36 thoughts on “American Jewish Statement Against Gaza War Published in Jewish Week – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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    1. “War criminal” seems a bit harsh there; after all he hasn’t illegally launched a war of aggression against anyone – yet!!!!

      Though on a subnote it should be noted that it is an irony of American politics that the Democratic party has contained and produced many more such ‘war criminals’ than the Republicans, the last admin excluded.

      1. Well, until we met George W. Bush (1,280,000 innoccents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia), we’d had some real criminals, Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Mcnamara, Gen’l Westmoreland and Ronald Reagan .

        But, just one Pffffft and ‘Ol ‘shit for brains’ GWB went to the front of the line to join people like Hitler, Stalin and Attila-the-hun. Add baby Satan Israel’s totals under (Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Sharmir, Begin, Sharon and Olmert) and you have some real ‘weiners!’

  1. War Criminal in terms of the ongoing use of drone attacks on militants, which often kill large number of civilians (one attack a week into his time in office resulted in civilian casualties). I’m still struggling to work out the difference between these kind of attacks and Israeli targeted assassinations, which Richard so deplores.

    Personally, I’m opposed to targeted assassinations no matter who’s behind the trigger.

    1. I’m not prepared to make any definitive statement on this issue. I generally frown on targeted assassinations. But in the case of Pakistan, people like Meshud are accused of assassinating Benazir Bhutto. There is absolutely no possibility that the Pakistanis will arrest him. He has already killed at the highest level and no doubt would kill again. In the type of situation where it is impossible to arrest and try a terrorist and he has already killed serially and will kill again, my opposition is muted.

      But the answer to this problem is a strong central Pakistani government which enforced the rule of law, not targeted assassinations.

      The difference with Israel is that, unlike the U.S. or even Pakistan in the border regions, it controls the territory in which it carries out these attacks. It could arrest any militant it wished to and it could try and imprison any militant it wished to. So in this situation, targeted assassination is the lazy way out. A way to avoid having Israeli soldiers on the ground have to do the dirty work of arresting and trying a suspect.

      1. I am not sure it is clear who exactly was involved in the assasination of Benazir Bhutto; to my mind it is unlikley that parts of the Army and security services were not at least involved in aspects of this operation given their control over most militant groups. Without proper evidence and a trial, which is necessary to finally clear up the events and precise details of the Benazir assassination; these kinds of attacks are nothing more than state-sanctioned assassinations whether it is carried out by the US or Pakistan. To be an effective state Pakistan has to exert effective control over all means of violence in its territory; this isn’t the Wild West (or at least it shouldn’t be) and Meshud is not Billy the Kid. It will be hard for Pakistan to establish this kind of control over the FTA and the NWFP but the alternative is to effectively say that these areas will remain outside de facto state control and this is the first step on the road towards Pakistan being a failed state since monopoly over the means of legitimate violence is one of the basic pillars of statehood. Almost all human rights organisations would concur with your analysis of Israeli assassinations but I don’t think Pakistan should be judged to any less a standard really and it is not impossible to apprehend fugitive targets in these areas – just extremely difficult which isn’t the same thing.

        There are two other problems with this kind of operation. Firstly the civilian casualties are going to be high and already been significant, over 30 such operations have been carried out and on at least 2 occassions (that have been made public) targets were completely incorrect leading to deaths of over a dozen civilians in each incident. given the poor nature of ground intelligence that has characterised much of US operations in Afghanistan there is little confidence that this will not be a recurring feature if such assassinations are allowed to continue. Israeli state sponsored assassinations are characterised by better intelligence and civilian casualties are already factored in to operational considerations and are a price Israel is either willing to pay or unconcerned to incur; the US on the other hand seems to have made no such calculations and commits serious errors unforeseen by its own planners. From both a strategic and moral perspective blanket assassinations on this scale need to be rethought.

