Politics and Law Scholar Peter Berkowitz Examines the Politicization of the Laws of War in Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War (Hoover Institution Press)

Monday, April 9, 2012
Stanford
Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War
Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War

Hoover Institution Press released Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War by Hoover senior fellow Peter Berkowitz.  Berkowitz defends the international laws of war by exposing the flawed assumptions and defective claims that have gained currency from The Goldstone Report (2009 Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission) and the Gaza Flotilla controversy.  In both instances, Berkowitz argues, accusations of unlawful conduct directed at Israel by official bodies of the United Nations, European states, Arab states, and Turkey that relied more on bluster and the determination to gain political advantage than on sound legal analysis. In both cases those accusations worked to criminalize not only Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense but all liberal democracies’ right to defend themselves against transnational terror. 

In Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War, Berkowitz contends that The Goldstone Report and the Gaza Flotilla controversy demonstrate the growing tendency to transform questions of diplomacy and national security into legal questions. That tendency is in danger of being taken to an extreme.  Berkowitz argues that because the international laws of war are a vital component of a freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous world order, Israel and the United States, which rely on their armies on a daily basis—and indeed all nations devoted to the rule of law—have an interest in preserving their integrity.  Berkowitz concludes that safeguarding the international laws of war will require a generation of lawyers, scholars, soldiers, and statesman trained to balance the claims of humanitarian responsibility and military necessity and to maintain the distinction between politics and law. 

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he chairs the Koret-Taube Task Force on National Security and Law.  He cofounded and served as director of the Israel Program on Constitutional Government, has served as a senior consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics, and is a member of the Policy Advisory Board at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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