Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Boycott of Israel Eircom deal is daft

The Irish Anti War Movement are petitioning eircom (Ireland's largest telecommunications supplier) to withdraw from a contract for a new computer billing system to a multinational consortium because it includes Israeli company Amdocs. This is another in a long line of bizarre attempts by the IAWM and others to demonize Israel out of all proportion.

Among the reasons given for this petition is that Amdocs employs over 4000 people in Israel many of whom serve in the military. Well I got news for you, virtually everybody in Israel from the baker to the lawyer, rich and poor has served or serves in the IDF. But perhaps most astonishingly is the claim on the posters I have seen throughout Dublin city center which claims that Israel must be held to account for its actions during the recent Gaza war which were "outside the norms of civilised behaviour". Oh now really that's just too much. When you think of all the horrors of the world, the massacres in the Congo and Uganda, the brutality of the civil wars in West Africa, the 70 0r 80 undemocratic nations across the world that have outrageous human rights records, but the IAWM decide to focus on Israel and accuse it of being uncivilised. Israel categorically does not act outside the norms of civilised behaviour. Israel has in fact an independent judicial system, something no Arab country has, which enforces the rule of law including human rights law on every Israeli citizen whether they are powerful political personalities or senior military figures. This submission to the rule of law is in my opinion the definition of civilised.

This boycott like most aimed at Israel is an attempt to criminalise and de-legitimize Israel. The comparison is often made with boycotts of apartheid South Africa. However apartheid South Africa was an illegitimate state founded on completely illegitimate principles. Whatever issues people have with Israel, and I have many too it is a legitimate democratic country and it most certainly is not uncivilised.

17 comments:

Bock the Robber said...

Israel categorically does not act outside the norms of civilised behaviour.

True, as long as you think firebombing a ghetto is civilised.

Ted Leddy said...

Why do you always make me feel like such a wanker for telling the truth. Nobody got firebombed Bock. If they had of "firebombed a ghetto" we would be talking about 130,000 dead not 1300. But in my opinion the ultimate test of a nation is if it sticks to its principles during a time of enormous stress. Israel maintains civilian control over the courts and the army (something we failed to do in 1922/23) despite the hostile situation it finds itself in. I admire this and think they should be praised for it. If they deliberately target civilians, expel Palestinians from Jerusalem, as they are trying to do this week, or attempt to undermine the viability of a future Palestinian state in any then I will slate them for it.

Bock the Robber said...

I'm not trying to make you feel like anything, Ted. White phosphorus munitions are firebombs and Gaza is a ghetto.

I don't know why you think Israel deserves praise for restraint in a hostile situation, when Israel itself created the situation and continues to inflame the hostility. That's like praising a mugger for stabbing me instead of shooting me.

Ted Leddy said...

I don't know if white phosphorus is fire bombing but there are investigations going on at the minute and I will leave my opinion on that matter until they have been concluded.

Not praise for restraint, praise for maintaining its democratic principles despite being in a state on constant war. The Israel Palestine thing is a war. They hate each other. Israel does some things right and some things wrong. But for some reason in this country Israel's positive points are completely ignored and its faults are totally exaggerated. Hence the Boycotts.

Bock the Robber said...

What investigations are you referring to?

Ted Leddy said...

The UN and the EU as well as many NGO's have initiated investigations into the use of white phosphorus. I do not know what type of weapon this is, is it legal and how severely it affects civilians. I know that during the war Israel's supporters would say one thing, Palestinian supporters would say the opposite. If it is illegal and indeed causing harm to civilians across the strip I will post on it as I already have done http://gubu-world.blogspot.com/2009/01/10-days-of-war.html

Bock the Robber said...

Ted,

John Ging is neither an Israel supporter nor a Hamas suporter. As a former army officer, he's well placed to say what sort of munitions were fired at his supply depot, and if he says the Israelis fired white phosphorus at him, I believe him.

Incidentally, the projectiles fired at the humanitarian depot were not airbusrt munitions designed to create a smokescreen. They were shells fired from mobile howitzers on the ground in a flat trajectory.

Ted Leddy said...

