Montag, September 21, 2009

It Makes No Difference How Often One Repeats A Lie... never becomes the truth.

This is today's FT reminded me of that.

The fundamental problem of the "fact-finding" of the UN report in question is that it was largely cut-and-paste from NGOs with significant axes to grind, profiting as they do from the continued marginalization of the Palestinians by their Arab brethren.

Ms. Khalaf's argumentation is tendentious at best and ignores the fundamental problem that such "works" show: only Israel is pointed to.

Ms. Khalad argues thusly (and I'm not going to repeat everything: go read it in its entirety):

Condemnation by a United Nations panel of the conduct of both Hamas and Israel during the Gaza war should have acted as a wake-up call for both the leaders and people of the Jewish state.

In more than 500 pages, the fact-finding mission outlined war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in a conflict where each side has become dangerously immune to the suffering of the other.

Yet the damning assessment of Israel's behaviour does not appear to have shaken the general consensus - in government, in society and in much of the media - that whatever the military did in Gaza in its three-week offensive in December and January, its actions were justified.

First of all, this is not the general consensus: rather, the general consensus in Israel is that taking action against Hamas was justified, and that by hiding behind and amongst civilians, that Hamas is the one who should be up on trial for war crimes.

Now, instead of pledging to investigate the military's conduct as the UN probe recommends, Israel has cried bias, insisting the UN Human Rights Council, which organised the fact-finding mission, was a partial body influenced by hostile nations. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has plainly asked world leaders to reject the findings, warning they amounted to a blow against fighting terrorism.

Sigh. Israel has investigated its military's conduct, and indeed has started legal actions against those soldiers who failed to scrupulously obey the rules of war as defined. Further, her article fails to address Israel's point: the document is biased. Claiming that the bias argument doesn't work anymore is admitting that the report is indeed biased, but that that doesn't matter.

The bias argument might have worked in the past and helped dismiss a whole slew of other reports - most of them reaching very much the same conclusions as the UN council. But it will prove a little harder to discredit a panel headed by Richard Goldstone, a friend of Israel, who is a former South African judge. "One report is biased, two reports are biased, but not everyone can be biased," says a human rights activist who investigated Gaza violations.

Not everyone is biased: however, the NGOs quoted in the report are biased. Some take Saudi money; others are staffed by rather reprehensible folks, and the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict is filled with purported eye-witnesses of atrocities by the Israelis that never saw what they claimed; who fervently believe that falsehoods and outright lies in the name of destroying Israel are not only fine and dandy, but indeed not a sin, as it is in the service of Holy War against infidels; who know exactly, through their Soviet-era training, how to twist events and make propaganda their most effective tool.

And Richard Goldstone, while Jewish, is scarcely a friend of Israel: he is on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch, which contributed to the report and who accepts funding from Saudi Arabia, and is one of the leading proponents, with numerous honors, of "international justice", whatever that means (and I know what it is *supposed* to mean, but seriously: without representative international government and international laws that specifically protect minorities from political, ethnic and religious discrimination, international justice remains, at best, chimerical and elusive, and invariably, in the real world, becomes less than a farce, resembling nothing more than legalized political repression).

Israel's foreign ministry has mounted a diplomatic offensive against the UN report and it appears concerned about the legal implications in European countries that pursue complaints by individuals or judges against people suspected of war crimes. Officers who were involved in the Gaza war might think twice before travelling to some capitals.

This is the goal, as it has always been: to demonize Israel on the world court of public opinion, to call into question the right of Israel to exist as a state, to deny the citizens of Israel the same rights others have. This is a perversion of justice, not a call for one.

Most important, at a time when Israel and the Palestinians are supposed to be working on reviving peace talks, a failure thoroughly and genuinely to investigate the tragedy in Gaza perpetuates a culture of impunity and promises more bloodshed.

As Navi Pillay, UN human rights commissioner, said this year after another UN probe into the Gaza invasion: "While these violations are of deep concern . . the nearly total impunity that persists for such violations . . is of grave concern, and constitutes a root cause for their persistence."

Translated: unless Israel admits to its sins (regardless of whether there were any), there will be more bloodshed; the fact that Israel fails to go along with our definition of atrocity and human rights violations (the existence of Israel as atrocity and violation of the rights of Palestinians) is the reason why Israel must be demonized...

The reason that Ms. Khalaf obviously and truly believes that Israel is the problem is that this is what has been repeated incessantly over the decades by the Arab propagandists. Repeating once again doesn't make it the truth.

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