Remembering JFK

WH/HO Portrait

Why?A Brit like me? And he was such a flawed man and politician. Just because he was assassinated?

I lived through it. It is probably the event along with the first Moon landing, which most informed my young life.

I have been fascinated by his story and his death for more than 40 years.

Even a young kid growing up in swinging London was impressed by JFK’s glamour, charisma and good looks and the horror of his killing. My first awakening to the evil in the world when the dream, however illusory, was extinguished.

So I remember him on this day every year.

 

Dead wrong: counting the cost of war in the Gaza conflict

… or the obscenity of arithmetica in bello.

I’ve lost count of the number of times in the last few days that the anti-Israel lobby on Twitter and on blogs have condemned Israel as the clear aggressor because 150 people in Gaza have died and only 5 in Israel.

Clearly, the argument goes, if more people die on one side than the other, then one side must be the evil aggressor using disproportionate force.

The fact that you are predisposed to hate Israel or at least have a negative view, and have been fed images of poor benighted Gazans starved, besieged, blockaded, denied medical treatment and so on, will, of course, reinforce the view that 150:5 is an obscene ratio and, QED, Israel is guilty of heinous crimes.

An overwhelmingly powerful country is pounding and bombarding the towns and residential areas of a small outclave of 1.5 million people.

It seems blindingly obvious, doesn’t it? Who’s guilty and who’s not.

Except, why did every western nation either support or, at least, not condemn Israel’s actions? How could they take such a stance? 150:5 and they still won’t condemn Israel.

Thanks to the complete abrogation of journalistic duty in the lead up to targetted killing of a senior Hamas figure in Gaza, most of the western world, which does not follow events in Israel, were blissfully unaware of an acute escalation in rocket fire over southern Israel in the days before, a tank round fired at a jeep and a huge underground explosion attacking IDF personnel within Israel but planted across the border.

I say ‘escalation’ because rocket fire had for years been a constant fact of life for communities in Israel which lie in approximately a 35 mile radius of Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of people in this area lived in constant threat of rocket fire. The sound of sirens was an almost daily event, often occurring as children set out for or returned from school as the terrorists tried to kill children, their preferred prey. Websites and Twitter feeds were created dedicated to counting these rockets and mortar attacks.

12,000 rockets since 2000. In fact, it was rocket fire that precipitated Cast Lead in 2008-9.

If you are a Hamas apologist, this fact has to be dealt with. Any rocket fired that indiscriminately targets civilians is a war crime and potentially a crime against humanity. A rocket fired from within an urban area is also a war crime. Rockets are fired from or near schools, hospitals, UN facilities, media centres and mosques.

The apologists know that these are crimes. They have, somehow, to make a mental accommodation for these crimes so that their confirmed view of the world and Israeli evil can remain unchallenged and their hero-worship of antisemitic, misogynist, homophobic, terrorists can remain intact.

This mental gymnastic exercise thus has to decide that the rockets are ‘home made’ or ‘fireworks’ and even ‘harmless’. These crimes are ‘forced’ upon these people as their only recourse against injustice and oppression. And so the justification for war crimes and terrorism is constructed lie by lie.

But even the premise of the grievance is false. In 2005 Israel unilaterally disengaged and pulled out of Gaza. Gaza became free of Jews. Here was an opportunity to create a mini Palestine, to show the world what the Palestinian people could achieve without occupation.

But they threw that opportunity away because they allowed Islamist Hamas to take power, and as soon as they did the attacks on Israel were ramped up: rockets, suicide bombings, mortar and rocket attacks.

Why? There was no blockade, no siege. But Hamas’ objective, indeed their whole raison d’être was and still is, to destroy Israel and establish an Islamist state in Palestine.

Hamas are not interested in land or border disputes or one or two-state solutions. Their aim, as expressed in their charter, is to kill every Jew on the planet.

Now it is perfectly valid to criticise Israel’s methods to restrain Hamas in order to cut off weapons supply and to protect its citizens from suicide bombers. That is not what is being argued here. None of Israel’s actions would have been necessary if Hamas were not determined to immiserate the lives of Israelis, whilst, as it happens, immiserating the lives of its own citizen by imposing draconian Islamist laws.

No rockets = no targetted killings, no air strikes , no blockade. No suicide bombers = no embargoes and other restrictions.

Whatever opinion you may have of Israel’s policies, allowing free access to terrorists to bomb and murder your citizens is not a reasonable expectation of any country. You can’t ask a country to strip itself bare of defences because you happen to have a grievance against it, and demand it allow open season on the people it is legally obliged to protect.

