Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interesting sites & events:

Dr. Byron Shafer Of the Middle East Study Team at the PMEP Breakfast and Will Spotts on The Principle of Universal Jurisdiction

I want to once again recommend some excellent sources for help and information on the coming Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly. These are sites I have recommended before but they have moved on with excellent material, help and suggestions.

The First is Presbyterians for Middle East Peace. This site now has articles on overtures and the Middle East Study recommendation as well as a video and information about a Breakfast event at GA.

One of the committee members, Dr. Byron Shafer, of the Middle East Study team will be speaking at the Presbyterians for Middle East Peace’s Breakfast. And the details for two Webinars can be found here.

The other site is Will Spotts’ “The PC(USA) on Israel and Palestine.” This site is now loaded with excellent postings. One of the more provocative issues that I had not noticed before is his pointing out that among the Middle East Study Team’s recommendations is their appeal to the Declaration of Human Rights which includes what is called THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION.

This is how Spotts describes this issue:

“This last phrase “universal jurisdiction”, sounds innocuous enough, but I seriously doubt that most Presbyterians are that familiar with the concept. The principle of universal jurisdiction allows nations to prosecute alleged crimes that were committed outside the boundaries of that nation. A person might easily wonder why this is included in recommendations focused almost exclusively on Israel and Palestine. What is not said is that this concept is currently being strategically used among fashionable anti-Israel activists to to justify attempts to try alleged Israeli war criminals in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Norway, and Spain. Its potential for prosecutions that are motivated more from a desire for political theater than from any idea of the rule of law or actual justice is being widely realized. The goal of this strategy is to reinforce the status of Israel as a pariah state whose government officials cannot travel to a variety of countries without risk of imprisonment and/or trial.”

Go here to read it all.
The PC(USA)’s Middle East Study Committee Recommendations.



Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the tactic known as "Universal Jurisdiction" has been utilized in the past by several countries including such notables as the United States and Israel.

Any ideas whose jurisdiction takes precedence with regard to Israel's latest raid, killings, and hijacking in international waters?

Clark Hazlett

will spotts said...

Indeed, it has been used by both. Yet I'm still wondering why exactly the PC(USA) is being asked to affirm it NOW? Interesting that it was not worthy of comment at any prior time. Until the Middle East Study Committee's report.

Also, this application is somewhat different technically. The phrase itself was not used, but a similar concept was. Currently activists are calling for an expansion of the concept - not a continuation of the practice as you mention it.

there's not enough information available yet to meaningfully comment on the incident you mention.

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Anonymous said...

Clark: If you actually want to know, I suggest you check the San Remo on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. It makes clear that Israel's actions were, in fact, legal acts based on a legitimate wartime blockade of an enemy's ports. The Israeli commandos' response on the Turkish ship, on the other hand, was an example of self-defense in the face of life-threatening violence.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA