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, 2009Even 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.
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights, IDF, International law, United Nations, US Policy
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This is one way to look at the swap. The other way of looking at it, is that the deterrent value of arrests deteriorates with each swap, since every prisoner can assume he or she is going to be traded for the next kidnap victim.
By Herb Brandon
Israel News Agency
Jerusalem ---- December 1, 2009 ..... The Israel State Prosecutor's office confirmed today that Israel will free up to 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Though the news was excellent for the Shalit family, it did very little for the pride of the Islamic terror group Hamas and those seeking to live in a state called Palestine.
"Sadly, we must beg of those in Israel for over 1,000 of our brave brothers to return to Gaza," a Palestinian journalist told the Israel News Agency.
"It is humiliating to each and every Palestinian to see that one Jewish soldier from Israel is equivalent to 1,000 Islamic soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank. It is even more humiliating for us that the IDF and those of the government in Israel show the Palestinian people more care and compassion than our Arab brothers."
The Palestinian journalist was referring directly to Egypt which shares a border with Gaza.
"We receive tons of food, medicine and fuel daily from Israel while nothing comes from Egypt. The Egyptians allow us to dig a few tunnels to smuggle in cheap cigarettes, drugs, perfume and sex magazines, but nothing else."
As there is no democracy or freedom of speech in Gaza, many international newspapers, women's fashion and men's adult magazines are banned. Many of the tunnels are used to smuggle in weapons, heroin and hashish.
Over 450 Palestinian prisoners will be released before Gilad Shalit is allowed to come home. Another 530 Islamic terrorists will be freed following his release as a "gesture to the Palestinians," the Israel State Prosecutor's office announced today.
The Israel Supreme Court says it needs to censor the details of the prisoner swap in order to effectively carry out the negotiations with Hamas through a German mediator.
Shalit was captured on June 25, 2006 after Palestinian terrorists created a tunnel and attacked an IDF post in a cross border raid. He was abducted through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel and has been held as a prisoner by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit, a soldier of the IDF's Armor Corps, held the rank of corporal at the time of the kidnapping but has since been promoted to staff sergeant.
During the morning attack, two Palestinian terrorists and two IDF soldiers were killed and three others wounded. Shalit suffered a broken left hand and a light shoulder wound after his tank was hit with a Rocket propelled grenade.
Shalit was part of an Israel defensive force implemented to reduce terror attacks from Gaza.
Although Israel left Gaza in a unilateral peace move 4 years ago, Hamas has continued to attack Israel towns and cities with over 12,000 terror rockets. Iran backed Hamas has stated that it was not interested in land, but rather the killing of Jews and Christians in their Islamic Jihad or Holy War against democracy and the West. Hamas leaders have repeated what Iran has been saying for many years, that their mission was to "wipe Israel off the map."
Iran, which has now spit into the face of US President Barack Obama policy of "reaching out and not jumping to conclusions about Iran or Islamic terrorism", declared this week that it will ignore the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it censured Iran for secretly building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.
Iran said on Sunday it would build 10 more nuclear uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for the vote by the 35-nation board of the UN nuclear organization, which had rare support by Russia and China.
"If the enemy (Western democracies) should want to test its bad luck in Iran, ballistic missiles would land in the heart of Tel Aviv," said Iran cleric Mojtaba Zolnour.
Hamas has refused requests from the Red Cross (ICRC) to allow visits by the ICRC. Several human rights organizations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's detention are illegal and contrary to international humanitarian law.
Shalit became the first Israel soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Shalit holds French citizenship, a fact that encouraged both France and the European Union to be involved in efforts to gain his release.
The information of the prisoner exchange was released in response to a law suit filed in Israel's Supreme Court by the Almagor Terror Victims Association and three bereaved parents of IDF soldiers.
"It should be stressed that contrary to the release of prisoners as part of a gesture or diplomatic agreement, this is an incident of bargaining, which can be seen as an ongoing terror attack," said the Israel State Prosecutor's office.
Shalit's parents met Sunday with Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for an update on the negotiations.
"We are neither encouraged nor the opposite. We're still waiting," the soldier's father, Noam, said following the meeting. "We have nothing new."
The Voice of Palestine radio station said Saturday that Shalit would be transferred soon to Egypt in preparation for his release. Egypt and Germany have been mediating the prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas.
"This has turned out to be a win-win situation for Israel," an Israel security analyst commented.
