J.J. Goldberg

Why Bibi Is Considering an Independent Gaza War Inquiry. Why Labor Leader Barak Is Against It.

By J.J. Goldberg

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Israel is softening its early hard line against creating an independent commission of inquiry into the army’s conduct during the Gaza war. Typically, though, the debate is being conducted via name-calling and exchanges of invective and ultimatums.

The floodgates were opened when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post in a Friday interview that he was “looking into” setting up an independent inquiry, though he insisted immediately that it was “not because of Goldstone but because of our own internal needs.” The publication of the interview on Saturday touched off an uproar of protest in Israel, and Netanyahu immediately changed his story. On Saturday night he released a statement through his office saying he saw “no need” for an independent inquiry. His aides are now hinting that if there is an inquiry it will be because of international pressure, not internal needs — precisely the reverse of what he told Weymouth.

The battle lines inside Israel are a bit surprising and a bit frightening. The strongest opponent is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the chairman of what used to be the Israel Labor Party. His most important ally is Eli Yishai, chairman of the haredi Shas Party. Calling for an inquiry are, among others, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, one of the Likud’s top legal/constitutional minds and leader of the party’s humane wing (yes, there is one), and Minority Affairs Minister Avishai Braverman, who left the presidency of Ben-Gurion University to join what’s left of the progressive wing of what’s left of the Labor Party.

Barak and the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, are putting out a novel line of argument against the independent commission. They’re saying that bringing military personnel before a civilian inquiry is outright illegitimate, that it’s dangerous to morale and a threat to soldiers’ lives. That is, the civilian political system has no right to oversee the military. The army makes its own rules and it alone enforces them. It is above civilian law. That logic has the additional benefit of ending the painful debate over whether Israel is to be a democracy or a Jewish state. Do away with that pesky democracy stuff right now and be done with it.

One of the points that gets lost in the debate is a pragmatic one. If and when the Security Council takes up the Goldstone Report, it has the right to refer it to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. But, under the treaty that created the court, (in Article 17, for you legal eagles) the court must rule “that a case is inadmissible” if it “is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.” That is, if you conduct your own inquiry, the court can’t step in. If you don’t feel like, the international court will gladly do it for you. And no, having your army investigate itself does not qualify as an inquiry, except in the fertile minds of Gabi Ashkenazi, Eli Yishai and the leader of Israel’s social democratic labor movement, zichron tzadikim levracha.

Goldstone has been telling Israel for months that it should set up a commission, not as a confession of guilt, but as an opportunity to make the international court go away and decide its own guilt or innocence without international interference. Based on what Netanyahu has been saying this weekend, it seems he’s finally begun to figure that out.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: independent inquiry, Goldstone Report, Gaza war, Gabi Ashkenazi, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu

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Michael Levin Tue. Oct 27, 2009

"They’re [Barak and Ashkenazi] saying that bringing military personnel before a civilian inquiry is outright illegitimate, that it’s dangerous to morale and a threat to soldiers’ lives. That is, the civilian political system has no right to oversee the military. The army makes its own rules and it alone enforces them. It is above civilian law. That logic has the additional benefit of ending the painful debate over whether Israel is to be a democracy or a Jewish state. Do away with that pesky democracy stuff right now and be done with it."

See "The Army has a State" by Uri Avneri [2002] - Excerpt: "Mirabeau, one of the fathers of the French Revolution, coined the phrase: "Prussia is not a state that has an army, but an army that has a state." Does this apply to Israel, too? In theory, the Israeli army is subject to the political leadership. We are a democracy, after all. The elected government makes the decisions, the army executes them. That is how it should be. But reality is far more complex. [ . . . . ] Mirabeau coined another telling phrase: "War is the national industry of Prussia." One could say that occupation is the national industry of Israel." http://www.mediamonitors.net/uri79.html

And see the extensive work of the Israeli group "New Profile" [ www.newprofile.org/ I www.newprofile.org/english ] whose charter states [excerpt]: "We, a group of feminist women and men, are convinced that we need not live in a soldiers’ state. Today, Israel is capable of a determined peace politics. It need not be a militarized society. We are convinced that we ourselves, our children, our partners, need not go on being endlessly mobilized, need not go on living as warriors. We understand that the state of war in Israel is maintained by decisions made by our politicians – not by external forces to which we are passively subject. While taught to believe that the country is faced by threats beyond its control, we now realize that the words “national security” have often masked calculated decisions to choose military action for the achievement of political goals. We are no longer willing to take part in such choices. [ . . . . ] We oppose the use of the army, police, security forces in the ongoing oppression and discrimination of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, while demolishing their homes, denying them building and development rights, using violence to disperse their demonstrations." http://www.newprofile.org/english/?p=21

Khorj Thu. Nov 19, 2009

I’d sweetie to tournament flush with that too!

Miriam Chartier Fri. Dec 4, 2009

Judgement begins with G-D'S people, but it does not stop there, it will hit every nation. The Cup of Wrath chapter 25 of Jeremiah this is our future. There is still time for hope for some. Some will change, I pray that our free-wills can make that change for the deep love we have in our hearts for G-D.

G-D is about to pluck up , to tear down. In the book of Jeremiah 4:4 we see the hope Jeremiah wants for a change in Israel heart. How ever the solution is more radical. G-D will give Israel a new heart Jer. 24:7. We must allways be mindful of our gift from above our free-will. We can change, we can make the diffrence. We must take action face our fear. Fear holds you back from becoming the person G-D pland long ago for you to be, it prevents you from entering in the promise land above that is given to the children that walk like their father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Mal. 4....."But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.

One of his names Adoni Osaynoo Ps. 95 ...Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Leviticus 22...Do not profane My Holy name.

Jeremiah 10....Who should not revere You, O King of the nations? This is Your due, Among all the wise men of the nations and in all the kingdoms, there is no one like You. G-D is the G-D of all mankind. We are to be of One House, One G-D.

this fighting on both sids must stop...the world will not be the same if the nations drink from the cup of wrath. jer. 25:15-16 Jeremiah receives instruction to carry the cup to the nations. Already in 1:10 of jeremiah had been sent to the nations. Jeremiah tradition understands clearly that Judah''s destiny in the ancient Near East is conneccted to that of the other nations. You can see this in chapter 29:7 of Jeremiah. If G-D seriously presides over Judah's future, then G-D must also govern the nations. The nations are not left out. they must answer to G-D good udah whom G-D loves. The command of Jer. 25:15-16 is implemented in verse 17-26. jeremiah is obedient and delivers the cup. This is the roll call of the nations of the ancient Near East. All nations are under judgment.

G-D is at war....who will win. G-D! So who every you are take heed you turn will come.... Turn, back to G-D stop the hate of the work of G-D'S hands. G-D is the G-D of All Mankind.

So if you hate a race of people, the work of G-D"S hands, do we profane His Holy name?

For it is written....Leviticus 22...DO NOT PROFANE MY HOLY NAME.

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