Archive for September, 2009

How Israel must fight

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
IDF soldier in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead

IDF soldier in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead

It’s a tragedy that the 61 years of Israel’s existence have been marked by almost continuous war. In fact, someone said that the history of Israel consists of one long war, varying in intensity, for more or less the last 100 years.

There are several possible flare-ups on the horizon today. Iran is unlikely to halt its progress towards becoming a nuclear power, and the international establishment doesn’t seem prepared to stop it. Israel sees acquisition of the bomb by Iran as an existential threat, and an Israeli attack would mean war with Iran and its surrogates.

Even if the US suddenly gets some backbone — and the latest threat of sanctions if Iran doesn’t respond in yet another three months doesn’t impress me (or the Iranians) too much — there is the problem of Hezbollah, which I can’t see going away peacefully. Something has to happen to those 40,000 rockets. And Hamas.

Although it would be wonderful if we could expect peace to break out in the region, Israeli leaders have to be thinking hard about what happens if it doesn’t.

One thing they need to think about is how Israel must fight in an environment where the actions of outside powers are as important as those of the combatants.

In 1973, the fate of Israel was in the hands of the US. Israel was struggling when Nixon and Kissinger decided that the American interest — reducing Soviet influence in the Mideast — justified an airlift to resupply the IDF, which then turned the tide and came close to crushing Soviet-armed Egypt and Syria. ‘Came close’, I said, because as Yehuda Avner points out in the article linked at the beginning of this paragraph, the US also slammed the brakes onto the IDF while the Egyptians still had a Third Army and Damascus was still intact.

Of course, similar stories can be told about the last few wars, which all ended in similar ways: the 1982 Lebanon war, in which Arafat’s PLO was allowed to escape; the 2006 war with Hezbollah, ended by the worthless Security Council resolution 1701; and the recent Operation Cast Lead, terminated early with Hamas still firmly in control of Gaza.

There’s no question that one of the biggest questions discussed by the Security Cabinet and the General Staff is always: what will the US do? How will Russia respond? Management of these outside players is as important as planning the deployment of fighting forces.

One of the factors which supposedly affects their behavior is the perception of such things as civilian casualties, proportionality, etc. The 2006 war, in which Hezbollah effectively manipulated the media, was a PR disaster for Israel. It’s been suggested that Hezbollah propaganda about the ‘Kfar Kana massacre’ actually caused Condoleezza Rice to end US support for an Israeli victory in Lebanon in 2006.

So in 2008-9, the IDF took unprecedented steps to hold down the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as to try to respond quickly to fabricated atrocity stories. Unfortunately, although the amount of collateral damage was remarkably low for urban warfare — especially against an enemy which made a point of using the population as a shield — and although the IDF did do a much better job of responding to propaganda than in 2006, the result was the same: worldwide fury against ‘Israeli war crimes’, and a US-imposed end to the fighting before Hamas was defeated.

One thing that we can learn from this is that regardless of how Israel fights, it will be accused of war crimes and atrocities. What matters is not what is, but what people think.

Another is that it isn’t enough to convince the leadership of the great powers. Nations like the US or Russia act in their own interests. With all due respect, they don’t care about dead Arabs (or Israelis). When they hear about ‘massacres’ they are not interested in whether they happened or not. They are interested in how their own response to Israel’s actions looks to someone who believes that the massacres happened. And this leadership is particularly sensitive to opinion in the Middle East.

Therefore, even if Israel fights the most moral war in history, and even if US, Russian and European leadership knows this, they still may intervene against Israel. Israeli anti-propaganda efforts can only be useful if they effect overall and especially Mid-Eastern opinion, which is nearly impossible.

But not only does trying to avoid collateral damage have little effect on outside actors, it can be a direct impediment to victory. For example, it’s said that the Hamas headquarters was located in the basement of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. Hamas knew that Israel would never bomb it, and they were right.

It also has indirect effects: Western democracies like Israel can’t accept a high level of their own casualties, especially if they are seen as avoidable. So for example, NATO bombed Serbian forces in Yugoslavia from high altitude, and suffered zero casualties to their own troops. But this conflicts with the imperative to avoid civilian casualties. NATO chose to protect its own soldiers and pilots at the expense of the people on the ground.

Israel made the opposite choice in 2003’s Operation Defensive Shield, and lost 23 soldiers in Jenin. The use of air bombardment or artillery could have prevented that loss, at the cost of many more Palestinian dead. Interestingly, despite this almost every non-Israeli in the Middle East and most Europeans still believe that Israel perpetrated a murderous ‘Jenin massacre’.

The effort to reduce collateral damage gives rise to casualties among one’s own troops, which in turn is a powerful deterrent to fighting in today’s West (and Israel). This is perhaps one of the reasons — along with American intervention — that Israel never executed phase III of Operation Cast Lead — the entry into the Gaza City center that might have finished off Hamas.

