Israel, Zionism and the Media

Tag: iraq

Is the synod EAPPI with this?

In response to the recent vote in the General Synod of the Church of England to support closer ties with EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel),  I was involved in writing this response on behalf of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region which was subsequently sent to Christian magazines as an open letter:

The Jewish Representative Council  of Greater Manchester and Region  expresses  its great disappointment  at the result of  the vote in the General Synod to support EAPPI (the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel).

Whereas it is perfectly legitimate for any Church or religious body to question or criticise the actions of the UK government or any foreign  government for that matter, as a question of conscience, it is alarming in the extreme to see the established Church of England support an organisation which itself associates with individuals and organisations whose motivation is not that of human rights or religious conscience, but of demonization and deligitimisation of the State of Israel.

This  was reflected in the tone and content of some of  the speeches made at the Synod. The debate at Synod  was littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’.

This is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind the motion.

The content of the EAPPI website  itself is rife with uncontextualised allegations, witness and declaration whilst giving but lip service to balance, historical perspectives and disputed legalities.

The Church of England would do well, if not better, to concentrate its efforts, and lead on the parlous situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian Arab Territories and throughout the Middle East where they are subject to attack, abuse, dispossession, forced conversions, expulsion and murder not at the hands of Jews but of Muslims.

It should be noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian community is growing.

Our Council  which only last week joined in the celebrations connected with  the establishment  of the Council of Christians and Jews 70 years ago  will continue its interfaith work with the Church of England in Manchester with whom it has strong and highly valued ties; but this relationship has been severely damaged by this vote.

We especially thank the Bishop of Manchester Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch for his opposition to the motion and  for his deep understanding of the real issues.

I have emphasised the area under discussion but I believe this topic merits more than one blog post.

I read today in YnetNews

The Orthodox Christian Church in the Gaza Strip is claiming that a group of armed Islamists kidnapped five Christian Palestinians, a young man and a mother and her three daughters, to force them to convert to Islam.

In a statement, the church said that “the dangerous Islamist movement is trying to convince Christian men and women to convert to Islam, destroying Christian families and the Christian presence in the Gaza Strip.”

The church refused to divulge the name of the Islamist group it accused of these attempts.

The head of the Gaza church claimed that one of the Christians was abducted on Saturday after he had been heavily pressured to convert to Islam and had been prevented from seeing his family. According to the leader, the young man’s parents filed a police complaint, but the police did nothing after learning that the person behind the alleged kidnappers was a senior cleric identified with Hamas.

This reinforces my emphasised text above written before this story. All over the Arab world and within the Palestinian Authority Christians are under attack. In Bethlehem they are leaving or being forced out not by Israelis but by Muslims who intimidate them and appropriate property; in Egypt the Copts have been under attack. In Syria; in Iraq the Christian population is all but gone after centuries. Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post reviewed the situation last year.

So where is the EAPPI equivalent in these countries? Where are the Synod resolutions? What is the Church doing about it? Which governments are they protesting to? Which NGO’s have they set up to investigate?

As usual, it’s only Israel and the Jews who are subject to a level of scrutiny Israel alone in the Middle East would tolerate.

Meanwhile the in Israel the Christian community is the only one in the Middle East that is growing and the only one that feels safe and whose religious rights and practices are protected not just by law but in fact.

British troops and UN double standards

The BBC reports

More than 220 Iraqi civilians were subjected to “systemic abuse”, including torture, by British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq, the High Court was told on Friday

Now replace ‘Iraqi’ with ‘Palestinian’ and ‘British’ with ‘Israeli’.

Just mull that over for a while and test your reactions.

If it had been Israelis and Palestinians the full weight of the UN would undoubtedly be behind a Goldstone-style investigation which would be convened within a couple of weeks with the findings of the committee already decided.

Meanwhile, almost two years after Cast Lead, Israel is still investigating its own operations.

The UN enquiry into Israel’s interception of the aid ship (without any aid aboard), the Mavi Marmara, has come and gone with the inevitable foregone conclusions being reached by the usual stooges the UN seems to be able to dredge up when it needs to demonise Israel.

Israel’s Turkel enquiry into the flotilla continues after several weeks of taking evidence.

The British are a little more reluctant, it appears:

Solicitors acting on behalf of the Iraqis submitted video evidence to support their claims.

They are appealing for a judical [sic] review of a refusal by Defence Secretary Liam Fox to order a wide-ranging public inquiry into allegations that abuse was widespread.


