On BBC Question Time last week a panel which included the comedian Russell Brand, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips was always going to be entertaining.
It was all going well for Melanie Phillips with both Brand and Johnson saying what a nice person she was personally; then someone asked a question about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Mel could not resist a fusillade against that country.
Unfortunately, in mentioning Iran’s nuclear intentions, she let slip the word ‘Israel’, the passepartout to frenzied delusional politically correct zeitgeist–embracing stupefaction. Cries of ‘paranoid’ and much booing followed.
It did not help that Phillips often comes a close second to David Icke when it comes to provoking audiences’ derision, but only when she speaks about Israel.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the rest of the evening she was a paragon of sense and considered response with audience tacit approval.
When it came to Iran she failed to make her point dispassionately. A British audience does not like what it perceives as hysteria. Melanie needs to improve her presentation when it comes to issues about which she is really passionate such as Israel or Iran and the threat it still poses. Saying that Iran needs to be ‘neutralised’ is not language likely to win an argument in today’s PC climate.
The idea that a country’s leaders want to bring about Armageddon because of a religious belief in the Mahdi is about as credible to a Question Time audience as Icke’s reptiles.
But that’s the point – is it that far-fetched?
In fact Johnson and Ed Davey seemed naïve in the extreme about Rouhani’s moderateness and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
They are not alone. On Twitter Zbigniew Bzrezinski just tweeted:
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is disappointed that a moderate won the Iranian elections. I wonder why?”
This was retweeted by none other than Javier Solana former Secretary General of NATO and the Council of the European Union.
Now you could see the tweet as ambiguous. It could be viewed as supporting Netanyahu’s scepticism. But it does not. It is suggesting that Netanyahu is disappointed because a ‘moderate’ undercuts his argument to attack Iran, which Bzrezinski does not support.
So these two highly influential and, presumably, well-informed politicians cannot see what is so blindingly obvious about Rouhani.
Firstly he is clearly playing ‘Mr Nice Guy’ precisely to fool gullible Westerners and relieve the pressure of sanctions on Iran.
Secondly he is no moderate. He is only moderate like Goebbels was a moderate Nazi compared to Hitler. He is implicated in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires and his son apparently committed suicide because his father was too extreme.
But it hardly matters because he is just a puppet of the Supreme leader Khamanei. It is he not Rouhani who decides policy. And Khamanei selected him as a proper candidate for the presidency. In other words, he is pre-approved by a religious despot.
But let’s get back to the proposition that Iran intends a bomb in order to annihilate Israel.
Would Iran bomb Tel Aviv? Does that make sense? Or is the threat enough to big-up Iran in the region so it establishes itself as the major power. Is the bomb not a national testosterone implant?
If Iran were to nuke Israel it would have to figure in the fall-out both literal and figurative.
If Israel is to be removed to give the Palestinians back their land and create a Palestinian state (something I believe would never happen if Israel were eliminated) nuking the land that Palestinians claim and rendering it uninhabitable for decades or centuries does not seem a good strategy.
If the Iranians decide to leave Jerusalem standing,it still deprives the Palestinians of their state in any realistic form unless millions want to ‘return’ to die of radiation.
An what of the reaction of Russia, India and the United States to a country ready to use a nuclear weapon? Surely the US at least would see it as an act of war and NATO would surely react.
But, according to Melanie, this logical, reasoned calculation does not apply to Iran because it has taken leave of its political senses and subordinated them to religious belief and necessity.
Is Melanie destined to become the Cassandra of the West crying ‘I warned you’ as night descends on Western civilisation?
Only time will tell.
This article was first published in ‘Israel and the World’ April 2013
Two recent cases in the UK and Ireland have highlighted the obsessive anti-Zionism that has seeped into the fabric of academic discourse.
Those who obsess about Israel, characterising that state in in the most pejorative of terms, are part of a broader left wing coalition for whom Israel is the new South Africa; a country which, by shedding Apartheid without shedding blood, inconsiderately deprived the Left of something to gather in Trafalgar Square about; the cause célèbre that makes them feel good about their Socialist credentials once again.
This troupe of Israel-obsessed, Zionist-loathing, self-righteous self-delusionists find support and common cause with the even more obsessive Muslim and Islamist ‘Greens’, thus forming what has been called ‘The Red Green Alliance’.
Even though the views of the ‘Greens’ are about as unpalatable as a side order of Brussel sprouts, when it comes to their views on Israel, and even though their anti-Israelism and pro-Palestinianism is often, if not invariably thinly veiled anti-Semitism, the Reds are happy to embrace and find common cause with their green brothers and sisters.
Why the Left should find common cause against a pluralist, thriving, innovative democracy and side with those who support and give succour to some of the most obscene regimes in the world is a mystery for which I have little explanation.
In an article by Joshua Muravchik titled “Enough Said: The False Scholarship of Edward Said” there is, perhaps, an explanation:
Said rolled American racism and European colonialism into one mélange of white oppression of darker-skinned peoples. He was not the only thinker to have forged this amalgam, but his unique further contribution was to represent “Orientals” as the epitome of the dark-skinned; Muslims as the modal Orientals; Arabs as the essential Muslims; and, finally, Palestinians as the ultimate Arabs. Abracadabra—Israel was transformed from a redemptive refuge from two thousand years of persecution to the very embodiment of white supremacy.
This is the background against which two absurdities were recently consecrated by academe.
The first case was in Ireland, a cold-bed of anti-Israel activity and sentiment, and perpetrated by those who clearly believe that the Palestinians are the new Fenians.
