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Margaret Atwood signs on to Canadian letter opposing Palestinian evictions

Israel/Palestine
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Yesterday we posted a letter from more than 70 Canadian writers calling on Israel and Canadian leaders to stop the eviction and relocation of several Palestinian communities in the West Bank and the Negev. The letter is gathering speed. Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and John Ralston Saul (Voltaire’s Bastards) have signed on too.

From Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East:

Montreal, July 16, 2013 — Margaret Atwood and John Ralston Saul have added their names to a list of 90 writers who have signed an open letter to Israeli and Canadian leaders.  The letter asks Israeli leaders to halt the imminent “firing zone” evictions of 1000 Palestinians from the Southern Hebron Hills, and the Prawer Plan for the forced displacement of 20000-70000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from the Negev. Yann Martel (The Life of Pi), Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes),  Guy Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman’s Boy), Nino Ricci, Rohinton Mistry and Jane Urquhart are also among the additions to an impressive list of well-known Canadian writers.

Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Vincent Lam, Lisa Moore, Lorna Crozier, Alberto Manguel, George Bowering, Edeet Ravel, Patrick Lane, Sheila Heti, Kyo Maclear, Dr. Gabor Maté, Michel Tremblay and Canada’s current Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah are among the best known of the original signatories. Dozens of nominees or winners of the Governor General’s literary awards, the Giller Prize, the Impac Dublin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Man Booker Prize, and other honours, including the Order of Canada, figure in the list. (See text of letter and full list of signatories below.)

“It’s nothing but ethnic cleansing,” said one of the signatories, Gabor Mate, in an interview with Postmedia News last week.  Mate is a Jewish Canadian and Holocaust survivor, and said that personal conviction compelled him to co-sign the letter.  “One thing I’ve learned is you don’t be quiet when things happen that shouldn’t happen,” Maté added in his interview with Postmedia.

“These writers’ compassion and clear-mindedness are refreshing at a time in which Canadian politicians seem to have abandoned all principles, especially when determining Middle East policy,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. CJPME points out that Canadian politicians are almost always silent when Israel violates international law by confiscating Palestinians’ land and establishing Israeli-only “settlements” in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPT). CJPME is appalled that a spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird last week dismissed the Prawer Plan as an “internal” Israeli matter.

“Given the sheer numbers of people slated for forced displacement—20,000 to 70,000 — it’s tragic that Canadian leaders are acquiescing to such cruelty,” adds Woodley. The Israeli arguments that they are dislocating the Bedouin “for their own good”  are reminiscent of similar arguments once made for placing Canadian aboriginal children in residential schools.

The European Parliament and various Israeli human rights groups, such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, have urged the Israeli Knesset to reject the Prawer Plan. B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence (a veterans’ group) and ACRI, as well as internationally prominent Israeli writers such as David Grossman (To the End of the Land) and Amoz Oz have energetically opposed the evictions of Palestinian villagers from the Southern Hebron Hills (oPt) to make way for an Israeli firing zone.

Professional journalists wishing to interview CJPME representatives and some of the signatories to the Canadian writers’ open letter may contact Patricia Jean at 438-380-5410 for further details.

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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26 Responses

  1. eGuard
    eGuard
    July 16, 2013, 11:22 am

    Three years ago she could have done a lot more. Did she return the money yet?

    http://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-students-margaret-atwood-reject-tel-aviv-u-prize/1043

    • Jake
      Jake
      July 16, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Afterward she wrote this important piece, confessing that she did not understand the situation before going.

      http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/the-shadow-over-israel-1.293653?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.281%2C

      • eGuard
        eGuard
        July 16, 2013, 6:14 pm

        Thanks for the link. I can tell you: even after she went for that $1M Don David (TAU) prize, she did not get it either. Who knows what MA will sign up for or against tomorrow. Mondoweiss, who clearly did not check her BDS credentials, should not have flagged her name into the title. Straight from your link (Haaretz 2010), by MA:

        The Israelis I met could not have been more welcoming. (Palestinian or Jewish Israelis?)

        I saw many impressive accomplishments … (by Zionists then. After Nakba no Palestinians were allowed to “accomplish” (=build) anything. Not anything, MA).

        But… there was the Shadow. How great an observation! Worth going there! (… for someone who doesn’t know or read at home),
        … The Shadow is not the Palestinians (Lest we misunderstood. Or, more probably, an MA diary note).

        ”Every morning I wake up in fear,” someone told me. (Could be a victim Jew, victim Palestinian: MA does not tell. They are all the same to her).

        MA did not have a clue before or after her $1M Tel Aviv prize, and still does not today. She did not read the Gaza student’s letter. She did and does not get what BDS is coming from. And then, she writes self-serving replies — MA as the third victim . MA in 2010: unable to get a grasp while dishing out. When push came to shrove, she abandoned the Palestinians.

      • Walid
        Walid
        July 17, 2013, 3:01 pm

        eGuard, the prize was shared with another author. Read the Haaretz piece again and you may see that you are being unjustly harsh to MA. You may also see that she is very clear about which party is the victim in her story.

        The Shadow is not the Palestinians. The Shadow is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, linked with Israeli’s own fears. The worse the Palestinians are treated in the name of those fears, the bigger the Shadow grows, and then the fears grow with them; and the justifications for the treatment multiply.

        The attempts to shut down criticism are ominous, as is the language being used. Once you start calling other people by vermin names such as “vipers,” you imply their extermination. To name just one example, such labels were applied wholesale to the Tutsis months before the Rwanda massacre began. Studies have shown that ordinary people can be led to commit horrors if told they’ll be acting in self-defense, for “victory,” or to benefit mankind.

        MA goes on to say:

        Then there are people like me. Having been preoccupied of late with mass extinctions and environmental disasters, and thus having strayed into the Middle-eastern neighbourhood with a mind as open as it could be without being totally vacant, I’ve come out altered. Child-killing in Gaza? Killing aid-bringers on ships in international waters? Civilians malnourished thanks to the blockade? Forbidding writing paper? Forbidding pizza? How petty and vindictive! Is pizza is a tool of terrorists? Would most Canadians agree? And am I a tool of terrorists for saying this? I think not.

      • eGuard
        eGuard
        July 18, 2013, 1:11 pm

        In her responses, she did mention dubious actions by the boycotters (Haaretz: “I was recently attacked for accepting”, below link: “I got yelled at”, ”I am caught in a propaganda war”) though without being specific. But at no point did she respond to the well-written arguments, for example those by the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (see my earlier EI link). So she painted a negative side of the boycott action, and then implicitly took the freedom to ignore the more relevant arguments. “Groups opposing my going to Israel” she wrote: another false entry. That is not what was asked. She is not just bad reading, she does so intentionally.

        Then she went on to describe her theories that “such boycotts serve no good purpose if one of the hopes for the future is that peace and normal exchanges …”. Untested in the real world she can say anything, but her repeated idea of “normalisation” and “evenness” is a core argument for the boycott (really, that “both sides are …” view is too simple. It is not symmetrical). And note that this is patronising to the Palestinians.

        She clearly does not understand what the Dan David prize is. It is not by “an individual”, but “The Dan David Prize is a joint international enterprise, endowed by the Dan David Foundation”. 10% of the prize money goes to an Israeli University, and TAU is connected with the DD prize through projects (Israeli institutions are boycottable for supporting the occupation).

        Simply: she could have written all that without accepting the prize from institutes that supports the occupation.

        http://www.usacbi.org/2010/04/margaret-atwoods-response-re-dan-david-prize/

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 18, 2013, 9:40 pm

        But at no point did she respond to the well-written arguments

        Well what’s dubious about saying she was attacked and caught in a propaganda war? That’s exactly what happened.