"These 1,000 Islamic terrorists have been living in Israel like parasites. It has been a heavy financial cost to feed, cloth and house them in Israel. As we release them back to Hamas, many, if not all, will be working for our security forces, gathering essential information while others act as sleeper agents. Hamas will not know who to trust. For if these new agents do not follow their directives from the ISS, they will be eliminated. These terrorists were on a paid holiday while being kept prisoner in Israel under the strict and humane terms of the Geneva Convention. That will not be the case once they are back in Gaza."
Labels: Hamas, Israel-2, Palestinians
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If Israel gets the body of Gilad Shalit, are we obligated to end the blockade of Gaza and release prisoners?
Sources: Announcement on Prisoner Exchange Deal Close12/09/2009
By Abdul Sattar Hatita and Ihab HusseinIn this regard, the sources also referred to important meetings between Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Israeli negotiator Haggai Hadas and head of the Hamas politburo Khaled Meshaal on the "prisoner exchange deal." They added that the fact that the Israeli Interior Minister will be accompanying Netanyahu on his visit to Cairo is a good indication, from the practical side, that a prisoner exchange deal will be reached soon.
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat - Egyptian and Israeli sources stated Friday that Cairo and Tel Aviv are close to reaching agreements on developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at the heart of which is the prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. The sources also stated that these agreements would be made public following a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hadas' visit to Cairo lasted many hours and he met Omar Suleiman and a number of his senior aides in order to discuss the details of the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The sources said "the Egyptian President will meet Netanyahu and his delegation over Iftar [the breaking of the fast in Ramadan] in Heliopolis, Cairo, in order to discuss developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the prisoner exchange and bilateral ties between Tel Aviv and Cairo."
On his part, North Sinai Governor Major General Mohammed Abdul Fadil Shousha said that Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing to Palestinian pilgrims trying to make their way to Saudi Arabia. An official at the Rafah border crossing said that Egyptian authorities will open the crossing again next Tuesday for three days so that hundreds of stranded Palestinians on both sides could cross and spend Eid al Fitr with their relatives in the Gaza Strip.
Labels: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas
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Of particular relevance is this order issued by the Hamas during operation Cast Lead:
"" In accordance with the policy of the factions of the jihad resistance in Gaza …we inform you that it is completely forbidden to issue information about the numbers, names or pictures or any [other] detail about the shaheeds and wounded of the resistance . The order is in force until the end of the Zionist aggression which is clear to us and our nation, with the consent of Allah, may he be exalted. Any [report] which violates these rules will be deleted and a warning will be sent to whoever is responsible for the posting. Let us all be soldiers of the resistance, and if we cannot assist it, at least let us not assist the enemy [fighting] against it." "
A facsimile of the original Arabic is here.
The following is the published response of the IDF Spokesperson to B'telem allegations:
Approximately six months ago the IDF publicized official statistics, gathered and confirmed by the Research Division of the IDF Defense Intelligence, citing the number of casualties during Operation Cast Lead. According to these statistics, there were 1,166 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip, the majority of which (709) were terror operatives affiliated with the Hamas terror organization, some of whom belonged to other terror groups.
The "B'Tselem" report is not based on facts or on accurate statistics. Furthermore, among its sources, B'Tselem officially states that it based its findings, on cross referencing statistics from investigations of Palestinian human rights groups and various websites and blogs, including those of the militant wings of terror organizations and that of the Palestinian Police.
The discrepancy in the numbers is based on the fact that B'Tselem's sources are organizations with a vested interest, and it does not have the tools, nor the intelligence capabilities with which it can within a necessary degree of confidence know the causes of death or the affiliations of these casualties.
The Hamas terror organization is hiding these statistics so that it can play on international public opinion so as to increase support in its violent acts of terror. For example, the way in which Hamas "police officers" are categorized in the report, where Hamas is presenting operatives in its military wing as police officers whose job is to enforce law and order. This is done in order to minimize the number of casualties amongst its forces, while inflating the number of civilian casualties.
By shifting public attention to the number of casualties, Hamas is diverting attention from the real issue, in which this terror organization specifically and deliberately endangered the lives of the residents in the Gaza Strip, where on the other hand, as much as was possible, the IDF sought to prevent the harm of uninvolved noncombatant civilians. It should be remembered, that the IDF engaged in Operation Cast Lead after a prolonged period of continuous rocket and mortar fire on hundreds of thousands of Israeli residents. The firing of these rockets was done from within population centers in the Gaza Strip, while using the local residents as a human shield from behind which it would launch its terror attacks.
- With regards to the categorization of the "police officers," information can be found that proves their terrorist activities on the website of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: www.terrorism-info.org.il.
