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War Crimes? Us???

World  (tags: UN, USA, Israel, War Crimes, ICC, Gush Shalom )

- 1333 days ago -
This being so, the concept of "war crimes" is dubious. The biggest crime is starting the war in the first place. This is not the business of soldiers, but of political leaders. Yet they are rarely indicted.


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Eleonora Oldani (37)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 12:48 pm

War Crimes? Us???

"WAR IS HELL!" the US general George Patton famously exclaimed.

War is the business of killing the "enemy", in order to impose your will on them.

Therefore, "humane war" is an oxymoron.

War itself is a crime. There are few exceptions. I would exempt the war against Nazi Germany, since it was conducted against a regime of mass murderers, led by a psychopathic dictator, who could not be brought to heel by any other means.

This being so, the concept of "war crimes" is dubious. The biggest crime is starting the war in the first place. This is not the business of soldiers, but of political leaders. Yet they are rarely indicted.

THESE PHILOSOPHICAL musings came to me in the wake of the recent UN report on the last Gaza war.

The investigation committee bent over backwards to be "balanced", and accused both the Israeli army and Hamas in almost equal terms. That, in itself, is problematic.

This was not a war between equals. On one side, the State of Israel, with one of the mightiest armies in the world. On the other side, a stateless population of 1.8 million people, led by a guerrilla organization devoid of any modern arms.

Any equating of such two entities is by definition contrived. Even if both sides committed grievous war crimes, they are not the same. Each must be judged on its own (de)merits.

THE IDEA of "war crimes" is relatively new. It arose during the 30 Years War, which devastated a large part of Central Europe. Many armies took part, and all of them destroyed towns and villages without the slightest compunction. As a result, two thirds of Germany were devastated and a third of the German people was killed.

Hugo de Groot, a Dutchman, argued that even in war, civilized nations are bound by certain limitations. He was not a starry-eyed idealist, divorced from reality. His main principle, as I understand it, was that it makes no sense to forbid actions that help a warring country [or “party”] to pursue the war, but that any cruelty not necessary for the efficient conduct of the war is illegitimate.

This idea took hold. During the 18th century, endless wars were conducted by professional armies, without hurting civilian populations unnecessarily. Wars became "humane".

Not for long. With the French revolution, war became a matter of mass armies, the protection of civilians slowly eroded, until it disappeared entirely in World War II, when whole cities were destroyed by unlimited aerial bombardment (Dresden and Hamburg) and the atom bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Even so, a number of international conventions prohibit war crimes that target civilian populations or hurt the population in occupied territories.

That was the mandate of this committee of investigation.

THE COMMITTEE castigates Hamas for committing war crimes against the Israeli population.

Israelis didn't need the committee to know that. A large share of Israeli citizens spent hours in shelters during the Gaza war, under the threat of Hamas rockets.

Hamas launched thousands of rockets towards towns and villages in Israel. These were primitive rockets, which could not be aimed at specific targets – like the Dimona nuclear installation or the Ministry of Defense which is located in the center of Tel Aviv. They were meant to terrorize the civilian population into demanding a stop to the attack on the Gaza strip.

They did not achieve this goal because Israel had installed a number of "Iron Dome" counter-rocket batteries, that intercepted almost all rockets heading for civilian targets. Success was almost complete.

If they are brought before the International Court in The Hague, the Hamas leaders will argue that they had no choice: they had no other weapons to oppose the Israeli invasion. As a Palestinian commander once told me: "Give us cannons and fighter planes, and we will not use terrorism."

The International Court will then have to decide whether a people that is practically under an endless occupation is allowed to use indiscriminate rockets. Considering the principles laid down by de Groot, I wonder what the decision will be.

That goes for terrorism in general, if used by an oppressed people that has no other means of fighting. The black South Africans used terrorism in their fight against the oppressive apartheid regime, and Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison for taking part in such acts und refusing to condemn them.

THE CASE against the Israeli government and army is quite different. They have a plentitude of arms, from drones to warplanes to artillery to tanks.

