War Crimes? Really?

This has been an intriguing week. President Biden announced that he was putting a hold on shipments of certain American arms, notably hundreds of 2,000 pound and 500 pound bombs, because Israel had begun limited operations in Rafah without waiting for a hostage deal. A week or so earlier, Antony Blinken said that Israel had made an extremely generous offer and “the ball” was in Hamas’s court. Hamas eventually came back with a “counter-offer” of many detailed pages that amounted to, You stop the war, we win, you lose, you release thousands of terrorists, we give you back some hostages, dead and alive, and we once again rule Gaza as we did on October 6.

All concerned knew that this was not something Israel could have taken remotely seriously, and it amounted to no change in Hamas’s months of stonewalling. Yet most Western media, before they had time to read the document, took Hamas’s word that it was a real counter-offer, and proceeded to castigate Israel for going in a limited way into Rafah—beginning, of course, with the orderly evacuation of 100,000 civilians.

This arms shipment holdup was largely political posturing. There is little likelihood that Israel would use those kinds of bombs again (although it did early in the war), and all indications are that Israel’s plan for its Rafah operation, preceded by systematic civilian evacuations, was approved behind the scenes by the Americans. Netanyahu has treated Biden shabbily, and he finally got his wrist slapped, along with a clear warning that Biden could hit him harder in the future.

Biden is not betraying Israel nor is he flip-flopping, he is threading a very narrow needle. Neither he nor we nor the world can afford to have him lose the coming election, and so he tried to show that he would make it impossible for Israel to use those big bombs in crowded Rafah. This point is moot, because Israel was not planning to use them, and even if it was, it has enough of a stockpile to do it anyway.

So Biden tried to get the best of both worlds: showing the anti-war Democrats that he was drawing a red line at big bombs in Rafah, while clearing Israel to do a lot of other things there as long as it protects most civilians. If his gambit works, he will keep some of the Arab-American vote and most of the Jewish vote. He has been criticized from both sides, which probably means he did something right, or at least something smart.

Meanwhile, an estimated 300,000 civilians have moved out of Rafah, or more than a quarter of those sheltering there, in a matter of days. The IDF will safely evacuate many more, and will carry out limited military actions behind those civilians.

Two other very interesting things just happened.

The US State Department completed its report on whether Israel has committed war crimes, and concluded: 1) the United States has no hard proof of Israeli violations; 2) the IDF is “examining hundreds of incidents” that may involve wartime misconduct (something it has done in all its wars); 3) “we do not currently assess that the Israeli government is prohibiting or otherwise restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance” into the territory; 4) military experts call Gaza “as difficult a battlespace as any military has faced in modern warfare… Because Hamas uses civilian infrastructure for military purposes and civilians as human shields, it is often difficult to determine facts on the ground in an active war zone… and the presence of legitimate military targets across Gaza.”

The report states that it cannot be sure that Israel violated international law, but that it may have in some instances. I would like to be made aware of an army fighting a war in modern times of which the same cannot be said—including all wars fought by America. There is none.

The other interesting development was a BBC interview of Joan Donoghue, outgoing president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), regarding what really happened in the “genocide” case brought by South Africa against Israel. She explained “that the court had decided the Palestinians had a ‘plausible right’ to be protected from genocide and that South Africa had the right to present that claim in the court. She said that, contrary to some reporting, the court did not make a ruling on whether the claim of genocide was plausible, but it did emphasise in its ruling that there was a risk of irreparable harm to the Palestinian right to be protected from genocide” (emphasis added).

The part I italicized is completely at odds with how most media outlets have reported the ICJ’s decision (as the ICJ president suggests). It did not find it plausible that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. It found it plausible that such a thing might happen. Again, there is no war of which this may not be said.

The use of the term “genocide” by such ruinous governments as South Africa, Turkey, and Nicaragua, as well as by useful idiots in the US government like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is completely detached from reality and can only be explained by extreme bias against Israel as other governments do much worse; this bias in turn can best be explained by antisemitism. Bernie Sanders is an antisemitic Jew, while the other two are just garden-variety anti-Semites, three among millions. South Africa, Turkey, and Nicaragua are antisemitic countries, three among many.

Read Jewish history and you will see that Jews are used to these Big Lies and Blood Libels. We have survived them before—actually, we have survived worse—and we will survive this. Today, in fact, is Israel’s Day of Remembrance, when it commemorates all the soldiers who have fallen in its defense in war after war after war. Israel was not founded so that Jews could depend on others who have long since proven undependable. I do not think the United States will be among those unreliable others. But if Jews have to stand alone again, we will.

2 thoughts on “War Crimes? Really?

  1. Reading your lines, dear Mel, reminds me of why I admire your intellect, and why I have always looked up to for inspiration. Your voice of reason, your ability to get to the ground truth, to shed light in this moment of darkness is, and will always be, a source of inspiration and cal to me.

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