A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said a dedicated team had already been set up to investigate.


So the British army is going to investigate itself.

Now do that little ‘what if’ thing again and imagine Israel had said that an IDF investigation into the torture and abuse of 220 Palestinians was quite adequate. Image the furore.

Allegations of mistreatment include sexual abuse, food, water and sleep deprivation, prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions and being denied clothes.

Michael Fordham QC, appearing for the Iraqis, said: “There are credible allegations of serious, inhumane practices across a whole range of dates and facilities concerning British military detention in Iraq.”

Referring to the prison which became notorious for allegations of torture and abuse against US soldiers, he asked: “Is this Britain’s Abu Ghraib?”

Of course, the British judicial system should be robust enough to deal with this. No?

“The IHAT is the most effective way of investigating these unproven allegations rather than a costly public inquiry.”

IHAT? That’s the ‘Iraq Historic Allegation Team’. Historic! These alleged abuses occurred between 2002 and 2008. That’s ‘historic’?

Anyway, I’m sure justice will be done. This is Britain and we British have a perfectly adequate way of dealing with such matters. And by the way, sorry, but we don’t have enough money these days for due process. Let the army sort it out.

So why is the UN not setting up an enquiry? These were Muslims who were abused. Where’s the UN Human Rights Council when you need it? Too busy trying to smear Israel, of course, because that seems to be their preoccupation.

A mere 220 Iraqis being allegedly abused is not a potential War Crime or a breach of any of the Geneva Conventions, or International Law or Customary Law. I presume this is the case as they appear to be blissfully unwilling to have anything to do with it. No Israelis involved, you see. Waste of time.

Two public inquiries have already been launched into similar claims.

The first inquiry into the death of 26-year-old hotel worker Baha Mousa in UK military custody in September 2003, began hearing evidence last July.

And last November, the MoD announced details of a second public hearing into allegations that 19-year-old Hamid Al-Sweady and up to 19 other Iraqis were unlawfully killed and others ill-treated at a British base in May 2004.

See what I mean? The British do investigate and prosecute when they have the money to do so and the public is shouting loud enough, but it was such a long time ago.

How many public enquiries into torture are necessary? We already proved we do it, albeit it’s not state policy, so why drag the name of Britain and the British Army through the mud? Is this not Liam Fox’s argument. And if we had a Labour government, I’m sure he’d support that government and wouldn’t be calling for a public enquiry. Would he?

But enough of British politics.

Back to the UN. Can you honestly tell me that if this had been Israel the UN would not be foaming at the mouth?

Double standards anyone?

US troops kill 680 civilians – UN Human Rights Council not interested

The Sunday Times this week had a front page report about civilians killed at checkpoints in Iraq by Us soldiers. The statistics come from files published by the Wikileaks website.

Here are some highlights:

American troops shot  dead 681 innocent civilians at security checkpoints including 30 children.

This was the direct result of an order to shoot at any vehicle that failed to stop. This resulted in six times as many civilian casualties as ‘insurgents’ being killed. Often the Americans opened fire without warning.

June 14 2005 US troops raked a car containing 11 civilians with gunfire Seven passengers including two children were killed because, despite attempting to flag the car down, it did not stop.

Between 2004 and 2009 832 people were killed at or approaching checkpoints or convoys and 2,200 wounded.

The Sunday Times also reports on a level of torture by the current Iraqi regime, under the noses of the Coalition, which is reminiscent of the Saddam years. Many of the victims were handed over to the Iraqis by Coalition forces. For ‘Coalition’  read American.

The leaked documents describe more than 300 cases of detainees being abused by ‘coalition’ forces. The Sunday Times tells us that one detainee was forced to dig up a roadside bomb.

Two men attempting to surrender to an Apache helicopter crew were, nevertheless, shot dead.

Does the US government hold its head in shame? No! Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the leaks for endangering lives without, apparently, caring too much about the death of innocents or the cavalier disregard for international law including the Geneva Convention demonstrated by these documents.

The Sunday Times report continues:

In Salahuddin province in 2008 children collecting firewood were attacked by an Apache helicopter crew. They though they were planting roadside bombs. One of the children died.

I ask you, dear reader, to replace ‘coalition’ and ‘US/American’ with ‘Israeli’ and ‘Iraqi’ with Palestinian. Replace ‘Iraq’ with ‘Gaza’ or ‘the West Bank’.

