Deadly logic

According to the UN's top human rights official, the side that sustains more fatalities is less to blame.

louise arbour 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
louise arbour 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post published on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour apportioned more blame to Israel than to Hizbullah for last summer's conflict. Additionally, according to her avowed perception of the ongoing confrontations on the Gaza front, human rights abuses "were particularly acute in the occupied Palestinian territory." The Gazans' "right to life was particularly imperiled," she concluded, because of "policies and practices" related to Israel's security measures. It must be noted that Arbour's five-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority afforded her a unique opportunity to see things from the vantage point of targeted Israeli civilians in Sderot. Her visit there coincided with yet another Kassam rocket barrage, this time claiming the life of Yaakov Yaakobov, a 43-year-old fork-lift operator who couldn't reach cover quickly enough. She was taken to the plant where he was slain and where others were wounded before their blood could be mopped off. Sderot's outraged citizenry had no patience for her skewed sanctimony. She was angrily shouted down and had to be whisked away from folks whose anguished cries gave voice to the charge that both she and the organization she represents "are against us." Arbour should have realized that there are very raw emotions and grievances on the Israeli side. But the impact didn't seem to deter her from the UN's routine resort to the devil's arithmetic - morality by body count. The side that sustains more fatalities is judged as more aggrieved. Such were Arbour's calculations during her Post interview. She did berate the shelling of Israeli civilians, and she lent lip service to Israel's right to protect its population, but she averred that Israel is at fault even if civilians are accidentally killed during Israeli strikes. "There is very little distinction," she intoned, "between recklessness and intent." The bottom line is that if terrorists - be they in Lebanon or Gaza - target Israelis deliberately from crowded townships, whose inhabitants are conscripted as human shields, then Israel has no right to preempt such attacks, lest the human shields come in harm's way. The tragic irony is that this logic runs directly counter to that of the UN's own charter. One wonders whether Arbour has read that charter or agrees with it, given that the charter's logic - that peace must be maintained by identifying, punishing, and defending against aggression - is inescapable. Israel is being pilloried for behaving precisely as the UN charter recommends. Arbour is willfully turning a blind eye to the question of responsibility for the bloodshed - on both sides. It should not be surprising that aggressors try to confuse the issue of responsibility by conflating attacker and defender into a morally homogeneous "cycle of violence." But the fact is that there is no predetermined or senseless "cycle of violence." This terminology is part and parcel of Arab propaganda which the UN promotes. Its raison d'etre is to undermine Israel's moral position. This is why the UN initiates investigations into Israel's responses and not into the aggression of those who kindle the conflict in the first place. The monstrosity of Arab aggression mushrooms unrelentingly before our eyes. As Arbour was being interviewed, Hamas sent a grandmother suicide-bomber to her death. The evil of drafting anyone - from juveniles to elderly women - to function as human-guided missiles does not seem to factor into the UN amoral arithmetic. The UN Charter's premise cannot be escaped, no matter how present UN powers-that-be warp it. Aggressors must be fought and self-defense is a fundamental right. The only way that Israel can be seen as the aggressor in this conflict is if our very existence is a form of aggression. This, of course, is the open message of the jihadi forces arrayed against Israel and the West: Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran. We are not surprised that those who want to destroy us think, act, and speak in this way. So long as the UN's idea of peace differs, and includes Israel's existence in freedom and security, then its officials need to refresh their understanding of the precepts upon which their organization was founded.