CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's journalists union issued a warning to a magazine editor on Tuesday after she received the Israeli ambassador in her house, prompting her to cry foul over freedom of the press.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's journalists union issued a warning to a magazine editor on Tuesday after she received the Israeli ambassador in her house, prompting her to cry foul over freedom of the press.
Hala Mustafa, editor-in-chief of Al-Demoqratiya magazine, stirred up a controversy in September after receiving Israeli envoy Shalom Cohen.
A five-member panel, citing union rules barring support for normalisation of ties with Israel, issued a warning against Mustafa, rather than taking more serious action.
"We limited ourselves to issuing a warning because the commission's job is not to punish or seek vengeance against a colleague but to guarantee decisions are taken in a democratic manner," said panel member Gamal Fahmi.
Any act of normalisation with Israel by union members can lead to a reprimand or even expulsion.
The committee "took into account" that Mustafa had "given assurances she was not familiar with the details of this ruling on normalisation. She thought it only applied to travelling to Israel."
He added that Mustafa had agreed to respect the 1981 ruling, something she would neither confirm nor deny.
However, she said she "totally" rejected the warning, telling AFP she might even turn to the courts for redress of what she said was a "moral injury."
"It goes against freedom of expression ... which the union should protect," she added.
In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but there continues to be a generally hostile popular attitude towards anything implying normal relations between the two neighbours.
Separately on Tuesday, the panel suspended for three months the deputy editor-in-chief of the government-owned weekly October for having had dinner with an Israeli diplomat, Fahmi said.
I received an e-mail circular from B'Tselem today about Israel's policies towards Gaza. The first substantial argument offered is this:
I could quibble about the adjective "enormous" but I won't. The argument is basically sound. To respond to it, the government of Israel would have to accept its premises, that is, it would have to say that the harm it's causing to Gazans is not unnecessary and/or that it's exaggerated and that in any case it's the only viable option for protecting its security. I'm not saying that any of this is true or false, just that the way B'Tselem sets out its arguments obliges the government of Israel to put its case in terms of human rights.
Now let's turn to the next set of arguments:
If I was a member of the Israeli government I'd be much happier to respond to this kind of vulgar pragmatism. I'd just ask why, if Hamas is so much stronger now than before, it's acting to suppress rocket fire into Israel by smaller groups, I'd point out that such rocket fire is a fraction of what it was before Operation Cast Lead and that we have no way of knowing what, if any, effect Israel's broader policies towards Gaza are having on negotiations to release Shalit. Oh, and I'd probably die laughing at the stuff about tensions and future violence. It's not like Hamas's attitude to Israel has varied much over the years; not when Israel still occupied the Strip, not when it left, not when Gazans could travel in large numbers to Israel and not when they were stopped from doing so. What has changed is that Hamas's behavior towards Israel has notably softened over the last 12 months or so.
There's another severe problem with these arguments. They imply that if Israel's policies towards Gaza were achieving their political and security goals they would therefore be justified.
B'Tselem declares itself to be an organization that acts in favor of the protection of universal human rights. It should argue on that basis and stop dishing up half-baked political analysis that even the most obtuse Israeli politician wouldn't have much difficulty dealing with.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Below is an excerpt of an article by Ben Caspit that appeared in Maariv. The translation is provided by American Task Force for Palestine. Never mind if you agree or disagree with Caspit's assessment of Benjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. Focus on the main point: Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad is systematically building support for a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza. His plan was announced last August: Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State. The Israeli government took no notice then, and is taking no notice now. It is scoffing, and is doing nothing to either meet this plan or counter it. The Israeli government is acting as if nothing is happening. Fayyad is not just building institutions for a state, as the Israeli government wants to delude itself into thinking. He is quite explicit: He is building a state.
In two years, if all goes according to his plan, the Palestinians will unilaterally declare a Palestinian State on all the territory of the West Bank including "East Jerusalem." Ariel, Hebron, Gush Etzion, French Hill, Latrun and Ramat Eshkol, the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, Har Choma, Gilo, the Mt Olives cemetery, will all be claimed by this state. The state and the claims will have the explicit backing of the entire Arab world, most or all non-Arab Muslim states, most Latin American and African states. They will have at least the passive acquiescence of the United States and most European states. They will be backed by the decisions of the Hague International Court of Justice, which ruled that the land of the West Bank is occupied territory. That is not all. The state will push for "Right of Return" for Palestinian refugees. There is a very real possibility that in two years there will be a Palestinian state in the West Bank: A state hostile to Israel, a state that has not signed a peace treaty with Israel, a state that has the support of most of the world, a state that may or may not be intent on destruction of Israel.
The Hamas, originally skeptical of Fayyad's plan, is already making the preliminary noises that will most likely lead to its rejoining the Palestinian government, because they would not want to miss out on the chance of governing a Palestinian state. They will get on board.
You may be justly skeptical. After all, the Palestinians have declared states in the past - in 1948, they declared two states in fact. A Palestinian Declaration of Independence was issued in 1988 and nothing came of it. But this time it is very different.
Israel has no plan whatever to deal with a very real possibility that is taking shape before our eyes. Even if the new Palestinian state is as peaceful as Switzerland or Finland, it will still bring about a major change in the geopolitical reality of Israel - and there is almost no likelihood that this new state will be anything like Switzerland or Finland.
The unilaterally declared Palestinian state would of course be a blatant violation of the Oslo accords and the Oslo process, but those were dead quite a while ago. Barring some very unforeseen and unforeseeable developments, Israel could destroy this new state by force, because the United States and the EU would not let it do so.
What would the United States do if the Palestinian state brought its claims, including Right of Return for Palestinian refugees to the UN Security Council? Would it veto a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, a resolution that would be international law backed by enforcement mechanisms, that would grant the Palestinians their demands? And what could Israel do if this Palestinian state sent its "police" - trained by the United States and backed by U.S. soldiers - to take over East Jerusalem? Would Israel send the IDF to fight these "police" and perhaps to fight Jim Jones's American West Bank "advisers?" How would the Americans react?
Remember that not a single country in the world recognizes Israel's claims in East Jerusalem, and certainly no country recognizes Israel's claims in the West Bank.
And what if, as is not unlikely, Fayyad and the Palestinian government are overthrown in a coup, thrown down from the roofs of buildings, as happened in Gaza, and the current "moderate" Palestinian government is replaced by a Hamas run government? It is not impossible. Yet no Israeli official seems to have paid much attention to the developing possibility of a Palestinian state.