The Teachers Union of Ireland agreed an academic boycott of Israel and, thus, aligned themselves with the BDS (Boycott, Sanction, Disinvestment) movement which comprises a motley assortment of groups and individuals who ‘BDS’ no other country, nor who are interested in so doing. This alliance’s rhetoric is often laced with helpful suggestions to the Israeli people to take part in negotiations with themselves (as the other party continues to absent itself) to bring about the end of their own country in order to allow yet another Islamist, anti-Semitic terror state to replace it, all in the name of Human Rights and natural justice, not to mention International Law.
When this group is challenged to explain why they have chosen Israel and not, for example, Sudan or China or Syria or North Korea or Burma as the cynosure of their moral indignation-cum-compass, they can come out with absurdities such as this, reported in the Jewish Chronicle (12 April 2013):
The academic boycott of Israel imposed by the Teachers Union of Ireland is a “backhanded compliment”, the union’s general secretary has claimed.
John MacGabhann said the TUI “expected more” of Israel than it did of other countries and felt a “sense of disappointment” in the actions of successive Israeli governments.
“To a very significant degree, our union and members expect more of the Israeli government, precisely because we would anticipate that Israeli governments would act in all instances and ways to better uphold the rights of others,” he said.
I would bring Mr MacGabhann’s attention to one of the clauses of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism’s working definition of anti-Semitism:
Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
So, don’t take my word for it, the TUI decision is antisemitic. Apart from that, it’s downright stupid, which makes me worry about the future of Irish education if it is in the hands of those who try to find enough wriggle-room to excuse the enormity of their prejudices.
What is the corollary of expecting Israel to behave better than other countries? Why, it means the TUI expects less of other, unspecified countries. But don’t these inspirational academics, in the glory of their self-righteousness, realise that not only gives a free (moral) pass to Israel’s enemies, but it is profoundly racist. It also contradicts what, I would guess, is one of their own cherished principles; namely, international laws, norms of behaviour and the adherence to the principles of human rights - which are not negotiable on the basis of ‘well, you know, we’re only Arabs, whadya expect?’ or ‘Come on, we are brown-skinned and clearly of inferior moral fibre, give us a break’.
If they can’t see how repugnant it is to expect more of Israel, and less of others, (and how pathetic an excuse for their own bigotry that is), then how can we possibly trust them to make a proper moral judgement on the rightness of BDS?
The second case was Jewish, Zionist Mathematics lecturer, Ronnie Fraser versus the University College Union.
Fraser accused the Union of harassment due to a number of incidents over the years where he felt that his support for Israel had led to his being bullied and victimised.
This is the same UCU which found that the Working Definition of antisemitism quoted above was not to their liking because it married Israel-bashing with antisemitsm and, although to be antisemitic is taboo even for a UCU academic, to be anti-Zionist is not. In other words, the definition got in the way of their attempts to fig-leaf their own prejudices. Here’s the bit where they felt an index finger pointing rather too close for comfort at their academic sang-froid:
Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
‘Could include’, indeed. Context is all. Yet, in a judgement for this same UCU Fraser lost the case before an employment tribunal. He not only lost it, but one of the reasons he lost it was because the judge found that Jews do not understand their own Jewishness:
“..an attachment to Israel… is not intrinsically part of Jewishness”
So what is? An attachment to money and Christian blood?
As Prof. Geoffrey Alderman wrote in the Jewish Chronicle also on the 12th April:
“..I had only to consult my daily prayer book to reassure myself on this point”
Anyone who can make that statement with a straight face is either obscenely badly-educated (maybe they attended University College?) or they are malign in the extreme. Such a judgement is so ignorant that it smacks of the antisemitic form of anti-Zionism that the case was about in the first place.
So, it seems, Jews turned up in Israel because they though mosquito-infested swamps, 40°C, noisy neighbours, pitiless soil and desert conditions were a worthwhile colonial enterprise. As opposed to, say, the bounty of Uganda or the forests of Madagascar, both thought, at one time, to be suitable dumping-grounds for Europe’s Jews.
The problem, you see, is the whole idea of ‘Jewishness’ and how the outside world cannot, at times, and often for its own ideological convenience, come to terms with the idea that for Jews the Land of Israel is not fundamental to their religion and culture – IT IS their religion and culture. It is as indivisible for Jews as the Trinity for Catholics or the Five Pillars for Islam.
To deny that connection, to divorce Jew from Judaism and The Land, is just another line of attack on Jews and Jewishness and which leads to assaults on shechita (ritual slaughter) and brit milah (circumcision); and all in the name of animal welfare or human rights.
I’ll finish with words of author Howard Jacobson writing in The Independent about the reaction to Cast Lead (Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008/9) which typifies the level and tenor of attacks on Israel, which, I will remind you, is the homeland of the Jewish people:
“…the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred…
A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth.”
Yair Lapid has risen rapidly to become a major player in Israeli politics. His party, Yesh Atid (There’s a Future) had significant success in the recent elections.
There is no doubting his charisma. But who is he and what does he stand for?
If I were an Israeli, I’d probably have voted for him because his views most closely meet my own.
I was made aware of an article that was published four years ago, before he was really politically active.
It is called ‘I Am a Zionist’.
I want to analyse the entire article which is really, in my view, a work part poetic, part secular creed. Of course, I present an English translation but I don’t think that matters.
I am a Zionist
I believe that the Jewish people established itself in the Land of Israel, albeit somewhat late. Had it listened to the alarm clock, there would have been no Holocaust, and my dead grandfather – the one I was named after – would have been able to dance a last waltz with grandma on the shores of the Yarkon River.
