zaterdag 14 april 2018



John Chuckman

‘Russia has been spying on the Skripals for at least five years, Britain claims”

That is hardly any logical person’s idea of proof.
Just one more government spokesperson, in effect, saying the same thing but using some embroidered details to make it interesting for the press.
And, of course, the press happily complies in publicizing it.
By the way, the claim that Russia took an active interest in the Skripals for five years is close to laughable. He was never a truly important spy, and his active service goes back too many years to make him of the least threat to Russia.
Not one of the real and hard questions about this matter has been answered. Not one. Such as how you can touch nerve gas but walk around for a considerable length of time before collapsing? Or why the doctor, who first treated the daughter on an emergency basis where she was discovered collapsed on a bench, was wholly unaffected? Or why Salisbury was not immediately evacuated and cordoned off upon the poison’s “discovery”? Or why no one can speak to the Skripals? All those questions and many more.
This then seems to have become the standard of British justice, at least in all matters involving Russia: accuse and punish before proving anything. And Theresa May and Company have now proved they can get away with doing so.
The same standard was applied to the missile strike in Syria. The international chemical weapons investigators, the OPCW, who are to closely examine the area where it is claimed the Syrian government used poison gas, had not even yet fully deployed to begin their work before the attack. Why the rush?
This is just sick, and anyone supporting such a standard deserves the contempt of all honest thinking people.
What could drive Britain – with the United States and France, as though three bullies somehow made an assertion into hard proof and made their acts just – to behave in this extraordinary way?
The answer is clear for those who follow events closely, but of course most people have neither the time nor inclination to do so, making it easy for governments  like Britain’s to behave in such awful ways.  The war in Syria is basically lost. A six-year investment in recruitment, training, paying, supplying, and covertly assisting gangs of mercenaries posing as jihadi types is pretty much down the drain.
The goal was the destruction of Syria and its effective Balkanization, exactly the same fate imposed upon Libya and Iraq. All part of a long-term American-Israeli plan for the “birth of a new Middle East,” a “birth” which so far has cost about two million lives and millions of desperate refugees with the promise of yet more ahead.
Only in Iraq, national armies were openly used. Here, in Syria, the effort was to avoid having to do that and yet achieve the same result.
Of course, the use of national armies – U S and British – had many disadvantages in the Iraq War, from being accused of illegal invasion – exactly what Iraq was – to having leaders like Blair and Bush end up publicly disgraced.
Besides, that cost a great deal of money. This phony-jihadi approach has been largely financed by Saudi Arabia’s princes – people, by the way, for whom the presence of large foreign armies in the Middle East becomes a serious domestic political liability. The Saudi princes are also people who have worked for years trying to regain the good will of America after 9/11. They are willing to do almost anything which doesn’t generate instability at home.
So, America teamed up with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain, France, and originally Turkey to launch and sustain a six-year work of destruction in Syria. Because the actors employed were “rag-heads,” it was possible to sit back and pooh-pooh the horrors you were in fact assisting.
Britain and America pretended to bomb outfits like ISIS while largely in fact destroying Syrian infrastructure, thus providing ISIS and other ugly mobs like al-Nusrah effectively with an air force. All of the above-named countries supplied weapons to the mercenaries – many caches have been discovered by advancing Syrian forces with the countries of manufacture clearly stamped on them – and they periodically sent in covert special forces to assist them. British and Americans have been spotted there in the past, and, of course, now France openly moves troops illegally into the Kurdish region.
But the effort in Syria has largely failed, and the Israel Lobby is very unhappy about the fact. The evidence for that is seen in a score of little clues – Israel is hardly going to publicly “own” the Syrian horror although it always verbally attacks Assad, even while its own army is busy slaughtering unarmed Palestinians – clues from renewed attacks on Jeremy Corbyn – whose true glaring fault is that he does not support this kind of nasty stuff – to calls by various Israelis and Israeli apologists in the United States openly calling for Assad’s assassination.
Only the other day, an apologist at the American Enterprise Institute, one of America’s privately-endowed “think-tanks” which basically serve as academic-looking propaganda mills, Michael Rubin, openly suggested that it was time to kill Assad.
His call just mimicked the recent words of an Israeli minister, almost like an effort to give a public call for state murder some respectability. That’s sure my idea of a principled approach, but that is just a part of the ugly realities of the Syrian War – so often deliberately misrepresented as a civil war.
After all, with the disappearance of the Syria we know, Israel hoped not only to further legitimize its illegal occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights but to grab still another slice of Syrian property for its Greater Israel project. It also would see a neighbor who did not agree with all its illegal and unethical behavior swept conveniently away.
Well, now with all the missile explosions in Syria – again, all completely illegal under international law – Trump and May and Macron can crow and boast and thump their chests like the apes they imitate. They get to strut around and tell their people what strong leaders they are. Maybe get a little adulation and support, all of them being unpopular in their own countries. After all, it is well-known effect on the psychology of populations that they tend to close ranks in conflicts.
And they want to be seen as leaders of such high principles as that no injured child could possibly go unrevenged. America should try telling that to the parents of the vast pile of child corpses which it left in Vietnam, in Cambodia, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Iraq, and in still other places.
A million children killed by this wonderful country would be an extremely conservative estimate. You see, in poorer countries, populations are very young with a high proportion of children compared to adults, and when you bomb such places, you absolutely kill vast numbers of children. And, boy, does the United States like bombing such places.
Even were the United States not in fact what it is – the world’s greatest killer of children over the last half century or so – who or what appointed them to revenge events in other places, even were the events genuine, as they very much are not Syria? America completely ignored many genuine mass murders – in Rwanda, in Indonesia, in Cambodia, in the Iraq-Iran War, in Chile, in Palestine. Why? Because there was nothing politically to be gained. America’s self-appointed role as “punisher of injustice” seems limited only to countries where it is politically engaged and has something to gain.
The attack was carefully planned not to affect Russia, who had made it very clear what the consequences of doing so would be, and, in truth, it accomplished little. The dirty foreign-inspired Syrian War is mainly over, and the bad guys lost.