[The title refers to a journal entry by Theodor Herzl in 1897, "In Basel I founded the Jewish state"] Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad came to Herzliya on Tuesday. Thinking that he would be participating in a panel discussion, he did not prepare a speech. Suddenly he found himself making the Palestinian "Herzliya speech." Fayyad did not become confused. He is no sucker. In fluent if nearly unintelligible English (Fayyad has a heavy accent), he laid out his doctrine: a Palestinian state within two years. On all the territory. Including East Jerusalem. That is all. In Herzliya, several meters from where the large statue of the visionary of the Jewish state overlooks the coastal highway, Fayyad founded Palestine.
Several years ago, when he appeared in the skies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no one took him seriously. But Fayyad, a gray, stubborn man, worked seriously, against all the chances and all the gangs, and succeeded. Today, he is seen as the most significant threat against the continuation of the current situation. His plan was presented and gathered momentum, the Americans see him as a kind of messiah, the Europeans pin their hope on him, and most important: the situation on the ground has changed dramatically. In two years, he hopes, the reforms will be completed and he will declare a state on the 1967 borders.
Because there is consensus throughout the world on the two-state solution, and also regarding the Green Line, Israel is liable to find itself facing a Security Council decision that adopts the Palestinian declaration, and without an American veto. What will we do then?
Between Two Leaders
The next day, the Israeli prime minister came to Herzliya. His speech was also good. After all, he knows how to give speeches (that very morning, in the Knesset, he gave a wonderful speech to Berlusconi). Bibi talked about education and about vision, and almost did not mention diplomatic trifles, except for the news that there may be, perhaps, a chance that within a month, or two, or maybe three, it may be possible, under certain conditions, to resume negotiations. And it may be that this actually refers to indirect negotiations with American mediation. Applause. Indeed, an historical accomplishment.
The main difference between Fayyad and Netanyahu, except for the fact that one has a state and the other still does not, is that Fayyad knows exactly what he wants. We see from the way Netanyahu handles things that he does not. All Bibi wants is to keep on surviving. To get to the weekend in peace, without some new scandal. He sells Shimon Peres one vision while marketing another to Benny, Bugi and Ruby. With the Americans he is here, and with the settlers he is there. He uproots with one hand and plants with the other. There is no goal, no management, no courage to do one thing or the other.
By definition, Netanyahu is the leader of the right wing. This definition holds until election day. The next morning, he is already a centrist. He glances leftward, feels his way, but is afraid. The feeling is that all that he wants is for nothing to happen. That he be left in peace. The thing is that quiet is detestable [a phrase from the anthem composed by Revisionist Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky]. Anyone who thinks that the vacuum will remain empty is mistaken. Salam Fayyad is the one who is proving that now. He came bravely to Herzliya despite the ridiculous internal criticism of the Palestinians who screamed that the conference was for the sake of Israel's strength and security. Fayyad knows that this is an open academic symposium, and during it he made, in English, the same statements that he makes in Arabic in Ramallah and in Nablus. He speaks in only one language, Fayyad. With everyone, in every place. The exact opposite of Netanyahu.
The Coalition Is the Main Thing
Near the courageous one (Fayyad) and the fearful one (Netanyahu) stands another player-namely, the commentator. He serves as the defense minister of the State of Israel. He gives a speech here, speaks there, cautions and warns. Not to divide the land, Barak warns, is an existential threat. Not reaching a peace agreement with Syria, he warns, means all-out war. And afterwards, we will return to the negotiating table and talk about the same things, the same conditions, exactly.
The question is asked: for what purpose is Barak there? In any case, he is incapable of producing anything regarding the Palestinian question or even regarding the Syrian question, which is so critical. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said two days ago that the next war will reach all the cities of Israel. He is right. No more dull sounds of explosions from the edge of the Golan Heights. All of Israel will be barraged with heavy and precise rockets. After Muallem, President Assad spoke in his own voice, called Israel the bully of the region and warned of war. History teaches us that every time the leaders of the Arab countries have warned us of war, it broke out. Every time there was a stalemate, an explosion followed. So why wait for the explosion? The Netanyahu government is doing nothing, marking time.
Incidentally, this is in the best case. There is always good old Avigdor Lieberman, who will breathe life into the hissing embers and light a big fire, as he did yesterday with the follow-up about Assad: "If war breaks out, your family will fall from power," Lieberman warned loudly. Wow. What a man. And if Assad's family falls from power, Mr. Yvet, what will happen? Could it be that Syria will also become (after Iraq) an extremist Islamic state? Could it be that the Iranians will take it over? Might the Shiites penetrate even more deeply? Might it be that we will miss Assad, like we miss many things today that we invested infinite energy to get rid of?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
The Herzliya Conference on Israeli national security, hosted at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary center, has finally recognized that Israel has a certain problem with people who are trying to delegitimize Israel and Zionism. They organized a workshop on what the speakers called "Public Relations" and "image." Everyone agreed that Israel has a "public relations" and "image" problem and that it needs to get "public relations" people to change its "image." But nobody understood how the problem came about, and there was disagreement about what these public relations experts should be doing, and what "image" we want to communicate.
According to one summary:
Today, at the Herzliya Conference, one session was held on strategic communications for Israel. In other words, Israel's hasbara, or PR, problem. We all know that Israel has a serious PR problem. Israel is, almost always, painted in the worst of lights.
... Ido Aharoni discussed the problem of Israel's brand, as being solely associated with the conflict...
Eyal Arad discussed the three problems, that he sees, that Israel has in changing its image. "We have basically three problems that doom us to remain in that situation… The first requirement that we need in order to build image, change image, deal with images, is to understand the flow of information about our product... .
"Our second problem is that we don't know what we really want....Now, do we want to get Jews to come and live in Israel? Do we want to be an immigration country, so what we want to do is convince people that Israel is the best place, at least convince Jews that Israel is the best place for them ?
"The third problem that we have… and the third problem is probably the most important problem, and this is the reason we fail to address the two former problems, is that we don't have a client. When we try to deal with Israel's information campaign, you really don't have a client. Israel's problem, and I agree that our main problem in the world today have become a legitimacy problem. It's not that people do not think that our policies are right, it's that people question whether we should exist or continue to exist in the first place. We are more and more becoming the South Africa of the 21st century. "
The secret cause of Israel's PR and image catastrophe is now revealed. Do you understand the problem? Part of the difficulty, that we knew about, is that we are facing a political campaign - a campaign about the legitimacy of our country and our people. Arad got that part right. The Palestinian Charter insists that Jews are not a people. That is the basis of the campaign and it always has been. But the hidden secret that is ruining Israel's "image" and "PR" is that the people who are supposed to be doing ideological advocacy for Zionism and Israel advocacy think they are supposed to be doing "PR" and image building, and don't know what message to put in their "PR" or what "image to build.