[ That last sentence is, for me, sheer poetry. It brings together so many themes of what it is to be a Jew in this post-Holocaust world and it introduces an important theme which is overlooked by those who do not understand the attachment of Jews to the Land of Israel. That theme is emotion and, yes, sentimentality, but it is, nevertheless, a valid and most central reason for Zionism.
Lapid tells us that is grandfather, who perished two decades before he was born, would have survived, moved to Israel and would have lived out his latter years with Lapid's grandmother (who survived) by the Yarkon river in Tel Aviv. The whole image is deeply moving to me and I get emotional just reading it.
It speaks of a lost world and lives cut short, but it also speaks of renewal, redemption and hope. After all, Yair is named after his late grandfather, a strong tradition amongst Ashkenazi Jews. He stands in his grandfather's place but his very presence is both a confirmation of the resilience of Jewish life and history and also a form of defiance. The Nazis were not the first nor will they be the last who wish to destroy the Jews. In this sentence, Israel is a refuge where life can be lived and Jews can reach old age to see out their years amid the beauty of their ancestral land in the dance of life, not the dance of death.
Had we, the Jews, listened to the 'alarm clock' then grandfather would be here with us. We will not let that happen again. We listen to alarm clocks now whether they be Iranian or Islamist or terrorist. At the first ring we jump up and we run to defend ourselves and our country and our future as a free independent nation.
All this I read in that one poetic sentence.]
I am a Zionist.
Hebrew is the language I use to thank the Creator, and also to swear on the road. The Bible does not only contain my history, but also my geography. King Saul went to look for mules on what is today Highway 443, Jonah the Prophet boarded his ship not too far from what is today a Jaffa restaurant, and the balcony where David peeped on Bathsheba must have been bought by some oligarch by now.
[So, don't tell us we are colonisers and foreign infiltrators. The Land IS the Jewish people. It is the warp and we are the weft of our history and the fabric is a strong one. Despite your attempts to tell us we are recent converts, that the Temple never existed and that the tombs of our forefathers are really mosques. Despite your attempt to obliterate our history and to pulverise our synagogues and our graves, you cannot separate the warp from the weft - they are made of the strongest steel annealed in the furnaces of our ancestors' torture.]
I am a Zionist.
The first time I saw my son wearing an IDF uniform I burst into tears, I haven’t missed the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony for 20 years now, and my television was made in Korea, but I taught it to cheer for our national soccer team.
[The concept of Jewish soldiers who fight for their land and people is still quite new to Jews. We were often conscripts fighting others' wars or we experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of soldiers' hatreds and lusts. Russian Jews often preferred to leave the country than send their sons for 25 years military service.
The family story is that my great-uncle in Poland was blinded so the Russians could not take him.
So to see your son (or daughter) in a uniform gladly contributing to the safety of his nation can be an overwhelming one. I know that as a non-Israeli with and Israeli son. So much more Lapid knows it as one who served himself. This too is about emotion and creating continuity and belonging. It's about being in control of your destiny and not to have that destiny belong to the whim of others.
It is also about the idea of your grandfather or great-grandfather cowering in a stiebl in Russia as the Cossacks or the Germans or the Poles, or whoever it happened to be, rode by or entered your town or demanded you line up or took you away for 25 years.
From that to my handsome son or my beautiful daughter wearing an Israeli uniform. If there is such a thing as a miracle...]
I am a Zionist.
I believe in our right for this land. The people who were persecuted for no reason throughout history have a right to a state of their own plus a free F-16 from the manufacturer. Every display of anti-Semitism from London to Mumbai hurts me, yet deep inside I’m thinking that Jews who choose to live abroad fail to understand something very basic about this world. The State of Israel was not established so that the anti-Semites will disappear, but rather, so we can tell them to get lost.
[More strident than I would put it. I think we should still pay for the F-16. No-one owes us anything. We owe the world. We owe the world the demonstration that a civilised country based on Jewish principles is not only possible but desirable.
I don't expect anti-Semites to disappear and I don't think telling them to get lost will help us or deter them. It may make us feel better, though. And as a Jew who was born in the Diaspora I do understand this. I did not chose to be born here. Nor is it that easy to leave. However, the more Israel is unfairly singled out, the more blind eyes are turned to anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred, the more 'anti-Zionism' becomes mainstream and the more the useful idiots of the Left and the deluded 'human-rights' advocates feed the crocodiles, the more likely it is I will leave and have MY last waltz on the Yarkon, as it were.]
I am a Zionist.
I was fired at in Lebanon, a Katyusha rockets missed me by a few feet in Kiryat Shmona, missiles landed near my home during the first Gulf War, I was in Sderot when the Color Red anti-rocket alert system was activated, terrorists blew themselves up not too far from my parents’ house, and my children stayed in a bomb shelter before they even knew how to pronounce their own name, clinging to a grandmother who arrived here from Poland to escape death. Yet nonetheless, I always felt fortunate to be living here, and I don’t really feel good anywhere else.
[Do your worst. We are not moving. This is not about immigration and colonisation, it's about a deep-rootedness that non-Zionists just do not understand. Yes, it's about emotion. It's about history. It's about struggle. It's about self-determination. It's about pride. It's about knowing your great-grandparents stood on a railway platform in Birkenau or by a shallow grave in a forest in Poland. It's about saying 'never again'].
I am a Zionist.
