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How can we forgive and forget
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 08 - 02 - 2010

THE Times was the first international newspaper to report on Israel's use of white phosphorous against the Palestinians in its Gaza incursion last year. However, the British newspaper last week published a shameful editorial praising the state of Israel for “having the courage” to investigate such an act incriminated by the international law.
The formal Israeli investigation ended by blaming two of its senior military officers of exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardised the lives of others.
The earlier commendable reports, published by The Times during and following the Gaza massacre, had included photos of Palestinian civilians suffering serious burns and even blindness, because of Israel's reckless use of this internationally banned substance several times during the assaults.
How does this same newspaper today carry an editorial defending Israel and even seeking world respect and praise to such a barbaric state for bowing to international pressure and carrying out probe into these charges raised by the UN Goldstone report?
Instead of seeing the Israeli investigation and its results as a ploy to elude punishment and the blame of the international community, The Times requests the world to see Israel from the viewpoint of being “the only democratic trustworthy country existing in the Middle East”.
In its editorial of February 2, 2010, the British newspaper admitted that the use of white phosphorus shells in a populated area was horrendous.
Nonetheless, it requested the international community to exclude Israel from International justice and leave it to her to correct its faults she might had committed under pressure of conflict!
“ The deployment of white phosphorus shells over a heavily populated area is an horrific act. When such shells explode, they shower sticky and flaming pieces that burn and burrow into clothing and flesh. A ‘slap on the wrist' (to quote one senior Israeli official) is an indefensibly cursory punishment for those responsible,” the editorial stated. “Even so, it should be seen for what it is ��" a clear acknowledgement by Israel that, during the conflict, it behaved in a manner in which it should not,” it remarked
The editorial continued: “For obvious reasons, Israel is a country deeply uncomfortable about criticising its own military. But those who cry ‘war crime' and seek to paint Israel as a pariah do diplomacy itself a disservice. They make it harder, not easier, for that country to behave, as it should.
“Contrary to the impression some would like to give, Israel is not a rogue state with good PR, content, like Shakespeare's Claudius, to smile and smile and be a villain. It is an accountable, democratic, transparent nation, and fighting to remain one amid challenges that few other nations ever have to face,” the newspaper argued.
Ironically, such a strong defence by the British newspaper of Israel biased for a host of reasons; first, the Israeli government hasn't punished two military officers (Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Colonel Ilan Malka) whom it chose to bear the responsibility of this atrocity.
Secondly, Israel has still minimised its shelling of white phosphorous shelling ��" including, in one instance, the shelling of the UN headquarters in Gaza, in which more than 700 Palestinians were sheltering.
Meanwhile, the Goldstone report, as well as the then coverage of The Times itself, proved Israel's excessive and repeated use of the banned substance in many other places in Gaza during the 22-day onslaught.
Even by presenting the two officers as scapegoats to escape international condemnation for its war crimes on Gaza, Israel continues to refuse bringing those men to justice considering it a matter of national pride to protect its military men and politicians from standing before a war tribunal.
It is downright astonishing that Britain and the international community continues to turn a blind eye towards the Israeli endless crimes against humanity committed against its Arab neighbours since the Zionist state was planted in the heart of the Arab world.
If we accept being fooled by such a superficial investigation into the Gaza incursion, which was blessed by all members of the Israeli government during the invasion with the Israeli society behind it, how could we forget all the other victims of Israel's previous crimes against civilians in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt.
Could one forget the barbaric Israeli assault on Bahr el-Bakar school in the Nile Delta and Abu Za'bal fertilisers factory in Egypt after the 1967 war? How could the world forget and forgive Israel for its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that left some 15,000 Lebanese and Palestinian dead. Could we forget the Sabra and Shatila massacres committed by Israel's militia allies in Lebanon under the nose and with the blessing of the then Israeli Minister of Defence Ariel Sharon in the same year?
Could we drop the Qana massacre of 1996 that left some 106 Lebanese refugees dead more than half of them children? And what about the 1,500 victims of the 2006 war on Lebanon?
Ironically, the world community continues to praise the Israeli probe committee organised in the 1980s to investigate Sabra and Shatila massacre, which held Sharon responsible for it.
Nonetheless, this clear charge against the then Israeli official did not prevent a successive government from bringing him back into office and even later raising him to the level of leading the Israeli government.
Fortunately, The Times does not represent the entire British press or society; The Independent newspaper published the following day an editorial requesting Israel to conduct a more in-depth investigation into the 22-day Gaza offensive.
Under the title of “Israel must investigate seriously”, The Independent wrote: “The minor punishments that appear to have been handed out to the two officers over the UN compound shelling are hardly sufficient to convince the world that Israel is taking Goldstone's accusations seriously. The Israeli government could stall and hope that its ally, the US, blocks efforts in the UN to hold it to account. But it would be wiser to take the initiative and establish a state commission of inquiry into the Gaza war.”
In the same newspaper, the veteran writer Robert Fisk commented on Israel's concern that Goldstone's report and criticism of its actions was an attempt to de-legitimise its existence.
“In this sense, the Gaza war proved what is so deeply troubling about the current Israeli body politic. It wants the world to recognise its democracy ��" however, flawed this may be ��" but it will not join the world when asked to account for its behaviour in Gaza. It claims to be a light among the nations, but will not let anyone look too closely at that light, to examine its fuel and to look precisely at what it illuminates,” Fisk wrote.
He criticised the Israeli investigations and trivial punishment of the two military officers “as just a slap on the wrist for a couple of officers who used phosphorus”.
He also condemned the fierce Israeli criticism of the South African judge Richard Goldstone, who is himself Jewish and who accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza after they had praised him for bringing Serbian criminals to justice.
Fisk revealed that he had met Goldstone after he was appointed head of the war crimes tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague.
“A palpably decent, honest man, he said that the world had grown tired of allowing governments to commit war crimes with impunity. He was talking, of course, about Milosevic. He wrote a book on the same lines, warmly praised by Israel. But now he is the earthquake beneath Israel's legitimacy,” the writer stressed.
Apparently this will always be the case in any crime committed by the Jewish state that, if effected by any other country in the world would see the international community jump to its feet seek bringing the perpetrators to justice.
However, when the country is Israel, there will be many voices underestimating or justifying the acts as The Times did, requesting the world to leave it to the “democratic trustworthy state” to correct its own faults, perceived as minor.
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