August 06, 2007

Scofflaw? What's a scofflaw?

Why Israel is of course! Here's an interview in Dissident Voice with Gabriel Ash which had me reaching for the dictionary. Gabriel Ash is an articulate advocate for a boycott of Israeli goods:
Israel is a small country with large military expenses. In order to maintain relatively first-world living standards, Israel’s economy depends on exports, foreign investment and non-commercial support. Clearly, a full EU trade boycott of Israel will cause severe damage to the Israeli economy. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, and Israel exports to the EU are over $10 billion a year. Let us, however, not deceive ourselves. There is no chance for such a trade embargo to happen in the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, grassroots boycotts can have a cumulative impact. Increased public awareness to Israel’s criminal politics can translate into lower sales for brands associated with Israel, lower investment in Israel, and pressure on EU governments to stop some of their more directly damaging involvement in the region, including buying Israeli weapon systems, selling weapons to Israel, subsidizing the Israeli occupation and helping Israel fight Palestinian resistance.

The most important role of grassroots boycott initiatives is educational and moral. They expose Israel for the kind of country it really is: a racist, brutal colonial outpost. And they undermine the mainstream media whitewashing job. Grassroots boycotts can thus repeat the dynamics that made Western support for Apartheid South Africa untenable.
Ok, so much for boycott, but what about "scofflaw"?
Boycotts do not change the legal situation. Israel is in breach of every UN resolution that mentions it and then some. It is in breach of the UN charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention, The Fourth Hague Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Court for Justice, etc. etc. Furthermore, all these breaches are not merely technical, but massive and substantial.

With regards to international law, Israel is a major scofflaw.

International law, however, cannot simply be called upon for redress, because there is no world government with enforcement powers. International law represents the stage of the enlightened opinion of humanity with regards to how states should behave. But only the application of pressure by other states can force states to obey the law, should their own residents be unable or unwilling to demand such obedience.
Ok, it's kind of obvious what it means from the context and the etymology squares with the meaning as in, one who scoffs at the law. I actually thought that the tri-lingual Ash had made it up.

The interview is referenced and quoted in Iran Daily as follows:
A leading Jewish political writer called for Israel’s political abolition.

Gabriel Ash--the US-based anti-Zionist activist who grew up in Israel--made the remark when asked whether the Hezbollah victory marks Israel’s annihilation, in an interview with Iran Daily’s Amir Tajik.

“If by that one means physical annihilation, I must say that this goal is wrongheaded both morally and strategically,“ he said.

Expanding on the strategic point, he said Israel, even with the most cowardly soldiers and most craven generals, is still a regional military mastodon.

“To overcome the Israeli military in a large war would require an army as dedicated as Hezbollah, but a hundred times larger and better equipped. None such army is at hand,“ he said.

Ash, however, said he will support ’annihilation’, only if it were to mean political abolition, namely the end of Israel as a racist, colonial state.
“We should speak clearly and precisely, not about annihilation, but about de-Zionification, de-colonization, revolution,“ he said.

He pointed out that nothing strengthens the hold of Zionist ideology among Israeli Jews better than anti-Zionists using language that can be interpreted--and will be so interpreted by Israeli and Western media and politicians--as calling for the physical annihilation of Jews.

“If the goal is to help Israel unravel, this rhetorical overkill is counter-productive,“ he said.

“Simply put, it is a gift to Israel’s Zionist rulers.“

Ash further said that if Hezbollah and other sources of resistance can create a new context in which Israel cannot respond to pressure by military escalation, the conditions for the end of Zionism would materialize.
What a mouth that guy's got. Mastodon? Oh it's an elephant of some sort. I'll remember that now.

UPDATE - Gabriel Ash has commented here to the effect that he never used the word "annihilate" in the way the interview claims he did. I thought his English was too exquisite for that. Apologies for that, I should have emailed the man himself.

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