Tag Archives: sanctions

White Phosphorous

Howzat, Israel?

I was thinking how many ways there might be to try to delegitimise Israel. Loads I thought. In fact there are as many ways to delegitimise Israel as there are to get out in cricket:

1) Israel is in breach of UN Resolutions (LBW)
2) Israel is in breach of international law (caught)
3) Israel doesn’t want peace (run out)
4) Israel ethnically cleansed the Palestinians (bowled!)
5) Israel isn’t a democracy (timed out)
6) Israel is an apartheid state (interfering with play)
7) The Jews have no right to a state being just a religious group (hit wicket)
8) The Jews were never expelled by the Romans, so they can’t return to the Middle East (stumped)
9) The once oppressed Jews are now the oppressors (handled ball)
10) Israel acts like the Nazis did (hit ball twice)
11) Israel is guilty of war crimes (obstructing the fielder).

It is number 11 I find intriguing. When all else fails there is always the old accusation of war crimes. When a country has to go to war, then the most easily made accusation is that a country has not just killed, but has actually intentionally targeted innocent women and children.

Breaching UN resolutions is bad, ethnic cleansing is terrible, apartheid is vile but killing innocent woman and children on purpose is just despicable. And Israel stands accused of them all. Has another country ever been accused of such evil?

The latest accusation was that Israel used white phosphorous illegally during Operation Cast Lead. It is illegal to use white phosporous in a built up place like Gaza for obvious reasons. It is highly dangerous and will burn a victim’s skin right through. Not even water will stop it burning.

It should not have been used and two senior Israeli army officers were reprimanded. But it seems the orders to use white phosphorous did not come down from high. The officers took the decision themselves.

Israel has always come clean when it was in the wrong. For example, Ariel Sharon was sacked on the recommendation of the Kahane Commission after the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon in 1982.

White phosphorous is legal in all other circumstances of war. America has been allegedly using it in Afghanstan. The smoke from the phosphorous acts as a smokescreen shielding soldiers and that is why America has used it and why Israel used it in Gaza. Israeli soldiers were able to carry out successful operations against Hamas because of it.

But it seems that from now on all of Israel’s wars will be carried out against terrorists in built up areas. That is how Hamas has chosen to fight. The days of the 1967 and 1973 wars being fought in the skies or in the vast open desert are over. So what is Israel to do? If it uses white phosphorous it will be accused of committing a war crime, if it doesn’t then Israeli soldiers will be gunned down more easily.

It is a terrible Catch 22 but there has never been an intent to target innocent civilians, unlike Hamas suicide bombers. There is a big difference.

A country will undoubtedly make mistakes in war and Israel has made many in the heat of a battle (Israel even lost four of its own soldiers to friendly fire during Cast Lead). It has also had to go to war on many occasions to defend its citizens. Eventually on the balance of probabilities the international community will catch some Israeli soldiers out, as it has finally done (albeit on Israel’s admission).

Every war is by definition a war crime as civilians will always tragically be killed but Israel is the only country persistently accused of war crimes and consistently hounded for them. Sanctions against Israel are constantly called for, the latest being by Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips, and its politicians and soldiers are put under threat of arrest by an international warrant like no other country’s politicians.

Some countries are accused of starting illegal wars and war crimes (America and Britain), others are accused of both of those and much more (Israel).

There is only one time when Israel will not accused of everything under the sun, and that is if it ever loses a war. Then, for once, the international community might not be so outraged.

The Shame of the pro-Palestinian campaign

Palestinian flag

Imagine for one moment that the nasty Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supported by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and all of its supporters was a success. Israeli industry would be on the verge of bankruptcy and all of the innovations and inventions that are constantly discovered by Israeli scientists would not be discovered for lack of funding and investment.

Like, for example, the Camera in a Pill that travels through the digestive tract sending back photographs of the intestines in someone’s body. There is now no need to use cables that are passed into the digestive system through the nose or mouth and which would normally require a patient to be sedated. Patients can now carry on their normal lives while a diagnosis of their condition can take place. All they need do is swallow the “Camera Pill” which is then excreted out after the 24 to 48 hours that the pill takes to go through the digestive system.

You only have to glance briefly at www.israel21c.org to see the range of innovations produced by Israeli scientists that seek to improve people’s lives. The many innovations include using music therapy to help deaf and hearing-impaired toddlers, developing alternative energy sources such as solar and hydro power and an Iphone App for finding free Parking in New York.

Yet, a successful boycott, particularly an academic boycott, would stop all this development in its tracks. One of the main aims of the sanctions is to “cut off trade and investments“. If an academic boycott succeeded then Israeli scientists would not be able to consult with international scientists over crucial developments.

And then there is Haiti. It could not have escaped anyone’s notice that the reports on Sky and the BBC have focused mainly on the Israeli rescue team. The pictures and footage coming from this tragedy are too much to bear but Israel is doing its best to save those buried under the buildings and still just about alive.

As soon as the quake struck last tuesday Israel prepared to dispatch a 220 man team on two El Al planes. The entourage brought with them a field hospital that can serve 500 patients a day and includes 40 doctors, 25 nurses, a children’s ward and an intensive care unit.

Sanctions would have seriously reduced the effectiveness of Israel’s ability to save these lives. The rescue mission should impress on the Palestinians that Israel would go anywhere in the world to improve conditions and health, even as far as Gaza!

The Israeli, British and all the teams are heroes for putting their lives at risk by going into terribly insecure buildings which could collapse any moment especially if the expected aftershocks occur.

Even the church has not been immune from the ignorance. It recently divested from Caterpillar on the basis that Israel uses its bulldozes to demolish illegal Palestinian homes. The church made a recent ineffectual gesture by dumping its shares in Caterpillar even though Caterpillar could now be playing a crucial role in helping Israel’s rescue mission by using its equipment to move swathes of rubble to get to the dead and dying.

But even as Israel does good the anti-Israel brigade will again attempt stir up an audience against Israel. In London tomorrow night there is an anti-Israel meeting. It is at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square from 7pm till 9pm.

You would hope that for one night the whole event could be turned into a “Help Haiti” evening. The hostilities against Israel could be resumed once every thing has been done to rescue Haitians.

The combined passion, intelligence and power of these people could be used to such positve effect, instead it will be wasted as Israel once again becomes the target:

Dr Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University

Bruce Kent, Vice President Pax Christi

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP – Just returned from Gaza

Phyllis Starkey MP

Lowkey

George Galloway MP

Alison Shepherd, UNISON

Daud Abdullah, Middel East Monitor

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Kate Hudson, Chair CND

Alexei Sayle

Richard Burden MP

Joseph Healey, The Green Party

Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition

Hugh Lanning, Deputy General Secretary PCS

Anas Altikriti, BMI

Ismael patel, Friends of Al Aqsa