The authorities responsible for what is virtually certain to have been a staged false gas attack in Syria have little regard for the intelligence of their citizens.
Why would Syria, which has pretty close to won its war against foreign terrorists, even think of doing this at this time in this place? And for so little advantage to themselves?
If Syria still had chemical weapons, why confine their use to this little patch?
At this moment when a whole renewed public controversy had been raised in Britain with the questionable Skripal affair?
It makes no sense. Syria could have used such weapons in multiple areas, saving some hard street fighting in many instances, but it did not.
Further, even were the attack genuine, using real chemical weapon, why would the cutthroats trying to destroy Syria not be the likely candidates?
Why is Assad automatically accused? And without a bit of evidence?
Absolutely none of our corporate press, despite running story after story with glaring accusatory headlines, has even a single reporter on the spot. They’ve questioned no real authorities either. There is zero journalism behind those headlines, such as we’ve seen in The Guardian for days.
In all such matters, whose word do you give more weight to? Russia, which has destroyed its stocks under the international chemical weapons treaty or the United States, which still has not done so?
Remember, the greatest independent investigative reporter on the planet, Sy Hersh, told us clearly a while back that the United States ran an operation out of Gadhafi’s smashed Libya, an operation supervised by Hillary Clinton, transferring quantities of the murdered Gadhafi’s stocks of nerve agent to the mercenaries in Syria so that a “red-line” event could occur, allowing Obama to freely and self-righteously bomb Syria and reduce it to the chaos that had been made of Libya?
And remember, only a major Russian diplomatic effort prevented the fraud at that time. Syria surrendered, under international supervision, its existing stocks of chemicals for destruction by Russian experts. Syria, like Libya, had maintained such weapons as a counter to Israel’s unacknowledged and totally illegal nuclear arsenal.
Remember also, in the run-up to America’s illegal invasion of Iraq, America and Britain lied day after day about Saddam having such weapons? We had foolish scenes at the UN and foolish dossiers published, all created as part of a stage play to tell the world that Saddam had what he did not have at the time, chemical weapons.
Remember further, in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, a terribly bloody war secretly encouraged by the United States to weaken revolutionary Iran, chemical weapons were used heavily by Iraq to slaughter many thousands of Iranians who seemed about to prevail.
Where did those weapons suddenly come from? And did you hear any great outcry over that genuine atrocity at the time?
No, in these matters, people who follow events understand that the unsubstantiated word of the United States or Britain is proven worthless by recent history.

