Remember the Flotilla that set sail for Gaza one year ago?
Remember the Mavi Marmara?
Remember the worldwide outrage when the IDF killed 9 IHH members on board?
Israel was accused of piracy on the high-seas and murder.
Well, the flotillaniks are at it again.
So what’s it all about? What are the real objectives of the “Peace Flotilla”?
StandWIthUs have put together extensive information.
First there are Ten Quick Facts
This is elaborated here.
The US State Department issued a statement you can see here.
So what’s my blog title about?
Well, one of the US ships has been named ‘The Audacity of Hope’ mocking President Obama’s book of that name. This venture was trailed as a massive new Flotilla and the Israelis would have problems stopping it this time by sheer weight of numbers.
Yet we find to day that the number of participants will be approximately 300. There were 600 on the Mavi Marmara alone.
So the whole purpose of the flotilla is not humanitarian aid; that lie can easily be countered by the fact that both Egypt and Israel have offered ports where cargo can be checked and aid sent through to Gaza. In any case, Gaza does not need this aid.
The purpose of the Flotilla is to embarrass Israel. It is a blatant provocation. The organisers are Hamas supporters. They know that if they can break the blockade then it is invalidated and weapons from Iran can pass freely to Hamas. If there is a confrontation, they hope to further their aim to delegitimise the State of Israel and isolate it internationally.
The flotillaniks say that they carry no weapons, yet a report today that is going the rounds of the Twittersphere is that extremists on the flotilla have chemicals aboard and want to kill IDF soldiers.
Here is what the Jerusalem Post reported:
While the organizers of the Gaza-bound flotilla said in Athens Monday that the passengers are taking to sea “without weapons,” government sources said Israel had information that some of the passengers had hid chemicals, such as sulfur, on theboats to be used against IDF soldiers.
This is what Reuters said:
An Israeli military source said Israel had information that some activists were planning to attack soldiers with acid and lethal chemical agents if they boarded the ships.
Dror Feiler, an Israeli participant in the flotilla, denied the allegation in an interview with Israeli Army Radio and said all of the passengers had signed a pledge of non-violence.
Senior officials in Jerusalem said Monday that Israel has received information that organizers of the Gaza flotilla may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships.
The senior officials also said that Israel had been notified that several extremists among the Gaza flotilla participants had recently claimed that they intend on “shedding the blood of IDF soldiers.”Moreover, despite earlier reports, it seems that activists from the Turkish organization IHH, which was involved in the deadly IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara in last year’s Gaza flotilla, will be joining several of the ships sailing for Gaza as part of the flotilla.
Israeli officials claim that two activists participating in the flotilla have connections to Hamas. They named the first one as Amin Abu Rashad, who they claim is one of the head Dutch organizers for the Gaza flotilla and had served in the past as the head of the Hamas’ Charitable Foundation in Holland. The foundation closed down following Dutch authorities’ probe into its involvement in funding terror activities.
The second activist is Mohammed Ahmed Hanon, which Israel claims is a Hamas activist who stands at the head of the ABSPP, which is involved in transferring funds to terrorists.
It remains to be seen whether these reports are well-founded. If they are, then any veneer of peace activism is blown out of the water.
You might also like to see this post from the Elder of Zion about the organisers of this new Love Boat.
There is also a fine article by Ruth Dudley Edwards in the Irish Independent:
Let us be clear. Whether they know it or not, that gaggle of posturing, ignorant Irish clowns who are setting sail towards Gaza on the MV Saoirse are driven by anti-Semitism. Otherwise they would be protesting against — for instance — the Islamist killings and bombings that are forcing tens of thousands of Christians to flee the Middle East, the ethnic cleansing in the Sudan, the ill-treatment of servants and women in Saudi Arabia, the hanging of gays from cranes in Iran, the massacres of protesters in Libya and Syria, the torture of Irish-trained doctors in Bahrain for tending to injured demonstrators and the vicious anti-Jewish propaganda that teaches Arab children to hate.
I also refer you to the Howard Jacobson post I wrote recently.
Meanwhile, we find that in the a UN draft report into last year’s Mavi Marmara incident found that the Israeli maritime blockade was not illegal and they were within their rights to stop the flotilla.
A draft of the report, due to be released within two weeks, was given to Israel and Turkey about six weeks ago. The committee determined that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were also legal.
This same report states that Israel’s actions were “disproportionate” – that word again. Yes, it’s really disproportionate to make sure you kill someone who is fanatically committed to killing you or to die. But maybe that merits another post at another time. No doubt we’ll soon be looking at second UN Report and another attempted hatchet job on Israel in the coming days.
For the legal aspects also, read this by the Elder which refers to a Zeit Online article.
There has been some interesting attempts on the Israeli side to use lawfare against the ‘Peace Flotilla’ (great name for those who believe language is just another weapon of war – it’s called propaganda, usually).
First marine insurance companies were warned off insuring the boats because if it could be shown they were breaching international law, then they would in effect be liable to be sued by victims of Hamas terrorism:
A human rights group has warned insurance companies that they could be aiding terrorism if they insure ships that break the blockade of Gaza.
Israeli organisation Shurut Hadin has written to almost all major insurance companies worldwide, including Lloyd’s of London, the biggest in the world.
It warns them that they could be liable for massive damages if the ships they insure break Israel’s blockade around Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of the group, explained: “We sent these letters to the largest insurance companies in the world, including Turkish companies, which represent over 99 per cent of the maritime insurance business worldwide. We warned them that, if they insure these ships, they could be sued by victims of Hamas attacks.”
Then a US citizen invoked a 220 year old law to try to try to seize the US boats intending to take part.
Dr. Alan Bauer, who along with his son Jonathan was seriously wounded in Palestinian Authority Arab suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem in 2002, filed the suit in a federal court in Manhattan. He is represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israeli-based Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) and New York attorney Robert J. Tolchin.
Bauer’s suit seeks to confiscate 14 ships outfitted with funds “unlawfully raised in the United States by anti-Israel groups, including the Free Gaza Movement.” The lawsuit contends that furnishing and outfitting the ships, which are being used for hostilities against a U.S. ally, violates American law.
A Canadian citizen who is a resident of Sderot has taken out a lawsuit against the Flotilla organisers:
Sderot resident and Canadian citizen Cherna Rosenberg has filed a million dollar law suit against two Canadian organizations raising money to sponsor a ship – The Canadian Boat to Gaza – to join the international flotilla to Gaza.
The suit, presented by Toronto barrister and law professor Ed Morgan and New York attorney and former AIPAC executive director Neal Sher to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday, argues that the groups, Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid and Alternatives International, both based in Montreal, are part of a chain of conduct that “ultimately leads to the rocket attacks that have traumatized the plaintiff and caused her much suffering and loss.”
The Greeks have waded in with their own attempt to derail the flotilla sailing from Athens:
Ynet has learned that six ships that were meant to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla are being detained by the port authority and the coast guard in Greece. Senior officials in Jerusalem have confirmed the report.
While the organizers of the maritime convoy claim that more than 1,500 activists are set to take part in the initiative, it now appears that not more than seven ships, carrying 200-500 passengers, will participate in the flotilla.
Of course, the Hamas-huggers are whingeing about all these efforts because they are getting a taste of their own medicine. Too bad!
So, the Peace Flotilla, replete, allegedly, with its chemical weapons and who knows what else, sets off for Gaza, not to build a nation, Palestine, but destroy another, Israel.
How sad. How tragic. How much longer will Palestinians allow themselves to be used as the pawns of Green-Red political posturing?
How much longer will they allow themselves to be sacrificed on the altar of anti-Zionist, Jew-hatred and far Left ideological fantasising.
Audacity of Hope? Or the Morality of the Cesspit?
Chas Newkey-Burden (OyVaGoy) has pointed me to his own blog post on this issue.
How fortunate we are to have someone as eloquent and analytically rigorous as the writer Howard Jacobson to debunk anti-Israel hypocrites.
In another of his brilliant tours de force he takes his fellow write Alice Walker to task about her participation in the second Gaza Flotilla. Jacobson lays bear the hypocrisy of Walker and all those who sail with her.
Human beings are seldom more dangerous than when they are sentimentally overcome by the goodness of their own intentions. That Alice Walker believes it is right to join the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza I do not have the slightest doubt. But beyond associating her decision with Gandhi, Martin Luther King and very nearly, when she talks about the preciousness of children, Jesus Christ, she fails to give a single convincing reason for it…
The boat on which Alice Walker will be traveling is called The Audacity of Hope. Forgive me for seeing a measure of self- importance in that reference…
Hamas, we are often told, is the elected government of Gaza, a government that fairly represents the wishes of its people. In which case we must assume that Hamas’s implacable hostility towards Israel fairly represents the implacable hostility felt by the people of Gaza. Are Alice Walker’s letters of love and ‘solidarity’ solid with the people of Gaza in that hostility?..
Alice Walker might be feeling good about herself, but by giving the Palestinians the same old false comfort we’ve been doling out for more than half a century, and by allowing the Israelis to dismiss it as yet another act of misguided and uncomprehending adventurism — further evidence that its fears go unheeded – her political gesture only worsens the situation. The parties to this conflict need to be brought together not divided: but those who speak disingenuously of love will engender only further hatred.
You can read it all here.
When the United Nations was formed after World War II it promised a new world order in which the nations of the world would co-operate to advance human rights, peace, international law, and improved living standards for the people of the world and the security of nations.
In this time the UN and its associated agencies such as the World Health Organisation and UNICEF (Children’s Fund) have carried out remarkable programmes which have changed the lives of millions.
But the UN is failing to promote democracy and human rights because the very body, the UN Human Rights Council, responsible for this has been allowed to be hijacked by a succession of human rights abusers whose main objective is to delegitmise Israel and focus disproportionate attention on that one country. This fact is reinforced by the absurd and farcical presence of an agenda item aimed at just one country – Israel.
154 countries voted for that agenda item to remain for the next five years. This alone tells you how the world is obsessed with a piece of land the size of New Jersey.
To add insult to this injury the UN has now elected Iran as a vice-president of the General Assembly while Qatar is currently its president.
This presents a wonderful opportunity for these countries to push forward what is known as Durban III the 3rd Israel hate-fest disguised as a human rights conference supposedly dedicated to combat “Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” which actually advanced all those abuses.
In 2001 at Durban a fringe NGO conference meeting made an infamous declaration:
Article 164 states targeted victims of Israel’s brand of apartheid and ethnic cleansing methods have been in particular children, women and refugees. Article 425 announces a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel. Furthermore, Article 426 talks of condemnation of those states who are supporting, aiding and abetting the Israeli apartheid state and its perpetration of racist crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, acts of genocide.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were shameful signatories.
When it comes to Israel, the UN and NGO’s it can truly be said that the animals have taken over the zoo.
One could hardly have devised a bigger lie or blood-libel than this declaration, a declaration which, by singling out one state, reduces the effectiveness of NGO’s in combating the very crimes they were formed to monitor.
In 2009 Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an appearance in Geneva at ‘Durban II@ and guess what his subject was? This year he’ll be back and with the added reward of UN Gneral Assembly vice-presidency.
On September 22nd 2011 Durban III will take place in New York.
