2009/01/15

The Israel conflicts and our fallibility

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Al Jazeera is the only major news corporation that has its own correspondents in Gaza as far as I know, the others can only look into Gaza from outside or rely on few independent journalists.

That's an optimal setup for Israel to spin its war, like it (and the Arabs) always spin the stories about the conflicts about Israel.

I found (hat tip to Don Vandergriff, he also added links to it) an Al Jazeera English article ("Who will save Israel from itself?") that sums up my secondary research findings about the conflict that mostly don't make it into our news.

I would like to add to it that there's some evidence about Israel soldiers using Arabs as human shields, almost Apartheid-like discrimination of Arabs in Israel, Red Cross reports about how Hezbollah did apparently NOT use human shields in 2006 and last but not least the definition of 'human shields' that does not prohibit that combatants stay in settlements like Hamas does in the Gaza Strip.

I'm no anti-Semite and couldn't care less about the tiny nation of Israel if it wasn't involved in so many troubles. It's the troublemaker next door for NATO, and a source of alienation between European NATO members and their southern Neighbors - Arabs. A defensive alliance wants and deserves a calm neighborhood.

I believe that this decade-old conflict was and is heavily misrepresented by lobbyists, media and pundits - and that Israel has an edge in manipulating Western opinion over their Arab opponents due to their cultural familiarity and unity.
No, that's not anti-semitism. You (well, at least I) don't need to 'hate' or be 'anti-' to criticize. Criticism is an expression of pluralism and freedom.


It's difficult to admit for many people, but we're not always siding with the 'good boys', sometimes we do even side with the wrong party of a conflict.
The Kosovo conflict was likely one such example of our failure, the Israel conflict is another one (except for France and few other nations, who turned away from Israel and kept neutrality after 1967) and many, many de-colonialization and post-colonialism conflicts in which we supported whoever claimed to be contra-socialist were additional taints in the history of our Western states.

No nation is exceptional - every nation is and all humans are fallible.
Nobody can subscribe to never make a mistake or to be always 'good'.

Sven Ortmann

3 comments:

  1. "but not least the definition of 'human shields' that does not prohibit that combatants stay in settlements like Hamas does in the Gaza Strip"

    First, I'm not trying to start a fight Ortman.

    I'm confused by this comments. Are you saying that there exists a legal priciple that people can stay in settlements? If so, provide please(even if it's a nonEnglish periodical). I find that interesting.
    Or, are you saying that there's a different 'type' of "human shield"?

    No, haven't read the article yet, but just trying to anticipate not being satisfied intellectually.
    Cheers,
    ry

    ReplyDelete
  2. Okay, read it, and I still don't see if/where there's the elucidation of human shields. So, could you provide please?
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, it begins with the simple fact that everything is allowed unless it's forbidden.
    Combatants are therefore allowed to move among civilians (as has been done since millennia - you can bet that all armies preferred camping in a settlement over camping in tents.) unless they are explicitly forbidden to do so.

    Now, the Geneva conventions forbid human shields (without actually using the term).
    This reads like
    "7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations."
    http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/WebART/470-750065?OpenDocument#top

    Or here
    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/380?OpenDocument
    "Article 28

    The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."
    The commentary:
    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/COM/380-600033?OpenDocument


    I've seen other treaty articles that were more detailed (but can't find them right now) and made it clear what human shields are; the deliberate use of civilians to protect military movements & locations.

    To take POW and set them up in Saddam's bunkers to prevent air attacks is human shielding.
    To take a civilian and push him around during house searches to prevent booby traps is illegal.

    To carry a dozen civilian hostages on a railway carriage in front of your locomotive in order to prevent mine attacks is illegal.

    Combatants in a city is legal.

    ---

    In short; to take hostages is illegal (GC IV, article 34), but proximity to civilians is not.


    The article was not related to 'human shields'; I wrote "I would like to add..."

    ReplyDelete

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