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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Baghdad’

‘Good Vibes’ in Istanbul Meeting over Iranian Nukes, But No Bilateral Iran-US Talks

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

UPDATE: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a news conference after a day of talks that there will be a meeting with the Iranian delegation again in Baghdad on May 23.

“We want now to move to a sustained process of dialogue,” Ashton said, adding, “The discussion on the Iranian nuclear issue has been constructive and useful. We want now to move to a sustained process of serious dialogue, where we can take urgent, practical steps to build confidence.”

———————————————-

According to the Iranian news agency Mehr, European Union foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann said on Saturday that the meeting between Iran and the six major powers had been “positive” and “totally different” than the last meeting.

Tehran and the group of 6 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) met in Istanbul on Saturday, ending a 15-month hiatus in talks.

“There is a positive atmosphere… contrasting with the last time,” Mann stated after a two-and-a-half-hour morning session, adding that “the principles for future talks seem to be there.”

An afternoon session on Saturday involved a number of bilateral meetings, but the Iranian delegation rejected the US representatives’ request for a bilateral meeting.

“Their request was presented numerous times, but Iran has refused,” a source close to the Islamic Republic’s team told AFP.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represented the major powers in the nuclear negotiations with Tehran, and the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, headed the Iranian delegation.

“I hope what we will see today is the beginnings of a sustained process,” Ashton said in a statement. “What we are here to do is to find ways in which we can build confidence between us and ways in which we can demonstrate that Iran is moving away from a nuclear weapons program.”

“What was discussed in the talks today was an emphasis on our nation’s nuclear rights based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Tehran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters after two rounds of talks.

According to the Fars news agency, when he was asked about the pivots of the future round of talks in Baghdad next month, Jalili said the meeting would center on “first nuclear disarmament, second the theory of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Leader, which is a clear view and can serve as a major approach towards nuclear disarmament, third preventing proliferation of the nuclear weapons which is amongst major issues of cooperation and fourth peaceful use of the nuclear technology as a given and indispensible right of the NPT member states”.

He also said that in addition to two rounds of multilateral talks with representatives of the six world powers, “we only had bilateral talks with our Russian friends”.

Sources close to the Iranian negotiators told Press TV that it was too early to describe the talks as positive and said that the viewpoints of all sides needed to be heard before passing any judgment.

Despite their rejection of bilateral talks with the Americans, diplomats told AFP that Iran’s positive attitude in Istanbul raised the prospects for a second round of more in-depth discussions, and one envoy said the meetings should be held some time in the next four weeks.

AP also quoted diplomats close to the talks as saying that the nuclear negotiators for Iran and the six world powers were making encouraging progress in bridging their differences.

The Istanbul talks are unlikely to yield a major breakthrough, according to Reuters, but Western diplomats hope to see readiness from Tehran to start to discuss “issues of substance.”

When that happens, it would mark a big change in Iran’s attitude from the last meeting, when it wouldn’t even discuss its nuclear program. There is hope for a second round of talks next month, possibly in Baghdad.

If talks continue, this could influence Israel’s decision regarding a military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites, to prevent Iran from manufacturing nuclear arms.

Torah of Ben Ish Chai Rescued in Covert Op

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

An ancient Torah scroll once belonging to the great Torah sage Ben Ish Chai has been rescued from war-torn Iraq, and made its way home to Israel’s beach-side community of Netanya on Tuesday.

One of the world’s oldest Torah scrolls still kosher for use, the 400 year-old Torah was liberated in a covert operation conducted with the help of US Armed Forces still stationed in Iraq. The unique scroll is printed on gawil – thick parchments not split during the construction of the scroll – and etched with large letters. It once served the community of the celebrated Baghdadi Rabbi Abdullah and his renowned disciple, Rabbi Yosef Chaim, who came to be known as the Ben Ish Chai.

