In direct reaction to Israel provoking the Al Aqsa Intifada, on October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, some of whom are Christians, but most of whom are Muslims.[i]
This Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted the Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, “Condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Shariff on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians.” The U.N. Human Rights Commission said it was “[g]ravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian people, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”
In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then:
“Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity;…”
And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission:
“Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity;…”
Article 68 of the United Nations Charter had expressly required the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council to “set up” this U.N. Commission (now Council) “for the promotion of human rights.” This was its U.N.-Charter-mandated job.
The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s criminal paramilitary terrorist settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.
Let us address for a moment Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:
Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” originally came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission (now Council) determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity.
Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.
Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crimes against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza as this book goes to press.
As Pappe’s analysis established, Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much-touted and racist “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide, whether slow-motion or in blood-thirsty spurts of violence. Indeed, the very essence of Zionism requires ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide against the Palestinians. In regard to the latest 2008-2009 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza – so-called Operation Cast-lead — U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua during the Reagan administration’s contra-terror war of aggression against that country, condemned it as “genocide.”[ii]
Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c). For over the past six decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, and economic campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) group constituting the Palestinian people.
This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.
Article I of the Genocide Convention requires all contracting parties such as the United States “to prevent and to punish” genocide. Yet to the contrary, historically the “Jewish” state’s criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied and politically supported by the nominally “Christian” United States. Although the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its blank-check support for Zionist Israel and their joint and severable criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians—truly the wretched of the earth!
The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its N.A.T.O. allies in favor of R2P/humanitarian intervention against Zionist Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a “responsibility to protect” the Palestinians from Zionist/Israeli genocide. The United States, its N.A.T.O. allies, and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 monitoring force to help “protect” the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N. Charter Chapter 7 enforcement actions against Zionist Israel – which are actually two valid international legal options for R2P/humanitarian intervention! The doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” and its current “responsibility to protect” transmogrification so readily espoused elsewhere when U.S. foreign policy interests are allegedly at stake have been clearly proven to be a sick joke and a demented fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing and accelerating Zionist/Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.
Rather than rein in the Zionist Israelis—which would be possible just by turning off the funding pipeline—the United States government, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. media, and U.S. taxpayers instead support the “Jewish” state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year, without whose munificence this instance of genocide – and indeed conceivably the State of Israel itself – would not be possible. Without the United States, Israel is nothing more than a typical “failed state.” In today’s world genocide is permissible so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure allies in N.A.T.O. or its de facto allies such as Israel.
I anticipate no fundamental change in America’s support for the Zionist/Israeli ongoing campaign of genocide against the Palestinians during the tenure of the Obama administration and its near-term successors, whether neoliberal Democrats or neoconservative Republicans. Tweedledum versus Tweedledee.
What the world witnesses here is (yet another) case of bipartisan “dishumanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian extermination” by the United States and Israel with the support of the N.A.T.O. states, against the Palestinians and Palestine. While at the exact same time these white racist cowards and hypocrites preach R2P/humanitarian intervention in order to subjugate Libya, now Syria, and perhaps someday soon Iran.
As Machiavelli so astutely advised The Prince in Chapter XVIII of that book:
On these dissentient points, this law professor rests his case against the doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and its imperialist transformation into the demagogic “responsibility to protect.”