War Crimes in light of the latest Israeli agression on Lebanon

I used to argue with my husband whenever I was angry about the situation in Palestine that Israel was committing the same crimes Nazis committed against Jews in concentration camps, war crimes and crimes against humanity. My husband, with his usual calm, would tell me that this was an exageration and that my inclination to exageration when I am emotional was due to my middle eastern culture and background. I would then move the argument to facts and he will end up with one fact to counter my argument, Nazis killed Jews systematically , in great numbers, over a short period of time and with the intent of exterminating them.

Well what do you think Israel is doing in Palestine since the second intifada ? And what do you think of the latest Israeli war on Lebanese civilians and Lebanon's infrastructure ? And what do you think of the US and the UK wars in Iraq ?

Actually, there is a legal definition for War crimes and nobody is contesting this definition but as every other law, its interpretation can vary slightly with the context.

Amnesty has already accused Israel of war crimes over its latest agression on Lebanon. However, Amnesty is accusing Hezbollah now of war crimes claiming it targeted civilians in Israel. So I am resorting here to my husband's argument. Hezbollah didn't kill as many civilians as Israel did in Lebanon, over a short period of time and with the intention of exterminating a part of the Lebanese civilian population who was targeted the most by this war, shiites.

The excellent Alain Gresh reevaluates the recent Amnesty report accusing Hezbollah of war crimes. You won't find this kind of serious and rigourous reevaluation in any publication in Israel, the US and the UK. In French.

UPDATE: 'Decision to drop cluster bombs monstruous'
Read UrShalim

Johnathan Cook criticizing Human Righst Watch's biases in its characterisation of war crimes in Lebanon


Cosmic Duck said...

There still is a difference. What the nazis did was done on a criterion of race. They wanted to exterminate the Jews and transported them in trains to extermination camps.

The Israeli war crimes in Lebanon are indiscriminate bombing of civilian houses and infrastructure. The motive does not appear to be racial. But of course you might argue that the very fact that they do it that way proves a disrespect of the shiites in Lebanon. But the disrespect is not based on racial criteria.

Sophia said...

Hi Cosmic,

I remember that we had this discussion before. My position is wait and see. We need serious investigations and there aren't any right now. Israel ahs blocked serious investigations about its crimes by intimidation and threats. Think about Jenine.
Human rights watch and Amnesty were failing Palestinians for a long time and the accusation of war crimes against hezbollah seems ridiculous when Hezbollah's crimes are compared to Israel's.
My question is also :Can we accuse a terrorist organisation of war crimes ? There is a contradiction here. Either Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation and it is criminal by definition or it is accused of war crimes and it is not criminal by definition but according to some discrete facts that should be investigated.
The war crimes accusation against hezbollah is the kind of measured stance or unintended hypocrisy human rights organisations delve into in order to show that they are impartial. Are they impartial ? It is difficult to answer this question. Human rights organisations have their hands tied and they work under enormous pressure and they have to face the hostility and sometimes the bullying of those whom they investigate. In a politically correct world they also always fear for their credibility. It is very difficult to be 100 % independant in these conditions. I personnally support amnesty with a monthly paiement and I believe that whatever the conditions it is better to have them around than to not have them.

Wolfie said...

On the whole I think comparing any crime or event to what the Nazis did to be a weak argument and best avoided for many reasons. I'll start with quite a startling one. My Father was a WW2 veteran so I got my history lessons from someone who was there and events are portrayed differently in history books to his memories and have even mutated considerably throughout my lifetime. The world was a different place then, when war broke out there were few choices for many; fight with the Communists, the Fascists or flee. People disregard the contexts of the time which makes these comparisons irrelevant or misleading.

I realise where you are coming from and why you wish to make that analogy because I have seen for myself the shocking level of hatred that some Zionists have for Arabs and Arab culture which I'm sure you understand is nothing more than a deep seated racism. I also realise that is what inspires them as they remove them from their land and wage needless wars with their neighbours but this is something different, in a different time and in a different world. I wouldn't borrow the Israeli crutch if I were you as I suspect its near to breaking-point.

Sophia said...

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback on this very sensitive issue.
I think we should not neglect two elements in our judgement of Nazis war crimes. It was done afterward by the victors when Nazis were defeated.
Lets imagine for a moment that an inquiry, lets say an international inquiry, and not an inquiry conducted by the Nazis looking into concentration camps at the time the Nazis were running these camps and before their defeat. Do you honestly think that the two approaches, before and after can be the same ?
The problem with Israel is there has never been a serious international independant inquiry into Israel's war crimes. Israel makes everything possible in its power, and its power is great, to hide facts and to discourage these inquiries. Think of poor Rachel Corrie, think of the British cameraman, think of Jenine, the list is long...
Just yesterday they released their own internal inquiry about the killing and the bombing of Un personnel in Lebanon. Guess what ? they have made an error because they used a map copied by hand...One of the first armies in the world use maps copied by hand to bomb its ennemy's positions...

markfromireland said...

Off topic: Welcome back :-)

Sophia said...

Thanks Mark

Wolfie said...


The point you make is a valid one but I'm not sure central to the issue as to why these are very different events.

