Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Israel Skating on Thin Ice

As we all know, criticizing the State of Israel is considered a dangerous practise. In fact, just today, the State of North Carolina made it a criminal offence to do so. So there you go. That being said, another qualifier is needed. The author has no issue with the Jewish religion or Jewish people in general. Firstly, it would an act of prejudice to lump all people of a group or religion together and cast them in the same light merely because they share a religion. Only the most racist and bigoted (Nazis as an example) would do so. I have friends who are Jewish. They don't live in Israel, so they aren't Israeli, but they are Jewish. This article is about the government of Israel, not about all the people in Israel, or about Jewish people in general.

The Israeli government and the Israeli military are, in a phrase, acting above the law. The "law" being those written and unwritten rules that separate humans from untamed beasts in the wild. During the last few months, in particular, Israel has committed mass violations of International Law: All UN Charters and their respective clauses guaranteeing the rights of refugees, civilians, and the basic rights of people; the Geneva Convention regarding targeted attacks on medical staff and civilians; and the statutes restraining State action banning crimes against humanity, and genocide. Simply put, Israel is now an outlaw state in the family of nations.

That being said, Israel has been getting away with these crimes against humanity because it has, over many decades, carefully influenced people in positions of power all over the world to "see things" from Israel's perspective, when in reality its actions against the Palestinians in particular ought to transcend even the most "influenced people's" bias. The slaughter of nearly 60 people in one day, and the maiming of 1200 more on that same day, was an act that will live in infamy.

The Israeli government's characterization of these victims as "terrorists" is both disgraceful and dangerous. It is disgraceful because it intimates those of any age, who throw themselves at a fence in protest (they had no weapons to use) can be classified as terrorists and summarily executed. It is dangerous for the same reason. Consider the precedent the State of Israel is setting for the rest of the world. Is it now okay for the nations of the world to set up machine guns and snipers at protest and mow down unarmed people? Even if those people are spurred on by another group which may have a darker intent? The answer is as obvious as the massacre that Israel executed against the Palestinian people - no, it's not acceptable.

The brutal massacre of unarmed civilians relates in some ways to the Israeli air strikes being conducted in Syria by the same source - the Israeli Army. The common threads are they both: break international law; they're done in the name of Israel's security; and Israel couldn't care less what the international community thinks. In a word, Israel has gone rogue. It now sits outside the family of nations. Certainly is totally supported by the United States government, although I venture not amongst a majority of the American people. It's also supported by Saudi Arabia, which just happens to be the biggest violator of individual human rights in the world, and, like Israel, is conducting an unsanctioned war against one of the poorest countries in the world - Yemen. Those are the countries Israel has locked up, and clearly Israel feels those are the countries it needs to lock up for support.

However, where is the rest of the world? Certainly Turkey, who has a blemished record on human rights all its own, has taken decisive, and in my opinion leadership worthy action against Israel by immediately recalling its ambassador to Israel, and sending Israel's' ambassador to Turkey packing. Turkey may be many things, but when it comes to defending the rights of peoples less able to defend themselves, especially Palestinians, Turkey can be counted on to be there. The European Union, to its credit, stood against the Americans at the UN and demanded an independent investigation. The Palestinian Authority itself took the strongest move, and the most effective move, by filing a complaint with the International Court of the Hague against Israel today. The Palestinian government only joined the International Court in 2015, and had been persuaded by the US not to file charges on previous occasions, however this time is different. This time the US has lost its influence with the Palestinians, and now Israel faces the prospect of an international war crimes trial - in my opinion well over due.

We simply cannot tolerate Israel, or any other country, committing wanton murder upon unarmed civilians as they protest. It is unacceptable to every value we hold as civilized people living in the 21rst century. In many ways it is incredible that a people so violated, and so persecuted by the Nazi regime of Germany would in turn persecute another in such a violent and indiscriminate way. It boggles the mind. One of the key lessons of the evil that was Nazi Germany surely is that barbarism against people, particularly identifiable (or unidentifiable) groups can never be allowed to happen again. The Palestinians are in every way deserving of this protection now. The Israeli people should know better. It is after all the primary responsibility of the Israeli people to confront their own government when it acts in such a brutal fashion. The international community must, and will, act as well, but surely the Israeli people won't stand for such inhumane treatment of a people already scattered to the four winds - it was not long ago the Jewish people were scattered to those same winds without a home of their own.

What is done is done now. The dead are buried. The thousands of wounded, from the last few weeks of protest, lie at home or in hospitals contemplating life ahead as amputees or orphans, or what have you. The Israeli Prime Minister stands defiantly in the face of the civilized world, his chin firmly in the wind (a lot like former Italian dictator Mussolini), as the Israeli Army continues to "operate freely" in the air space and on the ground in sovereign countries like Syria and Lebanon. Something has very much changed though this week. Israel's slaughter of the Palestinians has cost Israel any moral authority or high ground it thought it may have had. It is now under scrutiny. It may find itself as a war criminal in the Hague. It may find itself boycotted, or even sanctioned. Certainly its reputation will be down there with the Apartheid government of South Africa, or the murderous Croats, Serbs and Muslims from the former state of Yugoslavia who killed each other as if they were animals and not humans. This is the ground Israel now sits on. Perhaps not ground. Perhaps ice. Thin ice.