Dr. Nissan Sharifi, attorney and chairman of the Be’er Chana synagogue in Netanya, explained to Israel’s Hidabrut website that he began his quest to rescue the precious scroll after representing some Jewish US Army soldiers who had immigrated to Israel. He began to hear stories from the Jewish-American soldiers about ancient Jewish manuscripts and books in the possession of the Jewish community of Baghdad, including the Torah scroll of the Ben Ish Chai. When he heard about the existential threat facing the dwindling Jewish community of Baghdad in the wake of the withdrawal of the US from Iraq, and understood the danger to the Jewish artifacts posed by angry rioters in a turbulent post-war Iraq, he decided to try to save the scroll, the second oldest scroll which is kosher for use in the world, after the 500 year-old scroll of Rabbi Isaac Abuahav, which is currently in the Galilean city of Tzfat.

Iraqi law makes removing artifacts relevant to the country difficult to accomplish. Sharifi would not go into detail about the rescue, but told Hidabrut that the original cylindrical case ensconcing the scroll was not salvaged – only the parchments arrived in Israel.

According to Sharifi, the small remaining Iraqi Jewish community in Baghdad supported the transfer of the scroll to his synagogue. Yom Kippur was the last time the scroll was used, when Jewish Army soldiers joined the 7 or 8 remaining elderly Baghdadi Jews to make a prayer quorum (minyan). In the possession of the community remain thousands of handwritten items, manuscripts, books, and tens of Torah scrolls, all of which are threatened by the somber reality of the vulnerability of the community resulting from the US Army’s withdrawal from the area.

The Torah was received in a festive ceremony at the Be’er Chana synagogue, which was established by Sharifi in the name of his mother, who was born in Baghdad. In attendance was Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the late former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who was an advocate of the preservation of Iraqi Jewish traditions and a student of the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai.

In the early 1900s, as many as 300,000 Jews lived in Baghdad. A major anti-Semitic upswing following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 eventually resulted in rescue Operation Ezra and Nechemiah(named after the prophets who led the Jews of Babylon to the land of Israel), which evacuated up to 120,000 Jews from Iraq in 1 year, leaving just 6,000 by the end of 1952.

Iraq Bombings Kill Shiites in Absence of US Troops

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

A wave of bombings targeting Shiites in Iraq has killed 72 people. The bombings began early in the morning when explosions struck two Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 27 people. A few hours later, a suicide attack hit Shiite pilgrims heading to the Shiite city of Karbala, killing 45. Less than two hours later, two explosions rocked the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah in the north of the capital, killing 15 people.

US Troops Leave Iraq as Operation Iraqi Freedom Ends

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

At 7:30am Baghdad time, the final convoy of US troops left Iraq, ending an almost nine-year military operation which began with the toppling of Dictator Saddam Hussein.

Since the first missile strikes of the $806 billion mission were launched under US President George W. Bush in March 2003, almost 4,459 Americans have been killed in Iraq, with 32,200 troops and staff wounded in action.

Military personnel and equipment rolled across the Iraq-Kuwait border just ahead of the December 31 deadline in a highly-organized exit which was planned over several months.  Air Force para-rescue forces remained on alert in case the 500-man convoy faced a critical emergency, yet the withdrawal remained low-key.  At its peak, US forces numbered over 170,000 at more than 500 bases.

On Thursday, US troops conducted a formal ceremony  ending Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, though a US diplomatic mission will remain on hand as a presence in Iraq, also overseeing military and equipment sales.

The withdrawal was a key component of US President Barack Obama’s election campaign.  As part of its effort to depart Iraq uneventfully, US forces paid $100,000 to tribal sheikhs to ensure their safety on highways toward Kuwait, according to Reuters news agency.

Though it seems the mission succeeded in thwarting attacks in the United States, it appears to have done little for Iraqi stability. Major sectarian violence led to thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths over the years, with a complex and fragile governmental coalition of Shi’ite, Sunni, and Kurdish parties threatening to collapse,  persistent insurgent attacks against government officials, and looming regional power wielders such as Iran and terror group Al-Qaida poised to take control.

Fire From The Skies

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Thirty years ago next week – shortly after 5:30 p.m. on June 7, 1981 – Israeli fighter jets flew undetected through hundreds of miles of Arab air space and rained fire from the skies over Baghdad, laying waste an atomic reactor and depriving a brutish dictator the potential for mass destruction.

“The precision of the bombing,” marveled a French technician who viewed the wreckage, “was stupefying.”

