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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Memo to UN Fact-finding mission re Gilad Shalit and Incitement

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Memorandum to the UN fact-finding mission
into the recent conflict in Gaza
  

From: Maurice Ostroff                                                  June 21, 2009

A missed opportunity to investigate  Gilad Shalit’s incarceration 
and Incitement to genocide

 

Sadly, none of the reports of your Gaza visit made mention of two very blatant human rights violations that should concern all persons sensitive to Human Rights. I refer to the continuing incarceration of Gilad Shalit and the insidious incitement to genocide that continues on a daily basis in Gaza, as dealt with more fully in Appendices A and B hereto.

 

International media have reported that Judge Goldstone had expressed admiration for the Palestinians' attitudes toward the probe and that their cooperation would be noted in your report. However, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency was more informative than most other media. On June 2 it reported that while your mandate calls for investigating violations by all parties, including Palestinian fighters and the Hamas-led government, it was unclear if authorities in Gaza would cooperate with that aspect of the inquiry. http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38258

 

On June 9, Ma’an reported that you were experiencing difficulties in collecting information because Hamas-allied security forces accompanied your 15-member team, potentially inhibiting the ability of witnesses to speak freely, a factor that obviously needs to be taken into account in assessing reports by witnesses who stated, for example, that no Hamas fighters or weapons were present in mosques, schools, private houses or hospitals.

 

Nor did the mission enjoy the complete freedom that had been hoped for to conduct an all-encompassing investigation. In the same issue Ma’an reported that your team refused to release details of its schedule and that reporters and photographers were not permitted to travel with the group (http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38420)

 

I sincerely hope that that you will find this memorandum to be useful and that the information contained in it will be reflected in your final report?

 

Sincerely,

 

Maurice Ostroff


 

Appendix A.  The Continuing Incarceration of Gilad Shalit                 

 

Judge Goldstone has advised that the HRC mandate has been widened from its original narrow wording, to include investigation of all violations that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.

 

Clearly, since the continued holding of Gilad Shalit before, during and after the above period violates both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, it falls squarely under your mandate.

 

As the Human Rights Council was created by the UN General Assembly with the main purpose of addressing human rights everywhere, it is very disappointing that your mission missed the opportunity, during your Gaza visit, to address the violations of the rights of Gilad Shalit and his family. It was hoped by many that you would at least try to obtain some tangible evidence of Shalit’s condition and whether or not he is in fact alive.

 

With the backing of Judge Goldstone’s international prestige and that of the UN in your access to the top Hamas leaders whom you praised for their cooperation, there has never been a better opportunity to obtain even a small encouraging message for Gilad’s parents.

 

While the “Cast Lead” operation will no doubt require a great deal of forensic investigation before arriving at a conclusion, the injustice of keeping this kidnapped soldier incommunicado for 1,000 days is a blatant, deliberately cruel crime against humanity that cries out for the immediate attention of your mission that was appointed by none other than the UN Human Rights Council.

 

While there may be some technical quibble about Shalit’s status as a prisoner of war, the Third Geneva Convention provides for humane treatment and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross, as well as the right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. All of these rights are being denied to Shalit. By its own admission, Hamas controls Shalit’s fate and as such, its leaders are undeniably guilty of this appalling war crime. One cannot help but wonder what inhibited even a mention of the name Gilad Shalit by any member of your Human Rights mission while you conversed amiably with the very persons who are holding him captive.

 

By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.

 

Denial of POW rights to Shalit is not the only crime. The continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with 24/7 anxiety for three years about whether their son is dead, and if alive in what condition? 

 

Gilad’s family continue to live this horrendous nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured.  To compound the heinous crime, Hamas recently held  a public rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling the jeering crowd, how he misses his parents.

 

No human being with a conscience can refuse to protest this diabolical cruelty.

 

As mental torture is included in the UN ban on torture, your mission cannot ignore the deliberate torture of Gilad’s family by Hamas. Clearly acts of torture are violations of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International describes every act of torture as a crime under international law.

