… 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?
Since the beginning of the week dozens of rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel in a significant ramping up of the usual barely (if at all) reported regular barrage that penetrates southern Israeli cities towns and rural communities. On Tuesday an IDF officer was critically wounded in attack near the Gaza border.
On Twitter and in Israeli newspapers and other online media and websites this barrage was big news. Israel employed its Iron Dome defence system which is only partially effective in protecting large conurbations far enough away from launch sites. Typically Israelis have 15 seconds to get to shelters once the sirens sound.
Then two farm workers near Kissufim were badly injured by rocket fire.
On the BBC and its website what was the reaction for at least two days? We are talking about the world’s most respected news service, allegedly.
Nothing. Zip, Nada. Goor nisht.
I and friends online came to the conclusion that the BBC would not report this until Israel responded and that the headline would imply that Israel was the aggressor.
Sure enough, yesterday, Israel did respond and the BBC’s own response was immediate; there it was on the website’s World and Middle East pages with “Militants killed in Gaza strike’.
BBCWatch have been assiduously reporting this timeline and you can see their reports at BBCwatch.org
That report seems to have disappeared (actually buried and changed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20054554) and been replaced with a more balanced one ‘Israel and Hamas ‘negotiate unofficial truce’ in Gaza’
I’m sure the original is somewhere in the BBC archive but I would hazard a guess they had several complaints about it and updated it. This is typical. A piece appears with a headline reversing cause and effect; the body of the piece often contradicts the headline and draws some moral equivalence between unprovoked attacks on civilian targets by Hamas or Gaza-based ‘militants’ and Israel’s response to prevent further attacks by targeting those about to fire or those who it knows have already done so.
Today we now have two very different pieces from the BBC. The one about the truce at last puts the horse before the cart:
Five have been injured in Israel since rocket attacks began on Monday.
Israel retaliated with air strikes on Gaza City, killing at least six militants.
On Wednesday, more than 70 rockets were launched into southern Israel, injuring five people, two critically, according to the Israeli military.
In response, Israeli aircraft and tanks targeted rocket-launching sites in northern Gaza.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, confirmed it had been involved in firing dozens of rockets and mortars into Israel.
In a statement, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades and a smaller Gaza-based militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said: “These holy missions come in response to the repeated, continuous crimes of the enemy against our people.”
But should we not have a headline at some point during this timeline which says ‘Five Israelis critically injured by rockets from Gaza‘ or ‘Israel responds to escalation of attacks in the South‘?
I’m sure we could all write a better, more balanced headline than the ones being spewed out from the BBC Mid-East desk.
Now, if you have any doubts about the level of moral degradation that the BBC’s reporting of this conflict has now reached you only have to look at the report by Jon Donnison who appears to be following in the illustrious footsteps of Jeremy Bowen and Barbara Plett reaching new heights of ignorance and moral bankruptcy.
Please be careful. This reports contains graphic examples of the BBC’s egregious attempts at what it calls ‘balance’ but is simply either bias, stupidity or moral decrepitude. (There was, apparently, an even worse report by Donnison last night which I have not been able to source yet)
Here’s the link in all its emetic glory. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20073219
The text below the video:
Mourners in the Gaza Strip have buried four Palestinian militants killed in Israeli air strikes over the past two days.
Israel said the militants were hit as they prepared to fire rockets into southern Israel.
It says at least 60 rockets and mortar shells have landed on its territory, seriously injuring three people. Schools have been closed on both sides of the border for fear of more attacks.
Ah – ‘Israel said’ – in other words we should not believe the Israelis but swallow whole anything emanating from terrorist-occupied Gaza.
And ‘schools have been closed both sides of the border‘ just to emphasise that same old moral equivalence. If schools have been closed in Gaza then it’s a precaution not normally offered to its children when rockets are launched from them. Or maybe it’s a good idea to close these schools to demonstrate to the BBC in particular how they protect their children. Or maybe Eid has something to do with it?
In the report Donnison does not show us hundreds of thousands of Israelis cowering in bomb shelters but the funeral of ‘militants’ killed by Israeli air strikes, and quoties Hamas. He leaves out the fact that this was after dozens of rockets hit Israel. We see mourning relatives and Gazans taking cover but absolutely nothing about Israelis.
