Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fifth of some assorted footnotes to the preceding

A number of reports have referred to the US as offering "incentives" to the two sides to keep talking. The reported incentives do tend to point up the different treatment given the parties: The Israelis were offered diplomatic, military, and security guarantees in exchange merely for a 60-day extension of the leaky construction moratorium. The Palestinians were offered a statement supporting the pre-1967 boundaries as the starting point for determining final borders - a point on which everyone, even the Israelis, had long since explicitly or tacitly agreed.

But there was another point of those incentives that caught my eye. On Thursday, Israel and the US agreed on a deal for the US to sell 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets to Israel. The F-35 is or rather will be the most advanced fighter jet in the world - in fact, it is so new that it is still under development and the delivery won't be until 2015. Put that another way, we have agreed to sell Israel weapons technology so new even our own armed forces don't have it yet.

The thing is, some reports said that this deal was part of the "incentives" offered to Israel. Those reports are wrong. The Israeli government approved the decision to buy the jets back in mid-September. This had nothing to do with "incentives" to stay in talks; it would be better described as co-dependent enabling of abusive behavior, even if that behavior is, as it was in the IDF attack on the Gaza aid flotilla in May,
unlawful ... unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers....
That was according to a investigation ordered by the UN's Human Right Council. It also said that forensic evidence says that at least six of those killed, including US citizen Furkhan Do─čan, were “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.”

Admittedly, the Human Rights Council has a somewhat spotted reputation and in some cases, especially as it relates to its member states, a rather tenuous relationship with hard truth. As Hugh Pope of the International Crisis Group, writing in Haaretz on Friday, said,
[e]ven the council's chosen rapporteurs on the flotilla rejected their original mandate because of "justified criticism" of its "bias."
But he immediately goes on to say that
the 56-page document deserves careful study. Even the United States, explaining its lone vote against the council's report, did not criticize its contents.

Based on interviews with 112 passengers from 20 countries, the account is thorough, measured and consistent with publicly known facts. ...

The report concludes that "the conduct of the Israeli military ... demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence." It finds "clear evidence to support prosecutions" in eight areas of international law ranging from murder to restricting freedom of expression.

The rapporteurs thank Jordan and Turkey for their assistance. They note their "profound regret that, notwithstanding a most cordial meeting" with the Israeli ambassador to the UN, they were informed of an Israeli position of "non-recognition and non-cooperation."
Israel's non-cooperation extended beyond this investigation. In August, it agreed to cooperate with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's more limited panel of inquiry, only to threaten a week later to withdraw if the panel tried to interview any IDF soldiers instead of just receiving the results of the inquiry by the Israeli military - that is, to put that another way, if the panel of inquiry actually tried to inquire instead of simply accepting the statement of the defense.

So here's the question I can't get away from: If even the "summary execution" of one of our own citizens is not enough, at what point do we say "enough is enough?" At what point do we way "Okay, you have gone too far?" At what point will some president, some Congress, stand up and say "That's it - no more jets for you, no more aid for you, no more vetoes for you, no more covering your ass politically, until you rejoin the community of nations?"

Have you read or seen Waiting for Godot?

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