Skip

Israeli Border Police used Palestinian kid as human shield
April 23, 2004 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Israeli Border Police use Palestinian kid as human shield. According to Rabbi Arik Ascherman: “The boy, crying, shaking from fear and eventually cold, was sat on the hood of a jeep and tied to the bars protecting the glass. The other three arrestees were bound and placed in front of a second jeep as human shields, to deter protestors from throwing stones at the jeep”.
posted by Ty Webb (72 comments total)

 
life sucks when you're not god's chosen few
posted by Satapher at 2:21 PM on April 23, 2004


No one but me speaks for me, and no one acts in my name.

Remember that, please.
posted by rushmc at 2:28 PM on April 23, 2004


Sounds wrong but also useless, as palestinian terrorists have no respect for any kind of human life. Remember, palestinian terrorists are the folks who send out their own sons as suicide bombers. Who armed that palestinian kid with mental problems from 3-4 weeks ago, for instance?
posted by 111 at 2:30 PM on April 23, 2004


Girls, girls, you're both pretty.
posted by majcher at 2:34 PM on April 23, 2004


what does isreal do for america?
posted by Satapher at 2:35 PM on April 23, 2004


in other words : why do we defend either side of the Titanic?
posted by Satapher at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2004


"Isreal"? Is that like a rapper from Israel?
posted by gwint at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2004


Actually, this is a time-honored technique against ambushes, and is always bitterly resented by the ambushers as being "unfair." It only works if both the people 'protecting' the vehicles are known to the attackers, and if the attackers care.

The critical factor between acceptable and unacceptable: is the convoy just a passive carrier being attacked, or is it actively and aggressively putting itself in harms' way in an offensive way? This is important.

The first is just "defense" against a guerrilla enemy, the latter is akin to using civilians to clear a minefield.

Passive vs. Active endangerment.

Other Passive acts might include hiring civilians to work on a military installation, or as paid informants, as an armed militia to fight against their guerilla countrymen, or placing them, voluntarily or involuntarily, in *any* situation that *could* become dangerous.

Active endangerment is the use of human shields in aggressive combat, surrounding military targets under attack with civilians with the intent to cause civilian casualties, and forced labor that is inherently deadly. It is almost entirely involuntary, for obvious reasons.

In other words, there is a huge list with two broad categories: "not war crimes" and "war crimes", with just degree of lethality the difference between them.
posted by kablam at 2:52 PM on April 23, 2004


RING THE TROLL ALARM!
posted by Down10 at 3:23 PM on April 23, 2004


Sounds wrong but also useless, as palestinian terrorists have no respect for any kind of human life.

rock thrower = terrorist
posted by laz-e-boy at 3:24 PM on April 23, 2004


kablam, you're totally wrong. You're not allowed to use human shields under any circumstances, even if you're just sitting there eating an ice cream cone. Hiring civilians is not the same as using human shields; I'm not sure if you're confused or being willfully cretinous and disingenuous.
posted by Dasein at 3:33 PM on April 23, 2004


Girls, girls, you're both pretty.

majcher, You kill me!
posted by velacroix at 3:35 PM on April 23, 2004


Today's rock thrower can be tomorrow's plane thrower.
posted by 111 at 3:45 PM on April 23, 2004


Dasein:

Presumably, if they paid the kid then it would be legal.

Seems pretty fucked up either way, I second Satapher's titanic metaphore.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on April 23, 2004


I'm not sure if this is unethical, particularly if the vehicle was just passing through, and the boy was not in danger directly from the soldiers. Please diagram why this is wrong, rather than just clever--seriously, I'm not sure.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:00 PM on April 23, 2004


Today's rock thrower can be tomorrow's plane thrower.

And using him as a human sheild is a great way to convince him to come around.

I'm not sure if this is unethical, particularly if the vehicle was just passing through, and the boy was not in danger directly from the soldiers. Please diagram why this is wrong, rather than just clever--seriously, I'm not sure.

The only way you could see this as not wrong is that you believe some kinds of people's lives are more valuable than others. And that I have no time for.
posted by jonmc at 4:23 PM on April 23, 2004


I'm not sure if this is unethical....Please diagram why this is wrong, rather than just clever--seriously, I'm not sure.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:00 PM PST on April 23


When I attempted to protest, he beat me, head butted me and had me handcuffed, together with a Palestinian man and a Swedish human rights activist”.

“The boy, crying, shaking from fear and eventually cold, was sat on the hood of a jeep and tied to the bars protecting the glass. The other three arrestees were bound and placed in front of a second jeep as human shields, to deter protestors from throwing stones at the jeep”.

“I repeatedly requested over the next few hours that we not be used as human shields, and that the boy receive medical attention and that the officers identify themselves. He also asked to lend his coat to the child and to stand in front of the child to protect him from stones. All these requests were met with physical and verbal threats, orders to "shut up," and/or derision”.


Frankly, I'm not sure any sort of diagram made by man or God, or remedial tutelage in what the word ethics might mean, is going to help you, Paris.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:30 PM on April 23, 2004


The only way you could see this as not wrong is that you believe some kinds of people's lives are more valuable than others. And that I have no time for.

Damn... just when I thought I had something add.
posted by Witty at 5:01 PM on April 23, 2004


I'm not sure if this is unethical, particularly if the vehicle was just passing through, and the boy was not in danger directly from the soldiers. Please diagram why this is wrong, rather than just clever--seriously, I'm not sure.

Well, it depends on what you mean by 'ethical', I suppose. But in general, civilized people consider the following things unethical:

1) Constraining inocent people against their consent.
2) allowing children to suffer needlessly.
3) forcing inocent people to stay out in the cold.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 PM on April 23, 2004


I'm not sure if this is unethical ...

Thanks for the laugh, Paris. Got any grandkids? I need to make a trip through a rough part of town tomorrow, and I want to protect the finish on my SUV.
posted by rcade at 5:17 PM on April 23, 2004


Cowards. They should face court martial for conduct unbecoming a soldier -- that is, if Israel's still pretending to have any honor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 PM on April 23, 2004


Today's rock thrower can be tomorrow's plane thrower.

Today's 111 can be tomorrow's 5150. At least let's hope so.

...

I'm not sure if this is unethical, particularly if the vehicle was just passing through, and the boy was not in danger directly from the soldiers. Please diagram why this is wrong, rather than just clever--seriously, I'm not sure.

Because you're binding a prisoner and putting them in harm's way. You don't see anything unethical about capturing someone, either combatant or civilian, and then putting them back into a danger zone with their hands tied? Clever? Jesus. Why the hell am I even talking to you?
posted by scarabic at 5:42 PM on April 23, 2004


Hmm...it's definitely an unpleasant situation, but I'm not convinced that the kid was being used as a human shield. Reading into the Ma'ariv article a bit, it seems like this wasn't an armed clash, just a relatively mild (by local standards) rocks vs. teargas demonstration. Neither the border policemen nor the (armored) windshields of their jeeps were much at risk. Further, on the scene were not only an international activist and a peacenik rabbi (so the policemen would have known that their actions could be reported either to MPs or to the media), but also, briefly, an IDF general. It seems like there was neither the need nor the opportunity, then, for them to use human shields and get away with it.

The simplest explanation seems more likely to me: the kid was throwing stones, got caught, was beaten (this is bad!), but not severely, and then was handcuffed to the Jeep simply because it was a convenient fixed object, so they could keep the boy from running away without having to constantly watch him. As far as I'm concerned, there's little indication that the boy was ever in any real danger.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:45 PM on April 23, 2004


Here's maybe a less hysterical account that doesn't begin with the presumption that anyone was used as a human shield, rather that some "claimed" that the IDF used civilians as human shields.

A lot of people seem to buy whatever one side is selling, while yelling "propaganda" at the other. This event is bad, if it happened the way people claim. But I'm not buying it without a lot more evidence.

if Israel's still pretending to have any honor.

