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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

exercising independent judgement

A great article by Richard Falk (who is Jewish), professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University [who] in 2008 was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, on the increased, worldwide, unprecedented calls for prominent Israelis to be tried for war crimes due to the Gaza onslaught. It seems though, that the UN path will be blocked by the U.S's special relationship with Israel, and that of many European countries, too. There is a lot to read in the article on whether anyone will ever be held accountable, but the two paragraphs below especially caught my eye.
Two hundred non-Palestinian wives were allowed to leave, which underscored the criminality of locking children, women, the sick, elderly and disabled into the war zone, and showed its ethnically discriminatory character. This appears to be the first time in wartime conditions that a civilian population was denied the possibility of becoming refugees.

. . .

What seems reasonably clear is that despite the clamour for war crimes investigations and accountability, the political will is lacking to proceed against Israel at the inter-governmental level, whether within the UN or outside. The realities of geopolitics are built around double standards when it comes to war crimes. It is one thing to proceed against Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, but quite another to go against George W Bush or Ehud Olmert. Ever since the Nuremberg trials after the second world war, there exists impunity for those who act on behalf of powerful, undefeated states and nothing is likely to challenge this fact of international life in the near future, thus tarnishing the status of international law as a vehicle for global justice that is consistent in its enforcement efforts. When it comes to international criminal law, there continues to exist impunity for the strong and victorious, and potential accountability for the weak or defeated
On a related issue, within the States, it seems that anyone who is not totally pro-Israeli does not stand a chance of surviving an appointment which might influence and advise on Middle East policy, seeing as Chas Freeman has withdrawn [his] previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council due to lobby pressure and due to his belief that the National Intelligence Council [could not] function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.

He states It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends, much to the detriment of not only the U.S., but the world as a whole.

An Al Jazeera article on the Freeman withdrawal. Probably will not appear very much in any other mainstream press, though I am sure Haaretz will run a story.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr