Saturday, March 08, 2008

Moral blindness

David Horovitz

Late last Sunday night, at the height of Israel's military effort to prevent the rocketing of its civilians within Kassam and Grad range of Gaza, I watched a journalist by the name of Al Scardino review the early editions of the next day's British newspapers live in the studio at Sky News, a 24-hour, Rupert Murdoch-owned news network that is widely viewed across Europe, in Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Two of the heavyweight British dailies had made the conflict their dominant front-page stories: "Israel defiant as Gaza toll rises," blared the Guardian; "Day of grief and defiance," announced the Independent. Scardino, a regular press reviewer for Sky, was elaborating for this worldwide audience on the stories they told.

I know nothing to suggest that Al Scardino feels any particular personal malice for Israel. I know nothing to suggest that he would deliberately mangle the contours of the conflict to deny his vast audience the basic tools to comprehend it. But mangle he did.

Al Scardino firmly and confidently informed viewers that the Israeli targets coming under rocket attack were situated beyond Israel's sovereign borders. These were areas that the international community did not consider part of Israel, he said, but that Israel claimed nonetheless. In so staggeringly misdescribing the rocketed areas, he essentially denied Israel part of its legitimacy in hitting back against the attacks. For while he did not dispute that Israeli citizens were being targeted, he depicted them as being located in, at best, contested territory.

Al Scardino also confidently asserted that at least 100 Palestinians civilians had been killed in the Israeli fire, and did not give figures for how many, if any, Palestinian gunmen and rocket-firing crew members had been killed. In so doing, he denied Israel still more legitimacy for its response to the rocket attacks, since he created the misconception among his viewers that the primary victims of Israel's response, indeed quite possibly the only victims, were civilians.

Israeli or Arab, Jew or Muslim, leftist or rightist, whatever our positions on the central facts and the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its many guises, we've all watched television coverage, heard radio reports and read newspaper articles that we feel subtly misrepresent it or even blatantly skew it. But Al Scardino was not offering a debatable perspective. He was spouting basic factual untruth.

The territory being attacked by the Gaza rocket crews is not, of course, disputed by the international community. It is not beyond Israel's borders. Sderot, Ashkelon et al are, rather, sovereign Israeli territory - as you'd have thought even the most casually interested observer would be aware, and certainly a worldly journalistic commentator routinely invited into a TV studio to critique the coverage of his colleagues.

Furthermore, even a rudimentary familiarity with the developing story upon which Scardino was supposed to be commentating would have ensured that he knew that the overall death toll was about 100 in total. The Israeli army's official insistence was that the overwhelming majority of those 100 fatalities were Hamas and other gunmen. Palestinian and other sources disputed this, and claimed substantial numbers of civilian fatalities. But nobody credible was claiming that 100 Palestinian civilians had been killed. The very Guardian article Scardino had on the desk in front of him, anything but an Israel puff piece, gave the overall 100 figure in its first paragraph, but in its second already made plain that some of them were "Hamas militants." The Independent article, which used an overall figure of 101 in its lead paragraph, specified lower down that "49 of the dead" were Palestinian civilians according to a Palestinian account.

Concerned at the erroneous information being fed by their commentator to the watching world, I phoned Sky News in London, and spoke to people on both their foreign desk and their home desk. I suggested that they ought to correct the errors, perhaps in the second part of their nightly press review, again featuring Al Scardino, a little later on. This did not happen.

I'VE WATCHED Sky for years, and intermittently been interviewed on its programs. I don't think Sky does a generally bad job of communicating our reality. I think Al Scardino's performance was an aberration.

But it was an aberration that highlights how poorly our complex conflict is understood. And this grievous miscomprehension persists precisely when thorough understanding is so vital a precondition for grappling effectively with the bloody reality, distinguishing victimizers from victims, and enabling world opinion-leaders to formulate and support policies that thwart those victimizers and protect those victims.

Israel unilaterally left Gaza in the summer of 2005. It relinquished all claims to the Strip even as it continued to ensure that vital supplies reached the populace. Gaza was free of Jews. The Palestinians had an unprecedented opportunity to start building their nation there - to establish the necessary institutions of government, to rehouse the hundreds of thousands of people in its refugee camps, to attract international investment and start to thrive economically.

One happy consequence - for the Palestinians - would have been the bolstered Israeli confidence in their ability to foster a viable, peaceable state. Thus Israel would have been emboldened in considering drastic territorial compromise in Judea and Samaria, too, offsetting profound security concerns, and contemplating the sacrifice of a biblical and historical connection to land that forms the centerpiece of the Jewish narrative, in the cause of Palestinian independence and Israeli-Arab reconciliation.

Instead - precisely as the critics of disengagement had warned would happen, and even the advocates had feared - the Palestinians filled the post-Israeli vacuum with a terror state. They exploited Israel's departure to smuggle weaponry into the Strip, even as they wailed to the international community about the "prison" in which they said they still lived - a malevolent reference to Israel's failing efforts to prevent that weapons flow. They continually fired rockets across what should have been a tranquil border into sovereign Israel - yes, sovereign Israel, Mr. Scardino. They diverted some of Israel's continuing power supply to build more of those rockets. They fired their rockets from their own civilian areas - deliberately using their own civilians as human shields against an Israeli response.

They sought to legitimize these attacks by declaring that they were seeking the liberation of all their territory before the fighting would stop, when plainly the constructive path to "liberation" would have seen Gaza turned into a model nascent state and, plainly too, the liberation they have in mind is from any Israeli sovereign presence. They celebrated openly when their attacks drew Israeli civilian blood - a maimed child here, a dead father there. And they protested to the international community when Israel's despairing military responses caused the very Palestinian civilian fatalities they had so cynically orchestrated.

Two years ago, in parliamentary elections, the Palestinian public's disgust at Fatah corruption helped generate enough support for Hamas as to give the terror group, openly committed to Israel's destruction, a parliamentary majority. Relishing its rise, Hamas confirmed its hold over Gaza last June by militarily overthrowing Fatah there, ruthlessly killing many of its own Palestinian people in the process.

None of this happened in secret, far from the cameras, tape-recorders and notebooks of the international media. Yet little of it has been appreciated, and much has been ignored and misrepresented.

THE VERY nature of the asymmetrical warfare Israel has been made to fight against the Gaza terrorists - as against Hizbullah at the northern border less than two years ago - is that it requires informed and sophisticated reporting in order for the watching world to understand. It requires historical context. It requires knowledge of the processes that gradually unfolded to produce the rocket fire, the Israeli response, the bloodshed.

It is, indeed, terrible, that escalated Kassam and Grad rocket fire on Israel in the last few days has produced large numbers of Palestinian civilian fatalities. But that is the accurate equation: Cross-border Palestinian attacks launched from civilian areas, aimed at Israeli civilians living inside their own sovereign territory, produced an Israeli military effort to thwart those rockets in which Palestinian human shields were killed.

Last week was not a case of Israel mercilessly and deliberately killing large numbers of Palestinian civilians. Yet that is how it was widely depicted. That is how it has been widely perceived.

And as a direct consequence, more and more people in this region and around the world are more hostile to Israel today than they were a week ago, more disgusted by us, more convinced of our guilt and more, in some cases one fears, determined to act violently against us.

More and more people are urging Israel to negotiate with the extremists organizing the rocket-fire - to legitimize Hamas, and thus strengthen its hold on Gaza and embolden it in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the people of Sderot are sinking into hopelessness and Ashkelon has become the new front line.

What an extraordinary success for Hamas. What an extraordinary incentive to keep on firing.

IT IS not easy to effectively articulate the wider narrative over film and pictures of bloodied Palestinian children, wailing Palestinian parents, ground-churning Israeli tanks and ear-splitting Israeli firepower.

But Israel maintains its criminal strategic insistence on barely trying - refusing year after year to invest the necessary resources and effort in competent public diplomacy. There is, of course, no commercial Israeli satellite TV station, broadcasting in English and Arabic. The state's foreign language overseas radio broadcasts are dying for lack of funds. The prime minister sails blithely on with his single English spokesperson.

Some Israeli politicians who should know better - that is, speak English better - still insist on giving interviews in which they sound aggressive and incoherent, the more so when compared to their polished Palestinian counterparts. (Ehud Barak was a case in point this week.) Other politicians insist on operating their mouths before their brains have kicked in, their ill-considered utterances easing our delegitimization. (Stand up Matan Vilna'i, with his talk of the Palestinians bringing a "shoah" upon themselves.)

Meanwhile, too much of the international media insistently allows its footage to tell its story, rather than placing that footage in context. Too many correspondents employ reportage that amplifies but does not explain. Too little effort is dedicated to getting the pictures that would help tell the fuller story, the root story - the footage from the Hamas training camps where the rocket-crews are "inspired" to hatred, and from the schools where tomorrow's Kassam cells are indoctrinated with the perverse "imperative" for personal jihad, to kill and be killed in the name of God.

AND WHAT happens over time is that those fair-minded international policy-makers and opinion-shapers who do understand exactly who here is the victim and who here the victimizer get pummeled into submission by the sheer weight of awful, bloody, unexplained footage. And they become defensive and apologetic and ultimately fall silent.

And with time, the more moderate leaders in this region can no longer safely attempt to foster warm or even chilly relations with the Jewish state, because their hostility-filled populace won't allow them to, and they risk destabilizing their own rule. So they too fall silent, or worse.

It was dismal to hear Mahmoud Abbas this week accuse Israel of perpetrating "more than a holocaust" in Gaza. Dismal, but unsurprising. Israeli officials reduced their cooperation with Al-Jazeera's Arabic network, hugely watched in the territories, because they said it was failing to tell both sides of the story - failing, that is, to give its viewers any means to understand why Israel would be hitting Gaza at all. It would take a strong Palestinian leader indeed to stand up to all that gruesome one-side-of-the-story footage channeled to his people, to witness all that bloodshed, all those funerals, and speak with moral clarity.

