Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to:

Celebrating success and gaining from the experience

Wednesday 19th May

L.R.S. has just organised a lunch time event to celebrate the success of our colleagues who have passed their vivas this year. Unfortunately some of them won’t be around but we will still cherish their achievements.

In this gathering Research students and all those interested were given the opportunity to learn from our two successful members: Sarah Vigers and Elizabeth Shaw who have happily shared their experience with us.

With our best Regards,
[L.R.S. Team]

Legal Research Society School of Law
University of Aberdeen Taylor Building Aberdeen AB24 3UB Scotland

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Head of State: Legal Debat About The UK's Election. Legal Research Society. 22 April 2010

Head of State: Legal Discussion About The UK Election. Legal Research Society. 22 April 2010

There is a general feeling that the recent debate in Britain between the main party leaders was rather staid compared to the more theatrical style of the U.S Presidential debate on which it was modelled. Perhaps the British electorate would prefer the plain-spoken, tell-it-like-it-is politics of Chris Rock's prescient spoof of the U.S Presidential election. "Head of State" starts Chris Rock as an unlikely democratic for the presidency of the United State, who goes on to win over the electorate by shunning the political point-scoring and spin employed by other candidates and speaking forthrightly about issues that really concern people. Could such a tactic work for the political underdog in Britain.

The screening of this sassy political satire was followed by a discussion of the recent and the forthcoming political debate in Britain, as well as the General Election that will follow them. in particular we intended to discuss the implications of this on the British Constitutional Law and the increased impetus for reforming our electoral system. Does the increasing influence of the Liberal Democrats herald the end of our first-pass-the-post voting system? We have the debates, would we go so far as to import a written constitution as the Liberal Democrats would like?

After watching this film an open debate began amongst the audience. Questions were raised and answered in a friendly manner. Among the most interesting questions were:

UK has borrowed the presidential debate style from US could Britain borrow more? for example, could UK accept a non-white person as a prime-minster?

An economic student from Ghana commented: if we can't see black people on top of any council in UK, how can we see a prime-minster here. He questioned whether there was any top official who is not white in UK?

Another question was: Can an independent person (not belonging to any of the main parties in UK) become a candidate for the position of prime-minster?

Ahmad, an Iranian Lawyer and a PhD student at the Law school in Aberdeen, pointed out that the last election debate we had in Iran was even more open. A student from China asked:is Iran a democratic country? Ahmad, answered, yes, but in its own way. We do not have the American system. He proceeded, corruption in Iran may be found like in many other countries but we must not exaggerate the situation.

A question followed on the same theme: how can it be democratic in the USA when you have only two candidates from the whole US running for election?

Is UK a democratic country when only the elite can be candidates in election? can we have a non-white candidate in UK?

These questions among many others were discussed in this illuminating session. Please feel free to add a comment.

Best Regards,

L.R.S. Team

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome to L.R.S.

Justice Greanwood the International Court
of Justice judge is third from the left
The Legal Research Society is active at home and abroad. Six of its members travelled to The Hague last summer to visit some of the top international judicial bodies. The study trip included visits to the Peace Palace which houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to the Organisation of the Prevention of Chemical Weapons as well as to The Hague Conference on Private International Law and to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The group met Justice Greenwood, judge on the ICJ, as well as Xavier-Jean Mohamed Keïta, head of the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence at the International Criminal Court. They also had a stopover at Leiden University to speak to peer researchers there. After returning to Aberdeen, they reported back to their colleagues in a feedback meeting at the Law School. The LRS thanks all who helped make this event possible.
In 2008/09 the Society has furthermore been organising various activities ranging from relaxed tea sessions to an Essay Competition, round table discussions and movie screenings. This year too LRS promises more and even better events building on what its team has achieved and learned last year. You can find out more about LRS by emailing .

Monday, February 22, 2010

Murder isn't always a crime? [Double Jeopardy]

L.R.S has organised

A Movie Night (Double Jeopardy)

Followed by Legal Discussion on

Wednesday 17th February 2010

“Double Jeopardy”, starring Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive and No Country for Old Men) and Ashley Judd (Where the Heart is and High Crimes) is a tense and slick American thriller. The plot centres around a fundamental legal doctrine within the American legal system, namely the constitutional protection against double jeopardy (being tried for the same crime twice) afforded by the fifth amendment. It is highly doubtful, however, that the drafters of the American Constitution had in mind the creative use of double jeopardy employed by the film’s protagonist to exploit the fact that she had previously been acquitted of the murder of her husband to do just that without the prospect of going to prison.

Although the film is set in America, double jeopardy exists in other legal systems influenced by the common law, including Scotland where there was a recent review of the legal doctrine carried out by the Scottish Law Commission following a reference by the Scottish Government after the World’s End murder trial. Therefore, the film was followed by a discussion of the somewhat equivocal and rather criticised Scottish Law Commission report which was published in December last year.

Discussion Followed the Movie Screening

The movie has indeed sparked so many ideas and triggered the opinion of the audience who have argued for different (some time contradicting) perspectives.

First of all, the majority thought that it is very difficult to accept that such a hypothetical case, as in the movie, could happen in reality. This is because, they argued, the difference in time of when the first crime and the last happened is a sufficient factor to open a new trial for the considered new case.

There was some discussion of the Scottish Law Commission’s Report, which recommended a partial reform of the law of Double Jeopardy following the World’s End case.

