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Obsidian is a note taking application that Destiny currently uses to aggregate and his research and readings on a wide variety of topics, as well as post other miscellaneous things such as his current blacklist or future topics to research.

Book Notes

Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy

Notebook Export

Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy

Ben-Ami, Shlomo

Citation (APA): Ben-Ami, S. (2006). Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Prelude: The Birth of an Intractable Conflict

Page 10 · Location 291

Nor were the restrictions on land acquisition an obstacle the Zionists could not overcome. Throughout, the Arabs’ incompetent leadership, their lack of purpose and national cohesion, proved to be a major ally of the Zionist enterprise. White Papers notwithstanding, Arab landowners ready to sell land to the Jews and to betray their own national cause were never in short supply. As no other than King Abdullah of Transjordan observed in his memoirs, ‘The Arabs are as prodigal in selling their land as they are in … weeping [about it].’

Page 20 · Location 507

The war for Palestine in 1948 was lost by the Arab community ten years before it even began. The Arab Revolt had, of course, an understandable rationale behind it, namely, to force Britain to reverse her policies in favour of the National Home for the Jews, stop immigration and curtail the land acquisition by the Zionists. But the method and the evolution of the Revolt reflected rage and blind despair more than organisation or careful strategy. The result would be a resounding defeat for the Palestinian Arabs that would bring them to the ultimate débâcle of 1948 in a state of fatalistic disarray. The years between the Arab Revolt and the Naqbah of 1948 witnessed the dismemberment of the Palestinian community and the loss of their political autonomy to the extent that when they had to face the challenge of partition and war in 1947–8, they were no longer the masters of their own destiny. By then their cause would be usurped by the neighbouring Arab states. It was not until the emergence of the Fatah movement and Yasser Arafat’s PLO in the mid 1960s that the Palestinians recovered the control of their own cause.

Bisecting the Land or Zionism’s Strategy of Phases?

Page 34 · Location 754

The paradox of the winter of 1947 was that the Jews, who accepted Resolution 181–the Jewish public acclaimed its endorsement by the UN with genuine outbursts of jubilation–were ready and well deployed to face a war should this be the outcome, and the Arabs, who rejected the Resolution out of hand and made no secret of their intention to subvert it, were not at all prepared for war. Ben-Gurion, who upon his appointment as the ‘defence minister’ of the Jewish Agency in 1946 made it clear that the time had now arrived for ‘a showdown of force, a Jewish military showdown’, had been for some time meticulously preparing for a war he was convinced, at least ever since the Arab Revolt, was inevitable. The Palestinians, who on 1 December 1947 made their views clear when the Arab Higher Committee declared a general strike, were totally unprepared and poorly equipped for an armed conflict. Arab society had been crumbling from within ever since the brutal repression of the 1936–9 Revolt. Leaderless and decapitated of their traditional elites, deeply fragmented, respectful and frightened of the Yishuv’s military power, and disorientated as to their real or achievable objectives, the Palestinians approached the imminent conflict and, as it turned out, their second catastrophe in a decade, in a state of disarray and fatalistic despair.

The Early Years: A Missed Opportunity for Peace?

Page 50 · Location 1075

On moral grounds one could of course convincingly defend the case for the repatriation of refugees. But this was out of the question in a historical and political context, where a clash existed between an emergent Jewish state and its defeated enemies, for whom the repatriation of refugees was one way of hampering the growth and development of the newborn, yet intimidating, state against which they harboured understandable intentions of revanche. At the Lausanne Peace Conference Israel eventually agreed to the repatriation of 100,000 Palestinian refugees, but this was almost by force of habit rejected out of hand by the Arabs as too little. Too little it might have been, but Israel made the offer only with the hope of getting relief from American pressure. The Arabs clearly missed an opportunity to call Israel’s bluff.

Page 62 · Location 1312

The Israelis might have been tough negotiators, but the dysfunctionality of the Jordanian political system was now the major obstacle to a settlement. A situation was emerging in Jordan where the King’s legitimacy for striking a deal with Israel was being seriously undermined by a supposedly patriotic, pan-Arab, philo-Palestinian and pan-Islamic government. As it turned out, the annexation of the West Bank extended the borders of the Hashemite kingdom but, by Palestinising the kingdom and shifting the emphasis of Jordanian politics to a pan-Arab sensibility towards the plight of the Palestinians, it diminished the King’s power and capacity to continue being the undisputed autocratic leader he had been thus far. On 17 February 1950 the King made a last-ditch attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of his peace strategy with Israel by proposing a non-aggression pact. This was a brilliant move, for it could unleash a dynamic leading to a possible peace deal in the future. It also implicitly meant Israel’s recognition of Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank. The agreement could likewise allow Israel to claim her first political breakthrough with an Arab state and a crack in the Arab economic boycott. There were even some provisions in Abdullah’s proposal that could satisfy the Palestinians by opening judicial channels for refugees to reclaim their abandoned property in Israel. The Israeli Cabinet ratified the agreement at its meeting of 22 February, with Foreign Minister Sharett praising the ‘psychological’ importance of the document. But it was again the Jordanians, not the Israelis, who failed to deliver. Abu al-Huda’s government got cold feet and unilaterally changed both the title and the content of the agreement. It was now becoming clear that the Palestinisation of the kingdom and the rift between the King and a no longer docile political class had emerged as an insurmountable obstacle to an Israeli–Jordanian settlement, however modest its provisions. Abdullah could not allow himself the political luxury of being exposed as a yielding king in conflict with a patriotic pan-Arab government.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Kingdom of Israel

Page 78 · Location 1595

It is true that the conflict existed before superpower competition and, as we can see today, it still persists after the fall of the Soviet Union. But the struggle for mastery in the Middle East by the two big powers blocked the possibility of a major peace breakthrough for years. Conspicuously, Egypt’s peace with Israel in 1979 started as a bold bilateral move behind the back of the superpowers. The Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, the Oslo accords of 1993 between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel’s peace with Jordan a year later, and the most serious attempts to reach an Israeli–Syrian settlement throughout the 1990s were all possible only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Jewish Fear and Israel’s Mother of all Victories

Page 87 · Location 1767

By pushing Palestine to the forefront of the struggle against the Jewish state, Nasser radically changed the parameters of the conflict. Now it was no longer just a border dispute between sovereign states, and one that was susceptible to a rational solution, but a conflict of an almost mythological nature over the plight of the Palestinians and their ‘inalienable’ rights, where hardly any room for compromise could exist. It is from this perspective that Sadat’s peace initiative, in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, needs to be understood. To make peace he needed to extricate Egypt’s conflict with Israel from the paralysing hold of the Palestinian dilemma into which Nasser had locked it and bring it back to the realm of rationality as a solvable border dispute between two sovereign states.

Page 93 · Location 1877

Lack of superpower guarantees, an almost apocalyptic fear of physical annihilation, the threat of a Nasserite Middle East bent on the destruction of Israel, a fatalistic pessimism as to the chances that the Arab world would ever reconcile itself to the existence of a Jewish state in its midst and the ever-present Holocaust complex, was the context for Ben-Gurion’s quest for a credible nuclear option. The nuclear option could also be seen as a protest against, or an alternative to, America’s reluctance to accord solid and unequivocal conventional guarantees to Israel’s existence and incorporate it into an organic regional alliance. Indeed, there were those in the Israeli political system who wanted to use the Dimona nuclear reactor as a way of pressuring America into securing Israel’s conventional capabilities.

Page 94 · Location 1900

Ben-Gurion oscillated frantically from a strategy of deterrence to the politics of hysteria. He bombarded world leaders with dramatic appeals for an international commitment to the independence and territorial integrity of all the states in the Middle East. Whatever territorial dreams he might have harboured in the past, he was now a keen champion of the status quo. To him, the territorial phase of Zionism was over and the safety of Israel within the borders of 1949 was his exclusive concern. Only the full demilitarisation of the West Bank and a formal defence treaty with America could set his mind at rest.

Page 96 · Location 1946

Nor was Jordan spared Israel’s policy of swift and disproportionate retaliations. Such was the case of the Samu Operation in November 1966. After insistently pointing at Damascus as the source of all evil, Israel suddenly and massively retaliated against Jordan in response to a local, relatively minor incident. A typical case of the feebleness of the politicians when confronted with the army’s tendency to dictate the scope and nature of military operations in a way that sometimes created new and unplanned political realities, Samu was a disproportionate operation that stood in stark contradiction to Israel’s official commitment to the stability of Hussein’s regime. Israel publicly humiliated and betrayed an Arab leader so far careful to stay aloof from the war rhetoric and practices of his Syrian neighbours in the north, and pushed him into the fold of the Arab war camp.

Page 97 · Location 1956

The Arab League summit of January 1964 in Cairo went down in history as the first official all-Arab gathering to call for Arab military preparations in order to create the conditions ‘for the final liquidation of Israel’. The decision to divert the headwaters of the River Jordan in Syria and Lebanon–a United Arab Command was created to protect the project and prepare for war–and create the Palestinian Liberation Organisation under Ahmad al-Shuqayri’s chairmanship were understandably perceived in Israel as part of an overall Arab war strategy against the Jewish state. The task of liberating Palestine from ‘Zionist imperialism’ was reiterated in the Alexandria Arab League summit later that winter, and pledges were made by the League’s members to mobilise their resources against the Zionist enemy.

Page 98 · Location 1994

King Hussein’s predicament proved to be even more serious than that of Nasser. In his case it was the very existence of his kingdom that was at stake. He did not want to be dragged into war, but was too weak to resist the tide. As much as the supposed threat posed by Israel, it was actually the pressure of Fatah and the PLO that put in jeopardy the stability of the Hashemite kingdom. For the PLO, liberating Palestine also meant overthrowing the Hashemites’ ‘colonialist rule’. The King harboured no illusions as to the ultimate rationale of the PLO’s presence in Jordan, namely, as he explicitly wrote to Nasser, ‘the destruction of Jordan’.

Page 100 · Location 2026

And when retaliations and verbal threats failed to deter the Syrians, Rabin made it clear that his intention was to provoke the Syrians into an all-out war. In December 1966 he wrote to General Zvi Zamir, Israel’s military attaché in London: ‘an escalation with Syria is not against Israel’s interest, and in my view there is no better time than now for a confrontation with Syria. I prefer to go to war rather than allow this continuous harassment, especially if the Syrians persist in their efforts to facilitate the activity of Fatah on our border.’

Page 104 · Location 2115

Nor was the restless General spared Ben-Gurion’s ire. From his seclusion in the Negev desert, the Old Man had been following the evolving crisis with awe. Precisely because he shared the military’s assessment that the closure of the Straits threatened to vitiate all the achievements of the Sinai Campaign and could soon turn into a question of ‘national survival’–this was Rabin’s expression–Ben-Gurion saw all his old fears coming true: Israel was now surrounded by an all-Arab coalition aggressively supported by the Soviet Union, without being able to rely on an alliance with, or security guarantees from, a Western superpower.

Sedanlaghen – The Sin of Hubris and its Punishment

Page 126 · Location 2512

There is, of course, much reason to doubt whether, even if formalised as an official peace proposal, the Arabs would have accepted the government’s peace guidelines as the platform for a full-fledged peace agreement with Israel. Israel’s shortcomings notwithstanding, the Arabs were by all accounts not yet ready for such a deal. The proof is that a more unequivocal American overture along the same lines as the Israeli Cabinet’s decision would soon be turned down by the Arabs and their Soviet patrons.

Page 128 · Location 2565

And it was only when this euphemism was embedded in the language of a UN Security Council Resolution that Israel was ready to endorse it. The constructive ambiguity of the November 1967 Security Council Resolution Number 242, which called for peace based on the restitution of ‘territories’ instead of ‘the territories’, allowed Israel to claim that the borders would have to be modified on all fronts as a condition for peace and gave manoeuvring space to her post-war diplomacy. Resolution 242 was the result of the need to find a formula that would reconcile Israel’s unrealistic expectation to have full peace for less than all the territories, and the Arabs’ drive for a full restitution of land in exchange for a watered-down state of non-belligerency.

Page 129 · Location 2585

Neither of the parties to the conflict was especially happy with Resolution 242’ s oblique and foggy formulas, least of all the Palestinians, whose problem was reduced in the Resolution to that of the humanitarian plight of refugees. The PLO’s outright rejection of 242 was an additional manifestation by the Palestinians that their struggle would from now on be independent of the Arabs’ diplomatic strategy. The Palestinians were about to disengage from the status of a tool in the hands of the Arab states to that of an independent subject in the history of the Middle East. As from the Palestinian débâcle of 1936–9 and later the 1948 Naqbah, the Palestinians had lost their independence as a national movement. They disappeared from the regional arena as autonomous players. The 1967 war, the defeat of the Arab armies with their consequent loss of a credible military option in the foreseeable future, and the relegation by Resolution 242 of the Palestinian problem to the margins of peacemaking in the region, signalled the beginning of a new phase in the history of Palestinian nationalism.

Begin’s ‘Capsule Theory’ and Sadat’s ‘Separate Peace’

Page 154 · Location 3090

Begin was thus positioning himself as the most eloquent and committed exponent of what could perhaps be defined as the ‘capsule theory’, namely the drive to reach a settlement with the surrounding Arab states that would ‘capsulate’, as it were, the West Bank and with it the Palestinian problem in an environment of binding peace agreements between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. This, Begin believed, would allow Israel to exercise her full control of Eretz-Israel, yet deny the Palestinians the possibility of again triggering an all-Arab war against her.

Page 155 · Location 3107

Sadat did not believe that a Soviet–American co-sponsorship of the peace process would bear the political fruits he wanted. He could see his fears vindicated already in a joint declaration of the superpowers that, to his dismay, endorsed the Israeli interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 when it spoke of ‘withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in 1967’. And as to Begin, he was not yet ready to digest the concept of ‘the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people’, one of the central premises upon which the Geneva Conference was to be convened.

Page 158 · Location 3170

One lesson and legacy of Sadat’s initiative is that in highly protracted conflicts where deep emotions and historical hatred are involved, when almost every conceivable diplomatic formula has been tried, the shock of a visionary, generous and imaginative step is likely to open new and untold paths to peace. For the major problem in the Arab–Israeli conflict, as in many other intricate collisions throughout history, has always been the incapacity or unwillingness of leaders to conduct a peace policy that is not supported by what looked at the time like the legitimate, and frequently paralysing, consensus prevailing in their respective societies and polities. Leaders, more frequently than not, act as the hostages of the socio-political environment that produces them instead of shaping it. Anwar Sadat gained a privileged place in history and achieved immortality the moment he fled from the comfortable prison of inertia, and from the pseudo-solidarity and hollow rhetorical cohesion of Arab summits.

Page 164 · Location 3276

Very few in the Arab world had much love for Arafat or for the PLO, ‘the cancer in our midst’, as King Hassan of Morocco defined it in his December meeting with Dayan and Tuhami. Years later this author would personally hear from the King, in his meeting with him in his Rabat palace in January 1993, similar harsh descriptions of Arafat and the PLO, an organisation he then confided to me had outlived its historical role and was becoming an obstacle to peace that needed to be dismantled. The King also related to me the advice he had given to Arafat’s deputy, Abu-Mazen, that the PLO should disband and allow the local Palestinian leadership in the territories to assume the responsibility for dealing directly with Israel. When I later reported my conversation with the King to Prime Minister Rabin he could not conceal his embarrassment, for it was precisely at that time that an Israeli team was negotiating in Oslo with a PLO delegation what later became known as the Oslo accords.

Page 164 · Location 3283

Sadat had no higher regard for Arafat and the PLO than King Hassan. His weariness with the Palestinians exploded into open rage when in February 1978 the chief editor of Al-Ahram and a personal friend of the President, Yusuf al-Sibai, was assassinated in Cyprus by a Palestinian squad, admittedly belonging to Abu Nidal’s splinter group, not to the PLO. To Sadat this was one more proof that Egypt was mortgaging its future for the sake of a people–‘pygmies’ and ‘hired killers’, as he put it to Israel’s Defence Minister Ezer Weizmann–who did not deserve Egypt’s sacrifices.

Page 168 · Location 3360

But it took the almost Messianic commitment of President Carter and the most assertive and robust involvement of the United States to save the process from collapse and to force the parties to shoulder the formidable price of peace. ‘None of us believe we have much of a chance to succeed,’ confided Carter to his advisers when he invited the parties to the Camp David presidential retreat for a peace summit.

Page 170 · Location 3394

It was Menachem Begin, not a left-wing radical, who subscribed at Camp David to such non-Jabotinskian concepts as these: ‘a recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements’, ‘the resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects’ and ‘the Palestinians will participate in the determination of their own future’. Moreover, not only did Begin agree to discuss the return to the territories of the displaced Palestinians who left the West Bank during the Six Day War, but he also consented to reopen the 1948 chapter, that is, to negotiate ‘the resolution of the 1948 refugee problem’. And if all this were not enough, Begin succumbed to Carter’s pressure and agreed to ‘Resolution 242 in all its parts’, thus implicitly also endorsing the Resolution’s preamble about ‘the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war’, and its possible applicability to other Arab fronts as well.

Page 170 · Location 3405

It was a capital sin that the Palestinians should have rejected such a golden opportunity to join the Camp David process at a time when the West Bank was still practically free of Israeli settlements. This was a major missed opportunity by the Palestinian leadership. What was proposed to the Palestinians at Camp David, to use Oslo terms, was to turn the whole of the West Bank into Area B, that is, an area of Palestinian administrative rule and Israeli responsibility for security. Today, twenty-five years after Camp David and twelve years into the Oslo process, the Palestinians have hardly 20 per cent of the West Bank as Area B.

Page 170 · Location 3410

In the aftermath of the Camp David accords, the Palestinians failed to do what they wisely did in 1988, namely call Israel’s bluff and join the peace process before Israel’s occupation of the West Bank had created an irreversible reality.

Page 170 · Location 3413

At Camp David he fought for every word in the text. That the Palestinians did not call his bluff and instead engaged in a struggle against what Arafat himself called ‘the Camp David conspiracy’ only facilitated the putting into practice of Begin’s grand designs on the West Bank.

Page 172 · Location 3439

Menachem Begin did not make life easier for the American President now desperately shuttling between Cairo and Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister did not have insurmountable opposition at home. But he, or rather his conscience, was his own opposition. In order to calm it down he now had to prove that he, who had betrayed his pledge not to dismantle settlements, would not allow this to become a precedent for the West Bank. He would enhance the building of new settlements in Judaea and Samaria and he would block any possibility of the Palestinian autonomy ushering in a Palestinian state.

The Road to Madrid

Page 175 · Location 3495

Begin would not bargain over Judaea and Samaria. But Israeli rejectionism, as was frequently the case throughout the Arab–Israeli conflict, when not triggered by the Palestinians in the first place was certainly encouraged by them. The National Guidance Committee, a council of Palestinian notables in the territories, was created with one exclusive purpose, that of undermining and boycotting the autonomy talks, whatever their final objective might have been. The narrow window of opportunity that existed in 1967 for Israel to reach a deal with a local Palestinian leadership was now closed and sealed. In 1967, with Israel’s stunning victory still fresh in their mind and with the PLO still too weak to dictate the Palestinian agenda in the occupied territories, the local Palestinian leadership was eager to engage in peace talks with Israel. But Israel then preferred the politics of confusion and ambiguity. Now, thirteen years later, the PLO held the unchallenged monopoly of Palestinian politics and there was no chance whatever that any local leadership would be allowed to negotiate with Israel a watered-down autonomy plan, or any peace plan for that matter.

Page 176 · Location 3513

it is important to note that the fundamentalist officer who assassinated Sadat during a military parade on 6 October 1981, the eighth anniversary of the 1973 war, did not do it because of Sadat’s peace with Israel but because of his Western tendencies; the assassin did not once mention Israel during his trial

Page 178 · Location 3557

Begin’s intention was to signal through his move on the Golan the limits of the peace process, namely that Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai should not be seen by her neighbours as a precedent for other fronts. By pulling out from Sinai, Begin intimated, Israel had fulfilled the territorial aspects of Resolution 242 and no more withdrawals could be contemplated in future peace deals. From now on it would have to be ‘peace for peace’, not ‘peace for land’. Likewise, the annexation of the Golan was Begin’s way of testing the commitment of Egypt’s new President, Hosni Mubarak, to Israel’s concept of a separate peace.

Page 189 · Location 3773

The political void created by the collapse of the London agreement–and now also by the evaporation of the Shultz initiative and the threat that the Intifada posed to the stability, and perhaps even to the very existence, of the Hashemite kingdom–encouraged King Hussein to take a dramatic step. He cancelled the Act of Annexation of the West Bank to Jordan and cut all administrative links to the West Bank. His attempts so far to reconcile Jordan’s historical claims to the West Bank, his commitment to the Arab consensus on the predominant role of the PLO, and his search for a settlement with Israel was an exercise in diplomatic juggling that was no longer sustainable. He left the stage to the PLO and in one stroke eliminated for ever the so-called Jordanian option from the diplomacy of peace. From now on, if the PLO wanted the territories back it had to change its policies and come to terms directly with Israel and the United States. Jordan would no longer serve as a diplomatic buffer or bridge.

Page 190 · Location 3796

In the Intifada, as Amos Elon succinctly put it, the Palestinians discovered the power of their weakness and the Israelis the weakness of their power. The PLO was also in dire straits. Like Israel, it was taken by surprise by the Palestinian uprising. It suddenly realised that the real showdown with Israel was taking a totally different course from that preached and executed for years by an organisation of professional revolutionaries and terrorists. It was an irony of history that the biggest revolt by the Palestinians since the 1930s had begun without PLO direction. Its supremacy was now being effectively undermined by grass-roots revolutionary committees and a non-PLO United National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) that emerged throughout the territories and succeeded in establishing areas of Palestinian self-rule in different parts of the occupied lands. The PLO was also challenged by the dramatic surge of Islamic fundamentalist organisations like Hamas and Jihad, especially in Gaza.

Page 192 · Location 3844

In a declaration of Palestinian independence the Palestinian National Council (PNC) accepted the existence of the State of Israel and endorsed ‘all relevant UN Resolutions’, paradoxically including two mutually exclusive Resolutions, namely 242 and 181.

Page 196 · Location 3912

Yasser Arafat’s and the PLO’s support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was certainly a major strategic blunder of the Palestinian leadership. Once again, as so often in the past, one could watch with stupor and bewilderment the self-defeating nature of Palestinian nationalism. The PLO’s failure to join a coalition based on the same key principle on which the Palestinians had built their case–a principle that was, moreover, embedded in SCR 242, about the ‘inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force’–was a sad display of political stupidity which, moreover, morally spoiled the Palestinian case. This was how Arafat misunderstood and misrepresented to his people the coalition’s war to undo the Iraqi aggression against another Arab country: These are days of glory and pride and steadfastness of our Arab nation…. The real aim of the treacherous American aggression is not to enforce compliance with UN resolutions but to destroy Palestine and the Arab nation and make way for three million Russian Jews in a greater Israel stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Page 199 · Location 3981

But the Americans would not let him sleep for long. Without prior consultation with Israel and to Shamir’s dismay, they summoned the parties immediately after the conference to bilateral talks in Washington. The Prime Minister was forced against his will and judgement to send his delegations to the American capital, but this did not mean that he had any intention of budging from his known positions. The talks were a sheer waste of time, and the gap between the parties was simply unbridgeable. Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai was the implementation of SCR 242 and Israel would not execute any additional withdrawals on the other fronts.

Oslo: The Glory and the Agony

Page 206 · Location 4106

At that momentous crossroads, Arafat and the PLO misjudged the post-Cold War opportunities and failed to appreciate the far-reaching shift in the structure of international relations at the end of the Cold War. By supporting Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait they isolated themselves from the international and Arab worlds, especially from their wealthy patrons in the Gulf States, and lost their major sources of income without which, rhetoric apart, the PLO simply could not exist. Arafat’s miscalculations were of historic proportions, and they brought the Palestinian cause to the verge of financial and political bankruptcy. How could he not realise that by supporting the occupation of Kuwait he was morally spoiling his case, based since 1967 on the principle inherent in Security Council Resolution 242 about ‘the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force’? Arafat’s miscalculation in supporting Saddam Hussein can only be compared with the Mufti’s colossal blunder in throwing in his lot with Nazi Germany in World War Two. The crisis of the PLO boosted the chances of their rivals in the territories, especially the Islamic organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which suffered no financial problems. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to lavish budgets and gifts on them.

Page 210 · Location 4188

Arafat’s strategy was based on permanent negotiations, the desired outcome of which was never clear to him, nor was he ever able to spell it out so that the Israelis could weigh the final price they would have to pay to reach the end of the conflict. Arafat never managed, nor did he ever try, to convey to the Israelis that he had a sense of the finality of the conflict. Terror, including that perpetrated by Hamas, was to him a strategic weapon he used to soften the resistance of the Israelis. The Oslo accords had made available to him the conditions for waging a total war against Israel, and he would use them at the proper moment. At a Palestinian meeting in the West Bank town of Nablus in January 1996, just before an unprecedented wave of suicide terrorism brought about Shimon Peres’s electoral defeat to Benjamin Netanyahu, Nabil Shaath, a close associate of Arafat, explained the deeper meaning of Oslo from the PLO’s perspective. If the terms of the Palestinians for a settlement with Israel were not accepted, he said, We shall return to violence. But this time this will be done with 30,000 Palestinian soldiers at our disposal and while we control a territory of our own, and enjoy freedom and liberty … If we reach a dead end, we will resume the war and struggle exactly as we did forty years ago.

Page 213 · Location 4255

Hardly had the ink on the agreements dried when a Palestinian opposition of Islamic and secular Rejectionists, some from within Fatah itself, started to work against them. In his rush to sideline the local leadership and stem the upsurge of Hamas, Arafat, his critics would say, agreed to turn the PLO from a national movement into the sheriff of a small, destitute ghetto in Gaza. Hamas and Jihad lost no time in unleashing a campaign of terror in the hope that this would lead to the radicalisation of Israeli public opinion and, consequently, to a shift to the right, which they expected would undermine and cripple Rabin’s peace policies. On the very eve of the signing of the DOP, three Israeli soldiers were slaughtered by a Hamas squad in Gaza. Suicide terrorism was not the invention of the second Intifada. It had already started in the euphoric days of Oslo. The day after the DOP was signed, on 14 September 1993, a Palestinian terrorist blew himself up in an Israeli police station in Gaza. But the bad omens for the future of Oslo did not come only from the Islamic opposition. On 11 May 1994, a week after he had signed the Cairo agreement establishing the modalities for Palestinian self-rule in Gaza and Jericho and a few days before he himself returned to an ecstatic reception in Gaza, Arafat called, in a speech behind closed doors in Johannesburg, for a Jihad to recover Jerusalem. He went to the extreme of comparing Oslo with the Prophet’s tactical Hudaybiyya agreement of AD 625 with the Qurayish tribe, an expedient peace that could be broken when the circumstances would warrant it. Though he liked to position himself as a Palestinian Mandela, or as the leader of a modern secular movement of national liberation, Arafat remained essentially loyal to his youth as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and, as such, his real hero and model was the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Huseini, as he himself recognised in an interview with the Palestinian daily Al-Kuds of 2 August 2002.

Page 214 · Location 4269

As it turned out, the Johannesburg speech was not an isolated incident where Arafat simply got carried away. He uttered similar notions on other occasions. One such was a speech in Gaza’s al-Azhar University on the day celebrating the ascension of the Prophet to heaven, where he spoke again of Hudaybiyya as a ‘despised peace’. On another occasion, a meeting with an Arab audience in Stockholm as quoted by Yedidia Atlas from the Norwegian newspaper Dagen, Arafat presented the right of return and the demographic weapon as his way to subvert the spirit of the Oslo accords: ‘We of the PLO will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps. … We will make life unbearable for the Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion.’ 1 This was to be Arafat’s mode of behaviour throughout the Oslo years. His was always the language of battle and Jihad. ‘We stand by our oath to pursue the battle,’ he promised in his speech at al-Azhar, where he also embraced the memory of Izzedin al-Qassam, the icon of Hamas’s struggle against the ‘Zionist entity’. He would never convey a clear message of peace and reconciliation to the Israeli public. A born master of double talk, he always preferred the language of ambiguities. Throughout his life as a terrorist and guerrilla leader, Arafat avoided an open confrontation with his rivals in the movement. He preferred to co-opt them. Holding the national movement together at all costs, shunning clear-cut divisive decisions, forever looking for leadership through consensus even when this meant not curbing the terrorist activities of those he had pledged to discipline in the Oslo accords–such was his disastrous and eventually self-defeating way of government throughout. An autocrat with no interest whatever in a modicum of good government or in policies of welfare and economic development, he was unable to create the necessary popular, democratic legitimacy for cracking down on Hamas.

Page 215 · Location 4289

A few days before he was gunned down, on 28 September 1995, Oslo II, an agreement practically ending Israel’s coercive control over the Palestinians, was signed in Washington.

Page 216 · Location 4302

Israel’s annexationist policies further undermined Arafat’s legitimacy for making concessions and reinforced his instinct that he could not be seen as openly collaborating with the Israelis in fighting terrorism. This, in its turn, limited Rabin’s capacity to move forward in the process. Caught between the terror of the fundamentalists, Arafat’s passivity, and the inevitable ascendancy of the peace sceptics and the Israeli far right, Rabin was marching to his political demise. The frivolous oxymoron coined by Peres that the Israelis killed in terrorist attacks–between 1993 and 1996 about 300 Israelis were assassinated by suicide squads–were the ‘victims of peace’ was utterly rejected by the public. Terrorism undermined the legitimacy and the moral foundations of the peace process. Neither Arafat nor Rabin was now in a position to give the other the minimum required to keep Oslo alive. When Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fanatic as a traitor who sold out Eretz-Israel, he was already severely crippled politically by a series of devastating suicide terrorist attacks, notably in Tel Aviv and Beit Lid, and by Arafat’s failure to face the enemies of peace in his own camp.

Page 217 · Location 4321

Netanyahu’s victory was bad news for the peace process which, admittedly, was in very poor health when he inherited it. But conspicuously, two Arab leaders, Mubarak and Hussein, did not exactly mourn the defeat of Peres. Peres’ persistent belief in a ‘warm’ peace and a ‘New Middle East’ of economic integration–he even launched the bizarre idea of having Israel join the Arab League–was anathema to Mubarak. He preferred a more controlled, slower, perhaps even reasonably tense peace with Israel, better suited to his domestic concerns and his regional aspirations. As to King Hussein, he was so taken aback by Peres’s moves towards a quick deal with Syria and so worried that Oslo under his leadership might usher in a Palestinian state that would not respect Jordan’s domestic and regional concerns that he even ventured to make public his preference for Netanyahu.

Page 219 · Location 4365

Paradoxically, Assad was indirectly responsible for the Oslo agreement. It was the failure of his Syrian enterprise that brought Rabin to the White House lawn in Washington for his historic handshake with Arafat. It was precisely when the Oslo agreement was almost ready in early August 1993 that Rabin made his last and most dramatic attempt to stick to the capsule theory and to reach a deal with Assad. He conveyed to him a hypothetical readiness to accept Syria’s territorial claims if Syria would in turn accept Israel’s demands on security and normalisation. Assad’s disheartening response–he utterly rejected Israel’s concept of ‘normalisation’, and insisted on symmetrical and reciprocal security arrangements that would also affect the Israeli side of the new border–prompted Rabin to give the green light to the completion of the Oslo accords later that month. Israel’s chief negotiator with Assad’s men, Itamar Rabinovich, later recalled how Rabin expounded his rationale to Secretary of State Warren Christopher: ‘If Assad were to come forward and an Israeli–Syrian deal were to be made, then this would be supplemented by a small Palestinian deal. If Assad’s response is disappointing, there would be no Israeli–Syrian breakthrough, so then there would be a major Israeli–Palestinian agreement.’

Page 220 · Location 4385

The hysteria in Jordan was such that the moment he knew of the Oslo accord, the King ordered the closure of the bridges linking the West and the East Banks for fear of a mass exodus of Palestinians that would end up subverting the Jordanian state. The May 1994 Israeli–PLO economic agreement was an additional threat to Hussein, who now saw his kingdom’s economic ties with the West Bank seriously undermined. To the King a common Israeli–Palestinian economic space meant unemployment and political instability in Jordan.

Page 221 · Location 4398

Arafat’s handshake with Rabin was the alibi and legitimisation that Hussein had been looking for ever since he ascended the throne, in order openly to pursue the legacy of his grandfather’s peace policy with Israel. Now it was no longer the Jordanian option at the expense of the Palestinians, as both Israel and Jordan wanted it in the past, but a desperate rush to save Jordan’s interests and perhaps its very existence as an independent Bedouin kingdom, at a moment when the Palestinian option was picked up by Israel. It became vital for Hussein to make peace with Israel if he wanted to make sure that his nemesis, Arafat, would not have an exclusive say about the future of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Page 221 · Location 4403

It is an interesting reflection on the nature of the peace process as it developed in the Rabin years that, notwithstanding the high degree of commitment of the Clinton administration to the process, whatever was achieved–Oslo and the peace with Jordan–was done bilaterally with very little, if any, American involvement. The Americans were throughout sceptical that Hussein would dare to depart from his traditional policy of sitting on the fence. They did not realise how imperative the Oslo agreement made Jordan’s necessity to reach a settlement with Israel. Clearly, however, a much needed debt relief that the Clinton administration offered as a lure to the King if he made peace with Israel was a crucially important bonus that Hussein could not afford the luxury of ignoring.

Page 222 · Location 4417

Netanyahu stalled the peace process with the Palestinians, exhibited an indifferent attitude towards Jordan’s economic expectations and even irresponsibly humiliated the King by taking the liberty of allowing an attempt–abortive, as it turned out–by the Mossad against the life of a Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, in Amman in broad daylight.

Page 232 · Location 4622

Arafat ruled over one of the most expensive power machines in the world and certainly one that was utterly disproportionate to the ridiculously small slices of territory it was supposed to govern.

Page 233 · Location 4639

Rabin, who in his inaugural speech at the Casablanca economic summit lashed out against Arafat in the most extreme and harshest terms for daring to challenge Israel’s monopoly over Jerusalem, would have by no means agreed–as indeed his widow was to ascertain when she later in her turn criticised Ehud Barak’s excessive concessions at Camp David–to the kind of compromises that the Barak government was ready to make on Jerusalem and on the other core issues of the conflict.

Page 234 · Location 4659

Probably one of the deficiencies of the Oslo accord–at the same time the reason for its initial success–was that it started as an agreement on the lowest common denominator possible in Israeli society: the idea of getting rid of Gaza did not entail any national trauma.

Page 234 · Location 4662

Both Arafat and the Israeli leadership would still have to break in a more profound and dramatic way the internal consensus in their respective societies. Arafat would have to fight the extremist organisations in a more frontal and resolute way, and he would have to make concessions on refugees and other sensitive issues he was clearly unwilling to contemplate. As to Israel, she would have to conceive solutions on settlements and Jerusalem no relevant Israeli leader, including Rabin, had ever dreamed he would have to envisage.

Page 235 · Location 4675

The truth of the matter was, moreover, that by the time Rabin was murdered the peace process was, for all practical purposes, in a state of political coma. Rampant Palestinian terrorism, an uninterrupted expansion of settlements, and Israel’s practice of reprisals in the form of closures and collective punishment had already brought the process to a stalemate.

Page 236 · Location 4710

Israel has no foreign policy, as Henry Kissinger used to say, it only has domestic political constraints.

Page 239 · Location 4757

By signing the Wye agreement that gave the Palestinians additional land in Judaea and Samaria (13 per cent of it) Netanyahu sealed his political fate and saw his coalition rapidly melting away.

The Barak Phase: On Freedom and Innocence

Page 242 · Location 4801

Assad was a tough negotiator, but one whose conditions for a settlement were clear and well known. With Syria it was essentially a territorial dispute, a ‘real estate’ affair. In the case of Arafat and the Palestinians the conditions for a settlement were never clearly enunciated, nor was the dispute an exclusively territorial one.

