Saturday, June 5, 2021

#MakeChinaPay For the #CoronavirusPandemic - Gordon G. Chang

 

​ by Gordon G. Chang

Let us remember what is at stake. In China's laboratories, researchers are now cooking up far more deadly pathogens than SARS-CoV-2, including those that would leave the Chinese immune but sicken or kill everyone else.

  • Even if the coronavirus did not start out as a biological weapon, the world now has enough information to conclude that China's regime turned it into one.

  • Proponents of sovereign immunity make valid points, but there are overriding factors. Crimes against humanity are so heinous that no one should be barred from seeking compensation.

  • Plaintiffs, at least as a technical matter, should be able to overcome the sovereign immunity defense: The Communist Party of China, which controls the Chinese central government, is not a sovereign.

  • As of this moment, 3,579,000 people have died from COVID-19, including 596,000 Americans. The Chinese regime committed mass murder.... Mass murderers do not deserve sovereign immunity protection.

  • It is absolutely essential that the Biden administration disabuse Chinese leaders of the notion that they can spread the next pathogen, or whatever else they are planning, without a cost.

  • Let us remember what is at stake. In China's laboratories, researchers are now cooking up far more deadly pathogens than SARS-CoV-2, including those that would leave the Chinese immune but sicken or kill everyone else.

It is absolutely essential that the Biden administration disabuse Chinese leaders of the notion that they can spread the next pathogen, or whatever else they are planning, without a cost. In China's laboratories, researchers are now cooking up far more deadly pathogens than SARS-CoV-2, including those that would leave the Chinese immune but sicken or kill everyone else. Pictured: Workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in China, on February 23, 2017. (Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, one country has attacked -- at the same time and in one audacious move -- all the other ones.

China committed that horrific crime by taking steps, in December 2019 and January of last year, to deliberately spread COVID-19 beyond its borders.

The international community must now impose the most severe costs on the Chinese regime to, among other things, establish deterrence. Why? China's regime committed the crime of this century and may well be planning another horrific act.

There are extremely disturbing indications that the People's Liberation Army of the Communist Party either engineered SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing this disease, or warehoused this pathogen in a laboratory, most likely the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan. The lab was storing more than 1,500 strains of coronavirus, it conducted dangerous gain-of-function experiments, it failed to adhere to safety protocols, and it is located just miles from the first identified COVID-19 case.

The first case, by the way, has no connection to the Wuhan wet market. Those who believe in the zoonotic theory of transmission point to the wet market as the place of transmission.

The origin of the coronavirus has yet to be determined. On May 26, President Joe Biden ordered the intelligence community to report back in 90 days about the origins.

Americans do not need to wait any longer, though, to make a determination of Beijing's culpability. Even if the coronavirus did not start out as a biological weapon, the world now has enough information to conclude that China's regime turned it into one.

Beijing first publicly admitted that COVID-19 was transmissible from one human to another on January 20 of last year. Yet doctors in Wuhan certainly knew by the second week of the preceding December that human-to-human transmissions were occurring at a fast pace. So Beijing knew or had to know a few days later.

Chinese leaders then engaged in a campaign of deception. They assured the World Health Organization that such transmissions were not likely. As a result of China's assurances, WHO issued a January 9 statement and its infamous January 14 tweet, both propagating the false Chinese assurance.

To make matters worse, Chinese ruler Xi Jinping pressured countries not to impose travel restrictions on arrivals from China while he was locking down, among other places, Wuhan and the surrounding areas of his own country. By locking down China, he was obviously thinking he was stopping the spread of disease. By leaning on other countries not to impose travel restrictions, he knew or had to know that he was spreading the disease. The passengers leaving China turned an epidemic that should have been confined to central China into a global pandemic.

Xi clearly saw how the coronavirus crippled his own society. If he wanted to cripple other societies to level the playing field, he would have done exactly what he did. The only explanation that fits the facts is that Xi maliciously spread COVID-19 to the world.

After admitting the virus was human-to-human transmissible, China tried to convince the world that the disease was not serious. On January 21, the day after Beijing's announcement of contagiousness, state media said the disease would not be as bad as SARS, the 2002-2003 epidemic. SARS infected approximately 8,400 and killed about 810. By then, however, China's leaders knew COVID-19 was far worse than SARS as they had seen what the new disease was doing to their own country. This false claim had consequences: Countries around the world, including the U.S., were lulled into not taking necessary precautions.

"Governments whose decisions knowingly lead to death and suffering of millions of innocents and massive economic dislocation and destruction must be held fully responsible—morally, legally, and financially," Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Gatestone.

The path to holding China responsible, at least legally and financially, is not an easy one, unfortunately.

Plaintiffs can, of course, sue China for losses suffered. Parties have already filed lawsuits in California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

As John Houghtaling of Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling, a leading class-action law firm, told Gatestone, there are "three big hurdles" to recovery: the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the burden of proof, and the collection of judgments.

The first barrier stops a lawsuit in its tracks. U.S. legislation, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, blocks most actions against foreign governments.

Indeed, foreign policy analysts of all stripes are against dropping sovereign immunity, arguing that the issue is one of "reciprocity," that other governments bar suits against America because America bars suits against them. They argue that U.S. officials would be subject to endless harassment if Washington stripped other governments of this protection.

Proponents of sovereign immunity make valid points, but there are overriding factors. Crimes against humanity are so heinous that no one should be barred from seeking compensation.

Beijing's spread of the coronavirus constituted such a crime. The spread was either deliberate or reckless and in any event Chinese leaders had to know that their unjustifiable acts would result in death around the world. As of this moment, 3,579,000 people have died from COVID-19, including 596,000 Americans. The Chinese regime committed mass murder.

Mass murderers do not deserve sovereign immunity protection. In fact, regimes that have committed mass murder have been held responsible, usually after government-to-government negotiations. Libya, for instance, compensated victims' families for bringing down Pan Am 103, the Lockerbie bombing, in 1988. Last October, Sudan paid $335 million to the U.S. for eventual distribution to the victims of four terrorist acts.

Moreover, plaintiffs, at least as a technical matter, should be able to overcome the sovereign immunity defense: The Communist Party of China, which controls the Chinese central government, is not a sovereign. It is only one of nine permitted political parties in China, so it cannot be considered a sovereign. The state of Missouri, wisely, sued the Communist Party, which calls itself a revolutionary political organization.

The Communist Party is asset-rich. Not only does it control China's central government — and therefore has access to its assets — the People's Liberation Army reports directly to the Party's Central Military Commission, not the state. That potentially makes the Chinese military subject to seizure pursuant to a court judgment.

In any event, two Pennsylvania Congressman, one Democrat and one Republican, have introduced the Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act, which authorizes families of COVID-19 victims to sue any country that "intentionally misled the international community on the outbreak."

Punishing China, by seizing its assets, for example, would send a powerful message to Beijing that Washington will not tolerate the killing of Americans. It is absolutely essential that the Biden administration disabuse Chinese leaders of the notion that they can spread the next pathogen, or whatever else they are planning, without cost.

Let us remember what is at stake. In China's laboratories, researchers are now cooking up far more deadly pathogens than SARS-CoV-2, including those that would leave the Chinese immune but sicken or kill everyone else. The next disease from China, therefore, could leave China as the world's only viable society. Call it a "civilization-killer."

America, therefore, must #MakeChinaPay.

 

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China, a Gatestone Institute distinguished senior fellow, and a member of its Advisory Board.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17432/china-coronavirus

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Pompeo: NIH tried to suppress State Dept virus probe; Fauci repeating Chinese Communist Party 'excuses' - Charles Creitz

 

​ by Charles Creitz

Ex-secretary says Anthony Fauci is parroting Chinese Communist Party talking points.

Pompeo says many in NIH tried to suppress work to expose China

Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the National Institutes of Health of trying to suppress his department's investigation into the true origins of the coronavirus pandemic, as until recently theories that the pathogen leaked from a Wuhan, China lab were often viewed as conspiratorial.

On "The Ingraham Angle," Pompeo remarked that outside of typical pushback within his own department from people who didn't like him or President Donald Trump, he was also dealing with "internal debate" from the National Institutes of Health.

"[NIH] folks were trying to suppress what we were doing at the State Department as well," he said.

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, an Obama appointee, recently said on Fox News' "The Story" that he never ruled out a lab leak, but that it matched astrobiologist Carl Sagan's mantra of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Pompeo also said Anthony Fauci, who runs the NIAID under the NIH umbrella, sounded like he was spreading Chinese government talking points in daytime interviews earlier Thursday:

"To hear Fauci this morning talk about how the Chinese have an interest in us discovering what happened is just crazy talk. The Chinese have a deep interest in covering it up. They have done so pretty darn effectively," he said.

Fauci, 80, voiced "the exact same theories that the Chinese Communist Party has presented for over a year now," said Pompeo, adding that such corollaries appear ill-timed:

"He implies good faith for the Chinese Communist Party: We are on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square [incident] For Dr. Fauci to go out and think the CCP cared that there were people in Wuhan who were dying… is just na├»ve beyond all possible imagination."

Pompeo went on to back up reporting from Vanity Fair that said a State Department official named Miles Yu, who can speak Mandarin, was actively translating and "mirroring" documentation on the Wuhan Institute of Virology's website in order to compile a dossier of questions about its research to the secretary.

Pompeo praised Yu, a former commander at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., saying that what Yu reported was "pretty clear.

"When I received that [dossier] it was in early May [2020]. I was on TV talking about what I could get declassified at that point. We worked diligently to get them to declassify more," he said.

"[Then-DNI Director John Ratcliffe] was a great partner in trying to do that. But there were folks all over the community who did not want to talk about this … who did not want the world to know the Chinese Communist Party was in the process of covering up several million losses of life," the former Kansas congressman said.

 

Charles Creitz

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/media/pompeo-nih-suppress-state-dept-virus-probe

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State Department leaders were warned not to pursue COVID origin investigation: former officials - Rich Edson

 

​ by Rich Edson

Biden in recent days has ordered the intelligence community to 'redouble' efforts on the matter

 Skeptics say new evidence on coronavirus origins unlikely

State Department leaders were warned not to pursue an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, former department officials confirmed to Fox News on Thursday, amid fears that it would bring attention to U.S. funding of research at the Wuhan Institute where the virus may have escaped.

Vanity Fair reported that officials calling for transparency from the Chinese government were told not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s "gain of function" research, because it would bring what the outlet described as "unwelcome" attention of U.S. government funding into that research.

FAUCI STRESSES KEEPING ‘OPEN MIND’ ON CORONAVIRUS ORIGIN AMID SCRUTINY OVER LAB-LEAK THEORY

The outlet reported that Thomas DiNanno, a former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, wrote in a January memo that staff from two bureaus "warned" leaders within his office not to probe the origins of the virus because it risked opening "a can of worms."

Multiple former State Department officials told Fox News that the reported memo accurately describes what was happening at State at the time and that there was an effort among some officials at the department to oppose an extensive investigation into a possible lab leak.

However, a State Department spokesperson told Fox News on Thursday that "no-one prevented the disclosure of accurate, properly contextualized information" and that "no effort was made at any time to suppress or withhold information from senior policymakers or the public." 

The claims come amid fresh scrutiny over the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic could have escaped from the Wuhan lab, where viruses were being experimented on and where officials have said military research was being conducted alongside civilian research.

SCALISE, COMER SAY FAUCI MUST TESTIFY ABOUT PUBLISHED EMAILS, COVID-19 ORIGIN

The theory was promulgated by a number of Trump officials -- including President Trump himself -- but was dismissed by many in the media and scientific community, where it was often declared to be debunked or a conspiracy theory.

But with Chinese stonewalling of a World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the virus, and reporting that multiple employees of the lab became sick in November 2019 that required hospitalization, the theory has reemerged. 

The lengthy Vanity Fair piece delves into the back-and-forth at the State Department over how intensely to investigate the Chinese origins of the virus. The outlet reports that Chris Ford, then the acting undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, was disinterested and even hostile to an investigation.

In a memo in January 2021, Ford pushed back against a panel of experts’ initial investigation, which he believed contained weak evidence, and warned "against suggesting that there is anything inherently suspicious—and suggestive of biological warfare activity—about People’s Liberation Army (PLA) involvement at WIV on classified projects. 

"It would be difficult to say that military involvement in classified virus research is intrinsically problematic, since the U.S. Army has been deeply involved in virus research in the United States for many years," he said, according to Vanity Fair.

It was with that that DiNanno pushed back with a memo of his own, reportedly accusing Ford of misrepresenting the panel’s finding -- while objecting to "apprehension and contempt" from staff as well as warnings not to investigate the origins out of fear of opening a "can of worms."

The State Department spokesperson told Fox News that "internal disagreements were about the quality of analysis and the importance of not overstating, or bending, evidence to fit preconceived narratives."

The spokesperson stressed that getting to the bottom of the pandemic is not about assigning blame but about understanding how to prepare for future pandemics, and that the government investigation has so far coalesced around two likely scenarios but has not yet come to a definitive conclusion. The spokesperson noted a request to the intelligence community by Biden to intensify its probe into the origins of the virus, which may ultimately require questions for China. 

"Importantly, we will continue pushing for a stronger, multilateral evaluation of the origins of the virus in China. We need the PRC to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international study with the needed access to get to the bottom of a virus that's taken more than 3 million lives across the globe — and, critically, to share information and lessons that will help us all prevent future catastrophic biological threats," the spokesperson said.