Anthony Cordesman has suggested that today’s conflicts — like Gaza and Afghanistan — call for an entirely different way of fighting, one in which as much attention is paid to not hurting civilians as to killing the enemy. He may be right about Afghanistan, but I think he’s wrong about Israel’s wars. America may have an image problem in the Middle East, but it does not have the same consequences as Israel’s.

What does all of this imply about how Israel must fight?

I am not suggesting that Israel ignore possible civilian casualties or even fight in a way which increases them, like the strategic bombing policy of the Allies in WWII, or NATO’s high-altitude bombing of Yugoslavia, or the way the Arabs have embraced terrorism against the Israeli population.

I do think that the primary aim of any operation should be to achieve its objective as quickly as possible, and that the amount of force used should be proportional to this goal. Insofar as avoidance of non-combatant casualties interferes with this, it should give way to whatever is needed to defeat the enemy.

The way to prevent intervention by outside powers is not to try to convince them that one’s cause is just and is being pursued in the safest way possible, but to achieve the objective as quickly and completely as possible, and thus to preclude intervention. The 1967 war is an example of this.

Paradoxically, Israel’s attempt in Cast Lead to prevent intervention before it reached its goals may have actually prevented it from reaching them before the US intervened.

War is a fundamentally irrational enterprise, which violates the rules of all constructive human endeavors. It is not constructive, it is destructive. Morality is upside down. Concepts like safety and even justice, on some level, are contradicted in a state of war.

Because of this, there is no greater evil than making war for political goals. There is only one moral reason for war, and that is self-defense. But once in war, the only rational behavior is to do whatever is necessary for victory.

In the long run, this may even result in less suffering for civilians and soldiers alike, because unfinished wars are fought over, and over, and over.

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Recognition first

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Palestinan Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas was in Cuba the other day, and presented his ‘peace’ plan:

“An Israeli withdrawal from Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Lebanese territories is a top priority,” he said. “Once that is achieved, Israel will enjoy normal relations with all Arab and Islamic countries.”

He added, “We tell Israel that if they withdraw from the Palestinian territories, all Arab and Islamic countries will be able to normalize relations with you.”

Abbas then explained that the alternative to such a withdrawal would be terrorism, tension, and violence, which he insisted is not what Palestinians want for their people and region.

An aside: the ‘Lebanese territory’ he refers to is the Shabaa Farms area, a tiny piece of land — 8 sq. mi. —  with no strategic importance, determined by the UN to be part of the Golan Heights but claimed by Hezbollah and (apparently) the PA to be Lebanese. It is used as a pretext for aggression by Hezbollah, which thereby claims that Israel is still ‘occupying’ Lebanon.

So here’s the context: Israel is almost surrounded by hostile states and non-state terrorist militias which have been sporadically starting wars and killing Israelis since there was an Israel.

And here’s the deal: if Israel will give up the strategic depth which prevented it from being overrun in 1973 and allow the creation of another hostile state to the east to complete its encirclement, then all the Arab states will suddenly give up their oft-repeated desire to end the Jewish state. But if not — well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but you know how hard it is to control those extremists!

Surrender first, and then the Arab and Muslim states will be able to normalize relations.

And he didn’t mention his continuing demand for the entry of millions of hostile Arabs claiming refugee status into Israel, his refusal to ever recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People, etc.

As a ‘peace plan’, this is completely insane. Nobody in their right mind could see it as anything other than a demand for Israel to place its head on the chopping block. There is no way negotiation based on these principles can result in peace.

Of course, there’s nothing surprising about it when you consider who Mahmoud Abbas is. He is the leader of Fatah, the  organization that has always controlled the PLO, the terrorist group that has killed more Israelis than any other, even Hamas. He is the man who for years was second in command to the Original Terrorist, Yasser Arafat (may his name be erased).

What is surprising is that the US supports Abbas and arms and trains his soldiers (excuse me, ‘security forces’), and is pushing a ‘peace plan’ that is only superficially different from that of Mahmoud Abbas.

Time for a new peace plan. Here’s mine:

  • The Palestinian Authority, UNRWA, etc.  will be informed that Palestinians will not get another penny of international assistance until they get a leadership that recognizes Israel as the state of the Jewish people, stops terrorism, and agrees to the principle that a solution to the Arab refugee problem must be found in Arab countries, not Israel.
  • Arab and Muslim nations will be informed that until they agree to the above, there will be no pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Recognition first, then negotiations. It’s only reasonable. If the Palestinians will not compromise their ‘ideals’ and continue violent ‘resistance’ then they will have to take time off from resistance to create an economy, because otherwise they won’t be eating.

