The Gaza Flotilla and Israel’s Many, Many Rights
Posted by Charles Glass on June 03, 2010Anybody can support Israel when times are good and The Timeses in London and New York write about Israeli entrepreneurs in Herzliya, Nobel prizes for physicians, and the blooming desert. That’s easy. How about now, though, when Israeli forces have blasted a humanitarian convoy at sea and killed nine people bringing food, medicine, baby clothes, and building supplies? When the going gets tough, only a few get going. God bless Les Gelb, Alan Dershowitz and the other singular champions of Israelism for standing up now, when nine Turkish citizens lie dead and Israel’s reputation is once again, for a moment, in tatters. Gelb bravely asserted on The Daily Beast, “Israel had every right under international law to stop and board ships bound for the Gaza war zone late Sunday.”
Even if no international law, and certainly no Law of the Sea, actually permits armed soldiers to board unarmed merchant ships in international waters, it is good that Gelb had the guts to say there’s one. Israel can rely as well on Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor who years ago proposed that Israel destroy Palestinian villages in retaliation for suicide bombings—his own “Lidice” solution for which the Nazis who destroyed the Czech village of Lidice in retaliation for the murder of Rheinhard Heydrich were hanged. His counsel on the Huffington Post will soon have the Israeli army storming Gaza, devastating Lebanon, nuking Iran, and sinking cruise liners. When push came to the shove of ethnically cleansing the entire West Bank of its Arab population, Les and Al would be there to tell us all that it was right and, of course, legal. That’s what lawyers, I mean real friends, are for.
I now list the rights that Israel is entitled to exercise now and forever with the full support of its true friends, mainly in America, but wherever else they may be found. Perhaps not, at the moment, in Turkey.
Israel has the right to kill anyone, anytime, for any reason it chooses. This includes those it designates as terrorists or terrorist supporters in Israel itself, in the occupied territories, in Dubai, on airplanes, in cars and on ships. No other state is entitled to this right for reasons that I now forget, but which I am sure Al and Les can remind us about.
Israel is entitled to at least $5 billion a year from the American taxpayer, however hard-pressed he or she may be, during the good times as well as in the midst of financial crises. Israel’s government may spend the money as it sees fit, without oversight or audit by the US Treasury, the Government Accounting Office or the Congress. If a few million bucks go astray or pay for allegedly illegal activities, like displacing Palestinians from their homes and building Israeli settlements on them, that is nobody’s business. If Congress doesn’t like it, it can go to the White House and ask for more.
Israel may use the weapons the United States gives it in any way it chooses, whenever it chooses, and wherever it chooses. US-Israeli treaties limiting their use to defense and prohibiting the deployment of cluster bombs on civilians may be ignored as having no legal force. I defer to the experts at the Harvard School of Law for an exact exegesis of this proposition, but it should be self-evident to all who truly support Israel and not just the whining ninnies who only support it when it is not breaking the law—which, as I said, it is never really breaking anyway.
Israel has the right to spy on and attack American institutions and military installations. The precedents for this obvious assertion are many—Israel’s bombing of American cultural centers in Egypt in the 1950s, its attack on the American naval ship Liberty in 1967 with thirty-two American sailors killed and another 17 wounded, and the many instances when agents like Jonathan Pollard steal American defense secrets and Israeli intelligence passes the information onto America’s enemies. (Read my old colleague James Bamford’s Body of Secrets for the details. You’ll need Les and Al to help you finish the book without having a certain patriotic fury at some of Israel’s breaches of American security.) Bombing American cinemas in Egypt and an American communications ship may seem illegal (and certainly hostile) to the people Les Gelb courageously calls “knee-jerk left-wingers and the usual legion of poseurs around the world.” To the rest of us, the illegal is obviously legal when done by Israel.
