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Israel Pays $2.2 Million to Slain British Filmmaker’s Family

British filmmaker, James Miller, killed by IDF (AP/Stringer)

British filmmaker, James Miller, killed by IDF (AP/Stringer)

In the largest financial settlement of its kind, Israel has paid $2.2-million to the family of British documentary filmmaker James Miller, slain by the IDF in Gaza while shooting the film that became the Emmy-winning A Death in Gaza. The only reason Israel appears to have paid was that Britain’s (Jewish) attorney general threatened to initiate proceedings in England that would bring the IDF soldiers who perpetrated the killing to justice. The possibility of its own troops being prosecuted in a foreign country was enough to get Israel’s attention especially in the aftermath of the Gaza war, when jurists and peace activists in several countries have contemplated war crimes trials against Israel.

Given the travesty that is Israeli justice when it comes to holding IDF soldiers accountable for their actions, it is not surprising that the soldiers who killed Miller were exonerated by Israel of wrongdoing.  This is the standard response to almost all such events.  Except what was different in this case is that a foreign national was killed, the family was relentless in their pursuit of justice, and the foreign government backed up the family’s claim.  That type of united front is not something Israel is used to in cases of this type which usually involve a Palestinian civilian killed in similar circumstances.  Palestinian lives are cheap by comparison and they can be killed with impunity as the Gaza war again makes clear.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Lazynative February 1, 2009, 3:33 AM

    Quite surprised the British govt had the balls to back the family here; usually the Blairite Labour admin is very supine in such matters. I wonder if the US govt would have taken a similar line.

    This is of course the second time an UK coroner’s court has reached the conclusion that a British civilian was murdered, the other case being that of Tom Hurndall. In that case, the IDF was forced to mount and investigation and the soldier inquestion was handed down a prison sentence of 8 years for manslaughter.

    • Meyrick Kirby February 1, 2009, 8:05 AM

      It’s no longer a Blairite government. Gordon Brown appears to be, albeit gradually, taking a tougher line with Israel, e.g. trying to exclude produce from the settlements from being included in EU trade deals.

      • Lazynative February 1, 2009, 10:19 AM

        To me the differences between Brown and Blair are greatly exaggerated; they are both architects of the New LAbour project which by itself cannot mean any serious attempt top implement a genuinely ethical foreign policy. Brown is as pro-US as Blair is/was and can’t be counted on to seriously act as a moderating influence.

        There are some exceptions such as Brown’s attitude towards Africa and his views on debt relief. In all though, the govt will be quite Blairite on most key questions, imo anyway.

        • fiddler February 4, 2009, 10:18 AM

          Not quite befitting a poodle either is this:

          Britain’s security minister, Lord West, just dropped a bombshell by declaring his nation’s military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan had fuelled global radicalism against Britain and the U.S.

          West described as “bollocks” former PM Tony Blair’s claims the so-called “war on terror” had nothing to do with growing Islamic radicalism. This comes soon after Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, called the term “war on terror,” deceptive and damaging.

          http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/eric_margolis/2009/02/01/8221436-sun.html

    • Joachim Martillo February 1, 2009, 9:28 AM

      Remember that in the Hurndall case the perpetrator was non-Jewish. The Israeli government has far fewer problems with the idea of the conviction of a non-Jew for killing Jews.

      Yet I agree that the British government has shown more spine in acting on behalf of its citizens against the desires of the Jewish lobby, which thanks to 6 million Pakistani Brits, has far less power in the UK than in the USA.

      • Lazynative February 1, 2009, 10:24 AM

        That is a fair point about Hurndall’s killer; he probably wouldn’t not have received as harsh treatment if he was Jewish.

        I don’t agree though, that the presence of a ‘lobby’ has any real impact on British foreign policy, unless it is a corporate or economic one. There are also barely 2 million (if that) Muslims in Britain according to the 2001 census, so your figure of 6 million Pakistani-Brits is wide of the mark. I doubt for many Hurndall’s case would have been very prominent, since Kashmir is more of a concern for this group than Palestine.

        • Joachim Martillo February 1, 2009, 11:35 AM

          I misread the statistics. The TimesOnLine puts the Muslim population at 2.4 million, which is much larger than the Jewish population (280,000 according to the BBC), and claims Muslim population ‘rising 10 times faster than rest of society’.

          You are probably underestimating the identification of Ango-Pakistani identification with Palestinians as well as the increasing political nationalist pan-Islamic consciousness among British Muslims and the world Muslim population in general.

          While British Zionists have not had the vast public organizational structure of the American Israel Lobby, the wealthiest British Zionists (Zionist political economic oligarchs) have managed at critical periods to exert tremendous influence over the British government. See Judonia, Balfour Declaration and Afterward.

          • Lazynative February 2, 2009, 11:13 AM

            Interesting, I didn’t know of the rise in the Muslim population post 2001.

            Yes, perhaps issues such as Palestine are rising in importance for the younger Muslim generation. But most Muslims in the UK are from Pakistan and that too from certain parts of Pakistan such as Mirpur district. Many come from rural backgrounds and their concerns from my experience revolve more around events in South Asia rather than the Middle East. Although they feel a solidarity with Palestinians as Muslims; it has been more recent globalised issues that have politicised them – the war in Iraq has been far more powerful in radicalising the Muslim population than Palestine or Israeli actions have been as British intelligence agencies have noted.

            On the ‘lobby’ and its existence I am sceptical as to how powerful it actually is a force. True British foreign policy did support Zionism but this was for other reasons as well and British policy certainly also had a strong pro-Arabist element to it as well from the 1920s onwards. Key parts of the British state such as the Foreign Office were and remain to this day quite antagonistic towards Zionism. One of the checks has been the fact that most of the British statesmen like Balfour and Churchill who supported Zionism were bascially anti-Semites themselves and disliked Jews as a community in Europe – they were very keen for them to be shipped off to far-off places like Palestine where they wouldn’t cause any trouble in the homeland.

            America is slightly different but again the so-called lobby was very weak and unable to influence American policy when Israel was really vulnerable as in the 1950s and early 60s.

        • Peter D February 2, 2009, 10:25 AM

          Guys, the killer of Iman Al Hamas was also not Jewish (a Druze) and still manged to escape unscathed. So, while I agree that sentencing could have be more lenient in the case of a Jew, I also think that to some extent Israel might be trying hard to vindicate non-Jewish soldiers so as not to appear to scapegoat them.

      • Joachim Martillo February 1, 2009, 5:10 PM

        BTW, I meant “with the idea of the conviction of a non-Jew for killing non-Jews.”

  • ellen February 1, 2009, 5:48 AM

    woo-hoo. This is excellent news.
    It will be a great day indeed when they are likewise held accountable for the death of a single Palestinian let alone for the deaths of thousands.

  • Miriam February 1, 2009, 4:21 PM

    Yet as we approach the SIXTH anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie.in Rafah Gaza, her parents have not yet to been able to get a congressional investigation of her death. Rest in peace, Rachel (March 20 2003).

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