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Internationale reacties op het ontslag van Dyab Abou JahJah bij De Standaard

woensdag 18 januari 2017
Deze blog werd geschreven door een van onze lezers. Wil je zelf ook beginnen bloggen in onze community, ga dan meteen aan de slag.
  • George Orwell

Het ontslag van Dyab Abou JahJah als columnist bij De Standaard heeft heel wat internationale wenkbrauwen doen fronsen, bij diverse specialisten internationaal recht en mensenrechtenactivisten. Dit artikel bevat een selectieve greep uit die reacties (in het Engels), waaruit blijkt dat Karel Verhoeven van De Standaard op een totaal verkeerd spoor zit. Of past zijn beslissing in het rijtje van politici die zo graag de internationale rechtsregels zouden willen veranderen omdat dat hen beter zou uitkomen, en die daar ook openbaar voor pleiten?

Bij deze ook een warme oproep om de petitie tegen het ontslag van Dyab Abou JahJah te ondertekenen: "Kritische stemmen moeten we koesteren, niet broodroven!" https://www.petities24.com/signatures/kritische_stemmen_moeten_gekoesterd_niet_gebroodroofd

Lees ook even dit artikel van Pascal Debruyne in MO*: http://www.mo.be/opinie/quo-vadis-tegensprekelijk-debat-over-de-aanslag-op-het-internationaal-recht-als-argument 

Hieronder vind je de legale opinies van o.a. Richard Falk, Karen Parker, Francis Boyle, Sabah al Mukhtar, Niloufer Bhagwat, Denis Halliday.... Ik besluit met een doorwrochte analyse van de internationaal gerenommeerde rechtsspecialist Curtis Doebbler, die vernietigend is voor de beslissing van De Standaard. Besluit: Abou JahJah’s tweets hadden hoegenaamd geen commotie hoeven te veroorzaken.

Vooreerst schreef ik zelf op Facebook, onmiddellijk na de rel over de tweets: “Ik denk dat Dyab Abou Jahjah niets heeft geschreven wat indruist tegen het internationaal recht. Ten eerste is de situatie in Israël-Palestina geen “conflict”, maar een bezetting. Ten tweede: “Palestijnen moeten zich onthouden van geweld”? Dat druist in tegen het onbetwistbaar recht van ieder volk-onder-bezetting zich te verweren, ook met geweld, tegen de bezettende krijgsmacht. Het recht op gewapend verzet is herbevestigd in resolutie 3246 van de Algemene Vergadering van de VN van 29 november 1974. In stellige bewoordingen, want de Algemene Vergadering “herbevestigt de legitimiteit van de strijd van volkeren voor bevrijding van koloniale en vreemde overheersing en onderdrukking met behulp van alle mogelijke middelen, gewapende strijd inbegrepen”. In dezelfde resolutie veroordeelt de Algemene Vergadering “alle regeringen die het recht op zelfbeschikking en onafhankelijkheid van alle volkeren onder koloniale en vreemde overheersing niet erkennen, vooral van de volkeren in Afrika en van het Palestijnse volk”.

Israël lapt alle internationale rechtsregels aan zijn laars, houdt geen rekening met geen enkele VN resolutie. Illegale muur en nederzettingen, etnische zuiveringen, bombardementen op het concentratiekamp Gaza, willekeurige moord en doodslag op Palestijnse burgers , vernietigen van olijfgaarden enz.. enz…
En uiteindelijk: als het legitiem recht op gewapend verzet wordt gecriminaliseerd, leefden we nu nog onder het fascisme. ANC in Zuid-Afrika, De koloniale bevrijdingsbewegingen, de verzetsbewegingen in Latijns-Amerika enz…. Die hadden dat niet mogen doen omdat geweld altijd verkeerd is???? Richt je pijlen dus niet op de boodschapper, maar op de onrechtvaardige situatie van koloniale bezetting.”

En wat is eigenlijk het verschil tussen het commentaar van Abou JahJah en wat Dries Van Agt vertelde in De Standaard op 23-03-2009?

'Israël heeft een levensvatbare Palestijnse staat onmogelijk gemaakt. Al het gepraat daarover is gewauwel, geneuzel, gezwets en gebazel.'

Wat zeker moeten gebeuren, is dat het Westen Hamas aanvaardt als een gesprekspartner.

Het Westen eist dat Hamas daarvoor eerst aan drie eisen voldoet.

'Gij zult Israël erkennen. Gij zult wapengeweld afzweren. Gij zult alle gesloten akkoorden, ook met de PLO en Fatah, bevestigen. Drie dwaze en onrechtvaardige eisen.'

'Hamas zegt terecht: welk Israël moeten wij erkennen? Dat van het verdelingsplan van 1947, met 56 procent van het historische Palestina voor de Israëliërs? Dat van 1967, met bijna tachtig procent voor Israël? Of nog meer? Israël weigert tot vandaag zijn grenzen te markeren. Het werkt alleen maar verder aan uitbreiding naar het oosten.'

'Volgens staand internationaal recht heeft elk bezet volk het recht zich te verzetten, desnoods ook met wapens, maar dan niet tegen burgers. Het is des te onverdraaglijker dat Israël niet de opdracht krijgt van geweld af te zien. Waarom moet alleen de bezette partij afstand doen van geweld, terwijl de bezetter op grote schaal en telkens opnieuw burgers doodt?'

'En Israël houdt zich zelf niet aan de akkoorden die Hamas moet onderschrijven. Daar staat ook in dat geen nieuwe nederzettingen mogen worden gebouwd, en dat gebeurt tot vandaag.' Rechts en uiterst-rechts wonnen de recente verkiezingen in Israël. Wat betekent dat? 'Israël is in de laatste jaren in toenemende mate verrechtst. De steun voor de oorlog in Gaza bij het Israëlische publiek is zeer omineus. Het is wrang te bemerken hoeveel mensen in Israël ervan overtuigd zijn dat het recht aan hun zijde is. Er heerst een enorme haat tegenover de Palestijnen.' 'Het werk van Israëlische vredes- en mensenrechtenorganisaties wordt steeds moeilijker. Dat zijn verrukkelijke, prachtige mensen: het goede Israël. Maar ze komen steeds meer in de verdrukking.'

Dries Van Agt served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 4 November 1982

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Here is my legal opinion.
The west bank is an occupied territory.
The land is occupied illegally.
Under international law there is a right and a duty to resist occupation under the rule of self defence.

Elements to consider:
Is the west bank occupied?                                yes
Are the solders legitimate target ?                     yes
Motive for action by driver?                 Self defence
Nature of the action, resistance ?          Right to resist
What are the legal arguments to treat the action as terrorism ?             None

UN Charter Article 51
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Under the Charter every use of force may be in general characterised under one of five heads:
1.       Action authorised by a competent organ of the UN
2.       Action in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence
3.       Delicts
4.       Action against “Enemy States” under Art 53 (1) or 107
5.       Joint action by the five permanent members of the SC under Art 106

Sabah al-Mukhtar is the president of the Arab Lawyers Association and a Bureau member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers

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“I believe that the attack can be described as a legal act of a people’s striving for self-determination if the attacker's motivation was to support the Palestinian cause and as occupation soldiers were targeted.”

Curtis Doebbler is an international human rights lawyer who since 1988 has been representing individuals before international human rights bodies in Africa, Europe, the Americas and before United Nations bodies. As a practicing international lawyer, his clients have included governments, sitting and former heads of States, an estimated 2.5 million internally displaced persons in Sudan, an estimated 15,000 Ethiopian refugees, members of parliaments, and numerous other individuals and groups. He has also provided advice to senior government officials and non-governmental organizations.

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“These were soldiers in illegally  occupied territory under international law and thus legitimate targets for attack.”

“Sorry. What is complicated about a Frenchman  attacking a Gang of Nazi troops in Occupied Paris during World War II?”

Francis A. Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Boyle serves as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the Palestinian Authority. Over his career, he has represented national and international bodies including the Blackfoot Nation (Canada), the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation, as well as numerous individual death penalty and human rights cases. He has advised numerous international bodies in the areas of human rights, war crimes and genocide, nuclear policy, and bio-warfare. From 1991-92, Boyle served as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations.
****************************************

“The United Nations has upheld the right of national resistance for people under foreign occupation and  National Liberation Movement if the act is an act directed against the occupation .

The  resistance against the Nazi occupation of Europe in France among other countries are the correct legal precedents as this discussion is taking place in  Belgium.”