Ford told Fox News on Thursday that he was "not aware of any effort to quash inquiry into possible laboratory origin, and certainly would have opposed it if I encountered one." 

UK INTELLIGENCE REASSESSES COVID LAB LEAK THEORY, NOW SAYS IT'S ‘FEASIBLE’

"I always supported looking at this possibility.  But it was also my position from the outset that until we had actually vetted AVC’s [Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance’s] particular scientific allegations of WIV origin with real scientists, we shouldn't voice them in public, do demarches, or find China in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention over SARS-CoV-2.  It was irresponsible of AVC to try to run with this before ascertaining whether its scientific claims could survive scrutiny," he said in a statement. "That's why I insisted upon vetting."

"When AVC's own hand-picked panel of experts identified flaws in the 'statistical' argument that AVC had been making since early December, I conveyed this to my colleagues -- accurately and in detail on January 8 -- and I don't regret doing so," he said. 

Contractor David Asher, who ran the investigation into the origins of the virus, told Fox News last month that some State Department colleagues "were deliberately playing down possible links to China’s biological weapons program."

"At the State Department in the last months of the last administration we didn’t draw or assert any conclusions, but we worked successfully to reveal certain facts and raise significant questions about the clear plausibility of a lab leak origin," Asher said. "This was a global public service, and it is good that experts and journalists are increasingly turning their own attention to the issue, albeit belatedly." 

Fox News' Brooke Singman and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

 

Rich Edson is a Washington correspondent for Fox News Channel. Prior to that, he served as Fox Business Network's Washington correspondent.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/state-department-leaders-covid-origin-investigation-former-officials

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Senators to visit Taiwan as tensions with China escalate - Tyler Olson

 

​ by Tyler Olson

The lawmakers' visit is likely to upset China, which rejects US efforts to support Taiwan's democracy

 US needs to 'make clear' it will defend allies, Taiwan: Gordon Chang

Three top U.S. senators will visit Taiwan to meet with its top leaders Sunday amid a period of tense relations between the United States and China

Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, are making the visit as part of a broader trip to Asia, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, which announced the visit Saturday. 

"The bipartisan congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest," the organization said in a statement. 

The move will likely anger China, since the state was upset when President Biden asked former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and other former State Department officials to Taiwan earlier this year. The U.S. also moved to relax guidelines around communication between U.S. officials and Taiwan. The Chinese government said the U.S. should "Stop immediately all official interactions with the Taiwan region." 

In this image from video, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., delivers a nominating speech during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Coons will visit Taiwan Sunday, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (Democratic National Convention via AP)

In this image from video, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., delivers a nominating speech during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Coons will visit Taiwan Sunday, according to the American Institute in Taiwan (Democratic National Convention via AP)

CHINA ENRAGED AS BIDEN SENDS UNOFFICIAL DELEGATES TO TAIWAN

U.S.-China ties remain strained over issues ranging from the independence of Taiwan and Hong Kong to the Chinese persecution of Uighur Muslims to China's broad military and economic claims in the South China sea. 

China claims Taiwan, which functions as a democracy under an elected government, as its own territory. The United States does not have official diplomatic ties to Taiwan but still engages with Taiwan commercially and through unofficial diplomatic channels. And members of Congress regularly visit the island as a way to show their support for its democracy and demonstrate strength against China. 

The Trump administration moved to increase relations with Taiwan and according to Council on Foreign Relations fellow David Sacks, "The Biden administration has signaled that it will largely pick up where the Trump administration left off."

In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the "bipartisan commitment to Taiwan" and "making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself… will absolutely endure in a Biden administration." 

CHINA WARNS US TO STOP ‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’ ON TAIWAN

"Our support for Taiwan is rock solid," a State Department spokesperson told Fox News earlier this year. "We are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan – a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner."

Hong Kong students and Taiwanese supporters hold slogans during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. The demonstration was part of global "anti-totalitarianism" rallies in over 60 cities worldwide, including in Australia and Taiwan, to denounce "Chinese tyranny." (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Hong Kong students and Taiwanese supporters hold slogans during a march in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. The demonstration was part of global "anti-totalitarianism" rallies in over 60 cities worldwide, including in Australia and Taiwan, to denounce "Chinese tyranny." (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

China has also recently sent fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers to fly over Taiwan and the U.S. has flexed its military muscles in the region too. 

These tensions follow a tone-setting meeting that happened soon after Blinken was confirmed. He and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan participated in a testy meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska. Blinken expressed "deep concerns" over what he's called China's genocide against the Uighur Muslims, economic coercion, cyberattacks and more. 

And it's not clear what might tone down tensions between Washington and Beijing, as the Biden administration turns its focus toward China even as its new defense budget is smaller than some Republicans would like. 

In his request to Congress, Biden asks for $5.1 billion to be spent on a "Pacific Deterrence Initiative" to counter Beijing.

Fox News' Jackie Zhou, Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report. 


Tyler Olson covers politics for FoxNews.com. You can contact him at tyler.olson@foxnews.com and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/senators-visit-taiwan-tensions-china-escalate

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Are our federal intelligence agencies compromised? - Andrea Widburg

 

​ by Andrea Widburg

An exclusive report about the federal government’s machinations to compartmentalize a high-level defector suggests that they are.

A lot of people have been wondering why, suddenly, the leftist establishment is embracing the idea that COVID came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (which is tied to the Chinese military) after denying the possibility for so long. The answer may lie in the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency has for months been debriefing a high-level Chinese Communist Party defector – but withheld the information from other agencies until recently because of fears that those agencies are compromised. In other words, it’s a twofer: China did create and release the virus and our federal government cannot be trusted.

The information comes from Jennifer Van Laar, who broke the exclusive story at RedState on Friday afternoon:

A person believed to be among the highest-ranking defectors ever to the United States from the People’s Republic of China has been working with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for months, sources inside the intelligence community have told RedState on condition of anonymity. The defector has direct knowledge of special weapons programs in China, including bioweapons programs, those sources say.

By now, of course, we have enough information regarding COVID’s origins that the point about China’s “bioweapons programs,” merely confirms our suspicions, rather than telling us something about which we were completely unaware. So, while it’s nice to be validated, that’s not the stunning information. Indeed, Adam Housley, a journalist has much the same information:

The really shocking information is why we’re suddenly hearing about all of this now. According to Van Laar’s informants, who asked that their identities be kept secret, the DIA has had the information for months but refused to hand it over to other agencies, including the FBI and the CIA, because they believe which they believe are compromised by the Chinese:

Sources say DIA leadership kept the defector within their Clandestine Services network to prevent Langley and the State Department from accessing the person, whose existence was kept from other agencies because DIA leadership believes there are Chinese spies or sources inside the FBI, CIA, and several other federal agencies.

