Wednesday, September 25, 2002

"Baseless Comparisons": UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq and Israel

[A message to the Chicago-area Americans for Peace Now e-mail list, responding in part to a piece by Doni Remba. --Jeff Weintraub]

Friends,

Regarding the key UN Security Council resolutions that address the Arab-Israeli conflict, Dore Gold and Doni Remba are of course completely correct. The key points are buried, a bit too hurriedly, in this (excessively legalistic) passage from Dore Gold's piece.:
Two chapters of the UN Charter clarify the powers of the UN Security Council and its resolutions. Resolutions adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter - that deals with "Pacific Resolution of Disputes" - are implemented through a process of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration between the parties to a dispute. UN Security Council Resolution 242 from November 1967 is a Chapter VI resolution which, when taken together with Resolution 338, leads to an Israeli withdrawal from territories (not all the territories) that Israel entered in the 1967 Six-Day War, by means of a negotiated settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The resolution is not self-enforced by Israel alone; it requires a negotiating process.
It is widely believed in the Arab world, and uncritically repeated by too many other people, that UN Security Resolutions 242 & 338 (the fundamental post-1967 resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict) simply require that Israel withdraw from lands seized in 1967. But this is just a myth--or, to put it more bluntly, bullshit. What these resolutions require is that Israel should give back territories seized in 1967 (with small adjustments) as part of negotiated peace agreements. That is, these requirements come into effect only if the relevant Arab countries formally make peace with Israel, on the basis of agreements--achieved through negotiations--that recognize Israel's right to exist and assure its security. (And, of course, it's worth remembering that Israel has already given back most of the land it seized in the 1967 war, as part of the peace treaty with Egypt.)

This is, of course, a totally different matter from the UN Security Council resolutions, back in 1990-1991, condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait as an act of aggression and demanding unconditional Iraqi withdrawal. The same holds for the terms of the peace agreement accepted by the Iraqi government after losing the war in 1991 (and codified in successive Security Council resolutions). No comparison.

Legality aside, the substantive moral issues are also completely different. But that's a much bigger discussion ....

=> A recent NYTimes op-ed piece by George Fletcher of the Columbia University Law School elaborates some of the relevant issues further ("Annan's Careless Language", NYTimes 3/21/2002, p. A37).

Shalom,
Jeff Weintraub

P.S. It should go without saying (but, just to avoid possible misunderstanding, I'll say it anyway) that none of this amounts to a blanket endorsement of Israeli policies since 1967, let alone the lunatic and self-destructive policy of permanent occupation of the West Bank & Gaza pursued by Likud governments for the last several decades. But it's important to separate the real issues from phony ones.

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Doni Remba wrote:

Friends,

While Dore Gold, the author of this brief article, is a right-winger, his analysis of the difference between UN Security Council resolutions on Israel and Iraq is entirely correct, and reflects points I've been making in response to this old Arab propaganda argument for some years now. I recently re-discovered that the claim that Israel is violating UN resolutions just like Iraq is was made by Edward Said in the NY Times eleven years ago before the original Persian Gulf War--I responded in a letter to the Times, which was published, but the points that Gold makes in this piece make the case even more effectively. The difference between UN Security Council resolutions, which are binding, and UN General Assembly resolutions, which are not, is critical, but Gold goes further by showing how radically different the resolutions are: the resolutions on Iraq (he neglects to note) often called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, or immediate compliance with Security Council resolutions requiring elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or the immediate re-admittance of arms inspectors. They never involved a second party with whom Iraq was expected to negotiate, and no other party owed Iraq any special duties which had to be fulfilled as a condition for Iraqi compliance. This is not the case in the Arab-Israel conflict, where the Arab parties, including the Palestinians, have obligations under these resolutions (and under treaties they signed) to respect in practice the security and sovereignty of Israel, and to negotiate the terms of a peace agreement with it.
The deeper objection from the Arab side is that the reason for this difference in the way the UNSC treats Israel and Iraq has simply to do with the fact that the US is Israel's ally, whereas it is about as far from that as possible in the case of Iraq. There is of course truth in this, and Gold doesn't take up that debate. However, the difference in the nature of the resolutions pertaining to each country also reflects a fundamental difference in the issues. There's more to say about what those basic differences are, but I'll save that for another time. Gold's article refutes an all-too-common argument being raised against Israel by some, perhaps many, Arabs; I encountered this argument yesterday in a column by Chicago's Ray Hanania in the Daily Herald, a column in which Ray devotes considerable space to denouncing Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. Even moderates in the Palestinian and Arab communities raise this objection: it's worth knowing why the objection fails. Gold's article lays it out well.
Doni
Institute for Contemporary Affairs
founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF
Vol. 2, No. 7 24 September 2002
Baseless Comparisons: UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq and IsraelDore Gold
Since Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War that followed, Arab diplomats at the United Nations have charged the international community with a policy of "double standards" regarding UN actions against Iraq for failing to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. Thus, in the debate leading up to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1435, concerning Israel's presence in Ramallah, the representative of the Arab League charged on September 23, that the UN was pressing Iraq while ignoring Israeli violations of UN resolutions.1 Last May, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz complained that sanctions were imposed on Iraq for non-compliance but not on Israel.2

The effort by some Arab diplomats to draw comparisons between UN action on Israel and Iraq misses the fundamental differences between the different kinds of resolutions in the UN organization. First of all, there are UN General Assembly resolutions, non-binding recommendations that reflect the political currents in the world body. Then there are UN Security Council resolutions, which have their own hierarchy.

