Sunday, January 25, 2009

Israel’s Attack on Gaza: A War Crime Ab Initio, Continues

All is fair in love and war, it is often stated.
But that’s not exactly true since there are laws regulating what an entity/individual can do nationally or internationally. Putting aside the issues of love, while it might seem like an oxymoron, there are actually laws for warfare. When these laws are violated, the violators can be charged by war crimes, arrested and brought before the International War Crimes in The Hague.

Slobodan Meets Tzipi
This International Criminal Court is real. Slobodan Milošević, the late President of Serbia, was arrested and tried before it for the war crimes committed against Bosnians and Croatians. Just likeMilošević, Israeli officials and officers, when they travel internationally, face the threat of being arrested and tried for war crimes. Recently, a Belgian court was petitioned to arrest Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni upon arrival in Brussels, Belgium for the war crimes in Gaza. Olmert and Barak are not immune either. The only safe place for the Israeli war crimes’ suspects is Israel because once they travel internationally they are exposed to possibility of arrest and being brought to The Hague.

Real Concern in Israel
Israel is concerned about the possibility of its political figures and soldiers facing arrest for war crimes when they travel abroad. Israel tries to deflect accusations of criminal behavior by alleging anti- Semitic motives for the accusers but this defense is a political defense that has worked with diplomacy and is not effective as to international law. The fact is that even Israeli human rights activists have charged the Israeli army with war crimes. Israeli human rights activists have set up an Internet site detailing war crimes committed by Israeli official and army officers.

“Arrest Order” for Barak, Drafted by Israeli Jews

Examples of these websites are, according to the Israeli paper Haaretz include “, includes "arrest orders," complete with pictures and personal details, for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Livni, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his two predecessors, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya'alon, former air force commander Eliezer Shkedy and others.” Haaretz states: The "arrest order" for Barak, for instance, states: "On December 27, 2008, the suspect ordered an aerial assault on all of Gaza's population centers. The assault included hundreds of sorties by fighter jets that dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on residential areas of Gaza, which led to the deaths of 1,200 people - men, women and children. Some 5,300 people were wounded and hundreds of thousands became refugees. On December 10, 2008, a formal complaint was filed against Ehud Barak to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Holland ... on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity because of the siege of Gaza."

Israel Prepares for International Criminal Lawsuits
There is no doubt that war crimes were committed by Israel in Gaza. No one knows this better than the government of Israel itself. In an action that brings to mind the Bible insight that the guilty run when nobody pursues, the government of Israel ratified a bill granting support to Israeli officers facing potential war crime lawsuits for the many war crimes in Gaza. Israel also has banned the disclosure of the names of the officers that participated in the Gaza slaughter to protect them from possible international arrest and prosecution.Prime Minister Ehud Olmert trying to calm the real fears of the Israeli officers who participated in the Gaza atrocities stated that “the commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals.” This is another Israeli lie. Israel cannot promise safety from tribunals, it can only promise to help defend its officers in case they are captured and prosecuted.

Israeli War Crimes
Of course, there were many war crimes committed during Israel’s attack on Gaza. This can be discerned from the instances of blocking of and or rationing food and medicine importation into Gaza, using excessive force, disregarding the law of proportionality (the military benefit has to outweigh the harm to civilians for an act of war to be proportionate and thus permitted in international law), using white phosphorous munitions in civilian areas, bombing the UNRWA compound (the USA is one of the biggest donors to UNRWA- that was American money that Israel burned in Gaza’s UNRWA storage), firing at medical personnel, bombing medical facilities such as clinics and storage facilities, bombing the only university in Gaza, the Islamic university, and bombing mosques and civilian residences.

Crime Begets Crime
The reality of it is that the whole Cast Lead operation is a war crime in and of itself and the subsequent war crimes that followed are logical consequences of this crime. The blockade that preceded the war as well as the operation are war crimes. In both instances, the blockade and the operation Cast Lead were targeting civilians. “Making Palestinians pay a price,” “convincing the Palestinians that they are a defeated people,” “reducing the motivation of the Palestinians to fight/fire [the primitive and inaccurate rockets],” is a war crime. A war crime could only produce other war crimes.

From the Start, a War Crime, Continues
The war crime against Gaza has not stopped with the end of the shooting war. Relief organizations are still complaining about the arbitrariness of the Israeli army in allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israeli officials claim that choking Gaza is a tactic to keep the pressure on Hamas. But this is collective punishment of the Palestinians that denies civilians food and medicine. The war crimes have not stopped with the ceasefire. The war crimes continue in an albeit different form.