Trump's Attack on Syria Violates International Law

  April 13, 2018

Trump's Attack on Syria Violates International Law 

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on the Syrian government after Salafi-jihadist rebels alleged a chemical attack in Douma, but human rights expert Alfred de Zayas says this is illegal under international law 


Alfred de Zayas is the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order. He is also a professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, and has taught at numerous universities in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland. De Zayas is a retired senior lawyer with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as a retired chief of the petitions department at OHCHR. He is the author of 9 books.


BEN NORTON: For the Real News, I'm Ben Norton. The Donald Trump administration has doubled down on its threats to launch a military assault on the Syrian government. Some international observers, however, have warned that such an attack could be illegal under international law. Antigovernment opposition groups in the town of Douma, Syria have accused the Syrian military of launching a chemical attack that killed dozens of people. The Syrian government, on the other hand, has denied this accusation. The Syrian army has been fighting to retake Douma, in a suburb of the capital Damascus called Eastern Ghouta, from Salafi jihadist fighters and the extremist group Jaysh al-Islam, which is itself notorious for carrying out attacks on civilians and has in the past put civilians from the Alawite minority in cages. 
Although there has not yet been an independent international investigation into the alleged chemical attack, President Trump has blamed the Syrian government. And he tweeted that there would be a, quote, big price to pay for the, quote, animal Assad, reference to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On Wednesday, April 11, Donald Trump tweeted, quote, Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming nice and new and smart. 
Well, joining us to discuss this issue is the leading human rights expert Alfred de Zayas. Alfred is the U.N. independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. He is also a lawyer and teaches international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Thanks for joining us, Alfred. 
ALFRED DE ZAYAS: Good afternoon. 
BEN NORTON: Well, Alfred, can we just begin, and we can speak more about what we know about the details in Douma. We don't have many. Of course there has not yet been and independent international investigation. Before that, would a strike led by Donald Trump, would a U.S. strike be legal? 
ALFRED DE ZAYAS: I could answer that in two seconds. Of course it would be illegal. And I remind you that international law is also the law of the land in the United States and on American citizen. And Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter is very clear in stipulating a prohibition on the use of force. There are only two exceptions. Force can be used in self-defence. Article 51. Or if the Security Council so decides pursuant to Article 39, it must first determine that there is a threat or a breach of international peace. And then if you have a clear resolution of the Security Council then certain use of force would be legal. 
Otherwise you have the crime of aggression. And since 2010 we have a definition of what the crime of aggression entails, and of course an unprovoked attack on Syria by the United States, that is essentially not a party to this civil war and which is acting actually already illegally in the territory. It's interesting to note, most people don't know that, that in international law if there's a civil war, there's an obligation of neutrality for the rest of the international community. The only country that is there, shall we say, by invitation, and therefore legally is Russia. We may not want to accept it but that is what international law says and so whatever activities the United States is having in Syria at present are incompatible, both with the United Nations Charter and with customary international law. 
Now, beyond that I wanted to recall what was probably the greatest violation of international law, shall we say a frontal attack on international law, an attempt to dismantle international law to make the United Nations irrelevant. That was the 20th of March 2003 when the United States and the coalition of the willing attacked Iraq, devastated the country. As a result more than one million persons have lost their lives and the country remains in chaos. That is our responsibility. Nobody has been called to account for the crime of aggression or the war crimes, for the crimes against humanity committed in Iraq. When I mention Iraq I think of Libya. There again, in 2011, the United States, France, and other so-called democratic countries decided to devastate Libya, and Libya remains in a situation of chaos. All of that entails crimes of aggression and entails war crimes, crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction, but no case has been opened and no investigation has been opened on these issues. 
Recently a number of prominent international lawyers, including Francis Boyle, wrote about the illegality of the proposed attack on Syria. And yesterday I read a media statement by my friend Professor Marjorie Cohen, signed also by Dr. John Meyer, the head of the International Association of Democratic lawyers, by the former American Attorney General Ramsey Clark, by Professor Curtis Doebbler who also teaches at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, stating why an attack on Syria would be illegal and would entail not only common civil liability but also penal liability. 
