November 17, 2003
Contrary to their reputation, pigs are relatively clean animals given
the option of personal hygiene. Therefore, I was glad when prominent
rabbis in Israel gave their blessing to pigs in Palestine.
Traditionally, those of the Hebrew faith have not esteemed the lowly
swine, but recently "The Hebrew Battalion," a security provider
specializing in guard dogs, proposed the use of pigs for peace and the
men of God acquiesced.
I cannot fathom the spiritual implications.
The Battalion plans to draft wild boars into guard service and train them to sniff-out bombs and Palestinian bombers along the perimeter fences surrounding the settlements. Theoretically, the Moslems, especially those seeking martyrdom, dare not go near the pigs for fear of losing their honor in heaven. So, unless Islamic clerics bless the pigs as well, this peace plan could yet save the world from the horrors of Armageddon. So piquant is Divine revelation, so keen the nose of a pig.
However, failing universal epiphany through the specter of omniscient guard pigs, the situation in Palestine, the occupied territories, may continue its downward spiral into the depths of human depravity, unchecked by the rule of international law, untouched by redress with justice, undeterred by detainment facilities.
Though people dare speak of such measures.
On November 5, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi delivered the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize lecture to standing ovations, cheers and admiration from crowds gathered in her honor and in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Dr. Ashrawi is a Palestinian Legislative Council member and the secretary-general of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue:
"Most significantly, the indispensable universal instruments remain those that ascertain a global rule of law, encompassing both state and non-state actors, capable of assessing culpability, providing accountability, and ensuring redress with justice. Along with their multilateral institutions, they remain safeguards against unilateral power on the rampage or destructive military preemption on the basis of subjective criteria."
Hanan Ashrawi also supports measures to avoid further conflict and military intervention, before it starts:
"Such is the nature of intervention that the world requires, not only to resolve conflicts but also to prevent them from erupting or generating their own destructive forces that could spiral out of control. No conflict should take us by surprise, for all the symptoms are recognizable and the components definable. Long-standing grievances and inequities have become all too familiar and have been left to fester on their own or to be manipulated by the strong as a means of victimizing the weak. The nature of preemptive action must be, by necessity and choice, constructive, peaceful, and therapeutic."
The Palestinians' desire for establishment of their own country, and rights of return, is certainly understandable. All people want their human and civil rights protected and most people want them expanded. Within the present structure of human civilization, the most favored means of securing individual rights is through creation of a state of protection, a politically organized nationality, for the sake of like minds and heritage. In fact, many ethnic groups do not have a country they can call their own, geopolitical boundaries seldom give parity and often invite conflict, They've not been drawn up with ethnicity in mind, they are simply commodification of land.
However, what hand on Earth can righteously draw all the boundaries and define all the borders to the satisfaction of safety and regard for all? To the extent that courts of justice have rendered equitable decisions regarding ownership and sovereignty of territory, few people have benefited fully from them. Not only are the most influential people in the world the primary recipients of the benefits of courts of law, furthermore, most courts now recognize entities that are not people, they have granted personhood to instruments designed for promotion of capitalist expansion. Mega-corporate power has supplanted the rights of all ethnic groups and countries; it now rules the world by any means necessary.
Perhaps it is time for people to change that.
Again, Hanan Ashrawi: "Since an aspect of globalization is the redefinition of enemies and allies, friends and foes, crossing national, territorial, and cultural boundaries, the process of rectification must also utilize the means made available by the knowledge and IT [international telecommunications] revolution as tools of contemporary global realities. Thus hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the spread of disease, the degradation of the environment, the disenfranchisement of the weak, the suspension of human rights, among others, are all universal enemies that require the collective effort of universal allies. Human-based development programs and inclusive systems of governance remain the most appropriate means of empowerment."
Around the world, many people are beginning to see exactly what the oppressor is and the futile nature of war and colonialist occupation. Latin America is remote from the global power-base so it is evolving most effectively, but even in Israel, people are awakening; a new world is stirring to birth.
On November 1 in Tel Aviv, more than 100,000 people gathered in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, eight years after his murder, carrying banners demanding: "Leave the territories -- save the country," and "Sharon go home."
