The Bastards Changed the Rules

The world used to admire Israel. Our ability to set up a modern state while under all-out attack by Arab states was considered amazing. "The long arm" of Israel, of which we were once so proud, reached everywhere.

The world used to admire Israel. Our ability to set up a modern state while under all-out attack by Arab states was considered amazing. "The long arm" of Israel, of which we were once so proud, reached everywhere.

It reached Entebbe in Uganda to rescue hostages, and it reached inside Beirut - once to blow up the airport, and another time to eliminate three Arafat's aides. It plucked Adolph Eichmann out of Argentina, reached the nuclear reactor in Iraq and Abu Jihad's villa in Tunis.

It reached each and every one of the planners and executors of the Munich Olympics Massacre. It reached all the way to the Suez Canal in the Six Day War - an operation studied in military colleges the world over to this day.

The world loved this strong and righteous Israel and it was fun to travel the world and proudly admit "yes, we're from Israel." Who would have believed that the day would come when a prime minister of Israel would have a threat hanging over his head of being put on trial for "crimes against humanity?"

Suddenly, Israel is faced with a new situation that echoes Spiro Agnew's famous moan: "The bastards changed the rules and didn't tell me." All those wonderful things we did in the past are now not only forbidden, but retroactively punishable.

International war crimes trials are supposed to create a new culture of toeing a legal line of protecting people from their leaders, of preserving human rights and punishing the violators even if they acted purely out of the security interests of their countries.

If other countries pass laws like the Belgian one, allowing foreigners, including heads of state, to be tried for crimes against humanity, we could end up with the "bad guys" - terrorists and anarchists - remaining free to act while those protecting their countries would be considered war criminals.

The controversy in Denmark over the appointment of Carmi Gillon as ambassador, because of his past role as head of the Shin Bet, is evidence of a cloud of madness, confusion and hypocrisy in Europe as it tries to formulate a new righteous world. If Sharon is liable for events from 20 years ago, and for which he already paid a price here, why is Arafat the darling of Europe instead of under arrest and on trial - his hands are bloody for the past 36 years and he supported the invasion of Kuwait.

Why shouldn't presidents, secretaries of state and chiefs of staff from America be put on trial for massacres in Vietnam, Iraq and Libya? And what about Fidel Castro, who used torture to eliminate thousands of his opponents? Why isn't Denmark raising hell and high water over the way the Chinese trample human rights? And what about the ambassadors already in Copenhagen? Are they all perfect, representing pure countries?

Righteousness is a matter of geography, politics, interests and the new legal system, combined with Europe's double standards, could end up being a serious annoyance for Israel. Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein identified the danger early on, in the days of the Barak administration.

At one of the cabinet meetings he warned about changes in the international community's legal values and the new dangers we could face. "It was so sudden, that we didn't understand what he was trying to say and what it had to do with us," says Yossi Sarid. Now it looks like we're candidates for the accused bench.

The 50 years of history of aggression and terror against Israel simply don't interest Europe, which regards us as the last occupying power in a world with no more occupations. In their eyes, we're ruling another people.

By this twisted logic, the horror and terror against us will be considered legitimate, while our defensive action, from investigating attacks to eliminating terrorists or striking back at the source of fire, will be considered oppressing another people and a crime against humanity, so everyone involved is liable for legal action.

The righteousness and hypocrisy in the European community may be at play, but it's growing legal claws and the government will have to take the new situation into account. Israelis can take a lot, but the leaders of the nation and their loyal servants will never be able to put up with some awful decree that prevents them from traveling abroad.