Now, how can we possibly go to war on such shabby evidence? Or, can we say, no evidence at all? What we have are allegations. 
BEN NORTON: And related to that, Alfred, I'll jump in here. You published a media statement yesterday and Wednesday, April 11 in which you wrote, you called for, quote, all parties to the Syrian conflict to pause for a moment and give reason and law a chance. And then you pointed out, quote, an international investigation into all allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere must be conducted. And this of course raises a point. There has not yet been an independent international investigation. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the OPCW, has said that it's going to send a fact-finding mission to the ground in Douma, Syria. The Syrian government has said that it welcomes this and will allow the fact-finding mission. Of course, the United States, and also the United Kingdom and France, which have all threatened military action, are not waiting for an independent international investigation. 
You also wrote, quote, a fundamental component of the rule of law is due process. No one is served by rushing to conclusions, least of all the war victims. So why aren't we seeing any kind of due process here? 
ALFRED DE ZAYAS: Well, we have a culture of intransigence. And I've seen intransigence on the part of Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright already back in 1999 at that time of [inaudible] intransigence on the part of George W. Bush. Of Barack Obama. And so there is a tradition of intransigence. What worries me is that we do have international law obligations, and we are ignoring them. What that means is that the fabric which holds society together is being torn apart. 
We are eroding those very principles that we ostensibly want to protect. So we're doing more damage to international law and to international relations than we seem to understand. And what bothers me is the misuse of certain concepts, like human rights. I have spent my career as a professor of law, professor of human rights, secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, chief of the Petitions Department of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and six years as an independent expert. And I am just shocked that those countries that should be the leaders in defending human rights are actually instrumental izing human rights as weapons. 
So since there are geopolitical interests in Syria, everybody knows about the pipeline and the conflicting interests of the Russians and the Europeans and the Americans. Now that it seemed like Assad had won the war and had expelled the rebels from this enclave, well, how could you keep the United States in, and how could you get the Europeans back in the game? Well, by creating a false flag, by claiming that there was a chemical attack and that Assad did it. Now, I don't believe it for a minute. Assad has been winning this war with conventional weapons. Very cruelly. There've been enormous numbers of civilians killed. But that is what a civil war is about. The Spanish Civil War cost 500000 lives, and the civil war in Yemen and the Saudi Arabian terrorist, call that state terrorism, bombardment of civilian targets, of hospitals and schools in Yemen, have also cost tens of thousands of lives. Now, where is the outcry against Saudi Arabia? Where's the outcry against the crimes committed against the population of Gaza and against the population of the occupied territories? 
I mean, we have to have a sense of proportion. Certainly the use of chemical weapons is an abomination and certainly it entails a very grave war crime. But for that the International Criminal Court is competent. If, indeed, the organization on the prevention of the use of chemical weapons goes to Douma, does its investigation, and can actually not only determine first of all that that was a use of chemical weapons, but that Assad was responsible for it, then you know, Assad could be indicted by the International Criminal Court. And sooner or later, he could stand trial. That was would be the proper procedure, if you want to say, the due process that is required in a situation like this. Jumping to conclusions is something unworthy of a democracy like the United States. And I'm hoping that the United States Congress, that the senators and congressmen and congresswomen, will protest against allowing the precedent to get away with a major crime of aggression, with a major attack on international law itself. 
So I would hope, and I'm actually a practicing Catholic and I am praying for peace. I have not abandoned the hope that common sense will eventually prevail and that the United States will see fit to wait until the inspectors actually go on the ground and carry out their work, and reach conclusions which we then have to evaluate ourselves, and then we have to see which are the better options. But certainly military action is not an acceptable option. And not only is it a violation of international law, but it's going to cause more suffering. 
BEN NORTON: Well thank you so much Alfred. We appreciate your insight. And it's interesting to hear the perspective of international legal experts. Frequently in the U.S. media. We don't hear these kinds of experts. 
We were joined by the human rights expert Alfred de Zayas. Alfred is the U.N. independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. Thanks for joining us on the Real News, Alfred. 
ALFRED DE ZAYAS: Thank you. 
BEN NORTON: This was Part 1 of a two part interview here at the Real News with Alfred de Zayas. In the next part we'll be discussing what Alfred says is the illegal U.S. military presence inside Syria. So please join us on the Real News for Part 2. It's the Real News. I'm Ben Norton.

