William Schabas is “the world expert on the law of genocide and international law” (that’s what his Wiki says –I am very impressed but please read on). Schabas does not get the basics of conflicts-of-interest, for example, that any street lawyer understands and it gets to the heart of his sense of entitlement and being the “smartest person in the room.”
That a conflict of interest is not based on the size of the retainer which you accept, in this case from one party – the Palestinian Authority (PA), and which you are required to disclose on a UN form requesting this. It is based on the “appearance” of conflict. And being asked to head a major commission assigned to assess war crimes during the last conflict with Hamas – this is the poster-child for inappropriate “appearances”. It is why attorneys have a duty to disclose. Schabas had that duty to disclose, however, he did not think this “minor” issue somehow applied to him. So much for his character.
Since the UN Human Rights Counsel is about to release their Gaza report of last summer’s war we should keep what I am about to write in mind since Schabas headed this commission for a period of time.
So let’s take a closer look at what this world renowned expert thinks and how sloppy his thinking really is. That is because, my friends, there is no single truth when it comes to the laws of war and human rights – the word “laws” is quite misleading. These laws are guidelines since there is a lack of classic legal precedent or court decision making in this area of international law. Comments by UN agencies and NGO’s that Israel violates laws of war or engages in war crimes are not based upon any objective standard but rather it’s their opinion – for the most part an opinion that is filtered by ideological bias which avoids contextualizing the facts and the complex challenges Israel faces in their asymmetric warfare against state sponsored terror organizations.
In fact, ideological bias is the real source of these pronouncements and is intentionally non-contextual – otherwise their ideology would be too contradictory to the facts. Yes, it’s a sick, dysfunctional and hyper-focused view that shifts the debate from opinion to certainty in declaring that Israel must be held to a lofty, inappropriate and singularly unique “standard” for the Laws of War.
These “human rights experts”, especially Jews such as Schabas (who give “cover” to non-Jewish anti-Zionists and anti-Semites) ideologically feel, as Jews, profoundly “disappointed” in the Jewish State’s behavior and they know how to fix it. Their hubris and self-importance result in their certainty of what is wrong with Israel, the confidence of their diagnosis and the justice of their solution. For example, though I do not agree with some of Alan Dershowitz’s positions in his debate with Jeremy Ben Ami of J-Street, you can see this ideology at play with Jeremy attributing an outsized, inappropriate and prejudicial standard that Israel is not complying with – and how this contrasts with Alan’s clear explanation of J-Streets distortion of the truth by constantly criticizing Israel out of context, most notably Israel’s record on Human Rights. It’s worth the watch.
So let’s look at Schabas’ most recent bizarre observation (honestly, I cannot believe he is a Professor of Law – such sloppy thinking shows how blinding is his liberal ideology). He states: “It would actually be a very unusual war if only one side had committed violations of the laws of war and the other side behaved perfectly (emphasis mine). That would be an unusual situation and an unusual conclusion. And the greater likelihood is that both sides actually violated international law”. Who ever heard of the standard “perfectly”? It exists only in Schabas’ mind. Is it Israel’s duty is to behave perfectly? That is complete nonsense and he knows it.
Israel needs to be appropriate in its response and since these decisions are, by their very nature, highly contextual, the ultimate responsibility lays with commanders in the field to make these assessments with assistance from military legal advisers which are EXACTLY what Israel does.
But also notice the moral equivalency at work – if Hamas commits war crimes, so must Israel. Where does this hogwash of equivalency come from? Hamas is an Iranian and Qatar sponsored state terror organization that denies the right of Israel to exist and is committed in its founding Charter as well as ongoing speeches by its leaders to the destruction of Israel. Israel has no such ideology or plans. During the last war, Israel was on the receiving end of thousands of missiles fired from Hamas’ civilian areas into Israel’s civilian population. Israel was constantly showing constraint. Why is there equivalency? Schabas has completely distorted the “standard” and he presupposes Israel’s war crimes by believing that, due to this false equivalency, Israel must be a violator as well. So, he finds violations.
Professor Schabas, shame on you!