Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Dead End of Legalism

This afternoon I participated in a small blogger meeting. One of the drawbacks of bashing the Left so often is that people forget that doesn't make me Right. This afternoon's event was the second or third such a get-together where I've found myself way off to the left of a roomful of true Right-wingers.

A central theme of the meeting was that International Law must be wrenched back into the service of the Right, by demonstrating that settlements are legal, the Palestinian's claim to the West Bank is, at best, less credible than Israel's, and so on. The funny thing is that these cases really can all be made using legal tools - which if you think about it isn't that surprising. The art of being a lawyer is that you build a legal case from the position you're handed, no matter what it is. In a nation-state there's a universally accepted judiciary which decides who's case is more convincing, there are layers of judicial appeals, and there's a legislature that can change things if the laws have become outdated or unacceptable by enough of the voters.

None of this exists between states, so ultimately, the entire international law aspect of the conflict (and most other conflicts, too) is at best an attempt by one side or the other to bludgeon their adversary into accepting a position they aren't willing to accept.

None of the discussants at the meeting ever broached the subject of what the Palestinians are supposed to do with the positions being mooted. Nor did they need to. A legal confrontation isn't about finding common ground; it's about using the law to achieve your desired outcome.

I need to describe how the Israelis and Palestinians might find that common ground. Or not find it.


Avigdor said...

Assuming Israelis and Palestinians don't find common ground, however, it wouldn't hurt to bring more awareness to fundamental international law, which supports the Israeli position, instead of allowing the continued demonization of Israel to continue through populist lawfare.

Empress Trudy said...

In the seminal work, "Unrestricted Warfare" published by the People's Liberation Army of China, 'Lawfare' is called out explicitly as a weapon of war in the 21st century. Of your enemies view it thus, soshould you.

AKUS said...

I assume that your current article is mainly about the use of "lawfare" in the UK against Israelis. There are a few important points here that should be borne in mind:

1) The whole concept of "international law" is totally nebulous and serves the interests of this or that bloc, either by force of arms or by number of countries. Thus, the major powers (the US, UK, EU countries, Russia and China) pretty much establish the boundaries based on their ability to disregard the views of other less powerful countries, some who then counter by establishing laws based on their numeric superiority in various International forums such as the UNHRC, where the Moslem countries are now adept at framing "international laws" that primarily or solely target Israel.

2) "Lawfare" in Britain is being lead by a third rate self-hating Jewish lawyer, Daniel Machover, who appears to be the son of another Machover who was a member of Matzpen, the old Israeli Communist party, (in fact, he or his son is probably posting on CIF as "matzpen") and, in a remarkable return to the world of 1930, is pushing his anti-Israeli agenda under the guise of Comintern internationalism

3) By allowing Machover and his Palestinian friends and supporters to use Britain's legal system in this way, Britain has actually surrendered control of a part of its foreign policy to what is, in fact, a minority pressure group (who would never admit to being a quasi-secret Palestinian lobby in the UK). Machover and pals are actually driving Britain's foreign policy with respect to Israel. It seems that the British government has belatedly taken notice of this and may now try to close the loophole, or change the legal system, that allows them to do this.

4) By permitting Machover and pals to do this, Britain has essentially suffered a partial coup d'etat, where its own legal system has been used against it to create policies that are almost certainly opposed by the majority of British citizens, and definitely by their elected government.

5)Machover has stated that "lawfare" is warfare by other means, and therefore, by acceding to his actions, Britain actually would find itself in semi-declared state of war with Israel. Which is clearly not what the British Government wants.

6) Finally - although the morons supporting "lawfare" may think they have staged a clever coup, in fact, they have marginalized Britain's already diminished ability to play a role in help the Palestinians, and are therefore acting against the interests of those they claim to support. This because their hatred of Israel and Jews is greater than their love of the Palestinians.

YMedad said...

As someone who was present, permit me to add an angle. In the first case, the host of the meeting would not be called true Right-wing but simply was offering those who are fairly (okay, very) political in their bloggering, the resources they have up online. While no Left-wing expressions were voiced, I think the lawfare issue came up mainly because that is what is coming at us and most people respond to a more immediate threat rather than a deeply thought out plan (i.e., the Israeli gov't).

And in the true world, lawyers are supposed to, on the one hand, get the best deal for their client while on the other, usually do engage in compromise, quid pro quo, exchanges, etc. So, law isn't all about bludgeoning. If the clients are stubborn, lawyers will fail unless they are incapable of convincing their employers otherwise. And since we know the real confrontation is a matter of terror, which lawfare covers for, in my opinion, - getting Israel into a position where more damage can be made rather than satisfying any Arab demand - then if that is their desired outcome (there's my true Right-wingerism showing), what alternative do we have?

And since, in your later "Terms of Compromise", you have at least two issues basically irreconcilable, where do we go if one side says "all resolved or nothing"?