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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘law’

Who is Responsible under International Law for the New Gaza Wars?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

“The safety of the People Shall be the highest law.” — Cicero, The Laws.

It is beginning again. As Hamas terrorists are attacking Israeli civilians with indiscriminate rocket fire, most recently in the southern city of Sderot, Israeli self-defense reactions are already being labeled “excessive” and “disproportionate.” As usual, international public opinion is quickly, if bizarrely, mobilizing against Israel’s underlying supposed “occupation” of Jews living in their own Biblical land.

But what of the facts? In Gaza, since 2005 at least, when every last Jew left, there has been no “occupation.” There are no Israelis in Gaza.

Systematic Hamas misrepresentations get progressively worse.

Any such blame, however, has no basis in law. Regarding “proportionality,” the actual legal requirement of proportionality contained in international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) has nothing to do with how many unfortunate deaths there might be on either side. Proportionality has nothing to do with each side incurring an equivalent number of deaths.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, investigated allegations of war crimes during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and in 2006 published an open letter containing his findings. Included was this section on proportionality:

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.

A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).[1]

Under no circumstances, at least documented ones, have Israeli retaliations been guilty of any such excess.

Recurrent Hamas rocket attacks upon Israeli noncombatants are, basically, examples of terrorism. Such terrorism – all terrorism, irrespective of so-called “just cause” — represents a distinct crime under international law.

When Palestinian terrorism reflects populations that enthusiastically support terror attacks, and where the terrorists can find hospitable refuge among local populations, the legal responsibility for all ensuing counterterrorist harms lies with the perpetrators.

Understood in terms of a still-ongoing cycle of Palestinian terrorism, and Israeli self-defense against terror, the Palestinian side must accept full legal responsibility for civilian casualties in Gaza. Without their premeditated terror attacks on Israeli civilian populations, there would never be any Israel-inflicted Palestinian harm.

It is that simple.

Under international law, which also happens to be part of the law of the United States,[2] all Palestinian terrorists are hostes humani generis: “Common enemies of humankind.” Significantly, in law, such murderers should be punished severely, wherever they are found. Concerning their prospective arrest and prosecution, jurisdiction is now, after the post-WWII Nuremberg trials and principles, expressly “universal.”

Terrorism, including Palestinian terrorism, is always cruel. In addition to rockets, Palestinian murderers, often using bombs filled with nails, razor blades, and screws dipped in rat poison, seek to maim and burn Israeli civilians. This objective is generally announced with cheers, and abundant blessings from the leading Islamic clergy.

In the recurring indictments offered by Hamas-appointed clergy is the claim that “the Jews lack sanctity.” The lack of distinction here between “Jews” and “Israelis” is intentional. It underscores what most observers still do not seem to understand: For Hamas, the true enemy is identifiable by religion, not territory, and is therefore irremediable.

If the Hamas enemy were merely “the Israelis,” and not “the Jews,” there might still be good reason for seeking a political or diplomatic “peace process.” But for the Palestinians, especially Hamas and its terror-group allies, the enemy is, as expressed in the Hamas Charter, unalterably “the Jews.”[3]

With such an enemy, there can never be a compromise. For “the Jews,” whether in Israel proper, or in “occupied territory,” this means that the only way to avoid Arab terror is to disappear, or submit to Islamic control — supposedly for the Jews once again to become persecuted, second-class dhimmi citizens in their own country, just as the indigenous Christians are now in Egypt and much of the Middle East.

There are additional ironies. Those more-or-less wealthy Palestinian commanders who directly control the suicide-bombers’ mayhem (made wealthy with huge sums of money systematically stolen from UN agency funds), evidently prefer to cower fearfully in their towns and cities, usually taking great care to find personal safety amidst densely-packed Arab populations.

Together with assorted Israel Air Force (IAF) units, special IDF counterterrorism and commando elements meticulously identify and target only terrorist leaders. Always, Israel seeks to minimize any collateral damage. Still, such harm cannot always be avoided even by the IDF, which follows its “Purity of Arms” code more stringently than any other military in the world.

Deception can be legally acceptable in armed conflict, but the Geneva Conventions disallow placement of military assets or personnel in heavily populated civilian areas. To place military assets in heavily populated civilian areas is considered, under international law, “perfidy.” It is widely recognized that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law.

Perfidy represents an especially serious violation of the Law of War, one identified as a “grave breach” at Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV, which states that,

Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

The critical legal effect of perfidy committed by Palestinian terrorist leaders in Gaza is to immunize Israel from any responsibility for any unintended counterterrorist harms done to Arab civilians. Even if Hamas did not deliberately engage in perfidy, any Palestinian-created link between civilians and terrorist activities would grant Israel full legal justification for undertaking all necessary defensive actions.

Under law, all uses of force are governed by established rules. All combatants, including Palestinian insurgents, are bound by the international Law of War. This requirement is found at Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and also at the two protocols to these Conventions.

