I was floored by this piece on slaw.ca this morning by Amnesty International Canada’s Alex Neve criticizing Canada’s alleged unwillingness to condemn Israeli human rights abuses during this summer’s Gaza war. You can make of it what you like, but what struck me was how it so perfectly demonstrates Amnesty International’s intellectual bankruptcy and moral obliviousness. It also demonstrates, no doubt unintentionally, the almost obsessive fixation that many human rights activists have with Israel.
Jeffrey Goldberg has a great piece in the Atlantic today about the coverage of, and the response to, the Gaza war. Why is it, he asks, that the war in Gaza is covered in exquisite detail by news agencies around the world while a far bloodier war, right next door to Israel in Syria, rages on.
“I was struck, over the weekend, by the lack of coverage of the Syrian civil war, in which the death count recently passed 170,000. By Sunday night, it had become clear that the weekend in toll in Syria would stand at roughly 700 dead—a larger number, obviously, than the weekend toll in Gaza (and more than the total number of deaths in this latest iteration of the Gaza war to date.) I tweeted the following in response to this news out of Syria: “I sincerely hope the @nytimes covers the slaughter in Syria – 700 dead in 48 hours – in tomorrow’s paper. Very important story as well.”
This was my sincere hope, and it was to my sincere surprise that Monday’s newspaper contained no information whatsoever about the weekend slaughter in Syria.”
Ouch, the Gray Lady had that coming.
So the Israelis and the Palestinians are at it again. Here it is, a nice sunny summer, and they’ve got nothing better to do than try (none too successfully, in the case of the Palestinians) to kill one another. Somethings never change. Another thing that never changes is the chorus of critics of Israel lamenting it “disproportionate” attacks on Palestinians. Anytime Israel goes to war with its neighbours, it’s accused of inflicting “disproportionate” casualties on their civilian populations or, and it amounts to the same thing, of a “disproportionate” response, most notably by the British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Continue reading “A Question for Israel’s Critics – What Number of Dead Palestinians is Proportionate?”
I stumbled across a couple of articles in today’s papers which inadvertently highlighted the double standard that the world community, and in particular, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (the BDS movement, which sounds an awful lot like an intestinal ailment) has towards Israel.
On the one hand, there was Vivian Bercovici’s piece in the Star highlighting the distortions of reality employed by proponents of the BDS Movementi n their campaign to delegitimize Israel. As Ms. Bercovici chronicles, proponents of the BDS movement routinely accuse Israel of being guilty of apartheid, genocide and, generally, crimes against humanity as a result of its treatment of the Palestinians.
OK, but then we have Tairah Firdous and Brett House’s piece in the National Post, chronicling the mistreatment of Kashmiri civilians at the hands of the Indian Army. According to them:
India’s grip on Kashmir is literally overkill: Some 70,000 Kashmiri civilians have died at the hands of India’s security forces since 1989. Their excesses go broadly unpunished. India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act gives the forces extraordinary powers to arrest people without obtaining a warrant, and to shoot first and ask questions later, all under immunity from prosecution. All of which goes largely unnoticed in the West.
Walter Russell Mead has an interesting (if wrong) piece on the attitudes of the American public vis-a-vis the Gaza war. The gist of his argument is that Americans do not object to Israeli actions in Gaza, because they reject the concept of proportionality in war:
In any case, when Israel brings the big guns and fast planes against Gaza’s popguns and low tech missiles, a great many Americans see nothing but common sense at work. These Americans aren’t mad about ‘disproportionate’ Israeli violence in Gaza because they don’t really accept the concept of proportionality in war. They think that if you have jus ad bellum, and rocket strikes from Gaza are definitely that, you get something close to a blank check when it comes to jus in bello.
Nice theory, as far as it goes. Mind you, there’s an alternative, and I would suggest, more plausible, explanation. It isn’t that Americans reject the notional of proportionality, it’s that they don’t believe (quite reasonably, in my view) that Israel’s actions in Gaza are disproportionate to the military goals that it seeks to achieve. Continue reading “Notes on the Gaza War Part III – Walter Russell Mead and Proportionality in War”
What was most striking about this morning’s bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv was not the fact that Hamas, whose military wing reportedly claimed credit for the attack, was resorting to a tactic of targeting Israeli civilians. That is, unfortunately for all concerned, an established practice on the part of Hamas, and part of the reason its leadership (to say nothing of ordinary Gazans) has spent the last week living in fear of Israeli air strikes.
No, what was particularly striking was the immediate reaction of ordinary Palestinians to the attack: Cheering.
This morning’s bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv – for which Hamas’ military branch has claimed credit – drives home the fundamental moral distinction between Israel and Hamas in their ongoing war in Gaza.
For many of Israel’s critics, the death (or wounding) of civilians in Gaza is prima facie evidence of Israel’s evil and a war crime. Mind you, those critics were notably quiet in response to repeated Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel over the past 4 years or, to the extent they do condemn such attacks, their condemnations are sotto voce and rather late in the day. But today’s events underscore the false equivalence between Israel and Hamas.
So, a Coptic Christian of Egyptian ancestry living in the US produces a film that denigrates Mohammad and which was broadcast repeatedly on Islamist TV stations in Egypt. And how do Muslims in Lebanon and Afghanistan react? By burning Israeli flags and chanting “Death to Israel”. [Update: Muslim protestors in Sri Lanka spent yesterday throwing slippers at the Israeli flag – better than bombs, I suppose – while a North American Muslim group is calling for a protest against Zionist “hatemongers“]
Am I missing something?
I guess ranting and raving about the US wasn’t sufficiently irrational, so they figured they might as well blame a country that, literally, has no connection to the “Innocence of Muslims” fiasco. They might as well be chanting “Death to Finland” for all the sense it makes (maybe I shouldn’t be giving them ideas).
[On further thought, I’m now convinced that the whole “Innocence of Muslims” bun-fight was orchestrated by the Acme Israeli and American Flag Company trying to clear out it’s inventory for the 2013 models.]
For most Canadians, the Canadian government’s decision to cut off diplomatic relations with Iran is a no-brainer. Iran does, after all, have a long record of abusing the human rights of its own citizens and sponsoring terrorism internationally. It steadfastly refuses to comply with its treaty obligations in respect of its nuclear program and is widely (and credibly) believed to be trying to build nuclear weapons. It has repeatedly and publicly called for a genocidal war against Israel, famously threatening to “wipe” it “off the map” and has recently supported the odious Assad regime in the ongoing murder of Syrian civilians. And, of course, as I reminded readers earlier, members of its security apparatus tortured, raped and murdered a Canada citizen – Zahra Kazemi – an atrocity for which no one has ever been brought to justice. Need I go on?
Apparently, though, that isn’t enough for Tony Burman, former editor-in-chief of the CBC News and now a professor of journalism at Rye-high. No, in his mind the only possible explanation for Canada’s “abrupt action” against Iran is the “Harper government’s outsourcing of Canada’s Middle East policy to Jerusalem is now complete.” Yes, that’s right folks, our government works for Israel, at least in the fevered mind of Tony Burman.