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US calls ICC decision to investigate Gaza ‘tragic irony’

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The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court yesterday opened a “preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine,” with the possibility of a full-blown investigation of Israeli war crimes during last summer’s Gaza onslaught; and the US is standing steadfastly behind Israel.

The New York Times says Israelis have responded in fury to the announcement by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman… said Israel would seek to disband the court, which he described as an anti-Israel institution that “embodies hypocrisy and grants a tailwind to terrorism.”

… the investigation, infused with internationally recognized legality and credibility, was one that the Israelis had sought to prevent. “It’s like she turned the key in the ignition of the judicial vehicle,” Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, said of Ms. Bensouda.

The U.S. government deplored the decision as a “tragic irony” in a statement last night. Palestine is not a state and Israel should not be investigated because it has a right to defend itself from thousands of rockets, the State Department’s Jeff Rathke said:

We strongly disagree with the ICC Prosecutor’s action today. As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC. It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC. The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side. We will continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace.

Writes Jamil Dakwar:

How in the world seeking int’l justice & accountability for war crimes is “counterproductive to the cause of peace.”

The ICC says that Palestine has standing at the ICC since its accession to the Rome Statute at the beginning of the year:

The Office considers that, since Palestine was granted observer State status in the UN by the UNGA, it must be considered a “State” for the purposes of accession to the Rome Statute (in accordance with the “all States” formula).

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement on the Sabbath, linking Palestinian attacks on Israel with the Paris massacre of Jews last week. He also mentioned the thousands of rockets and suggested that Israel will seek to delegitimize the ICC itself.

“It is an outrage that, mere days after terrorists massacred Jews in France, the general prosecutor launches an inquiry into the Jewish State – because we are defending our people from Hamas, a terror organization that is allied with the Palestinian Authority and whose war criminals fired thousands of missiles on Israeli citizens…

Israel categorically rejects the statement by the ICC prosecutor. The Palestinian Authority is not a state and therefore there is no place, also according to the ICC’s own regulations, for such a probe. The absurdity of the decision is even greater since the PA is cooperating with Hamas, a terrorist organization that commits war crimes. Israel is fighting terrorism while upholding international law and has an independent judiciary.

The decision by the ICC is a complete reversal of the original objectives that were at the basis of the founding of the ICC, which was founded following the mass killing of six million Jews by the Nazis.

Now, there are those who wish to use this court against the Jewish state, which is defending itself from murderous terror that attacks Israel as well as the entire world.”

The Times says that the investigation could take months or years. Writes Donald Johnson:

I don’t know if the Palestinians can trust the court.  I don’t know enough about the sorts of pressures that could be put on them and if they decide not to prosecute or worse, only prosecute Palestinians it would be a total disaster.  The only good part about this is that Israel is worried, but it could backfire.  We almost always know beyond a reasonable doubt when countries are guilty of war crimes–it’s not like the trial of an individual when one knows a murder has occurred but the guilt of a particular individual has to be established.  Here, of course, the claim is that the murders were self defense or accidental, but that question only comes up in this case because Western countries have this elaborate charade in place where they can bomb when and where they want and pretend that civilian deaths were accidental and the fault of the “terrorist” enemy. The State Department hack who raised the thousands of rockets issue and sided with Israel was what you’d expect, and it shows once again that the US government is hypocritical as always when it comes to terrorism.
Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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50 Responses

  1. amigo on January 17, 2015, 12:21 pm

    “As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC.” US

    Who gives a rats posterior what you believe Usrael.More than 130 (and growing ) countries think Palestine is a State and I bet most Americans in their hearts think so but do not voice their opinion openly due to fear of being accused of being antisemites and Jew haters.

    Let Israel,s criminal leaders squawk all they want.They have had their day and now slowly that is coming to an end.I for one look forward to seeing nietanyahu and bennet and Barak and lieberman and the rest of a long list of the worst criminals of this century standing behind a glass partition answering for their crimes.It is time for justice to be done.

    I wonder if netanyahu will push his way to the front of the queue in prison.I sure hope he does.Some of those chappies do not like being pushed around and king bibi,s security guards will be nowhere to be seen.

    • Blownaway on January 17, 2015, 12:29 pm

      Unfortunately the most that can happen is a pyrrhic victory… But a moral civtory nonetheless. Just look how Israel ignored the ruling on the wall? What was the penalty for that? They know nothing will come of this but they will squeal loudly anyway.

      • amigo on January 17, 2015, 2:16 pm

        They know nothing will come of this but they will squeal loudly anyway. “Blownaway

        I agree but if this curtails the travel plans for these criminals, it isn,t much but at least we wont have to listen to them preaching to the rest of us from our own capitals.In addition , a decision against them puts them on record as war criminals and should slow their expansionist activities somewhat and hopefully put their lawn mowing sprees on hold.