Ze’ev Raz, the mission’s lead pilot, recalled years later in an interview with The Jewish Press that “things happened there that to this day we have no explanation for. For instance, according to all calculations the Iraqi radar systems were supposed to have spotted us at least 15 minutes before the bombing despite the fact that we flew at very low altitude.

“That’s why we had eight and not four F-16 fighters, because we thought for sure the Iraqis would spot us and send several MIGs to try to down us. We thought we would encounter heavy resistance.

“Don’t forget, the Iraqis were threatened by Iran too, so for sure they had their radar system and fighter MIGs on alert. We never thought we would take them by such complete surprise. But they didn’t do a thing.

“Here is another inexplicable thing: King Hussein was vacationing in Aqaba and saw us on our way toward Iraq. He immediately phoned Amman – our intelligence picked up the whole conversation then – and reported it to them. But those idiots ignored it and didn’t do anything . Of course it was a miracle. How is it possible that even after we bombed the reactor not one plane tried to down us?”

Miracle or not, the world was outraged. Voices that had been silent for years, while Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein courted the feckless nations of the West in his quest for nuclear bombs, were suddenly raised in a chorus of indignation:

“We don’t think [Israel's] action serves the cause of peace in the area.” – French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, whose country supplied Hussein the ill-fated reactor.

“Provocative, ill timed and internationally illegal.” – U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield.

“Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified; it represents a grave breach of international law.” – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Israel’s sneak attack…was an act of inexcusable and shortsighted aggression.” – New York Times editorial.

“[The attack] did severe damage to the hope in which Israel’s true security must lie: the hope of realistic relations with all its neighbors.” – New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis.

“[Israel has] vastly compounded the difficulties of procuring a peaceful settlement of the confrontations in the Middle East.” – Time magazine.

Innocent souls unschooled in the machinations of diplomatic flimflam were no doubt mystified by the uproar.

After all, wasn’t the act of separating a ruthless tyrant from a state-of-the-art nuclear arsenal a good thing?

And wasn’t Saddam Hussein, at the very time of the Israeli attack, a year into his bloody invasion of Iran?

And hadn’t Hussein worked long and hard to earn the nickname “Butcher of Baghdad”?

* * * * *
For Saddam Hussein, procurement of an arsenal that could mean the destruction of Israel was a goal of the highest priority.

Iraq had never been reticent in displaying its animosity toward the Jewish state. When the Arab League organized an “Inter-Arab Command” in the months before Israel’s birth, an Iraqi general was placed in charge, and at the conclusion of the first Arab-Israeli war, Iraq refused to sign an armistice – in stark contrast to the Arab front-line states of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

More recently, nine Jews had been hanged in Baghdad in 1969 on trumped-up charges of spying for Israel.

Iraq’s interest in nuclear technology dated back to 1959, when the Soviet Union, looking to expand its influence in the region, agreed to provide Baghdad with a reactor, enriched uranium and a team of scientists and engineers. After several delays – the Iraqis accused the Russians of dragging their feet – the reactor finally went operational in 1968.

Though the Soviets upgraded the reactor’s output (from two to five megawatts) three years later, they steadfastly refused to supply the Iraqis with any material that could have been used in the manufacture of nuclear bombs.

Iraq in the early 1970s had come under the de facto control of Saddam Hussein, though officially Hussein was second in command to General Ahmed Hassan-al-Bakr. Described by those who knew him as “power hungry to the point of insanity,” Hussein destroyed his political enemies, in the process raising the practice of torture to an art form. His stated goal was to succeed the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser as undisputed leader of the Arab world.

Possession of nuclear weapons was central to Hussein’s ambitions. But since the Soviets had unequivocally rejected the Iraqis’ requests on that score, the search was on for a country more willing to deal. Fortunately for Hussein, his rap sheet of bloodshed and megalomania meant nothing to the French, who loved to make new friends, particularly ones swimming in oil.

In 1974 France’s foreign minister, Michel Jobert, went to Baghdad and pledged any assistance Iraq might need to build up its technological infrastructure.