Read that paragraph again: The DIA refused to talk to other agencies in the federal government because it “believes there are Chinese spies or sources inside the FBI, CIA, and several other federal agencies.”

Van Laar also reported that sources say the DIA is convinced that the defector’s information about the Chinese bioweapons (and other weapons) program is legitimate, which is why they finally had to release the news – leading to the crisis of confidence in Fauci.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s very unlikely that those “spies or sources” inside the federal agencies are people from China or people of Chinese descent. Instead, and again I’m guessing, they’re probably college graduates who were taught that America is an evil country, or they’re Marxists who see China as the way to advance Marxism in America, or they are such fanatic NeverTrumpers that they were willing to compromise America’s national security to destroy Trump’s chances of reelection.

When the next true patriot comes to the White House, whether it’s Trump, DeSantis, or someone else, that president needs to recognize that the federal bureaucracy must be cleaned out with the thoroughness and ferocity that Hercules brought to cleaning the filth in the Augean Stables. Of course, the real clean-up starts with the Biden crime family which, we hope, will be brought to justice at the earliest possible opportunity.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

 

Andrea Widburg

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/06/are_our_federal_intelligence_agencies_compromised.html

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The growing threat facing Israel from Iraq - Jonathan Spyer

 

​ by Jonathan Spyer

BEHIND THE LINES: Iraq is already part of the northern crescent of threats facing Israel. The US presence, broader policy regarding Iran makes Israeli action in Iraq more complicated than in Syria.

 

DEMONSTRATORS CLIMB a structure during an anti-government protest in Baghdad, last week. (photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)
DEMONSTRATORS CLIMB a structure during an anti-government protest in Baghdad, last week.
(photo credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS)

A previously unknown Iraqi Shia militia calling itself Ktaib al-Sabiqoun issued a warning to Israel this week. In grammatically challenged Hebrew, the statement read, “If you bomb us, we will bomb you.” It is likely that this statement was in fact issued by one of the established pro-Iranian militias. It is common practice for these organizations to adopt and discard new names when engaging in areas beyond their usual zones of activity.

Ktaib al-Sabiqoun’s warning comes in the wake of a recent comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinting that during the recent fighting in Gaza, Iran sought to send an armed drone toward Israel from “Iraq or Syria.” The statement also coincides with growing concerns in Washington regarding the increasing intensity of the Shia militias’ campaign against the US presence in Iraq, specifically in the area of drone attacks. At the public level in Iraq, meanwhile, protests took place this week against the ongoing murder campaign by the Shia militias against Iraqi civil society activists and oppositionists.
 
All these sets of events are linked. The Iranian strategy for Iraq is clear, and resembles in its essentials the project already close to completion in Lebanon. It is exemplified by the targeting of the three enemies noted above – namely Israel, the US/West, and the domestic opponents of Iran’s local proxies.
 
The intention, along the lines of what has already been achieved in Lebanon, is that the formal structures of representative government should remain, but should be emptied of any meaningful content. Political military structures in the service of Iran will enjoy freedom of action and will possess military capacities superior to those of the nominal forces of the state.
 
The latter, meanwhile, will themselves be thoroughly penetrated by the Iranian power structure. Political forces hostile to this project will be disposed of, or intimidated into, silence. The territory of the country will then be used both for the transportation of men and materiel in the direction of Israel, and for the deployment of missiles capable of reaching the territory of the Jewish state. The Iranian intention, as seen in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, is not to create a strong, coherent client state in Iraq. Rather, Tehran wants fragmented, dysfunctional structures within which the only powerful, cohesive element is the Iran-supported force itself.
 
At present in Iraq, this project is underway but is not yet near completion. A significant barrier to the realization of Tehran’s goals is the remaining US military presence in the country. There are strong indications at present that the long smoldering Shia militia campaign against the US is set to increase in intensity. The intention is to pressure the US into departure.
 
In the latest incident, a rocket was fired at the Ain al-Asad base last week. US personnel are stationed at the base. Following the incident, Iraqi authorities arrested Qasim Muslih, commander of the Shia militias in Anbar Province. In response to the arrest, the militias then conducted a show of strength against the Green Zone, the center of the international presence in Baghdad. Heavily armed Shia militiamen traveling in military vehicles seized control of entry and exit points to the zone, holding them for several hours before dispersing.
 
A number of articles in the US media in recent days have noted growing concerns in the US defense establishment regarding the tempo of militia attacks using drones or missiles against US facilities and personnel in Iraq. The Daily Caller political-opinion website quoted “security sources” who reported that the Pentagon intends to ask President Joe Biden for permission to carry out counter strikes against militia targets in Iraq. According to the report, the White House currently insists on green-lighting all US responses to militia attacks, and “The Administration is looking hard at a broad range of responses to Shi’ite militia aggression against Americans in Iraq.”
 
AGAINST THE background of the militia campaign, popular protests against the militias and their campaign of assassinations resumed this week. Gathering under the slogan “Who killed me?” demonstrators in Baghdad on May 25 protested the killing of civil society activist Ihab al-Wazni in the majority Shia town of Karbala on May 9.
 
According to one demonstrator interviewed by the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis (MECRA) in Baghdad, “Al-Wazni is dangerous for them and their interests, so they killed him to protect themselves. These groups are always out there with guns, and they are continuing targeting people, and they are the only ones permitted to hold weapons. They are responsible for killing demonstrators and activists. The forces that are coming on the streets are supported by Iran and they are taking orders from them.’”
 
Another protester, Ali al-Khafaji, told MECRA, “Agents have come from east of the border to destroy Iraq.... Wilayi (Pro-Iranian) militias and hired killers from Iranian intelligence are the ones who came from the east... Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. These two entered Iraq to make bloodshed here and to destroy it.”
 
Since large-scale protests began in October 2019, around 600 demonstrators have been killed. An additional 82 Iraqis have lost their lives in targeted killings. At least one demonstrator was killed when security forces opened fire on the crowd in Tahrir Square on May 25. Participants cl
aimed that the police commanders who gave the order to open fire are themselves members of the Badr Organization, a pro-Iran militia with a strong presence in the Iraqi police and security forces.
 
It is unclear if determined US action against the threat of the Shia militias will take place. The administration is engaged in negotiations on the nuclear issue with Tehran. It is likely that the determination to sign a new deal as soon as possible will prevent a determined and comprehensive response.
 
For Israel, events in Iraq are of deep relevance. Iran has already deployed missiles in the deserts of western Iraq, in the hands of its militias, which have Israel within range. The Iranian-made Zolfaqar missile has a claimed range of 750 km. (466 miles), putting Tel Aviv within its range if it is deployed in western Iraq. The distance from al-Qaim on the Iraqi-Syrian border to Tel Aviv is 632 km (393 miles).
 