Chapter VI and Chapter VII Resolutions
Two chapters of the UN Charter clarify the powers of the UN Security Council and its resolutions. Resolutions adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter - that deals with "Pacific Resolution of Disputes" - are implemented through a process of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration between the parties to a dispute. UN Security Council Resolution 242 from November 1967 is a Chapter VI resolution which, when taken together with Resolution 338, leads to an Israeli withdrawal from territories (not all the territories) that Israel entered in the 1967 Six-Day War, by means of a negotiated settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The resolution is not self-enforced by Israel alone; it requires a negotiating process.

The most severe resolutions of the UN Security Council are those specifically adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter - that deal with "Threats to Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression." When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the UN Security Council adopted all its resolutions against Iraq under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The implementation of those resolutions was not contingent on Iraqi-Kuwaiti negotiations, for Iraq engaged in a clear-cut act of aggression. Moreover, UN resolutions on Iraq are self-enforcing, requiring Iraq alone to comply with their terms. However, the UN recognized, under Article 42 of the UN Charter, the need for special military measures to be taken if a Chapter VII resolution is ignored by an aggressor.

It is noteworthy that in 1967, no UN body adopted a resolution branding Israel as the aggressor in the Six-Day War, despite Soviet efforts, for it was commonly accepted that Israeli actions were the result of a war of self-defense.

The debate over compliance with UN resolutions, however, has called attention to flagrant violations of Chapter VII resolutions on Iraq by Syria, which is ironically a member of the UN Security Council. Currently, all of Iraq's oil trade is under UN sanctions. UN Security Council Resolution 661 provided that no state was to trade in Iraqi oil; subsequently, the UN created, for humanitarian reasons, the oil-for-food program, which permitted Iraqi oil sales as long as the UN could strictly control the expenditure of any resulting oil revenues for food and medicine.

However, in the last two years, Syria has agreed to illegally pump Iraqi oil through its pipeline to the Mediterranean in violation of UN Chapter VII sanctions on Iraq. Syria is earning approximately $1 billion per year from this illegal trade that circumvents the UN oil-for-food program. Additionally by harboring known international terrorist organizations, like Hamas, Hizballah, and the Islamic Jihad, Syria is violating the specific terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The present effort to draw comparisons between Iraqi non-compliance with Chapter VII UN Security Council resolutions and UN Security Council resolutions on Israel under Chapter VI is baseless. This campaign may have been launched to divert attention away from other states like Syria, violating Chapter VII resolutions with respect to Iraq or with respect to the current American-led campaign against international terrorism.

* * *
Notes

1. Julia Preston with James Bennet, "At U.N., U.S. Calls for End to the Siege of Arafat," New York Times, September 24, 2002.
2. Ewen MacAskill, "Iraq Hits at UN for Hypocrisy on Israel," Guardian, May 2, 2002.
3. Meir Rosenne, "Legal Interpretations of UNSC 242," in UN Security Council Resolution 242: The Building Black of Peacemaking (Washington: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1993), pp. 29-34.
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Dore Gold, Publisher; Lenny Ben-David, ICA Program Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 1515 Locust St., Suite 703, Philadelphia, PA 19102-3726; Tel. (215) 772-0564, Fax. (215) 772-0566. Website: http://www.jcpa.org/. © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Jenin - "Massacring the truth" (Amnon Rubenstein)

The author of this piece on the Big Lie about the imaginary Jenin "massacre" and what it means, Amnon Rubenstein, is a member of the Knesset from the left-wing Meretz party and a former Dean of the Tel Aviv University Law School. The newspaper in which this was published, Ha'aretz, largely represents the perspective of the peace camp in Israeli politics. The article should be read as a whole, but here are some highlights. --Jeff Weintraub
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Why is this at all important? Because a propaganda war is being waged against Israel - including an electronic intifada - that has no counterpart in other conflicts. It does not simply entail criticizing Israel for its policies, or a government stand, or an attack on one issue or another. Rather, it is a propaganda offensive aimed at portraying Israel as a monstrous state - propaganda without restraints. One day Israel is commiting a massacre, the next day it is disseminating false accusations that the Palestinians spread rumors of an imaginary massacre. Anything goes - massacre or anti-massacre.
It is permissible to criticize Israel - sometimes it is even obligatory. [....] But Palestinian and Arab incitement is something entirely different in that it seeks to damage the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence. Harold Evans, a former editor of The Sunday Times, wrote (on June 28) that this propaganda aims to create "the dehumanization of all Jews" and this "frenzied, vociferous, paranoid, vicious and prolific" propaganda - which came after the Oslo Accords and Camp David - had generated a rising wave of anti-Semitism throughout the Muslim world.
And indeed, this propaganda - in which Israelis also participate - has all the signs of hysterical anti-Semitism. Not all criticism of Israel - as harsh as it may be - is anti-Semitic. But the new Arab and Palestinian propaganda shares common characteristics with the old hatred - obsessiveness and monstrousness. [....]
The monstrousness is expressed in portraying Israel as capable of carrying out any despicable crime against helpless Arabs - including disseminating AIDS in Cairo, raping Arab women at IDF checkpoints, and tossing the bodies of murdered Arabs into a sewage ditch in Jenin. This is not a conflict or war like those being waged in other places like Kashmir, Sudan, and Chechnya. Instead it portrays a state that has no right to exist at all and whose destruction would be a blessing for mankind - because of the massacre that was, and the massacre that never happened.