I think that anyone who lives here should serve in the army, pay taxes, vote in the elections, and be familiar with the lyrics of at least one Shalom Hanoch song. I think that the State of Israel is not only a place, it is also an idea, and I wholeheartedly believe in the three extra commandments engraved on the wall of the Holocaust museum in Washington: “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”
[Pretty much the essence of what I have been saying. Despite this, the haters are determined to prove Israelis ARE perpetrators. Not as individual miscreants but as part of a national program and as an indivisible consequence of being Jewish. But you know what I think about that.]
I am a Zionist.
I already laid down on my back to admire the Sistine Chapel, I bought a postcard at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I was deeply impressed by the emerald Buddha at the king’s palace in Bangkok. Yet I still believe that Tel Aviv is more entertaining, the Red Sea is greener, and the Western Wall Tunnels provide for a much more powerful spiritual experience. It is true that I’m not objective, but I’m also not objective in respect to my wife and children.
[I guess you have to be born in Israel and be a true patriot to believe this. I don't think that being a Zionist means you have to believe that everything Israeli is better than its counterparts in other countries. But I did feel a welling of pride and emotion when I first flew El Al within Israel and I still can't explain why.]
I am a Zionist.
I am a man of tomorrow but I also live my past. My dynasty includes Moses, Jesus, Maimonides, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Bobby Fischer, Bob Dylan, Franz Kafka, Herzl, and Ben-Gurion. I am part of a tiny persecuted minority that influenced the world more than any other nation. While others invested their energies in war, we had the sense to invest in our minds.
[Yes, but what led to the disproportionate number of Jews who have influenced world history? Why are we so clever? Why are we so bookish? Why do we challenge convention and never settle for another person's 'truth'? It's quite simple. Those non-Jews, Darwin and Dawkins, would tell you. Those Jews who live today are here because someone in their past made a decision which saved their life or their children's lives. We have been breeding out those not bright enough to survive for 40 generations or more.
In addition: the Christians and the Muslims often prevented us from full participation in their society marking us out as strangers and infidels or unbelievers whose very presence was simply tolerated. So what did we do: we had to have our own food, our own hospitals our own burial societies, our own places of worship. But above all, our own schools where we could study Torah. We have always been literate. We have always been interested in forensic debate over the matters of Jewish law and custom in the Torah or Talmud. We always spoken at least two languages.
We created a ghetto of the mind and made ourselves more intelligent, more cultured, more spiritual and more self-sufficient. It does not make us superior or better. It just makes us able to do a lot more with a lot less if given the space and the peace to do so.]
I am a Zionist.
I sometimes look around me and become filled with pride, because I live better than a billion Indians, 1.3 billion Chinese, the entire African continent, more than 250 million Indonesians, and also better than the Thais, the Filipinos, the Russians, the Ukrainians, and the entire Muslim world, with the exception of the Sultan of Brunei. I live in a country under siege that has no natural resources, yet nonetheless the traffic lights always work and we have high-speed connection to the Internet.
[Please see my response to the previous paragraph.]
I am a Zionist.
My Zionism is natural, just like it is natural for me to be a father, a husband, and a son. People who claim that they, and only they, represent the “real Zionism” are ridiculous in my view. My Zionism is not measured by the size of my kippa, by the neighborhood where I live, or by the party I will be voting for. It was born a long time before me, on a snowy street in the ghetto in Budapest where my father stood and attempted, in vain, to understand why the entire world is trying to kill him.
[And now we come full circle because pretty much all of the world is still trying to kill us either deliberately or through negligence which will allow those who want a second Holocaust to succeed].
I am a Zionist.
Every time an innocent victim dies, I bow my head because once upon a time I was an innocent victim. I have no desire or intention to adopt the moral standards of my enemies. I do not want to be like them. I do not live on my sword; I merely keep it under my pillow.
[This is a major cultural ethical difference between most Israelis and those who would destroy them. However, do not be complacent; there are too many Israeli Jews who do have the moral standards of their enemies. Fortunately, they live within a legal system that, for the most part, restrains them. Yet, the idealised view of the moral Jew is being sorely tested in Judea and Samaria. Recent demographic changes are also causing challenges. Even so, the overall imbalance in hatred and bigotry compared to Israel's enemies, and even some of its friends, is enormous].
I am a Zionist.
I do not only hold on to the rights of our forefathers, but also to the duty of the sons. The people who established this state lived and worked under much worse conditions than I have to face, yet nonetheless they did not make do with mere survival. They also attempted to establish a better, wiser, more humane, and more moral state here. They were willing to die for this cause, and I try to live for its sake.
[Idealism has to be acted upon. I hope Yair Lapid succeeds in demonstrating that he can act upon his idealism and advance the peace process.]
I assume Lapid still feels the same as he did in 2009. This is the manifesto of an Israeli who is proud of his nation and its achievements, proud of his history but aware of the threats to that nation. He will defend it if he has to. But he’d rather live in peace.
This is the reasonable, long time mainstream peace-seeking, compromise making, tough Israeli stance. All it needs is the other side to be of like mind. Sadly, that is not something that is forthcoming.
You may have though not much has been going on in Gaza recently. That is, if you stick to the mainstream media.
When it comes to the BBC, my headline could have been ‘Clueless in Gaza’. Apologies to both John Milton and Aldous Huxley.
BBCWatch is running with a story which perfectly illustrates how propaganda against Israel works. First the lie, then the apology, or the short footnote hidden away on a page of a daily newspaper, or Goldstone saying if he knew then what he knows now, or a cartoonist saying ‘but I didn’t realise it was offensive’, or Ha’aretz issuing a ‘correction’.