No other country that I know, whether western democracy or tyrannical state, and certainly no other country in the region would allow hundreds of rockets to rain down on its citizenry just because world opinion says its policies are wrong. When a missile from Syria struck a town in Turkey a few weeks ago, just one missile, Turkey did not sit on its hands, it retaliated.

Imagine thousands of rockets being fired from Syria into Turkey. How would Mr Erdoğan react? If that fire came from within Syrian cities would he spare his neighbours? Would he make an arithmetic calculation or move to save his citizens? And would the world agree?

And what about Turkey’s ongoing battle with its own terrorists, the PKK. Turkey is a member of NATO with overwhelming military and air superiority attacking and killing Kurds almost daily. Who says this is disproportionate or that more Kurds than Turks are being killed, so Turkey must, QED, be the bad guy? No-one. The Kurds, who have a far better and prior claim to their own state than the Palestinians, just do not figure in any deliberations in a UN monopolised by Israel-haters obsessed with the fact that Jews have a country and are prepared to defend it.

But, oh, the moral mathematicians opine, Israel attacks civilians in urban and built up areas.

So,they are saying that because Hamas commits a war crime by embedding itself amongst the people it is supposed to protect and fires rockets and stockpiles weapons, illegally, in schools and mosques, that Israel cannot defend itself? Well it can according to international law, as long as it does so proportionately.

1500 targets were hit by Israel. 150 people died in Gaza. No-one in the media has yet, to my knowledge, distinguished how many of that 150 were combatants. It is at least half. See this article in Daled Amos for why that estimate is probably accurate.

Let’s say 75 civilians killed in densely populated areas in 1500 attacks and we are back to the obscenity of one civilian for every 20 attacks. Is that indiscriminate?

But wait. We learn that many rockets land short. They actually fall in Gaza and as there is no warning, they kill.
The IDF spokesperson reported, much to the disbelief of the haters, that 99 rockets had fallen short in 4 days. The final figure I have seen is 152 out of 1506 (which, incidentally means Israel dropped as many bombs as Hamas fired rockets = proportionality?) Even this morning the Iron Dome twitter feed reported that they had taken no action against a rocket fired toward Ashkelon (reported as a false alarm several hours after the ceasefire) because it had fallen short.

The disbelievers might like to consider that there are several factions in Gaza who do have a homemade rocket industry rather than the more sophisticated weapons of Hamas, and these are prone to failure, often with deadly consequence for the civilians in Gaza and which are then covered up as Israeli crimes. It might be sobering to note that ‘celebratory gunfire’ after the ceasefire caused the death of one person and injury to three others. This shows how much the authorities care for their own people.

If we make a ‘guesstimate’ of 1 in 10 casualties as being victims of friendly fire (and it may be greater), the ratio of deaths per attack is even less. And if we then account for Hamas’ well-documented use of human shields, deliberately putting people in harm’s way to increase casualty figures so they can make these very claims of disproportionate force, then the figures become truly remarkable. They show that Israel really does try to avoid civilian casualties at the same time Hamas seeks to maximise them.

Yes, I know the horrendous story of the family that was wiped out; 10 members in one attack which Israel needs to account for and explain. But the obscenity of arithmetic means that the putative 75 or even 50 civilian dead becomes 65 or 40 in 1499 attacks. That is almost impossible and unprecedented. Remember Iraq and the air attack on Baghdad? Think of the thousands killed in Homs and other Syrian towns and cities. I suggest you cast your mind back to 2003 and look at an article in the Guardian and compare notes between what the forces of the US and the UK do when they bomb cities. How about this BBC report – 50 dead in one air raid.

How many Israelis would have died without the Iron Dome missile defence system, without safe rooms and without early warning sirens, (if you can call 15 seconds and early warning for the people in Sderot and other towns near to the Gaza border)? Would it have been 1 for every 20 rockets? Possibly. But there we go down the road of justification by arithmetic again.

Bottom line is: if you are constantly firing rockets at me, and I respond only by targetting those who fire them rather than the stockpiles and the infrastructure that supports them, sooner or later I am going to go for a more radical solution.

So the math, as they say in America, is a clear demonstration that contrary to what the innumerate pro-Hamasniks want you to think, and with a couple of provisos, Israel acted impeccably, whilst Hamas behaved the way a bunch of evil terrorists in control of a mini state would behave: illegally, mercilessly, mendaciously and pervertedly.