Also, this comment is just silliness. Thanks for the analysis of a whole country in a throwaway insult.
posted by loquax at 5:46 PM on April 23, 2004


Well, it depends on what you mean by 'ethical', I suppose. But in general, civilized people consider the following things unethical:
1) Constraining innocent people against their consent.
2) allowing children to suffer needlessly.
3) forcing innocent people to stay out in the cold.


Which is precisely the fallacy in the liberal description of Middle East conflicts. Some people will demand that Israel and the U.S. have the Geneva Convention tattooed in their soldier's chests, but they stay silent when a murderous Sheikh gloats about sending his own son to kill himself and several other civilians in a suicide attack.
These smarmy hypocrites have nothing to say when you point out that a mentally-ill child was given access to bombs and almost died horribly without quite knowing what he was doing.
They say nothing when Israeli soldiers find pictures of a palestinian baby dressed as a suicide bomber.
These leftist cowards stay silent when Iraqis revive the barbaric tradition of hurting their children's heads with knives on certain "religious" holidays.
They seem oblivious to the fact that teens are being enlisted and used as soldiers by these terrorists.
They have nothing to say when muslim fundamentalists choose to bomb trains loaded with innocent civilians with the clear intention to cause as much harm and carnage as possible.

In short: they want civilization to offer itself as a passive target to immoral, ruthless, fanatics in the name of ethical codes which these criminals openly ignore.

There is a war against terrorism being fought in the Middle East. Peace demands sacrifices. Children and civilians must be protected, but don't use human rights to shamelessly undermine peace efforts. If you want to demand a fair treatment of civilians and children, be impartial or concentrate your efforts on the side that ignores human rights every single day.
posted by 111 at 5:52 PM on April 23, 2004


Also, this comment is just silliness.

Well, accepting the news at face value, their actions were reprehensible, and should not be without consequence. These are not the actions of a civilized society. Of course, you may disagree, but then, you could also just be a self-centered asshole with no concept of anything more than your tiny prick. How's that for a throwaway insult?

Thanks for the analysis of a whole country in a throwaway insult.

Hey, no problem!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:25 PM on April 23, 2004


In short: they want civilization to offer itself as a passive target to immoral, ruthless, fanatics in the name of ethical codes which these criminals openly ignore.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that your primary source of news is web sites that have lots of interesting editorials about "the left."

Children and civilians must be protected, but don't use human rights to shamelessly undermine peace efforts.

all we're asking is that people please try to refrain from tying kids to cars. nobody is saying that israel should be cut off from its tectonic plate with a giant laser and sunk into the ocean, or that palestinians rule and israelis drool. but if your idea of a peace effort is to match your enemy outrage-to-outrage, then I guess it would be a good idea to undermine them.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:33 PM on April 23, 2004


Metafilter: all we're asking is that people please try to refrain from tying kids to cars.
posted by skallas at 6:39 PM on April 23, 2004


Metafilter: all we're asking is that people please try to refrain from tying kids to cars.

Oh come on, how else were my parents supposed to take me to school?
posted by jonmc at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2004


What I meant by silliness, civil_disobedience, is that it's silly to condemn an entire country of millions of people, Arab, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Right-Wing, Left-Wing, Citizens, Non-Citizens, Gay, Straight, Black, White, and any other designations of your choosing based on the actions of a small group of soldiers, if this story is even true.

But hey! The entire United States has no honour based on the actions of George Bush right? You included, right?

And the insults are cute. I gather you haven't been to metatalk lately?
posted by loquax at 6:50 PM on April 23, 2004


loquax, it is common when discussing foreign affairs to just use the name of the country. Sorry if someone didn't type out "Those certain Likud Israelis who make decisions on the conflict in Palestine."

