Amending and Correcting Assumptions About Israel

Here’s a note to a blog that I found. I understand this conviction and see it as animating Jewish love for the land. When Israel picks up and leaves occupied territories it will be done because the Israelis love peace more than territory. Few will credit that, I fear.
Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.
His response was “It’s our land”. The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned – read below “It’s our land…” It’s important information since we don’t get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in the jumble of daily events.
“Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict.”
Here are overlooked facts in the current &n bsp; Middle East situation.
These were compiled by a Christian university professor:

1. Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.
5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.
9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israe l by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10 The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab la nds to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey .
13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians20enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
These are incredible times. We have to ask what our role should be. What will we tell our grandchildren about we did when there was a turning point in Jewish destiny, an opportunity to make a difference?

Great Article to Study

Nearly two years after Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament, and in return started a new round of terror that triggered an IDF military operation in Gaza, a fragile cease-fire has set the last word of another chapter in this tragic conflict. The airwaves are still filled with footage of war and carnage, with crying women and children and with debates about body counts. Yes, there is a tragic story to be told. War, even when justified, brings much injustice with it. But there is also an important lesson to be learned, and a hope that this time it will not be completely missed by the rioting Arab street.

Gaza terrorists prepare to...

Gaza terrorists prepare to fire Kassam rockets [file].
Photo: AP

Two years ago, the then Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei, one of the old guard Fatah leaders, acknowledged in submitting his resignation that Hamas had earned the right to form the next cabinet. “This is the choice of the people,” Qurei told reporters. “It should be respected.” Qurei was correct. Choices should be respected – but not without acceptance of their consequences.

Democracy, of course, is more than just accepting the choice of a given majority on a single occasion. It has to be ongoing. One test of democracy lies in the freedom for a minority view to become that of the majority and the tolerance of the elected party toward democratic attempts to replace it. Otherwise the most brutal regimes can claim that it was “the will of the people” that gave them the unlimited right to power. Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, the Khmer Rouge and Khomeini, to name a few, did just that.

HAMAS TOO was voted into office by the majority of Palestinians who were frustrated and tired of corruption and old-guard Fatah leaders. In that sense, Hamas’s legitimacy should be respected.

Tariq Ali, a frequent writer for the Guardian of London, argued recently and went as far as demanding, that this legitimacy should be accorded to Hamas and produce solidarity with it. He criticized “the moth-eaten Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and NATO’s favorite Islamists in Ankara” who “failed to register even a symbolic protest by recalling their ambassadors from Israel,” and he complained against “China and Russia” for their failure to “convene a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the crisis.” “Western enthusiasm for democracy,” he bitterly stated, “stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office.”

Ali has the right to demand solidarity, but his stand for democratic principles should be further refined. The recent rounds of escalation started following the withdrawal from Gaza that left the Palestinian government with unprecedented autonomy. That opportunity was used for the hostile takeover of Gaza in June of 2007 which took the authority of another elected leader – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas, which killed hundreds of Fatah supporters and innocent bystanders on its way to power, refused to recognize the previously signed agreements by the elected PA government that addresses, among other issues, the right of Israel to exist. It also chose to intensify the missile campaign aimed at civilians, a campaign that eventually brought the IDF back to Gaza following a count of more than 9,000 rockets.

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TOWARD THE end of World War II it was mostly women and children that became the primary victims of the allied bombings of Berlin and other German cities. In the aftermath of the war, nearly a million German civilians died of famine alone.

In 1999, during NATO operations in the Balkans, civilian casualties were at least three times the number of Serbian forces’ casualties (500 to 170). Interestingly, NATO forces suffered no combat casualties due to the fact that NATO decided to conduct high-altitude aerial attacks and not risk ground troops.

Yet most reasonable people around the world, Germans and Serbs included, realized that what they went through was the natural consequence of their support for such leaders as Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic.

Unfortunately, such responsibility is tragically lacking when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian discourse often fails to address the question of responsibility and accountability for Palestinian choices, decisions and leadership. Israel, although not free from mistakes and wrongdoing, is always there as the sole accused.

Josiah Charles Stamp once said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” For too long, the Palestinians have been dodging their responsibilities, while blaming others for the consequences of their own leadership’s actions.

For the sake of the Palestinians and the future of peace and stability in the region, let us hope that after the latest round of death and destruction this lesson won’t be lost. Choices need to be respected, and so do their consequences. But to create a different future, let us hope that the Palestinians will take at least some responsibility for their past. A different choice may yield a different future.

Nir Boms is vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East. Shayan Arya is an Iranian activist, member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran and associate researcher at the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.

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An Analysis of “Proportionality”

There is more to the question of proportionality than ratios of the fallen.  Reading the western press and media, one comes across no depth of understanding of this issue.  (I must admit  that  I don’t  watch tv often, however.)  I see this analysis as helpful, as well as those I’ve read by Alan Dershowitz, a much maligned but brilliant writer and legal mind.

Is Israel Using ‘Disproportionate Force’

By Dore Gold


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Just the cold, hard facts.

Forward to those who want them — and need them
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001. Rocket attacks increased by 500 percent after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. During an informal six-month lull, some 215 rockets were launched at Israel.

The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetrate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel’s current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it.

Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were “security forces,” and Palestinian officials said “at least 15 civilians were among the dead.” The numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties. What is critical from the standpoint of international law is that if the attempt has been made “to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage – but is directed at a target with very large military value – would be lawful.”

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.” The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does).

After 9/11, when the Western alliance united to collectively topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, no one compared Afghan casualties in 2001 to the actual numbers that died from al-Qaeda’s attack. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis. To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

Israel is currently benefiting from a limited degree of understanding in international diplomatic and media circles for launching a major military operation against Hamas on December 27. Yet there are significant international voices that are prepared to argue that Israel is using disproportionate force in its struggle against Hamas.

Israeli Population Centers Under Rocket Attack

There are good reasons why initial criticism of Israel has been muted. After all, Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001.1 The majority of those attacks were launched after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Indeed, rocket attacks increased by 500 percent (from 179 to 946) from 2005 to 2006.

Moreover, lately Hamas has been extending the range of its striking capability even further with new rockets supplied by Iran. Hamas used a 20.4-kilometer-range Grad/Katyusha for the first time on March 28, 2006, bringing the Israeli city of Ashkelon into range of its rockets for the first time. That change increased the number of Israelis under threat from 200,000 to half a million.2 Moreover, on December 21, 2008, Yuval Diskin, Head of the Israel Security Agency, informed the Israeli government that Hamas had acquired rockets that could reach Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and even the outskirts of Beersheba.3 The first Grad/Katyusha strike on Ashdod, in fact, took place on December 28. There had been no formal cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but only an informal six-month tahadiya (lull), during which 215 rockets were launched at Israel.4 On December 21, Hamas unilaterally announced that the tahadiya had ended.

Critical Voices

On December 27, 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesmen issued a statement saying that while the Secretary-General recognized “Israel’s security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza,” he reiterated “Israel’s obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law.” The statement specifically noted that he “condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians [emphasis added].”5

A day later, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “strongly condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, also condemned Israel’s “disproportionate use of force,” while demanding an end to rocket attacks on Israel.6 Brazil also joined this chorus, criticizing Israel’s “disproportionate response.”7 Undoubtedly, a powerful impression has been created by large Western newspaper headlines that describe massive Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, without any up-front explanation for their cause.

Proportionality and International Law: The Protection of Innocent Civilians

The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetrate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel’s current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza).

When international legal experts use the term “disproportionate use of force,” they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Rosalyn Higgins, has noted, proportionality “cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury – it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression.”8 In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses whether force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians. The pivotal factor determining whether force is excessive is the intent of the military commander. In particular, one has to assess what was the commander’s intent regarding collateral civilian damage.9

What about reports concerning civilian casualties? Some international news agencies have stressed that the vast majority of those killed in the first phase of the current Gaza operation were Hamas operatives. Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were “security forces,” and Palestinian officials said “at least 15 civilians were among the dead.”10 It is far too early to definitely assess Palestinian casualties, but even if they increase, the numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties.