Anna Bayevsky has written a devastating critique of the likely course of this event. I recommend you read her article in full but here’s a flavour of it:
It is instructive to recall what Qatari General Assembly president Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser will have to commemorate. At the first Durban conference on “combating intolerance and xenophobia” the head of Qatar’s delegation, Abdul-Rahman H. Al-Attiyah, declared: “all the Israeli heinous violations are justified as a means to bring back every Jew to a land that they raped from its legitimate owners and denied them their right to claim it back.”
Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaei, lost no time to make it clear what his country plans to do with its new status as a U.N. role model. “Membership in the General Committee is a good opportunity to assert fair positions in the world order…[and] be instrumental in planning the meetings of the Assembly and the arrangement of internationally significant issues for inclusion in the agenda of the Assembly,” Khazaei told Iranian PressTV. He then specifically cited the “important issue” of the “Durban Conference focusing on racial discrimination.”
No subtle diplomatic skills are required here. At Durban II, Ahmadinejad, again denied the Holocaust and the “pretext of Jewish sufferings.” At last year’s General Assembly he declared that 9/11 was an inside job and Jews control the world: “the U.S. government orchestrated the attack…All values, even the freedom of expression, in Europe and in the United States are being sacrificed at the altar of Zionism.”
The US, Canada and Israel have already decided to boycott this event. I guess they just don’t want to take part in a reverse Nuremberg.
Gilad Shalit: 5 Years in Terrorist Captivity
25 June 2011 marks the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit by Hamas terrorists from within Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
On 25 June 2006, then-Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from within Israeli territory and taken to the Gaza Strip. The kidnapping was part of an unprovoked attack which involved seven armed terrorists using a tunnel dug under the Israel-Gaza border.
Gilad was 19 at the time of his abduction. During the course of the attack, an IDF soldier, Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, and an officer, Lieutenant Hanan Barak, were killed, while five others were wounded.
25 June 2011 marks 5 years of Staff Sergeant Shalit’s captivity. For 5 years, Hamas has continued to deny Gilad his most basic humanitarian rights, including Red Cross access. For 5 years, his family has suffered greatly, waiting for his return. The international community should act to end this intolerable situation.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated (23 May 2011): “I think that the entire civilized community should join Israel and the United States and all of us in a simple demand from Hamas: Release Gilad Shalit.”
THINK: IF THIS WERE YOUR SON
The BBC’s Sunday morning political programme, The Big Questions, is a sort of Question Time’s Little Brother of a programme.
The front man is Nicky Campbell who does a decent enough job of directing debates. That is until the subject of the debate is Israel/Palestine.
And when that debate takes place in the Israel-hating heartland of Glasgow in Scotland you know Israel is in for a rough ride.
What annoyed me before the get-go (you see I can use right-on Americanisms with the best of them) was the motion in this debate, if I can grace it with that title. So here it is:
IS IT TIME TO FREE PALESTINE?
The ‘debate’ descended into the usual shouting match with Campbell barely able to keep control. Had it not been for the presence on the panel of ‘experts’ of Peter Hitchens and two particularly brave pro-Israel members of the audience, including Sam Westrop of the British Israel coalition, every lie, misrepresentation and fallacy trotted out by the pro-Palestinians, or more accurately, the anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, rent-a-flotilla members of the audience, would have gone unchallenged.
Even the venerable Denis MacEoin, looking somewhat shell-shocked as if he were expecting a reasoned debate, could hardly get in a complete sentence before he, like everyone expressing a more nuanced approach to the conflict, was shouted down. The Palestinian side was loud, vociferous, aggressive and hard to shut up; the pro-Israel side was calm and dignified.
The very motion of this debate is what I think (though somebody will no doubt correct me) is a ‘fallacy of many questions’. It is also a loaded question. This is the Wikipedia definition of such questions:
Such questions are used rhetorically, so that the question limits direct replies to be those that serve the questioner’s agenda. The traditional example is the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Whether the respondent answers yes or no, he will admit to having a wife, and having beaten her at some time in the past. Thus, these facts are presupposed by the question, and in this case an entrapment, because it narrows the respondent to a single answer, and the fallacy of many questions has been committed. The fallacy relies upon context for its effect: the fact that a question presupposes something does not in itself make the question fallacious. Only when some of these presuppositions are not necessarily agreed to by the person who is asked the question does the argument containing them become fallacious. Hence the same question may be loaded in one context, but not in the other. For example the previous question would not be loaded if it was asked during a trial in which the defendant has already admitted to beating his wife.
In this case, Palestine cannot be ‘freed’ because Palestine does not exist. To answer the question one has first to admit that there is a country called Palestine and second, that it is not free. The second part of that proposition cannot be true because the first part is a fallacy, namely, Palestine exists.
All this is compounded by Campbell’s preamble which focused on the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) report which was damning of Israel’s policy toward Gaza:
It’s hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.
As this is a UN Agency it must be right. Just like the UN Human Rights Council must be right? I think not.
Now, a proper debate would have been: “Is it time for Israel to lift its maritime blockade and ease restrictions in and out of the Gaza Strip?”
I would have no problem with that debate. But Campbell seemed determined to set out an uneven playing field.
Or how about: “Are the reported conditions in Gaza solely due to the Israel maritime blockade and other restrictions?”
That would have been a more nuanced and reasonable debate. But the BBC producers, true to form, are obviously uncomfortable with the paucity of opportunities to attack Israel of late and seized upon what I deem to be a flawed UNRWA report coming from an Agency which helps perpetuate Palestinian victimhood and makes them dependent on aid.
Israel’s crossing points send in hundreds of trucks everyday with food and other necessities. There are large parts of Gaza which, as Peter Hitchens was trying to point out, are perfectly normal, have shopping malls, restaurants , newly built mosques and other amenities. The debate never questioned what was the effect on Gaza of an extreme Islamist Hamas government and aid-dependency.
