On the fourth anniversary of the Lebanon-Israel war, American, Israeli and Canadian victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks have filed a lawsuit against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network, alleging that
Al-Jazeera intentionally reported live coverage of the locations of the missile strikes inside of Israel in violation of military censorship regulations, in order to enable Hezbollah to aim the missiles more accurately.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev has said in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council that the attempt by flotilla organizers to sail from Lebanon to Gaza could escalate tensions and affect peace and security in the region, the Lebanese portal Naharnet reports. The ambassador also said that Israel would exercise its right under international law to “use all necessary means” to prevent the ships from breaking the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a statement condemning the arrest warrant issued against Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Ynet News reports. The statement reprimands British Ambassador Tom Phillips and tells him that Israel expects the UK to act against this “unethical” phenomenon, which is aimed at “violating Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Ambassador Phillips was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Tuesday, where Naor Gilon, deputy director for the Foreign Ministry’s Western Europe desk, told him that Israeli officials will not be able to visit the UK until the threat of lawsuits and arrest warrants is removed.
Update: Britain’s foreign secretary David Milliband has denounced the arrest warrant as “insufferable”.
The BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) has upheld complaints about the BBC’s reporting of events in the Middle East, particularly with regard to its coverage of Israel. Z-Word blog and Harry’s Place have extended commentary.
Although it may be some time yet before the true implications of the Obama administration’s new foreign policy become unambiguously clear, there are already worrying signs that it is seriously on the wrong track. While some normally critical commentators have been willing to give Obama the benefit of a “wait-and-see” doubt, the aftermath of his European tour has revealed a scenario that is all too familiar. The most glaringly obvious part of it is the attitude towards global security that the Russian leadership is currently taking. As is it usually does, Moscow is talking smooth talk about “encouraging” features of U.S. Russia policy – but this time there are additional, concerning aspects. While it curries favour with the White House, taking advantage of the warm glow that still persists within Western liberal public opinion after the new President’s arrival, Moscow continues to ram home points about its own inflexible and implacable position with regard to issues like NATO enlargement (Russia appears to be positioning its forces for a possible new military intervention in Georgia) and pressure on Iran (Russia refuses to exert more pressure). And the Kremlin isn’t encountering much resistance from Washington. In the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick doesn’t waste time mincing words, and points out:
Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.
This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama’s supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn’t be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN’s former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, “America’s… superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy.”
Glick suggests that in this new highly, insecure situation, the U.S.’s “unwanted allies” – be they Poland, and the Czech Republic, Israel or Japan – will have to build alliances with one another –
covertly if need be – to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama’s emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America’s eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies – if not for America itself.
Back in September last year I wrote a fairly lengthy post on this blog about thoughts that were prompted by Finnish president Tarja Halonen’s swipe at Estonia on Finnish television in the context of Europe’s reaction to the Russian-Georgian War. In the post I described some of my experiences in Finland during the 1980s and my conversations with Finnish intellectuals and literary figures, some of whom subsequently acquired official status in the Finnish government.
Rereading that post now, with its probably unrealistic view that Finland ought once and for all to declare its solidarity with Europe and the West as a whole on the matter of NATO defence, I’m impelled to the reflection that in many ways Finland does in fact share the responses and reflexes of European politics and politicians. In its reaction to the recent events in Gaza and the Middle East, for example, Finland seems to share in the generally negative assessment of Israel – there is not much sense in the public debates that Israel has a right to defend itself. And one of the people I mentioned in the original post, a former government minister, has now published a collection of autobiographical poetry which contains a fair portion of leftist “received wisdom” on issues like global warming, the war in Iraq, and the like, expressed with such ease and fluency that one guesses that in wide circles of Finnish public opinion such “wisdom” is a kind of oxygen, a supportive climate of orthodoxy that makes thinking about global issues possible at all. There is really nothing wrong with this, of course – except when one comes to the issue of the Middle East, of Israel, Hezbollah, and (ex post facto) Israel, Hamas and Gaza. And then the gloves are suddenly off, and one sees the “criticism of Israel” for what it really is. Stanza 23 of (black book 1) reads:
What is happening in the Middle East is drifting towards its final solution
The Wall is growing towards the sky that is filled with exploded human beings
Easter is coming along with its bloody lambs