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.
During and after Operation Cast Lead the Israel Defence Force (IDF) was vilified for ‘war crimes’ and the notorious Goldstone Report which concluded that Israel had a deliberate policy to kill civilians and destroy property has become a major vehicle for attacks on Israel.
Israel always maintained that in war mistakes are made but it was never its policy to target civilians. The IDF has conducted and continues to conduct its own investigations and has rebutted many of the specific accusations in the report.
As is the nature of attacks on Israel, the mud always sticks and anything ranging from truth to downright lies will pass as truth as long as it carries a negative image of the State of Israel with which its enemies can beat it.
Now there is an ironic echo of how Israel characterised its campaign in December 2008 to January 2009 and how NATO is conducting its ‘surge’, Operation Moshtarak, against the Taliban. There is an uncanny similarity in the language and also the situations that NATO has confronted.
Let’s draw one important distinction between Cast Lead and Moshtarak; Gaza is a heavily populated, built-up, narrow strip of land which is very difficult terrain in which to carry out a military campaign; Helmand is open country with relatively sparsely populated villages and towns.
Both Israel and NATO have stated that they have no argument with civilians. Israel went to extraordinary lengths to warn civilians of impending strikes by leafleting, mobile phone calls and even dropping special munitions on houses which sounded as if they were explosive devices but were only designed to warn those inside to get out.
NATO are fighting an extremist Islamist group who have repeatedly targeted NATO forces with IED’s; Hamas was rocketing Israeli civilians for several years sending over thousands of rockets into southern Israel.
No NATO country is directly threatened by the Taliban; Israel is not only directly threatened but Hamas have stated in their own charter that their goal is to destroy Israel and kill Jews.
Yet look at the different way the world’s press and especially the UN responds and reacts to operation Moshtarak:
the BBC reports :
Taliban militants are increasingly using civilians as “human shields” as they battle against a joint Afghan-Nato offensive, an Afghan general has said.
Gen Mohiudin Ghori said his soldiers had seen Taliban fighters placing women and children on the roofs of buildings and firing from behind them….
It is difficult for the Afghan army and Nato to storm Taliban-held areas because to do so may inflict heavy civilian casualties and there are still a lot of civilians in Marjah.
“Whenever they launch an attack, the Taliban take refuge in civilians’ homes.
Now isn’t that exactly what the IDF claimed Hamas were doing in Gaza and Goldstone found no evidence of this, or more specifically Fact-finding mission member Colonel Travers could find no evidence?
And then this in the same report:
US Marines fighting to take the Taliban haven of Marjah have had to call in air support as they come under heavy fire.
They have faced sustained machine-gun fire from fighters hiding in bunkers and in buildings including homes and mosques.
Now hang on, this is what the Israelis said Hamas were doing but not only did Hamas deny it but Goldstone again found little evidence and our friend Travers could find no evidence of mosques being used despite Israeli videos which conclusively proved the opposite and also an important independent witness Col. Tim Collins.
And then there was the incident where NATO said twelve civilians had been killed by a missile that had malfunctioned only later to correct this by saying that the intended target was hit but thy didn’t realise civilians were in the building.
Gen Carter confirmed on Tuesday a missile that struck a house outside Marjah on Sunday killing 12 people, including six children, had hit its intended target.
Gen Carter said the rocket had not malfunctioned and the US system responsible for firing it was back in use. Officials say three Taliban, as well as civilians, were in the house but the Nato soldiers did not know the civilians were there.
Initial Nato reports said the missile had landed about 300m (984ft) off its intended target. Gen Carter blamed these “conflicting” reports on “the fog of war”.
Now I urge you to cast your mind back to Operation Cast Lead where Israel was saying very similar things and the result was a UNHRC investigation, war crimes accusations and a threat that figures in the IDF and government would become international criminals – indeed some have already decided this is the case.
So where are the calls from the UNHCR now? How soon will Judge Goldstone regather is little band of men and women and go straight to the Taliban and ask then if they committed any war crimes (answer will be ‘No’) and give evidence of the many crimes of NATO. Will he then come up with a 500 page report recommending senior NATO commanders and politicians in NATO countries be taken to The Hague on charges of war crimes? Will Brown and Miliband, Obama and Clinton, Sarkozy and the rest be hauled before a tribunal? Will the US, UK and other NATO countries become international pariahs? And look at the difference: they were fighting far from home an enemy they claim is a threat to their national security. Did any UN body ever dispute this? Israel was fighting an enemy on its doorstep that was killing its civilians and targeting them on a daily basis for years and years before it took any action.
Now I know what you are thinking: in Gaza hundreds of civilians were killed; what about white phosphorus, white flags etc. Now just compare the terrains in Gaza and Afghanistan as I have already pointed out.
Israel has admitted mistakes; it may be that its interpretation of international law in respect of some of its actions differs from others; it may be that some of its soldiers acted disgracefully writing graffiti and trashing property. They should be disciplined. Are these war crimes? If so NATO is certainly guilty. And what about the Iraqi who was beaten up by British soldiers and died of his injuries? Is that not a war crime? Where is the UN on that? Where is the UN on Abu Ghraib? Where is the UN on Guantanamo Bay? Will the UN regard the Taliban as a legitimate military in the same way Goldstone and the UN regard Hamas?
What’s the difference?
I’ll tell you in case you didn’t already guess: Israel. Always Israel. They are not considered to be capable of regulating or examining their own conduct like the US or the UK or any European country or any great power such as China or Russia. Where are the resolutions on Chechnya? South Ossetia? Where Tibet?
The UN acts like a bully; pushing around small countries, especially Israel is fine but the big boys are exempt.
The UN is no longer fit for purpose because it is run supposedly along democratic lines but is numerically dominated by countries which are not. This same bunch of tyrants and dictators have a natural antipathy to Israel, not least that most of them are Muslim states. This means that whenever Israel tries to defend itself it will always be vilified and demonized. America can kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Sunnis can kill tens of thousands of Shia and vice versa. They can attack the others’ holy shrines and you just hear the odd ‘tut tut’. All Hamas have to do is show a dead baby and the entire world is calling for Israel’s destruction.
Isn’t that called anti-Semitism? Used to be. Doesn’t get Israel off the hook for real crimes or human rights violations but if there is never any differentiation or fairness with regard Israel’s actions then any genuine criticism which every country should be subject to, will be dismissed as vilification. If genuine criminals like Mugabe or Bashir are not pursued with the same vigour as legitimate Israeli politicians, if George W Bush and Tony Blair aren’t guilty but Tzipi Livni is then where is the justice? Think extraordinary rendition. Think torture. So why is Israel always the bogeyman?