Perhaps we'd be better off if we all wrote and spoke like that, in a general semantics kind of way. "The handful of out of touch Washington policy-makers who started the Iraq war are now responsible for over 700 American deaths." Instead of "US military death toll now past 700"
posted by skallas at 7:01 PM on April 23, 2004


skallas, it's kind of you to stick up for civil, but that's not what he said, or I believe, what he meant. He had the opportunity to say just that in his response, instead, he focused on my various genitalia. I'm not at all sure what he meant by that.
posted by loquax at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2004


If rocks are outlawed, only outlaws will have rocks.
posted by Rob1855 at 7:07 PM on April 23, 2004


I think loquax makes a decent point about generalizing about entire countries based on their government policies. As far as whether "Israel's still pretending to have any honor," it's my experience that Israel's got a much larger and more vocal anti-occupation movement the U.S., like these folks. My own perception from my time in Israel is that a larger portion of Israeli Jews than American Jews understand that the problem is the occupation. This is probably because there's more objective and critical coverage of the occupation in Israel than there in the U.S.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:12 PM on April 23, 2004


a much larger and more vocal anti-occupation movement than the U.S.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:13 PM on April 23, 2004


but don't use human rights to shamelessly undermine peace efforts

111, don't use the word "human" in your comments, period. You've forgotten that it applies to everyone, whatever the theater of conflict, and have begun the downward spiral of believing that any amount of Arab blood shed is worth what you see as "western objectives." Let me count the ways that your logic is bleeding from the ears... Actually, just suffice it to say that you're entitled to your views, but your views have nothing, ZERO, to gain or give in conversation with other "humans." Goodbye.
posted by scarabic at 7:25 PM on April 23, 2004


Dasein: Granted you are not supposed to use people as "human shields." However, my point is a defining element of the Geneva Conventions.
Most of the Conventions, actually, would fill a wheelbarrow if printed out, and have far more to do with military-civilian interaction than military-military conflict.
For example, the Conventions recognize that a clear dividing line between enemy forces is not always the case, nor is the optimal situation of evacuating civilians to the safety of the rear, away from the conflict. They also cover the behavior and misbehavior of unconventional and guerilla forces, public protests, crowd control, and a huge number of other situations.

There are also obscene loopholes available to violators, almost negating the Conventions if you want to.
Much of the argument concerns what label a situation has. For example, in this case what one side calls "human shields", the other side can call "criminal detainees." The latter have very little protection available to them, being regarded as in the criminal jurisdiction of whatever country instead of internationally actionable.

So you must rely on seemingly broad brush definitions of what is acceptable and what is not. One such generalization is Passive vs. Active Endangerment. In this case, driving around with someone tied to the hood of your jeep does not "actively" endanger their life, unless they could easily fall off at a high rate of speed.
Now, if someone is willing to throw rocks at you and them, it is not your fault.
However, if you drive into a hostile neighborhood and start shooting at people, using your prisoner to protect you from return fire, that is a clear violation.

Examples of this in the past include the French Foreign Legion in Indochina, and in Ireland, during the "Time of Troubles", to keep the IRA from pitching grenades into lorries.
In Indochina, none of the people tied to vehicles were ever harmed, their people being unwilling to ambush such a convoy. In Ireland, the IRA used the same arguments about the "unfairness" of transporting an IRA man or two aboard lorries with British troops.
posted by kablam at 9:35 PM on April 23, 2004


I wouldn't have any objection to this at all - scaring a kid is worth it, if hypothetically it's literally the sole way to handle the situation - if the kid was somehow guaranteed from physical endangerment. I think it's worth perhaps even permanently scarring a person mentally if it saves lives and helps to manage a raging population. But the fact that they might throw stones anyway definitely puts it on the bad side.
posted by abcde at 11:24 PM on April 23, 2004


I agree abcde. At least the kid knows who his enemy is, not Israelis per se, just the Israeli army.
posted by iamck at 12:04 AM on April 24, 2004


Hi all!! Just back from a week on a trip. Good to see nothing has changed.
posted by Postroad at 3:03 AM on April 24, 2004


My point is that it's highly unlikely the kid was just abducted, out of the blue for this purpose. He was probably throwing stones, or something similar. Or worse.

Moreover, only a fool would take the kid's story at face value; he's grown up in a culture of lies, coercion and fascist thought. And even if he wanted to tell the truth, that might endanger his life--his neighbors might kill him.

