Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Israel and Barak: Labour's enduring friends

Was there ever a more damning illustration of New Labour's shameless support for Israel, dismissal of Palestinian suffering and disregard for international advocates of war crimes justice?

I speak, of course, about the invitation of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to the Labour Party conference in Brighton, a staggering act of insensitivity even for Labour Friends of Israel.

Barak is the man who, with meticulous, time-obsessed detail, planned the murderous 23 day assault on the people of Gaza, snuffing out over 1400 lives and leaving a scene of continuing devastation.

Supported by Amnesty International and other human rights groups, the recent 575-page Goldstone report firmly recommended prosecution of the principal people responsible for those crimes through the International Criminal Court.

Goldstone has also urged that all party states to the Geneva Convention apply the principle of universal jurisdiction to arrest and indict such persons entering their countries.
1772. To the international community

The Mission recommends that States Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 start criminal investigations in national courts, using universal jurisdiction, where there is sufficient evidence of the commission of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Where so warranted following investigation, alleged perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with internationally recognised standards of justice.

Human rights lawyers acting on the instructions of Palestinian families have lodged a legal challenge at Westminster City magistrates court to have Barak arrested - an action largely ignored by the UK media. Alongside reference to the Goldstone report, a useful precedent was cited:

"Barak, who is also deputy prime minister of Israel and leader of the country's Labour party, could argue that his government office guarantees him "state immunity" from prosecution. But lawyers from two London law firms, Irvine Thanvi Natas and Imran Khan & Partners, believe the warrant that the international criminal court issued in May last year for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, offers a precedent. Bashir is accused of committing war crimes in Darfur."

Barak and his ministerial acomplices will, of course, continue to claim diplomatic immunity. But while the prospect of actual arrests seem unlikely for the time being, gathering international recognition of Goldstone's universal jurisdiction call and the pressure on courts to apply war crimes rulings more equitably suggests a worrying time to come for Israel's political and military henchmen.

Meanwhile, the presence of Barak as an openly-welcomed guest at Brighton, rather than a pursued war criminal, helps expose the hypocritical complicity of his hosts.

Only last week, British officials were walking out of the United Nations gathering in New York, apparently 'revolted' by the presence of Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi. Yet, here we have the identified architect and prime suspect of a mass murder campaign against an entire population feted and defended in Brighton.

Barak will, no doubt, be using the occasion to intensify his country's scaremongering over Iran's 'nuclear ambitions' in an effort to blanket Israel's ongoing crimes.

Conveniently disregarded in the current flurry of political denunciations are these more sobering truths: that precisely no evidence exists of Iran's intentions to build nuclear weapons; that, unlike the West's next-door aggressions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has no such record of, or apparent intentions towards, illegal invasion/bombing of other states; and that, unlike Israel, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

As noted in one of the few available mainstream reports, Israel has now been seriously challenged over its own refusal to open-up to the international weapons inspectors and work towards non-proliferation.

"Israel has rejected the call by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and open up its atomic sites to international inspection. The nuclear watchdog, meeting yesterday in Vienna, adopted a resolution expressing concern about “Israeli nuclear capabilities” and called on agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei to work on the issue. The motion was adopted by 49 votes to 45, with 16 abstentions. Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN security council, voted in favour."

Yet, it's the message of the Iranian 'menace' that persists. Forget the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the defiant expansion of settlements and the tragedy of Gaza. The 'threat' from Tehran remains the centre stage issue for Obama, Brown, Sarkozy, Merkel and the other blind-eye defenders of Israel.

Nor do most of the media need much encouragement in Iran-bashing and ratcheting-up the same calls for punitive action.

For the BBC, Iranian missiles are "the big fear". As the BBC's Tehran correspondent John Leyne explains:

"The big fear is that ultimately Iran will have a fully-fledged inter-continental ballistic missile. These missiles already cover pretty much the whole of the Middle East and a good chunk of Turkey as well, and maybe the fringes of Europe. I think Iran would say with some justice its missile programme is the strongest deterrent it has got. It probably cannot prevent Western jets getting through and Western missiles getting through. But it could - and I think Israel knows for example - that if it did strike Iran, it would have to take into account the possibility of really substantial casualties if Iran did unleash its long-range missile pack."
Note the standard BBC assumption about the 'primary problem' here. "The big fear" of Iran having "a fully-fledged inter-continental ballistic missile" is stated by Leyne as a generallly 'understood' truth. In contrast, he thinks "Iran would say" it is justified in holding such missiles.

The caveat "with some justice" is the BBC's dutiful nod to 'analytical' reality - Leyne's token concession to Iran's deterrent purpose and the potential response Israel might expect. But that all sits as secondary to "the big fear" of Iranian armaments. For Leyne and his peers, there's no suggestion that "the big fear" could actually be Israel's nuclear intimidations in the region backed by the overwhelming presence of conventional Israeli/Western weaponry. It's another useful example of simplified BBC 'analysis' posing as 'specialist understanding'.

Perversely, for another Westminster correspondent, Iran's self-declared nuclear enrichment site has been viewed as a 'gift' to Gordon Brown in the wake of his snubbing at the UN by Obama.

"By accident, and certainly not by any choreography, Brown has been handed a global crisis that could transform his last months in office. The crisis centres on a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment plant and demands that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors be given access to the hidden plant at Qom in Iran. In the absence of co-operation by the Iranians, a new regime of sanctions will be imposed with the potential backing of Russia."
Again, note the words "global crisis" here, part of the media's standard reiteration of a 'war-provoking' Tehran. As one astute comment in the Guardian, alas limited to the letters page, puts it:
"That western powers dangerously demonise Iran is one tragedy. That newspapers uncritically imitate them is a worse one."
While Barak takes refuge in such evasions and distractions among his trusted friends at Brighton, one can only wonder how those traumatised, bereaved families in Gaza must feel about this despicable invitation and the media's pandering to Israel's diversionary agenda.



joe90 kane said...

Only last week, British officials were walking out of the United Nations gathering in New York, apparently 'revolted' by the presence of Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi. Yet, here we have the identified architect and prime suspect of a mass murder campaign against an entire population feted and defended in Brighton.
- Brilliant observation Z!

all the best

joe90 kane said...

An interesting contrast in the British Establishment's treatment of racist criminals, real and unreal -
SPSC - In Court, Thurs 01 Oct 2009 "racially motivated conduct"
30 Sept 2009

all the best

joe90 kane said...

In case anyone is interested in news of the Scottish SPC Edinburgh Five court proceedings on 01 Oct, try this thread -
UK Indymedia - Edinburgh 5 accused of 'aggravated racism'
03 Oct 2009