Niloufer Bhagwat is a lawyer and wife of former Indian Navy Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat. She is also Vice President of the Indian Lawyers Association -- Mumbai.

****************************************
“I have argued for a broad right of resistance as embedded in customary international law:
--it is limited by respect for international humanitarian law;
--it needs to represent some organized effort that enjoys the respect of the oppressed population;
--it must respect the innocence of civilian life to the same extent as such restrictions of discrimination and proportionality apply to state violence;
--'terrorism' is inappropriately used if these three guidelines are respected; also, if terrorism is used to identify unlawful political violence, then it should apply also to state violence, which is far more responsible for civilian death.”

Richard Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."

****************************************

“It is a complex case. The answer depends on whether the person was part of a resistance force, or, perhaps, whether he spontaneously took up arms in the face of the enemy. It is relevant the the victims were soldiers. In any case, the situation is, in my view, complex.

In any case, the journalist has a right to his opinion (freedom of expression, free speech) and he should not have lost his job. I do not think  the Belgian gov't can do anything against him.  Bluster, perhaps . . ..”

Karen Parker is a San Francisco based attorney who practices human rights and humanitarian law fulltime. She is responsible, in part, for the evolution of international law in such areas as economic sanctions, weaponry, environment as a human right, and the rights of the disabled. She also consults and serves as an expert witness in legal disputes involving the application of armed conflict law. She is the chief delegate for International Educational Development - Humanitarian Law Project, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). She has also represented or served as a consulting attorney for Disabled Peoples International, Human Rights Advocates, and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.

****************************************

“In the case of the Palestinian truck driver killing four Israeli soldiers in Israeli occupied East Jerusalem (in violation of international law), I am obliged to see his act as one of a soldier fighting in defence of his family and fellow citizens and for the right of his own state of Palestine to enjoy freedom, and the independence recognised by some 150 UN Member States of the General Assembly.

That is the same GA that mistakenly created Israel in 1947 on Palestinian land. Why? to ease the guilt of the old colonial States including Belgium plus the old and new Empires including Britain and the USA, of failing to welcome and save the lives of the Jewish people of Europe during the Nazi years.

The horrors of the Holocaust do not justify Israeli military occupation, ethnic cleansing  and genocidal killing of Palestinians.

Given the tragic error of the GA in 1947, I believe the totality of UN Member States must impose (the two state solution with Israel behind the 1967 lines, the sharing of Jerusalem plus a "marshall plan" of sufficient dimension to bring the wellbeing and standard of living for the Palestinisns equal to that of Israel) on Israelis  by a fully international peace keeping force ... similar in size to the 500,000 troops who forced Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990 ... but armed not with weapons but with UN Security Council binding authority.

The same Security Council would impose on the Arab neighbours of Israel ... acceptance of the Jewish State in all matters just as Israel would be obliged to similarily accept in all matters the the Arab world around it.”

Denis Halliday was the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq from 1 September 1997 until 1998. After a 34-year career at the United Nations, where he had reached Assistant Secretary-General level, Halliday resigned in 1998 over the Iraq sanctions, characterizing them as "genocide". In 2003 Halliday was presented with the Gandhi International Peace Award. He is a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation.

****************************************

“My opinion echoes the Palestinian belief : it is an act of resistance. If Fadi's (The truck driver) family, including his mother, believe he's a martyr, I believe he is. Not because Palestinians love death but as the poet Mahmoud Darwish said once " we love life if we find a way to it"

Palestinians have tried every possible peaceful way in the last 70 years and failed.

If academics can offer the palestinians who are living in hell called Israeli occupation, an effective way to resist and get rid of injustice , other than relying on spineless UN , let's hear it.”

Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi novelist, author, artist, and political activist,

****************************************

“If all the victims were indeed members of the Israeli occupation forces who have illegally occupied East Jerusalem in violation of UNSC resolutions since 1967, then the answer to his question is that this was an act of resistance, like those of the French Resistance in WWII or the Iraqi Resistance under US occupation.  I agree with Denis Halliday that it would be so much better if the world could impose a peaceful solution in which the Palestinians were not left to sacrifice themselves in such desperate acts of resistance. But I do not think, until we ourselves have lived under a hostile and brutal military occupation, in this case for nearly 50 years, that we are in any position to condemn the man who did this or to call him a terrorist, and I would ask anyone in Belgium or elsewhere that takes that position to think twice about this.  Whatever strong feelings his action has provoked should be directed toward achieving the end of the Israeli occupation and a lasting, just peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Here is a timeline of casualties on both sides of this conflict since 2000: http://israelpalestinetimeline.org   

Nicolas J S Davies is de auteur van "Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq."