Page 243 · Location 4823

A proof of the surprising determination of the Sphinx of Damascus to strike a deal with Israel was the dramatic gesture, which he had never agreed to make to Rabin, of sending his Foreign Minister to direct negotiations with Barak even before receiving from him an unequivocal commitment to Rabin’s deposit. But instead of seizing the opportunity and assuming the inevitable price for peace, Barak risked losing a vital asset, Assad’s trust, and avoided making the necessary commitment on the border. He conveyed to the Americans and the Syrians a sense of urgency, but at the moment of truth and decision he got cold feet and engaged in tactical manoeuvres with the hope of wresting a better deal from Assad.

Page 243 · Location 4831

Shepardstown peace conference

Page 245 · Location 4859

There might have been a chance for a peace deal with Assad in December 1999 and January 2000 on terms that were not at all easy for the Israeli public to accept. But when in early February Barak finally signalled, in a Cabinet meeting, his readiness for a settlement based on the 4 June 1967 lines, it was already too late. A terminally sick man, Assad had by then lost interest. His priority now was managing the succession of his son, not the agonising complexities of a peace deal with Israel.

Page 245 · Location 4862

Clinton–Assad Geneva summit

Page 246 · Location 4877

The Syrian track ended with no deal, but with a twofold legacy that Arafat was both forced and happy to embrace. Assad taught him that it was perfectly possible to say ‘no’ to America, and even publicly humiliate her President, without paying a price, and that, regardless of the ambiguities of the Oslo agreement, the 1967 borders were sacrosanct and therefore needed to be a categorical requirement in any future peace negotiations with Israel. Peace, Assad taught the Palestinians about to start their negotiations with Israel for a final settlement, needs to be based on one unyielding condition: full and unequivocal withdrawal from the occupied territories.

Page 246 · Location 4882

Addressing the Camp David summit, as some commentators do, separately from the entire negotiating process–that is, independently of the negotiations that were conducted for many subsequent months in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Bolling air base on the outskirts of the American capital, where on 23 December 2000 President Clinton presented his final parameters for a settlement, and finally Taba–distorts, of course, the picture as to what exactly were the proposals that Arafat refused to accept. To his last day, the Palestinian leader was still reluctant to acknowledge the real nature of the deal he was offered, and he obstinately kept repeating that he had no option but to reject the ridiculous map of enclaves and ‘Bantustans’ that was presented to him by an American–Israeli conspiracy.

Page 248 · Location 4916

Israel also contemplated the risk that Palestinian belligerency might be expressed in the future as part of an all-out confrontation by an Arab or Islamic coalition against the Jewish state. The demilitarisation of the future Palestinian state had therefore been, throughout, a standard, primary Israeli requirement.

Page 248 · Location 4934

‘And as to the swaps,’ he said to the President, ‘I trust you and I accept your judgement. You decide.’ Arafat later reversed his position, but this moment in the summit clearly reflected his view of the peace process as not being about a mundane bargaining over real estate. Land mattered to him far less than emotional, legendary and Islamic values such as Jerusalem, the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif for the Muslims), and the core of the Palestinian national ethos, namely refugees.

Page 249 · Location 4942

As it turned out, Arafat’s ‘deposit’ became the deathtrap in which the summit was eventually consumed.

Page 249 · Location 4946

Refugeeism, Jerusalem and Islamic values more than land and real estate were the insurmountable obstacles that prevented an agreement at Camp David and later at Taba.

Page 249 · Location 4955

Akram Hania, one of Arafat’s closest men at Camp David, put it this way: ‘At Camp David we intended to make the Israelis face the tribunal of history, face the victims of their crime and sin. Israel wanted to silence for ever the voice of the witnesses to the crime and erase the proof of the Naqbah.’

Page 250 · Location 4963

In a long meeting I had with him in Nablus through the night of 25 June 2000, that is, a fortnight before Camp David, he was careful to remind me, when our conversation moved to the chapter on Jerusalem, of the Umar Treaty of AD 638, signed between the Khalif Umar, the conqueror of Jerusalem, and the Byzantine Patriarch Sopronius, where, so Arafat instructed me, the conditions of the capitulation of the Christians included a prohibition on the Jews living in Jerusalem. Arafat’s ambition to emulate Umar el-Kutab was no mere anecdote.

Page 250 · Location 4969

‘Instead of repeatedly rejecting the Israelis’ proposals, make counter proposals,’ Clinton would tell the Palestinians at Camp David. Rob Malley, in the analysis of the summit he co-authored with Hussein Agha, repeated this remark: ‘Indeed, the Palestinians’ principal failing is that from the beginning of the Camp David summit onward they were unable either to say yes to the American ideas or to present a cogent and specific counterproposal of their own.’

Page 251 · Location 4985

To my remark in the speech that Israel had come to the limits of her capacity for compromise with the Palestinians, the ambassador rightly and cunningly responded, ‘Why should we believe you when everybody remembers that you started your voyage into the Palestinian question with Golda Meir denying that a Palestinian people existed at all, and at Camp David you agreed to give away the bulk of the West Bank for an independent Palestinian state and divide Jerusalem? These certainly cannot be the outer limits of your concessions.’

Page 252 · Location 4999

We made enormous progress at the secret channel in Stockholm between Abu-Ala and Hassan Asfour on the Palestinian side and myself and Gilead Sher on the Israeli side. But the exposure of the channel by the Palestinians themselves–as part of an internal political struggle within the Palestinian camp, Abu-Mazen’s people leaked the talks to Al-Hayat–destroyed any possibility for further progress. The channel stopped because it was not producing any longer. Exposed by his political rivals back home, who leaked imaginary details about his ‘irresponsible’ concessions, Abu-Ala quickly retreated to the safety of old, unyielding positions.

Page 252 · Location 5004

And if this were not enough, by 15 May, the day of the Naqbah, the Palestinians, with Arafat’s connivance (he ignored advance warnings by both Israelis and Secretary Madeleine Albright), unleashed throughout the territories days of violent disturbances that ended in the inevitable clashes with Israel’s security forces.

Page 252 · Location 5016

From the moment the Swedish channel was dissolved it became clear that Arafat’s insistence that the summit be ‘better prepared’ was just a euphemism which meant that Israel should come closer to his positions under the threat of war without him having to budge from them.

Page 253 · Location 5034

Elusive, non-committal, the master of double talk, Arafat turned the negotiations with him, to use Lloyd George’s description of a similar occasion with De Valera, into a futile exercise of ‘trying to pick up Mercury with a fork’.

Page 255 · Location 5062

It is therefore unfair to claim, as Rob Malley and Hussein Agha did in their New York Review of Books article, that Barak’s all-or-nothing approach was a corridor leading either to an agreement or to confrontation. If this is true, the blame should clearly be shared with Arafat. But the truth of the matter is that at key moments at Camp David, when it was clear that a final settlement was impossible to reach, both the Israelis and the Americans tried fall-back plans for interim or partial settlements that were rejected out of hand by the Palestinians.

Page 256 · Location 5082

America was not there, as some Palestinians might have thought, just to deliver Israel to a passive and rejectionist Arab side that was unwilling to engage in a serious negotiating process, nor would Israel allow herself to be delivered unconditionally. By failing to advance clear proposals and counter-proposals, that is, by refusing to engage in a real negotiating dynamic, the Palestinians deprived the Americans of the vital tools they needed to be able to put pressure on the Israelis. The President and his team could never ascertain whether the Palestinians were at all serious and genuine in their commitment to reach a settlement. As the President repeatedly told Arafat, he was not expecting him to agree to US or Israeli proposals, but he was counting on him to offer something, to produce a new idea that he could take back to Barak in order to convince him to make more concessions. ‘I need something to tell him,’ he implored. ‘So far I have nothing.’

Page 256 · Location 5092

Arafat preferred to die as a defeated hero who did not give in, like Nasser, than be slain as a man of peace like Sadat.

Page 256 · Location 5097

To no avail. Arafat would not budge from his position and would not agree to a qualified Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount–he was offered in the site a ‘sovereign custodianship’ that was free of any Israeli interference–or to anything that was not the unequivocal partition of the city. He was offered a capital in Arab Jerusalem (not just Abu-Dis, as all kinds of non-official back channels had suggested in the past) that would include some Palestinian quarters under full Palestinian sovereignty and the others under a more qualified Palestinian sovereignty. Arafat demanded the sovereignty of three-quarters of the Old City and rejected out of hand any bridging ideas such as a special regime, which I had the opportunity to defend throughout the summit, or the President’s proposal, accepted by the Israelis, to divide the holy basin into two equal parts, the Christian and Muslim quarters to the Palestinians and the Jewish and Armenian quarters to the Israelis.

Page 257 · Location 5104

Members of the Palestinian delegation at Camp David used to say to their Israeli counterparts that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the issues that more than any others wrecked the summit and prevented an agreement, were ‘Arafat’s personal obsession’, which they did not necessarily share.

Page 257 · Location 5112


Page 258 · Location 5119

‘Alissra Day’)

Page 259 · Location 5147

Hence Arafat would not accept a solution to the Palestinian problem that was strictly temporal and exclusively political. It needed to include, for example, the full and unconditional sovereignty over the holy places, first and foremost the Haram al-Sharif, where the Dome of the Rock is the architectural expression of Islam as a religion that supersedes and is superior to all other religions. The Jews’ claim to a sovereign right in the Temple Mount on the basis of historical and religious links to the site was, as far as he was concerned, to be utterly excluded.

Page 259 · Location 5152

At Camp David Arafat destroyed with his own hands the unique, even intimate, relationship that he had developed with the American administration in recent years. I personally had the opportunity to warn Mr Arafat, in the course of a meeting at his residence at Camp David, where I came, together with General Amnon Shahak, to make up for Barak’s obstinate refusal to meet the Palestinian leader.

Page 260 · Location 5168

Nabil Amr, a minister in Arafat’s Cabinet, was courageous enough to spell out his criticism in an article in Al-Hayat-el-Jadida, a mouthpiece of the Palestinian Authority, two years into the Al-Aqsa Intifada, that is, when it was becoming tragically clear that Arafat’s abandonment of the political path had brought about the destruction of the very backbone of Palestinian society: Didn’t we dance when we heard of the failure of the Camp David talks? Didn’t we destroy the pictures of President Clinton who so boldly presented us with proposals for a Palestinian state with border modifications? We are not being honest, for today, after two years of bloodshed we ask exactly that which we then rejected. … How many times did we agree to compromises, which we later rejected in order to miss them later on? And we were never willing to draw the lessons from our behaviour. … And then, when the solution was no longer available, we travelled the world in order to plead with the international community for what we had just rejected. But then we learnt the hard way that in the span of time between our rejection and our acceptance the world has changed and left us behind. … We clearly failed to rise up to the challenge of history.

Page 261 · Location 5189

But the Israeli leader nevertheless left the summit a different man, one who had the courage to depart from his old archaic beliefs. Arafat, however, would confine himself to rejecting American and Israeli proposals without ever advancing his own counter-proposals. Unlike both Begin and Sadat, Arafat acted throughout the summit more like a politician than a statesman bent on looking for a solution and seeking a historical breakthrough. Sadat in Camp David I and Barak in Camp David II were more restless, far more creative.

Page 261 · Location 5197

Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weizmann and Aharon Barak would always look for new ideas and possible compromises. And when the moment of truth arrived and Begin was required to take an agonising decision on the settlements in northern Sinai, he received a vitally crucial telephone call from the most hawkish of his ministers back home, Ariel Sharon, which encouraged him to dismantle them. The only telephone calls Ehud Barak would receive from Israel during the summit were those with the disheartening news about the disintegration of his coalition and the collapse of his home front.

Page 262 · Location 5205

‘I don’t even know what is exactly my mandate in these negotiations,’ the Israelis were once told by Saab Erakat, the Palestinian chief negotiator at the summit.

Page 263 · Location 5221

Carter had a bulldog-like persistence about him that was absent in Clinton’s performance. Clinton did not lack Carter’s Messianic zeal; but he lacked his capacity to intimidate, nor were he and his team capable of employing the kind of brutal manipulative tactics that the Nixon–Kissinger team had used in launching the peace process in the aftermath of the 1973 war, or those that would be used by the Bush–Baker tandem in the diplomatic arm twisting leading to the Madrid Conference in 1991. At Camp David, America looked like a diminished and humbled superpower, unable to assert its will.

Page 264 · Location 5252

As early as 4 March 2000 Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Fatah militias (‘ Tanzim’) in Ramallah and a future leader of the Intifada, could not have been more specific when he made it clear to a Palestinian newspaper, Akhbar-el-Khalil, that: Whoever thinks it is possible to resolve issues such as the refugees, Jerusalem, the settlements and the borders through negotiations is under a delusion. On these issues, we have to wage a campaign on the ground alongside the negotiations. I mean armed confrontation. We need dozens of campaigns like the Al-Aqsa Tunnel Campaign.

Page 265 · Location 5256

But it was Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in June 2000 that served as a major incentive for the Palestinian Intifada.

Page 265 · Location 5263

The same evening and in the same city, Nablus, driven and inspired by the example of the Hezbollah, Arafat would say to a grand gathering of Fatah youth, ‘We are fighting for our land and we are prepared to erase the peace process and restart the armed struggle.’ ‘I am a general who never lost a battle,’ he told me at the same meeting in Nablus, where I tried to convince him of the need to go to a negotiating summit at Camp David. He rejected the possibility that anybody, even the President of the United States, would expect him to engage in negotiations. ‘I am a decision maker, not a negotiator,’ he told me. In retrospect, I am not sure he was a decision maker either.

Page 266 · Location 5277

And, most important, rather than controlling or stemming the tide of a spontaneous uprising he preferred to ride on it, thus practically turning it into official policy. It was he who had encouraged the outburst of violence on the Naqbah Day of May 2000, thus undermining the Swedish secret channel of negotiations, and he later gave more than one indication that he would welcome a return to armed struggle if Camp David failed.

Page 266 · Location 5280

Mamduh Nufal, an adviser of his, quoted him to this effect in the Nouvel Observateur of 1 March 2001. His Minister of Posts and Communications, Imad Faluji, declared in a speech in a refugee camp in south Lebanon that the Intifada against Israel was carefully planned after the failed Camp David talks in July 2000 ‘by request of President Yasser Arafat, who predicted the outbreak of the Intifada as a complementary stage to the Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations, and not as a specific protest against Sharon’s visit to Al-Haram Al-Quds. … The Palestinian Authority instructed the political forces and factions to run all materials of the Intifada.’

Page 267 · Location 5295

He gave an implicit green light to the uprising by doing what he frequently liked to do in such conditions: he left the country in the very first days of the Intifada in order not to have to assume responsibility. Only through the Intifada could he restore his and the Palestinians’ international standing that had been so seriously eroded by the worldwide perception after the Camp David summit–a perception strongly enhanced by Clinton’s finger-wagging at Arafat as chiefly responsible for the collapse of the summit–of an Israeli government ready for a far-reaching compromise facing obstinate Palestinian rejectionism. Arafat knew that Palestinian casualties played in his favour in world opinion and helped increase the international pressure on Israel.

Page 268 · Location 5319

The Israelis were left to assume the worst about Palestinian intentions, such as that they had never really intended to reach a settlement and that Oslo was for the Palestinians nothing but a strategic ploy aimed at doing away with the State of Israel altogether. Which is why opinion polls showed that two years into the Intifada only 20 per cent of Israelis believed that not even a signed peace agreement with the Palestinians would bring with it the end of violence and conflict.

Page 268 · Location 5332

As it turned out, the Intifada could not usher in a negotiated settlement precisely because, lacking attainable objectives, it raised the expectations of the Palestinians to unrealistic heights. Not an Israeli negotiator, but Hani al-Hassan, an old-time associate of Arafat, was forced to acknowledge that not only was the Intifada devoid of clear strategic objectives, it also raised the expectations of the Palestinian masses to such heights that it became impossible for their own leaders to meet. The Intifada, he wrote, ‘obliges our negotiators to raise the level of demands in the negotiations’ in a way that made it out of the question for Israel to accept them.

Page 269 · Location 5339

Arguably, since he always identified the cause of his people with his own person as the embodiment of their national will, he believed that safeguarding the interests of the PLO and his own personal rule was tantamount to promoting the national cause.

Page 269 · Location 5348

Although there were plenty of indications that he had been for some time pushing for a shift of strategy from negotiations to violence, he probably did not initiate the uprising with specific orders.

Page 269 · Location 5353

Again, as in the first Intifada, leading the uprising was for Arafat a move of political survival, not the insight of a statesman with a clear strategic objective.

Page 270 · Location 5364

A Palestinian sovereign state on 97 per cent of the West Bank and a safe passage, in the running of which Israel should not interfere, that would link the Gaza Strip, all of which, clean of Jewish settlements, would be also part of the Palestinian state, to the West Bank. Additional assets within Israel–such as docks in the ports of Ashdod and Haifa–could be used by the Palestinians so as to wrap up a deal that for all practical purposes could be tantamount to 100 per cent territory. Needless to say, the Jordan Valley, the mythological strategic asset sanctified by generations of Israeli generals, would be gradually handed over to full Palestinian sovereignty.–Jerusalem would be divided to create two capitals, Jerusalem and Al-Quds, along ethnic lines. What is Jewish would be Israeli and what is Arab would be Palestinian.–The Palestinians would have full and unconditional sovereignty on the Temple Mount, that is, Haram al-Sharif. Israel would retain her sovereignty on the Western Wall and a symbolic link to the Holy of Holies in the depths of the Mount.–With regard to refugees, it was stated that the Palestinians would have the right ‘to return to historical Palestine’ but with ‘no explicit right of return to the State of Israel’. They could be admitted to Israel in limited numbers and on the basis of humanitarian considerations, but Israel would retain her sovereign right of admission. Refugees could be settled, of course, in unlimited numbers not only in the Palestinian state, but also in those areas within Israel that would be handed over to the Palestinians in the framework of land swaps (the Palestinians were supposed to receive an Israeli territory equivalent to 3 per cent of the surface of the West Bank). In addition, a multibillion-dollar fund would be put together to finance a comprehensive international effort of compensation and resettlement that would be put in place.

Page 271 · Location 5379

Clinton’s peace plan, 2000–In matters of security the President endorsed the Palestinians’ rejection of the concept of a completely ‘demilitarised state’ and proposed instead the concept of a ‘non-militarised state’ whose weaponry would have to be negotiated with Israel. A multinational force would be deployed along the Jordan Valley to replace the IDF. (The President recognised the need of the Israeli air force to co-ordinate with the Palestinians the use of their air space, as well as the IDF’s necessity to have three advance warning stations for a period of time.)

Page 272 · Location 5387

The Israeli government met the deadline. Our decision, at the height of the Palestinian Intifada, in the midst of sweeping opposition on the part of the army–it was almost tantamount to a coup d’état that the Chief of Staff, General Mofaz, should have gone public to criticise the government’s endorsement of the parameters as an ‘existential threat to Israel’–and strong reservations from the opposition and public opinion, was a daring decision of a government (then already a minority government) of peace that stretched itself to the outer limits of its legitimacy in order to endorse positions its opponents labelled as suicidal, and as being an affront to Jewish values and history. But Arafat lingered. He refused to respond. As usual, he resumed his journeys throughout the world as if he were the travelling Emperor Hadrian, in the hope of evading any decision: another meeting with Mubarak, one more trip to Ben-Ali, another trip to Jordan, a further meeting of the Arab foreign ministers, dozens of calls from world leaders from the President of China to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg urging the Palestinian leader to seize this last opportunity, to grab the historic moment.

Page 273 · Location 5399

Both the Saudi and the Egyptian ambassadors in Washington, Bandar Bin Sultan and Nabil Fahmi, who came to encourage Arafat, in the name of their respective governments, to accept the President’s parameters as a last opportunity for peace that should not be missed, were dismayed at the behaviour of the Palestinian leader. And so was the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. He was said to be shocked that Arafat had wasted such an opportunity and that he had lied about the President’s offer on Jerusalem. Arafat’s rejection of the peace parameters was a ‘crime’ not only against the Palestinians but against the entire region, concluded the Saudi ambassador in a long interview published in the New Yorker on 24 March 2002.

Page 274 · Location 5422

Barak’s attitude to Taba was genuinely expressed on two occasions. One was when he allowed me to open, in Taba, a secret channel with Abu-Ala in order to explore freely the possibility of bridging the gaps and come to a last-moment breakthrough. The second occasion was when he made a radical shift in his position and virtually agreed to the concept of equal swaps of land.

Page 274 · Location 5431

Israel proposed in Taba physically to dismantle, or hand over to the Palestinians for the use of returning refugees, more than one hundred settlements. But those that formed coherent blocs adjacent to the 1967 line were supposed to remain as such under Israel’s sovereignty. However, as the maps that the Palestinians produced at Taba showed, our interlocutors totally rejected the very concept of blocs and referred to the settlements more as isolated outposts that would have to be linked separately from each other to Israel. Israel could not accept such an approach for it contradicted her entire peace strategy, and the Palestinians not only knew it but have always accepted it. All the back-track channels, either official or freelance, ever conducted by Israelis and Palestinians before Taba and after, were based on the acceptance by the Palestinians of the principle of settlement blocs.

Page 275 · Location 5446

The Palestinians’ lack of interest in a deal in Taba was made patently clear when Yossi Sarid, probably the most emblematic ‘dove’ of Israeli politics and now a member of the Israeli delegation, proposed a Solomonic solution to the differences still pending between the parties on Jerusalem: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Old City and the holy belt leading from the Old City to the Mount of Olives. Had the Palestinians agreed to stick to the letter and the spirit of the Clinton parameters there should have been no reason for such differences to exist, but Mr Sarid thought nevertheless that an attempt should be made to reach a compromise by going the extra mile towards meeting the reservations of the Palestinians. ‘Let us split the burden between us,’ he suggested; ‘two of the four issues pending will be solved according to your position, and two according to ours, which is, as you know, respectful of the Clinton parameters.’ But to no avail. The Palestinians remained unimpressed.

Page 275 · Location 5453

Mythologies apart, Taba did not allow an agreement, not because of the fact that the Israelis’ qualitative political time was a desperately diminishing asset, but because the Palestinians treated the parameters as non-committal, and insisted on changing and challenging them on each and every point.

Page 276 · Location 5472

One needs to recall in this context that Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 1996 amid a virulent campaign against the illegitimacy of the suicidal Oslo accords, but was eventually forced to endorse them once in office.

Page 277 · Location 5474

The weakness of the Barak government was of course due in great part to its own political blunders. But Arafat should also have wondered whether he would ever be able to reach an agreement with a ‘strong’ Israeli government when he so much excelled in weakening and eventually destroying his peace partners. Yitzhak Rabin paid with his life when he went for a dramatic breakthrough while Palestinian terrorism continued unabated, exposing him to Jewish extremists. In 1996 Shimon Peres was defeated amid an unprecedented wave of Palestinian suicide terror. And Ehud Barak suffered the greatest electoral débâcle in Israel’s political history because the voters saw the Intifada as Arafat’s counter-proposal to his peace initiative. To weaken and undermine Israeli left-wing governments, as he consistently did, and then refuse to make an agreement with them because they were ‘weak’ is a pattern that might keep the Palestinians in a permanent impasse. Ariel Sharon’s policies of scorched earth in the territories have been proof for Arafat that he who sows a wind ends by reaping a whirlwind. Arafat was a victim of his own illusions. He had a tendency to attribute to himself characteristics of a brilliant strategist and distinguished military man, ‘a general who never lost a war’, as he liked to introduce himself. But the truth is that as a strategist, of all people he proved his failure again and again. He always pushed his luck to the point where he lost all his achievements and what appeared to be a chance for reasonable victory ultimately became a disgraceful defeat. With Arafat, brinkmanship had no brakes; it was the art of bringing both his people and the Israelis to the edge of the abyss and beyond.

Page 277 · Location 5491

Zionism, at least up to 1948, would never have functioned this way when faced with what is always and inevitably an imperfect settlement. It always acted with its back to the wall, which is why it was blessed with the capacity for pragmatic decision making. There are two essential reasons that can explain the pragmatic wisdom of Zionism at decisive crossroads. One is the fact that, in contrast to the anti-Semitic cliché about ‘Jewish power’, Zionism was always the national movement of a weak Jewish people lacking support, a persecuted people decimated by holocaust and genocide, a people that in case of failure at the time of taking a decision might be annihilated. The Palestinians, the presumed weak side of the conflict, never acted out of lack of choice as Zionism did. Until 1948 the Zionists certainly excelled in their capacity to mobilise international support and market their case. The Palestinians, however, stumbled on every road block, avoided no mistake and displayed no savoir faire in the field of diplomacy and public relations. They always seemed to take the wrong option.

Page 278 · Location 5499

After the Six Day War, however, the balance of forces in the war on public opinion clearly changed. Rarely–if ever–is history familiar with a similar case of a disparity between the high degree of international support enjoyed by a national movement and the poor results of such a support. In fact, after that war the overwhelming international support for the Palestinian cause almost became a handicap to the degree that it could be said that the Palestinians very nearly ‘suffered’ from an excess. At every junction of historical decision making, the international community gave them–and this is certainly true with regard to the Arab world–the sense that they were entitled to expect more and could therefore avoid a decision. The international pampering of the national Palestinian movement is unparalleled in modern history and, no less important, was at vital crossroads of the conflict an obstacle to a settlement. For it was frequently interpreted by the Palestinian leadership as an implicit encouragement to persist in its almost built-in incapacity to take decisions and find instead satisfaction in Israel’s decline into the position of a state put in the dock of the tribunal of international opinion.

Page 279 · Location 5519

The history of the Jews’ modern national movement, again mainly up until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, had been characterised by realistic responses to objective historical conditions. The Palestinians have consistently fought for the solutions of yesterday, those they had rejected a generation or two earlier.

Page 280 · Location 5535

A major reason for his incapacity to reach a reasonable compromise with Israel was precisely that the Palestinian Authority under his leadership was unwilling to develop a positive ethos of democracy, civil society, economic development and education. Instead, an old-style autocracy based on a negative ethos of confrontation was created. National cohesion was built around constituent values of radical ‘Palestinianism’, ‘refugeeism’ and Islam that left no room for compromise.

Page 280 · Location 5545

Peace for Arafat, if it were to respond to vital Israeli requirements, could automatically mean a civil war. In fact, Fatah understood that particular dilemma only too well, by explicitly admitting that that was exactly the reason they had rejected the Clinton parameters. To them, as they put it when trying to explain their rejection on the organisation’s website, ‘the parameters [were] the biggest trick’ and one that meant moving the conflict from a Palestinian–Israeli dispute to ‘an internal Palestinian–Palestinian conflict that will destroy the Intifada’.

Page 282 · Location 5581

The loose control of politicians over the army is a built-in weakness and inconsistency in Israel’s political system.

Page 283 · Location 5596

Sharm el Sheikh international summit of early October,

The Politics of Doomsday

Page 285 · Location 5628

With regard to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the principle of compromise was now gone, the middle ground had been fatally wounded, and the so-called peace camp in Israel had been severely diminished and morally undermined by Arafat’s rejection of its peace platform.

Page 286 · Location 5639

Zionism’s major strategic success to date was that it forced its enemies to agree to make peace; but it could not force the terms of peace on them.

Page 287 · Location 5651

Such was the case with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when an entire nation followed him into an adventure that all were led to believe was inevitable, the last resort. His gamble ended by sinking Israel into a quagmire of blood, bereavement and destruction for more than eighteen years. And such was the situation when he embarked on an initiative to dismantle the settlements in the Gaza Strip that he himself had created in the first place. He was directly responsible for the calamitous network of settlements spread throughout the territories and in the midst of the dispossessed Palestinian population.

Page 287 · Location 5669

Sharon is the first prime minister since Oslo who did not aspire to solve Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, something that in his own twisted and tortuous way even Netanyahu had tried to do with the Hebron and the Wye agreements.

Page 288 · Location 5680

But Labour preferred to go, without any soul searching, from being part of the most daring political voyage since Oslo–the voyage we undertook as a government–to battling over portfolios in the Sharon government, which, in advance, assumed that the Barak team, as Mr Peres himself had claimed, ‘went too far in its concessions’. The Labour Party turned its back on its own political audacity while in office and now endorsed the groundless political assumption of Ariel Sharon that the volcanic eruption of rage among the Palestinians could be calmed down by another interim settlement.

Page 289 · Location 5695

And in any case he regarded Hamas’s violence as a major strategic tool of the Palestinian cause he would not undermine, so long as it did not directly challenge his personal rule.

Page 289 · Location 5698

shelling of the Altalena,

Page 289 · Location 5704

Abu-Mazen acknowledged that for an orderly Palestinian national movement to inspire vital international trust there should be, as he put it in a speech to the Palestinian parliament upon assuming the office of prime minister, ‘one authority, one law and one democratic and national decision that applies to us all’.

Page 290 · Location 5719

The government is incapable of responding to the popular yearnings for peace. For, regardless of party loyalties and according to most studies, the overwhelming majority of Israelis would support a peace settlement that is based on the Clinton parameters–two states, withdrawal from territories, massive dismantling of settlements, two capitals in Jerusalem–but they trust neither their political system nor, of course, the Palestinian leadership to come to an accommodation on that basis. Which may explain the results of a poll conducted in 2002 by the Steinmetz Centre for Peace at Tel Aviv University indicating that, convinced of the incapacity of their political system to produce solutions, 67 per cent of Israeli Jews would support an American effort to recruit an international alliance that would coax the parties into endorsing such a settlement.

Page 291 · Location 5733

ABC–‘Anything But Clinton’–seemed to have been President Bush’s attitude to the legacy of the Clinton administration on most domestic and international issues. This was particularly the case with the Israeli–Palestinian track. Probably nothing expresses better this change of attitude than Colin Powell’s instruction to the officials in the State Department, as soon as the new administration took over in January 2001, no longer to make use of the term ‘peace process’.

Page 292 · Location 5750

Democracy is not a project one devises and implements with rigid timetables; democracy is a process and the Arab world will have to go through it with hardly any short cuts. For short cuts may lead to abrupt transitions from the secular dictatorships now prevailing throughout the entire Arab world to Islamic democracies.

Page 292 · Location 5760

It would be dangerously naïve to believe that the exercise of power and the capacity to intimidate are unnecessary. But they will always need to be backed by reasonable compromises, to be reached through diplomacy and negotiations.

Page 293 · Location 5780

road map

Page 294 · Location 5797

Daily Israeli incursions into the Hamas strongholds in Gaza with their appalling toll of civilian casualties, the targeted killing of Hamas leaders from Sheikh Yassin to his successor at the head of the movement, Abd-el-Aziz Rantisi, and Palestinian terrorist suicide attacks against the civilian population in Israel were all the reflection of a macabre alliance between two sides for which a ceasefire would have meant facing political choices they were unwilling or unable to make.

Page 294 · Location 5810

The Palestinian case is one more reminder of an important fallacy to which Mr Bush has subscribed. The real, and certainly the immediate, choice in the Arab world is not between dictatorship and democracy but between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy.

Page 295 · Location 5831

Neither Israelis nor Palestinians even started to implement the road map’s most primary provisions. The Palestinians did not crack down on terrorism and the Israelis dragged their feet when it came to removing the so-called ‘illegal’ outposts, let alone when addressing the need to stop the expansion of the ‘legal’ settlements. The fatal symmetry between terrorism and settlements that was born with the Oslo accords and was eventually to wreck them was the same that subverted the road map from the first moment.

Page 296 · Location 5839

The road map, just like Oslo, thus became a standing invitation for the parties to dictate the nature of the final deal through unilateral acts, such as the expansion of settlements by the Israelis and the wild campaign of suicide terrorism and armed uprising by the Palestinians.

Page 296 · Location 5849

It is inconceivable that the Palestinians would agree to repeat the experience if the parameters of the final settlement were not agreed upon in advance.

Page 296 · Location 5852

A ‘temporary state’ could not, in any case, offer the popular legitimacy needed for an uncompromising war on Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Such legitimacy can emerge only if and when the Palestinians are convinced that Islamic terrorism is no longer a response to Israel’s strategy of occupation but an obstacle that needs to be removed on the way to a final settlement with dignity.

Page 297 · Location 5855

Sharon’s hidden agenda, which he has been harbouring for years, remains unchanged. The sterilisation of the Palestinian national movement, which he has always seen as a major strategic, even existential, threat to Israel, and the confinement of a Palestinian homeland within scattered enclaves surrounded by Israeli settlements, strategic military areas and a network of bypass roads for the exclusive use of the Israeli occupier, remain, in broad lines, his grand design.

Page 299 · Location 5894

For many years Damascus has been host to a plethora of terrorist organisations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Hezbollah. And during the war in Iraq there were indications that not only did the Syrians facilitate the passage of Arab volunteers to Iraq, but they also transferred military equipment from their territory to Saddam’s forces. In a deliberate disregard of America’s request, Damascus refused to seal her border with Iraq. If this were not enough, ‘Tishrin’, the Syrian regime’s mouthpiece, asked that the International Criminal Court should judge the American leaders ‘as war criminals, equal in rank to the Nazi war criminals’.

Page 299 · Location 5906

The Israelis and the Americans knew throughout that he actively supported Hezbollah attacks against Israel, but Assad would never admit it publicly.

Page 300 · Location 5914

Until very recently, the Syrian regime seemed to be engaged in a double strategy that did not preclude an accommodation with Washington. If Bashar was doing everything to irritate the Americans, he was at the same time showing bursts of co-operation that signalled to them that he could be a valuable ally for the US in the region. In the aftermath of 9/ 11 the Syrians helped locate and even arrest key figures in Al-Qaeda. It was the Syrians who arrested Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a German citizen of Syrian descent, who had recruited Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/ 11 hijackers. The Syrians co-operated in additional ways with the American war against terror, seemingly even helping to foil an Al-Qaeda-planned attack on American forces in the Gulf. And there was, of course, also Syria’s vital vote for Security Council Resolution 1441 that allowed the US a much needed diplomatic achievement on the way to its onslaught on the Iraqi regime.

Page 301 · Location 5933

The Syrians were clearly taken aback by the way both Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush brushed aside their call for the resumption of negotiations for a settlement with Israel. There even seem to be indications, as Israel’s former military Chief of Staff General Yaalon has hinted recently, of their readiness for a deal based on the international border, rather than on the 1967 lines that Hafez al-Assad so adamantly insisted upon to the extent of making impossible a settlement with Israel.

Page 301 · Location 5945

But neither on the Palestinian front nor in the Syrian track was this philosophy being vindicated. Both Israel and America were clearly hesitant to seize the opportunity created by the neutralisation, even if temporary and still precarious, of the strategic threats in the outer Middle East in order to pacify the inner Middle East. On the contrary, they seemed to be overlooking them.

Page 302 · Location 5952

Nor is his dilemma an easy one. He knows he cannot tackle and absorb two major political earthquakes at one time, one that would emanate from his disengagement plan from Gaza and another that would inevitably emerge from the pull-out from the Golan. A coalition of the Golan settlers with those of Gaza and the West Bank is a politically lethal alliance that had already contributed to doom Rabin’s peace efforts. Ever the tactician, rather than the bold visionary statesman, Ariel Sharon prefers not to tempt fate or to court political disaster.

Page 304 · Location 5998

Israel’s march of folly in the occupied territories represented by her absurdly adventurist policy of settlements has created a reality on the ground that can no longer be solved only through traditional diplomatic means.

Page 304 · Location 6009

In the Israeli–Palestinian conflict the possibility of peace without agony was missed years ago. From now on nobody can spare the parties their Calvary. Both Palestinians and Israelis rightly earned it with their political short-sightedness and sometimes sheer human stupidity.

Page 305 · Location 6023

General Yaalon provided proof of a political resourcefulness of sorts. But by trying to rescue from oblivion such an anachronistic, and indeed obsolete, concept as the capsule doctrine, he displayed his failure to understand the most fundamental lessons of history. National movements that cannot be suppressed by military means cannot be obliterated by simply ignoring them, or by changing the identity of the occupier.

