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Old 04-22-2003, 09:00 PM   #1
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Israel Is an Occupier With a Duty To Protect

Israel Is an Occupier With a Duty To Protect

By Henry Siegman

Financial Times, April 22, 2003


A frequent complaint of Israel's government and its supporters is that the country is subjected by the international community to double standards. Even President George W. Bush, from Israel's point of view an exemplary supporter of Ariel Sharon, its prime minister, is suspected of double standards in calling for the resumption of apolitical process that entails changes in Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians. The Israeli lobby is campaigning to get the US Congress to press Mr Bush to soften his support of the "road map" to peace.

The latest evidence of this double standard, according to Israeli commentators, is the absence of international condemnation of the "collateral damage" inflicted by coalition forces on Iraqi civilians. The world accepts, they maintain, the unavoidable killing and maiming of Iraqi civilians by US and UK forces while criticising Israel for causing civilian casualties during its incursions into the West Bank and Gaza and extrajudicial killings of suspected Palestinian terrorists. What is more, Israelis note, this criticism of Israel did not prevent coalition forces from turning to the Israeli Defence Force for advice on urban warfare based on last year's assault on Jenin.

Mr Sharon and his military commanders are convinced that the way to end Palestinian terror and to restore Israel's security is to inflict on Palestinians a devastating military defeat. In the words of General Moshe Ya'alon, the IDF's chief of staff, the aim is to lead Palestinians to internalise "in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people".

The notion that there are similarities between the Sharon government's objective of humiliating an entire people and the US-UK military goal in Iraq is a measure of the Israelis' lack of insight into their own situation.

International law recognises a major difference between the rules that apply in a war between armies and an occupying power, for an occupying army has special obligations to the population under its control. Thus, when military activities ended in Iraq, entirely new standards of conduct were applied to the coalition force. They are now judged by how well they protect and meet the needs of a civilian population under their occupation. That is why the US now faces international criticism for failing to prevent looting and lawlessness in Iraq and for delays in re-supplying power and drinking water, and in repairing infrastructure.

It seems not to register with many Israelis that they are occupiers and as such have inescapable responsibilities towards those in their custody and an obligation to end the occupation as speedily as possible. It is an obligation reinforced by Israel's decision after the 1967 war not to grant citizenship and equal rights in the Jewish state to the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, even in return for Israel's permanent retention of the occupied territories. The inescapable corollary of this decision is that Israel must grant Palestinians the right to their own state. The alternative is permanent disenfranchisement and subjugation of the Palestinians.

Palestinians are not the only ethnic minority denied separate statehood. The Kurds, the Albanians in Kosovo, and others have been denied a separate homeland. In the case of the Kurds and the Kosovo Albanians, the international community intervened so they would at least be granted the same rights as the majority. However, Palestinians are the only ethnic group denied by their occupiers both Israeli citizenship (which in any case Palestinians do not want) and separate statehood. Mr Sharon's notion of a Palestinian "state" in less than 50 per cent of the West Bank and in parts of Gaza would create South African style bantustans entirely under Israel's control.

The Sharon-led government opposes a viable Palestinian state, and a political process that may result in one, on the grounds that it would serve as a haven for Palestinian terrorism impossible for Israel to control. It is a disingenuous argument. The contrary is the case: it would be far easier for Israel to deal with terrorism from a neighbouring state than terrorism from 3.5m people it is deeply intertwined with and whose national aspirations it represses. This, too, is the lesson of Iraq, where the US and Britain devastated Iraqi forces using measures they could never have used against an occupied population.

But it is Israel's own experience that best demonstrates the difference between internal terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism. There is no cross-border terrorism into Israel from any of Israel's Arab neighbours. This is not because any of them have a special affection for Israel, but because they have experienced the devastating price of allowing such terrorism. And the terrorism Israel failed to subdue when it occupied southern Lebanon for two decades ended immediately when Israel withdrew and threatened a full-blown war should terrorism continue. There is no reason to doubt that a neighbouring Palestinian state would be similarly constrained.

So it is not the danger of terrorism from a Palestinian state that explains Mr Sharon's resistance to the "road map". As indicated by his opposition to every peace move by Labour and Likud governments alike, it is his goal of maintaining Israeli control over all of the territories that continues to determine his approach to the Palestinians.
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Old 04-22-2003, 09:35 PM   #2
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Dreadsox,
If you get an opportunity to watch this show, I think it will shed some light on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It concentrates on the Palestinian situation, but has many Israeli's on it. Some are parents of teenagers and children killed by suicide bombers and some are Israeli peace activists seeking a cessation of conflict with Palestine. Either way it shows a side we in America never see or really hear.

'PALESTINE IS STILL THE ISSUE' BROADCAST AROUND THE WORLD

John Pilger's film, Palestine Is Still The Issue, is being broadcast in countries around the world, including Britain, Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and across the Middle East.