- An example of the double use of Hamas "police officers" in reports can be openly seen in a statements made on June 28, in which the Hamas Minister of the Interior, Hamad Fatahi, and also Haled Mashal himself, admitted that on the first day alone, 400 or 500 "Hamas warriors" had died. Furthermore, as Hamas has a policy of withholding information regarding sustained casualties during the operation, it is possible that the number of terror operatives who were killed is higher than the IDF's calculations.
- It should also be stated the Manager of Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health and Emergency Services Ministry stated that there were approximately 1400 casualties during Operation Cast Lead. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that a number alone was given unsupported by identifying names, as well as the addition of natural death cases, which stands at approximately 400 per month in the Gaza Strip, possibly caused by the confusion at Gaza Strip hospitals during the operation.
- As was explained to the organization, the IDF is unable to disclose the methods in which it gathers such information, as it is classified.
Labels: Betselem, Hamas, Human Rights, Israel-2
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What is important is not so much the common sense message, but the source of the message.
English:A word of truth: http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2009/07/kuwati-newspaper-runs-op-ed-supporting.htmlAl-Watan, Kuwait
19 July 2009
"Allah testifies that they are lying"
A non-governmental Israeli organization claims that the IDF that attacked Gaza and the ostracized Hamas used local civilians as human shields and opened fire indiscriminately. The report by "Breaking the Silence" says the IDF destroyed buildings, mosques and private homes, and includes testimonies by 30 soldiers who participated in the attack on Gaza (2008/12/27–18/1/2009), but without revealing their names or unit affiliation.
However these allegations are to be rejected because the IDF has proved that its troops follow international law and obey orders despite the stress of battle. These testimonies lack sourcing or corroboration, thus preventing any conclusions from being drawn... Furthermore, it was the ostracized Hamas that caused much grief when it fired dozens of Qassam missiles at innocent civilians in the southern towns and villages of Israel. The IDF had no choice but to fight back causing the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, half of them civilians used as human shields by Hamas, in addition to the 5,000 wounded. Israel lost just 10 soldiers and 3 civilians.
The IDF defended innocent Israeli civilians against Hamas attacks and did all it could to prevent harming any civilians, targeting just the Hamas men, to disarm them by aerial bombing, shelling, and the use of heavy tractors, while maintaining the humane principles of the IDF that seeks to win with minimal human cost to either side.
The report by "Breaking the Silence" was unfair, unbalanced, and lacking in proof, so one wonders where it was when Hamas used schools and homes for weapons storage or for missile launchers. Israeli pilots reported many secondary explosions after they hit Hamas targets. Where was that organization when Hamas smuggled tons of illicit weapons through a network of tunnels from Egypt?
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights
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It is only a matter of time, before an attack succeeds...
Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested three Palestinian women who were allegedly planning a suicide attack targeting
their own policemen in the West Bank.
Palestinian official Jamal Muheisen said Tuesday the women are members of Hamas, the Islamic group that has a long-running feud with the Western-backed Fatah government in the West Bank.
Muheisen said the women were arrested Sunday on their way to the town of Qalqiliya, where four police officers and four Hamas militants were been killed in recent clashes.
He added that one woman was carrying an explosive belt and confessed she intended to blow herself up in a police compound.
Labels: Hamas, Palestinians
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While Barack Obama talks about a two state solution, meanwhile, back in reality, things look different. Perhaps there will be three states between the river and the sea.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction accused Hamas Islamists on Saturday of arresting some 150 of its activists in Gaza, in apparent retaliation for raids that killed four Hamas men in the West Bank this week.
Fahmi al-Zarir, a spokesman for Fatah in the West Bank, said Hamas had made the arrests since Friday. He said some men were being held in schools and hotels in the Gaza Strip, territory the Islamists seized in a bloody 2007 coup from Fatah.
Hamas officials declined any comment, but a statement posted on Hamas's Interior Ministry website said "some" Palestinians loyal to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a Fatah-backed leader, were arrested as suspected informers for Israel.
The arrests came days after four Hamas men and a civilian died in deadly raids by Abbas' Western-backed security forces against Hamas Islamists in the West Bank town of Qalqilya.
These raids highlighted the tensions within Palestinian society over Abbas's efforts to fulfill commitments to rein in militants as part of a long-stalled, U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.
Underlining the growing tension, Hamas had published a "hit list" for security leaders accused of cracking down on its members, and one of the group's preachers in Gaza called for an intifada, or uprising, in the West Bank against Abbas' men.
Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Abbas to press on with his security campaign, which he credited with making "great progress" in the West Bank.
