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 $1,300 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 correspondent for Haaretz, Zev Schiff, in 2002, General 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 adviser 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!”
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on June 14, 2015, on The Magnes Zionist, a website featuring commentary by Jewish studies and philosophy professor, Jerry Haber (a nom de plume). It was reproduced here with the consent of Professor Haber.