====================
Ha'aretz
September 9, 2002

The massacring of the truth
By Amnon Rubenstein

A new film by Mohammad Bakri, "Jenin, Jenin: A One-Sided Movie" portrays the IDF as an embodiment of evil and cruelty, and its soldiers as the butchers of helpless citizens in Jenin. The movie was the subject of Ha'aretz Magazine's article "Taking sides," by Vered Levy-Barzilai, on September 6.

Less than two weeks ago, on August 30, the Economist published a letter from a pro-Palestinian American organization called "The Electronic Intifada." This letter followed reports by the British weekly, and one by the secretary-general of the United Nations, both debunking claims of a massacre in Jenin. The letter presents an entirely different type of argument.

The writers claimed that no Palestinians had spread false rumors of a massacre in Jenin and that the "myth" of the Palestinians accusing the IDF of a massacre was part of an anti-Palestinian plot.

Amos Harel, Anat Cygielman and Amira Hass reported in Ha'aretz on April 12 that the Palestinians were claiming the IDF had massacred about 500 people, "buried dozens of Palestinian bodies ... in a ditch and used bulldozers to cover them." A Palestinian woman on television said the IDF "threw bodies into the sewage so your journalists wouldn't see them." Since we were foolish enough to prevent journalists from entering for many days, these accusations spread throughout the entire world, and the massacre in Jenin that never was turned into a terrible slaughter.

Now the members of the Electronic Intifada are not only saying there was no massacre, but that there were never any accusations of massacre, and whoever attributes such accusations to the Palestinians is misleading and lying. All this is contrary to the One-Sided Film.

Why is this at all important? Because a propaganda war is being waged against Israel - including an electronic intifada - that has no counterpart in other conflicts. It does not simply entail criticizing Israel for its policies, or a government stand, or an attack on one issue or another. Rather, it is a propaganda offensive aimed at portraying Israel as a monstrous state - propaganda without restraints. One day Israel is commiting a massacre, the next day it is disseminating false accusations that the Palestinians spread rumors of an imaginary massacre. Anything goes - massacre or anti-massacre.

It is permissible to criticize Israel - sometimes it is even obligatory. Indeed, anyone visiting the Gaza Strip cannot remain uncritical. But Palestinian and Arab incitement is something entirely different in that it seeks to damage the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence. Harold Evans, a former editor of The Sunday Times, wrote (on June 28) that this propaganda aims to create "the dehumanization of all Jews" and this "frenzied, vociferous, paranoid, vicious and prolific" propaganda - which came after the Oslo Accords and Camp David - had generated a rising wave of anti-Semitism throughout the Muslim world.

And indeed, this propaganda - in which Israelis also participate - has all the signs of hysterical anti-Semitism. Not all criticism of Israel - as harsh as it may be - is anti-Semitic. But the new Arab and Palestinian propaganda shares common characteristics with the old hatred - obsessiveness and monstrousness.

The attack on Israel is obsessive since it erupts powerfully in all contexts, at every international conference, ecological discussion, and on marginal issues. For example, the Tate Gallery in London is now exhibiting Ori Gersht's photographs of the Judean Desert This exhibition provides an excuse for Time Out's art critic to reproach and vilify Israel because the nature photographs ignore the plight of the Palestinians. This did not prevent the same critic from lauding the 1930s photographs of Hitler's friend Leni Riefenstahl for not showing sympathy toward Nazism. One can laugh derisively, but this is something that has nothing at all to do with criticism of Israeli actions.

The monstrousness is expressed in portraying Israel as capable of carrying out any despicable crime against helpless Arabs - including disseminating AIDS in Cairo, raping Arab women at IDF checkpoints, and tossing the bodies of murdered Arabs into a sewage ditch in Jenin. This is not a conflict or war like those being waged in other places like Kashmir, Sudan, and Chechnya. Instead it portrays a state that has no right to exist at all and whose destruction would be a blessing for mankind - because of the massacre that was, and the massacre that never happened.