Afterwards some argued that we should reopen a trial if more evidence became available regardless of the double jeopardy principle. Whereas, some stood up for the principle and argued that regardless of the reason, a trial should not be reopened and the tried person should never live in that pain of being reminded of being accused of the crime in spite of technology advances that could provide us with new evidence e.g. DNA evidence.

I argued that the question we should ask is: what do we intend by having a criminal law applied. Is our intention to try to punish every criminal or is it the personal and general deterrence that we are after?

Loraine, from Germany, answered that in the past ten years the attitude have been quite punitive and not rehabilitative in Germany. In fact it has been quite clear that we are dealing with criminals on the bases of them and us.

A participant from the sociology school argued that this attitude is real not only in Germany but even in the United States where she was residing before. Especially when minorities and different races are concerned, she said, you see the ‘system’ dealing with the accused as the ‘other’ who should be remanded in custody regardless of what motivations there were from the criminal act if it was ever committed by the same person.

George, an International Relations student have argued that insecurity is what behind all this miss. If we feel confident we will never commit crime and we will never hurt the accused rather we will be trying to help criminals to get over it.

This was only a brief summary for the discussion and if you require any further assistance with the topic please feel free to contact us and we shall try our best to help.

Khaled Bashir

Friday, January 29, 2010

L.R.S organised a Movie night (Shooting Dogs) followed by a Legal iscussion on Thursday 28th January.

According to Wikipedia: Shooting Dogs, released in the United States as Beyond the Gates, is a 2005 film, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Claire-Hope Ashitey. It is based on the experiences of BBC news producer David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide. Belton is the film's co-writer and one of its producers.
The setting of the film is the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) in Kigali, Rwanda in 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide. Hurt plays a Catholic priest (loosely based on Vjekoslav Ćurić[1]) and Dancy an English teacher, both Westerners, who are caught up in the events of the genocide.
Unlike Hotel Rwanda, which was filmed in South Africa using South African actors, the film was shot in the original location of the scenes it portrays. Also, many survivors of the massacre were employed as part of the production crew and minor acting roles.
The film's title refers to the actions of UN soldiers in shooting at the stray dogs that scavenged the bodies of dead. Since the UN soldiers were not allowed to shoot at the Hutu extremists that had caused the deaths in the first place, the shooting of dogs is symbolic of the madness of the situation that the film attempts to capture.

The main points discussed in this session were how can humanity avoid fallen into tragedies like the Rwandan one in 1994? How can we make sure that states will only use force in a humanitarian intervention without being motivated by other unclean hidden agenda?

Furthermore, some argued that it is most worrying to stand still while tragedies like this happen in different parts of the world. In the same time we do not want to provide greedy powerful nations the legal tool to utilise in their new colonisation plans or to serve their own interests while intervening in other states’ domestic affairs, a member of the audience pointed.

For more information about the concept of humanitarian intervention you can contact us by email or just add your request as a comment below.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


On Wed, 7th October at 7pm in Taylor A19 the Legal Research Society will present its first movie night of this academic year with a screening of the film HOT FUZZ, a British action comedy with a huge portion of irony and black humour about the bigotry, hypocrisy and intrigues set in an (superficially) idyllic small town in Britain…


Sgt Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a fiercely motivated and successful London copper who finds himself transferred to the sleepy town of Sandford . Almost everyone in this manicured little community seems to know and love each other. But if Sandford is a sleepy market town, it is home to some very real nightmares. Not that local coppers like loveable oaf Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) see anything suspicious about Sandford's absurd number of 'accidents'. Angel is no ordinary constable and launches an investigation, much to the amusement of his bumbling boss and his colleagues.


“Refreshingly British comedy… a movie you'll still want to see again, if only to get all the mini-jokes.” (BBC)

“Plenty of irrepressible fun, an interestingly sophisticated sense of the fictional differences between British and American crime - and big, regular laughs…Hot Fuzz is on of these British films [that] satirically and pessimistically show evil eroding the valiant forces of good.” (The Guardian)

“A British film that is both blisteringly funny and genuinely action-packed…Fear not, laughs are on the way…Hot Fuzz is a film that's as easy to appreciate as it is to enjoy.” (Channel 4)

“Hilarious from start to finish, thanks to a terrific cast, inventive direction and a brilliantly written script.” (The ViewLondon)

Free of charge.



Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Presentation: Gypsies/Travellers - The last 'respectable' form of racism

The Legal Research Society is pleased to announce that our member Ian Taggart who recently obtained his PhD will give a talk on racial discrimination of travellers in the UK .

Date: 3rd June

Time: 4:00-5:00 pm

Venue: Taylor A17

Gypsies/Travellers in the United Kingdom remain the most socially excluded and discriminated sections of society that are subjected to racism on a daily basis.

This presentation will examine the situation faced by Gypsies/Travellers based on primary research undertaken to inform the presenters’ doctoral thesis on Gypsies/Travellers titled Moving On – Again?

This research was undertaken primarily to measure the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 and Race Relations Act 1976 as amended on prejudice and racism suffered by Gypsies/Travellers in Scotland, replicating previous research undertaken in 2000 by the Scottish Executive on Gypsies/Travellers lifestyles. The original research provides baseline data regarding prejudice and racism, that is particularly relevant as it coincided with the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 and Race Relations Act 1976 as amended. By replicating this research it was considered it should be possible to measure an anticipated positive impact on prejudice and racism by this legislation, in the intervening period. Sadly it was apparent there had been a 17% increase in prejudice with 79% of respondents reporting they had been victims in the previous 12 months, the majority of incidents being racially motivated.