What Abbas could have said to the people of Gaza was that "Hamas, which overthrew me in Gaza last summer, which killed some of you in the process, brought this upon you. Hamas deprived you of the opportunity to build a model state. It deprives you of the opportunity for freedom. It peddles intolerance. It peddles violence. It lusts for your death."

What Abbas could have said is "Don't be fooled by the Islamists and their distortion of divine will. Whatever the world-to-come may hold, this life, here on Earth, is a gift, a divine gift. No God would have created the wonder that is the human body and the human spirit in the service of murder and bloodshed."

But fear and weakness trumped moral clarity and true leadership. So Abbas, too, became complicit, alienated a few more Israelis, and became derided by a few more Palestinians who wonder why, if Israel is so evil, he would meet with its leaders and try to reach accommodations with them.

THE GAZA crisis is not over, just as the crisis with Hizbullah, Hamas's Iranian-backed, residential-based, rocket-firing counterpart to the North, now better equipped than ever, is not over. There will be more rounds of conflict, more lulls and cease-fires exploited to rearm, more rounds of asymmetrical warfare. These will feature more adept manipulation by the Islamists, more superficial reporting, more abiding Israeli failure to explain, more international disinclination to strive for moral clarity.

And with time, the Islamists will require less and less effort to win over new recruits, for theirs will gradually have become an unchallenged narrative.

Israel's No-Win Strategy

March 8, 2008


The massacre of rabbinical students Thursday at a Jerusalem seminary highlights the failure of the powerful Israeli military to stop the assaults of Palestinian terrorists. It also reveals serious deficiencies in Israel's strategy and tactics.

These have cost Israel dearly. They also harm the world-wide war on terror, of which Israel is on the forefront.You can't stop every suicide bomber of course. But for seven years now, Hamas terrorists have been rocketing southern Israeli towns from Gaza. Israeli governments headed by Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have all vowed to put an end to the attacks. Despite Israel's overwhelming military superiority, its governments have failed to do so.

Israel has scored some impressive victories in its fight against terrorism, especially from attacks originating in the West Bank. Numerous attempts by Fatah and Hamas to dispatch bombers into Israel were frustrated by a combination of excellent intelligence, daring special operations, and the ability of the army to enter Palestinian-ruled areas in hot pursuit or for preemptive strikes. Not so in Gaza.

There, a radicalized population has elected a Hamas government determined to eliminate Israel. After Israel unconditionally retreated from the northern Gaza strip -- hoping that the Palestinians would concentrate on state building -- the territory was immediately used for attacks on Israel. Why has Israel failed to stop them?

Governments here -- behemoths whose budgets consume about a half the nation's $160 billion GDP -- are generally dysfunctional. They are hamstrung by constant internal squabbles and Byzantine bureaucracies. As became evident as early as the 1973 Yom Kippur War, their dysfunction has infected the Israeli defense establishment. In that year, a totally surprised Israeli cabinet and military leadership reacted with confusion and ineptness that almost led to the country's ruin. The recent Winograd Commission of Inquiry report on the Second Lebanon War indicates that these faults are endemic to the over-centralized yet disorganized Israeli system of governance.

More than in most countries, Israeli politicians are preoccupied with political machinations designed to buy support from powerful interest groups by distributing government largesse. This causes not only the factionalization of politics and growing corruption, but consumes time and energy that leadership should use to address life and death issues. As the Winograd Commission attested, Mr. Olmert's government initiated the Second Lebanon War without proper discussion or preparation. During the relatively long war government and military leaders failed to define their objectives. They issued vague and contradictory directives, causing repeated failures and unnecessary loss of life. Only the exceptional bravery and tenacity of Israel's soldiers and field commanders and of the rocketed Israeli population saved the day.

Israeli governments have done little to stop the massive rearmament of Hamas in Gaza with Iranian weapons, bought with Saudi money and transported into Gaza with the connivance of Egypt. Israel did not even press its great ally, the U.S., to lean on Egypt and put an end to this flagrant violation of its peace agreement with Israel -- a peace agreement for which Egypt is rewarded by billions in U.S. aid.

But the worst failures stem from adoption of a no-win strategy. Many in Israel's top political and military echelons have convinced themselves that terrorism cannot be defeated by force, that to stop it one must compromise and accept some of its demands. But how do you "compromise" with a terrorist organization sworn to destroy you?

The Israeli leadership's lack of determination to win, and its chronic political weakness, have prevented it from resisting pressure from Europe and certain American circles (mostly the State Department and the CIA) to accommodate Hamas and strengthen the allegedly peace-loving Palestinian Authority. Amazingly, Israel keeps supplying Hamas, for "humanitarian reasons," with subsidized electricity and materiel including the steel and chemicals needed to produce the rockets that attack it. It keeps providing money and weapons to prop up the hopelessly corrupt Palestinian Authority.

So what is the one strategy that can win? History has shown time and again that military confrontation does work. Israel could achieve military victory by eliminating or incarcerating Hamas's leadership, not two or three a month (so that they are replaceable) but a few hundred at once. By breaking its command structure and its logistical apparatus, Hamas can be rendered inoperative.

But for this to happen, Israel and Western democracies must treat the terrorists' mortal challenge as a war for survival, not as a series of skirmishes. And in war, you must fight to win, by all traditional means.

Mr. Doron is president of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress (

Friday, March 07, 2008

Civil Fights: The canard of 'disproportionate force'

Evelyn Gordon

International denunciations of Israel came thick and fast this week. The EU's rotating president, Slovenia, condemned the "disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Palestinian population in Gaza." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon slammed Israel's "excessive and disproportionate" response to Palestinian rocket attacks. Even the US State Department urged Israel to "exercise caution to avoid the loss of innocent life," which is merely a milder version of the same premise: that Israel is to blame for all Palestinian civilian casualties, either because it uses "disproportionate force" or because it exercises insufficient "caution." Yet media reports on the fighting in Gaza reveal that in fact, the blame frequently lies with Palestinian behavior. Take, for example, an Israeli air strike that killed two Palestinian teenagers last Wednesday. According to The New York Times, "witnesses in Gaza told the Palestinian news media that the civilians were hit while standing at a launching site watching Hamas militants firing rockets." There can be no more justified military activity than targeting terrorists in the very act of firing rockets at civilians. If that is "disproportionate," all military activity is. Moreover, since Hamas eschews uniforms, the IDF has no way to distinguish rocket crews from civilians who are cheering them on. Thus any civilian who rubbernecks at a rocket launch is clearly and deliberately putting himself in danger - which in itself should absolve Israel of responsibility.

BUT MORE importantly, for that very reason, most armed forces do not allow civilians in firing zones. The IDF, for instance, generally declares active combat areas "closed military zones" from which Israeli civilians are legally barred, and it enforces such orders. Other Western armies do the same.

But Hamas needs civilian casualties to fuel Palestinian and international anger at Israel. So rather than barring civilians from its launch zones, it welcomes them. And if they do not volunteer for the victim's role, it co-opts them - as happened last weekend: "Palestinian gunmen took up positions in homes while the civilians were still inside," Haaretz reported.

Firing back at people who are shooting at you is also clearly legitimate military activity; no law of war obligates soldiers to let themselves be mown down without a fight just because there are civilians nearby. Moreover, soldiers have no way of knowing whether the civilians have fled or are still inside a house; all they can be certain of is the presence of gunmen.

Under such circumstances, civilian casualties are inevitable. But those casualties are not caused by "disproportionate force" or insufficient "caution"; they are the direct result of Hamas's decision to use civilian homes, with the people still inside, as bases for targeting Israeli soldiers.

Moreover, civilians are not always innocent. Those whose homes were invaded by Hamas were presumably unwilling hostages. But some Palestinians voluntarily serve as "human shields" for terrorists - and by actively aiding and abetting terror, they turn themselves into combatants.

In one widely publicized case in November 2006, for instance, the IDF, seeking to avoid civilian casualties, announced two planned air strikes 30 minutes in advance to enable civilians to leave. Instead, Hamas used the loudspeakers of local mosques to urge civilians to flood the area and serve as human shields. Hundreds did so, and the IDF - precisely because Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties - consequently aborted the strikes. Yet these civilians were hardly "innocent": They deliberately intervened in an armed conflict on the terrorists' behalf.

What is most noteworthy about such incidents, however, is what they say about the Palestinian claim - mindlessly parroted by the international community - that the IDF fires indiscriminately, without regard for civilians. In fact, Hamas summoned civilian reinforcements precisely because it knew a civilian presence would prevent the air strikes. And the civilians came for the same reason - not because they sought death, but because they knew the IDF would not shoot them.

IN ANOTHER incident that same month, hundreds of Palestinian women purposely entered a combat zone to shield gunmen besieged by IDF soldiers. Again, they were deliberately abetting combatants. And again, they knew they could do so safely, because the IDF would not shoot them. And indeed, the soldiers held their fire as the wanted men escaped by mingling with the crowd.

In July 2006, The New York Times described another Gaza battle as follows: "[Israeli] soldiers fired at groups of armed Palestinians who fought in the streets, sometimes surrounded by curious and excited children." Why any parent would let his children outside during a gunfight is a mystery. But unless these parents were deliberately sacrificing their children for propaganda purposes, such behavior demonstrates a truly extraordinary faith in the IDF's efforts to avoid harming civilians.

Contrast this with Palestinians' behavior when the combatants are not Israelis. During last May's Hamas-Fatah infighting, for instance, the Times reported: "The streets of Gaza City were empty except for the gunmen, with shops shuttered and residents remaining indoors, usually in interior rooms farthest from the windows." No "curious and excited" children surrounding the gunmen in these battles: Gazan parents who trusted the IDF with their children's lives evidently placed no similar reliance on Palestinian forces.