United Nations resolutions do not apply to Israel. The UN should pass a resolution immediately to make this clear. Israel has been in contravention, at least on paper, of more UN resolutions than any other member state. It has consistently refused to adhere to Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the refugees who fled or were expelled by its forces in 1948 and 1967, on its occupation of territories seized in 1967, on its seizure of land in those territories, on its transfer of its own civilians into occupied territories, on the construction of settlements in the same territories and on its treatment of indigenous civilians in those territories. Let’s get this straight. The UN can say whatever it likes, but it cannot expect its resolutions to apply to Israel—except, of course, the one that recognized Israel as a state in 1948. Non-compliance with UN resolutions may be used as a justification for invading Iraq, but they cannot possibly justify criticism of Israel in the knee-jerk, left-wing press or among the blogs of the Legion of Poseurs. (Perhaps there really is an organization called the Legion of Poseurs. If there is, I am sure Les will let us know about it.)
Israel can bomb and invade Lebanon whenever it wants, but we all know that.
Israel can discriminate between its Jewish citizens and non-Jewish citizens, as well as between its settlers and those stateless souls in the occupied lands. Jews can own land in Israel, and (except for about eight per cent of it) Arabs may not. Israel can make the distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish people without knee-jerk left-wingers and legionary poseurs calling it apartheid. Apartheid was what the South African whites did, which was to discriminate between white and non-white people. There is a big difference between dividing society into whites and non-whites as opposed to dividing it between Jews and non-Jews. I am sure Harvard Law has published many papers to clarify the distinction.
Israel can put Gaza under siege whenever it likes. If the Palestinians in Gaza don’t like it, they can go home. Well, actually, the ninety per cent of them who are refugees can’t go home, because Israel won’t let them. And that too is Israel’s right. Do not forget it is always legal for Israel to prevent shipments of food, medicine, children’s toys, light bulbs and anything else it likes from entering Gaza, even though international law says that collective punishment and deprivation of life’s necessities are illegal.
Israel may stop any ship bound for Gaza (or anywhere else) whenever it wants. Les Gelb found a precedent for this: the Allied blockade of Germany. Germany was at war with the British, and German U-boats were as effective at besieging the British as the Royal Navy was at blockading Germany. Israel cannot be in a legal state of war with territory it occupies. If it were, it would be obliged to treat Palestinian anti-occupation fighters in its custody as prisoners of war with rights under the Geneva Conventions. And we all know how likely that is and what Israel thinks of the Geneva Conventions. You guessed it, right up there with treaties and UN resolutions. The German-British siege is about as good a precedent for the siege of Gaza Les is likely to give us, even if he is free to reject its other implications. Thus, on the high seas, Israel can ram aid ships like it did last year or drop armed commandos on them as it did last week. And those bloody Turkish civilians have no right to take away the Israeli soldiers’ pistols. That is pure aggression. Les concedes that, while Israel can board ships in international or, presumably, Gazan waters, it cannot do the same in the territorial waters of another state. He writes, “Thus, for example, if the Israelis stopped the ships in Egyptian waters, that would have been a violation.” Frankly, Les, that’s trimming. Of course, it can stop ships in Egyptian or Lebanese (which it does all the time) or American waters. And I’ll bet ten to one that, whenever it does stop a ship in Egyptian waters, you’ll change your mind.
Israel can demand that Hamas and every other Palestinian group recognize Israel and its “right to exist” (even though, in any other context, the concept “right to exist” has no existence in law), while Israel refuses to recognize the state of Palestine within the 1947 borders set by the United Nations or the 1949 ceasefire lines that became the first, albeit temporary, borders of Israel. Not only does Israel not have to recognize such a state, it may physically prevent it from coming into being (as it has done since 1967). Let me repeat: Israel has the right to recognition without giving recognition in return. No other two states in the world have relations on that basis, but those states are not Israel. Professor Dershowitz can no doubt have one of his students (at least one who wants a job when he graduates) prepare a thesis giving the rationale behind what knee-jerk left wingers and poseurs contend is an extremely odd state of affairs.
There you have it. Stand by Israel now. Stand by the real Israel and not those cry babies who defame the state from within. If you don’t, you lousy left-wing, knee-jerk poseur, you’re nothing but an anti-Semite. Al and Les can explain why anyone and everyone, even Jews, critical of any Israeli action should be called anti-Semitic. I used to know why, but I’ve forgotten.
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