The story I am referring to is about Omar Mashrawi. I’m sure you recall the heart-rending scenes as Jihad Mashrawi, a BBC employee at the time, paraded the dead body of his son Omar through Gaza City during Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel’s operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza.
John Donnison, the BBC correspondent on the ground wrote how the boy had been killed by a shell fired by the Israelis. Despite the evidence at the scene appearing to contradict this claim, or at least causing severe doubt, nevertheless, yet another Palestinian dead baby story was attributed to the Israelis.
Three months later we find the probable truth via no less than the UN HRC as the BBCWatch article tells us, and I quote extensively because I cannot improve on it:
On March 6th 2013 the UN HRC issued an advance version of its report on the November 2012 hostilities and blogger Elder of Ziyon bothered to read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:
“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]
A footnote adds that the UN investigated the incident itself.
Omar Masharawi was the only 11 month-old infant killed on November 14th in the Zaitoun neighbourhood (although the woman killed at the same time was not in fact his mother as the UN report states, but his father’s brother’s wife; Hiba).
The BBC used the story of Omar Masharawi to advance the narrative of Israel as a ruthless killer of innocent children. It did so in unusually gory detail which etched the story in audiences’ minds, but without checking the facts, and with no regard whatsoever for its obligations to accuracy and impartiality. BBC reporters and editors – including Jon Donnison, Paul Danahar and the many others who distributed the story via Twitter – rushed to spread as far and wide as possible a story they could not validate, but which fit in with their own narrative.
It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it. Nevertheless, the people responsible for the fact that the unverified story was allowed to run – and that it was deliberately given such exceptionally extensive coverage – must be held accountable for their failure to even try to uphold the standards to which the BBC professes to adhere.
Thus, Israel is demonised. And it is not only western journalists who do it, but Israeli ones too.
Ha’aretz published a story about how Ethiopian women entering Israel were given contraceptive injections. The point being that Israel, which insists it is not a racist, apartheid state, is trying to limit the birth rate of Africans because it is racist. Even at the time the story was rebutted by many sources.The explanation was that these were not long-lasting contraceptive jabs but reversible short-term ones and made at the request of the women for whom more conventional forms of contraception are taboo.
As a result the practice was stopped as being inappropriate.
Nevertheless, what do we find? yes, a plethora of reports telling the world how nasty those Israelis are to let black people into the country and then limit their fertility. The whole idea is nonsense anyway. If Israel were that racist, why spend so much time and effort bringing Ethiopian Jews into Israel in the first place?
And now Ha’aretz has not only given context to its story but has highlighted how its own journalism was hijacked by those with anti-Israel agendas.
But the story has taken on a life of its own internationally. The words “forced” and “coercion” are being thrown around in the international coverage. Images of Mengele-level persecution of clueless, helpless victims being marched by force from camps to clinics to receive their injections have been conjured up, as the story has travelled from the Israeli media to the national mainstream media, to international and niche publications. The headlines run from the oversimplified to deliberately twisted:
The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” – conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.
Back in Gaza, if you recall, our blessed Prime Minister, David Cameron, once characterised Gaza as a prison camp whilst he was endearing himself to Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan.
William Hague, our Foreign Secretary called on Israel to end the blockade.
So, no doubt they will both be much affected by the following facts:
COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) regularly reports on the number of truckloads of goods entering Gaza which continued even under rocket fire. http://www.cogat.idf.il/894-en/Matpash.aspx?Sad Our noble leaders will see that the Gaza prison camp received 400 truckloads of goods and 170 tons of gas this Thursday alone.
On Tuesday 144,310 flowers were exported from Gaza through Israel.
The people of Gaza should be reaping the reward of the quiet which has descended since their government stopped bombarding Israel. Yet, Messrs Hague and Cameron should also note the following:
On the 4th March the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, a major route for goods, was closed, not by Israel but by Hamas. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/HumanitarianAid/Palestinians/Hamas_closes_Kerem_Shalom_crossing_4-Mar-2013.htm
Over 70 trucks laden with food and other goods are currently waiting on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing for their Palestinian counterparts.
The crossing is currently not operating, as the Palestinian contractor responsible for the Palestinian side decided not to open the crossing today.
His decision stems from attempts by Hamas to replace the current contractor with one of their choosing. Hamas has been actively trying to push the Palestinian Authority out and take charge of the management of Kerem Shalom so that they may collect revenue from goods that enter Gaza.
These actions by Hamas endanger the current security arrangements and threaten the operability of the crossing.
If Gaza were so desperate for goods, why would Hamas close one of its lifelines in attempt to take control of the crossing replacing the Palestinian Authority contractor? Answer? it wants a kick-back for Hamas by operating it.
And there’s more bad news for those who find Israel solely responsible for the welfare of Palestinians whose government is determined to destroy the country that is most responsible for sustaining it. Egypt is destroying smuggling tunnels.
Yes, Islamist, revolutionary, Hamas-loving, Jew-hating Egypt is destroying the tunnels used for years by Gazans to smuggle everything from couscous to Mercedes and missiles.
The smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt are a security threat and must be destroyed, a Cairo court ruled on Tuesday, responding to a petition brought by a group of lawyers and activists in the wake of a cross-border attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August.
The Egyptians even flooded the tunnels recently.
So Messrs Cameron and Hague, where are your complaints to the Egyptians and to Hamas about the way they are turning Gaza into a prison camp, cutting off its routes for import and export?
No, we must only hear about what measures Israel takes to feed and sustain its enemies. All countries do that, don’t they? Supply their sworn enemies with food and power? Assad does it in Syria, yes? What? He doesn’t? Oh. So other countries across the world sustain the non-combatant populations of enemy countries and entities like the Sri Lankans looked after the Tamils in areas controlled by the Tigers?
