September 19, 2007

Israel Finally Listening to Big Lizards' Advice

Hatched by Dafydd

A long time ago (in blog years -- June 2005), I wrote a piece on Patterico's Pontifications called "Words of Wall," which I later reposted here on Big Lizards. As I wrote in the introduction to the repost:

This is the post where I first laid out the Lizard Doctrine: Israel should withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, not because it will pacify the Palestinians (which I correctly predicted it would not), but because it would allow Israel at last to "give war a chance."

The Doctrine requires two steps; without both steps being undertaken, it is not the Lizard Doctrine, and I disclaim all accountability for problems that result from implementing only one or the other step: "Not responsible for advice not taken," as Larry Niven likes to say at the drop of a space helmet. The stages are:

  1. That Israel fully withdraw all soldiers and settlers from Gaza and the West Bank;
  2. That Israel subsequently treat Gaza and the West Bank as if they were separate, independent countries -- and respond accordingly to any future military aggression.

Step 2 is just as important as step 1, and it boils down to this: If Syria fired missiles from Syrian territory at Israel, or even if it allowed Hezbollah or Hamas to shoot missiles from Syrian territory, how would Israel respond? I think it would brush aside any considerations of how thoroughly Bashar Assad controls the Syrian frontier... and it would simply bomb the Baathist state in retaliation. And the bombing would cause far more damage to Syria than Syria had caused to Israel, as a deterrant (which may or may not deter).

Thus, under the Lizard Doctrine step 2, when the government of Gaza or the West Bank fires rockets or missiles or launches any other attack against Israel, or allows any other group to do so, from Gazan or West Bankian territory, Israel must respond by bombing them or taking some equivalently harsh military action against them: tit for tat, with the response being much more severe than the provocation.

Alas, this is the part where Israel, in the person of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cronies, has fallen asleep at the switch: The only military action they launched in response to literally hundreds of rockets and missiles fired into Israel by Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Fatah-controlled al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, and from Palestinian-controlled territory (without the least attempt by the Palestinian Authority to punish the attackers, thus proving complicity), was a feckless and ultimately stalemated invasion that destroyed a lot of the terrorist groups' weaponry -- but ultimately did nothing to punish the PA itself for giving the terrorists safe haven.

And of course, ever since the last elections in the PA, the government itself has been controlled by a known terrorist organization, Hamas. Again, as the rocketry continued during and after the war, Israel has made no move to punish the PA as it would Syria, Egypt, or Jordan, were the shoe on that hand.

Rather, Israel has carried out "airstrike assassinations" only against specific individuals. While I think they're a great idea -- keep it up! -- this, too, fails to punish Gaza and the West Bank as if they were enemy states, which is what the Lizard Doctrine requires.

But today, for the first time, I have hope that Israel is finally getting around to implementing step 2:

Israel declared the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" on Wednesday and said it would cut utilities to the territory, complicating the U.S. plan to relaunch peace talks aimed at establishing a separate Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel made the provocative decision hours before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived for talks setting up what President Bush hopes will be a pivotal international Mideast peace conference this fall. Rice neither endorsed nor criticized Israel's move.

First of all, it's outrageous that evidently, all this time, Israel has been supplying electricity, water, and other utilities to a geographic entity that has been at open war with Israel. What imbecile made that decision? For that matter, even were the PA at peace with Israel, why would it be Israel's duty to give them free electricity and water, build roads for them, give them cash money, or perform any other infrastructure improvements? Do we give free electrical power and drinking water to Mexico and Canada?

But it's absurdity on a bagel that they continue doing so while Gaza busily gnaws away at the hand that's feeding it. It's no wonder that the Olmert government polls about as low as the Democrat-controlled Congress in America!

Still, better late than not at all; and I welcome Israel's sudden awakening to its own idiocy... "light dawns on marblehead," and all that. Thank goodness Ehud Olmert is finally listening to the Lizard's advice:

The Israeli designation covers all of Gaza, not just Hamas militants who took control of the territory in June. The United States and Israel regard Hamas as a terrorist organization and refuse to deal with it.

[Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi] Livni said Israel was not obliged to deliver anything to Gaza beyond humanitarian aid.

"When it comes to the humanitarian needs, we have our own responsibilities," Livni said. "All the needs which are more than humanitarian needs will not be supplied by Israel to Gaza Strip."

Perhaps I'm a bit cold-hearted and harsh; I've been called that plenty of times before. But I dispute that Israel has even the most minimal humanitarian obligations to a country or other geopolitical entity with which it is at war. This changes if Israel, or any other nation, occupies a territory; when you take over, you assume certain duties... and this was the major reason the Lizard Doctrine called for Israel to divest itself of the occupied territories: so that any such moral obligation would cease, and the PA could be let alone to sink or swim as it will.

I'm irked and distressed that even this minimal bit of common sense eludes the Israeli leadership. Israel no longer occupies Gaza by even the most expansive definition; and even the West Bank is by and large independent; why was Israel still paying money to keep either entity afloat? Surely that is the responsibility of the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.

And until they are forced, life or death, to shoulder those responsibilities, they will remain in the infantile stage that allows them to consider the cessation of welfare a violation of their human rights:

Israel did not announce a date for cutoff of services. The decision is likely to reinforce perceptions among Palestinians and their Arab backers that Israel will do as it sees fit regardless of the cost to civilians, and that the U.S. will not block Israel's hand....

Livni said the decision is legal, but international aid groups called it unacceptable to blame civilians for the actions of rogue militants.

Gisha, a human rights group that works for greater freedom of movement in Gaza, called the action "immoral and illegal, constituting prohibited collective punishment of civilians."

Sorry, Gisha; "punishment," as used in the legal phrase "collective punishment," means violent assault or the seizure of property; it does not include the decision not to continue giving gifts to the enemy. See, for example, this vigorously anti-Israel article in Counterpunch, objecting to last year's invasion of Gaza:

Attacks on a civilian population as a form of collective punishment violate article 50 of the Hague Regulations, which provides: "No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible."

The Fourth Geneva Convention also prohibits collective punishment. Article 33 says: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed." The Convention requires all states party to it to search for and ensure the prosecution of perpetrators of the war crime of "causing extensive destruction ... not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly." Amnesty International called the deliberate attacks by Israeli forces against civilian property and infrastructure war crimes.

Collective punishment is likewise forbidden by Article 75 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. As four US Supreme Court justices agreed in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld last week, Article 75 is "indisputably part of the customary international law."

Protocol I (which Israel, the United States, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have never ratified), Article 75 does not explicitly define "collective punishments;" but the examples it cites of prohibited actions are all obvious violent assaults or the theft of property.

Again, "prohibited collective punishment of civilians" has never, in all of human history, been defined so expansively as to include the refusal to give humanitarian aid to an enemy entity that is attacking you.

My hopes are still low for the current administration, and I hope that some parliamentary maneuver can be carried out to force elections soon. Such elections would certainly spell the doom of the Kadima Party of Olmert and, most likely, the election of Likud (possibly even a pure Likud majority), making Binyamin Netanyahu the prime minister once more.

But until then, at least Ehud Olmert is shaking himself partially awake and beginning, just beginning, to assume the most basic responsibility of any government leader: to preserve, protect, and defend from violent attack the very country he leads, whether from other countries or even external quasi-governmental entities.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 19, 2007, at the time of 2:50 PM

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The following hissed in response by: phil g

This just makes my brain explode

The Lizard Doctrine rules

The above hissed in response by: phil g [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 3:04 PM

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