During the presentation an overview of Gypsies/Travellers lifestyles will be provided and the reasons for the increase in racism and ineffectiveness of the legislation explored.

A copy of the Moving On – Again? report can be sourced at the following link:

The presentation will take around 20 minutes and will be followed by a discussion.

Tea&coffee refreshments will be available.

All welcome!

Friday, April 24, 2009

LRS Invitation to Guest Lecture on Law&Literature

Maria Aristodemou, Senior Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck University of London



Thursday 30 April, 1-3 p.m.

(1.00 sandwich lunch, 1.30 talk)

MacRobert 302


This lecture uses Balzac's short story "A Study in Feminine Psychology" as a springboard from which to explore what position the letter of the law occupies in a subject's psychic space. Through this tale of a mis-addressed declaration of love, the paper examines how the law and the signifier arrest the subject, and what freedom, if any, the subject has to manoeuvre around this position. Are subjects condemned, as Balzac seems to suggest in this tragi-comic tale, to never fully find, let alone assume, their own satisfying place "before the law"? Or that they can never do so without some embarrassment and/or pain? Further, if the letter of the law always arrives at its destination, if the subject is always arrested by the signifier, what hope is there for protest or critique?


Preferable is a reading of one or even two short stories before the talk, in particular Balzac's A Study in Feminine Psychology which will be focused on. The other story is Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter, which is in the background of the talk. The speaker will try to go through them briefly.


Maria Aristodemou, LLB (Bristol) LLM (Cambridge), is a Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck. Her research is interested in the interrelation of law and culture and, more specifically, how literary and other cultural narratives reflect and shape ideas about justice, norms and rules within society. It employs continental critical theory, in particular feminist, psychoanalytic and postcolonial approaches, to address texts ranging from Greek myths to contemporary writing, film and popular music.

She has published her book Law & Literature: Journeys from Her to Eternity with Oxford University Press in 2000.

All welcome!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Farewell Party: Professor Anthony Carty

The Legal Research Society
invites you
to the Farewell Party of Professor Anthony Carty

Monday, March 23, 2009

Movie & Discussion: The Butterfly’s Tongue

Time: 7pm

Date: Wednesday 25, March, 2009

Venue: Taylor C11

Mr Felipe Gomez, Professor of Public International Law at Deusto University of the Basque Country, will present a film titled “The Butterfly’s Tongue”. The film is set against the background of Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The film show will be followed with a discussion, to be moderated by Professor Anthony Carty, of how contemporary Spain is handling through the courts and in public opinion the consequences of its very divisive Civil War.

The film received some critical acclaim. It was nominated for the 2000 Goya Award for "Best Picture" and it won the Goya Award for "Best Adapted Screenplay."

All Welcome....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Presentation: The problem of economic, social and especially cultural self-determination of Mexico in the face of the United States

The Legal Research society

Invites you


‘The problem of economic, social and especially cultural self-determination of Mexico in the face of the United States.’

Presented by

Marcela Garnica

Date: Monday 23rd

Venue: Macrobert 252

Time: 6:15 – 8:00 pm

Marcela is a doctoral student from Mexico at the Autonomous University of Madrid Postgraduate International Law Programme. Marcela would like to tackle the question: Is Mexico becoming another failed state? Looking for ways to restore and maintain the economic and social self-determination of developing countries in a time of global crisis and crisis in the United States.

All welcome,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trip to The Hague

Trip to The Hague

24th – 28th May

One Day& 1 night in Amsterdam

3 Days in The Hague

Price after subsidy only: £300

In this trip, you will have the chance to see many international and European legal bodies including The Hague Conference on Private International Law , International Court of Justice, the Peace Palace, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). We are also working on an open meeting with PhD Students at Leiden University.

Tickets: £120 deposit tickets sold on the bases of first come first serve; the deadline is 23rd March. You can either pay by Cash or by Cheque made payable to the Legal Research Society. You can also pay by bank transfer to the LRS account: 06001537 sort code: 801215.

The payment of the rest of value must be made no later than 24th April.

This price includes a return flight ticket from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and includes all accommodation + breakfast expenses in both Amsterdam and the Hague.

Notes: LRS is still waiting for more sponsors to reply and if more subsidies become available, you will benefit from a price reduction.

Visa: If you require a visa to enter the Netherlands, we will be happy to offer you advice and a letter to the embassy in support of your visa application.

