Saturday, January 05, 2019

Here's a Term We've Come to Ignore - "Proportionality"

Why does Canada support war criminals? Why does Ottawa support regimes that routinely commit war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Saudi Arabia is a blatant example with its slaughter of Houthi civilians in Yemen who now have two choices of premature death - bombs or starvation.  It's easy to pick on the Saudis. Nobody really likes them. We do, however, very much like their money especially when it comes to selling them a shitload of armoured death wagons.  It seems you can overlook an even bigger shitload of war crimes when there's 15-billion dollars worth of weapons trade in the balance. (Remember when Justin called those armoured vehicles "Jeeps"?)

But, in fairness, maybe the Saudis figured we were okay with their butchery in Yemen. After all, aren't we very, very accommodating when Saudi's neighbour, Israel, lays waste to the Palestinian citizenry? Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

You don't believe we're backing Israel? All you need do is look at our voting record in the UN General Assembly on any motion to sanction Israel or support the Palestinians. That's when you'll realize that Justin Trudeau, just like Stephen Harper, is in the bag for Benjamin Netanyahu.

What Israeli war crimes? What crimes against humanity? I'm glad you asked.

This came to mind whilst I was paying my New Year respects to Chatham House, the prestigious British think tank more properly known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs. There I stumbled across a very good research paper by Emanuela-Chiara Gillard on "Proportionality in the Conduct of Hostilities."

Gillard's paper provides the context by which we are to measure Israel's periodic slaughter of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza. The Israeli policy has been given the name of the Beirut neighbourhood that, in 2006, Israeli jets bombed into rubble, Dahiyeh.

The focus of the Israeli policy is to target civilian populations and their essential infrastructure with intentionally disproportionate devastation.

What you see above is late-stage Dahiyeh. The opening attacks targeted Beirut's infrastructure - the power stations, the water system and, that all-time favourite, the sewer system. The second stage is to go after schools and hospitals. Then, with your leftover ordinance, you carpet bomb the areas where the civilian population lives.  Think of it as Guernica revisited.  Or, as Picasso rendered it:

Israel, doing pretty much what the Nazis did? You're damn straight. Only we didn't look the other way when that scrap ended.

It was WikiLeaks that outed the Israelis in a leaked US government cable referencing a conversation with general Gadi Eisenkot, then Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defence Force.
6. (8) Eisenkot labelled any Israeli response to resumed conflict the "Dahiya Doctrine" in reference to the leveled Dahiya quarter in Beirut during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He said Israel will use disproportionate force against any village that fires on Israel, "causing great damage and destruction." Eisenkot made very clear: this is not a recommendation, but an already approved plan.
In Gaza, as in Beirut, Israeli jets have destroyed the sewage system, the water system and the power grid.  The Lebanese managed to rebuild Beirut. No such luck for the Gaza Palestinians. Their homeland is a prison camp. Nothing gets in unless Israeli forces allow it in. And, for the people of Gaza, that's a death sentence.  It's not accidental, it's not inadvertent, it is deliberately and intentionally disproportionate. That's the very point of it. It is barbarism at its finest.

In 2010, former Supreme Court of Canada justice, war crimes prosecutor at the ICJ, and then chief of the International Crisis Group, Louise Arbour, slammed the international community for turning a blind eye to the brutal suppression of Gaza.
For years, many in the international community have been complicit in a policy that aimed at isolating Gaza in the hope of weakening Hamas. This policy is morally appalling and politically self-defeating. It has harmed the people of Gaza without loosening Hamas's control. Yet it has persisted regardless of evident failure.
That, of course, was back when Ignatieff joined Harper in pre-absolving Israel for flattening Gaza on the "they had it coming" rule of international law.  We weren't just ignoring these war crimes, we were supporting them. We were complicit. We remain complicit.

Slow motion genocide or will it be ethnic cleansing instead?

There's something uniquely abominable in destroying a society's water supply.

Ten years ago we were warned that Gaza was on a death watch.

The Gazans too are surrounded, cut off - by Israel - and the siege is strangling the public's access to drinking water. From the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs office: 
Unless urgent action is taken, the supply of water fit for human use in the Gaza Strip will be depleted in 5-10 years, according to the Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) and UN agencies working there. Only 5-10 percent of groundwater - the most important supply source for human use (domestic, agricultural and industrial) in Gaza - yields potable water, according to CMWU. 
...The poor quality of groundwater is due to over-extraction from the aquifer and this has allowed seawater intrusion - hence the high salinity of Gaza’s groundwater. Much of it is unfit for human use.

Tap water in Gaza is known to be very salty and undrinkable. Poor groundwater quality can also be attributed to pollution from wastewater seepage and the infiltration of agricultural fertilizers, according to a World Bank report released in April.
Over-extraction, there's your problem. Only there's more to it than that. A significant factor in the depletion of Gaza's aquifer are the 28 "trap wells" Israel established along the Gaza border that drew freshwater out, allowing sea water to be drawn into the aquifer.

That terrorist sympathizer, the World Bank, issued a pretty thorough report.