In an address in Cairo on Thursday, Obama urged Hamas to heal the Palestinian rift by putting "an end to violence" and recognizing Israel's right to exist. Hamas calls for Israel's destruction.
Prominent Palestinians have issued a joint plea to "end the bloodletting" and engage in reconciliation talks which were expected to resume in Cairo next month
Labels: Hamas, Palestinians
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The full text of US President Obama's speech in Cairo is here among other places. Below are the highlights. This is the first time that a U.S. President has used the word "legitimacy" about Israeli settlements, but regarding both the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as with the Iranian and other problems, Obama offered no plan - just finely balanced rhetoric that will either please everyone or make them angry. Each media outlet will choose to highlight whatever seems important to them: Here is the Israeli-Palestinian nugget:
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights... That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true
What does "continued Israeli settlements" mean? Is it a deliberate imprecision? Does he mean continued settlement, or the continued existence of settlements? Is Jerusalem a "settlement?" If he is referring to existing settlements, then Obama's speech directly contradicts the letter of Predident Bush given in 2004. It did take some courage to say, in Cairo, addressing the Arab world, that the bond between israel and the United States will never be broken. This was not a AIPAC meeting after all.
Obama: I'll personally pursue two-state solution
By Haaretz Service
In his long-anticipated Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong backing for a Palestinian state, highlighting his administration's commitment to follow through on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While reaffirming Washington's "unbreakable bond" with Israel, Obama said that there can be no denying of the right of Palestine to exist, and that he would "personally pursue" the realization of a Palestinian state "with all the patience that the task requires."
"Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's," Obama said.
The president also issued a blunt repudiation of Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, an issue that has strained Washington's ties with Jerusalem.
"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama said. "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."
"The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear," Obama said, referring to the multi-stage peace plan agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush presidency. "For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities."
"If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth," Obama said. "The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."
"That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest," the president said.
In addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Obama acknowledged longstanding Muslim accusations of Washington's double standard in objecting to Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons while tolerating Israel's alleged possession of atomic bombs.
The president reiterated his desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons.
"I understand those who protest that some countries have [nuclear] weapons that others do not," Obama said. "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."
Obama conceded that Iran has rights to nuclear energy "if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Obama said his government will close the gap between public pronouncements and difficult truths that are often acknowledged behind closed doors in the halls of power throughout the Middle East.
"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," Obama said.
Obama urged Muslims around the world to acknowledge Jewish suffering and to repudiate Holocaust denial. The Arab and Muslim world ought to reconcile with the existence of Israel, the president said.
"Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve," Obama said.
The president also noted the plight of the Palestinians, who "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland" and who "endure daily humiliations ... that come with occupation."
"Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
The president urged the Palestinians to draw upon the example of African slaves in the United States, arguing that a "peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding" had led to their gaining civil rights.
"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," Obama said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights."
Obama said the Palestinians "must focus on what they can build." He urged Hamas to accept the Quartet's preconditions for international recognition - recognition of past signed agreements with Israel, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and a renunciation of violence.
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said.
Obama offered the Arabic greeting of assalaamu alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech. He also quoted a passage from the Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West.
"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."
"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars," Obama said. "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."
"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President," Obama said. "But my personal story is not so unique."
Obama is delivering his long-anticipated speech seeking to turn a new page in Washington's relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
Obama arrived in Egypt hours before giving long-promised speech in Cairo, the ancient seat of Islamic learning and culture.
The U.S. president is hoping to usher in a new era in the United States'
relationship with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Aides say Obama will blend hopeful words about mutual understanding with blunt talk about the need for Muslims to embrace democracy, women's rights and economic opportunity.
Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key American ally, at his palace in the capital.
"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.
"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.
The mosque is a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study called the Sultan Hassan mosque. Obama will then tour the Great Pyramids of Giza on the capital's outskirts.
Obama arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he stayed overnight at King Abdullah's horse farm in the desert outside Riyadh.
In his Cairo address Thursday, Obama called on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process.
Labels: Hamas, Israel-2, Obama, Peace, Settlements, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
This afternoon I attended the "Free Gaza" presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, the presentation that I wrote about last week ("Pro-Hamas activists to speak in Fresno"). About 50 people, mostly church members, attended.
I stood at the door before the event and handed out flyers, which read in part:
The speakers today will tell you that they are fighting for the Palestinian people. But their actual goal is to assist the genocidal Hamas organization.
The Gaza Strip is currently ruled by Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement) which took control of the area from the Palestinian Authority in a violent coup in 2007.
