What I would like to say to Daniel Machover

This is a guest post by Joy Wolfe

Reading Daniel Machover’s advice to Foreign Secretary in the Guardian I have to say my first reaction was just who does he think he is to even think of giving such inappropriate unsolicited advice. My second thought was with Israeli Jews like Machover who needs enemies.

He is a London based Israeli lawyer, and head of civil litigation for Hickman & Rose Solicitors, and was the co-founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights in 1988. He made quite a name for himself when he previously spearheaded an attempt to have an IDF officer, Doron Almog, arrested in February 2008.

It would seem that whoever persuaded a judge in Westminster to grant a warrant for the arrest of Israel former Foreign Secretary and current leader of the Opposition, Tzipi Livni may have taken a step too far and the resulting sense of outrage felt by all sane and open-minded people will hopefully result in action being taken to ensure this type of charge cannot be levied in such an inappropriate manner.

Imagine Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Miliband or  Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth were to be arrested in Israel and charged with war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan!!   Make no mistake that this is what could and even should happen if the way Tzipi Livni was treated here in the UK was to be taken to its logical conclusion.

Let’s make one thing quite clear first.  There is no way a former Foreign Minister of Israel can be accused of “war crimes” when carrying out their primary duty to defend their country and its citizens.

So let’s look at Daniel Machover’s suggested advice on what David Miliband should be saying to Tzipi Livni.   In Jewish parlance there is just one word for it  “Chutzpah”  meaning outrageous cheek!

In suggesting it would be wrong for David Milliband to apologise to Tzipi Livni, Machover admits that according to British justice people are “presumed innocent unless and until convicted through a fair trial on the criminal standard of proof (that is, beyond reasonable doubt)”.  He goes on to admit that Tzipi Livni has not been accused or convicted of committing “war crimes”. He further adds, however that he suspects she was indeed guilty of such “crimes”, yet again admits there is no proper evidence, and no reason to assume that Tzipi Livni could be found guilty in a UK court.

However, he cites Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stating
[W]e are ‘under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed … grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before [our] courts’.   The mandatory wording (ie ‘shall’) creates a presumption that it is in the public interest for criminal charges to be brought under our Geneva Conventions Act 1957 if the evidential test is met. [emphasis added]
And what does Daniel Machover choose as evidence to justify this travesty.  Nothing less than the discredited Goldstone Report, which on its author’s own admission would not stand up in a court of law, and which he also admits was very largely unsubstantiated.  The fact that the Report was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in October and further endorsed at the general assembly in November amounts to nothing given the anti Israel make up of both bodies, and the truly ludicrous situation where countries with appalling Human Rights records sit in judgement.
 Machover expresses his great faith in the British judiciary, without taking into account that the Judge who granted the warrant fell far short of the standards of evidence needed when he accepted the hearsay evidence that Tzipi Livni was in the UK without bothering to check the accuracy of the false statement and was forced to hurriedly withdraw the warrant when he found he had been duped by anti-Israel mischief makers.
That is what can truly be called the political embarrassment that Machover referred to. As for his impudent suggestion that David Miliband should tell Tzipi Livni to get Israel to refer itself to the international criminal court, that is even greater “Chutzpah”.
Perhaps the best advice I can have the Chutzpah to give Machover is if he really wants to help the Palestinians as he purports to do, he should direct his energies to advising their leaders to abandon their goal of the destruction of the Jewish state he has turned his back on in such a treacherous way, and to concentrate on positive aspects of building bridges and improving the quality of life of the Palestinian people, enabling them to see the benefits peace can bring.
May I also suggest that if he is sincere in his aim to “search out and prosecute” all those alleged to have committed war crimes, that he builds a dossier of all those Palestinian terrorists who have set out to murder Israelis in their homes, their buses, their pizzerias and cafes and seeks to bring them to justice.  Then he might at least restore a little credibilty to his seriously tarnished image.
we are ‘under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed … grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before [our] courts’. The mandatory wording (ie ‘shall’) creates a presumption that it is in the public interest for criminal charges to be brought under our Geneva Conventions Act 1957 if the evidential test is met.

16 replies »

  1. Strangely, I covered this issue yesterday.

    If you think about it, Britain has been host to some really unsavoury characters in the last 50 years and yet not one of them was ever threatened with arrest, in British courts.

    More recently there are a number of British people who consider that Tony Blair is guilty of war crimes, and they have a couple of prominent web sites which argue this case.

    The facts of the matter not worth arguing about, but what is key is that none of them have attempted to get an arrest warrant against Tony Blair.

    So on their doorstep they believe that Tony Blair is guilty of war crimes and yet they are so lazy and untroubled that they won’t venture to get an arrest warrant.

    However when an Israeli swings into view there is a stampede to the law courts to acquire an arrest warrant.

    I always think it is a marvellous capacity for hypocrisy that many of the British have, to attack Israeli politicians, but leave their own well alone.


  2. hmm indeed ModernityBlog.

    Strange isn’t it that those leaders of Hamas who live in Syria have visited the UK several times without having arrest warrants taken out against them. Goldstone’s report also mentioned crimes against humanity by Hamas, did it not? Is it perhaps that nobody sees their own fifteen minutes of being famous hanging on them or is it just that the level of malice against Hamas is not high enough for someone to go to all that trouble? It was obvious that after the experience with Barak that the attempt would not succeed, so what drove Machover other than malice?