The Zionism advocates don't know what Zionism or advocacy is. The people who are considered authorities on the issue, who are sent to the Herzliya conference to pontificate about it, confess that they don't really know what they want, or how to get it. They confuse advocacy with "PR." Eyal Arad should speak for himself. I know exactly what I want, and the Israeli information apparatus is not delivering it. The big part of the problem is the people in charge of handling the problem.
Israel advocacy is not about getting Jews to Israel. It is not Jewish education. It should not even be targeting Jews. Jews are a tiny and not too important minority in the United States, and an even tinier minority in other countries.
Israel advocacy is not about PR or "images." It can't be done by PR talking heads who don't know what we want. A country is not a "product." Challenges to legitimacy must be met by earnest political advocacy, not by "PR," remaking of image or rebranding. We do not need to deal with images or build images.
We need to build reality and deal with reality and tell people the truth. That's what we did when Israel was successful. The image was terrible. A rag tag bunch of idealists on a hopeless quest, a chaotic army, rude waiters in hotels, telephones that didn't work, an economy built on wishful thinking, immigrants in rags from Europe and the Middle East: the wretched and the hopeless. A basket case. That is how Israel was viewed in much of the world. It is certainly how the early Zionists were viewed. But it was only image. It was not reality. The people of the Second Aliya told the world "We are building the future of the Jewish people." Nobody believed them. Their shirts were torn and their shoes had holes. That was the "future of the Jewish people." But they told the truth. They were building reality, not "image." The reality built our country and the image took care of itself. We need to tell the truth and we need to know that we are telling the truth.
Israel advocacy is not about telling people Israel is a good place to invest or that we have pretty girls and nice beaches. "Everyone knows," don't they, that Jews are "clever with money" and that Jewish girls are hot and loose, right? Dpes that help us? Will it win support in international fora? Bragging about Israeli economic prowess plays into the image of the blood-sucking Jew-Zionist colonialists who are getting rich by oppressing the poor Palestinians, who are minding their own business, trying to make an honest living in the suicide vest business. Bragging about our technologically advanced society plays to Palestinian propaganda too. They are poor helpless native victims of a heartless and evil advanced society. Of course, the Iranians, who are building atomic weapons, tell a different story, and that too is accepted.
People do not base political opinions on a few factoids or "images." They may use the images or the factoids to bolster their opinions. They build a narrative and force the facts to fit that narrative. One we have been demonized it doesn't matter what we do. If we send rescue teams to Haiti, the mainstream "responsible" media like TIME ignore it, because it doesn't fit their narrative about the evil Zionists, the more sophisticated Israel bashers use it as a platform for an attack on Israeli policy, and the professional Israel haters say Israelis went to Haiti to harvest organs for illegal transplant traffic.
In the business world, PR and "image" and "branding" are acceptable. In the world of ideological advocacy, they are dirty words. "Image building" is what an oil company does after a tanker spill. It's what tobacco companies tried to do for smoking. In other words, it is lying or "improving the truth." "Rebranding" and remaking of images are what sleazy politicians do in order to foist themselves on the public. Some of us remember "the new Nixon." He wasn't much different from the old model Nixon, but the "image remake" fooled enough people long enough to get him elected president of the United States.
Israel advocacy, like all good political advocacy is not about lying, distracting people from reality or "building images." It has to be about telling the truth. Pretty girls on beaches might attract some jocks and sex tourists. But we need to speak to the political leadership and the politically active leadership segments of society abroad. Serious university students, diplomats and journalists are really not going to be impressed by pretty girls at beaches, and they don't much care if Israel is a good place to invest their money.
Israel advocacy is about explaining that Zionism is not racism, and that Jews have the same rights as other people - and we shall insist on those rights, whether it suits others or not. The enemies of Israel seize on this or that issue, but they almost always admit that in reality there is only one issue: denying the Jewish people the right of self-determination. Calling Zionism "racism." It's not about what Israel did in the Gaza war. The Americans and British roasted German babies in the fire-bombings of Dresden, Hamburg and other cities in World War II. Nobody tried them for war crimes, and nobody other than Nazis tried to dismantle England or the United States. Germany was not dismantled though they murdered 17 million people, including 6 million Jews, apart from the casualties of the war they started. It's not what you do. It's who you are. The campaign against Israel starts from the premise that Jews have no rights as a people. Therefore we have no right to self - defense or any other right. No campaign on the issues will convince those people of our innocence, because we are guilty by definition in their eyes.
To Eyal Arad and all the other talking heads who don't know what they want or what is needed: What we need is for our people to tell the truth, and to know what we want and why we are here. What we want is for the world to accept that the Jewish people have a right to a nation state of our own. That's the entire issue. If you don't understand that, you should not be making the case for Israel, and you should not be talking about it in conferences.
A Red Cross (or Red Crescent?) ambulance was blown up in Gaza today. Haaretz seeems to think this can be blamed on the Israeli "blockade." Presumably, if there was no blockade, the "resistance" forces would not target the evil ambulances. Or something.
Last update - 18:33 04/02/2010
Bomb blast rocks Gaza Red Cross convoy in possible attack
By Haaretz Service
An explosive device was detonated near a Red Cross convoy in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported on Thursday, adding that it had not yet been made clear whether the explosion was a premeditated attack.
No injuries were reported in the Gaza blast, the Army Radio report said and one of the armored vehicles was damaged.
The Hamas-ruled coastal enclave had been sealed off by both Israel and Egypt since Israel's invasion of the Strip during Operation Cast Lead early last year, although Israel has allowed the Red Cross to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza.
The explosion occurred just as the United States reportedly suggested to Israel that easing the Gaza blockade could help counter the fallout from the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead a year ago.
The U.S. message on the blockade was relayed last week when a Foreign Ministry delegation met in Washington with senior officials from the State Department and the White House. Much of the meeting dealt with steps that Israel could take to help the United States and others block the Goldstone report and prevent it from reaching the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Last month, Hamas sharply criticized Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak's defense of his country's expanded fortifications on its border with the Gaza Strip, saying they aided Israel's efforts to stifle the Hamas-ruled territory.