“I am happy,” Jobert said in a toast to his Iraqi hosts, “that your great country will now have the means to restore its past glory.”

Not to be outdone by Jobert’s groveling, the French prime minister, Jacques Chirac, paid a call on Hussein the following year and proclaimed the Iraqi dictator a “great statesman whose qualities will lead his people toward progress and national prosperity.”

It wasn’t long after Chirac’s visit that France agreed to build a nuclear reactor in Iraq – strictly for research purposes, both sides claimed.

“Research” was, of course, the last thing on Hussein’s mind, and he let it be known he was in the market for a hot cell – a piece of equipment that would enable Iraq to develop weapons-grade plutonium. Italy proved eager to sell Iraq what it needed, and at that stage only the blind or the French could fail to see what Hussein had in mind.

All the while Israel had been keeping a wary eye on Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. When Menachem Begin took office in 1977, he stepped up behind-the-scenes efforts to prevent Iraq from becoming a nuclear threat. The U.S. was Begin’s best hope, but the Carter administration, for all its talk of the need to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, was less than energetic in pursuing the matter.

As Israel’s diplomatic efforts foundered, pressure of a different sort was brought to bear on the Iraqis. In April 1979, just days before the French were scheduled to ship the nearly completed reactor to Iraq, saboteurs infiltrated a warehouse near the port of Toulon and attempted to blow up the reactor’s core. Damage, however, was relatively minimal.

Fourteen months later, the head of Iraq’s nuclear program was killed in his Paris hotel room.

Israeli agents were believed responsible for both incidents.

* * * * *
Sabotage and assassination notwithstanding, work continued as planned on the reactor the French had name Osirak but the Iraqis called Tammuz 1. By the autumn of 1980, Begin had concluded that Israel would have to take direct military action. As his military strategists set to work on a plan to take out the reactor, Begin kept up the diplomatic entreaties, all to no avail. The French insisted that Iraq’s intentions were of a purely peaceful nature.

By early 1981 the only question remaining for Begin was when to launch an attack on the reactor. The operation was postponed on more than one occasion when members of Begin’s cabinet voiced concerns over how the U.S. would react to the attack.

For his part, Begin expected a sharp reaction from Washington, perhaps even a U.S. vote to condemn Israel in the UN. But, he thought, it would all be so much window-dressing. Ronald Reagan had defeated Jimmy Carter the previous November, and Begin regarded President Reagan and his secretary of state, Alexander Haig, as warm friends of Israel.

As winter turned to spring, Begin began bracing himself for a final decision to strike at Iraq. He’d informed Labor party leader Shimon Peres of the plan to bomb the reactor. Peres made clear his opposition to the idea. Begin now knew the operation would bring harsh reaction not only from the outside world but from within Israel as well.

Adding to his uncertainty, Israelis would be heading to the polls in just a few weeks. Begin was locked in an extremely tight race with Peres and feared he would be accused of staging the raid as an election ploy. But he had an even greater fear – one that convinced him of the need to act before the election and a possible Peres victory.

“He really believed that Peres would never have the guts to order the raid,” said a Begin aide. “And Begin couldn’t bear the thought of Israel living in terror of an Iraqi bomb.”

The attack on the Iraqi reactor was set for early May but Begin called it off at literally the last moment when he learned that precise details of the mission had been leaked to Peres. If Peres
knew about it, Begin feared others – and not just in Israel – might have the same information.

* * * * *
Four weeks later, Begin decided he could wait no longer. In the early afternoon hours of Sunday, June 7 – the eve of the festival of Shavuot – Israeli pilots went through one last rehearsal. Shortly after 4 p.m., the planes – eight F-16s and several F-15 interceptors – took off from southern Israel.

The F-16 pilots were Ze’ev Raz, Amos Yadlin, Dobbi Yaffe, Hagai Katz, Amir Nachumi, Iftach Spector, Relik Shafir, and Ilan Ramon (who would go on to become Israel’s first astronaut, only to perish in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003).

Begin summoned his cabinet to his home in Jerusalem. “Welcome, my friends,” he greeted the assembled group. “At this very moment our planes are approaching Baghdad.”