The State Israel ’s in: Follow Up

Legal Research Society organised

The State Israel ’s in

Thursday 12th @ 5pm

a talk by

Hilda Meers

I speak to you as a Jewish person who campaigns for peace, for Palestinians' rights to justice, freedom to live at peace in the land historically known as Palestine, which they will share with their Jewish neighbours and friends once the folly of Zionism has led, either to a much-needed radical policy change or to its collapse. For, far from being deeply rooted in Jewish history or ideas, Zionism was formally put forward at a Zionist Congress in 1897. The notion of a Jewish state long ago promised to their ancestors in Biblical times is a myth, nor was Palestine the first destination proposed by advocates of Jewish separatism and exclusiveness, (Madagascar was first suggested) nor was the notion of a Jewish state widely supported by Jews worldwide, most of whom were either well-rooted in countries they lived in, or, if subject to persecution, particularly in Eastern Europe and Tsarist Russia, chose to emigrate In Russia and Lithuania, attacks on Jewish villages winked at by fascistic governments, forced many Jews to leave. Societies known as 'Lovers of Zion,' forerunners of the Zionist movement, convinced some of them to go to Palestine to rebuild the ancient Jewish 'Kingdom of David and Solomon'. Though most fled to the USA, to Britain, to South Africa, a few chose Palestine By 1900, almost a million Jews had settled in the United States. My own parents got to England from Lithuania as children, at about that time. And until that time, according to Don Peretz, in his book "The Arab-Israeli Dispute, ""most Jews in Palestine belonged to old Yishuv, or community, that had settled more for religious than for political reasons. There was little if any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tensions began after the first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880's...when [they] purchased land from absentee Arab owners, leading to dispossession of the peasants who had cultivated it."
Zionism's programme, which gained more credence after the Nazi holocaust, was to establish for the Jewish people a legally assured home by settling Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine, organizing action groups in various countries, building Jewish consciousness and a national identity and beginning a process of gaining worldwide acceptance for a Jewish homeland, in Palestine, where Arabs comprised over 90% of the population. Most early immigrants, including those who entered illegally during and after the 2nd World War, had been city dwellers or had farmed in very different circumstances from those existing in Palestine. As the numbers of Jews increased so did the proportion of land they occupied, and quantity of water resources they used; not only did they cling to the myth that the holocaust gave them the right to the whole of the land , the myth that it was an empty land led them to the belief that the Arabs and Beduin residents were non-people, inferior, violent and unworthy. Zionist policy was to dispossess them, shifting them to other Arab countries, and create a new Jewish identity in Palestine.. The World Zionist Organization (WZO) had founded the Jewish Colonial Trust in 1899 to buy land, the Anglo-Palestine (commercial) Bank and Investments Institute soon following with the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund buying land; also in 1909, the Israel Land Development Company with the Eretz Yisrael Bureau assisted until 1921, when the Zionist Executive replaced it.

Britain's support was achieved with the 1917 Balfour Declaration of "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people....". It also guaranteed a state to Arabs, as stipulated in the October 1915 McHahon - Hussein Agreement to return Ottoman Turk land to Arab nationals post-WW I, in return for their help in the war. Britain betrayed them. So did America's Woodrow Wilson. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had convinced him and Secretary of State Robert Lansing to support Zionism and British-French interests under the 1916 Sykes - Picot Agreement that carved up the region after the 1st World War. At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) presented its plan for a Jewish state, to include all Palestine, and South Lebanon up to Sidon and the Litani River, Syria's Golan Heights, Hauran Plain and Deraa; and control of the Hijaz Railway from Deraa to Amman to Maan, as well as the Gulf of Aqaba. (These latter, once part of historic Palestine, are now known as Jordan.) Other Zionists wanted land from the Nile in the West to the Euphrates in the East comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Western Syria and Southern Turkey. Then in 1920, WW I allies met in Italy and decided to control Ottoman lands with a "mandatory" system. The British Mandate began with a Jewish High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, who promised a liberal Jewish immigration policy, immediate provisional citizenship for Jews, easy Jewish land acquisition, employment for Jewish immigrants, favourable customs policies for Jewish commerce, and in general favouring Jews at the expense of indigenous Arabs. The United Israel Appeal was founded to raise funds to finance welfare, health, education, and continued settlement projects. In 1929, the Jewish Agency was established to represent the WZO in dealings with the British government in administering Palestine, Chaim Weizmann as its first president. By 1942, the WZO's official aim was for a "Jewish Community" in Palestine - as the Biltmore Program stated: "Eretz Yisrael will be based as a Jewish community, to be integrated into a new democratic world."

Herzl, Chaim Weizmann - Israel's first president, and Moshe Sharett, prime minister after Ben-Gurion - at first considered reconciliation with the Arab world. Others preferred Jabotinsky. Back in 1923, he'd published an article, "On the Iron Wall" arguing that Arab nationalists opposed a Jewish state in Palestine and wouldn't accept one. He claimed peaceful coexistence was unattainable, and Jews must build "an iron wall of Jewish military force."
Arab resistance grew as Jewish encroachment increased; in 1936, Arabs called a strike. Zionists countered with "compulsory transfer", Jewish sovereignty over all Palestine their priority. Postwar, Palestinians saw their country being lost, after the 2nd World War had bankrupted Britain and Zionist terrorist campaigns of violence caused so many casualties that the British Government ended its Mandate over Palestine; in 1948, The State of Israel was established, America the first country to recognise it. Truman signed the following: "This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.". Palestinians were still nearly 70% of the population, Jews around 30% and owned 6% of the land. Yet the November 1947 General Assembly Partition Plan (Resolution 181) gave Jews 56% of the land, Palestinians 42%. 2% under internationalized trusteeship included Jerusalem. Jews were allocated the best agricultural areas and water resources. Palestinians had no air access or harbor and port facilities, except for isolated Jaffa. Dissatisfied, Ben-Gurion wanted an 80% share. Israel's 1948 War of Independence got 78%. Israel did agree to UN Resolution 194 (in December 1948) providing for free access to Jerusalem and other holy places as well as granting Palestinian refugees the right of return. In May 1949, UN Resolution 273 gave Israel UN membership conditional on it accepting these resolutions and "unreservedly (agreeing to honor) the obligations of the United Nations Charter." However, in June 1948, the Israeli cabinet (with no formal vote) had barred Palestinian refugees from returning and directed the IDF to stop those trying with live fire. Despite the UN resolutions, the policy remains today, with "Israelification" and "De-Arabization" policies to preserve a "Jewish character", Palestinians still being dispossessed of their land, their homes demolished, their freedom restricted, their futures denied. Treat them like "dogs," said Moshe Dayan, so they'll leave. Use "terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation," became David Ben-Gurion's formula. Yet The U.N. had convened a peace conference in Lausanne, in the spring of 1949, after the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution that in effect replaced the November 1947 partition resolution. This new resolution, Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948, accepted U.N. Mediator Bernadotte's triangular basis for a comprehensive peace: an unconditional return of all the refugees to their homes, the internationalization of Jerusalem, and the partitioning of Palestine into two states. Several Arab states and representatives of the Palestinians accepted this as a basis for negotiations, as did the United States. Prime Minister Ben Gurion strongly opposed, but allowed Israel to participate in the conference. This chance of peace was not taken - due to Israeli, not Arab, resistance, Israel preferring a settlement in which Israel could dictate terms based on the idea of Jewish superiority and exceptionalism; the new state would grant citizenship exclusively to Jews.

