Saturday, March 15, 2008

Worlds Apart Morally

Facing Mideast facts.

By Mona Charen

When the sirens wail in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, residents have just 16 seconds to reach shelter before the rockets fall. In the last month, the sirens have been sounding almost continuously as Sderot and (in the last several weeks) nearby Ashkelon, a city of 117,000 that traces its history back to the Canaanites, have been targeted by 50 rockets a day. The elderly, who cannot sprint to bomb shelters, simply ignore the sirens. They have little choice. But they, like all of Sderot’s residents, particularly the children, suffer from anxiety, sleep deprivation, and depression. Those who could afford to move have done so, but many remain trapped — unable to sell their homes. The rockets, Qassams and Ketuyshas, which have caused several deaths and countless injuries, are fired into Israeli civilian areas by Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Since 2005, when Israel quitted Gaza completely (uprooting 10,000 Jewish settlers), some 4,000 rockets have been launched. This raises a simple question often purposely obscured in discussions of the Middle East conflict: If the dispute is all about Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, why have the Palestinians chosen to use their newly won autonomy in Gaza to launch attacks on Israel? Why have they not been seeking investment from oil-rich Gulf states and sympathetic Europeans to develop industry, build bike paths, and open restaurants?

Hamas is the instigator? Well, Hamas is without doubt a serious problem, having wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in June 2007. Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and does not even pretend to be engaged in a peace process. But the Qassams have been flying since 2005, when the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas controlled the area. If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in the days when Yassir Arafat controlled the PLO, the argument was constantly advanced that all would be well if the Palestinians could simply get hold of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for a homeland of their own. Of course, the Arab League created the PLO and Arafat launched his first terror attack on Israel in 1964, three years before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza.

The response of the Israeli government to the bombardment of Sderot has ranged from cautious to flaccid. Demonstrators from Sderot have regularly marched on Jerusalem demanding some sort of action. The town’s mayor resigned to protest the government’s inanition last year but was persuaded to resume his post.

In January, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. The international reaction was predictable. There were protests from human rights groups and governments about “collective punishment.” News reports around the globe featured Gazans suffering without electricity or cooking oil. A friend was lectured at her Episcopalian church by a “canon for Global Justice and International Reconciliation” who delivered a sermon about the Christian responsibility to help the Palestinians get through this crisis. During the more than 24 months that the residents of Sderot have been suffering from ceaseless attacks, there was not a word of comfort from any of those quarters.

Nor has the international community shown any sensitivity to the moral climate in the Palestinian areas. Those rockets from Gaza are routinely fired from civilian areas in order to deter Israeli counterattacks. This proves that Palestinian propaganda, which routinely accuses Israel of targeting civilians, is utterly fallacious.

Last week, a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem burst into a seminary in the Jewish section of the city and began firing his weapon. He killed eight students — all but one of them teenagers — before being killed himself by an Israeli soldier who ran to help. Celebrations erupted in the West Bank and in Gaza. There was dancing in the streets. Children were given candy. Hamas leaders blessed the attack and promised more, while Abbas issued a weasely statement that condemned “all attacks that target civilians whether they be Palestinian or Israeli.” The official PA newspaper, on the other hand, published a front-page picture of the attacker naming him a “shahid” or martyr.

This pattern has played out countless times before. There is a moral gulf separating the two cultures and until the Palestinians cease relishing the murder of Israelis, the conflict will go on.

Rice: Israelis, Palestinians not doing enough

Israel News

America disappointed with peace efforts: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday neither Israel nor the Palestinians have done "nearly enough" To meet their obligations under a 2003 peace plan, making it difficult to sustain the US push to end the conflict."I have not hidden the fact that I think that there is a lot of room for improvement on both sides concerning road map obligations," Rice told reporters as she flew to Santiago, her final stop on a two-day trip to Brazil and Chile.

"Frankly, not nearly enough has happened to demonstrate that the Israelis and the Palestinians fully understand ... what is a very clear view to me - that without following Road Map obligations and without improvements on the ground, it's very hard to sustain this process," she added.

'Not surprised by Barak's absence'
US Gen. William Fraser met on Friday with Israeli and Palestinian officials to provide a US assessment of how well they have kept their promises under the 2003 US-backed Road map peace plan.

Meanwhile, Rice said that she was not surprised by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision not to attend Friday's three-way meeting with Fraser and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

She said she had discussed this with Barak some time ago and knew Israel would be represented by senior Defense Ministry strategist Amos Gilad.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Jacob Marcus

In 1772 a Muslim scholar in Cairo was asked how Jews and Christians should be treated. The answer is found in this selection, issued four years before the American Declaration of Independence. This answer is not law, but only the opinion of a conservative Muslim. The opinion is in Arabic.*


What do you say, O scholars of Islam, shining luminaries who dispel the darkness (may God lengthen your days!)? What do you say of the innovations introduced by the cursed unbelievers [Jewish and Christian] into Cairo, into the city of al-Muizz [founder of Cairo, 969] which by its splendor in legal and philosophic studies sparkles in the first rank of Muslim cities?

What is your opinion concerning these deplorable innovations which are, moreover, contrary to the Pact of Umar which prescribed the expulsion of the unbelievers from Muslim territory? [This is exaggerated. Umar exiled the infidels only from Arabia.] Among other changes they have put themselves on a footing of equality with the chiefs, scholars, and nobles, wearing, like them, costly garments of cloth of India, expensive silk and cashmere fabrics, and they imitate them even in the cut of these very garments.

In addition, whether through necessity or otherwise, they ride on saddles which are of the same type as those of chiefs, scholars, and officers, with servants at their right, at their left, and behind them, scattering and pushing back Muslims for whom they thus block the streets.

They carry small batons in their hands just like the chiefs. They buy Muslim slaves, the offspring of Negro, Abyssinian, and even white slaves; this has become so common and so frequent among them that they no longer consider this offensive. They even buy slaves publicly, just like the Muslims.

They have become the owners of houses and build new ones of a solidity, durability, and height possessed by neither the houses nor mosques of the Muslims themselves. This state of affairs is spreading and is extending beyond all proportions. They contribute for the extension of their churches and convents; they seek to raise them higher and to give them a strength and a durability which even the mosques and the monasteries themselves do not have.

Christian foreigners, foes who solicit our tolerance, settle in the country for more than a year without submitting themselves thereby to taxation and without renewing their treaties of protection. The women of the tolerated non-Muslim natives liken themselves to our women in that they deck themselves in a garment of black silk and cover their faces with a veil of white muslin with the result that in the streets they are treated with the consideration due only to respectable Muslim women.

Ought one to allow these things to the unbelievers, to the enemies of the faith? Ought one to allow them to dwell among believers under such conditions? Or, indeed, is it not the duty of every Muslim prince and of every magistrate to ask the scholars of the holy law to express their legal opinion, and to call for the advice of wise and enlightened men in order to put an end to these revolting innovations and to these reprehensible acts? Ought one not compel the unbelievers to stick to their pact [of Umar]; ought one not keep them in servitude and prevent them from going beyond the bounds and the limits of their tolerated status in order that there may result from this the greatest glory of God, of His Prophet, and of all Muslims, and likewise of that which is said in the Qu'ran?

Be good enough to give us a precise answer, one based on authentic traditions.

The Answer Of The Shaikh Hasan Al Kafrawi, The Shafiite [Professor of canon law in Cairo, d. 1788 CE]

Praise be to God, the guide of the right way!

The decision given by the Shaikh ar-Ramli [a great Cairo legal authority, d. 1596], by the Shaikh al-Islam [the Muslim religious authority in Constantinople], and by the learned scholars whose decrees can hardly be written down here, may be worded as follows: "It is forbidden to the tolerated peoples living on Muslim territory to clothe themselves in the same manner as the chiefs, the scholars, and the nobles. They should not be allowed to clothe themselves in costly fabrics which have been cut in the modes which are forbidden to them, in order that they may not offend the sensibilities of poor Muslims and in order that their faith in their religion should not be shaken by this. [Poor Muslims may regret their faith when they see how well-dressed the Christians and Jews are.]

"They should not be permitted to employ mounts like the Muslims. They must use neither saddles, nor iron-stirrups, in order to be distinguished from the true believers. They must under no circumstance ride horses because of the noble character of this animal. The Most-High has said [Qu'ran 8:62]: 'And through powerful squadrons [of horses] through which you will strike terror into your own and God's enemies.' [A verse of the Qu'ran makes a good support for a law. Verses may even be torn out of their context.]

"They should not be permitted to take Muslims into their service because God has glorified the people of Islam. He has given them His aid and has given them a guarantee by these words [Qu'ran 3:140]: 'Surely God will never give preeminence to unbelievers over the true believers.' Now this is just what is happening today, for their servants are Muslims taken from among men of a mature age or from those who are still young. This is one of the greatest scandals to which the guardians of authority must put an end. It is wrong to greet them even with a simple 'how-do-you-do'; to serve them, even for wages, at the baths or in what relates to their riding animals; and it is forbidden to accept anything from their hand, for that would be an act of debasement by the faithful. They are forbidden while going through the streets to ape the manners of the Muslims, and still less those of the cities of the religion. They shall only walk single-file, and in narrow lanes they must withdraw even more into the most cramped part of the road.

"One may read that which follows in Bukhari and Muslim [religious authorities of the ninth century]: 'Jews and Christians shall never begin a greeting; if you encounter one of them on the road, push him into the narrowest and tightest spot.' The absence of every mark of consideration toward them is obligatory for us; we ought never to give them the place of honor in an assembly when a Muslim is present. This is in order to humble them and to honor the true believers. They should under no circumstances acquire Muslim slaves, white or black. Therefore they should get rid of the slaves which they now have for the), have no right to own them. If one of their slaves who was formerly an infidel, becomes a Muslim, he shall be removed from them, and his master, willingly or unwillingly, shall be compelled to sell him and to accept the price for him.

"It is no longer permitted them to put themselves, with respect to their houses, on an equal footing with the dwellings of their Muslim neighbors, and still less to build their buildings higher. If they are of the same height, or higher, it is incumbent upon us to pull them down to a size a little less than the houses of the true believers. This conforms to the word of the Prophet: 'Islam rules, and nothing shall raise itself above it.' This is also in order to hinder them from knowing where our weak spots are and in order to make a distinction between their dwellings and ours.

