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re: israel rejects etc.:

you gotta keep up with the news, norm. the report was released last tuesday, and bibi rejected it back then. here's current u.s. state dept. thinking:

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1115659.html

so...is there any actual evidence that the UN report is disproportionately (I remember that word from somewhere...) critical of Israel? I just downloaded the report -- it's long, and the table of contents doesn't include page numbers yet (which would allow a simple, first-pass way to evaluate the assertion of it being overly critical of Israel). But just looking at the sections mentioned in the table of contents, it appears pretty balanced to me.

bugjah, your question is certainly valid but i can't answer it, i haven't read the 550+ page report. i couldn't get your link to work, i'd like to read it, or at least skim it. but i really couldn't give a flying fuck what the conclusions are. i personally have better sources than goldstone.

i'm much more interested in why the unhrc tapped a south african jewish (professed)zionist to oversee such a project, and why the distinguished judge didn't turn down the oppurtunity out of hand because of conflict of interest, and how anyone could have thought he wouldn't have bent over backwards to favor hamas in order to prevent discussion of said "conflict of interest".

i don't see how the report could be anything but biased toward hamas. imagine if the jew goldstone played it the other way.

btw, the answer to the last two questions i raised is, imho, political ambition. but to understand why i say this you'd have to look into not only goldstone's bio but his recent moves on the "chessboard", and i don't really expect anyone here to be THAT interested.

if you want my personal opinion on israel's behavior last january in gaza, i'm always ready to give it, but not (as i always say) at the expense of abuse of norm's hospitality.

I don't really know anything about Goldstone, so all that you wrote is news to me. Nevertheless, one can imagine various scenarios for how any individual person, no matter their particular beliefs, might handle being lead author in such a report. I also wonder if a 550+ page report should really be attributed to a single person. Clearly this was the work of a team, but the press always likes to assign protagonists/heroes/villains/etc. to such stories.

Nevertheless, the reason why I care what the conclusions are is NOT because I would assume that they are correct (or not). It's that I think the political issue (Obama and Bibi criticizing the report on potentially specious grounds) is lapped up by the press, and that is something that should be questioned more seriously. When we can get beyond this kind of political pandering to various interested parties and instead focus on facts, we might get somewhere.

shalom salaam

i agree, tho i certainly can't claim to be an uninterested party. one important fact is that israel didn't cooperate with the investigation and (shamefully imo) didn't allow the press into gaza at the time.

another is that, after 8 years of near daily rocket fire from gaza, 4 of those years after israel's complete withdrawal from gaza, hitting 80 missiles per day around the time of the incursion, the most powerful army in the middle east invaded the most densly populated area in the world (or close to it, estimates vary) and killed less than 1500 people over, what was it,2 months of high-tech warfare? and who is investigating the american army, or the pakistani, or the lebanese? the very idea of the investigation/report itself is biased, imo.

salaam shalom.

hmm...I have a bit of a problem with that logic.

While I agree in principle that the conduct of Israel and its army tends to be scrutinized way more closely than any of the other countries you mention, there is some justification for that, isn't there? I think the common opinion (not sure if you share it) is that the Palestinian-Israeli "Hamatzav" is something of a linchpin when it comes to the geo-political situation in the middle east.

Having said that, there are likely other reasons for the extra scrutiny of Israel. Still, I would hardly call the report automatically biased because of that disproportionate :) scrutiny.

Finally, you are possibly conflating two issues here that should be separated- 1) the possibility that the conducting of the report itself is biased; 2) any biases inside the report vis-a-vis scrutiny of palestinian and israeli violations of international law and norms.

And one postscript...I would like to see the country that is (legitimately) considered the only real democracy in the Middle East hold itself to a much higher standard than the surrounding autocratic, plutocratic, oligarchic, oppressive regimes in the region. I believe that this latter attitude (holding itself to a higher standard) motivates groups like B'tselem.

And on that note, a happy equinox - day of balance - to all!!!

i couldn't get your link to work, i'd like to read it, or at least skim it.

It still works for me, but here is the whole URL for you to copy & paste into a browser:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf

Note from Norm: It should work now.

another useful link is the B'tselem report on fatalities in "Operation Cast Lead." This was released a little under 2 weeks ago. The total count from B'tselem is:

Total Palestinian fatalities: 1387

Total Israeli fatalities: 13

Of the 1387, B'tselem breaks down the fatalities as follows:

Non-combatant minors: 320 Non-combatant women: 107 Total non-combatant fatalities: 773

Total combatant fatalities: 330 (of whom 19 were minors)

Total police killed at police stations: 248

Of the 13 Israeli fatalities:

IDF soldiers killed by Palestinians: 6 Israeli civilians killed by rocket fire: 3 IDF soldiers killed by (ugh) "friendly fire": 4

The report is very clear as to how and why all of the above were defined (including why they separated police from combatants). They also have a short section explaining that their numbers differ greatly from the Israeli army's numbers.

