Israel Report

July 2001         

Perfidy in Genoa

By Michael Freund - July 25, 2001
H ypocrisy and politics frequently go hand in hand, but rarely do they embrace as passionately as they did in Genoa this past week. On the eve of the summit last Thursday of the leading industrialized nations, the foreign ministers of the G-8 countries issued a statement calling for a third-party force to be stationed in the territories to oversee a truce between Israel and the Palestinians.

Needless to say, there is not much of a truce to be monitored these days, since the Palestinian Authority refuses to halt its ongoing terror campaign against Israel. And, of course, much of the money propping up PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's regime - thereby enabling him to continue to wage war on Israel - comes from several of the very same G-8 nations behind the Genoa statement.

But to fully appreciate the utter absurdity of the foreign ministers' call for international observers, one need look no further than the internal situation in the G-8 countries themselves, several of whom, it would appear, could use some monitoring of their own.

Take France, for example, where separatists on the French-controlled island of Corsica have been struggling for years to gain independence. Though a cease-fire was declared in December 1999 by the various armed groups fighting for Corsican freedom, the unrest continues, with some 24 bombing attacks carried out last year against French targets on the island.

Despite preaching to Israel about the need to give the Palestinians a state of their own, the French refuse to grant Corsica sovereignty, preferring instead to offer them a few meager concessions, such as Corsican language classes in schools and some tax breaks. Several recent bombings of French-owned villas in Corsica have raised anew fears of escalating violence, so perhaps the time has come for international monitors to be sent there as well?

Then, of course, there is British-run Northern Ireland, where the peace process has virtually collapsed and the threat of an IRA return to terrorism is ominously real. Though Prime Minister Tony Blair succeeded a few years back in getting local Protestants and Catholics to sign an accord establishing a form of local self-rule, he made clear at the time that Britain would in no way accept any arrangement that subverted British sovereignty over the area. With violence a growing possibility, perhaps the British government would now consider welcoming some of those "third-party" monitors it so self-righteously seeks to impose on Israel?

Russia's little Chechnya fiasco also seems ripe for some outside observers, particularly in light of the recent revelations about mass human-rights abuses committed by Russian forces stationed in the region.

And the Germans could no doubt use some help controlling the wave of extremist anti-immigrant violence within its borders, where neo-Nazi groups have wreaked havoc on innocent Turks and other foreign-born arrivals.

With so many problems confronting the industrialized democracies, perhaps the time has come for Israel to generously offer the use of its good services. Israeli observers could be sent to Corsica, Northern Ireland, Chechnya and Germany, to ensure that things do not get out of hand and that the local governments are observing all the relevant guidelines of international law while ensuring respect for basic human rights. Given their fondness for the notion of third-party observers interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state such as Israel, the G-8 nations will no doubt warmly welcome the idea of foreign observers monitoring their own behavior back home.

Even more ironic, however, is the fact that just a day after the foreign ministers issued their statement, Italian riot police posted outside the building began waging several days of street battles against thousands of anti-globalization protesters who had converged on Genoa for the G-8 summit. One protester was shot in the head and killed by police. Dozens of other protesters were injured as the security forces sought to defend themselves against a well-organized anarchist onslaught. Of course, had the very same thing happened in, say, Hebron or Bethlehem, it is not hard to imagine how the world would have reacted if the police in question were Israeli and the trampled protester had been a young Palestinian.

The fact is that the very idea of sending monitors to the Middle East is just another distressing example of the obtuse moral equivalency that fails to distinguish between the Palestinians as aggressors and the Israelis as victims. It implies that the two sides are equally at fault and that all they need is a referee to separate them, like two boxers in a ring. This, despite Arafat's rejection of Israel's far-reaching compromise proposals at Camp David last summer and his decision to launch a violent assault on Israel two months later.

By refusing to point the finger of blame at Arafat for the current crisis, even though it is patently clear that he is responsible for it, the G-8 nations are effectively allowing the Palestinian leader to continue carrying out atrocities with impunity. That the nations of the world are seemingly indifferent to the killing of innocent Jews is neither new nor unprecedented. But, after all that the Jewish people have been subjected to in the past century, it is, nonetheless, dreadfully sad.

(The writer served as deputy director of Communications and Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.)

©2001 - Jerusalem Post

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