Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I've just been engaging in one of those day-in, day-out online wars with a number of anti-Israel types, some of whom are well-informed (which is refreshing). Don't you hate it when they keep coming back at you, sniping away? One (less well-informed) thought Israel invaded the Arab states in 1948. Today's offering from the other side (and sometimes I think it IS the Other Side) prompted the following from me (but I've edited this). 1967 6-Day War not seen as defensive? Let me paste the following: Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)11 states the following facts: “The facts of the June 1967 ‘Six Day War’ demonstrate that Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors. This is indicated by the fact that Israel responded to Egypt's prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, its proclamation of a blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the manifest threat of the UAR's use of force inherent in its massing of troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of UNEF. It is indicated by the fact that, upon Israeli responsive action against the UAR, Jordan initiated hostilities against Israel. It is suggested as well by the fact that, despite the most intense efforts by the Arab States and their supporters, led by the Premier of the Soviet Union, to gain condemnation of Israel as an aggressor by the hospitable organs of the United Nations, those efforts were decisively defeated. The conclusion to which these facts lead is that the Israeli conquest of Arab and Arab-held territory was defensive rather than aggressive conquest.” Here is another, more relevant to your claim that the UN did not recognize that Israel fought a defensive war. The source is non-Israeli: Judge Sir Elihu Lauterpacht wrote in 1968, just one year after the 1967 Six-Day War: “On 5th June, 1967, Jordan deliberately overthrew the Armistice Agreement by attacking the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. There was no question of this Jordanian action being a reaction to any Israeli attack. It took place notwith-standing explicit Israeli assurances, conveyed to King Hussein through the U.N. Commander, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan. Although the charge of aggression is freely made against Israel in relation to the Six-Days War the fact remains that the two attempts made in the General Assembly in June-July 1967 to secure the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor failed. A clear and striking majority of the members of the U.N. voted against the proposition that Israel was an aggressor.” [Lauerpacht is an Honorary Professor of International Law at Cambridge and founder of the Lauerpacht Centre for International Law in the University.] You also need to look at UN Article 51 and General Resolution 3314 to see the grounds for deciding what is and what is not defensive war, and to see why the UN refused to denounce Israel for fighting an 'aggressive' war. Further down, and speaking of Israel, you write 'We could discuss what you mean by "very decent"' [I had called Israel a 'very decent' country]. We could indeed. Let me spell it out. Israel has passed and enforces laws and guarantees rights for women, people of all races, gays, religious minorities from Islam to Baha'i. Not one other state in the Middle East and beyond has or enforces laws of this kind. In Iran, all the holy places and cemeteries of the minority Baha'i religion have been bulldozed to the ground; in Israel, the Baha'is have two large religious sites that form a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site. Is all that not decent? In Israel, Arabs have identical rights to Jews. They vote, serve in parliament, sit on the Supreme Court, serve as diplomats, attend university (forming 20% of any student body). Israel sends aid teams round the world to help after disasters. Is all that not very decent? Israeli hospitals treat, not just Jews or Israeli Arabs, but Palestinians, especially Palestinian children, hundreds of whom have had heart repair and transplant operations. Not very decent? Israeli researchers have invented dozens of drugs and medical devices that are in use round the world, saving lives. Would you call that indecent? Israelis invented the re-Walk device, an exo-skeleton that allows paraplegics to walk (one wholly paralyzed British woman used it this year to walk the London Marathon). Decent or indecent? It's up to you. Rather than go for years with ongoing terrorism that was killing Israelis and forcing Israeli troops to kill Palestinian terrorists (and, o0ften, bystanders), Israel spent a fortune to build a fence that has now saved hundreds of lives on both sides. Decent? They had the choice of going down the Nazi route, of course, and carpet-bombing the West Bank, but chose not to. It was a moral choice. Where is your moral compass. Israel offers the world a remarkable wealth of positive things and stands head and shoulders above any of its neighbours (Iran? Syria? Egypt? Libya? Work it out). It's what a civilized, cultured, tolerant and morally decent country is like. Israelis do not use suicide bombers. They do not fire rockets without discrimination into civilian areas. They produce good music, great literature, successful sportsmen and women, wonderful artists, and genuine possibilities in life for its Arab citizens. They love life, not death. They do not seek martyrdom. They play on the beaches, they listen to jazz, they play classical music, they produce dancers of international stature (like the Bat Sheva Dance Company), they grow grapes and drink wine, they are multiracial, they try to entice the Palestinians to peace talks and are rebuffed, just as they have always been rebuffed. They are not the worst people in the world. Rather, they are among the best. Their greatest problem lies in the fact that their neighbours hate them to a level you probably don't even guess, and that they all, without exception, want to commit genocide in order to eliminate all the region's Jews and the Israeli state itself. Do you really hate Israeli that much? Do you call for jihad? What precisely would you recommend? Would you expose Israel to genocidal killers who have a long history of terrorism? Israelis are normal people, like you and me. Why destroy a people like that? Israel is a very decent country indeed. Think again and ask yourself why you aren't out there condemning really criminal states like Iran.

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