Three warmongering prime ministers, Menachem Begin (1977 - 83), Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 84 and 1986 - 92), and Ariel Sharon (2001 - 06) gained power by acts of terrorism and brutality , Ben-Gurion now siding with Jabotinsky's military option, with winning the War of Independence as vindication, so Israel stayed hard-line politically and militarily. Violence, military threats and intimidation became its policy, generals its leaders, schools and Universities its means of indoctrinating its citizens to its founding myths, portraying their history as a unique victimisation that they were now determined to resist. With Washington, the West, and most Arab states concurring, military aggression is called self-defence - hence the Israel Defence Forces. International humanitarian and other laws are disregarded. United Nations resolutions are consistently ignored, International Law flouted. Tensions grew as the "returning natives" began the planned displacement of Arabs, most notoriously in the Nakba, where after the wiping out of the village of Deir Yassein, hundreds of thousands fled, never to be allowed to return.
Following the 1967 war, Israel gained an increased share of US foreign and military budgets, becoming 'the western pillar' of the US strategic alliance against a Soviet incursion into the Middle East, (which of course never happened) especially after the revolution in Iran took the country out of the US orbit. It is during this period that AIPAC and other pro-Israel organizations started shaping US foreign policy. Israel also became the only Middle East country possessing nuclear weapons - a secret revealed by Mordecai Vanunu, a citizen imprisoned for 18 years for revealing it, and still not allowed to leave Israel. Politically, Israel remained on the right - after Sharon's stroke, Olmert took over, with Livni coming to the fore, and the Labour party a spent force.

U.S. military aid to Israel is now doled out in annual increments of billions of dollars. It remains virtually unchallenged while other fiscal outlays are drastically cut. The United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2007 committing the U.S. to give Israel $30 billion in military aid over the next decade. This is grant aid, given in cash at the start of each fiscal year. The only stipulation imposed on Israel’s use of this cash gift is that 74 per cent is used to buy U.S. military goods and services. The first grant under this agreement was made in October 2008, for 2009, in the amount of $2.55 billion. To bring the total 10-year amount to $30 billion, amounts in future years will gradually increase until an annual level of $3.1 billion is reached in 2013. This will continue through 018. Israel is by far the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, although it is a tiny country in comparison with the rest of the Middle East. Since 1949, the United States has provided Israel with $101 billion in total aid, of which $53 billion has been military aid. For the last 20-plus years, Israel has received an average of $3 billion annually in grant aid;, until now the grant has been a mix of economic and military aid. Israel receives its aid under vastly more favourable terms than any other recipient. When Israel attacks Palestinians, as during the recent assault on Gaza, its instruments of destruction are U.S. fighter jets and attack helicopters, U.S. missiles, U.S.-made white phosphorus, flechettes, experimental weapons such as Dime, U.S.-made Caterpillar bulldozers, although the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that no aid may be provided to a country that engages in a consistent pattern of violations of international human rights laws. Israel has been charged by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch with precisely such violations during the Gaza assault and in past attacks. Israel also violates the Arms Export Control Act, which stipulates that U.S. weapons must be used only for “internal security. This seriously undermines U.S. peace mediators such as former Senator George Mitchell, recently appointed by President Obama as envoy to the Middle East. As long as Israel can rest assured that it is guaranteed an annual arms package in the billions, it will have no incentive whatsoever to heed Mitchell’s mediation efforts, to make the territorial concessions necessary to reach a peace agreement, to stop building settlements and other infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian territories, or to stop its attacks on Palestinians.

Pressure from around the world is needed. Demonstrations, international groups and individuals getting into Palestine with aid and messages of support, our energy put to useful ends. For instance, there has been a gradual growth in the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, calling to put economic pressure on Israel until it recognizes the rights of the occupied Palestinian people and puts an end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, starting on 27 December 2008, which lasted for nearly a month, has given this movement a powerful reason to redouble its efforts. Dozens of BDS campaigns have gained momentum and publicity; dozens of new ones were launched during or immediately after Israel's attack. These campaigns range from calls to boycott goods from the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, to calls to stop all economic contacts with Israel. They include protests at supermarkets, sporting events, countries cutting diplomatic ties with Israel and demonstrations around the world, including here at Universities in Scotland. The growing protest against the atrocities committed by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip have begun to change something in the Israeli political discourse, and the first indication of this can already be seen; although the Israeli economic media doesn't concern itself with the moral dimension of the attacks on Gaza, the economic dimension of recent events have created a rising level of concern.