"They are forbidden to build new churches, chapels, or monasteries in any Muslim land. We should destroy everything that is of new construction in every place, such as Cairo, for instance, founded under the Muslim religion, for it is said in a tradition of Umar: 'No church shall be built in Islam.' They shall no longer be permitted to repair the parts of these [post-Islamic] buildings which are in ruins. However, the old buildings [of pre-Islamic times] which are found in a land whose population had embraced Islam need not be destroyed. They shall not, however, be enlarged by means of repairs or otherwise. In case the tolerated peoples [Jews, Christians, etc.] act contrary to these provisions we will be obliged to destroy everything that has been added to the original size of the building. [Only pre-Islamic churches and synagogues may be repaired; new ones must be torn down.]

"Entrance into Muslim territory by infidels of foreign lands under the pact guaranteeing protection to the tolerated peoples is permitted only for the time necessary to settle their business affairs. If they exceed this period, their safe-conduct having expired, they will be put to death or be subject to the payment of the head-tax.[Jews and Christians of foreign lands must pay a special head-tax if they wish to remain permanently in Muslim lands.] As to those with whom the ruler may have signed treaties, and with whom he, for whatever motive, may have granted a temporary truce, they form only the smallest fraction. But they, too, must not pass the fixed limit of more than four months [without paying the tax], particularly if this occurs at a time when Islam is prosperous and flourishing. The Most-High has said [Qu'ran 2: 2341: 'They should wait four months,' and he has again said [47:37]: 'Do not show any cowardice, and do not at all invite the unbelievers to a peace when you have the upper-hand and may God be with you.'

"Their men and women are ordered to wear garments different from those of the Muslims in order to be distinguished from them. They are forbidden to exhibit anything which might scandalize us, as, for instance, their fermented liquors, and if they do not conceal these from us, we are obliged to pour them into the street."

This which precedes is only a part of that which has been written on this subject, and if we should wish to mention it all here it would take too long. But this brief recital will be sufficient for those men whose intelligence God has enlightened, to whom he has given the breath of life, and whose inner thoughts he has sanctified. Now let us beg the Sovereign Master of the world to extend His justice over humanity universally, in order that they may direct all their efforts toward raising with firmness the banner of the religion.

In a tradition of the sincere and faithful [Calif Abu Bekr, 632-634] it is likewise said: "The abolition of a sacrilegious innovation is preferable to the permanent operation of the law." In another tradition it is also said: "One hour of justice is worth more than sixty years of ritual." The verses of the Qu'ran and the traditions are very numerous on this subject, and they are known by all the faithful. God has cursed the former nations because they have not condemned scandalous things; and He has said [Qu'ran 5:82]: "They [the children of Israel] seek not at all to turn one another from the bad actions which they have committed. 0 how detestable were their actions. But He has punished these men because of their obstinate conduct." The Most-High has also said [Qu'ran 9: 1 131: "Those who bid what is right and forbid what is wrong, who observe the divine precepts, will be rewarded. Announce these glad tidings to the Muslims."

May the Most High God admit us to the number of this company and may He lead us in the paths of His favor. Certainly God is powerful in everything; He is full of mercy to His servants; He sees all.

Written by the humble Hasan al Kafrawi, the Shafiite. [1772 CE]

* This is reprinted from Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791, (New York: JPS, 1938), 15-19. Glosses in square brackets are by Marcus.


Elbogen, PP. 47-48; Roth, pp. 149-151; Sachar, pp. 155-161


Graetz, III, pp. 53-89; Graetz-Rhine, II, pp 488-513; Margolis and Marx, pp. 248-254.

Gottheil, R. J. H., "Dhimmis and Muslims in Egypt," Old Testament and Semitic Studies in Memory of William Rainey Harper, II, pp 351-414

Torrey, C. C., The Jewish Foundation of Islam. A scholarly critique of the Jewish influence on early Islam.

Wismar, A. L., A Study in Tolerance as Practiced by Muhammad and His Immediate Successors. A good study.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, "Persecution (Muhammadan)"; "Toleration (Muhammadan)."

JE, "Disabilities"; "Islam"; "Omar I"


Tritton, A. S., The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects. A Critical Study of the Covenant of 'Umar. Chap. i, "The Covenant of 'Umar."

Jacob Marcus was a professor at Hebrew Union College in Cinncinnati. His early writings dealt with the history of German Jewry and later he wrote on Early American Jewry and established the American Jewish Archives.

The Marcus text is part of the "Internet Jewish History Sourcebook." The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. This material from Jewish History Sourcebook is available at Later printings of this text (e.g. by Atheneum, 1969, 1972, 1978) do not indicate that the copyright was renewed).

Paul Halsall is Sources Editor of the On-line Reference Book (ORB) for Medieval Studies at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies. Contact him at

More support for you when talking with historical distorters

Abraham Bell

INTERNATIONAL LAW AND GAZA: THE ASSAULT ON ISRAEL'S RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE * International law authorizes Israel to initiate military countermeasures in Gaza. If Gaza is seen as having independent sovereignty, Israel's use of force is permissible on the grounds of self-defense. If Gaza is seen as lacking any independent sovereignty, Israel's use of military force is permissible as in other non-international conflicts.

* The rule of "distinction" includes elements of intent and expected result: so long as one aims at legitimate targets, the rule of distinction permits the attack, even if there will be collateral damage to civilians. The rule of "proportionality" also relies upon intent. If Israel plans a strike without expecting excessive collateral damage, the rule of proportionality permits it. Israeli attacks to date have abided by the rules of distinction and proportionality.

* Israel's imposition of economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip is a perfectly legal means of responding to Palestinian attacks. Since Israel is under no legal obligation to engage in trade of fuel or anything else with Gaza, or to maintain open borders, it may withhold commercial items and seal its borders at its discretion.

* The bar on collective punishment forbids the imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another's guilt. None of Israel's actions involve the imposition of criminal-type penalties.

* There is no legal basis for maintaining that Gaza is occupied territory. The Fourth Geneva Convention refers to territory as occupied where the territory is of a state party to the convention and the occupier "exercises the functions of government" in the territory. Gaza is not territory of another state party to the convention and Israel does not exercise the functions of government in the territory.

* The fighting in Gaza has been characterized by the extensive commission of war crimes, acts of terrorism and acts of genocide by Palestinians, while Israeli countermeasures have conformed with the requirements of international law. International law requires states to take measures to bring Palestinian war criminals and terrorists to justice, to prevent and punish Palestinian genocidal efforts, and to block the funding of Palestinian terrorist groups and those complicit with them.

Since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Palestinian groups including Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Resistance Committees have launched thousands of rocket attacks at Israel. All the attacks have been on civilian targets, with no more than a handful of possible exceptions. The brunt of the Palestinian assault has been borne by the town of Sderot. The attacks have killed several residents and injured dozens, struck houses and public buildings like kindergartens, and so traumatized residents that three-quarters of all Sderot children between the ages of 7 and 12 suffer from post-traumatic anxiety.

Faulty Arguments Made by Opponents of Israel

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of Israeli countermeasures, persistent critics of Israel have strongly objected to Israel's defensive actions to date, while remaining mostly mute on the crime under international law committed daily by the Gazan militias' attacks on Israeli civilians. As will be explained below, it is evident that the criticisms are without legal basis. Israeli responses to the Palestinian terror attacks emanating from Gaza correspond to the requirements of international law, and the claims that Israel has violated international law are without merit.

One widely reported criticism came from John Dugard, a professor of international law who has accepted a permanent appointment as special rapporteur on human rights in the "occupied Palestinian territories" from the discredited UN Commission on Human Rights and its successor UN Human Rights Council. Dugard has publicly and repeatedly interpreted his mandate as requiring him to criticize only Israel and, true to form, Dugard criticized Israeli defense measures for alleged illegality in the high-profile Sunday New York Times (Jan. 20, 2008).

First, Dugard claimed that Israel's attack on Hamas headquarters in a Palestinian Interior Ministry building in Gaza was illegal because the target was "near a wedding venue with what must have been foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians." However, contrary to Dugard's insinuation, the building was certainly a legitimate target under the international humanitarian legal rule of distinction as it makes a definite contribution to Hamas' hostilities. That one Palestinian civilian lost her life in the Israeli strike is unfortunate, but not a violation of the rule of proportionality, which authorizes collateral damage to civilians where justified by military necessity.

Second, Dugard asserted that Israel's closure of its borders with the Gaza Strip constitutes illegal "collective punishment." Yet there is nothing in international law that requires Israel to maintain open borders with such a hostile territory, whatever its sovereign status. Exercising legal counter-measures against a hostile entity does not constitute "collective punishment" under international law. Dugard's refusal to level the same charge against Egypt, which also kept closed its border with the Gaza Strip, underlines the bias that accompanies the legally inaccurate statement.

Dugard was not alone. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour denounced Israel's "disproportionate use of force." UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told the UN Security Council that collective penalties were prohibited under international law (Financial Times, Jan. 22, 2008). UNRWA Commissioner General Karen Koning Abu Zayd joined the chorus by criticizing Israel's "sporadic" electricity supply to Gaza and its border closures and called on the international community to act (Guardian, Jan. 23, 2008). Unfortunately, these skewed assertions and misstatements of international law by UN officials framed how international public opinion views the illegal Palestinian actions in Gaza and the merits of Israeli defensive actions, and especially Israel's legal right to defend itself.

Some parties had the courage to reject the one-sided and faulty arguments. In the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada, a state that prides itself in making the defense of human rights and international law a significant factor in its foreign policy, voted against a resolution condemning Israel for the Gaza fighting. While the European state members abstained in the Human Rights Council vote, some European officials, such as Franco Frattini, European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, correctly defended the legality of the Israeli actions, and others, such as Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, criticized UN bias against Israel. Finally, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told the UN Security Council on January 22, 2008, that Hamas was "ultimately responsible" for the current situation in Gaza.

This essay nevertheless attempts to construct a rational legal basis for evaluating Israeli behavior and potential criticisms. This is no easy task as many of the criticisms of Israel's conduct are made in conclusory fashion, without reference to legal doctrines or legal materials in support of the charges, or, alternatively, based on a misunderstanding of the requirements of the law and the factual context.

This essay examines, in turn, the six distinct bodies of law that could potentially affect the legality of Israeli counterstrikes:

1. the laws of initiating hostilities (jus ad bellum);
2. international humanitarian law, which governs the conduct of military actions;
3. the laws of occupied territory, which some have argued applies to Israeli actions against Gaza-based terrorists;
4. human rights laws;
5. laws on genocide; and
6. anti-terror laws.