        Secondly, Pakistan is a sovereign country and while the FTA and NWFP may not be under central state control; mounting such incursions into the territory of another state without prior agreement runs the high risk of provoking a conflict. Already US helibrone forces have been forced to turn back after being fired on by Pakistani border troops and at least one UAV has been shot down by the Pakistani airforce. Given that Pakistan has a highly trained and motivated military, is a Nuclear Weapon State and has a key role to play in any final resolution in Afghanistan, it is unwise to anatagonise both its military and government and inflame anti-American passions all of which will happen if the current situation continues.

  2. Ah ok I see now. I still think ‘war criminal’ is a bit harsh and perhaps legally not appropriate. I think both these operations and some of the Israeli targeted assasinations are unwise and counterproductive but I wouldn’t call the leaders who ordered either war criminals.

    I see your analogy though; my mother and sister are both working in Afghanistan one as a gender micro-credit specialist and the other as a doctor; from everything they have told me Obama’s policies in Afghanistan will not be the solution to that region’s problems.

    1. Well that is a relief, I still don’t see how you have come to the conclusion that Obama is “officially” a war criminal though 😉 !!!

  3. Today’s N.Y. Times brings news that Hamas is announcing word of an imminent long-term ceasefire that would significantly open the border crossings and end attacks by Hamas and the IDF against Israel and Gaza respectively. The ceasefire would not free Gilad Shalit, at least not immediately. Though one can presume that if it works that this might be the next stage of negotiations. Israel labels the announcement premature.

    This seems to be Olmert’s answer:


    “Israeli brinkmanship puts Gaza truce in peril

    Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is mounting a last-ditch effort to free a captured Israeli soldier by blocking an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza Strip until Hamas agrees to release him…”

    God forbid that peace may break out.

  4. Richard, does this mean you now encourage Israel to send troops in every time a rocket launcher prepares to send a missile over?

    1. Alex, there’s a difference between shooting at someone who is immediately preparing for (physically, not as in “planning”) or in the process of shooting at you, and retaliatory attacks. The former is clearly self-defence, the latter is not. It’s usually rationalised/advertised as “preventive self-defence”, sort of, but that’s pseudo-legal poetry. The possibility, even likelihood, that someone may at some time in the future do this or that is no justification for killing them here and now, neither in int’l law, nor (probably – IANAL) in US or Israeli domestic law.

    2. Does this mean that you think that killing Salah Shehadeh is the same as killing a militant with a rocket launcher? Or do you concede that they are different operations in scope, complexity, purpose & outcome?

      I’m really tired of the rhetorical games you try to play. THey leave me absolutely cold.

  5. What about Imad Mughniyah? – There is absolutely no possibility that the Syrians would have arrested him. He had already killed at the highest level and no doubt would kill again. This was the type of situation where it was impossible to arrest and try a terrorist and he has already killed serially and will kill again. And of course Israel could not arrest nor imprison him.

    Targeted assassinations are not the lazy way out. They are the safest and best way to eliminate terrorists. First of all, Israel does not control all of Gaza and/or the West Bank. If Israeli soldiers did try to arrest many of these terrorists not only is there life in danger but also of all the people in the vicinity. The terrorists don’t usually just put their hands behind their heads as the IDF reads them their Miranda rights. And why should Israel arrest Palestinians, only to have the Hamas and Fatah kidnap Israelis to win their release. It’s not as if the Hamas respect Israel’s judicial system. Targeted assasinations are an important and moral tool in the fight against terrorists and their organization and I’m glad Barack Obama understands that.

    1. Im’ not going to get into a whole thing over Mugniyah as I’ve already discussed him here but…who did he kill “at the highest levels?” I’ve only heard unsubstantiated allegations of his involvement in various terror acts. I would never kill Mugniyah based on the “evidence” I’ve heard. And don’t talk to me about the Marine barracks bombing or Buenos Aires because you can’t prove Muhniyeh’s specific involvement in the first & the 2nd is highly debatable. So if you try to resume that specific line of attack I”ll cut you off.

