Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Israel’s attack on Gaza is its consolation prize for not being allowed bomb Iran: like a school bully denied the chance to attack another Form, it has picked on some small kids in the playground so as to satiate its anger. Is there any way that, out of the suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza, something positive can be forged? The key is President Obama, the new head teacher at whom the bully’s message is also aimed: will he cower like the vast majority of his predecessors, more concerned with lobby popularity than with moral purpose, or is there more to him than this? Let us assume Obama knows full well both how shameful is America’s association with Israel and how senseless is his nation’s collusion in such vast criminality. There are ways of marking this without making it explicit and thereby unleashing the pro-Israeli forces against him at too early a stage.
It is already clear that the new Administration desires to re-engage with the global community and to revive its commitment to international law: the ‘war on terror’ will be reconfigured and Guantanamo closed. A rededication of the US to law should also involve a more consensual approach to the UN in general and to Security Council business in particular, and this should include (for example) support for UN investigative missions to regions where egregious violations of human rights and breaches of the UN charter need to be investigated. It should entail signing up to the International Criminal Court – and urging its closest allies to do likewise. Done in this way, US engagement in the international human rights agenda would quickly lead to a re-empowerment of the various forces for good, the rapporteurs, special representatives, committees of experts and so on, that have languished on the margins for so long.
All of this reformist energy would then need to be backed by mechanisms linking US financial and military aid to the newly emerging international legal order, a fresh set of McBride principles of the sort that eventually forced South Africa racism to its knees. And economic and intellectual boycotts would also need to be framed so as to lie in wait for the worst offenders against the new dispensation. Since its application would be general, Obama could do all this without ever mentioning Israel, leaving the consequences to be worked through by various bureaucracies while the ‘phone calls and special pleas of Netanyahu or Livni or Barak or whoever it is go either unreturned or politely fended off with an easy ‘it is out of my hands’. When the screams of the special interests reach dangerous levels, the president may then judge it to be necessary to take the issue to the American people, to discuss openly whether Israel should have a special exemption from the civilised values to which every other true ally and the US itself will by then have signed up. That is not likely to be a debate which the Israeli leadership will especially want.
Dreadful though they are, it is just possible the killings in Gaza may prove to be the beginning of the death rattle of Israel’s disastrous plunge into militant Zionism.

1 comment:

eire32 said...

"A consolation prize for not being allowed bomb Iran" - what absolute nonsense from London's favourite Hamas spokesman aspirant, pseudo-intellectual. Israel attacked the Gaza strip for two reasons.
1. To prevent the horrific rocket attacks emanting from the territory.
2. To demonstrate to the vultures in the area (Syria and Iran primarily) that it is still a force to be reckoned with and that if Bashir and Ahmadinejad don't have the courage to directly manifest their raging anti-Semitism with a direct attack on the sovereign nation of Israel then they will defeat their proxy armies (Hamas, Hezbollah etc.) at all costs.

The rocket attacks launched by Hamas at southern Israel after they refused to renew their ceasefire with Israel in late 2008 were completely unwarranted. Hamas brough the situation on itself. Prof. Gearty, to compare Israel to a "school bully" in your little musing is nothing short of vacuous reasoning and lazy, unoriginal scholarship and demonstrates that you have made little or no effort to come out of your intellectual comfort-zone and actually see that militant fundamentalist Islam is a force that must be confronted and defeat around the world.

And to place all your hope in Obama? It would be laughable (and actually quite pitful) if it weren't so serious. His Chief of Staff served in the IDF during the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006.Couple that with the fact that Pres. Obama isn't such an angel in foreign relations that the intellectual left has imagine in their heads (his comments on pre-emptive strikes in Pakistan during the election campaign, his comments on his visit to Sderot last summer etc.) and that the largely pro-Israeli American public simply will not re-elect him in 2012 if he is seen to be galvanting around the world instead of attempting to manage the economic catsatrophe enveloping in the US. While it is indeed true that the "new Administration desires to re-engage with the global community" to place your hopes that Obama's administration alone will place all its efforts in doing so at a time of financial hardship in the US is naive in the extreme.

Boycotts for Israel?! Don't make me laugh. We'll see how far the Washington pro-Israel lobby let that little glimmer of hope in your eye develop.