Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I just participated in a conference call, organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, with Shibley Telhami on the situation in Gaza. I took a lot of notes, and wanted to ask several questions, but unfortunately did not have an opportunity to ask them. So, I wanted to share my comments and questions with you in the hope that they may help us to find the right solution to this very dangerous situation in Gaza and in the Middle East.
First some important comments:
1. It is very dangerous and counter-productive for the US to be always siding "unconditionally" with Israel. Yes, of course, Israel has "the right to respond". To be fair and balanced, and therefore help bring peace to the middle east, the US must also acknowledge that the Palestinians also have "the right to respond", and that the blockade, the embargo, the targeted killings and bombings, and incursions that Israel has been imposing on Gaza for the past two years are also "acts of war". So the question is "who has been provoking whom?".
2. Israel also has the duty to be responsible in its response. The rockets launched by Hamas have killed 3 people in the past seven years. They are illegal but also highly ineffective. The response of Israel has killed over 700 people and injured over 3,000 people in the past 12 days alone, most of them innocent civilians, women, children, and bystanders. This has become a humanitarian tragedy of monumental proportions and means that a cease-fire must be imposed immediately if the international community expects to have any legitimacy in the 21st century.
3. Israel has always resorted to a policy of "deterrence by force", and in most cases by overwhelming force. While this policy may work against states and regular armies, it does not work against non-state actors who can easily hide between the civilians. A policy of overwhelming force against them inevitably means huge civilian losses, which in turn will create more hatred against the people who are killing the civilians. Israel is hoping that the Palestinians will blame Hamas and turn against them, but this is simply wishful thinking and it has never worked this way. In the short and even long run, this will only encourage more violence, extremism, and terrorism, and will not solve the problems of the Middle East or of Israel.
4. The media coverage of this humanitarian tragedy has been disproportionate too. While the Arab public has been bombarded by 24 hour coverage of the mayhem in Gaza, and not just by al-Jazeera but by over 30 Arab news and religious channels, the western public and especially the American public has been treated to extensive coverage of the damage caused by the rockets in southern Israel. This will only help to increase the schism and the hatred between the Arab and Muslim publics and the western public in general.
5. Finally, we are witnessing some of the largest mass demonstrations in the Arab and Muslim worlds that we have seen in the past 30 years. In Morocco and Turkey, for example, demonstrators have numbered into the millions. These huge demonstrations have occurred not just in the capitals but also in every city and small town. Again with very little coverage in the western media, these demonstrations clearly illustrate the exploding anger and frustration of the Arab and Muslim public, and increase the risk that they will turn against the West and also against their own regimes at any moment.
My main question, which I never got to ask, is: How do you think this war will impact future relations between the US and the Arab and Muslim world?
The answer is self-evident in my opinion, but must be asked before it is too late!
Radwan A. Masmoudi
New York, NY USA
Re: Creation of Israeli war crimes tribunal
The current massacre happening in Gaza is of urgent concern to my community and I. For attacks which bear all the trademarks of war crimes, is it not time for them to be assessed within the appropriate context of an Israeli war crimes tribunal?
Surely, you do not need me to relate to you the strangulation and bombardment of Gaza, and the humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding. After five days of consecutive bombardment of Gaza, and a death toll exceeding 400, calls for an end to the massacre fall on the deaf ears of a murderous Israeli government.
The 1.5 million abused and starved inhabitants of the world's biggest concentration camp are being forced to continue to collectively-pay for democratically-electing their government.
While the Israeli authorities punish the Palestinians in order to teach Hamas a hard-handed lesson, the civilian casualties and number of injured continue to soar. Israel is refusing ceasefire requests, in spite of Hamas offering it on the basis of reasonable and attainable compromises: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank, according to Yuval Diskin, current head of Israeli security services Shin Bet.
Also, in light of the current attacks which have sparked international condemnation, Archbishop Desmund Tutu said: "In the context of total aerial supremacy, in which one side in a conflict deploys lethal aircraft against opponents with no means of defending themselves, the bombardment bears all the hallmarks of war crimes."
Over the past 2 months, fuel supply to Gaza has been blocked leading to the closure of its power plant, and even the U.N. has been forced to halt distribution of food aid, upon which most Gazans are reliant. The actions of the Israeli authorities violate the Geneva Conventions and so many international norms. It is now more necessary than ever for the U.N. to establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI), under U.N. Charter Article 22. Failure to create viable accountability would only further embolden the Israeli government to continue their extermination of the Palestinians.
As the crimes committed against Palestinians degrade all humanity, we request you to urge members of the U.N. General Assembly to swiftly take necessary and appropriate action towards creating an ICTI under U.N. Charter Article 22, and holding the Israeli government accountable.
I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.
[Your name] ____________