Oh, I see, only Israelis have to be so generous or else it is a war crime and collective punishment. I understand.
I understand completely.
Normally, by now, I am relaxing after a brisk walk to the local shops and reading my Sunday Times.
Recently, I was reading some old diaries and discovered that I was doing the Sunday Times crossword in 1969. I remember well when my association with that newspaper begun. They ran a series on the Kennedy assassination, something that has fascinated me all my life, and it began with that Sunday Times series of articles.
So for more than 40 years, on and off, I have read the Sunday Tomes. I like the News Review where, religiously, I do the crosswords, puzzles, chess problem and even try the bridge problem. It’s what Sundays are about.
Every week in the main paper there is a Gerald Scarfe cartoon. These are usually hard-hitting critiques of a political nature.
So before I recall all the reaction to this cartoon, let may say that I am only now writing about it because such incidents are sometimes best contemplated once the response and counter-response has taken place because it can be very instructive where Israel and the Jews are concerned.
It took about one second for my first gut reaction. This was not a considered analysis of the politics or the fairness of the cartoon, my initial reaction was: “I think this may be anti-Semitic”. I did not say those words to myself. I felt it in my gut. All I could see was the world’s most prominent Jew with an evil expression and a sharp implement dripping blood and Palestinians dead or dying. My gut and my Jewish radar told me: “Blood Libel”.
Then this was followed by disbelief. Just a minute. This is Gerald Scarfe. He’s not anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times is not anti-Semitic. Am I reading this wrong? Am I too sensitive?
Then I read the words at the bottom. “Will cementing peace continue?”. I didn’t understand. What was he saying? Is this the separation barrier? Is it a settlement being built? Then my gut reaction to the clear similarity with Nazi Jew-hate propaganda as seen the Der Stuermer, in 19th century Russian images and, sadly, today in the Arab and Iranian press, was reinforced by the unfairness of the cartoon. if this was the separation barrier, then it has saved thousands of lives. If it is a settlement then why show Palestinians being bricked up in it.
Then I realised that this cartoon followed on immediately from David Ward MP’s remarks equating Israel with Nazis on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. This image, echoing the blood libel and depicting Netanyahu as a murderous demonic figure was a further kick in the gut.
An immediate farrago ensued. What I had not even considered was that last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This was irrelevant to me. Didn’t enter my head when I looked at this cartoon, but, I guess, it was there in the background creating a feeling of general antipathy to Israel which was spilling over into casual and unthinking anti-Semitism.
So, Rupert Murdoch weighed in with an apology. The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council met with Martin Ivens, the acting editor of the newspaper and, before very long, an abject apology was issued.
The apology, although I am convinced was genuine, was a little ambiguous:
“I’m grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”
He appears to be apologising for the timing of the cartoon. He believes this is what gave offence. This is, perhaps, even worse because it is saying: “Sorry for depicting Jews as murderous Nazis on Holocaust Memorial Day, we should have waited a week and depicted them as murderous Nazis next week”.
Of course, it is not ‘the Jews’ being depicted, but Binyamin Netanyahu. Scarfe aimed his venom at him, not Jews generally. However, when you depict a Jew using anti-Semitic imagery, then your political point has gone beyond the person and extends to a whole people.
Scarfe also apologised saying he was unaware of the date the cartoon would appear and that he was ignorant of the Blood Libel. Never heard of it, he said.
This is what I wrote to local community leaders in an email last week which I have edited here to avoid repetition:
Scarfe’s response is interesting. Although I find it hard to believe that he is unaware of the blood libel I am inclined to believe him. I’ve never seen Scarfe as an anti-Semite or even anti Israel.
The interesting bit is that he is a well-educated man in his 70’s and he has never seen anything about the blood libel or understands Jewish sensitivity to blood (his apology was for the timing not content. Perhaps prompted by Ivens).
Yet his image so closely recalls and even references images from the 30’s and 40’s that he must, somehow, have subliminally stored away these images and inadvertently reproduced their tone right down to the demonic look and the dripping sharp instrument.
There must have been studies of how the Jew in European culture plugs in to folk memory. Many German cartoons were folklorish in nature. The Jew as a character from Grimm’s fairytales. This is how, I believe, someone like Scarfe can blithely reproduce anti-Semitic imagery whilst remaining, apparently, un-anti-Semitic.
I think we were right to object and the apology, although missing the point a little, is well-received. I shall be buying the ST again, but maybe not this weekend – maybe I’ll check the Scarfe cartoon first.
I should also note that there was much debate in the Jewish community in the UK and in Israel, Ha’aretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer denied it was anti-Semitic.
The reaction from Israel haters and an assembly of pro-Palestinian groups was also instructive. They generally missed the point accusing the Jewish Lobby of playing the anti-Semitism card to close down debate. They supported Scarfe and David Ward saying they were brave or righteous to point out Israel’s ethnic cleansing, genocide etc.
Others could not see the relation to Nazi imagery. Usually these people were not Jewish and did not have Jewish sensitivities. They not only could not experience my gut feeling – and I trust my gut when it comes to anti-Semitism – but they also missed the important point that not one member of the Jewish community said the cartoon should not be published or that criticism of Israel or its politicians in political cartoons was inadmissible.
It’s not the first time Israel supporters have cried ‘anti-Semitic’. Steve Bell of the Guardian also came in for heavy criticism.