"Mubarak's remarks defending the steel wall are an address on the blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri told reporters in Gaza City.
The Egyptian president's statements "contradict his earlier remarks that he would not allow the starvation of the Palestinian people in Gaza," al-Masri accused.
On Sunday Mubarak marked the national annual Police Day holiday by declaring: "Fortifications along our eastern border are a work of Egyptian sovereignty, and we refuse to enter into a debate with anyone [about them]."
A lucrative smuggling trade in basic commodities, contraband but also in weapons has taken root along the Gazan-Egyptian border since Egypt and Israel closed the territory's borders after Hamas took control of its security services nearly three years ago
The US has offered to "do Israel a favor" - because of the famous unbreakable bond. But the favor supposedly requires that Israel do a favor. That's how certain types of favors work. Confused? To explain the nature of this relationship, we need to tell a little story.
An honest guy is running a toxic waste disposal business in New Jersey. It's not likely, but it is possible. A not-too-honest person whom we will call Tony Soprano wants to put this man out of business. One day the poor fellow finds himself in court on 500 trumped up federal violations. He can't understand it.
Soprano's friend calls him and says, "Look, if you clear out of Newark and Bayonne and Jersey City and let Soprano take those areas, I can clear the federal raps for you."
"How is that?"
"Well, you know, paisan, I have friends. And the friends - they have friends. Sometimes I do favors for my friends. And they do favors for their friends. So their friends owe favors to my friends, and my friends owe me favors, so they return the favors. And I'm also asking you for a favor. Of course you want to do a favor for a friend. On the other hand, some people are not so friendly and don't do favors when I ask them. Accidents can happen to those people, or to their families, heaven forbid. That's how we get things done. You understand? You capisce?"
It is extortion and corruption of course.
The Goldstone report has made very serious accusations against Israel. We are war criminals - deliberate murderers of babies in their cribs, destroyers of vital installations for no reason, defilers of mosques. Either the allegations are true and people should be punished, or they are not true. That is how real justice would work. But the US government explained to Israeli officials how it is really going to work:
The United States has suggested to Israel that easing the Gaza blockade would help counter the fallout from the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead a year ago....
A main message of the U.S. officials was that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was directly linked to the ability of Israel's critics to push the Goldstone report forward and the ability to block the report's consequences.
In other words, the US is saying, "we have friends, and the friends owe us favors..." Probably, the officials who made this proposal cannot see any moral blemish in it or any problem of justice. That's the way they always do business. Unbreakable bond - that's family matters. But this is business. Business is Business. No hard feelings, right?
But the Goldstone report has no teeth unless it is adopted by a UN Security Council resolution. The US has a veto in the Security Council and does not need any friends. The US knows that the Gaza blockade prevents Hamas from getting cement to build bunkers. It knows that the blockade is intended to motivate Hamas to return kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. It knows that Hamas took power illegally and that the blockade is intended to weaken an illegitimate and tyrannical government. If they believe the allegations of the Goldstone report, regardless of what Israel does about the Gaza blockade, the US must vote to support it in the Security Council. The US must then be prepared to face similar charges over its own "war crimes" - on a much larger scale - in Iraq and Afghanistan. If they don't believe the allegations and vote to punish Israel anyhow, it is extortion and corruption, isn't it? Since the US doesn't need any "friends" to quash the Goldstone report, the US officials are less honest than a New Jersey gangster.
Do you still think the Goldstone report is about "justice?"
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There is no doubt that the New Israel Fund means well - or at least many of its members and contributors do. But there is also no doubt that the New Israel Fund supports or collects funds for some of the most odious organizations in Israel - organizations whose goals have nothing to do with democracy and nothing to do with peace - organizations whose only goal is to besmirch Israel and to destroy Zionism and the Jewish state.
Zochrot is one example of these organizations. It organizes activities to perpetuate the myth that Israel was founded by "ethnic cleansing" of hapless and peaceful Palestinians who were minding their own business in 1948 - the Palestine Nakba myth. Its brochure claims that Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. Its Web site links to the BADIL organization, that is dedicated to blocking any solution to the Palestinian refugee problem other than return to original (nonexisting) homes in Israel. New Israel fund also supports the innocently named "Coalition of Women for Peace" which is likewise involved in the delegitimation of Israel and Zionism, as well as New Profile, an organization noted for encouraging draft dodging.
The activities of New Israel Fund have been known for some time. The controversy over them was ignited by a study soon to be released by a right-wing group, Im Tirzu, which claims:
92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report to criticize the IDF’s conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.
Among the NGOs listed in the report are Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Doctors for Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.Im Tirtzu has its own political ax to grind, and showed execrable judgment in ad hominem attacks on Meretz politician Naomi Hazan, currently president of the international board of the New Israel Fund. The Im Tirtzu ad caricatured her with an "N.I.F." horn and titled her "Naomi Goldstone Hazan." In Hebrew, the word for horn is keren, which also means fund. This clever pun was lost on English speaking readers of course, who only saw a Jew with a horn.
The ad claimed that without the New Israel Fund there would not have been a Goldstone report. But we know that the New Israel Fund didn't initiate the Goldstone report, and that committee members were determined to find Israel guilty regardless of the evidence. There would have been a different Goldstone report without the New Israel Fund, with the same conclusions,
Hazan didn't initiate the Goldstone report and is not responsible for its findings. As president of the international board she may have much power, but it is doubtful if she is solely responsible for approving the funding requests of each organization. There was no excuse for their obnoxious advertisement, nor is Naomi Hazan responsible for all the output of all these organizations. Hazan is a passionate advocate of peace and is entitled to her opinion, though New Israel Fund doesn't have to support it. Im Tirtzu's regrettable misuse of their findings gave enemies of Israel just the opening they needed to destroy the credibility of a legitimate finding.
However, Im TIrtzu deserve the same hearing as others. The "rights" advocates ask us to separate the political message of groups like New Profile from the facts they present. There are, for example, real human rights violations at checkpoints that don't serve the cause of Israel in any way, and Machsomwatch exposes them. That doesn't mean Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state and it doesn't mean Zionism is racism, but it points out a fault that is in urgent need of correction. However, the same advocates who want us to accept testimony from Machsom Watch or Betselem, have no problem trying to discredit the facts that Im Tirtzu presents as the work of "settlers." It doesn't matter who said it. It matters that it is true.
