01/19/15

Without Recourse

Arlene from Israel

It should be, even in our less than perfect world, that international courts were bastions of ethical judgment and impartiality. OK, maybe that’s expecting too much.  Shall we say, just institutions that model some degree of ethical judgment and impartiality. But even this is expecting too much in today’s climate of severely distorted perceptions and values.

The court I have in mind, of course, is the International Criminal Court, which is just one more corrupt – and politically correct – international body.  As today’s JPost editorial has it: the court is unable to “differentiate between good and bad.” Ah, yes.

On Friday, Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced her decision to initiate a “preliminary probe” into alleged war crimes committed by Israel this past summer during the war in Gaza (Operation Protective Edge).  This is to determine whether prosecution is appropriate.

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In order to do this, she had to stretch credibility in several regards.  First, she had to determine that, for purposes of the Court, the Palestinian Authority was a state.  Never mind that the PA does not meet all the criteria of a state, the General Assembly – another upstanding institution – has accorded the PA status as an observer state. The ICC says that’s enough.

And then, she had to maintain the fiction that Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas – a terrorist organization, is part of that “Palestinian state.” This was necessary, because a state that accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction can only bring charges in crimes committed within its own borders.

Lastly, she had to overlook the fact that the IDF routinely does investigate charges regarding behavior in the field and pursues prosecution when this is deemed necessary.  The IDF – the most moral army in the world – is, in fact, super-scrupulous in this regard.  But the Court, you see, is only supposed to step in if such systems are not in place.

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International lawyer Alan Baker continues to say this will come to nothing, and that we only serve Abbas’s purposes when we become agitated about this situation.  So we will not be agitated.

Prime Minister Netanyahu called the Court decision “absurd,” which it is.  The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement that said, in part:

“We see here something truly tragic. The lofty goals of the ICC are being turned upside-down. The court was founded to prevent a repeat of history’s worst crimes, foremost among them the genocide of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians are cynically manipulating the ICC to deny the Jewish state the right to defend itself against the very war crimes and the very terror that the court was established to prevent.”  (Emphasis added)

But the Court cannot be “manipulated” without its consent.  Bensouda could have ruled that the PA was not a state.  I see something very perverse in Palestinian Arab involvement with international organizations, which are prepared to voluntarily distort their essence or their mandates in an effort to be politically correct.  The PA is such a very minor player in the scheme of world affairs.  What gives it this power?

The State Department, I must note, said, “We do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC.”

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Actually, I shouldn’t say, as I did above, that we are “without recourse.”  This is true with regard to the international institutions where we might have expected some modicum of support.  But we certainly have recourse to our own sense of good and bad, and, most importantly, to the judgment of Heaven.

There are, as well, nations that are with us.  I note in particular Canada – Canadian Foreign Minister Stephen Baird has just been here, lending words of support.

He told Netanyahu: “Canada doesn’t stand behind Israel; we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it…The great struggle of our generation is terrorism and far too often the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world are on the front lines of that struggle.” (Emphasis added)

Can we clone him?  On his visit to Ramallah on Sunday, Arabs pelted his car with eggs because of his pro-Israel stance.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

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Missiles fired from two helicopters struck at targets in the Syrian Golan yesterday, taking out either five or six members of Hezbollah.  Israel never officially acknowledges involvement in such attacks, but I would say that here we have an instance of our relying on our own resources with excellent judgment.

Among those killed was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of Imad Mughniyeh, former Hezbollah operations chief whom we dispatched some time ago.  According to western intelligence sources, Jihad was head of a large-scale terrorist cell, with direct links to Iran, that had attacked Israel in the past.

But there is more: According to various reports, also killed were six members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including General Mohammad Allahdadi, formerly head of a Revolutionary Guard brigade.  The Iranians and the members of Hezbollah were part of one convoy.

The coming together of so many high level Hezbollah and Iranian fighters at one time, near the Israeli border, strongly suggests that a major operation was imminent. It might have included rockets, infiltrations into Israel, border bombings, anti-tank fire and more.  Just days ago, Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah threatened attacks on Israel.

