Israel and Palestine

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Articles on Israel after 2010
Israel and international law
Setting the example
Conspiracy theory: Iran defeats Israel
Bomb Israel?
Articles on Israel before 2010


  • (september 2010) Israel and international law. There is little doubt that Israel has often twisted and violated international law to accommodate its expansionist and racist policies. Thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives over the decades (See my timeline of the modern Middle East). The Islamic world often demands that Israel be forced to comply with international law. In principle, it is a legitimate demand. The USA, which is the main sponsor of Israel, cannot justify its aggressive stance against Iran and North Korea (and, in the near past, Iraq) when it condones Israel's violations of international law.
    However, there is a meta-problem. A law makes sense only insofar as there is a police officer to enforce it. Someone needs to arrest the criminal who breaks the law. There is no police officer for international law. In fact, it would be difficult to find a country that has never broken international law. In fact, the Middle East is a place where human rights are routinely ignored by some of the worst regimes in the world. We are asking Israel to obey a law that almost none of its neighbors obey. Morocco is still occupying Western Sahara, that it annexed illegally. Sudan fought bloody civil wars both in the south and in Darfur with no mercy for civilian populations. The Copts in Egypt are not treated any better than the Palestinians in Israel. Syria has assassinated Lebanese politicians at will. Torture is common in all of these countries (Amnesty International's report). Discrimination based on gender, religion and nationality is even more common. Ethnic cleansing has wiped out millions of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists from the Islamic world (most Muslim countries are now 99% Muslim but they used to have sizeable non-Muslim minorities). The number of Jews "expelled" (explicitly or implicitly) from Islamic countries such as Morocco, Iraq and Iran is as large as the number of Palestinians expelled from Palestine by Israel. The number of people killed in civil wars within Islamic countries is a lot higher than the number of Palestinians killed by Israel in 60 years (about 10,000). The biggest robbery of the region is not the Israeli occupation of Palestine (a region with no mineral resources) but the Moroccan occupation and annexation of Western Sahara (a region that has large phosphate and oil reserves): Morocco is now enjoying an economic boom while the refugees from Western Sahara live in desert camps that make Gaza look like a tourist resort. Worst of all, Saudi Arabia is a fascist and racist regime that forbids any religion other than Islam and even prohibits non-Muslims to visit a few of its cities. This is a region that still has countries run by kings (Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia). None of these regimes has ever been punished for violating international law. (As the case of Iraq and Iran proves, they are more likely to be punished when they threaten a superpower's idea of status quo than when they kill or arrest thousands of their own citizens).
    The biggest massacre of Palestinians was carried out by Jordan, not Israel. The biggest massacre of Islamists was carried out by Syria, not Israel or the USA. Palestinians are discriminated in all the countries where they emigrated except for Western countries. The only country in the Middle East in which an Arab can freely express her or his opinion is Israel. In all other countries he can be arrested or killed for saying something that the dictator doesn't like or that one of the power-sharing militias doesn't like.
    We are asking Israel to be the only country in the region that obeys international law. How would you feel if they told you that all your neighbors are free to ignore the law but you must obey it?
    The reason you obey the law (even when you disagree with it) is simple: there is a police officer in charge of arresting you if you break that law. Unfortunately, there is no police officer in charge of arresting all the dictators of the Middle East who broke international laws such as the ones on human rights. Most of those dictators would probably get a life sentence for the crimes they committed.
    This leads to another meta-problem: the reason that the world does not have a police officer enforcing international law is that... the powers themselves often break that law. The USA recently used torture against suspected terrorists. Russia massacred thousands of civilians in the two civil wars of Chechnya and is becoming the leading country in the world for assassination of journalists who speak against authorities. China is the least democratic of the five veto-wielding powers of the United Nations, having just suppressed two rebellions in two occupied territories, Tibet and Eastern Turkestan. Last but not least, the USA is the main provider of weapons to the four big MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) military powers: Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco (each of them a main violator of human rights in one way or another). Morocco could not keep occupying Western Sahara without the tacit approval of the USA.
    Therefore Israel can get away with invading Lebanon, bombing Gaza, building settlements on occupied territory, ignoring the results of the Palestinian elections and blockading Gaza.
    If the world wants to make sure that never again will a country be able to do what Israel has done over the last decade, the powers need to create a police force that will enforce the treaty that they signed. It won't happen any time soon. Then we cannot ask Israel to do what no other country is willing to do.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2010) Setting the example. Jews have been protesting against Israel's raid on a humanitarian ship. Jewish-led protests have been going on in Europe and the USA. Back at home many distinguished Israeli intellectuals have spoken out against the policies of their government.
    Let us hope that some day we will also see Arabs protesting in the streets against their regimes (including Hamas) and that some day we will also see Muslim states withdrawing from the lands that they are occupying against the will of the people (Morocco from Western Sahara, Turkey from Kurdistan, Sudan from southern Sudan, Indonesia from New Guinea, Pakistan from Baluchistan, etc).
    When i was in Israel, i bought a T-shirt that says "Free Palestine". I wore it in Israel, and i wear it in the USA. Let us hope that soon i will be able to buy a T-shirt that says "Free Western Sahara" in Morocco, one that says "Free Kurdistan" in Turkey and one that says "Free Baluchistan" in Pakistan.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2010) Conspiracy theory: Iran defeats Israel. I am not a fan of Israel's military rule over the Palestinians, as written elsewhere on this website (see Bomb Israel?). However, the episode that is creating a lot of clamor around the world (the Israeli raid on ships that were carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza) might be more than yet another case of Israeli brutality.
    There is no question that the flotilla assembled by Turkey was a provocation: humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza from one Israeli checkpoint. True: many commodities are forbidden (for the only reason to humiliate Palestinians). But it also true that Turkey never tried to change Israel's mind on what goods should be allowed into Gaza. Therefore most of the humanitarian aid could have been simply deposited in the Israeli port, and Israel would have delivered it to Gaza (as in fact it did after the incident). The Turkish government could have then pleaded for delivery of any other item that had been confiscated, with good chances of success. The whole flotilla affair was clearly an attempt to provoke Israel and to attract maximum publicity worldwide.