Nobody denies that N.I.F. supports these organizations, and it is a fact that most of these organizations are out to destroy Israel. We need to separate the message from the messenger. It is too bad that middle of the road, responsible groups, including peace groups who are desperately in need of funds, did not dare to raise the issue of New Israel's selective funding of radicals, and left it to Im Tirzu. Where were all the Tikkun Olam people when Zochrot and Adallah were telling lies about Israel? Isn't correction of falsehoods also Tikkun Olam?
A recent article by Solomonia about New Israel Fund attracted vigorous protests claiming that these organizations are only fighting for civil rights and pointing out injustices. Let's be clear. If there is an injustice in any democratic society, it is the duty of citizens to report it, to highlight it and to fight it. But the way to fight Jim Crow in the United States was not to join the Cominform and insist that America must be destroyed. Similarly injustices in Israel cannot be fixed by those who advocate the destruction of Israel. Decapitation is not a good way to cure headaches. The Arab society that would replace Israel would not have the same respect for human rights, and there are also the human rights of Israeli Jews to consider. We are also human and have rights.
It is right and proper for any organization to give evidence to an investigatory commission, but it is wrong for them to give fabricated evidence, to claim that dead terrorists are civilians and to pass off hearsay as fact. It is right to point out inhumane behavior at checkpoints. It is wrong to use instances of brutality in a campaign to delegitimize the state. It is right for Breaking the Silence to uncover abuses by the army, and to provide documentation of these abuses to Israelis. It is wrong for Breaking the Silence to take their traveling road show of Israeli atrocity stories to US campuses, and show it to 18 year olds who never served in the army, never heard of Hamas and have no other background information about the Middle East. Adallah has the right to advocate for an Arab Palestinian state perhaps, but it is simply insane for New Israel Fund to collect money from Zionist Jews to give to an organization of that type, and we do not need Im Tirtzu to tell us that.
How can we explain the fact that Jews, not necessarily anti-Zionist Jews either, founded and contribute to and support a charity that funds organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel and defamation of the Jewish people? Rather than advancing peace and democracy in Israel, these activities make "peace" and "democracy" into hateful words among the Israeli Jewish public, because in propaganda, "peace," "democracy" and "justice" have been made synonymous with defamation and genocide of the Jewish people, destruction of Israel and dissemination of lies. Are there no causes in Israel and no organizations that really advance peace and democracy that are more worthy of funding by the NIF than the mendacious political extremists and degenerates of groups like Zochrot?
An article by Ben-Dror Yemini, translated from Hebrew, explains the Israeli Zionist point of view:
(Translation of Article by Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma'ariv, 2.2.10)
The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people's right to self-determination.
The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the "UN Human Rights Council." It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.
But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description "human rights." If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.
For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the "right of return." Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass "return" after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan "human rights."
None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.
The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.
There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund's intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews' right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a "state of all its citizens," in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about "human rights."
How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.
Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with "the rights talk" has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.
Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel's right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.
Not every group funded by the New Israel Fund is anti-Zionist. We don't want New Israel Fund to stop funding projects in Israel and we certainly want them to encourage human rights, democracy and peace. But responsible people who really care about these issues should ask of the N.I.F. that it limits its funding to groups that really support democracy and human rights, not groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Dershowitz's film reminds Yair Lapid that case for Israel based on basic facts
Published: 02.01.10, 10:01 / Israel Opinion
After much postponement, I recently watched Alan Dershowitz's film "The Case for Israel". The renowned US attorney opens the film by declaring that he is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, and that he supports the two-state solution, but…
Dershowitz is neither a philosopher nor a filmmaker. He is not even a rightist. We have become accustomed to the case for Israel being only made by members of the rightist camp, yet Dershowitz supports us precisely because he is a leftist law professor at Harvard University who deals with human rights.
How dare they refer to Israel as an apartheid state? He asks with genuine amazement. Arab society features apartheid of women, apartheid of homosexuals, and apartheid of Christians, Jews, and democracy. Gays are being hanged in Saudi Arabia, genocide is taking place in Sudan, and women across the Arab world are murdered for not wearing a hijab or for falling in love with the wrong man.
Yet despite all of the above, eight out of the eight last United Nations' resolution pertaining to human rights happened to deal with Israel – the only state in the region where minorities have the right to vote and a country whose legislature includes Arabs almost from day one.
Does the global Left – as well as the Israeli Left – truly not care about the horrific Taliban regime, the terrible oppression of women in Gulf states, and the mass hanging festivals in Iran? Isn't it clear to them that all West Bank roadblocks, which undoubtedly cause an ongoing human tragedy, would be dismantled within 24 hours if only the Palestinians were kind enough to stop killing Jews?
And how come they are always talking about the 750,000 Palestinian refugees while forgetting the 800,000 Jewish refugees kicked out of Arab states? Why doesn't anyone remember that the Palestinians already had four real opportunities to establish their state, yet each time they preferred to revert to terrorism?
And who dares to refer to the security fence as an "apartheid fence," while disregarding the fact that it was built, in line with international law, only after more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered in less than three years?
I was watching Dershowitz's film, yet instead of feeling happy I felt a little dumb. After all, I was familiar with these facts before, just like any other Israeli is familiar with them, so how come we are always on the defensive, always apologizing, and always losing the battle for global public opinion?
It is true, of course, that millions of petro-dollars are being used for anti-Israel propaganda (whoops! I'm again buying into their story- this is not anti-Israel propaganda but rather, pure and simple anti-Semitism.) But how the hell did we manage to get to a situation where the truth – the basic, simple, fact-based truth – has gone out of fashion?
The Israel Boycott people are at it again. There is no doubt about their objective, since the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group Web site states that they are against "Imperialism, Colonialism and Zionism" a sentiment endorsed indirectly by Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee.
This time they are targeting Costco for selling Israeli fruit. You can help by contacting Costco and thanking them for ignoring the boycott as described below and by buying Israeli products at Costco stores, and by investing in Costco stock and telling them why.
...[According to boycotters] Costco is guilty of selling Israeli grown clementines. The boycott has a home on the Web and it has volunteers recruiting and instructing people on what they can do to encourage Costco to stop the sale of Israeli goods. Below is the body of a mass circulating e-mail which offers advise on who to contact at Costco:
Such a simple action! I called 425-313-8100 and spoke with Mark DeCosta in produce. I told him that I was calling because I saw that Costco was selling clementines from Israel. I explained very politely that there is an international boycott against Israeli products because of the ongoing genocide there. I mentioned the attack on Gaza a year ago, that 1,400 people were killed there, and that Israel restricts food, electricity and drinking water. Mark was very receptive, and said he would pass the message o the buyer in California, and also gave me her number. I'll call her tomorrow and would be happy to hear that other folks might do the same.