These reports do tell us what actually happened if you care to decipher the text and remove the veneer of ‘balance’ but it certainly takes a strong solvent and an even stronger stomach.
So there I was watching my first child exit his mother’s birth canal in a hospital in Manchester.
Fast forward almost 27 years and I am sitting with my wife in Northern Israel watching that same child receive his beret on completion of his basic training in the IDF.
Roll back again to 1985. No, roll back to 1975.
I am sitting in a House for Jewish students in Liverpool playing chess at the beginning of my second year at University. New arrivals. A young woman with black hair in a fringe peers round the door of the lounge and says ‘hello’ and gives her name. I look up, mutter something, and return to my Ruy Lopez.
Now I know the whole story of how I got from moving my bishop to Knight 5 to the moment an officer rams a beret on my son’s head and I turn to my wife and we are both crying buckets. Not buckets of fear and anticipation, but of pride and a certain bewilderment.
For a few minutes we are Israelis. There are several hundred people pressed up behind us; parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. We are right at the front, a few feet from the action.
We stand for the Hatikvah, the national anthem. I manage the first two stanzas, then I am consumed with an indescribable sensation and my voice breaks. I fight back tears. I compose myself. I manage the last couple of stanzas with gusto.
To be a free people in our own land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem
The ceremony ends.
Fast rewind 30 years.
During the 1980s I wasn’t much interested in Israel, or Jewish history, or, indeed, Judaism. Every attack on Israel was keenly felt, however. I was not Israel-neutral but I didn’t much like what was happening to Palestinians on the West Bank, I didn’t like settlements and I found not one Israeli leader that I could identify with. Those views still persist but I can now at least contextualise them.
Truth be told, although I believed in Israel’s right to exist and Jewish self-determination, I didn’t much like Israelis and I simply determined not to go their country until Israeli government policy changed.
I was a bit of a lefty. I still am someone with instinctive left-leaning views. I somehow have an urge to apologise for that. But I’ll demur. For now.
So what changed?
I educated myself. I read history. I learned. I abjured simplistic views of the conflict.
I eventually made my first trip in 1999 and all my preconceptions about arrogant Israelis were confirmed. I did not like the country.
Then, after more visits, I came to understand the culture better and I began to accept the rudeness, the bad driving and the chutzpah. I began the process of understanding that these few million insufferable Orientals were guaranteeing my escape route from future persecution. They were creating a new/old culture so complex and rich and controversial and noisy and wonderful – and against such incredible odds.
I eventually became comfortable not just with my Jewish identity but I came to understand that Israel is really a modern paradigm for the last 2000 years of Jewish history; always under attack, always threatened. Which other people live in constant fear that sooner or later they really will be wiped off the map?
Despite the vicissitudes of this existence over the millennia, and maybe because of it, the Jewish people have not just found ways to survive but also thrive, quite often achieving high levels of literacy, wealth and, where allowed, social status. They always achieved this despite frequent periods of persecution, expulsion and confiscation.
Israel has, since the days of the yishuv, the pre-state political entity, continued on this same path of achievement. But the difference is that with independence and self-determination Jews can, at last, defend themselves from the dark forces that persist in trying to destroy us.
So that indescribable feeling I experienced, which I mentioned before, that I felt as I watched my son receive his beret was due to all this history, all this collective experience, all the pride in his achievement and that of the young men we met that day. Pride in myself. Pride in my people. Secure in the belief and knowledge that, despite its imperfections, its internal problems, external aggression, existential threats, lies, propaganda and undiluted hatred, the despised country of a despised people was at its core strong, moral, determined and righteous.
And mixed with all these emotions was that bewilderment from the realisation that my wife and I were responsible. We were not here by chance. We had truly changed the world as all of us do. The accident of our meeting all those years ago resonates throughout our lives and the lives of our children. Of course, the same is true for our parents and their parents and back through the years and the decades and centuries. Each small act or decision or coincidence leads to everything we and those following us experience for good or ill.
So do not believe that you are not important. We all change the world, the present and the future every day. What we can never do is to predict where these choices will one day lead. We can only strive and hope they are mainly for the better.
