The local paper did a good job recently of publishing letters to the editor about Gaza. However, today it reprinted another of Richard Cohen's editorial pieces - his op-ed piece from the August 18 Issue of the New York Times, "Israel, held to an impossible standard Mistakes happen in war" (with three additional paragraphs at the end of the piece in our local paper). The similar but different headline in the local paper was ”Critics of Israel have expectations that are too high”. In the opinion piece Cohen speculates about what might "account" for Israel's attacks on Gaza being "almost instantaneously denounced as war crimes". But first he lists numerous feats of Israel, and refers to a few mistakes, and of course makes the perfunctory comment of anti-semitism that is found in each article he writes in which he defends the crimes of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. But the article is merely another of his efforts to take advantage of a situation to create confusion, by trotting out the same old irrelevant excuses intended to present the government of Israel as being free of blame. "War crimes" is a misnomer of the crimes that are actually in violation of International and Humanitarian laws. But that misnomer is not what Cohen points out. Instead he seems to believe a "war" is occurring. However, the fact that people recognize crimes are being committed, then as a result are speaking up to condemn the apparent crimes, is commendable progress. But that alarms Zionists - thus efforts like Richard Cohen's recent opinion piece.
Cohen carefully avoids mention of the fact that the policies of the government of Israel are the problem - policies that are the result of its political ideology of Zionism. It is a fact that the manner in which the Israeli government manages the occupation is in violation of international and humanitarian laws to which Israel is signatory. Thus the carrying out of illegal policies by Israel renders all of Cohen's efforts to make explanations and excuses for a blameless Israel, delusional. As a cheerleader for the political ideology of Zionism, his excuses are intended to create confusion in people who question Israel's atrocities. But his excuses for Israel's crimes are all irrelevant. There are no excuses that can be used to justify the crimes by blaming them on real or imagined attitudes and actions of others. No effort to make excuses changes that fact including his claim of mistakes made because "Israelis are only human" (as is stated in the last paragraph of the article in the local paper, not present in the NYT opinion piece). Of course everything he says has to do with government policies not "Israelis" per se. And indeed it is the policies of Israel that have been a problem for over half a century; the policies that have been responsible for the consistent repetition of occupation crimes.
The only realistic comment Cohen makes that does account for his claims, is about Israel's intent. But when he makes his "intent" argument near the end of the article, it speaks against his claim that Israel is blame free. However, the way he suggests intent redirects attention from actual intent, so that it becomes an effort to muddy the waters of clear understanding. There are two major flaws in his use of intent as an argument to suggest Israel's atrocities are blameless.
Cohen's first flaw in support of his claim that "we ought to be measured by our intent" rather than the "mistakes in wartime", incongruously refers to the United State - specifically, to the 1968 Mai Lai Massacre in Viet-Nam. He then continues on to suggest that because U.S. actions in combat which go "astray" are blameless because of intent, the actions of Israel should also be blameless because of intent "not what went astray". Claims of "blameless" in both cases are false and I can only laugh at the irony of his foul effort. Could there be a worse excuse? Putting it into a personal context that all adults should be able to understand . . . no decent parent would allow a child to justify unacceptable behavior because it is what his or her friends do. But, predictably, Cohen's effort to suggest Israel is blame free, is exactly that type of absurd effort. He wants to try to connect U.S. "mistakes" in combat (even though Mai Lai was no blameless "mistake") with Israel's intentional series of genocidal attacks throughout decades, by telling us Israel's "blameless" repeated massacres of Palestinians in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) should be measured by the "standard" of a U.S. massacre in Viet-Nam? No. That is not acceptable.
A "leisurely" series of genocidal incidents throughout several decades, is no less a genocide than the WWII genocide of less than a decade, or the genocides that have occurred since the end of WWII and the formulation of international and humanitarian laws, each within a relatively short time period of time. An intentional and "leisurely" genocide of countless cumulative incidents throughout half a century attracts less negative public attention, particularly when the incidents are not reported in the news, or when reported inaccurately in terms favorable to Zionist political ideology, rather than reality. To suggest that the committing of any genocide is blameless and should be used as an allowable "standard" for committing later genocides, is wrong, delusional, and evil.
The fact is that the government of Israel and other proponents of the Zionist political ideology, have long tried to make excuses for Israel's genocide against the occupied Palestinian people, by using the historic instances of U.S.A. massacres of indigenous Native American people in centuries past. The effort has been to use that U.S. history to validate Israel's crimes, and to use it as a model for Israel's crimes of apartheid, the rationale being: the U.S. did it and got away with it, so Israel should get away with it too. The fact is that particular series of U.S. crimes, over a long period of time which Israel likes to suggest is allowable for Israel to use as an acceptable model, was committed prior to formulation of agreed upon international and humanitarian laws. Thus those justification efforts are ridiculous and do not validate past crimes of the U.S. or current crimes of Israel. Crimes in history should be used as examples of what NOT to do, not as a justification and model for perpetrating additional crimes, later. The effort to justify Israel's crimes has evolved, apparently, to also using more recent examples like the Mai Lai massacre, an incident (not a series of incidents throughout several decades) which occurred after agreed upon international and humanitarian laws were formulated.
