Shurat HaDin Conference on Laws of War, Day One
By Tuvia Brodie
6/20/2016, 10:06 PM
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name...
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Today (Monday, June 20, 2016) and tomorrow (Tuesday, June 21st) belong to the Israeli NGO, Shurat Hadin. It's holding its second annual "Towards a new Law of War Conference". For these two days, it has brought to the Jerusalem Dan Hotel high-quality legal, military and political experts to discuss Israel and international law. Conference topics for this year include, among other discussions, the International Criminal Court (ICC), cyberwar, the financial battle against terror, the sovereignty status of Judea-Samaria-Gaza, incitement on Facebook and Social Media, and legal, humanitarian and military issues surrounding ISIS and Syria.
Shurat Hadin works to make terrorism pay a price for its terror. It sues terror entities in court. It wins.
Since its founding by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, esq in 2003 (Tsivya Fox, "How is One Israeli Law Center Bankrupting Terrorism?", breakingisraelnews, May 16, 2016), Shurat Hadin has won more than 2 billion US dollars in judgments against sponsors of terror, including Iran and North Korea. This year, it won a 655 million dollar judgment against the Palestinian Authority for terror murders against US citizens in Israel.
I don't have space to review all the Conference's speakers. Here's my version of some of the action:
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat spoke about Jerusalem's security arrangements. He stated that, for Jerusalem, the best defense is offense. He explained how Jerusalem does that.
Venture Capitalist Jonathan Medved, CEO of VC company, OurCrowd, spoke about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. But instead of describing how to fight BDS, he spoke of how Israel is causing BDS to choke.
The reality of Israel, he said, is that foreign investment into Israel rises each year at a double-digit rate. In 2015, more than 4.5 billion dollars flowed into Israel. Foreign investors are buying more than 100 Israeli companies a year. Foreign investors aren't talking about divesting. They're talking about investing into Israel.
Prof Rachel Vanlandingham, former Judge Advocate, US Air Force, spoke about the International Criminal Court (ICC). She suggested that, when one looks at how the ICC treats Israel, one is forced to ask if the ICC has been hijacked to serve political ends. She discussed why one would ask such a question.
Atrtorney Yael Vias Gvirsman, Director, International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic at Radznyr Law School began her presentation with the question, what should Israel's position be towards the ICC? As she explored this question, she reminded everyone that Israel had ratified the ICC—but didn't sign it (in the late 1990's) for fear that the ICC would become politicized against Israel.
Dr Korir Sing'oei, Legal Advisor in the office of the Deputy President of Kenya told a cautionary tale about the ICC, one that suggested Israel was correct to be wary of a politicized ICC.
In 2013, he said, the ICC hauled the Deputy President of Kenya into court (at the Hague) to try him for crimes against humanity just at a time when Kenya was roiling in violence. His view of the ICC is that the ICC was not an instrument of justice. It didn't address the rights of the victims, nor did it appear to work to bring justice to Kenya. It was, in his opinion, political.
During this first day, two Israeli politicians spoke: Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid. Both gave professional speeches. Livni spoke of her basic political value: Israel is Jewish and democratic; Israel must not sacrifice its democracy to its Jewishness (at least, that's what I believe she said). I disagree with that. I say, she's wrong.
Lapid was different. Yes, he was off topic. But I really liked what he had to say: he spoke about the UN. He offered detail-after-detail to show that the UN has lost its morality and credibility over its demonization of Israel. At least, that's what I heard him say.
There were other speakers and other topics. I don't have time to review all of them. But one favourite of mine from last year's Conference, Prof Geoffrey Corn from South Texas College of Law, returned to talk about cyberwar.
He began with a question: is international law sufficiently resilient to deal with the changing nature of war, especially cyberwar? He quoted a US Army General telling a recent NATO Conference that NATO was unprepared to deal with Russian cyber attacks.
It seems that few are prepared. Some of the issues I heard Prof Corn raise include:
-Are we prepared to say that cyber has become an instrument of war?
-Can cyber attacks be an act of war?
-What kind of cyber attack constitutes an act of war?
-If a cyber attack is an act of war, how does a state legally respond to it?
These are questions, Corn suggested, international law is going to have to deal with. So will Israel. According to speaker Dr Udi Levy, Former Israel Intelligence officer, Israel is dealing with just this issue--on multiple fronts.
Former US Ambassador John Bolton spoke ("Bolton warns: Hillary will sign America up to the ICC", Arutz Sheva, June 20, 2016). So did a number of others.
These speakers are ejxperts. Their expertise shows. Their speeches suggest that Israel is a lot stronger then we've been led to believe.
Tomorrow is Day 2. We'll talk about Judea-Samaria-Gaza; incitement on Facebook and social media; ISIS and Syria. MK Naftali Bennett is scheduled to speak. If you're interested in attending, we'll be at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel. I'll try to give you another report tomorrow evening.
Shurat HaDin Conference on Laws of War", Day 2
By Tuvia Brodie
6/21/2016, 10:06 PMe
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name...
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June 21, 2016 is the second and last day of this year's second annual Conference called, "Towards a new Law of War". The Conference has been sponsored by Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin ("Tuvia Brodie, "Shurat HaDin Conference, 'Towards a new Law of War', Day 1", tuviabrodieblog, June 20, 2016).