 

Article 1 of the UN “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person….” and a study by scientists published on March 6, 2007 in “News in Science” describes mental torture as bad as physical.

 

It could be that you did raise the subject of Shalit while in Gaza and that the media failed to report it. If that is the case, you are asked to please make a public statement on the matter as soon as possible.

 

 

 Appendix B.   Incitement to genocide

 

Possibly because of lack of knowledge of Arabic and the fact that Hamas forces accompanied your 15-member team in Gaza, your mission was evidently not exposed to the fundamental prime mover in the Arab Israel conflict.   I refer to the prevalent insidious incitement to hate and genocide, propagated on official PA State TV as well as in mosques and schools.

 

The frequently quoted concept of a cycle of physical violence whereunder one side attacks, the other retaliates and so on is fallacious in that it omits the essential component of the power of words. Hitler’s awful crimes against humanity all started with the kind of abuse of words echoed today in schools, mosques and on State TV in Gaza.

 

While incitement is regarded by some as the inchoate crime of preparing for another crime, others regard the crime as completed even if the person incited fails to commit the act to which he or she has been incited.  Either way, Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, states clearly that direct and public incitement to commit genocide are punishable acts.

 

Incitement to kill Jews starts in the schools. Even new schoolbooks written in 2001 by the PA Education Ministry, include passages from the Koran, teaching that Jews should long for death, from Allah himself.

 

In these circumstances it would be surprising if the present generation brought up on a diet of hate-the-Jew and the infidel were prepared to live peacefully with a Jewish state as their neighbor. Without doubt, the root cause of the 8,000 rockets fired at Sderot and the subsequent Cast Lead operation lies in this incitement.

 

The following excerpts from an article by Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, on the History News Network, are evidence of the blatant unambiguous incitement to genocide readily verifiable by your mission. (http://hnn.us/articles/743.html)

 

A member of the Palestinian Council of Religious Edicts, spelled it out on PA TV: "Jews are Jews.  [One] must slaughter them and kill them, as per the word of Allah… Do not have mercy in your hearts for Jews anywhere, in any country. Fight them wherever you are. Anywhere you meet them - kill them. Kill the Jews… Do not have mercy on the Jews. Kill them everywhere."

 

Just last month a PA religious leader explained the inherently evil nature of the Jew, since the days of Muhammad: " He [Muhammad] battled them and expelled them from Arabia, saying: 'There shall not be two religions in Arabia.' .. Say to the Jews:… 'Expect your graveyard. Expect the final battle.'

 

The obligation to kill Jews is presented not only as a religious precept, but has been cited repeatedly as a historical necessity.. a senior religious leader, explained: "The battle with the Jews will continue, because the Prophet has decreed it...  'The Day of Resurrection will not come until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until the Jew hides behind a rock and tree, and the rock and tree says: 'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, a Jew is behind me, come and kill him!'…"

 

Dehumanization

In Judge Goldstone’s recent in-depth interview on Al Jazeera he was asked what brings a country to commit horrific acts like genocide. He replied that dehumanization of the other is the primary factor.

 

Since dehumanization of infidels, especially Jews, is a regular feature of Palestinian incitement, this fundamental contributor to the Arab Israel conflict in general and to the Cast Lead operation in particular, cannot be ignored if your mission is to arrive at a meaningful conclusion that can contribute towards a peaceful solution.

 

It is perfectly obvious that the Palestinian Authority leadership as well as Hamas are promoting genocide of the Jewish People, with haunting echoes of Nazi ideology.

 

Jews are repeatedly dehumanized in words and cartoons as animals - monkeys, pigs, donkeys, rats, worms, scorpions, spiders and octopuses.

 

A political cartoon in the official Palestinian daily defined the Jew as "the disease of the century."

 

Because the incitement is in Arabic, I recommend that your mission avail itself of the valuable services provided by two organizations that translate Arabic programs to English. They are

 

 

 

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