        The Mondoweiss article claimed “Alicia Keys is scheduled to play to a segregated audience in Israel”. http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/activists-alicia-justice.html

        But the seating wasn’t actually segregated in the Nokia arena and Israeli Palestinian fans were free to attend according to other reliable reports I’ve read.

        Alice Walker’s claim that individual ticket holders aren’t targeted on the basis of the nationality was not well-written, since it doesn’t explain how a cultural boycott of Israel can work on any other basis except the audience’s nationality:

        . . you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists . . .

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/because-palestinian-conditions.html

        When Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti were questioned on that particular point at Brooklyn College Butler claimed that:

        “BDS focuses on state agencies and corporations that build machinery designed to destroy homes, that build military materiel that targets populations, that profit from the occupation, that are situated illegally on Palestinian lands, to name a few. “BDS does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their national citizenship. I concede that not all versions of BDS have been consistent on this point in the past, but the present policy confirms this principle.”

        Then we all turn right around and claim that Keyes is “performing for apartheid” and ask her not to perform for an audience of Israeli nationals. That’s either an example of bad writing or Orwellian double speak. You can take your pick.

      • eGuard
        eGuard
        July 19, 2013, 8:30 am

        Hostage, this subthread is about Margaret Atwood and her accepting the Dan David Prize in 2010.

        Your question: Well what’s dubious about saying she was attacked and caught in a propaganda war? That’s exactly what happened.

        Could have happened (though Atwood did not identify these events). The dubious part is that she did mention these events, but she did not mention let alone address the serious arguments for boycott, e.g. as expressed by Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel ( http://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-students-margaret-atwood-reject-tel-aviv-u-prize/1043 ). Also she is sloppy in redefining the Dan David Prize as an individual thing.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 20, 2013, 5:19 am

        Hostage, this subthread is about Margaret Atwood and her accepting the Dan David Prize in 2010.

        No this thread is about the propaganda war that some in the BDS movement wage against individuals, instead of the State of Israel. Try reading Walid’s comment and dialing it back a bit. You’re preaching to the already converted and kneecapping them for signing onto the BDS agenda. Nobody asks if Roger Waters gave back the money he earned doing concerts in Israel, before he made up his mind to stop performing there – and it’s just not relevant.

        she is sloppy in redefining the Dan David Prize as an individual thing.

        The prizes are funded through an endowment from a private foundation. The Board is a multinational one with as many American, French, and Italian members as Israeli ones.

        In what way does this foundation or the prize support the State of Israel, the occupation, or apartheid?

        From the website:

        The Dan David Prize recognizes and encourages innovative and interdisciplinary research that cuts across traditional boundaries and paradigms. It aims to foster universal values of excellence, creativity, justice, democracy and progress and to promote the scientific, technological and humanistic achievements that advance and improve our world.

        The prizes are granted to individuals or institutions with proven, exceptional, distinct excellence in the sciences, arts, and humanities that have made an outstanding contribution to humanity on the basis of merit, without discrimination of gender, race, ethnicity, color, religion, language, nationality, disability, or political affiliation.

        The Dan David Prize laureates donate 10% of their prize money to graduate students in their respective fields, thereby contributing to the community and fostering a new generation of scholars.

        http://www.dandavidprize.org/about/about-the-prize

      • Walid
        Walid
        July 20, 2013, 12:49 pm

        About the Dan David Prize rumble, fans of BDS claimed this was because TAU is involved in some testing or inventing on behalf of the Israeli military and as such anything to do with it should be boycotted.

        It’s ironic that Omar Barghouti, holds a degree from TAU. Amazing how Omar that was born in Qatar, grew up in Egypt and moved to Ramallah as an adult succeeded in getting into TAU and how in spite of a 184,000-name zio petition asking for his expulsion, TAU refused to expel him. It’s looking more and more that Finkelstein was on to something when he mentioned “cult”.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 20, 2013, 2:04 pm

        Not fair, Walid.

        1. TAU is not “involved in some testing or inventing on behalf of the Israeli military” it is “A 
Leading 
Israeli 
Military
 Research
 Centre”.