Nor did the debate refer to this post in the Huffington Post Monitor which refers to an article in the Israeli left-wing newspaper, Haaretz:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas, according to what he told United States President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House Wednesday. Egypt also supports this position….
European diplomats updated by the White House on the talks said that Abbas had stressed to Obama the need of opening the border crossings into the Gaza Strip and the easing of the siege, but only in ways that do not bolster Hamas.
One of the points that Abbas raised is that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Strip should not be lifted at this stage. The European diplomats said Egypt has made it clear to Israel, the U.S and the European Union that it is also opposes the lifting of the naval blockade because of the difficulty in inspecting the ships that would enter and leave the Gaza port.
Abbas told Obama that actions easing the blockage should be done with care and undertaken gradually so it will not be construed as a victory for Hamas. The Palestinian leader also stressed that the population in the Gaza Strip must be supported, and that pressure should be brought to bear on Israel to allow more goods, humanitarian assistance and building materials for reconstruction. Abbas, however, said this added aid can be done by opening land crossings and other steps that do not include the lifting of the naval blockade.
So the BBC and those members of the audience whose shrill voices attempted to drown out all dissenting argument are being more Palestinian than President Abbas.
At one point in the debate it seemed that Campbell was implying that Gaza was Palestine. He wondered what sort of state there would be with Hamas in control once Israel broke ranks with Abbas and the Egyptians and opened up its borders to suicide bombers and Iranian weapons.
In fact, the debate, as was predictable from its premise, soon accused Israel of being an illegitimate, ‘artifical’ state founded on murder and stolen land, the most corrupt regime in the Middle East (why not the world?) etc.
If only Israel were to let in all the ‘refugees’ everyone would get on just fine. They don’t hate Jews, just Zionists (as if Israeli Jews are somehow not committed to the idea of self-determination for Jews in their homeland). The Hamas Charter, apparently, which Campbell and others mentioned, does not call for killing of all Jews (like, yeah, that bit was written in invisible ink), Palestine would be a multi-ethnic democracy observing human rights for all and all this would be bestowed by the tooth-fairy. (I made up that last bit but it’s just as credible as the nonsense in the debate).
Some Scottish comedian woman who I have never seen before but wasn’t funny at all, poo-poohed a suggestion that the security wall had prevented suicide bombers and could only see it as ‘an Apartheid Wall’. Obviously Israeli lives are not important to her. She only saw Arabs being evicted and their houses being turned over to Jews. Well that’s a good reason for Israel to be dismantled, now, isn’t it.
The BBC showed that a perfectly respectable and often interesting programme hosted by a likable and usually balanced, though sometimes provocative presenter, can introduce a debating motion so skewed and so fallacious that it is no debate at all, but a forum to trot out the usual slogans and lies of the left and their Hamas-hugging affiliates.
Every vacuous trope was expressed including one of my favourites: “The Palestinians should not suffer because of what Hitler did to the Jews”. Setting aside the Mufti of Jerusalem’s role in the Holocaust and 4000 years of continuous Jewish presence in Israel, those uttering these fallacies support groups who express a wish to finish Hitler’s work in no uncertain terms.
I loved this quote of JE Dyer cited at CiFWatch.com today:
the withdrawal last week of the Mavi Marmara from the so-called ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ means that we are left with a largely North American and European project: a collection of far-Left Westerners volunteering their services to Hamas and its support network in order to try to enable unfettered access to Gaza for weapons sent by a totalitarian, theocratic state with the aim of destroying a liberal, democratic one by means of one of its religiously fanatical proxies. One might think that it doesn’t get much more surreal than that, but it does
This sums up the position of the debaters. As one of them said, why do we have to worry about the security of the oppressors (Israel) we should care about the security of the oppressed (Palestinians).
So the Israelis, and especially the Jewish Israelis, have nothing to worry about then.
It’s truly awful the level to which proper debate on Israel has sunk in this country.
UPDATE H/T CifWatch
Kaz Hafeez responds to Margo MacDonald’s accusation that Israel is an ‘artifical’ state. http://cifwatch.com/2011/06/22/letter-from-a-muslim-zionist-to-margo-macdonald-on-her-accusation-that-israel-is-an-artificial-state/
Biased BBC has another take and introduces the main players in ths farce: http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-time-is-it.html
There has been an unexpected reaction to my previous article on the Channel 4 programme shown last week: Sri Lanka, the Killing Fields.
This blog post is about to become the most viewed I have written in two years of writing this blog.
I found this a little bizarre because my blog is about Israel.
The main purpose of my Sri Lanka blog was to highlight what I perceive as the double standards of the UN and the international community.
So I am bemused as to why my post has had so many hits in such a short space of time.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason is that Israel and Palestine so monopolise the news media and the blogosphere, that it is seen as THE conflict, the most important one to resolve and a major cause of the ongoing ‘war’ between Islam and the West.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, and the Tamils in particular, have relatively few bloggers and virtually no attention from the media.
So when someone writes about Sri Lanka, it has a much larger impact than a similar article about Israel where my voice struggles to be heard in a plethora of shrill voices on both sides.
In my article I committed the sin of comparing the actions of the Sri Lankan army, on two occasions, to the actions of the Nazis. This is always a risky thing to do. Let me clarify; I compared the No Fly Zones to the gas chambers because both used simulation to dupe victims into believing they were safe when, in fact, the opposite was true. In retrospect, this was not appropriate.
I then compared Ban Ki Moon’s visit to a Tamil internment camp as being similar to the Red Cross visiting Theresienstadt and reporting all was well. This comparison is, perhaps, a little more felicitous.
The overwhelming majority of visitors have been supportive of my article.
One of the first commentators took me to task about accusing the Sri Lankan government of genocide when most Tamils live in the south and in comparative wealth and comfort.