THE MEDIA reports above, and numerous others like them, make three things clear: (1) Palestinians know full well that Israel strives to avoid civilian casualties; indeed, as their behavior demonstrates, they count on this. (2) Palestinian civilians frequently deliberately put themselves in the line of fire - either to help the combatants, or, like those "excited children," merely to cheer them on. (3) Palestinian terror groups deliberately foster casualties among their own civilians: Not only do they not discourage civilians from entering combat zones; they force them to do so - for instance, by invading civilian homes - when there are no volunteers.

In short, Palestinian civilian casualties usually result not from "disproportionate force" or "insufficient caution" by the IDF, but from Palestinian behavior, on the part of both civilians and terrorists.

But of course, realizing this would require actually reading reports of the fighting. It is much easier just to skim the headlines and issue stock condemnations of Israel.

From Israel:Tonight's Tragedy

In August of 2005 Israel expelled 10,000 Jews from 23 beautiful peaceful communities in Gush Katif - Gaza- and 4 northern Samarian communities. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is now sitting on the latter hilltops as they are strategically so important. An enemy on those sites with chemically treated warheads could destroy many cities from those heights from which one can see the Mediterranean. So why were people forced to leave their homes there? For nothing. The communities of Gush Katif were built with love and dedication. Its residents were forced out - using the police and army - and most are still not settled. Their homes were turned into rubble and they are still being forced to pay their mortgages on them!! But that exercise was done 'in the interest of peace'. Families were traumatized and are still suffering. The greenhouses that had been erected and provided lucrative business were trashed, burned, looted -gleefully- by those to whom they had been left. Terrorists moved up to have easier access to Jewish cities. Why were Israeli citizens forced to leave their homes there? Where is the peace?

Our 'friends' insist that we yield even more territory. They think that all the Arabs need is more land for their own state ...... and it must be contiguous . Too bad if it means that Israel will be cut in two and weakened.
Abbas is 'moderate' and must also be given money and weapons in order to strengthen him; too bad that Hamas inherited the weapons that the fleeing Fatah left behind as they played 'follow the leader, Abbas'.
Now those arms are being used against Israel ; imagine if they have their own terrorist apartheid state where they can hide the weapons that may even be provided by Iran.

Sderot, now even more accessible to barbaric Hamas, has received Kassams daily - sometimes as many as 50 in one day! Her citizens are traumatized. There have been dead, injuries, and homes destroyed.
Ashkelon - providing 35% of Israel's electricity is targeted, too, by Grad missiles. Of course, when Israel talks of shutting off the utilities of terrorists she is castigated for meting out 'collective punishment' on innocent terrorists .....whoops! I should have said 'poor victims' .

The enemy has now set its weapons on Ashdod. 'Pick your target' is the name of the game. Not to be ignored is the world view - condemning Israel for trying to protect her citizens. We are told that it's ok for Israel to do this BUT one must keep in mind the vision of peace and not use excessive force. Tch,tch, tch!
Even Ban Ki Moon of the UN has echoed this view. Absurd!!

Israel's peripatetic prime minister returned from Japan and said something to the effect that 'this is terrible'.
Wonder what he will say now - in light of tonight's terrible tragedy . Guess we'll hear his words of wisdom tomorrow morning. Can't wait... as though we need his interpretation for what has just just happened this evening ...and last week when 2 soldiers were killed in Gaza and the daily casualties . Somehow one just cannot get used to this terrorism and its victims; hope I never do. I cry for each one.......and for those yet to be.

in beloved Jerusalem

Terrorist's Family Proudly Displays Hamas Flags

Hillel Fendel

Israeli security forces have razed the home of the murderous terrorist who murdered eight Merkaz HaRav yeshiva students. He lived in Jabel Mukabar, a neighborhood just east of Jerusalem's East Talpiyot neighborhood.

His family set up a mourners' tent outside the ruins, and hung Hamas flags all around it.Police denied reports that the murderous terrorist had once worked for Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. However, he was a driver who often transported children and others, and there were reports that he had occasionally been hired by the yeshiva. His last trip was Thursday evening to Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, where his van was found after the attack with ammunition inside.

Magen David Adom emergency medical services are on the highest level of alert all around the country. Jerusalem police are out in force as well, especially to guard the Moslem prayers on the Temple Mount - though police commentator Uri Cohen Aharonov said, "The Arabs have basically had their fill for one day, and no disturbances are expected."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced, shortly after the slaughter, the emplacement of a closure on the Arabs of Judea and Samaria that "will be lifted according to security assessments." The closure will not include humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases.

Israel's Foreign Ministry issued this statement regarding Islamic terrorism after the attack:

"Tonight’s murder of yeshiva students during a religious event expresses at its most deplorable the fundamentalist-extremist foundations, in the name of which Palestinian terrorism operates. Israel will never allow terrorism to achieve its goals. Such abominable terrorist attacks must strengthen the free world’s understanding of the nature of the terrorist threat. A clear, decisive and uncompromising stand is necessary against such terrorism.

"Israel is at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism and will continue to defend its citizens, who are exposed to this threat on a daily basis. Israel expects the nations of the world to support it in its war against those who murder students, women and children, by any means and with respect for neither place nor target."

It’s not only the barbaric act, it is their aberrant social behavior!

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

Yes, the world should condemn the attack on Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva and there should be moral, social outrage with this evil act. However, the world must stand back and observe the aftermath of human behavior that took place in Gaza and elsewhere in the Arab world. In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva. The regular people, not just terrorists, celebrated the murder of religious students murdered in their religious setting. They danced, they threw candy, as is their custom.

It is even worse than this. Hundreds upon hundreds of people made their way to their religious houses of worship-their Islamic Mosques and offered thanks to Allah for this “victory”. They prayed in honor of death, murder and were reinforced by imans for this dastardly behavior. Imagine, so-called religious people praying for murder, honoring killers-this is the message that the world must wake up to-it is not only a “few misguided individuals who have hijacked a religion” it is mainstream people behavior. There is no moral equivalency here, do not even suggest there is.

The “celebration” continued across the territory. Four people were wounded in a rocket attack on Sderot on Thursday evening. One of the victims, who was in his house when it sustained a direct hit, suffered moderate head wounds. Three other people suffered light injuries.

A second rocket hit a gas tank, causing a fire. Firefighters managed to gain control of the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Arabs attacked Israeli drivers on Thursday night, rolling flaming tires onto Route 60 as cars drove past. The attack took place west of Hevron, near the town of Otniel. IDF soldiers witnessed the group beginning its attack and fired on one of the attacker's legs. The attacker was hit and wounded moderately.

These were not military targets; this was not collateral damage. This was premeditated murder of innocent children. These children were readying themselves for a party and instead today they are in shock, mourning and frankly justifiable fear. No more requests for restraint. No more platitudes from Abbas et al. No more “turn the other cheek” value system we have in the West. It is past time for the world community to gather some collective courage and stop playing the political correctness game. It is time to speak, to shout the truth! The line was drawn in the sand long ago-it is time to take action.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Arab Terrorists Attack Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva: 8 Dead

( Two Arab terrorists infiltrated Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva at around 8:30 Thursday night and murdered eight Jews. At least 10 people have been wounded; three are in critical condition, a fourth victim was wounded moderately and six others, lightly.

The attackers entered from two separate entrances to the yeshiva and opened fire on the students before one of them was gunned down himself by an armed civilian. Witnesses say that the attack began in the seminary's library with the terrorists spraying bullets in every direction.

The yeshiva student who killed the terrorist, 40-year-old Yitzchak Dadon, said that he shot the attacker in the head with his personal weapon, after which another armed civilian "finished him off." Asked by a Channel 2 TV reporter what weapon the terrorist had, Dadon said, "A Kalachnikov," and turning to the camera, he added, "The Kalachnikov that you gave him, President Peres...."

The second terrorist hid in the yeshiva building, with subsequent reports indicating that the attacker was killed by responding security forces. Police are deployed in the surrounding neighborhood, and scoured the yeshiva and connected buildings. Most students in the building were evacuated after taking cover in the yeshiva's bomb shelter, according to police spokesmen.

Fifty ambulances responded to the scene, which emergency responders have called "a major incident." The wounded were evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital.

In Gaza City, Arab residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in the air in celebration of the attack against the Jews of Jerusalem.

Police forces are on heightened alert throughout the country.

The Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva is located near the entrance to Jerusalem, in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood. The yeshiva, founded by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, is at the heart of the national-religious movement in Israel.

Comment: You are most probably aware of the terrorist attack 2 hours ago in Jerusalem. My advice is to ask as many people as possible to call:

1. the Israeli Embassy/ Consulate and demand that the Olmert government resign for its weakness in fighting terrorism as it must be done. It has literally invited Rice to take charge of the running of this government. She left Israel yesterday after initiating meetings between Olmert and Abbas, the Arafat protege. The joy and celebration of the Arabs was just flashed on tv. One of the suicide bombers came from the eastern section of Jerusalem. Imagine if that part were given to the Arabs who would use it as headquarters for such terrorism on the rest of the city.

2. the White House (202) 456-1111 and demand that the Bush administration stop interfering in Israel's internal affairs. Rice should not return to Israel!! She is arrogant and has appeased the Arabs consistently.
Point out that Israel's enemy is part of the same network of terrorism that the US is fighting. Al Qaeda is in Gaza and the West Bank in Arab communities there. We must repeat this message over and over again - just as the Arabs repeat their mantra. Know also that the Arab members of the Knesset

Hamas is determined to destroy Israel and is using weapons that we were told to give to the Abbas government ' to strengthen him'. Of course, Hamas inherited those weapons when Abbas and Fatah (also a terrorist thuggery) fled. Now those US weapons are in Hamas' hands - NICE! The Arab members of the Knesset (yes, this is a democratic country that allows the enemy to be represented in the Parliament) are advocates of Israel's destruction. One of them suggested that soldiers be kidnapped and now we have several in the hands of the barbarians. May they be safe.

