Saturday, October 28, 2006

The ridiculously inadequate nature of democracy in the UK

Well, I received a reply to my recent letter to my MP and it was every bit as unsatisfying as the first attempt. The text of the letter follows with the response after that.

Dear Madam,

I am writing to enquire why your government has failed to call for the trial of various Israelis for a plethora of war crimes that have been committed, both in the recent Lebanese genocide, as well as in the continuing Palestinian apartheid. These events have been documented in detail by organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Committee for the Red Cross. I am sure you understand that such organisations have impeccable credentials when it comes to reporting such offences and in light of the substantial evidence they have presented, both to the UN and to the EU I would like to know what your government’s position is on this matter and you will be calling for the indictment of the characters responsible in the Israeli government, administration and military in the International Criminal Court. (To pre-empt your obvious response that Israel has not ratified the convention empowering the ICC, I would like to point out that Article 12 of the Rome Treaty provides that, in addition to jurisdiction based on Security Council action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and jurisdiction based on consent by the defendant's state of nationality, the ICC will have jurisdiction to prosecute the national of any state when crimes within the court's subject-matter jurisdiction are committed on the territory of a state that is a party to the treaty or that consents to ICC jurisdiction for that case. That territorial basis would empower the court to exercise jurisdiction even in cases where the defendant's state of nationality is not a party to the treaty and does not consent to the exercise of jurisdiction. References this document: I have little doubt in my mind that the Lebanese government would be very obliging in giving consent to the ICC to preside over the trial of the individuals responsible for war crimes upon its territory and against its citizens).

Furthermore I wonder if you are aware of several recent reports regarding the deployment of chemical weapons by the Israeli Defence Forces both in South Lebanon and in the Gaza strip. I was appalled to discover, once I began looking for reports of such attacks on line, that such weapons have been deployed somewhat routinely by the Israeli Defence Forces, eg:

I am in no doubt whatsoever that our incredibly well funded intelligence services will have far more information than I can offer. Furthermore, The Independent has carried several reports recently regarding “mystery weapons” being deployed against Gazans by Israel. Reports can be found at these addresses:

These weapons appear to be phosphorous-based, similar to the weapons deployed by the US troops in their assault on Fallujah last year that drew such international condemnation as “chemical weapons”. I hope that you are aware of this and that your government is only biding its time to publicly declare their opposition to the indiscriminate use of such weapons upon women and children. If you could let me know how you feel on this, and the former matter, and when such announcements will be made I would be most grateful.

As a final courtesy would you also let me know when your government will be calling for an end to the Palestinian apartheid, or at least a lifting of the oppressive military occupation imposed by Israel? I read today that many of Gaza’s 1.5 million prisoners are being forced to survive on scraps from rubbish dumps. Denied permission to leave shore in fishing boats, their orchards and houses bulldozed and their livestock machine gunned in their fields, I am appalled that such oppression goes on without (further) substantial international condemnation of Israel’s actions. This also represents collective punishment of a nation and can be added to the previous list of atrocities awaiting justice on the international stage.


Chris Pook

And the reply:

23 October 2006

Dear Mr. Pook,

Thank you for your letter of the 11th August.

To start, I find it interesting that you call only for the trial of Israelis in the International Criminal Court with no attempt to provide parity and ask for the indictment of members of the terrorist organisation Hizbollah. The aims of Hizbollah are clear, in the words of its 'spiritual' leader, Sheikh Fadlallah, it wishes to 'obliterate' Israel. Another leader of Hizbollah, Hassan Nasrallah is more forceful still, in Lebanon's Daily Star in 2002 he said, "If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide". The words and actions of Hizbollah are under international law war crimes. Hizbollah deliberately targeted civilian areas with Katyusha missiles, such as their bombardment of the Israeli city of Haifa, with no military justification whatsoever -this is a war crime. It ought to be stated that nearly half the victims of this bombardment were Israeli Arabs. Hizbollah as an organisation have a stated aim of genocide, have targeted civilians and have a long history of attacks on Jews worldwide, including the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 innocent civilians and wounded nearly 300 others. Under international law, there is a strong case for the indictment of Nasrallah as a war criminal, but you neither mention Hizbollah nor apply the same criticisms of Israel to this extremist organisation.

For the last six years Iran has supplied Lebanon with Katyusha missiles, a stockpile which prior to the recent conflict grew in size to around 12,000 short and medium-range rockets that could strike northern Israel. In 2004, the UN Security Council called on Hizbollah to disarm and for the Lebanese government to expand its control of the border region, yet no progress was made, instead Iran continued to supply its terrorist proxy installing missiles in residential areas and in some instances, in private homes.
It is worth recalling the beginning of the current spate of hostilities, just this time last year southern Lebanon was remarkably peaceful, and with Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip there were signs of hope in the Middle East. Yet all this was instantly destabilised by Hizbollah's capture of eight Israeli soldiers on the 12th July: this involved crossing the border onto Israeli soil, with complete disregard for the potential consequences for Israeli or Lebanese life.

From the very beginning of the conflict, the British government made it clear it wanted peace, but not at any price. In St. Petersburg, the Prime Minister with Kofi Annan first suggested the idea of an international force to police the border between Israel and Lebanon to bring stability to the region. Furthermore, the UK government did all it could to aid the efforts of UN and EU representatives to find a solution to the fighting: it was a pair of UK helicopters that flew Javier Solana and UN Secretary General's Special Envoy Vijay Nambiar to Beirut and provided them with logistical support on the ground. Very quickly, the UK government pledged £6.2 million worth of aid to provide priority relief needs.

The recent conflict was regrettable, and a terrible waste of human life, but we ought to be clear who is to blame. Israel did not invade Lebanese territory on June 12th -Hizbollah invaded Israel to deliberately provoke it into a regional conflict. Hizbollah are an extremist organisation whose end is genocide, Israel as a democratic state is an entirely different entity altogether. I hope this answers some of your questions, if not please do not hesitate to contact me further.

Jamie Ewing .

Parliamentary Assistant to Alison Seabeck MP

As you can see not a single question has been answered and instead I have been the delivered a sermon on the (undebatable) evils of Hizbollah and the (very debatable) wonders of the United Kingdom.

And they claim democracy is dead! Ha!

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