The international community needs to understand that by supporting the PA and by sending ‘humanitarian’ aid to ‘refugees’ after 61 years, they are not doing anything that could be remotely understood as humanitarian. They are simply helping extremists like Mahmoud Abbas, Hassan Nasrallah and the Hamas leadership maintain their long war against Israel.

Maybe some do understand this and want to help get rid of the “shitty little country” that’s always upsetting their Arab friends. But I think that the majority of people in the US do want Israel to survive, and their government should do more than pay lip service to this.

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Appeasing the unappeasable

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

You have to be grateful to the Palestinians for saving Israel from Ehud Olmert:

Speaking to the BBC’s Hard Talk program, which will be broadcast Monday, Olmert said he offered the Palestinians the best deal they were ever and will ever be given. He lamented that the Palestinians rejected the deal, which he said would have been implemented despite the corruption charges that forced him out of office, for which he will stand trial beginning on Friday…

Olmert confirmed that he had offered the Palestinians land amounting to 100 percent of the West Bank – which would have been composed of 93 to 94% of West Bank land and the rest made up by territory from pre-1967 Israel – the return of more than a thousand Palestinian refugees to Israel’s final borders, and the internationalization of Jerusalem under Israeli, Palestinian, American, Jordanian and Saudi Arabian administration.

He said that had the Palestinians accepted the offer, the international community would have immediately endorsed it, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not have been elected.

I don’t think the full details of Olmert’s offer have been made public, but what he said to the BBC is shocking.

Would Olmert have transferred much of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA) while Hamas continued to control Gaza? What guarantee would there be — could there be — that Hamas would not not take over the PA, too?

How would the return of even one ‘refugee’ be justified? Would Israel accept the ‘right of return’ in principle but limit it in practice? Mahmoud Abbas suggested that this indeed was the proposal. In that case, Israel would have accepted the Palestinian version of history, in which Israel, born in sin, bears the guilt for the refugees’ condition.

But the ‘best’ part of the plan is to give Israel’s most implacable enemy in the Middle East, the corrupt and fanatical Saudi monarchy, a part in the administration of Jerusalem. Should this medieval kingdom, which gained control of the holy cities of Islam by aggression and conquest, now be given authority over the holy city of Christians and Jews?

Would parts of Jerusalem be off-limits to Jews and female drivers?

Considering that in recent history only one administration, that of Israel, has allowed all faiths access to their holy sites in Jerusalem, and that Arab control has been racist and vandalistic — and I refer not only to the Jordanian occupation in which synagogues were made into stables and latrines, but to the present behavior of the Waqf — why do we need to internationalize Israel’s capital?

The capital city of Germany was divided in 1945, after Hitler caused the most destructive war in history. What has Israel done, except be a Jewish state that has so far survived 61 years of continuous struggle against those who want to snuff it out, to deserve similar treatment?

The crazy Palestinian demands — which even Olmert’s proposal did not satisfy — are made by the PA, more or less identical with the PLO — a gang of terrorists that was stupidly given international legitimacy in 1993, who have contributed nothing to civilization except the popularity of terrorism as a political tool.

Why does anyone take them seriously? Why the rush to appease the unappeasable?

The answer to that, of course is that they are backed by the wealth and influence of Saudi Arabia, the hypocritical antisemitism of Europe and the US State Department, and — increasingly — by the rockets of Iran.

But one wants a real solution, which will provide for the aspirations of the Palestinians without dismembering Israel, it will have to be found by looking in a different direction, away from the PLO, as this comment on the previous post suggests.

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Netanyahu doesn’t surrender

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I just watched Prime Minister Netanyahu’s UN speech again. I liked it even more than the first time.

I liked the way he kept referring to ‘Jews’ and ‘the Jewish People’. Israel is not just a arbitrary construct based on geography. The Holocaust that Ahmadinejad denies didn’t happen to arbitrary people, it happened to Jews (I don’t deny that Hitler killed a lot of non-Jews, but the machinery of extermination was built for the Jews, who were murdered only because of their genes).

The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

I liked the way he stood firm on his demand for recognition as a Jewish state:

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.

This is the absolute bottom line, far more important than delineation of borders or the settlement issue. The fact that the Arabs have never accepted a Jewish state in the Land of Israel has been the cause of the conflict since the beginning, and is what drives it today.

Netanyahu clearly understands — as so many Jews, even some Israelis, do not — that  the real and only adequate  justification for the existence of the state of Israel lies in its being the state of the Jewish people. Give up on this point, and you might as well book passage back to Poland, Russia, Morocco, Iraq, etc. and let it be replaced with yet another Arab craptocracy.

Finally, he made one other demand:

The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel. That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

Is this so unreasonable?

The Arab reaction was predictable. Robert Spencer summarized it thus:

In Saudi Arabia, the state newspaper Al-Nadwa lamented that “every paragraph of Netanyahu’s speech makes us more pessimistic.” In Jordan, the pro-government newspaper Al-Rai huffed: “Netanyahu offered rotten merchandise. Nobody will buy it.” Mohammed Sobeih, the Arab League’s undersecretary general for Palestinian affairs, said that while “extremists in Israel” might like the speech, it was “too far from what peace needs.” The President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, said that the speech was “intransigent when it comes to dealing with peace or regarding the solution for Palestinian refugees.”

And that was just the beginning. Others charged that Netanyahu had brought the region closer to armed conflict. Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, said that Netanyahu’s call to “recognize Israel as a Jewish state complicates things further and scuttles the possibilities for peace.” Apparently an Arab state is just fine, but a Jewish state, no. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, meanwhile, asserted that Netanyahu delivered “a war speech that practically torpedoed and crippled all possibilities for a compromise,” and that “makes the region susceptible to great dangers that might explode in different directions.”

Palestinian Saeb Erekat complained that Netanyahu’s speech “left nothing for negotiations….Netanyahu wants to put us in a situation where he looks like he offered something, and we said no.” And he attempted to cast the onus back upon Netanyahu: “Netanyahu’s speech was very clear. He rejects the two-state solution.” He warned about Netanyahu’s crafty rhetoric: “I hope that the world will not be fooled by this gentleman using the term ‘come and negotiate’ and ‘a Palestinian state.’ He actually tonight destroyed the two-state solution and destroyed the permanent settlement negotiations.”

“Netanyahu,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “is defying the world. The international community should reply by pressure to isolate Netanyahu and his policies and force Israel to submit to the peace process.”

They are absolutely hysterical with anger because they thought that President Obama was their guy, and he would force the Israelis to finally give up. They thought that the delegitimization campaign they orchestrated by activating the antisemitic Europeans with their boycott/divestment strategy, as well as the laughable “United Nations Human Rights Council” with its cut-and-paste report on the Gaza war, had weakened Israel to the point of cooperating in its own dismemberment.

But look: Netanyahu spoke like the leader of a nation, a proud and fully legitimate nation that can and will defend itself. He didn’t surrender! How dare he?

The Arabs, in their supreme self-righteousness, switch rapidly back and forth from squealing about their victimization and demanding intervention, to threatening mayhem.

Now let them face an Israel with a leader who is confident of the justice of his position, an Israel which is prepared to wait as long as necessary — and to make the Palestinians wait as long as necessary — for a settlement which will finally establish what should have been established in 1948: that the Jewish people, like Germans, Russians, even Palestinians, have a right to self-determination in their land.

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Licensed to hate

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I know I should stop wasting time writing about Jewish Israel-hatred — there’s nothing that can be done to fix these people’s craziness — but I came across something that makes clear how well the other side understands the value of Jewish allies.

You may remember that in July the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival put on a program in which the film Rachel — about pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed when she fell in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 — was presented. Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, also spoke. After an outcry —  it was, after all, a Jewish film festival, funded in part by contributions to the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the festival allowed one pro-Israel speaker, Dr. Michael Harris, to speak for a few minutes.

The audience, packed with activists from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other groups, heckled and shouted at Dr. Harris. You can read what I wrote about it and see a video here.

Incidentally, Corrie’s parents came to Fresno in September 2005:

The Corrie events and exhibits in the Valley were held in multiple locations: Fresno City College, CSUF, KFCF radio and KNXT television (the station of the Catholic diocese!), the Mennonite Brethren Church, Arte Americas (I’m not sure what the relevance was supposed to be), the Center for Non-Violence (Peace Fresno), the Reedley Peace Center, and of course several events at the Islamic Cultural Center, which appears to have been the primary sponsor of these events.

Anyway, after the San Francisco event, Paul Larudee, a member of ISM (the group that brought Rachel to Gaza), a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement — we’ve had them here in Fresno too — and of course a member of JVP, wrote about the event. After describing the thuggish behavior of the audience approvingly, Larudee wrote,

It was astonishing.  Although the audience was by no means all Jewish, a large number clearly were, and the sense of many of the attendees was that their relative immunity from the charge of anti-Semitism gave them license to be more vocal.

There you have it. They are insulated from criticism because they themselves are Jewish. They have license to be hateful, because after all, one can’t hate one’s own people.

Can one?

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Kosher anti-Zionism

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

One of the hardest things about writing a blog is thinking of something even halfway original to write about every day, especially since there are far better writers, journalists and even scholars doing the same thing.

