There is No Equivalence

As Israel plumets the Palestinians living in Gaza observers of the mainstream media in the United States of America and indeed the US government, might be prone to think that Israel is merely match tit-for-tat the Palestinians acts of violence or even that Israel is defending itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. The acts of Israel do not only amount to widespread and serious violations of human rights, but they constitute the paramount crime of genocide. No media coverup or attempts to paint a picture of equalities of arms can obscure this reality.

The misconception of equivalence is either based on a misunderstanding of international law or more likely mere bias that reflects an effort to whitewash the inhumane acts of the Israel authorities that amount to the very crime of genocide from which so many Jewish people fled in World War II. Perhaps it is the U.S. media’s guilt at having supported its own government’s indifference to the plight of the Jewish people in Germany. Indeed, during World War II many Jews were prevented from seeking safe haven in the United States by laws that the US now directs against Africans, Arabs, Latin Americans and Muslims. Is guilt a justification for another genocide? One would hope not.

While the explanation of guilt might be understandable, the ignorance of the law that both the government and the media have demonstrated is not. The United States is home to some of the most brilliant legal minds. Even Arabs and Africans who are among the leading jurists from their continent are often enticed to American law schools and law firms, not only to study but to teach. The US media is able to call upon legal commentator after legal commentator when covering celebrity trials on 24-hour legal TV networks. With all these significant legal minds about in the US, it is hard to understand how anyone could not understand the law that applies. Nevertheless, this seems to be exactly what the US media and the US government has done. Both have Both have ignored or misinterpreted the applicable law that almost every other country in the world, and certainly an overwhelming majority of them seem to understand.

No sane person can deny that Israel is a State that was created on territory that was inhabited by a majority of Palestinians—Muslim Arabs who have lived on, developed, and cared for that territory for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It is a fact that Israel is recognized by the United Nations in direct contraction of the views expressed by Arab States unanimously. In other words, all the States existing in the regional at the time Israel was created objected repeatedly to the creation of Israel in the Middle East. As a result, ultimately, Israel was created in complete disrespect for the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. The UN knew this because every Arab State told the UN Member States that to their face before the world body recognized Israel by a political vote. The UN, however, as controlled by mainly Western States and their proxies. The recognition of Israel by the UN was contrary to respect for the rule of law or for the fundamental human dignity of Palestinians. It was at best the result of the guilt of Western States and their propensity to decide what they think is best for others. At worst, it is another expression of colonial exploitation of a people by more powerful States.

At the time Israel was created in the 1940s, the right to self-determination had not only been recognized, it was perhaps one of the most fundamental principles of international law. Yet it was given short shrift by States reeling from the atrocities they had let happen right under their noses due to their tardy actions, their policies of appeasement, and their own restrictive immigration practices.

Israel was created by the forcible oppression of the indigenous people. Such annexation of other’s territory by force is and was prohibited by international law. Since at least the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, named after the American and French most prominent diplomatic representatives, respectively, annexation by the use of force has been prohibited. Thus, at the time Israel was created it was unlawful under international to take the land of others. Yet that is exactly what the Israel did with help from much of the western world. It is no coincidence that Israel depends on the same alliance with western countries today to keep its authority in place with weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, with which it oppresses the Palestinians.

Even if one accepts the United Nations recognition of Palestine, international law provides Palestinians the right to use all necessary means to achieve their self-determination. UN General Assembly Resolution 2734 (XXV) of 1970, recognizes at paragraph 18 that people fighting oppression wage a “legitimate struggle.” UN General Assembly Resolution 32/154 (1977), “[r]eaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination to achieve self-determination and independence….” This Resolution goes on to urge States to support the efforts of peoples struggling to achieve self-determination. Furthermore, the General Assembly in a resolution on measures to prevent international terrorism (UNGA Res. 32/147 of 16 December 1977), again reaffirms the inalienable right of oppressed people to self-determination and the “legitimacy of their struggle, in particular the struggle of national liberation movements, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and the relevant resolutions of the organs of the United Nations” (para. 3). There can be little doubt that the Palestinian peoples have the right to use force in self-determination.