In other words, no words can describe the depths of inhumanity that these people can stoop to. And yet, so many westerners love and adore them and hold rallies for them and say they are All Hamas and send delegations to them. Yes, they are All wannabee genocides, terrorists, torturers, war criminals and antisemites. What a wonderful world we live in.

So please, Israel haters everywhere, contrary to what someone tweeted to me, the numbers DO lie because although they are important they do not even begin to tell the whole story.

To quote numbers only is an admission that you have lost the moral argument. Go figure.

Update: IDF official figure 177 casualties, 57 uninvolved – so my math was pretty good – if you trust the IDF, that is, which you won’t if you chose to believe terrorists who have been shown to lie and falsify evidence. Your choice.

Update: Whoa! Mishal Hussein BBC news anchor joins in the numbers game and shows her own prejudices

And Peter Tatchell, clueless on Gaza in the Huff Post “Israel launched more than 1,500 airstrikes on Gaza, while Islamists fired over 1,000 rockets into Israel. At least 160 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians, and five Israelis died too. A rather one-sided death toll. Nevertheless, I mourn all these deaths.” Otherwise, despite ignorance, not bad from  Tatchell – at least he calls out Hamas for what they are. (my emphasis)

Hamas in context

I haven’t posted during the current conflict between Israel and Hamas because, to be honest, I have been seriously concerned about the safety all friends and family there which has somewhat paralysed my interest in writing.

The other problem has been that I just have not had the time to make any considered assessment when so many others are doing such a good job.

The situation changes so fast that the best medium to follow has been Twitter and that has been an invaluable and fascinating resource which, at times, made me feel that I was almost there. Except I do not have to run to a shelter every few minutes and have my life made a misery for years.

As I travel toward London where I hope to take part in the annual AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen) parade for the first time, it brought home to me the experiences of my mother during the London Blitz. She knows well what it is like to be under constant threat of being bombed or at the receiving end of a V1 or V2. Although what has been happening to Israelis in the south for years is not the Blitz, there are certain similarities.

Can you remember the last country to be subject to a constant rain of rockets? I don’t think it has happened since the V2 attacks on England in the 1940’s.

So I thought I’d try to put some context into this conflict, a context which is sadly missing from almost all news reports.

If you are a regular reader I probably don’t have to convince you of what I am about to write, but please disseminate widely if you agree. There are still many out there who simply, and understandably, accept everything the media, and especially the TV and Internet news media tell them.

What has been particularly striking over the past week is the reporting behaviour of the television and Internet media of the major news outlets and newspapers.

The BBC, in particular, has developed a culture of what it would consider to be good news reporting. This is an attempt NOT to be biased but to simply report what it sees and to deal with both sides ln the conflict evenhandedly.

This is an admirable approach, except when it comes to dealing with a terrorist group it amounts to naivety, ignorance and moral equivalence on a scale that undermines the entire reporting enterprise. By falling over itself to be ‘fair’ it often involves accepting the lies of Hamas and its supporters, treating a genocidal, fanatical, Islamist fascist regime as being trustworthy and distorting history and chronology as well as misinterpreting the root causes of this particular conflict.

The extent of the moral blindness this attitude can imbue is starkly revealed by a report
on the BBC news website which actually challenges both the main Twitter account of Hamas and the IDF spokesperson and postulating that both are guilty of a breach of Twitter’s rules by encouraging violence.

On Thursday, [the Al Qassam Brigade] posted a YouTube video purportedly showing the launch of a Fajr 5 missile towards Tel Aviv for the first time.

In its turn, the IDF tweeted a link to a video purportedly showing an Israeli air force attack on a “rocket warehouse in #Gaza”, on day two of its “Pillar of Defense” operation.

Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has also been using Twitter to get its message across.

The use of social media to announce and comment on military operations, almost in real time, is a significant departure for the social networking platform.

And it potentially brings the warring parties into conflict with Twitter’s own rules, which state: “Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

This is frankly ridiculous on two counts: firstly, once again, there is the moral equivalence between a terror organisation committing a war crime every time it launches a rocket, and the target of those rockets. Secondly, the IDF spokesperson is providing what could be life-saving information to Israelis as well as propaganda. The Hamas account belongs to a terror group and should be banned for that reason alone. It’s also telling lies.

So now for the context which makes this moral equivalence so reprehensible.

All too many commentators and, indeed, those who are disposed to be against Israel, consider and describe the conflict as if it were between two nations in a dispute over territory. I am talking specifically about Gaza, not the Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank.