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The attack that smoothly took out Hezbollah and Iranian high level personnel suggests superb Israeli intelligence and an operation that was pinpoint.

As I see it, this not only eliminated an immediate danger (it was essential, given the intelligence!), it enhanced our deterrence power – always a good thing.  They know we are watching, and that we act in our own best interest with great skill.

There is no doubt about the fact that there was a message here for Iran, as well as for Hezbollah.

But the question now is what sort of retaliation we are likely to see.  It is considered unlikely that there will be a major attack that would escalate into war to our north.  But there is certainly a heightened risk of terror attacks – whether we are looking at infiltration into the north of Israel with attempts at kidnapping IDF soldiers, or attacking Israelis elsewhere in the world, as has been done before.

Whatever might be ahead, our forces are on high alert in the north now, with leaves cancelled and an Iron Dome installation moved northward.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben Reuven, in a press briefing arranged via The Israel Project, outlined the sensitive situation that Israel now faces: Should, for example, an Israeli soldier be killed by Hezbollah, or should rockets be launched against civilians in our north, this would invite retaliation that might generate a significant escalation in fighting.

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The situation of Hezbollah, operating in the Golan, directly across Israel’s border to the north, is exceedingly complex.  This area is no longer directly controlled by Assad.  Hezbollah, said General Ben Reuven, prefers acting against Israel from this theater rather than from its home base in Lebanon.  The Lebanese are not always happy with Hezbollah because of the violence unleashed on its population in response to Hezbollah actions.  However, Hezbollah still has a primary goal of supporting Assad, and does not want to invite an Israeli attack inside Syria that might result in weakening him.

Right now, with some 200,000 Syrians dead in the civil war, there seems to be a standoff, with neither side achieving victory.

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I end – for now – with a good news story that is both moving and astounding:

Michael Mittwoch, 92, and his wife Marion, 90, fled the Nazis in Germany.  They came to Israel, where they participated in the founding of Kibbutz Lavi in the north.

Now they have just celebrated the birth of their 100th (this is not a typo) great-grandchild.

Michael and Marion Mittwochs, center, surrounded by family and holding their 100th great-granchild. (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Credit: Elad Gershgoren

This is not just  a wonderfully uplifting story, it demonstrates something: We are a people who move past adversity to life, a testament to hope.

01/8/15

Always More

Arlene from Israel

I begin here with a correction:  When I last shared news of the electoral campaign, I mentioned irregularities in the Likud primary. And I spoke about the fact that one candidate demanded a recount and came close to securing a reasonable slot on the list as a result.  This was Tzipi Hotovely, pictured below.  My brain was not working when I wrote, however, and I typed “Tzipi Livni” instead. Many readers caught this.  I appreciate it, because it means my readers are paying attention.  But I also appreciate that just about every single reader who wrote to me indicated that he/she knew it was an error and that I meant Hotovely.

 

Credit: kikar

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And then a tribute to a very special lady, Joan Peters Caro, who passed away yesterday. Joan was a courageous journalist, devoted to truth, who wrote “From Time Immemorial,” which documented poorly understood facts about the Jewish and Arab demography in the land in the years prior to and right after the founding of the modern State of Israel.  Scrupulously researched, it is considered an indispensable resource by many who care about Israel as the Jewish state.

levitt

 

 

 

Credit: Levitt

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Coming back to Tzipi Livni just briefly…Arutz Sheva says she claimed yesterday that she and Herzog would make Israel “popular” again – something she maintains Netanyahu could not do.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189633#.VK7ipZv9nIU

This position, which I find deplorable, goes a long way to demonstrating what is wrong with the left.

It is several years ago, when she was foreign minister, that she gave a talk at a conference I attended.  She explained that we “had to” give away Judea and Samaria in order to make the world happy, as this was important.  I got up and walked out.  Would do the same today, of course.