If there was a cardinal war crime in this war, it was the cabinet decision to start it. Because an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip makes war crimes unavoidable.

Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war knows that war crimes, whether in the most moral or the most base army in the world, do occur in war. No army can avoid recruiting psychologically defective people. In every company there is at least one pathological specimen. If there are not very strict rules, exercised by very strict commanders, crimes will occur.

War brings out the inner man (or woman, nowadays). A well-behaved, educated man will suddenly turn into a ferocious beast. A simple, lowly laborer will reveal himself as a decent, generous human being. Even in the "Most Moral Army in the World" – an oxymoron if there ever was one.

I was a combat soldier in the 1948 war. I have seen an eyeful of crimes, and I have described them in my 1950 book "The Other Side of the Coin".

THIS GOES for every army. In our army during the last Gaza war, the situation was even worse.

The reasons for the attack on the Gaza Strip were murky. Three Israeli kids were captured by Arab men, obviously for the sake of achieving a prisoner exchange. The Arabs panicked and killed the boys. The Israelis responded, the Palestinians responded, and lo – the cabinet decided on a full-fledged attack.

Our cabinet includes nincompoops, most of whom have no idea what war is. They decided to attack the Gaza Strip.

This decision was the real war crime.

The Gaza Strip is a tiny territory, overcrowded by a bloated population of 1.8 million human beings, about half of them descendents of refugees from areas that became Israel in the 1948 war.

In any circumstances, such an attack was bound to result in a large number of civilian casualties. But another fact made this even worse.

ISRAEL IS a democratic state. Leaders have to be elected by the people. The voters consist of the parents and grandparents of the soldiers, members of both regular and reserve units.

This means that Israel is inordinately sensitive to casualties. If a large number of soldiers are killed in action, the government will fall.

Therefore it is the maxim of the Israeli army to avoid casualties at any cost – any cost to the enemy, that is. To save one soldier, it is permissible to kill ten, twenty, a hundred civilians on the other side.

This rule, unwritten and self-understood, is symbolized by the "Hannibal Procedure" – the code-word for preventing at any cost the taking of an Israeli soldier prisoner. Here, too, a "democratic" principle is at work: no Israeli government can withstand public pressure to release many dozens of Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of one Israeli one. Ergo: prevent a soldier from being taken prisoner, even if the soldier himself is killed in the process.

Hannibal allows – indeed, commands – the wreaking of untold destruction and killing, in order to prevent a captured soldier from being spirited away. This procedure is itself a war crime.

A responsible cabinet, with a minimum of combat experience, would know all this at the moment it was called upon to decide on a military operation. If they don't know, it is the duty of the army [or “military”] commanders – who are present at such cabinet meetings – to explain it to them. I wonder if they did.

ALL THIS means that, once started, the results were almost unavoidable. To make an attack without serious Israeli casualties possible, entire neighborhoods had to be flattened by drones, planes and artillery. And that obviously happened.

Inhabitants were often warned to flee, and many did. Others did not, being loath to leave behind everything precious to them. Some people flee in the moment of danger, others hope against hope and stay.

I would ask the reader to imagine himself for a moment in such a situation.

Add to this the human element – the mixture of humane and sadistic men, good and bad, you find in any combat unit all over the world, and you get the picture.

Once you start a war, "stuff happens", as the man said. There may be more war crimes or less, but there will be a lot.

ALL THIS could have been told to the UN committee of inquiry, headed by an American judge, by the chiefs of the Israeli army, had they been allowed to testify. The government did not allow them.

The convenient way out is to proclaim that all UN officials are by nature anti-Semites and Israel-haters, so that answering their questions is counterproductive.

We are moral. We are right. By nature. We can't help it. Those who accuse us must be anti-Semites. Simple logic.

To hell with them all!


Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 1:01 pm
You're getting more "professional" with your image choice as I can see! You know, that stuff is expensive, admit you 're getting paid by the white ...ghost ! ;)
Thanks, I read that yesterday.. another typical Uri with reading pleasure guarenteed.
Had I 1. not have had those old familiar tech issues with posting to C2NN and 2. have such a perfect image right at hand, I would have posted it myself.
Glad you did, Eleonora and thanks for that!

Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 1:04 pm
I learned a new word while reading yesterday, had to look up "nincompoops" in the dictionary :-))) love it!

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 1:26 pm

Thanks Angelika - can't send you more GS as you used up your quota: ************

I love that "nincompoops" too and had to check my LEO - I love it too and wonder how many nincompoops Uri would spot on Care2 ... LOL!! A sure bet would be the ... little white Dawah ghost ... ;-).

I'm glad that my tech and other problems are gone for the time being ... sure some will come back! There were some good articles from which I intended to post - couldn't - and then saw last night that Walter and Anonymous posted some (sure you've seen them). Oh well, the world will continue turning ...

Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:04 pm
I would have to go search for whatever you're speaking of. I rarely ever visit the front or newspage. But I frequently check Consortium, might have already read them. But keep in mind that I am again, or still concentrating more onthe other nasty stuff, US /NATO- Russia.

Past Member (0)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:14 pm
Angelika, oh you will get such use out of the word nincompoops!
Thank you for posting Eleonara.
Has there ever been a war where there weren't war crimes? Sadly I don't think so.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:17 pm
Nancy, you most probably have a point there! Only funny that I've never seen the word before..when we're soo surronded by those!

Evelyn B (63)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:25 pm
Uri rarely disappoints! Thanks, Eleonora .... ******************* to you & Angie

No doubt this is an Islamist, Anti-Semitic site :>) ....

Nincompoop has been a favorite word of mine since I was little, so satisfying to say!! - briefly replaced by "floccinaucinihilipilification" (sometimes written as "floxinoxinihilipilification", which reflects the pronunciation!) - the action or process of estimating something as insignificant, worthless! For example, we should apply floccinaucinihilipilification when reading the spew of trolls ...... But in my early teens, we tended to (mis)use it as an insulting adjective, or to describe sombody .... mainly with great pride that we knew & could pronounce it!! And - satisfying to say, better than any of the swear words that we weren't allowed to use anyway!! I admit that it does pop into my mind from time to time .... on Care2!

Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:31 pm
Evelyn, have mercy on me ! That's for advanced class! good grief.. :-)) As if nincompoops weren't enough to type!

Wilde T (10)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:47 pm
Like also inflicting shock and awe on a defeated 3rd world country after 10 years of punishing sanctions with the the clever ridiculous excuse of fear of imminent attack.

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 2:55 pm

LOL - Evelyn!! I've tried to pronounce it and my tongue is still in a knot! What do I do now? LEO tells me that "encountered mainly as an example of one of the longest words in the English language". What I like about LEO is that you can also listen to the pronunciation - it's hilarious - try it Angelika!

Yes - Uri is by definition of our friends an "anti-Semite" and probably also a self-hating Jew and thus ... worth reading what he has to say!


Past Member (0)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 3:36 pm
War never solves anything. It only destroys innocent lives+too often ends up killing those innocent too. Free least share the bloody land with them. thx Eleonora

Kathleen Mireault (211)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 3:37 pm
Thanks for sharing, Eleonora. And thank you all, Esteemed Commenters! Have to love bonding around the concept of "nincompoops!"

Angelika R (143)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 4:07 pm
hahaha Eleonora, the man sounds like talking about some serious disease! Butt after about 5,6 tries I CAN SAY IT now! :) Will dream about it, for sure!

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Saturday June 27, 2015, 5:25 pm

Then ... have sweet dreams, Angelika!!

Ralph F (70)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 2:29 am
The double standard on, "war criminals" is disgusting. The media lap-dogs will point out how horrible leader of some third world nation is (rightfully so) and blatantly ignore the series of major nation war criminals who are carrying out these crimes as a matter of policy -- praised for statesmanship and given peace awards as the body count of real human beings adds up. There are some days when I feel I need a barf bag realizing that I share the same air as these, "people."