These same observers are also too easily duped by the lie that Israel ‘occupies’ Gaza and assume it does so for some malign reason to suppress and punish the people of Gaza for the perceived crimes of Hamas.

Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005 even before which rockets or mortars were being fired into Israel.
Prime Minister Sharon took the painful step of forcibly evicting Israelis and abandoning towns and synagogues and even exhuming the dead and repatriating to Israel.

The Israelis left behind billions of dollars worth of agricultural equipment which could have kick-started the Gazan economy. This resource was vandalised by locals more interested in using it for spare parts and other resources than creating a viable economy.

The Israeli largesse was soon repaid.

When Israel left there were no blockades, no embargoes on goods allowed through, no drones, no army, no closures. Gaza was free as its supporters now wish it to be, as they shout it at rallies across the world.

Then in 2006 after a vicious internecine war with Fatah where Hamas executed dozens of its political opponents by summary firing squads or throwing off tall buildings, Hamas won a ‘democratic’ election.

Hamas apologists are keen to point out that Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the people of Gaza. During the London riots I was tweeting about Hamas, can’t remember why, when none other than Yvonne Ridley, doyenne of the pro-Palestine movement in the UK, tweeted to me claiming just this, that Hamas were the democratically elected government of Gaza. When I challenged her as to when their next elections would be, she got rather evasive and said it would be as soon as they had dealt with the Israelis, or something similar.

So Hamas are not democrats. Their election would not meet the standards of the civilised world or even the uncivilised. They allow no opposition, no free press. free speech, freedom of association. They kill gays, repress women, murder opponents without trial. They are, in fact, the incarnation of evil.

So don’t confuse a democratic election with democracy. Hitler was democratically elected, as I told Yvonne. She said she did not deny this without conceding the point.

Soon after their ‘election’ Hamas began a campaign of firing rockets into Israel. Since 2000, well before they came to power, they have fired about 12,000. This rocket fire has been intermittent. Sometimes several in a day, sometimes none for several days. It was rocket fire which precipitated Cast Lead in 2008.

Hamas have also sent suicide bombers into Israel, fired artillery shells at school buses, fired at IDF soldiers across the border, packed tunnels under the border with explosives and IEDs and, notoriously, took Gilad Shalt hostage for 5 years.

Israel’s forbearance did not last. Hamas were importing and manufacturing a huge cache of arms after 2006. Why? There was no occupation. They were free. Israel allowed in all that was necessary. Israel provided gas and electricity, as it still does.

So why the rockets?

Hamas’s charter clearly states their goals. They are an extreme jihadi, Islamist organisation whose raison d’être is to ‘end the occupation’. This is not the occupation of Gaza or even the occupation of the West Bank, but all Israel. They consider Israel to be illegitimate and that all the land, from the river to the sea, is Arab Muslim. Their role is to liberate it using any means possible.

But their aims don’t stop there. They are a virulently anti-Semitic group. They do not want a one state solution with Jews living harmoniously with Arabs and Muslims, they want to kill every last Jew in Israel – AND THE WORLD.

Don’t believe me? Read their charter Do read it. This is an absolutist, rejectionist movement which is a death cult.
Hamas have no regard for international law, although it puts up a vague pretence in front of Western cameras. It has no regard for human rights. It has no regard for human life. It abuses its children dressing them in jihadi ninja outfits replete with suicide belts and assault rifles and rocket launchers.
It indoctrinates its children into hatred and the need to shed Jewish blood.

This is the organisation in support of which demonstrators will often say, ‘We are all Hamas now’.

Hamas have been pounding southern Israel for years. Leading up to the targetted killing of a senior Hamas figure last year,  I had been tweeting for days and written an article about the online #stoptherockets hashtag. The rockets did not come as a result of the killing, the killing and subsequent offensive was after many years of intolerable rocket fire from Gaza. Rocket fire which had escalated to an extent before the killing which forced Israel to act.

When those commenting on Israel’s actions caution restraint, where were they when the rockets were falling like rain on Ashkelon, Beersheva, Ashdod, Sderot and other towns and cities in southern Israel? How would you like to live under that barrage delivered by an implacable enemy not defending itself but carrying out the objectives of its own charter. A charter which seeks the destruction of Israel.

Hamas, affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, supplied by Iran, financed by – well, partly by you and me if you are in the EU.

So how can anyone fail to see that it is Israel,who are the victims of aggression, not the other way round. the blockade, the embargo, the fence around Gaza, the controlled crossings are all of Hamas’s making.