What this link most demostrates is the sad proportion of Mefi people who are so naive as to actually believe the mass of Palestinian accounts about human rights violations.

Oh. By the way, is the latest Hamas leader dead yet? Arafat? And I don't see the wave of revenge killings.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:15 AM on April 24, 2004


My point is that it's highly unlikely the kid was just abducted, out of the blue for this purpose. He was probably throwing stones, or something similar. Or worse.

and therefore deserved to be tied to a car? he just had it comin', right?

Moreover, only a fool would take the kid's story at face value;

if you had read the article, you may have caught on to the fact that the story was dictated to maariv by a rabbi.

What this link most demostrates is the sad proportion of Mefi people who are so naive as to actually believe the mass of Palestinian accounts about human rights violations.

the reason why israel has the high road in this whole mess is because it's not the least bit ok for them to do this. you would expect outrageous behavior from a palestinian terrorist, but from our own allies? intolerable. if you weren't so blinded by your hate of arabs and "mefi people," you'd be condemning this too.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:28 AM on April 24, 2004


>Today's rock thrower can be tomorrow's plane thrower.

Um ... only if they are accidentally exposed to a massive overdose of gamma radiation, and suddenly develop an unhealthy ability to turn green and much, much stronger when they become angry.
posted by kaemaril at 5:10 AM on April 24, 2004


... highly unlikely the kid was just abducted, out of the blue ...
The kid was a member of MetaFilter! We need to act.
posted by seanyboy at 5:16 AM on April 24, 2004


News flash: rabbis can be ill-informed and stupid, too.

How pathetic of you to accuse me of hating Arabs. Or anyone. I have never made a biologically/genetically-oriented blanket statement about any group of people ever, in my life. What I do hate, however, are fascist, undemocratic and coercive regimes (which, pretty much is the rule in the Mideast).

Those who accuse me of racism, you have my total contempt.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:27 AM on April 24, 2004


News flash: rabbis can be ill-informed and stupid, too.

new flash1: so can you (and in all fairness, me). follow-up story: neither of us were there. news flash2: I guess some people see what they wanna see. photo + credible eyewitness testimony (I'm willing to bet that he rabbi isn't an anti-semite) = more despicable palestinian propoganda? the inner workings of the mind are so mysterious!

I have never made a biologically/genetically-oriented blanket statement about any group of people ever, in my life.

how clever of you to throw in the biologically/genetically-oriented part, as it exempts you from all the completely shitty things you say about french people on a regular basis. which, if you will consult a dictionary, is still racism.

anyone else find it telling that he didn't bother to refute his hated of "mefi people?"
posted by mcsweetie at 5:39 AM on April 24, 2004


No. Saying a society is decadent, cynical, spineless and amoral is not rascism. (moreover, I lived there--did you?)
posted by ParisParamus at 5:42 AM on April 24, 2004


Hatred of mefi people? Isn't that ... Anti-mefitism?!?
posted by kaemaril at 5:43 AM on April 24, 2004


What I do hate, however, are fascist, undemocratic and coercive regimes...

Why do you hate America so much, PP?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:55 AM on April 24, 2004


ugh.
posted by oog at 6:16 AM on April 24, 2004


No. Saying a society is decadent, cynical, spineless and amoral is not rascism. (moreover, I lived there--did you?)

I'm not gonna split hairs with my opinion of you. clearly there is no room in your schedule for epiphanies. but anyone that cares (ie no one) can drag through your posting history, find things like, "I'd rather be an infidel than French or German." and come to their own conclusions.

and no, I've never lived in France. but I do know that few things are more foolish and ignorant than racial stereotypes.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:18 AM on April 24, 2004


Racial stereotypes? at best, cultural ones.

Metafilter is overwhelmingly populated by people who think anyone who would consider not voting for a Democrat candidate is primitive and beyond help.

The views expressed in this thread strike me as those of college students; people who know a lot less about life's truths than they think they do; people too young or stupid to have any humility, and to have discovered that just because the United States is the big kid on the block, doesn't mean it's usually wrong.