A careful examination of the relevant law demonstrates that Israeli counterstrikes to date, and its potential future counterstrikes (both economic and military), conform to the requirements of international law. Moreover, Palestinian commission of war crimes and acts considered under international conventions to be terrorist acts and acts of genocide require Israel and other countries to take steps to punish Palestinian criminals for their acts in the Gaza fighting.

A final preliminary note is in order. The legal status of the Gaza Strip is an extremely complex puzzle in international law and is beyond the scope of this essay. Fortunately, it turns out that many of the legal conclusions regarding the Gaza fighting are not affected by the precise nature of Gaza's status. The essay notes those instances where Gaza's status does affect the ultimate legal determination.

1. The Legality of Israeli Military Actions under Jus ad Bellum

The law of jus ad bellum, as codified by the UN Charter, prevents using military force against another state. However, Article 51 of the Charter excludes self-defense from this ban on the use of force. Furthermore, jus ad bellum does not restrict the use of force in non-international conflicts.

Israel's right to use force in defending itself against Palestinian attacks from Gaza is clear, notwithstanding the uncertain legal status of the Gaza Strip, which makes it difficult to determine the grounds on which Israel's actions should be analyzed. If Gaza should be seen as having independent sovereignty, Israel's use of force is permissible on the grounds of self-defense. On the other hand, if Gaza is properly seen as lacking any independent sovereignty, Israel's use of military force is permissible as in other non-international conflicts.

2. The Legality of Israeli Military Actions under International Humanitarian Law

International humanitarian law regulates the use of force once military action is underway, irrespective of its legality under jus ad bellum. The two most basic principles of international humanitarian law are the rules of distinction and proportionality. Israel's counterstrikes have abided by both these rules.


The rule of distinction requires aiming attacks only at legitimate (e.g., military and support) targets. The rule of distinction includes elements of intent and expected result: so long as one aims at legitimate targets, the rule of distinction permits the attack, even if there will be collateral damage to civilians and even if, in retrospect, the attack was a mistake based on faulty intelligence. Israel has aimed its strikes at the locations from which rockets have been fired, Palestinian combatants bearing weapons and transporting arms, Palestinian terrorist commanders, and support and command and control centers. Locations such as Interior Ministry buildings from which Hamas directs some military activities are objects that make a contribution to Hamas' military actions and are therefore legitimate targets, even though they also have civilian functions.

By contrast, the Palestinian attacks are aimed at Israeli civilians and therefore violate the rule of distinction. Moreover, one of the corollaries of the rule of distinction is a ban on the use of weapons that are incapable, under the circumstances, of being properly aimed at legitimate targets. The rockets and projectile weapons being used by the Palestinian attackers are primitive weapons that cannot be aimed at specific targets, and must be launched at the center of urban areas. This means that the very use of the weapons under current circumstances violates international humanitarian law.


The rule of proportionality places limits on collateral damage. While collateral damage to civilian and other protected targets is permitted, collateral damage is forbidden if it is expected to be excessive in relation to the military need. Prosecutions for war crimes on the basis of disproportionate collateral damage are rare, and it is difficult to see how a credible claim can be made that any of Israel's counterstrikes have created disproportionate collateral damage. Moreover, like distinction, the rule of proportionality relies upon intent. If Israel plans a strike without expecting excessive collateral damage, the rule of proportionality permits it, even if, in retrospect, Israel turns out to have erred in its damage estimates.

All reported Israeli strikes in the latest round of fighting have been aimed at legitimate targets and none has caused excessive collateral damage. Legal advisors attached to Israeli military units review proposed military actions and apply an extremely restrictive standard of both distinction and proportionality, in accordance with expansive Israeli Supreme Court rulings. It is thus likely that future Israeli measures will continue to abide by the rules of distinction and proportionality.


Israel's imposition of economic sanctions on the Gaza Strip, such as withholding fuel supplies and electricity, does not involve the use of military force and is therefore a perfectly legal means of responding to Palestinian attacks, despite the effects on Palestinian citizens. The use of economic and other non-military sanctions as a means of "punishing" other international actors for their misbehavior is a practice known as "retorsion." It is generally acknowledged that every country may engage in retorsion so long as the underlying acts are themselves legal. Indeed, it is acknowledged that states may even go beyond retorsion to carry out non-belligerent reprisals-non-military acts that would otherwise be illegal (such as suspending flight agreements) as countermeasures. Since Israel is under no legal obligation to engage in trade of fuel or anything else with the Gaza Strip, or to maintain open borders with the Gaza Strip, it may withhold commercial items and seal its borders at its discretion, even if intended as "punishment" for Palestinian terrorism.

Collective Punishment:

While international law bars "collective punishment," none of Israel's combat actions and retorsions may be considered collective punishment. The bar on collective punishment forbids the imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another's guilt. None of Israel's actions involve the imposition of criminal-type penalties.

Examples of retorsions are legion in international affairs. The United States, for example, froze trade with Iran after the 1979 Revolution and with Uganda in 1978 after accusations of genocide. In 2000, fourteen European states suspended various diplomatic relations with Austria in protest of the participation of Jorg Haider in the government. Numerous states suspended trade and diplomatic relations with South Africa as punishment for apartheid practices. Obviously, in none of these cases was a charge raised of "collective punishment."

3. The Legality of Israeli Military Actions under the Laws of Occupation

Some groups have claimed that the Gaza Strip should be considered "occupied" by Israel according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, in which case Israel would be required to "ensure the food and medical supplies of the population," as well as "agree to relief schemes on behalf of the...population" and maintain "public health and hygiene."

Due to internal political considerations as well as rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court, Israel continues to maintain the flow of basic humanitarian supplies such as food, medicine and water to the Palestinian population of Gaza. In a recent case (Albassiouni v. Prime Minister, HCJ 9132/07), the Israeli Supreme Court implied that it interpreted domestic Israeli administrative law to require the Israeli government to maintain a minimum flow of Israeli-supplied necessary humanitarian goods when engaging in retorsional acts such as cutting off the Israeli supply of electricity to Gaza. Thus, even if there were a legal basis for considering Gaza Israeli-occupied territory, Israel would be fulfilling its duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

However, there is no legal basis for maintaining that Gaza is occupied territory. The Fourth Geneva Convention refers to territory as occupied where the territory is of another "High Contracting Party" (i.e., a state party to the convention) and the occupier "exercises the functions of government" in the occupied territory. The Gaza Strip is not territory of another state party to the convention and Israel does not exercise the functions of government-or, indeed, any significant functions-in the territory. It is clear to all that the elected Hamas government is the de facto sovereign of the Gaza Strip and does not take direction from Israel, or from any other state.

Some have argued that states can be considered occupiers even of areas where they do not declare themselves in control so long as the putative occupiers have effective control. For instance, in 2005, the International Court of Justice opined that Uganda could be considered the occupier of Congolese territory over which it had "substituted [its] own authority for that of the Congolese Government" even in the absence of a formal military administration. Some have argued that this shows that occupation may occur even in the absence of a full-scale military presence and claimed that this renders Israel an occupier under the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, these claims are clearly without merit. First, Israel does not otherwise fulfill the conditions of being an occupier; in particular, Israel does not exercise the functions of government in Gaza, and it has not substituted its authority for the de facto Hamas government. Second, Israel cannot project effective control in Gaza. Indeed, Israelis and Palestinians well know that projecting such control would require an extensive military operation amounting to the armed conquest of Gaza. Military superiority over a neighbor, and the ability to conquer a neighbor in an extensive military operation, does not itself constitute occupation. If it did, the United States would have to be considered the occupier of Mexico, Egypt the occupier of Libya and Gaza, and China the occupier of North Korea.

Moreover, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that foes of Israel claiming that Israel has legal duties as the "occupier" of Gaza are insincere in their legal analysis. If Israel were indeed properly considered an occupier, under Article 43 of the regulations attached to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, it would be required to take "all the measures in [its] power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety." Thus, those who contend that Israel is in legal occupation of Gaza must also support and even demand Israeli military operations in order to disarm Palestinian terror groups and militias. Additionally, claims of occupation necessarily rely upon a belief that the occupying power is not the true sovereign of the occupied territory. For that reason, those who claim that Israel occupies Gaza must believe that the border between Israel and Gaza is an international border between separate sovereignties. Yet, many of those claiming that Gaza is occupied, like John Dugard, also simultaneously and inconsistently claim that Israel is legally obliged to open the borders between Israel and Gaza. No state is required to leave its international borders open.

4. The Legality of Israeli Military Actions under International Human Rights Law

Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Israel is required to ensure the protection of certain rights "within its territory" including the right to life. The application of the covenant to Israeli activities in the Gaza Strip is questionable as it is unlikely that the Gaza Strip should be considered Israel's territory. Nonetheless, Israel has abided by the requirements of the convention, if it applies to Gaza. In combat situations the meaning of the rights in the convention is established by the rules of international humanitarian law. Thus, Israel is protecting the human rights of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip by abiding by international humanitarian law.

5. Duties of Israel under the Genocide Convention

Article Two of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines any killing with intent "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such" as an act of genocide. Given expressions of intent by some of the Palestinian terrorist groups to kill Jews as a group due to their ethnic identity (such as the Hamas charter's call for an armed struggle against all Jews until judgment day), all the members of such groups who carry out killings are guilty of the crime of genocide under the convention. Under Article One of the convention, Israel and other signatories are required to "prevent and punish" not only persons who carry out such genocidal acts, but those who conspire with them, incite them to kill, and are complicit with their actions. The convention thus requires Israel to prevent and punish the terrorists themselves, as well as public figures who have publicly supported the Palestinian attacks.

6. Duties of Israel under Anti-Terrorism Conventions

The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism requires Israel (like other state parties to the convention) to prevent the collection of funds intended to support terrorist attacks. The Palestinian attacks fall under the definition of terrorist attacks under Article 2(1)(b) of the convention because they are aimed at Israeli civilians in violation of the rule of distinction, and they are intended to kill or seriously injure civilians in order to intimidate a population. If Gaza is considered "territory of [the] state" of Israel, Israel is legally required to establish jurisdiction over Palestinian terrorist crimes under the convention; if Gaza is not Israeli territory, Israel is permitted to establish jurisdiction over the terrorist crimes.

Additionally, the convention establishes that Israel is not only permitted to impose certain economic sanctions on the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, it is required to do so.

