Thursday, February 12, 1998

Going on the Record

It is apparent that the dominant forces in the political establishment and the media are fully endorsing plans by the United States to deal a decisive military blow to Iraq.Once again, the political atmosphere is dominated by a shallow type of “standarized thinking.” However, many Israelis, who are not motivated by a shred of sympathy for Sadaam and his regime, can clearly see that there are serious weak points in the U.S. argument.
The United States, in launching an armed attack on Iraq, cannot pretend to be acting in the name of the United Nations and the international community. Three out of five permanent members of the Security Council have expressed clear reservations regarding U.S. positions and motivations. Moreover, in contrast to the circumstances obtaining in 1991, most of Iraq’s neighbors and all the Arab countries have serious reservations regarding the U.S. plan to attack Iraq.
Even the war-aims of the United States are muddled: the strike cannot hope to achieve its desired goal: it cannot stop Iraq from producing unconventional weapons of mass destruction and almost eliminates any Iraqi interest in so doing.
Even if Iraqi behavior deserves full condemnation, the U.S. is acting immorally and according to a double standard. It is the people of Iraq who will pay a horrendous price for the execution of the U.S. plans. Moreover, the United States desires to prove that it, and it alone, can decide which UN Resolutions must be observed and who can and who cannot be permitted to produce and deploy non conventional weapons of mass destruction.
What is clear is the need of the United States to demonstrate its virtual monopoly on the use of force in international relations. Appearances to the contrary, Israel can gain nothing from increased tension and conflagrations in the Middle East.

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

The Gavison Affair

Tuesday, February 3rd, 1998
I reread the Kol Ha’ir artilcles (January 30, 1998)by Dafna Baram and Michael Sfarad. Since I have no reason to doubt the honesty and the professionalism of the two reporters, it appears that Gavison has expressed a rather strange lenience towards torture.We are told in the report that “Gavison refrained yesterday from responding to the information and claimed that ‘I do not have time to answer questions on internal documents, regarding which I have no knowledge as to how they came into your hands.”
Though, I sense that Gavison expressed herself regarding the important issues in a matter unworthy of her post and her record, I did not rush to judgement. Simply stated, there is a known procedure to clear up this kind of matter, or at least to get your version of the affair before the public, friend and foe, included. It’s called a specific and detailed letter of denial. If she has not written such a letter to Kol Ha’ir she certainly must. The absence of this letter, that should have been the only proper rebuttal to here critics, is, to say the least, very saddening.
However, at this stage, there is every reason in the world to thank Gideon Spiro for his wonderful habit of whistle blowing – which demands quite a bit of courage and determination. Orchids for Yitzhak Laor for not permitting the matter to be filed away….There was one point that I think that Yitzhak was trying to make, that should be underlined. We are all of us, members of a privileged stratum in a privileged society. As such we tend to be very forgiving to associates, friends, members of our families who just happen to be members of the apparatus who –let’s face it – blood on their hands. Private weaknesses aside, such leniency is unforgivable in public figures who have assumed responsibility for the defense of human rights.
The Israeli legal system works hard to maintain its “humane and progressive image,” especially, in international circles. But we know that when it comes to the rights of the Palestinians, the legal system has and still condones the worst forms of immoral and even illegal activity by the security forces. Why would any humanist express any sort of understanding for the “predicament,” of the courts after it has long been clear that these same security forces are corrupt and inefficient and the link between the real world of systematic torture and legitimate security concerns is, at the best, highly tenuous.Moreover, has not the whole security argument been totally and completely contaminated by the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues thanks to the policies of the Israeli government which refuses to recognize Palestinian national and human rights?
The whole scene is further clouded since, quite recently, there are many liberals who are beginning to realize that “Bibi is a wizard” and he might be successful in ending the conflict by settling all the West Bank and keeping the Palestinians in ghettoes. In the absence of a clear and convincing denial by Ruth Gavison of the points made in the Kol Ha’ir article, one must fear that she was influenced, hopefully unconsciously, by the recent wave of illusions. I am talking about those illusions that assume that we will get away with anything because we are the only democracy in the Middle East….