Now tell me that if it were a matter of Israel and the Palestinians the world would not be in uproar, that the UN Human Rights Council would not at this very moment be putting together an Israel-bashing committee of investigation and already call these incidents ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’. And tell me that the Islamic world and the Hamas apologists in Europe would not be comparing Israel to the Nazis.

None of the incidents involving coalition troops has had proper public investigation, so I do not judge in advance. What I say is that in a war, and especially in asymmetric wars, where the enemy can be dressed like a civilian, be a woman in a hijab or a 14 year old boy with a suicide belt, mistakes are made.

But if it were Israel making the mistakes, the result would be very different.

Where is the Islamic world’s fury about Iraqi civilians? Why do they not ask for UN enquiries? Where are the resolutions in the Security Council?  Why is the reaction to 680 innocent deaths in Iraq different to a reported similar number in Gaza?

On the israelagainstterror.blogspot website (Hat Tip Matt Pryor) their article refers to a NY Times piece which highlights a statistic about the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in conflicts of the 20th Century.

Apparently the figure is 10 civilians to every soldier/combatant.

In Gaza 2009/9 :

If one accepts the Israel Defense Forces’ statistics, then noncombatants accounted for only 39 percent of Palestinian fatalities — less than half the standard 90 percent rate noted by the ICRC. Nongovernmental organizations obviously cite a much higher civilian casualty rate. But even they put it below 90 percent.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces killed 1,390 Palestinians in the war, including 759 noncombatants, 349 combatants, 248 Palestinian policemen, two in targeted assassinations (bizarrely, these aren’t classified as either combatants or noncombatants), and 32 whose status it couldn’t determine. The policemen are listed separately because their status is disputed: Israel says the Hamas-run police force served as an auxiliary army unit; Palestinians say the policemen were noncombatants.

Omitting the 34 whom B’Tselem didn’t classify, these figures show civilians comprising 74 percent of total fatalities if the policemen are considered noncombatants, and 56 percent if they’re considered combatants. Either way, the ratio is well below the 90 percent norm.

The most anti-Israel accounting, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, lists 1,417 Palestinian fatalities, including 236 combatants, 926 civilians, and 255 policemen. But even these figures, if we assume the policemen were noncombatants, put civilians at only 83 percent of total deaths — less than the proportion the Red Cross deemed the norm back in 2001. Treating the policemen as combatants lowers the rate to 65 percent.

The article concludes that although the civilian casualty rate was high, and this can be partially accounted for by the very point I was making above, namely, the combatants fighting the Israelis did not wear uniform and hid amongst civilians and used the civilian infrastructure for weapons stores, shelter, firing positions and, cynically, as part of a human shield strategy, nevertheless the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths, by whoever’s statistics you choose to agree, was lower than the average in other conflicts.

In other words, the statistics give a lie to the claim of the Goldstone Report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians.

Now tell me the Israelis were more guilty than the Americans.

I suspect that the Americans and Israelis had a few bad soldiers whose actions were illegal, or even plain stupid. But I am also damn sure that both armies were fighting in the most difficult of all scenarios where telling civilian from combatant does not conform to the simplistic norms that observers sitting comfortably at home and in judgement in front of their TV or reading their newspaper would like to assume.

War Crimes and Double Standards

The Independent today showed a picture taken in 2004 of an alleged breach of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq.

The incident is to be investigated at a public inquiry to be announced tomorrow by Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, which will also examine evidence of one of the worst atrocities ever carried out by the British Army.

It is claimed that hours after the picture … was taken, the four men were transferred to a UK-run detention camp where they were badly beaten and where 20 other civilians were murdered by British soldiers.

It is clearly correct for the British Government to address these allegations and take appropriate action against the perpetrators if found guilty.

But wait a minute. Soldiers abusing Muslims? International Law broken? Soldiers murdering civilians? Now where have we heard this recently? Oh yes, of course. Gaza! The Goldstone Report.

So where are (or indeed were) the demonstrations on the British streets about these specific alleged atrocities? Where are the special meetings of the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council)? Where are the demonizations of the UK in the world’s press? Where the outrage in the Muslim world? Where the Channel 4 report?


Have you seen any of these in the past 5 years? General outrage about the invasion, yes, but no international pillorying of the UK per se, no condemnation of the entire British Army. Only ‘concerns’ about specific incidents.

So why when it comes to Israel are things so different? Why are Israeli internal investigations whitewashes, but British ones acceptable?

There couldn’t be bias going on by any chance? Nah! Surely not.