected by most of the civilized world community. Whether banned by the Geneva and Hague Conventions or other Human Rights covenants or the Law of War, Israel has made repeated and systematic use of targeted attacks upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in Palestine, and elsewhere, including assaults upon hospitals, schools, and refugee and daycare centers. It has made regular use of banned weapons including phosphorous and cluster bombs and land mines. It has illegally annexed occupied land, stolen its natural resources — such as water for exclusive use in Israel– and destroyed livestock and crops as an essential part of its slash and burn strategy. As a matter of official state policy, it has denied millions of Palestinians the free exercise of their religious beliefs and denied them travel and work opportunities throughout Palestine. The IOF has elevated the use of human shields during its frequent attacks upon civilians and destroyed the family homes of political opponents as an essential part of its economic, psychological and sociological warfare strategy which has never hesitated from employing extrajudicial assassinations all over the world of its perceived political enemies. Of course, let us not forget that Israel has a long tradition of terrorist activity tracing back to its statehood roots that included numerous bombings, civilian assassinations, rapes, kidnappings and executions of not just Palestinians, but British police and military personnel as well. While the world has been pained by the recent flood of refugees fleeing deadly fighting and violence throughout the Middle East, the forced removal and flight of almost a million Palestinians from their homes by Zionists was an earlier flight that left seven million as refugees and almost eleven million Palestinians still stateless today.

Under international law the rules of proportionality mandate that the risk of harm to forbidden targets such as civilians and civilian infrastructure must be weighed against the military necessity of the objects pursued. Under Israeli policy international law has no traction; there are no civilians, no protected sights, no tactics it will not use, and no limitations on what Israel will do to obtain the political goals it feels entitled to obtain. Yes, AJC, it’s very much Israel against the world. And what a better and safer world we will be when it begins to hold the Zionist state accountable for its crimes.

Stanley Cohen, Esq. is an international criminal defense attorney, writer, lecturer and civil rights activist. He may be contacted through his website and a finely curated site of his writing may be found here. Read other articles by Stanley.