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Occupy Ignores Israel

3:35 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Does Occupy even know that Israel exists, and that the U.S. is its leading supporter/funder? Not from looking at Facebook’s two main Occupy pages (here and here). Just saying, but Occupy seems not to have noticed that our leading Middle East ally is murdering Gaza children in our name.

Oh well, maybe this is just another indicator of the intractable problems an intentionally voiceless and wordless organization will have. Of course there never was a debate of any kind, hot-blooded or reasoned, within Occupy about what stance the organization should take on the U.S government’s slavish and lavish support for Israel no matter what it does, because no one has ever established what and where Occupy is or how or if it makes decisions.

But the photos of dead babies are real and IT WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING BUT FOR U.S. SUPPORT. I.e., as an American movement, you, Occupy, do not have a convenient way out: if you’re not against it then you are for it. But, yeah, okay …

“Never mind, go away, we’re trying to be an inoffensive Occupy!”

Okay, sorry, wouldn’t be prudent. But then …

If not now, when?

UN Chief backs Goldstone report on Israel/Hamas war crimes

10:05 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Reported here and below, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has lined up with a key provision of Goldstone report debate at the outset of debate on the Gaza war this morning at the U.N.:

UN urges ‘credible’ probes into Gaza war
October 14, 2009

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel and the Palestinians to conduct, without delay, “credible” domestic probes of war crimes allegations during the Gaza conflict, a top UN official said Wednesday.

Ban “calls upon all of the parties to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the conflict without delay,” UN Under Secretary General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe told the UN Security Council.

“He hopes that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses throughout the world,” he added.

Pascoe noted that Ban’s call dovetails with a key recommendation in a UN report that accused both Israel and Palestinian armed groups of war crimes during the three-week Gaza conflict over the new year.

The damning report by a team led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, a former international war crimes prosecutor, also directed Ban to bring its report to the attention of the UN Security Council for follow-up action, which could be a referral to the International Criminal Court.

(Note to Israel Lobby: any anti-Ban smears at hand?) Tomorrow, the UN Human Rights Council takes up the report:

Human Rights Council to discuss recent UN probe into Gaza conflict
October 13, 2009

The Human Rights Council announced today that it will hold a special session on Thursday to discuss the report of the recent United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict that took place at the start of the year. . . .

The mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.

Presenting his report to the Council late last month, Justice Goldstone called for an end to impunity for those found to have committed human rights violations.

“It is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many,” he said.

Justice Goldstone urged the Council to implement a number of measures, including a referral of the mission’s report to the Security Council, since neither the Government of Israel nor the responsible Palestinian authorities have so far carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations.

Meanwhile and empowered by the Goldstone report, the divestment movement in the U.S. courageously marches on, university by university. Yesterday the University of Wisconsin took on Israel’s bulldozers:

UW must divest from Caterpillar
Sam Stevenson
October 13, 2009

Israel is a criminal nation. This statement has been a verifiable fact for many decades and continues to gain support with each new violation of international law Israel commits. Most recently, a U.N. report authored by Richard Goldstone — a South African judge and self-proclaimed Zionist — found that Israel (and Hamas) committed war crimes and (quite possibly) crimes against humanity earlier this year during the Israeli invasion of Gaza. During that war the Israeli army killed more than 1,300 Gazans including 437 under 18. They also wounded nearly 2,000 Gaza children. In contrast, the Israel Defense Forces suffered 13 causalities, nearly half victims of friendly fire. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were left homeless in the war’s aftermath. Even before the war, figures as diverse as President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had compared the conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories to those of blacks in South Africa under apartheid.

. . . The UW system has an endowment that is invested in a long list of corporations. One of those corporations is Caterpillar — the manufacturer of the bulldozers that the IDF employs to tear down Palestinian homes — to the tune of nearly $400,000. The tuition dollars we give the university every year fund this system and makes us, in part, responsible for how and where this endowment is invested. A brief review of the facts makes it clear the UW System Board of Regents must follow historical precedent and withdraw endowment funds from companies doing business with perpetrators of war crimes.