Angelika R (143)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 4:35 am
Ros, that's right! Were the leaders" going in the battlefield, like, say, Napoleon, there's be no more wars.
As for Putin-Obama, hell, I wish they WOULD talk, that is exactly what has been missing. The more time passes, the harder for O. to pull back while somehow saving face.

Gillian M (11)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 8:58 am
The truth?

S a British officer who had more than his share of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza, prepared by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, and published on Monday, will do just that.

The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” as well as the blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression.

In an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply” with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.

There is no such sympathy for Israel. Judge Davis accuses the Israel Defense Forces of “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Yet no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal.

Referring to cases in which Israeli attacks killed civilians in residential areas, Judge Davis says that in the absence of contrary information available to her commission, there are strong indications that the attacks were disproportionate, and therefore war crimes. But all we get is speculation and the presumption of guilt.

The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless.

The commission could have listened to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last November that the I.D.F. had taken extraordinary measures to try to limit civilian casualties. Or to a group of 11 senior military officers from seven nations, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Australia, who also investigated the Gaza conflict recently. I was a member of that group, and our report, made available to Judge Davis, said: “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the I.D.F. last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population.”

The report acknowledges that Israel took steps to warn of imminent attacks but suggests more should have been done to minimize civilian casualties. Yet it offers no opinion about what additional measures Israel could have taken. It even criticizes Israel for using harmless explosive devices — the “knock on the roof” — as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, suggesting that it created confusion. No other country uses roof-knocks, a munition developed by Israel as part of a series of I.D.F. warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives.

Continue reading the main story

jlalbrecht 23 hours ago
“Judge Davis suggests that the I.D.F.’s use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime and recommends...
Oscar Pockle 23 hours ago
Thank the heavens that there are still men with integrity / military officers with experience / articulate people with courage! I truly...
Brian Knowlton 23 hours ago
Just a wee bit biased you think ?
Judge Davis suggests that the I.D.F.’s use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime and recommends further international legal restrictions on their use. Yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies.

The I.D.F. is not perfect. In the heat of battle and under stress its commanders and soldiers undoubtedly made mistakes. Weapons malfunctioned, intelligence was sometimes wrong and, as with all armies, it has some bad soldiers. Unnecessary deaths resulted, and these should be investigated and the individuals brought to trial if criminal culpability is suspected.

The reason so many civilians died in Gaza last summer was not Israeli tactics or policy. It was Hamas’s strategy. Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result. Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel.

Judge Davis’s report is rife with contradictions. She acknowledges that Israeli military precautions saved lives, yet without foundation accuses “decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel” of a policy of deliberately killing civilians. Incredibly, she “regrets” that her commission was unable to verify the use of civilian buildings by “Palestinian armed groups,” yet elsewhere acknowledges Hamas’s widespread use of protected locations, including United Nations schools.

Most worrying, Judge Davis claims to be “fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns” while demanding that it “lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza.” Along with the report’s endorsement of Hamas’s anti-Israel narrative, this dangerous recommendation would undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza.

Richard Kemp, a retired British Army colonel, is former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.

Evelyn B (63)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 9:42 am
Richard Kemp - definitely "unbiased"! member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor
From his own site:
"The 55-year- old former commander of British forces in Afghanistan is possibly the highest profile non-Jewish advocate of Israel when it comes to defense matters and the manner in which the country’s various security services and intelligence agencies go about their work of protecting a nation surrounded by enemies."

He was guest speaker at CUFI's 2013 Summit ( This year’s “Christians United for Israel Washington Summit” took place earlier this week; it’s a particularly bizarre conflab, which sees politicians and some serious-minded figures share a platform with the most extravagent apocalyptic evangelists and conspiracy-mongers, led by a man – John Hagee – who has stated that Hitler was sent by God as a “hunter” to persuade European Jews to move to Israel.""

"Many in attendance were brought to tears by the address delivered by Richard Kemp, commander of British forces in Afghanistan. Kemp began by revealing his own Christian faith, and invoked the name of another legend, whom he called “The greatest Christian Zionist in Britain.” He went on to say that he had, that morning, spoken to Orde Wingate. Many in the crowd smiled but were puzzled.