The "U.S. did it, Israel can do it" excuse for a blameless Israel is also an effort to superimpose a guilt-trip, intended to redirect the subject. Consider the problem from another perspective. Because Israel has been getting away with committing illegal crimes, the U.S has imagined it could too. During more recent combat than Viet-Nam the U.S. has followed Israel's lead in committing similar crimes. One renown example is abu Gharib during combat in Iraq. What enables a vicious circle of groundless excuse making is that U.S. has been responsible, repeatedly, for vetoing U.N. efforts to condemn Israel's crimes. With no effort on the part of U.S. to realistically be accountable in accordance with agreed upon international laws, for its many vetos, it is the same as U.S. condoning Israel's crimes. Then after "condoning" by veto, there are instances of the U.S. trying to get away with the same crimes it does not condemn Israel for committing. But the "paradox" that creates is for a different discussion. However it is no surprise that Cohen makes an effort to convince that Israel is "blameless", by presenting the seeming "paradox" of the indefensible intentionally confusing vicious circle that is created from the U.S.A. trying to get away with following Israel's lead in committing crimes, after Israel has followed the U.S. lead by committing crimes similar to those committed by U.S. in history. Cohen is not playing with a full deck when he makes that flawed "intent" argument. He is playing with a deck that is too full.
The second flaw in Cohen's "intent" argument is the "war" Cohen refers to which is a one sided "war" declared by Israel on the people it occupies. But that makes it a crime by Israel, not a war between Israel and the people in the occupied territories. The “battle” the Palestinian people engage in is a highly self-disciplined struggle of non-violent resistance toward the illegal manner in which the Zionist government of Israel manages the occupation. It truly is not the fault of Palestinian people living in the oPt that the government of Israel has done the equivalent of having declared war on the people it occupies. It simply is not legal for a nation to declare war on and attack the people living in territory it occupies. That can not be repeated often enough. Yet Israel has declared that war because it wants the occupied territory to be part of Israel but without the people who are living there - as if people in Gaza are not prevented from leaving Gaza by Israel's military. That is not a paradox. It is a manifestation of evil which is responsible for the criminal genocide of Palestinians by the government of Israel. However else it may be described, "war" is not an appropriate description.
Additionally, like it or not, because of the reality of the crime of an occupier attacking the people in the territory it occupies, the occupied people against whom that crime has been committed are allowed by law to resist however it is possible for them to do so. In other words any type of resistance by Palestinians in oPT to Israel's crimes of occupation, including violent resistance, does not constitute a "war" between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Attacking an occupied people is also not a "war on terror" on the part of the government of Israel. The policies of the political ideology of Zionism which Israel embraces, result in its nationalized, thus "institutionalized" terror which is the genocidal criminal policy with which Israel manages the people in the occupied territories.
The policy choice of the Palestinian government in exile and the Palestinian people, is its "institutionalized non-violent resistance" which also advocates and supports worldwide boycott, divestment, and sanction of Israel. But. again, it is not illegal that some Palestinians in the occupied territories do respond with violence . . . not illegal because of the crimes being committed by the occupier against people in oPt. Any effort to legally describe the situation as "war" is simply a misleading fantasy effort to redefine reality - a delusional effort to create confusion that causes delay, and prevents the negotiating of borders. The people who shout "war crimes", about which Cohen objects, can not be blamed for perpetrating a misnomer based on a Zionist claim that a war exists. That people recognize crimes are being committed is what is important, and what Zionists do not like.
In actuality, once we detour around Cohen's convoluted efforts to justify the intent of the series of genocidal incidents of the government of Israel, we can see that his intent argument works against his effort to present the government of Israel as blameless, because the intent and actions for over half a century of the Zionist government of Israel have been to knowingly and repetitively criminally violate the laws that define the conditions of unacceptable treatment of an occupied people by an occupying nation. That is reality, not an "oops! well intended mistake" - series of repetitive mistakes - which Cohen apparently wants us to believe Israel is blameless for making. The reality of the government of Israel's intentions and actions also meets the legal definitions of the crimes of apartheid and genocide because of the ongoing criminal management of its occupation of Palestinian territories. Any reasonable person who is able to read and understand international and humanitarian laws, including the Geneva Conventions, will come to that conclusion. The documents are all available in numerous languages.
Occupation in and of itself is not illegal. The illegal intent and manner in which Israel manages the oPt, is the unconscionable ongoing crime responsible for the continuing delay that prevents what is euphemistically referred to as "peace-making". But the purpose of the delay that has been occurring for so many decades is to prevent the negotiating of final borders. Harassing Palestinians in ways that interfere with work, school, sleep, health, acquiring food, water, medicine; imprisonment and curtailing freedom of movement are only some of the illegal ways in which Israel manages the occupation, in addition to destroying homes, taking land, destroying infrastructure, uprooting trees and damaging crops; wounding and killing oPt residents a majority of whom are descendants of the 1948 refugee population that was created after being given the choice to leave their homes and land or be killed - having left after witnessing massacres of entire villages. All are Zionist tactics that have been used in addition to the numerous genocidal incidents that have been perpetrated throughout the years, for the purpose of creating the ongoing conflicts which have delayed the negotiating of final borders. Thus Richard Cohen can not, of course, mention the elephant in the room which is the reality of the criminal occupation of Palestinian territory by the government of Israel, which it is legal for the occupied people to resist, including violently. Because . . . the nature of the occupation bears no resemblance to his claims of blameless good intentions, nor is it a repetitive series of mistaken actions, nor is it a war. It is a series in intentional crimes on the part of the government of Israel, rather than what Cohen wants to suggest people should believe - that "mistakes happen in war".