News this week that Hamas has halved the import of Israeli fruit, because to buy from Israel is to buy from the enemy. This move is part of the ‘resistance’. Only apples and bananas are now allowed in by Hamas. They want to cultivate their own fruit industry.
This is fine. It’s a great idea to be self-sufficient. But they are not so yet. In the meantime their own people will suffer price hikes and, presumably, as a result, many will go without this essential and important part of their diet.
Hang on a minute. Are we not being constantly told that it is Israel that is causing malnutrition because of the ‘blockade’? Is Israel not to blame for the black market in goods including foodstuffs?
But here we have Hamas punishing its own people for ideological reasons.
Of course, it will still be Israel’s fault. After all, were there no Zionist entity there would be no need for resistance and the benighted Gazans would have all the oranges and limes they could eat.
It is a shame that the Gazan authorities failed to stop the looting of millions of dollars worth of greenhouses which were actually purchased by American Jews from former Jewish settlers in Gaza. These American Jews then donated the greenhouses to the Palestinians of Gaza. They were all but destroyed in a matter of days in 2005.
And what do we now hear? Another flotilla is on its way from Europe in a further attempt to break the blockade and to keep Gaza in the news whilst Syria burns. Will they be bring fruit (not apples and bananas as they are clearly not yet ideologically tainted enough for Hamas to ban their import from Israel).
Is it not utterly extraordinary that Hamas imports anything at all from the evil Zionist entity? Is it not utterly extraordinary that the genocidal Zionist entity would want to feed the people it is trying to commit genocide against? Those Jews, eh. Anything to make a quick shekel.
But those genocidal Jews are really being outrageously cynical and hypocritical. They are actually saving the lives of Gazan children – for free! Is there no end to the lengths the Jews will go to whitewash their many crimes.
Mohamed and Hadeel (both 12), Hadeel’s brother Ahmad (15) and six-month-old Lian all suffer from kidney insufficiency and have been hospitalized for several months at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. They have been receiving lifesaving therapy while awaiting kidney transplants.
Mahdi Tarabia, head nurse of the Pediatric Nephrology Unit, explained that the treatment they need, peritoneal dialysis, is not available in the West Bank and Gaza, so medical authorities from these areas cooperate with Rambam to save children’s lives.
“The hemodialysis treatment that these children were given before their arrival at Rambam was associated with medical complications, resulting in a worsening of their condition and many hospitalizations,” he explained.
As opposed to hemodiaysis, where the blood is cleansed via an artificial kidney over the course of several hours a few times per week, in peritoneal dialysis the treatment is given through the abdomen overnight, not interfering with the child’s daytime activities. Each of the young patients’ families has been trained by Rambam’s staff to administer peritoneal dialysis.
The families received the equipment required for this treatment, and the solution used with it, from Teva Pharmaceuticals. The company will arrange to have supplies conveyed through the Erez checkpoint at the border of Israel and Gaza.
The three schoolchildren are soon due to be sent home, while the recently arrived baby still needs time to be stabilized.
Sometimes things are not quite as black and white the Palestinians and the media would like them to be.
I’m in Jerusalem this week. You can write as much as you like about a place, but here’s no substitute for actually being there and imbibing the culture and the atmosphere first hand.
I’ve been here many times now. Today, however, I noticed two contrasting memorials as I walked back from the Old City to where I am staying off Emek Refaim.
I’ve seen them both on several occasions but for some reason, this time, something resonated.
The first is a plaque outside the King David Hotel which commemorates the attack on that hotel during the British Mandate. The plaque is at pains to tell us how many warnings were given by the Irgun to various bodies asking them to evacuate the building. The target was the central offices of the British Mandate authorities in July 1946.
This same plaque expresses the regret of the Irgun that these warnings were ignored and 92 people died.
Something is not right with that expression of regret.
As you enter Emek Refaim you cannot fail to miss a stone memorial for the eight people who died on a 14a bus as it was leaving the German Colony during the second Intifada in 2004. The suicide bomber was, of course, a Palestinian terrorist who gave no warning except, presumably, a final shout of Allah HuAkbar as he detonated he bomb.
Let’s, go back to the King David Hotel memorial. This plaque is telling us that the Irgun, and by implication, the Israeli people are very sorry that 92 people died, but it really wasn’t their fault because they did warn you and if you didn’t listen to that warning or believe it, then that was your problem. We regret the loss of life BUT ….
