The Lawman of Leiden


When a law faculty in Johannesburg pitched a debate between two academics of high standing it billed the event, “International law applicable to the conflict in Gaza.” Unless they took the trouble, few would have known about the alter ego of one of them, a certain Professor Dugard. After all, here was a life long specialist in international law who doubled for a long time as a UN investigator of human rights violations, even if he was appointed by human rights violating members of a council known to buy and sell votes for political and who knows what coinage besides.

Though Dugard was appointed by such people and accepted with alacrity to work for such a body, he at least stood above the fray. Did he though? Surely when a lawman forsakes varsity gown and corridors and decamps to Palestine he packs his learned habits. Did this one though?

We begin with ‘what ifs?’ What if behind up-righteous declarations on human rights and laws of war, Dugard was acting for a war machine doing its level best to wipe Israel off the Middle East map? What if he was aiding and abetting a group of terrorists? What if he was playing the devil’s advocate?

If too wild to consider, remember media coverage of Israel’s War No. 3 against Hamas-ruled Gaza. Think of CNN or Channel Four, of the New York Times or the New Statesman, of other titles by the dozen. Consider how the media aids and abets Hamas by whipping up a storm of protest against Israel through leveraging the cost in human life. Between the lines of reports and pictures from Gaza do we not pick up a badly disguised barter deal: ‘Supply the bodies and we’ll put them to work.’ Sometimes you get a plain speaker like Jon Snow of Channel 4 News who saves you the trouble of reading between lines.

‘We have to know that in some way we actually share some responsibility for those deaths (in Gaza.)

What is Snow doing but whipping up viewers into loathing Israel as much as he loathes it. What is he doing if not upping the yield from the next episode of rocket-fire from Gaza?

Dugard, retired from the University of Leiden, Holland, aids and abets Hamas in a different way. While news anchors appeal to emotion, the law professor appeals to trust. Trust is a quality easily gained when a lawyer talks professionally, as though from the depths of his knowledge and practice. So when the professor declares that Israel has committed war crimes we are disposed to take him at his word.

It needn’t take an expert to expose another’s pretensions. Often the pretender will expose himself. Let’s begin with an expert anyhow. Dugard’s contestant in the debate on law in the Gaza conflict was Alan Dershowitz, long-serving Professor at Harvard. Shortly before debating head-to head with Dugard, the pro-Israel advocate wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post. A list of excerpts from this article will move us forward.

"Dugard has a notorious reputation as an anti-Zionist zealot.”
“A report by a group of self-described legal experts accused Israel of “war crimes” yet failed to mention tunnels.”
“Deceptively titled, ‘Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza offensive,’ the report ignored that Hamas fighters do not wear uniforms, fire rockets and mortars from densely populated areas, and store weapons in and around mosques, schools, and refugee centers.”
“The choice of word ‘offensive’ demonstrates bias.”
“The report claims that Israel targeted civilian buildings yet failed to mention that a civilian structure becomes a legitimate military target when used for military purposes.”
“No self-respecting lawyer would file a brief making the kind of unsubstantiated factual and legal claims made by this report. The lawyer would be disciplined, perhaps even disbarred.”
“The report is a disgrace to the legal profession.”

Came the debate, the audience saw just how self-respecting a lawyer Dugard really was. It laughed at his self-evident lies. It heard with disbelief Dugard’s feeble denials of the facts put to him by Dershowitz. No, Hamas tunnels did not lead into civilian areas. No, the tunnels did not exit beneath kindergartens so that one day Jewish children could be murdered or kidnapped. No, Hamas was not to blame for the kidnap and murder of three Jewish boys. No, there was no proof that Hamas fired from schools, mosques and hospitals.

Professor Dugard’s bald-faced denials did not come out of the blue. He had been shielding terrorists while gunning for Israelis for a very long time. From 2001 to 2008 it was his brief at the UN Human Rights Commission to portray Palestinians as victims and Israelis as criminals, a brief embedded in his job title: “…violations of (Palestinian) human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Dugard’s job title was a mine of disinformation: historically false, legally full of holes, explicitly anti-Israel. More, by pre-determining Israel’s guilt, our Lawman of Leiden trampled a principle he would have drummed into faculty freshmen: innocent until proven guilty. Even his zone of responsibility was a political gimmick: ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories.’

I asked Dugard about that once. Could he please refer me to international law to the effect that Israel occupies Palestinian territory. Obliging with two court cases, he gave the game away. The cases he quoted established no such thing. More, they dated from 2004 – too late to support Dugard, who had begun the job three years prior.

There never was a case where a court examined the issue, considered arguments, and came to the legal decision that the West Bank and Gaza are Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. Turn Middle East wars and laws upside down and any way you want, the concept has no more substance than wishful thinking. Under a bogus title and playing a one-man prosecutor, judge and jury, Dugard put Israel in the dock and delivered verdict. Terror states, terror movements and sundry Israel-haters cheered him on. Why wouldn’t they, knowing that Dugard was the ‘wig and gown’ figurehead of their war machine.

And in that same capacity he acts to this day.

Writing in Al Jazeera, America, Dugard lately argued that because Israel is occupying Gaza, the normal laws of self-defense do not apply. More, while Israel may not legally defend, he argued that Hamas may legally attack. Firing rockets at Israelis going about their lives is perfectly legal, he claimed. After all, Hamas rockets and terror tunnels are "acts of resistance of an occupied people.” The status of Gaza is clear, he wrote. It is occupied territory — part of occupied Palestinian territory. Effective control is the test for occupation, maintained Dugard. He quoted the International Court of Justice in a dispute between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The actual presence of Israel in Gaza is not necessary provided it retains effective control and authority over the territory by other means. 

Such were the professor’s statements on the law of occupation.

The actual situation, for any who cared to check it out, was different – radically so. The way the ICJ defined "effective control" in the Congo vs. Uganda case was not like Dugard said at all.

To reach a conclusion as to whether a State … is an occupying power… armed forces must not only be stationed in particular locations but also substitute their own authority…”

So the final test for occupation is a simple one. If Israel cannot substitute its authority for Hamas then it is not an occupying power. If it cannot change the government in Gaza, or the court system, or the police force, then Israel is not an occupying power. Even Dugard would have to concede that Hamas, and Hamas alone, wields the whip in Gaza. And so would scores of ‘collaborators’ and tunnel diggers executed by Hamas agree, had they lived to tell the tale.

It was not the first time the lie went public. Dugard’s Human Rights Council peddled the same lie, quoting the same bogus case in a 2008 document. Chances are that he was behind that document. So the expert on “international law applicable to the conflict in Gaza” has a long record of helping terrorists escape the law. And there he was, debating in his reputable persona for the edification of law faculty.

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