Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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War crimes

Day 19 of the Israeli attack on Gaza. The toll until now:

  • 928 Palestinians killed, 764 of them civilians, including 215 children and 118 women
  • 4,663 Palestinians wounded, mostly civilians, including 1,358 children and 932 women
  • 561 houses destroyed and hundreds of others extensively
  • thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced
  • Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a non-governmental organization based in Gaza City.

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZAThe Israeli military assault also continues in the West Bank: Six Palestinians killed (on July 26) in West Bank protests against Gaza slaughter.

These war crimes could not continue without enablers, accomplices.

On July 23 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) met in special session to consider the matter of war crimes, and decided “… to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after….”

The 47-member council voted 29-1 in favor of the resolution. 17 members (11 of them European) abstained. Only one country voted to oppose the commission of inquiry: the United States. (Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.) Despite the US, the commission of inquiry will proceed.

For people of conscience who feel helpless to stop these war crimes, the international boycott, investment & sanctions (BDS) movement offers these suggestions for action.

 


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How did all this happen?

In 1907 British civil servants prepared a report on the Middle East for the Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. As the United States does now, the British imperial regime treated the rest of the world as its private estate.

A key paragraph of the Bannerman report lays out the foundation for all that followed, including the current assault on Gaza:

“There are people [MR: the inhabitants of the Middle East] who control spacious territories teeming with manifest and hidden resources. They dominate the intersections of world routes. Their lands were the cradles of human civilizations and religions.  These people have one faith, one language, one history and the same aspirations.   No natural barriers can isolate these people from one another … if, per chance, this nation were to be unified into one state, it would then take the fate of the world into its hands and would separate Europe from the rest of the world.  Taking these considerations seriously, [bold added] a foreign body should be planted in the heart of this nation to prevent the convergence of its wings in such a way that it could exhaust its powers in never-ending wars. It could also serve as a springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects.”

[Dan Bar-On & Sami Adwan, THE PRIME SHARED HISTORY PROJECT, in Educating Toward a Culture of Peace, pages 309–323, Information Age Publishing, 2006.]

Ten years later, in the now infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British government prepared the ground for planting that “foreign body”. In a letter to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour declared:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Just like that. So easy.  At the stroke of a pen.

Gaza City, ruinsGaza City, under Israeli bombs, July 2014.