During the Second Lebanon War, Professor Michael Newton of Vanderbilt University was in email communication with William Safire of the New York Times about the issue of proportionality and international law. Newton had been quoted by the Council on Foreign Relations as explaining proportionality by proposing a test: “If someone punches you in the nose, you don’t burn down their house.” He was serving as an international criminal law expert in Baghdad and sought to correct the impression given by his quote. According to Newton, no responsible military commander intentionally targets civilians, and he accepted that this was Israeli practice.

What was critical from the standpoint of international law was that if the attempt had been made “to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage – but is directed at a target with very large military value – would be lawful.”11 Numbers matter less than the purpose of the use of force. Israel has argued that it is specifically targeting facilities serving the Hamas regime and its determined effort to continue its rocket assault on Israel: headquarters, training bases, weapons depots, command and control networks, and weapons-smuggling tunnels. This way Israel is respecting the international legal concept of proportionality.

Alternatively, disproportionality would occur if the military sought to attack even if the value of a target selected was minimal in comparison with the enormous risk of civilian collateral damage. This point was made by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on February 9, 2006, in analyzing the Iraq War. He explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks [emphasis added] against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.” The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does) or when “the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.”12 In fact, Israeli legal experts right up the chain of command within the IDF make this calculation before all military operations of this sort.

Proportionality as a Strategic Issue

Moving beyond the question of international law, the charge that Israel is using a disproportionate amount of force in the Gaza Strip because of reports of Palestinian casualties has to be looked at critically. Israelis have often said among themselves over the last seven years that when a Hamas rocket makes a direct strike on a crowded school, killing many children, then Israel will finally act.

This scenario raises the question of whether the doctrine of proportionality requires that Israel wait for this horror to occur, or whether Israel could act on the basis of the destructive capability of the arsenal Hamas already possesses, the hostile declarations of intent of its leaders, and its readiness to use its rocket forces already. Alan Dershowitz noted two years ago: “Proportion must be defined by reference to the threat proposed by an enemy and not by the harm it has produced.” Waiting for a Hamas rocket to fall on an Israeli school, he rightly notes, would put Israel in the position of allowing “its enemies to play Russian Roulette with its children.”13

The fundamental fact is that in fighting terrorism, no state is willing to play Russian Roulette. After the U.S. was attacked on 9/11, the Western alliance united to collectively topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan; no one compared Afghan casualties in 2001 to the actual numbers that died from al-Qaeda’s attack. Given that al-Qaeda was seeking non-conventional capabilities, it was essential to wage a campaign to deny it the sanctuary it had enjoyed in Afghanistan, even though that struggle continues right up to the present.

Is There Proportionality Against Military Forces?

And in fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops. There are NATO members who have been critical of “Israel’s disproportionate use of force,” while NATO armies take pride in their “kill ratios” against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence.14 To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties. But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel’s responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: “When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible – and no one else is – for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire.”15

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict – Hamas – and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression – Israel.



Notes

1. For numbers of rockets, see Dore Gold, “Israel’s War to Halt Palestinian Rocket Attacks,” JerusalemIssue Brief, Vol. 7, No. 34, March 3, 2008, Institute of Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. See also December 2008 publications on http://www.intelligence.org.il.

2. Robert Berger, “Israeli Official Warns of Growing Hamas Military Threat,” Voice of America News, voa.com, May 17, 2008.

3. “News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC), December 16-23, 2008, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e006.pdf.

4. “Intensive Rocket Fire Attacks Again Western Negev Population Center and the Ashqelon Region after Hamas Announces the End of the Lull Agreement,” IICC, December 21, 2008, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e018.pdf,

5. “Secretary-General Urges Immediate Halt to Renewed Israeli-Palestinian Violence,” UN News Service, December 27, 2008, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=2425&Cr=Palestin&Cr1=.

6. “World Reacts to Israel Strikes in Gaza,” Deutsche Welle, dw-world.de, December 28, 2008, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3905288,00.html.

7. Brazil Criticizes Israeli Attack on Gaza: Special Report: Palestine-Israel Relations,” China View, http://www.chinaview.cn/, December 28, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/28/content_10570016.htm.

8. R. Higgins, cited in “Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza – Issues of Proportionality Background Paper,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 2008.

9. Abraham Bell, “International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel’s Right to Self-Defense,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 7, No. 29, January 28, 2008, Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

10. Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel, “Israeli Assault on Hamas Kills More than 200,” Associated Press, December 28, 2008, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081227/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians/print.