Yet, despite this, Israel continues to provide power, humanitarian aid, treatment in Israeli hospitals for the people of Gaza who are also victims of the obscene and vicious death cult named Hamas.

I say nothing of the lies and falsely reported images coming from Hamas during the conflict. I say nothing of their evasive interviews which never answer direct questions.

Remember. Hamas fire from schools, hospitals, residential area. They stockpile munitions in mosques and bedrooms. Every time they fire a rocket from a residential area towards Israel they commit two patent war crimes. Yet no-one calls them out for this. The opposite; they receive support from national governments and organisations across the world.

NGO’s which say nothing about rockets fired at Israel are always apoplectic as soon as Israel responds.

Yet I detect things are changing. The UK, many European countries, the USA and even Ban Ki Moon himself seem to realise that Hamas are the aggressors. Whilst asking Israel to show restraint, something they never asked Hamas to do, they nevertheless clearly recognise the sequence of cause and effect here and they know that to ask Israel not to react would be utter hypocrisy.

Maybe you can now understand the background a little better.

My train is about to pull in to London.
See you later.

#Stoptherockets

#StopTheRockets is the Twitter hashtag promoted today by the incomparable @avimayer.

Avi has relentlessly been using this hashtag with his own barrage of tweets to get it ‘trending’.

Avi’s tweets point out that rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza into Israel which illicit a response from the IDF do harm to both sides, especially children.

The context for this is more than 100 rockets fired from Gaza in the last 2 days. Some of these rockets have hit towns, cities and kibbutzim in Israel causing damage to buildings, shock but no casualties.

As is often the case Hamas and its allies in Gaza say that this is all in response to Israeli aggression. A 13 year old boy was killed and there are reports that a funeral cortege was hit by the IDF.

These in turn were in response to a prior attack on the border fence where a large explosive device was detonated injuring Israeli soldiers and later an anti-tank round was fired at an IDF vehicle seriously injuring two soldiers.

The scale of the rocket attacks is unprecedented of late and Israel is in the usual place between a rock and something hard because it’s damned if it responds and it’s damned if it does not.

What has been significant on Twitter is that the Hamas apologists are out in force. For them, anything is justified as ‘resistance’. The argument is that Israel is strong and is oppressing Gaza whereas they are weak and desperate. Therefore – all is justified.

The tortuous moral knots that these apologists tie themselves up in was exposed by a tweet to me after I asked everyone to agree that firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian targets is a war crime. At least a dozen people retweeted me.

One person chose to respond as follows:

“@RayPCook how many civilians have been killed from the rockets fired from Gaza?”

My response was:

“what a ridiculous question which completely exposes the bankruptcy of your moral position”

The response back:

“@RayPCook can you tell me why it us ridiculous? Or is this also a morally bankrupt question?”

And this conversation continues.

Does anyone else out there understand why the question is morally bankrupt?

Ok. In case not, here goes.

As no Israelis have been killed, the implication is that either it’s not a crime to fire at them or that these rockets are just a few squibs put up by the poor defenceless Islamist Jew-haters in Gaza. In other words, regardless of the intention of the rockets, if no-one is hurt, then it’s ok.

The corollary is that if someone were killed, would it then suddenly not be ok?

The ridiculous question avoids the moral and legal aspect of indiscriminate fire at civilians. This same person, no doubt, would be bleating about Israeli war crimes if Israel were to launch a two day barrage against Gazan civilians.

He/she may believe this is exactly what Israel has done. So if he/she and other like minds believe it’s wrong for Israel to do it (and I don’t believe they do) then how can they justify it if Gazans do it.

Let’s say Israel launched 100 rockets at Khan Younis and no-one was killed – that would be ok, would it?

This is the logic of the cesspit where Hamas apologists spend their pitiful lives swilling around in moral equivalence, hypocrisy and bigotry.

The sad thing is, they don’t see it. And when it’s pointed out to them, they have no good, that is, moral answers. That’s because when it comes to Israel they are immoral. Their ideology or their twisted world-view or their Jew-hatred taints their thinking.

Update: in my eagerness I failed to mention that people have been injured by this rocket fire and that could easily have been fatal.

Also, one of the reasons why Israelis suffer few casualties in these attacks is because every Israeli either has or has access to a bomb-proof room and air-raid warnings sound, often giving people a matter of seconds to take cover.

In addition, during barrages, schools close, life is curtailed for hundreds of thousands of people in the range of these rockets. Unlike their jihadi adversaries, Israelis value life not death. They don’t hide behind human shields, schools, religious buildings or hospitals.