Well, sorry, there can be no ‘buts’. Terrorism is terrorism. Now I know such a view may not be popular among some supporters of Israel who will claim that the Irgun ‘had to do it’, ‘we were fighting for our state’, ‘we had to drive the British pro-arab mandate authorities out’ etc. etc.
Now imagine that the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had given warnings that were ignored by the US authorities. Suppose the planes were empty, except for terrorist pilots. Suppose that thousands of people were killed because the New York and Washington authorities had not heeded the warnings and evacuated the Pentagon and downtown New York.
Who would be to blame for these deaths? The municipal authorities or the terrorists?
So who was to blame for the King David Hotel bomb? The Irgun or the Mandate authorities?
You can argue all you want how much worse Palestinian terrorism is than Jewish terrorism of the 1940s, and I would agree, but it is still terrorism. I think it is time Israelis and the Israeli government acknowledged this and apologise for it rather than sanitise the worse excesses of the Irgun, Stern Gang and others. Not only is it morally right to do so but it avoids accusations of hypocrisy when it comes to terrorism and the glorification of terrorists.
It is always dangerous to judge the past by the standards of today, but very often the passage of time gives us a much clearer vision, even a clearer moral vision of past events. Much has been written about the bombing and much historical analysis about the ‘warnings’ has been written. I take the simplistic view: the British were not the Nazis, they were not an evil regime. The bomb was a crime – no excuses. This has always been my view.
When I was very young and saw the film Exodus these Jewish Freedom fighters became glamorous heroes of the Jewish people. This view became somewhat modified over time until I formed a completely contrary view.
None of this has ever changed my conviction of the rights of and the necessity for a Jewish State, but all decent states have to be cognisant of the crimes of the past committed in its name even before that state was actually formed. I will not be fully comfortable until that cognisance and that acknowledgement are made.
It goes without saying, but I will, nevertheless, say it, that it is unlikely that Palestinians will ever make a single apology for any act of terrorism. But their attitude has absolutely no bearing on the obligations of Israel. I mention it as a knee-jerk attempt to mitigate by comparison and thus I contradict myself.
What a terrible irredeemable Zionist I am.
Whenever the UK media covers the Israel/Palestine conflict I worry about bias and misrepresentation of the facts.
This fear is based on experience over many years.
When the BBC broadcast a special programme about the Mavi Marmara incident last year I and many others were very surprised that the programme came out largely on the side of Israel in terms of who was telling the truth. It was rather less surprising that the BBC should be vilified for it, after all, Israel is always wrong, don’t you know.
On Monday this week, which also happened to be the first day of the Jewish New Year, when most Jews would not be watching TV, the same BBC programme and the same reporter, Jane Corbin, covered the Price Tag phenomenon in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Given the fact that the BBC decided to cover the issue, it was lucky Jane Corbin covered it. I thought it was largely fair. However, the Palestinians came out as squeaky clean pacifists despite mention of Arab terrorism.
The Price Tag movement is an extremist, religious settler movement which attacks mainly Arab, but also Israeli targets as a ‘Price Tag’ for any action the Israeli government takes against settlements, such as dismantling those even the Israelis deem illegal.
The aim of the Price Tag movement is to make the government pay in terms of embarrassment and also international disgrace for the actions of its citizens. The objective is to further populate the West Bank / Judea-Samaria which the Price Taggers believe to be their god-given land. According to their beliefs, no Jew has any right to remove Jews from Eretz Israel.
The programme labelled them ‘terrorist’. The term ‘terrorist’ has been applied by the Israeli government itself. These despicable people are a disgrace to Israel and the Jewish people and there is no justification for their actions. However, the Price Tag people have killed no-one, not yet anyway. Graffiti, torching empty vehicles, setting small fires in mosques, insulting the Prophet and generally behaving like vandals in any other culture is barely terrorism. Compared with the real thing it seemed at times an almost laughable comparison as not all incidents were serious ones. Daubing graffiti is not terrorism. But the language of the Middle East has become so degraded that even Israelis are prepared to use it, probably as a linguistic way of registering their dismay and disapproval.