In the event of the “1st Northern War,” as Israeli defense planners call the scenario of a general war between Israel and Iran with its proxies, Iraq would play an important role in the transfer of weaponry. The Shia militias would be used to provide additional manpower for the Iranian side, as seen in the Syrian civil war. Missiles would almost certainly be launched from Iraqi soil.
 
Hence, whatever the origins and the seriousness of Ktaib al-Sabiqoun’s message, and the statement by Netanyahu that preceded it, Iraq is already part of the northern crescent of threats facing Israel. The US presence and broader US policy regarding Iran makes Israeli action in Iraq more complicated than similar actions in Syria, or potentially in Lebanon. As Israeli planners assess the Gaza events of recent weeks in light of the key scenario of a future war from the North, the growing threat from Iraq is likely to be a significant factor in their deliberations.
 

Jonathan Spyer

Source: https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/the-growing-threat-facing-israel-from-iraq-670071

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Suggested Gaza solution - Frank Mecklenberg

 

​ by Frank Mecklenberg

Palestinian Arabs have a huge desire to leave the Gaza Strip and at least half of them are willing to leave if they had a place to go.

The news reports of the recent Guardian of the Walls war and of all the attacks on Israel by Hamas leave aspects of the issue that are not discussed and offer no answers. I may not have an answer, but I can suggest a solution.

History

First, it is important to understand why Gaza is Gaza and why it is a strip of land set off by itself.

After the Ottoman Empire controlled all of what is Israel today including the Gaza Strip, that area was under the control of Great Britain from 1923 - 1948. In 1948 following Israel’s War of Independence the Arab League placed the Gaza strip under the control of Egypt largely because so many Arabs who had been living in Palestine fled there during the war. While Egypt was in charge, those Palestinian Arabs who were now living in the strip were not granted Egyptian citizenship. Very little was done to help those 200,000 Arabs who had foolishly fled their homes during the war and settled in Gaza.

Instead of Egypt offering citizenship and helping the people begin a life in Egypt, they kept them in the narrow strip of land, Gaza, in order to use their "refugee status" as an issue against Israel. Egypt would not annex the Gaza area to make it a part of Egypt and restricted the people from leaving the strip to find better employment and such.

In 1967 after being attacked by Egypt, Israel defeated Egypt and took over control of the Gaza Strip. Regarding the question of the Palestinian Arab population in Gaza, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol suggested that it would be best for the residents to emigrate to other Arab countries. A number of measures, including financial incentives, were taken to begin to encourage Gazans to emigrate elsewhere, but as usual, the Arab countries would not cooperate and let them in.

Shortly after 1967 the first Jewish settlement bloc, Gush Katif, was started. Eventually there were 21 communities, making up only twenty percent of Gaza. The economy began to grow because of more work opportunities. When Egypt regained the Sinai Peninsula under the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the Gaza Strip remained under Israel’s control. Overall, the Jews and Arabs there got along with each other, working together and socializing together. I have met people in Kibbutz Yad Mordachai who told me about how they would drive each day into Gaza to work in factories with the Arabs. I have also heard about Jewish farmers near the border who would entertain Arab friends from Gaza in their homes before the Oslo Accord.

Unfortunately, this all changed as a result of the 1994 Oslo Accord promoted by Yasser Arafat which resulted in Israel giving up control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (PA) except for the Jewish settlement blocs. This was not a good move. It might have seemed like a nice idea, but it became clear during the intifada that Yasser Arafat and his followers were determined to kill the Jews and take over the entire Gaza Strip and all of the land of Israel. This led to more military protection for the Jewish communities there and to a tighter border.

In 2005 the Israel government under then PM Ariel Sharon decided that the Gaza Strip was not worth the time and effort to keep and because of pressure from the US and the EU forced the disengagement of all the Jewish Israelis from Gaza leaving the PLO completely in charge. However, the PLO was not in charge for long because Hamas terrorist organization won over Fatah and PLO in the 2006 elections. Since that time there has been a struggle between the Hamas and Israel that continues to this day.

Living Conditions

In an about Gaza in 2009 I described Gaza and I want to quote that to help to understand the current mess that people are living in. “The Gaza strip is only about 25 miles long and 4 to 7 and half miles wide, which is an area of 362 square kilometers. There are approximately one and three quarter million Arabs living in Gaza.” One must ask, “How can so many people live in such narrow strip of land which is like living in prison? I am not sure where I got this quote, but I know it is true because others have said the same thing. “With perennial power outages, undrinkable water supplies, failing sanitation services, and awash in uncontrolled and untreated flows of raw sewage, life for many in Gaza is becoming unbearable.”

Why? Because Hamas uses the massive funds from Qatar and other funds for military stuff instead of helping the people.

Hamas and Fatah could have made Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East, but instead have chosen to fight against Israel.

-If the Palestinian Arabs had continued with the Jewish high-tech greenhouses left intact for them (and donated, in fact, to them) when the Israelis were expelled, they could have continued exporting vegetables to Europe, instead of destroying the entire complex. The Palestinians would have had a good income and many would have been employed.

-Also, if Hamas had never fired rockets at Israel or if balloons had not been sent into Israel farm fields and forests, and if there were no terrorist attacks, Gaza would be one of the top tourist attractions in the world along the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Both Jews and non-Jews would spend time and money in Gaza. There would be no walls and the border with Israel would be easy to cross.

But unfortunately, all was sacrificed for the hate and destruction of Israel which has led the people in Gaza, who have never protested the situation, into such destructive and troubling times.

Suggested Solution

Who knows what dealing with Hamas has cost Israel not only in lives but in military costs. How much has been spent on the Iron Dome, jet fuel, bombs dropped on Hamas targets, and fences and walls? Even though there have been hundreds of bombs dropped on Gaza the problem is not solved. Hamas keeps re-arming with Iran's help, firing rockets at Israel, digs tunnels into Israel, and sends balloons and kites into farmer’s fields. This has gone on for at least 15 years. Hamas has not surrendered and is not about to surrender.

One reason Hamas has not been brought to its knees is because Israel tries to avoid killing civilians while attacking Hamas targets. The world, of course, ignores this.

I wrote in 2012, “This is a sad state of affairs in Gaza too, because of the damage that will be done to civilians if the Hamas are going to be stopped. However, this is not Israel’s fault, instead the Hamas are to blame for whatever happens to civilians because they purposely use schools, mosques, civilian neighborhoods, and such to attack from because they think that they are protected from Israel’s attacks. They think that Israel is too kind to want to kill civilians in order to defeat the Hamas Terrorists or if civilians are killed, the media will side with Hamas.”