In the past, the UW has divested from countries and companies that are complicit in violations of international law. These include South Africa, Burma and Sudan. In fact, the UW System Trust and Fund Policy states it will “seriously reconsider” investments in companies that “violate, frustrate or subvert” international law. Cases involving Caterpillar’s complicity in violations of international law as well as the legality of Israel’s demolition policy are currently being litigated; indisputably, compelling evidence of criminality exists. Other universities in the U.S. and Europe have already divested from Caterpillar for these very reasons.

The student idealists of the Israel divestment movement, following the path of the successful South Africa boycott movement of two decades ago, are the best hope for justice in Palestine. Aside from the direct pressure of divestment on Israel, the effort puts pressure from the left on the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, highlighting their hypocrisy and subservience to Israel. Great learning experience for Poli Sci and other students about what is at stake and about the bipartisan imperial policy. Foreign Policy in Focus’s Stephen Zunes writes:

The [Goldstone] report, authored by renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone, detailed the results of the UNHRC’s fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict. These findings included the recommendation that both Hamas and the Israeli government bring to justice those responsible for war crimes during the three weeks of fighting in late December and early January. If they don’t, the report urges that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible prosecution.

The Obama administration has declared — in the words of U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice — that such a recommendation is “basically unacceptable.” It has insisted that any legal remedies be handled by the respected parties internally. Since neither Hamas nor the Israeli government will likely prosecute those responsible for war crimes, the administration’s action will essentially prevent these Palestinian and Israeli war criminals from ever being brought to justice.

. . . The Goldstone Commission report cited in detail a whole series of violations of the laws of war by Hamas, including rocket attacks into civilian-populated areas of Israel, torture of Palestinian opponents, and continued holding of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

What has upset Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats, however, was that the report also concluded that Israel’s military assault on Gaza was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,” citing Israel’s deadly attacks against schools, mosques, private homes and businesses nowhere near legitimate military targets. These conclusions echo detailed empirical reports released in recent months by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, among others.

. . . Though Rice had argued just a few months earlier during a UN debate on Darfur that war crimes charges should never be sacrificed for political reasons, she reinforced Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley’s insistence that the report “should not be used as a mechanism to add impediments to getting back to the peace process.”

Students, alumni, is your college or university funding the bulldozers that flatten Palestinian homes or human rights protestors? Is it financing apartment blocks for illegal settlements in the West Bank? Learn, then learn the most important lessons by acting for justice.

Israel’s Gaza war crimes at 10/14 UN Security Council

8:32 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Always good when popular pressure forces a politician to do the right thing. In this case, the right thing is to discuss and act on the Goldstone report, which detailed possible Israeli and Hamas war crimes during Israel’s invasion of Gaza last December and January. West Bank president Mahmoud Abbas reversed an earlier stance (purchased by the U.S.) to delay action, and now supports getting the report discussed on Wednesday by the Security Council and then referred to the UN Human Rights Council:

Criticism forces Abbas to harden stance
October 12, 2009
Michael Jansensus

. . . Many Palestinians were outraged when [Abbas] shook hands with Mr Netanyahu at an encounter arranged by US president Barack Obama on the sidelines of opening of the UN General Assembly.

Mr Abbas had said that he would not meet or negotiate with Mr Netanyahu until he agreed to freeze all Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Under US political and financial pressure, Mr Abbas capitulated to what a Palestinian observer called a “$200 million handshake,”referring to the amount the US pledged for PA budgetary support by the end of the year.

Outrage became fury when the PA agreed to postpone endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council of a report on crimes committed during Israel’s war on Gaza earlier this year.

Palestinian economy minister Bassem Khoury resigned in protest, other PA figures called the decision a mistake, and Palestinians staged a rally in Ramallah. . . .

. . . In an attempt to limit damage over the Goldstone report, Mr Abbas instructed the PA delegation in Geneva and the Palestinian observer at UN to press for an early discussion in either the Human Rights Council or the Security Council of the 575-page document, which provides evidence of Israeli and, to a lesser extent, Hamas war crimes.

Fearing involvement of the International Criminal Court, Israel has threatened to pull out of US-brokered talks if the Goldstone report is endorsed and its recommendations are adopted.