Under a related convention, the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, it is a crime to bomb public places (such as city streets) with the intent to kill civilians, by persons who are non-nationals of the state of which the victims are nationals. Under this convention too, the Palestinian attackers must be considered international terrorists and Israel is either required or permitted (depending on whether Gaza is Israeli "territory") to assume criminal jurisdiction over the Palestinian terrorists committing these acts. Additionally, other states signed on the convention-such as the United States, Russia, Turkey and France-must cooperate in helping to combat such Palestinian terrorist acts.

Finally, Security Council Resolution 1373 requires states to "deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens" and "prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups." The resolution was adopted under Chapter VII and is therefore apparently binding on all states, although some have argued that the resolution is not binding because the Security Council is not authorized to enact quasi-legislation. While the resolution does not define terrorism, it references the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, making it clear that the Palestinian attackers from Gaza fall within the scope of the international terrorists covered by the resolution. Consequently, if binding, this resolution requires Israel to take steps to deny safe haven to Palestinian attackers from Gaza and to prevent their free movement.


The Palestinian-Israeli fighting in Gaza has been characterized by the extensive commission of war crimes, acts of terrorism and acts of genocide by Palestinian fighters, while Israeli countermeasures have conformed with the requirements of international law.

International law requires states to take measures to bring Palestinian war criminals and terrorists to justice, to prevent and punish Palestinian genocidal efforts, and to block the funding of Palestinian terrorist groups and those complicit with them.

[Editor's Note: As a companion article, read Abraham Bell's "Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?" in Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol 7, No. 33 February 28, 2008, where Dr. Bell counters some misinformed opinions that Israel is obligated to supply Gaza with utilities, goods and services. He points out that quite the opposite is true: "under the relevant treaties on terrorism and relevant UN Security Council resolutions... Under Security Council Resolution 1566, Britain is required to cooperate fully in Israel's fight against terrorism "in order to find, deny safe haven and bring to justice...any person who supports, facilitates, participates or attempts to participate in the financing, planning, preparation or commission of terrorist acts or provides safe havens."

See also: Ted Belman's "Bomb Gaza. Win the War," which asks what the principles and rules Professor Bell sets out mean in practice. Read it here. He includes an opinion by Bruce Tucker Smith, JD, LL.M. (International Law), Lt Col USAFR (ret), the Co-author of Seventh Psalm]

Dr. Abraham Bell is a member of the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University, Visiting Professor at Fordham University Law School, and Director of the International Law Forum at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

This was published as a Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 7, No. 29 28 January 2008, by Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 1&TMID=111&FID=378&PID=0&IID=2021&TTL= International_Law_and_Gaza:_The_Assault_on_Israel's_Right_to_Self-Defense


Rachel Neuwirth

The entire body of the Jewish people today -- in Israel, in Europe, in America, in Australia and New Zealand, and throughout the world -- is in grave danger. Our very existence as a people and as a faith is in jeopardy. The threat to our survival has two components to it: the external siege being waged against Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world by the international jihadist movement, its sympathizers and appeasers; and the internal siege that we Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, including the United States, are waging against ourselves.

We will look first at the external siege -- war that is being waged against us. It has its military, diplomatic, and ideological-propaganda aspects.

Military threat

On the "military" front (if that is the right word for the front of violence and terror) we have been under constant assault since the signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.

During the past fourteen and a half years the Palestinian Arab terrorists have murdered over 1,800 Israelis, two thirds of them civilians. This is more than the total number of Israelis murdered by the Palestinian Arabs in the forty-four years preceding the "peace accords." Many of the killers have been members of the Palestinian Arab "police force" established with Israel 's consent in Gaza, Judea and Samaria under the Oslo accords. Indeed, Palestinian "police" have murdered three Israelis just over the past month.

For the past seven years, Israeli towns and villages near the border with Gaza have been subjected to rocket attacks; during the past two years, the city of Sderot, with a population of some 23,000, has been bombarded with rockets nearly every day. Its residents have about twenty seconds whenever a warning siren sounds to duck into a shelter. The missiles have killed some people; many more have been wounded; and thousands, including Sderot's children, have suffered shock and trauma.

Egypt, supposedly at peace with Israel, has enabled the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza to move vast amounts of armaments, money and soldiers into this territory, and to transform themselves from a guerilla force into an army able to fight Israel on NEAR equal terms. The Israelis have even captured on videotape Egyptian "border guards" helping to smuggle in terrorists.

Then there are the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, who killed about 140 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians in 2006, many of them with long range rockets that struck deep inside the Galilee, including Israel 's third largest city, Haifa. Hezbollah recently struck again with rockets at kibbutz Shlomi. Since the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah has completely rearmed, and now has missiles that can strike at the heart of Tel Aviv.

Standing behind Hezbollah are Syria and Iran. Both of these hateful regimes make no bones about their desire to destroy Israel. Both are armed with chemical and biological weapons, missiles that can reach every inch of Israeli territory, the most advanced fighter jets, and numerous other ultramodern weapons. Both regimes are working at break-neck speed to develop nuclear weapons. This has been thoroughly documented, despite the attempts of the recent "National Intelligence Estimate" to deny this reality.

Threat of violence

The campaign of violence against Jews has been extended to the Diaspora. There has been a massive increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe. In London, Paris, and Brussels, Jews are routinely assaulted on the street and on public transportation facilities. Many synagogues have been vandalized, and some burned to the ground. Desecrations of Jewish cemeteries are so common that they have ceased to be news. In "peaceful" Switzerland, a rabbi was gunned down recently in the street simply because he was wearing traditional Jewish garb.

Nor should we American Jews think that we have been immune to the spreading hatred. According to FBI statistics, of some 1,500 hate crimes connected with the religion of the victims last year, over 1,000 were directed at Jews -- more than five times the number of crimes directed at the next most vulnerable group, Muslims, and more than ten times the number of hate crimes directed against Christians. On March 1, 1994, a Lebanese Muslim murdered a Jewish boy and seriously injured several others on the Brooklyn Bridge, simply because they were Jews. On July 4, 2002, at the El Al terminal of Los Angeles Airport, two Jews were killed and four wounded by an Egyptian gunman, simply because they were Jews seeking to board a plane for Israel. On July 28, 2007 an Arab Muslim man walked into a Jewish center in Seattle, murdered a Jewish woman and injured five other women simply because they were Jews.

Even more troubling, perhaps, is the strange insensitivity often displayed by our own government toward many of these hate crimes. For example, the FBI described the murder of the Jewish boy on the Brooklyn Bridge as a case of "road rage," even when the political and religious motives of the assassin were attested to by many witnesses. And when the Egyptian, Muslim fundamentalist gunman mowed down Jews at the Los Angeles El Al terminal, the FBI investigating officer asserted, "there is no evidence that this was terrorism."

Diplomatic threat

On the diplomatic front, Israel has been under relentless pressure from the international community, including, sad to say, our own beloved United States, to make unilateral concessions to the Palestinian terrorists that place Israel in deadly peril. The so-called "Quartet" of great powers, consisting of the United States, the European Community, the United Nations, and Russia, has bludgeoned Israel into accepting the so-called "Road Map" plan, which requires Israel to withdraw more or less to its June 4, 1967 borders. The late Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, once aptly called these lines "the Auschwitz frontiers."

Pressure to implement the "road map" has continued relentlessly through the Annapolis conference last month and during President Bush's recent visit to Israel . The United States has also put relentless pressure on Israel to withdraw security checkpoints that are vital to preventing the movement of terrorists and their weapons into Israel, to end all construction of Jewish housing outside the 1967 borders, including those neighborhoods of Jerusalem outside of this "green line," to acquiesce in the partition of Jerusalem, and to evacuate Jewish residents from the so-called "unauthorized settlements" or "illegal outposts" -- many of them on land legally owned by Jews, in some cases owned by Jews for decades.

The Palestinian Arab leadership, for its part, has demanded that Israel accept within its borders all four million Arabs who claim that they are descended from refugees who left Israel sixty years ago, during her War of Independence. They also want Israel to evict the roughly 450,000 Jews who live in areas outside the 1967 lines, which would require Israel to resettle these unfortunate people, too, within its now-truncated territory. Obviously, Israel could not survive the importation of millions of Arabs who have been taught to hate her from birth. But it also would be very difficult to absorb half a million Jews forced from their homes. They would have good reason to hate their own country.

Yet the United States has given Israel little encouragement to resist these demands of the Palestinian Arabs.

Propaganda threat

But by far the most insidious and dangerous front in the war against Israel is the propaganda war. In the Arab countries and Iran, this takes the form of the crudest lies and stereotypes derived from Nazi propaganda and the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But it is also being waged in a more subtle way by the media throughout Europe, the United States, and even within Israel itself; and by the academic and educational establishments of all of these countries as well. The Western media and academic "experts" portray Israel as a Western colonial implant into the Middle East that has uprooted and dispossessed the "indigenous" Arab population and stolen their land. Israelis are portrayed as religious fanatics intent on seizing other people's land in order to fulfill Biblical promises.

Nor should we overlook that the hate propaganda and libels directed against Israel are directed against the Jews of the Diaspora as well, especially American Jews. Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer and former President Jimmy Carter claim that American Jews exert excessive power over American foreign policy; that they use this power on behalf of a foreign country, Israel, to the disadvantage and injury of the United States; and that we silence anyone who criticizes Israel with threats, unfair criticism or dismissal from their jobs.

All of these allegations, both those against Israel itself and those against its Jewish supporters in the United States and elsewhere, are lies. But through constant repetition, they have been bought into by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, including Europe, the United States, and saddest of all, within Israel itself. This is the ultimate fulfillment of Hitler's observation in Mein Kampf that the bigger the lie is, if it is repeated often enough, the more likely it is to be believed.

Internal threat

But it is we Jews' siege of ourselves from within our own communities that presents the gravest danger to our survival as a people and as a faith community: our self-doubts; our demoralization; our loss of confidence in the righteousness of our own cause; our lack of unity; the loss of our religious beliefs, and of what is an essential part of our religion, our mission as a people.

Because so many of us have lost faith in the righteousness of our own struggle for survival, and have accepted the lies of our enemies, the government and people of Israel have been increasingly yielding to the demands of our enemies and false friends without even putting up a struggle. In order to survive, we must win a victory over the sickness of our enemies; but before we can do that, we must heal ourselves.