      Targeted assassinations, esp. as Israel conducts them are not only the lazy way out–they are specific violations of international law & WILL wind the killers of Salah Shehadeh before an international criminial court, where they will belong (along with a few Palestinian killers as well).

      You lie about the West Bank & Gaza. Israel has access to this territory at will. If it wants to arrest someone there let it send in troops & do so. As for soldiers lives being in danger, that’s what armies & soldiers do. Why have an army if you’re not prepared for yr soldiers to be injured or killed? My pt. is that if it was harder but not impossible to arrest a militant Israel wouldn’t be so cavalier about the process. It’s so much easier to press a button & execute someone. I say force Israel to send in troops every time it wants to arrest someone.

      You’re spouting nonsense about Miranda rights. Israel arrests wanted men practically every day. Why should Israel arrest militants? Maybe because that’s the convention that most democratic countries follow–that is if you believe in the rule of law. If you don’t (as you don’t appear to) then you rule by whim, power & caprice. Palestinians are killed by the flick of a switch. Civilians are killed wily nily. No one is accountable. It’s the wild west. Your leaders too have no accountability. They bribe, steal & cheat w. impunity. Everyone is cynical. No one believes anyone is honest or that one’s vote means a thing. That’s a great system. Why not ditch it entirely & have rule by settler rabbis who would really know how to mete out justice & keep the Jewish trains running on time.

      Barack Obama has made no statement whatsoever about targeted assassinations & he certainly hasn’t approved of Israel’s brutal version. So give it a rest & stop spouting nonsense.

  6. Lazynative, why exclude the last administration? Is some one claiming the Democrats are exempt from responsibility? Only if one ignores most of the recent history of the US would there be any way of doing so.

    Hello, Alex Stein! Personally, I’m opposed to targeted assassinations no matter who’s behind the trigger.

    1. the last admin I am referring to was a Republican one of Bush II. On the whole many of the more dubious foreign interventions that have involved some sort of war crimes have been undertaken by Democratic administrations; the most salient being the Vietnam war and the proponents of mass scale bombing, the hamletisation programme such as the Phoenix project and the use of free-fire zones.

      The Republican admins were not anymore ethical, they just avoided being dragged into such high intensity conflicts involving direct use of US forces. Until the last admin obviously.

  7. Richard: Targeted assassinations abrogate the individual responsibility otherwise maintained through common law.

    We are responsible, as a society, for who we kill. The only way to maintain individual responsibility for our actions is through the exercise of the criminal justice system.

    Make it State/national responsibility in such a manner and we lose a large part of our control over society.

    Targeted assassination is a delegation of personal responsibility to invisible powers, which have ultimate purposes not necessarily aligned with values that will benefit society as a whole.

  8. You know, Amir, my response is: have the guts to take personal responsibility for state executions. Which targeted assassinations, in my mind, relieve the general populace of doing. Got evidence? Then why isn ‘t that evidence being used to try and convict the guy, meanwhile offering an opportunity for defense that doesn’t require the massacre of an Olympic team?

  9. Regarding Barack Obama: give the dude a chance. It’s not like he has been in power long enough to allow judgement regrading his actions.

  10. I am sorry that attempting to maintain a semblance of rationality and consistency when it comes to Israel/Palestine leaves you cold.

    No I dont think Shahade and the rocket launcher cases are similar, but I do think Shahade is similar to what has been going on in Pakistan…

    1. attempting to maintain a semblance of rationality and consistency

      No, what you do is more akin to playing rhetorical gotcha. I can almost see the glint in your eye as you write: “Now I’ve caught him. He can’t possibly explain his way out of this one.” That’s what leaves me cold.

      I do think Shahade is similar to what has been going on in Pakistan…

      Again, not exactly. Shehadeh lived in Gaza. Israel could have arrested him, tried him & imprisoned him since it controls Gaza. Instead it chose not only to kill him, but to level the entire apartment building in which he lived with women and children. One might argue that if there is no possibility of apprehending a terrorist & bringing him to trial AND there is absolutely compelling evidence of serious terrorist crimes, that possibly a targeted killing might be defensible (though again I’m extremely uncomfortable with the concept). But Israel doesn’t even come close in this particular case or any of its other such killings.