    There is also no question that this incident comes precisely at a point when Israel did not want any more complications with the USA. The USA is angry at Israel for not stopping settlements in the West Bank. Israel has tested the patience of its one and only ally. It did not need this incident. This incident serves its enemies, because it helps create a bigger gap between Israel and the USA.
    There is also no question that this incident is a great gift to Iran. Before the incident, Iran was under colossal pressure about its nuclear program. Russia had already agreed to new sanctions against Iran, and Iran had responded by insulting Russia. China was likely to go along with the USA and Russia. After the incident, instead, the world press has shifted its attention to Israel, and so has public opinion. The pressure on Iran has dissolved. The members of the United Nations are angry at Israel, not at Iran. They are more motivated to condemn Israel for an immediate and widely documented act of piracy than Iran for a presumed potential danger coming from its long-term nuclear program. Iran gets off the hook. The recent vote at the United Nations against countries that violate the non-proliferation treaty or do not sign it now appears as a blow to Israel not to Iran. In fact, it is obvious to everybody who lives in that region that it is Israel's weapons, and not Iran's, that represent the problem: Iran does not have nuclear weapons, but Israel does. That's the fact that prompted Libya, Syria and now Iran to obtain its own. Remove Israel's nukes and other regimes would not have a strong desire to acquire their own.
    And Iran gets off the hook thanks to an initiative of Turkey, the same country that just brokered a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, a deal rejected by the USA. This is too much of a coincidence: Turkey befriends Iran, then a few days later it causes a major crisis for Iran's number-one enemy Israel that also alleviates Iran's problems at the United Nations. The Turkish organization behind the expedition, IHH, is close to Iran and to Hamas.
    There is a chance that this whole episode is yet another case of Israel being outsmarted by its enemies. Israel was outsmarted by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and (as far as the media go) it was outsmarted by Hamas in Gaza: each and every time Israel's reputation around the world has sunk, while its enemies have become more and more popular. Needless to say, this is particularly true in the Islamic world, but it is also increasingly true in the Western world.
    The way this episode evolved seem to indicate an intention by the organizers to cause maximum damange to the Israeli reputation. It succeeded brilliantly. Israel can show its videos over and over again, but nobody is watching them: people believe the protesters because of the way the incident has been reported from the beginning.
    Israel has won all the wars that it ever fought, but it is losing the media war. Israeli prime ministers are fond of saying that Israel is surrounded by enemies. It might be time to admit that Israel is surrounded by "smarter" enemies.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2009 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2010) Bomb Israel I have traveled to all Middle Eastern countries except Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The recent decision of Israel to continue building in occupied Palestinian land is just yet another step in a process that i have noticed personally when i was there: 1. humiliate Palestinian until, provoked, they will start a third intifada and Israel will be able to claim that they are "terrorists"; 2. discredit the USA in the Middle East; 3. destroy any chance of a peace settlement with the Arabs.
    I have always supported the right of Israel to exist, and i have always demystified Arab propaganda spun by the powerful Arab lobby (See The population of pre-Israel Palestine, False myths about the Palestinians, How Israel was born and became a power), but it is very obvious to anyone who has been there that Israel is NOT an ally of the USA anymore.
    Israel is determined to involve the USA into a major conflict in the region that will benefit Israel but alienate the entire world from the USA, a process that is already underway (it is impressive how anti-USA the Turks and the Lebanese have become after the Israeli invasion and massacre of Gaza, during which Israeli media widely advertised that they were using USA-made weapons).
    Israel gives democracy a bad reputation throughout the Middle East, a fact that boomerangs against the USA's policy of fostering democracy in the region. Israel keeps repeating that it is the only democracy in the region, but this is blatantly false: Gaza is a democracy, because Hamas won a regular election, and in fact one of the cleanest elections of the last decade anywhere in the world; Turkey is a democracy, Lebanon is a democracy, and now Iraq is a democracy. One could argue that Israel is in fact less democratic than other democracies because its constitution grants Jews a privileged position: there would be an outrage if the USA had an article of the constitution that grants a religion higher ground. Being a Jewish state implies that you are not a real democracy. What is also special about the Israeli democracy is that it does not recognize the results of other countries' elections unless they suit its desires.
    Israel has alienated Turkey, that used to be a reliable USA ally, and it has done so on purpose, to become more necessary to the USA. For example, it started the bombing of Gaza while Turkey was negotiating with Hamas on behalf of Israel. Thanks to Israel's subtle provocations to Turkey, the USA may lose their main ally in the Islamic world, a damage of incalculable proportions.
    Israel also contradicts a fundamental belief of the USA that religion should not run governments. Israel is founded on a stupid religious superstition just like Iran and Saudi Arabia. The USA should stand up and clearly state that no, Yahweh (or whatever the name of the supernatural being invented by ancient Jews) did not create the world in seven days, and no, the Jews are not the people favored by this ridiculous deity, and no, there is no promised land. There are just human beings sharing a planet. Religion has killed enough people that we should never tolerate policies driven by religion again.
    The USA Congress and president should consider military intervention against Israel, for example by bombing all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and invading Jerusalem.
    The USA should also demand that Israel abides by the same nuclear inspections that it is demanding from Iran. This would remove an obvious inconsistency in the USA's foreign policy: why can't Iran become a nuclear power if it's main enemy (Israel) and a neighbor (Pakistan) both are? Israel would then have a clear choice: fight a war against the USA (which is virtually the only ally it has left in the world) or make peace with the Arabs in one minute (not in one century, as the Israelis are clearly trying to).
    As a personal note, i found that ordinary Palestinians are a lot more friendly to a USA citizen than ordinary Israelis. Obviously the people in the USA Congress have never taken an ordinary bus or a tea at an ordinary cafe.
    As a reminder, Israel still has to pay for the civilian damage that it caused during the invasion of southern Lebanon and the invasion of Gaza, two events that, while justified by Hamas' and Hezbollah's rocket throwing, were exploited by Israel to cause damage not to the militiae's infrastructure but to public buildings and ordinary households.
    The USA cannot afford to be treated like an irrelevant pussy and insulted publicly by the small and ungrateful state of Israel.
    The USA has an awful tradition of creating its own worst enemies: Japan became a power thanks to oil and steel imported from the USA, Saddam Hussein became a regional power thanks to the support of Ronald Reagan, and Osama bin Laden's Islamic terrorists were originally used by the USA to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Let us hope that Israel doesn't turn out to be the biggest of these mistakes.