Protocol I applies humanitarian international law to all conflicts fought for “self-determination,” the stated objective of all Palestinian fighters. A product of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977), this Protocol brings all irregular forces within the full scope of international law. In this connection, the terms “fighter” and “irregular” are conspicuously generous in describing Palestinian terrorists, fanatical criminals who “normally” target only civilians, and whose characteristic mode of “battle” is not military engagement, but rather what amounts to religious sacrifice.

In the ancient world, the Roman statesman Cicero wrote in The Laws: “The safety of the People Shall be the highest law.”[4] Nothing has really changed. Under current international law, Israel has both the right and the obligation to protect its citizens from criminal acts of terrorism.

 

Louis Rene Beres

Steven Hill, Star of ‘Law & Order,’ ‘Mission: Impossible,’ Dead at 94

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Steven Hill, who starred in “Mission: Impossible” as the versatile team’s leader Daniel Briggs, and as District Attorney Adam Schiff on “Law & Order,” died Tuesday at age 94. He was born Solomon Krakovsky, to Russian Jewish immigrants in Seattle, Washington.

Hill only lasted one season on “Mission: Impossible,” and was replaced by Peter Graves, for being “difficult to work with,” most notably since he refused to work late on Fridays, because of his Shabbat observance. His fellow Jewish cast member Martin Landau described Hill’s only season saying, “I felt he was digging his own grave.”

Hill was apparently less difficult to work with on the set of the long-running series “Law & Order,” whose producer Dick Wolf released a statement following Hill’s passing, saying, “Steven was not only one of the truly great actors of his generation, he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He is also the only actor I’ve known who consistently tried to cut his own lines.”

In a 1996 interview, Dick Wolf called Hill “the Talmudic influence on the entire zeitgeist of the series,” saying “Steven has more moral authority than anyone else on episodic TV.”

Hill’s first Broadway stage appearance was alongside Marlon Brando in Ben Hecht’s “A Flag Is Born,” in 1946. His big break came when he got a small part in the hit Broadway show Mister Roberts. “The director, Joshua Logan, thought I had some ability, and he let me create one of the scenes,” Hill told the NY Times. “So, I improvised dialog and it went in the show. That was my first endorsement. It gave me tremendous encouragement to stay in the business.”

After being dropped from “Mission: Impossible,” Hill spent 10 years of what he described as “tremendous periods of unemployment.” He left acting in 1967 and moved to a Jewish community in Rockland County, NY, where he wrote at night and sold real estate by day. After 10 years, he was ready to act again. He returned to work in the 1980s and 1990s, playing parental and authority-figure roles in Yentl (1983), Garbo Talks (1984), Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Heartburn (1986), Raw Deal (1986), Running on Empty (1988), Billy Bathgate (1991), and The Firm (1993).

Hill’s role as New York District Attorney Bower in Legal Eagles (1986), foreshadowed his role of Adam Schiff in Law & Order. He modeled these roles on Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, who served from 1990 to 2000. When Morgenthau found out that Hill was making $25,000 per episode, he told him, “Steven, when you’re ready to retire, let me know. I want your job.”

David Israel

MK Amsalem to Propose that Prime Ministers Be Immune from Prosecution for Minor Offenses

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee MK David “Dudi” Amsalem (Likud) declared on Tuesday that he intends to propose a new bill during the winter session which would prohibit criminal investigation of the prime minister for minor offenses that would carry less than a six-month prison sentence.

“Being the prime minister of Israel is the most important job in the country,” wrote MK Amsalem in a Facebook post. “He cannot be busied with investigations on a daily basis. There has not been one prime minister in the last thirty years that has not been involved in investigations—from Rabin and his wife’s Dollar Account affair to Barak and the NGOs to Sharon’s Greek island, Olmert and his travels, Netanyahu and the gifts and bottles, and so on.”

The proposal also follow on the heels of the recent investigation opened against Prime Minister Netanyahu who allegedly approached an advertising office in 2007 with the aim of purchasing advertising space in the Arab press for his political war against former Labor leader Ehud Barak.

The Israel Police also recently began probing allegations that the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, had accepted expensive gifts as part of a greater corruption scheme.

“Nevertheless, since it would be inappropriate for the prime minister not to answer for those crimes, it is proposed that the duration of the rest of his term not be counted within the period of the statute of limitations and it will as such be permitted to prosecute him on the matter after his term ends.”

According to the Likud, the new law would not be applicable retroactively, meaning that it would have no effect on the investigations currently being conducted against Prime Minister Netanyahu. As such, Netanyahu’s son, Yair, is soon to be called to testify to the police about the allegations against his father.

The initiative sparked great controversy within the political arena. “No one is above the law,” said Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni. “Investigations are not detrimental to the public, but to its benefit, as it is deserving of an immaculate leadership. An honest prime minister would reject such a proposal.”