Though it won’t be as effective as human rights activists wish, especially not in the U.S., displaying Israeli immorality and criminality to the world is still the most promising path for international resistance to take. At least it gets real results (a series of diplomatic and popular blows against Israel are listed in “Israel-Turkey relations hit new low“), and the real results would mount if Israel continues on its present path. In addition, campaigning for basic human rights in Palestine and against war criminality on both sides is so obviously right and fair-minded that even members of the Israeli home team are swayed (see British UN ambassador in article below). Maybe even more so when the main argument against justice is ‘you/they did it too’:

Israeli officials warn against support for UN report
October 11, 2009
Ben Lynfield

A jittery Israeli government reacted furiously yesterday after a top British diplomat voiced support for aspects of a UN report that could lead to prosecution of Israeli army officers for alleged war crimes.

The UK ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, told Israel Army radio that the report on last winter’s Gaza war contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated by both the Palestinian authorities and the Israeli authorities.”

He added that “serious information” in the document gives rise to the suspicion that violations of the laws of war were committed.

The remarks, three days before the report is expected to be raised in the security council at Libya’s behest, highlighted a British position that is rhetorically distinct from that of Washington, which has been strongly backing an Israeli campaign to scuttle the report on the grounds it is biased.

Mr. Sawers took issue with the prevalent Israeli idea that the commission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone had reached its conclusions in advance of its research. “This investigation was led by a serious figure, Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew with long experience in justice. It’s not as if he was in any way biased,” he said.

Israeli officials warned in response that any British support for the report would boomerang. If a precedent is set of Israelis being prosecuted for acts during the Gaza war, Britons could also be placed in the dock for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they said. “London, which is also in the midst of a war against terror, could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document,” they said.

The report issued last month said that both Israel and Hamas were guilty of war crimes during the conflict in which nearly 1400 Palestinians and thirteen Israelis died. It said the Israeli military had proven unable to investigate itself and recommended the war crimes allegations be referred to the International Criminal Court if “good faith investigations” were not underway within six months.

The Jerusalem Post, probably accurately, explains why Sawers is standing against war criminality:

. . . The feeling in Jerusalem was that Sawers’s remarks were not random off-the cuff comments, but were actually reflective of British government thinking. There was a sense that the British, themselves involved in a nasty war against terrorism, realize that supporting this document could handcuff them down the road, but they also realize that the US would almost certainly veto any Security Council resolution on the matter. In other words, London could curry favor with the Arab and Muslim countries by supporting the report, knowing full well that in the final analysis the US would step in, do their “dirty work,” and veto the resolution before it could harm British interests.

Sawers will become head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency next month.

Finally, and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it would be nice, in honor of his Nobel Prize, if Obama would not veto referring the Goldstone report to the UN Human Rights Council. If it really was given to him prospectively, it’s time to start earning it. Haroon Siddiqui writes:

Nobel Prize puts pressure on Barack Obama and Israel
By Haroon Siddiqui
Sunday, Oct 11 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize was always political, in the positive sense. The awards to Desmond Tutu, Yitzhak Rabin/Yasser Arafat, José Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Shirin Ebadi of Iran, etc. were meant to advance peace and other causes.

Barack Obama’s efforts at dragging America back into multilateralism, rebuilding bridges to the Arab/Muslim world, looking for a light at the end of the Afghan tunnel, trying for peace in the Middle East, etc. can use the Nobel to overcome his detractors. No wonder they are being so bilious.

Being honoured for defending the rule of law should also help him ease the U.S. from protecting Israel despite its flouting of international norms.

Take the recent Richard Goldstone report that said Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza. Instead of heeding his findings, Israel and the U.S. have been slinging mud at the highly respected South African jurist and former prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, who also happens to be a committed Zionist.

The smear job was followed by American strong-arm tactics to derail his report from the UN Human Rights Council, the Geneva-based body that had commissioned it. Mahmoud Abbas was pressured into spearheading a postponement until March.

But the report won’t go away. It has been forced onto the agenda of the Security Council for Wednesday by Libya, the only Arab state currently on the 15-member body. Even if the initiative had come from a respectable member, the outcome probably would still be the same: a U.S. veto against any meaningful action.

But post-Nobel, such a vote would be embarrassing for Obama (he has already backed off his earlier call for Israel to freeze illegal Jewish settlements). And his grand declarations of building bridges to the Muslim world would begin to sound hollow.

_Beginning_ to sound hollow? In a year that began with Obama approving of Israel’s invasion and crippling embargo of Gaza, Siddiqui is bending over backward trying to sound ‘mainstream’.