Monday, July 24, 2006

Language and the middle-east conflict

Nothing has horrified me more than the terrible devastation of the
war in the middle-east. No less sickening is the total media control,
especially on CNN and BBC, where I almost never find any views from
from the Palestinian or Lebanese side being heard. I must, however,
confess that things are so sickening that I am not watching much TV.
However, the following stuck to my mind and I dug out the transcript
from the following source from which I quote:

JAN EGELAND: It's destruction in block after block - mainly
residential areas. I would say that this seems to be an excessive
use of force in an area with so many civilians.

REPORTER: And if it's excessive use of force, that makes it a war crime?

JAN EGELAND: It makes it a violation of humanitarian law.

According to my table-top New Pocket Oxford Dictionary,

crime n. an offence against an individual or the state which is punishable by law

According to my online dictionary:

war crime n. Any of various crimes, such as genocide or the mistreatment of prisoners of war, committed during a war and considered in violation of the conventions of warfare.

So, why is Egeland so coy about referring to what is going on
as a war crime? Probably because if he does, then Israel would
have to be brought to court? Or is it that war crimes can only
be committed by the Rwandans, Burundians, by Charles Taylor of
Liberia, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and never by the
Israelis? Enquiring minds want to know.

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