Arab and Beduin inhabitants have few rights, although Israeli Arabs, who stayed on when so many fled, form 20% of Israel's population. They may vote, and even, at least until recently, sit in their Parliament, the Knesset, but government rulings aren't legitimate" without a "Jewish majority." Electoral law in Israel is complicated by its proportional voting system, resulting in no one party being able to form a government. Coalitions are necessary. In May 1996, Right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel’s prime minister, defeating Shimon Peres. Netanyahu had been a favourite of Christian Zionists during his years as Israel’s representative to the UN, and was a frequent speaker at important Christian Zionist functions. A powerful lobbying group in the US, Christian Zionists hold extreme religious beliefs, including the 2nd coming of Christ after the Holy Land is entirely Jewish and a cataclysm occurs.

As we have seen, the concept of democracy in Israel is in itself questionable. The Law of Return is for Jews only, even if they have no previous connection with Israel. Even if they are secular; even though Jews do not originate from a clearly definable ethnic group. On land laws, housing, education, discrimination against Arabs is inbuilt. The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibits Israeli Arab spouses from the West Bank, Gaza or any Arab country from entering Israel and getting residency rights or citizenship. Deported Arabs may not return. This is meant to counter a "demographic problem" or the threat that a faster-growing Palestinian population would soon outnumber Jews, changing the character of a "Jewish state." And about 10,000 Palestinians are held in detention, without charge or trial, on the say-so of israelis. Why are they held? Perhaps they have not been subservient enough.

Skipping over past election details, none of their manoevres geared to a genuine peace process despite Camp David's claims, I come to the current elections, (March 2009). 'The Palestine Chronicle' reports on post-election deals and decisions, as follows: the recently formed Kadima, Livni's party and Likud's main rival, got a majority of votes, Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party was given all the portfolios it demanded: Foreign Affairs, Public Security, Tourism, National Infrastructures and Justice; the ultra-Orthodox Shas party given the Interior, Housing and Construction, and Religious Services ministries. The remaining portfolios are to be distributed among Likud, the United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi parties. The coalition government of five right-wing parties have a narrow majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Likud's main rival, Kadima, which won 28 seats in the snap elections, refused to join a government under Netanyahu, who does not support Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (During the election campaign, Netanyahu vowed there would be no Palestinian state if his party was elected.) Netanyahu also agreed to many conditions set by ultra right-wing Lieberman, including bills that draw a clear line between religion and the state, a law to deny National Insurance Institute payments to the families of Israeli Arabs who carry out attacks on Israeli targets, a legal team considering means to deny exiled former Arab MK Azmi Bishara the parliamentary pension. But, "Everyone is angry about the portfolios," a Likud MK told the Post, while Likud MK Silvan Shalom, a former foreign minister, will host a rally of Likud supporters to protest that deal with Yisrael Beiteinu.

This is the ragbag of Israel today, Many Jews aren't staying, and growing numbers won't move there, despite tempting economic incentives. Most Jews there are now secular, nor do they originate from one identifiable ethnic group; several extreme religious groupings are allowed exemption from Army service. Nominally it's a democracy, as many Jewish refugees who had fled there had hoped. A minority of courageous Israeli citizens do oppose Government policies, speaking out for Palestinian freedom, taking part in joint Arab-Israeli actions against the separation wall and its shut crossing points, rebuilding demolished houses, protecting farmers while they harvest crops, even refusing to take part in obligatory military service. as, for instance, a group of girl school-leavers is defiantly doing. And it has its handful of truth-speaking journalists. But Israel's political parties each have policies which end any hope for a viable Palestinian state by increasing outposts and illegal settlements. Outposts comprise small settlements ranging from a few caravans, which are sometimes connected to water and electricity, to slightly larger settlements. They are referred to as outposts by the media as they are generally not recognised by the Israeli government. The settlements, legal under Israeli law, vary in number from several hundred to small towns with thousands of inhabitants and associated infrastructure. Nearly 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and nearly 200,000 in East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli information centre for human rights B'Tselem. Under international law, these settlements are built illegally on Palestinian land. And Jewish-only roads carve up the land. Gaza is under siege, tortured and ravaged by war, blockaded because its people voted democratically for a party the US doesn't like. The West Bank is dogged by land seizures, walls, checkpoints, home demolitions, a nightmarish bureaucracy, closures, agricultural and movement restrictions, crop destruction, curfews, permits, economic strangulation, random killings, arrests, imprisonment, and overall terror against its population. Israel has total control, aided by the complicit Fatah party under Abbas- once it was Yassah Arafat and the Palestine Liberation movement that was demonised, now it is Hamas, that kept to its resent cease-fire agreement but demands the opening of the blocked border crossings into Gaza.