Here is a legal definition of genocide found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG).
Article 2 defines genocide as, inter alia:
“…. any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; ….”
In my judgement, these conditions were met based on the evidence I have seen. Others more qualified will make theirs.
In the Sunday Times this week A A Gill was disparaging of the Channel 4 programme. He pointed out that no Channel 4 reporters witnessed the events and almost all the footage came from unconfirmed sources.
In these days of citizen journalism, in areas of the world where news reporters are not allowed, the evidence from private citizens and combatants is vital in telling the world what happened even if, as in this case, these video clips are horrific trophy recordings apparently taken by soldiers who appear to be enjoying the rape and slaughter.
This evidence of the dehumanisation of one group by another and how that can lead to war crimes and, yes, genocide, are all too familar to the Jewish people. Those who document the dehumanisation of Jews by Hamas, Islamic clerics and Palestinian Authority TV and literature, have no doubt that, given the opportunity, Jews would be subject to the same deranged slaughter as the Tamils and probably far worse.
At least in Sri Lanka Tamils still live and many prosper; they still have positions of authority in Sri Lankan society. No-one is suggesting that they must all be killed because they are an evil virus hated by G-d and humanity. Only the Jews have that dubious honour.
There are several initiatives by NGO’s and even politicians to ensure that any war crimes in Sri Lanka are punished.
However, I doubt that the UN Human Rights Council will have a permanent agenda item for Sri Lanka as it has for Israel.
I wish the people of Sri Lanka well and I hope that justice and reconciliation will resolve the conflict and allow all communities and faiths to live together with mutual respect and toleration.
Last night Channel 4 screened what must be one of the most disturbing programme ever shown on British television.
It was shown after 11pm to minimise the chances that children would watch it.
The programme has been posted on the Channel 4oD website here.
This was a programme about the 2009 assault on the Tamil Tigers by the Sri Lankan army.
The programme included stomach-turning graphic mobile phone footage of summary executions, hundreds of dead bodies, including those of women who had been raped and then shot.
It showed hospitals and hospital field units being bombed and shelled.
You felt the fear, the desperation, the horror, the hopelessness.
We saw the UN leaving a town to its fate because the government said it could no longer guarantee the safety of its personnel and we saw the people of that town pleading with the UN not to go.
We saw UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s cursory and rapid visit to what can only be described as a concentration camp, rather like the Red Cross visiting Teresienstadt and reporting all is well.
We saw how the Sri Lankan government created protected zones whose only equivalent that I can think of are the gas chambers of the Nazis who duped their victims into believing they were safe and then killed them.
Corralled into an ever-shrinking space, civilians were bombed and shelled. Thousands died. Desperate doctors performed amputations on children without anaesthetic. Disease, starvation, infection decimated the population.
And it wasn’t just the Sri Lankan army who were guilty. The Tamil Tigers are by no means innocent. They prevented their own people from escaping so they could use them as human shields, killing many who dared to run for their life.
The programme left no doubt that both sides were guilty of serious war crimes, but the Sri Lankan government, in its attempt to end the decades long conflict with the Tamils, embarked on a policy of genocide. Any Tamil was guilty by association. There was no mercy. The army was out of control and rampant.
The Sri Lankan government employed deceit to cover up its crimes; it did not allow journalists to enter the war zone, it tried to convince the world that a ‘No-Fly Zone’ had been created to protect civilians when its purpose was clearly the opposite. It sought to maximise casualties hiding behind the excuse that the Tigers were using these zones to fire at the army.
It deliberately targetted hospitals to such a blatant degree that the Tamils pleaded with the Red Cross not to pass the army the co-ordinates of their field hospitals because evidence was clear that when they did so, a few hours later, they were shelled.
As I watched, my stomach turning at every scene, some so difficult to watch I actually had to avert my eyes, I was struck by both the similarities and the differences between this conflict and the Israeli’s assault on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009, Operation Cast Lead.
First, the similarities: both the Sri Lankan government and the Israelis were responding to a concerted campaign by a terrorist organisation whose stated aims was to ‘reclaim’ a homeland. Both terrorist groups had used suicide bombing, intimidation and ruthless subjugation of its own people.
In both the Israeli and the Sri Lankan offensives there were accusations of deliberate targetting of civilians, attacks on civilian infrastructure and protected buildings.
The more rabid opponents of Israel accused them of massacre or genocide. The Goldstone Report found evidence of possible war crimes, breaches of the Geneva Convention, failure to protect civilians, the use of human shields, illegal use of weaponry.
The accusations against Israel have been largely refuted and subjected to a long and thorough investigation by the IDF into hundreds of complaints by Palestinians and soldiers as well as reported incidents in the media. Richard Goldstone recently announced that if he had known then what he knows now the report would have been different, but he still stood by the report nevertheless.
Those who read this blog will know that I believe most of the accusations against Israel to be baseless. Notwithstanding, Israel had a case to answer and answered it in a very comprehensive and detailed way rebutting almost all the accusations and specific incidents. These conclusions are, of course, rejected out of hand by those who do not believe Israel as capable of self-investigation as any other Western democracy.
I do not believe that Israel had a deliberate policy of targetting civilians, in fact, the opposite was true. There were incidents which were negligent or ill-judged and tragic. These do not add up to war crimes or genocide.
There are no accusations of rape against the IDF, even by Hamas and no woman ever came forward with any such suggestion.
There were no accusations of summary executions of bound prisoners and no such evidence exists.
There were incidents where civilian infrastructure was hit: schools, mosques, even hospitals. In the case of schools the IDF has demonstrated that these were often used by Hamas to fire from in full knowledge that the IDF could not return fire or if it did, risked injuring children.
