By Belén Fernández
While some friends of the Jewish state are preoccupied with the possibility of a sushi shortage in Israel thanks to the disaster in Japan, Harvard’s law professor Alan M. Dershowitz has more important things on his mind.
His most recent dispatch, entitled “Israel Now Has The Right To Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors,” begins with the assertion that “Iran’s recent attempt to ship arms to Hamas in Gaza is an act of war committed by the Iranian government against the Israeli government.”
As we well know, it is not necessary for Harvard law professors to specify that Israel has merely alleged that Iran attempted to ship arms to Hamas, or that the credibility of Israeli arms allegations has been called into question by the fact that the photographs published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of the “weapons cache” found on board the Mavi Marmara last year ended up consisting of items like a metal pail and marbles.
It is meanwhile unclear why Dershowitz has chosen to include the word “Now” in his title, given that he immediately announces: “Nor is this the first act of war that would justify a military response by Israel under international law.” Other acts are said to include the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992: “That bombing, which was carried out by Iranian agents, constituted a direct armed attack on the state of Israel, since its embassy is part of its sovereign territory.”
Persons required to adhere to truth and logic, such as investigative historian and journalist Gareth Porter, have noted that in 1992 the Iranians clearly viewed with optimism the prospect of the resumption of transfer of nuclear technology from Argentina to Iran—thus removing the presumed motive for the attack. This suggests that the bombing may have instead been orchestrated by groups opposed to the Iranian acquisition of such technology.
Absolved of reason, Dershowitz spews on:
“Two other recent events enhance Israel’s right to use military means to prevent Iran from continuing to arm Israel’s enemies. The recent disaster in Japan has shown the world the extraordinary dangers posed by nuclear radiation. If anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, those doubts have been eliminated by what is now going on in Japan. If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the next ship destined to Gaza might contain a nuclear dirty bomb and Israel might not intercept that one. A dirty bomb detonated in tiny Israel would cause incalculable damage to civilian life.
“Moreover, the recent killings in Itamar of a family including three children, demonstrate how weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war. Even babies are targeted by those armed by Iran.”
First of all, if anybody ever doubted the power of a dirty bomb to devastate a nation, both physically and psychologically, their doubts would most probably have been dispelled by events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 rather than current radiation leaks from nuclear power plants. Second of all, it would seem that civilian life currently suffers a greater threat of incalculable damage not from a hypothetical Iranian dirty bomb but rather from Israel’s sizable nuclear arsenal—not mentioned by Dershowitz—which exists in violation of the very same Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is invoked as an excuse for attacking Iran. Lastly, the fact that Israel slaughtered 300 children in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 indicates that those armed by the U.S. rather than by Iran are exceedingly capable of targeting babies.
After stressing the right of Israel to prevent its citizens from being murdered, our law guru concludes the following:
“This is not to say that Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear reactors now. That it has the right to do so does not mean that it should not wait for a more opportune time. The law of war does not require an immediate military response to an armed attack. The nation attacked can postpone its counterattack without waiving its right.”
That the Palestinians do not enjoy the same right of response to military attack is obvious. A note to the Chinese, however: Remember that time NATO accidentally bombed your embassy in Belgrade? You can still retaliate!
And as for the United Nations, if you ever feel like attacking Israel, just invoke the 1996 bombing of your compound in Qana, or the 2006 bombing of your outpost in Khiam.
– Belén Fernández is an editor at PULSE Media and the author of Coffee with Hezbollah, a satirical political travelogue about hitchhiking through Lebanon in the aftermath of the July War. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at: [email protected]