So I was excited this morning when one of my commenters handed me a topic on a silver platter, as it were. Here’s part of what he said:

I cannot speak as well for J Street as I can for Brit Tzedek. I have spoken with the Executive Director and am good friends with several of the local chapter leaders. I also know myself. Our goal is not to weaken Israel but to strengthen it. We simply don’t believe that strength lies in the barrel of a gun and in the constant war of words that this blog represents so well. Strength lies in peace, equality and justice. And more than anything else in mutual respect, very little of which is in evidence here…

So yes, perhaps we are “aging baby-boomer (leftist)[s]” …committed to worn out ideologies from a bygone era.

Then why are you so fearful of us? Simply because Obama seems to agree with our position and he is after all President of the United States of America, Israel’s one and only true ally in this cruel and unpredictable world where Nazism is not only yesterday’s nightmare, but also today’s constant threat waiting to blossom with the next desert rains?

I suspect the fear and bitterness (second only to that which you have for Palestinians and other Arabs … and anyone else who says anything critical about Israel, including Israelis) goes beyond mere political disagreement.

The fact that we continue to hope and work for peace stands directly in the way of your campaign for hopelessness. It bugs you to see people, especially fellow Jews, that can maintain a sense of the possible and don’t confirm your grim view of the deadly nature of life, especially for the Jewish People.

The writer makes several serious mistakes here, mistakes which can be deadly if they become the basis of policy.

One is  that the admirable concepts of peace, equality, justice and respect can strengthen a nation when applied unilaterally in a world where the other actors don’t share the same values. For example, the Palestinians will happily agree that they want justice, but ‘justice’ for them will be when the state of Israel has been replaced by an Arab state. And respect in the Arab world is not given to the one who compromises, but rather to the one who is most uncompromising.

Another is thinking that the geographic and  historical bubble in which American Jews have been living since WWII is somehow normal, and what the Jews in other places and other times — since the Roman conquest of Jerusalem — have experienced is abnormal. How irrational to assume that the change is permanent and applies world-wide!

The blindness displayed by the writer in the face of even recent history is astonishing. Did he not see how the wishful attribution of Western liberal values to the Palestinians lead to the disastrous failure of Oslo and the rise of Hamas? Did he not notice how the Palestinians responded to Israel’s attempt to end the occupation by withdrawing from Gaza?

Does he not listen to the statements that come from Meshaal, Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and even the supposed ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas and every media outlet of the PA? Does he think it’s all ‘rhetoric’? Could it be that — like Hitler — they mean what they say?

‘Campaign of hopelessness’? Rather a campaign to realistically see the world — especially the Middle East — as it is.

But despite the admitted fact that the world is “cruel and unpredictable”, the writer maintains his  optimism that if he and his friends continue to ‘work for peace’ — I presume that by this he means ‘demand Israeli concessions’ because that is the platform of Brit Tzedek and J Street — the Arabs will wake up one day thinking that the Jews can be allowed to live in Palestine after all.

Finally, I want to turn to the ad hominem part of his comment.

Speaking for myself, I’m not a bitter or fearful person. I don’t fear the ‘useful idiots‘ of the Jewish anti-Zionist Left (JAZL), although I worry about Ahmadinejad, et al, who threaten to kill my children.

To the JAZL I say: what ‘bugs’ me  isn’t envy of your naive self-delusions.

Rather, it’s the way you use your Jewishness to render your Israel-hatred kosher.

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Goldstone, J Street, want an ‘investigation’

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Judge Richard Goldstone wrote, in his NY Times op-ed last week, that

Unfortunately, both Israel and Hamas have dismal records of investigating their own forces. I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area in Israel — on the contrary, Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts. While Israel has begun investigations into alleged violations by its forces in the Gaza conflict, they are unlikely to be serious and objective.

Why unlikely? There are plenty of examples of IDF soldiers disciplined for mistreating Palestinians. And the comparison to Hamas… why did he even mention Hamas in this context when he clearly understands that Hamas exists to commit war crimes?

I am not going to try to search for too much fairness, logic or consistency in the utterances of Goldstone, who fell asleep when testimony about the bombardment of Sderot was presented. But yesterday he suggested that an Israeli investigation would indeed be worthwhile:

In an exclusive interview with Channel 2 on Monday, Goldstone said IDF soldiers who committed the violations, as well as the commanders who failed to reprimand them, must stand trial for their offenses. The former judge also said that Israel should have taken the opportunity for an internal investigation of the IDF’s conduct during the offensive. — Ha’aretz

Apparently, the idea is that IDF investigations can’t possibly be objective, but that Israel should set up an ‘independent commission’ to beat up on the IDF. There is nothing that makes the Israel-haters happier than the spectacle of Israelis themselves doing the dirty work.

I’m certain that it would be easy to find plenty of anti-Zionist academics like Neve Gordon who would be happy to be party to it. It’s reminiscent of the Nazis ordering Jews to dig their own graves before shooting them, isn’t it?

In any event, look who else thinks a self-flagellation commission would be a good idea:

J Street has reviewed the Goldstone report in its entirety over the past several days…

We urge the Israeli government to establish an independent state commission of inquiry to investigate the accusations, something Israel has done on several occasions in the past.