Yes, cartoonists have the right to offend. Often that offence is deliberate and aimed at politicians at home and abroad. Judging the fairness of the image depends on your politics. It also depends on your experience. If you inhabit my world where Israel is being vilified disproportionately, where Israel is subject to obsessive UN criticism, where Jews and Judaism are under attack daily across Europe, then your skin’s thickness is subject to a thinning process to the point where if you prick us, we certainly do bleed.
The best thing I can say about this cartoon was the reaction of the Jewish community. It was in part over the top hysterical, as is often the case with certain elements of the community who will jump in and on anything vaguely anti-Semitic that moves. The leadership, though, did the right thing; they expressed dismay whilst expressing the right to publish and to free speech.
No-one died as a result of this cartoon. There were no demos across London or the world calling for Scarfe to be killed. No-one burned down the Sunday Times offices. Scarfe can sleep safe in his bed at night. He does not have to skulk from safe house to safe house with a police armed guard. No embassies were attacked or diplomats killed.
Cartoonists and journalists should be aware of the sensitivities of all communities. This does not change their right to say and depict as they wish within the law.
I’ll be buying the Sunday Times next week. This week, I’ll register my own personal protest and deprive them of my £2.50.
David Ward MP is in a spot of bother with the Liberal Democrats.
On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK he chose to make the following slanderous comparison between Israeli Jews and Nazi Germany:
” [he was] ”saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.
Even to rebut this piece of trash is like trying to respond to a ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question, but here goes.
There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement so let’s dissect it.
Firstly he makes the telling conflation of Jews and Israelis. Is he really saying that, given his statement that ‘atrocities’ are and have been visited upon Palestinians that the Jews are responsible wherever they are in the world? Israel may be the nation state of the Jews but not all Jews live there or even identify with it.
Second: he uses that trick which others have used before; to be ever so sorry about the Holocaust and to tell us how awfully the Jews were treated and then go on to accuse them of ‘not learning the lesson’ of the Holocaust as if it’s the victims who have a lesson to learn and not the perpetrators. it also conveniently avoids the fact that it is Israel’s and the Jews’ enemies who daily proclaim their wish to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people: Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian regime.
Third: He says ‘within a few years’ of the lesson that the world taught the Jews, they were themselves perpetrating atrocities. Oh, really. In the 19 years between the declaration of the State of Israel when it was attacked by armies of the Arab League intending to finish Hitler’s work, until 1967 when the same Arab League lost a war in 6 days and had to concede territory after attacking Israel once again, all the ‘atrocities’ were against the Jews.
Fourth: He says that these atrocities were perpetrated IN the new State of Israel. Is he referring to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled or were forced out as a result of the attack on Israel by the Arab League? Did atrocities occur? Of course they did; war always produces atrocities whether it be in Afghanistan, World War II or Vietnam. Israeli atrocities as regrettable as they were were certainly no greater than those of their enemies and, in my view, considerably less. However, an atrocity is an atrocity. But is Mr Ward, therefore, holding Israeli Jews to a higher standard than the rest of the world? If so, than this is actually a marker for anti-Semitism – not that I would accuser Mr Ward of that, that would be too simple. it’s far deeper than a irrational hatred, it’s a pathology.
Fifth: ‘continue to do so on a daily basis’. So Mr Ward is saying that Jews (presumably those in Israel) are daily committing atrocities. Like what? No doubt there is much Israel can be criticised for. No doubt that innocents die. But there is a context for this, whether you agree with Israel being in the West Bank, for example, or not what atrocities are here? Maybe he means settlers allegedly taking Palestinian land? Or, maybe some settlers have shot and even killed Palestinians. Is he referring to the awful ‘Price Tag’ actions which target Mosques and farmers’ crops. These may all be crimes, but are they atrocities like the Nazis committed atrocities? Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence? If so, half the countries of the world should have learned these lessons – why pick on Israel, of all countries, or rather ‘Jews’ as examples of atrocity perpetrators when he could have mentioned: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Congo. This is not an exhaustive list. Every one of those conflicts exhibit truly awful atrocities on a large scale of both genocide, and ethnic-cleansing as well as internecine and tribal warfare.
Even the USA and the UK have not been atrocity free in recent years. And this is to say nothing of Islamist atrocities, including those against Israel, which have been a part of everyday life for over a decade.
He also mentioned Gaza which was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the, er, Israelis eight years ago, since which time its inhabitants have set a course of suicide bombings and rocket fire against Israel. Its government, Hamas, has a charter which clearly sets out its mission to destroy Israel and the Jews. Nice. Clearly THEY didn’t learn the lesson of the Holocaust; or maybe they did, and the lesson was that if you threaten to wipe out the Jews no-one will believe you. Meanwhile Israel continues to provide them with water, electricity, hundreds of truckloads of goods daily and treats thousands of Gazans every year for free in Israeli hospitals.
So Mr Ward, the British provided the Germans with all that was necessary to sustain life whilst the Luftwaffe blitzed England, is that right, Mr Ward?
Yet it is Israel who has to learn the lesson of its own intended destruction.
Sixth: Mr Ward’s words imply strongly, and please read them very carefully, that Israel’s actions are, somehow, comparable to the actions of the Nazis. This is in itself actually an anti-Semitic marker, but let’s again exonerate Mr Ward from that accusation; I’m sure many of his constituents in Bradford would never countenance, let alone elect anyone with such views.
So let’s look at what characterised the Nazi’s atrocities against Jews (and here I also have to mention Roma, Gays and the mentally ill etc. who, it is presumed, have indeed learned the lessons of their experiences in the Holocaust and would never commit a single atrocity against anyone, ever again, as a result, their all being very special super-human people who inherited the no-atrocity gene from their forbears, whereas the benighted Jews did not).
