Archive for October, 2009

Israel should not investigate Goldstone claims

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I can’t think of a single good reason that Israel should set up a commission to investigate the IDF’s actions in Gaza on the basis of the Goldstone report, or even, as PM Netanyahu seems to have suggested at one point, to create a ‘team’ (this is supposed to be less than a ‘commission’) to ‘reevalute’ the IDF’s examination of its own behavior.

On the other hand, there are many good reasons not to do so.

1) The main one, as I’ve argued before, is that to deny wild accusations is to suggest that, while false, they are not so wild. It is to suggest that they could be true. Otherwise, why investigate them?

The most damning accusation in the Goldstone report, of course, is that Israel intentionally hurt and killed noncombatants and destroyed civilian infrastructure in order to ‘collectively punish’ Palestinians. That this was not collateral damage, but deliberate damage. That this was part of Israel’s strategy.

The Goldstone report claims to prove this, but actually presents no evidence. Further, it can be shown that it cannot be true. Why, then should this libel be given even the weight of a hypothesis?

2) An investigation of Goldstone’s claims would imply that the report’s method — which was apparently to accept Palestinian ‘witness’ testimony as prima facie true, or to repeat claims made by organizations such as HRW or even Hamas-related groups who did the same — was capable of reaching unbiased conclusions. It would imply that the mandate of the commission and its makeup could produce a fair result. None of these is the case, and that can be shown without an investigation.

3) An investigation by anyone except the IDF itself, which is already investigating numerous incidents that occurred during the war, implies a lack of confidence in the IDF. But the government, which was aware of the precautions army commanders took to minimize civilian casualties, has no reason except for the clearly biased Goldstone report to second-guess the IDF. To do so would not only be unfair, but would have a chilling effect on officers’ initiative in future campaigns.

4) No Israeli investigation will be taken seriously by any UN body. Remember the International Court of Justice decision that the Security Barrier was ‘illegal under international law’, a decision which did not mention terrorism even once? An investigation will not protect Israel from hostile acts of the UN.  Since unfriendly European governments will likely take their cues from UN resolutions, it won’t protect Israelis against local ‘war crimes’ prosecutions either. So why incur the damage described in 1-3 above?

Here is another idea: Investigate the investigators, and the defective process by which the report came about.

Technorati Tags: ,

HRW, meet Ismail Haniyeh

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

News item:

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Human Rights Watch called on Hamas to open an investigation into alleged war crimes.

The organization sent a letter Tuesday to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh calling on Hamas to launch a “credible investigation” into the alleged violations highlighted in the United Nations’ Goldstone report, according to reports.

Can you stop laughing? I can’t.

Imagine the conversation:

HRW: We want you to launch an investigation of the allegations that you “may have committed war crimes” when you fired 10,000 rockets and mortar shells into Israel over a period of 8 years.

Ismail Haniyeh: Ma pitom!* It’s not Hamas that committed war crimes, it’s the yahood! We are just following our Hamas Covenant when we launch Qassams, where it says “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.”

HRW: But you aren’t supposed to wage jihad against unarmed civilians.

IH: Oh yes we are! Our covenant says “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. May the cowards never sleep.” That means all Jews, in uniform or not.

HRW: So you want the Jews out of the lands they unjustly took in 1967?

IH: No, we want them out of all occupied territory, from the river to the sea. That’s what the covenant means when it says “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up.” No Crusaders or yahood allowed.

HRW: Oh, I see. Sort of like what our Saudi donors are always saying. But what will become of the Jews when you drive them out?

IH: Who cares? They are responsible for everything bad in the world. After all,

With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

HRW: (shocked) The Lions Clubs? Is there no limit to their perfidy?

IH: No. “We should not forget to remind every Muslim that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that “Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women.”

HRW: OK, you may be justified if they are as bad as all that. But if I can give you a tip, be careful what you say about women. Sexism is out today.

IH: That’s just dumb political correctness! Next you’ll be objecting to anti-yahood-ism. Like this important part of our covenant:

The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree,  would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”


Shabbat shalom to everyone.