J Street strongly condemns Hamas for its actions both before and during the Gaza war – actions which the report says may amount to crimes against humanity. [my emphasis]

It’s wonderful that they actually tack on a condemnation of Hamas, but they can’t even say “we condemn Hamas for crimes against humanity” — only that the report says that they may amount to such! Such exquisite care to give the fanatic butchers of Hamas the benefit of the doubt.

There is very little difference between calling for an investigation of the allegations in the Goldstone report and those in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, which accused the IDF of stealing organs from dead Palestinians. Both documents base their accusations primarily on the accounts of Palestinian ‘witnesses’ — indeed, the Goldstone report includes language almost identical to that in the wholly tendentious product of Human Rights Watch and other biased sources (NGO Monitor called it a “cut-and-paste job“).

In either case, the result of the investigation would be to give currency to the absurd charges. Leave it to J Street to take the Zionophobic tack every time.

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An argument for progressives

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I admit that I’m politically schizophrenic, mixing right-and left-wing positions on different subjects. Those of my friends (those that remain) who have consistent ideologies invariably come to regard me as a extremist in favor of whatever they are against.

Anyway, the other day I was listening to a woman of the progressive persuasion talk about the really distressing phenomenon of Obama-hatred on the Right. The President’s statements and his motives are misrepresented, attacks on him are personal and possibly racist, he is portrayed in vile caricatures, he is simply hated — far beyond any criticism of policy. And she added that she was honestly afraid for his safety as a result.

Now I think his administration’s Mideast policy — worse, his entire view about the proper place of the US in the world and the intentions of its adversaries — is entirely wrong and off-balance. It’s both immoral and disadvantageous for the US and for the human race. But I absolutely agree with this woman that his political enemies have gone way too far in the direction of misrepresentation and personal vilification. And yes, it’s worse than it was with Clinton and even worse than the Left’s treatment of Bush.

So I asked her if she saw any parallel between the way the Right relates to Obama and the way she and other ‘progressives’ think about the state of Israel.

Did she see any similarity between the made-up stories about Obama’s birth and religion and the absurd blood libels against Israel spreading rapidly around the world?

Is she aware that motives attributed to Obama and Israel by opponents are always the worst possible, no matter how irrational? So Obama is said to want to wreck the economy in order to ultimately destroy capitalism and replace it with some form of socialism — and Israel is accused of acting to ‘punish’ Palestinians in order to humiliate them and destroy their culture.

Did she notice the caricatures and cartoons vilifying Israel?

Did she worry that the constant din of Israel’s enemies like Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, Meshaal, and countless others calling for and predicting Israel’s destruction might stimulate terrorists to act?

Does she see that the goal of the assault is the same — to soften up the target so it can be destroyed?

Does she notice that she herself — someone who tries very hard to live ethically and fight against every form of oppression and unfairness — sometimes repeats false accusations against Israel that she heard on KPFA, the left-wing version of conservative ‘hate radio’?

It seems to me that anti-Israel lies and distortions are in many ways worse than those told about the President. For one thing, what are the rantings of a Glenn Beck compared with the official pronouncements of the Goldstone Commission of the ‘United Nations’ — although the credibility of the latter should be no more than that of the former?

And as far as I know, nobody has yet accused the President of stealing organs.

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Zbig calls for “a Liberty in reverse”

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Way back in January 2008, I referred to “Barack Obama’s Zbig problem” — Zbigniew Brzezinski, that is. Zbig was never a friend of Israel, and I was more than a little bothered by the suggestion that he would be a key foreign policy adviser for candidate Obama.

After quoting some of Brzezinski’s more egregiously anti-Israel remarks, I wrote,

Brzezinski supports the pernicious, even anti-Semitic Mearsheimer and Walt, he accuses Israel of ignoring collateral damage and in effect committing war crimes in Lebanon, he perpetuates the false and dangerous accusation that Israel is in some sense responsible for the US being in Iraq, and — time and again — he declares a moral equivalence between Israel and her terrorist opponents — Hamas and Arafat…

We don’t need another James A. Baker in a critical position in a future Obama administration. Obama has received criticism from pro-Israel voices like Alan Dershowitz about Brzezinski. The Obama campaign has responded that the criticism is politically motivated and coming from supporters of Hillary Clinton. Regardless, Brzezinski’s slant is clear from his own words.

Well, Zbig does not have an official position in the Obama administration, but there is no question that his voice is taken seriously.

And what he is saying is obscene. This is from an interview in the Daily Beast (thanks to Michael Goldfarb for noticing it and Dan Friedman for bringing it to my attention):

How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

What if they fly over anyway?
Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.

“A Liberty in reverse”?

