Yesterday, as Israel was busy killing more Palestinian children and ambulance drivers in Gaza, not to mention dropping illegal white phosphorus shells on the densely populated area, a so-called ‘umbrella group’ for a few self-appointed ‘French Jewish groups’ held a demonstration in Paris in which 4,000 people, including one shameless head rabbi, manifested their unqualified support for the non-Jewish Values state. (Is what the Israeli historian Ilan Papa recently called ‘righteous vengeance’ a ‘Jewish’ value?) Once again — once again — these organizations have confounded defending Jewish identity, and Jews in France, with defending a a state that uses an increasingly wobbly claim to being Jewish to justify what another leading Jewish American recently justly termed massive violations of international humanitarian law. And not just in his name, but in the name of the United Nations, for whom Richard Falk is special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories.
“The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions,” Falk said in a December 27 statement published December 29 in The Nation, “both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war. Those violations include… (c)ollective punishment, (t)argeting civilians…, (and) (d)isproportionate military response:”
“Earlier Israeli actions, ” Falk went on, “specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims. Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel’s escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year. Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on December 26.”
Let’s stop there, because this is a critical point that has been effectively censored from the mainstream U.S. media and has trouble geting an airing even here in France. In fact, Hamas proposed to renew the truce… if Israel would lift the blockade of food, oil, medical supplies and other essential goods that it’s imposed on Gaza’s residents for the better part of six months and of the last two years. Israel refused.
Speaking on France Culture’s morning program today, Quay d’Orsay spokesman Eric Chevalier took care to bring up the Hamas rocket attacks and repeated the myth of Hamas’s point blank refusal to renew the truce, but did not even mention the blockade until the end of the program, when he was forced to by commentator Mark Kravitz, who not only brought it up but accused the EU of silence in the face of it. That the word ‘blockade’ hadn’t crossed his lips for 90 minutes didn’t prevent Chevalier from taking umbrage at Kravitz’s use of the word ‘silence.’ Mais non! said he. The EU has frequently issued discourses and proclamations expressing concern about the blockade. (Try to feed your family or operate on a sick person with a ‘discourse.’)
But this was not the most astounding statement Chevalier issued on behalf of the fabled French diplomacy. ‘Pressuring’ Israel was out of the question’, the most effective means of changing its policy would be to ‘convince it,’ an effort at which the EU could be ‘very effective.’
Picture if you will a Palestinian mother wailing at the loss of those three children killed by Israeli tank fire yesterday, and at her side a French diplomat whose only consolation is to tell her, “Ne vous inquiete pas madame, on va faire le maximum pour convaincre Israel d’arrete.’ Si il le plait.
PS: Speaking of convincing, if anyone’s ever presented a good argument that the Nobel Peace Prize should be retractable, it must be Shimon Peres, who once shared it with the late Yitzak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat. According to today’s editions of the British-based Guardian newspaper, “Peres, the Israeli president, said Israel would not accept a ceasefire. ‘Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it,’ he told a US television network. ‘We shall not accept the idea that Hamas will continue to fire and we shall declare a ceasefire. It does not make any sense.'” Does it make any sense that this man should retain his Nobel Peace Prize?