      • Shingo on January 17, 2015, 8:32 pm

        Unfortunately the most that can happen is a pyrrhic victory… But a moral civtory nonetheless.

        Not necessarily. A ruling by the ICC will be binding on signatories to the Rome Statute, which will in turn affect their diplomatic/economic relations with Israel.

      • Whizdom on January 17, 2015, 9:44 pm

        If this is a step closer to resolving this conflict with less human suffering, it is a good thing. Bring it.

    • Blownaway on January 17, 2015, 9:10 pm

      I wonder what Americans would think of who’s in charge if they read articles like this in the Times of Israel want to know who the shot caller is? “WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, shortly after the International Criminal Court announced it would begin a preliminary examination of Israel’s actions during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, following the Palestinian Authority’s allegations of Israeli war crimes. Netanyahu reportedly asked Kerry to offer a strident response to this first step on the potentially long and complex road to indictments, and the State Department indeed promptly issued an emphatic denunciation of the ICC’s move.

      Read more: Short of invading The Hague, not much US can do to thwart ICC probe of Israel | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/short-of-invading-the-hague-not-much-us-can-do-to-thwart-icc-probe-of-israel/#ixzz3P8QAfmuG
      Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

      • TheAZCowBoy on January 19, 2015, 2:47 pm

        War criminals shouldn’t have a say when their ‘Partners-in-Crime’ are being indicted.
        And, if they do, their own ‘rap sheets’ should also be investigated – and admitedly the UNITED SNAKES (US/Israel/NATO) have some ‘World Class’ raps sheets – as France is finding out and Britain is preparing for the consequences (Libya, Syria) thereof.

    • DavidDaoud on January 20, 2015, 4:39 am

      Not only of this century but a goodly part of the last as well.

  2. Blownaway on January 17, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Interesting that the US which has claimed the mantle of shepherding the state of Palestine into existence is using the fact that they have failed to do so as a reason for not going to the ICC? Is that a hidden agenda to protect their child? Two non signatories to the ICC are proclaiming the loudest…join and then maybe you can have a voice…

  3. John O on January 17, 2015, 12:43 pm

    We Brits have long thought that the Yanks don’t do irony. And now, here’s the proof.

    • Philip Munger on January 17, 2015, 6:08 pm

      We do irony. We just don’t do it very well. And most American irony tends to be inadvertent.

      • Whizdom on January 19, 2015, 3:06 pm

        exactly. Americans are irony blind, like being color blind, congenitally unable to recognize irony, which ironically, makes us even more apt to commit stunning acts of Irony, without even knowing it! Like rain on your wedding day, isn’t that not Ironic?

    • Shingo on January 17, 2015, 8:33 pm

      We Aussies have always said that about the Yanks – with the exception of New York, thanks largely to it’s Irish and Jewish influence which has been it’s salvation.

    • MRW on January 20, 2015, 10:10 am

      Donald Johnson, “The State Department hack . . . .” Love it.

  4. Boomer on January 17, 2015, 1:30 pm

    The tragic irony is that the U.S. defends, supports and enables the aggressor, the oppressor, the thief, all the while claiming to be devoted to values such as liberty, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, justice, etc.

  5. Marnie on January 17, 2015, 1:38 pm

    “Israel categorically rejects the statement by the ICC prosecutor. The Palestinian Authority is not a state and therefore there is no place, also according to the ICC’s own regulations, for such a probe. The absurdity of the decision is even greater since the PA is cooperating with Hamas, a terrorist organization that commits war crimes. Israel is fighting terrorism while upholding international law and has an independent judiciary. ”

    Wow, what an unexpected response from the criminal Netanyahu. And of course they will use all their resources (American politicians) to deligitimize the ICC and prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Liberman will seek to disband the court. That should be interesting. I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as kicking rowdy patrons out of some strip club in Moldova, but who knows. Isn’t it incredible that this little strip of dirt captures more headlines and stories than any other place in the world, and when the world starts paying attention to what is being done on this little strip of dirt, they cry “antisemitism”.

  6. Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 17, 2015, 1:55 pm

    ”we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC. ”

    Since the US has not signed up to the ICC, their thoughts on the matter are about as relevant as those of the senile old woman who lives down the road from me. Rather less so, in fact.

    So please, ‘Merca, do us all a huge favour and STFU.

    • pjdude on January 17, 2015, 8:48 pm

      not entirely true clinton actually signed the rome statute bush the second unsigned it.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 18, 2015, 2:14 pm

        Signed but not ratified, same as Israel. Signing the treaty is meaningless unless it is ratified.