Not long afterward, Begin received the message he’d been anxiously awaiting.Thereactor had been destroyed and the pilots were on their way home.

Baruch Hashem,” Begin exclaimed. “What wonderful boys we have.”

In Israel, news of the raid set off an atmosphere of euphoria not felt since the 1976 Entebbe rescue. As expected, the Labor opposition was highly critical of the operation and its timing, but the criticism was quickly toned down once Peres and his colleagues realized how out of sync they were with the mood in the street.

The U.S. reacted much the way Begin thought it would. The Reagan administration voted to condemn Israel in the UN, and several F-16s scheduled for shipment to Israel were held back a few weeks. At the same time, President Reagan called Begin to assure him of his continued support.

“Technically,” Reagan would write years later, “Israel had violated an agreement not to use U.S.-made weapons for offensive purposes, and some cabinet members wanted me to lean hard on Israel because it had broken this pledge … but I sympathized with Begin’s motivations and privately believed we should give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Begin survived the international firestorm of criticism and went on to win reelection. His defense of the raid was blunt and emotional.

“The Iraqis were preparing atomic bombs to drop on the children of Israel,” he told a gathering of foreign correspondents in Jerusalem several days after the attack.

“Haven’t you heard of one-and-a-half million little Jewish children who were thrown into the gas chambers? Another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people.

“Never again, never again. Tell your friends, tell anybody you meet, we shall defend our people with all the means at our disposal.”

Many of Begin’s Israeli critics would admit to having second thoughts in the weeks and months following the raid.

“Up to this point in time, the fact is that I was not right,” conceded Labor’s Mordechai Gur.

“It was a triumph, no diplomatic harm was caused and Israeli deterrence was reinforced,” said Abba Eban.

Moshe Dayan may have put it best: “Not one Arab would shed a tear were Israel to vanish off the face of the map…. To me, the raid was a positive action. Iraq was producing nuclear weapons against Israel, and we were obliged to defend ourselves.”

It took the rest of the world a little more time to come to grips with Saddam Hussein, but few illusions remained by the time Iraq invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990.

In 1981 the Soviet Union had characterized the attack on Saddam’s reactor as “an act of gangsterism”; nine years later the Soviet chief of staff called it understandable.

In the fall of 1990, as an American-led coalition prepared for war with Iraq, U.S. defense secretary Dick Cheney publicly thanked Israel for its action.

* * * * *

In his 2007 interview with The Jewish Press, Ze’ev Raz looked back on the raid he led:

The General Staff originally wanted us to carry out the bombing after sunset so it would be harder for the Iraqis to attack us on the way back. But I was opposed to that. I thought if we did the bombing after sunset there wouldn’t be enough light and our planes would miss their target – so I insisted that the bombing take place before sunset.

As a result, we flew back as the sun was setting. But since the planes were traveling at such a fast speed, the sun was out all the time and never set. It was as though it remained standing in the middle of the horizon.

At that time we pilots all radioed each other reciting the same exact biblical verse – Joshua 10:12: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon, over the Valley of Ayalon.”

You know, as I am recalling this now I am getting goose bumps.

Still Taking Detours To Survival: Obama, Netanyahu And The Twisting “Road Map” To Genocide And War (Part II)

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

We may also consider some very recent postings from the Muslim Brotherhood Children’s Website (based in Egypt, a country allegedly “at peace” with Israel):

Did you know that the Jews murdered 25 of the Prophets of Allah, and that their black history is full of crimes of murder and corruption?

Did you know that the criminal Jews frequently revile and curse our Lord?

Did you know that the Jews made several attempts to murder our beloved Prophet, but that Allah the Omnipotent saved him from their plot?

Did you know that the corruption and deviance widespread in the world today are the result of activity and planning by the Jews, who are interested in leading people astray, away from the path of Allah?

Did you know that the Jews who occupy our land and our holy places in beloved Palestine are planning to occupy the rest of the Muslim countries and to establish a Greater Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile, and that they are interested in excavating in the tomb f our beloved Prophet?

Did you know that today the Jews are inciting the entire world against Islam and the Muslims, on the pretext of the war against terror?

And so it goes.

