Archive for February, 2009

Hearts, minds, and infowar

Friday, February 27th, 2009

To introduce my recent post about the coming Durban II excrement-throwing event, I quoted Ami Isseroff’s remark that “Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds“. Everyone should read this.

Speaking of hearts and minds, particularly of college students, we note with outrage the coming of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 1 to universities and colleges in 49 cities, from “Al-Quds” to Waterloo, Ont. “Mark your calendars”, say the organizers with undisguised excitement, “we are really going to show the stinking Zionist yahud something this year!” (OK, I made up the last part, but they did say “Mark your calendars”.

And we could also mention the fact that

Some 210 groups, including the PA, have urged the [International Criminal Court] to deal with the matter [of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza] and the ICC’s prosecutor has said a “preliminary analysis” is underway. — Jerusalem Post

Isseroff has written a follow-on to his piece today (“Battle for hearts and minds — why it is important“), in which he says,

The signs of the Israel’s image problem are so clear, and the effects so obviously pernicious, that denial borders on behavior pathology. In the space of a week, following Operation Cast Lead, Time, Newsweek and the New York Times published the sort of reports about Israel that in former times one would expect from the Syrian government newspaper Tishreen or the Egyptian extremist journal Roz el Youssef: atrocity stories bordering on blood libel, published without verification and without reserve. These are not fringe journals in Europe, but the heart of USA journalism that used to be solidly on the side of Israel. Today they unapologetically distribute propaganda not for the moderate PLO, but for the genocidal Hamas. This alone should have raised alarm bells in every Israel advocacy group, in the Israel Government Press Office, the Office of the IDF Spokesperson and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was instead virtually ignored, as just the latest step in an inexorable progression.

He goes on to describe other symptoms of pathology, mentioning the conspiratorial views about the ‘Jewish lobby’ held by Chas Freeman, Barack Obama’s nominee for a key intelligence post  (who, by the way, until recently has been a paid lobbyist for Saudi Arabia).

I also wrote about Israel’s image problem a couple of weeks ago (“Israel must become an information superpower“). The problem, in my opinion, has reached a critical point, a point at which it endangers the existence of the state almost as much as the military threats against her.

To be more precise, the process of delegitimization facilitates the destruction of the state by making it difficult or impossible for Israel to  respond to threats that she is, in a military sense, able to neutralize (and I include the Iranian nuclear program here).

The effect on the behavior of important players like the EU and the US is obvious. But in addition, the economic and psychological damage done to the state itself by the multiple ‘information attacks’ is great. Some of the consequences are a growing avoidance of military service, emigration, etc.

Israel expends huge amounts of human energy and money on military preparedness, and little of either on information. Where is the Israeli Al-Jazeera? Where is the vigorous defense against war crimes charges? Where is ‘Hamas genocide week’?

One reason that this is difficult is because so many Jews have accepted the views of the other side and actively work to promote anti-Israeli and even antisemitic views. Naturally these Jews are given a platform and megaphone by the enemy!

And it’s also true that those who wish to eliminate Israel have managed to portray the conflict as a religious one, Jew vs. Muslim. Since there are 1.4 billion Muslims and perhaps 12 million Jews in the world, the effect of this is obvious.

And finally, it doesn’t help that Israel is rudderless, without a government that can claim even a little popular support since the failed Second Lebanese war in 2006.

Nevertheless, ‘difficult’ doesn’t mean ‘impossible’.  Israel has done things before that were difficult, very difficult. It’s time for Israeli information efforts to move beyond the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.

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Obama’s worst nomination

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Chas Freeman with Alwaleed bin Talal

Chas Freeman with Alwaleed bin Talal

There’s a great flap over the nomination of Charles ‘Chas’ Freeman for chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the agency responsible for writing the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that digests intelligence information for the President and others (you will recall the NIE that suggested that we needn’t worry too much about the Iranian nuclear program).

In pro-Israel circles, it’s been pointed out (see here also) that Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia who was until recently President of the Middle East Policy Council — formerly the American Arab Affairs Council — a pro-Arab lobbying agency funded in great part by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (read Freeman’s thank-you to the Saudi King here), is about as anti-Israel a guy that you can find west of Gaza City.

Everyone with a brain has a point of view, of course, and it’s certain that one side or the other (sometimes both) will always find something wrong with every appointee. But this is something else: a paid Saudi lobbyist is not the appropriate person to stand at the gateway between our decision-makers and raw intelligence data.

