"Credible journalism needs, as your story equips us to do, to identify the difference between wartime public diplomacy and policy, especially as concerns Israeli expulsion plans, and to inform readers about the real policy developments so often confused by the wartime spin."
Brodie Fenlon, News Editor-in-Chief, CBC
Nancy Waugh, Sr. Manager, CBC
Evan Dyer, Senior Reporter, CBC [email protected]
Max Paris, Senior Producer, CBC
Nick Logan, Senior Writer, CBC
Dear Brodie Fenlon, Nancy Waugh, Evan Dyer, Max Paris, and Nick Logan,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to express appreciation for your Nov. 1 story, “Leaked document fuels concern Israel plans to push Palestinians from Gaza into Egypt.”
The details conveyed in this piece are crucial, and they merit the closest attention.
Credible journalism needs, as your story equips us to do, to identify the difference between wartime public diplomacy and policy, especially as concerns Israeli expulsion plans, and to inform readers about the real policy developments so often confused by the wartime spin.
We now, as you report, have an official Israeli report spelling out a preferred plan for mass ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip. Israel would cover for this war crime, we learn from the document to which you direct our attention (p. 6), with “A call for the evacuation of the non-combatant population from the combat zone,” while aiming at ethnic cleansing.
Having myself conducted PhD and postdoctoral research on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, I ask you to notice a parallel. There is today no credible dispute about the mass Israeli expulsion of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba, which produced the Palestinian refugee crisis. In the words of the most prestigious Zionist intellectual alive today, Anita Shapira: “The expulsion was never a secret.” The denials were just so much spin.
Now as then, ethnically exclusionary expulsions, i.e. ethnic cleansing, proceeded under the cover of false denials designed to deflect international concern. The massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1948 – I have joined in documenting these – are now being repeated before the eyes of the world, with aerial massacres and mass starvation aimed at all who live in Gaza.
Alas, your article errs in its treatment of the legal debate surrounding these massacres and the Israeli imposition of mass starvation on Gaza. The basis for your error is this: the Gaza Strip is occupied by Israel. It is not just the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations who maintain that the Gaza Strip is still under Israeli occupation. Even the Globe and Mail, an avidly pro-Israel publication, reports as a matter of fact that Israel “controls Gaza’s airspace and waters, meaning the strip still qualifies as ‘occupied’ under international law, even though Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers in 2005.”
Therefore, your article mis-frames the issue when it suggests:
“Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Israel has the ‘inherent right’ to defend itself against an armed attack, but several human rights groups have alleged that violations of international humanitarian law, and possibly war crimes, have been committed on both sides.”
The above applies to cases of interstate conflict; it is not Occupation law.
Occupying Powers have responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention, including those Article 51 obligations which Israel is now flagrantly violating:
“the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”
But an Occupying Power does not, in the Article 51 sense, have “the right to defend itself” from the population it is occupying: Israeli occupation itself is illegal, and no power has the legal right to coercively maintain an illegal policy. The defense of occupation is not lawful.
That said, your story begins to get at the core of the Palestine tragedy: Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing (or expulsion, or “population transfer) and Palestinian opposition to the ethnic cleaning to which they have been subjected for more than seven decades.
I thank you for reporting these facts, and I hope future CBC coverage will be be framed around their implications, amid an Israeli expulsion push that may spark a regional war.
Feel free to contact me at 438-380-5410 if you would like to discuss any of this further.
PhD, Middle East Politics, University of Exeter
Postdoc, Canada Research Chair in Québec and Canadian Studies
Director of Strategic Operations
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East/
Canadiens pour la Justice et la Paix au Moyen-Orient