They are the ABC of understanding terrorism and its ugly proliferation everywhere: ambivalence, befuddlement and confusion.
Under the heading "Anti-Semitic juries in the UK may start decriminalising crimes committed against Israeli interests", Robin Shepherd's blog today brings an appalling story of judicial mendacity, hypocrisy, politically-correct wrong-headedness and self-defeating British stupidity. He is the director for international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society in London, and previously Moscow Bureau Chief for The Times of London. Shepherd's key areas of expertise are transatlantic relations, American foreign policy, Middle Eastern (particularly Israeli) relations with the West, Russia, central and eastern Europe, NATO and the European Union.
He begins this important article with a quotation from eminent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz who has spoken about Israel’s predicament in the tribunals of international law. It is analogous, Dershowitz argues, to
"the position that black people faced in the American south of the 1930s. The legal system would work fine in judging a case between a white man and another white man. A black man facing another black man may get a lesser degree of justice due to the insouciance of the system, but a reasonable degree of fairness could still be expected. Put a white man against a black man, however, and the black man never stood a chance due to the weight of the prejudices against him."Shepherd points out that analogies with America in the 1930s are no longer necessary. Britain and its legal system are producing events that, on their own, embody the bigotry against Israel that has become thoroughly embedded in contemporary British society. "Juries have begun to acquit criminals merely if they can show that they acted against Israeli interests," he points out. "No other defence is necessary... "
Here's some evidence:
It transpired in a case involving five defendants who had broken into the EDO MBM owned arms factory in January 2009 at the time of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The five admitted breaking into the factory — which was exporting military equipment at the time to Israel — and causing £180,000 ($275,000) worth of damage. Despite actually admitting to an offence that would usually carry a substantial jail sentence, the jury acquitted them, accepting their defence that although they had committed a crime they were doing so in order to prevent the greater offence of Israeli “war crimes”. The Judge in the case, George Bathurst-Norman, was quite explicit in his summing up for the jury in encouraging them to employ their political prejudices against Israel in their decision:We agree with Shepherd when he sadly observes that "the hysterical campaign against the state of Israel is not merely resulting in gross injustice against the Middle East’s only western-style democracy, it is undermining western-style democracy at home."
“You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time,” the Guardian quoted him as saying. As the Guardian goes on to say: “The judge highlighted the testimony by Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, that “all democratic paths had been exhausted” before the activists embarked on their action... Bigotry (says Shepherd) does not merely cause pain and suffering to its victims, it degrades its perpetrators from within. The rule of law itself is now under threat in Great Britain, and judges and juries are applauding as it goes."
All democratic paths had been exhausted: now there's a powerful justification for violence, vandalism and wanton destruction of someone else's property. Especially when it's a parliamentarian articulating it.
The brilliant Melanie Phillips captures the sense of this with characteristic punch:
Let’s get our heads round this, folks: an English judge in an English court of law effectively directed a jury to acquit people of criminally smashing up a factory, because he chose to believe Hamas propaganda about the suffering of people in Gaza during a war about which he presumably has no knowledge whatever apart from what he has read or seen in the media – a war, moreover, launched solely to prevent Gazans from aggressively firing rockets into Israel in order to murder its civilians, but during the course of which Israel went to heroic lengths to avoid hurting Gazan civilians who were being put in harm’s way by Hamas, the real cause of their 'hell on earth'.Elder of Ziyon points out that there is something precious about the "war is hell" judicial reasoning here:
It is possible that war is not hell when Angola purchases 30 million Pounds worth of armored vehicles from the UK. It is possible that war is not hell when the UK sends 180 tons of arms to genocidal Sudan. It is possible that war is not hell when BAE alone sells 43 billion Pounds worth of arms contracts since 2005 to Saudi Arabia, which is currently fighting in Yemen and enforcing a strangling blockade through which no food or medicine is permitted to pass. It is possible that war is not hell when the UK sells weapons to Iraq, or when UK planes bomb Iraqi cities. It is possible that war is not hell when the UK sells weapons to Pakistan, and when Pakistan sought to acquire nuclear weapons (see below). It is possible that war is not hell when the UK sells weapons to Sri Lanka (thousands of Tamil civilians indiscriminately slaughtered by the Sri Lankan armed forces...)Hell? That's reserved for when Israelis defend themselves from armed-to-the-teeth terrorists.
Relative to the decision itself and the apathy with which British society greeted it, it's a matter of minor significance, but ler's have a glance at this judge. George Bathurst-Norman jailed a man for 3 months in 2003 for decapitating a statue of Margaret Thatcher. In that decision (thanks again to Elder of Ziyon):
... the judge said that although many people sympathized with the man, smashing up property deserved a custodial sentence. In 2001, he handed down a "remarkably lenient" sentence to Abu Bakr Siddiqui, one of the procurement agents of the A.Q. Khan nuclear tech smuggling network, facilitating Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and the nuclear weapons programs of such rogue states including North Korea and Iran.Of course, one hypocritical and agenda-driven judge does not mean the British judicial hierarchy is under threat. But wilful silence on the part of politicians, pundits and human rights activists? Now that's a danger that ought to bekeeping our British friends awake at nights.