Just a couple of words about the USS Liberty:

The facts are that Israeli planes attacked the US naval vessel in the Mediterranean in 1967, killing 34 and wounding 171. Israel said it was a mistake caused by a series of errors and that the ship was thought to be Egyptian. The government apologized and paid compensation for the crew members who were killed and injured, as well as for the damage to the ship. The US officially accepted the Israeli explanation of the incident and the apology.

But those are just the facts. The reality is that there is a huge controversy, with survivors of the crew and others firmly convinced that the attack was deliberate, and that the US and Israel conspired to cover up the truth (a good presentation of the case that the attack was a tragic error can be found in “The Liberty Incident” by A. Jay Cristol).

The ugly part is that Jews and conspiracies go together. Every neo-Nazi website gleefully presents the theory as proof that the US really is ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government) territory. The Liberty incident is on every antisemite and anti-Zionist’s list of reasons for hating Israel and the perfidious Jews.

Including Zbiggy’s.

So not only is this mamzer advocating that the United States of America shoot at aircraft of its ally, Israel — in order to protect the nuclear weapons capability of its enemy, Iran — but he is doing so in terms which evoke the darkest impulses in his American audience.

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‘Peace activists’ pro-murder demonstration

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

While the usual murderous Palestinian terrorists fire rockets at southern Israel (yes, they are still doing that) and plant bombs by the fence separating Gaza and Israel, the ‘non-violent’ resistance forces of Palestinians, Israeli left-wing extremists and ‘internationals’ — anti-Zionists from Europe and North America who come to Israel in order to take part in demonstrations or to serve as human shields for Arab terrorists — do their part against the Jewish state. Here’s a report from the Palestinian Ma’an news agency:

Bethlehem – Ma’an – More than 100 of farmers, youth, international and Israeli peace activists [!] marched against the Israeli separation wall Friday, and armed with car tires and home made ladder to climb the high wall they managed to burn one section and pull down three others.

According to participants one of the youth passed over the wall and set fire to car tires, damaging the fence and the sensors attached to it. A second group of youth burned a stack of 10 tires at one of the gates in the concrete wall, with black smoke billowing toward the nearby settlement.

“This is the first message sent from N’lin’s people that the wall will not prevent them from going to their lands that was taken from them,” a statement from the local popular committee said.

'Demonstrators' pull down part of security barrier near Nil'in (Ma'an News)

'Demonstrators' pull down part of security barrier near Nil'in (Ma'an News)

Nil’in is about a mile and half from the green line, due east from Lod. The security barrier runs south of the town, protecting several Jewish settlements which abut the green line (see map linked above). My guess is that the road visible through the breach is rt. 446, looking toward Matityahu or Modi’in Illit.

This road is the main connection to several Jewish settlements just inside the Green Line (and numerous Arab villages).

On January 17, 2008, an Israeli driving on Rt. 446 was shot and wounded by Palestinian terrorists — the Fatah al-Aqsa brigades took credit. The much longer rt. 443, which runs through the same general area,  has also been the site of numerous firebomb and sniper attacks, including fatal ones. After five Israelis were killed and more wounded in multiple incidents on 443, Israel blocked off exits to Palestinian villages along 443, giving rise to howls of “apartheid” and petitions to the Supreme Court from the usual suspects.

Nil’in demonstrators claim that the purpose of the barrier is to separate local farmers from some of the land that they work (even though there is a gate in it which they can pass through). Yes, it’s inconvenient for them.

But the alternative was even more inconvenient for one Israeli family in August 2001:

Two Israelis were killed, one critically wounded, and two lightly wounded late last night when terrorists shot at the vehicle they were driving along the Givat Ze’ev-Modi’in road, near the Dor Energia gas station.

Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom, of Ofarim in western Binyamin, were killed, and their children – one and two – were lightly wounded. Sharon’s brother, Zion Sabiri, was critically wounded in the attack…

Police said the terrorists either set up an ambush at the side of the road or fired from a passing vehicle, near the village Beit Ghur e-Tahta, not far from the army roadblock at Maccabim. Bullets hit the right side of the Ben-Shaloms’ car.

Now, keeping this in mind, look at the photo above, in which Palestinian vandals have opened a gap in the barrier. Then ask yourself why the barrier was built.

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Why the Arabs are losers

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

An article in the New York Times today by Michael Slackman illustrates the political and intellectual backwardness of the Arab nations.

It seems that the dirty job of collecting the trash of Cairo was given to a community of Christians, called “Zabaleen”. I don’t know Arabic, but one word for garbage in Hebrew is ‘zevel’, so my guess is that  ‘Zabaleen’ literally means something like ‘garbagers’.

Anyway, these dhimmis carried away the garbage from Muslim homes, recycling as much of it as they could. The way they recycled the organic part of it was to feed it to pigs, which they — being Christians — were permitted to raise and to eat.

