Sunday, June 14, 2015

The “High Level International Military Group” on Operation Protective Edge

These are sad days for Israel/Palestine, but today I got a kick out of a story that I thought at first was produced by the satirical mag, the Onion.

It seems that an all male group of generals, security chiefs, and right wing politicians, calling itself the “High Level International Military Group,” has produced a report that not only exonerates Israel of war crimes but praises it for its humanitarian efforts! The timing is viewed as as preemptive assault on the Human Rights Council report due out next week.  Here is how the AP reported the release

In a boost to the Israeli case, the High Level International Military Group, made up of 11 former chiefs of staff, generals and other senior American and European officials who conducted a fact-finding mission, came to similar conclusions. It said: “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the (Israeli military) last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

It would have been nice had the AP reporter also written a few things about the “High Level International Military Group”. Like, for example, how “the project was sponsored by the Friends of Israel Initiative” and that most of the participants are on record as supporting the IDF before 2014. With the exception of Pierre Richard Prosper, not a single one of them has any experience in human rights. Many of them are experienced warriors, though.

It will be recalled that William Chabas, “the world expert on the law of genocide and international law” resigned from the HRC Commission on the Gaza Op because he had once taken a $1300 fee from the PLO for legal advice. So one would expect that the Friends of Israel Initiative would bend over backwards to get impartial people to give the IDF a clean bill of goods. Wouldn’t that look better? I mean, maybe these guys are biased?

So here are some parts of the biographies of the High Level International Military Group left out by the Friends of Israel initiative.

Giulio Terzi – “former Foreign Minister of Italy,” and founding member of the Friends of Israel.

General Klaus Naumann – former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. As described by former military correspondant for Haaretz, Zev Schiff, in 2002, Gen. Naumann “is known as a friend of Israel and of the Israel Defense Forces.

General Vincenzo Camporini – former Chief of the Defense Staff of Italy,

Admiral Jose Maria Teran – former Chief of the Joint Staff of Spain.

Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper – former US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues. Served under George W. Bush and recently as a Mitt Romney surrogate.  A speaker against “Lawfare”, Haaretz wrote about him in 2002, “"The United States ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, is Israel's main ally in its battle against being transformed from accuser into accused.”

Mr Rafael Bardaji – former National Security Adviser for the Spanish government and member of the Friends of Israel Initiative.

Lieutenant General David A Deptula – former Standing Joint Force Air Component Commander, United States Pacific Command and senior advisor to the Gemunder Center at the rightwing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa)

Major General Jim Molan – former Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multi National Force, Iraq and Commander of the Australian Defence College and defender of Israel in Cast Lead against the Goldstone report.

Colonel Eduardo Ramirez – Member of Colombian Congress and former Chief of Security, Colombia.

Colonel Vincent Alcazar – former senior United States Air Force officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colonel Richard Kemp – former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, defender of Israel after Cast Lead, and a member of the Friends of Israel initiative and defender of Israel in Cast Lead against the Goldstone report.

I want to make clear that I do not wish to cast aspersions on the gentlemen above, or their expertise in their fields.  For whatever reason they are entitled to be loyal supporters of militaries and Israel.

But if this ad hoc group of military brass, diplomats, politicians is the best Bibi can do, all I can say is 

“Bring back Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler!” 


John Welch said...

Why did the group not include more US commanders from the occupation of Iraq? Tom Metz and Pete Chiarelli both commanded all ground forces there.

A striking thing, or two:

- the US military was embarrassed by Abu Graib and other neo-conservative torture exercises. They contradict US military doctrine on the treatment of prisoners.

- US Marine Corps just tried, and convicted, most of a platoon for murder of an Iraqi family. There have been other US atrocities, but this trial is more -- more than I remember, at least -- than what the Israeli military has done after the invasions of Gaza.

Who decided that the IDF is "the most moral military in the world"?

Noushin said...

The list is so comical, it's almost a Mel Brooks skit.

John Welch said...

(Not for immediate publication, but for your comment, Jerry / Chancellor Magnes:

A debate over BDS at Tel Aviv University. You probably already know about this, and you know Philip Weiss. I met him at a JVP meeting...almost asked for his autograph, and I knew a lot of famous people during the Anti-War (anti-Vietnam War) Movement. Philip is special.


On June 8th, 2015 Tel Aviv University academics held a first ever discussion on BDS. The following is an address given by Dr. Hilla Dayan at the conference:

I would like to thank Irit Naaman and Nissim Mizrahi, head of the sociology and anthropology department. It speaks to the quality of the department under your leadership, Nissim, that such a controversial and difficult issue is up for discussion here.

This last week I was feeling a bit chilly. That may sound odd seeing that it’s June in Israel, but it may be that I was suffering from what lawyers diagnose as the “chilling effect”. I could not avoid thoughts such as “why did I say yes? why do I need this headache? I am only a guest researcher here. What if I am asked to give interviews on this topic? What will the audience think? Who will show up?” In short, I couldn’t sleep too well.

This is understandable considering the recent public uproar about BDS, and the political sphere in which this discussion is held. As you know, since 2011 a law has been added to the Israeli books, allowing lawsuits to be brought against anyone calling for a boycott on Israel. If I use this opportunity to call for supporting the academic boycott, I may be exposing myself to harassments, litigation and financial sanctions. The law applies to anyone who publicly takes part in a call for a boycott of academic institutions, including in the Occupied Territories, and not just to the instigators of such boycotts. In April of this year, the Israeli High Court essentially authorized the law with some minor changes. This is one of the most blatantly anti-­democratic laws of the past few years. It is aiming at symbolic pre-emption, at criminalizing and stigmatizing all those who support the Palestinians’ non­violent struggle through boycott,­­ a tactic widely considered a legitimate form of protest all over the world. This law incites against groups like “Boycott from Within” and the Women’s Coalition for Peace and against research projects like “Who Profits from the Occupation,” with a view to obliterating them from the public sphere. In the last couple of weeks I have the feeling that somebody must have regretted the “chilling effect” of the law. It now seems that the boycott is a hot topic on the lips of the Israeli elite, including government ministers, captains of industry, university chancellors visiting the President and even Sheldon Adelson! We hold this debate on the academic boycott in the midst of a marked escalation of the rhetoric of BDS as a strategic threat to Israel’s existence. The point of the media frenzy is to mobilize the state’s official and informal propaganda organs and secure monetary pledges for the war on the global “hasbara” front.

- See more at:

By Professor Hilla Dayan, a lecturer at Amsterdam University College.

Incidentally, this has been an astounding two days: the Affordable care Act confirmed, gay marriage confirmed, and President Obama's eulogy for the minister at Emmanuel AME who was murdered last week.

wkovacs said...

you spelled Schabas wrong