Ok, so I feel really dumb. When looking at the announcement of the Israeli “investigation” which attempts to bypass standard international law to coverup the attack on the Freedom Flotilla, I noted there was an Irishman and a Canadian on the panel – though without voting rights. I was distracted by the White House’s wholehearted statement of support for this whitewash – and missed the rest of the story.
What I missed – insert palm to forehead here – is that the Irish member is none other than David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist party and most recently a founding member of the Friends of Israel, a little select group of pals including John Bolton and Dore Gold which was formed on the day of the Flotilla murders:
The initiative is being launched now, its sponsors said in a statement, because of their outrage and concern about the “unprecedented delegitimation campaign against Israel, driven by the enemies of the Jewish state and perversely assumed by numerous international authorities.”
…In fact, today Israel is a fundamental actor for the future of the West. Although the peace process is important, the members of Friends of Israel Initiative are more concerned about the onslaught of radical Islamism as well as the specter of a nuclear Iran since these are threats affecting not only Israel, but the entire world.”
… Just as the sponsors of this Initiative believe, there is no West without Israel.”
Trimble is also a member of the Henry Jackson Society, closely allied with Richard Perle, James Woolsey and William Kristol. The HJS has been busy blogging it’s positions on the flotilla and these posts suggest just why member Trimble was such an appealing addition for the Israelis. In addition to suggesting that Turkey may have just been fronting for Iran in the support of the flotilla, and some dire warnings to “peace activists” who are really terrorists, the HJS blog sums it all up here:
The whole controversy and furore surrounding Israel’s convoy raid is an utter farce and highlights some disturbing ironies and double standards.
This was undeniably, unequivocally and inexorably a political ploy and by no means a humanitarian mission to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza. This was a political ploy with the purpose of provoking Israel into unwarranted aggression, provoking international outcry, further isolating the country, breaking the siege and causing Israel unparalleled humilation.
As the BBC’s Ireland correspondent wrote about the appointment of Trimble:
One would assume that if David Trimble’s name has got this far it’s been approved by the Americans, maybe as far up as Barack Obama.”
Less is known about Canadian Ken Watkin, former military judge advocate general – except that he apparently stonewalled the House of Commons inquiry into whether Canadian troops turned over Afghan detainees to be tortured:
A House of Commons committee investigating what the federal government may have known about possible prisoner torture in Afghan jails ran into a brick wall Wednesday, with the military’s top lawyer refusing to answer questions.
Brig.-Gen. Ken Watkins, the military judge advocate general, claimed solicitor-client privilege about whether he’d seen warnings from a diplomat in Kandahar and whether he’d received direction from the prime minister’s office.
“Obviously the coverup continues,” said Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh. “It is not part of solicitor-client privilege to hide who instructs you or who your client is. If the (Prime Minister’s Office or Privy Council Office) instructed these individuals, we ought to know.”
Watkins’ office was copied on reports written by diplomat Richard Colvin in 2006, which laid out stark warnings about possible torture in Kandahar jails. Senior members of the Conservative cabinet say they never saw the reports.
The judge advocate general has the power to order military police to conduct an investigation if wrongdoing is suspected.
Watkins refused to say whether he — or anyone else in his office — saw Colvin’s reports…
New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris said the military’s top lawyer had a duty to act, if such startling information was before him.
“He should tell us and he should be able to tell us if he became aware of allegations,” Harris said.
Watkins refused to say whether he’d seen published annual reports from the Foreign Affairs Department that detail Afghanistan’s abysmal human-rights record. At one point, Watkins wouldn’t even acknowledge whether he had read newspaper accounts of torture allegations.
As Uri Avnery wrote today in response to the Israeli announcement:
This behavior does not bode well for Watkin ‘s willingness or ability to participate in exposing facts which might prove embarrassing to the Government of Israel.
Meanwhile Turkey, which has opened an investigation into the murder of 9 of its citizens in the raid leading toward possible prosecution has not been given a seat at the table and continues to push for a genuine investigation:
Turkey has “no trust” that a commission set up by Israel to probe the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships would conduct an impartial investigation, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday.
“We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation,” Davutoglu told reporters. Turkey insists that the May 31 raid, in which eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national were killed, be investigated by a commission “under the direct control of the United Nations… an impartial one with the participation of Turkey and Israel”, he said.
Israel however has a lot of trust in this arrangement:
ISRAELI PRIME minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the committee of inquiry being set up by Israel into the naval raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla will “make it clear to the world that Israel is acting legally, responsibly and with complete transparency”.
He said that exposing the facts “will prove that our aim was to conduct a defensive operation according to the highest standards”. Mr Netanyahu spoke ahead of yesterday’s unanimous cabinet vote endorsing the formation of an “independent public committee” chaired by former supreme court judge Yaakov Turkel.
And why shouldn’t Netanyahu be confident? As Gush Shalom notes in the announcement of their intention to petition the Israeli Supreme Court to stop this whitewash:
The commission’s terms of reference exclude in advance all the main points which should be investigated.??…The Tirkel Commission’s terms of reference do not include looking into the decision-making process which led to bloodshed on the high seas, to the killing of nine people whose purpose had been to reach Gaza rather than clash with Israeli soldiers, to blackening Israel’s image throughout the world and to the complete shattering of the alliance with Turkey …
Nor will the commission be able to look seriously into what actually happened on board the boats during these fateful moments. The commission is specifically and explicitly excluded from calling any soldier or officer to testify…
Sounds real “impartial, credible, and transparent investigation,” doesn’t it?