* Useful Hebrew expression, literally ‘what, suddenly?’ Here it means something like ‘are you kidding?’

Technorati Tags: ,

Whose responsibility?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Arabs riot in Umm el-Fahm, October 2000

Arabs riot in Umm el-Fahm, October 2000

News item:

The State of Israel has agreed to compensate seven families of the October 2000 riots fatalities.

According to an agreement reached Wednesday between the Northern District Attorney’s Office and relatives of seven out of the 13 Arabs killed in the riots, the state will pay each bereaved family NIS 1,100,000 [about $298,000]. The deal requires a court’s approval, and according to Army Radio, nullifies any future legal claims the families might have against Israel.

During the 10 days of riots, the 13 men were shot and killed by police and other security forces at various locations in the Galilee, and a Jewish motorist was killed in a crash after his car was stoned on the coastal road near Jisr e- Zarka.

At the beginning of 2008, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced that no police officers would be indicted in connection with the killing of the men during the riots. The largely expected ruling, which was decried by Israeli Arabs, followed a decision by the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department in September 2005 to close the case due to lack of evidence.

The riots at the start of the Second Intifada sparked renewed concerns among Jews that the country’s 1.4 million Arab citizens were a fifth column. In September 2003, the Or Judicial Commission of Inquiry found that both the government and the police, taken by surprise by the rioting of Israeli citizens, failed to handle the situation properly.

The police, who were heavily outnumbered, later said they had not had enough nonlethal crowd dispersal gear.

The about 800-page Or report was highly critical of the police, and most likely some policemen would have been indicted if it had been possible to connect particular officers with the shootings.

In all-too-typical fashion, the report included a mea culpa:

The establishment did not show sufficient sensitivity to the needs of the Arab population, and did not take enough action in order to allocate state resources in an equal manner… The state did not do enough or try hard enough to create equality for its Arab citizens or to uproot discriminatory or unjust phenomena. Meanwhile, not enough was done to enforce the law in the Arab sector, and the illegal and undesirable phenomena that took root there. As a result of this and other processes, serious distress prevailed in the Arab sector in various areas. — quoted in Ha’aretz

The ‘riots’, which were the Israeli Arab — or ‘Palestinian citizen of Israel’, as they increasingly prefer to be called — side of the Second Intifada. Here is an excerpt from an Israeli account of events:

Yaffo, the southern part of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, was cut off, for a day or two. You couldn’t get to Bat-Yam via Yaffo, the shorter route, when coming from inner Tel Aviv. You had to go right round, through Holon. Even when the road was opened, people were afraid to drive that way.

The riots in the north of the country were the worst. Main roads leading to the north of the country were sporadically blocked by rioters, effectively cutting off the north from the rest of the country. People were scared to go home.

Jews living in secluded villages and small towns in the north were afraid that they were going to be attacked (Bish reminds me that people traveling on slip roads leading to secluded villages and small towns, such as Lotem and Misgav, in the Galilee, actually were attacked by their longtime Arab neighbors, who they had formerly seen as their friends, and the Jewish inhabitants were placed under protective curfew).

A man was killed from a stone thrown at his car, while he was driving along highway #2, the main road from Tel Aviv to Haifa, near the Arab village of Jisr a-Zarqa, a bit north of Hadera. Thus the road connecting the main Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa seemed to have become as dangerous as roads leading to remote West Bank settlements.

There was a decided feeling of alarm and emergency. It felt like the terrible 1948 war was coming alive again before our eyes. Would we have to travel in armed convoys from now on, in the middle of the country, like we did back then? The whole country was in shock. Suddenly people realized how dangerous the Israeli Arabs could be if they chose, and it looked like they were choosing.

