Monday, July 21, 2014

Israel's actions against Palestine are illegal, immoral, and inexcusable

Earlier today I encountered a discussion of Israeli actions against Palestinians on the site. One commenter made several statements about the legality of Israel's actions; another, an Israeli apologist, attempted to counter those statements. I have indicated why the second commenter was wrong on all counts.
Charge: Israel has acquired territory by war.
Response:  Acquisition of territory by war is by no means automatically “illegal” nor it is “immoral” – for example, the acquisition of territory by Israel isn't in itself illegal – you can't argue this, you may argue that holding it is illegal, but this is another issue]
My opinion: In fact, acquisition of territory by war was outlawed by the UN Charter, article 2, paragraph 4, which forbids signatories from using force or the threat of force against the territorial integrity of another state. So acquisition of territory by war is absolutely illegal. Whether it is immoral depends on your moral compass.
Charge: Israel engaged in ethnic cleansing 
Response: how can you make this claim in straight face, LOL! How can you claim “ethnic cleansing” when the article itself claims that the Arab population is rising?!!? This must be the most inept and incompetent “ethnic cleansing” ever!
My opinion: The charge of ethnic cleansing is not one that should be laughed at. The writer seems to equate ethnic cleansing with murder, whereas the phrase also describes the expulsion of a people from its homeland. Israel expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. In addition, members of Netanyahu's party have recently called for the expulsion of all Palestinians from Gaza.
Charge: Israel set up a system of apartheid.
Response: this smear is wearing tired, you all know it – and it even isn't logically supported – apartheid is about race, since Arabs are of the same race as Jews, the definition doesn’t hold. You may claim discrimination on basis of citizenship (justified due to real security concerns) but not apartheid – but you chose propaganda attempts over serious debate.
My opinion: The UN  International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) defines apartheid as a system of racial discrimination that includes discrimination on the basis of
race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
The convention does not recognize an exemption due to "real security concerns" as the writer supposes. Whether Arabs and Jews belong to the same "race" or "ethnic origin" is a matter of dispute among anthropologists because the concept of race itself is controversial.

Charge: Israel has transferred population into occupied territory.
Response: this is a non sequitur, because you are trying to insinuate Geneva convention but the territories are not occupied from a qualifying side, and so, don’t fall under this definition.
My opinion:  The writer argues that settlements in the West Bank do not violate Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents moving people into occupied territory, because the West Bank is not an occupied territory. This theory has been put forth by a few Israeli politicians, but has been rejected by the International Court of Justice. The idea that Israel does not occupy the West Bank forcibly flies in the face of logic.
Charge: Israel is stealing natural and other resources from occupied territory. 
Response: You conveniently forget that whatever water Israel takes is in accordance with an agreement with the P.A.
My opinion: The Israeli government has been diverting water from the Jordan River to the Negev desert since 1967. It has been diverting water from the Wadi Gaza since 1973. The Palestinian Authority (P.A.) was created in 1994. Israel therefore could not have agreed with the P.A. to use this water until long after the usage was already established
Charge: Nothing is ever going to transform a bible into a property deed. 
Response: There is no need for that, the UN (or the League of Nations) have reconfirmed the ownership of Jewish nation over the biblical land of Israel.
My opinion: The writer does not specify which resolutions confirm the ownership of Israel over the biblical land of Israel. The Balfour Declaration (1917) granted the right to form a Jewish homeland in Palestine on condition that
nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. 
That seems a far cry from granting Israel any right to a "biblical Israel".

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