Flawed Conclusions by the United Nations-Again!Upon awaking the day after Thanksgiving, a day of reflection and peaceful gratitude for all we have, I was once again jolted back to reality here in Israel. As is my custom, I turned on my computer and started reading the local and international newspapers on line. The following headline reminded me, again, why I believe that the United Nations has lost its moral compass together with its ability to address the Middle East with any degree of ethical behavior. The headline read, "Israel may be more to blame than Hizbullah," and I was informed that we, Israel, were the dastardly breakers of all that is humanely deceit and should receive the blame over a terrorist group called Hizzbollah.1 The UN High Commissioner, for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, told me this and if I did not know the truth or the facts I certainly must believe the Commissioner for Human Rights.2
Allow me to suggest that a person who holds such a position must understand the responsibility associated with drawing conclusions after complete facts are known and analyzed. Furthermore, this person must consider the entire context in which specific actions were conducted.
Juxtaposed against the preceding headline was another one I remember: "IDF set for massive assault on Lebanon-eight soldiers killed, two kidnapped in Hizzbollah attack on northern border," July 13,2006, Jerusalem Post. The facts shall set you free, unless you are associated with the United Nations. Israel was attacked by an international terrorist group-it was an unprovoked attacked-we immediately lost eight young people and to this day our kidnapped soldiers have not only never been heard of since this day, there is no public conversation of their return. Concomitant with these acts, Hizzbollah began firing dozens of missiles into Israel proper aimed precisely at non-military targets. They aimed their rockets of death at our northern civilian population. Most other countries would consider this cumulative behavior as an act of war. Israel did what any other nation would do-we decided to return fire and action-we went after our men. We did this to also protect one million of our citizens who were now directly in harm's way.
To deny any of this is to distort, misrepresent and lie to the world community. A war had begun and it lasted for over one month. Within this framework of understanding battles ensued and as with any war there was collateral damage. It is at this point that one can begin to discuss the operational and therefore intentional behavior of both sides in this war. Hizzbollah used the Lebanese population as human shields. Not only did it store munitions, rockets, missiles and terrorists within civilian neighborhoods, it continued the "blending process" by dressing as the local population. It used civilian homes as missile launch sites. It held at gunpoint Lebanese who tried to leave their own neighborhoods in order to find safe havens away from the Hizzbollah enemy of Israel. It even shot some citizens of Lebanon for trying to escape. Need I state the obvious? Not only are all of these actions intentional, they are illegal by any Western legal authority, including the Geneva Convention. Israel has the most stringent "rules of engagement" of any Western military operating today. It is against these rules, it is illegal by Israeli law and it is against all Judaic practices and principles to intentionally target civilians. Yes, in war either by technical error, tactical mistake or by simply plain old bad luck civilians are killed. Does any one remember the number of British civilians killed on a daily basis during WWII?
So we arrive at the apex of this piece. Hizzbollah, an international identified terrorist group, attacks without provocation the only democracy in the Middle East. Its operational standards and rules of engagement are to murder or maim as many civilians as possible, use human shields and blend in with the local population. It is no wonder that the media erroneously reported, day after day, that "innocent Lebanese civilians" were killed-you see, they counted Hizzbollah terrorists as civilians.
I am not the only one who understands and knows all of this. It is therefore shameful for a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to arrive at the conclusion that Israel is more to blame than Hizzbollah in the summer war. Try to follow her logic-this from an educated and highly decorated civilian now serving the United Nations.
She begins by responding to this question: "if there was a distinction under human rights law between missile attacks aimed at killing civilians and military strikes in which civilians are unintentionally killed," Arbour said the two could not be equated. Note she acknowledges that they cannot be equated.
Her explanation defies logic: "In one case you could have, for instance, a very objectionable intent - the intent to harm civilians, which is very bad - but effectively not a lot of harm is actually achieved," she said. "But how can you compare that with a case where you may not have an intent but you have recklessness [in which] civilian casualties are foreseeable?"1 I suggest she makes an incorrect assumption regarding her argument. She assumes that Israel recklessly killed civilians and these deaths were foreseen. Huh? She offers no data to substantiate this inflammatory statement. She only uses rhetoric provided her by Hizzbollah operatives. I have already indicated the IDF's code of operational behavior, something she fails to even present or discuss. She also conveniently ignores the blending of Hizzbollah terrorists within the civilian population so when the IDF did strike targets these individuals were the ones hit.
Do you believe that Ms. Arbour sat in the war room with Israeli planners and leaders? Of course she did not have this access; she did not have any idea what was in the minds of IDF soldiers. The only information she could have possibly had was the Israeli and Hizzbollah operational directives previously mentioned. Therefore, to come to the following conclusion is disingenuous "When you kill civilians virtually each time [in a military attack], at some point you have to ask yourself, 'Wasn't that foreseeable that so many would be killed?'" she said. "That is where I think you start having to engage in the possibility that it is somewhat culpable."1 There she goes again, misrepresenting reality during the war. Notice no data substantiating "killing virtually each time"-how did she arrive at this? Perhaps the handlers in Lebanon failed to indicate that the "blended" Hizzbollah were counted as civilians thus enabling Ms. Arbour and the world opinion makers to also believe this nonsense.
She returns to the intention part of her argument with Israel. She states, "there is very little distinction between recklessness and intent," she said. "It is a small distinction as to whether you desire the result, or you foresee it as virtually certain and you do not care. In terms of culpability there is not a lot of difference between recklessness and intent."1 By denying the stated intentions of both Hizzbollah and the IDF, she arrives at unfounded conclusions. Without producing any evidence she rushes to the conclusion that Israel is guilty of crimes more so than is Hizzbollah-incredible, simply incredible that such a person can offer this with a serious demeanor. It is despicable behavior and unfortunately demonstrative again of the bias and apparently the contempt the United Nations has for Israel. It is this kind of prejudiced argument, reported around the world that enables her and others to remain part of the Middle East problem. Israelis, individuals living in the disputed territories deserve better from those meant to help protect them!
- Hilary Leila Krieger and Tovah Lazaroff, "Louise Arbour: Israel may be more to blame than Hizbullah," Jerusalem Post, November 24, 2006
- Commission on Human Rights, http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/chr.htm