Oh dear! Mummy (in the form of the British parliament) has taken away the toy gun (Universal Jurisdiction) with which Michael and his gang used to enjoy playing so much in their games of lawfare because they used it in an abusive manner. So now his little friends at ‘Comment is Free’ are enabling Michael Mansfield to vent his tantrum and – in a style which any former parent of a two-year-old will recognise – his over-riding argument is “it’s not faaair”.
Not infrequently described as ‘supercilious‘ and publicity-seeking, Mansfield is no stranger to either the pages of the Guardian or the anti-Israel campaign. In May 2010 he was to be found pre-emptively championing the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood- organised and IHH-led flotilla which included the ‘Mavi Marmara’. He is a member of the kangaroo court known by the rather self-important title ‘The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’ and a supporter of that meeting place for misfit fringe elements of the red-green alliance which is the BDS campaign.
It is, therefore, not difficult to discern that in his latest Guardian ‘rattle thrown out of pram’ piece, Mansfield is wearing his political hat rather than making use of any of his legal expertise.
Let’s start with the title: “Sleep easy, war criminals”. Not alleged war criminals, one notes; Mansfield has already put judge and jury (as well as the principle of innocent until proven guilty) out to pasture. And who exactly are these ‘war criminals’? The strap-line instantly provides the answer. Universal Jurisdiction becomes predictably less universal with the words “Britain’s insulting new rules on arrest warrants will only encourage Israel’s view of itself as above international law”.
Of course the only really insulting thing here is Mansfield’s assault on the reader’s intelligence as he goes on to cite politically motivated (if not often downright spiteful) UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the subject of Israel’s anti-terrorist fence as though they were in some way legally binding. Such a prominent legal eagle as Mansfield definitely knows better, (or at least one hopes so for the sake of his £575–an-hour-paying clients), but the truth does not mold itself to his propaganda aims, and is therefore conveniently tossed aside.
With no less disregard for both facts and historical context, Mansfield throws in “the illegal occupation”, “illegal settlements”, “requisition of water resources”, “Gaza blockade” and other items as ‘evidence’ for Israel’s original sin. Difficult though it is to believe that this polemic is written by a man who is supposed to have made a career out of the search for proof, he outdoes even himself by citing unsubstantiated allegations of “illicit use of cloned passports”.
Continuing his disingenuous diatribe, Mansfield claims “an estimated death toll of 1,400 in Gaza” during operation Cast Lead, but of course neglects to mention that even Hamas admitted that half of those were its own combatants. Further, he misrepresents the findings of the methodologically faulted Goldstone Report (from which even its head has since distanced himself) as though they were proven indictments. As Richard Goldstone himself said at the time, “If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven” and “We couldn’t use that report as evidence at all.”
But although Michael Mansfield and others like him who play the lawfare game are obviously reluctant to allow such inconvenient things as proof and evidence to get in the way of their popular crusade as Hamas enablers, the British government has – at long last – stepped into the role of responsible adult to prevent exactly that kind of abuse of the law for political ends. Naturally, Mansfield et al are peeved. Despite the fact that arrest warrants can still be issued in the UK for those suspected of being guilty of war crimes, it is now necessary for the Director of Public Prosecutions to be convinced that there is some legal –rather than political – basis to the request.
That is very inconvenient for the handful of practitioners of lawfare intent upon abusing the tax-payer funded British legal system in order to boost their own radical-chic credentials (and possibly even bank accounts) by delegitimizing a democratic country and providing logistic support for a terror organization proscribed by Britain itself. Hence this written tantrum from the pen of Michael Mansfield who, together with the Guardian and others, makes up that small and very unrepresentative section of British society which appears to believe that in the entire world there is nothing more evil than one specific democratic nation defending itself against theologically-inspired armed terrorists.
Thank goodness that the British parliament, in keeping with its rich and illustrious tradition of upholding democracy, has now made it a little more difficult for fringe elements such as Mansfield to engage in political abuse. One is, nonetheless, obliged to note that despite all the indignation and the rather unattractive indulgement in self-pity, Mansfield and his lawfare-playing colleagues have only themselves to blame for the fact that their very transparent game has been rumbled. Had they stuck to being the professional lawyers that they are, pursuing only cases with a real legal justification, rather than succumbing to the somewhat puerile temptation to play glamorous political revolutionary, there would be no need for tantrums now.