Be polite but strong and speak or write with conviction. Remember that this is what the Islamicists have planned for the rest of the world! Don't imagine that anyone will be safe! Make your voice heard; don't leave the job to someone else.

Reports say that as well as 8 dead there are many wounded - some seriously. Pray for them.

Security Cabinet Decides: End All Rocket Attacks from Gaza

Hana Levi Julian

The Security Cabinet decided in a longer-than-usual meeting Wednesday to put an end to the rocket and mortar attacks fired by Gaza terrorists at Israel.

The resolution adopted by the cabinet included a decision to destroy the Hamas regime in Gaza, while continuing to negotiate a final status agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. The resolution included a decision to coordinate with Egypt the efforts to topple Hamas. The cabinet also expressed its determination "to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to the extent that the matter depends on Israel."

It is the first time that a formal decision has been taken to completely eradicate missile attacks launched from Gaza.

There were no details on how the IDF would carry out the orders or on what the soldiers will and will not be allowed to do.

More than 180 rockets have been fired at southern Israel in the past seven days, including at least 20 long-range 122 mm Iranian "Grad" missiles.

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities discovered chemicals used for making explosives just one hour after Israel opened up Gaza crossings for shipments of humanitarian goods. The chemicals were discovered in a sealed container and were intended for use in Kassam rockets.

Officials have also noted in the past that much of the "humanitarian aid" sent into to Gaza never reached the residents for whom it was donated. On several occasions, IDF soldiers discovered bomb-making ingredients packed in sacks marked "sugar" and other donated food supplies waiting to pass through the border crossings from Israel into Gaza, most recently on Wednesday.

According to sources in Ramallah, the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar has been donating millions of dollars per month to help relieve the poverty suffered by Gaza residents – but Hamas operatives have stolen much of it to purchase advanced weaponry.

The aid is reportedly meant to strengthen Abbas, who is considered to be a "moderate" force in PA affairs despite the numerous terror attacks carried out by Fatah's Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group.

The PA population elected the Hamas terrorist organization to lead the government in a landslide victory two years ago, although Abbas, who is leader of the rival Fatah faction, remained as PA Chairman.

The two factions spent more than a year fighting for control of the PA in a bloody civil war that ended in June 2007 with Hamas taking over Gaza. According to the Foreign Ministry, 1,018 rockets and 937 mortar shells have been fired at Sderot and other communities in the western Negev since Hamas conquered Gaza.

Abbas and his Fatah faction retained control over Judea and Samaria, but have been unable, or unwilling, to restrain terrorists in the region from initiating attacks on Israeli civilians.

Bravo, President Sarkozy

Isi Leibler
March 6, 2008

It is early days but initial signals from the Elysee Palace suggest that President Nicolas Sarkozy is genuinely committed to opening a new chapter in Franco-Jewish relations.

Since 1967, French Middle East policy has been consistently hostile and displayed cynical disregard for Israel's security needs. In the course of a keynote speech delivered at the annual banquet of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, Sarkozy outlined his views on a wide variety of issues related to the Jewish people and Israel. This was the first time that a president of the Fifth Republic had ever accepted such an invitation.

Sarkozy's remarks resonate well. Besides warm expressions of friendship and admiration for the Jewish people and Israel, he vowed to do his utmost to promote a Middle East peace settlement adding the caveat that "France will never compromise Israel's security." He also predicted a marked improvement in relations between Israel and Europe as a whole when France assumes the EU Presidency in July 2008. Sarkozy reiterated his pledge to combat anti-Semitism and undertook never to meet or shake hands with representatives of any country that refused to recognize Israel.

But what stunned the audience was his unexpected bombshell about Holocaust education, which, due to frenzied opposition was subsequently slightly modified.

Sarkozy expressed the need to convey the message of the Holocaust to young people in a more meaningful manner. To achieve that, he proposed that 10 year old schoolchildren symbolically adopt a Jewish child of a similar age who had been deported from France and murdered by the Nazis. "Nothing has more meaning for a child, than the story of a child his own age, who played the same games and shared the same joys and hopes, but who in the early 1940s had the misfortune to be defined as a Jew."

The audience of over 1,000 responded with a standing ovation. However, by the next day Sarkozy was assailed with fierce attacks from his political opponents, school teachers, and psychologists arguing "No educational project should be constructed on death." Polls indicate that over 80 percent of French citizens opposed his initiative. Undoubtedly many were motivated by profound feelings of guilt and shame relating to French collaboration with the Nazis especially during the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.

The campaign against him also incorporated anti-Semitic elements. National Front leader Jean Marie Le Pen, previously convicted for describing Nazi gas chambers "as a mere footnote of the Second World War" and the Nazi occupation as "not particularly inhumane," attacked Sarkozy's proposal as morally outrageous and criminal.

"The poor children will feel guilty and broken," he said.

But Sarkozy must have been stunned when Simone Veil, the former minister and former president of the European Parliament, seated at his table, also bitterly condemned his proposal. It has been suggested that the 80-year-old Jewish Auschwitz survivor was hyper-sensitive because she feared that singling out Jewish suffering would be bitterly resented by the French people who would also take exception to repeated reminders of their behavior during the Nazi occupation.

Unfortunately, she seemed to have lost the plot when she somewhat hysterically exclaimed "My blood turned to ice" and declared, "It is unimaginable, unbelievable, traumatic, and above all unjust. You cannot inflict this on little 10-year olds. You cannot ask a child to identify with a dead child. This history is much too heavy to carry."

Experts in child psychology maintain that Sarkozy's critics exaggerate the trauma such a project would inflict on children. True, the story of a youngster denied life because of anti-Semitism would have an emotional impact. Yet the gruesome fare of violence, brutality, and horror to which children are exposed daily on TV, the Internet, films, and newspapers do not seem to distress those attacking Sarkozy. There is in fact no evidence to suggest that sensitively presented memories of the fate of Jewish youngsters during the Holocaust would create psychological distress among schoolchildren. After all, there have been numerous versions of Anne Frank's diary and similar biographies written for youngsters without a single recorded case of trauma.

Sarkozy himself was nonplussed by his enraged critics, telling them, "believe me, you will not traumatize children by giving them the gift of the memory of a country. Any psychiatrist will tell you that you must tell a child the truth." He added, "Make our children open their eyes…It is ignorance not knowledge that produces these abominable situations. If you don't talk to children about this tragedy, then you should not be surprised if it repeats itself."

The reality is that despite the recent flood of Holocaust remembrance including designation of Holocaust memorial Days, Holocaust commemoration has become impersonal and the repeated recitals of the statistics of murder no longer move people. Yet personalized biographies of Anne Frank, a popular TV series along the lines of Holocaust, or a movie like Schindler's List, achieve greater impact on the public than gruesome montages of mass graves or sterile commemorations and ceremonies.

The depersonalization of Holocaust memory has also paved the way for attempts to trivialize the uniquely Jewish aspect of the Holocaust. Of late, even Muslim groups have been trying to hijack Holocaust commemoration and transform it into a vehicle to combat what they describe as Islamophobia.

In this context, Sarkozy's proposal to twin youngsters with Holocaust tragedies involving people of their own age would represent the most creative and meaningful model for Holocaust remembrance ever launched. Serge Klarsfeld, the distinguished Jewish Holocaust historian and Nazi hunter, himself a survivor, praised the president for his courage. "In about 30 years, a century after the Holocaust, the 10 year old schoolchildren of today will be adults, and France will be the only country in which a precise memory of Jewish children who were deported, will survive."

It took extraordinary courage for a French President to launch a program focusing on former shameful behavior of his own people. It earned him no kudos, especially at a time when his public support has plummeted. He heads a nation whose record on anti-Semitism is hardly admirable. His constituency includes many Arabs who are outraged by his scheme. And having had a Jewish grandfather will encourage his critics to accuse him of bias. Clearly, in contrast to most contemporary leaders, Sarkozy displays determination to promote what he considers to be just, rather than conforming to political correctness.

We must never take our friends for granted - especially during these difficult times, when the world responds with deafening silence as the Iranians and their allies proudly proclaim their determination to fulfill Hitler's Final Solution. Many leaders pay tribute to dead Jews but seem less willing to protect the living. Even the watered down version of Sarkozy's original plan - of entire classes instead of individual children being paired with a young Holocaust victim - will cater for both the living and the dead. The Jewish people should say "Bravo President Sarkozy"- convey our appreciation, and pray that other European leaders emulate his courageous lead which will both elevate Holocaust commemoration and immunize future generations against hatred and bigotry.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1204546409795&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Original article available at:

"Could Be Worse"

Arlene Kushner

The situation is not exactly wonderful, but truly something much worse than what we're seeing right now might have developed.

Condoleezza Rice has left. After meeting with Tzipi Livni today, she held a press conference, at which time she announced that Abbas has agreed to return to the negotiating table, although it is unclear as to when he will actually meet Olmert again.I had written at some length yesterday about how he likely didn't want to return in any event, and the pressure that was put on him by Hamas and the radicalized environment made it very difficult for him to sit with the Israelis. And yet...

It's clear that he was greatly reluctant, if, even in Rice's presence at their joint Ramallah press conference, he didn't agree to negotiate. He held out, I would guess, for all he was worth. But in the end, what has euphemistically been referred to in the press as a "lobbying effort" by the US went into action after he had declined to cooperate to further that peace process.

I would say (without inside knowledge) that it went something like this: "You know the millions of dollars we're about to give you? And the military and governmental technical assistance? And all the rest? You can kiss it goodbye if you don't do your part here."