        2. Should Barghouti, a Palestinian, have been expected to stay in Qatar or Egypt? Is there something wrong with his having moved to Palestine as an adult? While living in Palestine he applied to a PhD programme at TAU and was accepted. The fact that he was not expelled for his boycott activities may or may not be to TAU’s credit, but it does not change the reasons for boycotting the institution (as an institution).

        3. There is no “irony” whatsoever in Barghouti’s holding a PhD from TAU. BDS has not called upon residents of Israel or territories under its control to boycott Israeli institutions – upon which it is dependent and which are funded in part by their taxes (whether legally or illegally withheld). BDS does not ask this of Israeli citizens (Jewish or Palestinian), and it certainly does not ask it of Palestinians residing in the OPT, whose educational opportunities (including the possibility of study abroad) are limited enough as it is.

        4. Finkelstein could be right about the cult thing (on the grounds of BDS’ claim that it seeks compliance with international law, while remaining ambiguous or actively rejecting the 2ss), but not for the reasons you have cited.

        For more on reasons to boycott Israeli academic institutions, see:
        http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2024

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 20, 2013, 8:31 pm

        Not fair, Walid.

        1. TAU is not “involved in some testing or inventing on behalf of the Israeli military” it is “A 
Leading 
Israeli 
Military
 Research
 Centre”.

        Sure it’s fair. The David Prize is endowed and awarded by a private foundation. If we’re going to automatically condemn and boycott things that are located on an Israeli campus or are simply hosted by one, we can’t even read the South African HSRC/SOAS study “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?”, because John Dugard broke the academic boycott and invited scholars from The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to collaborate and help co-author the report and its conclusions. Common sense needs to prevail. We need to target the State of Israel and its agents who support or advocate apartheid policies or support the occupation, or those who aid and abet apartheid and the occupation, not entities like the Minerva Center or the David Foundation.

        3. There is no “irony” whatsoever in Barghouti’s holding a PhD from TAU.

        Sure there’s irony in that. He’s not boycotting Israeli culture or academic institutions, but asks others to do so on his behalf. That’s tantamount to saying that poor blacks, who were dependent on the Montgomery Alabama bus lines, shouldn’t have been expected to honor the boycott initiated by MLK and the Montgomery Improvement Association, or claiming that it would have been okay for MLK to continue to ride the buses based on perceived necessity, while asking poor blacks to walk in protest over his entirely hypothetical objections.

        People, like Noam Chomsky, have observed that the excuses offered to explain these loopholes are a prime example of hypocrisy or cult-like thinking. I believe it’s fair to point out obvious criticisms and ironies, since it’s like trying to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 21, 2013, 3:55 am

        Hostage,

        I was not talking about the David Prize, but about Walid’s claim regarding TAU itself.

        If there is irony in “He’s not boycotting Israeli culture or academic institutions, but asks others to do so on his behalf”, there is also irony in Neve Gordon’s call for academic boycott (he teaches at Ben Gurion University) or the support of South Africans for the international boycott of their country, during Apartheid.

        It is neither loophole nor excuse, but common sense. One cannot live in Israel or under Israeli control and support BDS the way one can from outside. From its very inception, BDS was a call to the international community:

        In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions; and

        Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression;

        We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.

        Some criticism is fair and some is not. Finkelstein’s criticism regarding 2ss and Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state is fair. Your criticism regarding “normalisation” (especially in the context of the cultural boycott – performances, etc.) is fair. Downplaying the role of TAU in the occupation, or dragging out Barghouti’s PhD and the fact that he was born and raised outside of Palestine is not. The “cult” accusation also strikes me as little more than a silly insult meant to discredit rather than to criticise.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 21, 2013, 5:50 am

        It is neither loophole nor excuse, but common sense. One cannot live in Israel or under Israeli control and support BDS the way one can from outside.