The Clearly Illegal US Missile Strike in Syria in 2017

The Clearly Illegal US Missile Strike in Syria

Published on April 7, 2017        Author: 
Yesterday, the United States launched a missile strike against an airbase of the Syrian armed forces, in response to the recent chemical attack that the US claims was launched from this airbase. This is the first time that the US has directly used force against the Syrian regime. It is also the first time that its use of force in Syria is clearly illegal. Clearly, in the sense that I can’t imagine even a remotely plausible argument (let alone a persuasive one) as to why this act is not a breach of Article 2(4) of the Charter. (And arguably of US constitutional rules on the use of force – for which see Marty Lederman’s post on Just Security).
While the US use of force against ISIS on Syrian territory also implicates Article 2(4) of the Charter, the US at least has a reasonably plausible claim to collective and/or individual self-defense in that respect, even if this issue is hugely controversial. In this case, however, no self-defense claim can be made, since the Assad regime targeted its own population (assuming that the facts as alleged by the US are correct). Nor is the US publicly making such a claim. The official statement of the Pentagon quoted in Marty’s post states that ‘[t]he strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.’ Its purpose was therefore clearly retaliatory or deterrent, rather than defensive.
International law does not permit forcible reprisals that would breach Article 2(4), even if the purpose of the reprisal is to induce the other party to comply with its legal obligations. The US also has no Security Council authorization to do this act. Nor is the US claiming, or has ever espoused, a doctrine of humanitarian intervention (like the UK government does, for instance). And even if there was a customary humanitarian intervention exception from the prohibition on the use of force (and there isn’t), its requirements would clearly not be met in this instance. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Syria even without the use of chemical weapons, and thousands of people will continue to die even if the Assad regime never uses such weapons again. There is, in other words, nothing legally or morally unique about the use of chemical weapons as opposed to other war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria which did not (and will not) provoke an interventionist response.
In short, this is a situation in which the US government doesn’t have even a colourable argument that its conduct is lawful. It may, of course, decide to break the law (as it did), by thinking that the breach of the law is justified by higher moral considerations (‘illegal but legitimate,’ etc), and by thinking that under the circumstances it is unlikely to pay a high political cost for its breach. At a moral or political plane, this argument rests on an (at this time untestable) assumption that the strike will do more good than harm. But the Charter has nonetheless been broken, and at that with a rare clarity.
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  1. […] in such renowned national security and international law blog sites as Lawfare, Just Security, EJILTalk!, and Opinio Juris. Such a consensus is remarkable given how divided opinion has been on the […]