What is the solution? Here is what the Mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi said following the Guardian of the Walls war. “The ceasefire agreed upon between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza, mediated by the Egyptians without conditions, proves that despite the backing and patience and heroism that residents of the south have shown for 20 years, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government do not really want to overthrow Hamas and prefer temporary quiet for the residents of central Israel at the expense of the residents of the Gaza envelope and the south who will continue to suffer from terrorism,”

An analogy? You can treat an infection in your foot and treat it so it no longer hurts or does not get worse, but the infection is still there and not eradicated and it will again in time become a problem. Is the solution to allow the infection to remain and deal with it over and over or to eliminate the infection altogether?

Does it not make sense that the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who want to leave their deplorable living conditions - that are only getting worse - are offered the solution of resettlement of civilians in other countries (mainly Arab,but not only) where there is plenty of room for them to start a better life?

There is no reason why people should have to live in those conditions especially when there are plenty of Arab countries with plenty of land for these people to live. This might sound radical or nearly impossible, but it would solve the issue of civilians not supporting Hamas being killed during the bombing of Hamas.

Dr. Martin Sherman, founder and CEO of Institute of Strategic Studies has for a long time advocated for the removal of Gazan civilians and resettling them in another country similar to what Prime Minister Levi Eshkol suggested in 1967. In May of 2018 Dr. Sherman said that continuation of humanitarian aid does not stop the conflict, but instead perpetuates it. Palestinian Arabs have a huge desire to leave the Gaza Strip and at least half of them are willing to leave if they could. He points out that to fly a family to another country and provide them with enough money to buy a home and get settled would cost the Israeli government less that all that is being spent to deter more rockets.

Here is some related information taken from an ILTV news program August 19, 2019. Thousands of Gazans want to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as possible. Israel has been trying to help their dreams come true by having talks with other nations, mostly Arab, to be willing to absorb them. Some 35,000 left Gaza in 2019 through the Sinai and flying out of Cairo. Israel is willing to cover the cost and use Israeli airfields. The biggest problem is that few Middle East countries have agreed to take in Gazans even though they have plenty of land to spare and some have highly successful economies.

If Gaza were empty of all civilians not wanting to be under Hamas or associated with Hamas, then that would solve the problem of killing civilians when bombing Hamas. The terrorist organization could be finally destroyed eliminating any more rockets, balloons, or terrorist attacks. There would be no Gaza Strip, but instead only Israel which would develop that coastal area into the Singapore of the Middle East for any Arabs willing to live in peace with the Jewish state.

If the world really cared about Gazans, that is the solution they would be supporting.

 

Frank Mecklenberg is a freelance journalist living in Arad.

Source:https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/307466

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Islamic Republic: Welcome to Iran's Fake Democratic Elections - Majid Rafizadeh

 

​ by Majid Rafizadeh

Instead of condemning the mullahs for this charade of fake elections, the Biden administration -- continues to try to make a deal that will not be kept, shower Iran's regime with masses of money

  • The unelected Guardian Council has a history of arbitrarily disqualifying reform-minded candidates, women and those who are perceived as disloyal to the principles of the state and the Islamic revolution, from running for office.

  • Out of 592 individuals who registered to run as candidates in the Iranian regime's 13th presidential election, the unelected Guardian Council only approved seven individuals to run for the presidency.

  • Of course, for the ayatollah, the elections are "flawless" because his regime gets to pick who runs.

  • Instead of condemning the mullahs for this charade of fake elections, the Biden administration -- after feathering the nests of American enemies such as Russia and China -- continues to try to make a deal that will not be kept, shower Iran's regime with masses of money it demands from America's hard-working taxpayers, and lift sanctions to further empower yet another corrupt and predatory regime.

Do not be deceived by any narrative that suggests the Iran's political system is democratic or that the people of Iran freely or fairly get to elect their president. Out of 592 individuals who registered to run as candidates in the Iranian regime's presidential election this month, the unelected Guardian Council only approved seven individuals to run for the presidency. Pictured: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his ballot for the presidential elections in Tehran on May 19, 2017. (Photo by Majid Azad/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran's presidential "elections" will be held in less than three weeks. Do not, however, be deceived by any narrative that suggests the mullahs' system is democratic or that the people of Iran freely or fairly get to elect their president.

Iran's mullahs claim that the Islamic Republic is a "democratic" system of governance. Iran's Supreme Leader recently boasted about the Islamic "democracy," the regime's political system and people's crucial role in influencing and shaping the political establishment:

"The Islamic Revolution transformed the rule of a country from a despotic monarchy into a popular, democratic republic run by the people. Today, the nation of Iran rules over its own destiny. It is the people who choose. They may make a right choice or a wrong choice, but it is they who choose. This is very important."

In reality, though, the Iran is an authoritarian, theocratic regime masquerading as a democracy. The ordinary people of Iran do not run the system and have no influence whatsoever in choosing who will be their leaders.

To clarify, let us begin with the top position in the Islamic Republic: the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader of Iran is not elected. This position is held by an ayatollah who enjoys the final say in the nation's domestic and foreign policy issues; who is the chief of Iran's military institutions including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite branch the Quds Force and the paramilitary group Basij, and who also appoints the IRGC's senior cadre and generals and the head of the judicial system.

Next in line are the positions of the president and members of the parliament (Majlis) in the Iranian regime. The President of the Islamic Republic basically does not have power. He acts as a puppet for the Supreme Leader and the IRGC, and facilitates their achieving their parochial and ideological goals, both regionally and internationally. One example, for instance, is the 2015 nuclear deal that the Iranian president reached with the US Obama administration and getting sanctions lifted for the Iranian regime.

When it comes to the positions of the president and the parliamentarians in Iran, Article 16 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic stipulates:

"In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country's affairs must be administered by reliance on the public vote, and through elections. These will include the election of the president, the deputies of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), the members of the councils, and other such institutions, or through a referendum in such instances as are determined in other articles of this document."

The Iranian regime, however, has incorporated another article in its Islamic constitution that basically diminishes the power of people's vote. Article 9 of the Islamic Republic's constitution states:

"The qualifications of the candidates for presidency, with respect to the conditions set forth by the constitution, must be confirmed by the Guardian Council prior to the general elections and approved by the leader for the first term".

The Guardian Council is an unelected body made of 12 unelected members who are appointed directly (six members) or indirectly by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The other six members are nominated by the head of judiciary who, in return, is appointed by the Supreme Leader.

The unelected Guardian Council has a history of arbitrarily disqualifying reform-minded candidates, women and those who are perceived as disloyal to the principles of the state and the Islamic revolution, from running for office.

As a result, the so-called democratic elections of the Iranian regime come down to the Iranian people getting to vote only on a few individuals who have already been selected and approved by the regime's mullahs. Out of 592 individuals who registered to run as candidates in the Iranian regime's 13th presidential election, the unelected Guardian Council only approved seven individuals to run for the presidency.

Nevertheless, with a straight face, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out on May 2:

"All elections held by the Islamic Republic have been totally flawless. There might have been certain issues and offenses, but none of them had a significant impact on the result of elections. Those who raise fraud claims do so because of being defeated."