Please grow up; learn what nuance is. Or shut up and lurk more.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:32 AM on April 24, 2004


I hope that at some point, posters who think this is a good idea will look back and say, "I once supported soldiers abducting a child and tying him to a car in harm's way" and feel ashamed of themselves.

Pointing out that there are many terrorists among the Palestinians changes nothing. Pointing out the corruption, fascism, and violence of many Arab regimes changes nothing. Suggesting, with no evidence, that the boy might have been a rock thrower changes nothing.

All of those arguments try to suggest that the boy "deserved what he got" on the basis of his race or of his government. Alternately, the arguments seem to be of the "can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs" variety.

If the boy was throwing rocks, which is certainly possible, I can certainly understand detaining him, sure. But if he wasn't, this is an evil act - and unworthy of a civilized people.

Please grow up; learn what ethics are. Or shut up and think more.
posted by Chanther at 6:39 AM on April 24, 2004


"I'd rather be an infidel than French or German."

PP, is that true? Did you say that? Man that is so racist. Check this out... I'd rather be male than female, straight than gay, white than black, tall than short, skinny than fat. I can't think of an "ism" or an "ist" for all that. I guess that probably just makes me an asshole. mcsweetie, what do you think?
posted by Witty at 6:43 AM on April 24, 2004


mcsweetie, what do you think?

about you? nothing.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:49 AM on April 24, 2004




In this case, driving around with someone tied to the hood of your jeep does not "actively" endanger their life, unless they could easily fall off at a high rate of speed.
Now, if someone is willing to throw rocks at you and them, it is not your fault.


I was actually curious to see if any MeFites were depraved enough to rationalize using a kid as a shield. I knew Paris was, but he doesn't really count. Nuance indeed.

However, if you drive into a hostile neighborhood and start shooting at people, using your prisoner to protect you from return fire, that is a clear violation.

"drive into a hostile neighborhood and start shooting at people," is a reasonably good definition of the everyday reality of the occupation.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:36 AM on April 24, 2004


I guess that probably just makes me an asshole. mcsweetie, what do you think?

There are so many more reason why you're an asshole, but I guess we have to start somewhere...
posted by SweetJesus at 8:59 AM on April 24, 2004


I'd rather be male than female, straight than gay, white than black, tall than short, skinny than fat.

With the possible exception of skinniness, those things aren't accomplishments or choices, just luck of the draw, which renders what you what you probably thought was a brave assertion, utterly pointless.
posted by jonmc at 9:11 AM on April 24, 2004


Metafilter: focusing on your various genitalia.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:13 AM on April 24, 2004


skallas, it's kind of you to stick up for civil, but that's not what he said, or I believe, what he meant.

Actually, that is what I meant. While I didn't specifically qualify the subject with the word "military" (or "police" in this instance) I thought it was fairly clear since that's the subject of the thread. As skallas pointed out, sometimes you have to mentally insert qualifiers when you read what people write, (I believe the Latin term is scilicet).

I'm not at all sure what he meant by that.

Ask anyone in the military why they should bother caring about "honor" and they'll probably pop you in the nose. Since you seemed to find the concept of honor so silly, I extrapolated that you've probably never been in the service -- any kind of service -- to anyone but yourself. These are the kinds of stretches of imagination you make when you feel your ideas have been casually tossed aside and insulted. Now I understand that it was the idea of an entire country lacking honor that was silly, not the concept of honor in general.

Sorry for the long derail -- I know how much I hate reading posts where people end up having to explain themselves in excrutiating detail, back and forth.

I gather you haven't been to metatalk lately?

It has been a while.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:28 PM on April 24, 2004


I think you can tell if something is unethical if you wouldn't want to see the other side doing it. If Palestinian police grabbed an Israeli boy in the old city of Jerusalem, tied him to the hood of a car to get by zealous settlers throwing stones at them, what do you think the international reaction would be?

