Sunday, July 30, 2006

Amnesty International: When even-handedness is stupid

Amnesty International, pretending to be even-handed as always, suggests writing letters to all the main parties involved in the Lebanon conflict as a means to pressure them to avoid civilian casualties.

Here is their sample letter to Nasrallah:
Dear Sir,
I am writing to express my concern about the killing of civilians in both Lebanon and Israel. In the week since 12 July, more than 300 Lebanese civilians, including dozens of children have been killed by the Israeli air strikes against Lebanon and hundreds more have been injured. Amnesty International condemns unreservedly the massive attacks carried out by the Israeli military against civilians and civilian infrastructure throughout Lebanon, and is calling on Israel to immediately cease such attacks and to respect international humanitarian law.
We are also concerned about Hizbullah attacks against Israeli civilians, some 15 of whom have been killed by rockets launched by Hizbullah. Such attacks have also caused substantial damage to homes and other civilian property.
I urge you to ensure that Hizbullah’s armed wing put an immediate end to the targeting of Israeli civilians, notably the launch of rockets into Israeli towns and villages and that Hizbullah fighters do not initiate armed attacks from residential civilian areas and avoid locating military objectives within civilian areas. I also call on you not to harm the two Israeli soldiers whom Hizbullah captured and to grant them access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The letter to Olmert is a bit longer, adding bits about "proportionality" and helpfully adding
Such attacks are a blatant breach of international humanitarian law and some amount to war crimes.

There is an interesting bias that AI shows by not mentioning war crimes or international law to the Hezbollah chief.

But the more idiotic part is that AI knows very well that Nasrallah doesn't care in the least about what some Westerners are mailing him. It would be far more useful to send messages to Santa Claus asking for a cessation of hostilities.

Hezbollah's very goal is the destruction of Israel:
The Necessity for the Destruction of Israel
We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve. This enemy is the greatest danger to our future generations and to the destiny of our lands, particularly as it glorifies the ideas of settlement and expansion, initiated in Palestine, and yearning outward to the extension of the Great Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile.
Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.
We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Therefore we oppose and reject the Camp David Agreements, the proposals of King Fahd, the Fez and Reagan plan, Brezhnev's and the French-Egyptian proposals, and all other programs that include the recognition (even the implied recognition) of the Zionist entity.
That was from the 1985 Hizbollah Program, and in 1996 it had not moderated:
We will work on the strong and efficient continuation of the Resistance until our occupied land is completely liberated and restored to the national sovereignty, until our people in the occupied strip are released and able to secure a free honorable decent living away from any direct or indirect presence of the usurping Zionists. We will also work on confronting the logic of the theatrical negotiations that seek to establish Israel's position at the expense of the people of the land.
So Hezbollah rockets towards Israeli civilians is a direct part of who Hezbollah is. It is the major reason they built up their arsenal to begin with! The targets from the beginning were meant to be civilians, and the Hezbollah defenses from the beginning were meant to be civilians. (See this amazing letter.)

Writing a letter to Nasrallah asking him to stop rocket fire is like asking him to disband his organization - it is absurd.

Now, the Amnesty International goal is to be
concerned solely with the impartial protection of human rights.
Hezbollah's goal is to take away the human rights from a specific group of people.

The very idea of treating Hezbollah and the State of Israel identically in Amnesty's actions is not evenhandedness - it is effectively one-sided because of the nature of each entity. One side is susceptible to pressure and the other one isn't. One side respects human rights and the other side doesn't. One side tries to minimize human pain and the other side seeks to maximize it. To treat them the same is to confer legitimacy on an inherently immoral and illegitimate group of thugs.

Sometimes - in fact, usually - being "evenhanded" is anything but.