What remains significant is that Rice made it very clear that Abbas's return was not predicated on a ceasefire in Gaza, with Israel committed to taking no further action. This means we did not cave. Undoubtedly, we've been told to cool it, and most certainly Olmert will make efforts to do just that. But the principle of our right to defend ourselves stands strong in the understanding between the US and Israel.

What we're likely to see in the short run are operations that are smaller than the one in the north that caused the furor in the last few days. Last night, for example, IDF troops from an elite unit entered Gaza, covered by helicopters, and possibly aided by tanks as well, for what has been termed "routine activity." There was a gun battle, and a senior Islamic Jihad figure was killed and several other IJ gunmen wounded. The troops have already left Gaza.


The bad news is that Abbas is still trying to pressure Israel for further concessions, and to use the US to do it. Thus Rice has agreed to send in Lt. Gen. William Frasier III next week, to "prod" the process.


My prediction is that in spite of this cooling it, and what will be Olmert's best effort in this regard, the situation will heat up again before terribly long. The fuse of the Israeli people is short at this point. If there are extensive rocket attacks that do significant damage, or that reach even further than has been the case until now, Olmert will be forced to act aggressively, or he will lose his coalition.

And the good news is that he now has sanction to do so. Act aggressively, that is. (See the next item.)

What is more, once we ratchet up our activity in Gaza, Abbas will be constrained by the situation and will refuse to negotiate.


The Security Cabinet meet today and this is what they determined:

A. The State of Israel will act continuously and systematically in order to achieve the following main goals:
* To bring about the cessation of rocket fire and other terrorist actions from Gaza;
* To reduce the strengthening of Hamas, including in coordination with - and by - Egypt;
* To advance the negotiations process with the Palestinian Authority while maintaining freedom of action in the struggle against terrorism;
* To strike at the Hamas regime in Gaza;
* To avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to the extent that the matter depends on Israel;
* To expedite action on the home front, as is being carried out by the Government and as was presented at the 24.2.08 Cabinet meeting;
* To maintain the legitimacy of, and freedom of action in, continuing to strike at Hamas; to this end, diplomatic and information efforts vis-a-vis the international community will continue.

B. The action policy for achieving the aforementioned goals may include the
following actions (among others):
* Action against launch areas and striking at projectile weapons' support network of activists and knowledge, and production and storage facilities, and against other military and infrastructure targets.
* Action against Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip. The targets will be approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
So we now know that official policy says it's not only Israel's goal to stop the rocket attacks, but also to strike at the Hamas regime and reduce their strengthening (which means basically stopping the smuggling -- which might require an Israeli presence in the Philadelphi Corridor). This policy maintains the right to have freedom of action in striking Hamas.

In essence, it says that a ground incursion has been sanctioned, pending the approval of the prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister. This is not to say that it's mandated, but rather that it can proceed without further cabinet meetings being required.

For the record, Barak wants to go in, Olmert is trying to avoid doing so, and Livni, in spite of her tough words, is reported to stand somewhere in the middle. But, as I indicated, a change in circumstances might change all of this.


The word from the fighting during the Warm Winter Operation is this:

There were two Givati battalions involved along with the Sa'ar armored battalion and some special forces. There is high praise from the officers for the extraordinary bravery and commitment of the troops who fought; morale was said to be high. I always say that the fact that we have troops of this caliber is our secret weapon and what keeps us strong.

It is also being reported that lessons learned from Lebanon were implemented.

On the other side, it was reported that Hamas fought fiercely and was well equipped but was less well organized than had been expected. In some instance, report the officers, Palestinians were killed by what is euphemistically referred to as "friendly fire." Palestinian gunmen, aiming badly, hit their own.


The whole issue of what is moral with regard to civilian causalities is taken most seriously by our fighting forces. The balance is often such a fine one. Clearly, sometimes their civilians, inadvertently will be killed in our efforts to protect our own. And sometimes we take additional risks, in order to protect their civilians. The bitter irony is that while we, perhaps more than any other nation on earth, work to protect innocent life, even if it is the life of someone (especially a child) from the enemy side, we are accused of war crimes and all the rest.

The brief fighting in northern Gaza in the last days provided instances of what we are up against. And, I confess, as much as I know about these things, I am still shocked at the callousness of these Arabs. They say, even in PA textbooks, "our enemy loves life, but we love death." And boy, is it true.

The IDF acted, very properly, to safeguard our own, by giving permission to open fire when a source of fire against our soldiers was clearly identified as coming from a home, without determining whether civilians were also present.

But look at some of the other situations they faced:

In one instance, a boy of about ten was sent by the enemy to retrieve the gun of someone who had been killed. The IDF commander on the scene ordered that fire be halted. Our soldiers watched the boy get the gun and bring it back to the others; they would not kill him.

It was Tzipi Livni in a recent press conference who brought attention to the fact that Hamas sends small children up on to the roof of a building that they know Israel is planning to attack. They count on our essential humanity, and it works. We won't bomb a building that has small children sitting on its roof. The truly obscene part is that Hamas wouldn't care if we did bomb those children -- they'd simply use this in a huge PR campaign.


Speaking of obscene: The UN Human Rights Council, which is one of the more anti-Israel organizations (right in line with the UN itself) held a moment of silence yesterday for the "martyrs in Gaza" killed by the IDF. This was in response to a request by the Iranian foreign minister. An Israeli spokesperson considered it a good sign that the members of the council were asked to rise for the moment of silence and yet everyone stayed seated. Not good enough for me. No one walked out or voiced indignation, either.


On the other hand, there is this story: A Palestinian woman delivered twins in Barzeli hospital in Ashkelon recently. As they were premature, they were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. When a Grad-Katyusha was shot near the hospital last week (traumatizing the staff), these babies were among the ones brought into the hospital bomb shelter.

Yes, we love life.

see my website

Guest Comment: Abbas is returning to negotiations, no doubt because Bush is giving him another $150 million. Of course, that gift is without any conditions of accountability or evidence of honoring the terms of the Road Map (end incitement and disarm terrorists). It is the height of hypocrisy to conduct "peace talks" while your other half (Hamas) is firing rocket at your negotiating partner. And this is the same Abbas who at Annapolis refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and last month reaffirmed his belief in "resistance" (terror), with pride announced that his Fatah trained Hizballah, and honored the assassinated Hizballah terrorist Mughira.

Bush is determined to do anything in order to reach a "peace" agreement while still in office. Clinton did the same with Arafat. It did not work then, and it is worse now.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Excusing Palestinian Terrorists

Joseph Klein

Palestinian terrorism is the inevitable consequence of Israeli occupation, according to the United Nations. This unsurprising bit of pro-Palestinian propaganda came in the form of a report just recently prepared by John Dugard, the so-called independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the UN Human Rights Council. [1]His report, to be formally presented later this month, has already been issued as an official UN document.