But that is very unlikely to happen of course for many reasons. The closest realistic example is probably when the Israeli military police had to ecacuate settlers from 'unauthorized' outposts in the West Bank. The settlers often throw stones at the police. Would they grab a young boy and tie him to the hood of their car? Of course not, and if they did the outcry within Israel would be fierce.
posted by cell divide at 2:37 PM on April 24, 2004


Too bad Metafilter has degenerated into what it has. I AM OUT OF HERE.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:21 PM on April 24, 2004


Yes. I miss the lazy old sunshine Saturdays when we courteously discussed the best ways to marinate delinquents.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2004


Ty Webb: You are naive. The Geneva Conventions, and how they are applied, are designed for the world, not just this petty spat. They take into account huge blocks of world history, and not just the American attitude about life and things.

Let me quote you a borderline argument about treatment of civilians from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. While to an American, it would seem a clear violation, to the Russians, it was both humanitarian and following the letter of the Conventions:

The Russians had to put large numbers of old men, women and children in compounds to keep them separated from the men fighting them. To do so is common practice, and regarded as humanitarian, as the only alternative would be to kill them, possibly legally because they were aiding and abetting the fighters.

Civilians, even women and children, who support and encourage combatants, in this case non-uniformed revolutionaries fighting against the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan, are committing criminal acts for which their own government may sentence them to death.

The Russians, however, did not believe they had the men to spare to guard all of these people, so they proposed to dig slit trenches, line them with plastic, and fill them with water containing irritating chemical agents; then force the adults in the camps to walk the length of the trenches.
This would result in the loss of the skin of their feet, forcing them to crawl about on their hands and knees for quite a while, and thus stay out of trouble.

The Russians, again, said that this was "humanitarian", because the only alternative was to kill these people.

Because of the international outcry, however, they decided to be "extra-humanitarian", and commit the extra troops needed to guard the camps without damaging the occupants. They still insisted, sticklers on the letter of the Conventions, that "non-lethal" methods are always preferable to "lethal" methods.
posted by kablam at 5:00 PM on April 24, 2004


kablam, uh, wow that's a really interesting story...are you implying that the Israeli Border Patrol was being "humanitarian" by tying a child to the windshield of their jeep and using him as a human shield?

Ty Webb: You are naive.The Geneva Conventions, and how they are applied, are designed for the world, not just this petty spat. They take into account huge blocks of world history, and not just the American attitude about life and things.

Nice little non-sequitur, though a bit wordy. And this is supposed to show that I am naive...how?
posted by Ty Webb at 7:34 PM on April 24, 2004


Kablam, your urge to point out that The Geneva Conventions is not exactly a wordy restatement of The Golden Rule did not require for its gratification that you declare Ty Webb naive; you are perfectly free to introduce interesting information into the field without pinning it to another member's real or imagined shortcomings.

Your example is certainly an entertaining look at the undependability of finite servings of canned ethics, but...

...I'm not sure that anyone here is surpised to discover that The Geneva Conventions don't effectively arbitrate every ethical dilemma. (The spirit of Protocol 1 seems to discourage using children as hood ornaments, but it never specifically addresses the possibility.) In any case, the post seemed most interested in spotlighting personal opinion, and personal opinion is much more politically valuable than the degree to which the behaviour in question might be adjudicated by a moldering depositary of swiss-cheesy prevarications.

Who, exactly, is being naive?
posted by Opus Dark at 7:54 PM on April 24, 2004


The problem with people like Paris is that they can't recognize that most Americans are somewhere in the middle on Israel/Palestine issues. They abhor the violence of suicide bombers and the support terrorists get in the community, but also abhor the extrajudicial assassinations, house razing, and other actions of the Israeli government.

For that crowd, you can't protest any abuse of a Palestinian without being accused of turning a blind eye to suicide attacks and other savagery against Israelis. Say one thing in objection to even gross human rights abuse -- tying a kid to a car, say -- and you're Yassar Arafat's best buddy.

I wonder if there's anything an Israeli could do to a Palestinian that would cause Paris to say, "you know, they've gone too far this time."

From my perspective, extremists on both sides are committing horrible human rights abuses, most horribly on the part of suicide bombers targeting civilians. Because the Israelis are the only ones with any real power in the relationship, so they bear more responsibility to correct the situation.