Richard Falk. Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton

 12 apr.
Reliable commentary by authentic Pal voice: Why Israel Feels Threatened by Popular Resistance in Palestine: by

When Zionism Rubs Up Against Reality

When Zionism Rubs Up Against 


Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC BY 2.0
“The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”
With these commanding words, Robert H. Jackson, Chief Counsel for the United States, opened the War Crimes Tribunals at Nuremberg, Germany not long after the conclusion of World War II.
Empanelled to hold accountable military, political and judicial leaders for violations of international law… including war crimescrimes against humanity and the law of war… the tribunals imposed personal accountability for genocide directed at Jews and others marked by the German state as a challenge to its declared racial, religious and political supremacy.
Although these offenses took many forms, at their core, each derived their evil from a common intersect that those targeted by the state for eradication were not just inferior, but unworthy of life itself… men, women and children, young and old, reduced to little more than objects of  surreal derision whose mere existence contaminated the state’s supremacist lens.
There is no secret about the campaign of terror unleashed by the Third Reich as it swallowed states and triggered international violence unseen before or since. Nor are its tools of open warfare against military and civilians, alike, subject to any serious debate. While some choose to contest the number of victims or recast the precise instruments of persecution, no serious observer of history doubts the role that box cars, ghettos, siege, and ovens played in a conscious effort to silence the diversity of life while much of the world looked away.
The assault on humanity did not unfold overnight, or in a vacuum, with a sudden roundup. It followed a well calculated and implemented historical rewrite… a slow, but steady, recast of entire peoples… stripping them of their history, culture and collective purpose and decency.
What began with the burn of books and silence of press soon moved on to a successful reach of propaganda that cast a dark pall across millions whose wrong was to speak a different language, embrace another faith or to demand justice.   Once there, it was a short walk to assault and worse.
The Repeat of History
With conscience, and vision as an outsider looking in, today, it is simply impossible not to feel an overwhelming sense of sheer revulsion when, if one is a caring being, an honest scan comes across Israel.
Forget about humanity and compassion or any broad notion of enlightened collective purpose. By now, Israel has reduced these cornerstones of fundamental decency to fabled fiction… a successful narrative of perverse existence that crushes truth and justice as little more than tedious impediments to its own, now decade’s old, ethnic and racial pogrom against others.
Israel is good at what it does. Damn good. No, not its slaughter, torture and endless detention and land theft; these are givens. A dark, very public, almost proud record of “achievement” that stands essentially unparalleled when it comes to recent contempt for international norm and law.
Like those before, what it really excels at is the grand lie… the convenient historical rewrite; the excuse; the ability to recast yesterday, today and surely tomorrow as so much a duty-bound journey in which no outrage is beyond the pale, no crime too extreme, no offense too offensive. Always, of course, cast in the talisman of survival. It’s a skill… a dodgy political art-form that converts inconvenient truth into self serving dogma with all too predictable deadly consequence.
Unlike that rare explosive autocrat or passing despotic regime, Israel has perfected its crafted control of selective reality in time-tested ways nothing short of masterful. Long before U.N. anthropologists discovered a European state in the midst of an Arab history, Zionists mastered the skill of expedient deception.
Thus, almost a hundred years ago, European terrorists became celebrated freedom fighters as they slaughtered Palestinians asleep in their beds and cribs. The Nakba, a forced stampede of almost a million Palestinians sparked by mass rape and murder, recast with historical ease to become a voluntary transition… a move by restive villagers to find a better time in a better place.
Kibbutzim, those enlightened socialist communes that, with magic-like remake, blossomed from long barren deserts. Could that be the rubble of age-old villages and decomposed remains just below the veneer of the sand?
Settlements, an employment opportunity for a troubled work force in need of purpose and discipline. The siege of Gaza… not at all a premeditated embargo of food, medicine, water, electricity and movement to break the will of its two million people, but rather a generous helping hand to liberate them from the limitations of their primitive vision and Hamas terror.