11. William Safire, “Proportionality,” New York Times, August 13, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/magazine/13wwln_safire.html.

12. Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, The Hague, February 9, 2008, http://www.icc-cpi.int/library/organs/otp/OTP_letter_to_senders_re_Iraq_9_February_2006.pdf.

13. Alan Dershowitz, “The Hamas Government Has Declared War Against Israel: How Should Israel Respond?” Huffington Post, March 14, 2008, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/the-hamas-government-has-_b_91630.html.

14. Richard Cohen, “…No, It’s Survival,” Washington Post, July 25, 2006

15. Michael Walzer, “How Aggressive Should Israel Be? War Fair,” The New Republic Online, July 31, 2006.

Hamas Beggars the Imagination

I read Caroline Glick’s article several days ago, and I just couldn’t take it in. This wonderful writer and thinker, who was personally involved in negotiations with Arafat’s team on behalf of the Netanyahu government in Israel, seemed to have lapsed into propaganda here. Surely this was just a vilification of the “other guy” and not worthy of mention, I thought.

Tonight, though, I thought it would be interesting to investigate this, and so I googled it, and was able to find the quote from the Islamic holy book that condones crucifixion, as well as some other draconian punishments. Here, first, is the article and then the quote.

Column One: The ‘realist’ fantasy

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Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seems to have noticed.

On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari’a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion.

Hamas’s endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn’t feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas.

While Hamas joyously renewed its jihad against Jews and Christians, its overlords in Iran also basked in jihadist triumphalism. The source of Teheran’s sense of ascendancy this week was Britain’s Channel 4 network’s decision to request that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give a special Christmas Day address to the British people. Ahmadinejad’s speech was supposed to be a response to Queen Elizabeth II’s traditional Christmas Day address to her subjects. That is, Channel 4 presented his message as a reasonable counterpoint to the Christmas greetings of the head of the Church of England.

Channel 4 justified its move by proclaiming that it was providing a public service. As a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post, “We’re offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don’t often get the chance to see.”

While that sounds reasonable, the fact is that Westerners see Ahmadinejad speaking for himself all the time. They saw him at the UN two years in a row as he called for the countries of the world to submit to Islam; claimed that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is divinely inspired; and castigated Jews as subhuman menaces to humanity.

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They saw him gather leading anti-Semites from all over the world at his Holocaust denial conference.

They heard him speak in his own words when he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

And of course, over the years Ahmadinejad has often communicated directly to the British people. For instance, in 2007 he received unlimited airtime on UK television as he paraded kidnapped British sailors and marines in front of television cameras; forced them to make videotaped “confessions” of their “crime” of entering Iranian territorial waters; and compelled them to grovel at his knee and thank him for “forgiving” them.

The British people listened to Ahmadinejad as he condemned Britain as a warmongering nation after its leaders had surrendered Basra to Iranian proxies. They heard him – speaking in his own voice – when he announced that in a gesture of Islamic mercy, he was freeing their humiliated sailors and marines in honor of Muhammad’s birthday and Easter, and then called on all Britons to convert to Islam.

Yet as far as Channel 4 is concerned, Ahmadinejad is still an unknown quantity for most Britons. So they asked him to address the nation on Christmas. And not surprisingly, in his address, he attacked their way of life and co-opted their Jewish savior, Jesus, saying, “If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.”

He then reiterated his call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam saying, “The solution to today’s problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets.”

THE FACT of the matter is that Channel 4 is right. There is a great deal of ignorance in the West about what the likes of Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas stand for. But this isn’t their fault. They tell us every day that they seek the destruction of the Jews and the domination of the West in the name of Islam. And every day they take actions that they believe advance their goals.

The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions.

Surah 5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)
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Hamas’ “Victim Narrative” in Action

The Double Disgrace of Hamas: Victimizing their own People

I have written repeatedly here about demopaths, people who invoke human rights and other civic values in order to protect themselves, even as they aim at destroying the human rights of others. “Using democracy to destroy democracy.” Among the many practitioners of demopathy — a thriving industry in the early 21st century — are the Palestinians, who have made an identity out of being the “human rights” victims, even as they try and destroy the human rights of Jews. Indeed, their commitment to accusing Israelis of violating their human rights has driven them to victimize themselves in order to attack Israel for their suffering. Indeed, as the black humor goes, for Palestinians, when an Israeli civilian is hit, it’s a cause for celebration; when a Palestinian civilian is hit, it’s even better. Nothing drives the mill of Palestinian grievance more than dead Palestinians, as long as Israel can be blamed.

