Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Facts About Hamas and the War on Gaza

The Facts About Hamas and the War on Gaza by Norman Finkelstein on counterpunch.org

An excellent piece laying out what's been going on over there. It starts with quotes from the IDF website stating how they broke the cease-fire and that its Hamas 'retaliating' against that by firing rockets and goes on from there.

I found this passage notable ...

The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.

So, the question becomes, when Obama is sworn in as President next week, will he stand by and uphold international law? Here's what he said in the campaign. Obama answered questions on international law in a survey found on the Harvard International Law Journal website ...

“Since the founding of our nation, the United States has championed international law because we benefit from it. Promoting – and respecting – clear rules that are consistent with our values allows us to hold all nations to a high standard of behavior, and to mobilize friends and allies against those nations that break the rules. Promoting strong international norms helps us advance many interests, including non-proliferation, free and fair trade, a clean environment, and protecting our troops in wartime. Respect for international legal norms also plays a vital role in fighting terrorism. Because the [George W. Bush] Administration cast aside international norms that reflect American values, such as the Geneva Conventions, we are less able to promote those values abroad.”

Obama could always speak pretty words during the campaign. My problem was that I never believed them. Well, eventually you get a chance to judge a person by 'actions' instead of words. So much of what Obama has said during the campaign has already been dismissed by him as 'overheated rhetoric' of the campaign.

So, will Obama stand by international law once he's sworn in? The Palestinians, including Hamas, and all of the Arab world have been repeatedly saying that they would accept a peace deal with Israel on the 1967 borders. Precisely those borders that the International Court of Justice has recognized as the legal borders of the State of Israel. Will President Obama demand that Israel pull its forces back to within those borders? Will President Obama demand that Israel stop killing the people who live outside those borders? Will President Obama demand that Israel dismantle all the illegal settlements that they've built outside those borders? Will President Obama demand that Israel dismantle the wall they've been building outside of those borders?

I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for Obama to do this. I've regarded him as a manipulator and a liar who would say anything to be elected. But, now we'll quickly have a test of whether Obama stands by his words and promises in the campaign to respect and stand by international law, or will he continue American support for a criminal Israeli regime as almost every member of the Democratic Party in Congress (Kucinich and a few others excepted) said he should do last week?

Eventually, we judge people by their actions, not their words. We've already seen the actions of Cynthia McKinney, who put her life at risk trying to journey to Gaza and who was almost killed by the Israelis to do so. Next week, Obama is sworn in and we will begin to see his actions.

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