Dugard’s report is the latest in a series of verbal fusillades against Israel by this anti-Semitic polemicist, whom Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN refers to as "the UN's Spokesperson for Suicide Bombers" and "the most fanatical spokesperson for terrorism at the UN outside the Arab and Moslem world."
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must immediately and unconditionally ‘denounce and reject’ this shameless justification for suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism against innocent Jewish civilians or risk whatever moral authority he has managed to salvage for the UN since replacing Kofi Annan.
Dugard’s report equates Palestinian suicide bombers and militants launching rocket attacks, who knowingly and indiscriminately kill innocent women and children, with the World War II resistance fighters who targeted members of the Nazis’ Waffen-SS. Ironically, Dugard displays the influence of Nazism on his own anti-Semitic thinking when he uses the term “Judaization” to explain the “historical context” against which Palestinian terrorists’ actions should be judged. He cites what he calls the “Judaization of Jerusalem” as a serious violation of human rights. Dugard says that this Judaization must be undone. The term "Entjudung" (de-Judaization) was used in Nazi anti-Jewish legislation to refer to the confiscation of Jewish property and the removal of Jews from Germany’s social, economic and political life, leading ultimately to the death camps. Until the Palestinians de-Judaize not only Jerusalem but all of Israel, Dugard sees no alternative but a continuation of Palestinian terror. His solution is some sort of bi-national Palestinian state that would extinguish any sense of a Jewish identity in the Jews’ ancient homeland.
Dugard’s report also says that Palestinian terrorism committed “in the course of a war of liberation” against Israel is more understandable than “acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al Qaeda”. This reflects today’s mindset at the United Nations. For years the UN has failed to condemn all acts of terrorism as violations of international law because of such a false distinction. The distinction is false because all terrorists portray themselves as fighters against some imagined oppression, which they use to justify their rampant killings. The rationale for deliberately murdering innocent civilians offered by the perpetrators of 9/11 is essentially the same as that offered by the Palestinian terrorists. Al Qaeda leaders have repeatedly referred to the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as examples of ‘occupation’ justifying their terrorist attacks. They also accuse the United States of aiding and abetting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Excusing Palestinian terrorists means excusing al Qaeda terrorists, plain and simple.
Dugard’s report repeats the canard that there would be no Palestinian terrorism but for the Israeli occupation. It claims that the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination has been denied and obstructed for nearly 60 years by Israel.” Of course, this omits the fact that the Palestinians were offered their own state at the same time that Israel was offered theirs. There was no Israeli occupation of the West Bank or Gaza for the first twenty years of Israel’s existence, as even Dugard admits. The Palestinians failed to create an independent state of their own as early as 1948 when given the chance because of the same obstinate refusal to co-exist peacefully with the Jewish state that we continue to witness today.
Israel would not have found it necessary to take over Gaza (which it no longer occupies) and the West Bank twenty years later if Israeli citizens had not been subjected to invasions and repeated acts of terrorism from the day of its founding.
From 1949 to 1956, for example, Egypt waged a terror war against Israel, launching about 9,000 attacks from cells set up in the refugee camps of the Gaza Strip which was then under Egyptian control. Altogether, between 1949 and 1956, 400 Israelis were killed and 900 wounded by Palestinian fedayeen attacks. In 1964, the PLO was founded in order to "liberate" what they called the "usurped part" of Palestine, which had become the state of Israel. This all preceded the 1967 Six-Day War, after which Israel finally assumed control of the areas that were being used to launch repeated terrorist attacks against its citizens.
Let us not forget that Israel is the only member state of the United Nations that was brought into being by an official act of the United Nations. The UN partition of the British Mandate of Palestine was intended to give the Jews and Palestinians their own national homelands, side by side. The Jews accepted this solution but the Arabs rejected it. Those who have attacked Israel and denied its right to exist as a Jewish state have included the PLO militants, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. They are defying international law in a bid to destroy the state that the UN had created in the first place. They are not the romantic freedom fighters of Dugard’s imagination.
In the last few days, violence has escalated considerably in the Gaza vicinity. During a special emergency session of the Security Council held on March 1 at the request of the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, Ban Ki-moon gave a report on the current situation. He told the Security Council that some 117 rockets have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel in the last week, including 26 rockets on March 1st alone.[2] These rockets have been fired at several civilian centers, and have extended as far north as the Israeli city of Ashkelon. According to press reports and Israeli government sources, the rockets fired at Ashkelon were of advanced Katyusha-like design, allegedly smuggled into Gaza when the border with Egypt was breached. An Israeli citizen was killed and others wounded.
The Israeli Defense Force has undertaken retaliatory attacks from the air and by land aimed at rocket launching and other Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. There have been significant Palestinian casualties, including Palestinian civilians.
In his statement to the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon explicitly called for an end to the Palestinian rocket attacks, which he said “serve no purpose, endanger Israeli civilians, and bring misery to the Palestinian people”. Thus, he has not gone as far as Dugard in saying that such attacks are understandable acts of resistance fighters. However, neither has he condemned Dugard’s statements which remain official United Nations dogma. In fact, Ban has pointedly accused Israel of “disproportionate and excessive use of force”. In other words, he is saying that while the Palestinian terrorist attacks that target Israeli civilians are bad, the Israelis’ military response to these provocations is far worse. He focuses on the comparative numbers of casualties on both sides rather than the cause, including the fact that Hamas uses the civilians under its control as human shields.
Robert Zelnick, professor of national security studies at Boston University, explained the Israelis’ dilemma best by pointing out that terrorism thrives “where the civilized values of the target society become its weakness. The terrorist blows up a marketplace while the more mature power expresses regret about accidental civilian casualties,” Zelnick said. “The terrorist drags schoolchildren off a bus and murders them in the street while the mature power flies wounded children for treatment at its state-of-the-art medical centers. Israel has learned all this the hard way. It has also learned that a ‘disproportionate’ response to provocation may be its only ticket to survival." [3]
In short, there is no such thing as a disproportionate response to an existential threat.
Israel has offered to give the Palestinians virtually all of the occupied territories for them to create their own state in return for real peace. The Palestinian response has been more deadly terrorist attacks. The Israeli government has no policy advocating the destruction of its neighbors, and certainly no policy to liquidate the Palestinian people. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and their chief state sponsor Iran are sworn to the destruction of Israel as it exists today and the slaughter or mass expulsion of its Jewish inhabitants by any means at their disposal. So long as the United Nations’ leaders fail to grasp this essential difference between Israel’s peaceful intentions and the Palestinians’ desire for a violent end to the Jewish state, the UN will remain on the wrong side of the moral divide.

[1] Human Rights Situation In Palestine And Other Occupied Arab Territories:
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 by John Dugard (January 21, 2008).
[2] Secretary-General's statement to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East (March 1, 2008).
[3] Hit hard, hit harder by Robert Zelnick, Guardian Unlimited (July 14, 2006).

Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.

Rice Mission Meets Resistance From Abbas


UNITED NATIONS — With Arab outrage growing at Israel's military operations in Gaza — which are increasingly being likened in the Muslim and Arab press to the Holocaust — Secretary of State Rice is having trouble getting a commitment from President Abbas to renew peace talks with Prime Minister Olmert. Mr. Abbas yesterday conditioned the renewal of talks on an end to Gaza "aggression" — Israel's air and artillery shelling and land incursions that have killed more than 100 Palestinian Arabs, most of them combatants, and have led newscasts across the Arab world. Israeli commando units re-entered Gaza last night, killing a military leader of the Islamic Jihad in a fierce battle that also left dead a 2-month-old baby. The Israeli military said its two-day "hot winter" ground operation in Gaza, which ended Monday night, damaged Hamas more than its leaders would admit. But Israeli leaders stopped short of promising Israelis an immediate end to Arab rocket attacks from Gaza, which this week routinely hit the major Israeli city of Ashkelon, as well as Sderot and other towns that have been under attack for years.

President Bush expressed optimism about the prospect of a peace agreement and the creation of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian Arab state before the end of his term. "This is a process that, you know, always has two steps forward and one step back," Mr. Bush, who hosted Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House, told reporters yesterday. "We just got to make sure that it's only one step back." Even before the recent military escalation, Palestinian Arabs and their supporters have routinely highlighted Gaza's daily hardships, often relying on data supplied by the United Nations. While saying it does not intend to make life easy for those who chose Hamas, Israel has denied that life in Gaza amounts to a humanitarian crisis. In a press release distributed to reporters yesterday, the Gaza-based U.N. Relief and Works Agency claimed that 30 out of 87 ambulances operated by the ministry of health and the Red Crescent in Gaza have been "unable to function" because of "fuel shortages," and that all of the strip's 140 water wells ran out of operating fuel, "leaving all Gazans with intermittent water supplies at best."

As it does routinely, and even in the midst of the military escalation, Israel delivered the weekly ration of 75,000 liters of gasoline to Gaza on Sunday, countered the military coordinator at Gaza's Erez Crossing, Colonel Nir Press. Separately, Israel delivered 10,000 liters of gasoline for UNRWA's own needs, he said, speaking between meetings with U.N. officials yesterday. "It may be worthwhile to check if Hamas is diverting fuel for uses other than running ambulances and operating water wells," Colonel Press told The New York Sun.

First made by Mr. Abbas last week and repeated by Iranian officials, the allusion to a Holocaust was reiterated yesterday during a rally in the Israeli Arab town of Um el-Fahem. "Some are planning a new Holocaust in Gaza," said the Israeli-Arab leader Shauki Hatib, according to Y-net. The Anti-Defamation League called the comparison between Israel and the Nazis, made in cartoons across the Middle East, anti-Semitic.

The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council held a moment of silence yesterday for "martyrs in Gaza," as requested by Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, according to the Associated Press.

Because of such international pressures, "Abu Mazen now has to show solidarity" with the Gazans, said a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Daniel Ayalon, referring to Mr. Abbas's suspensions of peace talks with Mr. Olmert. But like many in Israel, Mr. Ayalon said he believes Mr. Abbas has very little choice and predicts the Palestine Liberation Organization leader will return soon to the negotiating table.

"Even though I do not expect much progress — at best, Abbas can deliver only a half of the Palestinian people — I support negotiations as long as he remains committed to renunciation of terror and to building the capacity to combat terrorists," Mr. Ayalon said in a phone interview. The negotiations with Mr. Abbas, he added, "symbolize" the need for the region's "moderate forces to unite and stop the crazy extremists."

Mr. Ayalon added that Israel should agree to a cease-fire with Hamas only if an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza from Egypt is assured. "It is no longer a trickle of weapons, it is an avalanche," he said, and without ending it a cease-fire would only allow Hamas to "lick its wounds and rearm," waiting for convenient time to attack again.

Hamas's human shields

As the latest IDF operation in Gaza ended, Defense Minister Ehud Barak began consulting Israel's topmost legal authorities about how to respond to rocket assaults launched on Israeli civilians from areas with large numbers of civilians in Gaza.

Not every state under attack would evince such extraordinary care regarding the lives of populations in enemy entities, especially when the enemy has made noncombatants its primary target. This, more than all else, underscores the injustice inherent in the widespread condemnation overseas of Israel's self-defense. Israeli policy-makers are extremely sensitive to the moral bind in which Gazan terrorists unconscionably place Israel. Hamas tacticians cynically exploit Israel's humanitarian predisposition, trusting it to be too decent to discard its concern for the lives of Gazans - a concern that is the direct reverse of the willful intent of Gazan terrorists to cause as much death and destruction to as many Israeli civilians as they can.

This underlying moral disparity between the sides - all too often completely ignored by Israel's critics abroad - takes on particularly sinister attributes when terrorist rockets are purposely launched from crowded civilian sites to deter Israel from striking back at the rocket cells.

This makes it a lose-lose situation for Israel. If it responds vigorously, it will be censured for the likely loss of life. If it doesn't respond, it abandons increasingly larger numbers of its own civilians to "the Palestinian roulette." On Monday, for instance, a Grad missile exploded outside a day care center in Ashkelon. Only by a miracle did scores of babies and toddlers escape grievous harm.

Simultaneously, Israel's predicament constitutes a win-win situation for Gaza's Hamas overlords. If they cause casualties to their own civilians, Israel will be pilloried by world opinion. If Israel is daunted from defending its own population, Hamas can continue its rocket barrages with impunity.

Hamas's brazen use of human shields is directly facilitated by the international community's reluctance to address the issue and denounce the premeditated endangerment of ordinary people. According to all rules of warfare, including the Geneva Convention, this is nothing short of a war crime. When the crimes of Gaza's terrorists against their own people are consistently overlooked around the world, it can only encourage the Islamists' immorality.

By staying silent on this fundamental moral issue, the international community becomes an accomplice to bloodshed both among the directly targeted Israelis and the unintentionally harmed Gazans.

This is hardly a new phenomenon. Arab terrorists have a long and dishonorable history of hiding behind women and children and of using even schools and houses of worship to protect themselves.