The latest, and most horrific example comes from the current conflict.

For a good example of current righteous indignation of Palestinian “Human Rights” Advocates, see the article by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunima, who complains bitterly about an Israeli who celebrates the actions of the IAF. Indeed, the pages of Electronic Intifada are filled with the cry of human rights (of Palestinians) violated, by Israel. When it’s violations by Palestinians, including Hamas, they fall silent.

In reading the following article, note that Gazan medical authorities complain repeatedly to the Western media of having too many wounded and not enough medical supplies. Apparently the complaint is more valuable than the relief, which awaits at the Egyptian border.

Egypt says Hamas not allowing wounded to leave Gaza
by Samer al-Atrush – Sun Dec 28, 5:15 am ET
afp photo of injurd pn
AFP – An injured Palestinian man lies on the ground outside the Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City following …

RAFAH, Egypt (AFP) – Egypt on Sunday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.

More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began hammering the Gaza Strip with air strikes on Saturday, but no wounded have yet left via Rafah, the Hamas-ruled territory’s only Arab border crossing.

“No one has come in, we don’t know why they’re closed on the other side,” a senior border security official told AFP. Several plane- and truck-loads of aid are also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.

“The wounded are barred from crossing” into Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Cairo, blaming “those who control Gaza. We are waiting for the wounded to cross.”

In the divided town of Rafah, the road leading to the border crossing was lined with 20 riot police vehicles, an AFP correspondent reported, with 40 ambulances and several pick-ups full of medicine waiting to cross into Gaza.

“We are preparing a list of casualties. There are just so many dead and injured,” Dr Mouneer al-Borsh from the Hamas-run health ministry told AFP at the border.

He had arrived at the border with a ministry truck and was waiting to take medical supplies into Gaza.
Asked when the wounded would arrive at the border, Borsh said: “I don’t know when. I can’t say.”

An Egyptian medic said that “sometimes they (Hamas) say they’re going to bring people, sometimes they say they’re not going to bring people. Now they say they want medical supplies for the wounded.”

Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli blockade of all but the most essential supplies, with even basic medicines lacking in the impoverished territory. But no emergency medical aid entered on Sunday.

A security official said that an Egyptian plane with 50 doctors on board as well as medical supplies had arrived in nearby El-Arish. Two Qatari aircraft carrying 50 tonnes of medical supplies were waiting at the same airport.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has also ordered three planeloads of medical aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt, MENA said, and offered to airlift the wounded.

“The Rafah border crossing was opened by the Egyptians yesterday, but no Hamas people showed up” on the other side, an Israeli military spokesman said.

Too proud to accept help from despised neighbors? Too attached to victim status to get relief? Too incompetent to take care of their own wounded? Too obsessed with revenge? What can explain such behavior?

<!– –>« Astonishing Statistic: How does this operation rank

Another Grievous War

This is likely to be a sad war, garnering Israel too little world-wide support due to withering media distortion and imbalance. Here’s a fair summary, I would claim, of  many (not all—other issues certainly could be addressed) of the salient strategy approaches undertaken by Hamas.

The Region: Hamas’s strategy: The rockets or the media

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Nothing is clearer than Hamas’s strategy. It gives Israel the choice between rockets and media, and Hamas thinks it is a situation of “we win or you lose.”

The cease-fire

Hamas ends a cease-fire giving it the peace and quiet it needs to build up its army and consolidate its rule over the Gaza Strip. Israel would deliver supplies as long as there weren’t attacks. From a Western-style pragmatic standpoint, this is a great situation.

But Hamas isn’t a Western-style pragmatic organization. Peace and quiet is its enemy not only because of its ideology – the deity commands it to destroy Israel – or its self-image as heroic martyrs, but also because battle is needed to recruit the masses for permanent war and unite the population around it.