****************************************

“While admitting that I only know the facts "as reported" in the western press, this does
raise fundamental questions of principle. The right to resistance is  recognized in International Law by the referred to General Assembly resolutions.

What seems to be important is that the attack appeared to be specifically targeted against military occupation forces and NOT an indiscriminate attack aimed at civilians, whether they were israeli settlers or palestinians. In World War  the resistance attacks often caused the death of innocent civilians but were justified as attacks on military targets.

I often think of Pontecorvo´s film The Battle of Algiers where massive civilian casualties were the result when the legal resistance attacked a bar that was a frequented meeting place for French colonial soldiers and settlers. It was not an easy or light moral choice for the resistance to make.
Some held that all settlers were occupiers. Some asked the pointed question "What alternative do we have?" to their critics. History is on the side of the victims of colonialism. And this of course includes the Palestinians who have been in the forefront of the struggle against colonialism for almost 70 years.

Yet, it is important in public discussion to condemn real acts of terrorism, such as car bombs and knife attacks that randomly and indiscriminately kill innocent civilian passerbys at clearly non-military targets.
We see this happening on a daily basis in Iraq and in Syria. This is not resistance, this is terrorism there, just as such attacks were terrorism when directed at innocent civilians in European and other cities.
We should never ignore the fact that our governments are practicing state terrorism against the populations of many countries. It is our responsibility to resist these policies. But we are not the government. We have the same joint interest as the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Syrians and other peoples to uphold respect for international law.
The key issue is to end the occupations.”

Mike Powers is a member of the Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm

****************************************

First of all, I salute the courage of Dyab Abou Jahjah. It’s not easy to confront all the miserable brainwashing around “terrorism” and in favor of zionism. I also salute your decision to defend him.

What is the difficulty to argue both in legal and in political terms? It may be difficult to win the cause, but not to fight, I guess. And in return it may be an excellent occasion to fight back the dominant propaganda.

About terror let me add this.

To Israel, stones, knives, artisanal rockets, trucks... are “terrorism”. Aircrafts, tanks, bombs, missiles, destructing cultures, stealing land, dislocating populations, concrete walls, demolishing houses, arbitrary arrest, break the bones of children, torture, prison for life, selective assassinations, killing civilians by hundreds... is not terrorism. All this, that anyone knows, illustrates the political and moral inferiority of Israel — and that’s what the 10 Points of Dyab Abou Jahjah also bring to the surface.

We are all under a tremendous pressure to condemn terror. But we should have in mind that terror is a weapon of war, which aim is to weaken the enemy by weakening its support. So, there is no contradiction between legitimate resistance and the use of terror. I don’t say that I approve or disapprove — I just say that it is a fact of any war to which any moral condemnation, or moral approval, is useless. Only a political judgment can tell about the effectiveness of those methods.

So, instead of moralizing and condemning, the dominant media had better to understand why. But that does not suit their class purposes. For instance: attacking civilians is “terrorism” because they are considered “innocents”? Ok, but are the Israeli civilians innocents? In general and in abstract, I would say yes. But when a majority of those civilians vote for and support the right wing parties which have a well known program to occupy Palestine and exterminate Palestinians — one (specially Palestinian resistants) has the right to ask: where is the innocence of that majority?

From the experience of the Portuguese colonial wars: the liberation movements, once organized and politically defined, never made the portuguese people a target or even an enemy, and always appealed to portuguese soldiers to turn their guns or desert. This gave them in the long term a considerable credit among important sectors of the portuguese population. Nevertheless, one of the first events that marked the liberation war in Angola was the massacre of hundreds of white settlers, in march 1961, an uncontainable explosion of hate after 500 years of colonization. If I may generalize from this example, I’d say that the political gain of resistance movements is greater when they separate the oppressing people from their ruling classes, because that seems to be the best way to divide them and beat them.