Of course, for the ayatollah, the elections are "flawless" because his regime gets to pick who runs.

Instead of condemning the mullahs for this charade of fake elections, the Biden administration -- after feathering the nests of American enemies such as Russia and China -- continues to try to make a deal that will not be kept, shower Iran's regime with masses of money it demands from America's hard-working taxpayers, and lift sanctions to further empower yet another corrupt and predatory regime.

 

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17431/iran-fake-elections

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Rep. Ted Deutch slams colleagues for anti-Israel bias: 'It leads to anti-Semitism' - Ben Sales

 

​ by Ben Sales

Rep. Ted Deutch blames Democratic colleagues who oppose Israel for spike in anti-Semitism

 

Ted Deutch
Ted Deutch                                                                                                                    Reuters

Rep. Ted Deutch, a Jewish Democratic congressman from Florida, blamed anti-Israel congresspeople in his own party for the recent spike in anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a virtual event with fellow lawmakers on Thursday that addressed recent anti-Semitism in Florida, Deutch called out “people in the United States who hear that the entire state of Israel is some unacceptable creation,” according to Jewish Insider. He also referenced Democrats who oppose Israel or accuse it of “apartheid,” such as Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush and Ilhan Omar.

“When we have colleagues whose position is ‘Palestine from the river to the sea,’ which includes no place for a Jewish state, and when our colleagues…wrongly and falsely describe Israel as an apartheid state, there is a context for all of this,” Deutch said, according to Jewish Insider.

Deutch added, “Attacks like that against Jews have led to anti-Semitism and expulsion, and violence around the world.”

Rep. Lois Frankel, a Jewish Democrat who serves a district neighboring Deutch’s, said at the same event that she preferred to “attack anti-Semitism, not necessarily the person,” because, “Somehow when you attack people who are saying terrible things, you help them raise a lot of money,” Jewish Insider reported.

The event took place on the same night as an in-person event at the Florida Holocaust Museum in Tampa Bay, protesting a recent vandalism attack against the museum. Last week, the museum was graffitied with swastikas and the message “The Jews are guilty.”

At the event, the museum’s executive director, Elizabeth Gelman, read a letter to the museum from US President Joe Biden condemning the vandalism.

“As the president has said, the recent surge in anti-Semitic attacks is despicable, and it must end immediately,” the letter said. “The Biden-Harris Administration is working every day to stop these attacks and to ensure that everyone is safe.”

 

Ben Sales

Source:https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/307513

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Jewish teachers in London quit union over pro-Palestinian stance - Cnaan Liphshiz

 

​ by Cnaan Liphshiz

Dozens of Jewish schoolteachers in London have quit Britain's National Education Union after it endorsed anti-Israel rallies.

At least 25 teachers from a Jewish school in London have quit their trade union to protest its call for participation in pro-Palestinian rallies.

Separately to last week’s walkout by JFS teachers from the National Education Union, a Jewish teacher quit a non-Jewish school following alleged harassment by students, the Jewish News of London reported Tuesday.

“They were trying to stick Free Palestine stickers in my hair, I broke into tears, I couldn’t take my class that morning,” said the teacher, who wasn’t named.

The teacher said the school, which the Jewish News report also did not name, was indifferent to the circumstances that led to the resignation.

Last week’s walkout by JFS teachers was connected to calls by the union’s staff for educators to join pro-Palestinian rallies. About 230 Palestinians died last month in Israeli airstrikes launched in response to thousands of rockets fired by Hamas in Gaza that led to the death of 12 people in Israel.

Kevin Courtney, the union’s joint general secretary, spoke at several protest rallies organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“I felt I had no choice to leave the union, which isolated me as a Jewish, pro-Israel teacher,” John Lopez, a JFS teacher, told the Jewish News.

Lopez added that part of the reason he quit was the union’s failure to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which lists some forms of anti-Israel vitriol as antisemitic. The United Kingdom’s government has adopted the definition.

 

Cnaan Liphshiz

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/307474

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Refuting the 'Disproportionality' Libel Against Israel - Richard L. Cravatts

 

​ by Richard L. Cravatts

Crystallizing the Jewish State's right to self-defense.

 


Seeming to give credence to Orwell’s observation that “Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence,” the world’s attention has turned once again to the clash between Hamas and Israel, as the Jewish state launched its defensive air offensive into Gaza to suppress a deadly barrage of 4360 rockets that killed 10 civilians in Israel and injured 330 others. And, predictably, as the body count rose on the Palestinian side, the moral arbiters of acceptable political behavior began condemning the Jewish state for its perceived abuses in executing its national self-defense.

Forgetting that Israel’s current campaign was necessitated by ceaseless rocket and mortar assaults on its southern towns from Hamas-controlled Gaza, international leaders and diplomats initiated their moral hectoring of Israel as it attempted to shield its citizens from harm.  Five so-called experts from The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), led by Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, released a statement which suggested that “This most recent violence has a depressingly familiar pattern to it.” And what was the familiar tragedy? Not that Hamas had tried to murder Israeli civilians with no justification, but that “Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza exchange missiles and rockets following dispossession and the denial of rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, with Israel’s far greater firepower inflicting far higher death tolls and injuries and a much larger scale of property destruction.” [Emphasis added.]

In addressing a special session of the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet was similarly condemnatory of Israel’s military behavior. While begrudgingly admitting that Hamas’s "indiscriminate" firing of thousands of rockets constitutes “a clear violation of international humanitarian law,” Israel’s response was equally questionable, especially the targeted strikes on buildings that were said to house terrorists and armaments. "Despite Israel’s claims that many of these buildings were hosting armed groups or being used for military purposes,” Bachelet noted, “we have not seen evidence in this regard." And then, in creating a moral equivalence that is unsurprising when Israel is involved, she solemnly announced that Israel, too, may be condemned for its military misbehavior, that "If found to be indiscriminate and disproportionate,” Israel’s defensive “attacks might constitute war crimes."  [Emphasis added.]

The words “indiscriminate” and “disproportionate” are the most insidious refrains, uttered only when Israel’s enemies are killed (certainly not when Jews are murdered), and suggesting that Israel’s military response is too aggressive, that the force and effect of the sorties into Gaza are beyond what is permitted under human rights law and the rules of war.

The remonstrations of its many and far-flung critics aside, Israel is not the international outlaw here, but a victim now involved in a defensive countermeasure to terrorism against its citizenry. In fact, Justus Reid Weiner and Dr. Avi Bell, two legal scholars at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, have noted that Hamas’s shelling of civilian targets within Israel’s borders—the direct cause of the current conflict—clearly violates international law and requires a military response from Israel, even though world observers have been oddly silent on the Palestinian incitement that is the cause of the present clashes.