There were several hundred thousand people living, if you can call it that, from the business of collecting, sorting and recycling trash, and raising pigs.

Everything was cool until the advent of swine flu. The Egyptian government (the article blames Mubarak himself) ordered that all the pigs be killed, lest they spread the flu.

Ignoring protestations from scientists that flu is not transmitted from pigs to humans, all 300,000 or so pigs were killed, with great cruelty.

Some suggested that the motive was religious, to keep pork away from Muslims, or just to hurt the Christian Zabaleen.

Whatever the motive, now the Zabaleen are struggling to have enough to eat. And without pigs they are unable to recycle organic waste, which is piling up and making Cairo even more disgusting than before.

So what do we learn from this?

We learn that all Israel has to do to defeat the Arabs is to survive until either the oil supply dries up and they sink back into poverty and irrelevance, or perish from filth-borne diseases and sheer stupidity.

Happy New Year to everyone!

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Goldstone — and Palestinians — mock history

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

One of the most penetrating comments about the Goldstone report was made by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who said that the report “makes a mockery of history”.

Mocking history is a specialty of Zionophobes, from the murderous fanatics of Hamas, through the thugs of Fatah, by way of the morally corrupt scum of the Saudi Arabian elite and the Europeans who are becoming less and less able to hide their Jew-hatred, via Goldstone’s farcial ‘United Nations’, including Terrorism Appeasement Headquarters and Saudi Appreciation Society — the US Department of State — and finally arriving at the man in the street who believes what he hears and reads in the media.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has presented a good, readable defense here, and undoubtedly they will soon produce a formal response to the 500+ page sliming from the UN.

There are a lot of evil slanders in the report, but there is one overarching falsehood that characterizes it as well as all of the NGO reports. In the words of IDF Judge-Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit,

The baseless claim in the report that Cast Lead was planned and launched to intentionally harm the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and to punish it, effectively illustrates the radical distortion and one-sided character of the report and proves, in my opinion, that the decision not to cooperate with the mission was the right one. [my emphasis]

The fact is that such a motivation would be entirely irrational. Punishing Palestinian civilians would not reduce Hamas’ fighting capability and would only damage Israel’s diplomatic position. High civilian casualties would increase pressure on Israel to end the operation prematurely.

But the consequences for Israel described did occur, not because it was actually guilty, but because the world believed Arab lies.

Part of the Zionophobic world-view is to always interpret actions of Israelis as manifestations of evil motives. The more depraved the motive, the more convincing it is. This is combined with the propensity to believe every horrible accusation, because for the Zionophobe Israel is capable of anything. Palestinians gleefully make claims, Hamas provides ‘evidence’, and the audience laps it all up.

Israel’s MFA is not a Ministry of Propaganda. Its job is to manage Israel’s foreign policy and incidentally to explain why Israel takes the actions that it does.

In fact, Israel does not have a Ministry of Propaganda, so it’s left to amateurs like me to tell you that the Palestinians are liars. Their audience is so ready to believe and their lies have such concrete benefits that they have turned the creation of falsehood into a major industry, probably their biggest after rocket manufacture and construction of bunkers and tunnels .

Actually, they are more than just liars. They are objectively one of the worst cultures in recent history, really a pathological bunch:

  • Who violently attacked and murdered Jews for at least the last 100 years out of sheer racism;
  • Who time and time again refused to accept that Jews had any legitimate rights in the Land of Israel;
  • Who insisted that they were the ‘owners’ of all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean;
  • Who expressed their belief by murder, particularly of women and children;
  • Whose leaders consistently sacrificed their people on the altar of unending war;
  • Whose leaders and supporters made and kept them refugees;
  • Whose leaders indoctrinate their children to aspire to martyrdom;
  • Whose poets and artists celebrate the bloody death of Jews and yearn for a world where the land is occupied only by Arabs;
  • Whose national heroes are terrorists like Samir Kuntar or Dalal Mughrabi;
  • Who see Yasser Arafat, the man who more than any other popularized terrorism against civilians as a political tool, as the father of their nation;
  • Whose every communications medium and institution is a source of antisemitic hatred;
  • Who, because of their prioritization of  ‘resistance’ above all else, have not developed a normal economy and live parasitically, receiving more international aid per capita than any other national group;
  • Who believe that historical truth is determined by what is good for the Palestinians, and made up a history to match;
  • Who believe themselves not responsible for anything bad that happens to them, always finding someone else (usually ‘the Zionists’) to blame;
  • Whose political consciousness hasn’t advanced beyond loyalties to clans, gangs and militias;
  • Whose social consciousness is racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and generally cruel;
  • And who have developed ‘projection’ — turning truth upside down and accusing their victims of the vile behavior that they themselves display — into an art.

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