For over a half century, the Knesset, the parliament in Tel Aviv has ignored hundreds of UN resolutions condemning its actions against Palestinians and other Arabs, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on, or urging Israel to end them. Consider UN Resolution 242 (November 1967) calling for: "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." Or, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits: "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory...." Neither shall "The Occupying Power...deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. "Israeli settlements have "no legal validity" said Security Council Resolutions 446 (March 1979), 452 (July 1979), 465 (March 1980), 471 (June 1980), and 476 (June 1980). In addition, Resolutions 267 (July 1969) and 497 (December 1981) say the annexations of East Jerusalem (267) and Syria's Golan Heights (497) should be rescinded as illegal. Israel continues settlement expansions and maintains control over Palestine, despite international law and Israel's own legal expert's opinion.

Immense courage and love of their land sustains Palestinians; it has shown in their organisation of civilian protests in the first and second Intifadas, plus the ingenuity of their survival tactics in the Gaza Strip. And the global BDS Movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions, calls for criminal prosecutions for Israeli war criminals and expulsion of Israel from the UN System until it fully complies with international law are growing worldwide. In November 2004, law professor Michael Mandel wrote: "Israel's West Bank and Gaza settlements are war crimes in Canada. Under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act 2000, Israel's settlements in territories taken in the June 1967 war constitute war crimes punishable in Canada." In Section 8, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) adopted by 120 states in July 1998. Item viii prohibits: "The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory." Did you know, after initially voting against this Rome Statute, the Clinton administration signed it in December 2000. Then in May 2001, the Bush administration revoked the signature and began a worldwide campaign against the Court. Israel isn't a party to the Rome Statute, but that's irrelevant under Canadian law. Grave breaches of the Geneva Convention constitute war crimes. Israel (like America) is criminally liable. Mandel states that although "Israel denies it, there is no question that Israel is an Occupying Power for the purposes of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, and the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act." Holding it accountable is essential. It's high time world jurists demanded it.

Facts for this talk were from the following main sources:
Stephen Lendman (Mathaba Daily News), Information Clearing House, Electric Intifada, Medialens, The Palestine Chronicle, Jewish Peace News. Compiled by Hilda Meers, member of CND, Stop the War Coalition, Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
She can be reached at


After this talk was first given, I was asked for my opinion on the future of Israel/Palestine, a difficult question. In view of Israeli settlements making a 2-state system unviable yet at the same time being deeply opposed to a 1-state-for-all idea. As a contribution to further discussion of this issue, I append the following article:
Fearing a One-State Solution, Israel’s President Serves
Pabulum to Washington By Franklin Lamb