For some Jews, their psychological sickness has progressed to the point of outright identification with the enemies of our people, and active participation in their ideological, propaganda and political assault on us. These Jews have actively taken sides with the enemy, at least on the level of ideology, communications and propaganda -- perhaps in the belief that "if you can't beat them, join them." These Jews constitute an internal Jewish fifth column that threatens us more severely than all our external enemies combined. The anti-Israel and anti-Jewish Jews among us are like a dagger pointed directly at the heart of Israel and the Jewish people.

Thousands of Jewish journalists, academics, filmmakers, artists and "intellectuals" in the United States, Canada, Europe, and within Israel itself have actively participated in the campaign of vilification and lies against Israel. There is even a "minyan" of Jewish reporters working for the notorious al-Qaeda mouthpiece al-Jazeera. These Jewish haters of Zion have a greater impact and credibility than any other group of anti-Israel propagandists. Who, after all, would believe that Jews would lie about their own people and institutions? And their impact is greatest on their fellow Jews, of course; they have sapped the will of Israelis to resist the demands of their enemies, and the will of the American and other Diaspora Jews to stand behind Israel, by persuading them that Israel 's cause is not just.

But our internal propagandist fifth column, disastrous though its impact has been on our morale, is only one of the negative influences contributing to the collapse of the Jewish will to resist the relentless pressure of our enemies.

A tremendous, and humanly understandable, war-weariness has gripped Israelis. Prime Minister Olmert gave voice to this terrible war fatigue when he said,

"We are tired of fighting we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want to we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies."

We must remember that a man or woman struggling to walk to safety through numbing cold may become very tired indeed, to the point of wishing to lie down in the snow and fall asleep. But then he or she will not wake up.

Loss of faith in God and in the truths of our religion is yet another reason for our spreading defeatism and our failure to resist the assault on us as Jews. It is our religion that teaches us that we are a distinct people with a land of our own. It is our religion that teaches us that we have a unique destiny, and that we must survive as a people if we are to fulfill our mission to be "a light unto the nations." Once we forget our faith, the temptation to assimilate into our environment completely and forget about what happens to our fellow Jews becomes very great.

And for us, the Jews of the golden American Diaspora, our very comfort, prosperity and seeming security have concealed the common danger from us -- much as they concealed from the Jews of Germany and elsewhere in Europe the grave danger that they faced from Nazism, until it was too late to do anything. They think, "What has all this got to do with me? I am leading a perfectly contented and prosperous life here in America with my family. I am very comfortable. Why should I care about what is happening to other Jewish people 6,000 miles away?"

The answer to this understandable human reaction is the answer that Mordecai sent to Esther when she expressed her fear of approaching King Ahasuerus to appeal for the life of her fellow Jews: "Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king's palace. On the contrary . . .you and your father's house will perish." (Esther 4:12). If Israel should fall, do not imagine that we American Jews shall escape persecution by enemies who see our vulnerability.

Our lethargy and indifference are grave mistakes that will come back to haunt us. While World War II was going on, few Jews in America even knew about, or much less reacted to, the genocide being committed against our brethren in Europe, even though the essential facts about their fate were known to American Jewish leaders as early as 1942. It was only after the war ended and photographs of the bodies of the victims appeared in the newspapers that the enormity of what had happened began to sink in with American Jews. Serious discussion and study of the Holocaust did not even begin among us until the 1960s.

This time, we will not have the luxury of a slow response to the dangers facing not only the Jews of Israel, but also ourselves.

Nor should Christians and other non-Jews in America and throughout the Western world be indifferent to what is happening. The international jihad waged by the radical Islamists targets not only Jews, but all Christians (referred to by the jihadis as "Crusaders") and all of Western civilization as well. The Jews are the first on the list of groups targeted for extinction by the radical jihadis, but they are by no means the last on this list. In our vulnerability to the poisonous ideological winds sweeping in from the Middle East and South Asia, we Jews are the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" -- the first to suffer the lethal effects of the poison, but not the last.

Rachel Neuwirth, an internationally recognized, political commentator and analyst. She specializes in Middle Eastern Affairs with particular emphasis on Militant Islam and Israeli foreign policy. She has been published in prominent news papers of Europe, Asia and the US. She is frequently quoted by reputable Media.

John Landau contributed to this article.

This article appeared February 3, 2008 in the American Thinker

PATV lauds Internet site calling for Israel's elimination

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

Palestinian Authority TV hosts held a discussion about the messages of one group on the popular FACEBOOK internet social network, which openly call for Israel's elimination. The group home page called:
"Israel" is not a country!... Delete from Facebook as a country!"
includes a map of all of Israel marked as "Palestine". Every time Israel is written it appears within quotation marks - "Israel" - and PA TV hosts expressed praise and unreserved support for this hate ideology, saying: "There is an abundance of information [in the group] about Palestinian history and about the connection of the Palestinian people to this land, which has, of course, been stolen from us. Perhaps this is the most delicate wording we can find: "stolen from us".
"This is a nice development, that we use internet sites for this purpose."
"The beauty of this topic [the internet] is that is should be used to further this cause."

The following is some of the hate content on the homepage of this site that PA TV welcomed and praised:

"Israel" is not a country!... ...Delete from Facebook as a country!
... Our goal is to reach a peaceful solution. "Israel" is presently an Apartheid regime. This group strongly condemns racism and does not tolerate it. Criticism of illegitimate Apartheid-"Israel", which has no right to exist, cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic,. We only advocate the peaceful transformation of Palestine into one single, united, peaceful, democratic state from the river to the sea.
... Many Jews, including Rabbis, and religious Jews oppose Zionism and believe that Judaism prohibits it (and it does. Zionism is a secular concept, and there are things in the Old Testament that forbid Zionism ...; "Israel" barely tolerates Judaism and its actions go against the beliefs and teaching Judaism.
... . Arabs are Semites and are descendants of Abraham, unlike most Jews, who are mainly Europeans and Americans. So really, European Zionists who are racist towards Arabs are the ones who are "anti-Semitic ... Semitic Jews are aware of this fact, and that's why they don't go to "Israel" (or flee from "Israel") and choose to live in the United States or even stay in other parts of the middle east over living in the Secular, non-Semitic, European-occupied territory [i.e., Israel-ed] !! ... .
Spread the word
... Please invite your friends !!! ... Let me make it clear for all who do not understand. This group is not against peace. If facebook changed the name [of Israel-ed] to "Occupied Palestine", I think we could all agree that, that is a just solution. ...

The following is discussion excerpted from PA TV show for Palestinian teenagers.
The hostess of the show:

Ala'a Ghosha: " Our final topic for the day is Facebook: Facebook as a new battleground between the Arabs and Israel. "Israel is not a country!... Delete from Facebook as a country!" This is the title of an Arab forum which includes thousands of Americans, foreigners and even Jews, on the famous internet site Facebook. The number of members to date is around 36,000. The group demands that Israel be regarded as an occupying entity and not as a country... From what I have observed and read, there is an abundance of information [in the forum] about Palestinian history and about the connection of the Palestinian people to this land, which has, of course, been stolen from us. Perhaps this is the most delicate wording we can find - "stolen from us".
...another hostess on the show, Tala Halawa: "This is a nice development, that we use internet sites for this purpose..."
Ala'a Ghosha: "The beauty of this topic [the internet] is that is should be used to further this cause. We should direct it toward the path of peace and toward obtaining our rights".

[PATV, March 9 2008]

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Arlene Kushner

How fascinating it is to watch the process -- political, military -- as it unfolds from day to day. One truly never knows what the next day will bring.

This is what we're seeing now:

Yesterday we took out four terrorists in Bethlehem. Three were members of Islamic Jihad, and one a member of Al Aksa Brigades. Some news reports said that the key person taken down, Muhammad Shahade, was the mastermind behind the yeshiva massacre, because that's what local Palestinians are saying; he was the most senior IJ leader in the Bethlehem region and is reported to have had extensive ties with Hezbollah. Our military sources, if they are of the opinion that he masterminded the yeshiva attack, are being a bit circumspect. But what they are saying is that the four men were responsible for many terror attacks in previous years. (Note: Shahade also had associations with Fatah and there are those claiming that this connection is being downplayed by Israel because it, shall we say, besmirches the good name of our peace partner.)


In the wee hours of this morning, 15 Kassams were launched toward Sderot. Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility for them, saying that this is in retaliation for the killing of their people, and that it is just the beginning. And Al Aksa Brigades in Gaza declared it no longer intends to abide by the unofficial truce with Israel.

Israel has already launched a "pinpoint" strike in north Gaza against the rocket launchers (the machinery, not the people).

And since then more Kassams and mortars have fallen.


Take a look at what Abbas, the "moderate," had to say about our killing of the terrorists:

"This barbaric crime exposes the fake mask on Israel's face." Israel must be condemned for "talking about peace but committing daily crimes, murders, and executions against our people."

So, the man who is, himself, supposed to be eliminating terrorist infrastructure not only does not do so, he lambastes us for doing it. It's clear as the noses on all of our faces which side he's on.


Ah, I should modify what I wrote above: It's clear, I suspect, to each of us, which side he's on, but not clear to everyone. For there are, it becomes obvious, those who "have eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear." (This, by the way, is from Jeremiah -- I just checked.)

Primary among these is Condoleezza Rice. She testified before Congress yesterday, and was asked a question about a recent interview Abbas gave for a Jordanian publication, in which he said that "I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different."

Said Rice, "I am confident that President Abbas is somebody who is committed to the negotiated solution of this issue, and recognizes that only a negotiated solution is going to result in a Palestinian state...I can just tell you that this is somebody who for many, many years now has rejected violence as a means to statehood."
I think it's truly fantastic that Rice is able to discern Abbas's true intentions so deeply and is not deflected by something as silly as Abbas's own words in Arabic to fellow Arabs.

And I am particularly interested in her information that Abbas has been committed to a negotiated settlement for "many, many years." It was in January 2007 (some 14 months ago) that Abbas addressed a Fatah rally. "We are all one people regardless of differences of opinion" he told those gathered, referring to tension with Hamas.

"We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation. It is forbidden to use these guns against Palestinians."

I used to think that western leaders who don't get it require information, but I'm learning: Giving them that information is not likely to help if they have an agenda. It's a clear case of "my mind is made up, don't bother me with the facts."


But there is another way to view Abbas's words and intentions, which goes more deeply to the heart of the matter. We might say that Rice is correct that Abbas understands violence has to be rejected for statehood.

