Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lawless Administration Won’t Enforce Law Against Israel Boycotts

Lawless Administration Won’t Enforce Law Against Israel Boycotts

The signing of a trade bill last week that included provisions specifically requiring U.S. trade negotiators to oppose European boycotts of Israel was a signal defeat for the BDS — boycott, divest, sanction — movement. The willingness of a bipartisan majority of Congress to label efforts to wage economic war on the Jewish state as inconsistent with American law was especially important since it rightly dismissed any distinction between boycotts of all of Israel and those that only target Jewish communities in the West Bank and Jerusalem. But it appears celebrations about that victory were premature. Comments by State Department spokesman John Kirby let it be known that, although President Obama signed the bill, he won’t enforce it. As it has on so many other issues, such as immigration, this administration regards laws that it likes differently from those it doesn’t and will simply ignore the latter.
The statement by Kirby, which was related on Twitter by the Associated Press’ Matt Lee and picked up by Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Jewish Press, makes it clear that laws passed by Congress and signed by the president are null and void if they conflict with administration policy. According to Kirby:
By conflating Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories,” a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, include with regard to settlement activity. Every U.S. administration since 1967 — Democrat and Republican alike — has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines. This administration is no different. The U.S. government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them, and by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.
Kirby is right that the U.S. government has never formally recognized the right of Jews to live in Jerusalem or the West Bank. But he’s wrong to assert that President Obama’s policies are entirely consistent with that of his predecessors. This administration has made an issue of the existence of 40-year-old neighborhoods in Jerusalem in a way that is unprecedented since it treats the presence of Jews in parts of Israel’s capital as being just as illegitimate as the most remote West Bank settlement. Moreover, no previous administration has ever considered boycotts of Israel, whether of the entire country or of the half million Jews who live on the other side of the 1967 lines as legitimate. Kirby’s statement is an implicit endorsement of some Israel boycotts while opposing others.
Nor does the focus on settlements aid the cause of peace as the administration claims. Israel has already made far-reaching offers of withdrawal from the West Bank including statehood that has been repeatedly rejected by the Palestinians. The refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn is the obstacle to peace, not the presence of Jews in Jerusalem or the West Bank.
As I have written previously, the notion that it is okay to boycott some Jews but not others is one that sends a dangerous signal to Israel’s enemies. Once it is deemed lawful to anathematize parts of the Israeli economy, it is a slippery slope to treating all such boycotts as legitimate. Since the original Arab boycott that sought to strangle the Israeli economy was only broken by U.S. efforts to ban trade with those who enforced the boycott, a Congressional effort to move against BDS now was entirely in keeping with longstanding U.S. policy. But since this administration is obsessed with the idea of banning settlements, it is prepared to let a Europe in which a rising tide of anti-Semitism has fueled support for BDS activity get away with such boycotts.
This is a disgrace, but any thought of a legal challenge to the decision is a waste of time. Since the U.S. Supreme Court gave President Obama the right to invalidate laws about Israeli rights to Jerusalem in a decision handed down earlier this month, he can be confident that he will be granted similar latitude to ignore anti-BDS law.
But it isn’t just friends of Israel who should be outraged about this decision. This is an administration that views law enforcement as an option, not an imperative. Just as he did on immigration, where he ignored the will of Congress and used executive orders to effectively annul legislation by not enforcing those concerning illegal immigrants, President Obama regards his personal opinion as being above the law. That is a dangerous tendency to substitute his preferences for the rule of law ought to scare all Americans, regardless of their views about trade or Israel.

Friday, June 26, 2015

UN Gaza Report: It's A Disgrace Commission of Inquiry or Commission of Iniquity?

UN Gaza Report: It's A Disgrace

Commission of Inquiry or Commission of Iniquity?

By Walter Bingham

This program brings you an authoritative overview of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Commission of Enquiry into Israel's Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in Gaza.

You will hear a representative of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, A former legal advisor to that Ministry, the President of the International Jewish Association of Lawyers and Jurists as well as the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan with a military assessment.

If you want to be informed about the shameful prejudged verdict of the Commission, tune in now.

Also: A contribution from the inimitable Pat Condell.

And : Music from the Band of the IDF

Total UNHRC Condemnations, 2006-2015

Israel: 61
Syria: 15
Myanmar: 12
North Korea: 8
Iran: 5
Belarus: 4
Eritrea: 3
Sri Lanka: 3
Sudan: 2
Libya: 2
Honduras: 1
Afghanistan: 0
Algeria: 0
China: 0
Cuba: 0

Equatorial Guinea: 0
France: 0
Iraq: 0
Lebanon: 0
Russia: 0
Pakistan: 0
Somalia 0
Turkmenistan: 0
UK: 0
USA: 0
Uzbekistan: 0
Venezeula: 0
Vietnam: 0
Yemen: 0
Zimbabwe: 0

Calev Myers on Understanding UN Bias Against Israel, The Jerusalem Institute of Justice

Calev Myers on Understanding UN Bias Against Israel, The Jerusalem Institute of Justice

Calev Myers on the United Nations which has made the democratic State of Israel the target of incessant condemnation while neglecting its mandate in challenging the oppressive regimes around the world. 

Col. Kemp debunks UN report showing how it contradicts itself, lacks military expertise and completely adopted Hamas narrative.

British Commander: Anti-Israel UN Report is Dangerous

Col. Kemp debunks UN report showing how it contradicts itself, lacks military expertise and completely adopted Hamas narrative.

By Ari Yashar

British Army Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp, former Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, completely deconstructed and debunked the UN report which on Monday accused Israel of "war crimes" in its fight against Hamas terrorists in Gaza last summer.