Hamas has no program of improving the well-being of the people or educating children to be doctors, teachers and engineers. Its platform has but one plank: war, war, endless war, sacrifice, heroism and martyrdom until total victory is achieved.

Thus, it ends the cease-fire.

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The rockets

And so Hamas ends the cease-fire and rains rockets down on Israel, accompanied by mortars and the occasional attempt at a cross-border ground attack. Israel does nothing.

Hamas crows: You are weak, you are confused, you are helpless. Come, people, arise and destroy the paper tiger! And so more people are recruited, West Bank Palestinians look on with admiration at those fighting the enemy, and the Arabic-speaking world is impressed.

Remember 2006, they say. It is just like Hizbullah.

Israel is helpless against the rockets. Why don’t our governments fight Israel? Let’s overthrow them and bring brave, fighting Islamist governments to power.

The media

But then Israel does fight back. Its planes bomb military targets which have been deliberately put amid civilians. If there is a high danger of hitting civilians, Israel doesn’t attack. But there is a line below which risk that will be taken, and rightly so.

The smug smiles are wiped off the faces of Hamas leaders. Yet they have one more weapon, their reserves. They call up the media.

Those arrogant, heroic, macho victors of yesterday – literally yesterday as the process takes only a few hours – are transformed into pitiful victims. Casualty figures are announced by Hamas, and accepted by reporters who are not on the spot. Everyone hit is, of course, a civilian. No soldiers here.

And the casualties are disproportionate: Hamas has arranged it that way. If necessary, sympathetic photographers take pictures of children who pretend to be injured, and once they are published in Western newspapers these claims become fact.

YET THERE is a problem here. Rockets and mortars may win wars; newspaper articles really don’t. Of course, too, material damage is inflicted that sets back Gaza’s material development.

Hamas doesn’t care about that, but by acting in a way to ensure the destruction of its material base, Hamas does weaken itself. Precisely because Israeli attacks are focussed on military targets, Hamas is weakened.

Conclusion: The problem with no solution.

OF COURSE, Israel does not win a complete victory. Hamas does not fall. The problem is not gone. For Hamas will define survival as victory. Hamas, like the PLO before it, wins one “victory” after another and always ends up worse off.

The conflict will be back, however it ends this round, on whatever day it ends. Quiet will return, the supplies will flow back into Gaza. And so many months in the future the process will be repeated.

There is, however, an important difference. Israel uses its time not only for military preparations but to educate its children, build its infrastructure, raise its living standards. Hamas doesn’t.

“We believe in death,” Hamas says, “You believe in life.” Sometimes you get what you wish for.

The writer is director of Global Research in International Affairs. http://www.gloriacenter.org

P.A. Tortures Journalists—Heads Up

December 28, 2008

A Sober Reminder: PA Tortures and Intimidates Palestinian Journalists

It is an understandable if foolish penchant of Western “observers” to view Fatah on the West Bank as “moderate,” certainly in contrast with the wild men of Gaza. More moderate, perhaps. But that hardly makes them anything remotely resembling what we, in civic polities, would consider moderate. As a reminder, I post here, with a few comments interspersed, the comments made to the Hudson Institute by Israeli Arab journalist Khaled abu Toameh about the situation of the news media under Mahmoud Abbas, the kindly, grandfatherly figure who replaced Arafat, and upon whom Dennis Ross lavishes the same hopes that he had, during Oslo, on his predecessor.

PA Tortures Journalists
December 17, 2008 | Khaled Abu Toameh

“This is not Israel, where you are allowed to see a lawyer.”

Over the past two years Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been subjected to a systematic campaign of intimidation that has resulted in the death of some and the detention of others.

The campaign, which is being waged by both Hamas and Fatah, has received almost no attention from human rights groups and advocates of the freedom of expression throughout the world.

By contrast, when a Palestinian journalist is accidentally wounded by Israeli gunfire during clashes with Palestinians, the incident makes headlines in major media outlets in the US and EU.

The prevailing pattern across the board in this conflict, the necessary condition for sustaining our cognitive egocentrism about the Palestinians, despite how violently they violate every one of our expectations about rational, positive-sum actors.

What is most disturbing about the campaign of intimidation is the fact that it’s being spearheaded by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. This is the same authority that is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from American and European taxpayers’ money every month to build a proper judicial system and promote democracy and transparency among the Palestinians.