Most of the acts of ‘terrorism’ secretly filmed, or even with the connivance of the perpetrators, were carried out at night and amounted to very little beyond incitement. Setting fire to mosques or daubing churches is another matter. These are acts of outrageous desecration which are very serious sins according to Jewish religious teachings, let alone contrary to any norm of human behaviour or basic law.
Calling them all ‘terrorists’ creates a moral, or should that be immoral, equivalence between setting a fire in a mosque (and note this isn’t even a fire-bombing. No mosque has been destroyed as far as I know, the worst damage is smoke, burned carpets and Korans) and blowing up a bus full of schoolchildren or a restaurant full of diners.
I do not wish in anyway to diminish the seriousness of the crime. What I find a little hard to accept is the debasement of language which is an attempt, ultimately, to diminish full-blooded terrorism. Calling these people terrorists lets real terrorists off the hook. One incident where people were seriously burned in their car is a hate crime and could, justifiably, be considered ‘terrorism’.
Unfortunately, Israel is not doing enough, in my opinion, to stop this. Any ‘settler’ found guilty of these crimes should be given exemplary punishments. It is not an easy crime to prevent. Nevertheless, it must be stamped on, and very hard.
The programme shape-shifted somewhat. It seamlessly morphed from a programme about Price Tag to an examination of settlements, especially illegal ones (even under Israel law) and the tensions between settlers and Palestinians.
I felt genuinely sorry for some of the Arab victims of settler vandalism and intimidation who seemed to be entirely innocent people just trying to get on with their lives. This impression of mine was surely shared by any decent person who watched the programme. But that impression was not really examined; very little time was given to Arab incitement, Arab terrorism, Arab vandalism. It appeared that the Arabs were completely innocent victims if you didn’t listen or want to listen to the odd allusion to attacks and murders of children.
Whatever the Arabs do can never excuse the behaviour of the Price Taggers or indiscriminate settler violence which is actually targeting the Israeli government and deliberately trying to provoke Arab reaction – the Price Tag.
The context of settlements was addressed in the program in standard terms – occupation, illegal, land grab, god-given land etc. It was made clear, however, that these people were extremists but their atypical behaviour (if you take Israel as a whole) and beliefs were not really stressed. For someone ready to believe the worst about Israel, the programme provided ample evidence. For those with a more nuanced and balanced approach, it would have been clear that these criminals are considered such in Israel and under Israeli law. This is in stark contrast, of course, to Arab terrorists who are national heroes and richly rewarded for actually murdering people. That comparison was never made.
But, I have to say, the program could have been a lot more hostile and damaging. It will reinforce the prejudices of those already convinced of evil Israel. It will embarrass people like me, but only because unless Israel is perfect, it is irredeemably evil and this is the narrative we confront daily. We are always being forced to be defensive because Israelis are just like everyone else, not perfected paragons of virtue that the world demands they be.
Wishing all my readers a healthy and prosperous New Year whatever your religious affiliation or none.
Sorry I have not posted for a while, which may be a relief to some.
I have had a busy few months with my community responsibilities.
It’s not as if nothing is going on, is it?
Some recent highlights:
- Wild accusations of Mossad involvement in the Lac D’Annecy shootings
- Hannan Ashrawi denies Jews expelled from Arab lands are refugees, thus, at the same time, accidentally confirming that Palestinians refugees aren’t refugees.
- BBC to show a Panorama programme on the night of Rosh HaShonah about the Price Tag movement in Israel and the Territories
- The genocidal megalomaniac Iranian President Ahmadinejad will be speaking at the UN this month
Will Israel bomb Iran or not?
- Ongoing BDS with Habima, BatSheva, an Israeli store in Brighton, the Co-op, the TUC
- Rachel Corrie decision
- Supporters of the religion of peace riot, kill and burn because some idiot Egyptian Copt ex-pat with a grudge claiming to be an Israeli Jew posts a ludicrously amateurish video on YouTube insulting the Prophet which hardly any of the rioters will even have seen
- Worrying developments at the Church of England Synod re EAPPI
Having survived two Manchester Jewish stores this morning thronged with last-minute Yom Tov shoppers and Tesco to boot, I am sure that I shall return in 5773 ready to take on anyone and any thing.