The film sees Pilger return to the Middle East, twenty-five years after first reporting from the region, to ask why Palestinians are still refugees in their own land.

Click here for more about the film.

To purchase a copy of the film email clip_sales@carltontv.co.u k.



ITC VINDICATES PILGER FILM

The Independent Television Commission has rejected all complaints against John Pilger's ITV documentary, "Palestine Is Still the Issue", broadcast last September. The ITC's judgement, which followed a three-month investigation, praises the film's journalistic integrity and refers to the "care and thoroughness with which [the film] was researched" and the "comprehensiveness and authority" of the film's sources, not least, it notes, because of their Israeli origin.

Sharon's gov't decride the film as sensational and partisan. But the participation of Israeli citizens supports his hypothesis.
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Old 04-22-2003, 10:53 PM   #3
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Dreadsox,

That article has some inaccurate information and does not deal with the problem in its broader context which involves the rest of the Arab world.

One of the major reasons Israel continues its occupation of the West Bank and Golan Heights is for national security reasons. From a purely military standpoint, Israel becomes much easier and more vulnerable to being overrun by military forces from Arab countries if it does not have control of the West Bank and the Golan Heights. When and if the entire West Bank is given up by Israel, the distance at many points from the border with the West Bank and the Sea is only 10 miles! The West Bank and Golan Heights also have all the high ground in the area. From a military point of view, this is a huge advantage and potential threat to Israeli security given its small size. This high ground could be used by Arab militaries to better target Israely military positions so as to overrun the country.

These military realities would be nothing to worry about if the past 50 years had been a history of peace between Israel and its neighbors. But instead there has been 4 wars over those 50 years that have all been the fault of Arab countries that surround Israe. Arab countries for nearly 50 years have refused to recognize Israel or its right to exist. Its not surprising that Israel would choose to hold onto land that is valuable from the military standpoint of protecting Israel very existence which has been threatened everyday since the day of its independence in 1948.

For the West Bank and Golan Heights to be returned, there must be a peace agreement and recognition by all Arab countries of Israel's right to exist. In addition to this, the West Bank cannot be turned into a terrorist base camp once Israel leaves.

Israel left Lebanon, but Hezbolah still has its HQ there. Hezbolah is still active in murdering Jews. They are essentially todays version of a similar organization from Germany in the 1930s and1940s. The articles claim that all is calm in regards to Lebanon is false.

The article fails to mention that Israel's chief responsibility is its national security and not the technical details of its occupation of West Bank and Gaza which it incorrectly describes. US soldiers in Iraq have every right to pursue terrorist or remanents of Saddam's regime with everything they have necessary to kill and capture them. Israel has the same right in regards to terrorist from the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian independence will come when Palestinians recognize that what hurts them most is not Israely occupation, but the terrorist among them and those that support pushing all the Jews into the sea. The fact of the matter is, all the wars the Arabs of launched, all the terrorism committed against innocent civilians, has failed to produce an independent Palestinian State.

Its time Palestinians adopted a strategy of non-violence. Such a strategy would be far more successful than the violent ones for simple reasons. Its obvious that as long as Israel mantains its military occupation of key area's with good defensive terrian, it will not be possible for Arab countries to defeat Isreal or for Palestinian terrorist to push Israel out of the occupied territories.

The second thing is that Israel is a democracy and very susceptible to such a movement of non-violence. Israely people would be more likely to vote for an Israely government that would give back the West Bank and Gaza, if Palestinians would stop targeting their childern for murder in disco's. Palestinians need to adopt the tactics of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King new that his tactics would work considering the principles of the USA and the fact that it was democracy. The population of Israel is well educated and free to think for themselves unlike most people in other countries in the middle east. They would be far more receptive to Palestinian concerns if they would stop the terrorism adopt a policy of non-violent action. Non-violent action will work for the Palestinians because the Israely government and people would be susceptible to it. Whats unbelievable is why no such Non-violent movement exist in Palestine. Only through regional negotiation and non-violent demonstration will the Palestinians ever achieve statehood. Every act of terror is a step in the wrong direction.

The Israely Defense force does not indiscriminately target Palestinains. If that were the case, all the Palestinians would have killed 3 decades ago. The Israely incursion into Jenin is a good example. Israel went in with infantry, but they could have easily blocked of the town and bombed it from the air. Despite the claims of 7,000 deaths from Arabs and liberals in the west, it was later found that only 48 civilians died. Accidents indeed happen and would be impossible for Israely military to catch and kill terrorist in a densly populated city without there being any accidents. The terrorist know that too which is one reason why they elected to make their stand in the most heavily populated part of the city.
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Old 04-22-2003, 11:41 PM   #4
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Sting,

Thanks for your detailed input. I posted it for discussion. Please note, that I did not say I agreed with anything the article said.