“Moral Army” Uses White Phosphorous on Noncombatants
Israel always wonders why it gets the critical attention of the international community. Israel itself is a creation of the international community. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the Israeli army is "the most moral army in the world.” Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have already documented the war crimes violations by the “moral army” of Israel, such as the use of white phosphorous munitions in civilian areas.

For more information on this subject see

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Open Letter to the Lebanese Left

In response to the Israeli attack on Gaza, throngs of Lebanese leftists tried to reach the US embassy in Okar to express solidarity with Gaza and to express outrage at US support for Israel.

These young men and women were very driven. Despite the Lebanese army measures, they persisted in trying to reach the embassy.

It's nice to have good feelings for the Palestinians. In Gaza.

The energy of these protesters in their Jeans , t -shirts and Keffiyashs is refreshing in the age of homogenization and greed.

It is always good to feel for the downtrodden.


How about those Palestinians in Lebanon denied of so many of the basic human rights?

Instead of driving to Okar in their buses, these budding revolutionaries should have driven South to the Palestinian camps to see how their beloved Palestinians are living. Those refugees are Palestinians too but don't have the distinction of being bombed ruthlessly by Israel- for the moment.

Did the left hold any events to pressure the Lebanese sectarian system to budge on the issue?

Did they hold any sit ins saying enough with this scandal?

The Swisss citizen of Lebanese origin, Suha Bishara, has wondered why there is no effort made by the left to ameliorate the situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon.

Do the Palestinians have to be killing Israelis or being killed by Israelis so that they get solidarity from the enlightened Lebanese left?

And finally- A note from the United States to the Lebanese left:

Our Palestinians are doing well, how are your Palestinians doing?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Israel's Propagandists Lies About the Al Arabiya TV Reporter

The first causality of war is truth.

There is a video of a Palestinian reporter for Al Arabiya TV, Hanan Al Masri, speaking on the phone and wondering about the strong noise that sounds as if a rocket is being fired from under the building.

Israel's shameless propagandists such as Debbie Schlussel flatly lie - Schlussel claims 'VIDEO: "Impartial" Al-Arabiya Reporter Laughs About HAMAS Missile Being Launched from Her Building'

As a native speaker of Arabic I understood what she said.

The Al Arabiya reporter stated:
"As if from under the building"
"It's noise is so strong."
"Are they [Hamas] launching rockets from under the building office!!!

The reporter seems shocked that Hamas would do such a thing. This is in fact evidence that the Palestinians were not firing from near civilian targets. If Hamas habitually fired from near civilian locations, then the reporter would not seem shocked they are firing from nearby her building.

The reporter is thinking aloud. She is not a specialist in warfare. She clearly states the noise is so strong as if a rocket is fired form under the building. She did not say that a rocket is launched from her building.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is Mahr Enforceable in a Court of Law?

Love Struck

When I was in law school in Toledo, one of my classmates told me that when he married his Palestinian wife, on the wedding eve, the father of the bride made him sign a paper saying that he owes his wife $100,000 in the event of a divorce. The love struck young man was reluctant to sign it but could not protest given that that would have caused a lot of problems (a possible bridezilla outbreak?). He told me that now he knows that that paper has no value as a contract since if it did meet all the requirements of a valid contract as set by Ohio law and was executed under duress.

It does not have to be this way.

What is Mahr? It’s easy to say what it is not-
It is not dower, not dowry and not bride price.
Mahr is frequently misunderstood as dowry. It is not. It is not a bride’s price, and not dower. Dowry is assets (goods, money and real estate) that a wife brings to her new husband- it’s a common practice in India. It becomes the husband’s property. Bride price is money that is given to the parents of the bride to marry their daughter. Dower is the wife’s interest in the property of the husband.
Mahr clearly is not bride price, dower or dowry.

Simply put Mahr is, in essence, a gift from the man to the bride. There is no valid Islamic marriage without a stated Mahr which can be upfront and/ or deferred. The Mahr is an intinsic element of the religious marriage agreement.

