Shurat HaDin Conference on Laws of War”, Day 2

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

June 21, 2016 is the second and last day of this year’s second annual Conference called, “Towards a new Law of War”. The Conference has been sponsored by Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin (“Tuvia Brodie, “Shurat HaDin Conference, ‘Towards a new Law of War’, Day 1”, tuviabrodieblog, June 20, 2016).

Yesterday, I gave you a report of Day 1. Here’s a review of the second and final day.

Disclosure: I’ve tried to be accurate here. If I have put errors into speakers’ mouths, those errors are mine alone. For space reasons, this is a condensed account.

Irwin Cotler has served as an MK and Minister of Justice for Canada. He spoke of how the United Nations delegitimizes Israel.

Each year in the UN General Assembly, he said, the UN adopts something like 20 Resolutions against Israel, and perhaps 4 for everyone else (I couldn’t tell if he was exaggerating to make a point, or if these were ‘real’ numbers). This anti-Israel bias has become a UN standard: make sure you condemn one nation, Israel.

There are many committees at the UN working against Israel. Almost every day, people meet somewhere in the UN infrastructure to condemn Israel.

This UN behaviour is a form of ‘Lawfare’ against Israel. It’s the use of law and/or international code as an instrument of war against Israel. We have to fight back.

We can fight by acting like a claimant—not the accused. We have to make the case that these UN condemnations are prejudicial. We have to argue that this prejudice corrupts the values of the UN—and hurts all of Mankind. He described how we can make that case.

We also have to reverse the conventional paradigm about the Arab-Israel conflict—that Israel’s Apartheid is the sole problem that brings misery to the Middle East. We have to argue the truth—that it’s Arab Apartheid that causes Middle East misery.

Prof Rachel Vanlandingham, Former Judge Advocate, US Air Force, spoke about Judea-Samaria. She asked, how should these ‘territories’ be classified legally? This is, she said, an important question because the world uses a double standard for Israel when classifying Judea-Samaria as ‘occupied’ (see below).  She further argued that Judea-Samaria is really sui generis, meaning it’s unique.  Standard legal classifications for ‘occupied territories’ don’t fit here.   

Prof Eugene Kontorovich, Northwestern University School of Law, stated that ‘occupation’ is not fully defined. Moreover, existing definitions aren’t consistently applied.

When the world says Israel ‘occupies’ Judea-Samaria (the West Bank), it means a ‘belligerent occupation’. That means that Israel maintains actual control of Palestinian Authority (PA) land.

But there’s a problem with ‘belligerent control’. Citing military takeovers in Indonesia and Russia, Kontorovich showed that a military control of someone else’s land is only sometimes called, ‘belligerent occupation’.  For example, using Russia’s more physical occupation of two territories, Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the West Bank is not ‘occupation’. The same is true regarding an Armenia takeover of Azerbaijan territory. No one says that Armenian take-over is ‘occupation’. But a less ‘belligerent’ Israel hold on PA territory is called ‘occupation’.

 That means Israel is treated with a double standard. As speaker Avi Bell (San Diego School of Law) put it, there’s an ‘Israel rule’: what is permitted in war to Western [and some non-Western] nations is forbidden to Israel.

Uzi Shaya of Shurat HaDin spoke about how teenage terrorists find all they need on Social Media to become killers. For example, after two 14-year old Arab Muslim youth walked into a supermarket in Israel and murdered an IDF soldier, investigators made a disturbing discovery. These teens didn’t belong to any terror group. They weren’t religious. They came from good families. But they each had Facebook, twitter, Instagram and youtube.

The boys had used Social Media to become ‘home-made terrorists’.

Social Media is like the Wild West. There are no controls. All things ‘terror’ are there: the incitement to kill, the manipulation to create the desire to kill and instructions how to kill.  

With Social Media, you can sit at home and become a radical terrorist. Nobody in the West is prepared for this kind of terror. That has to change.

Servers like Facebook show little interest in blocking anti-Israel hate sites. Recently, Shurat HaDin did an experiment. It created two identical hate-filled sites. The sites were identical except for one thing: one site called to kill ‘Palestinians’. The other called to kill Jews. Then, Shurat HaDin sent Facebook two complaints, one against the ‘kill Palestinian’ site, and one against the ‘kill Jews’ site.

Immediately, Facebook took down the ‘kill Palestinian’ site. The ‘kill Jews’ site is still up, several months later. That has to be fixed.

Twitter has had similar issues. So has youtube. No Social Media will stop anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate postings. They all claim freedom of speech. But it isn't. It's incitement to kill.

Hamas cannot open a bank account. Hamas officials cannot get visas. But they can operate on twitter, etc. They can spread hate with no restrictions.

Michah Larkin Avni, founder of Stop Incitement Movement, called the use of Social Media to foment terror a ‘Facebook Intifada’. Social Media is part of jihad. In fact, IS (Islamic State) actually refers to Social Media as an ‘open-source jihad’.

There was much, much more about the dangers of Social Media. There were also discussions of Syria, refugees and IS—and how UN code fails to address what’s happening in Syria.

At the end of the Conference, Israel Minister of Education and head of the Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennet, spoke. I won’t go into details. But he gave a good speech.

I hope this short-hand review was meaningful despite its brevity. I hope you can see how people from around the world fight for Israel on multiple battlefields, all of them unconventional.

This fight to defend Israel is the fight to change the laws of war to cope with that unconventional battlefield. Because of its enemies, Israel has become the driving force behind innovative, legal strategies to counter the new ‘weapons’ terrorists invent to attack us.

Thanks, Shurat HaDin, for the work you’ve done for Israel (see the Shurat HaDin website). Thanks also for a great Conference.