Nor are Freeman’s personal views close to balanced. Here’s his 2006 take on the history of the Jewish state:

For fifty years Israel has enjoyed military superiority in its region. Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace.

For almost forty years, Israel has had land beyond its previously established borders to trade for peace. It has been unable to make this exchange except when a deal was crafted for it by the United States, imposed on it by American pressure, and sustained at American taxpayer expense. For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle.

The suspension of the independent exercise of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner. To their credit, they have therefore stepped forward with their own plan for a comprehensive peace. By sad contrast, the American decision to let Israel call the shots in the Middle East has revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors and how reluctant this fear has made them to risk respectful coexistence with the other peoples of their region. The results of the experiment are in: left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not.

Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection. Instead, with each decade, Israel’s behavior has deviated farther from the humane ideals of its founders and the high ethical standards of the religion that most of its inhabitants profess. Israel and the Palestinians, in particular, are caught up in an endless cycle of reprisal and retaliation that guarantees the perpetuation of conflict in which levels of mutual atrocities continue to escalate.

Regarding the Saudi/Arab League ‘peace’ plan, he adds,

Despite the fact that such a peace is so obviously also in Israel’s vital and moral interests, history and the Israeli response to date both strongly suggest that without some tough love from Americans, including especially Israel’s American coreligionists, Israel will not risk the uncertainties of peace. Instead, it will persist in the belief, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it can gain safety through the officially sanctioned assassination of potential opponents, the terrorization of Arab civilians, and the cluster bombing of neighbors rather than negotiation with them. These policies have not worked; they will not work. But unless they are changed, the Arab peace plan will exceed its shelf life, and Arabs will revert to their previous views that Israel is an ethnomaniacal society with which it is impossible for others to coexist and that peace can be achieved only by Israel’s eventual annihilation, much as the Crusader kingdoms that once occupied Palestine were eventually destroyed.

His position could be summed up as follows: it’s all Israel’s fault, Israel dominates American  policy in opposition to our interests, and the US better force Israel to give the Arabs what they want before it’s too late.

In keeping with Freeman’s opinions about Israeli and Jewish influence on American policy, his MEPC journal published a revised, ‘improved’ version of the original Mearsheimer-Walt article on the “Israel lobby”, thus lending weight to my early speculation about a Saudi connection to this false and slanderous work.

The MEPC journal and website even include a collection of articles by the notorious anti-Zionist (and arguably antisemitic) Israel Shahak, a favorite of David Duke, neo-Nazis and and antisemitic Talmud-bashers.

I would like to think that Barack Obama was not fully acquainted with Ambassador Freeman’s connections and his bias when he decided to offer him the intelligence job, and I hope he will reconsider.

Unfortunately, this is not the only cause of unease I feel about the Obama Administration. Yesterday, I wrote about my concern that the US seemed to be playing along with the Durban II exercise in delegitimization being prepared by Israel’s enemies at the UN.

Obama has said numerous times that he is a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. But if his appointments — and there are already a few worrisome ones, like that of Samantha Power — and his actions belie his words, then his words don’t amount to much, do they?

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Durban, Durban

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

In a thought-provoking (and they are not happy thoughts) piece, Ami Isseroff writes,

Though it is painful to admit it, it should be obvious to all by now that Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds of international public opinion, not just in Europe, Asia and Africa, but in the United States as well. This is evident both in the recent reaction to Operation Cast Lead and in long term trends. This loss is not like losing a Eurovision song contest or not getting the Oscar for Waltz with Bashir. It has, and will have, grave strategic consequences for Israel’s well being, international posture and security.

The odious effluvium of the recent unjust human rights campaign against Israel following the Gaza operation (see here and here) is added to the already broad stream of “anti-Israel” criticism. That will almost inevitably be joined by the stinking effluent of the upcoming Durban II Conference on Racism. — Ami Isseroff, “Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds

Almost inevitably? Durban II is an onrushing freight train, to borrow a metaphor from Barry Rubin, and the US has so far abandoned its ally Israel on the tracks. Ending its boycott of this exercise in delegitimization, the US has sent a delegation to preparatory meetings, supposedly to “change the direction” of the conference. But that is not what they are doing. Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN wrote,

On Tuesday, the Palestinian delegation proposed inserting a new paragraph under the heading “Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives … for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance…” with the subtitle “General provisions on victims … of discrimination.” The paragraph includes: “Calls for … the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.” In other words, it claims that the Palestinian people are victims of Israeli racism and demands that all U.N. states provide protection from the affronts of the racist Jewish state.