Page 307 · Location 6054

track II plans such as Geneva,

Page 308 · Location 6071

The fate of any Israeli leader who has tried to withdraw from the territories, either through an agreement like Rabin and Barak, or in a violent way, like Sharon, has been to face political defeat and in Rabin’s case even assassination. Israeli politics defy the rule that stability and equilibrium are only maintained by pedalling the bicycle. It is precisely by pedalling, moving and initiating that a leader paves the way for his political demise. Rabin, Peres and Barak were defeated because they tried to break the old, paralysing inertia of war and conflict.

Page 308 · Location 6079

What is refreshing, though, is that Sharon, the unscrupulous and ruthless man of action, has finally realised the limits of force. No one who knew his personal and political history would have imagined him delivering a speech like the one he gave on the day the Knesset approved his plan. Addressing the settlers, those whom he had spoiled and cultivated for years, he said, You have developed among you a dangerous Messianic spirit. We have no chance to survive in this part of the world that has no mercy for the weak if we persist in this path. I have learnt from my own experience that the sword alone offers no solution. We do not want to rule over millions of Palestinians who multiply every year. Israel will not survive as a democratic state if she continues being a society that occupies another nation. The withdrawal from Gaza will open the gates of a new reality.

Page 309 · Location 6101

There can be little doubt that Hamas, the dominant power in Gaza, would claim–as Hezbollah did in Lebanon–that Israel’s pull-out represents a victory for its campaign and a vindication of suicide terrorism. If Hamas is allowed to become the governing authority in the Gaza Strip, this could usher in the establishment of a mini-Taliban state at permanent war against Israel.


Page 312 · Location 6152

The army has also opposed most of the political breakthroughs in Israel’s history. Chief of Staff General ‘Motta’ Gur misread Sadat’s peace initiative and was against it; his successor in 2000, General Shaul Mofaz, fiercely opposed Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon as well as the Clinton Peace Parameters, and more recently the army again resisted the Gaza disengagement, which had to be practically imposed on it by the Prime Minister.

Page 313 · Location 6173

More important, however, the history of peacemaking between Israel and her Arab neighbours showed that it was the change of mind of the hawks and the shift in their positions, not the preaching of the doves, that allowed Israel to exploit chances of peace at vital crossroads.

Page 314 · Location 6203

It was Abba Eban who said that the Palestinian leadership never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace. In the aftermath of the 1967 war this could just as well be said of Israel’s leaders who rejected one after another Sadat’s peace overtures. Neither in 1948 nor in 1967 was Israel subjected to irresistible international pressure to relinquish her territorial gains because her victory was perceived as the result of a legitimate war of self-defence.

Page 315 · Location 6217

Sadat laid down the fundamental truths of any Arab–Israeli peace in the future: Israel cannot expect to have both territories and peace; but nor can the Arabs get away with their territories, as Nasser expected, without offering full peace and recognition to the Jewish state.

Page 317 · Location 6259

This persistent attempt to turn back the clock of history lies at the root of many of the misfortunes that have befallen the peoples of the region. But, eventually, it was the Arab side that led the strategic shift from war to political accommodation.

Page 318 · Location 6277

PLO’s 1988 Algiers declaration.

Page 318 · Location 6288

‘The best of enemies’ since at least 1946, Israel and Jordan would nevertheless only come to a peace agreement in 1994, and even then only because Israel had reached an accommodation with the Palestinians through the Oslo accords.

Page 322 · Location 6351

The Middle East is a cemetery of missed opportunities.

Page 322 · Location 6355

Three times in their history the Palestinians were offered statehood–in 1937, in 1947 and through the Clinton parameters in 2000–and three times they have rejected it.

Page 324 · Location 6393

The Israeli Left is bound to admit that its policy of fighting terrorism and negotiating peace at the same time was a resounding failure, and that it was Ariel Sharon’s ruthless crackdown on Palestinian terrorism that brought the Palestinians to their knees and forced even Hamas to plead for a truce. But the Right was, and continues to be, equally wrong in its far-fetched assumptions about the price of peace and its capacity to impose it on the Palestinians.

Page 325 · Location 6418

The Arabs of Jerusalem, and maybe even those of the State of Israel proper, might be asked in a future final settlement to vote in the Palestinian state without the territories they live in being part of the State of Palestine, just as the settlers throughout the West Bank could remain in their settlements, be citizens of the State of Israel and vote in the elections for the Israeli parliament. Sharon, who is so surprisingly sanguine in allowing the Palestinians of Jerusalem to vote, may believe that this is the best way to reconcile his demographic worries with his territorial ambitions.

Page 327 · Location 6457

special Security Council resolution that will view the plan as the authoritative international interpretation of Resolution 242 on the Palestinian issue.

Page 327 · Location 6467

An orderly Palestinian polity is crucial if it is to meet Israel’s elementary security requirements.

Page 328 · Location 6490

It is vital that the Israelis realise that no change in the international system, however radical, will spare them hard and painful choices.

Page 328 · Location 6492

Internationally legitimised borders will offer Israel more deterrence power than F-16 raids on terrorist targets that end up killing innocent civilians without deterring the terrorists.

Page 329 · Location 6494

But, as the United States has learned the hard way in Iraq, this is an era where power without legitimacy only breeds chaos, and military supremacy without legitimate international consent for the use of force does not offer security.

Page 329 · Location 6502

But the past is frequently the enemy of the future, and nothing in the Arab past has prepared them for the idea of a Jewish sovereign state in their midst.

Page 330 · Location 6520

Israel even managed to force the entire Arab world, and the international community as well, to accept the legitimacy of the 1948 borders even though these went far beyond the borders that were approved for the Jewish state in 1947.

Page 330 · Location 6523

accepts that the territorial phase of Zionism has come to its end, Zionism’s victory can still be finally sealed.

Page 330 · Location 6526

This should serve as a lesson to the Palestinians and their leaders who throughout their history have preferred the dangerous inertia of national myths and unrealistic dreams, rather than choosing a wise and prudent political course.

Page 330 · Location 6531

Democracy is the key for Arab leaders to be able to end the historically destructive pattern of government whereby they were constantly forced to placate and control an ‘Arab street’ which they had themselves incited with bellicose rhetoric against the Jewish state and its American ‘imperialist’ patrons. It was when trapped in that insoluble conundrum of their own making that the Arab leaders manoeuvred themselves against their own will into the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the 1967 Six Day War.

Page 331 · Location 6540

But forcing Israel’s Arab enemies to accept her existence and make peace with her is one thing; imposing on them the territorial terms of a settlement is quite another. Demography and territory, the two pillars of the Zionist enterprise, cannot be reconciled unless Israel abandons her territorial ambitions and departs from the unrealistic, and morally corrupting, dream of possessing the biblical lands of Eretz-Israel.

Page 331 · Location 6544

‘Transfer’ and ‘separation’ were, one should recall, important concepts that were advocated from the early days of the Zionist enterprise.

Page 331 · Location 6551

Israel’s leaders and her civil society bear a heavy responsibility to conceive bold and generous solutions precisely because of the high ideals upon which the Jewish state was built, and because of the noble values of Jewish civilisation that cannot be reconciled with the denial of the natural right of an occupied people to a life of freedom and dignity.

College Resolutions

Yale Political Union

Resolved: Lock Him Up

I confess, Trump has been treated harshly by our country, me included.

The media has castigated him, politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed disdain for him, and even Tucker Carlson, the conservative media darling, bemoaned in a leaked text "I hate him passionately."

Referring to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, Special Counsel John Durham concluded that the FBI acted with reckless political partisanship, that they were perhaps too eager to open an investigation into Trump and his team due to their bias against him.

And now, for the first time in US History, a former president is facing not 1, not 2, but 91 felony charges across two federal and two separate state cases.

Trump supporters across the country are upset, and understandably so. At cursory glance, it would seem obvious, almost self-evident that the former president has not been treated harshly by the institutions of this country.

But is "harsh" the same as "unfair"?

Should Trump's treatment be truly that shocking?

Is it actually unfair, or is this just a convenient lie Trump supporters tell themselves to cope with a historically corrupt leader?

I'll be honest, not many things baffle me more than conservative's confused indignation for Trump's treatment in this country.

Does he have many enemies? Yes, of course, but didn't come to Washington to make them? Was his explicit goal not to "drain the swamp"? Did he also not make an enemy out of former personal attorney's, like Michael Cohen, former campaign staff and managers, like Brad Parscale and Bill Stepien, former government appointed officials, like his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, even his own Attorney General, William Barr, former political allies like Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, and countless others both in and outside of his administration that he alone deemed disloyal? Hell, Trump even attacked Fox News for calling the Arizona race on election night for daring to do their jobs.

Is it really surprising that a man who makes so many enemies would have so few friends?

Aside from turning allies to enemies, Trump's also abused both his rhetoric as a candidate and his powers in office in ways that, while not always illegal, are certainly morally reprehensible.

Is it any wonder that those in this country might have questioned Trump's allegiance to this country when he was on TV calling for Russia to release 30,000 e-mails from Hillary Clinton's servers? Does it give no pause that he did this while at the same time working with Roger Stone to coordinate media dumps from Wikileaks that were obtained from DNC servers by Russian hackers? Trump even pardoned Paul Manafort, a man so connected to Russia that a Republican lead Senate Intelligence Committee considered him a grave threat, and believed Russia was acquiring information about Trump's campaign through him. And yes, in case you were wondering, this is same Paul Manafort who was charged with defrauding the US Government, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. And yes, the very same Paul Manafort whom Trump saw fit to reward his loyalty by pardoning him before leaving office.

Regardless of the personal feelings we may have about Trump, and by we, I mean me, I'm not here to talk about the ethics, or lack thereof, of Donald Trump, nor my personal dislike - I think I had hatred written here initially - for the man. I'm here to argue the affirmative that he ought to be in prison.

So, Trump's vicious violations of norms and his penchant for pardoning all of those close to him of felonious crimes aside, Trump's disdain for the rule of law and his criminal conduct as president are worthy of legal condemnation. While many are willing to support Trump's aggressive rhetoric on social media, I find that those who support him in his criminal cases only do so out of ignorance, deliberate or otherwise, of the facts of said cases.

So let's review those facts.

The first matter is a simple one, the federal classified documents case in Mar-a-Lago.

In March of 2021, NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, requested from Donald Trump he return boxes and boxes of potentially classified material that he had personally overseen removed from the White House and stored in his resort at Mar-a-Lago. Trump repeatedly refused these requests, and only returned 15 of these boxes almost a year later in January of 2022 after repeated badgering. These were not all of the boxes with classified materials that Trump had taken with him, only a few boxes that Trump had his employee, Walt Nauta, go through first to see what he felt like sending back. After NARA discovered classified material in said boxes on February 9th, of 2022, the case was referred to the DoJ, leading the FBI to open an investigation in March.

Donald Trump stored this material, knowing it was classified, and knowing that Mar-a-Lago was not an approved storage facility for said information. Some of information Trump retained were national defense secrets, in a club that was accessed by tens of thousands of members and guests in the duration of its storage. He did this despite repeated requests to return it, and once he realized federal agencies were looking for it, he instructed multiple employees and legal counsel to move around and hide the boxes in order to obscure what material he still possessed, all while lying to investigators about the classified material.

He also stands accused of showing off some of this classified material to reporters and journalists who would come by for interviews, with two cases being mentioned directly in the indictments. In one of these instances, there exists an audio-recording of Trump meeting with an interview team, none of whom possessed any security clearances. Trump braggadociously showed some of the documents off, describing a "plan of attack" that he claimed was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official, most likely to exonerate him from claims of being a war hawk. Trump himself told the individuals that the plan was "highly confidential .. and "secret." He also mentioned that as president he could have declassified it,'" and, "Now he can't, you know, but this is still a secret."

Under 18 USC 793(e), the willful retention of national defense information is a crime. Of this, Trump is guilty.

Under 18 USC 1512(k), the deliberate obstruction of any federal investigation is also crime. Trump's orders to his employees to hide information from his own lawyers or federal investigators is a deliberate obstruction of said investigators' investigation. Of this, Trump is also guilty.

And what of the election fraud case?

18 USC 371 speak of two or more people conspiring either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, and 18 U.S.C. 241 makes it unlawful for two or more people to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in the United States in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Did Trump conspire against our rights as Americans to have our votes counted?

Well, let's be clear about what needs to be proven and what doesn't.

Many claim that as long as Trump truly believed election fraud at a level that was outcome determinative, he was within his right to do, I guess, literally he wanted to do.

Fortunately, this is not how the real world works. Conviction with no adherence to rule of law is simply vigilantism.

Many people also speak of "intent", but intent is not really at issue in the case that Jack Smith has brought to federal court. Or rather, not the "intent" of whether or not he believes the election was stolen.

Take, for example, the false elector plot that Trump and his cronies concocted. Donald Trump and his team had 7 different groups of citizens in 7 different states affirm that they were in fact the duly appointed electors, authorized to transmit their state's electoral college vote through NARA to Congress. This was a lie. They were not appointed by the state assemblies. They did not meet in the state capitols. And surely, they were not authorized to transmit those electoral votes under false pretenses to Congress to be counted on January 6th.

Trump's intent only matters insofar as he compelled these citizens to gather and lie about being the duly appointed state electors. They were not. Trump and his team compelled them to lie.

It may be that Donald Trump rightfully thought he had won the election, and that he thought there was corruption that the states simply hadn't thoroughly investigated yet. Even if that were the case, though, it is not lawful for Trump and his team to compel others to lie about being state electors in the hope that their electoral votes will be counted as opposed to the legally certified electors. This is fraud.

The same is true with the infamous call he placed to Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger, encouraging him to find 11,000 votes to help him flip the state. Even if he did believe there was election fraud, that gave him no right to call any election officials or state assemblies to pressure them to change the outcome of their elections.

And what of 18 USC 1512? Do we believe that Trump attempted to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding?

Well, we know he did. We know that Trump attempted to bully his own vice president into accepting the fraudulent elector slates, knowing they were sent under false pretense. This happened multiple times in the days and weeks proceeding January 6th. When rebuffed on a phone call on Christmas, Trump even seemed to admit to Pence that he knew he was being deceitful, telling him that he was "too honest" for refusing his plot. Again, even if Trump had thought there was outcome determinative election fraud, this was clearly not the legally acceptable avenue to address his grievances.

Assuming even half the accusations laid out in these indictments are true, certainly Trump should be convicted of the aforementioned crimes, many of which carry with them prison sentences.

Donald Trump acts as though he lives above the law, as though the Constitution and the American government exists not just beneath him, but at his whim and pleasure, only necessary when convenient to him, and cast aside when it hampers his ambitions. It is important to send a message not just to Trump, nor those that support him, but to all future presidents and their supporters that this sort of injustice will not be tolerated.

As Americans, we should not accept that the armor of "ex-president" be protective against the sword of justice.

Or, said more simply, lock him up.

Cornell Political Union

Resolution: Send More Military Aid to Ukraine and Israel to Uphold Global Justice

The year is 2024. We are not currently at war with Iraq nor Afghanistan. It's important to remember this, because it feels as though we are collectively traumarized by the nation building exercises we undertook in these two countries, and it feels as though we are incapable of understanding any other conflict or imagining any other outcome than being quagmires for 20 years in a country that doesn't really want us there.

Support for Ukraine is essential if America is be seen as the safeguard of democracy, economic prosperity, and a safe and secure Europe. Some still scoff at the idea of America being able to maintain any of these ideals around the world. While it's true that our record is far from perfect, the reality is that someone will rise to the occasion of leading the world into the future if we will not.

Perhaps you say America is not worthy, I'd challenge you, then: who? Russia, with Putin leading it into conquest after conquest, peeling territory away from states who don't bow to Putin's whims, such as in Moldova, Georgia, and now Ukraine? A country hell-bent on supporting Iran, and all of their terrorist proxies in the Middle East? A man who destroys entire cities, like in Aleppo and Mariupol, as he conducts warfare with zero regard for human life?

Would you trust China to lead the world? A country on the precipice of conflict with Taiwan, a country who also stands accused of the forcible removal and genocidal destruction of the Uyghur population for its own territorial conquest?

Support for Ukraine is essential to the United States for 3 key reasons:

Firstly, support for Ukraine is a resounding "NO" to Russia's imperialistic conquest in parts of the world. Why should we stand for Russia unilaterally deciding that they alone have a right to destroy the borders of a country that the entire world, Russia included, recognized in 1991? All of us made promises to the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And again in 1994 as part of the Budapest Memorandums, when we promised Ukraine the integrity of their borders in exchange for their decaying nuclear arsenal, left there with the collapse of the Soviet Union. What message is sent to the rest of the world if we were not to ensure their sovereignty? Every country would understand that the only way to guarantee your borders would be through the acquisition of nuclear weapons or cowering under the nuclear umbrella of another country's warheads.

Secondly, supporting Ukraine allows us to fight in one of the most direct ways possible against an enemy that we all should stand in opposition to. If Ukraine were to regain control of her entire borders, Crimea included, Russia would no longer have free and unconditional access to the Black Sea, and, consequently, the rest of the world in the Winter time. Russia's power projection would be severely hampered, forcing them to engage in diplomatic and economic negotiations more, as opposed to militaristic conquest. Russia would no longer as easily support Iran, fund and or deliver arms to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, and would no longer be able to as easily support Assad as he unleashes chemical attacks and devastation upon his own people. Never will the United States have an opportunity to so cheaply and easily provide weaponry in a conflict that will drain Russia of its capacity to terrorize the world in the future.

Thirdly, and, most importantly, we should support Ukraine because it's the right thing to do. In this conflict, the moral authority rests with the Ukrainians. I find it noteworthy that, when we speak about the Ukraine-Russia word, we only speak of what's in the interest of America, and sometimes our European allies. What of the Ukrainians, though, who's will to fight remains unbroken? Are they not to have any say whatsoever in the future of their country, or their borders? If they have the personnel to fight, are we to deprive them of the material to do so if we can so easily provide it? If we do indeed agree, as we should, that Ukraine has the right to fight for their territorial integrity, why would we not provide the means to do so for as long as they have the will to fight?

Support for Ukraine is not only strategically important, it is of vital moral necessity that we continue to support Ukraine in their desire to reassert their borders.

Israel provides an interesting example where America's influence exists not just to provide unlimited military support for an ally, but to force restraint. Israel obviously needs no support from the United States to defeat her enemies today, but the support we provide can condition her to act in a more humanitarian way.

The United States has forced Israel at times to slow her aggression in the Gaza Strip, giving more time for civilians to evacuate, to allow humanitarian aid into Gazan corridors, and, recently, Biden has applied pressure to the West Bank settlements, levying harsh penalties on settlers accused of violence against Palestinians in the forms of sanctions.

If the United States were to diplomatically and financially withdraw from this region, why would Israel halt or pause any of their aggression? Historically, Israel has been forced to show restraint as well due to pressure from the US, such as withdrawing the Sinai in 1956 after hostilities had escalated with Russia.

The Ukrainians have a right to have their borders defended, and the US is in the best place to help them militarily. If we value at all the lives of Palestinians, the US is one of the only countries that could force Israel to show restraint, so we ought to continue to do so.

While I'm sympathetic towards those who remain skeptical of US foreign policy after our Middle Eastern blunders of recent decades, it shouldn't cause us to turn a blind eye to every conflict where the US may intervene in a righteous way. If we have any responsibility to the world, it should be to help nations def weend themselves.



Modern History of Yemen

1962-1970 - The North Yemen Civil War

  • Yemen
    • In 1955, Iraq-trained Colonel Ahmad Thalaya led a revolt against Imam Ahmad bin Yahya.
    • Ahmad bin Yahya defeated the besiegers, publicly decapitating Ahmad Thalaya and then executing Emir Saif el Islam Abdullah, the 48 year old Foreign Minister who was to become the new leader under Thalaya's demands.
    • In March of 1958, Ahmad bin Yahya's son, Muhammad al-Badr, went to Damascus to tell Nasser that Yemen would adhere to the United Arab Republic, as long as Ahmad could keep his throne and power.
    • In 1959, while Ahmad went to Rome for medical treatments, fights between tribal chieftains erupted. When Ahmad returned, he decapitated one of his subjects and amputated the left hand and right foot of 15 others.
    • Imam Ahmad died on September 18th, 1962, and was succeeded by his son, Muhammad al-Badr, who appointed Colonel Abdullah Sallal, a known socialist and Nasserist, as commander of the palace guard.
  • Egypt
    • Nasser had desired regime change in Yemen since 1957, and acted in January of 1962 by supporting the Free Yemen Movement.
    • In a desire to continue his pursuit of Arab nationalism, especially after the dissolution of the UAR in 1961, Nasser supported a regime change in Yemen by supporting Colonel Abdullah Sallal.
    • Nasser's considerations for sending troops to Yemen may have included the following
  • Coup d'état
    • Plot
      • Four different plots were happening simultaneously
        • Lieutenant Ali Abdul al Moghny
        • Colonel Abdullah Sallal, which eventually merged into...
        • The Hashid tribal confederation
        • Several young princes who wanted to get rid of al-Badr but not the imamate
      • On September 25th, 1962, Sallal gathered known leaders of the Yemeni nationalist movement and began enacting the coup.
    • Execution
      • By late morning of September 26th, all areas of Sana'a were secured and the revolutionaries had achieved victory over al-Badr and his guards.
    • Coup aftermath
      • Nasser sent Egyptian General Ali Abdul Hameed on September 29th to assess the situation.
      • Sallal gained control of Yemen and would be protected by a battalion of Egyptian special forces.
      • al-Badr went to Saudi Arabia.
  • Diplomatic Attempts
    • Teams
    • West Germany, The United Kingdom, The United States, and Jordan all supported al-Badr, the Imam.
    • Egypt, Italy, Yugoslavia and the USSR supported Sallal.
    • The US, under John F. Kennedy, tried to resolve the dispute while communicating with Nasser (Egypt), Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Hussein (Jordan) and Salla (Yemen). Nasser agreed to pull out, only if Jordan and Saudi Arabia also stopped their aggression, but Jordan and Saudi Arabia did not trust Egyptian intentions for the peninsula.
    • Sallal proclaimed he would follow Yemen's international obligations, including respect for Britain's Aden Protectorate, and Nasser promised a gradual withdrawal of its 18,000 man force, as long as Saudi Arabian and Jordanian forces retire from border regions.
    • On December 19th, 1962, the US recognized the Yemen Arab Republic, with the UN following the next day.
    • Britain, Iran, Turkey and most of western Europe did not recognize the republic, while West Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, the remaining Arab governments, Ethiopia and the entire communist bloc did.

Operation Hard-surface

    • The UN attempted to launch a mission based on the US National Security Council, in which a 25 mile demilitarized strip along the Saudi/Yemen border.
    • Egypt didn't really want to withdraw its forces, and Saudi Arabia had already begun cutting back support for royalists due to the threat of a combined Syria/Iraq/Egypt.
    • On September 4th, 1964, the UN admitted failure and ended the mission.
  • Egyptian offenses
    • Egypt attempted to win an air war to substitute lack of ground power.
    • Egypt also bought off and sent humanitarian aid to many tribal leaders in order to encourage them to be loyal to the new republican government.
  • Ramadan offensive
    • In February of 1963, Amer and Sadat arrived in Sana'a.
    • Amer requested 20,000 additional men for Yemen.
    • Fighting ensued between the Egyptian forces and the royalist forces for the next few months, with the royalist and Egyptian forces pushing each other's territory.
  • Haradh offensive
    • More fighting.
  • Alexandria summit and Erkwit ceasefire
    • In September of 1964, Faisal and Nasser met in an Arab summit in Alexandria, and agreed to reach a peaceful settlement to resolve the conditions in Yemen.
    • On November 4th, the Egyptians resumed their bombings of royalist positions, and the peace agreements fell through.
  • Royalist offensive
    • More fighting.
  • Stalemate
    • Lots of people dead on both sides.
    • Sallal fired his Premier, General Hassan Amri, and appointed a moderate, Ahmed Noman, in his place, in order to attempt to unite Yemen's two main tribal groupings, the mountain Zaidi Shias (royalists), and the Shafi'i Sunnis (republicans).
  • Nasser's "long-breath" strategy
    • Egypt had run up a foreign debt of nearly $3b.
    • Nasser conceded they were facing difficulties, and raised a variety of taxes on the public to afford the war effort.
    • Nasser also supported Egyptian sabotage bombings in Saudi Arabia.
    • On May Day of 1966, Nasser said the war was entering the "long-breath strategy," where he would draw down troops from 70k to 40k and simply focus on reinforcing tighter positions, withdrawing from exposed positions. He also insisted on attacks on Najran, Qizan and other "bases of aggression", claiming they were originally Yemeni towns stolen by the Saudis in the 1930's.
    • Nasser was warned by both the US and the USSR not to escalate the conflict into a hot war with Saudi Arabia.
    • Tunisia broke diplomatic relations with the republic, and Sallal's government seemed on the verge of collapse.
  • Chemical warfare
    • From 1963-1967 multiple gas attacks occurred against North Yemen villages, with claims that the Egyptians were behind the gas attacks.
    • By the end of July, 1967, 1,500 fatalities and 1,500 injuries were estimated among royalist Yemen villages.
  • Egyptian Withdrawal
    • As part of the Khartoum Resolution, Egypt announced an end to the Yemen war.
    • Egypt and Saudi Arabia revived their Jeddah agreement of 1965.
    • Sallal accused Nasser of betrayal.
    • Sallal rapidly lost popularity at home, firing and appointing an entirely new Cabinet. Nasser in November of 1965 would encourage him to resign and go into exile. Once Sallal refused and went to Baghdad, hoping to get support from other Arab Socialists, Nasser sent a cable of Sana'a instructing his troops there not to block an attempt at a coup.
  • Siege of Sana'a
    • The royalists sieged the newly created republican government headed by Qadi Abdul Rahman Iryani, Armed Noman and Mohamed Ali Uthman. The royalists suffered due to Saudi Arabia no longer shipping them arms nor financing them after the Khartoum agreement, however.
  • Final Accords
    • By February of 1968, the seige was lifted and the republicans had won.
    • The British had withdrawn from South Yemen.
    • Talks commenced and in 1970 Saudi Araba recognized the Republican and a ceasfire was effected.

1967-1990 - The People's Republic of South Yemen

  • On November 30th, 1967, the British pull out of Aden, leaving it under NLF control.
  • In June 1969, a Marxist wing of the NLF gained power and changed the country's name to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, with all political parties on December 1st of 1970 combining into the Yemeni Socialist Party.
    • The PDRY established close ties with the Soviet Union, The PRC, Cuba and Palestine.

Yemenite War of 1972

  • Conflict between the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen, initially backed by Egypt, later Saudi Arabia) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY, South Yemen, supported by Cuba, East Germany, North Korea and the USSR).
  • South Arabian League rebels were attacking positions in eastern South Yemen, but were defeated by the South Yemen government on February 24th, 1972.
  • Prime Minister Ali Nasir Muhammad survived an assassination attempt by SAL rebels on May 22nd, 1972.
  • The Cairo Agreement of 1972
    • The fighting only lasted 23 days with a swift victory by the South, supported by the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Iraq, Libya and Cuba, over the Yemen Arab Republic in the north, supplied by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and the United Kingdom/US.

Yemenite War of 1979

  • Conflict
    • The Marxist government of South Yemen was allegedly arming rebels through the National Democrat Front in North Yemen.
    • On February 24th, 1979, forces from North and South Yemen began firing at each other from across the border.
    • Multiple attacks/excursions with air superiority were carried out by South Yemen.
    • The South was supported by Cuba, USSR, and East Germany.
    • The North, supported by Saudi Arabia, the United States, Iraq and Egypt, was eventually re-armed enough by 1983-84 to rebuild its military.
  • Kuwait Agreement of 1979
    • On March 20th, North and South Yemen called a bilateral ceasefire and met in Kuwait for reconciliation, pressured by Iraq/Syria and Kuwait, all calling for a unified Arab world in response to pressure from the Camp David Accords and the Iranian Revolution.

South Yemen Civil War of 1986

  • Background
    • The National Liberation Front was handed power over the country following negotiations in Geneva with the British government.
    • Ismael would go on to become the General Secretary after the NLF gained power over the country, adopting a Marxist-Leninist scientific socialism as the official state ideology.
    • The government supported Marxist paramilitary organizations around the Arabian Peninsula, including the PFLOAG and PFLO.
    • They supported the PFLO during the Dhofar Rebellion, in Oman.
    • Eventually, due to Ismail's failures in Oman and during the Yemenite War of 1979, he resigned and went into exile, succeeded by Ali Nasir Muhammad, who favored less interventionalist.
    • The Soviet Union attempted to mediate from the naval base in Yemen which hosted 1,000-1,800 troops in 1986.
    • In 1985, the YSP politburo adopted a resolution stating political violence to settle political disputes was considered criminal.
  • War
    • On January 13th, 1986, bodyguards of Ali Nasir Muhammad opened fire on members of the YSP politburo as they were due to meet. The ensuing firefight caused multiple high ranking officials to die, including Abdul Fattah Ismail.
    • Abdul Fattah Ismail came back, they fought for 12 days, he died.
    • Ali Nasir Muhammad and some 60,000 members of his brigade fled to the YAR.
  • Succession
    • A former politburo member, al-Beidh, took the top position in the YSP following the 12-day civil war.
  • Aftermath
    • Suffering a loss of more than half it's USSR aid from 1986-1989, al-Beidh's government worked towards unification with North Yemen.

Unification and transitional period

  • The Republic of Yemen was declared on May 22nd, 1990
    • Saleh, the leader of YAR, became president
    • al-Baidh, the leader of the PDRY, became vice president
  • The unity constitution was agreed upon in May of 1990, and ratified by the populace in 1991.
    • It affirmed Yemen's commitment to free elections, a multiparty system, private property rights, equality under the law, and basic human rights.
  • The government ran into issues in 1993 after al-Bidh self-imposed exile to Aden in August 1993. Tribal conflicts escalated.

1994 Civil War

  • Political infighting continued, clashes intensified until civil war broke out in May 1994.
  • Most of the fighting happened in the south, despite missile/air attacks against cities in the north. The US and UN attempted to call for a cease-fire.
  • In May 1994, the South declared secession and established the Democratic Republic of Yemen.
  • The war ended, with President Ali Abdallah Salih announcing general amnesty for most people from south Yemen with the exception of 16 people.
  • In the aftermath of the civil war, YSP leaders within Yemen reorganized the party in 1994, the GPC did the same in 1995.

Mid 1990's

  • President Ali Abdallah Salih was elected by Parliament on October 1st, 1994, then again by the population in September of 1999.


  • On October 12th, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked in the port of Aden by suicide bombers from Al-Qaida.
    • 17 sailors were killed.
  • In the 2000's, the government began fighting rebel groups such as the Shabab al-*Mu'mineen, who would later go on to become the Houthi's, or are the Houthi's.

2011 Yemeni Revolution

  • Protests
    • In January 2011, major protests began against living conditions in Yemen, and eventually became more pointed towards President Ali Abdullah Saleh..
    • Opposition leader Tawakel Karman called for a Day of Rage to topple the government of Tunisia and put pressure on Mubarak in Egypt, which drew 20,000 participants.
    • Demonstrators also continued marching after Mubarak stepped down, calling for Saleh to step down as well in Yemen.
    • On March 18th, 2011, 45 protesters were shot dead in Sana'a, which lead to the declaration of a state of emergency.
  • Mediation attempts
    • The Gulf Co-operation Council attempted to get Saleh to sign an agreement three times that would see him step down from power, but all three times he trolled the GCC and the opposition by refusing to sign at the last minute.
  • Uprising
    • On the 23rd of May, a day after Saleh refused to sign the transition agreement, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the head of the Hashid tribal federation, one of the most powerful tribes in the country, declared support for the opposition and his armed supporters began fighting.
    • Lots of fighting between loyalists and rebels ensues through the end of May.
  • Presidential Palace assassination attempt
    • On June 3rd, a bombing attempt against Saleh's life happens at the presidential palace.
    • He would fly to Riyadh for surgery on the 4th of June. He left the hospital on August 6th but did not return to Yemen.
    • On July 6th, the government refused opposition demands for a transitional council.
    • On July 16th, factions of the opposition claimed they would form their own transitional council.
    • In September, lots of protesters getting shot/shelled in Change Square by military. Sadeq-al-Ahmar claims they did not return fire.
  • Return of Ali Abdullah Saleh
    • On September 23rd, 2011, Yemeni state-television announced his return.
    • On December 4th, 2017, Houthi militia killed Ali Abdullah Saleh
  • Power-transfer deal
    • On November 23rd, 2011, Saleh finally returns to Riyadh to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council plan for political transition, despite refusing to in the past.
    • On January 21st, 2012, the Assembly of Representatives of Yemen approved an immunity deal for Saleh to step down and allow his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, to run and win the next election with 99.8% of the vote.
    • He would hold office from the 25th of February, 2012 for 2 years during a transitional government, ending Saleh's 33-year rule.
  • Domestic responses
    • On February 2nd, President Saleh said he would freeze the amendment process, not pass on the reigns of power to his son, "No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock;" and said he would quit in 2013.
    • On March 1st, 2011, Saleh blamed the US and Israel for tensions rising in Yemen.
    • On March 20th, Saleh fired all members of his Cabinet of Yemen, including Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Mujaware and vice-Prime Ministers Rashad al-Alimi, Abdul Karim Al-Ar'haby and Sadiq Amin Abu-Rass, but asked them to remain until he forms a new one.
  • Arrests and repression
    • On January 23rd, Tawakel Karman, a protestor who would go on to win a nobel peace prize on October 7th, 2011, was arrested with "inciting disorder and chaos" though was later released 30 hours after her arrest after mass protests outside Sana'a University.
    • On March 14th, security forces raided an apartment shared by four Western journalists and deported them.

Yemeni Civil War (2014-2024)

This shit

Houthi Movement


  • The Houthis began as theologically moderate in Yemen
  • Their first organization, the Believing Youth, was founded in 1992 in Saada Governorate by either Mohammed al-Houthi, or his brother, Hussein al-Houthi.
  • By 1994-95, 15k-20k students had attended camps that included lectures by Mohammed Hussein Fadhlallah (a Lebanese Shia scholar) and Hassan Nasrallah (Secretary General of Hezbollah).
  • In 2004, 800 BY supporters were arrested in Sanaa. Saleh invited Hussein al-Houthi to a meeting in Sana'a, but he declined and was killed on the 10th of September, 2004, by Saleh's forces after a failed insurgency.
  • They participated in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution against Saleh's administration.
  • By May 2012, Houthis were in control of three governorates and were erecting barricades north of Sana'a.
  • By September 2014, Houthis were said to control part of Sana'a.
  • On January 20th, 2015, Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace, then deposed the president and dissolved parliament on February 6th.
  • On the 20th of March, al-Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques came under suicide attack by ISIS, killing 142 Houthi worshippers and wounding more than 351, the deadliest terrorist attack in Yemen history.
  • Saleh and the Houthi alliance broke down in late 2017, with the Houthis killing him on the 4th of December of the same year.
  • On January 17th, 2022, Houthi missile and drone attacks on UAE industrial targets killed 3 foreign workers. Saudi Arabia launched an airstrike on January 21st against a detention center in Yemen in response, killing at least 70.

Membership and ranks

  • They have lots of people.


  • The Houthis have a wide variety of religious and political influences. They seem mainly to stand in opposition to the corruption of earlier governments, and will vary their alliances opportunistically.
  • In 2015, Newsweek reported that the Houthis are fighting for "for things that all Yemenis crave: government accountability, the end to corruption, regular utilities, fair fuel prices, job opportunities for ordinary Yemenis and the end of Western influence."
  • The Houthis have rejected portrayals that they are trying to restore the old Zaydi imamate.
  • Sometimes the Houthis ally with Sunnis, other times they oppress them. :o
  • The Houthis have a very unique interpretation of Islam that puts them in conflict with the other sects of Islam, even other Shi'ites/Zaydi traditionalists.
  • Houthis have fought with Salafis and later aligned with them depending on conditions. Originally they "crushed" the Salafi community/al-Qaeda presence in Saada Governate, but between 2014-2019 the Houthi leadership have signed multiple co-existence agreements with the Salafi community.
  • The Houthis have their own women security force and a Girl Scouts wing. Others claim that Houthis harass women and restrict their freedoms of movement and expression.
  • New York Times piece written about traveling to Yemen in 2018.