    (At the same time, it would be appropriate to enforce the same principles also on other disputed territories. For example, Morocco has been building not only houses but roads, factories and military installations in the land that belongs to the Sahrawis as much as the West Bank belongs to the Palestinians. And nobody has ever asked the Kurds of Turkey nor the Kashmiris of India nor the Chechens of Russia if they are happy to be what they are. And we know that the Turks of Cyprus don't want to be part of Cyprus but the European Union is forcing them to do so. Not to mention the Serbs and Croats who have been forced by NATO to share a nation with Bosnians).

    P.S. of june 2010. As if they wanted to prove my point, in may 2010 Israeli troops attacked unarmed ships that were carring humanitarian aid to Gaza and slaughtered nine people on board. By supporting Israel's ever more frequent murderous adventures, the USA is creating millions of supporters of Islamic terrorists throughout the Islamic world. And it is just a matter of time before Islamic terrorists become popular outside the Islamic world too. Congratulations, prime minister Netanyahu: millions of people are now willing to shoot rockets to Israel. And who can disagree with Iran's supreme leader who called for Israel to be brought to trial for this massacre? Who can disagree with Egypt's call for the denuclearization of Israel? Israel appears to be a mad dog with nuclear bombs. Instead of deeply apologizing to the families of the victims, one day later the Jerusalem Post used expressions such as "the terror-supporting flotilla", "the Hamas supporters" and "a terrorist organization with direct links to al-Qaida" to describe the unarmed humanitarian volunteers that Israel had just assassinated. Is this how Israel plans to win the media war? with this silly childish propaganda? Is this really the trusted ally that the USA wants to have in the Middle East?

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2009 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Articles on Israel before 2010

Email | Back to History | Back to the world news | Home | Support this website

TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.