Writing in an op-ed on Thursday in the New York Times, the colonel explained how the report, led by Judge Mary McGowan Davis of the infamous Goldstone Report which likewise charged "war crimes," constitutes a threat and "can only provoke further violence and loss of life."

"The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s 'protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,' as well as the blockade of Gaza," wrote Kemp. "Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression."

The military expert noted that while the report accuses Israel of breaching international law, "no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal."

He added that the report "is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless."

Kemp pointed out that the report claims the IDF's "use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime...yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies."

Further, while the report condemns Israel for causing civilian casualties, it offers no suggestions as to what more Israel could have done to avoid such casualties faced with Hamas's tactics of embedding its terrorist infrastructure among civilian centers, he said.

The report "even criticizes Israel for using harmless explosive devices - the 'knock on the roof' - as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, suggesting that it created confusion. No other country uses roof­knocks, a munition developed by Israel as part of a series of I.D.F. warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives."

In fact, international legal experts have slammed the IDF precisely for over-warning residents of Gaza and thereby harming the ability of Western democracies to fight terrorism, something Kemp has warned against as well.

Where does Hamas come in?

Kemp noted that "in an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: 'Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply' with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas."

He stated that the large number of Gaza residents who died last summer was not caused by Israeli policy but rather Hamas's strategy, given that the terrorist group deliberately placed its "fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result."

"Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel."

While the report acknowledges the IDF took steps to save lives, it "without foundation accuses 'decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel' of a policy of deliberately killing civilians," said Kemp. "Incredibly, she (Judge Davis) 'regrets' that her commission was unable to verify the use of civilian buildings by 'Palestinian armed groups,' yet elsewhere acknowledges Hamas’s widespread use of protected locations, including United Nations schools."

In conclusion, the colonel remarked on the potential security threats posed by the report and the actions it calls for, which could allow Hamas free reign in smuggling weapons into Gaza.

"Most worrying, Judge Davis claims to be 'fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns' while demanding that it 'lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza,'" he noted. "Along with the report’s endorsement of Hamas’s anti-­Israel narrative, this dangerous recommendation would undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The World's Betrayal of Israel

The World's Betrayal of Israel

by Shahar Azani 

It was the month of January 2005. That Saturday night, a 17-year-old girl, by the name of Ayala Abukasis, was walking home with her younger brother, Tamir, in the southern city of Sderot in Israel. As they were walking, Ayala heard the shrill of an incoming Qassam missile fired from Gaza unto her city. She knew she had mere seconds to act, and so - without thinking twice or even trying to find shelter for herself - she hovered over her brother, covering him with her body, shielding him, as the missile hit the ground not far from where they were standing. Ayala was severely hurt and a few days later died in the hospital. The image seared into the minds of so many Israelis was that of Ayala's father and brother, standing solemnly by her grave, as her brother was blowing the Shofar (a ram's horn) in mourning of her passing.

This happened six months before Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, as Israelis have had to face the reality of missile attacks on civilians from Gaza for over a decade now. However, a hope for change emerged in that hot, humid and painful month of August 2005, when Israelis were promised a different future. Then, Israeli society had gone through the terrible ache of evacuating thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, in the hope of promoting the cause of peace with the Palestinians. "If only we do this", Israelis heard over and over again, "the World would know the sacrifices we are willing to make for peace. And if, G-d forbid, something bad may happen or if missiles continue to pour in on our heads from Gaza, oh then we will have the full legitimacy to fight back and defend ourselves. The World will understand".

This week the United Nations Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) Commission of Inquiry published its report on "the 2014 Gaza conflict". This was not the first report published on the situation in Gaza, an area which went from bad to worse when Hamas took it over by force in June of 2007. The UNHRC is an infamous entity when it comes to Israel. It is responsible for a series of one-sided resolutions against the Jewish State ever since the Council was established (2006) and has gone as far as to have Israel as a "Permanent Agenda Item" of the Council, an "honor" not shared by any other State on Earth. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Israel, which has seen this bias take place for such a long time, refused to cooperate with its detractors at the Council.

The current report's validity is questionable, not only because of the biased "kitchen" it was concocted in. Many questions arise from the report on a factual level: it looks into the "hostilities" only from the day after 3 Israeli teenagers were abducted and executed by Hamas terrorists. It claims Hamas was responsible for digging 14 "tunnels of terror" into Israel, when Israel identified over 30 of those. The versions even differ when it comes to the number of Israeli casualties: this stood at 73 people, soldiers and civilians, while the report put it at 67 only. The inevitable question is: if they got the basic facts wrong, what else is there in the report, which actually "holds water"?!

However, it is vital that we look beyond and take into account the wider and more profound effect of this report, in addition to the state of affairs as it pertains to "Gaza 2014". The United Nations and the international community's behavior towards Israel, manifested by such biased and one-sided reports, erodes the very foundation for any potential opportunity to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation on the ground.

Make no mistake: this is not about Gaza 2014, 2013 or 2012. This is about the Israeli public looking the international community "in the eye" and realizing that there will never be any real support for them, even at their time of need, when missiles are targeting innocent people and Israel is going on an operation of self-defense. By putting Israel and Hamas on the same level, this international community is telling Israelis that they are on a par with a terrorist organization, infamous for blowing up buses in Israel in the course of the 90's, killing hundreds of innocent people.

Is this the international community Israelis are later supposed to trust - again - when coming to an agreement with the Palestinians?! Think again. There's still time to change course. We all deserve a chance for a better future.