Activism and tactics

  • The Houthis have a "wide-tent" approach where they try to make fighting political corruption the center-piece of their political program.
  • The Houthis are said to have "a huge and well-oiled propaganda machine". They have established "a formidable media arm" with the Lebanese Hezbollah's technical support.

Armed strength

  • The Houthis produce short-range ballistic missiles and launch them into Saudi Arabia.
  • They receive a lot of naval support and anti-naval weaponry from Iran, as well as converting many old Yemeni military ships to improvised explosive vessels.
  • Alleged Iranian and North Korean support
  • North Korea likely supplied the missiles launched towards Israel to the Houthis in January 2024.
  • Iran likely provides cash, weapons, ballistic missiles and training support for Houthis.

Alleged human rights violations

  • Children as young as 13 have been arrested for "indecent acts" relating to homosexuality
  • People are arrested for "political cases"
  • Minors are housed with adult prisoners and are likely subject to rape.
  • UNICEF claims that up to a third of all fighters in Yemen are comprised of child soldiers.
  • Use of human shields.
  • Use of hostage-taken for profits.
  • The UN World Food Program and the Norwegian Refugee Council both claim that the Houthis hamper food delivery to people on the brink of starvation.
  • UN-funded investigators found evidence of sexual violence against young girls and the recruitment of boys as young as seven years old.
  • UN Panel of Experts on Yemen discovered instances where Houthis would force women into prostitution for information gathering purposes.

Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen

As of 2020, they control almost all of North Yemen.

Debate Prep

Jones and Greenwald Debate

Final report of the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol


Formation - Wikipedia

  • On May 19th, 2021, the House voted to form an independent bicameral commission to investigate the Jan 6th insurrection.
    • Vote passed 252-175 with 35 Republicans joining in favor.
  • Senate Republicans blocked the bicameral commission, leading to House Speaker Pelosi to appoint a select committee using only House members.
  • On June 30th, 2021, House Resolution 503 "Establishing the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol" passed the House 222-190. All Democrats and only two Republicans, Kinzinger and Cheney, voted in favor.
  • On July 1st, Pelosi appoints eight members, with Cheney being the sole Republican.
  • On July 19th, McCarthy suggests Jim Banks, Jim Jordan, Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong and Troy Nehls.
    • Banks, Jordan and Nehls voted to overturn the EC results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
    • Banks and Jordan signed onto the Supreme Court case Texas v. Pennsylvania to invalidate the ballots of voters in four states.
  • On July 21st, Pelosi announced that she would reject Jordan and Banks, but would accept the other three recommendations.
    • McCarthy said it was all or nothing, costing Republicans almost all of their representation on the January 6th Select Committee.
  • On July 25th, Pelosi announced her appointment of Adam Kinzinger to the committee.
    • Notably, Kinzinger was one of only ten House Republicans to vote for Trump's second impeachment.
  • Members
    • BENNIE G. THOMPSON (D) Mississippi, Chairman
    • LIZ CHENEY (R) Wyoming, Vice Chair
    • ZOE LOFGREN (D) California
    • ADAM B. SCHIFF (D) California
    • PETE AGUILAR (D) California
    • STEPHANIE N. MURPHY (D) Florida
    • JAMIE RASKIN (D) Maryland
    • ELAINE G. LURIA (D) Virginia
    • ADAM KINZINGER (R) Illinois
  • Majority of the witnesses involved in the J6 Select Committee Report were Republicans.
    • Two of President Trump’s former Attorneys General, his former White House Counsel, numerous members of his White House staff, and the highest-ranking members of his 2020 election campaign, including his campaign manager and his campaign general counsel.

Donald J. Trump Indictments

The Mar-a-Lago Classified Documents Case

  • Originally filed on June 8th, 2023
  • Superseding indictment filed on July 27th, 2023


  • The classified materials are alleged to contain classified national security information regarding potential vulnerabilities and counter-attack strategies for the United States against foreign adversaries.
  • Tens of thousands of members and guests visited Mar-a-Lago between January 2021 and August 2022. The club hosted more than 150 social events.
  • The boxes brought from the White House were stored in various parts of the resort.
  • Trump knowingly showed off classified material at least two times.
    • In July 202I, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey ("The Bedminster Club"), during an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff, none of whom possessed a security clearance, TRUMP showed and described a "plan of attack" that TRUMP said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official. TRUMP told the individuals that the plan was "highly confidential" and "secret." TRUMP also said, "as president I could have declassified it,'" and, "Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret."
    • In August or September 2021, at The Bedminster Club, TRUMP showed a representative of his political action committee who did not possess a security clearance a classified map related to a military operation and told the representative that he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close.
  • On March 30th, 2022, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. A grand jury issued a subpoena soon after.
  • Trump accused of obstructing the FBI/grand jury investigations by:
    • Suggested to his attorney to lie about having the documents.
    • Directed Waltine Nauta to hide boxes of documents from Trump's attorney.
    • Suggested that his attorney hide or destroy documents.
    • Handing only some documents over while retaining others and lying about it.
    • Certifying a knowingly false statement that all documents called for had been produced.
    • Attempting to delete security camera footage to conceal information.
  • Trump returned documents after months of delay.
  • Trump's public statements as candidate for president of the United States:
    • On August 18, 2016, TRUMP stated, "In my administration I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law."
    • On September 6, 2016, TRUMP stated, ·'We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets. . . . We can't have someone in the Oval Office who doesn't understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified."
    • On September 7, 2016, TRUMP stated, "(O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.'
    • On September 19, 2016, TRUMP stated, "We also need the best protection of classified information.
    • On November 3, 2016, TRUMP stated, "Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.
  • Trump's public statements as President of the United States:
    • On February 16th, 2017:
      • "The first thing I thought of when I heard about it is, how does the press get this information that's classified? How do they do it? You know why? Because it's an illegal process, and the press should be ashamed of themselves. But more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves. Really ashamed."
    • On July 26th, 2018:
      • "As the head of the executive branch and Commander in Chief, I have a unique, Constitutional responsibility to protect the Nation's classified information, including by controlling access to it. . .. More broadly, the issue of a former executive branch official's) security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our Nation's most sensitive secrets long after their time in Government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks. Any access granted to our Nation's secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests.""
  • Trump was personally involved in the transportation of his documents to Mar-a-Lago.
  • Trump's documents were, for a time, stored publicly in the Mar-a-Lago Club's White and Gold Ballroom, where events and gatherings took place.
  • Photographs were taken of boxes toppled over in the storage room with classified information both available for view and texted back and forth between employees and lawyers.
  • In May of 2022, Nauta made false and misleading statements to the FBI
    • Lied about being aware of Trump reviewing the material in his boxes.
    • Lied about knowing how the boxes got to the residence.
    • Lied about knowing where the boxes were stored.
  • Of the 15 boxes Trump provided NARA in January of 2022, 14 boxes contained 197 classified documents, 98 were marked "SECRET", 30 were marked "TOP SECRET", and the remainder were marked "CONFIDENTIAL."
  • In response to a grand jury subpoena, Trump told his attorneys
    • I don't want anybody looking, I don' t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don 't, I don' t want you looking through my boxes.
    • Well what if we, what happens if we just don 't respond at all or don 't play ball with them?
    • Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?
    • Well look isn't it better if there are no documents?
  • While meeting with attorney's, Trump told the following story:
    • Attorney, he was great, he did a great job. You know what? He said, he said that it - that it was him. That he was the one who deleted all of her emails, the 30,000 emails, because they basically dealt with her scheduling and her going to the gym and her having beauty appointments. And he was great. And he, so she didn't get in any trouble because he said that he was the one who deleted them.
  • Trump demanded to be present and changed his travel plans accordingly to oversee the attorneys going through his boxes to search for classified material.
  • Between May 23rd and June 2nd, Trump instructed Nauta to remove a total of ~64 boxes from the storage room and to bring them to Trump's residence.
    • On May 24, 2022, between 5:30 p.m. and 5:38 p.m., NAUTA removed three boxes from the Storage Room.
    • On May 30, 2022, at 9:08 a.m., TRUMP and NAUTA spoke by phone for approximately 30 seconds. Between I0:02 a.m. and 11:51a.m., NAUTA removed a total of approximately 50 boxes from the Storage Room.
  • Trump implied to Attorney 1 to discard any particularly sensitive classified material.
    • He made a funny motion as though - well okay why don't you take them with you to your hotel room and if there's anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out. And that was the motion that he made. He didn't say that.
  • Trump took classified material that he and Nauta thought were important or relevant and packed them on a plane and flew them north for Trump's Summer vacation.
  • In June, after a request for camera footage in Mar-a-Lago, Trump likely instructed Nauta to return to Mar-a-Lago and delete security camera footage.


  • Beginning in March 2021, NARA repeatedly demanded that Trump turn over records.
  • On January 17th, of 2022, after months of demands from NARA, Trump provided only 15 boxes/197 documents with classification markings.
  • On February 9th, 2022, NARA referred the discovery of classified documents to the DoJ.
  • On March 30th, 2022, the FBI opened a criminal investigation.
  • On April 26th, 2022, a federal grand jury opened an investigation.
  • On May 11th, 2022, the grand jury issued a subpoena to Trump to produce all documents with classification markings in his possession.
  • On June 3rd,, 2022, Trump's attorney provided 38 more documents.
  • On August 8th, 2022, the FBI recovered 102 more classified documents while executing a court-authorized search warrant.

The Georgia RICO Case


  • False statements made to state legislatures to solicit a new slate of electors.
  • False statements made to many members of Georgia to change the outcome of the election.
  • The enterprise created and transmitted false electoral college documents.
  • False claims made about Ruby Freeman.
  • Trump told Acting AG Rosen with Donoghue "Just say that the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
  • The enterprise told the VP to reject valid Georgia electors.
  • Members of the enterprise conspired to unlawfully access secure voting equipment and data, and then distributed it to other members of the enterprise.
  • Members of the enterprise committed perjury in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Acts of Racketeering

  • Donald Trump planned to announce his victory in a speech drafted four days before November 4th.
  • Act 108: Eastman submitted false claims in the case of Trump v Kemp that he emailed other attorneys admitting his knowledge that at least some of the allegations were not accurate.

The Jack Smith Election Fraud Case


  • The conspiracies
    • Using knowingly false claims of election fraud to get state legislators and election officials to change their election outcome.
    • The organization of fraudulent elector slates in seven states.
    • Utilizing the reputation of the DoJ to send letters to targeted states claiming legitimate investigations and concerns existed regarding the election in an attempt to convince said states to choose fraudulent electors.
    • Trying to bully Pence into accepting fraudulent electors, rejecting legitimate electoral votes, or sending them back to states for review rather than counting them.
    • Continuing to levy false claims about election during Jan 6 riots.
  • People who told Trump there was no fraud
    • Vice President Pence, whom Trump had asked to study fraud allegations.
    • Senior leaders of the DoJ, appointed by Trump himself.
    • The direction of National Intelligence,
    • The DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the CISA Director, appointed by Trump, and subsequently fired after announcing publicly that the election security experts agreed there was no fraud.
    • Senior White House attorneys, selected by Trump.
    • Senior staffers on the Defendant's 2020 re-election campaign.
    • State legislators and officials, many whom were political allies of Trump.
    • State and federal courts, 11 judges of whom were nominated by his administration.
  • Trump and friends had a whole fake elector scheme where false electoral voters certified and transmitted fake electoral slates in 7 states in order for Pence to throw the election back to the House delegation.
  • Trump asked Acting AG Rosen "Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
  • Donald Trump communicated to Jeffery Clark to ask Rosen and Donoghue to sign a letter together claiming that the DoJ knew that the outcomes of elections were wrong, and that Georgia had two valid slates of electors transmitting their votes to Congress, urging the state legislature to convene a special session to hopefully choose the fraudulent electors of the legitimate ones.
    • Jeffery Clark on the 2nd said Trump would make him the acting AG if the AG and deputy AG refused to sign the letter.
  • Trump only relented in his plan to replace Rosen with Clark when told it would result in mass resignations at the DoJ and of his own White House Counsel.
  • During the Jan 6th riots, Trump and his cronies tried to contact several senators/congressmen to slow down the election.


False Electoral Slates

AP report: Trump advances false claim that 3-5 million voted illegally

Trump: I'll accept election results 'if I win'

January 6th Insurrection

Republican Lawmakers

Support for Donald's election-denial


Punishing members who speak against Trump
  • Cheney was ousted from the Republican leadership from the third highest position in the House for her intense criticisms of Donald Trump's claims about election rigging.
    • Cheney had one of the most conservative voting records in Congress, and voted in line with Trump's agenda 92.9% of the time.
  • Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) were censured by the Republican party for participating in the J6 House Select Committee. Cheney would go on to get crushed in her election, Kinzinger had already announced he would not be running again.

Donald Trump

"The Big Lie"

Trump has knowingly spread false information despite being informed multiple times exactly how election night would go down.

  • In the weeks before election day 2020, Donald Trump’s campaign experts, including his campaign manager Bill Stepien, advised him that the election results would not be fully known on election night.
  • Prior to the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, along with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, urged President Trump to embrace mail-in voting as potentially beneficial to the Trump Campaign. Presidential advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner recounted others giving Donald Trump the same advice.
    • Donald Trump won in numerous States that allowed no-excuse absentee voting in 2020, including Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

People knew ahead of time that Trump was going to attempt to claim victory early.

  • Steve Bannon: And what Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory, right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner . . . The Democrats—more of our people vote early that count. Theirs vote in mail. And so they’re gonna have a natural disadvantage, and Trump’s going to take advantage of it—that’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner. So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm . . . . Also, if Trump, if Trump is losing, by 10 or 11 o’clock at night, it’s going to be even crazier. No, because he’s gonna sit right there and say “They stole it. I’m directing the Attorney General to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states.” It’s going to be, no, he’s not going out easy. If Trump—if Biden’s winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.
  • Roger Stone: I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won. Fuck you, Sorry. Over. We won. You’re wrong. Fuck you.
  • On election day, Vice President Pence’s staff, including his Chief of Staff and Counsel, became concerned that President Trump might falsely claim victory that evening. The Vice President’s Counsel, Greg Jacob, testified about their concern that the Vice President might be asked improperly to echo such a false statement. Jacob drafted a memorandum with this specific recommendation: “It is essential that the Vice President not be perceived by the public as having decided questions concerning disputed electoral votes prior to the full development of all relevant facts.”

On election night.

  • Stepien: You know, very, very, very bleak. You know, I—we told him—the group that went over there outlined, you know, my belief and chances for success at this point. And then we pegged that at, you know, 5, maybe 10 percent based on recounts that were—that, you know, either were automatically initiated or could be—could be initiated based on, you know, realistic legal challenges, not all the legal challenges that eventually were pursued. But, you know, it was—you know, my belief is that it was a very, very—5 to 10 percent is not a very good optimistic outlook.
  • Miller: I was in the Oval Office. And at some point in the conversation Matt Oczkowski, who was the lead data person, was brought on, and I remember he delivered to the President in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.
  • President Trump refused, and instead said this in his public remarks that evening: “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election .... We want all voting to stop.” And on the morning of November 5th, he tweeted “STOP THE COUNT!” Halting the counting of votes at that point would have violated both State and Federal laws.
    • William Barr: "Right out of the box on election night, the President claimed that there was major fraud underway. I mean, this happened, as far as I could tell, before there was actually any potential of looking at evidence. He claimed there was major fraud. And it seemed to be based on the dynamic that, at the end of the evening, a lot of Democratic votes came in which changed the vote counts in certain States, and that seemed to be the basis for this broad claim that there was major fraud. And I didn’t think much of that, because people had been talking for weeks and everyone understood for weeks that that was going to be what happened on election night...."
  • In one of the Select Committee’s hearings, former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt was asked what the chance President Trump had of winning the election after November 7th, when the votes were tallied andevery news organization had called the race for now-President Biden. His response: “None.”

After the election

  • As the Committee’s hearings demonstrated, President Trump made a series of statements to White House staff and others during this time period indicating his understanding that he had lost.50 President Trump also took consequential actions reflecting his understanding that he would be leaving office on January 20th. For example, President Trump personally signed a Memorandum and Order instructing his Department of Defense to withdraw all military forces from Somalia by December 31, 2020, and from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021.51 General Keith Kellogg (ret.), who had been appointed by President Trump as Chief of Staff for the National Security Council and was Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor on January 6th, told the Select Committee that “an immediate departure that that memo said would have been catastrophic. It’s the same thing what President Biden went through. It would have been a debacle.”
  • Barr: And I repeatedly told the President in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And, frankly, a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.
  • Exchange between Staff and Stepien
    • Committee Staff: How did he react to those types of conversations where you told him that an allegation or another wasn’t true?
    • Stepien: He was—he had—usually he had pretty clear eyes. Like, he understood, you know—you know, we told him where we thought the race was, and I think he was pretty realistic with our viewpoint, in agreement with our viewpoint of kind of the forecast and the uphill climb we thought he had.
  • Trump Campaign Senior Advisor Jason Miller told the Committee that he informed President Trump “several” times that “specific to election day fraud and irregularities, there were not enough to overturn the election.”
  • Pence: There was never evidence of widespread fraud. I don’t believe fraud changed the outcome of the election. But the President and the Campaign had every right to have those examined in court. But I told the President that, once those legal challenges played out, he should simply accept the outcome of the election and move on.
  • The General Counsel of President Trump’s campaign, Matthew Morgan: What was generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud, maladministration, abuse, or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome determinative. And I think everyone’s assessment in the room, at least amongst the staff, Marc Short, myself, and Greg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative.
  • A group of prominent Republicans have more recently issued a report—titled Lost, Not Stolen—examining “every count of every case brought in these six battleground states” by President Trump and his allies. The report concludes “that Donald Trump and his supporters had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case.” President Trump and his legal allies “failed because of a lack of evidence and not because of erroneous rulings or unfair judges . . . . In many cases, after making extravagant claims of wrongdoing, Trump’s legal representatives showed up in court or state proceedings empty-handed, and then returned to their rallies and media campaigns to repeat the same unsupported claims.”
  • Indeed, eleven of the judges who ruled against Donald Trump and his supporters were appointed by Donald Trump himself.
  • One of those Trump nominees, Judge Stephanos Bibas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, rejected an appeal by the Trump Campaign claiming that Pennsylvania officials “did not undertake any meaningful effort” to fight illegal absentee ballots and uneven treatment of voters across counties. Judge Bibas wrote in his decision that “calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” Another Trump nominee, Judge Brett Ludwig of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, ruled against President Trump’s lawsuit alleging that the result was skewed by illegal procedures that governed drop boxes, ballot address information, and individuals who claimed“ indefinitely confined” status to vote from home. Judge Ludwig wrote in his decision, that “this Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits” because the procedures used “do not remotely rise to the level” of breaking Wisconsin’s election rules.
  • Nor is it true that these rulings focused solely on standing, or procedural issues. As Ginsberg confirmed in his testimony to the Select Committee, President Trump’s team “did have their day in court.” Indeed, he and his co-authors determined in their report that of these post-election cases were dismissed by a judge after an evidentiary hearing had been held, and many of these judges explicitly indicated in their decisions that the evidence presented by the plaintiffs was wholly insufficient on the merits.
  • Not a single witness ever provided proof to the J6 committee that fraud existed on any reasonable scale in any state.
Undermining the Electoral Process
  • "Beginning election night and continuing through January 6th and thereafter, Donald Trump purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud related to the 2020 Presidential election in order to aid his effort to overturn the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions. These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th."
  • "Despite knowing that such an action would be illegal, and that no State had or would submit an altered electoral slate, Donald Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th."
  • "Donald Trump sought to corrupt the U.S. Department of Justice by attempting to enlist Department officials to make purposely false statements and thereby aid his effort to overturn the Presidential election. After that effort failed, Donald Trump offered the position of Acting Attorney General to Jeff Clark knowing that Clark intended to disseminate false information aimed at overturning the election."
  • "Without any evidentiary basis and contrary to State and Federal law, Donald Trump unlawfully pressured State officials and legislators to change the results of the election in their States."

"Donald Trump oversaw an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives." "Donald Trump pressured Members of Congress to object to valid slates of electors from several States.

Plan to Overturn Election Results
  • "Knowing that he and his supporters had lost dozens of election lawsuits, and despite his own senior advisors refuting his election fraud claims and urging him to concede his election loss, Donald Trump refused to accept the lawful result of the 2020 election. Rather than honor his constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump instead plotted to overturn the election outcome."
Speech on January 6th
  • "Based on false allegations that the election was stolen, Donald Trump summoned tens of thousands of supporters to Washington for January 6th. Although these supporters were angry and some were armed, Donald Trump instructed them to march to the Capitol on January 6th to “take back” their country."
Dominion Case

210 Jan. 6th criminal defendants say Trump incited them

Tucker Carlson
Whitmer Kidnapping Attempt
Comparison to BLM stuff

Donald Trump Speech Transcript
Donald Trump Speech

al gore toss out votes???

LAWSUITS FOR ELECTION THINGS FROM RUDOLPH GIULIANA, how many of these did Trump's campaign file?

  • page 237 for case breakdown

Reddit: Weird how biden won alot of these states in 2020 then overnight suddenly Trump was wining! Smells like collusion!

  • Trump was never calling people to violence
  • He just wanted people to vote out their leaders
  • Who caused it? What set things off?
  • Police removing barricades, waving them in
  • Ray Epps telling people to storm the capitol, he admitted to orchestrating it

What are they protesting?

  • We're going to vote you out?
    • The protesters were there to get the Republicans to not certify the vote
  • Pence
    • Was throwing the election out a coup?
    • "Keep the election in his favor."

Hillary and FBI

  • Strozk "insurance policy"
  • Russia collusion scheme

Deserved to know about Hillary
Hunter Biden

He agrees with them

Jones—Greenwald Debate Strategy

Ground Rules

  1. No one should be above the law. All sworn in individuals in the United States swear and oath to the Constitution.
  2. We agree that we can figure out intent without reading minds or requiring a confession.
  3. We agree that "isn't it weird" isn't an accurate attack. Strong claims need strong evidence.
  4. Donald Trump and his campaign made phone calls to multiple states pushing his false election fraud claims in order to get state election officials to flip their EC votes. Trump knew these claims were false. What would it take to convince you that Trump was making knowingly false claims? Would we apply this same standard to other people (e.g. Hillary's emails)? What about Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham in private texts saying they didn't believe Powell's claim of Election Fraud?
    1. Trump won in states with no-excuse absentee voting in 2020, including Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. He had no reason to believe absentee voting was rigged or corrupt.
    2. Trump would repeat election fraud claims that had been widely debunked, many times just days after being informed and being shown evidence that they had been debunked.
    3. All of these people were trusted by Trump to investigate claims of election fraud:
      1. Bill Stepien, Trump's National Field Director for his campaign, a lifelong Republican, who also worked on Giuliana's presidential campaign in 2007-2008, told Trump he had lost on election night.
      2. Chris Miller, Trump's Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, attested that Matt Oczkowski, Trump's campaign's top data scientist, told him on election night that he was going to lose.
      3. William Barr, Trump's Attorney General of the Department of Justice, told Trump repeatedly that he'd investigated and found absolutely no signs of voter fraud.
      4. Jeffry Rosen, Trump's acting Attorney General of the Department of Justice, called or met with Trump only ever day to tell him there was no election fraud.
      5. Richard Donoghue, Trump's acting attorney general, told Trump the information he was getting was false.
      6. Chris Stirewalt, former Fox New political editor, said that Trump had no chance of winning the election after the votes were counted.
      7. Jason Miller, the Trump Campaign Senior Advisor, informed Trump several times that there wasn't enough evidence of fraud to overturn the election.
        "When our research and campaign legal team can't back up any of the claims made by our Elite Strike Force Legal Team, you can see why we're 0-32 on our cases. I'll obviously hustle to help on all fronts, but it's tough to own any of this when it's all just conspiracy shit beamed down from the mothership."
      8. Mike Pence, Trump's Vice President, said there was never evidence of widespread fraud, and that he believed there was no good evidence of enough fraud to overturn the election.
      9. Matthew Morgan, the General Counsel of Trump's campaign, claimed that the Trump staff, including him and Marc Short and Greg Jacob, didn't believe there was sufficient evidence of voter fraud.
      10. Brad Raffensperger, the Republican Georgia Secretary of State, denied every single claim that Trump made about election Fraud.
      11. Brian Kemp, the Republican Governor of Georgia, denied that the election was stolen in Georgia.
      12. A group of prominent Republicans (4 Federal Judges, 2 former Senators, a lawyer and someone who worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years) published a conservative report, titled Lost, Not Stolen, which claimed
        The report concludes “that Donald Trump and his supporters had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case.” President Trump and his legal allies “failed because of a lack of evidence and not because of erroneous rulings or unfair judges . . . . In many cases, after making extravagant claims of wrongdoing, Trump’s legal representatives showed up in court or state proceedings empty-handed, and then returned to their rallies and media campaigns to repeat the same unsupported claims.”
      13. Eleven of the judges who ruled against Trump were Trump federal judiciary appointments.
        One of those Trump nominees, Judge Stephanos Bibas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, rejected an appeal by the Trump Campaign claiming that Pennsylvania officials “did not undertake any meaningful effort” to fight illegal absentee ballots and uneven treatment of voters across counties. Judge Bibas wrote in his decision that “calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” Another Trump nominee, Judge Brett Ludwig of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, ruled against President Trump’s lawsuit alleging that the result was skewed by illegal procedures that governed drop boxes, ballot address information, and individuals who claimed“ indefinitely confined” status to vote from home. Judge Ludwig wrote in his decision, that “this Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits” because the procedures used “do not remotely rise to the level” of breaking Wisconsin’s election rules.
      14. Ivanka and Kushner, Trump's daughter and son-in-law, prepared to move right after the election, with Ivanka stating she believed Barr's testimony.
      15. Alex Cannon, Trump's campaign lawyer, said he told advisers that there was no election fraud.
      16. Kellyanne Conway, Trump's counselor, wrote in her published memoir that she had told Trump he lost.
        “The team had failed on November 3, and they failed again afterward. By not confronting the candidate with the grim reality of his situation, that the proof had not surfaced to support the claims, they denied him the evidence he sought and the respect he was due. Instead supplicant after sycophant after showman genuflected in front of the Resolute Desk and promised the president goods they could not deliver.”
      17. Ken Block, a data mining firm hired by Donald Trump to find evidence of voter fraud, said they found very little evidence of voter fraud, and that it was equal on the Democratic and Republican side.
    4. Trump's campaign filed 62 suits and lost 61 of them, 30 of them due to not even having adequate evidence to bring a suit forward, and most of them asking for insane or unreasonable remedies.
      The one suit was a victory in Pennsylvania, which allowed voters to not go back and "cure" ballots if they had failed to provide identification. The ruling did not change the outcome in Pennsylvania.
    5. Donald Trump called Georgia and Michigan making false claims in order to make them decertify their vote.
      1. Trump makes a litany of false claims that have all been rejected by Raffensberger in his call to Georgia. After the call, Trump's mischaracterization of the call lead to Raffensberger leaking it to the public.
      2. Trump and Giuliana called Republican Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey and Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield and repeated more false claims to them about the election, which both said had been investigated and denied. In response, Trump and his team maliciously tweeted out Shirkey's personal cell phone number and a number for Chatfield for people to spam. Shirkey said he received nearly 4,000 text messages.
  5. Donald Trump created and implemented a fake elector scheme to undermine the legitimate state electors. There was never any compelling reason to believe any part of this scheme was legal. Would we feel the same if Biden had refused to certify the vote for Trump because of "Russia Collusion?" What about Gore refusing to certify the vote over the Florida recounts in 2000? What if Kamala Harris refuses to certify the vote for Trump?
    1. Donald Trump and his team enticed 7 sets of electors to fraudulently fill out ballots and transmit them to NARA, falsely claiming that they were the duly appointed electors authorized to transmit the votes. They lied about being the duly appointed electors and they lied about meeting in the State Capitols to certify their votes.
    2. According to the first Eastman memo, Mike Pence would read and count through the ballots, declare that there are multiple sets of electors for the 7 states that Trump had false electors set in for, then declare that no sets of electors can be declared valid. At this point, Trump would have 232 EC votes to Biden's 222, making him the winner. If the Democrats claim 270, a majority of votes, is required, Pence can throw the vote back to the House of Representatives, where each state gets one vote on who the president should be. Republicans had 26 states controlled in the senate, meaning Trump could still win the election with their votes.
      1. Eastman had already said prior to this that the strategy was not valid. He told Greg Jacobs, Mike Pence's legal counsel, that the Supreme Court would reject his legal theory, 9-0.
        "I don’t agree with this. The 12th Amendment only says that the President of the Senate opens the ballots in the joint session then, in the passive voice, that the votes shall then be counted. 3 USC § 12 of the Electoral Count Act says merely that he is the presiding officer, and then it spells out specific procedures, presumptions, and default rules for which slates will be counted. Nowhere does it suggest that the president of the Senate gets to make the determination on his own. § 15 of the Electoral Count Act doesn’t either."
      2. Pence's private counsel, Richard Cullen, contacted former Fourth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig, a conservative judge that Eastman previously clerked for. Luttig testified there was no basis in law for Eastman's theory.
        Judge Luttig completely rejected Eastman’s “blueprint to overturn the 2020 election” as “constitutional mischief” and ‘the most reckless, insidious, and calamitous failure in both legal and political judgment in American history.”
      3. Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel for Donald Trump, said that the idea to overturn the election using Mike Pence was crazy.
      4. Eric Herschmann, another White House lawyer, said the plan was "completely crazy" and "obviously made no sense."
      5. Pat Philbin, Deputy White House Counsel, also had the same understanding that the plan wasn't possible.
    3. The second Eastman memo claimed that Pence himself could make the determination as to which slates of electors were legitimate.
  6. Establish that Donald Trump attempted to bully Pence into unilaterally overturning the election. Is it in the spirit of the Constitution to ask Pence to toss out electoral slates? What is the difference at this point between Trump and an authoritarian?
    1. Trump asked Pence multiple times to commit to this course of action. Pence and his legal counsel responded negatively, every single time.
      In a January 1st call, Trump told Pence he was "too honest" after he explained that he did not have the power to unilaterally determine the outcome of the election.
    2. Trump tweeted multiple times and called out in his January 6th speech multiple times for Pence to "do the right thing." He continued these tweets even as the riots raged on, leading to protestors chanting "Bring him out!" and "Hang Mike Pence!""
  7. Establish that Donald Trump capitalized on the Jan. 6th riot to continue his pressure to decertify the election. Why would Trump not want to stop the riots if they weren't his intention? Shouldn't he be doing everything within his power to stop the riots if they were going to make him look bad? Why were the rioters chanting 1776, what were they sent to the Capitol by Donald Trump to protest?
    1. Trump was getting a play-by-play update on everything going on at the Capitol, with people begging him to call off the rioters.
      1. Minutes after arriving back at the White House, a White House staffer informed him of the rioting. This happened at 1:21 PM.
      2. Ben Williamson, the White House Acting Director of Communications, and Sarah Matthews, the Deputy Press Secretary, went to Mark Meadows and Kayleigh McEnany to urge the president to issue a statement.
      3. Hutchinson, Kushner and Cipollone all tried to convince Trump to put out a statement to stop the rioters.
      4. Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, the two who spent the most time with Trump during the Capitol Riots, both refused to respond to subpoenas about their interactions with Trump that day.
      5. McCarthy told Trump in a call from 2:26 to 3:06 that he needed to put a stop to this. Trump said "Well, Kevin, I guess they're just more upset about the election theft than you are."
      6. Marjorie Taylor Green texted Meadows at 2:28 PM: “Mark I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people. This isn’t the way to solve anything.”
      7. Laura Ingram, at 2:32 PM: “Hey Mark, The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home.” “This is hurting all of us.” “He is destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype . . . we lose all credibility against the BLM/Antifa crowd if things go South.” “You can tell him I said this.”
      8. Mick Mulvaney at 2:35 PM, "Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?"
      9. Representative Barry Loudermilk, 2:24 PM: "“It’s really bad up here on the hill.” “They have breached the Capitol.”232 At 2:48 p.m., Meadows responded: “POTUS is engaging.”233 At 2:49 p.m., Loudermilk responded: “Thanks. This doesn’t help our cause.”
      10. Representative William Timmons, 2:46 PM: “The president needs to stop this ASAP.”235 At 2:49 p.m., Meadows responded: “We are doing it.”
      11. Donald Trump Jr., 2:53 PM: "“He’s got to condem [sic] this shit. Asap. The captiol [sic] police tweet is not enough.”237 Meadows responded: “I am pushing it hard. I agree.”238 Later, Trump, Jr., continued: “This his [sic] one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to fuck his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.”"
      12. Ivanka went into the room to also tell Trump to call off the rioters, having to regroup in Kushner's office at times in between going into the room to request he call off the rioters.
    2. Most of Trump's tweets were provocative, and he tried to continue to pressure Congress not to certify the vote.
      1. Trump's first tweet at 2:24 PM. "Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!""
      2. At 2:38 PM, Trump tweeted "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"
    3. Trump and Giuliani were trying to make phone calls to talk about the EC votes during the riots.
      1. At 2:26 PM Trump called Tommy Tuberville of Alabama to talk objections to the electoral count.
      2. From 2:26 to 3:06, Trump spoke to McCarthy.
      3. After Trump's phone call with Giuliani, Giuliani began to call Members of Congress to talk about delaying the certification of the vote.
        • He called Senator Marsha Blackburn, Senator Mike Lee, three calls to Senator Bill Hagerty, two calls to Jim Jordan, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Josh Hawley, and Senator Ted Cruz.
        • Giuliani testified that he was calling to see if anything could be done about the vote. One of the voicemails he left to Senator Tuberville was:
          • "The only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous States and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow—ideally until the end of tomorrow. So if you could object to every State and, along with a congressman, get a hearing for every State, I know we would delay you a lot, but it would give us the opportunity to get the legislators who are very, very close to pulling their vote."

Did Trump betray his people?

  • Alex Jones and others said he would show up, he never did.
  • Why didn't Trump pardon any of them? Why did he call them Antifa?
  • Trump only pardoned those close to him, he is the swamp.

4 years have passed since the last election. All of the investigations and court cases to find significant voter fraud have completely failed, yet Donald Trump still believes that significant voter fraud existed. Why should we believe that if the J6ers managed to delay the certification of the vote for additional investigations, that Donald Trump would believe anything that disagrees with his assumption that he won the election? Why would we expect him to leave office and not just continue to push to investigate more and more and more and more?

Ray Epps

The Claims

  • Ray Epps led the very first "breach team" on January 6th
  • The FBI stealthily removed Ray Epps from its Capitol Violence Most Wanted List on July 1st
  • Ray Epps worked alongside several individuals, many of whom were suspiciously unindicted
  • Ray Epps has never been charged with a crime
    • Ray Epps pleaded guilty to Jan. 6th misdemeanor (Indictment)
      • Prosecutor alleges that Epps had no connection to the FBI.
      • Unclear why Justice Department decided to charge him with a crime 2½ years after the events of January 6th.
  • Stewart Rhodes was an inexplicitly protected Jan 6th instigator who founded the Oath Keepers and led the conspiracy to revolt.
    • Rhodes was convicted to 18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy.