Hamas' reason for being is to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic state. Its methods are the most violent possible. Since 2000, Hamas has murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians by bombings, shootings and rocket and mortar attacks.
The 'occupation' they talk about is the 'occupation' that began with Israel's creation in 1948, not the 1967 war.
The so-called Free Gaza Movement is part of a propaganda apparatus which tries to portray the Iranian-financed proxy war being fought against Israel by Hamas and other extremist groups as a human rights issue. It is not – it is an asymmetric war in which the concept of human rights is cynically used by some of the world's most intolerant, hateful extremists to try to prevent Israel from defending herself.
What you will hear and see today will be a combination of exaggerations, lies, and – most importantly – partial facts presented without context.
I followed this with some excerpts from the Hamas Covenant, so everyone would know who Hamas is.
The presentation was strange, sort of a throwback to a 1950s anti-communist B-movie. The room was festooned with Palestinian flags, the lectern draped with a keffiya. Donna and Darlene were, if anything, more robotic and humorless than their picture suggests.
It began with two music videos, one sort of lyrical, praising the courage of the Palestinian people and predicting their ultimate triumph (in nonspecific terms), the other a hip-hop rant:
Israel is a terrorist state!
More: "Israel is an abomination", say 'activists'
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Grass Roots, Hamas, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
The Israeli ethos of "not leaving anyone" behind is embedded in our national psyche. In his 1956 Diary of the Sinai Campaign, Moshe Dayan expressed his admiration for troops who risked their lives to bring back wounded and dead comrades, and opined that this sometimes irrational devotion was nonetheless necessary to maintain the espirit de corps of the IDF. But after the Suez Campaign, Israeli POWs had to suffer patiently until honorable prisoner exchanges were arranged. And most regrettably, the prisoners of the Lavon affair were not released.
Continued - When Shalit comes marching home again
Labels: Hamas, Israel-2, Stupidity
Continued (Permanent Link)
Mr. Ethan Bronner
c/o N.Y. Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10018
In re: "The Bullets in My Box," January 25, 2009
Dear Mr. Bronner,
Forgive me if this letter is not quite coherent. I'm still weeping over your sad plight. You want to be a good journalist by reporting "in a way both sides can accept as fair" and everyone is picking on you. No one's happy. What's a reporter to do? To paraphrase Herr Eichman, you are just doing your job, following your conscience. We all know (we all should know) that there is no such thing as absolute truth. There are only different perspectives, competing narratives. Had you been working for the Times during World War II, you would surely have been the one courageous enough to show the Nazi side (After all, there's always another side to the story): how traitorous Jews betrayed Germany's war effort causing it to lose World War I; how plutocratic Jews undermined the German economy; how Communist Jews were trying to take away the profits of hard-working German citizens; how degenerate Jews were leading to the general decline of culture and morality; how even American auto magnate, Henry Ford, and the inspirational Catholic priest, Father Coughlin, subscribed to Nazi views on the Jewish menace. And, as the advertisers say, there's much, much more. Indeed, a very good case could be made for Hitler's cause. Morality is in the eye of the beholder. If you put a pound of gold on one side of the scales and a pound of baloney on the other, the scales will balance. A pound is a pound no matter what it's made of. If it balances, it's fair. No? A good journalist understands that everyone has his own truth. His job is to keep things even.
That is why you can write that "Among Israel's Jews . . . Zionism . . . is bathed in a celestial glow," even though you know that there is an active peace movement in Israel for whom the word "Zionism" has become radically tainted. Israel's insular arrogance must be emphasized in order to balance your statement that "Zionism stands for theft, oppression, [and] racist exclusionism" throughout the Middle East. Jews may be well-meaning, but they're blind. Arabs may be overly hostile, but they have good reason to be. Each side overstates his case. What's not a good idea is to mention that while there are over a million Arab Muslims living as citizens in Israel, no Jew is allowed to live in Jordan or Saudi Arabia (although Jews once had a flourishing population in the Arabian Peninsula). Forget also that close to a million Jews were unceremoniously kicked out of practically every other Muslim state. And that even though the Arab world is, for all intents and purposes, Judenrein, somehow, it's Israel that's apartheid. But there are no villains, just a "cycle of violence" that goes on and on.