Moreover, since the State of Palestine was recognized by UN General Assembly resolution 67/19 on 29 November 2012, this international actor has had the right and responsibility to stand up for its people against the aggression of the Israeli authorities. This is the right of a sovereign State, which although subject the prohibitions of the use force in Article 2(4) of the Charter, is also governed by the right to self-defense under article 51 of the Charter. This latter right gives the States of Palestine the right to react against the oppression of its people by the Israeli authorities with the use of force. Moreover, any State that can muster the courage and the strength to do so can come to the aid of the State of Palestine in collective self-defense. And States that promote or facilitate acts of aggression against the Palestinian people and the State of Palestine make themselves the target for the corrective actions by other States in aid of the State of Palestine. This is what the law says, although it may be an inconvenient truth for the American media.

Most striking, however, is how even the international community of States have colluded with a willing or merely ignorant media to invoke the most pointedly applicable principle of international law; the prohibition of genocide.

Genocide as a word did not exist until jurist Raphael Lempkin coined it in the aftermath of the holocaust in Europe during World War II. To describe the indescribable atrocities the world was witnessing with slow or no adequate reaction, the Polish jurist used the word genocide to describe the killing of a people with the intent to eliminate them in whole or in part. The 1951Genocide Convention added detail that definition to define genocide as the killing of members of a group, the causing of serious bodily or metal harm to members of a group, the imposing of conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of the group in whole or in part, the imposing of measures intended to prevent births, or the forcible transfer of children from one group to another. These acts must be committee with the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. It is in fact, the intention that is often difficult to prove.

In the case of Palestine Israel has both carried out the action requisite for genocide and has expressed the intention necessary to find it responsible of the international wrongful act of genocide. Israel has caried out the acts necessary for genocide by decades, now almost a century, of oppression of the Palestinian people. It has regularly killed Palestinians, upwards of 10,000 since the First Intifada, which started in 1987, and over two hundred, including more than 60 children and counting, with its current acts of aggression. Israel has seriously wounded with its fighter jets and sophisticated chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and indiscriminate bombings tens of thousands of Palestinians since the First Intifada. More than a thousand Palestinians have been seriously injured in the current aggression.

Even before the recent aggression took hold, Israel had created conditions in Gaza, especially, but also in parts of the West Bank for which there could be no other explanation except that they were calculated to bring about the destruction of the Palestinian people in at least in part. Controlling the territory of Palestine Israel has made life hell for most Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel has used its position as an occupying power to do this.

Occupation under international law is a de facto determination. If a entity controls another people in territory it invaded it occupies them and the occupation continues until the control ends. Despite Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 by dismantling its 21 settlements, it continues to occupy Gaza because of the effective control that it exercises over the enclave. This has been recognized by the international community in repeated UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions.

An occupier cannot use military force to attack an occupied population. It may be able to used police force in some instances to secure public order and security, but that use must be in the interest of protecting the occupied population, not attacking it. This si the clear impot of article 43 of the Hague Regulations annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention and article 64 of the Fourth Geneve Convention protecting civilians. Israel’s use of force against the Palestinian population is unlawful.

Since its creation Israel had indicated its unwillingness to allow the Palestinians people to exist. It drove millions of Palestinians from their homes and refused to allow them to return. It’s first Prime Minister Golda Meir was quoted in the Sunday Times and Washington Post in June 1969 as stating that “[t]here were no such thing as Palestinians.” And later that “[t]t was not as if there was a Palestinian people in Palestine and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” But today such blatant expressions of intention are not necessary, all one needs to look at are the inhumane practice that Israel has perpetuated for decades and its regular acts of aggression against the people of Palestine. The cumulative nature of these actions make it very apparent that Israel is intent on destroying, in whole or in part, the Palestinian Arab and Muslim people, a nationally, ethnically, and religiously identifiable group of people.