Standing down the hanging jury
In Britain today, hating Israel has become a valid criminal defense. This week five criminal defendants charged with destroying property valued at some $285,000 at the EDO MBM arms factory in Brighton during a January 2009 break-in were found innocent of all charges. They were found innocent despite the fact that all five admitted to having committed the crime.
As the Guardian reported, the defendants boasted in online forums at the time of the incident that their crime was premeditated. It took place during the IDF’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza. Their declared aim was to, “smash up,” the factory. And they achieved their goal.
The jury found the five innocent because the jurors accepted as a valid defense the defendants’ claim that they vandalized the EDO MBM plant because they wanted to prevent Israel from carrying out war crimes in Gaza. EDO MBM does business with the IDF, therefore, the defendants claimed and the jury agreed, it deserved to be attacked.
In finding as they did, the jurors were acting in accordance with the guidance they received from the presiding judge. As the Guardian reported, Judge George Bathurst-Norman instructed the jury, “You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time.”
What this verdict shows is that in British courts, hatred of Israel has become a license to break the law. This turn of events is the logical flipside of Parliament’s abject refusal to amend Britain’s outrageous universal jurisdiction law. British lawmakers, government officials and jurists all basically agree that the law – which allows magistrates to issue arrest warrants against foreigners based on allegations filed by British subjects – is a legal travesty. It subverts the capacity of the British government to conduct foreign policy by placing all foreigners at the mercy of political activists.
Both Spain and Belgium amended their universal jurisdiction laws for this reason.
But in Britain no amendment is in the offing because the demand for the amendment is linked to Israel. Since Israel-hating activists began hijacking magistrate courts to force the issuance of arrest warrants against Israeli military personnel and politicians five years ago, Israel has repeatedly asked that the law be changed. And because Israel wants it changed, it will remain in force.
In fact, not only will it remain in force, its use against Israelis expands by the day. Today any Israeli who served in the IDF has to think twice about travelling to Britain lest doing so place him or her in jeopardy of being arrested on trumped-up charges.
What both the Brighton court’s verdict and the abuse of the universal jurisdiction law show is that today in England Israelis cannot assume that the laws will protect them. And by the same token haters of Israel can assume that they will be immune from punishment for violent attacks against Israel-related targets.
THE PERVERSION of the legal system in England isn’t unique. Take the situation in Malmo, Sweden for instance. In an almost one-to-one parallel of the arguments that won the day in the Brighton courtroom, in January Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu used the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day to bash Israel and Israel supporters and equate them with Nazi Germany.
Over the past few years, Malmo’s Jewish community has been fleeing the city due to the massive increase in anti-Jewish violence conducted by an alliance of Muslims and leftists. Reepalu denied there is anti-Jewish violence in his city and then went on to blame the city’s Jewish residents for the violence launched against them. As he put it to the Skanska Dagbladet newspaper, if the city’s Jews don’t wish to be attacked, all they have to do is denounce Israel. But he said, “Instead the community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration,” adding darkly that their action, “may convey the wrong message to others.”
So like the EDO MBM plant, Malmo’s Jews deserve to be attacked.
Then there is the situation in Australia. In the weeks that followed the Mossad’s alleged assassination of Hamas terror-master Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January, Australia’s generally relaxed Foreign Ministry sprang into action. No, it didn’t attack Dubai for allowing wanted arch-terrorists to roam free and enjoy the principality’s famed hospitality at one of its luxury hotels.
Australia’s Foreign Ministry angrily expelled an Israeli diplomat amid unproven accusations that the Mossad officers allegedly involved in the counter-terror operation used forged Australian passports to enter Dubai.
Notably, the fire-in-the-belly attitude that marked Australia’s assault on Israeli embassy personnel had no parallel in an Australian federal courtroom last week as Judge Neil McKerracher adjudicated an extradition request from Hungary.
Hungary requested the extradition of retired Nazi Charles Zentai. Zentai is wanted in Hungary for his role in the 1944 murder of Peter Balasz. Balasz was 18 when he was killed. Zentai and his fellow Nazis killed Balasz because he was Jewish and threw his body into the Danube River.
There is no statute of limitations for Zentai’s crime. Yet, McKerracher didn’t care about the law. Instead he followed his heart. And his heart told him that extraditing the 88-year-old war criminal who has evaded justice for 66 years for his crime would be “oppressive and incompatible with humanitarian considerations.” And so he denied Hungary’s request.