How, then, shall we understand President Obama’s unswerving position on Palestinian statehood? How, too, shall we understand other current advocates of the so-called “peace process?”

Some supporters of the Road Map and its attendant disengagements and realignments, preferring to simply disregard the widely prevailing Arab/Islamic image of Israel as a pathology, base their flawed position on a problematic acceptance of the Palestinian claim to the remaining “territories” (Judea/Samaria). Leaving aside the very questionable nature of the underlying demographic argument (e.g., the commonly stated and unsupported assertion that current Palestinians are descended directly from the ancient Canaanites), these supporters conveniently ignore the continuous Jewish presence in these lands. They also ignore that more than one million Palestinians are now full citizens of Israel. This is a juridical condition that is hardly mirrored in the Arab world, where 900,000 Jews were slaughtered or expelled from area states after 1948, and which presently denies Jews any remotely parallel rights of nationality. Yet, it is the Palestinians – not the Israelis – who cling relentlessly to the idea of Jihad or holy war.

The unchanging struggle to evict the Jews from “all of Palestine” (that is, from Israel proper, as well as from Judea/Samaria/Gaza), is driven by this idea. According to Islamic orthodoxy, the Prophet is said to have predicted a final war to annihilate the Jews. Mohammed, it is reported, had stated: “The hour [i.e., salvation] will not come until you fight against the Jews; and the stone would say, `O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me: come and kill him.’”

Israel’s Peace Process supporters, in advancing Palestinian legal claims, forget, inter alia, that the PLO had openly urged Saddam Hussein to launch annihilatory attacks upon Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. Yassir Arafat had enthusiastically embraced Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, sending units of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) to actively assist with the inter-Arab killing, rape and torture of Kuwaitis. Following the Iraqi aggression in early August 1991, Arafat and the PLO had plainly and vigorously supported Baghdad.

At the Cairo Summit of August 10, 1990, Arafat deflected attention from the invasion toward the crises in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Abdul Abbas sent his own paramilitary forces into the occupied state to help “police” the sheikhdom. So, too, did the PFLP’s George Habash and the DFLP’s Nayef Hawatmeh. At the time, Mohammed Milhem, a senior aide to Arafat, publicly threatened Fatah-led terrorism “everywhere” in support of Iraq. Today, U.S. President Barack Obama uses American tax dollars to “train” Fatah “security forces.” Doesn’t anyone remember U.S. aid to the Afghan “freedom fighters” then called Mujahedeen?

Arab/Islamic critics of Israel often speak of sinister Jewish migrations to “Palestine” after World War I, neglecting to mention that (1) there has been a substantial and continuous Jewish presence in the land for over three thousand years; and (2) there has been a steady Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Nor do they bother to recall that after World War II, when the General Assembly proposed to partition Palestine, this offer followed an earlier (1922) illegal partition by the British which gave almost 80% of the land promised to the Jews by the Balfour Declaration to create the Arab state of Trans Jordan. From the standpoint of authoritative international law at the time of the 1947 partition vote in the United Nations, the Jews had already been unlawfully deprived of four-fifths of their lawful entitlement.

How did protracted warfare first arise between Israel and the Arabs? Not even militant Arab leaders or anti-Zionist historians could conceivably accept the view that the 1948-49 conflict was a war of Jewish origin. On February 16, 1948, the U.N. Palestine Commission reported to the Security Council: “Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.” Ironically, the Arabs themselves were entirely honest in accepting responsibility for starting the war. Jamal Husseini informed the Security Council on April 16, 1948: “The representatives of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight.”

As for the British commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb, he remarked candidly: “Early in January, the first detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through Amman…. They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of the Arabs of Palestine.”

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli and US foreign and military policies. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Iranian Nuclearization, ‘Human Shields’ And Israeli Preemption: The View From International Law

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Soon, Israel will have little choice but to preemptively destroy Iran’s developing capacity for nuclear weapons and nuclear war. Confronted by a declared enemy state that remains openly genocidal as it forges ahead with illegal nuclearization, Israel will face many tactical difficulties.

More precisely, in operationalizing anticipatory self-defense – which is international law’s formal expression for such a protective first strike – Israel will have to contend with Iran’s deliberate placement of nuclear materials, personnel and infrastructures in the midst of its civilian populations.

