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The Big Question

Is Israel becoming a rogue state? Can’t the international community rein it in?

The Big Question

Richard Anderson Falk
Former UN special rapporteur for human rights in Palestine

I believe that Israel is a rogue state in the regional context of West Asia. It has been defiant toward international law in war/peace contexts, especially since the Lebanon War of 2006, but also in its perio­dic massive military operations carried out in Gaza over the last six years (2008-09, 2012, 2014) against an essentially defenceless civilian population encaged within a crowded space. Gazan civilians have not even been granted the option of seeking sanctuary across the border, a normal refugee option, and the realities of Gaza make internal displacement unavailable as there is no escaping the combat zone. We lament the refugee flows and internal displacements associated with the strife in Syria and Iraq, but compared to the people of Gaza, Syrian and Iraqi civilians are ‘privileged’.

Talmiz Ahmad
Former Indian diplomat

A rogue state is one that functions with total disregard for international law, norms and values; indeed, it is indifferent to any constraints on its conduct, arguing that it faces such extraordinary thr­eat that for its self-preservation and the protection of its interests and values, it cannot allow any restrictions on actions taken by it. By this yardstick, Israel has been a rogue state for several years. Since the ’80s, as better und­erstanding of the Israel-Palestine dispute has emerged in the international community, Israel’s actions against the Palestinians have bec­ome even more uncompromising and even brutal, and almost entirely against international sentiment. Since the mid-’90s, it has in fact given up all interest in pursuing the peace process, while steadily expanding its settlements in the occupied territories in violation of international law and all norms of natural justice.

Gregory Shupak
Lecturer, media studies, University of Guelph-Humber, Toronto

Israel has long been a rogue state in that for deca­des it has violated international law in countless ways. Examples of that include: its ill­egal occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories; its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees the right to ret­urn to their homes in accord with UN Reso­lution 194; its seven-year-old siege of Gaza, characterised as illegal by such groups as the Red Cross and Amnesty International as well as by UN officials like Desmond Tutu, Navi Pillay and Richard Falk. Israel can also be consi­dered a rogue state in view of its frequent invasions of neighbou­ring countries and its frequent mass murders of civilians, seen in such cases as Operation Protective Edge this year, Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the 2006 assault on Lebanon, the Sabra-Shatila massacre, besides all the way back to the 1947-48 Nakba upon which Israel was founded.

Ilan Pappe
Historian, University of Exeter, UK

It is becoming a rogue state in the eyes of the civil society worldwide, but it is not depicted this way by the political elites or the mainstream media. Although one should say that Apartheid South Africa was first ostracised from below and the elites were dragged screaming into imposing sanctions on it…. The killing of innocent civilians will go on unless the international community is brave enough to call a spade a spade and describe Israel’s policies as war crimes. The liberal voice inside Israel subsided a long time ago. By and large, the society has become nationalist and racist and backs fully the government’s policy. This is why the only strategy now is pressure from outside in the form of BDS: boycott, divestment and sanctions.

—Interviews by Pranay Sharma

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