Israel, the courts and Michael Moore
On July 9th, the International Court in The Hague is expected to announce its ruling on the legality of Israel's security fence. Perhaps in a bow to The Hague, Israel's Supreme Court, in two separate rulings this week, struck down the planned path of the fence in the Jerusalem area, arguing that the proposed path would cause too much inconvenience to the daily lives of Palestinians living in the area. At the same time, the Court effectively accepted that the fence was a legal method for Israel to improve its security from terrorists entering from the West Bank, and also accepted that land confiscation (with appropriate payment to landowners) was legal as well.
The Sharon government and the IDF accepted the Court's decision (Israel is a country of laws after all) and indicated that adjusting the route of the fence would delay its completion by six months or more. Unstated, but understood, was that in those six months, incursions by suicide bombers from the West Bank could do a lot more than inconvenience Israelis living in Jerusalem or other parts of the country. But in the weighing and balancing of agendas, the Court, well known for its liberal bent, decided that the certainty of hardship for the Palestinians outweighed the possibility for Israelis of murder.
Israel will have six months to test the wisdom of this decision, and its calculus of harms. But as suggested earlier, one possible motivation for the decision, and for issuing the decision at this date, was to influence the forthcoming verdict from the International Court in The Hague. If Israel is capable of policing itself, and protecting the rights of Palestinian plaintiffs in its courts, then presumably, it does not need the meddling of an international court acting only at the will of Arab and Islamic nations, and the opposition of most of the civilized world. When the International Court heard the matter, briefs opposing any action by the Court in the matter of the security fence came not only from Israel and the United States, but from many other Western nations.
It is my own sense that the opinion of the Court probably has been written and sealed already, and the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court will not have any influence on it. When a court reveals the date for a decision, it suggests that the argument is over, and the public relations aspect has begun. The challenge to Israel in the International Court was always designed primarily to embarrass the Jewish state, and lead to further UN rebuke, if not sanction resolutions. The membership of the Court, with many justices from countries intensely hostile to Israel, may be enough to have sealed Israel's fate on the matter.
If the Israeli Supreme Court were trying to influence the decision in The Hague (to which it will certainly not admit), and it fails at this attempt, one can only hope that Israelis do not suffer the consequences of this ill—timed and dangerous gambit. More likely is that Israel will lose in the Court in the Hague, and also lose through terrorist incursions into its capital city in the next six months.
Odd as it may sound, while an international court of justice is probably set to lay it on Israel in a few days, one of Israel's harshest critics, may have given it a pass. Robert Dreyfuss, a writer for The American Prospect, and at times The Nation, accuses Michael Moore of letting Israel off easy in his new Bush—hating movie, Fahrenheit 911. The Dreyfuss article was posted on the website of Tom Paine.com, a hard left group that occasionally buys ads on the op—ed page of the New York Times.
The article was also highlighted on a website run by Justin Raimondo, occasional guest writer for Patrick Buchanan's new magazine, The American Conservative. Raimondo was a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq. He is also a longtime Israel—baiter and hater. A quick web search of his name reveals a long collection of articles on neocon control of the Bush administration, Jewish and Likud control of the Congress and all the usual paranoid fantasies of Jew haters. He and Buchanan are on the same page on much of this of course, though Raimondo claims to be a libertarian, and Buchanan, of course, is a fierce social conservative. When Israel is the object of scorn, strange bedfellows gather together. Raimondo probably did not need much time to decide to post the Dreyfuss article. I was, thankfully, unfamiliar with Dreyfuss until this article. A list of his articles for The American Prospect does not reveal the same obsession with Israel as is the case with Raimondo.
Dreyfuss's article criticizes Fahrenheit 911 for ignoring Israel. All this bad stuff about Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban being connected to George Bush, but nothing about Israel, Sharon, the Likud, or the neocons. Imagine this: a critique of Michael Moore from the left for not trashing Israel.
I have not seen Fahrenheit 911, and certainly do not plan to pay to do so. Perhaps I will buy a ticket to Shrek 2 at the Cineplex, and use it as my admission ticket to Fahrenheit 911. In any case, the Dreyfuss article got me to thinking about why Moore would miss out on an opportunity to bash Israel. After all, he has been anything but shy about doing so in his books and speeches. In England, he called Israel part of the axis of evil. In his last book, he called for the US to cut off all funding to Israel, to use the money saved to supply arms to the Palestinians, and then to let the two sides go at in a 'fair' fight for a change, and blow each other to smithereens. (One wonders of course how fair the fight is today for the bus passengers blown up by a suicide bomber).
It seems there are two possibilities for why Moore would have missed an opportunity to smack Israel around before what was likely to be his biggest audience by far. One is that making President Bush appear to be the pawn of both Israel and Saudi Arabia might seem a bit inconsistent. But inconsistency (or incoherence, or ad hominem attacks that are entirely baseless) has never stopped Moore before, least of all in this movie. As mentioned in a prior article, Christopher Hitchens has pointed out that Moore claims in Fahrenheit 911 that Afghanistan was attacked in order for Unocal to build a pipeline through the country. But Iraq was a bad war, according to Moore, because it diverted our attention from the unfinished war in Afghanistan and the War on Terror. War on Terror? I thought Afghanistan was attacked to benefit Unocal?
The other possibility is much darker. It is also suggested by the fact that former Gore hatchet man Chris Lehane, has been hired by Moore to defend him against attacks on the 'truthfulness' of the movie. The Lehane hiring, and the avoidance of attacks on Israel, suggest the possibility of close coordination of the planning and scripting of the movie with the Democratic National Committee, the Kerry campaign, and various left wing support groups: ACT, moveon.org, and others.
This movie is clearly intended to influence voters (not just preach to the choir), and help swing a close election to the Democrats by making viewers think a lot less of George Bush. There are many Jews who are anti—war Democrats, very hostile to Bush, and more importantly, huge contributors to the Democratic Party and its 527 support group coffers. Think Hollywood for the moment. These folks might react to body—slams against Israel.
Did Terry McAuliffe, or somebody from the Kerry campaign give hints to Moore to lie low on Israel? This was a movie financed, after all, by Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers. Might open attacks on Israel have turned off the Weinsteins, or some of the reviewers who wrote the uniformly glowing reviews of the movie, helping fuel its early box office appeal? Would Barbara Boxer, running for re—election to the Senate, have been such an enthusiast for the movie after attending a special showing last week, if Israel were a primary target? Would all the coordination between the DNC, the 527 groups and Moore to promote the movie, have been made more difficult if Moore's typical anti—Israel screed had penetrated the script?
Inquiring minds want to know.