There was no systematic attack on schools. As for mosques, it was clear that these harboured weapons and ammunition. The IDF returned fire from some Hamas operatives using hospitals as cover to fire upon them. This is permitted in warfare.
There was no corralling of civilians and then shelling of those civilians. In one incident the IDF told a family to move to a house which was subsequently shelled and many family members killed. There is no evidence that this was anything but a tragic mistake.
The figures bear this out. Between 1300 and 1400 known people killed of which, even by Hamas’ reckoning 700 were combatants. The IDF figures show far fewer non-combatant casualties.
Let’s consider the worldwide condemnation of Israel for attacking Gaza from where thousands of rockets had been fired over a considerable period of time. And this after Israel had evacuated Gaza completely. Soon after, Hamas took control and began suicide attacks and bombings and a barrage of indiscriminate rockets fired at towns in Southern Israel.
Israel was accused of disproportionality even though very few people actually know what that means in international law.
Muslims marched all over the world calling Israelis baby-killers, genocides and aggressors and called for the destruction of the State of Israel.
Investigations which led to the Goldstone Report were begun with great haste.
Israel was vilified by the world media.
Now look at the Sri Lankan campaign against the Tamils.
At least 40,000 civilians were killed and relatively few combatants. The actual figure may be much, much higher. It could be more than 100,000.
There was torture, rape, clearly deliberate targetting of hospitals and civilians.
What happened in the UN? There was a very low-key call for an investigation which the Sri Lankan government rejected.
The whole thing was buried and soon forgotten.
There was no worldwide condemnation.
Sri Lankans were still safe to walk the streets of Europe and play Test Match cricket.
There were no flotillas, no high-profile demonstrations in the world’s capitals (there were some by the desperate relatives of Tamils abroad).
In short no-one really gave a damn. Not the UN, not the EU, not Sri Lanka’s neighbours.
I have had issues with Channel 4 programmes about Israel but I have to congratulate them on bringing this horrific genocide to public attention.
Yes, genocide, targetting an ethnic group and deliberately killing, raping and starving that group with the resulting deaths of tens of thousands of people is genocide. Killing up to 700 innocents in Gaza is not.
If the Israelis committed crimes they pale into insignificance compared to the horrors of Sri Lanka plain for all to see.
Sri Lanka, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Cambodia – all killing fields where hundreds of thousands died or are still dying.
Yet, UN Watch reports the inestimable Hillel Neuer’s address to the unintentionally ironically named UN Human Rights Council:
History will record that the highest human rights body of the United Nations met today for no objective reason. Nothing in recent events, nothing in logic, nothing in human rights justifies today’s debate.
Our meeting is automatic—the consequence of a decision adopted four years ago, shortly after this council was created, to keep a permanent agenda item on one country only: Israel.
History will record that at a time when citizens across the Middle East were being attacked by their own government—by rifles, tanks, and helicopters—the UN focused its scarce time and attention on a country in that region where this is not happening; the only country in the region which, despite its flaws, respects the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion; the only country in the region with free elections, an independent judiciary, and the equal treatment of women; the only country where gays are not persecuted, arrested or stoned to death, but, on the contrary, march in their own annual parade, as they did in Tel Aviv three days ago.
Mr. President, that is why the logic of this agenda item represents the opposite of human rights, and why it embodies the pathologies that so discredited this council’s predecessor.
Indeed, this item is so unjust, so biased, so selective, so politicized, and so contradictory to this council’s own principles of equality and universality, that it was condemned by the Secretary-General himself, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on 20 June 2007, the day after its adoption.
And so we ask: In its recent 5-year review, despite everything happening in the Middle East, why did the Council decide to perpetuate this item, an act that will be finalized this week by the General Assembly?
History will record that when citizens were being persecuted or massacred by their own governments—in Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and elsewhere—the UN chose to turn a blind eye to the victims, and instead endorsed the cynicism, hypocrisy and scapegoating of the perpetrators.
Thank you, Mr. President.
So now we can add the massacres in Syria on which the UN remains all but silent. Not forgetting the many thousands of Palestinians killed, harassed, made stateless and left to rot by Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other states.
Genocide of Palestinians? Even the Ma’an news agency reports an 8 fold increase in Palestinians since 1948 with more than 5 million in Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
So don’t tell me about Palestinian genocide, just tell me about the intended Jewish genocide announced, documented and planned by Hamas, Hizbollah, Ahmadinejad and several Muslim clerics in the region.
And while you are at it, please explain why the entire world is fixated on perceived Israeli crimes and so sanguine about millions massacred elsewhere.
I see no mention of the C4 documentary in any of my Twitter connections, not one. Did anyone mention it in parliament? Where was Gerald Kaufman that staunch defender of human rights? Where is George Galloway? Tony Benn? Where Cameron or Millipede and where Clegg? Anyone heard William Hague call it unacceptable or Cameron mention prison camps? Does Jenny Tonge understand why a Sri Lankan soldier can hold a rifle against the head of a Tamil and blow his brains out?
Why has no-one called for the destruction of the the Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan state and the creation of a ‘free’ Tamil one.
Where are our religious leaders? Where are the Methodists or the leaders of West Dunbartonshire Council? Who’s banning products from Sri Lanka? How many Sri Lankan politicians and soldiers have been threatened with arrest if they set foot in the UK?
Sorry, I forgot, Israel is by far the most evil state in the world and must be singled out for special opprobrium even if that means less time and attention spent on real criminals.
You see, the poor Tamils have no well-organised international groups keeping their grievance in the forefront of world attention.
They do not have the benefit of a red-green alliance.
On Naksa day, June 5th, Palestinians and Arabs have recently decided to commemorate the day that the 6 Day War started and which they lost. The war that led to the loss of the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.
