Sunday, 14 February 2010

The 10th Herzlia Conference 2010 - Day 4 (Part 3)

This is the final summary of the 2010 Herzlia Conference.

The Conference included a wide scope of pressing issues of the day. The list of leading Israeli and international speakers filled twenty one pages of the program.

Professor Uriel Reichman, Chairman Danny Rotschild, and their team of workers must be congratulated for prestigeous putting together a conference that has no rival anywhere in the world.

I thank you for your patience in reading the seven reports I have sent you. I appreciate the remarks of those who have responded. I am glad that this conference and my daily summaries have thrown some new light on the major issues that concern us all.
I attended a session on Lawfare entitled NEW WARS IN SEARCH OF NEW LAWS.

PROFESSOR GEORGE FLETCHER of Columbia Law School laid out the priniciples that govern warfare.

Professor Fletcher also teaches philosophy and history. He painted a broad canvas stretching from the origins of Lawfare until the Goldstone Report.

As a learned jurist, his commentary radically undermined the foundations of Goldstone as applied to a legal standard.

He introduced us to Francis Lieber who defined the legal basis for war and its conduct as far back as the American civil war.

In his address he highlighted the language that can taint any objective criticism on how warfare is conducted.

The notion that an army can be injured but civilians not is a ridiculous distinction when it comes to warfare as civilians are always injured albeit by accident.

The distinction that civilians may be injured but not excessively is also ridiculous. Who decides what is excessive?

The word 'intentionally' as used in the Goldstone Report is contentious. Goldstone claims that the IDF 'intentionally' inflicted harm on civilians.

"The Rome Statute defined intention in broad terms as 'Any harm that may occur in the ordinary course of events', explained Professor Fletcher.

"Try to interpret that for 'intentionality'? " he declared.

According to Professor Fletcher, the present situation encourages a rush to judgment, but the reality is that you really don't know what you are talking about in legal terms.

Fletcher was highly critical about the objectivity of certain members of the Goldstone panel.

"Members on an offical United Nations panel must be professional and unbiased."

Israel Prize recipient, PROFESSOR AMNON RUBINSTEIN said that if you want to see what is wrong with Human Rights law you have to look at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

They address any infringements with the same level of criticism.

They do not differential in tone between minor infringements by a country like Denmark or major human rights abuses by countries such as Syria or Iran.

There is no difference in their style of criticism. Government eavesdropping into private phone calls is weighed equally with mass murder.

There is, however, no breach of international law, according to the UN Human Rights Council, when it comes to Gilad Shalit's fate in Gaza. His case is mentioned twice but with no censure against Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

Amnesty International mentions an Israeli blockage on Gaza one hundred times. It does not mention the Egyptian blockage on Gaza even once.

There is no provision in the United National Human Rights Commission, nor with Amnesty, for effective sanctions against non-state actors that abuse human rights, or even against states that encourage non-state actors to human rights abuses

There is no censure against terrorism and terrorist groups. Nothing about suicide bombers.

Referring to Goldstone, Rubinstein pointed out that there was no criminality mentioned for those placing weapons among civilian populations in Gaza.

Rubinstein also said that there must be a differential in law between voluntary human shields and non-voluntary human shields.

DR. BOAZ GANOR is the Founder and Executive Director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. He is also the Deputy Dean of the Lauder School of Government at the IDC in Herzlia.

He discussed what is referred to a 'Multi-Dimentional Warfare'. In this type of warfare one needs to ask who are the participants? It is not conventional warfare between two opposing armies. Participants may be undertaking military warfare but posing as civilians. They do not normally dress in uniform.

This leads to the question of who are unlawful combatants? Between civilians and combatants there are all sorts of degrees of involvement in warfare.

When it comes to civilians these degrees can range from not involved, to voluntary and forced involvement.

There had been a televised discussion in America about targeted assassinations. It revolved around the question of how many civilians may be harmed or killed when operating against a high value target.

The person being interviewed stated that the US military received a figure of thirty civilian casualties as being permissible in Iraq when the high profile target was Saadam Hussein.

Any more than thirty would have needed a request and approval from the President.

( 150 people were killed when the US targeted a wedding party on the assumption that Saadam Hussein's two sons were attending. In fact, they did not attend this event but were late killed in targeted assassinations by the Americans - The View from Here).

The 10th HERZLIA CONFERENCE concluded with the Prime Minister's Address.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU addressed a packed conference hall.

"We have a shared dream with our neighbours. We hope, in the coming weeks, to renew talks without preconditions.

Recognition has ripened that Israel wants the peace process. The practical viability is taking shape. I think there is a Palestinian desire not only to build their economy but to reach peace.

Prime Minister Sharon spoke on this platform on disengagement. I want to talk of engagement here with our neighbours".

Prime Minister Netanyahu then went on to expound his new vision for Israel.

"The fate of the Jewish people is the fate of the Jewish state. Here, in Israel , Jews move from being individuals and groups to being in a collective home. We are a pround nation with a glorious state that expires to be a light among nations".

"We have to continue to strengthen our military might. No one makes peace in our region with those who are weak. This taks a lot of money, as does education, fighting crime, and addressing our social problems. The economy depends on a constant increase of between 4%-5% GNP and we can do this".

"This Government has great ambitions. We have the National Transportation Plan that will link the Galilee to the south as far as Eilat. We are pursuing revolutionary reforms for national building without the bureaucracy that slows things down. Permits for construction take too long. We want permits that are granted immediately. We are working for the release of large tracts of land for development. This is essential for our people and our country".

"We are a regional super-power. We will become a world technology super-power. Education is the crucible in which our national strength is molded. We have to give each child ability and excellence".

"Education must also be to the values of our heritage. This will strengthen our connection to this land. I believe it begins with the Bible and continues throughout our history and on to Zionism.

It must know its past to know its future".

"There is the story of Napolean who heard crying coming from inside a synagogue in France.
He asked why the Jews were crying and was told that it was because our Temple had been destroyed.

He asked, 'How was I not told about this?'

'Because it happened 1700 years ago', he was told.

Napoleon was impressed. 'A nation that can recall its distant past in this way has a future that is assured!'

Yigal Allon said the opposite. A nation that forgets its past has no future!" declared Prime Minister Netanyahu.
(I reflected that this is precisely what has happpened in countries such as Great Britain that are in social, moral, educational, and political decay.)

Netanyahu went into some detail in outlineing his forthcoming Heritage Plan that will renovate historic buildings, construct hiking trails throughout the country, establish centres of culture to preserve our artistic and cultural heritage.

He said the Government would fund an initial five year plan that would breathe new life into the Jewish experience.

He recalled a visit to the Palestine Education Fund cellar in London that had been opened in 1860 by Queen Victoria.

Baron Rotschild established sites in Petach Tikva and Zichron Yaakov. His small but important idea ignited a flame that led to the development of the Jewish state.

One young man that came to visit was Theodore Herzl who dared to envision that could be established here. That flame was Zionism.

In conclusion he said,

"I am not saying we don't have huge challenges. We do. What we want to do today is to light that small flame in our land".

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