The catch, however, is that he is not really seeking statehood, although it suits him to play the game for the sake of western largesse. If he were really for statehood, he would have embraced genuine moderation a long time ago. He is, still, seeking our destruction. When he speaks of guns against the Israeli occupation, he does NOT mean just in Judea and Samaria. He means anywhere from the river to the sea, which he counts as all Palestine. And, indeed, if he could resort to successful terrorism to secure all of the land, he would gladly do so. This goal is a major reason why he won't take out the terrorists -- he needs them.

Doubt this? Take a look at the Fatah constitution, which embraces precisely this view.

Or, better yet, consider the PA textbooks, including the ones published since he heads the PA. There is no recognition of Israel as a legitimate state. There is talk of us as occupiers, and of Jihad and martyrdom.

For this you can see my article on the subject on Frontpage Magazine that just came out today:


We've hardly heard the last on the issue of settlements, and I would like, as time allows, to return in days ahead to examine this in more detail.

At the moment, I will say, quite simply, that I see two essential issues. One is the matter of Jewish rights to the land -- which is what I will want to address in time.


But there is also another: There is screaming about Israel's requirement to fulfill certain commitments. But this screaming is, as always, unbalanced. There is no holding the Palestinians accountable for anything.

Do the western leaders understand how racist an attitude this is at base? As if the Palestinians are too simple, too crude, too devoid of ethical integrity, to be held responsible for how they behave and what they've promised.


This is from the text of the road map, in terms of the very first stage:

Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

We know full well that none of this has been accomplished. Weapons haven't been collected, except for show (photo ops) in a farcical way; Al Aksa Brigades people are incorporated into the security forces; no real sustained action against terrorists is in place (which is why the IDF must stand between the PA and Hamas), etc. etc. I've addressed all of this over time, and will be happy to do so again. There is ever so much to say with regard to this whole matter, and the whole failure of PA intentions.

But is the international community up in arms about this? Do leaders say that nothing can proceed until the PA does what it's supposed to, because cessation of terrorism is absolutely critical for peace? Well, of course not. Much easier to criticize Israel for the horrible position of planning to build some new housing units in an already existing community.

As the international community is without integrity -- is morally corrupt -- on these issues, their criticisms of us are meaningless.


Israel is expressing the expectation that an upcoming report by US Lt.-Gen. William Fraser regarding implementation of the road map will be biased, in precisely the terms I've described. In fact, it's my impression from what I've been reading that we're being expected to show "good faith" in ways that are not even stipulated in the road map (such as dismantling of checkpoints), and then criticized when we fail to do so, even if our refusal is tied directly to issues of our security.

My contempt for this entire approach is bottomless.


Our putative "peace partner," Abbas, is in Dakar, Senegal, at the Organization of Islamic Conference, where he told the 57 nations present that we are committing "ethnic cleansing" in eastern Jerusalem. Considering that there are over 200,000 Arabs in eastern Jerusalem, who carry residency cards and get health care and other services from Israel, that is quite a charge.

(For the record, let me note here that when we took eastern Jerusalem in 1967, we offered the Arabs residents full citizenship, but they declined.)

He uses the term "ethnic cleansing" because it's a buzz word, like "apartheid." Of course it's the PA that would like to do ethnic cleansing -- they assume there can be no Jewish community in areas they aspire to control.

But let's look at why he claims this: Because we're closing Palestinian institutions (thank Heaven!), and imposing taxes, and separating the city from the West Bank. THIS constitutes "ethnic cleansing"? Methinks Abbas is getting a bit desperate.

Says Abbas, Israel is not living up to the spirit of the negotiations. Israel?

Commented Olmert spokesman Mark Regev: "The peace process faces many obstacles and leadership should not be contributing to those obstacles through inflammatory statements."

see my website

Here's the naive argument

Fitzgerald: Go back to bed -- David Cole will wake you when it's over

"'When you're targeting as 'special' 20 percent of the world, you're obviously sweeping far too broadly and you're going to waste a lot of resources on people who pose no threat,' said David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. 'The second problem is that when you treat people from Muslim countries as suspect merely because they come from Muslim countries, you are very likely to alienate the people here and abroad we need to be working with if we're going to get helpful information on what the real threats are.'"

How does David Cole know that Muslims "pose no threat"? Has he carefully studied the texts and tenets of Islam? Has he read and reread, and reread again, those texts, with appropriate commentaries -- not the work of sly apologists, but the straightforward commentaries by Muslims themselves, meant for Muslim audiences, or those by non-apologists in the West? Has he read the Qur'an, the Hadith (at least a few hundred of those deemed most authentic), and the Sira at all? Has he studied the history of Islamic conquest and subjugation of non-Muslim peoples? Does he fully grasp how Islam is, unlike those other faiths we call religion, a Total System, a politics as well as a "religion"?

What entitles David Cole to dismiss the idea that those who carry important elements of that Total System in their mental baggage are, until it can be carefully demonstrated on an individual basis, not permanent security risks to non-Muslims everywhere? The Shari'a flatly contradicts the most important individual rights guaranteed by the American Constitution. Would Cole wish to deny it? Would he wish to insist that those who call themselves Muslims don't really believe in the tenets of Islam? How could he do that? And why should we bet our national and individual security on his, David Cole's, notion of Islam -- a very hazy notion?

And the very idea that, in order not to offend Muslims elsewhere, described by David Cole as "the very people we need to be working with" (an assertion that needs to be examined, to see if that quite describes the situation), we cannot keep new immigrants from swelling Muslim ranks in the Western world, which ranks have already created a situation that is far more unpleasant, expensive (the costs of monitoring that population, those mosques, those madrasas, those "civil rights groups" such as sinister CAIR), and physically dangerous than it would be without a large-scale Muslim presence.

David Cole presumes. He knows what Islam is all about, and why its adherents are not a threat. He knows that all this talk about the uncompromising division of the world between Believers, to whom all loyalty is owed by fellow members of the Umma, and Infidels, with whom those Believers are instructed they must be in a state of permanent war, though not necessarily open warfare, is simply so much nonsense.

David Cole knows. How does he know? Oh, he just knows. He doesn't have to tell you. As for Snouck Hurgronje, Henri Lammens, Arthur Jeffery, and hundreds of other Western scholars of Islam -- they didn't know. It was only when Arab money came along, to pay for the room and board of the likes of John Esposito, that the Western world finally began to understand Islam. Up to then, no one -- not Hume, not Spinoza, not John Wesley, not John Quincy Adams, not Tocqueville, not Churchill, not Malraux, not anyone in the Western world, understood Islam. For 1350 years the West has grossly misunderstood Islam. Only in the last several decades has the sheer wonderfulness of Islam -- on this George Bush and David Cole can agree, can spout their soothing sentiments to each other -- become apparent all over the Western world.

And the stories in the world's press -- from the southern Sudan or southern Thailand, from the travails of Christians in Egypt, or northern Nigeria, or Iraq, or Lebanon, or the punishments meted out to apostates in Afghanistan or Iran or Kuwait, or the ways in which Hindus (and Christians) are treated in Pakistan and Bangladesh -- all that confirms, every day in every way, that David Cole has it right, and there is no reason for alarm. Don't listen to Ibn Warraq, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or Wafa Sultan, or a hundred other apostates who were born, and raised within, societies suffused with Islam. Listen to David Cole. He knows.

Just go back to bed. David Cole will wake you when it's over.

OIC: "Combating Islamophobia is and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges faced by the Muslim World"

Well, Jihad Watch can offer a handy five-point plan for countering "Islamophobia":1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively not just "terrorism," but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means.
3. Teach Muslims the imperative of coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis.
4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

Don't thank us, just get to work. "Islamic body seeks new role to fight 'Islamophobia'," by Diadie Ba for Reuters:

DAKAR (Reuters) - Facing "Islamophobia" in the West, the world's biggest Islamic body is seeking to rebrand itself this week as a forum for settling conflicts peacefully and for redistributing wealth to the world's poorest states.

So, in other words, global pressure and scrutiny have gotten the organization to do something constructive. Or at least to pay lip service and try to look busy.

At a summit on Thursday and Friday in Senegal, the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will seek to agree on a modern charter that will give it a more active, influential role as the voice of Islam in a globalised world.

OIC leaders meet in Dakar at a time when suspicion in the West about the Muslim world remains high, still colored by the September 11, 2001 attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda in the name of militant Islam.

Subsequent attacks by Islamic militants in Spain and Britain, coupled with the U.S.-led "war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, have stoked fears of a global clash of civilizations.

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for a concerted effort by the group to promote dialogue and mutual respect with the non-Muslim world to fight hatred and bigotry.

"Combating Islamophobia is and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges faced by the Muslim World," he told OIC foreign ministers meeting in Dakar.

With its members spanning the Middle East, Africa and Asia, differences of race, language and history, and even religious observance, have often prevented the world Islamic community -- known as the Ummah -- from acting as a unified, cohesive force.

The OIC groups some of the planet's richest countries, such as oil producers Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, with poor African nations like Guinea Bissau, Niger and Burkina Faso who languish at the bottom of U.N. development rankings.

Senegal, hosting its second OIC summit in 17 years, wants the Islamic Ummah to harness its geographical reach and immense resources so it can punch at its full weight in the world arena and assist its poorest members, mostly in Africa.

"The OIC has existed for 30 years but is still trying to find itself," host President Abdoulaye Wade told Reuters ahead of the March 13-14 summit in Dakar, whose roads and avenues have been given a face-lift for the Islamic gathering.

The Tired Gaza Two-Step

Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gaza erupted in celebration last week to the news that a Palestinian had murdered Jewish religious students in Jerusalem. And almost daily terrorists send rockets from Gaza into nearby Israeli cities, hoping to kill civilians and provoke Israeli counter-responses -- and perhaps start another Middle East war. This is not the way some imagined Gaza two and half years after the Israelis withdrew both civilians and soldiers from the territory in September 2005. At the time, the Palestinian Authority controlled Gaza, but in early 2007, Hamas took over in a violent civil war, claiming legitimacy after once winning a popular election.

Gaza has plenty of natural advantages. It enjoys a picturesque coastline on the Mediterranean with sandy beaches and a rich classical history. There is a contiguous border with Egypt, the Arab world's largest country and spiritual home of pan-Arabic solidarity.

The Palestinians are a favorite cause of the oil-rich Middle East, and would seem to be in store for at least a few billions that accrue from $100 a barrel oil. In short, an autonomous Gaza might have been a test case in which the Palestinians could have crafted their own Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai.