"Since the army refused to provide its list to B'Tselem, we were unable to examine the army’s claims regarding the number of combatants and their identity."

The report is at:

http://www.btselem.org/Download/20090909CastLeadFatalitiesEng.pdf

sorry: that second link will not work (at least for me), but the URL is correct if you copy & paste it. The link at the very top of the above entry (embedded in the text) works.

A thank you to the kind person who sent me the link, but whose name I've misplaced.

You're welcome. :)

Poll: Should educators be fined or jailed for offering prayer in public schools?

The poll is now at 90%yes to 9%no.

bugjah, re: your link to the report- turns out that i neglected to download the appropriate software for reading pdf files to my new laptop (still learning). when i actually saw it i wanted to puke. my girlfriend had to drag me away, ranting and raving. too much to go into here.

re: betzelem- they're more or less ok with me. they're only a little corrupt and hatefilled, a lot less so than many other ngo's working the same territory. their stats are usually reliable, at least. vis a vis those stats you quoted, i'm not sure what you're implying. that the # of israeli dead was disproportianal to the # of palestinian dead? (um, yay...?) or that the # of pal. combatant dead was disproportianal to the # of non-combatant dead? (those 8 years of rocket attacks weren't even directed at military targets at all, the goldstone report says as much). whatever, you're obviously much to decent (and even cool- thanks for the equinox headsup!) to start a proper thread-hijacking, which is what i was hoping for. like red7 said, what DOES it take to stir the pot around here these days? :)

vis a vis those stats you quoted, i'm not sure what you're implying.

Well, I think there are a lot of implications in the B'tselem numbers. The most worrying thing to me is, of course, the rather high non-combatant:combatant fatality ratio among the palestinians, whatever way you count the police.

Another implication has to do with something you said early on:

the most powerful army in the middle east invaded the most densly populated area in the world (or close to it, estimates vary) and killed less than 1500 people over, what was it,2 months of high-tech warfare?

The very very low number of israeli soldiers killed implies three things:

1) the israeli army is very good at what it does 2) hamas is not very good at what it does (in an army to army situation, that is) 3) the israeli army was conductinmg a campaign that would minimize the loss of life to its troops at the expense of palestinian non-combatant deaths.

The 3rd point, if true, is, I believe, a violation of Geneva.

well i'm very glad the idf is good at what it does and hamas is not so good.re:

the israeli army was conductinmg a campaign that would minimize the loss of life to its troops at the expense of palestinian non-combatant deaths.

this is essentially the job description of every military leader, everywhere on earth, thru all of human history. the geneva conventions can say whatever they want. our soldiers are more important than your civilians in a war. sorry about that.

but still, it's clear that if the idf was actually targetting civilians there would have been a LOT more civilian dead, and a much higher percentage of civilians. the idf don't use homemade rockets, you know. the actual number of pal. civilian dead, considering the actaul capabilities of the idf, are, i maintain, unprecedentedly low in the history of warfare. it was about as surgical as physically possible and i would love to see other armies in the world, especially america's, operating under such self-imposed moral/political restrictions in actual combat. just to see them try. which they haven't.

another important point no one ever mentions:neither we nor the palestinians have real "civilians" the way americans and europeans understand the word. you white people :) don't even remember what its like to actually be at war with another people, as opposed to a government and whoever they can pay to fight for them. in our case, our "civilians" attack each other often independantly of any "official" forces. in some sense, we're all "in the army".

this doesn't mean there aren't innocents (not "civilians" as per geneva) on both sides. plenty of them. they are the palestinians favorite target, and the israelis least favorite target. that's it, sorry for rambling.

it's really irrelevant to international law if an army is paid, conscripted or totally volunteer for no pay, there is nevetheless a huge and critical difference between people with weapons in their hands and people without. I guess I would have to say that I just about completely disagree with you here. the law is there to protect ordinary people. you know: children, farmers, sandal makers You know: not fighters.

I never said the IDF were actively targeting civilians (unless you consider the police civilians), but they were not acting to absolutely minimize civilian casualties, as is their legal (and I would say ethical) responsibility. The evidence in the Goldstone report appears pretty clear on this.

If your characterization of all military leaders in history is correct (and it may be), then that is even more reason why the geneva convention is such an important legal document.

hmmm. i suppose i, like many israelis am overly sceptical of things like the u.n. and the geneva conventions and agreements. i'd like to see them applied, of course, but more...evenly.

i respect your opinion though it is not mine, and your way of putting it. i wish all human violence would come to an end. we have enough trouble with "acts of god".

i wish all human violence would come to an end

and [especially since this thread is about to be pushed off the bottom of the page...] let us say amen

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