I want to make note however, that the article was written by a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Their members post many views and viewpoints. Interesting to note that he is Jewish and has this perspective on things.

Here are his credentials from the Council on Foreign Relations Website:

Henry Siegman
Senior Fellow and Director, U.S./Middle East Project

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Foremost expert on the Middle East peace process and interreligious releations, Arab-Israeli relations and U.S.-Middle East policy. Directed the ground-breaking Council Independent Task Force, Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions.


Expertise:
Middle East peace process; Arab≠-Israeli relations; U.S.-≠Middle East policy; interreligious relations.

Experience:
Executive Director, the American Jewish Congress (1978-94); Resident Scholar, the Rockefeller Study Center, Bellagio, Italy (1992); Founder, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (1968); Director, the American Association for Middle East Studies and Editor of its quarterly publication, Middle East Studies (1958-63).

Selected Publications:
Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions (1999), U.S. Middle East Policy and the Peace Process (1997) (Council-sponsored Independent Task Force Reports); "Arab Unity and Disunity," in The Contemporary Middle East (1965); author of over one hundred articles and essays on the Middle East in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Commentary Magazine, International Herald Tribune, the Nation, the Middle East Journal, Islamic World, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Jerusalem Post, Al-Ahram, Al-Hayat, and Ashraq al-Awsat




While you may have issue with the author's take on things, there are also many valid truths in the article.

Peace
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Old 04-23-2003, 12:05 AM   #5
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Dreadsox,

While his experience is impressive, I do not find this particular article by him to be impressive.

I'd also expect more objectivity and professionalism for a posted piece than this:

"The notion that there are similarities between the Sharon government's objective of humiliating an entire people and t"

Perhaps someone should remind him that the majority of people in Israel elected Sharon because of Sharon's objective in ensuring their security from Palestinians terrorist and Arab countries, something his article fails to really address.

I'm well aware of the Council on Foreign Relations and have personally met several members including Richard Haas (Hass). A lot of their writings are posted in the bi-monthly journal Foreign Affairs.
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Old 04-23-2003, 03:29 AM   #6
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Good post Dread... Nice to see a jewish writer being objective, and writing the truth about the ruthless Israeli government. Where did you get it?
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Old 04-23-2003, 04:36 AM   #7
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Man Inside the Suite Case,

There were things in that article that were not objective and the Israely government is far from being ruthless. It is the elected representation of the will of the Israely people!
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Old 04-23-2003, 04:43 AM   #8
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Sting: so you think that elected governments can't be ruthless?
Even the "great dictator" (to quote charles chaplin) was a ruthless elected governer of his country a long time.
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Old 04-23-2003, 05:17 AM   #9
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ITs certainly not impossible, but its not something that can last in a democracy when which ever party thats in power can easily be thrown out by the people. I have a lot of respect for the choices the people of Israel make unlike some other people here.
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Old 04-23-2003, 05:44 AM   #10
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Ok, i'm glad i missinterpreted those 2 sentences.
It's a fact that sharon is the elected leader of his country, everyone should respect this, but that dosn't mean that we have to be quiet when he does make some essential mistakes, like violating human rights.
I'm sure one day the Israeli people will get tired of his style of not solving the essential problems of israel but rather telling G.W.Bush what to tell the Syrian government.

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Old 04-23-2003, 08:12 AM   #11
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Thanks for the article, Dreadsox. I definitely agree with the author's comments about a Palestinian state, which I think is the only viable solution to the situation in the Middle East.
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Scarletwine
Dreadsox,
If you get an opportunity to watch this show, I think it will shed some light on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It concentrates on the Palestinian situation, but has many Israeli's on it. Some are parents of teenagers and children killed by suicide bombers and some are Israeli peace activists seeking a cessation of conflict with Palestine. Either way it shows a side we in America never see or really hear.
I definitely recommend watching this film if you have change. Like you said, Scarletwine, it shows a side of the conflict that most of us are unfamiliar with. I actually found it quite shocking when I first saw it, particularly in seeing the contrast between the conditions in an Israeli settlement and the conditions in which the Palestinians in the surrounding area live.
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Man Inside The Child
Good post Dread... Nice to see a jewish writer being objective, and writing the truth about the ruthless Israeli government. Where did you get it?
http://www.cfr.org/press/publications/op.php
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Old 04-23-2003, 04:06 PM   #14
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"The Israeli lobby is campaigning to get the US Congress to press Mr Bush to soften his support of the "road map" to peace."

That's interesting..... It's a shame the Palestinians didn't have a powerful lobby like that to counter.
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Old 04-23-2003, 04:09 PM   #15
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I think it's like so much in politics...whether your interests are considered or not often depends on whether you can afford to spend huge amounts of money on getting the attention of lawmakers.
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