To sum up the situation Down Under, an Israeli diplomat got expelled from Australia because Israel allegedly used Australian passports to kill a senior member of an organization dedicated to the eradication of Jewry. And an Australian judge ruled that a Nazi war criminal who actively participated in the genocide of Jewry can live out the rest of his life in peace in the bosom of his family.
THIS BRINGS us back to Britain for a moment. Britain was the first country to expel Israeli diplomats over the Mabhouh incident. The Foreign Office received the rousing support of the British media for its action. The Guardian for instance characterized Israel’s alleged use of British passports in the Mabhouh operation as the action of an “arrogant nation that has overreached itself.”
Notably, while Israel allegedly used forged British passports to target a terrorist, last week it emerged that Russia used British passports to spy on the US. Reports of the Russian spy ring that was arrested last week in the US indicate that members of the ring used forged British passports. Amazingly, (or actually, predictably), neither the Foreign Office nor the British media have taken or called for action to be taken against Russian embassy personnel for abusing British travel documents.
As to the international campaign against Israel following the Mabhouh assassination, this week Poland is set to rule on Germany’s extradition request of Uri Brodsky. Polish officials acting on a German arrest warrant arrested Brodsky at a Polish airport last month for his alleged role in forging a German passport for one of the alleged Mossad operatives allegedly involved in the Mabhouh operation. Germany is adamant that Poland send Brodsky to Germany to stand trial for his alleged role in assisting in the targeted killing of a wanted terror mastermind.
Germany’s feverish insistence that Brodsky stand trial in Germany is of a piece with its newfound appetite for waging political warfare against Israel.
Last week Germany’s Bundestag unanimously passed a resolution calling for an international investigation of the IDF’s takeover of the Turkish-Hamas ship Mavi Marmara on May 31. The resolution also demanded that Israel immediately end its lawful maritime blockade of the Gaza coast and slammed Israel for violating the principle of proportionality.
Like the court in Brighton, the Bundestag’s action asserts that Israel is guilty by nature and that as a consequence, unlike every other country in the world, it cannot be judged by an impartial body. Rather, as the British judge made clear in his libelous instructions to the Brighton jury, guilty Israel must be judged by a hanging jury that draws its conclusions in advance.
ONE QUESTION that necessarily arises amidst any discussion of this legalistic-political assault on Israel and the worldwide perversion of law in the service of Israel’s enemies is where is the Government of Israel in all of this?
Last week Britain’s Methodist Church voted to boycott all products emanating from Israel’s Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and from Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. It probably goes without saying that the Methodist Church has levied no similar boycott against any other country. Indeed, as Robin Shepherd wrote in Monday’s Jerusalem Post, not only did the Methodist Church never consider boycotting say Sudan or Iran or Saudi Arabia for their human rights abuses, the only countries the Methodists considered attacking other than Israel were Britain and the US… for having relations with Israel.
As Shepherd relates, among other factors guiding the church’s decision was its members’ assertion during the boycott deliberations that Jews worship a racist God.
Shepherd recommends that Israel fight fire with fire. In his words, “If the Methodist Church is to launch a boycott of Israel, let Israel respond in kind: Ban their officials from entering; deport their missionaries; block their church-funds; close down their offices; and tax their churches. If it’s war, it’s war.”
These recommendations are eminently reasonable.
Indeed, the government has no cause for not adopting them.
For generations Jews have clung to the belief that law is intrinsically good and if we follow the law the law will protect us. But this has never been more than a fool’s belief.
As we see today in the wholesale perversion of law in the service of Israel’s destruction in countries around the Western world, law is but a tool. Depending on who wields it, it can be a force for injustice just as easily as it can be a tool for pursuing justice.
Israel’s response to date to all of these legal assaults against it has been muted and defensive. But as the energized boycott movement and the Brighton court’s obscene ruling and similar actions throughout the world show, Israel must itself take up the law as a cudgel to beat its foes.
Where are Israel’s government lawyers? Why aren’t they issuing international arrest warrants against every agent of Hamas and Hizbullah?
Where are Israel’s diplomats? Why aren’t they expelling British, Swedish, Australian and German diplomats involved in subverting Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and other subversive and unlawful activities?
Where are Israel’s political leaders?
It is not enough to decry the international campaign to delegitimize Israel in speeches before foreign audiences and in newspaper interviews. A war is being waged against us and it is well past time for us to fight back and fight to win.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.