Our positions must be based on what is best for us, and we must stand up strongly for our rights, whether this makes the world “happy” or not.

What is more, her claim that Netanyahu is responsible for the “increasing isolation” that Israel is enduring is just plain wrong.  The UN and the EU are horrendously one-sided, but around the world we are forging new relationships with some states, and strengthening our relationships with others. Read about our growing ties with India, for example, or Japan. And the very quiet cooperation with the more moderate Arab states (something that would have been impossible not so long ago). We are not increasingly isolated.

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On the other hand, I was not exactly ecstatic about a statement made by Netanyahu on Tuesday, either:

He says he is still in favor of a “two-state” solution, as he espoused it in his Bar Ilan speech of 2009, but the Palestinian Arabs have rendered this impossible:

“I don’t think withdrawing settlers is practical at the moment.”
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Netanyahu-says-unlikely-settlements-will-be-dismantled-if-elected-to-fourth-term-386887

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I know exactly what is happening, as it is fairly obvious on the face of it: Kerry is telling Netanyahu he will support Israel in international forums. But, as the US opposes unilateral actions by the PA because negotiations are the way for the Palestinian Arabs to secure a state, Israel must be willing to consider coming back to the table to negotiate that state.

And so, our prime minister is playing both sides.  Yes, sure I’m for that state, he says for public consumption, but look, the PA has made it impossible for us to proceed.

He’s certainly correct, that the PA has made negotiating impossible. This is what makes the position of leftists who call for us to negotiate a state now so ridiculous. But, it is time for our head of state to say that a Palestinian state is not the way to go, in any event, because of Jewish rights in the land.  He should not be going on record, once again, for that “two state solution.”

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Tuesday that the Palestinian Arabs will formally become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1.  What is more, the court’s registrar said yesterday that jurisdiction would date back to June 13, 2014.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/07/us-palestinians-israel-un-idUSKBN0KG1JV20150107

This is something I do not understand: retroactive jurisdiction. Bringing jurisdiction back to the middle of June means possibly giving the PA the opportunity to level charges against Israel for her actions in the Gaza war. (There are still issues regarding jurisdiction of place – as Hamas and not the PA is in control in Gaza.)

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Meanwhile, the State Department has declared that the US does not believe Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and doesn’t recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute.”

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=22659

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International lawyer Alan Baker, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, agrees with the US position.  He says that the Secretary General should have refused to accept the request of the PA because the Rome statute limits membership to states, and explains why “Palestine” is not a sovereign state.

Says Baker:

“…the acceptance by the Secretary General of the Palestinian request is legally flawed and was determined under false pretenses – ‘false’ because there exists no sovereign Palestinian state, and ‘pretenses’ because of the pretension by the Secretary General as if such a state exists when he is fully aware that there is no legal basis for this.”

http://jcpa.org/un-approves-pa-icc/

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) yesterday introduced a bill that would immediately stop all US aid to the PA, until such time as the PA withdrew its application to the ICC. The bill is entitled, “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid Act of 2015.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/08/rand-paul-launches-senate-bill-to-defund-palestinian-authority/

Love it!  Let’s see how many Republicans stand up now.

Credit: US Senate

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There is no one reading this who is not aware of the horrendous Islamist massacre that took place at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and I doubt there is anyone reading this who is not horrified and whose heart does not go out to those killed and their families.

The news reports yesterday spoke of the many tens of thousands who crowded the streets in Paris and elsewhere in France, as well as in other countries, showing solidarity with those slain (“Je suis Charlie”).  It is in this report that I found just a little glimmer of hope: out on the streets, not in their homes, staring at the TV and clucking. Is the world just possibly beginning to wake up?

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Last I wrote, I spoke of the major snow storm predicted.  I even included a lovely picture of snow falling. But a slight rise in temperatures changed that scenario here in Jerusalem. Chilling to the bone cold, but not cold enough. We had fierce weather, but it was pouring rain, and hail, and sleet. They’re talking about snow for tomorrow.  We’ll see…

 

Credit: rvbloggers