Its about justification for their actions (and I suspect this may be where your husband may be coming from) and its methodical application. What made the Nazis different from all the ethnic cleansers and racists throughout the ages was that they developed a [bogus] scientific ethos around the justification of what they were doing. They announced that they were a master race and that they were being "held back" and diluted by degeneracy. They identified the mentally ill, handicapped, communists and degenerate races as the cause of their problems; attempted to "prove" this with scientific methods and then applied a well organised industrial process in order to rid themselves of these "problems". This was the true horror of the Nazi ideal, a perverse application of 20th century industrial revolutionary science taken to extreme.

Today we still have criminal racists all over the world who commit the most awful crimes but none have got close to this methodology and perhaps only the closest we have seen is in Cambodia. May we never again.

RoxieAmerica said...

Is it so difficult to admit that both sides committed war crimes?

The degree of war crimes does not change the reality that both sides committed war crimes.

Isn't it wrong to justify the war crimes of one side by showing the other side commited more war crimes? Woudn't such a comparison lead to a mindset that war crimes can be committed so long as they are slightly less than the other sides crimes?

Cosmic Duck said...

I also think Wolfie made some thoughtful comments on this issue. The Israelis are certainly to blame for their war crimes in Lebanon, but it's off the mark to compare them to Germany's nazis, even though I can understand you, Sophia with your background that you feel a need to condemn them in the strongest voice possible.

Facts speak aganist the comparison. As far as I know, the Israeli state admits applications for immigration to Israel from Jews all over the world, regardless of race. However, they seem to give Jewish citizens some special citizen rights, but that is not racial.

Sophia said...

On Israel's racial laws you don't know enough. The state of Israel has the worst racial laws in the world. Just read Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, the only two Israeli reporters in the Palestinian territories and you realize that you are being soft on Israel's racial laws. If you do a google search on Levy's 'One racist nation' you will find the article that was featured in this blog not long ago. I don't have time today to search it for you.

I agree with you on the scientific aspect. However, nobody knows about the systematic torture in Israeli prisons, the systematic humiliation of palestinians at checkpoints, the sytematic moral torture of Palestinains in Gaza who, when not bombarded, have to endure Israel's drones buzzing sounds day and night.
Nobody knows either about Israel's racial laws because they are not clearly stated, they are evolving with times and with the need israel feels to tighten the rope on the neck of the Palestinians whenever they feel. here again, many acts israel is doing against the palestinians are not clearly stated. Read the latest Amira Hass in Haaretz.
We are in a state of ignorance about Israel's intentions and even deeds against the Palestinians. We are also in a state of denial about israel's misdeeds. The West is not willing to know about that as it was not willing to know about concentration camps and intervene before the tragedy became unbearable. That's a normal reaction. I remind you that When the truth about concentration camps became to light, nobody would believe it.

Add to that the present prejudice against Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims exacerbated by the 'war on terror' and you end up with, ignorance, denial and prejudice.
We cannot judge definitely from a state of ignorance, denial and prejudice.

Gert said...

I believe the comparison between Israel and Nazism to be deeply flawed to the point of being unsustainable. Furthermore, it doesn't help to call anyone a Nazi. In a way this is similar to many in the pro-Israel camp to call critics of Israel anti-Semites.

Here's an interesting exchange on the comparison between Nazism and Israel's behaviour

Anonymous said...

There are elements in Zionism which are racist and fascist. There were attempts by Zionists to forge an alliance with fascism and Zionism before the creation of the state of Israel.

Ben Hecht in his book, Perfidy, went so far as to accuse Zionists of making a deal with Nazis through Eichmann to send young healthy Zionists to Palestine and to send other Jews to the gas chambers

It is my belief that Zionism and Nazism are both , opposite sides of the same coin.

Here are some recent pictures of settler graffiti .see http://www.cpt.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=album03&page=1

As to the racist nature of Zionism , the late Professor Israel Shahak, Chairman of the Israeli League for Civil and Human Rights, who experienced racism in Nazi hands, in the Belsen concentration camp, says it best:

"It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in cooperation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.

"I do not wish to debate any justifications for the racist policy. The most important fact is that it exists. Therefore the first step consists in admitting the truth: The State of Israel is a racist state, and its racism is a necessary consequence of the racism of the Zionist Movement. Facts are facts. After this we can debate, if we wish to do so why such a racism is "forbidden against the Jews and becomes a good deed when it is carried out by the Jews."

The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionist State of Israel, article published in Pi-Ha'aton, the weekly newspaper of the students of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on 5 November 1975.

To the victims , there is no difference.


Anonymous said...

More from the "Light unto Nations"

see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/761308.html

MK Effi Eitam calls for the expulsion of the Arabs.

According to MK Mohammed Barakeh, the measures proposed by Eitam are already being implemented, as the Palestinians, "are witness to many steps to push them aside and expel them from their homeland, among them the security fence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The policies of siege, starvation, and negation of the basic right of human dignity are a means of extremely dangerous ethnic expulsion.

"You don't need trucks to transfer Palestinians."

The only thing that the palestinians are missing are the gas chambers.


Since March 29th 2006