Because everyone's at fault in the "Greek Tragedy" that is the Middle East "crisis," it is important to blame both sides for the failure to bring about peace. Thus you write that "an understanding crystallized over a decade ago over the outline of an eventual solution," but you do not mention that the PLO never changed the clause in its charter that refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state, although acceptance was a core requirement of that understanding. Better to write that "the two sides' narratives have actually hardened." For it would certainly be hitting below the belt to call attention to the ways in which Arafat's P.A. broke all of its agreements within a day of the arrangement with vicious attacks and educational propaganda essentially erasing Israel from the map. And it would be snide for someone to point out that Israel "actually" softened her stance by choosing to ignore Palestinian violations. Even more troubling would be to mention that in 2000 and in 2001 Israel offered deals that "actually" sweetened the Oslo accords and that Arafat turned them down unequivocally (never pondered them, argued them, or came back with an alternative). Instead his response was the second Intifada--suicide bombings--the murder of school children in pizza parlors and buses, the murder of celebrants during a Passover Seder. So, the P.A. has a terrorist wing. So, Israel has settlers. The Arabs make terror! The Jews make concessions! If you want to do business you have to have bargaining chips. Only the Mafia would recognize this deal as a form of extortion called "the protection racket." Besides, both sides accepted the agreement--didn't they? Both are responsible for its failure--aren't they? If Arafat was a bad guy, so was Ariel Sharon.
And if the "bad guys" are on both sides of the fence, there can be no aggressor, no defender. There can be no deterrence, only retaliation (a dirty word). Thus you can write that "opponents of Israel" believe her to be "a kind of Sparta that dehumanizes the Palestinians" as an excuse for her use of "overwhelming force," but it would be tacky to even hint that overwhelming force (a dirty phrase) is the only way Israel has of stopping Hamas rockets. Because that would suggest that Israel's "excuse" for using overwhelming force might not be an excuse. And it would be just as tacky to suggest that Israel could, with minimal risk to her army, have carpet bombed Gaza and Hamas (as well as most Palestinians) would have been obliterated. But that would suggest that Israel's restraint showed she was interested in deterrence not retaliation (You know, that Jewish thing, an eye for an eye?). Nor is it in the best of taste to remind folks how Israel tolerated eight years of weapon smuggling and rocket attacks of an ever-increasing range on her innocent civilians--nursery schools and kindergartens; or that her civilian losses have been low because she has gone to the trouble and expense (cheated?) of building bomb shelters and early warning systems; or that the trauma for Israeli children undergoing years of close calls is comparable to the P.T.D.S of adult war veterans. True! True! But, if a reporter has any decency at all, as you so obviously do, he must consider that the casualty count for operation Cast Lead was so lopsided, it would hardly be cricket to say anything that allows Israel to claim existential necessity. And, as an unfortunate corollary, gives the Palestinians the burden of responsibility.
In the same way (For obvious reasons Palestinians always seem to be getting the worst of things) it's perfectly legitimate to quote those who say that Israelis put "racist graffiti" on walls (I'd be curious to know how prevalent such graffiti are, or if the statement is even true). But it would be racist to bring out the fact that there has never been a national celebration of Palestinian deaths in Israel, whereas thousands turned out on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank to cheer and pass out candy whenever Jews were murdered in horrific explosions by devices filled with nails and poisons or, more recently, when eight Yeshiva students were shot in cold blood as they were studying torah. And it would certainly smack of bigotry to condemn the feisty Gazans who poured into the streets to mock in effigy a captured Israeli soldier who is being kept, against all international standards, incognito with never a single visit by the Red Cross. The barbaric pleasure Palestinians get from reveling in Jewish misery and Jewish blood must be downplayed, rationalized and justified lest charges of Islamophobia be brought to bear. That is why news of the omnipresence of anti-Semitic graffiti on Palestinian walls must be suppressed along with the broadcasts of anti-Semitic libels on Palestinian TV where even kiddie shows watched by three year olds feature a rabbit named Assud who kills and eats Jews. The scales must not tip. Palestinians must look at least as good as Jews. Better! Because to look at Palestinian blood lust squarely would be too appalling. True, anti-Semitism is a kind of entitlement for the poor, down-trodden Arabs, but it's wiser not to hit people over the head with it.
In this eternal war without cause, no reporter worth his salt would charge either side with evil intent. Palestinians may seem a little over-ardent in their struggle against "occupation," but then Israel is only too ready to demonize them in order to justify her "assault" (as one news report put it) on women and children. And you can write about "those who saw in this war an affirmation of their [Israeli's] beliefs--that Hamas . . . hides its fighters behind women and children," even though you know that this charge is not merely a belief but a fact corroborated by eye-witnesses and video tape; even though, in fact, Palestinians speaking among themselves on their own TV stations brag about their citizens' willing martyrdom and the delight it gives them; even though it is a well-known fact that Palestinians have, for years, been putting their families, their children, in harm's way as a PR gambit. But it is standard media fare that when Palestinians kill they are Hamas and when they get killed they are "innocent civilians." We mustn't blame the victim. Yes, Israel has every right to defend herself, but not to violate the rules of war. How an army can defend itself without returning enemy fire is not a question reporters need answer. Point-of-view determines fact.