  7. Bornajoo on January 17, 2015, 6:23 pm

    A certain MW commentator is already whining that Bensouda is Muslim (on another thread). And because of that any investigation would be bias. Will be interesting to see if the GOI and zionist media also try and exploit this. They would of course prefer someone Jewish like Richard Goldstone to do another Cast Lead whitewash for them

  8. Whizdom on January 17, 2015, 6:38 pm

    Very disappointed in my government’s response. As important as investigation and prosecution for crimes committed during military operations, the basic crime of violations of Geneva IV, including the transfer of populations, expropriation of resources, etc, annexation of territory acquired by force, etc., may have the biggest impact on the conflict and its resolution.

    And indictments could come down quick, that would have a huge impact on the political echelon. Months not years.

  9. RoHa on January 17, 2015, 8:49 pm

    “And because of that any investigation would be bias. ”

    Quite impossible, of course. It is possible, though not probable, that the investigation would be biased, but this would only be objectionable if it were biased against Israel. As you recognise, to have a bias in favour of Israel is the right and proper thing.

  10. talknic on January 17, 2015, 9:10 pm

    Let’s look at what Netanyahu says “It is an outrage that, mere days after terrorists massacred Jews in France”

    The move by the Palestinians to have this matter brought before the court preceded the event in France and the terroristas were not Palestinian. Perhaps the Nuremberg trials shouldn’t have taken place because of Jewish terrorism in Palestine? http://pages.citebite.com/r2v6p3p4r1hgf

    “because we are defending our people from Hamas “

    No because war crimes might have been committed.

    “The Palestinian Authority is not a state “

    A minority opinion. Fact is the majority of the International Comity of Nations and majority UN Member states have recognized Palestine, under Customary International Law Palestinian statehood is irrevocable.

    “…. also according to the ICC’s own regulations, for such a probe”

    Problem … We can go read the Rome Statute and the Rome Statute says Netanyahu is spouting Red Heifer sh*te! http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/ADD16852-AEE9-4757-ABE7-9CDC7CF02886/283503/RomeStatutEng1.pdf

    “The absurdity of the decision is even greater since the PA is cooperating with Hamas, a terrorist organization that commits war crimes”

    Possible war crimes by one party do not negate the possibility of war crimes by another party.

    “Israel is fighting terrorism while upholding international law…”

    Hundreds of UNSC resolutions say Israel is in breach of International Law.

    ” and has an independent judiciary”

    Israel doesn’t have a constitution to delineate and it isn’t covered by basic law as far as I have been able ascertain. Nor in four decades of my asking, has anyone been able to point me to where it is covered by basic law! Any takers?

    “The decision by the ICC is a complete reversal of the original objectives that were at the basis of the founding of the ICC, which was founded following the mass killing of six million Jews by the Nazis.”

    Strange A) the ICC was founded to examine if there is a case and then to prosecute for war Crimes et al, which is precisely what it’s doing. B) the Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 six decades after the Holocaust

    “Now, there are those who wish to use this court against the Jewish state, which is defending itself from murderous terror that attacks Israel as well as the entire world.”

    The ICC doesn’t prosecute states “The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons “ http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/icc%20at%20a%20glance/Pages/icc%20at%20a%20glance.aspx

    On EVERY point Netanyahu is either wrong or lying

    • Bornajoo on January 18, 2015, 6:52 am

      “On EVERY point Netanyahu is either wrong or lying”

      Hey, at least he’s consistent!

      Thanks once again for your forensic analysis!

    • CigarGod on January 19, 2015, 9:32 am

      Thanks for that.
      I’ve just sent that important point to our local NPR station asking them to correct their reporting. (ICC prosecutes individuals, not states.)

  11. NickJOCW on January 18, 2015, 3:39 am

    If the ICC determines something should be investigated then obviously it should be. The US/Israel opposition is par for the course and not worth more than a shoulder shrug from most of us. The approach surely has an effect on middle class Israelis and by extension on the upcoming elections. I confess ignorance of Israeli politics but it seems to me likely to strengthen the Netanyahu stance among some while giving considerable pause to others and thereby become seriously polarising. Since all the Palestinians including Hamas apparently accept the ICC it also raises the broader question among observers, What are the Israelis so worried about? Dirty linen?

  12. Boomer on January 18, 2015, 9:56 am

    Who is this man who speaks for the United States? What is Jeff Rathke’s background, how did he come to be in this position? Does he believe this crap, or is he saying it to keep his job? Neither Wikipedia nor Muckety provided any information about him when I searched this morning.