Yesterday, I gave you a report of Day 1. Here's a review of the second and final day.
Disclosure: I've tried to be accurate here. If I have put errors into speakers' mouths, those errors are mine alone. For space reasons, this is a condensed account.
Irwin Cotler has served as an MK and Minister of Justice for Canada. He spoke of how the United Nations delegitimizes Israel.
Each year in the UN General Assembly, he said, the UN adopts something like 20 Resolutions against Israel, and perhaps 4 for everyone else (I couldn't tell if he was exaggerating to make a point, or if these were 'real' numbers). This anti-Israel bias has become a UN standard: make sure you condemn one nation, Israel.
There are many committees at the UN working against Israel. Almost every day, people meet somewhere in the UN infrastructure to condemn Israel.
This UN behaviour is a form of 'Lawfare' against Israel. It's the use of law and/or international code as an instrument of war against Israel. We have to fight back.
We can fight by acting like a claimant—not the accused. We have to make the case that these UN condemnations are prejudicial. We have to argue that this prejudice corrupts the values of the UN—and hurts all of Mankind. He described how we can make that case.
We also have to reverse the conventional paradigm about the Arab-Israel conflict—that Israel's Apartheid is the sole problem that brings misery to the Middle East. We have to argue the truth—that it's Arab Apartheid that causes Middle East misery.
Prof Rachel Vanlandingham, Former Judge Advocate, US Air Force, spoke about Judea-Samaria. She asked, how should these 'territories' be classified legally? This is, she said, an important question because the world uses a double standard for Israel when classifying Judea-Samaria as 'occupied' (see below). She further argued that Judea-Samaria is really sui generis, meaning it's unique. Standard legal classifications for 'occupied territories' don't fit here.
Prof Eugene Kontorovich, Northwestern University School of Law, stated that 'occupation' is not fully defined. Moreover, existing definitions aren't consistently applied.
When the world says Israel 'occupies' Judea-Samaria (the West Bank), it means a 'belligerent occupation'. That means that Israel maintains actual control of Palestinian Authority (PA) land.
But there's a problem with 'belligerent control'. Citing military takeovers in Indonesia and Russia, Kontorovich showed that a military control of someone else's land is only sometimes called, 'belligerent occupation'. For example, using Russia's more physical occupation of two territories, Israel's 'occupation' of the West Bank is not 'occupation'. The same is true regarding an Armenia takeover of Azerbaijan territory. No one says that Armenian take-over is 'occupation'. But a less 'belligerent' Israel hold on PA territory is called 'occupation'.
That means Israel is treated with a double standard. As speaker Avi Bell (San Diego School of Law) put it, there's an 'Israel rule': what is permitted in war to Western [and some non-Western] nations is forbidden to Israel.
Uzi Shaya of Shurat HaDin spoke about how teenage terrorists find all they need on Social Media to become killers. For example, after two 14-year old Arab Muslim youth walked into a supermarket in Israel and murdered an IDF soldier, investigators made a disturbing discovery. These teens didn't belong to any terror group. They weren't religious. They came from good families. But they each had Facebook, twitter, Instagram and youtube.
The boys had used Social Media to become 'home-made terrorists'.
Social Media is like the Wild West. There are no controls. All things 'terror' are there: the incitement to kill, the manipulation to create the desire to kill and instructions how to kill.
With Social Media, you can sit at home and become a radical terrorist. Nobody in the West is prepared for this kind of terror. That has to change.
Servers like Facebook show little interest in blocking anti-Israel hate sites. Recently, Shurat HaDin did an experiment. It created two identical hate-filled sites. The sites were identical except for one thing: one site called to kill 'Palestinians'. The other called to kill Jews. Then, Shurat HaDin sent Facebook two complaints, one against the 'kill Palestinian' site, and one against the 'kill Jews' site.
Immediately, Facebook took down the 'kill Palestinian' site. The 'kill Jews' site is still up, several months later. That has to be fixed.
Twitter has had similar issues. So has youtube. No Social Media will stop anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate postings. They all claim freedom of speech. But it isn't. It's incitement to kill.
Hamas cannot open a bank account. Hamas officials cannot get visas. But they can operate on twitter, etc. They can spread hate with no restrictions.
Michah Larkin Avni, founder of Stop Incitement Movement, called the use of Social Media to foment terror a 'Facebook Intifada'. Social Media is part of jihad. In fact, IS (Islamic State) actually refers to Social Media as an 'open-source jihad'.
There was much, much more about the dangers of Social Media. There were also discussions of Syria, refugees and IS—and how UN code fails to address what's happening in Syria.
At the end of the Conference, Israel Minister of Education and head of the Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennet, spoke. I won't go into details. But he gave a good speech.
I hope this short-hand review was meaningful despite its brevity. I hope you can see how people from around the world fight for Israel on multiple battlefields, all of them unconventional.
This fight to defend Israel is the fight to change the laws of war to cope with that unconventional battlefield. Because of its enemies, Israel has become the driving force behind innovative, legal strategies to counter the new 'weapons' terrorists invent to attack us.
Thanks, Shurat HaDin, for the work you've done for Israel (see the Shurat HaDin website). Thanks also for a great Conference.