  3. Was this the vile individual I heard on the Today programme early this morning? I was pleasantly surprised by some tough, well-reasoned questioning from BBC presenter Justin Webb. That could be because he has spent a long time in America, where attitudes towards Israel are a little saner.

  4. Margie,

    I think my point is that those who are most vociferous in attacking Israel would gladly also attack Tony Blair, who they blame for mass murder in Iraq going back years, pre-dating Operation Cast Lead.

    Going back years, yet none of these critics have ever got off of their arses to do anything.

    There are whole web sites dedicated to proving that Tony Blair is a war criminal.

    It is a common theme in certain political circles, yet not one person has ever done anything against Tony Blair in the British courts.

    If, however, Tony Blair had been an Israeli, I suspect the situation would have been quite different, and these hitherto lazy critics would have sprinted down to the law courts before you could say “arrest warrant”.

    That strikes me as British hypocrisy, an excessive desire to hold Israeli politicians to account, yet not British ones, or anyone else for that matter.

  5. This is my first ever comment on this website. Of course I already heard about your very useful and sadly needed activity. All I want to say concerning the matter is that Machover inho is a psychotic case. I think his example prooves how much the childhood indoctrination by parents are worth. It’s known that his father is an equally psychotic “anti-Zionist” Israel hater – why shouldn’t he be, he is his father after all. Obviously he brought up his son in this manner. The total inability of the younger Machover to have any independent thought and reasoning capacity which is detached from his father’s is more than mind-boggling, it’s comical. In effect we can state with a great deal of certainty that he remained the hostage of his father mindless and irrational (self-)hatred for the whole term of his life.

  6. another manchester based : irvin lewis was quoted in the jp saying that some of the {many} laws {his party} government has signed the uk up to is having ‘unintended consequences’ so i don’t see where it’s appropriate or even correct to talk about ‘british hypocrisy’ particularly when most brits, as spelt out by the often excellent ‘voiceofisrael’ underneath machover’s article, were showing more sympathetic to livni and israel on this issue.
    i don’t see how a scatter gun approach helps israel or the pro israel jewish community in britain to be honest.
    target the problem, the cause of the problem and try to resolve it. machover is an israeli jew, many of the individuals involved in using loopholes in what is badly written law, happen to be jews with more than a sprinkling of israelis. the problem is more complex than any one countrys’ hypocrisy.

  7. Cross posting from Modernityblog’s thread:

    The question facing Britain is whether they want their foreign policy determined by their elected government or by Daniel Machover, a rag-tag bunch of Palestinian sympathizers, and a credulous judge.

    “Lawfare” is a coup d’etat by another name.

    Britain will have to amend its legal code if necessary to put an end to the ability of a small pressure group dictating its foreign policy.

  8. I question whether Machover is really Israeli. His dad came and settled in the UK in 1968. Machover’s accent betrays nothing but a UK upbringing.

    In any case, he is an avowed anti-Zionist who thinks Israel has been illegitimate since (before?) its birth.

  9. Daniel Machover is an Israeli lawyer,who co-founded Lawyers for Palestinian Human rights in 1988.His father, Professor Moshe Machover,was one of the founders of the Israeli socialist group ‘Matzpen’.

  10. Moshe Machover,born 1936,is a mathematician,philosopher,and socialist activist,noted for his writings against Zionism.Born to a Jewish family in Tel Aviv,then part of the British Mandate.Machover moved to Britain in 1968 where he became a naturalised citizen.He was a founder of Matzpen,the Israeli Socialist Organisation,in 1962.

    Matzpen was founded by former members of the communist party.
    Don’t you just love Wikipedia.

  11. In actual fact this whole shameful episode that was cooked up by Machover, that also blew up in his face.Is one of the few good things that came out of the UK,it got this Machover scurrying out of his rat hole for all to see what a nasty little creep that he is.

    And it forced the Brits to do something about these silly attempts at arresting Israeli officials.

  12. Zkharya – according to my calculations, Machover must have been about 4 or 5 years old when his family came to the UK. Yet another person from the Shlaim ‘I’m Israeli when it serves my purpose’ school of thought. There’s a lot more to being Israeli than simply having been born there or having lived there for a while, although as we can all see, defining oneself as a ‘repentant’ Israeli seems to have a very positive effect on one’s career in the UK.

  13. The true test will be whether son of the manse, pretendy Israel-admirer and telephone-apologiser Gordon Brown will do anything to rectify this embarrassing situation before a May election. He is probably far too embattled at home to do so. The net result will be a further ratchet down of Britain’s role on the world stage to that of walk-on spear-carrier.

  14. “Imagine Tony Blair, to be arrested in Israel and charged with war crimes in Iraq ”

    This point is absolutely accurate BUT this point has been made in another article on CIFwatch and the answer is the same.Yes the Brits are hypocrits and should go for Blair… but Israel should be grateful to Blair for creating such carnage in Iraq that her killing a thousand Palestinians last Xmas seems reasonable.. despite the barbaric reality.

    However I said… to call for one to be tried and letting the bigger villain away is nonsense