  • If Ray Epps was a known FBI informant, why did they mess up and publish him on their FBI Washington Field Twitter account and their most wanted list?
  • Did Ray Epps actually make any commands on the day of January 6th?
  • If Baked Alaska was so intelligent in being able to point out that Ray Epps was a "glowie" issuing illegal commands to people, why the fuck did he actually then proceed to enter the Capitol building the next day???
  • Why didn't the FBI scrub Epps' presence before choosing him for this essential mission?
  • Why did Epps himself confess to his local newspaper about being at the J6 protests?
  • Why did the FBI so blatantly remove Suspect 16 and not replace him with another photo, change the numbering of everyone on the site, or just leave him up so as to not draw obvious suspicion?
  • Why wouldn't the FBI just block webcrawlers like the wayback machine like so many other sites have???
  • Why wouldn't the FBI have just arrested Epps immediately to hide suspicion?
  • Why wouldn't they take down all the videos posted online about him if they controlled platforms like Twitter?
  • Why is Ray Epps intelligent enough to infiltrate the January 6th protests, instigate riots, and coordinate the first breach of the Capitol grounds, but stupid enough to text his nephew claiming he orchestrated it?

Counter Narrative

  • Boomer guy who believed that Trump genuinely thought the election was stolen, so he showed up to protest in the Capitol, but wanted things to remain peaceful.
  • Probably didn't have any active major connections, and probably wasn't involved in any violent coordination.

Ben Shapiro Debate

I. Who Wants To Be Speaker of the House?

4:50 - "Donald Trump backed a bunch of really bad candidates in Purple Districts."

  • Giving one strong reason why Trump is a bad leader. He has bad political instincts and is not effective at choosing good candidates for either his cabinet, nor candidates for other races.

4:50 - Big Trumpy candidates also cost senate seats in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania because of how much swing voters dislike Trump.

  • Trump is a bad pick for Republicans because of how much he galvanizes support on the other side.

8:40 - This notion that running against the entire system (like Trump did) produces good results has not been borne out.

  • This is very true, it's the failure of ALL populist leaders, and it is EXACTLY what Donald Trump aims to repeat in the next election if he were to win.

11:50 - One norm of the house is that you don't remove members from committees just because you don't like them.

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene was not removed from her committees simply because "Democrats did not like her." If that was the case, wouldn't there be numerous other Republicans removed from committees? What about Geatz? What about Bobbert?
  • MTG wasn't removed from her committees because people simply didn't like her, it was because
    • She supported 9/11 conspiracy theories.[1]
    • She harassed a school shooting victim, David Hogg, about using children as shields for red flag laws. She also claims that he's a paid actor in the same video.[2]
    • She claimed that the Parkland School Shooting was a false flag event.[3]
    • She supported executing Democratic leaders like Pelosi and members of the FBI before running for Congress.[4]
    • She mentioned Jewish space lasers causing fires in California.[5]
    • Spoke alongside Nick Fuentes at AFPAC.
  • Paul Gosar was also removed from committees[6] and censured for making an AoT spoof with Republicans attacking Democrats[7] (tbf the video was incredibly badass).

14:00 - He brings up AOC's tweets about Gaetz's lack of support for institutions.

  • Ben doesn't engage with this at all. Did McCarthy deserve infinite support from the Democrats?

14:20 - Democrats suggested they could ram judicial nominees through with 51 votes.

  • Nuclear option research on history of judicial nominees.

21:10 - Is Donald Trump going to whip votes? Is he going to fundraise on behalf of members of the house?

  • Donald Trump is just not good for the Republican party.

32:00 - Joe Biden is running this economy into a ditch.

  • What could he be doing better?

33:00 - Joe Biden encourages us to talk to us neighbors, Ben Shapiro claims he's a "dead president."

  • Biden's answer here was incredibly diplomatic and exactly what we need right now.

41:10 - The reason these Kaiser strikes are happening is because Joe Biden is president of the United States.

  • Really? Did any strikes at all happen under Trump?

41:27 - Economic stagnation is the real threat of the Biden administration.

  • Isn't the US outcompeting the G7?

42:00 - Where's AOC crying about the border wall?

  • Are Democrats against all border security? Or just children separated from their family?Biden wall fact check.

II. Oxford Union Ben Shapiro Debate with Students

Q: How do you excuse or explain the violence in the West Bank preceding October 7th

  • A: A breakaway group from the Palestinian Authority called "Lions Den" are responsible for many terrorist attacks from Jerusalem and through the West Bank.
  • Islamic Jihad is a terrorist group with wide presence in the West Bank.

My Questions

  • Does Shapiro believe all violence in the West Bank against Palestinians is justified? Is it always while targeting a terror cell?
  • Does Shapiro believe the IDF ever commits indiscriminate violence against Palestinians in the West Bank?
  • Does Shapiro believe in unjustified Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank?

Q: What do you think about IDF enacted violence against the March of Return?

  • A: Ben isn't familiar.

Q: Do you think the IDF shoots at civilians with total impunity?

  • A: That's not true, many of them have been arrested. "They're all currently sitting in Israeli jail."

My Questions

  • Do you believe the IDF or Settlers are generally held accountable when it comes to committing violence against Palestinians?
  • What about the pardons given to the perpetrators of the Kafr Qasim massacre?

Q: Do you think Israel is justified in killing civilians using your logic?

  • A: There is a difference between going in and deliberately killing civilians vs attacking infrastructure and killing civilians through collateral damage.

My Questions

Q: A question about the political climate in the United States.

  • A: "We should nominate somebody who's sane...on one hand, we have a geriatric old guy, on the other hand, we have Donald Trump."

My Questions

  • If we were truly looking to nominate someone based on their sanity, do we feel like Donald Trump's behavior is truly a better reflection of sanity than Joseph Biden's?

Q: Why not support Biden over Trump? Trump's call for a suspension of the Constitution and Trump's incitement of January 6th.

  • A: In Trump's imagination, he's a serious threat to Democracy, but since Democracy survived he must not have been a serious threat.
  • A: January 6th was not a threat to American Democracy. There is no point in time on January 6th that a military coup had been launched and that Donald Trump would retain the presidency.
  • A: Joe Biden has used the power of the executive branch in new and exorbitant ways. For example, when he tried to use OSHA to enforce vaccination policies.
  • A: "I think Donald Trump only cares about Donald Trump."
  • A: Joe Biden doesn't believe in the Supreme Court. He's attacked the Supreme Court with alacrity. His party has talked about packing the Supreme Court.

My Questions

  • Does someone need to always have a clear chance at thwarting Democracy to be considered a threat to Democracy? Does a failure to be anti-Democratic mean that you are, by definition Democratic?
  • During Jan 6th, is it inconceivable that a few more people could have caused substantial damage to the actual members of government? Were protestors at one point not a single hallway away from lawmakers? What would have happened if they were caught? Did Trump's constant election denialism not fuel this riot?
  • Did Donald Trump not flex incredibly executive power? What about in regards to restricting immigration, enacting tariffs, doing border policy, doing executive actions, etc..?
  • Isn't Donald Trump's obsession with himself a danger to all of us when he's supposed to be representing the American people instead of his own ego?
  • The Democrats literally lost a Supreme Court pick to the Republicans. Biden has explicitly refused to consider packing the Supreme Court.[8]

III. Ben Shapiro Final Debate Prep

It's important to acknowledge that both sides want an American government that enables us to live happy, healthy and productive lives.

Conservatives tend to think that enabling individuals with maximum freedom and minimum administrative burden enables them to do so, e.g. a person who's rights are secured by the government with taxation and bureaucracy kept at a minimum is best able to utilize his talent and work, if he so chooses, to accomplish whatever he wants. They value community driven efforts, like churches, to allow more local, democratic contribution of funds and distribution of help to people in the community who need it.

Liberals tend to think that opportunities made available to people allow them to flourish, and that some supportive government systems along with a more equitable burden of taxation allows for more people to flourish, e.g. a person who's minimum needs are met with some government assistance is better able to utilize his talent and work, if he's empowered, to accomplish whatever he wants. They value data driven, government policy distribution to collect tax funds and redistribute them in ways that minimize burden to wealthy people and maximize assistance to more needy people in a broader sense across the country.

I believe we need a bit more on the liberal side of effective redistribution, especially in areas of housing, food and education, to ensure that our population is as productive as possible.

Kash Patel says as Trump’s next CIA Director he will lead “patriots” appointed by Trump in an all-out effort to prosecute and jail people in government and the media, “We will find the conspirators in govt and the media. Yes, we are going to come after the people in the media.”[9] Trump publicly asking for Bill Barr to indict Obama and Biden for crimes/spying on his campaign.

Trump tweet about "MSDNC"

Trump saying he would suspend the Constitution to search for voter fraud.

118th congress one of the least productive ever, is going after Hunter a good idea?

What is a good president?

IV. Ben Shapiro Material

Reference Material

2023.11.01 - Oxford Union Ben Shapiro Debate with Students

2023.10.05 - Ben Shapiro video on Who Wants to be Speaker of the House

2023.08.28 - "The great irony here is that Biden is getting off easy. Corrupt and dishonest are far more applicable to Biden than Trump."

Broad Political Narratives I'd like to Outline

  1. Ben Shapiro contributes to one-sided historical analysis.
  2. The Trump leadership's downstream effects can be seen across all of the Republican leadership.
    1. The Speaker of the House fiasco is a great example of this.
  3. Donald Trump is not healthy for the Republican party or for the conservative movement.
    1. He attacks conservative leadership, "dividing Republican against Republican."
    2. He's inconsistent on his values and beliefs (are they even conservative?).
    3. He chooses poor candidates to back in races.
    4. He doesn't fundraise for candidates. (Do presidents normally do this?)
  4. Donald Trump's record on any of the large issues he ran on is not good.
    1. Foreign wars, he ended none.
    2. Border security he failed on.
    3. Balanced budget he failed on.
    4. Gun control increased under Donald Trump.

Two large strains of argumentation

  1. Donald Trump is a bad candidate to support if you are truly a conservative.
  2. Joe Biden is a better candidate for the overall health of America.

Biden’s Car Crash Economy

Email 1
Hi Destiny,

Listening to your talk with Pisco about potential Ben Shapiro debate topics. A couple items I think that would be good to brush up on ahead of time, if it ends up being Trump vs Biden's record / foreign policy.

Trump | Afghanistan
My thoughts: Not only did Trump negotiate the withdrawal and pushed it to Biden's administration, but Trump BRAGGED about how Biden couldn't have stopped the process even if he wanted to. Trump clip in June 2021, 2 months prior to withdrawal.

Trump | refusal to pull us out of Yemen, against rare bipartisanship in Congress
My thoughts: I bring this up as an example to MAGA family whenever they say Trump is against foreign wars.

Trump | Yemen raid
My thoughts: I recalled this while watching your talk with Tim Pool when he was obsessed with Obama's "extrajudicial killings". Immediately upon taking office, Trump called on a military raid in Yemen (one that the Obama administration didn't do because it was considered too risky), resulting in the deaths of women, children, and an American SEAL.

Trump | Drone Program
My thoughts: Not only did Trump expand America's drone program, but made it harder to account for civilian casualties.

2018-19 Government Shutdown
My thoughts: Trump had one of the longest government shutdowns while Republicans controlled BOTH houses. Insane. If I recall, the Democrats were even going to give Trump all the border wall funding he wanted so long as he saved DACA. But Stephen Miller (arguably one of the actual racists in Trump's cabinet) stopped it, receiving criticism from Lindsey Graham.

Good luck!

Ben Shapiro says trump is not a threat to democracy. (For destiny vs Ben debate)

Email 2
Hey Steven,

Thought I share this timestamped video with you from Ben Shapiro's Oxford Union QA this week (5 minutes max). One of the audience members asks Ben why he would support Trump over Biden. Ben goes into his rational and reasons for disliking Biden more, I think it's an excellent starting place for formulating your arguments and research for the upcoming debate.


That said I think debating the legitimacy of settlements or Zionism seems more interesting since its a more unique view Ben holds.


Email 3(?)
  • What legislation have Republicans brought to the House floor?
    • Under Pelosi, it was a record amount of legislation. (fact check)

Are Real Wages Rising?

In April 2009, a Novel H1N1 influenza A (genetically distinct from seasonal flu virus) strain of swine origin was identified. Unlike previous seasonal influenza viruses, this pandemic influenza virus disproportionately infects a wider age-range of people. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) recommendations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines for employers to assist them in the development of a framework in preparing their workplaces in order to minimize transmission of a pandemic virus.

OSHA does expect facilities providing healthcare services to perform a risk assessment of their workplace and encourages healthcare employers to offer both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines. It is important to note that employees need to be properly informed of the benefits of the vaccinations. However, although OSHA does not specifically require employees to take the vaccines, an employer may do so. In that case, an employee who refuses vaccination because of a reasonable belief that he or she has a medical condition that creates a real danger of serious illness or death (such as serious reaction to the vaccine) may be protected under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 pertaining to whistle blower rights.[10]

Beer Hall Pusch
"As Hitler controlled the masses support for the political right, the conservative elite believed that they could use Hitler and his popular support to ‘democratically’ take power. Once in power, Hitler could destroy the political left. Destroying the political left would help to remove the majority of political opponents to the ring-wing conservative elite.

Once Hitler had removed the left-wing socialist opposition and destroyed the Weimar Republic, the conservative elite thought they would be able to replace Hitler, and appoint a leader of their choice."[11]

Read this and thought it might be a useful line of attack for the biden/trump debate. Beyond policy, what about character, values, and real leadership?

Some quotes

"Was it stupid that, in February, Trump was tweeting about how Covid-19 was like the flu and that we didn’t need to worry? Yes, but it takes on a different color when you listen to him tell Bob Woodward that in January he knew how bad it was, how much worse it was than even the worst flu, and that he was deliberately going to downplay the virus for political purposes."[12]

"I guess I just always thought you believed in the lessons you taught me, and the things we used to listen to on talk radio on our drives home from the lake. All those conversations about American dignity, the power of private enterprise, the sacredness of the Oval Office, the primacy of the rule of law."[12]

"If Donald Trump were even half-competent, one elected official told me, he could probably rule this country for 20 years. I have trouble figuring what’s worse—that he wants to, or that he wants to but isn’t competent enough to pull it off. Instead, Washington is so broken and so filled with cowards that Trump just spent the last four years breaking stuff and embarrassing himself."[12]

"Or is it worse, that my own father cares more about his retirement accounts—and I’ll grant, the runup of the market has been nice for me, too—than the future he is leaving for his children? Are you so afraid of change, of that liberal boogeyman Limbaugh and Hannity and these other folks have concocted, that you’d rather entrust the country to a degenerate carnival barker than anyone else? I see all this anger, what is it that you’re so angry about? You’ve won. Society has worked for you. My own success is proof."[12]

"So what is it? Because it can’t possibly be that you think this guy is trustworthy, decent, or kind. It’s definitely not about his policies… because almost every single one is anathema to what Republicans—and you—have talked about my entire life."[12]



DON'T LET THE "trump is just dumb lol" ARGUMENT EVER FLY

Finkelstein and Rabbani

I. Debate Outline

Palestine: Norm Finkelstein, Mouin Rabbani
Israel: Benny Morris, Steven Bonnell

Rhetorical notes

  • Stop hedging so much.
  • Always restate narratives as much as possible during questions and responses.

Make sure to maintain chain of argumentation from before and after every question and answer to maintain causal chains.

Primary Claims

I. Britain over-promised the same land to two people. Jewish people bought tracts of land in Palestine from willing Arab sellers even before British guarantees to a right to settle in Palestine. It's inarguable that the Arabs living within the borders of Mandatory Palestine felt betrayed by the British. The Jewish people, however, were betrayed as well. In the wake of the perceived British betrayal, and in the aftermath of the Holocaust, both sides would have felt justified in fighting the other for control over this land. At some point, however, it must be recognized that Israel emerged from the fighting in this region victorious, and surrounding Arab states were forced to recognize Israel as a legitimate entity.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — It is incorrect to state that incoming Jews were clearly in the wrong, and that they were a colonial project by Great Britain.
    2. Moral Significance — It is important to recognize that the founding of Israel represented promises made to both Jewish citizens and Ottoman Empire subjects because it illustrates the moral fallibility of assigning blame in the early stages of the Mandatory Palestine period to either the Jews or the Arabs. Blame should be more heavily assigned to Great Britain.
  2. This factual and moral claim is literally found in the first 1964 PLO Covenant, written by the first PLO Chairman, Ahmed Shukeiry.
    1. "Article 19. Zionism is a colonialist movement in its inception, aggressive and expansionist in its goals, racist and segregationist in its configurations and fascist in its means and aims. Israel in its capacity as the spearhead of this destructive movement and the pillar for colonialism is a permanent source of tension and turmoil in the Middle East in particular and to the international community in general. Because of this the People of Palestine are worthy of the support and sustenance of the community of nations."
  3. Relevant Deals
    1. Balfour Declaration
    2. McMahon-Hussein correspondence.
    3. Sykes-Picot agreement
    4. The League of Nations Mandate System
  4. There was never a clear expectation on either the British nor Arab side that Palestine would be 100% dedicated with borders to a single Arab Palestinian state.
  5. Jewish Purchasing of land was legal at all stages.
  6. Multiple binational agreements/concepts rejected by the Arabs until finally the Peel Commission.
  7. Was 1948 a top-down, pre-planned ethnic cleansing of the Arab population within the newly formed Israeli borders?

II. While Israel might have been initially hungry for extra territory, the Arab states constantly gave Israel an excuse to take territory from them. The 1939 White Paper by British would have guaranteed a Palestinian state in 10 years, but Husseini and the AHC rejected it. In 1947, Israel accepted the UN Partition plan while the Arabs refused and instead invaded in 1948. In 1949 (The Lausanne Conference), Israel agreed to accept 100,000 refugees or annex the Gaza Strip in exchange for peace and recognition of its borders, yet the Arabs refused. In 1956, Egypt's closures of the Straits of Tiran gave Israel legitimate casus belli. In 1967, despite repeated requests from Israel not to attack, Jordan attacked anyway along with Egypt and Syria, losing the West Bank in the process. Israel was willing to return the Golan Heights in 1967 to Syria in exchange for peace. When Israel attempted to reach a final agreement on the Palestinian problem in 2000, and again in 2008, Arafat and Abbas refused.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — It is incorrect to say that Israel was acting territorially greedy against passive states, and that the Arab states around them were not engaged in a healthy amount of provocation on their own.
    2. Moral Significance — It is important to recognize that, especially in 1948, every state in the region was hungry for land, and the push for territorial conquest was not one-sided. It's also important to recognize that, while Israel ultimately succeeded in conquering additional land, there were multiple opportunities for Arabs to push for peace in ways that would have forced Israel to agree. Peace between Israel and the Arab states didn't come until much, much later because everyone in the region assumed that additional fighting would lead to additional territorial gains, but this only proved to be true for Israel.
  2. Quotes from Israel leaders cautioning territorial expansion pre-1967.
    1. "David Ben-Gurion was still powerfully drawn to Judea and Samaria by his historical-ideological and strategic considerations, but international diplomatic considerations dictated caution and restraint. Besides, the Jordanians had made it abundantly clear that they were out of the fight, and the Israelis still feared British military intervention should hostilities with Jordan be renewed. Zvi Ayalon, the Central Front OC, assured Ben-Gurion that it would take only "5 days" to conquer the West Bank or large parts of it. But Israel's representatives at the General Assembly meeting in Paris, Abba Eban and Reuven Shiloah, weighed in firmly against." (1948, Benny Morris, pages 350-351)
  3. Quotes of Arabs/Palestinians Rejecting Peace
    1. Abba Eban quipped in 1973 "The Arabs [or the Palestinians] never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
    2. In regards to Husseini rejecting the 1939 White Paper, Philip Mattar wrote that the mufti's decision "clearly indicated that he was putting personal considerations and his idealism above practical politics."
  4. Examples of Palestinian aggression disrupting ongoing peace processes
    1. March 27th, 2002, the Passover massacre occurs the day before the announcement of the Arab Peace Initiative.
      1. Suicide bomber killed 30, injured 140.
    2. The 2010 Palestinian militancy campaign, to derail peace talks between Netanyahu and Abbas.
      1. Random attacks ended with 5 killed, and 5 injured.
  5. The lead-up and causes for the Six Day War.

III. The mythologies, loaded languages and international virtue signaling of both sides severely hamper any ability for either people to make progress in this conflict. The victory of Israel in the 1967 war drove their expectations for territorial acquisition to unrealistic heights, causing them to underestimate their Arab neighbors for a crushing psychological defeat in 1973. Similar myths exist on the Palestinian side, where surrounding Arab neighbors drove their expectations for land to unrealistic height, then the international community through UN Resolutions and international declarations made them believe they would acquire a state within the 1967 borders if they simply held out long enough. Constant claims of "apartheid", "concentration camp conditions" and "genocide" have left the Palestinians believing someone in the international community is going to come along and save them from their predicament.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — The legal status of every single part of this conflict is incredibly hairy, with no clear answers on any side.
    2. Moral Significance — By constantly claiming that Israel is committing apartheid, or genocide, or forcing Palestinians to live in concentration camps, the international community is making it seem as though the conditions the Palestinians live in are so dire that someone externally is going to swoop in and save them. This will not happen, the Palestinians need to unite around a coherent leadership structure so they can negotiate with Israel and save themselves.
  2. International criticisms of Israel is highly disproportionate compared to its population and number of people of affected.
    1. HRW
    2. Amnesty International
    3. UN Resolutions
  3. "Anti-Semitism"
    1. This has rightfully been called out by Rabani and Finkelstein as a way to shut down all criticism of Israel and to create an environment where all criticisms can be hand-waved as simply anti-Semitic. This shuts down conservation and makes it impossible to facilitate progress.
  4. "Ethnic Cleansing"
    1. This isn't even a formally defined crime or thing in international law.
    2. Civilian populations move around and retreat during war, but this term never seems to be used for any other conflict besides the Bosnian War and Israel-Palestine.
      1. Examples:
        1. Ukrainians fleeing during Russia's invasion.
        2. In 1923, 1.6 million people were exchanged between Greece and Turkey
        3. In 1944-1950, 12-14.6 million Germans expelled from Europe after WWII
        4. In 1947 10-20 million people were displaced and 1 million died in the Partition of India.
        5. Jews being expelled from the West Bank in 1948.
  5. "Open Air Prison" or "Concentration Camps"
    1. Definitions
      1. There is no definition for either of these things.
    2. Hamas Administration
      1. According to Israel and Palestinian sources, Hamas spends over $150m/year on their military budget, including $40m/year just on building tunnels.
      2. Hamas leadership are worth billions while living abroad in Qatar.
    3. Living conditions
      1. The living conditions are clearly better in the Gaza Strip than in any concentration camp, and are in fact competitive with most Middle Eastern countries.
        1. Infant Mortailty
          RankCountryMortality Rate
          (No. of deaths/1,000 births)
        2. Life Expectancy in years
          RankCountryAverage Lifespan
        3. Under-5 Mortality
          Gaza26.8 per 1,000
          The Middle East/North Africa27.6 per 1,000
          Today, the global population average38 per 1,000
        4. Human Development Index
          106 Palestine0.715
          112Lebanon 0.706
          121Iraq 0.686
          123Morocco 0.683
          "HDI declined from 0.703 in 2013 to 0.698 in 2014, and from 0.716 in 2020 to 0.715 in 2021,46 in the aftermath of the July–August 2014 escalation and the May 2021 escalation, life expectancy declined by 1.4 years."
          The United Nations Development Programme
      2. How many deaths due to malnutrition?
        1. It's hard to say if anyone before October 7th died of starvation or malnutrition in the Gaza Strip; it's difficult to say for sure if anyone has even died after October 7th thus far from malnutrition or starvation.
    4. Quotations to support his argument
      1. "Repeating a personal view that he had previously expressed to other USG visitors, NSC Director Eiland laid out for Ambassador Djerejian a different end-game solution than that which is commonly envisioned as the two-state solution. Eiland's view, he said, was prefaced on the assumption that demographic and other considerations make the prospect for a two-state solution between the Jordan and the Mediterranean unviable. Currently, he said, there are 11 million people in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, and that number will increase to 36 million in 50 years. The area between Beer Sheva and the northern tip of Israel (including the West Bank and Gaza) has the highest population density in the world. Gaza alone, he said, is already "a huge concentration camp" with 1.3 million Palestinians. Moreover, the land is surrounded on three sides by deserts. Palestinians need more land and Israel can ill-afford to cede it. The solution, he argued, lies in the Sinai desert."

        — Giora Eiland from a Israeli Debrief relating to the Unilateral Disengagement Plans

        1. This quote is from 2004 and is not an analysis of the living conditions of those in the Gaza Strip.
      2. "The Gaza Strip today is a concentration camp, but not like Bergen-Belsen. The differences are clear and known. This writer is opposed to parallels lacking information, knowledge and understanding, drawn for purposes of provocation, but is also opposed to creating hierarchies of suffering, which, whether concealed or openly, justify any suffering that does not reach the “climax” (which we, the Jews, define). The use here of the term “concentration camp” is based on the need to break free of the linguistic bonds of the Nazi period.”

        — Amira Hass wrote in Haaretz.

        1. This quote, of which Finkelstein omits the last sentence of, seems to stand in opposition to his utilization of this to prove the horrendous living conditions of the people in Gaza. Amira's goal is to broaden the concept of what a concentration camp is, while Norm is attempting to use it in a very narrow way to describe Gaza.
      3. "Various versions of this idea became very popular among Israeli Jews and the construction of the fence began at the initiative of the former Minister of Defense, Benjamin Ben Eliezer, more or less along the pre-1967 lines. In fact, the fence around the Gaza Strip was completed a long time ago and the Strip has become the largest concentration camp ever to exist."

        Baruch Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians page 169

        1. There is zero analysis here, just an opinion offered by the author.
  6. Apartheid
    1. Definitions
      1. "Article 7(2)(h) "The crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."
    2. Prosecutions
      1. No one has ever been convicted of the crime of apartheid, despite Africa carrying on its apartheid regime for almost 2 decades after the Convention Against Apartheid.
        1. Two people have been indicted as of 2021 in South Africa.
    3. There are no laws or policies that treat different races inside Israel differently. Most of the different treatment either comes through immigration policy (which countries have their own right to dictate) or through citizenship status.
      1. The Nation State Law creates no legal distinctions between citizens and has never been utilized for legislation or policy making.
    4. As applied in the different territories:
      1. The Gaza Strip: There are no Jews.
      2. The West Bank: Law is not applied based on racial domination, it's applied based on citizenship status.
    5. The Palestinians initially compared themselves to the NLF in Algeria, and now compared themselves to South Africans.
  7. Genocide
    1. Was October 7th genocidal? Or any of Hamas’ actions, when they explicitly state that they want to remove or destroy a nation?
    2. The ICJ case
      1. The case only needed to reach the “plausibility” standard, which is incredibly low.
        1. “5. The Court is not asked, in the present phase of the proceedings, to determine whether South Africa’s allegations of genocide are well founded. At this stage, the Court may only examine whether the circumstances of the present case, as they have been presented to the Court, justify the ordering (“indication”) of provisional measures to protect rights under the Genocide Convention which are at risk of being violated before the decision on the merits is rendered. For this examination, the Court need not address many well-known and controversial questions, such as those relating to the right to self-defence and the right of self-determination of peoples, or regarding territorial status. The Court must remain conscious that the Genocide Convention is not designed to regulate armed conflicts as such, even if they are conducted with an excessive use of force and result in mass casualties.”

          — Declaration of Judge Nolte

        2. “14. The information provided by South Africa regarding Israel’s military operation is not comparable to the evidence before the Court in The Gambia v. Myanmar in 2020. While the Applicant cannot now be expected to provide the Court with detailed reports of an international fact-finding mission, it is not sufficient for South Africa to point to the terrible death and destruction that Israel’s military operation has brought about and is continuing to bring about. The Applicant must be expected to engage not only with the stated purpose of the operation, namely to “destroy Hamas” and to liberate the hostages, but also with other manifest circumstances, such as the calls to the civilian population to evacuate, an official policy and orders to soldiers not to target civilians, the way in which the opposing forces are confronting each other on the ground, as well as the enabling of the delivery of a certain amount of humanitarian aid, all of which may give rise to other plausible inferences from an alleged “pattern of conduct” than genocidal intent. Rather, these measures by Israel, while not conclusive, make it at least plausible that its military operation is not being conducted with genocidal intent. South Africa has not called these underlying circumstances into question and has, in my view, not sufficiently engaged with their implications for the plausibility of the rights of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip deriving from the Genocide Convention.”

          — Declaration of Judge Nolte

      2. Incorrect ICJ Facts
        1. Why does the ICJ case say the March of Return was ”a large-scale peaceful protest along the separation fence between Gaza and Israel, in which thousands of Palestinians participated every Friday for over 18 months” when the UN says “while the vast majority of protestors have acted in a peaceful manner, during most protests dozens have approached the fence attempting to damage it, burning tires, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails towards Israeli forces and flying incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory; the latter resulted in extensive damage to agricultural land and nature reserves inside Israel and risked the lives of Israeli civilians. Some incidents of shooting and throwing of explosive devices have also been reported.
          1. March of Return gender violence
            1. Preliminary findings of a survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in the second quarter of 2019 revealed that 38 per cent of women in Gaza reported some form of psychological, physical, sexual, social or economic violence by their husbands, at least once during the preceding 12 months.7
            2. While domestic violence is a longstanding concern in the oPt, the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Sub-Cluster estimates that the GMR has exacerbated it.8(https://www.ochaopt.org/content/two-years-people-injured-and-traumatized-during-great-march-return-are-still-struggling#ftn8) Evidence gathered by partners to the working group indicate that mothers have been often blamed by their husbands for the injury or death of their children during a demonstration, and experienced increased related violence. Additionally, widows are at higher risk of immediate psychological and economic violence by family members, as some are expected to re-marry and the family of the late husband often take control over their finances. Further, girls who lost a father, or have a father with a disability, are at increased risk of forced child marriage due to the decreased level of household income, as fathers/husbands are usually the breadwinner of the family.
            3. Yasmin, is a 22-year-old mother living in the north area. “I used to live a happy life, but all changed after my husband was killed in May 2018, during a GMR demonstration. With my two sons I returned to my family’s house and stayed there for a year and a half. As a widow, I was under tighter control by my family.” As is customary, Yasmin was requested to marry her brother-in-law. At first, she refused, but following pressure she accepted. “I didn’t want to go back to my husband’s family home, as they treated me badly. Soon after we married, my new husband began beating me. I never imagined that someone would do that to me. After the killing of my first husband, I started to attend psychosocial support sessions. They helped me feel better, less stressed. However, after I married again, I could no longer attend as my husband’s family opposed that. Now it’s all back again.”
          2. Participants in GMR were likely ruled as combatants.
            1. “If some of the demonstrators can be classified as direct participants in the armed conflict that exists between Israel and the Hamas (this is certainly the case with respect to the terrorists and the armed persons among them; two close categories also includes both members of the terrorist organizations who disguise themselves as demonstrators and also participants in the protest who agree to serve as “human shields” for the terrorists hiding behind them), then the demonstrators lose the protection granted to them pursuant to the principle expressed in Article 51(3) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which prescribes that the protection afforded to them as civilians shall be removed for such time during which they (actually) take a part in hostilities. In situations such as those, it is highly likely that the three pronged criterion – which was outlined by the team of international experts that the Red Cross convened – would be fulfilled. Upon the fulfillment of the three conditions by the demonstrators, civilians who take part in hostilities lose their protections. […]” IHL case study website
        2. “Dumb bombs” talking point.
          1. Has nothing to do with anything related to target discrimination.
          1. “On 12 October 2023, President Isaac Herzog made clear that Israel was not distinguishing between militants and civilians in Gaza, stating in a press conference to foreign media — in relation Palestinians in Gaza, over one million of whom are children: “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. It’s not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware not involved. It’s absolutely not true. … and we will fight until we break their backbone.”449 On 15 October 2023, echoing the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the President told foreign media that “we will uproot evil so that there will be good for the entire region and the world.””
            1. Full context, as per their own source: "It is an entire nation out there that is responsible. It's not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It's absolutely not true.
            2. "They could have risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup 'd état
            3. "But we are at war, we are defending our homes, we are protecting our homes, that's the truth and when a nation protects it's home it fights and we will fight until we break their back bone."
            4. He acknowledged that many Gazans had nothing to do with Hamas but was adamant that others did.
            5. "I agree there are many innocent Palestinians who don't agree with this, but if you have a missile in your goddamn kitchen and you want to shoot it at me, am I allowed to defend myself. We have to defend ourselves, we have the full right to do so."
            6. In Netanyahu’s speech, he says that the IDF will do what it can to minimize civilian casualties and calls upon civilians to flee south.
          2. “On 9 October 2023, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in an Israeli Army ‘situation update’ advised that Israel was “imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.” He also informed troops on the Gaza border that he had “released all the restraints”, stating in terms that: “Gaza won’t return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything. If it doesn’t take one day, it will take a week. It will take weeks or even months, we will reach all places.” He further announced that Israel was moving to “a fullscale response” and that he had “removed every restriction” on Israeli forces.”
            1. Human Animals
              1. “But I don't think any Israeli actually understood it that way. "Chayot Adam", "Human Animals" is a common phrase in modern Hebrew, meaning "people acting in inhuman ways". An individual, moral condemnation, tied to inhuman acts. Not a racial, pseudo-biological remark. It's commonly used to describe Israeli criminals of all sorts, from rapists to gangsters. The most famous use of this phrase recently, was a 2019 remark by Oshrat Kotler, a leading Israeli news anchor, as a response to a story about Israeli soldiers beating a bound Palestinian, that the soldiers sent to the West Bank return as "human animals". This was a very controversial statement, that raised a huge outcry. But even the most outraged right-winger didn't assume Kotler referred to the entire Israeli people as subhuman.”
            2. The rest of this all refers to expanded military actions, none of this necessarily implies Palestinian people, nor genocidal intent.
          3. “Israeli Minister of Finance: On 8 October 2023, Bezalel Smotrich stated at a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet that “[w]e need to deal a blow that hasn’t been seen in 50 years and take down Gaza.””
            1. As per their own source: The powerful finance minister, settler leader Bezalel Smotrich, demanded at the cabinet meeting late Saturday that the army “hit Hamas brutally and not take the matter of the captives into significant consideration.” “In war as in war, you have to be brutal,” he was quoted as saying. “We need to deal a blow that hasn’t been seen in 50 years and take down Gaza.”
  8. "Refugee Camp"
    1. These are cities.
    2. UNRWA definition requirement.
  9. Facts
    1. Potential bad historical claims
      1. The 2008 Mavi Marmara incident
        1. 4THOT summarizing Finkelstein's retelling of these.
      2. Iron Dome stuff
        1. Norman missed a huge conflict of interest with Postol’s research partners.

          “Most of the coverage by the media referring to Pedatzur fails to note his conflict of interest as a proponent of laser defensive systems, or the fact that the system he supported was one of the proposals rejected by Danny Gold and the IDF. Richard Lloyd also appears to have had a serious conflict of interest. A LinkedIn profile page appearing to belong to Mr. Lloyd claims to have developed a new “Iron Dome Warhead kill mechanism”. This information is dated December 2012, a full 3 months before the New York Times article was published, which should have allowed the NYT plenty of time to note Lloyd’s financial and professional conflicts of interest.”