That is why you can write that "one side says . . . the Jewish nation has returned to its rightful home" and the other side says "there is no Jewish nation," as if every argument were a simple matter of narrative disjunction. Although you know (you must know) that, despite Palestinian efforts to "prove" that there was never a Jewish nation in the Middle East, every archeological study, every legitimate history (including Muslim ones) documents the opposite. And you also know (you must know) that there is not and has never been a Palestinian state because the people who call themselves Palestinians have said to Israel "No negotiations. No recognition. No Peace." And you know (you must know) that before 1948 Palestine was a geo-political territory designated as such since 135 C.E., and that Palestinians were considered Jews (even by most Arabs) until the creation of the state of Israel; and that a unit called The Palestinian Brigade, comprised entirely of Jews, fought along side the British in World War I. And you know (you must know) that those who now call themselves Palestinians have never worked to build a state in the territories they lay claim to by creating viable institutions through government, commerce, and the arts or even by setting forth reasonable boundaries. Instead they turned the lushly developed area where Israel gave them total autonomy into a vast warren of weapons caches, a launching pad for deadlier and deadlier aerial attacks. Why? Because they've based their nationhood on one overarching principle: the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. No Jew may have a sovereign state in Arab/Muslim territory. No Jew may triumph over a Muslim. It says so in the Koran: "He made you masters of their [the Jewish tribe of Khayber] lands, their houses, and their goods," Sura 33:23. Jews cannot be winners. (It would be too humiliating.) As one who's written about the Middle East for years, you have to know this because it's plainly stated in the charters of both Hamas and the PLO.
But admitting that "occupation" in the Palestinian lexicon means that Israel and the Jews must be wiped off the face of the earth would be to stack the deck against a proud and ancient people whose language, culture, and religion just happen to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula. You might have to acknowledge that the real Palestinians (Philistines) were a sea people from the European continent, invaders who disappeared some 2500 years ago, absorbed into the dominant population who happened to be (Hmm!) Jewish. Well, if there's no Palestine, only disputed territory; no Palestinian ethnicity, only one sample of Arab particularity, of what does the vaunted Palestinian identity consist? Is it a hoax? Could it be that it is made entirely of lies, hatred, bigotry and self-pity? Is this the glue that holds Palestinians together? Dear me, no. Such an ugly characterization must not be promulgated. That would be--mean-spirited
The Palestinians are too abject. The Israelis too successful. "Envy," "intolerance," they're only a "story line," a construct of the pro-Jewish lobby that has nothing to do with reality. Thus it is imperative that you write that "the other side tells a different story . . .;" that you repeat the canard that the Israeli Jews are colonialists who "stole and pillaged, throwing hundreds of thousands off their lands," that Israel was "born in sin" (an Israeli formulation, by the way); even though you know that Jews bought every inch of land they had, land which Arabs were happy to sell at exorbitant prices, until five Arab nations declared war on them.. You also know, I'm sure you do, that if any ethnic cleansing went on, it was done by Arabs whose pogroms pushed the Jews completely out of areas like Hebron where Jews had resided since biblical times. And this was before there was ever a Jewish State. You must also know, I'm sure, that since the middle of the 19th century, Jerusalem was a predominately Jewish city until Jordan purged East Jerusalem of its Jews after the '48 war. Are you lying? Heaven forbid. Unless there's such a thing as the lie of omission. You're just telling what you've heard. What you choose to hear.
As you say, everything depends on who is telling the story. What does it matter if one side strains toward peace and the other is full of murderous violence? If the Israelis are always apologizing, they must be guilty of something. If the Palestinians are always defiant, they are obviously being oppressed. The Israelis have their tanks. The Palestinians their suffering. No back story is necessary. As long as balance is maintained, the reporter has fulfilled his obligations. A reporter cannot lie if he is quoting each side accurately. He is being objective. He is performing a great public service. No one's self-perception should be denied or discounted, even if it is false or falsely acquired. If one side looks bad (or good), the true reporter must make the other side look the same. No favoritism--for heaven's sake. Taking sides is for the Op-Ed pages. Everyone sees himself as victim anyways.