One should not be surprised when Hamas targets journalists. The Islamist movement has long been known for its tough measures against “unfriendly” reporters.

At least 13 Palestinian journalists have been arrested and tortured by Hamas’s militias in since the movement took full control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Hamas also raided the offices of most of these journalists and confiscated computers and other equipment.

In the most recent case, Ala Salameh, a reporter for a radio station in the Gaza Strip, complained that Hamas militiamen detained him for several hours and forced him to eat contaminated food.

In the West Bank, Abbas’s security forces have also focused their efforts on fighting against any journalist who don’t toe the line.

More than 10 Palestinian journalists have been targeted by Abbas’s security forces over the past few months. Most of them were held in detention without trial and denied the right to see a lawyer of family members.

Some of the reporters said they had been interrogated about “negative” stories that they had published in various newspapers and magazines. The stories were often related to financial corruption among the top brass of the Palestinian leadership or to human rights violations in Abbas’s West Bank detention centers.

According to testimonies provided by the journalists and local human rights activists, most of the detainees were subjected to physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the Palestinian security forces.

When one of the detained journalists complained about the harsh conditions he was being held in, his interrogator reportedly responded: “This is not Israel here where you are allowed to see a lawyer and petition the High Court.”

Abbas’s anti-media campaign has also taken other forms. For example, when Al-Jazeera recently failed to carry a live broadcast of a speech he gave in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority president issued an order banning the station’s representatives from entering his compound or covering news related to the activities of senior Palestinian officials.

In other words, like any other “leader” in an honor-shame culture, Abbas is vain. Arafat used to fly into rages when Palestinian newspapers did not put his picture on the front page. Note that the method used to punish Al Jazeera (which has done more for the Palestinian cause than any news outlet in the world), is the same used to intimidate the Western media on a regular basis: deny access.

In another recent incident, the largest Palestinian news agency, Ramattan, was forced to suspend its work in the West Bank after coming under pressure from Abbas and his top aides. The managers of Ramattan complained that Abbas’s office was trying to turn the independent agency into a “mouthpiece” for the Palestinian Authority.

Like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas has also banned opposition newspapers in the West Bank. Palestinian journalists who dare to report anything that reflects negatively on Abbas or any of his senior aides are often receive threatening phone calls from his office of members of the Palestinian security forces.

One of the first things that Arafat did after he entered the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1994 was to order a massive crackdown on the Palestinian media to make sure that all those working there were 100% loyal to him. The result of the clampdown was that the majority of Palestinian reporters were too scared to report or talk about financial corruption and human rights violations under Arafat.

What is particularly disturbing is the fact that the Western journalists based in Israel tend to turn a blind eye to the assaults against their Palestinian colleagues. Some of these foreigners say they are afraid of the repercussions if they dare to anger Abbas or Hamas. Others claim that their editors are interested in such stories only if the perpetrators are Israeli soldiers.

As one foreign correspondent recently remarked, “The more anti-Israeli stories I send to my editor, the more popular I become and my chances of winning an award are much higher.”

This is a widespread complaint. (To those who find NPR reporter Linda Gradstein anti-Israel, she responds that NPR shows no interest in the “other” kind of story.) It may well be true across the boards. But it should not distract from a more fundamental source of reporters’ lack of interest in the plight of Palestinian reporters — they’re subject to the same intimidation, perhaps at one remove.

But what the Western journalists need to understand is that the campaign against the Palestinian journalists is also affecting their work. Foreign journalists rely heavily on Palestinian journalists when it comes to covering Palestinian affairs. So when a Palestinian journalist is afraid and under threat, he or she will think twice before they tell the Western correspondent what they know.

Of course, in order to carry any weight, this warning necessitates journalists’ caring about what they report from the Palestinian Territories about life in Palestine. As long as they report about how Israel makes life miserable for the Palestinians, they’re doing their job; as soon as they start to deal with how Palestinian leadership makes life miserable for their own people, they’re traitors to their people and their cause. Nothing better illustrates the difference between civil polities and prime-divider societies run by concerns about honor and shame. And nothing better illustrates the folly of the West than the behavior of its reporters when confronted with so stark a contrast.