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Friday, October 2, 2009

When is a war crime not a war crime?

When everyone decides to look the other way, that's when. Sadly, even the Palestinians have chosen to go this route, at least temporarily, according to a report in today's New York Times. Here's the news:

In a startling shift, the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council dropped its efforts to forward a report accusing Israel of possible war crimes to the Security Council, under pressure from the United States, diplomats said Thursday.

Why? Because it might deflect the "peace process," according to the wise American diplomats who put the pressure on. And why is that?

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned the Palestinians and international powers earlier Thursday that any action to advance the report would be a denial of Israel’s “right to self-defense” and would kill any chance of peace talks.

Apparently Israel's right to self-defense includes the right to commit war crimes, according to this twisted logic--but it is logic that the United States is now buying into. Oh, by the way, war crimes by Hamas also get a pass, but that seems to be okay with Israeli leaders too.

As you know, Israel (and the U.S. government) have been protesting that the report by Richard Goldstone, a Jew very sympathetic to Israel, was biased and its conclusions preordained in some way. That might be true, in the sense that if the police catch me standing over a dead body with a revolver in my hand and my DNA all over the corpse, it might be a strike against me when my trial starts. Thirteen hundred Gazans died during the Israeli onslaught last winter, and even the Israelis admit that at least a third of them were civilians (the Palestinians say at least half.) And no one is arguing that the Israeli military didn't kill all those people. We have the bodies, we have the weapons, and we know who pulled the triggers. Why all the surprise and indignation at how the investigation turned out?

Photo: Richard Goldstone.

David Brooks gets it right. About the right-wing media shock jocks Rush Limbaugh, et al. In his column today, Brooks points out that they are a niche not a movement, do not represent a large number of voters, but that doesn't stop both Republicans and Democrats from making them out to be influential powerhouses--for their own convenient reasons. I'm most interested in the Democratic Party, which likes to pretend that this bogey man is bigger than he really is, and moves ever rightwards as a result. They used to call it preemptive capitulation, today they call it being realistic, but it stinks either way.

Chicago out. Should this be any surprise? Could the President of the United States showing up to lobby be seen as anything other than strong-arm tactics? Backfire!

2 comments:

Robert said...

This is truly a depressing twist. It had looked fairly promising that war crimes committed by both sides were going to get aired out in full.
Very, very disappointing.

Joanna said...

Actually, I read their report showed that there were war crimes on *both* sides. So a war crime didn't happen if it happened on both sides and people are more interested in avoiding future ones than getting immediate justice. Kind of like why the Republicans never challenged the 1960 election results in Chicago -- they didn't want to be challenged about MO.