Considering that Israel's current plan is to mull over the assassination of Arafat, a man so powerless that they've confined him to two rooms of his decimated headquarters for years, I'm not particularly hopeful.
posted by rcade at 7:40 AM on April 25, 2004


Opus Dark: You criticize me for calling Ty Webb "naive", yet you do not criticize him for calling me "depraved". I will hold you to this double-standard in the future, in all fairness.

You also assert that opinion of a subjective event is what this is about, not a recitation of objective international law. And yet, as I pointed out, expressions like "human shields" *are* objective standards, and while they have emotional impact, they also have a legal meaning.

In other words, it would not be accurate to say that the Israelis "murdered" a child by tieing them to the hood of their jeep, even if some Palestinian had subsequently shot them. The Israelis might have "recklessly endangered" the child, or even "contributed to their killing", or even "caused their killing", but not "murdered" them.

The same misuse of the words "human shields" applies. "Human shields" are used to protect you when you "aggressively attack", an expression that also has a very specific meaning, not just "well, they're invaders, so they are always aggressively attacking", that has been stated here, in emotional terms.

So, even if you wish to make a purely emotional argument, be aware that you lose credibility when you confuse real legal terminology with your bluster.

And, for the sake of my argument, ignore the Conventions at your own peril; because when you rely on emotion alone, you end up with atrocity, inhumanity, blood feuds and genocide. But oh, so emotionally gratifying.
posted by kablam at 5:23 PM on April 25, 2004


In other words, it would not be accurate to say that the Israelis "murdered" a child by tieing them to the hood of their jeep, even if some Palestinian had subsequently shot them. The Israelis might have "recklessly endangered" the child, or even "contributed to their killing", or even "caused their killing", but not "murdered" them.

You're wrong. If in the course of an illegal act, such as illegal detention of a child or the use of a child as a human shield, the child is killed, then the Israelis can be charged with the child's murder. It's not an acceptable legal defense to claim "Oh, we only meant to use him as a human shield." Rather, it's not an acceptable defense in most modern, civilized nations. It may well be an acceptable defense in Israel when it comes to crimes against Palestinians.
posted by Ty Webb at 6:06 PM on April 25, 2004


With the possible exception of skinniness, those things aren't accomplishments...

Nor is it to be French.

There are so many more reason why you're an asshole, but I guess we have to start somewhere...

Don't leave me hangin'.
posted by Witty at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2004


Kablam, forgive me if I misjudged you. It seemed to me that you were engaging in a bit of lawyerly niggling, stubbornly challenging the appropriateness of the term 'human shield' more out of a desire to sidetrack than to educate - you seemed to be building, if not a strawman, at least a strawboy. Perhaps I was wrong - perhaps I experienced an emotional glitch.

Certainly whenever the expression 'human shield' is released into the wild, it should incite discussion about those international protocols which attempt to define its appropriate use as a formalized expression. You have provided such discussion here, and your contributions are not without merit.

To be honest, I think both you and Ty Webb are being cunning. Ty Webb, I suspect, drafted 'human shield' quite deliberately, as a provocative rhetorical annunciator, hoping to import into the discussion some of the harrowing innuendo which surrounds the term's formalized twin; hardly a naive maneuver, wouldn't you agree? And you, with lawyerly persistence, seemed to be trying to kidnap 'human shield' back into the sterile restrictions of international court, where this entire event could be conveniently dispatched with "if the term doesn't fit, we must acquit!". It smelled of tactic, kablam, of technicality - of bribe - the payoff being the sure and sheltering security of authoritarian ethics, where wise grownups work tirelessly so that we don't have to.

It's a tempting place to go and live, but it smells like gingerbread.

Anyway, I'm surprised I made my original comment at all - you certainly didn't write anything annoying enough to reach my typical critical comment threshold: like I said - there must've been a glitch.

Oh, and I don't think you are any more deranged than Ty Webb is naive. Hope that helps.
posted by Opus Dark at 9:01 PM on April 28, 2004


« Older List 'em if ya got 'em   |   The truth is out there Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post