Legal Challenges in Israeli Policy and Advocacy is the title of a conference being held this week in NYC. It brings together Jewish lawyers from Israel and the diaspora. The purpose of the conference is to address the challenges of being ‘people of the covenant’, while at the same time dealing with military situations that some would say fall under a different set of laws and somehow reconciling the two for the good of Israel.

One of the speakers was John B. Bellinger (left in photo), who served as The Legal Advisor for the U.S. Department of State under Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (2005-2009) and as Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Advisor to the National Security Council at the White House (2001-2005).

In his remarks, Mr. Bellinger drew a distinction between “Human Rights Law” and “Humanitarian Law” (laws of war), saying that Human Rights Law does not apply to conflicts the U.S. and Israel are engaged in. Therefore, government officials can not be sued or prosecuted for “official acts.” He noted that the U.S. and Israel are not members of the International Criminal Court, and that the prosecutor of the ICC has decided not to pursue war crimes for U.S. activities in Iraq. He said that if the Palestinian Authority is recognized as a state, Israel would then be subject to the ICC.

Afterwards, LE asked Mr. Bellinger what he thought about Israel barring journalists from riding on flotilla ships bound for Gaza? He said Israel was within its legal rights to do that, but “it would be a bad PR move.”

Analysis: The best legal minds in the U.S. and Israel seem to want to project that they are adhering to some form of the law (albeit one that is ambiguous and unhinged from “Natural Law”), especially when they are undermining human rights law. This includes a strategy called “Counter Lawfare” — which aims to disrupt opponents who “use law as a weapon of war.” One lawyer at the conference described it as”mucking-it-up”—which includes delegitimizing the opposition—like what is presently happening in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

The self-identifying ‘people of the covenant’, living a double life in dealing with their neighbors, while setting aside the laws of God, are in fact delegitimizing themselves from belonging to the true House of Israel (not to be confused with the Modern State of Israel).