Furthermore, the new Palestinian provision “Calls for … implementation of international legal obligations, including the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall…” This is a dramatic attempt to change an “advisory opinion” into a “legal obligation” — a status which attaches to no advisory opinion. The ICJ decision, which advises that the Israeli security fence is illegal, has always been rejected by the United States — hitherto. And with good reason. The Egyptian judge had voiced his opinion on the result before the case was even heard, in his capacity as a leading Egyptian diplomat. The terms of reference from the General Assembly who asked for the decision, and the documents they laid before the Court, predetermined the outcome. And as the strong dissent by the American judge and Holocaust survivor Tom Buergenthal pointed out, the Court came to its preposterous conclusion that “the right of legitimate or inherent self-defense is not applicable in the present case” without considering “the deadly terrorist attacks to which Israel is being subjected.”

But when the Palestinian delegation laid their new proposal before the drafting committee, what did Obama’s team do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They made no objection at all.

It is impossible to argue that their silence was unintended. Over the course of the week’s negotiations the American delegation had objected to a number of specific proposals. They had no trouble declaring “we share reservations on this paragraph,” in the context of a demand to criminalize profiling. They “called for the deletion” of provisions undermining free speech like the suggestion to “take firm action against negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols.”

Their silence when it came to Israel was, therefore, deafening. — Anne Bayefsky, “The Obama Administration sacrifices Israel

Barack Obama himself has enunciated Israel’s right of self-defense. So why was the US silent? But there’s more:

The Obama team was not only silent on the new “Israel is racist” language, it also said nothing when faced with Holocaust denial. Negotiators from the European Union suggested on Wednesday a new provision to “condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end.” Iran — whose president is a Holocaust-denier — immediately objected and insisted that the proposal be “bracketed” or put in dispute. The move blocked the adoption of the proposal and ensured another battle over the reality of the Holocaust in April — at these supposedly “anti-racism” meetings. After Iran objected, the chair looked around the room, expecting a response. He said: “Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn’t seem the case. We move on.” U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.

Again, the American silence must have been deliberate. In marked contrast, after the E.U. objected to a provision calling for limits on free speech, the American delegation had no trouble piping up immediately: “I want to echo the comments from the E.U. This … call for restrictions is something that my government is not able to accept.”

How can we explain this? We know that the US Administration is strongly opposed to Holocaust denial. So why didn’t they object to this? Why did they take a position more extreme than that of the EU?

Not being privy to the internal discussions of the US delegation, I don’t know. But it is not unthinkable that the US has decided to use the conference as a way of pressuring Israel to make further concessions toward an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and it is also very thinkable that the US is doing everything possible to avoid antagonizing its ‘engagement’ partner, Iran.

In 2001, the US joined Israel in walking out of the first Durban conference. Preliminary discussions have indicated that this years’ version will be even worse, and Israel and Canada have decided not to participate. Unfortunately, American participation will go a long way to give weight to the pernicious ‘findings’ and declarations that are sure to come out of it.

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Western self-deception or Persian trickery?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

In his excellent article “Iran’s strategic nuclear deception“, Craig S. Karpel argues that Iran’s threats against Israel are a smokescreen designed to lull the West into a false sense of security regarding her true aims:

Most Europeans and Americans are not keenly aware that Iran is on track to having the ability to threaten Kuwait City, Riyadh, Dubai, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles with nuclear weapons. They are oblivious to the ultimate aim of the Iranian nuclear weapons program: to transform Iran into the dominant global superpower by enabling its regime to attain hegemonic control of the petroleum production of all of the Gulf region’s oil states, while preventing the West from taking military action against Iran by deploying missiles that can obliterate Western cities. Instead, Americans and Europeans are under the impression that the program’s main goal is the destruction of Israel…

The stream of invective calling for, predicting, and/or gloating in advance about the elimination of Israel constitutes one of the most effective strategic deceptions in history. Tehran has succeeded in minimizing Western concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons program by making it seem to be somebody else’s problem. –  Karpel, “Iran’s strategic nuclear deception”

There’s no doubt that it’s Iran’s goal to become “the dominant global superpower” as Karpel says. And the West in general and the US in particular seem remarkably unconcerned as the noose tightens. But it looks more like Western self-deception than Persian trickery.

It seems to me that Iranian leaders, like Hitler, have made their intentions clear long in advance. And (also like Hitler) they intend to destroy the Jews by conventional means.