Two quotations:

Engels (about the Chinese resistance against the British): “[The Chinese] could not stand against European means of destruction with their ordinary means of warfare. (...) Instead of moralizing on the horrible atrocities of the Chinese, as the chivalrous English press does, we had better recognize that this is (...) a popular war for the maintenance of Chinese nationality (...). And in a popular war the means used by the insurgent nation cannot be measured by the commonly recognized rules of regular warfare, nor by any other abstract standard, but by the degree of civilization only attained by that insurgent nation.”

Mandela (responding to those in ANC who defended peaceful and non armed methods of struggle): The weapons are not chosen by the oppressed, but by the oppressors.

Manuel Raposo is a member of the Portuguese session of the World Tribunal on Iraq.

****************************************

Here is a thorough analysis by Curtis Doebbler:

When Violence is Legal

Curtis FJ Doebbler

Let me preface this piece by stating clearly that I personally do not support violence by any kind of entity. Violence by non-State actor is unfortunate as there is almost always a more effective non-violent alternative. However, I especially abhor violence by the State as it sets a bad example for non-State actors. This is proven by the auspicious fact that in the last century it is State violence that has killed tens of millions of more people than all the collective violence of non-State actors.

Nevertheless, as an international lawyer with almost thirty years of experience advising and representing governments, Heads of States, and non-State actors, I do, however, understand that my credibility depends on my ability to explain international law correctly, as it has been agreed by States. To undertake this responsibility requires a detachment that sometimes runs contrary to my emotional or moral concerns.

No lawyer makes international law, neither does a single Head of State, or even a single country, although a single country might unilaterally bind itself to some action or inaction. Generally, however, the law is found in the agreements between States or treaties and in customary international law.

When a lawyer—especially an international lawyer whose reputation is before not only his county’s legal profession and structures, but those of every country in the world—speaks to explain to interpret the law, her or his credibility depends on an unimpassioned interpretation of the law.

Even social justice oriented lawyers—those lawyers who are committed to using the law to achieve greater equity and equality in society—must have a competent grasp of the law and be able to explain the law rationally and correctly to be credible. To show a competent grasp of international law, international lawyers must defend their views in terms of the words of treaties and the practice and opinions of States.

Consequently, for a competent lawyer, it is, and should be, irritating to see a lawyer or even a non-legally trained person interpret the law incorrectly or ignorantly just to achieve a specific end. I had this feeling of irritation this week when the Belgian newspaper De Standaard fired Mr. Dyab Abou Jahjah, a columnist for suggesting the truck bomb in Jerusalem was not an act of terror but part of a legitimate effort to achieve self-determination.

Mr. Jahjah wrote on his blog that attack was legitimate “[b]ecause it took place in an occupied territory and targeted the occupation army.”

According to Mr. Karel Verhoeven, the editor of De Standaard, Mr. Jahjah “legitimized the use of all necessary means to end the occupation of Palestine.” This according to Mr. Verhoeven “placed him outside the borders of public debate in which De Standaard wants to participate. In Dutch or Flemish, from which I translated the remarks, Mr. Verhoven wrote that “Hij keurt Palestijns verzet ‘met alle noodzakelijke middelen’ goed” and he “[d]aarmee plaatst hij zich buiten de grenzen van het publieke debat dat De Standaard op haar eigen platformen wil voeren.”

Such a remark by the De Standaard editor shows a remarkable ignorance. Either he did not even bother to find out what the law is, in which case the management may want to replace him before bring the newspaper into disrepute on a multitude of possible issues, or he got very bad legal advice. In the latter case, maybe the newspaper needs new lawyers, at least to deal with issues of international law.

Had De Standaard correctly understood the law, then it would have understood that Mr. Jahjah's statements about Palestinians right to use force to end the occupation is most likely a correct understanding of international law relating to the use of force to achieve self-determination.

I am assuming that the bombing targeted only Israeli soldiers and was carried out by a Palestinian living under occupation as an act in support of ending the occupation. If this is the case, whether one emotionally or morally supports the act, it was likely a legal act. This is not only my considered legal opinion, but this is the best opinion that international law can provide as concerns such a situation.​

Let me try to briefly explain some reasons that De Standaard should have been capable of discovering itself.