Here’s another:

And pogroms these were in all ways. Jews were attacked and beaten everywhere. The entire Galilee and other parts of Israel became scenes  reminiscent of the late 1940s, where Arab gangs blocked roads, laid siege to Jewish towns, beat Jewish families randomly, grabbing random passing Jews out of their cars, stoning every Jew they could find, murdering at least two Jews inside Israel. These were not Palestinians living across the Green Line, but second and third generation Israeli Arabs, with their European standards of living, health and education levels, and their Scandinavian-style social welfare benefits…

Throughout the country, small teams of Israeli police were confronted by hordes of thousands of violent Arabs, throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at them, and sometimes shooting guns. Armchair commentators today insist that the police should have exercised infinite tolerance and patience at the time, but such people have never been confronted by a mob of thousands of screaming violent pogromchiks.

Three of the Arab fatalities occurred in the Arab town Umm el-Fahm. At least one of them was due to the snipers of the Israel Police counter-terrorism unit, YAMAM. Arab sources claim that they were sent to suppress the demonstrations, or even to ‘take out the leadership’. But this is nonsense. I spoke to a member of YAMAM, who told me

There were thousands of rioters and a much smaller number of riot police who tried to contain them. The riot police are mostly unarmed — they have shields and clubs, maybe the officers have pistols, but they’re mostly unarmed. The YAMAM snipers were sent to protect the police, to keep them from getting killed.

In one case [in Umm el-Fahm], the police were lined up against the front of a building, a two-or three-story building. One Arab was on the roof and he had a long metal bar or pipe. He was prying loose big concrete blocks from the wall in an attempt to make them fall on the police below. Anyone hit would have been killed, or at least severly injured. That’s why he was shot.

Our rules of engagement were not to fire unless someone’s life was in danger, and that’s what we did.

This appears to describe the shooting of Misleh Hussein Abu Jarad on October 2, 2000, at the entrance to Umm el-Fahm.

Despite its apparent desire to lay the primary blame on Israeli officials, police and ‘discrimination’, the Or Commission also cited incitement by Israeli Arab leaders, including MK Azmi Bishara (who has since fled Israel, accused of treason for helping Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon war) and MK Abdul Malik Dehamshe. And there was another familiar name:

On September 18, 2000, two weeks prior to the outbreak of violence, more than 35,000 Israeli Arabs attended the seventh annual Northern Islamic Movement “peace” rally on the theme: “Al Aksa [Mosque] is in Danger,” hosted by Um el Fahm Mayor Sheikh Raed Salah. While the Or Commission declined to recommend legal action against Salah despite proven inflammatory statements before and during the crisis, he is currently [2004] in Israeli police custody for allegedly passing large sums of money to the Hamas terror group. Salah reportedly told the crowd, “the Islamic world has exclusive rights to all the holy sites in Jerusalem and Israel has none.” The crowd responded with the chant, “In spirit and blood, we shall redeem Al Aksa.” Islamic affairs expert Dr. Guy Bechor noted that the entire rally took place as an act of incitement against the very existence of the State of Israel. — Dan Diker, Lessons from the Or Commission

Salah, of course, was the driving force behind the recent demonstrations around the Temple Mount. It’s interesting to note that the 1929 ‘riots’ — which many prefer to call ‘pogroms’ — in which hundreds of Jews were murdered, were incited in a similar way. Today, Salah plays the role of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who then accused the Jews of wanting to take possession of the Temple Mount and destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque:

The Islamic Movement’s tendency to throw fuel on the fire of Arab-Jewish tensions dates back many years. Salah was accused by the Orr Commission – set up to investigate the October 2000 Israeli Arab riots – of praising violent acts and demonizing the State of Israel in his speeches.

In 2003, Salah and a number of other suspects from the Islamic Movement’s northern branch were convicted of abetting Hamas, communicating with a foreign agent, and membership of a terrorist organization. Salah was imprisoned for a year and a half.

In 2007, Salah cited anti-Semitic blood libels in his speech, accusing Jews of using blood in the preparation of foods.

This past June, he addressed Muslim students at the University of Haifa who are members of an Islamic-Movement-affiliated group on campus known as IKRA, and claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was seeking to “build the Temple” on the Temple Mount. Calls for Muslims to rally to protect the Temple Mount from so-called “Jewish threats” have become a staple of Salah’s rhetoric. — Jerusalem Post

By compensating the families of ‘victims’, who were actually participating in an insurrection, the government of Israel unfortunately accepts the contention of the Arab community that the responsibility for their death lies with Israel. But there is a great deal of evidence for a different thesis:

The October 2000 riots were to a great degree the result of incitement and ideological radicalization of the Israeli Arab sector by local Arab political and religious leaders, the Palestinian Authority, the Islamic Movement in Israel, and foreign radical Islamic groups. — Dan Diker, Lessons from the Or Commission

If anyone can determine the names of the seven whose families will receive compensation, I would like to know them for further research.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Confessions of an ethical cretin

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

When you are criticized by someone you respect, it hurts. But when you are called names by someone who is an ignorant buffoon, it can be a badge of honor. So I may get a t-shirt inscribed “Another Ethical Cretin for Israel”.

I’m referring, of course, to the buffoonish Michael Lerner:

I recently met a leading representative of the foreign ministry of Israel who acknowledged to me “off the record” that Israel had made a tremendous blunder in refusing to cooperate with the UN Commission led by Judge Richard Goldstone, which investigated the charges of Israeli and Palestinian war crimes in the invasion of Gaza last December and January. Judge Goldstone, an internationally respected jurist whose Zionist credentials include being a member of the governing board of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wanted to hear Israel’s account of what happened, but Israel blocked that inquiry so Goldstone could only report what the victims of Israel’s attacks sought to convey.

Unfortunately, Israel’s predictable choir of ethical cretins around the world have joined in condemning Goldstone and the UN instead of urging Israel to investigate the charges by creating an impartial, objective and open process in which the victims can testify and the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Lerner’s assertion that Israel’s refusal to cooperate with Goldstone was the cause of the report’s bias is laughable. First of all, the original mandate of the commission, as specified in UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution S-9/1, was for

…an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission;

Only the ‘occupying power’ (see my note on postcolonialism) was to be investigated. Even Goldstone himself found this a bit much, and the report does suggest that Hamas ‘may have’ committed war crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilians — although the UNHRC resolution that adopted the report does not even mention Hamas (it does accuse Israel of various invented ‘crimes’ in East Jerusalem)!

Goldstone did have the opportunity to hear evidence favorable to Israel, but chose not to. In particular, it was suggested that he invite Col. Richard Kemp, who gave an interview to the BBC in January in which he said

…I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.

He chose not to do so, as well as to ignore other relevant material that was submitted to him. The report’s bias is overwhelming, but even worse than its treatment of unverified Palestinian stories of specific incidents as fact is the accusation that “disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy,” something which the report does not — and cannot — prove.

Should Israel take seriously every wild charge and libel? Should there be an ‘investigation’ of alleged organ-stealing by the IDF? What about the suggestion that Jews caused the Plague by poisoning wells? If I spread a rumor that Michael Lerner habitually has sex with chickens, should he appoint a blue-ribbon commission to investigate this? Would that help or hurt him?

Would Israel have been better off by cooperating with the Goldstone Commission in the first place? I don’t know for sure but I doubt it, given the stacked deck presented by resolution S-9/1.

Does Michael Lerner habitually have sex with chickens? Ah, that’s the question. I’m looking forward to “an impartial, objective and open process in which the victims can testify and the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

Ignorant buffoon Michael Lerner looking the part. Chickens?

Ignorant buffoon Michael Lerner looking the part. Chickens?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Goldstone finally said something I agree with

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Now there’s a ‘controversy’ over whether the Goldstone report will kill the ‘peace process’. Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu says yes, and, unsurprisingly, Judge Richard Goldstone says no.

I greatly admire Netanyahu, and I’m afraid I would have to say that I despise Goldstone. But Goldstone was actually correct when he said,

What peace process are they talking about? There isn’t one.

Of course, I’ve taken this out of context. Goldstone goes on to blame Israel for this, and to call for an investigation of all the lies, calumnies and blood libels in his tendentious report.

But unfortunately the only ‘peace process’ out there is in the minds of the Obama Administration and some others who appear to think that they can ‘visualize world peace’ into existence by really, really wanting it.