Please, Mr Ward, show me the death camps, the labour camps; show me the ghettos (and, no, Gaza is not a ghetto, it’s a political entity which happens to be an outclave of the Palestinian Authority thanks to Egypt cutting it loose some time ago). Show me the starving millions; the cattle trucks; the gas chambers; the denial of paid work; the laws. Show me the death pits, the disease, the torture, the summary executions of innocents – show me the genocide, Mr Ward.
So, Mr Ward has knee-jerked his anti-Semitic trope, inspired as he was by Holocaust Remembrance Day which sticks in the throat of certain people on the Left in British political classes, because their favourite victims, the Palestinians, engineers of their own fate, and themselves as anti-Semitic as they come, don’t figure in this national breast-beating for the wrongs done to the Jews and others. They cannot abide that the Jews should garner a single drop of sympathy or that maybe some people might just begin to figure out why the Jews need their own country and justify defending it against those who are themselves inspired not by Holocaust Remembrance Day but by the perpetrators of the Shoah, the Nazis, to whom Mr Ward so egregiously compares the Jews.
Some have said that Mr Ward is playing to his Muslim constituents gallery. If this were true it would be a calumnious attitude towards them in that it implies that Muslims in his constituency would be more likely to vote for him because he accuses Jews of behaving like Nazis. After all, Mr Ward is not George Galloway.
All this goes to show that, in the UK today, you can get away with (give or take a reprimand) slandering Israel – even on the eve of a day intended to remind us what such attitudes can lead to. Such views are now mainstream because the public has bought into the anti-Israel narrative to such a degree that they will even believe that Israelis behave like Nazis thus demonstrating not only ignorance of Nazis but also Israelis.
… 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)
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 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.
Earlier this week there were reports from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, of explosions at an arms factory in the outskirts of the city.
It was not long before the Sudanese were accusing Israel of bombing the facility. Israel remained mum.
In the past Israel has been accused of firing on a convoy carrying arms across Sudan to be delivered ultimately to Hamas in Gaza and behind this arms route is none other than Iran.
It would be entirely feasible for Israel to undertake such an operation. By supplying sophisticated weapons to a terrorist group bent on the destruction of Israel, Sudan is fair game.
However, there is little hard evidence. Iran claims to have discovered remnants of Israeli munitions at the factory site.
Most news outlets ask the question: ‘Did Israel bomb Sudan?’. This is a valid question to ask.
Some, though, have blatant headlines which claim this to be a fact. It cannot be a fact until there is independent evidence or an admission. Anything else is speculation. It may be well-founded, it may even be blindingly obvious who did it, but it is not journalistic fact.
Uzi Mahnaimi, an Israeli reporter for the Sunday Times, along with colleague Flora Bagenal in Nairobi (yes, you may well ask ‘ who?’) appear to have detailed information about the attack. For them there is no question, no journalistic caution about accusing Israel. They have every detail of this covert operation.
Problem is, they do not reference one source or one shred of evidence. The whole story reads very suspiciously. You can tell when journalists are making it up.
The online article is behind a paywall. The whole article is strongly editorialised including the headline: “Israeli jets bomb Sudan missile site in dry run for Iran attack” (or in the paper edition: Israel hits missile site in dry run for Iran’) so that we can draw the conclusion, if we are stupid enough, that Israel chose to bomb Sudan not because it was defending itself from an arms production and smuggling route originating in Iran but because it fancied having a practice run for a future putative bombing of that country.
Not only are our correspondents certain that Israel is to blame but the ST even gives us exciting comic-book graphics of the incident and the numbers and types of aircraft involved and the route the planes took, how they were refuelled and how the Sudanese air-traffic control and radar system was jammed.
The piece ends in American action movie style with Israel’s chief of defence staff (who Uzi knows was actually taking part in the mission, of course) calling Prime Minister Netanyahu at home with the words, ‘”All went well, … the guys are on their way home’”.
Now how the heck would he know that? Has he bugged Netanyahu’s phone? It’s ridiculous and also the main giveaway that this is pure fantasy masquerading as journalism.
It’s not the first time Uzi has been caught with his journalistic pants down; here is the Wikipedia entry (redacted to remove references to numbered notes and other links) about Israel’s supposed, but now proven to be a hoax, ‘ethnic bomb’.
In November 1998, The Sunday Times reported that Israel was attempting to build an “ethno-bomb” containing a biological agent that could specifically target genetic traits present amongst Arab populations. Wired News also reported the story, as did Foreign Report.
The article was quickly denounced as a hoax. Microbiologists and geneticists were skeptical towards the scientific plausibility of such a biological agent. The New York Post, describing the claims as “blood libel”, reported that the likely source for the story was a work of science fiction by Israeli academic Doron Stanitsky. Stanitsky had sent his completely fictional work about such a weapon to Israeli newspapers two years before. The article also noted the views of genetic researchers who claimed the idea as “wholly fantastical”, with others claiming that the weapon was theoretically possible.
A planned second installment of the article never appeared, and no sources were ever identified. Neither of the authors of the Sunday Times story, Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, have spoken publicly on the matter.
It seems that Uzi has a record of shoddy journalism and, on the ethnic bomb story, he and his late colleague, Marie Colvin, no friend of Israel, were more than ready to publish unfounded trash simply because maligning Israel was involved.
Mahnaimi is well known for producing exclusives about Israel to the attention of Sunday Times readers.
I wonder where his sources are?