Karpel lists several threatening statements made by Iranian leaders against Israel, suggesting that they are nuclear threats. But all of them refer to the Palestinians as the instrument of Israel’s destruction and only one even mentions nuclear weapons.

One is Khamenei’s 2000 statement in which he described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” in the Mideast. Here is Khamenei’s threat:

“Palestinian refugees should return and Muslims, Christians and Jews could choose a government for themselves, excluding immigrant Jews…

He praised the 11-week Palestinian uprising against Israel, in which more than 320 people have been killed, mainly Palestinians.

“The new Palestinian generation has learned that struggle is the way to victory, not negotiations,” Khamenei said, referring to the deadlocked U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace process.

Another is Ahmadinejad’s famous 2005 remark that Israel would be “wiped off the map”. But he did not mention nuclear weapons:

Ahmadinejad said in his remarks Wednesday that the issue of a Palestinian state would be resolved only when Palestinians took control of all their lands.

“The establishment of Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” he said, according to the press agency. “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”

Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Admadinejad said, “As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”

And here is his May 2008 “stinking corpse” comment:

“Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

“Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation,” he said.

Ahmadinejad added that Israel “has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese” — a reference to the July-August 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Hezbollah militia.

In June 2008, Ahmadinejad again predicted Israel’s demise (video),

“The Zionist regime has lost its raison d’etre. Today the Palestinians identify with your name (Khomeini), your memory and in your path. They are walking in your illuminated path and the Zionist regime has reached a total dead end. Thanks to God your wish will soon be realized, and this germ of corruption will soon be wiped off the face of the world.”

And yet again in September, he reused the bacterial metaphor:

“A Zionist organization with 2,000 [members] and with 7,000 or 8,000 activists has brought the world to a state of confusion. Let me tell them that if they themselves do not wrap up Zionism, the strong arm of the peoples will wipe these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth.”

Even Rafsanjani’s 2001 statement that includes this “…the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam” also refers to the Palestinians:

Rafsanjani said that it is unlikely that the Palestinian Jihad will weaken. He explained that the Palestinians have come to the conclusion that talks [with Israel] are effective only along with struggle and self-sacrifice – the two key elements that gave way to the second Intifada. The Palestinian Jihad is the mother of many Islamic movements, ranging from the [1979] Islamic Revolution in Iran to Islamic movements in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Central Asia, and many other Muslim states. All these Islamic movements support the Palestinian Jihad and have not forgotten it. The Palestinian Jihad has its roots in the homelessness of five million people. Undoubtedly, [this Jihad’s] culmination will be the liberation of Palestine.

Now this is not to say that Israel ought not worry about Iranian nuclear weapons, because they clearly could be used against Israel, both directly and as blackmail.

But the characterization — by the West, not by the Iranians — of the threat as primarily a threat against Israel and therefore not a serious danger to Europe and the US is very wrong.

Iran wants to destroy Israel for several reasons.

  • It is an outpost of and possible military base for Iran’s primary enemy, the US, in the Middle East.
  • Israel is one of the few issues guaranteed to unite all Muslims, and championing its destruction allows Iran to obtain influence even with Sunnis, such as Hamas.
  • Israel sits in the most strategic spot in the Eastern Mediterranean, an area in which Iran wishes to project its power.
  • Ahmadinejad may have religious reasons for wanting to eliminate Israel.

But nuclear weapons, while useful, are not essential to the Iranian strategy against Israel, which is based on Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria (with its massive stockpile of non-nuclear missiles, some of them with chemical and biological warheads).

Nuclear weapons are essential, however, for the strategy against the US and the West that Karpel outlines. And this explains the willingness of the Iranian regime to expend huge sums of money — to the detriment of its population — as well as expose itself to the possibility of military attack from a cornered Israel.

Unfortunately, the US is behaving toward Iran very much as it behaved toward Hitler’s Germany in the late 1930’s, pretending that, after all, the worst that can happen is that somebody else will be hurt.  Perhaps Karpel should have titled his article “Our strategic nuclear self-deception”.

