Monday, April 29, 2002

At the dawn of a new millenium, the Israelis have done what hasn't been done for many hundreds of years - they have invented a brand new crime against humanity. All these old crimes like genocide and ethnic cleansing and torture have been around forever. In the information age, we now have the innovation of 'destruction of information with the intent of facilitating ethnic cleansing'. In other recent atrocities, we did not see this, as the victims lived in a pre-computer age. The Palestinians, though living a third-world life, had first-world information technology. The Israelis systematically destroyed the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, including schools (even destroying school records), hospitals, and government buildings. This was intended to make Palestinian life even more difficult, to lead to the eventual ethnic cleansing of the Occupied Territories. The Israeli innovation was to particularly target information by seizing and/or destroying hard drives and other information storage. Since information technology has become crucial to the operation of a modern state, this is tantamount to destroying the essence of the state itself. In a way, once the records of the existence of the Palestinian people are destroyed, so is the future of the Palestinians. The law professors should get on this and credit the Israelis with a completely novel crime against humanity. It's the kind of issue involving the relationship of society and information technology that you would expect to see in an article in Wired, perhaps with some smiling Israeli computer expert photographed against a big bank of computers, expounding on how he and his colleagues came up with this great innovation. Of course, what we're not used to seeing is this type of brutality applied against a people in possession of sophisticated technology. It is no doubt a harbinger of our future.