Buyer: Pat Burlinguette
Do not underestimate the consequences if a boycott like this has any success. If friends of Israel do not let Costco know that they support the sale of Israel[i products] it would not be a surprise if the company decides to forgo selling Israeli products.
We need to contact Costco and let them know that we will shop there because they sell Israeli products. When I told my wife about the boycott, she immediately responded that she was getting a Costco membership and she will buy the clementines "Even though I don't like clementines. "
Information about contacting Costco can be found here.
This boycott is part of an international cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
We must do all that we can to help Israel fight back.
Monday, February 1, 2010
The IDF rescure teams have dismantled their life saving field hospital and most IDF personnel have left Haiti after giving "first responder" emergency aid that won praise from US media and gratitude from Haitians. The teams that rescued people from wreckage are also gone, as well as the Zaka volunteers. They all did an impressive job. But the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake is not ended, and neither has the aid extended by Israelis. Gal Lousky's Israeli Flying Aid is there and they have set up a a Web log to tell the story of Israeli Flying Aid to Haiti. They are rebuilding orphanages , rescuing young girls from sexual exploitation, getting food to the hungry and trying to fill the urgent and seemingly endless needs of a displaced population With the aid of Orange Israel Telecommunications, they are building an orphanage to house 70 children as an initial project.
Israeli Flying Aid (IFA) is a volunteer non-profit organization founded by Gal Lousky. IFA specializes in transferring emergency, lifesaving aid to populations in disaster areas, and in particular nations in which the IFA presence is especially significant:
• Nations that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and are hostile to Israel.
• Nations in which the government is hostile to its own citizens and refuses to allow entrance of foreign lifesaving aid after natural disasters but in effect uses the disaster as a weapon of mass annihilation in order to overturn opposition.
• “Complex regions” where UN Red Cross teams and NGOs are not allowed entry (e.g., Indian Kashmir following the earthquake, Russian-occupied Georgia, etc.)
IFA has aided disaster victims in India, Sri Lanka, the Georgian Republic and elsewhere, including extending aid in the United States during Hurricane Katrina.
Israeli Flying Aid is on the spot in Haiti bringing vitally needed help. They need your donations to continue.
Donation information as provided to me:
Israel Flying Aid
Israel Discount Bank
Branch number: 199
Account number: 57797
Swift code: IDBLILIT
or via check to:
P.E.F ISRAEL ENDOWMENT FUNDS, INC.
317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017
The covering letter of the check should have this information:
Enclosed is my contribution of $ ____________________________ with recommendation to your trustees that it be used for:
Organization: Israel Flying Aid, 48 Ben Zion Galis, Sgula Petach Tikva, ISRAEL 49277
Name (contributor):_____________________________________ (please print)
Minimum contribution accepted is $ 25.00.
Gifts are tax deductible only if made payable to P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. (IRS No. 13-6104086)
Upon request a copy of the last Annual Report filed by P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. with the New York Secretary of State may be obtained from either P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017, or the office of the New York Secretary of State, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12226.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Ynet-Yesodot survey shows most Israelis believe State should absorb devastated families from quake-stricken Caribbean country, 47% show willingness to adopt Haitian children
Published: 01.31.10, 15:05 / Israel Jewish Scene
After the closing of the Israeli field hospital in devastated Haiti and the imminent return of the aid mission - what is Israel's next step? The majority of the Israeli public believes that citizens should not adopt children who lost their parents in the earthquake as long as there are Jewish or Israeli orphans without a home.
However, most Israelis think that the State should take in devastated families, a joint Ynet-Yesodot poll suggests.
The poll was conducted by Panels Institute on a sample representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel of 522 respondents. The maximum sampling error is 4.3%±.
According to the data, 94% of the public believe that the decision to send a rescue mission to Haiti was important. The majority based their answer on Israel's duty to save lives - 72%, while 22% explained it with the need to improve the State's international image.
Only 6% said that the decision was a mistake and explained this by asserting that Israel must take care of its own needy first.
Asked in case they were interested in adoption, whether they would consider adopting a Haitian orphan 53% replied negatively, 15% answered positively on condition of conversion to Judaism, whereas 32% replied an unconditional "yes."
Analyzing the responses according to religious affiliation shows that the ultra-Orthodox, religious and traditionalists on the whole ruled out any option of adopting children from Haiti (93%, 77% and 51% respectively) while 52% of seculars answered that they would regard it possible.
On the survey's third section participants were asked whether Israel, as a Jewish state, should take in families who have lost everything in the earthquake. Some 60% replied yes (44% unconditionally and 16% in a partial way so as to promote Israel's image) while the remaining 40% replied negatively.
Some 24% claimed that Israel must take care of its own poor first and 16% feared that the Jewish majority in the country would be compromised. The poll indicated that seculars and traditionalists were more inclined to answer positively (66% and 57% respectively) while the haredim and religious opposed (86% and 63% respectively).
'No distinction among sectors'
Yesodot director Shoshi Becker commented on the survey's findings and said, "The situation in Haiti is perceived as a catastrophe and we all, as Jews and as human beings, see the importance in offering aid. I am glad there is no distinction among the different sectors on this point.
On the other hand, it appears that the issue of conversion is troubling the public. It does not completely prevent the willingness to adopt Haitian orphans but people definitely want to see a solution - also on the national level – which would make it easy for them to take that humane step.
"I would expect a statement from the Chief Rabbinate or other rabbinical elements on this issue – a call to mitigate conversion terms or any statement regarding the refugees' halachic status in this special situation. "
There is no doubt about it. The Goldstone report about Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza war of 2008) is not about "justice." It is based on an investigation initiated with the most malicious intent, by a UN body, the UNHRC, that is obsessed with the mission of delegitimizing Israel. Its major conclusions were decided before there was any "investigation," and the investigation that was undertaken was a bad joke, consisting mostly of collecting Israel-bashing libels from anti-Israel NGOs. Judge Goldstone was enlisted in this nefarious project to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the "human rights" advocacy of countries like Libya and Sudan. He did not exercise the best judgment in accepting the charge and did not conduct a fair investigation.
The Goldstone report was meant to be, and will be, the centerpiece of a vicious PR campaign and UN propaganda persecution against Israel. It gives the usual sources many opportunities to rant about "Zionist war criminals" and "Zionist war crimes" and to attempt to force a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out that Goldstone went beyond the various human rights organizations with his fantastic contention that the Israeli government diabolically planned in advance to murder Palestinian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. (see THE CASE AGAINST THE GOLDSTONE REPORT: A STUDY IN EVIDENTIARY BIAS).
However, it is time to say what everyone knows and will not admit. Israel's army probes of the Gaza war crime allegations are not going to satisfy many critics, nor will documents like the one issued recently by the Israeli government, and other reports that are either in preparation or submitted. The Israeli MAG (Military Advocate General) reported that they investigated X number of cases raised ( about 140 at this time) by the infamous Goldstone report and closed them. But the skeptics will dismiss it all as "Zionist propaganda" because they have been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that only an independent civilian inquiry will discover the truth.
Contrary to the impression that some people seem to have, the report presented to UN Secretary General Ban was not the final Israeli rejoinder to the Goldstone report. Israel is preparing a very long report that will be a point by point refutation:
The 40-page “letter” was delivered to Ban, explaining the independence of ’s legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.
Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not the IDF’s answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is currently being completed, and will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report
The "40 page letter" referred to above may or may not be the 46 page document that is posed at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website - Gaza Operation Investigations - an update. That document details the structure and independence of the Military Advocate General's office and the Israeli investigation process, as well as giving finding regarding some of the cases.
These efforts, which impress Israel's friends, are not necessarily going to convince the the world, and do not change the fact that there were, and are, real problems that require both judicial and administrative or legislative remedies.
The problems are evident even in the handling of the rebuttal. According to Haaretz, newspaper, the letter sent to Secretary General Ban claimed that two IDF officers were disciplined for improper use of white phosphorus in one incident on January 15, 2009. But according to Haaretz newspaper, the IDF promptly denied that any officers were disciplined!
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.
The report, which was a sensation for a day, seems to have vanished without a final resolution - either a clear official confirmation or a clear denial. This is not indicative of an orderly process of investigation, to say the least. If Haaretz is referring to the 46 page update document, there is indeed a report that officers were disciplined in section 100 and what is apparently the same report for the same incident is given in Section 108:
One of these incidents involved alleged damage to the UNRWA field office compound in Tel El Hawa.102 The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas. Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a Brigadier General and a Colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others.
There is no mention of white phosphorus in that section. In Sections 118-120, the document states categorically that all IDF use of white phosphorus was found to be legal and there were no violations. The Haaretz article related an entirely narrative that is not taken from the document, and their source is not clear. The IDF denial that officers were disciplined for any reason that is quoted in Ha'aretz is also unexplained.
If we don't believe our own report, it is not likely that anyone else will believe it. If different branches of the IDF cannot ascertain whom the IDF punished and for what, there must be at least some procedures that require investigation and correction.
According to the report, about 150 cases were investigated and 36 were referred for disciplinary action. Details are not given for every case. In the entire Gaza operation, we are supposed to believe, almost nobody made serious errors in judgment. We are to believe that almost all the decisions were correct, even though soldiers died from friendly fire, and three little Palestinian girls, whom everyone admits were blameless, daughters of a blameless physician, Dr. Izzeldin AbuelAish, were killed by mistake..Those are three wrongful deaths that we can identify by name. Even the most pro-Israel enthusiast might think it is suspicious if the IDF says, "We investigated ourselves and we found ourselves almost blameless."
If all the IDF decisions were correct, then how did it happen that we waged an expensive and risky war, and at the end of the war there was a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Hamas remained stronger than ever? It is unlikely that Israeli generals are war criminals as Goldstone charges, but nobody should get a prize for the planning and execution of the Gaza war. The Goldstone report or some similar kangaroo proceeding, should also have been foreseen by the planners since allegations of Israeli "war crimes" are not new. Even if there were no instances of criminal malfeasance, there was certainly a failure of decision making, and there errors of judgment and lapses in discipline. We all know about the graffiti left in Gaza by various IDF soldiers, and about the inciteful pamphlets initiated by fanatic rabbis and distributed by the IDF "through an oversight." What mechanisms were put into place to correct these problems?
We were assured, from the start, that the Gaza war would not be like the Second Lebanon war. Officers and government officials would not speak out of turn, and would not make pointless bellicose remarks. But pointless bellicosity continued long after the Second Lebanon war, and the Goldstone report used them as "evidence" against Israel. For example, In October 2008, just before General Eisenkott said, regarding Lebanon:
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”
This is the sort of primitive and needless bragging and bullying that used to characterize Arab leaders. It is in a class with the threats made by Gamal Abdul Nasser before the Six day war. Whatever policies the government adopts, they are not set by the IDF, and whatever military doctrines the IDF adopts, they are not more effective if discussed in public. Wars are not won by rhetoric. If the Israeli government wanted to warn the Lebanese against testing Israeli patience, there were other, more credible and more civilized ways to do it.
Even more pointless were the remarks of Eli Yishai, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. He said on February 2, 2009
Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.
We can point out that these remarks were made after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead and cannot prove intent, though they might say something about general policy and state of mind They are not evidence surely, as Yishai didn't plan the operation. They were utterly pointless because unlike General Eisenkott, Yishai is not a military authority and is not in charge of military planning. He should stick to what he knows.
Perhaps the skill of Alan Dershowitz can convince friends of Israel that it is not illegal to call for destruction of homes, as he does so well. But if you require a Dershowitz or a Clarence Darrow to defend you and to produce an exegesis of your remarks in the manner of the Rashi and the Rambam, you are in trouble. Those who are not so well disposed to our cause will take the remarks literally. As the Israeli government had to be aware of the hostile international environment, what possible excuse was there for remarks such as these, intended evidently to garner support from Shas party voters. What is a minister of a religious party doing meddling in foreign policy and military strategy in public? Yishai probably knows even less about military strategy than he knows about industry, trade or labor. What purpose did these remarks serve?
At least some Israeli authorities have understood that an independent investigation is required. Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the Military Advocate General's international law department during Operation Cast Lead called for an investigation, though she is apparently convinced that all is well in the best of all possible worlds:
"There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets," she said. "As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings."
Nonetheless, she added, "We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends - who don't want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts - the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us," she said.
"If they need a commission of inquiry then that's what we'll give them," she added. "I really don't think we have anything we need to hide."