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American Congressmen get the grand tour from Hamas

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Keith Ellison (L) and Brian Baird in Gaza

Keith Ellison (L) and Brian Baird in Gaza

Two American members of Congress, Brian Baird (D-WA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) visited the Gaza Strip last week, in the first such visit since the Hamas coup in 2005. A joint press release issued last Thursday included the following:

“The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”

“The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental needs such as water, sewer, and electricity facilities have been hit and immobilized. Relief agencies, themselves, have been heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools; of entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching. What went on here? And what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.” the Washington state Congressman said…

The Congressmen’s concerns about treatment of Palestinians were not limited to Gaza. They also visited Palestinian hospitals that treat patients from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There they met with doctors, nurses and hospital directors who described how official Israeli policies restrict border checkpoints which make it exceedingly difficult and expensive for patients, nurses, medical technicians, and other essential personnel to reach the hospital to receive or provide care.

Now read the above again, pretending that you are an attorney cross-examining a witness. How much of the above testimony represents what the congressmen actually saw with their eyes and how much what they were told by their Palestinian (that is, Hamas) guides? How much is actual evidence and how much is hearsay provided by interested parties?

Really the only part of their statement that might be the fruit of actual observation is the statement that “the amount of physical destruction…is staggering”. Is it true? Tim Butcher of the UK Telegraph, no partisan of Israel, wrote:

One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most [of] the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt…

But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference.

So in other words, yes of course the place is damaged — after all, a war was fought there — but the characterization of massive, wanton, gratuitous damage, particularly to civilian structures is unwarranted.

Here’s more from the congressmen:

Ellison, who is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, recalled how they had walked on a road where a number of the homes had been flattened by the IDF.

“We came upon a temporary shelter, it was just cinder blocks that were set up in an eight by 10 square, and they had some kind of a tarp and a sheet over it to stop the rain. They were making tea and we walked up and said, ‘Salaam aleikum,” Ellison said. The people in the shelter welcomed them and made them tea.

“We asked them how are you coping with all of this, and they talked to us,” he said. “They told us their stories. I will admit and I was a little reluctant to say that I was an American congressmen. Quite frankly, it might have been the IDF launching the bombs, but they all said made in America.”

Still, “no treated us with anything but the greatest respect and kindness,” Ellison said.

All this happened entirely by chance, of course.

Baird said he was particularly troubled by the “apparent targeting” of hospitals, schools and relief centers. It would be a “remarkable coincidence if the rounds accidentally fell” on those institutions, he said.

And of course, it wasn’t a coincidence, as the IDF documentation of weapons hidden in schools, etc. amply demonstrated.

As a licensed neuropsychologist and the father of twin four-year-old boys, he was particularly struck by the remains of what had been a play area for children in a treatment center at Al-Quds Hospital, which had Disney characters painted on the walls. “It is very disconcerting to say the least,” he said.

Similarly, he said, it was upsetting to see that an American school had also been bombed, “of all the iconic things you could destroy,” he said. The bombing had not only killed people, but also “an institution that taught core American values like tolerance,” Baird said.

With all due respect, I do not believe that “core American values” are taught anywhere in Hamas-run Gaza. Here is an example of what Hamas children are taught.

At the school, he found a little book on baseball with a question the teacher had asked about legendary first baseman Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in the major leagues. “They are trying to teach Israel about tolerance using baseball, for goodness sakes, and that is now destroyed,” Baird said. — Jerusalem Post

American values, baseball and Disney, all bombed by cruel Israel. No wonder they were upset!

Baird and Ellison, it seems, were given a tour by Hamas officials and then dutifully reported their point of view. They did make the obligatory statement that rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza had to stop, but they certainly didn’t appear to think that the rocket attacks had anything to do with the Israeli operation:

“The first and most urgent priority must be to help the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing.”

One would think from the above that parallel natural catastrophes had occurred to Gaza and Israel, with Gaza’s being worse!

The congressmen also visited Sderot and Ashkelon, but although they ‘condemned’ the rocket attacks, the thrust of their recommendations was that the US needs to force Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians:

“If our colleagues had seen what we have seen, I think their understanding of the situation would be significantly impacted,” he said. “They would care about what happened to the Palestinians.”

Baird added that he hoped they, as well as members of the Obama administration, would come away with a sense that “the US has a responsibility to insist on a change in the situation in Gaza and the situation in the West Bank.”

The congressman said he would like to see more humanitarian aid and goods reaching the people of Gaza, accompanied by open border crossings that would allow Palestinians to travel for trade and medical care.

He also said he was troubled by the American origin of so much of the IDF weaponry used in Gaza, and suggested that the US should reconsider the military aid it provides and the weapons it sells to Israel.

“We need to use every pressure available to make these needed changes happen,” he said. — Jerusalem Post

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