“The Palestinian attacks,” they wrote, “violate one of the most basic rules of international humanitarian law, the rule of distinction, which requires combatants to aim all their attacks at legitimate targets – enemy combatants or objects that contribute to enemy military actions. Violations of the rule of distinction – attacks deliberately aimed at civilians or protected objects as such – are war crimes,” exactly what Hamas has been committing with its relentless rocket assaults. Hamas militants not only commit a war crime each time they lob a rocket or mortar into Israel from Gaza by virtue of the fact that the targets of those attacks are specifically and purposely civilian, not military, assets—a violation of the “distinction” rule—but also, in not wearing military uniforms and often posing as civilians, Hamas terrorists are also committing another crime, that of perfidy.

Article 48 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 is very clear about this prohibited behavior of combatants, stating that “[i]n order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.” Since the rockets Hamas aims at southern Israeli towns are launched randomly into civilian enclaves and lack the technical sophistication to reliably be aimed at military targets even if that was Hamas’s actual intention, each of the nearly 20,000 rockets that have come into Israel from Gaza since 2005 represents both a casus belli and war crimes.

“It is a central principle of just war theory,” observed Dr. Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, “that the self-defense of a people or a country cannot be made morally impossible.” Israel faces that precise dilemma every time it is forced to suppress Palestinian aggression and protect its populace from unending rocket assaults, particularly since its actions are widely and almost immediately denounced as excessive, disproportionate, and in violation of international law. Perceived as having unjustly dispossessed the Palestinians and accused of still occupying both the West Bank but also Gaza (and holding the latter under siege), and collectively punishing the Palestinian Arabs living there, Israel has been stripped of its moral standing in the community of nations and so its attempts at self-defense are at best tolerated.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against attacks of terrorists, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself. Few leaders in the West and none in the Arab world ever condemn Hamas for its chronic, unlawful terroristic behavior toward Israel, but the moment Israel undertakes military action it receives strict warnings for restraint, censure for its success in neutralizing Hamas strongholds, and eventual condemnation for the inevitable deaths of civilians—the collateral damage that is the tragic byproduct of conflicts fought in neighborhoods rather than battlefields.

Israel, which is promiscuously condemned for committing “crimes against humanity” and human rights violations, not only waited years before responding to Palestinian terrorism, but then, in one of the most populous areas on earth, scrupulously followed the rule of distinction by precisely targeting Hamas terrorists and infrastructure, with minimal, though still unfortunate, collateral damage to the Gaza civilian population – a feat made all the more difficult by Hamas’s insidious tactic of embedding rocket launchers and armament stores within homes, apartment buildings, schools, and mosques in residential neighborhoods.

Combat in the crowded streets and alleys of Gaza obviously makes warfare more difficult for Israel, especially in its attempt to minimize civilian casualties while maximizing the suppression of enemy fire and attempting to neutralize Hamas’s ability to continue to pose a threat in the future. Since, as mentioned, Hamas’s terrorists do not wear identifying uniforms, and, additionally, embed themselves within civilian environments, Israel’s effort to maintain “distinction”— that is, scrupulously determining who is a legitimate military target and who is a civilian— is understandably challenging and dangerous.

And, knowing that the world community is apt to be harsh about any civilian deaths that result from Israel’s offensive—even though it Hamas who has created the circumstances by which those civilians will and have perished—Israel has resorted to extraordinary measures to avoid the death of non-combatants, including “knocking” on roofs to warm of imminent bombardment, distributing flyers, and using other warning techniques, all of which compromise Israel’s strategic advantage while helping to minimize civilian deaths. Even so, when the inevitable Palestinian civilian deaths occur (which seem to be a welcomed part of Hamas’s cognitive war against Israel), Israel is accused of violating the rule of “proportionality,” the other aspect of warfare which international law requires that prohibits a military response that causes more civilian deaths than would be considered necessary in achieving a set military objective.

In fact, collateral damage – the accidental killing of civilians during military conflicts – is itself allowed by international law, provided the actions that caused the civilian deaths are not, according to Weiner and Bell, excessive in relation to the military need. But the fact that deaths occur in civilian populations – even what might be perceived as excessive deaths – are not in and of themselves indicative of violations of international law, and, says Weiner and Bell, “if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses whether force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it.”

The practice of Hamas of using human shields, as well as storing munitions and weaponry in civilian neighborhoods and non-military buildings, also absolves Israel from some of the proportionality requirements, since the use of human shields and the perfidy of Hamas in the first place puts the fault for civilian deaths on it, rather than Israel. Israel indiscriminately pummeling Gaza with bombardment from the air—with many resulting civilian deaths—would violate the rule of proportionality and could be considered a war crime; Israel responding to rocket fire from an apartment building and, in the process, killing civilians (even a large number of them) who were in the building with Hamas combatants is allowed, as long as Israel’s intent was to achieve a military objective and not just to exact revenge or capriciously murder civilians.

Even errors which lead to the death of civilians are acceptable, as long as the military purpose was the motivating factor in the assault, since, as Jonathan F. Keiler, a former captain in the Army’s Judge-Advocate General Corps, noted, “we do not determine criminality based on outcome, but intent.”

Proportionality also does not require that the number of deaths—either of Hamas militants or Palestinian civilians—be equal to the number of deaths suffered by Israel, or to damage done to Israeli infrastructure or military targets. One moral challenge in asymmetrical war is that observers in the world community intuitively feel that Israel’s disproportionate military strength makes the conflict fundamentally “unfair,” that because it is technologically and logistically able to exact more harm on the Palestinians, Israel should restrain itself to minimize enemy casualties. That may be a compelling emotional response, but it is, of course, not a legal or moral argument with any weight. In fact, it is precisely because of Israel’s military superiority that a rational adversary would have been deterred from attacking in the first place.

The fact that Hamas chose to challenge an adversary with disproportionate military capability indicates that the decision was either irrational or some type of collective death wish; in either instance, the Palestinians, and the world at large, cannot now expect Israel not to use every means possible to protect its citizenry from both immediate and future assaults by genocidal terrorists who wish to murder Jews and destroy the Jewish state.

No nation is required to enter a suicide pact with its enemies, and no nation can be expected to wait until enemy rockets successfully reach an apartment building or school, forcing Israel to play, in the words of Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, “Russian roulette with its children.”

Indeed, the very tactics of terrorism force nations to look at how sovereign states defend themselves against rogue actors. “Modern terror organizations” like Hamas, noted Professor Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, “do not see themselves as being obligated to humanitarian international law . . . From this perspective, the states dealing with such terrorists find themselves being Gulliver, with their hands and legs bound by morality and by modern combat principles, fighting dwarfs that attack without pause and in violation of every legal or moral principle.”

Israel, once again, is faced with what seems to be a morally impossible self-defense.

 

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/06/refuting-disproportionality-libel-against-israel-richard-l-cravatts/

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