    Does someone here know? And more broadly, does someone know of an article or paper or book that discusses more generally who holds political appointments and how they got them–either in federal agencies generally or in the State Department in particular?

    Ultimately, Mr. Obama is responsible, of course. It’s not as if he has been too busy playing golf for 6 years to be aware. But a more detailed analysis would be revealing. I would think that historians and political scientists as well as journalists would be interested in such matters. I have the impression that most of these decisions were made by Obama and a small group of advisors around him . . . in many cases before he took office, though of course there has been turnover. Presumably they reflected the donors and interest groups that Obama regards as key. But I don’t really know any details.

    • CigarGod on January 19, 2015, 9:59 am

      Linked in has a pretty extensive cv on him.
      Sorry, dont kjow how to link it to you from my phone.

      • Boomer on January 19, 2015, 12:28 pm

        Thanks, CigarGod. I’m not a member of LinkedIn. The info available there to nonmembers indicates that he has had a stellar career at State, but not much more (to me at least). A general web search isn’t helpful–at least not to me–because of course his name turns up routinely in news reports. I guess if one were willing and able to sort through thousands of hits, one might find something more.

        In a sense, it may not matter. I don’t mean to focus on him as an individual. Rather, I’m curious about who staffs the higher level bureaucracy, and who puts them there, and why. In some cases, it does matter . . . a lot. Consider the case of the former advisor to V.P. Richard Chaney who is now Assistant Secretary of State in Mr. Obama’s administration:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Nuland

    • annie on January 19, 2015, 1:13 pm

      Does he believe this crap, or is he saying it to keep his job?

      this reminds me of State Department Spokesperson Caught Criticizing US Talking Points http://abcnews.go.com/International/state-department-spokesperson-caught-criticizing-us-talking-points/story?id=27375488

    • CigarGod on January 19, 2015, 3:36 pm

      I understand completely, Boomer.
      Obama is a hostage to his biased advisers…just like we are hostage to our one dimensional media…unless one knows how to slip ones ropes.

      • just on January 19, 2015, 3:49 pm

        It’s not just his advisers, it’s also the US Congress…

        And US citizens are held hostage by all of them.

      • CigarGod on January 19, 2015, 3:58 pm

        Yes.

  13. chris_k on January 18, 2015, 11:46 am

    The use of the term “tragic irony” seems to be being used by Ivy League educated diplomats that want to pre-empt the use of the phrase to describe their own actions. What is great about the move to go to the ICC is that is makes any arguments that US money being sent for military aid has anything whatsoever to do with defending Israelis. If we’re borrowing money from China to send it to Israel to defend the Israelis from extrajudicial attacks, why would we be against the people supposedly threatening them submitting to ICC jurisprudence over their use of violence? As much as all the columnists will try to prop it up, the pretense that Israel just wants to defend itself is gone now, which comes as no surprise to readers here.

  14. Whizdom on January 18, 2015, 7:25 pm

    Looks like Netanyahu is going to launch a full on Dershowitz style Anti-ICC PR slander campaign. Against the advice of his Foreign Ministry. I wonder if we will get dragged along?

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.637807

  15. CigarGod on January 19, 2015, 9:12 am

    I just picked this up on my bug:

    US: hey, what have you got on that prosecutor?
    IZ: nothing…you dont have anything?
    US: tell you what…we’ll attempt a bribe and you guys send in a transvestite.
    IZ: good idea…our tv team needs a real mission…we’re a little worried about all the practicing they’ve been doing.

    Sometime later….

    US: How did your honey trap work out?
    IZ: didnt…we even sent in a sexy, ambiguous congressional aide. Zilch. She didnt take your cash?
    US: No…she’s a boy scout.
    IZ: well, we’ll get a cyanide pen ready and you guys try to get a package on her plane.
    US: we like it. That ought to send a message to any other heros.

  16. eljay on January 19, 2015, 9:30 am

    … the State Department’s Jeff Rathke said:
    … It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC.

    The real tragedy is that for over 60 years and with impunity – thanks in no small part to “no light between” support from the United States – the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel has been:
    – stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land;
    – oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians;
    – refusing to honour its obligations under international law;
    – refusing to accept responsibility or accountability for its past and ON-GOING (war) crimes; and
    – refusing to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

  17. Whizdom on January 19, 2015, 9:54 am

    The PA will likely bring specific claims relating to home demolitions, resource theft, and restriction of movement in the occupied territories. This is what must alarm Israel the most. And it should.