Presently there are no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu says that he is prepared to start talking without preconditions, but that any agreement will need to include

  • A demilitarized Palestinian state, and
  • Recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

These are not outrageous demands on the face of it. Surely recent history amply justifies demilitarization, and what is Israel if not the state of the Jewish people?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) under the ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas, accepts neither of these principles, and refuses to even begin negotiations unless all Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem stops. Indeed, the representative of ‘Palestine’ to the UN walked out during Netanyahu’s speech. If you would like to understand why, pay attention to what was said at the Sixth Fatah Congress this August.

So yes, Goldstone is correct, there’s no peace process. Look at the PA’s objections:

The demand for a settlement freeze is explained by saying that Israel is creating ‘facts on the ground’ which will prejudice the outcome of border negotiations. But no additional area will be added to existing settlements. And if Israeli building is said to prejudice the outcome, why is the same not true of Palestinian building? It makes absolutely no sense as a precondition for negotiations unless it is seen as a symbolic statement that all of Judea and Samaria and — especially — East Jerusalem is ‘Palestinian’. Talk about prejudging!

The Palestinians have trouble with a demilitarized state, too. Well, of course they do, since they want to keep the option of armed ‘resistance’ open. Here’s Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the Fatah congress linked above:

When we stress that we espouse the option of peace and negotiations based on the U.N. resolutions, we retain our fundamental right to legitimate resistance guaranteed by international law. This right is also linked to our perception and to the national consensus, which is what must determine the appropriate forms of the struggle and the proper timing for [each]…

Finally, and most important, is their rejection of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Israel doesn’t have the slightest difficulty saying that the Palestinian state will belong to the ‘Palestinian people’, so why is this considered non-negotiable by even the most ‘moderate’ Palestinian officials, like PM Salaam Fayyad?

There are two reasons. One is the Palestinian wish to settle millions of hostile descendants of Arab refugees inside Israel in order to destroy its Jewish character (and provoke a civil war in which Jews will be killed or driven out), and this is contradicted by the idea of a Jewish state. The other is that the Palestinians believe that even if there is a ‘peace’ agreement, the land on which the state of Israel exists belongs to them!

Here’s a comment made by Omar al-Ghul, an adviser to Salaam Fayyad, which makes this crystal clear:

“No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand [for recognition as a Jewish state] even if the whole world recognizes Israel as a Jewish state,” he stressed. “The state of Israel belongs to all its citizens, the Palestinians [sic] owners of the land and the Jews living there.”

The Palestinians are telling us that what they mean by ‘peace’ and a ‘two-state solution’ is this: a state of ‘Palestine’ in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in which Jews are forbidden to live, and a state of ‘Israel’, where — at least temporarily — Jews are permitted. This is why Abbas has said several times that “Netanyahu doesn’t accept the two-state solution.” Bibi’s two states are not the same as those of Abbas!

Aside from official statements, wouldn’t one expect that a regime that wanted to make peace would try to prepare its population by the use of its media and educational system? During the Oslo period, for example, Israel’s government went to great lengths to explain to its people its commitment to finally end the conflict with the Palestinians. But the Palestinian Authority has done nothing of the kind, instead maintaining a high-level of vicious anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda, designed to whip up violent hatred and opposition to compromise — and to raise a generation ready to lay down their lives in order to replace Israel with an Arab state.

Palestinian goals have not changed a bit since the PLO was founded in 1964. And it never ceases to amaze me that those who insist that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ because of  security measures like the fence, fail to notice the racist, apartheid character of the PA’s demands!

Note that I haven’t even mentioned Hamas — whose control over the Gaza Strip and uncompromising antisemitic, genocidal position makes a meaningful ‘peace process’ impossible.

So Goldstone’s point is well taken. What is surprising is that despite all of the evidence — the Fatah convention, the official statements of Mahmoud Abbas, Salaam Fayyad and others, the continued vicious incitement of hatred from the official PA media, educational and religious systems — the US continues to try to pretend that there is a peace process!

Technorati Tags: , , ,