        2. Postol’s research also plagiarized pictures and relied on YT videos.

IV. International support should be reserved for peaceful Palestinian movements, not violent ones. Historically, Israel has been willing to pursue reasonable attempts at peace made by her neighbors, e.g. Egypt (1979), Jordan (1994), Bahrain (2020), the UAE (2020), Morocco (2020) and Sudan (2021, and attempted to with the Palestinians (1993, 2000, 2008) and Syria (1967, 2000). These peace deals have come at great cost to Israeli leadership (Begin's fierce resistance from his own party for transferring the Sinai, Rabin's assassination in 1995 for the Oslo Accords) and to Arab leaders (Egypt was suspended from the Arab League for 10 years and Sadat was later assassinated for being a sell-out to the West). Palestinian leaders seem to prioritize their personal political careers and their consolidation of political support over the interests of the Palestinian people (Arafat for the Oslo Accords, and Camp David/Taba Summit, and Abbas in 2008). The Palestinians need a leader who is willing to risk some political division among the PLO/PA, and the people need to opt towards peace since that is the greatest way to apply optimal international pressure against Israel. A violent adversary has historically always given Israel room for territorial acquisition (1947-1949, 1967, 2000, 2010), while a peaceful adversary has always sparked international pressure for Israel to negotiate.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — Palestinians are not improving their position through violence, yet that has been essentially their preferred arm of negotiating since 1948, with fedayeen attacks, the creation of the PLO, and international terrorist attacks. Violence has caused operations that have severely damaged Palestinian interests, such as Swords of Iron, Protective Edge, Cast Lead, and unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Violence from Palestinians has also consistently caused them to become alienated from their Arab neighbors (Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood/assassination attempts, Jordan with Abdullah's assassination in 1951, Black September in 1970, Wasfi-Tal's assassination in 1971, Lebanon from 1970-1982).
    2. Moral Significance — Encouraging the Palestinians to act with violence gives Israel an excuse to continue the blockade in Gaza and to refuse Palestinians a state, while supporting Palestinian peace-makers puts pressure on Israel to come to a final settlement of the Palestinian problem while removing their justification for aggressive action. Israel's greatest fear, historically, has always been an Arab leader pushing for peace. If Arafat had pushed for peace against Israel, the settlements would be so much smaller than they are now. If Sadat hadn't pushed for peace with Israel, it's possible they would control the Sinai to this day.
  2. Norm's position on violence:
    1. 2015 Reddit AMA
      1. "until and unless they engage in mass nonviolent resistance, such as during the first intifada, it's hopeless"
      2. "There's a huge reservoir of international support now for the Palestinians, while Israel's stock has plummeted. If Palestinians put forth reasonable demands (based on international law) and engaged in mass nonviolent resistance, Israel would be cornered"
    2. October 7th, 2023 on Norman's website
      1. Today they breached the camp’s walls. If we honor John Brown’s armed resistance to slavery; if we honor the Jews who revolted in the Warsaw Ghetto—then moral consistency commands that we honor the heroic resistance in Gaza. I, for one, will never begrudge—on the contrary, it warms every fiber of my soul—the scenes of Gaza’s smiling children as their arrogant Jewish supremacist oppressors have, finally, been humbled.

V. The basis for negotiations is only informed by international law, not defined by it. None of Israel's major prior bilateral negotiations with any partners (Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, Sudan) have been restricted by UN resolutions or international law. These negotiations have only succeeded when both parties were willing to recognize the political, social and military realities on the ground that both sides could reasonably agree to. Harping over and over again on "moral" interpretations of international law is meaningless, as Israel will not realistically begin negotiations in any place that calls for them to return to prior rejected arrangements (1947 partition plan, 2000 Taba Summit).

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — Negotiations historically for Israel have not been restricted to international law or UN Resolutions. Negotiations need to begin with intense consideration for the realities on the ground.
    2. Moral Significance — Fixating on certain interpretations of international law will continue to drive Palestinian expectations to unrealistic heights. International law is not going to expel 450,000 Israeli's from the West Bank.
  2. The legality of the settlements

    "Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001." - SC 2334 (2016)

  3. Resolution 242
    1. Not legally binding, this was passed under Chapter VI of the UN charter.
      1. The "peaceful resolution" requirement of this was violated by every Arab state in 1973, and was continually violated by the PLO and any other group that engaged in violence against Israel to "end the occupation."
    2. This shaped the resolutions between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Oslo I and Oslo II, yet did not lead to the creation of any permanent state of permanent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    3. "There was much bickering over whether that resolution should say from "the" territories or from "all" territories. In the French version, which is equally authentic, it says withdrawal de territory, with de meaning "the." We wanted that to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be "rationalized"; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties. We also wanted to leave open demilitarization measures in the Sinai and the Golan Heights and take a fresh look at the old city of Jerusalem." — Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State, As I Saw It, page 389.

    4. "And it was only when this euphemism was embedded in the language of a UN Security Council Resolution that Israel was ready to endorse it. The constructive ambiguity of the November 1967 Security Council Resolution Number 242, which called for peace based on the restitution of ‘territories’ instead of ‘the territories’, allowed Israel to claim that the borders would have to be modified on all fronts as a condition for peace and gave maneuvering space to her post-war diplomacy. Resolution 242 was the result of the need to find a formula that would reconcile Israel’s unrealistic expectation to have full peace for less than all the territories, and the Arabs’ drive for a full restitution of land in exchange for a watered-down state of non-belligerency." — Shlomo Ben-Ami, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace page 128

  4. Who has the majority support right now in the region?
    1. Israel
      1. Normalization of relations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, UAE, Bahrain, (Saudi Arabia), formal treaties signed by Egypt.
    2. Palestine
      1. Recognition?
    3. USA
      1. Public still overwhelming supports Israel and their mission to remove Hamas. source
    4. Norm's references to this.
      1. "If you're serious about trying to build a mass movement, you can't go beyond what the public is ready to accept."
      2. "If you want to use the law to reach public opinion, you can't be selective with the law."
      3. Does Norm still support the Houthis?

VI. The Palestinian refugee problem is being artificially inflated. There are no other groups of refugees on the planet that have the unique treatment right now afforded to the Palestinians, and it only serves to drive a deeper wedge in between Israelis and Palestinians in regards to solving this conflict.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — The Palestinian refugee situation is unacceptable. No other refugee group has this treatment.
    2. Moral Significance — The artificial treatment of Palestinian refugees keeps prolonging the suffering of both Palestinians in Palestine and outside of it because it makes it more difficult for any final agreement to be reached, while simultaneously preventing Palestinians outside of Palestine from ever being settled into a new home.
  2. Facts
    1. UNRWA refusal to resettle. Arab League Resolution 1547 (Khartoum Conference), definition of refugee/refugee camp.
    2. UNRWA regulations on refugees
    3. "The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration."
      UNRWA on Palestinian Refugees

  3. Unrealistic expectations from the Palestinians.
    1. "The essence of the right of return is choice: Palestinians should be given the option to choose where they wish to settle, including return to the homes from which they were driven. There is no historical precedent for a people abandoning their fundamental right to return to their homes whether they were forced to leave or fled in fear. We will not be the first people to do so. Recognition of the right of return and the provision of choice to refugees is a pre-requisite for the closure of the conflict."
      Reservations to the Clinton Parameters.

  4. Euphemisms
    1. "Refugee camp" = cities
    2. "Refugees" - you can be born in another country, with full citizenship, and social services, etc...etc...

VII. Israel's jus ad bellum, their response to Hamas invading their country and killing 1,139 people in Israel (695 civilians, 373 security forces and 71 foreigners) and taking some 250 hostages, is fully in compliance with international law. All available evidence of Israel taking extraordinary steps to warn civilian populations of incoming attacks likely satisfies their obligation to Article 58 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, while death and casualty numbers in the highly urbanized environment seem to satisfy that Israel is distinguishing between targets (an obligation under API Article 48). On the contrary, Hamas had no good jus ad bellum as their October 7th attack was not preventing or in response to any incoming Israeli attack, and their jus in bello is clearly not justified as they have failed to uphold their obligations (under API Article 58) to protect their civilian population, failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets, and utilized their civilian population in an attempt to shield themselves from Israeli military forces.

  1. Why is this important?
    1. Factual Disagreement — Claims that Israel is conducting themselves in a way that, by policy, disagrees with the LoAC is entirely unsubstantiated, and has been for all of their major Gaza conflicts. Claims that excuses Hamas' actions, or make them comparable to the Israeli government, are completely absurd.
    2. Moral Significance — Israel, morally, has a right to defend itself. Drawing false equivalences between Hamas and Israel, especially by incorrectly citing international law and disregarding the laws of armed conflict, undermines the validity of international law and endangers the safety of all civilians in future armed conflict. It is also essential to recognize that Israel, a Democratic country that is sensitive to the whims of its voters and to international pressure, has made much more information available from its archive than the parties they face. Their reluctance to participate in certain international investigations is understandable.
  2. International humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict.
    1. IHL seeks to balance two key goals – military necessity and humanity. In this way, the law protects civilians from the ravages of war while still enabling effec- tive military operations. Interpretations of the law that leave militaries with no lawful means by which to engage in necessary operations are often viewed as counter-productive and pose the risk of generating disregard for legal norms. The Goldstone Report unfortunately fails to give sufficient weight to this inherent bal- ancing – the most basic and historic premise of humanitarian law: the ‘desire to diminish the evils of war, as far as military requirements permit’.


  3. Lack of accountability
    1. “The Gaza Strip falls under the jurisdiction of the PA according to the Oslo Accords (pursuant to which the PA was established). However, in June 2007, after armed confrontations with PA forces, Hamas established a de facto administration in Gaza and has since controlled internal affairs there, including the administration of justice. The Hamas de facto administration has neither prosecuted nor shown any intention to prosecute members of its armed wing or members of other armed groups responsible for firing rockets into southern Israel. On the contrary, during periods when they are not committed to a ceasefire with Israel, Hamas leaders promote such unlawful attacks.”

      — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

  4. Jus ad bellum
    1. Israel
      1. Self-defense, destruction of Hamas, fully justified.
    2. Hamas
      1. They have no cause for war. Occupation is not a cause for war.
  5. Jus in bello
    1. Principle of distinction
      1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
        1. Rule 1 of IHL, The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
        2. The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
      2. Violations
        1. “Mortars and so-called Qassam rockets, which are locally made in Gaza, and longer range Grad-type rockets smuggled into Gaza via the tunnels from Egypt, are unguided projectiles which cannot be directed at specific targets. Attacks using such rockets are indiscriminate and hence unlawful under international law.”

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

        2. “Between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 the armed wing of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups based in Gaza launched rockets and mortars 109 on a daily basis into towns and villages in southern Israel, as well as against Israeli military positions and patrols inside Gaza and along Gaza’s perimeter.”

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

        3. “In other words, these weapons cannot be accurately aimed in a manner that distinguishes between military objectives and civilian objects, as required by international humanitarian law. Hence, when these weapons were used with the intent of striking military targets in Israel, but struck civilian objects instead, they constituted indiscriminate attacks. When rocket attacks were intended to strike homes, civilian infrastructure or civilians, they were direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects. In either case, such attacks constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law and are war crimes (see Chapter 5).“

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

        4. “On at least one occasion a Palestinian rocket which fell short of its target landed inside Gaza and caused damage to a World Food Programme (WPF) warehouse near the Karni merchandise crossing between Israel and Gaza (the crossing has been closed since 2007). The warehouse is usually guarded by Israeli forces and since the beginning of Operation “Cast Lead” no UN staff members had been present there. The rocket strike caused no casualties but it damaged the warehouse, which at the time contained 400 tons of food and non-food items. The UN Board of Inquiry found that the damage to the warehouse was caused by a Qassam-type rocket locally manufactured in Gaza.”

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

        5. “In response, the groups have argued that they have no other weapons, nor any way of obtaining precision weapons like those used by the Israeli army. They also say that they are acting in response to Israeli attacks which have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians for each Israeli killed by rockets. Some have argued that the attacks are aimed at Israeli military bases or positions in and around towns and villages in southern Israel and that the Israeli villages around Gaza are mostly military bases. While some of the rockets might strike military targets, which the groups would consider strategically more valuable, the argument is invalidated both by the obviously indiscriminate nature of the attacks and by the fact that whenever the rockets strike people these are invariably civilians. Other spokespeople have argued that the rockets are rarely lethal and that their main aim is to “disturb” life in Israel so long as Israel does not allow Palestinians to have a normal life. All these arguments are inadmissible under international humanitarian law. Whether or not attacks actually result in civilian casualties, they are in violation of international law, which also prohibits attacks aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population. The patterns of attacks and statements by members and leaders of Palestinian groups also indicate that they have no qualms about launching attacks against civilians and that they in fact carry out such attacks intending to kill and injure Israeli civilians. Such attacks constitute war crimes.”

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

        6. “The organization has stated that the campaign of suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups amounted to crimes against humanity.”

          — Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

    2. Principle of proportionality
      1. Principle of Proportionality in Attack
        1. Rule 14 of IHL, Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.
        2. This principle is codified in Article 51(5)(b) of AP I, and repeated in Article 57.
        3. Under the statue of the ICC, “intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects … which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated”
          1. The overall military advantage anticipated is important.
      2. Violations
        1. Every single attack into Israel fails the proportionality check. The rocket attacks are indiscriminate and are rarely aimed at military installations or positions.
    3. Principle of precaution
      1. Principle of Precautions in Attack
        1. Rule 15 of IHL, In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.
      2. Violations
        1. Every single Hamas attack is a violation of this rule. Hamas does not ever take time to warn the Israeli civilian population in any way before engaging in attacks
    4. Human Shields
      1. Rule 97, The Use of Human Shields is prohibited.
        1. The prohibition of using human shields in the Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol I and the Statute of the International Criminal Court are couched in terms of using the presence (or movements) of civilians or other protected persons to render certain points or areas (or military forces) immune from military operations.
        2. It can be concluded that the use of human shields requires an intentional co-location of military objectives and civilians or persons hors de combat with the specific intent of trying to prevent the targeting of those military objectives.
      2. Article 58 of AP I also precautions against the effects of attack.
        1. The Parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible:
          1. without prejudice to Article 49 of the Fourth Convention, endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control from the vicinity of military objectives;
          2. avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas;
          3. take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.
      3. Violations
        1. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups also violated international humanitarian law in their conduct within Gaza. They launched rockets and located military equipment and Amnesty International July 2009 Israel/Gaza: Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 days of death and destruction positions near civilian homes, endangering the lives of the inhabitants by exposing them to the risk of Israeli attacks. They also used empty homes and properties as combat positions during armed confrontations with Israeli forces, exposing the inhabitants of nearby houses to the danger of attacks or of being caught in the crossfire.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        2. ”Between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 the armed wing of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups based in Gaza launched rockets and mortars 109 on a daily basis into towns and villages in southern Israel, as well as against Israeli military positions and patrols inside Gaza and along Gaza’s perimeter.“ - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        3. “Hamas and other armed groups also endangered Palestinian civilians by failing to take all feasible precautions in the conduct of their military activities, notably by firing rockets from residential areas and storing weapons, explosives and ammunition in them. They also mixed with the civilian population, although this would be difficult to avoid in the small and overcrowded Gaza Strip, and there is no evidence that they did so with the intent of shielding themselves. The extremely high population density in Gaza, a small territory and one of the most densely populated places in the world, entails additional challenges for all the parties involved in conflict or armed confrontations. Notwithstanding these difficulties, Hamas and other armed groups have an obligation to avoid conduct which, by intent or through recklessness, exposes the civilian population to danger, and have an obligation not to use the civilian population as a cover for their military activities. Intentionally using civilians to shield a military objective – often referred to as using “human shields” – is a war crime” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        4. “Hamas and other Palestinian groups endangered civilians by firing rockets from populated residential neighbourhoods.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        5. “In another area of Gaza City, a resident showed Amnesty International delegates a place from where a rocket had been launched: a small patch of empty land some 50m from residential houses. Television footage from the Arabic TV station al-Arabiya broadcast during Operation “Cast Lead” also showed a presenter, seemingly caught off guard, saying that she had just heard a rocket being fired from the street near the building which houses the TV station, in the centre of Gaza City.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        6. “Hamas and other groups generally store weapons in civilian areas and there is no reason to believe that it was any different during Operation “Cast Lead”. By doing so, it rendered such locations possible targets of attack and therefore exposed civilians who may have been present to risk.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        7. “The groups openly acknowledge that their fighters and military facilities are present in towns and villages in Gaza, but argue that their role is to defend their communities against Israeli attacks and invasions.“ - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        8. “Some of the armed groups deny having fired rockets from populated areas or having stored them there, while others argue that they were merely defending their communities and that Israeli forces targeted civilians not involved in military activities and locations from which no attacks had been launched.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
        9. “The placing of combatants and a variety of weapons within towns and villages by Hamas and Israel, while not in itself of evidence of using “human shields”, does amount to a violation of their obligation to take the necessary precautions to protect civilians under its control from the dangers of military operations “to the maximum extent feasible”, and in particular “avoiding locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas”.” - Amensty International 2009, OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION
    5. Destroying civilian infrastructure
      1. Applicable international law
      2. Destroying civilian infrastructure is not a war crime.
  6. Comparisons to other conflicts
    1. The Nat Turner comparison completely fails.
      1. The Palestinians in the Gaza strip are not in any ways chattel slavery like African slaves imported to the United States. The conditions are not even remotely comparable and it is grossly downplaying the institution of slavery in the United States to pretend.
      2. The Nat Turner rebellion was composed of slaves who fought with knives, hatchets and fence posts. Hamas receive international aid from all over the world, taxes from smuggled goods, military training from Iran, financing from Qatar, and smuggle weapons and components for rockets into their territory, all to the detriment of the people they are supposed to be administering to.
    2. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising quite literally would have been justified in every sense of the word.
      1. The Jews were fighting against SS Soldiers that were coming to the ghetto to take them to a concentration camp where Jewish people were already being exterminated.
      2. The Jews were not an organized army receiving funding and training from countries and militaries around the world - on the contrary, their plight was being completely ignored.
      3. The Jews were not targeting civilians, they were fighting against soldiers coming into deport them to Treblinka and Majdanek.
  7. The Blockade
    1. Impacts to Palestinians
    2. And Finkelstein’s apologia for the 10/7 Hamas fighters––who were presumably in their late teens and 20s––is that they were “born into a concentration camp” and have known nothing else–– which suggests that Gaza has been a concentration camp for almost two decades.
  8. Contemporary issues undermining the International Community position
    1. Al-Shifa hospital stuff
      1. How much warning did Israel give before attacking the hospital?
      2. UNRWA
      3. Hospital staff in al-Shifa
      4. Workers affiliated with Hamas
      5. Huge tunnel near UNRWA building/area
      6. Tunnels
      7. Munition stores
  9. List conditions for peace/objectives on both sides, Israel vs Hamas.
    1. Administrative Detention of Palestinian
  10. When Israel leaves things get bad - Gaza Strip 2005, West Bank/Second Intifada (2000-2005), Lebanon (Hezbollah)
  11. Ceasefires broken by both sides

II. Norman Finkelstein

Live From The Table Podcast: Norman Finkelstein & Eli Lake Debate - Israel Hamas Debate

Gaza has been illegally annexed by Israel according to international law.

  • has it been? Does the IC say that?

Day after elections, Jimmy Carter declared them fair, then Israel put up a blockade.

  • Why did the blockade go up? Legal status of blockade

Operation Cast Iron ceasefire was broken.

  • it was, but let's get more information about this.

I use all the sources, they say Hamas uses no human shields.

  • sources even from AI and the UN say they do, so do Hamas??

The Gaza ministry of health is a civilian organization

  • What is the status of Gazan organizations?

"Nobody says anything about the Israeli numbers when the number changed after Oct 7th"

  • What are the official numbers, and why did they change?

"Israel has the best first responders in the world...how did the number keep growing?"

  • the implication being this was faked??

97% of water is poisonous from the ground wells. It's not potable.

  • is it?

He says again "they're all animals" and "they're all legitimate targets"

  • are these quotes accurate?

Half dozen quotes by Israeli officials "let's use this as an opportunity to get rid of the Palestinians from Gaza"

  • what are they?

They want to force Egypt to let them into the Sinai.

  • where have they said this?

People were trying to discredit the PLO back in the days. They did everything they could to get a two state solution under international law.

  • black September??? Jordan/Lebanon??? Camp David??? Geneva accord???

Beginning in 2006, there were many attempts to reach a settlement of the conflict. 30 year Truce.

  • were there??? What did they look like???

When I say Settlement, I mean based on the principals of International Law.

  • palestinian refugee situation is unique, they go back right to their homes???

Every year the UN votes on "Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine question."

  • what are the terms?

Why doesn't Egypt let any out to travel?

  • dodges question and makes it about letting ALL Palestinians out

They want to release them into the Sinai to rot and die.

  • what??? Israeli settlements were popping up in the Sinai after '67, also again where is the proof for this?

Does Hamas need to be dismantled? Well if Hamas needs to be dismantled, so does the Israeli government.

  • do they really conduct themselves in the same way? Also he says he never dodges questions but this is ANOTHER DODGE.

It "mows the lawn"

  • source of this quote needed

The people in Gaza were never given a chance.

  • Were they?

Bush forced elections, they voted Hamas, and then Israel put up the blockade.

  • are we missing something here???

It was a dictatorship, but that dictatorship was the result of never giving the people another election.

  • didn't Hamas toss out the Fatah and cancel all elections????

Sociologist book "Politicized" called Gaza the largest concentration camp in 2003. More mow the lawn quotes.

  • look up this rationale

They did terror bombing in WWII to get the civilians to rise up against the Germans. Over 800,000 civilians killed.

  • did they?
Mouin Rabbani vs Joseph Cohen on Palestine and Israel - “Allow Me To Speak!” | Full Debate

75% of residents of gaza strip are refugees

  • How many Jews are refugees?
  • How many are ACTUAL refugees from 1948?
  • Israeli politician quotes about ethnic cleansing/genocides
  • People shot by snipers in "safe corridors"
  • jews set up committees to study transfer/expulsion in the 1930's
  • 1948 how much was ethnic cleansing vs people fleeing etc...
  • is ethnic cleansing always bad?
  • Do Norm and Mouin want to see Israeli's ethnically cleansed from the West Bank?
  • Can Jews live in Area A/B? Why not?
  • "Arab leaders telling Palestinians to flee is a hoax."
  • Nation State Law for Israel

Why is Hamas bad?

  • Not democratically elected. Coup'd Fatah, no elections.
  • Transmits propaganda to children.
  • Inhibits any peace process, they just want war. Remember the fighting with Abbas when he wanted truce in 2005.
  • Utilize human shields. Even IC recognizes this.
  • Hoards and diverts money from humanitarian places. Digging up pipes, stealing money, hoarding food.
  • Digs tunnels, fires rockets constantly.

Questions for Norm

  • Does Hamas have a moral justification for terrorism against Isralies?
  • Are their actions taking Palestine closer to or further from peace?
  • How should Israel respond to Hamas?
  • Why does Israel have the blockade?
  • Why didn't Egypt or Jordan make a Palestinian state in '48?
  • Do you have any criticisms at all for Hamas?
  • Is getting rid of Hamas a worthy goal?
  • Do you support a one state or two state solution?
  • Why doesn't the IDF "mow the lawn" in the West Bank?
  • Why do you say consensus says blockade illegal but only cite one footnote in chapter 4 of Method and Madness.
  • Why do you describe the Turkel report as Quasi-Official?
The Blockade in Gaza
  • Started in 2005
  • Incident - In May of 2010, attack on Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara
  • On September 27th, 2010, a UN General Assembly report from the HRC declared (on line 53/54) the blockade in Gaza to be collective punishment, or illegal under international law.
  • In September of 2011, a report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Inquiry on the 31st of May, 2010 Flotilla Incident claimed that the blockade followed international law.
  • Elections in the Gaza Strip
  • Background
    • 2006 elections were the second set of elections for the PLC
    • The Palestinian Cairo Declaration
      • Called for the elections to be held using a mixed voting system.
    • Under USAID, the US spent $2.3million in support for Palestinian elections.
      • Some claim that this was an attempt to influence the results.
  • Plan to overthrow Hamas
    • Bush administration approved a plan to overthrow Hamas by funneling arms and resources to Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
    • May 2007 - The Desoto Report of the same affair,
    • Did Hamas moderate?
  • 2008 Israel ceasefire breaking
  • Tunnels are a right to self-defense
  • Operation Cast Lead
  • 3 times ceasefire that reduced blockade restrictions
  • Protective Edge

Future video

Turkel Commission

Situation on Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia

Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance

Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident

Examination of the weapons and equipment found on the Mavi Marmara indicates that preparations had been made in advance for an active confrontation with IDF soldiers

Gaza: Palestinians tortured, summarily killed by Hamas forces during 2014 conflict

International Humanitarian Law - Rule 97. Human Shields

Israel/Gaza: Operation “Cast Lead”: 22 days of death and destruction

‘STRANGLING NECKS’ - Amnesty International

  • Human Shield Stuff
  • Detailed discussion on 242, treatment into the future
  • Restricting cookies/sugar
  • Shlomo Ben Ami video/quote from book
  • 2000 Camp David Summit

How Hamas Manipulates Gaza Fatality Numbers


Israel-Hamas War: Norman Finkelstein vs Rabbi Shmuley | Full Debate
  • "Israel is plausibly committing genocide by the ICJ."
  • Finkelstein has no concern for the Charlie Hebdo victims???
  • "The intensity of the bombing, the density of the bombing, the magnitude with destruction of civilian infrastructure, the absolute number of children killed, the relative number of children killed to combatants killed, the percentage of women and children killed, the number of medical personnel and journalists killed"...Israel's assault on Gaza, this is why they were brought before the ICJ.

III. Topics from Lex

Beginning statement

Goal: The goal today is not for anyone to win arguments, but to together explore the history, present, and future of Israel and Palestine… and human civilization broadly.

  • Agree & solutions: I would love to find places we agree, and places that give an inkling of hope for a solution in the future.

Respect: I ask that we show respect and compassion toward each other.

Basics: I also ask that we try to briefly define/explain terms, events, people when we discuss them, for folks in the audience that are not as familiar with the topic.

Time: I will do my best to allocate time equally between two sides of the table, but I would also love for this to be a free-flowing conversation.

Opening question

1948: First question is about 1948. For Israelis, 1948 is the establishment of the state of Israel and the war of independence. For Palestinians, 1948 is the Nakba, catastrophe, or the expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes as a consequence of the war. What to you is important to understand about 1948?

  • Order of response to first question is: Norm, Benny, Mouin, and Steven


History and wars

  • Before WW2 (Zionist congress, Balfour Declaration, League of Nations Mandate, Creation of the Haganah, Hebron Massacre, Arab Revolt, Peel Commission, 1939 White Paper)
  • WW2
  • Holocaust
  • 1947 - UN Resolution 181
  • 1948 - War, Nakba
  • 1967 - Six-Day War
  • 1982 - 1st Lebanon War → Hezbollah
  • intifadas
    • First intifada - Dec 1987 to Sep 1993
    • Second intifada - Sep 2000 to late 2005
  • 2006 - 2nd Lebanon War
  • 2008-2009 - Operation Cast Lead
  • 2012 - Gaza - Operation Pillar of Defense
  • 2014 - West Bank - Operation Protective Edge
  • 2021-23 - 11-day war in 2021, 3-day war in 2022, Operation Shield & Arrow in 2023
  • 2023 - Oct 7 attacks & Israel-Hamas war

Solutions & attempts at peace - what went right, what went wrong?

  • Two-state, one-state
  • 1967 borders - green line
  • Attempts at peace agreements
    • 1967 - UN Resolution 242
    • 1978 - Camp David Accords
    • 1988 - Arafat acknowledges Israel's right to exist
    • 1991 - Madrid Peace Conference
    • 1993 - Oslo Accords I
    • 1995 - Oslo Accords II
    • 2000 - Camp David - Clinton
    • 2002-2003
    • 2005 - Israel withdrawal from Gaza
    • 2007 - Annapolis Conference - Olmert
    • 2009-2014 - Obama
    • 2020 - Trump "deal of the century"
  • Normalization with other nations
    • TODO
    • 1994 - Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty
    • 2020 - Abraham Accords


  • Palestine
    • PLO, PA, Hamas
    • Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas
  • Israel
    • David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu
  • US
    • Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden, 2024 president

Philosophy, legal, politics

  • Zionism
  • Value of human life
  • Proportionality
  • Corruption
  • Jihadism
  • Martyrdom
  • Human shields
  • Civilian deaths in war
  • Genocide


  • Role of Iran
  • Role of US

General & Misc

  • Al-Aqsa Mosque
  • Jerusalem
  • Land - Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula


  • Islam, Judaism
  • Sunni & Shia - Shia (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon)
  • What would Jesus do?
  • What would Muhammad do?


  • I'll reference content from several books by Norm
  • I'll reference content from several books by Benny

International Law


Response to Finkelstein and Masalha

International Law

Geneva Conventions

Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

Article 3 - Conflicts not of an international character In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

  • Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
    • To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
      • violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
      • taking of hostages;
      • outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
      • the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
  • The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
    • An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
    • The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
    • The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

Article 23 - Security of prisoners

  • No prisoner of war may at any time be sent to, or detained in areas where he may be exposed to the fire of the combat zone, nor may his presence be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.
  • Prisoners of war shall have shelters against air bombardment and other hazards of war, to the same extent as the local civilian population. With the exception of those engaged in the protection of their quarters against the aforesaid hazards, they may enter such shelters as soon as possible after the giving of the alarm. Any other protective measure taken in favour of the population shall also apply to them.
  • Detaining Powers shall give the Powers concerned, through the intermediary of the Protecting Powers, all useful information regarding the geographical location of prisoner of war camps.
  • Whenever military considerations permit, prisoner of war camps shall be indicated in the day-time by the letters PW or PG, placed so as to be clearly visible from the air. The Powers concerned may, however, agree upon any other system of marking. Only prisoner of war camps shall be marked as such.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

Article 28 - Treatment II. Danger zones

  • The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.

Article 12 - Protection of medical units

  • Medical units shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack.
  • Paragraph 1 shall apply to civilian medical units, provided that they:
    • belong to one of the Parties to the conflict;
    • are recognized and authorized by the competent authority of one of the Parties to the conflict; or
    • are authorized in conformity with Article 9, paragraph 2, of this Protocol or Article 27 of the First Convention.
  • The Parties to the conflict are invited to notify each other of the location of their fixed medical units. The absence of such notification shall not exempt any of the Parties from the obligation to comply with the provisions of paragraph 1.
  • Under no circumstances shall medical units be used in an attempt to shield military objectives from attack. Whenever possible, the Parties to the conflict shall ensure that medical units are so sited that attacks against military objectives do not imperil their safety.

Article 51 - Protection of the civilian population

  • The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.
  • The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
  • Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
  • Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:
    • those which are not directed at a specific military objective;
    • those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
    • those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.
  • Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:
    • an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects; and
    • an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
  • Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.
  • The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.
  • Any violation of these prohibitions shall not release the Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians, including the obligation to take the precautionary measures provided for in Article 57.

Article 52 - General protection of civilian objects

  • Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals. Civilian objects are all objects which are not military objectives as defined in paragraph 2.
  • Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives. In so far as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.
  • In case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.

Article 57 - Precautions in attack

  • In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.
  • With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken:
    • those who plan or decide upon an attack shall:
      • do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects and are not subject to special protection but are military objectives within the meaning of paragraph 2 of Article 52 and that it is not prohibited by the provisions of this Protocol to attack them;
      • take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects;
      • refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;
    • an attack shall be cancelled or suspended if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or is subject to special protection or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;
    • effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.
    • When a choice is possible between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected shall be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects.
  • In the conduct of military operations at sea or in the air, each Party to the conflict shall, in conformity with its rights and duties under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, take all reasonable precautions to avoid losses of civilian lives and damage to civilian objects.
  • No provision of this Article may be construed as authorizing any attacks against the civilian population, civilians or civilian objects.

Article 58 - Precautions against the effects of attacks

  • The Parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible:
    • without prejudice to Article 49 of the Fourth Convention, endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control from the vicinity of military objectives;
    • avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas;
    • take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977.

Article 13 - Protection of the civilian population

  • The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules shall be observed in all circumstances.
  • The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
  • Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Part, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

International Criminal Court

Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (Statute)

Jurisdiction, Admissibility, and Applicable Law

Article 8 - War Crimes

  • The Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.
  • For the purpose of this Statute, "war crimes" means:
    (a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:
    (b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
    (xxiii) Utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations;
    (c) In the case of an armed conflict not of an international character, serious violations of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts committed against persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause:
    (i) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

Elements of Crimes

Article 8 - War Crimes Introduction

  • The elements for war crimes under article 8, paragraph 2 (c) and (e), are subject to the limitations addressed in article 8, paragraph 2 (d) and (f), which are not elements of crimes.
  • The elements for war crimes under article 8, paragraph 2, of the Statute shall be interpreted within the established framework of the international law of armed conflict including, as appropriate, the international law of armed conflict applicable to armed conflict at sea.
  • With respect to the last two elements listed for each crime:
    • There is no requirement for a legal evaluation by the perpetrator as to the existence of an armed conflict or its character as international or noninternational;
    • In that context there is no requirement for awareness by the perpetrator of the facts that established the character of the conflict as international or noninternational;
    • There is only a requirement for the awareness of the factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict that is implicit in the terms “took place in the context of and was associated with”.

Article 8 (2)(b)(xxiii) - War crime of using protected persons as shields

  • Elements
    • The perpetrator moved or otherwise took advantage of the location of one or more civilians or other persons protected under the international law of armed conflict.
    • The perpetrator intended to shield a military objective from attack or shield, favour or impede military operations.
    • The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an international armed conflict.
    • The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.

Regulations of the Court Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor Regulations of the Registry Code of Professional Conduct for counsel Code of Conduct for the Office of the Prosecutor Code of Judicial Ethics

International Humanitarian Law Database

Customary International Humanitarian Law

Rule 1 - The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants

  • Rule 1. The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 1, Section A.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. The three components of this rule are interrelated and the practice pertaining to each of them reinforces the validity of the others. The term combatant in this rule is used in its generic meaning, indicating persons who do not enjoy the protection against attack accorded to civilians, but does not imply a right to combatant status or prisoner-of-war status (see Chapter 33).This rule has to be read in conjunction with the prohibition to attack persons recognized to be hors de combat (see Rule 47) and with the rule that civilians are protected against attack unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities (see Rule 6). Belligerent reprisals against civilians are discussed in Chapter 41.
    • International armed conflicts
      • The principle of distinction between civilians and combatants was first set forth in the St. Petersburg Declaration, which states that “the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy”. The Hague Regulations do not as such specify that a distinction must be made between civilians and combatants, but Article 25, which prohibits “the attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended”, is based on this principle. The principle of distinction is now codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” means “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence”. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, Mexico stated that Articles 51 and 52 of Additional Protocol I were so essential that they “cannot be the subject of any reservations whatsoever since these would be inconsistent with the aim and purpose of Protocol I and undermine its basis”. Also at the Diplomatic Conference, the United Kingdom stated that Article 51(2) was a “valuable reaffirmation” of an existing rule of customary international law. The prohibition on directing attacks against civilians is also laid down in Protocol II, Amended Protocol II and Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and in the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines. In addition, under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts. Numerous military manuals, including those of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I, stipulate that a distinction must be made between civilians and combatants and that it is prohibited to direct attacks against civilians. Sweden’s IHL Manual identifies the principle of distinction as laid down in Article 48 of Additional Protocol I as a rule of customary international law. In addition, there are numerous examples of national legislation which make it a criminal offence to direct attacks against civilians, including the legislation of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I. In the Kassem case in 1969, Israel’s Military Court at Ramallah recognized the immunity of civilians from direct attack as one of the basic rules of international humanitarian law. There are, moreover, many official statements which invoke the rule, including by States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I. The rule has also been invoked by parties to Additional Protocol I against non-parties. In their pleadings before the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons case, many States invoked the principle of distinction. In its advisory opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the Court stated that the principle of distinction was one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”. When the ICRC appealed to the parties to the conflict in the Middle East in October 1973, i.e., before the adoption of Additional Protocol I, to respect the distinction between combatants and civilians, the States concerned (Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syria) replied favourably.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • Article 13(2) of Additional Protocol II prohibits making the civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, the object of attack. The prohibition on directing attacks against civilians is also contained in Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. It is also set forth in Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which has been made applicable in non-international armed conflicts pursuant to an amendment of Article 1 of the Convention adopted by consensus in 2001. The Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines states that the Convention is based, inter alia, on “the principle that a distinction must be made between civilians and combatants”. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities” constitutes a war crime in non-international armed conflicts. In addition, this rule is included in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts. Military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts specify that a distinction must be made between combatants and civilians to the effect that only the former may be targeted. To direct attacks against civilians in any armed conflict is an offence under the legislation of numerous States. There are also a number of official statements pertaining to non-international armed conflicts invoking the principle of distinction and condemning attacks directed against civilians. States’ submissions to the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons case referred to above were couched in general terms applicable in all armed conflicts. No official contrary practice was found with respect to either international or non-international armed conflicts. This rule is sometimes expressed in other terms, in particular as the principle of distinction between combatants and non-combatants, whereby civilians who do not take a direct part in hostilities are included in the category of non-combatants. Alleged violations of this rule have generally been condemned by States, irrespective of whether the conflict was international or non-international. Similarly, the UN Security Council has condemned or called for an end to alleged attacks against civilians in the context of numerous conflicts, both international and non-international, including in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Georgia, Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslavia and the territories occupied by Israel. As early as 1938, the Assembly of the League of Nations stated that “the intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal”. The 20th International Conference of the Red Cross in 1965 solemnly declared that governments and other authorities responsible for action in all armed conflicts should conform to the prohibition on launching attacks against a civilian population. Subsequently, a UN General Assembly resolution on respect for human rights in armed conflicts, adopted in 1968, declared the principle of distinction to be applicable in all armed conflicts. The Plan of Action for the years 2000–2003, adopted by the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, requires that all parties to an armed conflict respect “the total ban on directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities”. In a resolution adopted in 2000 on protection of civilians in armed conflicts, the UN Security Council reaffirmed its strong condemnation of the deliberate targeting of civilians in all situations of armed conflict. The jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons case, of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in particular in the Tadić case, Martić case and Kupreškić case, and of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case relative to the events at La Tablada in Argentina provides further evidence that the obligation to make a distinction between civilians and combatants is customary in both international and non-international armed conflicts. The ICRC has called on parties to both international and non-international armed conflicts to respect the distinction between combatants and civilians.