    • Patrick on January 19, 2015, 5:30 pm

      Yes, I hope they do bring such claims. The most solid case that the PA can bring to the ICC is the violation of international law due to the settlements. No one can contest that there are there, and no one, except Israel, maintains that they are legal. In this instance, Israel simply has no case.

  18. just on January 19, 2015, 1:44 pm

    “Canada’s foreign minister says the Palestinians “made a huge mistake” by pursuing war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

    John Baird met Monday with Israeli officials as part of his five-day visit to the region. Prior to meeting Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Baird said the Palestinians crossed a “red line” and that he “communicated that in no uncertain terms” in his meetings with Palestinian leaders.

    Canada has been one of only a few Western countries to stand by Israel as it has come under fierce international criticism over deadlocked negotiations with the Palestinians, the recent Gaza war and settlement construction. It has also vocally opposed the Palestinians’ attempts to reach statehood without direct negotiations with Israel.

    Baird said Canada would not stay silent with Israel under fire.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.637930?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    blah, blah, blah, etc.

  19. amigo on January 19, 2015, 5:03 pm

    O Canada!
    Land of our forefathers,
    Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
    As is thy arm ready to wield the sword,
    So also is it ready to carry the cross.
    Thy history is an epic
    Of the most brilliant exploits.
    Thy valour steeped in faith
    Will protect our homes and our rights.
    Will protect our homes and our rights.

    They protect their homes and rights but deny the Palestinian their right to protect theirs.

    Baird is a hypocrite and hopefully does not represent all Canadians.

    • oldgeezer on January 19, 2015, 6:46 pm

      Baird certainly doesn’t represent all Canadians although it needs to be recognized that the Canadian public is fairly split over the issue.

      Baird himself is an embarrassment. He is as suited to being an FM as Lieberman.

  20. just on January 19, 2015, 8:37 pm
  21. CloakAndDagger on January 19, 2015, 8:48 pm

    Meanwhile, it looks like Israel is preparing to hold ‘faux investigations’ to circumvent an investigation by the ICC. Apparently, if the offending state that houses the war criminal starts an investigation, then the ICC cannot.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4616435,00.html

    ‘War crimes in Palestine’: Who will investigate, and what?

    The ICC decision to launch an initial inquiry into claims of war crimes during last summer’s fighting in Gaza does not mean there will be an investigation, the experts say.

    Also from Lebanon’s Daily Star:

    Israel should welcome Palestine’s ICC entry

    Israel actually has little to fear from the ICC. To date, the experience of the ICC and other similar tribunals suggests that prosecutors usually refrain from pressing charges when countries have taken all available steps to avoid the commission of international crimes. For example, the ICC declined to investigate alleged crimes by European governments in Iraq. Similarly, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has declined to prosecute suspected war crimes by NATO members in Bosnia and Kosovo. –

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2015/Jan-20/284644-israel-should-welcome-palestines-icc-entry.ashx

    • Whizdom on January 20, 2015, 9:01 am

      Yup, a credible internal investigation into war crimes can defer ICC action, which can drag on for years. I fully expect we will see something like this.

      Another tactic would be to re-start peace negotiations, the ICC is prohibited from exercising jurisdiction if it might disrupt peace or reconciliation efforts. That’s why Rivlin is appealing to the PA to come back to the table, and Prosor moaning at the UN about the PA not seeking negotiations. I expect the US to take this up as well, as part of a tactic to defer ICC action. Portrayal of the PA as bad actors for declining to negotiate and trying to restart a sham roadmap peace process.

      It has been reported that the PA is offering a return to negotiations if there is a settlement freeze, this would stop ICC action, but odds are Israel will choose settlement expansion over ICC heat.

      A third tactic would be for Israel to join the ICC itself, which confers a sort of amnesty on past conduct in return for good conduct going forward. I don’t see this happening, considering their current rhetoric.

      However, the the PA’s best play is to file claims based on violations of Geneva IV in the territories. Home demolitions, illegal detentions and killings, population transfer, resource theft, etc. That would call the fundamental legality of the settlements into adjudication. Finally. It would have the effect of targeting the civilian political echelon responsible for the policies.

      Not that war crimes committed as part of a hot war aren’t important, difficult to prosecute, though, fog of war and self defense and proportionality are slippery concepts. But Geneva IV is pretty unambiguous about the prohibition on acquisition of territory by force, and the duties of occupying powers. Indictees could reach into the finance and commercial enterprise leadership. This would be a major freak out

      Remember, even just an ICC subpoena requires signatory nations to arrest and transport individuals to the Hague, so travel would be limited to non ICC nations. China, India, and the US, and North Korea…..

  22. Vera Gottlieb on January 21, 2015, 10:48 am

    Would Hitler have qualified as the defender of the Aryan state???

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