Truth, as you so diligently have reminded us, depends upon the light in which it's shown. Of course, it is the reporter's task to shed that light. Ultimately (the media's dirty little secret), it is the reporter who tells the story. That is why certain uncomfortable glitches must be smoothed out, covered over, or ignored like the emperor's new clothes. And that is why certain uncomfortable stories like the Mohammad Al-Dura hoax gets not one word of press from the New York Times. Again, I'm sure that you must have some knowledge of this affair which is prominent on the internet. It concerns a cynical fraud perpetrated by Palestinians that was instrumental in the death of thousands of people, including that of reporter Daniel Pearl and, if given appropriate attention by the mainstream media, might inspire more than a few pundits to call into question every explanation, every justification, every claim Palestinians make for themselves.
But righteousness (self-righteousness) must never give way to moral fatigue. Fair play demands that other side be given its due, especially when the "other" comes from an exotic culture that the reporter can never really comprehend. He must struggle against his "natural" biases in order to equalize the scales. He must neutralize (neuter?) the issues so that no one side can stake a claim to the moral high ground. He must make blanket pronouncements and all-purpose generalizations so that only noble ends are weighed, never despicable means, especially if those means belong to the underdog. Above all, justice, as well as his journalistic honor, demands that he work the text and shape the context, so that his piece will conform to some abstract model of public virtue. Thus the underdog (as he is perceived) must be raised up and the lucky dog (as he is perceived) must be put down. Deficiencies on one side need to be made up by subtractions on the other (besides, the pornography of violence sells). And, since the Palestinians are the needier, they are the ones who merit the handicap. If they come out slightly ahead, it's only because the Jews tend to win the battles (if not the war). And when Jews are winners the reporter, especially if he himself is Jewish, must, often as not, look the other way. But then again, just as an Ahmedinejad can make homosexuals disappear by saying "There are no homosexuals in Iran," a reporter, particularly one working for as prestigious a vehicle as the New York Times, can always say, "If we don't print it, it doesn't exist."
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Media
Continued (Permanent Link)
Who is depriving Gaza Palestinians of aid?
East Jerusalem 04 Feb 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNRWA CONDEMNS CONFISCATION OF GAZA AID AND DEMANDS ITS IMMEDIATE RETURN
At 1430 on 3 February over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel. This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force. The aid was due to be distributed to five hundred families in the area.
UNRWA condemns in the strongest terms the confiscation of its aid supplies and has demanded that it is returned immediately. UNRWA has a strict system of monitoring aid delivery and ensuring that its assistance reaches only the intended beneficiaries. Our officials were on the ground overseeing the delivery of our aid and taking all possible steps to avoid its diversion.
For more information please contact:
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, United Nations
Continued (Permanent Link)
Too much talk and not enough action?
Last update - 00:36 01/01/2009
By Barak Ravid and Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Israel will not agree to return to the old rules of engagement in Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.
"We will act according to new rules that ensure we will not be dragged into an unceasing shootout that prevents us from living life as normal in the south," Olmert said.
Olmert warned that there would be a "fierce and disproportionate" Israeli response in the event that rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel or directed Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The prime minister said that the rocket fire has intensified in the last few days that leaves Israel with no choice but to react in a manner that makes its stance on the rocket fire clear.
"I asked the Defense Minister to instruct the IDF to prepare for the Israeli response that is required under these circumstances. The response will be given at the time, place and avenue that we choose."
Palestinian militants fired at least four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev on Sunday, with one landing in between two kindergartens.
Three rockets struck the Eshkol region, two of them landing in open fields and the third close to the kindergartens. A fourth rocket struck an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area. No casualties or damage were reported in any of the strikes.
Later on Sunday morning, Israel Defense Forces soldiers exchanged fire with militants near the Kissufim crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in the incident.
On Saturday morning one Grad rocket struck south of Ashkelon after a Color Red alert sounded in the city.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said there is no need to wait for a response.
"The reaction must be strong and immediate as that is the only way that Hamas will understand the equation has changed," she said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the security establishment had been instructed to formulate a response.
"Hamas received a heavy blow and if needed will receive another one," he said.
The rockets have demonstrated the fragility of a cease-fire that ended Israel's devastating Gaza offensive on January 18.
Israel halted the operation after saying its goals had been achieved. But Hamas declared victory and militants have kept up sporadic attacks.
Since the cease-fire, militants have fired rockets into Israel and killed one soldier in a border attack. Israel has conducted retaliatory strikes and pounded tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons from Egypt. Israeli forces have also killed three men Palestinians identified as farmers in violence along the Gaza-Israel border.
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
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