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Friday, July 09, 2004

ICJ to Israel: "Cease Forthwith!" 

The International Court of Justice has ruled -- according to a leaked set of documents -- that Israel's "separation fence" violates international law.
According to a 59-page document published on a Palestinian website, www.electronicintifada.net on Friday, the court will rule by fifteen to one that "the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law."

Israel's Haaretz newspaper also reported Friday that the ICJ would rule the barrier is illegal based on documents obtained by the liberal daily. The wording of the documents in Haaretz and on the website is identical.
Not surprisingly, Israel is dismissing the court's findings and smearing anyone who agrees with its decision as anti-Semitic.
In The Hague Israeli government spokesman David Saranga warned the international community that it should not allow the ICJ decision become "a tool to attack Israel".
Also not shocking is speculation about how the US -- that known vanguard of international law and multilateral coalition-building -- will treat the court's decision at the UN.
If the Security Council was to vote on a resolution on the ICJ's finding, the United States is largely expected to veto it as Israel has requested.
As always, Noam Chomsky has a few words worth hearing on the matter.
If the goal were security, Israel would have built the fence a few km inside its borders. It could then be a mile high, patrolled on both sides by the IDF, mined with nuclear weapons, utterly impenetrable. Perfect security.

The problem would be that it would not take valuable Palestinian land and resources (including control of water), drive out the population, and lay the basis for still further expansion as Palestinians flee from the dungeons that are left, like the town of Qalqilya. So to interpret as a land grab seems appropriate.
Mister Sharon, tear down this wall!

More on Moore

Tim Wise recently linked us to Robert Jensen critiquing Farenheit 9/11, calling attention to some important details. While I don't really agree that it's "a bad movie" or that "it's hard to find any coherent critique in the movie at all," I do agree with some of the points made. After recognizing "The good stuff" (ie, exposing the racism in Florida's 2000 election mess and the Congressional aftermath; showing US and Iraqi casualties), Jensen moves on to dissect the less progressive racial elements.
when he lists the countries in the so-called coalition, he uses images that have racist undertones. To depict the Republic of Palau (a small Pacific island nation), Moore chooses an image of stereotypical "native" dancers, while a man riding on an animal-drawn cart represents Costa Rica. Pictures of monkeys running are on the screen during a discussion of Morocco's apparent offer to send monkeys to clear landmines. To ridicule the Bush propaganda on this issue, Moore uses these images and an exaggerated voice-over in a fashion that says, in essence, "What kind of coalition is it that has these backward countries?"
This is valid; I remember thinking the same thing when I went to the theater. (And yet, as a comment on Wise's page points out: "Chomsky calls Grenada 'the nutmeg capital of the world' and Howard Zinn after the U.S. bombed Libya used the device of degrading the U.S. action by saying that the U.S. had attacked 'a fourth rate country.'") Moving on, Jensen addresses what is probably more urgent: who gets repressed and who is shown being repressed.
. . . in the segment about law-enforcement infiltration of peace groups, the camera pans the almost exclusively white faces (I noticed one Asian man in the scene) in the group Peace Fresno and asks how anyone could imagine these folks could be terrorists. There is no consideration of the fact that Arab and Muslim groups that are equally dedicated to peace have to endure routine harassment and constantly prove that they weren't terrorists, precisely because they weren't white.

The other example of political repression that "Fahrenheit 9/11" offers is the story of Barry Reingold, who was visited by FBI agents after making critical remarks about Bush and the war while working out at a gym in Oakland. Reingold, a white retired phone worker, was not detained or charged with a crime; the agents questioned him and left. This is the poster child for repression? In a country where hundreds of Arab, South Asian and Muslim men were thrown into secret detention after 9/11, this is the case Moore chooses to highlight?
Also an important point. I do wish Moore had spent less time on the Bush/Saudi connections (more on them below) and more time on the fallout of the Patriot Act; the consequences for Arab- and Muslim-Americans; and dissecting the lies that led to the Iraq war. Getting to the question of war itself, Jensen's main point is also his strongest:
But it is a serious mistake to believe that these wars [in Afghanistan and Iraq] can be explained by focusing so exclusively on the Bush administration and ignoring clear trends in U.S. foreign and military policy. In short, these wars are not a sharp departure from the past but instead should be seen as an intensification of longstanding policies, affected by the confluence of this particular administration's ideology and the opportunities created by the events of 9/11.
This is true and essential. As I've said in this space before, Kerry is likely to be Clinton II, and Clinton didn't do much in terms of foreign policy that Americans should be proud of. Jensen makes this point, and provides this intriguing tidbit:
Ironically, Barry Reingold -- the Oakland man who was visited by the FBI -- is critical of what he sees as the main message of the film. He was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle saying: "I think Michael Moore's agenda is to get Bush out, but I think it (should be) about more than Bush. I think it's about the capitalist system, which is inequitable." He went on to critique Bush and Kerry: "I think both of them are bad. I think Kerry is actually worse because he gives the illusion that he's going to do a lot more. Bush has never given that illusion. People know that he's a friend of big business."
I agree with most of what Jensen says, even if I still think F911 is an important, well-made, and enjoyable movie. I'm glad it's out; I waited in line for an hour to see it on opening day, and I will see it again (and buy it when it comes out for home consumption). It's a good movie, in spite of the fact that it should have been much better.

I like CounterPunch, but sometimes I think they throw out the baby with the bathwater. The book about Seattle by Cockburn, et al., Five Days that Shook the World, certainly suffers from this problem. While offering an excellent guide to what really happened; what the leadership did wrong; and why the Battle in Seattle was so important, the authors (mostly St. Clair) paint a simplistic black-and-white picture of property-destroying "real" revolutionaries vs. pathetic boot-licking collaborators and sellouts. I mean, attacking Medea Benjamin as "the diminutive head of Global Exchange"? Give me a break!

QED. I think I need to take a break from blogging about Michael Moore for a while.


The TrunkMonkey is pretty funny. Too bad it's a stinking ad.

Today I'm listening to: BassDrive!