      Not to mention that Israel often performs targeted assassinations not from the air, but on the ground. Such cases are even more egregious violations since clearly the Israeli could arrest such a person w/o killing him.

  11. As for Mughaniyeh, I think I wondered aloud why you werent clamouring for the evidence of Israeli responsibility with the same fervour as you clamour for evidence of his wrongdoing. Again, fundamental questions of consistency; feel free to dismiss them for leaving you cold.

    1. You never said you were opposed to Mugniyeh’s assassination if Israel was the culprit. Would you care to do so now? If you are opposed to targeted assassinations as a general principle you shouldn’t have a problem with that.

  12. I dont know where you get this remarkable gift for knowing what my motivations are….

    On Mughaniyeh, were you quoting me directly? I think its only fair to know before I respond.

    “Again, not exactly.” Thats why I used the word similar; no doubt its just more rhetorical wordplay.

    Am off out so may not respond until later.

  13. Richard, I apologize for not reading all of your comment before responding.

    I’m still struggling to work out the difference between these kind of attacks and Israeli targeted assassinations A. Stein

    Responsibility for the drone planes dispatched by the US government is held, and acknowledged, by the President and the very visible members of his administration. It isn’t pie in the sky to say the President is accountable to the voting public.

    I take responsibility for the drones and I want the US out of Afghanistan (and to disengage militarily from Iraq. ) Perhaps the Israelis consider themselves individually responsible for targeted assassinations? Certainly there is enthusiastic support voiced by some individuals. Perhaps my sense that the public vote is of less importance to Israeli military activity is an artifact of my own insularity. Is the IDF responsive to the Israeli government or does the IDF run that government? My conclusion is the latter, because so many Israeli leaders advance through the military to political office.

    I consider acceptance of personal responsibility for my government’s actions, in part, to include accepting the likelihood of retribution that could target me personally, although enacted impersonally. The picture of the grieving child Richard posted after the Mumbai attacks comes to mind: children are innocent. I don’t feel innocent, don’t consider the US or it’s allies to be innocent. I’ve seen too many pictures of grieving Palestinians, have no difficulty imagining grieving Iraqi and Afghani, and Vietnamese, Cambodians, etc.

    Even though I disagree with the invasion of Iraq and the execution of Sadam Hussein, military invasion by allied armed forces, followed by public trial and execution of people against whom evidence of capital crimes is substantiated is quite different from elected officials demanding the assassination of the political representatives of other polities as Israeli leaders repeatedly do (without compunction, or concern for the political rights of the individuals who elected those representatives, much less the political rights of those elected.)

    Which doesn’t answer the question of what the difference is between the military aggression of a drone plane and that of a targeted assassination. I don’t think there is much difference.

    I think what is different, Alex, is the level of acceptance for such activities by the populace of Israel and that of other allied countries. The allied drone flights are protested by the Afghani and Pakistani, with the expectation of a response. The Israeli targeted assassinations are a commmonplace occurrence and we have had demonstrated how little attention is given to Palestinian deaths.

    I consider the utililzation of drones to be adapted from Israeli military models, as I do the Patriot Act, as well as the creation of the current concept of “terrorism”, widely accepted in the US, the UK and in South America, which resulted in large scale arrests and imprisonment of people without evidence sufficient, in the US, to sustain their incarceration, as well as the “accidental” shooting of unarmed and innocent citizens by the police of various nations because of suspected terrorist activities. All of which resulted in consequences within the US that included reinstatement of legal rights for those detained by the US for terrorist activity and repudiation of torture. If the miscarriage of justice has not been eliminated, justice is no longer considered secondary to national security.