' You take my water. Burn my Olive Trees. Destroy my house. Take my job. Steal my Land. Imprison my Mother. Bomb my country. Starve us all. Humiliate us all. But I am to blame:
I shot a rocket back.'
– Sign carried near Hyde Park Corner during a demonstration in London on 2/15/09 by a Member of the British Parliament February 20, 2009 "Dissident Voice" -- Ain el Helwe
Palestinian Refugee Camp, Sidon, Lebanon — Israeli President Shimon Peres has participated in shaping the policies of Israel for most of its existence. His Washington Post op-ed last week billed as “a peacepartners prod” to the Obama administration, evide ces a major disconnect within the
government of Israel concerning what is urgently required for that country’s increasingly unlikely long-term survival. According to a CIA Study currently being shown to selected
staff members on the US Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Israel’s survival in its present form beyond the next 20 years is
The Report predicts “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the
looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”
To President Peres’ chagrin, the Executive Summary states that “during the next fifteen years more than two million Israelis, including some 500,000 Israeli citizens who currently hold US
green cards or passports, will move to the United States. Most Israelis not in possession of these documents will receive ‘expedited waivers.’ The Report claims that, “Alongside a
decline in Jewish births and a rise in Palestinian fertility, approximately 1.6 million Israelis are likely to return to their forefather’s lands in Russia and Eastern and Western
Europe with scores of thousands electing to stay, depending on the nature of the transition.”
In his Washington Post piece President Peres desperately attempts to salvage a two-state solution from a one, a three- or even a four-state arrangement. He appears to realize that a
two-state solution is seriously jeopardized unless Israel dramatically and quickly changes course. With the tacking to the right in Israel and the likely make up of the next
government once Peres selects Livni or Netanyahu in the next few days, and given the swelling mood among the occupied in favor of another Intifada, Peres plaintively asserts to the
Obama administration that “two states is the only realistic solution.”
Peres instructed the American people and their government three times in his op-ed brief for a two-state solution, and that Israel is “the land of my forefathers.” He laments that
the CIA-predicted one-state solution would, “Undermine Israel’s legitimacy and the internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my
forefathers.” Peres knows that his forefathers had no connection whatsoever
to Palestine, as is the case with more than 95% of the Zionists who swept into the area over the past century and demolished close to 600 villages while expelling a majority of
the native population. Historians have established that most arriving Jews were in fact Slavic converts to Judaism without any historical or genealogical nexus to Palestine or Hebrew
tribes in the area. Against the historical backdrop of the past century of nearly
global rejection of colonialism, his claim of settled international acceptance of “Israel’s legitimacy” is a major stretch. “Legitimacy” is what the conflict continues to be
about — whether a 19th Century colonial enterprise can violently uproot and massacre an indigenous population taking over a land declaring God promised it to them, as they
terrorize and expel the local inhabitants. Contrary to Peres’ claim of Israel as a “legitimate State,” there is no internationally recognized right for Israel to exist on stolen
land without the consent of the dispossessed. Peres assures his American benefactors that Israel’s legitimacy is based “in international law or morality.” In point of fact, both
International law and morality require the right of return of those whose lands were taken and lifting the brutal occupation. Surely Peres is aware, as the CIA Report asserts,
that a majority of the 192 countries which make up the membership of the United Nations would vote this evening to establish one State of Palestine if given the chance.
The Report concludes that what went wrong will be debated for many years. In essence the problem was the premise that a “chosen people” with no link or rights to a land could impose
a state by force. Many Middle East observers believe that the two-state solution is essentially over, but for the packing, finger-pointing and assuredly more violence.
Increasingly repelled by Israeli crimes, the international community is moving toward the majority position of Palestinians, and is coming to believe that the realistic
solution to the Middle East conflict is one state — secular, multicultural, democratic, and based on one person one vote. Peres is loath to accept one state and claims, in promoting a
two-state solution, that he has “personally witnessed the remarkable progress we have made with the Palestinian Authority in recent years.”
Does he have in mind the increasing bantustanization (what Noam Chomsky calls “unviable fragments”), the ever-snaking apartheid wall and other barriers, the illegal outposts which
increased yet again last year? The blockade of and depraved slaughter in Gaza?
Or does President Peres have in mind this week’s announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Olmert that Israel has the right to keep building in large West Bank settlement blocs, including
Efrat, by adding 423 acres so that 21,000 more residents can join the current 9,000, according to Efrat mayor Oded Revivi? Olmert claims its part of the annexation that will be
considered in a future final peace deal with the Palestinians. President Peres has passed nearly a lifetime devoted to undermining prospects for a viable Palestinian state and
offering a wink and nod to the building of more than 430 colonies while offering lip service to the “peace process.” His “Message to the American People” fails to communicate what
the Israeli and Palestinian public knows well about the real nature of the two-state option he has in mind and which he considers to be “the best resolution to this age-old
conflict.” Both populations know that the two-state option that long time politician Peres has consistently run on, is the Yigal Allon Plan.
The Allon scheme to expel the Arab population from Palestine has been Peres’ electoral platform during his campaigns in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984, and 1987 and it shaped Israel’s
settlement policies from 1967-1977. Peres worked to make the Allon Plan part of the 1978 Camp David agreement and 1993 Oslo Accords.
As the American public begins to stir from its long slumber on the Question of Palestine and hopefully dramatically changes American Middle East policy, it should consider that the Peres
favored “moderate” Allon Plan continues to be Israeli policy. As formulated by its author and adhered to by successive Israel governments, it contains the following “moderate”
elements: * Seeking “maximum land with minimum Arabs”
* Annexes approximately 40% of the West Bank and Gaza, taking the choicest parts
* Dispossess Palestinians from land Israel wants for Jews After Israel’s attack in 1967, Yigal Allon presented to the cabinet a solution to the Arab problem. The Allon Plan called
for annexing the following areas: “a strip of land ten to fifteen kilometers wide along the Jordan River; most of the Judean desert along the Dead Sea; and a substantial area
around Greater Jerusalem, including the Latrun salient.” The plan was crafted to include as few Arabs as possible in the area claimed for Israel and included building permanent
colonies and army bases in these areas. The two-state solution that Peres is trying to sell the
American public and administration is a Palestinian “state” in 76.6% of the West Bank, carved up into sealed enclaves, with the largest of the 430 plus settlements/colonies remaining in
place under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would take another 13.3% outright and continue to occupy the remaining 10.1% for a period of up to thirty years. During this period Israel
would continue building new and expanding current settlement/colonies. The above percentages do not include the subtracted East Jerusalem and the territorial waters of the
Dead Sea. In point of fact the 76% offer is based not on 100% of the occupied territories, but merely those parts that Israel was willing to discuss. Consequently, the “just and
moral solution” President Peres favors would amount to slightly less than 16% of historic Palestine being given to those driven from their homes and land.
Peres claims Israel has worked tirelessly for peace. Yet the record is clear that Israel has only worked tirelessly for expansion at the expense of the indigenous Arab population
while obstructing more than two-dozen “peace initiatives” over six decades, while targeting the Palestinian people, culture, and economy.
Peres claims in his op-ed that Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi agrees that Israel deserves Palestine and that “this is salient in his fundamental and central premise that the Jewish
people want and deserve their homeland.” Peres takes Qadaffi’s words out of context and misrepresents his thesis, which in fact calls for one state shared by both peoples. Qadaffi
insists that the Middle East welcomes Judaism but not racist Zionism. It is the latter which underpins the founding of Israel and which has led to history’s condemnation.
As the President of Israel seeks yet more indulgence and largesse from the American taxpayers and the Obama administration, there is something he can do to shore up
waning trust and waxing disillusionment with the two-state option. He can announce immediately that he fully accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242 and advocates the removal of all settlements and the total withdrawal of the Israeli
military from the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s President urges the American people and government to, “commit our most concerted effort to allow two states to flourish.” Unless he and his fellow leaders of Israel are
prepared, without further delay, to commit to a complete withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 armistice line, in a serious effort at peace, Israel will continue to lose American and
international support and one state is the likely future for Palestine.
Israeli President Peres can avert his eyes from reality, but
he Obama administration and the American people cannot afford this fatal delusion.
Franklin Lamb is author of the recently released book, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel's Use of American
Weapons in Lebanon. His volume Hezbollah: A Brief Guide for
Beginners is due out soon. He can be reached at Read other articles by Franklin.