An opinion poll of Israeli citizens, published on November 7 by the Maariv daily, found 57% of Israelis unsatisfied with Ariel Sharon's competency. In February 2001, Sharon won a landslide victory in prime ministerial elections after pledging security to the Israeli people, in the midst of unrelenting violence. The violence has not subsided despite Sharon's draconian measures and, in fact, even Israel's top military commander, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, has voiced his disapproval. He recently told columnists for three leading newspapers that Israel's military tactics against the Palestinian population were too repressive and were fomenting explosive levels of "hatred and terrorism" that might become impossible to control. "In our tactical decisions, we are operating contrary to our strategic interests."
On September 25, numerous sources reported that 27 Israeli pilots sent a letter to the commander of Israel's air force refusing to carry out duties, which include track and kill operations, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "We, veteran pilots and active pilots alike...are opposed to carrying out illegal and immoral attacks, of the type carried out by Israel in the territories. We, who have been educated to love the state of Israel, refuse to take part in air force attacks in civilian population centers. We refuse to continue harming innocent civilians."
In a recent European Union opinion poll, most of those surveyed reportedly believe that Israel poses the greatest threat to world peace. Almost 60% of the Europeans surveyed believe Israel is more dangerous than North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
On October 22, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Israel halt construction of an apartheid wall that cuts deeply into the West Bank and dismantle the section already built. The vote was 144 in favor, with four opposed and 12 abstentions.
On the world stage, standing center stage is a Palestinian family and an Israeli family. They are war torn, they are angry; the darkest forces in human history have manipulated them. They stand facing each other with contempt, with no one to reconcile them, no one to settle their dispute.
Off stage, in the wings, is the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, the legal arm of the United Nations, which adjudicates between states in dispute, and clarifies the status of established international law.
Sir Robert Jennings, as President of the Court, said "The Judges of the Court are from many different parts of the world, from different forms of civilization, from different cultures, and, not least, from very different legal systems. The layman's question is always the same: how do you manage to have a coherent, sensible, and useful deliberation in those circumstances? Indeed, how do you manage to decide anything? This is because juridically we all speak one common language called international law. It is indeed a common legal language and a universal system. Our experience in the World Court, and that of generations of our predecessors, proves that point. Apart from the quality of humanity itself, which we all share, international law is the language which in our experience transcends different tongues, cultures, races and religions."
It is time to bring the International Court of Justice on to center stage. It is past time to empower it, to demand that all nations participate in it and abide by its rulings. It is time to give it authority to prosecute all war crimes, environmental crimes and crimes against humanity. It is time to give it jurisdiction over all entities, human and non-human alike.
If humans are to live peacefully with each other in this world, we must all abide by the same rules and be subject to the same judgments. Even the anarchist in me can see that we all need protection from the worst of each other.
And we've no time to waste training guard pigs.
· · · · · ·
Resources and Related Internal Links
"Peace in the Middle East: A Global Challenge and a Human Imperative:" Acceptance speech delivered by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi at the Sydney Peace Prize ceremony, November 5th, 2003. - http://www.miftah.org/PrinterF.cfm?DocId=2631 (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Pig-brigade to Guard Settlements," Aljazeera, October 29, 2003 - http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/2E26EC69-7971-4F21-BF26-879308344305.htm (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Rabbis Attacked by Armed Settlers," by Shaista Aziz, Aljazeera, October 29, 2003 - http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7229162A-7163-44F1-9795-D6AEF5AD1D10.htm (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Top Israeli Officer Says Tactics Are Backfiring" The Washington Post, October 30, 2003 - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44374-2003Oct30.html (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Israeli Pilots Refuse to Fly Assassination Missions," by Conal Urquhart, The Guardian, September 25, 2003 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1049271,00.html (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"100,000 Call for Peace at Rabin Memorial Rally," by Chris McGreal, The Guardian, November 3, 2003 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1076432,00.html (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Sharon's Popularity Dips to All-time Low," Agence France-Presse, November 7, 2003 - http://vancouver.indymedia.org/news/2003/11/80469.php (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"Uproar at poll claiming Israel is most dangerous," The Star, November 3, 2003 - http://www.thestar.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=132&fArticleId=275436 (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
"UN Votes to Condemn Israel's Barrier," Independent Online, (Independent News & Media, South Africa), October 22, 2003 - http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=123&art_id=qw1066803662950B252&set_id=1 (URL valid as of 11/12/03).
International Conflict Resolution Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia
Proactivism at The Hague, by Michael Stowell, Swans, August 20, 2001
Israel & Palestine on Swans
Michael W. Stowell is a local activist in Northern California.
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