An edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.
Like many of us, I’ve been very busy on social media since this started. I see a lot of ignorant nonsense there, and it’s not limited to the pro-Israel side. I also see a lot of shoddy thinking and ignorance of the facts. Since I had to study up on a lot of this for my job as the Director of the US Office of B’Tselem, I thought I might clear a few of those up.
Various memes make the rounds in discussions of war crimes. One that I found particularly laughable was “Even the UN says Hamas is committing war crimes but they say Israel only might be.” I’ve also seen defenses of Hamas’ firing of missiles at civilian targets at Israel based on Palestinians’ right of self-defense.
Here is the long and short of it: War crimes are defined as “Serious violations of international humanitarian law constitute war crimes.” That’s going to encompass pretty much every violation that might become a public issue in any conflict. Continue reading
Israel’s new Defense Minister has quietly assumed his post, but considering his history and personality, we should be paying more attention. I examine Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon this week in Souciant.
In my weekly piece at Souciant, I do a post-mortem on the PC(USA) divestment initiative, which failed by a 333-331 margin with two abstentions. I conclude that the defeat still shows a growing intolerance for Israel’s trampling of Palestinian rights.
I’ll be publishing my weekly Souciant pieces on Friday, at least for a while, instead of Wednesdays, so today there’s a new one up there. I discuss the experience of MJ Rosenberg and his use of the term Israel Firsters to describe so-called “pro-Israel” advocates in the US who place Israeli interests over the US’, as most of them from AIPAC and rightward do. In my view, some of the most powerful of that crew actually are pursuing an agenda which cares about neither Israel or the US. Check it out.
In this week’s article for Souciant, I analyze the new unity government in Israel–why it happened, what it means and how it affects various aspects of Israel’s current situation. Particularly, I look at some potential implications for the Palestinians, a point which seems largely overlooked in analysis of this week’s events.
I’ve just finished reading the Israeli report updating investigations into alleged war crimes in Operation Cast Lead. The report quite clearly shows there were some serious issues in that war, and that international outrage was not unwarranted, even if Israel would still maintain it was exaggerated.
Many make the case that the report vindicates the Goldstone Report and, in some ways, it does, though I don’t think it
Gaza, during Cast Lead
quite “proves the Goldstone Commission right” as other commentators have said. But what I think is more important is that it shows that if Israel had set up a credible, independent and civilian investigation of Cast Lead as soon as the war was over, and in response to calls from its own civil society, it would be in a much better position than it is today.
The character of such an investigation is important, as is demonstrated within this Israeli report itself, when it says that
“Another challenge is that some Palestinian witnesses have refused to make any statement, even in writing, to IDF investigators. Other Palestinian witnesses have declined to provide testimony in person. While an affidavit can provide investigators with valuable information and serve as the starting point for an investigation, a written affidavit alone is generally inadmissible as evidence at trial. In the Israeli legal system, as in many others, proving a criminal case instead requires that witnesses be willing to appear in court to permit cross-examination on issues such as the witness’s ability to observe the events, whether a witness has any bias, and whether there were other relevant facts not recounted in the written statement. Hence, in some cases, the unwillingness of a complainant to cooperate in criminal investigations may deprive the investigators of the most significant evidence.”
Well, yeah, are we really surprised that the investigative team from the army that just wreaked havoc across your land, and which was previously occupying that land (by even the strictest definition) for almost 40 years would not be trusted by the victims? Continue reading