By Anna S. and Mohammad T.
I went to a talk on February 22 entitled “Disputing Israel’s Borders in International Law,” hosted by the Berkeley Federalist Society. It featured a conversation on Israeli borders, given principally by Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern Law University and by Professor Kate Jastram of Berkeley Law.
Professor Kontorovich took up the most time and energy, both in the talk and in the questions. If I may summarize his points, and then discuss my thoughts.
His primary aim was to argue against people who frequently cite international law, writ large, and the arms of various international organs as tools to present and legitimize particular points of view. Statements like “This particular action is against international law” becomes dispositive, instead of instructive or helpful. So, then, Kontorovich’s point was to decipher what was “binding” and what was “nonbinding” elements of international law, and to use that as a basis for understanding how borders in Israel work. Continue reading
I recently wrote a response to a law student who attended my talk at Loyola Law School on my recent trip to Gaza. The talk focused on examining relevant international humanitarian law and discussing how Israel breached these laws when targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, when using highly indiscriminate and incendiary weapons against civilians, and when blocking medical access and attacking medics. Such acts are war crimes. He was unhappy about some assertions made during my talk. He posted his complaint at the end of my post “Justifying Israeli War Crimes.” Members of the blog asked that I post my response as not only a comment but also as a feature post as it may provide helpful information that we often don’t read or hear about in mainstream media.
I was originally not planning on responding to your claims below as they are lack legal veracity. And while I doubt anything I say will actually make you question the propaganda that you have so well consumed, digested and currently espouse, I respond merely so that you know that I am neither silencing nor censoring you. It is ironic that when even the Israeli soldiers who were present in Gaza can question the legality and morality of their actions, you thousands of miles away remain so adamantly and disappointingly misinformed.
And on a personal level, after hearing first-hand testimonies of the Palestinians in Gaza and subsequently reading the testimonies of Israeli soldiers in nearly all the major media sources who merely corroborated what we heard, I find your comment very reactionary. But for what its worth, below is my response to your comment. Continue reading
By Yousef K.B.
The results of the Israeli elections are just coming in with the implication of the results in terms of who will lead the next government still up in the air. What is very clear however is that there has been a tremendous swing to the right in the Israeli elections with the right-wing Likud and center-right Kadima (Kadima is comprised of many ex-Likud members) taking the top two shares of the votes, followed by the ultra-right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu of newcomer Avigdor Lieberman. The center-left Labour party won a surprising fourth place (don’t let the center-left label fool you as this party’s leader Ehud Barak was the defense minister and one of the chief planners of the recent atrocities committed in Gaza).
This shift to the right in Israeli elections presents a forceful turn to a politics that opposes comprehensive negotiations with Palestinians, favors military reprisals and attacks on Palestinians, as well as pushing for draconian security measures against Arab-Israeli citizens (top four party positions on the issues). Avigdor Lieberman a champion of the settlements is the symbolic figure of this right-wing-turn with his call for loyalty oaths from Israeli Arabs, advocating capital punishment for Israeli Arab MPs who have met with Hamas officials, and opposition to the land-for-peace premise of the two-state solution.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the State Department in Washington January 22, 2009. From left are Richard Holbrooke, envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mideast envoy George Mitchell.
By Yousef K.B.
“Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating. Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor’s conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority” (Obama’s speech to State Department officials).
If you read the excerpt, you can see how Obama is moving clearly on the path demarcated by the Israeli strategy I proposed, in which Hamas is put on the defensive through Israeli attacks, the time gained is used to prop up the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. This is being done when Obama talks of an “appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.” This means bringing back PA security forces back into Gaza along with PA functionaries who currently only control the West Bank. Across the Atlantic the call for the imposition of Abbas’s Fatah in Gaza and the West Bank was just as explicit. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency stated that “Palestinian reconciliation behind president Mahmoud Abbas is fundamental to progress” and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband commented that the “reunification of the Palestinian people with a single voice to speak to them, to speak for the West Bank and for Gaza is absolutely essential.”
Immediately following such a unification, the plan will be to hold a donor conference where two things will occur: Continue reading
By Yousef K.B.
The question: What is Israel’s fundamental policy towards the Palestinian question, and based on that where does the current actions fall?
The current Israeli onslaught on Gaza if assessed objectively and with reason is clearly a violation of international law, violation of the duties of an occupying power, as well as a violation of basic moral principles. Viewed from a human perspective the ongoing Israeli atrocity is a throwback to settler colonialism with its political, economic, cultural repercussions, unsettling what even the optimists amongst us saw as a post-colonial time. These however are easy conclusions to come by, which could only be ignored by the misinformed, the Israeli propagandist, or one blinded by Zionist ideology. The confusing thing to answer is why is Israel doing this, why in this fashion, and why now? Continue reading