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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Water and war crimes

There has been much negative talk about the Goldstone report in the US and Israel. It’s biased. So many pages are devoted to Hamas and so many more are devoted to Israel.

Goldstone himself has addressed these wrong interpretations of bias in the report:

Link(I will get this from one of my blog posts- no time now)

I saw this report about Israel restricting Palestinians’ water resources:

and thought about the “inordinate” amount of space given to Israeli vs. Palestinian war crimes in that report and in the general conflict. Many organizations (Amnesty International, HRW, the UN) and reports are condemned as biased because so many Israeli crimes are listed and equal space is not used to detail Palestinian crimes. I don’t think the issue is bias, as you can see when you look at the death toll, victims and the different types of crimes on each side.

Palestinian crimes are pretty straightforward. Suicide bombing, rocket attacks. And these done by armed wings of certain groups and not the general population as a whole.

Israeli offenses are myriad and both military and civilian. They don’t stop at militarily attacking when and where they were attacked and gathering intel and targeting those individuals as one would expect in actual self-defense. They are denying Palestinians proper amounts of basic necessities to stay alive- food (embargo, travel restrictions, burning and stealing land), shelter (home demolition, denying permits, raids), work and education. When evil dictators do these sorts of things, we want to sanction and maybe intervene. But when it is Israel, controlling a people it doesn’t or shouldn’t actually have any power over in the first place, we don’t care. They are “doing what they have to do.”

Are they attacking the whole population because any of them could become a militant? There is a similar argument (not generally accepted as legitimate) among some Palestinian militants- compulsory military service means all are military targets. Are they applying pressure on the population to effect democratic reform? This seems not to be the case as Palestinians have had democratic elections and have a legislature, never mind that it can’t do much as Israel is targeting many for imprisonment and Israel’s “security measures” make it nearly impossible to convene… Regardless of if they were trying to achieve democratic reforms or an Israel-friendly govt, it seems this might be the definition of terrorism in some cases. A more likely cause (but one that may get me labeled a conspiracy theorist) is that Israel is trying to force a voluntary transfer, so they aren’t accused of ethnic cleansing. “See? They left on their own!” We’ve heard this one before (1948)… Who knows why they do it. They are getting away with it, however, because when any organization details the crimes to try and hold them accountable, there are complaints: bias, equal space isn’t devoted to Palestinian crimes, little or no mention of Palestinian crimes means they are less wrong, etc.

It makes complete sense that there is far more space devoted to Israel’s crimes. They are doing so many things to the entire population that defy international law, democratic principles, common sense and common decency that have nothing to do with self-defense; while Palestinian crimes are fewer in number with fewer casualties. It doesn’t mean Palestinians are right to resort to violence, but I don’t think it means the report is biased or we should shun Palestinians until they embrace Israeli oppression (no rights, no food) with open arms.

On the other hand, if they did this, we wouldn’t focus on them, a state would disappear from discourse, and Israel may see to their end if certain parties rise to greater power.

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