Statement by Col Kemp to UN Watch on Self Def by Israel

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  1. UN Watch Oral Statement Delivered by Colonel Richard Kemp, 16 October 2009

    Self-Defense is not a Crime of War
    Ted Belman

    By Ted Belman Saturday, October 17, 2009

    Thank you, Mr. President. I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

    Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

    Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

    Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

    The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

    The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

    Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

    More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

    Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

    And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

    Thank you, Mr. President.
  2. I seem to remember p.i.r.a hiding behind civvies,and making roughly the same claims as hammas etc.
  3. I seem to remember p.i.r.a hiding behind civvies,and making roughly the same claims as hammas etc.
  4. I found this statement to be slightly out of character for a UK Colonel, so looked up who he represented while giving these comments:

    "UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter. UN Watch was established in 1993 under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. UN Watch participates actively at the UN as an accredited NGO in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee (AJC)."

    You would expect this NGO to be against the findings of the Goldman report. In fact, check out their webpages and you will see a prevalence of articles and opinions in support of Israel and against the Goldman report:

    "Articles and Reports
    •Human Rights Watch, “Israel/Gaza: Cooperate With Goldstone Investigation,” April 14, 2009.
    •Hillel Neuer and Marissa Cramer, “A case study in UN hypocrisy,” National Post, July 17, 2009
    •Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "The Operation in Gaza -- Factual and Legal Aspects", July 29, 2009
    •Yagil Henkin, "When everything is a crime", AISS, August 13th, 2009
    •Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission—Tainted to the Core (Part I),” Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 2009
    •Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission—Tainted to the Core (Part II),” Jerusalem Post, Aug. 18, 2009
    •Kenneth Roth, “Don't smear the messenger,” Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2009
    •Hillel Neuer, “Ends Justify the Means?”, UN Watch blog, August 27, 2009
    •Gerald Steinberg, “Isolating Israel through language of human rights,” Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2009
    •NGO Monitor, "The Goldstone 'Fact Finding' Mission and the Role of Political NGOs," Sept. 7, 2009
    •The Economist, "Goldstone on Gaza: Opportunity missed", September 17, 2009
    •Richard Goldstone, "Justice in Gaza", New York Times, September 17, 2009
    •David Harris, "The Goldstone Report: Three Strikes and You're Out!," September 18, 2009
    •Jonathan Halevi, "How the Goldstone Commission understanded the Hamas threat to Palestinian civilians", ICA - Jerusalem Center, September 18, 2009
    •Richard Goldstone, "Who's being unfair?", Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2009
    •Jackson Diehl, "Israel's Gaza Vindication", Washington Post, September 21, 2009
    •Alan Dershowitz, "The Goldstone report is a barrier to peace", Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2009
    •Jeffrey Robbins, "Geopolitics, human rights and Israel", Boston Globe, September 23, 2009
    •Michael Oren, "UN report a victory for terror", Boston Globe, September 24, 2009
    •Asa Kasher, "Operation Cast Lead and the ethics of a just war", Azure, September, 2009
    •Ehud Barak, "At the UN, terrorism pays", Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2009
    •Jim Molan, "UN's bias binds at Gaza", The Australian, October 2, 2009 "

    Personally, I have no opinion on the Goldman report, but I think it is necessary to have a look at the sources of critique.
    For the record, I support Israel's right to react when Hamas fires missiles and rockets that have the range to reach Bersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon, no questions.
  5. This is what the author himself says about his 575 pager. :roll:,7340,L-3791096,00.html
    and the original article:
  6. Interesting, could you elaborate a little?

  7. Well, if you like having a war on the boil, and if you like the idea of some really vicious blow back involving NBC weapons, carry on supporting the Israeli's God given right to hold a country they seized at gunpoint.

    One point you might like to mull over is what would the result have been if the UK had reacted to the PIRA bombing campaign by sending RAF Tornado bombers over Dublin. Imagine a thousand dead Irish civilians and five thousand wounded, many of them children. Then imagine the reaction amongst the eighty million people of Irish descent around the world.

    If that sounds a sensible thing to have done, so be it. And if you want to ally yourself to a country that believes that kind of reaction is sensible, again, so be it. Just don't start whinging if somebody else plays the same game in return. Please, none of this post 9/11 whining "Why do they hate us?" crap. They hate you because the West, all of us, behave like bastards and our best friends are even bigger bastards.
  8. Baker, it's perhaps best if you watch the youtube video and listen to what he actually said, some of which was edited out from the written statement, and I think for good reason. He piled on with his operational experience as if that would somehow raise his credibility. That, in my experience with UK colonels, is uncharacteristic. Most officers would prefer their experience be understated and rather let the facts provide the arguments.

    The actual gist of his statement that "never in the history of warfare etc" [may be true, but he's not speaking as a professor on military history or as a law expert] is not substanciated by facts or arguments.

    Not much, but enough to provoke me to perform a quick source critique. Cui bono?
  9. Sun Too,

    Food for thought, many thanks.

  10. Unless, of course, if he has to "establish his credentials" in a plenary full of civilian diplomats who do not quite know who this "Mr. Kemp from UN-Watch" actually is. In such a situation it becomes a crucial introduction, n'est pas?

    edited to add: what was edited out in the written text and if so for what reason?
  11. Please read carefully the posts above and follow the links and quotes provided to get the full picture so this doesn't get taken out of context.

    Just let me start by saying this: I do understand that col Kemp is a decorated soldier with the accumulated experience of a number of operational deployments and service through almost 30 years of devotion to duty. This is not about his patriotism or professionalism, which I am sure is exemplary by any standards.

    To me this is about intellectual rigour and academic honesty in providing a balanced discussion before concluding, if you will.

    In answer to your edited question, you would need to go back and read the press statement from UN Watch and listen to/watch the youtube video of his presentation to get all the details, the main point is, however, that his introduction on his own career was reduced in the written statement.
    The reason, I suspect, is that it may not really be relevant to the question at hand.
    I see nothing in the retired colonel's biography (other than Sandhurst or Camberley) that shows him to be an expert on military history or the laws of armed conflict per se - which his statement is largely about.

    Furthermore, the fact that he has been to other warzones, does not make him an expert witness on what actually happened at the Gazastrip in December 08 - January 09. If he wasn't there, how can he tell, other than second or third hand? If so, it would be academically correct to acknowledge this, and quote his sources.

    Almost finally, if you watch the bbc-interview made during the conflict, he admits to having no real knowledge of the situation on the ground, when pressed, he says: "Well, I can't comment on that, I do not have any of the facts available" - "from the extent to which I have been following the current operation", etc

    Finally, if you are still interested, watch his speech at the Jerusalem Center in July, you will hear his list of all the actions IDF took iot reduce civilian casualties. Again, I am not saying this is not true, I would only question where he has this information from. The source (IDF?), the venue and some of the sites that link to where this particular video is posted: ie "Israellycool", would seem to suggest a less than balanced representation.

    Edited to add: There is a small but important mistake in the headline, it's not statement to the UN Watch, it's by the UN Watch, a jewish supported NGO, that col Kemp represents for some reason.

    Hope this helps.
  12. NBC Weapons?
  13. Thanks, ST. First of all, I think you are vastly overestimating the academic rigour of debates in the UN.

    That is why he was chosen by/chose UN-Watch to make a statement.

    see above.

    I did and found them to be verbatim.
    Well, maybe he was and is impressed by the extraordinary length the Israelis went through to warn civilians and, in his experience, can not come up with anything like it (Serbia, Shock and Awe, Tora Bora etc would be his points of reference?) Not really such an out-of-this world statement to make and hardly one that would demand a degree in military history. Maybe you could mention a possible contender?

    In a 3 minute statement, footnotes? The more I look into this, the more I get the impression that he has done quite some research into this and speaks at conferences etc on the use of media and world opinion by Jihadist groups.,-Hamas,-Al-Qaida-Tactically-Exploit-International-Laws-of-Warfare.html

    Highly misleading statement there, I am afraid. What he did say, and that is a credit to his integrity, was that, when asked about one particular incident ("safe-house" bombed), during the campaign, he could not comment as it would have to be investigated first. I highly welcome that attitude which is in stark contrast to those pundits that scream war-crime the very instance shoite happens on a battle field.

    In absence of anything specific that could discredit Col Kemp I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt concerning his ability to sort propaganda from fact.
    Now, why does he work with UN-Watch? Maybe because its the only (or most active) NGO that criticises the UN on matters such as the composition of the Human Rights Council etc. Why does he represent them in this particular case? Because its the vehicle with which he can make a point he has been making since the war and which he sees as a general problem that Western Armies need to address in the fight against Jihadi terrorists.
    Obviously he is not afraid to mix and mingle with Jews and Israelis - that I also will not hold against him.
  14. Ah, Kemp... the armchair retired colonel, a self-proclaimed and proud Zionist who hasn't been laid in over a decade. He's all over the news as an expert on all matters, military or otherwise, as mentioned, in a desperate attempt to... get laid. It's not working so far.
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