Instead, despite Palestinian rule of Gaza, Hamas has continued its civil war with the Palestinian Authority, and looters have ruined infrastructure that was left by the United Nations and the Israelis. Mobs crashed the border crossing with Egypt. Hamas-led terrorists have launched over 2,500 mortar rounds into Israel, as well as over 2,000 Qassam rockets.

We all now know the familiar Gaza two-step. The Israeli Defense Forces respond to Hamas rockets with targeted air strikes against terrorist leaders or small-rocket factories. Hamas makes certain both these targets are intermingled with civilians in the hopes of televised collateral damage.

Hamas counts on the usual sympathetic European and Middle Eastern media coverage and commentary. Terrorists deliberately trying to murder Israeli civilians are seen as the moral equivalents of Israeli soldiers trying to target combatants who use civilians as shields. To the extent that the IDF kills more of the terrorists than Hamas kills Israeli civilians, sympathy goes to the "refugees" of Gaza.

This tragic charade continues because Hamas wants it to continue. Its purpose is to make life so unsure and frightening for nearby affluent Israelis that they will grant continual concessions, hopefully leading to such wide-scale demoralization that the Jewish state itself will collapse and disappear. In that regard, the last thing Hamas wants is calm and prosperity in Gaza, which would turn the population's attention toward living rather than killing and dying.

Hamas in Gaza also feels that the war is not static -- and that it is already winning on all fronts. As Europeans, Middle Easterners and the United Nations lecture Israel about "inordinate" or "disproportionate" responses, the terrorists' smuggled missiles increase in range, payload and frequency of attack.

Hamas has gained powerful patrons in Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Both provide terrorist training and weapons as long as Gaza serves as a useful proxy in their own existential struggles against Israel.

On the world front, we've reached a new threshold in which evoking the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews has become commonplace and almost acceptable. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, publicly brags about hoarding the body parts of captured Israelis. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly talks of Israelis in Hitlerian terms as "filthy bacteria" that should be wiped off the map.

Palestinians in Gaza can enshrine mass murderers and praise terrorist killers without much worry that the world will be appalled at their grotesque spectacles -- much less cease its sympathy and subsidies.

And what a world it is that enables Gaza! The Russians have fought a dirty war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya. The Chinese have been hunting down Muslim separatist Uighurs who claim Xinjiang Province as their own. India wages bloody periodic wars against Muslim terrorists who claim Kashmir.

Imagine tomorrow that all of the above nations told the Gazans that their dispute is no more or less important to the world than similar land quarrels in Cyprus or Azerbaijan; that they are no more or less deserving of international money and sympathy than are the Chechnyans or Uighurs or the Muslims of Kashmir; or that the Israelis have as much right as the Chinese, Indians or Russians to retaliate and put down neighboring Islamist attacks. Then the crisis would shortly recede from the world's attention.

And Hamas in Gaza would either begin negotiating and building Palestinians' own civil society -- or face the sort of typical Chinese, Russian or Indian retaliation that Israel is quite able to unleash.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rice Spared a Grilling From Lowey Over Palestinian Aid


WASHINGTON — The chairwoman of the House subcommittee that funds America's foreign aid will lift her objections to disbursing some $100 million in economic assistance to the Palestinian Arabs, a week after freezing the funds. Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat of New York, will lead a hearing of the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs today on the foreign aid budget, featuring testimony from Secretary of State Rice. With a fragile cease-fire taking hold between Israel and Hamas days after her return from the Middle East, Ms. Rice may have avoided a grilling from Ms. Lowey.

Last week, Ms. Lowey and others in Congress were threatening to withhold $150 million in aid from the Palestinian Authority as fighting between Hamas and Israel worsened. Days earlier, President Abbas said in an interview with a Jordanian newspaper that the Palestinian Arabs could take up armed resistance if negotiations failed. Western powers had backed Mr. Abbas for the Palestinian presidency in part because of his speeches against the suicide terror offensive in 2000, 2001, and 2002 known as the second intifada.

"I remain skeptical about the political will of a Palestinian leadership that all too often lapses into inflammatory rhetoric that belies their stated commitment to peace," Ms. Lowey said in a letter yesterday to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Henrietta Fore.

But with the release of a new memorandum of understanding between America and the Palestinian Authority on how to spend the funds, Ms. Lowey informed Ms. Fore that she would withhold $50 million in aid, not $100 million, until the Palestinian Authority transferred its funding into a single treasury.

Yesterday, Senator Obama, a Democrat of Illinois and the leader in pledged delegates for his party's presidential nomination, called the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and expressed his support for Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks, expressed his shared concern about Iran's nuclear program, and expressed condolences for the attack on Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva last week, a campaign spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said. He added, however, that the senator also "expressed admiration and support for the ongoing commitment to negotiations with President Abbas," a sentiment in line with the Bush administration and European leaders.

Last week, the activist group Palestinian Media Watch circulated a report that said the Palestinian Authority-funded newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida ran a front-page photo of the man who killed eight Israeli yeshiva students in Jerusalem, Alaa Abu D'heim, and called him a shahid, or martyr. A recent study from the same organization found that 12th-grade Palestinian history books referred to the Iraq insurgency as a "resistance."

While this kind incitement rhetoric may be par for the course for Hamas, the Islamic supremacist party that now controls Gaza, the Palestinian Authority under Mr. Abbas is expected to end incitement as a condition for the receipt of American aid.

A top negotiator for the Oslo process, Dennis Ross, said in an interview last week that he saw no evidence that the Bush administration was trying to tackle the incitement issue. "I have not even heard the Bush administration talk about it," he said. "I still say this is something you can do."

Mr. Ross said that during the Oslo negotiations, the Palestinian Authority participated in a committee with Israelis to review textbooks and other media, but he said little work had been done to end the practice.

"Palestinians have not stopped the incitement for even a single day," an Israeli diplomat in Washington, Ron Dermer, said. "Sometimes it's in the newspaper, sometimes it's on the television, sometimes it's in the textbooks, sometimes all three."

Mr. Dermer, a co-author with Natan Sharansky of "The Case for Democracy," said the incitement issue is "very bad for the prospects of peace." "You cannot live next to a society that is poisoned to hate you," he said.

The State Department takes incitement issues seriously, a department official said, noting that America does not fund Palestinian Arab textbooks. (Aid for the books comes from the European Union.)

The department issues a secret annual review of the textbooks, which it declined to share with The New York Sun. "Having now completed the books for all 12 grades, the Palestinian Authority is examining the books again, and is considering possible revisions," the official, who requested anonymity, said. "We always encourage them to take note of our previous reviews as they consider revisions."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

But What Can I Do About the Crisis Facing Israel and the Jewish People?

Rachel Neuwirth

More and more people have been saying to me, "I realize that Jews are facing a major crisis in Israel, here in America, in Europe, and everywhere in the world. But what can I do about it? I am just one person. Vast forces are threatening Israel. Can I stop anti-Israelism and anti-Judaism on my own? I feel helpless in the face of the vast forces that are arrayed against us." These are natural and normal human feelings. I have felt them at times myself. The confluence of international forces that has gathered against the Jewish people and faith, including the spiritual and intellectual fifth column amongst us, is indeed a formidable adversary. Nevertheless, there are things we can do if we are willing to work together to protect our rights and stand up to the massive defamation campaign waged against us.

One very important thing that all of us can do is to counter the endless lies and distortions of Israel's history and character that appear in the press, mass media, on the Internet, and even in scholarly journals. These distortions and outright falsehoods are a major reason why Israel is in such deep trouble, and in danger of "going under." Because the entire world has been led to believe an inaccurate, grossly distorted "narrative" of the conflict, the government of Israel feels it has no choice but to make concessions to the demands of its enemies, in order to appease world opinion. But these concessions imperil Israel's existence.

Each of us can help to correct this appalling situation by acting immediately, whenever we encounter such a distortion in the press or mass media, to correct it with a letter to the editor or news manager. We can also actively monitor the mass media on the Internet in order to locate as many distortions as we can and correct them. Further, we can speak up to counter distortions in public lectures and meetings about the Arab-Israel conflict, and even in private conversations. All of this requires work and time, but it really does help. Each of us should devote as much time and energy to these tasks as we possibly can.

But in order to counter the endless flow of lies and distortions about Israel, we must first learn what the true facts of Israel's history are. Before we can answer the chorus of unfair criticisms leveled against Israel and her supporters in the United States and elsewhere, we must first educate ourselves.

What are the facts about the conflict over "Palestine" that Arab and other anti-Israel propagandists have distorted, misrepresented and covered up? The following are some, although by no means all, of the most important ones:

The Israelis are not colonialists or alien "settlers" in the Land of Israel with no past connection or relationship to the country; on the contrary, we Jews have lived in Israel for at least 3,200 years if not longer. This is far longer than most peoples have lived in their present national homelands. Our two glorious temples, wonders of the ancient world, were there for a thousand years. King David's kingdom endured for more than four hundred years; later, there was the independent Jewish state of the Maccabees. Jews had lived in the Land of Israel in large numbers for at least 1,800 years before the Arabs conquered it in 635 C.E. Moreover, while hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from their land or put to death in it by foreign conquerors, there have been at least some Jews living there almost continuously for 3,200 years.

There has never been a distinctive "Palestinian" Arab people or an Arab "Palestine" state or nation; while it is true that some Arabs have lived in the Land of Israel for many centuries, they have never been ethnically or culturally distinct or different from the Arabs who live in other lands, including the original Arab homeland, the Arabian Peninsula. The Jews, however, are a people who originated in the Land of Israel and never had any other national homeland.

During over a thousand years of Muslim rule, "Palestine" was rarely the name even of an administrative district, let alone a nation. Arabs referred to the entire land that now comprises Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the "occupied territories" as "al-Shams" (Syria), which they regarded as one country.

While the Land of Israel, also called "Palestine" by Romans and Europeans, was densely populated in ancient times, its population steadily declined during over 1,000 years of Muslim rule. In the nineteenth century, Israel/Palestine was very thinly settled. There was very little agriculture, and extensive abandoned and uninhabited "waste" lands. Most of the population, such as it was, lived in dire poverty. Brigandage was such an established and accepted way of life that it was impossible to travel on the roads without the payment of large bribes to the leading men of each village along the way. The roads themselves were no more than unpaved footpaths. Villages fought wars with each other. Nomadic Bedouin tribes frequently raided villages and even larger towns. The inhabitants of the few larger towns (there were no real cities) had to cower behind thick walls and locked gates every night for security.