“I spoke to him this morning at Arlington,” Kemp said. Wingate, the British major-general who was a Christian Zionist, helped train what would become the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces. Wingate was killed in a plane crash in India, in 1944, but remains a beloved figure for Israelis and their American supporters.

Kemp delivered an impassioned defense of Israel that brought many in the room to tears. He mentioned several of Israel’s major battlefield achievements, calling the 1976 Entebbe rescue, “The most breathtaking special forces operation the world has ever seen.”

Kemp also referred to the CUFI Summit as a “remarkable event,” and indeed it was. Jews and Christians alike were moved by such displays as the “Wall of Remembrance,” which profiled the 1,000 Israelis killed by jihadist terrorism since 2000."

I wonder why I have reservations about accepting his "neutrality" on this subject .....

Lona Goudswaard (66)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 12:56 pm
The author is right of course, war in itself is a crime and there will never be a war without war crimes. Both parties have committed them once the war had started, but the scale on which crimes were committed differs enormously and the mindset from which the war had started and these crimes committed was very different too. And the author is right again when he states that the politicians who start a war, and those who were responsible for creating the mindset in a nation that allowed this war to start, I might add, are almost never indicted for their crime. We can only hope it will happen in the future, but not because an even more terrible and deadly assault has been carried out on the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank.

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday June 28, 2015, 12:57 pm

Evelyn - GS to you *****************************

Funny that Penny keeps posting this article on every Israel related thread. He is just one of the many ... Interesting also that she never is disturbed by the fact that this highly respected Mr. Kemp ignores the Ten Thousands of deaths on the other side, caused by Zionist terrorism. Not worth a whisper! I mean ... she always makes a fuss if we don't rush to condemn the whole world's atrocities before we talk about the next Israeli settlement ...


Sayenne H (92)
Monday June 29, 2015, 5:25 am
War is crime. Doesn't matter who is doing it to who.

Past Member (0)
Monday June 29, 2015, 7:06 am
Hamas refused a truce offered by Israel when the count of dead was around 200. Hamas waited for several month and 2,200 dead to stop its war.

Now Arabs want to blame Israel for those dead. They really don't get that westerners are not that stupid as Arabs think.

Evelyn B (63)
Monday June 29, 2015, 9:32 am
The Hasbara Handbook was produced by top US experts in PR communication .... wherein its greatest weakness. It advises how to "sell" the Zionist angle to the US mentality .... especially the Christian population in the US. But Europeans, Asians, Australians, Africans don't actually function the same way, which means that the hasbarat just don't quite manage to convince as widely & easily in the rest of the world. I'm not even sure that the Handbook actually "reads" the African-American & Native American psychology so well, either. There are many people not as easily manipulated as the hasbarat hope & wish ....

Evelyn B (63)
Monday June 29, 2015, 9:34 am
Oh - and by the way - among those NOT susceptible to hasbara talk are many Jews - Israeli & non-Israeli ....

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Monday June 29, 2015, 1:58 pm

Right you are again, Evelyn, GS to you *******************************. It must greatly disturb the Hasbaratchiks that not everyone is as gullible as many in the "big melting pot" ;-) ... which is not melting at all as recent events in Charleston have shown again!

I got today this correction in from Uri:

"Several readers have remarked that a terrible mistake occurred in my recent article. The general who said "War is Hell" was not George Patton, the war lover of WWII, but Wlliam Tecumdeh Sherman, who marched through Georgia in the Civil War. (For further information, see "Gone with the Wind:"). Profound apologies.
Shalom, Salamaat,


heather g (46)
Monday June 29, 2015, 6:38 pm
It's p[leasing to learn that not everyone is so biased and many have opened their minds and learned about the ongoing atrocities of Israel.

Thanks Eleonora - What an appropriate picture and caption heading this article.

heather g (46)
Monday June 29, 2015, 6:45 pm
It's p[leasing to learn that not everyone is so biased and many have opened their minds and learned about the ongoing atrocities of Israel.

Thanks Eleonora - What an appropriate picture and caption heading this article.
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