Advancing itself as a democracy under siege, Israel has long since abandoned any pretense of equality and justice in its limitless thirst to seize what little remains of Palestine as it exalts a racist de jureJewish state in its quest.
This supremacist drive has been occasioned not merely with the passage of time or through a loss of interest by the world community alone. Along the way, to be sure, by design, Israel has successfully exploited the ignorance and fear of Arab and Muslim communities by the West.  Of late, it has found willing companion among some Arab states anxious to move on from proxy to full on partner as they’ve tired of the “dilemma” that is Palestine.
In Israel and the occupied territories, the catalog of ersatz narrative is endless. With a slap…  a stab, a book… a bomb; a prayer… a provocation, the Zionist tale has long since swallowed any semblance of relevance, let alone reality.  Yet, from time immemorial, much of the world has blinked, frozen in place, fixated by a steady broadcast of propaganda, both home spun in Israel and in echo abroad.
Yet, over the last ten days, that faux moral perch has begun to collapse as the winds of truth have blown away the mask of hate that is very much Israel. During this time, tens of thousands of peaceful unarmed demonstrators marched on the barricades of their Gaza prison only to be met by carnage.
It is unnecessary to repeat, in full, the tales of slaughter that ensued as hundreds of snipers, drones and tanks announced with deadly precision that all were fair game for nothing more than voice. When the tear gas cleared , “fortunate” young men, women and children, elderly and journalists, alike, lay paralyzed by a strain of chemical assault, similar to sporadic reported uses since 2001, which soon gave way to uncontrolled vomiting and trembles.
For others, less fortunate, thousands lay bloodied by explosive high velocity munitions designed to rip apart flesh and destroy organs. Some thirty-one were murdered. Almost all casualties shot in the back of their head or torso.
What is there about a peaceful march, the national flag, and a Dakbe song and dance that so enrages an occupation force as to drive its snipers to unleash deadly targeted fire as if surrounded by well armed enemy combatants?
The Law
Under international law, crimes against humanity include “murder and other inhumane acts carried out against any civilian population… when such acts are done or such persecutions carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.”
A war crime is an act that constitutes a “serious violation of the laws of war that gives rise to individual criminal responsibility and include intentionally killing civilians…  destroying civilian property… and serious violations of the principles of distinction and proportionality, such as strategic bombing of civilian populations.”
Under the law of war, military necessity is governed by several constraints: an attack or action must be intended to help in the defeat of the enemy; it must be an attack on a legitimate military objective, and the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
Under international humanitarian law, proportionality is a principle that governs the legal use of force in an armed conflict, whereby belligerents must make sure that the harm caused to civilians or civilian property is not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected by an attack on a legitimate military objective.
Finally, “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him”.
That is to say it is not an acceptable defense to simply say “I was just following my superior’s orders.”
For years, as some have debated the reach of international law, much of the world has stood in silence and, accordingly, very much complicit as Israel has carried out unspeakable offenses against a largely civilian population in Palestine.
Although often nuanced, if not complex, the application of law to facts is not magic. At times a plain read of well settled legal covenants in the light of events at hand can lead even an unpracticed but principled eye to conclude that violations of law have in fact occurred.
Not before has Israel’s indifference to international law been so clear, so visible, so compelling as it has been through the lens of its repeated slaughter, over the last ten days in Gaza, as thousands of civilians have simply marched and marched in peace to say “enough”.
Today, more than 70 years after the judgments at Nuremberg, we are witness to an undeniable paradox as those victimized long ago by notions of racial, religious and political superiority have themselves become willing accomplished adherents of that same evil doctrine.
In words that shook the silence of the courtroom with the majesty of the moment war crimes prosecutor Robert H. Jackson passed, to generations to come, a reminder of the obligation companion to humanity:
“We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow.”
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Stanley L. Cohen is lawyer and activist in New York City.

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