I believe him too Bock. I think its quite possible that this was a war crime. I am just waiting for the legal confirmation. What I want to see is balance in this debate. Every Hamas rocket fired was aimed at civilians, you seem to think because most were unsuccessful that this gets them off the hook. Lets also not forget that the suicide bomb is a tactic aimed deliberately at killing as many Israeli civilians as possible.

I believe in a two state solution (a secure Israel and a viable Palestine) to the conflict and I will have a go at anyone who is opposed to this sensible solution whether they are crazy lefties here, christian Zionists in the US, Militant Muslims or Israeli right wingers. And I think that the people behind the Irish boycotts of Israel belong in this category.

Lexo said...

Ted - if you don't know what white phosphorus is or does, then maybe you should look it up, no?

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/wp.htm

Here are some salient passages from the above document: "Israel used White Phosphorus against HAMAS targets in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. This violated no international laws or conventions."

This is because WP is not a banned weapon under most weapons treaties, but in any case Israel is not a signatory to such treaties. It isn't even a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"White phosphorus results in painful chemical burn injuries." It's a firebomb. It just happens to be not banned.

Ted Leddy said...

Lexo

Thank you for your comment.

You did in fact prove my point. What Israel did is not illegal even though it was clearly morally wrong.

The biggest political conviction I have is the following. The reason so many horrible things happen the world over is because there are few valid and virtually no enforceable laws that govern the way nations conduct relations with each other. The UN unfortunately is flawed institution entirely. Until we have an international system that regulates international relations it will be acceptable to use white phosphorus in war. Because war is about winning, not winning nicely. In this respect, Israel deserves no more scorn than most nations.

Sad but true

Bock the Robber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bock the Robber said...

Not quite. It is certainly illegal to fire incendiaries at civilian populations, and that includes the use of white phosphorus. It's irrelevant whether wWP is itself nbanned or not. The manner of its use in this case was quite clearly a crime, and not just a moral lapse.

Ted Leddy said...

Bock

I accept I'm being a bit pedantic here. Using the weapon was undoubtedly morally wrong and did harm civilians. But the world does not run on morals. I'm thinking of the movie I watched recently "Fog of War". Its an amazing documentary about Robert McNamara (Vietnam's Rumsfeld) where he openly and frankly discusses his role as US defence secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He says I authorised the Chemical Weapon "agent orange" to be used in Vietnam. "It was a horrible weapon. I never would have used it if it was illegal". There in lies the problem I reckon.

McNamara reinforces the point that whats morally right rarely comes into play in world affairs because with International Relations you have to deal with a lesser of two evils. Again, sad but true.

Bock the Robber said...

No, Ted. While WP is not banned outright,the way the weapon was used is illegal, and as I said, not just a moral lapse.

It was an identifiable war crime and a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

Ted Leddy said...

Bock, the question facing us is this. Is wp an incendiary weapon? You think it is where as I am not sure.

You say "It is certainly illegal to fire incendiaries at civilian populations". We both agree here.


However, the PROTOCOL ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF
INCENDIARY WEAPONS states that

Incendiary weapon means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.

(b) Incendiary weapons do not include:
(i) Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling systems.

It looks to me that wp is not an incendiary weapon therefor its use in Gaza was not a crime. Should it be illegal ? Yes because I believe John Ging when he claims that it clearly has burned civilians. However since its primary purpose is to create "smoke" and not to "burn" it gets off. Bock you can be sure the IDF's lawyers have checked this in more detail than I have.

Ted Leddy said...

Bock

The reason I have gone to such lengths to argue that use of wp is not a crime is not simply to defend Israel. Consider the following.

Both the Russians and the Georgians were far more indiscriminate in their five day war last summer which killed twice as many as the 3 week war in Gaza. Every day in Sri Lanka hundred of civilians are killed in war being waged relentlessly by a government that has absolutely zero regard for the the rules of war yet we never here a peep from anyone about this.

For some reason Israel is held to a completely different standard than the rest of the world and I think this is wrong and even makes the conflict more difficult to solve.

Enjoy the game Bock

Bock the Robber said...

Have you ever dealt with phosphorus? It's a crazily reactive chemical, and if you ever encountered it, you'd be in no doubt about its incendiary characteristics.