The Arab population of Israel/Palestine only began to grow in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, at the same time that Jews began to resettle the land. Jewish immigrants brought with them modernized agriculture, including the growing of oranges, which had been previously unknown; a market for Arab agricultural goods; employment at Jewish farms and factories; modern hospitals and medicine that saved thousands of Arab lives; the draining of swamps that had caused thousands of deaths from malaria and other insect-born diseases; and vastly expanded Arab education funded by Jewish taxes.

The Arab population of Palestine has grown extensively, from under 500,000 in 1891 to over 3,600,000 today, partly because of increased life expectancy brought about by the economic and scientific progress introduced by Jewish immigrants/settlers, but also in part because of extensive immigration to Palestine from many Arab countries.

As a result, many of the Arabs who call themselves, or who are called by other Arabs "Palestinians," have ancestors who originated in Egypt, Syria, what are now Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and other Arab countries. These Arab countries ought rightfully to give these "Palestinians" citizenship, but refuse to do so.

The Arabs, including and especially the Palestinian Arabs, have been the aggressors throughout the nearly 100 years of the Arab-Israel conflict. This "one long war" began with the communal violence that convulsed Palestine between 1920 and 1948, even before Israel was founded.

Palestinian and other Arabs organized and carried out massive pogroms against the Jews of Palestine in 1920, 1921 and 1929, waged a sustained terrorist campaign against them from 1936 through 1939, and a full-scale jihad against them in 1947-48. Thousands of Palestinian terrorist/guerillas, the regular armies of six Arab states, and "volunteers" from throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds all participated in this aggressive war. Before the 1947-48 Arab attack against the Palestinian/Israeli Jews there had been few if any displaced Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs were not innocent bystanders in the war that made them refugees. They initiated the war in which some, although not all, of them fled from parts of Israel in 1948. They killed over two thousand Jews in that war. The six invading Arab states killed over 4,300 more Jews.

The Israelis defended themselves as best they could against these unprovoked attacks. But they did not expel the Palestinian Arabs. Many Arab leaders as well as ordinary Palestinian Arabs have admitted that Arab leaders urged the Arabs living in Palestine to flee, promising them that Arab armies would soon defeat the Jews and allow them to return to their homes. Despite this bad advice, many Palestinian Arabs never left Israel, and became Israeli citizens, with full rights of citizenship. Today there are over one million Arab citizens and residents of Israel -- more than there were in 1947, before Israel was established.

Following this first major Arab-Israel war, the Arab states induced the United Nations to keep the Palestinian Arabs refugees and their descendants in "refugee camps" (actually segregated towns) for generations. All of the Arab states except Jordan denied the Palestinian Arabs citizenship and equal rights. Arab governments and the refugee camp administrations taught the Palestinians that it was their Arab duty to wage war against Israel in order to gain back the homes in what is now Israel where (some) of their ancestors had lived before 1948. This segregation and indoctrination of the Palestinian refugees, as well as their descendants to the third, fourth and all later generations, is the true origin of Palestinian terrorism, not Israeli "oppression" or "occupation."

Also following the Arab-Israel war of 1947-49, the Arab nations refused to sign peace treaties with Israel, sponsored Palestinian Arab terrorist raids into Israel in which hundreds of Israelis were killed, and waged war by economic boycott and propaganda as well. Last but not least, Egypt waged war by blockading Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba (also called the Gulf of Eilat by Israelis). These acts of war severely damaged the Israeli economy in addition to causing widespread loss of life and injury to Israel's citizens.

Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks on, and raids into, Israel have been continuous since 1949. Whatever reprisal raids and counterterrorist operations Israel has conducted over these years against the Palestinian terrorists have been reluctant responses to aggression against Israeli civilians and soldiers--not deliberate attacks on Arab civilians, as Arab spokesman and much of the press in the West have misrepresented them.

Israel only "occupied" the so-called "occupied territories" in 1967 as a necessary act of self-defense, in response to a whole series of acts of aggression by the Arab world: two and a half years of Palestinian Arab terrorist raids sponsored by Syria; decades of Syrian shelling of Israeli border villages from artillery positions on the Golan Heights, the forced removal of United Nations peacekeepers from the Sinai by Egypt's President Nasser: a reinstatement of the Egyptian blockade of Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba: the mobilization of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies along Israel's three borders, and public declarations of war on Israel by Egypt's Nasser, the government of Syria and other Arab regimes. Israel "occupied" these territories only as a means of forestalling the publicly proclaimed, imminent Arab invasion, and to stop the Jordanian shelling of Israeli Jerusalem. This Jordanian barrage had killed 17 Israelis and wounded many more before Israel moved to occupy the "West Bank," (more accurately known as Judea and Samaria).

Israel has now withdrawn from 90% of the territories that it occupied in 1967, including all of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza region, large parts of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), and part of the Golan Heights. But these very substantial concessions have failed to persuade the Arab world to make peace with Israel.

All of the other Arab-Israeli wars were also initiated or heavily provoked by Arab states, usually working in tandem with the Palestinian Arab terrorist groups whom they sponsored. Egypt forced a war with Israel in 1956 by sponsoring Palestinian terrorist raids deep into Israeli territory for more than two years, and by blockading Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aqaba. In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched an unprovoked surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur (the timing was surely no coincidence). Israel invaded Lebanon in 1981 only after years of Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks originating in that country; Israel withdrew completely from Lebanon in 2000, but was forced in 2006 to deal with renewed terrorist attacks into its territory from Lebanon -this time, by a Lebanese, not a Palestinian, terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Israel quickly withdrew from Lebanon again following a ceasefire.

Jewish settlements established since 1967 outside the pre-Six Day War ceasefire lines are not "illegal." The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, issued in 1922 with the unanimous support of the League member states and with the additional support of the United States (although it was not a member of the League), requires that the administration of Palestine "shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes" (article 6). The International Court of Justice has ruled in a similar case (that of Southwest Africa) that the Mandate documents issued by the League of Nations remain international law, even though the League itself was disbanded in 1946, and its responsibilities transferred to the United Nations. The United Nations Charter (Article 80) states that the "rights of peoples" in the League of Nations Mandate documents remain in force, as well as the documents themselves.

The Israel "occupation" of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is also legal according to international law, for three reasons: 1) Israel only occupied these territories in a defensive war; 2) her enemies continue to wage an aggressive war of terror from these territories, requiring a continued Israel military presence in them for self-defense. 3) Israel has a better title to these territories than any other nation, since the League of Nations Mandate document for Palestine, which has never been rescinded, specifies that the administration of these territories "shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home," The British Mandatory power ceased when the State of Israel was born but the rights of the Jewish people to the land remain intact, since they are a "sacred trust of civilization," as defined by the Covenant of the League of Nations, Art. 22. These permanent rights are enshrined in the Trusteeship Chapter of the UN Charter [Chapter XII, Art. 80]

There are many, many additional salient facts about the conflict that supporters of Israel should learn in order to combat the campaign of defamation and slander waged against her throughout the world. Here we have had space only to summarize a few of the most important points. But learning even these few important facts makes a useful start for those who wish to be activists in correcting the lies and distortions about Israel's history and character. They make important "talking points" for responding to these lies and distortions, whether in the mass media, on the Internet, at lectures and public meetings, or in private conversations.

We need to remember Benjamin Franklin's observation during the American Revolution: "if we don't hang together, then most assuredly we shall hang separately." We Americans, whether Jewish, Christian and even Muslim, cannot separate our own freedom and security from that of Israel.

John Landau contributed to this article.

Documentation: For the history of the Palestinian refugee problem, as well as good general introductions to the history of the Arab-Israel dispute, see Big Lies: Demolishing The Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel by David Meir-Levi, Introduction by David Horowitz, and Arab and Jewish Refugees - The Contrast, by Eli E. Hertz For see Carta's Historical Atlas of Israel, the Jewish History Atlas, by Martin Gilbert, present the long and continuous history of the Jewish habitation of Israel/Palestine in clear, easy-to-follow language with visual aids. Also very helpful for this purpose is " Israel 's Story in Maps," produced by For the condition of Palestine under Islamic rule before Jewish resettlement, see Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, also Arnold Blumberg, Zion Before Zionism 1838-1880, and Saul S. Friedman, Land of Dust: Palestine at the Turn of the Century, Ms. Peters' book also contains documentation of the extensive Arab immigration to Palestine that went on at the same time as the Jewish resettlement. For the history of the Arab-Israel wars and Arab terrorism in Palestine, the best source is Neaten Lorch, One Long War: Arab versus Jew Since 1920, also excellent on this subject is Martin Gilbert, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Its History in Maps. Another book by Netanel Lorch, The Edge of the Sword: Israel's War of Independence 1947-49, gives the best account of the Palestinian and other Arab aggression in which the Palestinian Arab refugee "exodus" occurred. Also useful guides to these events are Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem; and Jon and David Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill, also published also under the alternative title A Clash of Destinies. For the legality of the Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the legality of the Israeli administration of these areas, see Eli E. Hertz, "This land is My Land: Mandate for Palestine; The Legal Aspects of Jewish Rights; and Eugene V. Rostow, "Resolved: are the Settlements Legal?"

Professor Meir-Levi's pamphlet Big Lies can be downloaded from the web site, and can also be ordered in "hard copy" from that site. All of Mr. Eli E. Hertz's articles can all be downloaded from his web site. Eugene V. Rostow's article can be found on the web site and elsewhere on the web; it was originally published in the Oct. 21, 1991 issue of The New Republic. " Israel 's Story in Maps," is available for downloading on the web site, and can also be ordered on DVD. Carta's Historical Atlas of Israel can be ordered from,, Biblio-com, and Martin Gilbert's Jewish History Atlas and The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Its History in Maps can be ordered from Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial can be ordered from,,, and other sites on the web. Professor Blumberg's Zion Before Zionism 1838-1880 can be ordered from and Professor Friedman's Land of Dust can be obtained from Netanel Lorch's books One Long War and The Edge of the Sword can be ordered from and Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's O Jerusalem are available through and Jon and David Kimche's Both Sides of the Hill can be ordered through,,, and

Pro-Israel activists wishing to counter the constant misrepresentations of Israel's history and actions should obtain, and read, as many of these or similar books and articles as possible.