        Again, that’s a very feeble argument. MLK and the black customers of the Montgomery bus lines didn’t say “One cannot live in America or under American control and support the boycott”. See also South African blacks boycott apartheid in Port Elizabeth, 1985-86 http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/south-african-blacks-boycott-apartheid-port-elizabeth-1985-86

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 21, 2013, 6:00 am

        MLK and the black customers of the Montgomery bus lines didn’t say “One cannot live in America or under American control and support the boycott”.

        You cannot compare a limited, local boycott to a general institutional boycott. The model adopted by BDS is the South African model, which is international in nature. You may argue that the strategy itself is mistaken, but you cannot claim that applying different standards to those living in Israel or under Israeli occupation and to members of the international community is a “loophole” or a “feeble argument”, when that is how the campaign was originally conceived.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 21, 2013, 6:57 am

        You cannot compare a limited, local boycott to a general institutional boycott.

        MLK’s Montgomery boycott ended-up being the subject of a US Supreme Court ruling which held that segregation on public buses throughout America was unconstitutional. It was the very thing that caused the national movement to take off. So his symbolic boycott wasn’t just a local issue. Along the way he and 80 other leaders were arrested and charged with conspiracy, and MLK had his house bombed. They still didn’t cop-out and claim it was impossible to live in America and boycott its institutions. For that matter neither the Arab Higher Committee nor the South African BDS movement actually operated on that basis.

        Many blacks were boycotting their only transportation. So I don’t see how the fact that the bus line was local would change the analogy all that much.

        but you cannot claim that applying different standards to those living in Israel or under Israeli occupation and to members of the international community is a “loophole” or a “feeble argument”, when that is how the campaign was originally conceived.

        You need to convince Chomsky and the many other like-minded people who have ridiculed the policy. If its wrong-headed, it really doesn’t matter if it has always been that way.

  2. OlegR
    OlegR
    July 16, 2013, 11:37 am

    Of course if you would ask those guys whether they actually read the Prawer plan
    they would probably said no, but why bother, singing a letter is so much easier.

    • JohnAdamTurnbull
      JohnAdamTurnbull
      July 16, 2013, 5:02 pm

      So guessing about the Prawer Plan is not OK. But it’s OK to guess about their competence.

      Why don’t you ask a few of them?

    • talknic
      talknic
      July 19, 2013, 12:03 am

      OlegR “Of course if you would ask those guys whether they actually read the Prawer plan they would probably said no”

      So you have? Then please inform us of how it can be legal for the Occupying Power to “seize the enemy’s property” for a firing range that could be set up in Israel when the Laws of War Art. 23. to which Israel is beholding tell us ..

      In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden –
      To destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war; http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hague04.asp#art23

  3. ramzijaber
    ramzijaber
    July 16, 2013, 12:13 pm

    I am so happy that Margaret Attwood signed this letter. Always admired her, studied some of her books and poems in school when I was growing up. Thank you for the important stand that you are taking against yet another Nakba in the making.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 16, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Anything going on in a similar vein with America’s writers, or don’t they care enough?
    Looks like the Israel Firsters have Canada’s government locked up same as they do America’s.

    Well, there’s Alice Walker at least: http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/israel-middle-east/new-book-from-alice-walker-contains-80-page-screed-against-jews-israel.html

  5. JohnAdamTurnbull
    JohnAdamTurnbull
    July 16, 2013, 1:28 pm

    I’m surprised there has been so little coverage. It’s a little early for the Margaret Atwood and John Raulston Saul reaction, but the letter has been out for about a week with about 40 names on it — including Yann Martel (Life of Pi, etc.).

    The Canadian Jewish News did a straight news piece this morning: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node/110698

    and the Vancouver Sun and the Regina Leader Post mentioned it a couple of days ago, but the bigger papers seem unimpressed. So spread the word, please.

    We’ll see what happens with Atwood and Saul.

    • MRW
      MRW
      July 16, 2013, 8:39 pm

      The “bigger papers?” You mean the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen?

  6. Hostage
    Hostage
    July 16, 2013, 9:36 pm

    The notion that an occupying power can evict the inhabitants in order to create a firing range for its artillery units doesn’t even pass the giggle test of the 19th century laws and customs of war that were codified in the Hague regulations. So of course it violates the prohibitions against forced population transfer, displacement, or deportations contained in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute. Our government needs to start talking about putting these Zionist troglodytes behind bars, not about adopting legislation that makes them our most special strategic ally.

  7. Antidote
    Antidote
    July 19, 2013, 8:47 am

    “The notion that an occupying power can evict the inhabitants in order to create a firing range for its artillery units doesn’t even pass the giggle test of the 19th century laws and customs of war that were codified in the Hague regulations. ”

    Quite a few of the ethnically cleansed German villages from Czechoslovakia to East Prussia (Königsberg/Kaliningrad) became “firing ranges” for the Warsaw Pact after 1945. How did this pass the “giggle test of the 19th c laws and customs of war”? At this point, Stalin was still a “most special strategic ally” for the Anglo-American alliance, sitting in judgment at Nuremberg where Nazi/German leaders and generals were sentenced to death for the very same violations.

    “Our government needs to start talking about putting these Zionist troglodytes behind bars, not about adopting legislation that makes them our most special strategic ally.”

    Poland is a “most special strategic ally” of the US, too. The ethnically homogenous Polish state after 45 never existed in history but was the result of ethnic cleansing. Compared with the some 30 million Europeans, about half of them Germans, who, with full Allied consent, were subjected to ethnic cleansing during the post-war period, the Nakba, foul as it was, is little more than a footnote. To deny this is to deny historical facts for the purpose of incorrectly presenting the ethnic cleansing of Palestine as a uniquely unique crime against humanity, somewhat in analogy to the uniquely unique Holocaust. For decades, the Zionists have posed the question, and with perfectly good reason: If it could be done to Germans (and plenty of other Europeans) during and after the Nuremberg Trials 45, why could/can it not be done to the Palestinians? All you have to do is collectively declare them Nazis or terrorists, hostile to the expelling state. it’s the same method, btw, the Nazis applied to the Jews.

    Something obviously went wrong at Nuremberg, and during the aftermath of the great battle between the forces of “good” and “evil”. It is obvious that Stalin and his Eastern European ‘allies’ succeeded where Hitler failed, i.e a massive ethnographic reorganization of Europe on an unprecedented scale in history.

    I don’t remember anyone being put behind bars for this. Put a Zionist behind bars for what at any rate would be a lesser crime, and everybody will scream: Anti-Semitism! Not without reason either, considering the plain historical facts

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 20, 2013, 9:29 am

      Quite a few of the ethnically cleansed German villages from Czechoslovakia to East Prussia (Königsberg/Kaliningrad) became “firing ranges” for the Warsaw Pact after 1945. How did this pass the “giggle test of the 19th c laws and customs of war”?

      That’s a stupid exercise in whataboutism. There were always critics of the Allies and the Warsaw Pact who called for investigations, war crimes tribunals, reparations, and those who complain about “victor’s justice”. There are still plenty of people like them writing articles on those same subjects today. So you must be living in a cave.

      I’m talking about enforcing the laws that are on the books today. Most courts, including the ICC, don’t have jurisdiction to prosecute the crimes you are talking about.

      For starters, in terms of the progressive development of international criminal law, it’s not 1945 any more. Starting in the 1980s, former Warsaw Pact leaders and bureaucrats were put on trial and some, like the Ceaușescus, were even executed. The discriminatory laws adopted after WWII were repealed as part of the Enlargement of the European Union. Some of the elderly Warsaw Pact leaders, like Jaruzelski, are still facing charges for communist era crimes and there are claims and counterclaims for reparations, amnesty programs, & etc.

      In any event, the atrocities committed by both sides provided sufficient justification for the member delegations to the UN to study and adopt the Nuremberg principles. The delegates to the XVIIth International Red Cross Conference adopted the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 incorporating lessons learned from the war and criminalizing many acts for the very first time. Remember that many violations of the laws and customs of war weren’t considered criminal offenses, unless they were grave breaches.

      In some cases you are including acts committed by indigenous civilian regimes of the Warsaw Pact that were not considered occupying powers governed by the Hague Regulations. You are also including many reprisals. During the trials of the WWII War Criminals, the opinion of Hersh Lauterpacht from Oppenheim’s International Law, 6th and 8th Editions was cited to define reprisals and to determine when they could legally be used against civilians, towns, and villages. Lauterpacht opined that they were customarily authorized in accordance with Article 50 of the Hague Convention – and that opinion led to some acquittals (see pages 3 & 4). Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention (1949) eventually outlawed the practice of reprisals and collective punishment. In the case of the Hebron firing range, no one is suggesting the civilians have committed any offense, so we shouldn’t make apples to oranges comparisons with your 30 million.

      Next up, your comparison, based upon the proposition that the Allies permanently displaced 30 million people, carries the implication that they have remained in refugee camps ever since, like the Palestinian victims of the Nakba. That’s “spreading it on” pretty thick, since there is no such group of people today. There have been Palestinian victims displaced by Zionist colonialism dating back to the 1st Aliyah in the 19th century. Even then, the enterprise was facilitated by western governments under the guise of the regime of Capitulations on behalf of so-called Jewish “protégés”. In many cases those individuals weren’t even from the host country that sponsored them in Palestine. So there are aspects to the situation that just so happen to be unparalleled.

      The expulsions of the 1.3 million Germans from the Sudetenland were executed by order of the local authorities, and the Czech army. They also were not an occupation regime governed by the Hague regulations. That undertaking was comparable to the internment of Japanese Americans here in the USA. FYI, the application of international law to non-international armed conflicts came about as a result of outrages like those particular situations. It’s a recent innovation that wasn’t contemplated in the 19th century, apart from examples, like the Lieber code in the USA and a handful of other states. It was the adoption of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Common Article 3, that finally provided protection to victims of non-international armed conflicts. That still didn’t happen until the Conventions were almost universally ratified and declared customary law, binding on non-signatories who engage in armed conflicts. That happened in 1993, in connection with the establishment of the Statute for the ICTY.

      The Potsdam Conference did give its blessing for the expulsions, but it was granting sovereignty and making a cession of enemy territory for reparations under the same rules used by the Versailles Conference after WWI. The UN Charter would have prohibited that, but it was still a draft instrument waiting for enough signatures to enter into force. Many of those Germans had been collaborators during the occupation of Czechoslovakia and supported the Carlsbad Decrees, the Back to the Reich agenda, & etc. German civilians who collaborated with the Nazis were still considered guilty parties and enemies. For example, they were specifically excluded from the definition of the term “refugee” in the 1951 UN Convention on the subject.

      The desire for a permanent international criminal tribunal took nearly 100 years just to get to the point where we are today. There has only been one case that has resulted in a conviction so far, and one acquittal. The Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over crimes committed before July of 2002. FYI, prior to 1993 you couldn’t prosecute anyone for the crimes against humanity outlined in the Nuremberg principles if they happened to be committed in “peacetime”. The only crime that didn’t require some connection to an armed conflict back then was the crime of genocide. That isn’t a factor in the case of Israel today, since its own Supreme Court has ruled that a continuous state of armed conflict has existed since the first Intifada.

      • piotr
        piotr
        July 21, 2013, 9:45 am

        A shorter version of Hostage: precisely because WWII and the aftermath were so horrible, in many ways, a number of conventions were enacted to prevent the repetition. The massive ethnic cleansing that happened in Central Europe and India/Pakistan partition is also part of those horrors that the conventions are supposed to prevent.

        Israel tries to resurrect the norms of Iron Age that were still present in “19th century customs of war”, and this is why “Israeli norms” differ from what civilized norms are elsewhere. Israel does not lack its defenders in the West, but the best they can do is to avoid the topic altogether and blandly “deplore”.

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