Most of the time it’s money but could be real estate or other things of value. It can be paid upfront or deferred upon the event of the dissolution of the marriage. If the wife asks for a divorce, and the husband is not at fault, then the wife is usually required by Islamic law to return the Mahr to her husband.
Mahr is not an Ante-nuptial Agreement
Mahr agreement has been compared to a pre nuptial agreement. It is not a pre- nuptial agreement and courts applying the standards and requirements for a valid pre- nuptial agreement are bound to erroneously invalidate a Mahr agreement.
A pre- nuptial agreement, unlike a standard contract, has a lot of requirements that are determined by state law such as that there is full disclosure of the assets of the parties and that the parties had the opportunity to seek legal counsel. This is a very high standard to meet. A pre-nuptial agreement is a mechanism to resolve the financial issues of the parties in case of a divorce. This is not the purpose of the Mahr agreement.
The Mahr agreement, by its very nature, is not an ante-nuptial agreement.
It’s more accurate to understand the Mahr agreement as a regular contract between adults.
Can Mahr be Devised As a Valid Contract?
If the requirements of a valid contract as defined by state law are met, then there is a strong likelihood of the Mahr agreement being upheld in the court. The common defenses against the enforcement of a contact, such as duress, should be kept in mind when drafting and executing a Mahr contract. If it looks like any other valid contract then the allegations that it is simply a matrimonial action, a religious ceremony or religious agreement, should not be recognized as changing the nature of the Mahr as a contract under state law regardless if it is part of a religious ceremony.
Institutional Response Needed
What needs to be done is an institutional response to the dilemma of Islamic issues arising in the context of the American legal system. Legal documents and strategies should be developed to become standard templates to be used by parties agreeing on Islamic matters such as the Mahr.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bizarre Linkage

The Palestinians in Gaza are getting a lot of sympathy from the whole world- except Israel and its blind supporters.

But much of this support is rhetorical, as has been the case for many years.

You would think this sympathy for the Palestinians would translate into a momentum for decent treatment of the Palestinians in some Arab countries.

No chance.

In a meeting with the Lebanese officials, the old revolutionary Nayef Hawatmeh of the Democratic Front was told that the Palestinian refugees' basic human and civil rights will be examined when the issue of the weapons of the pro-Syria militias outside the camps is resolved!

How the two issues are linked is one of the bizarre riddles of Lebanese sectarian and tribal politics.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Funny" Gaza News

It's really amazing to see and read the commentary on the war on Gaza.

It's completely one-sided. Not that this is new when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But with the war on Gaza and the massive destruction and human suffering of the Palestinian people, it's not even funny how one -sided the media covrage is now.

It's funny, how of all the news media, only fake news would present both sides in a way fair to the Palestinians.

The mainstream media frames the war as a Israeli response to the rocket attacks of Hamas when the truth is that there is much more to the story. The snapshot of rocket attack and response to it is a grave misrepresentation of the conflict.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

From Gaza to Beirut: All not Well With Palestine

It's heartening to see the world sympathize with Gaza.

Gaza is the underdog.
Gaza is the "third world country" fighting a Western colonial nuclear superpower. Gaza is the victim of collective punishment and way disproportionate response of Israel to the ineffective and futile missiles of Hamas.

Gaza is clearly the victim of war crimes.
Human beings are made in the image of God- that is true for Gazans as well as Israelis. Israel is acting as if only Israelis are created in the image of God. 485 Palestinians have been slaughtered- 4 Israelis died in the Hamas missile attacks.

Gaza is besieged, outgunned, bombed ruthlessly. The goal of Israel is to break the will of Gaza to fight.

Good luck. No, no good luck.

But Gaza is not the only place were Palestinians are suffering.

In many Arab countries they are suffering as well. No one has forgotten that Nahr al Bared was destroyed due to a murdereous gang having taken it hostage. Until now the Al bared's refugees are refugees in other camps.

Life for the refugees is made miserable by Lebanese laws that discriminate against them and deny them the most basic of human rights- mainly economic rights and civil rights.

The camps are miserable places of poverty and hopelessness. It is simply a crime against humanity to treat human beings the way the Palestinians are treated in Lebanon. This reality is only made uglier when the pretext is said to be the delicate mythical sectarian balance that the overwhelmingly Sunni refugees would allegedly distort by being able to work and feed their children instead of living on international handouts.

Mind you human rights organizations have been asking Lebanon for a floor of rights and not the ceiling of citizenship. The refugees themselves do not want citizenship neither.

Let this love of Gaza and sympathy to the plight of the refugees and residents of Gaza translate into momentum for decent treatment of the Palestinian refugees in all the Arab and Muslim world- especially in the worst offending state of Lebanon. There is no justification for waving the Palestinian flag and shedding tears when these countries' and their citizens have their own refugees that are treated very poorly.