Meretz MK Zahava Galon also criticized the bill, claiming that “MK Amsalem’s proposal will turn the Prime Minister’s Office into a sanctuary for criminals.” Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar sarcastically suggested to “just crown him Sultan.”

Members of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee told TPS that they did not wish to comment on the matter at present.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Complying with Ottoman Law, IDF Panel Revokes Jewish Community’s Land Ownership

Monday, August 8th, 2016

The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.

The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.

The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.

Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.

However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.

There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.

The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.

Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.

According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).

David Israel

Knesset Passes Law Killing Core Curriculum Requirement

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The Knesset Plenum late Monday night passed a law which annuls the requirement to teach the “Core Curriculum” in Haredi schools. The government-sponsored bill was merged with a proposal submitted by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and a group of Knesset members.

41 MKs voted in favor of the amendment to the curriculum law in its second and third readings, and 28 opposed. The curriculum law, submitted by the Yesh Atid party in 2013, aimed to slash state funding for some Haredi institutions down to 35% from the 55% of the budgets that Israeli schools that comply with the core curriculum requirement receive.

Instead of requiring the Haredi schools to teach 10 to 11 hours of secular studies per week, as the Yesh Atid law stipulated, the new law now gives the Education Minister the authority to fund these institutions, regardless of their attention to subjects like English as a second language, math, and the sciences.

It should be noted that those Haredi schools that rejected the government-imposed of a Core Curriculum did so not necessarily because they object to teaching their students many of the subjects on the list, but the very idea that a secular authority insert itself into the intellectual and, inevitably, spiritual milieu of their students. Teaching of “secular studies” is practiced in most Haredi educational institutions around the world.

JNi.Media

Rabbi Weberman Hosts Law Enforcement Luncheon

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Rabbi Pinchas Weberman recently hosted a luncheon honoring law enforcement in South Florida. The delicious buffet was held in Miami on Thursday, June 23. Rabbi Weberman is the spiritual leader of Ohev Shalom Synagogue in Miami Beach, president of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of South Florida and chaplain to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as the Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County police departments. The rabbi is known as the liaison between the Jewish community and law enforcement.

 

Rabbi Pinchas Weberman (far right) with members of South Florida law enforcement.

Rabbi Pinchas Weberman (far right) with members of South Florida law enforcement.

 

Members of local police departments, ATF, drug enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, State Attorney’s office, and the Coast Guard were among the attendees at the event.

Warm friendship, lively conversation, good food – and a few very short speeches – made for a really special afternoon.

Shelley Benveniste

Law And Order – Or Chaos?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

If a novice were to ask for my counsel about going into public service and running for higher office, I would start with this tidbit of advice: Pick a side. You are either for law and order or you’re against it.

And if you’re against law and order, find another career path. Elected officials owe it to their constituents to hold the law and those who defend it in the highest regard.

As we saw with the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street, certain elected officials – to say nothing of some community leaders – are too quick to ride populist waves, sowing seeds of anger and tacitly encouraging lawlessness and violence. And now, as this summer of discontent unfolds and policemen are randomly assassinated in the streets, precisely because they are policemen, many are wondering how it ever got this far, while in fact we should be worrying about how much further it will go… and for how long.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In Pirke Avot 3:2, Rabbi Chanina the deputy high priest taught, “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it, men would swallow one another alive.”

In 1964, pressured by a non-violent civil rights movement and under the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited segregation in public accommodations and made discrimination in education and employment illegal. In 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which suspended the use of any voter qualification devices that prevented blacks from voting. Other civil rights battles still lay ahead, but the civil rights movement had used a campaign of nonviolent actions to end centuries of open, legal racism in the United States.

A half-century later, we’ve allowed a quest for justice to devolve into absurd political correctness. Being pro-equal rights does not mean having to tolerate crime, regardless of the race of the perpetrators, or of the victims. Being anti-prejudice should not require blindness to facts or tolerance of abhorrent happenstances.

Those who are kind to the cruel will eventually be cruel to the kind. When we tie the hands of our police, we make it impossible for them to effectively protect our citizens. When we take away police-recommended (and highly effective) measures like stop and frisk from law enforcement, we make it harder (and sometimes impossible) for them to enforce the law.

But this is what our elected officials did. And in so doing, they encouraged some people to hate the police. The president of the United States, above all other U.S. elected officials, should be an icon of law and order for all of us. But how many of our citizens – even his political supporters – regard him that way? His refusal to condemn groups that encourage violence against police amounts to a deafening silence. How much the more so other elected officials closer to home?

First they sow seeds of discontent, then we all reap the whirlwind.

Clearly, as we define deviancy down (as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan phrased it) and watch the disintegration of law and order in America – as public urination is decriminalized in our city and police are shot at all over our nation – the connection should be clear.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Perhaps it’s time to consider a new direction – respect for the police and law and order – and find more satisfying outcomes.

State Senator Simcha Felder

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/law-and-order-or-chaos/2016/07/27/

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