Israel has Gaza by the throat and has prevented the Palestinians from getting the equipment and materials needed to repair and rehabilitate the water and sewage systems. As a result sewage flows into lagoons from which it seeps into the water supply. It's the Kiss of Death.

In 2015 the UN warned that Gaza would become uninhabitable by 2020.  Three days ago PBS ran a feature of Gaza's water crisis that supports the UN assessment five years ago. There's an interesting video if you can stomach it.

The following day, January 2nd, PressTV reported that the Israeli navy has "almost completed" its sea barrier off Gaza.
The situation has severely restricted fishing activities off Gaza, where staples are scarce. The overall blockade also threatens to render the territory uninhabitable by 2020, according to the United Nations. 
The Israeli navy has blocked all attempts at bringing humanitarian aid to the territory by international activists. One such confrontation led to the death of 10 activists on board a Turkish-flagged ship in 2010.
This is a humanitarian crisis, one of Benjamin Netanyahu's calculated making. That's the same guy Canada backs every time something to do with Palestine comes up for a vote in the General Assembly.

2020, Gaza's death knell, is pretty close only our general election is just a little bit closer and demanding that our "ally" promptly lift the siege of Gaza isn't a great priority for our Liberal government or its Tory rival.

How will Gaza end? What happens to civilians living in a place that has become uninhabitable, a place where they're confined, ringed by lethal force and an enemy unhesitant to put civilians to the sword?  Some believe we're about to witness the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their Gaza homeland.

Louise Arbour was right. A succession of craven federal governments, Liberal and Conservative, has made Canada complicit in this.  This is not the Canada of Laurier, St. Laurent, Lester Bowles Pearson or Pierre Trudeau. This is the Canada of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. It is not the Canada that I once loved.


Anonymous said...

It's not even the Canada of Lyin' Brian Mulroney, who despite many faults, had the backbone to stand against SA apartheid while Reagan and Thatcher played hear no evil, see no evil.


The Mound of Sound said...

That's true enough, Cap. Mulroney had a bit of sand when it mattered. Even Joe Clark stood up to Harper.

I wish today's Liberals and Conservatives would follow the link to Pearson to see what Canadian leadership once meant and, by contrast, how degraded our leadership has become in this new era.

Marg said...

Whether its Gideon Levy or my jazz friend Gilmad being barred by performing in the UK...I need someone to help me understand how any one with a brain, could not rationally see that the Palestinians are the sole owners of Palestine...And any OMG moment from any Zionist or US born-again is ---quite frankly asinine and mentally ill in acceptance. I was face-smacked when Trudeau took the same position up to the point of banning boycotting....

What many forget is that the same chosen memory loss has been applied to the lies forgotten in attacking the civilian people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali, and back to Iraq and Afghanistan....all for corporate defense profits...and muscle in dealing and stealing from any other power or country of choice or whim...and so it goes...

My heart and soul tremor ....after all the work and awareness done in the 60's and 70's---Most are in total but fearful denial...

Anonymous said...

Does Canada have a leg to stand on considering how we treat our own indigenous peoples?

The Mound of Sound said...

Marg, I think the plan is a one-state option after all. The state, however, will be a cleansed society with many of the Palestinians trucked out, perhaps to Jordan.

Israelis know the two-state option is not viable. They simply won't countenance returning to the pre-67 borders and handing the West Bank intact to the Palestinians.

Population growth rates (Palestinians are still at 4 per woman, twice Israel's rate) mean that a single-state would soon see a Palestinian majority. That's out.

So, if you won't give them back their homeland and you can't extend full citizenship to them, what future can there be for Palestinians and their homeland? There's a vocal and powerful faction in Israel that simply wants them gone, ethnic cleansing.

The Mound of Sound said...

Do we have a "leg to stand on"? Sure we do. Our failings with Canada's First Nations and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians are hardly linked. If anything, Canada needs to address both but that doesn't mean it has to shirk from our moral obligations to the Palestinians.

Marg said...

My heart bleeds, how can this continue...All I can do is offer an apartment for some who are trying to start a new life without Israelis hatred as part of their daily lives...So far 2 families, have first moved here and are in the process of healing but not free of the fear of Israelis racism...Whether against the people of Palestine or Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Iran....Its all the same, hatred devised to take from others what would be totally unacceptable if done in reverse....

Anonymous said...

Of course we do. Is an alcoholic's advice to quit drinking less valuable than a teatotaler's?

Anonymous said...

these "think tanks" are decades behind and shoukd stop copying ...nogameyouknow..its quite obvious where they get their ideas from..all stolen..

Anonymous said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anonymous 12:51. Why don't you rest your brain from your struggles with think tanks and just use whatever mental energy you have to focus on your literacy, such as it is.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 4:38. Enough of your alt.right garbage. Straight into the bin.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, this post is about Gaza and Israel. It's not a forum for you to bullshit about the Mango Mussolini. You waste your time retyping all your bullet points and I flush them down the crapper with the push of a couple of keys. Adios, troll.

Purple library guy said...

As to those monkeys--we're more like see no evil, hear no evil, and, uh . . . two out of three ain't bad.