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January 10, 2009

WSJ Gives Equal Time to Asshats

Since its acquisition by News Corp., the Wall Street Journal opinion pages have been entertaining a wider set of views from the Left. Or, in this case a law professor so far left he's living in a different universe. Meet law professor George Bisharat.

Bisharat claims that Israel cannot currently be acting in self-defense because it did not suffered an "armed attack" immediately preceding its attack on Hamas. Consequently, according to Bisharat, Israel's war is a "war of aggression" and a "crime against peace." (Antisemitic Subtext: this is what the Nazis were prosecuted for at Nuremberg.)

He could not be more wrong. Hamas launched over seven thousand attacks on Israel in the past two years all with the aim of eventually destroying the Israeli state. Hamas' failure to follow through on its threats is irrelevant. Bisharat's lawyerly quibble that the attacks did not "immediately precede" Israeli self-defense is not found in international law. Hamas attacks were part of an ongoing quasi-military campaign against the state of Israel.

Under international humanitarian law (aka the law of international armed conflict), when a state of war exists between two parties, military action is justified. Bisharat would like to pretend that Israel is the aggressor and so makes this phony argument which assumes that hostilities did not exist between Hamas and Israel until December. He then comfortably blames Israel for starting the war. Paradoxically, though, he grudgingly admits that Hamas' thousands of rocket attacks, which preceded the Israeli attack, are "war crimes."

Well, which is it, Professor? Either a state of war existed or it didn't. Bisharat's disordered mental state appears to compel him to claim that a state of war did not exist for Israel, even as one did for Hamas. This is another lawyerly quibble not found in international humanitarian law---at least, not the laws on this planet.

Now, Bisharat purports to be a professor of law, but his specialties don't appear to include international humanitarian law. So perhaps he can be forgiven for not realizing that when weapons are cached, prepared, or fired from an otherwise non-military location, like a mosque, university, or school, that location becomes a permissible military target. Of course, this principle of international law is so well known that Bisharat's apparent ignorance is more likely attributed to bias and malice.

Similarly, he ignorantly claims that Gaza is an occupied territory because Israel controls Gazan airspace, coast and borders. Again, he simply has no clue about the subject on which he is speaking. Israel has control of its own border with Gaza, just as every sovereign power has control of its own borders. Israel has no obligation to open that border. Similarly, Egypt maintains control of Gaza's other land border. Bisharat's premise is, thus, faulty. As for the airspace and coastal control, both are justified by the state of war that exists between Israel and Hamas. (And, if you want to get technical about it, the PLO granted Israel airspace and coastal control in the Oslo Accords.)

In short, Professor Bisharat is ignorant or lying or both. But I appreciate that he chose to speak up, if only because he has now displayed his ignorance for all to see. We frequently hear that the U.S. Constitution is not a death pact. Neither is international humanitarian law. Do not let asshats like Professor Bisharat hijack either.

And while I'm thinking about it: This was the best they could come up with? Somebody gets the bright idea to present the Hamas side of things, but the best op ed they got was from Professor Laughingstock who had to make up his own facts and his own law? Sheesh. You're entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts, Doc.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:06 PM

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