It is not so clear that everything is under control and nothing can go wrong, as Sharvit-Baruch implied. If she had done her job right during the Gaza war, there might not have been a Goldstone report. Moreover, if everything is just fine, then how did it happen that her remarks, made in confidence to a closed forum, were published the next day in Haaretz? Leaks of this sort are the rule, rather than the exception. What sort of army cannot keep secrets?
Menachem Mazuz, Israel's outgoing government counsel (a title erroneously translated in English as "Attorney General") also explained why an independent investigation is needed:
"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."
"Some sort of committee" is not enough. There must be a judicial committee of inquiry or judicial proceedings in regular courts regarding criminal allegations. The investigation or trials would not satisfy everyone. The Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that they won't try any of their "alleged" war criminals and their supporters will continue to rant about Zionist war criminals, backed by the Arab world and degenerates like the Dutch socialite Greta Duisenberg. But friendly governments will at least have a solid basis to reject the Goldstone allegations and to combat the campaign of pseudo-legal war criminal proceedings being waged by Palestinians and their supporters.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are opposed to a probe. But they are among the "suspects," because part of Goldstone's allegations, the most serious ones, claim that the Gaza operation was planned to harm civilians and to harm infrastructure in order to hurt civilians. Of course, intentional destruction of some infrastructure may have been done based on the doctrine that we must destroy "infrastructure" of terrorists. That is not criminal, but since terror groups do not have and do not need much infrastructure, it is probable that this doctrine is mistaken. But it is clear that suspects in a possible investigation should not be deciding whether or not to have an investigation.
A second investigation, non-judicial, is needed to examine the tactical and strategic and policy aspects of Operation Cast Lead. Before the next war, we must find out what really went wrong in Operation Cast Lead, and in the Second Lebanon War. Obviously, not all the lessons of the Second Lebanon war were learned, because in some respects the Gaza war was a repeat performance. This is true despite the great strides taken by the IDF in repairing itself, and despite the fact that both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister had been replaced, and nobody doubts the professional qualifications of the present incumbents. And the problem is not confined to military planning.
The two wars share too many negative characteristics in common: Both were long drawn out operations that generated a lot of destruction and civilian deaths on the enemy side, but did not inflict a decisive blow on the enemy. Both brought charges of Israeli "war crimes."
Israel's friends may be willing to help us, especially as the United States, Britain and others may be accused of similar war "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan by the same coalition of terror groupies But friends can only help those who help themselves. And we need a real investigation, because there are real problems that exist regardless of the Goldstone report. The same sorts of problems have been dogging the IDF and Israeli government since the Yom Kippur War: poor intelligence, poor decision making, poor strategy, neglect of essential preparation, flaws in implementation. Israelis who do not believe me, should consider this example, which is easy to check. What is the status of the air raid shelters in your town. Are they all clean and ready? Were they all opened and ready for use when there was a drill?
After each war there is an "investigation" and we are assured that the problems will not recur, but they do. Condemning the Goldstone report is not enough. Friends of Israel have to understand that along with condemning the Goldstone report, we must call for independent inquiries.
What is more important than the last war or last wars, is the next one. The next Lebanon or Gaza war, if there will be one, is being planned according to the same formula: a long war of attrition featuring air and ground operations. The minister of religion and the minister of rabbit growing will issue bellicose announcements about grinding the enemy to dust and will be duly quoted in the media. The confidential remarks of every military official in closed door forums will make daily headlines. The network and media photographers and correspondents will have weeks to report about the real or imagined agony of innocent Lebanese civilians. The enemy will be able to generate a great deal of Pallywood and Hoaxbulla - dead bodies taken from morgues, staged ambulance emergencies, the same person losing a different home on different days. The anti-Israel lobby will have a PR festival, and Israel will accomplish no strategic objective other than to strengthen its enemies.
Well-meaning polemics against the Goldstone report, as bad as the report is, miss the point. It is always valid to ask for an independent civilian investigation of criminal actions when there are reasonable suspicions. Justice must be seen as well as done. When the military and civilian decision process has produced two catastrophic failures in a brief period, it is also imperative to hold a serious and probing technical and policy review as well. It is not unpatriotic to mount these investigations. It is common sense, good government and good Zionism.
Last update - 06:09 31/01/2010
Dutch pro-Palestinian socialite: Jewish lobby plays on Holocaust guilt
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
"Holland's powerful Jewish lobby is playing on the country's sense of guilt over the Holocaust," a prominent Dutch activist said last week, triggering angry reactions and accusation of anti-Semitism from pro-Israel Dutch Jews.
Gretta Duisenberg, the widow of the first president of the European Central Bank and a friend of the Queen of the Netherlands, said in an interview for Islam Online that "the Jewish lobby in Holland, like in the United States, is very strong and powerful, and it is still playing on our guilt feelings although it is 63 years since the Holocaust."
Duisenberg, a leading pro-Palestinian activist and well-known member of Holland's high society, added that "whenever you have something against the Jewish people in Holland, they call you an anti-Semite."
"These are anti-Semitic remarks, based on the libel of the Protocols of Zion, that the Jews dominate the world," said Ronny Naftaniel, head of Holland's largest pro-Israel group and watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI.)
Duisenberg's spokesperson, Paul Lamp, rejected this, telling Haaretz that in the interview Duisenberg also referred to "Zionist Jews and orthodox Christians who dominate our government and the government of the United States."
While this quote does not appear in the piece, the interview does contain a quote by Duisenberg saying that "Holland's right-wing government is Christian radical, and the radical people within the Jewish people have very strong feelings toward Israel, and they dominate our government."
Duisenberg once said she wants to collect six million signatures for a pro-Palestinian petition. In a 2005 television discussion, she said: "I hope the Jews realize they can't take over the south of Amsterdam the same way they took over the West Bank."
"She doesn't realize it, but with this kind of statements she doesn't only insult Jews, but is also severely damaging the Palestinian position in the Netherlands," Naftaniel said. "People will believe that to support the Palestinians you have to be anti-Semitic, which of course is not true."
This month Naftaniel's organization released data showing that in 2009, the number of anti-Semite incidents in Amsterdam doubled compared to 2008, when 14 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the Dutch capital. Jews in Amsterdam feel increasingly "besieged" as they are exposed to a growing barrage of name-calling, hate mail, firecrackers in their mailboxes, graffiti and - occasionally - physical abuse, CIDI said.
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