Monday, September 28, 2009

CHUTZPAH Where it is Needed

Yes, I know it is early in the week for a Chutzpah of the Week award; but this one is too irresistible for sitting tight to see what else may arise. It also carries the irony of what I think is the first award for Palestinian recipients. The basis for the award comes in a report released by Al Jazeera earlier this afternoon:

A group of Palestinian families is attempting to have Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, prosecuted in Britain for alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, lawyers have told Al Jazeera.

A lawyer working for the families will present their case at a magistrates court in London on Tuesday before British officials decide if it has the jurisdiction to decide the case.

Barak is due in Britain on Tuesday to address a meeting of the Labour Friends of Israel on the sidelines of the ruling party's annual conference. The families hope that an arrest warrant will be issued during his visit.

Michel Massih, the UK-based lawyer taking the case to court, said that he believed that the British government was obliged "to actively pursue people who are alleged to be involved in war crimes".

"One does not need, at this stage, to provide more than a basic prima face case and the suggestion would be that Barak certainly was in a position where he has to answer some of the allegations made about the commission of crimes by Israeli troops," he told Al Jazeera from London.

Just to be clear, this is not a matter of frivolous litigation. At the very least this is a case that can be grounded on Richard Goldstone's report to the UN Human Rights Commission. I am not sure how these families will react to being awarded for chutzpah in its most positive connotation, but my guess is that right now they care only about whether their current action will result in an arrest warrant for Barak.

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