In essence, Iran – now led by a president who repeatedly calls upon the entire Islamic world to “wipe Israel off the map” – plans to dissuade Israel by deploying “human shields.” Apart from its obvious indecency, such practice is always a clear violation of humanitarian international law. Under the authoritative law of war, Iran’s placement of nuclear assets amidst noncombatant men, women and children represents a textbook example of “perfidy.”

Deception can be an acceptable virtue in warfare (and Iran considers itself at war with Israel), but there is a meaningful legal distinction between deception and perfidy. The Hague Regulations in the law of war allow deception but disallow perfidy. The prohibition of perfidy is reaffirmed in a law-making protocol of 1977. It is widely understood that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention states plainly, that it is perfidy to shield military targets from attack by moving them into densely populated areas or by purposely moving civilians near military targets. Indeed, it is generally agreed by legal scholars that such treachery – precisely what President Bush warned about on February 10, 2003 in the case of Iraq – represents an especially serious violation of the law of war. This type of violation is known technically as a “grave breach” of the Geneva Conventions.

For Iraq, from which the current Iranian regime has drawn some of its lessons on perfidy, the insidious practice of human shields had been an ongoing strategy. Long before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein had engaged in this illegal behavior before and during the 1991 Gulf War, both in his abuse of U.S. civilians around Iraqi military targets and in his abuse of Iraqi civilians around Baghdad’s military command centers. On one occasion, when coalition forces attacked a civilian defense shelter in Baghdad that was also being used as a military command center, Washington had correctly explained the action by citing Iraqi perfidy.

In terms of international law, Israel and the world should take particular note of the following: The legal effect of perfidy is always exculpatory for the attacker, at least from the standpoint of Jus In Bello, or “justice in war” (it has no effect at all on Jus Ad Bellum or the “justice of war”). In essence, it creates an exemption for the attacker from the normally operative humanitarian rules concerning permissible targets. It follows that any Iranian-created link between protected persons (civilians) and nuclear operations, would place all responsibility for subsequent civilian harms upon Iran. Any harms that might be inflicted by an attacker upon Iran’s human shields, would certainly be tragic and regrettable, but the legal responsibility for such harms would lie squarely with the genocidal Iranian leader and his government. Indeed, even specific criminal charges (carrying precise penal sanctions) could be assigned to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

International law is not a suicide pact. When a state such as Iran engages in perfidious violations of the law of war, other countries seeking to prevent Iranian nuclear aggression, are still entitled to longstanding rights of self-defense. This entitlement extends to both the customary right of anticipatory self-defense – the right to use military force preemptively when the danger posed is “imminent” – and the codified right of retaliation following an armed attack. Should Iran resort to human shields to deter an Israeli preemption, as now seems certain, such perfidy would not limit any country’s right of self-defense against Iran. It would mean only that full legal responsibility for any consequent Iranian casualties would lie entirely with Iran.

In the coming months, Iranian president Ahmadinejad could decide to place thousands of additional civilians directly around nuclear facilities and/or within clandestine storage areas and pertinent command structures. Should it allow itself to be deterred by this newest resort to human shields, Israel would effectively permit Iran to make preparations for a war that could ultimately kill millions. Such “humanitarianism” by Israel (and perhaps by its American ally as well), however well-intentioned, would turn out to be misplaced. Jerusalem should continue to be guided in such matters by international law, by a time-honored set of rules, that correctly calls the emplacement of human shields “perfidy,” and that is designed to assist self-defense.

International law prohibitions notwithstanding, Iran has now been allowed by the United Nations and the world community to develop into an intolerable global menace. In such a dangerous situation, the legal right of self-defense against this menace is substantial. This right should not,under any circumstances, be inhibited by the Iranian president’s willful acts of perfidy.

Barring a near-miraculous political settlement with Iran, an Israeli preemption is altogether indispensable and would be consistent with governing international law. When it is undertaken, such an heroic act of anticipatory self-defense, which really ought to have been undertaken by the United States, will deserve our full support.

Copyright, The Jewish Press. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with international law.

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