Tuesday, May 21, 2024

An eye for an eye and a genocide for a genocide

 “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. An eye for an eye is mostly known from Exodus 21, but that is quoting the Hammurabi Code (Babylon 1800 BC). It sounds bad, but its simplicity and promise of retribution may be preferable to no laws at all: Saying it leaves the whole world blind doesn't offer an alternative and alternatives may be worse. The code of the 15th Century Catholic Empires allowed the enslavement of anyone who wasn't a Christian. In the early 20th Century slavery was banned, but you could demand forced labor in African and Malaysian colonies and slavery was sometimes preferable as a slave has monetary value: A forced laborer can be worked to death. According to Adam Hochschild (King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa), the British and Belgians used this system but took care to destroy any physical record of their activity. Only in King Leopold's Congo (death toll 8 to 10 million) was evidence found and even then it was sparse.

The Nazis did not support "an eye for an eye" preferring "the strongest prevails" instead and used colonial principles against the Jews in Europe, killing anyone who couldn't work and working the remainder to death.

 A few years ago I read a World History of War Crimes by Michael Bryant. It left a lot of questions, but it was a good introduction. Two weeks after I finished it, I found some heavy books on the "Laws of War" which someone had left in a local open air library. 

Tel Aviv is full of open air libraries - when you want to throw a book out, you leave it at these public shelves and if you live in a good area, you may find some excellent books.  I lived near a neighborhood with a strong communal management committee which had set up a large give-and-take library and had volunteers who organized the books. One of these laws of war books contained a recommendation letter for what I assume was the former owner, applying for a job on the Sierra Leone war crimes cases.

In April 2024, following accusations directed against "Israel" (more about this later) I decided to read the UN Genocide convention.

Most signatories to the convention (Israel joined the UN in 1950 and approved the convention in 1951), specifically said they would not agree to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) prosecuting on this matter. I think Israel withdrew from the ICJ at some point.
I also read an article on prosecutions and their results. It's not that easy to get a conviction.
Article 2 of the convention says:
"genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:  
(a) Killing members of the group;  
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;  
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;  
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;  
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.  "
A case can against Israeli leaders regarding article 2(c) though how deliberate/intentional it was is debatable. I don't think it was planned, the Israeli government lashed out in anger but the conflict was initiated by Hamas., who planned and invaded with probable intention to commit genocide. Article a is a bit general and so can be applied to anything. 
Article 3 says:
"The following acts shall be punishable:  
(a) Genocide;  
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;  
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;  
(e) Complicity in genocide.  "
Article 3a is also open to interpretation.  Leaders of Hamas and Iran are, in my opinion, clearly in violation of Articles 3 b,c and d.  Senyora specifically Article 3a. Iranian leaders have been inciting genocide for years. I think the same point can be made about many academics and perhaps many demonstrators in Western Universities. 
The interesting part is article 4:
 "Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals. "
Only individuals can be punished
Although not stated, to accuse a nation, religion, people, ethnicity etc of genocide is clearly equivalent to (or is) racism and may itself be incitement to genocide or indicative of intention to commit genocide.
The rules and prosecutions are very clear on this: Only individuals can be held responsible for genocide.
Although not immediately relevant, acquisition or threatening to use nuclear weapons would also seem to be a violation, which is a whole area for debate.
Iran has provided Hezbullah with 150,000 rockets over the years: one for each 60 or so Israelis (including Moslems).  I use the word Moslems rather than "Arabs" because for Hamas, Iran, Hezbullah (and many Israelis) the conflict is religious.  Many Jews are arguably, Arabs: You sometimes hear Arabs saying they can't be anti-Semitic because they are Semites, I suppose that the flip side of that is that Israelis can't be racist against Arabs because so many Jews are Arabs. 
"Genocidal rape" was added to the convention some time later and Hamas leaders are probably in violation of this. Israeli media reported early on that during interviews with captured attackers they found some that had been deliberately prepared/instructed by religious authorities to commit rape and perform atrocities:  They were also equipped with personal cameras to record the atrocities.


My impression is that when Israelis get slaughtered there's a lot of rejoicing and people saying we deserved it.  I think these attitudes have "previous" such as before the 1967 war many people were delighted that the Arabs were finally about to destroy Israel. 
Israel is condemned for using collective punishments by people who demand that Israelis are collectively punished. It is condemned for genocide by people demanding that Israel is exterminated. Condemned for failure to respect human rights by people who either don't believe in human rights (if they are far left) or say that they don't apply to Israelis.

Israel is an easy target and useful face saver for countries who want to distract attention from their human rights abuses. UN bodies focus on Israel while ignoring everyone else. Its very easy to send journalists to Israel and its a nice place for them.  They will get kudos for demonstrating Israel's evils and the sack or demotion for denying them.  Its easy to recruit Palestinians, though some clearly also work for Hamas. It is a lot harder going to Darfur or Congo. Hamas followers hate the UK, yet Gaza gets more aid then the far more UK aid then much more populous Congo or Kurdistan. Gaza had more hospitals per person then most African states. 36 for 2 million people - This aid did not go through Hamas. The UK has a slightly better hospital ratio but it's not a huge gap. 

Netanyahu seems to have figured it was cheaper to let money flow to Hamas then to fight a war with them, so he encouraged payments. He was right, but the problem was that Hamas didn't use the inflow to build hospitals or schools or mosques (others did that for them), it used the money to prepare for conflict so Netanyahu's policy ultimately backfired.  

In Darfur the Arab Janja-Weed have murdered hundreds of thousands of Africans. Millions have fled their homes. Janja-Weed have rebranded and now have a nice acronym: RSF - the Rapid Support Forces. Their tactics are reminiscent of Hamas. The UN has a budget of  about a few million dollars a year to help Darfuris even thought the scale of atrocities is tens of times worse. None (or few) journalists go there. Only the occasional story appears: It is not reported daily. There are no support groups.  Evidence for war crimes on a massive scale is abundant but nobody cares very much.

In January, General Mohamed Dagalo, the leader of the Rapid Support Forces, met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria.  There was nothing covert about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT0U5jW-9EY&ab_channel=SABCNews

Recreating ancient kingdoms: Arab Nationalism vs Zionism.

Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...