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Lessons from British compassion

By Mahmoud al-Mubarak

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, began his most recent visit to Israel with the great confidence and cold boldness that matches the history of his country and its faithful support for Zionist crimes and Occupation when he announced Britain's intentions to change its domestic laws in order to protect Israeli war criminals from appearing before what could perhaps, in the past, have been described as 'British Justice'.


These comments by the British Foreign Secretary coincided with the 93rd anniversary of the famed promise given by an old predecessor of his and which continues to dwell in both Jewish and Muslim memories in different degrees of love and hate.

If Balfour established a precedent by giving away what "one does not own, to those who are not entitled to it", then surely the current British Foreign Minister has raised the bar considerably by furnishing us with the spectacle of "forgiveness for all those who are not worthy of it."

This most generous show of British forgiveness also coincides with the 54th anniversary of one of the most heinous Israeli crimes – the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in what is known historically as the "Khan Younis Massacre". Neither is it far off from the second anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza whose unprecedented crimes have left the world's liberals and those with integrity still awaiting the hour when international justice will extend its hand to seize hold of all Israeli war criminals – or at least some of them.

The British retreat from its commitment to international laws is not a novelty in the modern Western world, but has two similar precedents. The first occurred in Belgium where the government changed its domestic laws to prevent its courts from accepting law suits against Israeli war criminals similar to those accepted in Belgian courts in 2001 against former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

The other instance occurred in Spain where it was possible for cases to be brought against Israeli war criminals by Spanish citizens; who with their wonderfully beautiful bronze complexion attest to the Arab blood which still runs through the veins of many of them.

Despite that, Israeli arrogance overreached its contempt for international laws to infringe on the domestic laws of European states when it forged the passports of these 'friendly' European nations, including Britain, to carry out the criminal assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – despite of all of this – the European eye nevertheless remains constant in disregarding these crimes, individually and jointly.

Who knows, perhaps 'European justice' was too preoccupied by the crimes of the Sudanese government in Darfur to notice Israeli crimes. Or perhaps European governments were too engrossed in the search for a means to stem the tide of scandal that continues to flow from Wikileaks shattering the West's reputation, particularly given that the administrators of the site have announced that the most horrific and heinous revelations are yet to come.

Whatever the case, the shocking forgiveness announced by the Foreign Secretary is a rare British trait that only expresses itself to the privileged adherents of Zionism who are showered with love, generation after generation, by British policymakers. Who knows what unacceptable surprises the Foreign Secretary's leadership has in store for his next visit to Israel?

It is not far-fetched, thus, for the pro-Zionist minister to attempt to win over the hearts of his Israeli friends by enacting new parliamentary legislation criminalising everyone who so much as mentions any of the many massacres perpetrated by the Jewish state, such as Deir Yassin, Khan Younis, Sabra and Shatilla, the first and second massacres at Qana, the Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006 and even Israel's latest war against Gaza, in exactly the same way as the laws of his country prohibit questioning or denial of the sacred memory of the Holocaust.

Perhaps the ever innovative Foreign Secretary would propose to pay the Israeli government compensation for cases brought against its officials in British courts; for any resultant damage to Israel's good reputation and distortions to the eminent image of its officials in the world press.
But perhaps it is better for the Foreign Secretary; who read philosophy, politics and economics at one of the oldest universities in Europe, to learn how to explain to first year law students the difference between Nazi war criminals and Israeli war criminals that have violated all international laws and norms.

If the destruction of homes over the heads of their occupants, including women, children and civilians; the bombing of hospitals, mosques, ambulances and the headquarters of the UN; the use of internationally proscribed weapons and the targeting of the press, who are protected under international law, can all be encompassed by the cloak of British forgiveness, then surely this expansive, all forgiving British mercy should extend to the deluded young girl who attempted to carry out an abortive attack on a British minister rather than sentencing her to life in prison?

Could the Foreign Secretary enlighten us as to what will come of this cloudy wisdom of his; whether this legal procrastination he would like to legislate will serve to diminish or to fuel the acts of violence against western interests in the Middle East?

Moreover, based on what authority does this individual who runs the foreign affairs of an empire over whose colonies the sun did not set, lectures to the various countries of the world on questions of human rights as though they were the norm of his predecessors?

Or is it that this individual, who has previously been accused of electoral malpractice during his candidacy for leadership of the Oxford University Conservative Association, will find alternative and inappropriate ways to justify his shame, as he did in the past?

Notwithstanding this appalling British position, today reality has become clearer than ever before and that international and human rights laws have been put in place for the protection of white Westerner, and not to be used against him.

What is ironic is that the former chief of the White House, who repeatedly shot bullets into the heart of international law, is currently making his come back and returning to the media fore with the same audacity he previously accustomed himself to bestowing upon us.

As such, in his book published this week, the former American President who scaled the steps of political infamy during his term in office, coldly admitted that he issued orders to US intelligence to use torture against Guantanamo detainees, despite the fact that this confession constitutes a challenge to both international and US domestic law.

Notwithstanding all of this, this is not the time for despair. Even though the courts of the old continent refuse to accept cases against Israeli war criminals, there are still Arab states who maintain direct diplomatic relations with the 'Zionist enemy', and these Israeli officials continue to shuttle back and forth between their capitals, and even the towns and villages, of these Arab states.

Accordingly, the next step should come from the sons of Adnan and Qahtan who will direct the authorities of their brave Arab governments to arrest Israeli war criminals one by one as soon as they step foot in their respective airports.

And the eyes of cowards never sleep.

*The author is a professor of international law at King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia. This article first appeared on Al Jazeera (11.11.10) and was translated from Arabic.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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