On Sunday hundreds of Syrians tried to cross the Israeli border at Majdal Shams and Quneitra.
After the experience of the Nakba Day riots on the same border the IDF were better prepared to repulse these invaders.
Various news reports from Israel (foreign reporting is not allowed in Syria) showed images of the IDF firing live ammunition and tear gas.
Syria has reported 20 dead and 350 injured.
Israel is condemned again.
The Israelis say their procedure was to fire over the heads of the rioters, then fire tear gas, where that was practical, and if all else failed, to fire at the legs of the invaders.
I have seen no evidence that the IDF killed a single invader.
Reports say that the Syrians were stupid enough to throw Molotov cocktails towards the border which started fires which led to Syrian landmines exploding and causing injuries.
Yet we have not seen a single Syrian news report of these casualties, their funerals, interviews etc (as far as I know).
Because the media accept the word of a Syrian regime currently involved in murdering hundreds of its own citizens and repeat this over and over, it is now accepted wisdom that Israel killed ‘innocent’ Syrians.
So where are the Israeli efforts to rebut these reports?
Why do they allow these lies, if lies they be, to propagate?
Where is there version of events? Where the news conference?
It’s the Mavi Marmara all over again.
No doubt in a year’s time we’ll see the evidence that no-one was killed by Israelis. When it’s too late and the damage is already done.
When will they ever learn?
I have been given permission by a correspondent to publish this exchange of emails with Jim Bollan, the Scottish Socialist Party councillor who proposed a blanket boycott of Israeli goods in 2009.
This boycott has recently caused much debate in the Jewish pres and blogosphere.
Let’s see where your sympathies lie.
I have been asked to withhold the name of the correspondent.
Sent: Sunday, 5 June 2011, 18:46
Subject: I’m puzzled
I’m so sorry to read about your boycott against Israel. As a Scottish Israeli I find it shameful to read of book boycotts and the like form your council. As you know, Israel is the only democracy in this region and without it there would be a swathe of undemocratic countries from Africa to Asia that give women, gays and many, many others no rights at all.
Why would you not want this little country to exist, I wonder?
Please take the time to explain your point of view to me….
On 5 Jun 2011, at 20:56, Jim Bollan wrote:
Please read the information on the Council’s website to understand our actual position not what you perceive it to be. The Council’s BDS policy was unanimously agreed as a result of the murder of over 1,000 innocent Palestinians in Gaza by the IDF in 2009. No doubt you will have seen the news today that there has been another 11 extra judicial killings of Palestinians on the border with Syria. Can you point out to me where I said “I do not want this little country to exist”?
To: Jim Bollan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, 5 June 2011, 19:57
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
To answer your last point first: by promoting BDS you are clearly aligning yourselves with those who want to destroy Israel step by step. Boycotts are extreme action by people who actually want to eliminate an entity. Check this out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifZLk6Ei9-U&feature=youtu.be
There’s nothing wrong with criticising Israel – I have plenty criticisms of my own….. but Israel pulled out of Gaza, leveled the settlements and in return received thousands of rockets on towns and cities in the South. I assure you that it was not the intention of Israel to harm innocent people, but, as happens in all wars, civilians were killed and sadly many were killed because Hamas was using civilians as human shields, placing missile launchers in school and homes. Tell me, how would you react to years of rockets fired on Dumbartonshire (sic)?
As far as events on today’s border - those who approached the border were clearly warned – in Arabic – but they chose to violate the border nevertheless. Shame on their leaders. Once again if thousands of demonstrators were trying to penetrate the Scottish border would you not expect the armed forces to react?
Can you tell me where your concern is for the 1,500 killed in Syria over the past few weeks? And what about those killed in Libya? Do you have concerns for human rights in Iran, in North Korea, China etc. etc. etc.? Do you not want to boycott these regimes or is it only Israel who warrants a boycott ? I am trying to understand your reasoning.
If you really cared and were interested in solving the conflict in this area you would applaud the present Israeli government which has voiced acceptance of a 2 state solution and you would be demanding/pushing/encouraging both sides to get to the negotiating table right away rather than denigrating Israel and hailing Hamas.
On 5 Jun 2011, at 22:08, Jim Bollan wrote:
Boycotts are non violent unlike the IDF who murdered another 11 unarmed innocent Palestinians today on the border with Syria. Surely a civilised Country that Israel considers itself to be should have arrested these unarmed demonstrators and put them in front of a Court to be tried?
To: Jim Bollan <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 17:00
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
Concerning boycotts: BDS may be non-violent, but their aim (as I’m sure you’re aware) is to delegitimize Israel and ultimately destroy it. BDS campaigners have announced that their goal is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, not a change of policy. Anyway, the decision of your council to boycott Israel was made two and a half years ago and so the events of yesterday are not relevant to that decision.
You are very emotive in the terms you use to describe what happened yesterday. ‘Murder’: totally wrong; ‘innocent’: totally right. Categorical; black and white; nothing in between.
Israel has the right, like every other country in the world, to defend its borders and to keep out invaders either violent or otherwise. The Syrian government set up these demonstrations beforehand – as they did with the ‘Nakba’ day demonstrations – and stirred up its people to violate the borders. This was an action encouraged by the Syrians to detract from its own atrocities of recent weeks, and that tactic certainly seems to have worked for you, Mr Bollan.
As you will no doubt have seen on the news reports, there were thousands of protestors moving towards the Israeli border in a calculated strategy to breach that border in what was clearly a hostile act. They proceeded despite numerous warnings, both verbal and by shots fired in the air. Attempts by the IDF to disperse the crowd by non-violent means did not deter them. The youths were not innocent or unarmed. They fired sling shots, threw Molotov cocktails and hurled stones. It was a calculated, coordinated action against Israel to which huge crowds of Palestinians responded. Live fire was used only as a last resort. ‘Murder’? ‘innocent and unarmed’? Don’t be so naive.
