Waging lawfare against Israel…writes Ted Lapkin

June 22, 2015 by Ted Lapkin
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In Europe anti-Zionist activists are abusing national and international law in a coordinated campaign designed to chip away at Israel’s national legitimacy.

Ted Lapkin

Ted Lapkin

The term ‘lawfare’ was originally coined by retired USAF Major General Charles Dunlap to describe: “the strategy of using – or misusing – law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective.” And in recent years Israel’s political enemies have seized upon lawfare with great alacrity in their campaign to vilify and delegitimise Zionism.

This week the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced its intention to submit a file of anti-Israel allegations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. PA Foreign Ministry spokesman Ammar Hijazi noted that this file is “draws a grim picture of what Israel is doing and why we think there are reasonable grounds” for ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to file war crimes charges against the IDF.

Hijazi concedes that the file is only “general and only statistical”, without any specific reference to particular allegations. But Ms Bensouda has already commenced a preliminary investigation into the IDF’s actions in Gaza and the Palestinians have said they would be pleased to submit detailed allegations if required.

The previous ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, gave short shift to attempts by anti-Zionist elements to politicise the Court by means of spurious war crimes accusations against Israel. We should monitor the situation closely to see whether Ms Bensouda perpetuates Mr Ocampo’s wise policy.

And in similar news, former IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General (retired) Shaul Mofaz was in some jeopardy of arrest upon his arrival in the UK to speak at the Jewish News conference in London. Over the past decade anti-Israel groups have exploited a provision of British law that enables arrest warrants to be issued on allegations of purported war crimes committed overseas. Such a warrant was issued in 2009 for Tzipi Livni. In 2005 retired Major General Doron Almog was forced to remain aboard an EL AL aircraft at Heathrow for fear of arrest if he stepped off the plane. Almog was visiting the UK to participate in a charitable fundraiser to benefit disabled children, but returned to Israel without setting foot on UK soil. On another occasion, Mofaz and former Defence Minister Amir Peretz were forced to leave London prematurely upon word that warrants for their arrest were pending in the English courts.

Prime Minister David Cameron amended the relevant UK law in 2011 with the object of forestalling such blatant politicisation of the British courts. But clearly loopholes in this legislation still remain. Now that Prime Minister Cameron enjoys the fruits of majority government in his own right we hope he’ll move expeditiously to complete the job of nullifying these avenues that allow such partisan abuse of British legal system.

Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has recommended that the Palestinian Authority rescind the diplomatic recognition of Israel it granted in 1998. According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Erakat made this recommendation in a 56-page report where he argues that the PA should withdraw recognition until Israel recognises a Palestinian State. Erekat also urged that the PA reject any proposal for the placement of Israeli troops along the Jordan Valley and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be invited to join the PLO executive committee. And to cap it off he also advocated support for a boycott against all Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.

But on a more optimistic note, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called upon the French Muslim community to muster enough courage to “name the enemy”. Speaking to a civil society conference that included over 120 French Muslim leaders, Valls denounced:

Hate speech, anti-Semitism hiding behind anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel, hideous sermons, self-proclaimed imams in our neighborhoods, our prisons which promote violence and terrorism, who participate in this criminal enterprise which lures hundreds of young people to jihad.

Valls, it should be noted, also gave a tremendous speech to the National Assembly this past January in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo/Hyper Casher terrorist attacks.

I’m going to say a few words and please excuse me for taking more time than planned. The first subject we must deal with clearly is the fight against anti-Semitism. History has shown us that a reawakening of anti-Semitism is the symptom of a crisis in democracy, a crisis of the republic. That is why we must address it powerfully. After Ilan Halmi in ’06, after the crimes of Toulouse, there has been an intolerable rise in acts of anti-Semitism in France. There are words, insults, gestures, foul attacks as in Créteil a few weeks ago, which – as I recalled in this house – did not arouse the level of outrage our Jewish fellow citizens expected.

There’s that immense worry, that palpable fear we felt on Saturday, in the crowd, outside that kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennces and at the Synagogue de la Victoire on Sunday evening. How can we accept that in France – the Jews land of emancipation two centuries ago; but also one of the lands of their agony 70 years ago; how can we accept that shouts of ‘death to the Jews’ can be heard now in our streets? How can we accept the acts I’ve just recalled? How can we accept that French people can be murdered just because they are Jewish? How can we accept that a Tunisian citizen sent to France by his father to be protected can be killed while going to buy his bread for Shabbat; because he is a Jew?

This is unacceptable. I say to the national community, whose reaction has been perhaps insufficient; and I say to our French Jewish citizens that this time we can’t accept it; that we must rebel. We must make a true diagnosis; there’s an anti-Semitism people call historical that goes back many centuries. But above all there’s this new anti-Semitism, born in our neighbourhoods against the backdrop of the internet, satellite dishes, abject poverty and hatred of the State of Israel; advocating hatred of the Jew and of all Jews. We must say this; we must utter the words to combat this unacceptable anti-Semitism. As I’ve had the opportunity to say, as Minister Ségolène Royal said in Jerusalem and as Claude Lanzmann wrote in a magnificent article in Le Monde; yes let’s say it directly to the world; without the Jews of France, France will no longer be France!

Finer words have never been spoken from the podium of any legislative body, anywhere or at any time.

Ted Lapkin is the Director of Public Affairs & Advocacy for the Zionist Federation of Australia and a former Israeli combat-intelligence officer.


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