Back in November 2006, Gazan women were used as human shields to allow besieged Hamas gunmen to flee from Israeli forces in Beit Hanun. Armed terrorists barricaded themselves in a mosque that was surrounded by IDF troops and tanks. Women gathered outside in response to an appeal on the local radio station for females to protect Hamas fighters. The terrorists managed to escape in women's garb by blending in among those they knew Israeli soldiers wouldn't attack.

That same month, the IAF warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, responsible for firing Kassam rockets at Israel, to evacuate his home in Beit Lahiya in advance of an air strike. Instead, hundreds of locals, mostly women and children, were recruited to Baroud's house. Israel suspended the air strike, lest these human shields be harmed. In response to the incident, Hamas crowed: "We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition."

The above episode illustrates the potential problems with Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i's proposal to bulldoze houses from which rockets are fired. The same goes for suggestions such as warning systems giving Gazan civilians time to get out. Even smoke bombs directed at precise coordinates to further warn civilians to depart - in advance of live fire and the destruction of launch sites - could be thwarted by human shields.

Principled despite its vilified reputation, Israel wrestles with a wrenching quandary callously imposed upon it. But Israel shouldn't be the only one to grapple with the ruthlessness of terrorists toward their human shields. Democracies the world over need to internalize what is taking place here, to pin blame where it is due, and to condemn Hamas for its heartlessness toward its own people.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Double standards-Arab killing Arab is OK-no outrage, but ...

Lebanon army 'killed 222 rebels'

Nahr al-Bared campLebanese troops killed at least 222 Islamist militants in three months of fighting at a refugee camp in northern Lebanon, the defence minister says.

Elias Murr said 202 militants from the Fatah al-Islam group were captured since fighting erupted in May.

A number have been charged with murder and terrorist offences.

The Lebanese army finally took control of Nahr al-Bared camp on Sunday. At least 160 soldiers died in Lebanon's worst internal violence since 1990. At least 42 civilians were also killed in the fierce fighting, bringing the death toll to more than 400.

Mr Murr added that "an undetermined number" of Fatah al-Islam members were buried in mass graves in the camp by their comrades.

"This victory allowed us to put an end to the worst threat ever faced by the Lebanese," he said.

"Fatah al-Islam could have spread throughout the country like cancerous cells."

On Monday, there was a brief eruption of gunfire and explosions near the eastern edge of Nahr al-Bared as army units patrolled through the camp in search for remnants of Fatah al-Islam.

JCPA preempts Israeli Knesset

David Bedein

This week, Israel faced unprecedented escalated Arab missile bombardment on its fragile southern border.

This week, Arab terrorists escalated their military use of the land of expelled Jewish communities from Northern Katif, which they have transformed into convenient forward attack bases.

This week, Jewish communities of southern Israel paid the ultimate price for Israel's expulsion of Jewish communities with the prodding of the US government., when, in violation of clause seven of the disengagement legislation, Israel handed over privately owned Jewish property to groups defined by the state of Israel and the US government as illegal terrorist organizations.This week, despite the lethal threat to the lives of every Israeli citizen by a sovereign Palestinian entity, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the JCPA, passed a resolution in support of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria - which would mean the deployment of Palestinian missiles on the hills overlooking Kfar Saba, Netanya, and the entire coastal plain of Israel.

This week, lawmakers of the Knesset again refrained from enacting any legislation that would cede any more land for Palestinians to use as sovereign territory, since Palestinians threaten to use any land under their control to attack and "liberate" the rest of "Palestine".

This week, however, the JCPA preempted the Knesset of Israel.

The questions to Mr. Martin Raffel, the executive director of the JCPA, remain as follows:

1. By what right does the JCPA support an idea that would pose a threat to the life of every Israeli citizen?

2. Since successive American and Israeli administrations have lied about the peaceful intentions of the Fatah, why does JCPA believe them now?

3. Why does the JCPA preempt the Knesset of Israel? Does the JCPA not know of the 5% approval rating of PM Olmert?

4.Why does the JCPA not learn from the Gaza precedent of what happens when Israel withdraws its troops and civilians, only to witness that any area under PA control will be transformed into a missile terror base?.


Fitzgerald: Israel and moral idiocy

Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said: “We condemn all attacks on civilians, but unlawful attacks by one side cannot justify violations by the other. Israel's attacks this week display a degree of disproportion and recklessness which has so often characterised Israeli military attacks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in recent years." Malcolm Smart disgusts. Nowhere in his nauseating display of moral idiocy does he recognize, or even hint at recognizing, that the Israelis left Gaza entirely. They uprooted whole villages, though Gaza, like the "West Bank," is an area that according to the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine was to be part of the territory set aside for a Jewish state. And it is less than 1/1,00th of the vast areas that the Arabs inherited.

And in those areas where the Arabs rule, in those lands that we too easily call "the Arab world" (it's a phrase from ARAMCO propaganda of the 1940s and 1950s), in the nearly two dozen lands they now rule, every non-Arab (see the blacks of the Sudan, see the Kurds of Iraq, see the Berbers of North Africa) and non-Muslim (see the Copts of Egypt, see the Maronites of Lebanon, see the Assyrians and Chaldeans of Iraq) group must constantly fight for its continued existence. Every such group is forced to endure the steady pressure of Islam and of "Uruba" or Arabness, in a never-ending attempt to make these non-Arabs or non-Muslims forget their own history, through cultural and linguistic imperialism, or -- as with the black Africans in the Sudan, both the non-Muslims of the south, and the non-Arab Muslims of Darfur -- to simply be wiped out, or at least sufficiently reduced in numbers, so that the Arabs can inherit the land, and, what's more, the oil known to be in the south, and suspected to be in Darfur. In 1900 the population of the Sudan was almost entirely black African, with only a small Arab sliver in the north. That has changed.

Malcolm Smart, in his false equivalences, lets one side kick the beam. He knows that Israel wants only to stop the rockets from raining down on Sderot, and now on Ashkelon. He knows, he must know, what the Western allies did when rockets rained down on London. He must know how any country, and one not as tiny or as permanently under siege as Israel, would react if, from territory adjacent, people who wolfishly howled with glee at the prospect of destroying neighbors simply shot rocket after rocket into cities. And these rockets are not aimed at military targets and sometimes, inadvertently, misfire. They are not aimed at all. They are simply shot into cities. What would the French, the British, the Italians, the Americans, the Canadians do in such a situation?

There is no country on earth that gives evidence of being more scrupulous, taking more care, than the Israelis in their response. Where they fail, it is in not making absolutely clear to the malcolm-smarts of this world that they are ignoring the problem, the problem of the permanent opposition of the Arabs of Gaza, the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, and the Arabs of the "West Bank," the Slow Jihadists (who want that Jizyah from Western donors to resume, and to flow into the pockets of their eager warlords, with some of it no doubt to be shared with the general populace) of Fatah.

What does Malcolm Smart, or all the moral preeners in NGOs -- or in foreign offices -- expect Israel to do? What would they do, if it were their country having that steady rain -- not the gentle rain of heaven upon the place beneath, but a rain of death and potential death, that keeps coming and coming?

There is only one way, and in such circumstances there has never been any way but that one way. And that is to punish those who rain those rockets, and make them suffer, until they stop. No appeals to decency or common sense will do.

If Malcolm Smart has a plan, let's hear it. And perhaps he will also care to tell us what entitles him to be heard -- is it that he has slithered his way to the position he now holds? Is that what gives him moral authority, that he is now that grand thing, the director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme? Is that it?

Is that the reason we are to listen to Malcolm Smart, and are asked, for one second, to regard his viciousness and idiocy as morality? Is he in a position to tutor anyone in such matters? Why? On what theory?

Monday, March 03, 2008

"And So?"

Before I turn to latest happenings, I would like to update previous information given regarding the appropriate contact information for Condoleezza Rice. Apparently there were some problems with the phone numbers I had provided.

The main switchboard to the State Department is 202-647-4000. But better still, I have discovered that there is a Public Communication Division that accepts opinions from the public. This may be the best way to go:

Phone 202-647-6575 Fax 202-647-2283It is important to protest before she flies here. This is with regard to Abbas's pro-terrorist statements of last week -- the question being how she can expect Israel to negotiate with him. And now, of course, there is the demand that she not try to prevent Israel from exercising legitimate self-defense.


So, precisely what IS happening here? Good question, to which there is no definitive answer. There is a certain amount of treading water, and a good number of predictable statements from various quarters.

At the request of the Palestinians and Arabs states, the Security Council has met to discuss the situation in Gaza, and is calling for an immediate cessation of violence in the area. (Do they remotely imagine that Hamas pays attention to such demands?) The statement also emphasized that this violence must not interfere with peace negotiations.

Tomorrow the Council meets to draft a resolution; if the Arabs had their way it would be a one-sided condemnation of Israel, but the US is sure to block this.


Hamas is making the most of this, accusing Abbas of collusion with Israel. It issued a statement, addressed to Abbas, saying, "If you think that you will return to the Gaza Strip aboard an Israeli tank you are living in an illusion..."

Khaled Abu Taomeh reports that Al Jazeera as well as most of the influential Arab TV stations have provided Hamas with a free platform for leveling its allegations against Fatah. (This tells us a great deal about those Arab nations.)

Many are buying this: There have been violent protests by Arabs across Judea and Samaria because of the IDF operations. In Ramallah there was even a joint rally with protesters displaying flags of both groups.

Israeli Arabs are also on board protesting for Hamas. The Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee -- which consists of Israeli citizens who work against the State of Israel -- has decided to draft a proposal for national unity between Fatah and Hamas and is planning a rally against Israeli operations on Tuesday. And the Arab MKs -- who in my opinion have absolutely no place in the Knesset because they are not loyal to the State -- have made their own declarations. MK Jamal Zahalka (United Arab List - Ta'al), for example, claimed that "an offensive on Gaza is an offensive on the entire Palestinian Authority, with everything that this entails."