Rule 6 - Civilians’ Loss of Protection from Attack

  • Rule 6. Civilians are protected against attack, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 1, Section F.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. The use of human shields is the subject of Rule 97.
    • International armed conflicts
      • The rule whereby civilians lose their protection against attack when and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities is contained in Article 51(3) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations have been made. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, Mexico stated that Article 51 of Additional Protocol I was so essential that it “cannot be the subject of any reservations whatsoever since these would be inconsistent with the aim and purpose of Protocol I and undermine its basis”. Also at the Diplomatic Conference, the United Kingdom stated that the exception to the civilian immunity from attack contained in Article 51(3) was a “valuable reaffirmation” of an existing rule of customary international law. Upon ratification of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the United Kingdom declared that civilians enjoyed the protection of the Convention “unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities”.
      • Numerous military manuals state that civilians are not protected against attack when they take a direct part in hostilities. The rule is supported by official statements and reported practice. This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I. When the ICRC appealed to the parties to the conflict in the Middle East in October 1973, i.e., before the adoption of Additional Protocol I, to respect civilian immunity from attack, unless and for such time as they took a direct part in hostilities, the States concerned (Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syria) replied favourably.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • Pursuant to Article 13(3) of Additional Protocol II, civilians are immune from direct attack “unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities”. In addition, this rule is set forth in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.
      • The rule that civilians are not protected against attack when they take a direct part in hostilities is included in many military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts.
      • In the case concerning the events at La Tablada in Argentina, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held that civilians who directly take part in fighting, whether singly or as members of a group, thereby become legitimate military targets but only for such time as they actively participate in combat.
      • To the extent that members of armed opposition groups can be considered civilians (see commentary to Rule 5), this rule appears to create an imbalance between such groups and governmental armed forces. Application of this rule would imply that an attack on members of armed opposition groups is only lawful for "such time as they take a direct part in hostilities" while an attack on members of governmental armed forces would be lawful at any time. Such imbalance would not exist if members of armed opposition groups were, due to their membership, either considered to be continuously taking a direct part in hostilities or not considered to be civilians.
      • It is clear that the lawfulness of an attack on a civilian depends on what exactly constitutes direct participation in hostilities and, related thereto, when direct participation begins and when it ends. As explained below, the meaning of direct participation in hostilities has not yet been clarified. It should be noted, however, that whatever meaning is given to these terms, immunity from attack does not imply immunity from arrest and prosecution.
    • Definition
      • A precise definition of the term “direct participation in hostilities” does not exist. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has stated that the term “direct participation in hostilities” is generally understood to mean “acts which, by their nature or purpose, are intended to cause actual harm to enemy personnel and matériel”. Loss of protection against attack is clear and uncontested, as evidenced by several military manuals, when a civilian uses weapons or other means to commit acts of violence against human or material enemy forces.But there is also a lot of practice which gives little or no guidance on the interpretation of the term “direct participation”, stating, for example, that the assessment of direct participation has to be made on a case-by-case basis or simply repeating the general rule that direct participation causes civilians to lose protection against attack. The military manuals of Ecuador and the United States give several examples of acts constituting direct participation in hostilities, such as serving as guards, intelligence agents or lookouts on behalf of military forces. The Report on the Practice of the Philippines similarly considers that civilians acting as spies, couriers or lookouts lose their protection against attack.
      • In a report on human rights in Colombia, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights sought to distinguish “direct” from “indirect” participation:
        • Civilians whose activities merely support the adverse party’s war or military effort or otherwise only indirectly participate in hostilities cannot on these grounds alone be considered combatants. This is because indirect participation, such as selling goods to one or more of the armed parties, expressing sympathy for the cause of one of the parties or, even more clearly, failing to act to prevent an incursion by one of the armed parties, does not involve acts of violence which pose an immediate threat of actual harm to the adverse party.
      • The distinction between direct and indirect participation had previously been developed by the Special Representative of the UN Commission on Human Rights for El Salvador. It is clear, however, that international law does not prohibit States from adopting legislation that makes it a punishable offence for anyone to participate in hostilities, whether directly or indirectly.
      • The Report on the Practice of Rwanda makes a distinction between acts that constitute direct participation in international and non-international armed conflicts and excludes logistical support in non-international armed conflicts from acts that constitute direct participation. According to the responses of Rwandan army officers to a questionnaire referred to in the report, unarmed civilians who follow their armed forces during an international armed conflict in order to provide them with food, transport munitions or carry messages, for example, lose their status as civilians. In the context of a non-international armed conflict, however, unarmed civilians who collaborate with one of the parties to the conflict always remain civilians. According to the report, this distinction is justified by the fact that in internal armed conflicts civilians are forced to cooperate with the party that holds them in its power.
      • It is fair to conclude, however, that outside the few uncontested examples cited above, in particular use of weapons or other means to commit acts of violence against human or material enemy forces, a clear and uniform definition of direct participation in hostilities has not been developed in State practice.
      • Several military manuals specify that civilians working in military objectives, for example, munitions factories, do not participate directly in hostilities but must assume the risks involved in an attack on that military objective. The injuries or death caused to such civilians are considered incidental to an attack upon a legitimate target which must be minimized by taking all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods, for example, by attacking at night (see Rule 17). The theory that such persons must be considered quasi-combatants, liable to attack, finds no support in modern State practice.
    • Situations of doubt as to the character of a person
      • The issue of how to classify a person in case of doubt is complex and difficult. In the case of international armed conflicts, Additional Protocol I has sought to resolve this issue by stating that “in case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian”. Some States have written this rule into their military manuals. Others have expressed reservations about the military ramifications of a strict interpretation of such a rule. In particular, upon ratification of Additional Protocol I, France and the United Kingdom expressed their understanding that this presumption does not override commanders’ duty to protect the safety of troops under their command or to preserve their military situation, in conformity with other provisions of Additional Protocol I. The US Naval Handbook states that:
        • Direct participation in hostilities must be judged on a case-by-case basis. Combatants in the field must make an honest determination as to whether a particular civilian is or is not subject to deliberate attack based on the person’s behavior, location and attire, and other information available at the time.
      • In the light of the foregoing, it is fair to conclude that when there is a situation of doubt, a careful assessment has to be made under the conditions and restraints governing a particular situation as to whether there are sufficient indications to warrant an attack. One cannot automatically attack anyone who might appear dubious.
      • In the case of non-international armed conflicts, the issue of doubt has hardly been addressed in State practice, even though a clear rule on this subject would be desirable as it would enhance the protection of the civilian population against attack. In this respect, the same balanced approach as described above with respect to international armed conflicts seems justified in non-international armed conflicts.

Rule 14 - Proportionality in Attack

  • Rule 14. Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 4.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
    • International armed conflicts
      • The principle of proportionality in attack is codified in Article 51(5)(b) of Additional Protocol I, and repeated in Article 57.1 At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, France voted against Article 51 because it deemed that paragraph 5 by its “very complexity would seriously hamper the conduct of defensive military operations against an invader and prejudice the inherent right of legitimate defence”.2 Upon ratification of Additional Protocol I, however, France did not enter a reservation to this provision. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, Mexico stated that Article 51 was so essential that it “cannot be the subject of any reservations whatsoever since these would be inconsistent with the aim and purpose of Protocol I and undermine its basis”.3 Also at the Diplomatic Conference, several States expressed the view that the principle of proportionality contained a danger for the protection of the civilian population but did not indicate an alternative solution to deal with the issue of incidental damage from attacks on lawful targets.4 The United Kingdom stated that Article 51(5)(b) was “a useful codification of a concept that was rapidly becoming accepted by all States as an important principle of international law relating to armed conflict”.5
      • The principle of proportionality in attack is also contained in Protocol II and Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.6 In addition, under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects … which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.7
      • A large number of military manuals lay down the principle of proportionality in attack.8 Sweden’s IHL Manual, in particular, identifies the principle of proportionality as set out in Article 51(5) of Additional Protocol I as a rule of customary international law.9 Numerous States have adopted legislation making it an offence to carry out an attack which violates the principle of proportionality.10This rule is supported by official statements.11 This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I.12 When the ICRC appealed to the parties to the conflict in the Middle East in October 1973, i.e., before the adoption of Additional Protocol I, to respect the principle of proportionality in attack, the States concerned (Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Syrian Arab Republic) replied favourably.13
      • In their submissions to the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons case and Nuclear Weapons (WHO) case, numerous States, including States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I, invoked the principle of proportionality in their assessments of whether an attack with nuclear weapons would violate international humanitarian law.14 In its advisory opinion, the Court acknowledged the applicability of the principle of proportionality, stating that “respect for the environment is one of the elements that go to assessing whether an action is in conformity with the principles of necessity and proportionality”.15
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • While Additional Protocol II does not contain an explicit reference to the principle of proportionality in attack, it has been argued that it is inherent in the principle of humanity which was explicitly made applicable to the Protocol in its preamble and that, as a result, the principle of proportionality cannot be ignored in the application of the Protocol.16 The principle has been included in more recent treaty law applicable in non-international armed conflicts, namely Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.17 In addition, it is included in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.18
      • Military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts specify the principle of proportionality in attack.19 Many States have adopted legislation making it an offence to violate the principle of proportionality in attack in any armed conflict.20 In the Military Junta case in 1985, the National Appeals Court of Argentina considered the principle of proportionality in attack to be part of customary international law.21 There are also a number of official statements pertaining to armed conflicts in general or to non-international armed conflicts in particular that refer to this rule.22 The pleadings of States before the International Court of Justice in the Nuclear Weapons case referred to above were couched in general terms applicable in all armed conflicts.
      • The jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights provide further evidence of the customary nature of this rule in non-international armed conflicts.23
      • No official contrary practice was found with respect to either international or non-international armed conflicts. Alleged violations of the principle of proportionality in attack have generally been condemned by States.24 The United Nations and other international organizations have also condemned such violations, for example, in the context of the conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.25
      • The ICRC has reminded parties to both international and non-international armed conflicts of their duty to respect the principle of proportionality in attack.26
    • Interpretation
      • Several States have stated that the expression “military advantage” refers to the advantage anticipated from the military attack considered as a whole and not only from isolated or particular parts of that attack.27 The relevant provision in the Statute of the International Criminal Court refers to the civilian injuries, loss of life or damage being excessive “in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated” (emphasis added).28 The ICRC stated at the Rome Conference on the Statute of the International Criminal Court that the addition of the word “overall” to the definition of the crime could not be interpreted as changing existing law.29 Australia, Canada and New Zealand have stated that the term “military advantage” includes the security of the attacking forces.30
      • Upon ratification of Additional Protocol I, Australia and New Zealand stated that they interpreted the term “concrete and direct military advantage anticipated” as meaning that there is a bona fide expectation that the attack would make a relevant and proportional contribution to the objective of the military attack involved.31According to the Commentary on the Additional Protocols, the expression “concrete and direct” military advantage was used in order to indicate that the advantage must be “substantial and relatively close, and that advantages which are hardly perceptible and those which would only appear in the long term should be disregarded”.32
      • Numerous States have pointed out that those responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing attacks necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which is available to them at the relevant time.33 These statements were generally made with reference to Articles 51–58 of Additional Protocol I, without excluding their application to the customary rule.

Rule 22 - Principle of Precautions against the Effects of Attacks

  • Rule 22. The parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 6, Section A.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. This is a basic rule to which more content is given by the specific obligations contained in Rules 23–24. The practice collected in terms of those specific obligations is also relevant to prove the existence of this rule and vice versa.
    • International armed conflicts
      • The duty of each party to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under its control against the effects of attacks is set forth in Article 58(c) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations have been made.
      • Numerous military manuals restate the duty of parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks. This obligation is supported by official statements and reported practice. This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • The obligation to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects against the effects of attacks was included in the draft of Additional Protocol II but was dropped at the last moment as part of a package aimed at the adoption of a simplified text. As a result, Additional Protocol II does not explicitly require precautions against the effects of attack. Article 13(1) requires that “the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations”. It would be difficult to comply with this requirement without taking precautions against the effects of attack. The requirement to take precautions against the effects of attacks has, moreover, been included in more recent treaty law applicable in non-international armed conflicts, namely the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. In addition, this rule is contained in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.
      • Military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts specify the requirement to take precautions against the effects of attacks. It is supported by reported practice.
      • In 1965, the 20th International Conference of the Red Cross adopted a resolution calling on governments and other authorities responsible for action in all armed conflicts to spare the civilian population as much as possible. This was reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly in a resolution on respect for human rights in armed conflict adopted in 1968. In addition, in a resolution adopted in 1970 on basic principles for the protection of civilian populations in armed conflicts, the UN General Assembly required that “in the conduct of military operations, every effort should be made to spare civilian populations from the ravages of war, and all necessary precautions should be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilian populations”.
      • The jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Kupreškić case provides further evidence of the customary nature of the requirement to take precautions against the effects of attacks in both international and non-international armed conflicts. In its judgment, the Tribunal considered that this rule was customary because it specified and fleshed out general pre-existing norms. It can be argued indeed that the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7), which is customary in international and non-international armed conflicts, inherently requires respect for this rule. The Tribunal also relied on the fact that this rule had not been contested by any State. This study found no official contrary practice either.
      • This practice should be read together with the extensive practice on the prohibition of the use of human shields (see Rule 97). The deliberate violation of the obligation to take all feasible precautions against the effects of attacks is often related to the use of human shields. In addition, international case-law has confirmed the obligation under international human rights law to take positive steps to protect life (see commentary to Rule 97).
    • Examples of precautions against the effects of attacks
      • Specific examples of how the general obligation to take precautions against the effects of attacks has been implemented include first and foremost the two specific obligations identified in Rules 23 and 24 below.
      • In addition, practice has shown that the construction of shelters, digging of trenches, distribution of information and warnings, withdrawal of the civilian population to safe places, direction of traffic, guarding of civilian property and the mobilization of civil defence organizations are measures that can be taken to spare the civilian population and civilian objects under the control of a party to the conflict.
    • Feasibility of precautions against the effects of attack
      • The obligation to take precautions against the effects of attacks “to the extent feasible” has been interpreted by many States as meaning that the obligation is limited to those precautions which are practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations. The Rapporteur of the Working Group at the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols reported that after the phrase “to the maximum extent feasible” had been introduced to qualify all subparagraphs of Article 58, agreement was quickly reached. According to the Rapporteur, this revision reflected the concern of small and densely populated countries which would find it difficult to separate civilians and civilian objects from military objectives and that even large countries would find such separation difficult or impossible to arrange in many cases. Upon ratification of Additional Protocol I, Austria and Switzerland stated that the obligation would be applied subject to the requirements of the defence of the national territory.
      • State practice indicates that an attacker is not prevented from attacking military objectives if the defender fails to take appropriate precautions or deliberately uses civilians to shield military operations. The attacker remains bound in all circumstances, however, to take appropriate precautions in attack (see Rule 15) and must respect the principle of proportionality (see Rule 14) even though the defender violates international humanitarian law.
    • Information required for deciding upon precautions against the effects of attack
      • Numerous States have indicated that military commanders have to reach decisions concerning the taking of precautions against the effects of attack on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which is available to them at the relevant time.

Rule 23. Location of Military Objectives outside Densely Populated Areas

  • Rule 23. Each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 6, Section B.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in international, and arguably also in non-international, armed conflicts. This rule is an application of the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7). It is also related to the prohibition of human shields (see Rule 97), as everything feasible must be done to separate military objectives from the civilian population, but in no event may civilians be used to shield military objectives.
    • International armed conflicts
      • The duty of each party to the conflict to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas is set forth in Article 58(b) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations relevant to this rule have been made. It is also contained in the Israel-Lebanon Ceasefire Understanding of 1996.
      • A large number of military manuals include this obligation. It is also supported by official statements and reported practice. This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • Although Additional Protocol II does not explicitly require precautions against the effects of attacks, Article 13(1) stipulates that “the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations” and it would be difficult to afford such protection when military objectives are located within or near densely populated areas. The requirement to take this precaution against the effects of attacks has, moreover, been included in more recent treaty law applicable in non-international armed conflicts, namely the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. In addition, this rule is contained in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.
      • Military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts specify the duty of each party to the conflict to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.
      • The jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Kupreškić case provides further evidence of the customary nature of the duty of each party to the conflict to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas in both international and non-international armed conflicts. In its judgment, the Tribunal considered that this rule was customary because it specified and fleshed out general pre-existing norms. It can be argued indeed that the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7) and the principle of proportionality (see Rule 14), which are both customary in international and non-international armed conflicts, inherently require respect for this rule. The Tribunal also relied on the fact that this rule had not been contested by any State. This study found no official contrary practice either.
      • In 1979, in the context of the conflict in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, the ICRC appealed to the Patriotic Front to “clearly separate civilian establishments, particularly refugee camps, from military installations”.
      • The rules which require that persons deprived of their liberty be held in premises which are removed from the combat zone (see Rule 121) and that in case of displacement all possible measures be taken in order that the civilian population may be received under satisfactory conditions of safety (see Rule 131), which are both applicable in international and non-international armed conflicts, are also relevant in establishing the customary nature of this rule.
    • Interpretation
      • While some practice refers to the duty to locate military bases and installations outside densely populated areas, practice in general limits this obligation to what is feasible. It is possible, as several reports on State practice point out, that demographic changes cause military bases to be located within or near cities where this was originally not the case. When such objectives involve immovable property, it is less feasible to move them than in the case of movable property. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, South Korea stated that this rule “does not constitute a restriction on a State’s military installations on its own territory”. Dual use installations, such as railway stations and airports, may even be located near or inside densely populated areas on purpose.

Rule 80 - Booby-Traps

  • Rule 80. The use of booby-traps which are in any way attached to or associated with objects or persons entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law or with objects that are likely to attract civilians is prohibited.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 28.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
    • International armed conflicts
      • Both treaty practice and other State practice support the premise that booby-traps are prohibited if, by their nature or employment, their use violates the legal protection accorded to a protected person or object by another customary rule of international humanitarian law. This is the reasoning behind the list of booby-traps prohibited in Protocol II and Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
      • The list of booby-traps prohibited by Protocol II and Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is found in the military manuals and legislation of some States party to these treaties. Other military manuals are more general in their description and stress that booby-traps associated with objects in normal civilian daily use are prohibited, and that booby-traps must not be used in association with protected persons, protected objects (such as medical supplies, gravesites and cultural or religious property) or internationally recognized protective emblems or signs (such as the red cross and red crescent). Several manuals further specify that booby-traps must not be used in connection with certain objects likely to attract civilians, such as children’s toys. These prohibitions are also to be found in the military manuals and statements of States not, or not at the time, party to Protocol II or Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • The premise behind the prohibitions of the use of certain kinds of booby-traps or the use of booby-traps in certain situations during international armed conflicts is equally valid for non-international armed conflicts. Furthermore, during the discussions on the extension of the applicability of Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to non-international armed conflicts, the application of the Protocol’s provisions on booby-traps to such conflicts was uncontested. Although the discussions took place in the context of treaty negotiations, they indicate that States considered it pertinent that civilians and objects protected by the rules of international humanitarian law applicable in non-international armed conflicts should equally be protected against booby-traps that would have the effect of violating those rules.
      • In addition, the regulation of booby-traps is also contained in military manuals and national legislation applicable in non-international armed conflicts. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has held that the prohibition of certain booby-traps in non-international armed conflicts is part of customary international law.
    • Use of other booby-traps
      • Booby-traps which are used in a way not prohibited by the current rule are still subject to the general rules on the conduct of hostilities, in particular the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7) and the principle of proportionality (see Rule 14). In addition, the rule that all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects (see Rule 15) must also be respected.

Rule 81 - Restrictions on the Use of Landmines

  • Rule 81. When landmines are used, particular care must be taken to minimize their indiscriminate effects.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 29, Section B.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. This rule applies to the use of anti-vehicle mines. It also applies in relation to anti-personnel landmines for States which have not yet adopted a total ban on their use.
    • International armed conflicts
      • Many of the rules in both the original and amended versions of Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, as well as other State practice, are aimed at obviating the indiscriminate effects of mines. The provisions of these treaties, which include the prohibitions of certain types of mines as well as further limitations, are specifically aimed at limiting the potentially indiscriminate damage caused by these weapons. Furthermore, practice shows that the customary rules applying to the conduct of hostilities, such as the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7), the principle of proportionality (see Rule 14) and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack (see Rule 15), are equally applicable to the use of landmines.
      • The obligation to take particular care when using landmines is based on a number of rules that have been codified in Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. This Protocol sets out general rules on the emplacement of all landmines. It also outlines specific restrictions on the use of remotely delivered landmines and non-remotely delivered landmines used in populated areas. In addition, the Protocol requires that all feasible precautions be taken to protect civilians from the effects of these weapons. The Protocol also refers to special precautionary measures such as marking and signposting of minefields, recording minefields, monitoring minefields and procedures to protect UN forces and missions. Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was adopted by consensus and was not controversial at the time.
      • Many military manuals set forth special precautionary measures to be taken when using landmines. There are also indications that the provisions of Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons are considered to constitute an authoritative minimum standard in relation to the use of landmines which are not specifically prohibited under treaty obligations, as are anti-personnel landmines under the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. As a result, these precautionary measures as a whole provide an indication of the types of measures States believe must be taken to minimize the indiscriminate effects of landmines.
      • Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons reaffirms and develops the precautionary measures to be taken when using landmines.
    • Non-international armed conflicts
      • The original Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was only applicable in international armed conflicts, and physical practice in internal conflicts has for the most part not been consistent with these rules. However, the concern shown by the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly and individual States about the effects of landmines on civilians in non-international armed conflicts is an indication of the international community’s view that civilians must be protected from mines in such situations. The extension of the scope of application of Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to non-international armed conflicts reflects this view. Since then, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons itself has been amended so that the original Protocol II is also applicable in non-international armed conflicts for States adhering to the amended Convention. The amendment, adopted at the Second Review Conference in 2001, was not controversial. Hence, there is a strong case for the existence of a customary rule in non-international armed conflicts that mines must not be used in ways that amount to indiscriminate attacks and that particular care must therefore be taken to minimize their indiscriminate effects.
    • Anti-personnel landmines
      • With over 140 ratifications of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines, and others on the way, the majority of States are treaty-bound no longer to use, produce, stockpile and transfer anti-personnel landmines. However, several States, including China, Finland, India, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Russian Federation and the United States, have not ratified the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines and maintain that they are still entitled to use anti-personnel landmines. About a dozen non-party States have used anti-personnel mines in recent conflicts. This practice means that it cannot be said at this stage that the use of anti-personnel landmines is prohibited under customary international law.
      • However, almost all States, including those that are not party to the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines and are not in favour of their immediate ban, have agreed that they need to work towards the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines. Particularly noteworthy is the Final Declaration adopted by consensus by States party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons at the Second Review Conference in 2001, including by a number of States not party to the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. In the Declaration, the States parties “solemnly declare … their conviction that all States should strive towards the goal of the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines globally”. In addition, a number of UN General Assembly resolutions have urged States to contribute to the elimination of anti-personnel landmines. Although there were some abstentions to these resolutions, the majority of abstaining States have since joined the Declaration adopted at the Second Review Conference or have made statements recognizing the goal of the eventual elimination of anti-personnel mines, in particular Ethiopia in 1995 and Turkey in 2002 (which has now also ratified the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines). Resolutions adopted by the OIC Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in 1995 and 1996 and by the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995 also support the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines. It is particularly noteworthy that, at their First Meeting in Maputo in 1999, States party to the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines adopted a Declaration calling upon States still using or possessing anti-personnel landmines to “cease now” from so doing. Such a statement to non-party States is a significant indication of the belief that all States should work towards the elimination of anti-personnel mines. All the practice cited above appears to indicate that an obligation to eliminate anti-personnel landmines is emerging.

Rule 97 - Human Shields

  • Rule 97. The use of human shields is prohibited.
    • Practice
      • Volume II, Chapter 32, Section J.
    • Summary
      • State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
    • International and non-international armed conflicts
      • In the context of international armed conflicts, this rule is set forth in the Third Geneva Convention (with respect to prisoners of war), the Fourth Geneva Convention (with respect to protected civilians) and Additional Protocol I (with respect to civilians in general). Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts
      • The prohibition of using human shields is contained in numerous military manuals, many of which extend the prohibition to all civilians. Using human shields constitutes a criminal offence under the legislation of many States. This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I or to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. In 1990 and 1991, there was extensive condemnation by States of the use of prisoners of war and civilians by Iraq as human shields, and the United States declared that such use amounted to a war crime. The use of prisoners of war as human shields during the Second World War was the subject of war crimes trials by the UK Military Court at Lüneberg in the Student case in 1946 and by the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in the Von Leeb (The High Command Trial) case in 1948. In the Karadžić and Mladić case in 1995 before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the accused were charged with war crimes for using UN peacekeepers as human shields. In its review of the indictments the Tribunal upheld this charge.
      • With respect to non-international armed conflicts, Additional Protocol II does not explicitly mention the use of human shields, but such practice would be prohibited by the requirement that “the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations”. It is significant, furthermore, that the use of human shields has often been equated with the taking of hostages, which is prohibited by Additional Protocol II, and by customary international law (see Rule 96). In addition, deliberately using civilians to shield military operations is contrary to the principle of distinction and violates the obligation to take feasible precautions to separate civilians and military objectives (see Rules 23–24).
      • Several military manuals which apply in non-international armed conflicts prohibit the use of human shields. The legislation of several States criminalizes the use of human shields in non-international armed conflicts. The use of human shields in non-international armed conflicts has been condemned by States and by the United Nations, for example, with respect to the conflicts in Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tajikistan and the former Yugoslavia.
      • No official contrary practice was found.
      • The ICRC has reminded parties to both international and non-international armed conflicts of the prohibition of using human shields.
      • International human rights law does not prohibit the use of human shields as such, but this practice would constitute, among other things, a violation of the non-derogable right not to be arbitrarily deprived of the right to life (see commentary to Rule 89). The UN Human Rights Committee and regional human rights bodies have indicated that this right involves not only the right not to be killed, but also the duty of States to take measures to protect life. In Demiray v. Turkey, in which the applicant submitted that her husband had been used as a human shield, the European Court of Human Rights stated that “Article 2 may … imply in certain well-defined circumstances a positive obligation on the authorities to take preventive operational measures to protect an individual for which they are responsible”.
    • Definition of human shields
      • The prohibition of using human shields in the Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol I and the Statute of the International Criminal Court are couched in terms of using the presence (or movements) of civilians or other protected persons to render certain points or areas (or military forces) immune from military operations. Most examples given in military manuals, or which have been the object of condemnations, have been cases where persons were actually taken to military objectives in order to shield those objectives from attacks. The military manuals of New Zealand and the United Kingdom give as examples the placing of persons in or next to ammunition trains. There were many condemnations of the threat by Iraq to round up and place prisoners of war and civilians in strategic sites and around military defence points. Other condemnations on the basis of this prohibition related to rounding up civilians and putting them in front of military units in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Liberia.
      • In the Review of the Indictments in the Karadžić and Mladić case, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia qualified physically securing or otherwise holding peacekeeping forces against their will at potential NATO air targets, including ammunition bunkers, a radar site and a communications centre, as using “human shields”.
      • It can be concluded that the use of human shields requires an intentional co-location of military objectives and civilians or persons hors de combat with the specific intent of trying to prevent the targeting of those military objectives.

General notes

Addressing the legality of a blockade

Three Sources of International Law

  • Treaties
    • Agreements ratified between two or more countries.
  • Customary Law
    • A group of people across time engage in a practice that is not codified into law, essentially common law?
    • They do this because they have a subjective belief that this is compulsory
  • General Principles
    • The permanent court of international justice in the league of nations was the first international court
  • Case laws by international courts and writing by international publicists

Big International Courts

  • lol there's a lot
  • Who even has jurisdiction?


  • Applicable Law
    • What pieces of international law are applicable to this situation?
  • Jurisdiction
    • What courts can decide whether a law has been broken or not?
  • ICJ or the ICC
    • ICC litigates between individuals and the ICJ litigates between countries
  • The ICC - In Hague
    • The ICC recognizes essentially four crimes
      • Genocide
        • Intentional destruction of a group of people.
      • Crimes against humanity
        • Widespread or criminal activity by a de facto authority that grossly violate humans, usually by or on behalf of a state.
          • Includes things like apartheid
      • War crimes
        • Essentially referencing the Geneva Conventions.
      • Crimes of aggression
        • Aggressive or large-scale act of aggression using state military force, holds accountable leaders of war.

People or nationals who are signatories to the Rome Statue of the ICC are capable of bringing cases to this court.

  • The ICJ
    • Random Facts
      • Exists under the UN, if you become a member of the UN, you automatically a member of this court.
      • Litigates issues between nations.
    • Jurisdictions
      • Three ways to establish jurisdictions
        • Special agreement
          • Two states go before the court and sign a special agreement for the purpose of the court having jurisdiction.
            • Not valid if...
              • Coercion exists, corruption exists, bribery, etc...
              • Imperative law could be violated, meaning some international norm or law is violated.
      • Incompatibility with other agreement
        • Compromissory clause
          • The parties can bring something to the ICJ if there's a violation to another treaty.
        • Optional clause declaration
          • Article 38 says states can make unilateral declaration allowing anyone to submit cases to them against the ICJ.
            • This is subject to reciprocity, for this clause
            • States can carve out exceptions relating to other issues, say the law of the sea


https://international-review.icrc.org/sites/default/files/irrc_866_9.pdf https://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft_articles/9

War Crimes



  • Using children as human shields.
  • Forcing Palestinian civilians to enter houses ahead of Israeli soldiers during military operations.



  • Accusations of Hamas hiding in al-Shifa basement
  • Booby trapping houses with IEDs.
  • Mannequins placed at apartment entrances and rigged to explode.
  • Militants taking cover in UNRWA buildings.
  • Ammunition and weapons stored under mosques and public buildings.
  • Soldiers dressed in civilian uniform.

Operation Protective Edge (2014) =



  • Use of civilians as human shields.
  • Amnesty International found Hamas urged residents to not leave homes despite Israeli warnings.
  • B'tselem found that Hamas fired from civilian areas and into civilian areas.
  • Fatah officials said that Hamas placed over 250 Fatah members under house arrest or in jail, putting them under threat of being killed by Israeli strikes and shooting them in the legs or breaking their limbs if they tried to leave. According to Abbas, more than 300 Fatah members were placed under house arrest and 120 were executed for fleeing.
  • On 16 July, 22 July, and on 29 July, UNRWA announced that rockets had been found in their schools.
  • On 30 July, the IDF said that they had discovered the entrance to a tunnel concealed inside a UNRWA medical clinic in Khan Yunis. The clinic was rigged with explosives, which then exploded and killed three Israeli soldiers. This report was later corrected by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the military unit that implements government policies in the Palestinian areas, who later that day stated that despite its UNRWA sign, the site was not registered as belonging to UNRWA.

Operation Iron Swords (2023)




2023.10.10 - Israel – Hamas 2023 Symposium – The Legal Context of Operations Al-Aqsa Flood and Swords of Iron - by Michael N. Schmitt

  • Notes
    • The resort to force is prohibited by Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and customary international law. It is a prohibition limited to interstate uses of force unless the forcible actions are legally attributable to a State (as described in the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility). In that Hamas is neither a State nor are its attacks likely attributable to a State, it has not violated this prohibition. Neither has Israel, for it is directing its operations against a non-State group.
    • Yet, even if Hamas’s action were attributable to a State (Iran or Palestine, for those who consider the latter a State), Israel’s response would nevertheless be lawful by reference to the customary international law right of self-defense enshrined in UN Charter Article 51. Many States (including the United States) and scholars (see Gill) are of the view that at least since the attacks of 9/11, self-defense is permissible against a non-State group even if the group’s “armed attack” was not “on behalf of a State . . . or [with] its substantial involvement therein” (the International Court of Justice’s Paramilitary Activities standard, para. 195).
    • This begs the question whether Hamas’s actions are justified as self-defense, as some supporters claim. They are not. To begin with, it is well accepted that the right of self-defense is limited to States. Even if that were not the case, self-defense is subject to a condition of necessity (Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinion, para. 41; Armed Activities Judgment, para. 147). Necessity has a temporal component that limits forcible defensive actions to those responding to an armed attack that is either underway or imminent.
    • However, this nuanced provision only acknowledges the right of certain peoples to resist and struggle, not necessarily to do so forcibly. The better view is that there is no “right” on the part of a non-State group or individuals to do so except when unlawful violence is being used against them directly and immediately, as in a specific case of acts of ethnic cleansing that are underway. At the time of Hamas’s attack, Israel was not employing unlawful violence directly against any individual in Gaza. Nor were Hamas’ actions crafted to directly defend against any particular unlawful acts of violence.
    • While I accept Professor Dinstein’s general premise that the degree of control necessary to establish a state of occupation is not necessarily the exact degree required to maintain it, I find the contention that Israel has not been in occupation of Gaza since it withdrew to be more convincing. To begin with, effective control suggests some degree of power over the daily governance of the area in question. In Gaza, however, Hamas often governs in a manner that is contrary to Israel’s interests and desires. Moreover, when an area is used regularly as a base of significant military operations against a party to the conflict, the latter cannot be said to control the territory effectively.
    • Therefore, only if Israel enters the territory and stays for a period not necessitated by immediate combat operations should it be considered as occupying Gaza. Simply put, a State is not in effective control if it must fight its way into the territory concerned at high cost. But if it does stay and exert its authority, Israel will be seen as occupying the area. Although this begs the question of whether occupation can even exist in a non-international armed conflict in the first place, Israeli courts applied occupation law to Gaza before the withdrawal of its forces despite early attempts by the government to avoid its de jure applicability (see Kretzmer, p. 210; Dinstein, p. 27). They, and much of the international community, would likely do so again.
  • Conclusions
    • I believe that Hamas had no international law right to launch Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, while Israel was entirely within its rights to mount Operation Swords of Iron. The hostilities that have resulted are best classified as a non-international armed conflict. At the time of the attack, Israel was not occupying Gaza but may qualify as an occupying power if it moves into that area and controls it effectively. Each of these conclusions, however, is subject to reasonable disagreement or qualification. Sadly, much of the commentary on the conflict, especially on social media, has been far from reasonable and often inflammatory.

2023.10.11 - The Siege of Gaza and the Starvation War Crime - by Tom Dannenbaum

2023.10.11 - ISRAEL – HAMAS 2023 SYMPOSIUM – HOSTAGE-TAKING AND THE LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT - by John C. Tramazzo, Kevin S. Coble, Michael N. Schmitt

  • Notes
    • "Hostage-taking during armed conflict is universally condemned. For instance, on Monday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory observed, “[t]he taking of hostages is a violation of international law and constitutes an international crime. Persons deprived of liberty are protected against murder, torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence.” Similarly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “call[ed] on Palestinian armed groups to immediately and unconditionally release all civilians who were captured and are still being held.” He emphasized that “[t]he taking of hostages is prohibited by international law.”"
    • "As a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Israel is bound by Common Article 3. But so too is Hamas, for, as Jelena Pejic has noted in her excellent piece on Common Article 3, “The very language used also makes clear that it binds the non-state party, as it lists obligations incumbent on ‘each party to the conflict’” (p. 9)."
    • But in this case, Hamas has threatened to execute a hostage for every Israeli airstrike. Recalling the definition above, this is a “threat to kill . . . [a] person in order to compel a third party to . . . abstain from doing any act as an explicit . . . condition for the . . . well-being of the hostages.” Additionally, an implicit reason for bringing the hostages into Gaza was almost certainly to frustrate Israeli operations there. And given Hamas’s past practices, it is highly probable that the civilians and even the IDF personnel were captured in preparation for future prisoner exchanges (see, e.g., the Gilad Shalit incident).
    • "According to the ICRC, the prohibition on hostage-taking is now “firmly entrenched in customary international law and is considered a war crime.” We agree. In this regard, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which codifies key customary war crimes, provides that hostage-taking is a war crime in international and non-international armed conflict (art. 8(2)(a)(viii) and art. 8(2)(c)(iii), respectively)."
    • "International criminal tribunals have conducted numerous cases in which defendants were charged with taking hostages. Prominent examples include the ICTY’s Karadžić and Mladić case involving the seizure of nearly 300 UN peacekeepers to shield against NATO air attack, and the 2000 Blaškić and 2001 Kordić and Čerkez cases that resulted in convictions for the taking of civilian hostages."
  • Conclusions
    • "Shockingly, hostage-taking was a central feature of Hamas’ opening salvo in its conflict in Israel. Israel and many other nations, including the United States, are now struggling to address this horrific situation. Unfortunately, hostage rescue operations present some of the most challenging tactical scenarios for armed forces, especially in an environment like Gaza. But Hamas has violated the law of armed conflict without the slightest doubt. It is equally clear that those involved are subject to worldwide prosecution as war criminals under international criminal law."

2023.10.27 - ISRAEL – HAMAS 2023 SYMPOSIUM – THE IDF, HAMAS, AND THE DUTY TO WARN - by Michael N. Schmitt

  • Notes
    • "Seven decades later, the requirement was included in Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which binds the instrument’s 174 parties (which do not include Israel or the United States) during international armed conflict. Its Article 57 requires an attacking State to take various “precautions in attack” (“active precautions”) to avoid harming civilians and civilian objects. Among them is the requirement to give “effective advance warning . . . of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.” Other precautions cited in the article include verifying the target, applying the rule of proportionality during the attack, and selecting tactics, weapons, and targets to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. Although often characterized as an aspect of proportionality (see U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Law of War Manual, § 5.11), I see active precautions as a stand-alone requirement deriving from the principle of distinction, for it applies even when an attack would otherwise satisfy the proportionality rule."
    • "The IDF understands these realities and has accordingly long provided warnings before attacking targets in Gaza and elsewhere (see, e.g., report on 2008 Gaza operation, paras. 262-265; Sharvit, Baruch, & Neuman, p. 367-72)). These practices have drawn a great deal of attention. For instance, an International Law Association (ILA) Study Group on the Conduct of Hostilities (of which I was a member) observed in 2017 that, "Israel’s 2014 operations in Gaza, and the extensive efforts to provide such warnings, have elevated the discourse on this warnings precaution to unprecedented levels: some worry that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) created an unrealistically high bar on when and how to provide warnings; conversely, some condemn the IDF because the warnings did not produce their intended effects; finally, some suggest that the extent of warnings were the result of policy decisions, and not legal obligation.""
    • "To conduct the phone warnings, the IDF employs a specialized team of trained personnel who run a “phone bank” with the sole purpose of contacting individuals who might be affected by a strike. The calls are in some cases extremely precise. For instance, the warning may be that a strike will occur at a specified time. Live operators make some phone warnings, while others consist of generic pre-recorded messages. The personnel in the warning cell speak Arabic fluently, have received cultural training on the civilian population in the target area, and whenever feasible, use all-source fused intelligence to focus on specific individuals who might be at risk. For example, understanding Palestinian culture and family structures, the warning cell may try to contact the male head of a family in a particular apartment building, knowing that he will effectively disseminate the warning to other family members. If a minor or a female answers the phone call, the warning cell attempts to speak to the head of the family. When several buildings in a particular area are targeted, the warning cell may also contact a local civilian official or an informal community leader who will be able to spread the warning effectively and insist on obedience."
    • "Beyond these communicative warnings, the IDF uses military actions designed to warn. In the ground environment, these include warning shots (perhaps with tracers to convey the risk better) and tactical “call-outs,” where ground forces yell to occupants in a building, warning them to leave before the IDF troops enter (also a common U.S. practice). A more controversial method is so-called “roof knocking.” As Colonel Merriam and I explained, “The technique involves employing . . . munitions that impact one corner of the roof and detonates a very small explosion that produces noise and concussion several minutes in advance of the strike. The civilians are hopefully frightened into dispersing. Once it has cleared the target area, the IDF launches the attack.”"
    • "Warnings must be “effective.” This does not require that they prove successful. Instead, the term effective denotes a warning that will reach the affected civilians and, in the circumstances, can reasonably be expected to have the desired effect of reducing the risk to them. To illustrate, a warning to leave a building that does not give the occupants sufficient time to do so is not an effective warning. But the IDF’s warning to residents of northern Gaza to move south is effective, despite being ignored by some, for it has been conveyed to the residents, and up to a million people reportedly have heeded it. Of course, southern Gaza remains dangerous, for the IDF is striking Hamas and other organized armed groups present there, as it may lawfully do. Yet, as it is less dangerous than the north, the warning is effective as a matter of law."
    • "Despite the presumption that an attacker must warn, it need not do so when not feasible. As the DoD Law of War Manual notes, “Circumstances not permitting the giving of advance warning include where giving a warning would be incompatible with legitimate military requirements” (§ All the warning requirements described above are subject to this caveat, which reflects the balance between military necessity and humanitarian considerations that permeates IHL."
    • "Whether circumstances permit is a fact-dependent determination. Consider an attack on a building. If the military objective is the building itself, as in the case of one that houses civilians but also is used for military purposes (a common practice in Gaza), there may be an opportunity to warn the civilian occupants to evacuate without forfeiting the opportunity to achieve the desired military effect on the building. But if the intended target is someone in the building, providing advanced warning might allow them to escape. No warning may be required in such a case because surprise is essential."
    • "The safety of one’s own forces can also preclude warning. For example, dropping leaflets over Gaza may not have been possible if the organized armed groups operating there fielded effective air defenses. Similarly, once the IDF enters Gaza and is engaged in urban combat, warnings by the ground forces often will be impractical, if only because they might alert Hamas to their positions."
    • "A particular obstacle to warnings in Gaza is Hamas’s practice of human shielding. In the past, there have been many instances where civilians have moved voluntarily to the vicinity of targets following IDF warnings. Even more egregious is the use of involuntary human shields. With Hamas holding 200 hostages, the potential for their movement to locations regarding which the IDF issues a specific warning is high. When a warning is likely to result in human shielding, the situation amounts to one in which a warning is not feasible."
    • "Passive precautions include moving civilians from the vicinity of military objectives and avoiding placing military objectives within or near densely populated areas. Although Article 58 includes no reference to warnings, it does require a defender to “take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.” In my opinion, this requires it to warn of attacks when doing so is feasible. As the DoD Law of War Manual observes, “[v]oluntary removal of civilians may be accomplished through the use of warnings” (§ 5.14.2)."
    • "As we are witnessing, civilian casualties in Gaza, even when they amount to lawful collateral damage, benefit Hamas by undercutting support for Israel. Thus, it is no surprise that Hamas has violated its passive precautions obligations by failing to evacuate any civilians from northern Gaza and operating from civilian buildings, including those that are specially protected, like medical facilities. Equally, its failure to warn civilians away from areas where attacks are sure to take place violates IHL, as does urging them to ignore Israeli warnings."
  • Conclusions
    • "Without more facts, it is too early to say whether the IDF has complied with the obligation to warn in every case. However, there is no question that the IDF’s warnings practice, in general, is the gold standard. Indeed, as a matter of policy, the IDF typically exceeds what the law requires. It is likewise clear that its warning to evacuate northern Gaza constitutes an “effective warning,” as that concept is understood in IHL."
    • "This is in sharp contrast to Hamas’s failure to provide any warnings to the civilian population of Gaza and its efforts to neutralize the effectiveness of the IDF’s. That Hamas has violated its own warning obligation under IHL is simply indisputable."

2023.11.03 - ISRAEL – HAMAS 2023 SYMPOSIUM – WHAT IS AND IS NOT HUMAN SHIELDING? - by Michael N. Schmitt

  • Notes
    • "Placing fighters or equipment next to, in, or under facilities where there are many civilians when there appears to be no military need to do so or reasonably available alternatives exist, as in the case of a hospital or a school, is a powerful indicator of intent. As the DoD Law of War Manual observes, “An adversary’s intention to violate this rule is likely to be clear because that adversary normally would make it apparent to the opposing party that attacks against the military objective being shielded would risk harming protected persons or objects”"
    • "Other cases are less clear. For instance, Hamas and other fighters are likely among those civilians fleeing Gaza City. If the fighters are on the evacuation routes solely to retreat from the area into which the IDF is striking, there is no human shielding even though civilians are using the same route. However, if they choose to retreat on that route because of the presence of civilians, they are using human shields. The difficulty would lie in determining their motivation."
    • Although a particular action by Hamas may not qualify as using human shields, the customary requirement to take passive precautions would still apply. As explained in Article 58 of Additional Protocol I, the defender must “avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and has to take “other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.” Thus, operating in the vicinity of civilians and civilian objects, and thereby placing them at significant risk of being harmed incidentally during attacks when doing so is clearly avoidable, violates the requirement. This is a customary law rule applicable in this conflict (see ICTY, Kupreškić, para. 524; ICRC, Customary IHL study, rule 22).
    • "However, in my opinion, individuals who intentionally leverage their civilian status to impede the enemy’s operations are directly participating in hostilities and, therefore, lose these protections from attack for such time as they so participate. This is the position of the United States, Israel, and many prominent scholars (DoD Law of War Manual, §; here, p. 118-19; Dinstein, p. 209). The distinction between involuntary and voluntary shields makes sense, for the latter act to deprive themselves of their LOAC protections, whereas the former are being victimized. To the extent that voluntary shields can de facto (cause the attacker to hesitate) or de jure (render the attack disproportionate if they do not lose civilian protections) make an attack impossible, it would seem clear that they are “participating” in the hostilities very directly. However, although attacks on direct participants technically are permissible under the law of armed conflict, Israel does not conduct them. Instead, the direct participation status of voluntary shields only affects the application of the proportionality and precautions in attack rules during Israeli operations (see here, p. 118)."
    • "In its 2014 Operation Protective Edge into Gaza, the IDF urged the civilian population to evacuate the area of operations and identified evacuation routes, just as it is doing today. Many did not heed the warning. I later had the opportunity to meet with senior IDF legal advisers and discuss the matter in depth. They uniformly rejected the premise that such individuals should be treated as voluntary shields (see here, p. 119)."
  • Conclusions
    • "Whether this armed conflict is international or non-international in character, using human shields is strictly prohibited. However, the concept of human shielding in the law of armed conflict is narrower than sometimes characterized. In particular, it does not encompass merely acting in the proximity of civilians without intending to use their presence to affect enemy military operations. Nor does it extend to using civilian property to shield unless that property is subject to special protection, as with medical facilities and cultural property."
    • "Nevertheless, Hamas has violated the prohibition by, among other acts, using hostages as shields and preventing civilians from leaving northern Gaza. It has also violated obligations not to use specially protected facilities as shields. And even when its actions do not amount to unlawful shielding, they are subject to the requirement to take feasible passive precautions to safeguard the civilian population. But it must be emphasized that violations of these obligations by Hamas do not release Israel from its obligations to, inter alia, consider involuntary human shields in proportionality calculations and when assessing feasible precautions in attack."

2023.12.01 - Israel – Hamas 2023 Symposium – Israel’s Right to Self-Defence against Hamas - by Nicholas Tsagourias

  • Notes
    • Fourth, self-defence is triggered by a factual occurrence, an armed attack. Whether an armed attack exists does not depend on the status of its author as a State, contrary to the ICJ’s opinion (see Wall Advisory Opinion, para. 139). This is evident from the wording of Article 51 which does not define the author of the armed attack but only the triggering event. Also, an armed attack is not conterminous with a violation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. When the ICJ defined an armed attack as a grave use of force (P__aramilitary Activities, para. 191), it provided a description of the nature of an armed attack by using factual qualifications such a scale and effects. This means there is no restriction as to who can commit an armed attack; it can be a State or a non-State actor.
    • All this means that Israel has the right to act in self-defence against Hamas because the conditions for triggering the right to self-defence have been fulfilled. There was an armed attack and Hamas was the author of the October 7 armed attack. This is regardless of whether Article 2(4) is implicated or the status of Hamas as non-State actor.
  • Conclusions
    • The main take-aways from this post are that the right to self-defence is a primary rule of international law which is not dependent on Article 2(4) prohibiting the use of force. It is also a right which is triggered by a factual event, an armed attack, and is exercised against the author of the attack be that a State or a non-State actor. If a State takes self-defence action against non-State actors on the territory of a State which is not implicated in the attack, the incidental breach of that State’s sovereignty is excused by self-defence as a circumstance precluding wrongfulness according to the law of State responsibility provided that the action stays within the boundaries of self-defence. This shows that there is no gap in international law when faced with non-State attacks and the right to self-defence demonstrates its full potential.

2023.12.28 - ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7 - by Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella

  • Notes
    • Based largely on the video evidence — which was verified by The New York Times — Israeli police officials said they believed that Ms. Abdush was raped, and she has become a symbol of the horrors visited upon Israeli women and girls during the Oct. 7 attacks.
    • A combination of chaos, enormous grief and Jewish religious duties meant that many bodies were buried as quickly as possible. Most were never examined, and in some cases, like at the rave scene, where more than 360 people were slaughtered in a few hours, the bodies were hauled away by the truckload.
    • According to Jewish tradition, funerals are held promptly. The result was that many bodies with signs of sexual abuse were put to rest without medical examinations, meaning that potential evidence now lies buried in the ground. International forensic experts said that it would be possible to recover some evidence from the corpses, but that it would be difficult.
    • Many volunteers working for ZAKA, the emergency response team, are religious Jews and operate under strict rules that command deep respect for the dead.
    • “I did not take pictures because we are not allowed to take pictures,” said Yossi Landau, a ZAKA volunteer. “In retrospect, I regret it.”
    • There are at least three women and one man who were sexually assaulted and survived, according to Gil Horev, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs. “None of them has been willing to come physically for treatment,” he said. Two therapists said they were working with a woman who was gang raped at the rave and was in no condition to talk to investigators or reporters.
  • Conclusions
    • Lots o' sexual crimes, lots o' witnesses, lots of different people observed to have been sexually mistreated.


  • Notes
    • Internal critics worry that the article is another “Caliphate”-level journalistic debacle. “There seems to be no self-awareness at the top,” said one frustrated Times editorial staffer. “The story deserved more fact-checking and much more reporting. All basic standards applied to countless other stories.”
  • Conclusion
    • Poorly sourced articles whose sources don't justify any of the underlying assumptions. Some false reporting due to author's ideological unwillingness to verify the veracity of other reporters or statements that seem to agree with their preconceived notions about the events.

2024.01.09 - U.N. to Study Reports of Sexual Violence in Israel During Oct. 7 Attack - by Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella

2024.02.28 - “BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL” The Story Behind the New York Times October 7 Exposé - by Jeremy Scahill, Ryan Grim, and Daniel Boguslaw

  • Conclusion
    • Very poorly sourced, untrustworthy article. Standard Intercept Israel reporting.


  • Conclusion
    • Just more garbage Intercept writing.


Gretchen Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

  1. Who was the first person to go to the FBI?
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that they became aware of group chats on social media in early 2020 threatening to conduct the violent overthrow of state governments and law enforcement. A U.S. Army veteran, Dan Chappel, had joined the group but became concerned about their use of a hunting app that could be used to track the addresses of police officers. He informed a friend and a local officer from an unidentified police department in Michigan, who then relayed the concerns to the FBI. During the initial investigation of social media chats, the FBI said that they encountered Barry Croft and Adam Fox. The FBI then interviewed Chappel, who agreed to become a confidential source after they raised concerns that there were plans to kill officers.[13]
  2. Who was the first person to propose kidnapping Whitmer?
    On March 30, Pete Musico, a co-founder of the Wolverine Watchmen, made a comment about placing Whitmer under citizen's arrest and numerous other statements on tape that prosecutors later said had indicated "a violent intent".[13]
  3. Who was responsible for the majority of the escalations?
    Fox was the leader of his group, but nobody in his group was reluctant. The militia group they teamed up with[13]
  4. Why did they hate Whitmer?
    Fox posted a YouTube video in June, mentioning Whitmer's handling of the pandemic as one of his motives for the plot.[13]
  5. Fox complained about the judicial system and the State of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms.
    Whitmer had an early response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Michigan. Donald Trump supported the protests, derisively calling Whitmer "that woman from Michigan" and tweeting on April 17: "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"[13]
  6. Did they get these people high on drugs?
    No, Franks had previously battled addiction but has been sober since 2013.[13]
  7. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmi/press-release/file/1326161/download

History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict


1936-1939 ∙ Arab revolt in Palestine

  • Popular uprising by Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine against British mandate due to increasing flow of Jewish immigrants.
  • Sparked by back and forth killings of two Jews by a Qassamite band, followed by the retaliatory killing of two Arab workers.
  • First part of movement was seized upon by the urban and elitist Arab Higher Committee, which made the revolt focus on strikes and other political forms of protest.
  • Second phase in 1937 lead to violent conflict between British Army and Palestine Police Force against the peasant-led resistance movement.
  • Walid Khalidi estimates 19,792 casualties for the Arabs, with 5,032 dead, 3,832 killed by the British and 1,200 dead due to intracommunal terrorism, and 14,760 wounded. Several hundred Palestinian Jews were killed.
  • 1937 - The Peel Commission
  • Published on July 7th, 1937
  • First time declaration that Mandatory Palestine was becoming unworkable and needed to be partitioned.

1937 ∙ The Peel Commission

  • Published on July 7th, 1937
  • First time declaration that Mandatory Palestine was becoming unworkable and needed to be partitioned.

1944-1948 ∙ Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine

  • The Haganah, Irgun, Lehi all joined together to form the Jewish Resistance Movement.
  • Insurgent activities in the area were in response to the proposed 1939 White Paper.
  • On the 22nd of July, 1946, the Irgun bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, leading to the deaths of 91 people of various nationalities. This hotel was the headquarters for Mandatory Palestine.
    • Was the deadliest attack against the British during the entire Mandate era (1920-1948)

1947.11.29 ∙ The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, or Resolution (II)

  • The UN Partition Plan
    • A four-part document, the Partition Plan, was attached, that provided for the termination of the Mandate, the withdrawal of British armed forces, and the delineation of boundaries between the two States and Jerusalem.
    • The Arab Higher Committee and the Arab League rejected this proposal due to the fact that 56% of the land would be allocated to the Jewish state, despite the Palestinian Arab population numbering twice that of the Jewish population. The Jewish Agency for Palestine and most Zionist factions accepted.
    • Vote list for the plan

1948 ∙ Palestine War

  • Known to Israel as the War of Independence, and to the Palestinians as the Nakba
  • Israel declares at Tel Aviv on May 14th, 1948.
  • War had two main phases, the first began on November 30th, 1947.
    • First phase mainly fought between Jewish and Palestinian Arab militias, supported by the Arab Liberation Army and the surrounding Arab states. Escalated at the end of March 1948, when Jews went on the offensive.
  • After Arabs fled Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem, the US pulled out of the Partition Plan while the British supported the annexation of the Arab part of Palestine by Transjordan.
  • Funds raised by Golda Meir and Stalin's support allowed Israel to purchase weapons from Eastern Europe.
  • May 14th, 1948, the last British troops and personnel departed Haifa, and the Jewish leadership declared the establishment of the state of Israel.
  • Second phase of the war began in May of 1948, the Arab-Israeli War, when invasion happens after Jewish leadership declares independence.
    • Invading countries were Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan and Syria, supported by the Arab Liberation Army and corps of volunteers from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Yemen
  • Plan Dalet
    • Forced expulsion and control of areas that extended beyond the proposed partition borders. Some (Zionists) claim that this was a defensive action to secure the future safety and borders of the new country, Israel, others claim this was purely an offensive territorial conquest aimed to ethnically cleanse the surrounding lands of Arabs to make it fertile for future Jews to settle.
  • In 1949, Israel signed separate Armistice agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to establish these temporary military borders.
    • Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip and had a demilitarized zone around 'Uja al-Hafeer.
    • Lebanon agreed to international boundary between Lebanon and Mandatory Palestine.
    • Jordanian forces remained in East Jerusalem and other positions held by them.
      • Also allowed to take over positions previously held by Iraqi forces.
    • Syria maintained 66 square kilometers in the Jordan Valley, designated as DMZs.
    • Iraq had no formal agreement as they withdrew their forces.
    • The new military borders, as set by the agreements, encompassed about 78% of Mandatory Palestine.
  • Israel lost 6,373 people (4,000 soldiers), about 1% of its population. The exact number of Arab losses is estimated between 4,000 and 15,000.
  • Over 700,000 displaced Palestinians that fled or were expelled from their land as a result.
  • Over 700,000 Jews exodus from Arab and Muslim lands in the 3 years following the war, fleeing into Israel.
  • Established Israel as an independent state (founded by David Ben-Gurion), recognized immediately by Truman (U.S.) and Stalin (USSR).

1956 ∙ The Second Arab-Israeli War, or the Suez Crisis

  • Lead-up
    • Suez Canal Company formed in 1858 by French Ferdinand de Lesseps to build the Suez Canal from 1859 to 1869, opening on 1869 to allow trade.
    • Baghdad Pact in 1955, created compromising Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq and the United Kingdom
    • Tripartite Declaration was a way for the US, France and the UK to limit the amount of arms sales in the Middle East, hopefully preventing an arms race.
    • Egypt was responsible for establishing multiple Palestinian fedayeen camps inside Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon.
    • Israel was willing to work with Egypt in direct negotiations in 1956, regardless of Egypt's aggressive demand to resettle Palestinian refugees and the annexation of the southern half of Israel.
    • Nasser (leader of Egypt) built reputation of extreme anti-Zionism in attempt to unify and be the leader of the Arab states.
  • On July 26th, 1956, Nasser nationalized and purchased all assets of the Suez Canal Company, closed the canal to Israeli shipping, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, and blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba.
    • Contravention of the Constantinople Convention of 1888 and most likely a violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreements.
  • Different countries had different positions on what to do
    • Eden from Great Britain wanted war, though opposition parties cautioned that doing so without UN approval would not be supported.
    • Guy Mollet from France and the rest of the nation was eager for military action.
    • Eisenhower from DC did not really care.
    • Canada didn't care.
    • Australia kind of cared.
    • New Zealand cared.
  • Initial proposal would have allowed Egyptian "sovereignty" to be recognized while maintaining an international operation of the Canal. Nasser rejected.
  • British and French hungry for military intervention to solve potential Canal problems, despite Eisenhower's disapproval.
  • Israel was interested in partaking in military conflicts.
  • Israel's interest in war was weakening a hostile state. Egypt-held Gaza Strip (+ surrounding countries, via Egyptian supported Palestinian Fedayeen) was responsible for attacks injuring approximately 1,300 civilians.
    • Israel was also scared about Egypt's large procurement of weapons, and feared they'd forged a secret alliance with Jordan and Syria.
    • Ben-Gurion's "grand plan" involved Israel taking territory north into Lebanon, having the West Bank run as a semi-autonomous state attached to Israel, and having Iraq claim everything on the East Bank because Israel believe Jordan to be an unstable state. They also encouraged the taking of the Sinai Penisula.
  • The Protocol of Sèvres was agreed to by Israel, France and the UK.
    • On October 29th, Israel would invade the Sinai.
    • On October 30th, Anglo-French ultimatum to demand both sides withdraw from canal zone.
    • On October 31st, Britain and France would begin Revise.
  • The Kafr Qasim massacre
    • Took place in Israeli Arab village of Kafr Qasim during the war, where Israel Border Police illegally killed Arab civilians returning from work during a curfew they were unaware of. 48 people died.
    • The border policemen who were involved in the shooting were trialed and jailed for 7-17 years.
    • All sentences were later reduced, with some of the convicted receiving presidential pardons.
    • Every convicted person was eventually released by November 1959.
Total Casualties
Country Dead Wounded Civilian Casualties
British 22 dead 96 wounded
French 10 dead 33 wounded
Israel 172 dead 817 wounded
Egypt 1,500-3,500 dead 4,900 wounded 1,000 Egyptian civilians estimated dead
International Reaction
  • Eisenhower was very upset with Israel/Britain/France, because the US could not reasonably oppose Soviet actions in Hungary while remaining silent on European plans to seize territory from Egypt.
  • 300,000 protestors in Pakistan chanting anti-British slogans.
  • Syrian government blew up the Kirkuk-Baniyas pipeline to punish Iraq and Britain.
  • Saudi Arabia imposed a total oil embargo on Britain and France.
  • US calls for security council and UN meetings/resolutions
    • Resolution 997, a call for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of all forces behind the armistice lines, an arms embargo and the reopening of the Suez Canal, which was currently blocked. Passes with a vote of 64-5
  • West Germany was furious with the US and supported France and Britain.
  • Israel originally wanted to maintain indefinite control over the Sinai, but was eventually forced out due to international pressure lead heavily by Eisenhower.
  • November 6th, 1956 British announced a ceasefire.
  • Anglo-French Task Force was fully withdrawn by December 22nd, 1956.
  • Israeli forces were fully withdrawn from the Sinai and Gaza in March of 1957 after destroying and stealing Egyptian infrastructure and villages on the way out.
  • Eisenhower asked Congress for authorization to use military force and set aside $200 million to help Middle Eastern countries that desired aid from the US.
  • The Soviet Union was given all the credit due to nuclear sabre rattling from Nasser, though it was almost assuredly US diplomatic and financial pressure that brought the conflict to a swift end.
  • Jews had their civil liberties infringed upon in Egypt following the war, resulting in some 25,000 (almost half) of the Jewish population leaving Egypt.
Final summary

In 1956 Egyptian leader Nasser, driven by his desire to be neither a puppet to the US nor USSR, nationalized the Suez canal (in defiance of the Constantinople Convention of 1888) while simultaneously acquiring large amounts of weapons from the USSR.

Worried that trade would be interrupted, Britain and France approached Israel, who was worried that the anti-Zionist Egypt was amassing a massive military, to devise a covert plan, the Protocol of Sèvres, in order to stage an Israeli military invasion that would be disrupted by Anglo-Franco forces, which would then give way to an international ownership of the Suez Canal.

Despite military success by all three parties, intense international pressure, especially from the United States, pressure from revolting colonies, and intense domestic pressure at home, combined with nuclear saber-rattling from the USSR, forced the Anglo-Franco forces to immediately withdraw, suffering an international humiliation. Israel would withdraw its forces sometime later, having re-established trade through the Straights of Tiran.

Egypt, and namely, Nasser, would emerge feeling as though they had single-handedly defied European imperialistic aims, and saw itself as an emerging unaligned leader of the Arab World.

Jeffery Epstein Trafficking Cases

Arrest and Imprisonment

Apprehension and indictment

  • Epstein was arrested on July 6th, 2019, in NYC on multiple charges, including sex trafficking
  • Faced similar charges in Florida in 2008, escaped federal charge in a plea deal
    • Paid restitution to three dozen victims and registered as a sex offender in Florida and NY

Initial incident and final weeks

  • First suicide attempt(?) on July 23rd, 2019
    • Cell mate cleared of wrong-doing
  • Put in suicide watch after, but cleared after 6 days and returned to the special housing unit
  • On August 8th, Epstein signed a last will and testament



Procedures unfollowed:

  • The two guards failed to perform required institutional count at 10 PM
  • Epstein was not checked on every 30 minutes, in violation of jail's normal procedure.
  • The two guards assigned to check his cell fell asleep at their desk
    • They later falsified records about this
  • Two cameras in front of Epstein's cell malfunctioned
  • A third camera's footage was "unusable"


  • Guards discovered body at 6:30 AM
  • Found in a kneeling position with strip of bedsheet wrapped around his neck
  • Believed to have been dead for 2 hours when found.
  • After failing to revive with CPR, he was transferred to NY Downtown Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 6:39 AM.
  • Removal of his body was a violation of protocol, lack of photographs taken of body.


  • Michael Baden and 60 Minutes questioned whether Epstein could hang himself from the lower bunk.
  • Photos taken show bottles and medicine standing upright on the top bunk.
  • Baden questioned why Epstein didn't use sleep apnea machine materials to kill himself.

Autopsy and Medical Evidence


  • The NYC Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson conducted a four-hour autopsy with Michael Baden present.
  • Broken bones found in Epstein's neck, though possible in the elderly, were more common in victims of homicide by strangulation.
  • Autopsy report and criticism
  • On August 16th, 2019, Epstein's death was ruled by Sampson as a suicide by hanging
  • Conflicting reports about whether injuries were consistent with suicide vs homicide based on the Sampson autopsy
  • On October 30th, 2019, Baden issued a report stating that Epstein's neck injuries, due to all the broken bones, were more consistent homicide.
    • Baden claimed that over a thousand jail hangings, none of them had three fractures.
  • Gerald Rodts, chief of spinal surgery at Emory University Hospital, and a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said the death was consistent with suicide.



  • Lots of people called for and called to investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death.


  • The US DoJ's OIG's investigation report released on June 27th, 2023, claimed repeated "negligence, misconduct, and outright job performance failures" and pushed back against any suggestion that anything other than suicide had occurred.

Subsequent criminal trials and developments

  • On November 19th, 2019, federal prosecutors in New York indicted Michael Thomas and Tova Noel with multiple counts of falsifying records and conspiracy to falsify records.
  • In 2020, associate Jean-Luc Brunel was arrested and charged with rape of minors in France, and died of suicide before trial could proceed.

Leading Theories

Epstein Killed Himself


Epstein was a high profile, successful who was looking at a difficult court battle. Seeing no realistic way for him to make bail or escape prison without serving the rest of his life there, Epstein decides to commit suicide.

Evidence in Favor
  • Some say the autopsy supports suicide.
  • No direct evidence of any foul play
  • No testimony or indirect evidence of external pressure for him to kill himself.
  • Epstein clearly had a good reason to want to kill himself.
Difficult Facts
  • Some contest that the autopsy was indicative of homicide (three broken bones)
  • No prisoner had committed suicide for 25 years
  • Camera malfunctions and lack of footage availability
  • Guards falling asleep/not checking in appropriately
  • Taken off suicide watch after only 6 days
  • Was supposed to have cell mate, didn't on the night he suicided

Epstein killing himself makes a lot of sense and is supported broadly by the facts, without any dispositive evidence or compelling reason to believe why this couldn't be the case. However, there are many confusing questions and strange coincidences that don't have many satisfying answers.

Someone Murdered Epstein


Epstein was a high profile billionaire who assisted many other powerful people with the trafficking and exploitation of women and minors. One of these high profile people (or possibly even someone within the government itself) hired a hitman/assassin to kill Epstein in jail.

Evidence in Favor
  • Some say the autopsy supports homicide.
  • Epstein's lawyers who met with him days earlier to create his will said he seemed to be in good spirits.
Difficult Facts
  • Absolutely no evidence of anyone entering or leaving the cell area that could kill him.
  • Autopsy almost certainly doesn't support homicide.
  • Zero evidence or testimony from anyone implicating anyone at all in any sort of scheme to murder him.
  • Lots of witnesses/video evidence from outside the jail that shows no one entering/leaving.
  • This is the weakest of the "Epstein didn't kill himself" narratives. There is almost no supporting evidence, and there is plenty of reason to believe it didn't happen.

Conspiracy to encourage and allow Epstein to die


Epstein was a high-profile billionaire who assisted many other powerful people with the trafficking and exploitation of women and minors. One of these high-profile people (or possibly even someone within the government itself) pressured/forced Epstein to kill himself and made sure the conditions were right such that it wouldn't appear to come from an external source.

Evidence in Favor
  • Some say the autopsy supports suicide
  • No direct evidence of any foul play
  • Could explain why he was released from suicide watch early.
  • Many (?) rich and powerful people obviously wanted Epstein dead before he could testify about their involvement.
  • Helps to conveniently explain a lot of difficult to explain facts in an ordinary suicide story.
Difficult Facts
  • No testimony or indirect evidence of external pressure for him to kill himself.
  • Why wouldn't they make it more obvious it was suicide? Why disable the cameras?
  • Why not just have him post bail and kill himself/kill him outside of jail?

This seems highly implausible, why would video be cut and disabled if they wanted to prove a suicide? There are so many easier/better ways to do this, especially if huge sums of money were involved.


  • How common is it for cameras to malfunction/footage to be unusable?
    • That jail had TONS of maintenance issues with cameras, electricity, plumbing, etc...The entire DVR2 system that records ~50% of the cameras was malfunctioning for at least three weeks prior to Epstein's.
  • How common is it that people fail to check in on inmates, especially after already attempting suicide?
    • Other inmates in the SHU said that the guards never do routine checks.
  • How long does it normally take someone to be removed from suicide watch after attempting suicide?
    • ???
  • How consistent was Epstein's death with suicide vs homicide? How often do multiple bones break in a suicidal hanging?
    • Pretty consistent, zero other wounds/defensive markers/anything to indicate any struggle or drugs in body relating to death.

Fractures of the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage in suicidal hanging

Dept. of Justice — OIG Report

Other Suicides

  • McAfee
  • ADX Florence had 8 cases of suicide, highest level of security


Nick FuentesNovember 1st, 2023 - Indefinite

Supporting a mass flagging/banning campaign.[14]

Sam SederNovember 11th, 2023 - Indefinite

Unbelievably stupid summary of prior conversation we had + unbelievably stupid understanding of Rittenhouse case.[15]

Andrew WilsonJanuary 13th, 2024 - Indefinite

High school gossip/drama, unreal obsession with rumors relating to my personal life

Gonzalo LiraJanuary 13th, 2024 - Permanant

Dead (lol)

Alex SteinJanuary 14th, 2024 - Indefinite

Weird wife comments

Jon ZherkaJanuary 14th, 2024- Indefinite

Wife/child comments

FnataqiJanuary 14th, 2024 - Indefinite

Constant racism accusations/crybullying

Liv Lav LieFebruary 21st, 2024 - Indefinite

Obsession with talking about my genitals/lying about our hook-up/being vapid and toxic in every server she's in.

NikoSamFebruary 21st, 2024 - Indefinite

Unhinged/schizofrenic chatter.

Bad EmpanadaMarch 5th, 2024 - Indefinite

Doxxing, death threats, general unhinged behavior.

President SundayMarch 5th, 2024 - September 5th, 2024

Unhinged personal obsession with my hair/divorce/beard/life in general.

Lauren DeLagunaMarch 6th, 2024 - March 6th, 2025



Things to Research in the Future

  • US History
  • Iranian History
  • Porn Addiction
  • Immigration and US Border Issues
  • Roe v. Wade and what "implied rights" are
  • College education

External Links