I welcome Or Bareket, a fellow writer for IsraLeft, as a guest blogger here in the pogg blog. Or’s posts will be posted at uneven intervals here throughout the next few weeks. This one was originally published on July 25, 2009.
The mainstream reaction to the evidence presented by “Shovrim Shtika” was shown here. But it was not the only public response. Prominent politicians, media representatives, authors, academic figures and such – most of them recognized with what is called the “Zionist Left” (a term that describes most of Israel’s left – a nationalist left) – have signed a petition calling for putting together an Israeli, objective, independent committee to check the claims made by the soldiers (it’s an open petition, but their role in it was publicly emphasized for understandable reasons). I, of course, support this call. However, I have some reservations.
First, I’d like to welcome the nationalist left, it’s about time. The evidence of Israeli war crimes were visible, photographed and video taped while operation Cast Lead operation was underway, for anyone who wishes to hold his eyes open (and as Rod has shown, not many people wished to) to see. After the operation ended till this day there was a steady trickle of evidence. More and more of these evidence were published. The only difference between those evidence and the new “Shovrim Shtika” evidence is that this time around the evidence are brought to light by “our own people”.
During the operation and right after its end, one who wished to hear and see could be faced by evidence of Israeli war crimes1 such as massive shelling, killing of innocents – or as the military refers to them, “uninvolved persons” – using illegal weapons such as white phosphorus and more. The problem was that these evidence and testimonies were presented by human rights organizations and the UN committees – which are, according to Israeli claims of course, totally biased and anti-Israeli, if not anti-Semitic; or in other cases presented by Palestinians, in which cases Israel disregards them completely.
This phenomenon, in which the mainstream left begins to doubt the Israeli actions months after they are over, but supports them with different levels of enthusiasm in real time is not new. It happened in operation Cast Lead, it also happened in the second Lebanon war in 2006. And every other time the mainstream left was caught by surprise by the Israeli actions. The reasons for this phenomenon are a subject matter for another post, here I just meant to point that out. With this in mind the current calling for investigations come out, at least to me, as somewhat hypocritical – but I can live with that.
My more important reservation is that if such a committee will eventually be founded, it will only be used as kind of a rubber stamp as often happens when any organization is checking itself. My fear is that the committee will declare no real evidence has been presented, and that this will allow the mainstream left to go back to its caves and wallow in its own self-righteousness, until the next operation, of course, after which the mainstream left will surely be very surprised again.
What I’d like to see is Israel helping the human rights organizations and the U.N. representatives in any way it can. Not disregarding them in advance as biased. You deny any war crimes have been committed? Help the people who check the claims to see that. That way you can also make sure it’s not biased.
Usually I don’t support the logic, “If you are truly innocent then you have nothing to fear from someone checking up on you”. In this case, it’s seems like the only correct path.Notes:
- A disclaimer you are welcome to add to all future posts on the subject – I am well aware of the fact that Hamas also comittes war crimes – from firing rockets on Israeli citizens to hiding in its own civilian population. Howwhever I believe one wrong does not justify another, and I’ll stick to that belief. [↩]