Incidentally, note the difference of approach by the Lebanese government: they declared the border area a closed military zone and….no casualties!
You didn’t answer my previous questions. I will rephrase them for you:
Why is it only Israel out of all the countries in the world that you boycott?
Why do you you not condemn Syria for killing over 1,500 of its own people over the past few weeks? Or Iran/Saudi Arabia/N. Korea/China…..and so on?
Why do you not recognise Israel’s right to defend its borders?
And lastly: do you believe the state of Israel has a right to exist? A simple yes or no, please.
On 6 Jun 2011, at 19:35, Jim Bollan wrote:
All 23 were killed on the Syrian side of the border, not one crossed the fence. They were throwing rocks and garbage over the fence. They were unarmed. In my book that is extra judicial killing, ie murder. Why don’t you approach your local Councillor/Representative and urge them to bring forward a BDS motion to your local Council to boycott Syria?
To: Jim Bollan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 18:32
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
I find bizarre that you swallow the Syrian narrative without a question. But since you give that regime such credence, here’s what Al-Thawra, Syria, reported June 6, 2011: ’Ahmad Amin, who was wounded in his attempt to break throughthe Syria-Israel border on Naksa Day yesterday, said that many of his friends had hoped to die as martyrs on the land of the Golan Heights. He promised to try again to cross the border, until all the occupied Arab lands are liberated.’ Um, peaceful protests? Just throwing garbage? I think not.
And….. why are you so reticent in answering my questions?
PS The emails between us have been interesting. It’s obviously we’re not going to agree but I have one piece of advice for you: don’t believe anything the Israelis say, if you so choose, but do yourself and your constituents a favour and at least question the narrative you’re being fed from the Arab side.
On 6 Jun 2011, at 20:37, Jim Bollan wrote:
I do, on a regular basis. I make my own mind up on what is right and wrong, after analysis based on my beliefs and principles.
To: Jim Bollan <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 18:44
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
I know politicians have the gift of evasion but I’ll try once more: can you please answer the questions I asked you?
Jim Bollan wrote:
You may not always like the answers you get to questions but I think that is more to do with the answers you receive…are not to your liking.
Now, is it just me, or do you think that the councillor did not satisfactorily provide answers to the questions?
Maybe this little delicacy posted by CifWatch might throw some light on Mr Bollan and his politics:
Amjad Awad, one of the two suspects from the West Bank village of Awarta who acknowledged breaking into the Fogel family residence in Itamar, back in March, and stabbing to death the parents, Udi and Ruth, and three of their children (4-year-old Elad, 11-year-old Yoav and three-month-old baby Hadas) said the following to reporters in court, recently, per The Jerusalem Post:
“I don’t regret what I did, and would do it again,” Amjad Awad told reporters in court. “I’m proud of what I did and I’ll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine,”
Chilling doesn’t begin to describe the hate which would allow someone to lack even the most elementary sense of remorse for murdering children while they sleep.
Yet, there will always be extreme Israel haters who manage to contextualize such crimes and, if not outright justifying them, find a way to ask, as Ben White did about the rise of anti-Semitism, if such homicidal Jew hatred could at least be “understandable”.
Here’s the response by Jim Bollan, West Dunbartonshire Council member and fierce proponent of his council’s boycott of all Israeli goods, to an anti-boycott activist who forwarded him the Jerusalem Post story cited above:
Jim Bollan is truly the quintessential Israel hater – never able to summon genuine and unqualified moral outrage at the death of innocent Jewish civilians (even infants) without asserting a moral equivalence, and suggesting that there must be a good reason why such terrorists committed the horrific crimes they did.
The Hamas-loving Bollan is simply a poster child for the mendacity of the BDS movement.
There is actually zero evidence that any Syrians (there is no evidence they were Palestinains) were killed by the IDF.
If Cllr Bollan has any evidence of Palestinian children being slaughtered by the IDF as a deliberate act of murder, then I’d like to see it.
More importantly, if someone is justified to murder a Jewish family because of the actions of its army, then surely he would understand the 7/7 attacks, the 9/11 atrocities and also would understand, as someone commented on the CifWatch article, if Jews all over Europe murdered innocent German and Polish and Russian and Lithuanian babies in their beds because of the actions of those countries’ armed forces in the 1940′s
Of course, no such actions ever happened nor would they. No one goes around Ireland murdering innocent Catholic babies because the IRA bombs blew up innocent Protestant children.
Cllr Bollan demonstrates his complete moral destitution and a chilling ideology which resonates well with those dark forces, especially in the Middle East and especially amongst Israel’s neighbours, who would destroy that country and kill all Jews. I don’t suspect this is what Cllr Bollan supports, but it’s what the forces he appears to be sympathising with are bent on achieving.
Maybe the good people of West Dunbartonshire will think carefully about who they elect next time.
This cartoon appeared in the Palestine Times:
Although the Elder says a picture is worth a thousand words, let me explain.
The key is the symbol of the Right of Return. You may see Palestinians waving keys during protests. The inference is that they have the actual keys to their ‘former homes’, even though almost all of them were born outside of Israel and it was their parents, grandparents and other forbears who may have lived in what is now Israel.
It is always claimed that all these ‘refugees’ want is justice and to have their homes and property returned.
Yet this cartoon clearly demonstrates the real reason and motivation behind the Right of Return: to erase Israel from the map; but, just as subtly, the Palestinian key removes the symbol of the Jews. The Right of Return,* then, is merely a ploy to destroy the State of Israel and remove all Jews from the land.
(*No such Right exists in international law for any descendants of refugees anywhere. UN Resolution 194, which is always quoted as granting this right, does no such thing.)