    It is notable for me that an enormous number of Palestinians are detained by the Israeli government without any expectation for evidence of wrongdoing, or for other legal activity considered essential, by US standards, for maintenance of individual rights.


    President Bush is gone; Obama’s now responsible. The juggernaut of war goes forward. Despite my desire for hope, I wouldn’t quantify it in terms of expecting Obama to act as I desire. It doesn’t seem realistic to expect him unilaterally to stop the flight of drones today or yesterday.

    I consider it imperative for the US to cease military aggression against Afghanistan. Some months less than four years remain before the next election and a continuation of such activity will result in my voting against Obama.

    There seems plenty of likelihood that evidence exists of transgressions by Bush et alia that could and should be grounds for criminal prosecution. I don’t think that’s going to be true of Obama.

    Hope does spring eternal.

  14. You lie about the West Bank & Gaza. Israel has access to this territory at will. If it wants to arrest someone there let it send in troops & do so.

    Right. And while they’re there, they should send a car to pick up Gilad Shalit. He’s probably ready to come back by now.
    Maybe Israel could take lessons from how to arrest dangerous armed men from Janet Reno or Wilson Goode.

    It’s true that Israel has a problem with corrupt politicians and it’s also true that today there are many forces fighting corruption, but we still are not at the stage where the position of Senator is auctioned off at e.bay.

    1. Why auction off a senatorial seat when you can have the whole enchilada and buy yrself a prime ministership (cf. Sharon & Olmert). Ah yes, they did win elections fair & square. But they never could’ve won those elections were it not for the corruption that preceded them.

      If people were ever appointed to Knesset seats you know they’d be bought & sold w. impunity. Do don’t get all holy on us.

      There are many more corrupt pols in Israel than there are those fighting them.

  15. Amir, coincidentally, I was thinking about Gilad Shalit.

    I was thinking that It seems equitable for Israel make the following exchange for Gil Shalit, and for killing the police of Gaza:

    1.) Stop killing people

    2.) End assassination of political representatives.

    3.) Stop killing the cops

    4.) End military detention of Palestinian residents throughout Israel/the Territory; observe judicial boundaries for legal prosecution of alleged crimes, and cooperate in customary legal procedures for prosecuting accused criminal activity.

    5.) Release Palestinian residents in detention for other than criminal offenses; establish cause for detention, guarantee timely trial, with representation for defense, timely release or sentencing; Maintain a transparent legal process throughout.

    6.) Release sequestered Palestinian property, income and assets.

    6) Release control of all border crossings to a multinational force; reduce number of checkpoints to the liocal norm for terrain, with wresponsibilty for all inhabitants of Israeli/Palestinian territory.

    7) Nationalize roadways and establish additional forms of transportation where indicated by demographics

    8.) UN guaranteed access to coast and interior areas for all inhabitants; remove economic and physical restrictions on enterprise, transportation.

    9.) Share arable land; revoke covenants restricting housing and banked land, with equal access for all inhabitants.

    10.) UN Adjudicated arable land and water rights for all inhabitants. Nationalize for-profit enterprises for electricity, water, sewer, etc.

    This largely is a description of my social environment and the rights I hold as an inhabitant of my state.

    (I posted this elsewhere also,; came back to post a different comment. Which will follow.)

  16. Lazynative: It’s true that the circumstances are dire in those areas subject to attack in Afghanistan. It’s essential that the allied forces disengage from the area. It could tip the economy the rest of the way, but the current instability isn’t great, either.

    Political assassination is amoral behavior and it’s repugnant. It is a denial of participatory democracy. It repudiates our basic concept of human and civil rights: the right for all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I apologize for repeating myself, but: as long as Israel continues to act in such an aggressive manner, it will serve as a model for behavior by other states and polities.

    The US still is subject to modified Israeli military and surveilance models, we seem, as well, to be following Israeli rules in Afghanistan.

    The killings in the Iraqi region, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, and Palestine endanger many more people than the inhabitants of those countries.

    The actions of our allied governments endanger us by harming others.

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