First, international law is created by States that either enter into a treaty creating a rule of law between them or through their practices and opinions create a general rule of law between themselves and often applying to all States. We know these are the sources of international law because all Member States of the United Nations have agreed to them by ratifying the Charter of the United Nations and the accompanying Statute of the International Court of Justice, which states this in article 38. Thus when international law is being applied, States are only being encouraged to respect rules that they themselves created.

Second, the majority of States have in practice maintained the right to support peoples struggling for their right to self-determination against oppressive regimes by all necessary means. To state that Israel is an oppressive regime denying the Palestinian people the right to self-determination is probably a very significant understatement. We also know that all necessary means includes the use of force because, among other instances, the United States used this language to justify its use of force against Iraq starting all the way back in UN Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990.

It is important to note that it has been the practice of an overwhelming number of States to support people striving to achieve self-determination with all necessary means. The support for the South Africans struggle against the apartheid regime was one example of support involving providing the means for the use of force. The support for the people of Biafra, Eritrea, and the Kurds are other examples where States have provided the means for the use of force to achieve self-determination. And the recognition by approximately 140 States and the United Nations, of the State of Palestine, is another example of a means of achieving self-determination, but one that does not involve the use of force.

It is also important to realize that in international law ‘might does not make right’ even if richer and more powerful States might more frequently get away with violating international law that does not change the law. The law can change through the emergence of new practice and opinion by many States, but that has not happened.

Third, the right of peoples striving for self-determination to use force has been confirmed by United Nations resolutions that express the opinio juris of States. UN General Assembly Resolution 2708(XXV) from 1970 states that “…peoples under alien domination … [have the right] … to exercise their right to self-determination and independence by all means at their disposal.” More expressly, the UN General Assembly Resolution entitled Declaration on the Principles of International Law that was adopted unanimously by General Assembly on 24 October 1970 states that,

[e]very State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives people referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence. In their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action in pursuit of exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

Although perhaps not explicit as it could be, notable jurists such George Abi Saab and Asbjørn Eide agree that this language is an authorization for the use of force in the struggle for self-determination against an oppressive regime.

Fourth, the use of force to achieve self-determination is not unbridled by the law allowing it. The force must still conform with the rules of international humanitarian law. For example, only members of the military must be targeted as was the case in this instance. The act must also be proportional, which it was given the weapons and means the Israelis use to oppress the Palestinians. The act must be aimed at a military advantage; killing the opponent’s soldiers is a military advantage. There are more rules but on the face of it the rules were compiled with and at least Mr. Jahjah was entitled to assume that they were on the basis of hat even De Standaard itself reported about the incident.

Although this brief description of the right to use force to achieve self-determination under international law is not conclusive, it does make it clear that Mr. Jahjah was acting responsibly in stating the law as he did. It in fact seems that he had a much better understanding of the international law than anyone else at De Standaard.

Applying De Standaard’s understanding of international law, the newspaper would have resolutely objected to Belgium’s resistance fighters using force against the occupying Nazi soldiers. They might even have been closer to understanding the law as it stood at that time as the law allowing the use of force in the struggle for self-determination only gained currency after World War II.

Although some, maybe De Standaard itself, will bellow that this essay constitutes a legitimation of terrorism, it is the rest of us that suffer from the consequences of such ignorance. Had the world recognized the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people after World War II as international law required, then we would likely be living in a world where Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others live together in relative peace. Doubters of this harmony might want to examine the thousands of years before the occupation of Palestine to see how this was in significant part possible.

Rather than legitimizing violence Mr. Jahjah was doing a substantial service to the cause of justice and the rule of international law. We might not like how the law applies to us, but most of us agree that it is better to apply law agreed to by the international community then live in a lawless world.

Perhaps, rather than start with its apparently emotional disgust of violence, at against certain parties, De Standaard should have thought of a right more central to its role in society as a press publication, the right to freedom expression. It would appear that Mr. Jahjah’s views made an important contribution to the discussion of a public issue of great concern to many people in Belgium and worldwide. By suppressing his voice De Standaard might be interfering with the right to impart opinions that Mr. Jahjah has as well as the right of others to receive opinions of public importance. While neither of these rights are unlimited, had De Standaard started its evaluation with consideration of the right to freedom expression then it may have better understood its own responsibility. Because it did a very weighty disservice to the cause of journalism within our society.

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