It is imperative, then, for Abbas to come out strongly against Israel ("worse than the Holocaust") and to voice sympathy for Hamas.

And it becomes clear how foolish are notions, bandied about here in Israel, that see us taking out Hamas so that Fatah can take over.


Abbas did a bit of clarification today, explaining that the halt in talks represented a temporary hiatus. He is, perhaps, hopeful that the US will put a damper on our operations. But this remains to be seen.

Rocket attacks continued today with some 30 launched into Israel, including some Grad-Katyushas into Ashkelon. There have been some injuries.

Early this morning we leveled Ismail Haniyeh's headquarters, and carried out other operations.


Pressure on Olmert to take major action in Gaza is coming from many quarters, including within his own coalition.

A key advisor to Defense Minister Barak (Labor) put it directly: "Unless Olmert finds a way to decisively address this situation, he will find his coalition unable to support him any longer."

While Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, announced that he intended to convene a special meeting on the issue. "The State of Israel must make a strategic decision to order the IDF to prepare quickly to topple the Hamas terrorist regime and take over all the areas from which rockets are fired on Israel," he said, adding that the IDF should prepare to remain in those areas for years. Bravo for him!

And so, at this morning's Cabinet meeting, Olmert's words -- delivered, no doubt, in good part to mollify these critics -- were strong and appropriate:

"It must be clear. Israel has no intention of halting counter-terror operations for one moment. Anyone who thinks that by extending the rockets' range he will deter us from our operations is gravely mistaken. We will act in accordance with the government's decisions, at the time we decide, with the strength we decide on, without respite in order to strike at the terror organizations - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others, including their leaders, those who dispatch them and those who supply them weapons.

"Nobody has the right to preach morals to Israel for taking basic measures to defend itself ..."

Olmert further asked the rhetorical question as to where all those concerned about humanitarian suffering in Gaza have been with regard to humanitarian suffering in Sderot.

But these are, in the end, just words and not a decision to do that ground operation.


To my astonishment, that great appeaser, Haim Ramon, at the cabinet meeting this morning is reported to have demanded: "Why don't we shoot at the sources of the fire? According to international law, we are allowed to do it. The issue was legally examined during the Second Lebanon War and the conclusion was that if they fire from a village, we are allowed to fire back even if this is a populated area."

Ramon, you must remember, is Olmert's good buddy and sometime mouthpiece. He would not say this without sanction. And what he is suggesting is a way of getting tougher that is still not that ground operation.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann will now be looking into the legality of shooting back immediately at the site from which a rocket is launched, even if the launching was done from a civilian area.


No decision regarding what comes next -- which ultimately may simply be continuation of the operation as it is currently going on and not approval for the full incursion -- was made at the Cabinet meeting today. That is being tabled until the Security Cabinet meets on Wednesday.

Now, Wednesday just happens to be when Condoleezza Rice will be here. There is no way, as Aaron Lerner has pointed out, to be certain if this timing is designed to provide an excuse not to escalate, or to enable us to wait until she leaves before beginning the incursion.

It should be noted that we permitted 62 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza today.

And our government is preparing our representatives abroad for the public onslaught that is ensuing.

see my website

Pledges Not Made, Fairness Not Met

Barry Rubin
March 3, 2008

Keep repeating to yourself what the media institution's spokespeople tell us: Coverage is fair, coverage is fair, coverage is fair. But as you do so be sure not to look at the actual articles.Journalism has changed. It is a tool for advocacy. For a lot of reporters, writing articles is what they do instead of demonstrating or lobbying for a cause, and against another one. Behavior that twenty years ago would have been quickly condemned and resulted in either editorial changes or summary firings is accepted and defended routinely.

Just look at the texts. They are so skewed that even while being horrified one wants to laugh at the clumsy and obvious tricks employed.

People's Exhibit 1: Steve Weizman, "Israel Keeps Palestinian Offices Shut," AP, February 22, 2008. This is a long article by AP standards, counting over 20 paragraphs. And like "Seinfeld," though with considerably less entertainment or moral value, it is about nothing.

Why should Israel keeping shut "Palestinian Offices" be a story. After all, basically nothing happens? Because of the story's theme, that it is doing so "despite its pledge to reopen them under a recently revived peace plan...." Oh, I left out the rest of the sentence: "...Palestinian officials said Thursday."

Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that Israel has violated a pledge. It is only, because Palestinian officials say so.

A few days ago, the Australian Broadcasting Company ran a whole story accusing Israel of facilitating drug smuggling into the West Bank to undermine Palestinian society. There was no proof, only the assertions of Palestinians. Aside from resembling historic antisemitic blood libels, this story makes no sense, as any reporter should be able to ascertain in sixty seconds. After all, Israel is trying to keep the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) government in power, not destroy it. Israeli government officials never criticize Fatah or the PA; it is a matter of official policy. But who cares?

And you might remember the claim that some years back Israel committed massacres in Jenin. Even the UN eventually discounted that tale. But what people forget is that the original stories were based on one Palestinian being interviewed, not even an official but a man who no one had ever heard of and who afterward seems to have disappeared.

Most recently, Israel was falsely accused of cutting off almost all of the Gaza Strip's electrical power at a time when there were virtually no reductions. But an official of the Hamas regime was the only source needed to make this assertion.

So the reporters and editors can defend themselves: they did have a source after all. The problem is their wilful intention to believe sources that have every interest in lying, have a track record of doing so, and offer no proof or make illogical and unsupported claims.

Regarding the Weizman article, I have read it over and over and over again. There's one problem: there is no mention of any Israeli pledge to open the offices. Let me say that again: not only do the Palestinians (or the reporter) not prove there was any such pledge, it isn't even mentioned.

If the system operated properly, the article would be withdrawn, a correction would be issued, and how such things happen would be investigated.

This won't happen.

Here is what the article says:

"With the resumption of peace talks, the Palestinians say these places should reopen. The U.S.-backed ``road map' peace plan, the basis for negotiations, calls on Israel to "`reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem.'"

And the road map also says that Palestinians should stop terrorism but we are not seeing long articles about that fact. Of course, the plan is in several stages and implementation has not really started. No pledge was made; no pledge has been violated. Oh yes, a few lines before the bottom, deeply buried under a headline and weighty paragraphs that state how terrible is Israel's violation the article sticks in a little sentence: "Neither side has met its obligations."

Why not bother to write an article saying both sides haven't met obligations. Let's see, Israel allows some settlement construction; the Palestinians incite and allow terrorist attacks, don't punish terrorists afterward, and incite in official media for killing Israelis and wiping Israel off the map. Yep, the problem is definitely Israel closing the east Jerusalem offices.

What the article also doesn't mention is that the Palestinian side promised in the 1993 Oslo agreement, the basis for everything that has happened since, that the PA would not engage in political activity in east Jerusalem. The Orient House, the most important office closed, was owned and run by Faisal Husseini who when he died was PA minister for Jerusalem affairs. In other words, the Palestinian commitment was openly violated. Readers are not at all told about this factor. Why? So that Israel's actions seem arbitrary and unreasonable.

Yet despite that violation, in order to help along the peace process Israel allowed the place to function most of the time in the 1990s. Only in 2001, when the PA went to war with Israel, was the office closed. Having an official office in your capital used by the party waging terror attacks on you to recruit people and gather intelligence doesn't seem a great idea. These points are alluded to generally but not explained in the article.

Thus, the article actually states, but does not analyze, this amazing paragraph:

"`As the PLO Headquarters in the occupied city, the Orient House aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state,'" the center's Web site says.

Note that the institution itself doesn't even call itself a PA but a PLO institution. But you have to read almost 20 paragraphs down to find that out.

So why should Israel reopen the offices? Here's where you need a sense of humor because the article is so blatant it doesn't even see the absurdity of its own language:

"When Orient House was shut down, Israel said it would only withdraw if the Palestinian Authority, today headed by Abbas, promised not to operate there. [Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem] Abdel Khader said the Palestinians had given the necessary assurances."

So why should Israel reopen Orient House? Because Palestinian officials have promised they would not use it as an official PLO (then why haven't they changed the website?), PA, and Fatah headquarters. Oh, they promised. But they repeatedly promised and broke those promises in the past, though the article does not hint at this.

Is this article and issue important? No, but the same principles are being applied in writing dozens, nay, hundreds of articles. And they add up to slandering and demonizing Israel on a daily basis, as well as debasing the noble profession of journalism.

Let me just mention one more example very briefly to show how this process could continue at length. Mohammed Daraghmeh, "Palestinian Gunmen Swap Arms for Amnesty, February 25, 2008. While this is a pretty factual article, there is still at its analytical core an article in keeping with the usual narrative. While it cites a number of statistics, the key paragraph is this:

"....A skeptical Israel says gunmen from [Fatah's] Al Aqsa [Brigades] and other groups still pose a real threat. Dismantling armed groups is at the center of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attempt to control the West Bank and gain credibility as a leader who can implement a future peace deal with Israel."

What the article doesn't say is something significant regarding each of these two points:

First, Israel has released specifics about many amnestied gunmen who have returned to terrorism. It isn't just skeptical, it has reason to be and the reader could have been told this.

Second, dismantling armed groups may be "at the center" of Abbas' claimed policy. He just never does it and this can easily be documented.

This kind of critique is not nit-picking. The same emphases are repeated over and over again, always pointed in one direction and always against the other. Generally, the media ignores such criticism. It must do so, assuming an abandonment of historic responsibility and ethics, because on examination of the evidence this case cannot be refuted.

By the way, didn't the media pledge to at least strive strenuously to be fair?

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His latest book, The Truth about Syria was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in May 2007. Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online at: