Thursday, February 19, 2009

The first casualty of war: Truth

From a Jerusalem Post Editorial, Feb. 16, 2009:

...Even well-regarded Palestinian pressure groups have been claiming that Israel killed 895 civilians in the Gaza fighting. Operating on the basis of such "data," coupled with a poisoned wellspring of antipathy against the Jewish state, Mahmoud Abbas has been making the case for indicting Israeli cabinet ministers and military officers for international war crimes.

Pro-Palestinian campaigners allege that two-thirds of the Arab fatalities were civilian. The IDF insists that no more than a third of the dead were civilians - and not a one was targeted intentionally. So instead of "1,300 killed, most of them civilians," we now have reason to believe, based on the IDF's methodical analysis of 1,200 of the Palestinian fatalities thus far identified by name, that 580 were combatants and 300 non-combatants.

Of these 300, two were female suicide bombers, and some others were related to terrorists such as Nizar Rayyan, a top Hamas gunman who insisted that his family join him in the hereafter.

...Arab eyewitness accounts of the number killed at the Jabalya UN School on January 6 - some 40 dead, maybe 15 of them women and children. The IDF says the actual figure is 12 killed, nine of them Hamas operatives.

With time, perhaps, the names and true identities of each and every one of the Gaza dead - including the 320 as yet unclassified - will be determined.

One point is indisputable: Despite the best efforts of both sides, the IDF wound up killing more Palestinians unintentionally than the Palestinians killed Israeli civilians on purpose. This is known as "disproportionality."

Israeli officials, given bitter experiences such as Jenin in 2002, when a grossly false narrative of massacre and massed killing was disseminated by Palestinian officials, should have long since internalized the imperative to try to ascertain the number and nature of Palestinian dead in real time.

But while the figure "1,300 Palestinians killed, most/many of them civilians" is now embedded in the public consciousness, it is emphatically not too late to try to set the record straight.

.... Dry statistics released so belatedly will win Israel no PR credit in a world of 24/7 satellite news channels and real-time blogging. Nevertheless, the fact that an Israeli narrative is finally out there is significant. Perhaps responsible news outlets will want to reexamine some of their original reporting, along with the assumption that "most" of the dead were non-combatants.

Palestinian propaganda is insidious because those being manipulated are oblivious to what is happening. Chaotic images of casualties being hurried to hospitals, gut-wrenching funerals and swaths of shattered buildings create an overarching "reality." Against this, Israel's pleadings that the Palestinians are culpable for the destruction, and that the above images lack context, scarcely resonate.

Despite six decades of intransigence and a virtual copyright on airline hijackings and suicide bombings, the Palestinians have created a popular "brand" for themselves by parlaying their self-inflicted victimization into a battering ram against Israel.

Disseminators of news should have learned better than to take Palestinian death-toll claims at face value, least of all when sourced directly or indirectly from the Hamas-run government of Gaza.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No short term fixes available

From an emailed article, 17/2/09, by Prof. Barry Rubin* [my own emphasis added - SL]:

[Regardless of "right" or "left"] ALL ISRAELI—BUT NO PALESTINIAN--LEADERS WANT TO END THE CONFLICT ...Most Israelis believe that the Palestinians don't want to make a comprehensive peace with Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state.

Hamas doesn’t want it; the Palestinian Authority (PA) is both unwilling and unable to do it. Israel faces a hostile Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah, and various Islamist movements which all want to destroy it. In addition, it cannot depend on strong Western or international support in defending itself.

Therefore, it is not a moment for Israel to make big concessions or take big risks. Peace is not at hand. The priority—even while continuing negotiations and trying to help the PA to survive—is defense.

That’s what the people who voted for Labor or Likud or [Yisrael Beitenu], Kadima or Shas or National Union or Jewish Home or United Torah Judaism believed. More than 85 percent of Israelis voted for parties that hold that basic conception, while that concept itself is the product of a very serious assessment of very real experience. And that—whatever differences they have—is beyond any definition of “left” or “right.”

[Hear, hear, Barry! It's about time we stop resorting to the simple, linear terms, "right" and "left" in Israeli politics. It's a cop-out from a proper disciplined analysis and commentary on a far more multi-dimensional situation - SL]

In contrast, what is the main theme internationally in evaluating the elections? The "right" in Israel is against peace, Israelis moved to the "right" in this election hence Israelis are against peace. To make such a leap, it is necessary to avoid talking about the herd of elephants in the room: Palestinian politics.

If anyone looked beyond the most superficial level of English-language interviews by PA leaders trying to make propaganda points, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is no possibility of an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement for years to come. This is regardless of who is Israel’s leader or anything within reason, or even somewhat beyond reason, which could be offered.

Here are some tips toward proving that point:
  • Analyze the Fatah Central Committee's membership and the viewpoints expressed by the group’s top leaders. The number who can be called moderates ready to accept and implement a two-state solution stands at about 10 percent of them.
  • Mahmoud Abbas is weak. He has neither charisma nor organized base. While relatively moderate he will not give up the demand for all Palestinian refugees to be able to live in Israel, something that is acceptable to no potential governing party in Israel. He is sick and will probably not last in office much longer. He has made no attempt to transform Palestinian political thinking or to provide an alternative vision of peace for his people.
  • There is no moderate alternative Palestinian leader in Fatah or elsewhere. Are there those who voice a moderate two-state solution position and who advocate coexistence? Yes, there are some but they have no organization or power whatsoever. Moreover, they say so almost exclusively in English to Westerners and not to their own people. To express anything equivalent to Labor or Kadima, even Likud, positions is to risk your life.
  • Schools, mosques, media and other institutions controlled fully or partly by the PA daily preach that all Israel is Palestine, Israel is evil, and violence against it is good. Hardly the most minimal steps have been taken to prepare the Palestinian masses for peace. For example, no one dare suggest that a Palestinian nationalist movement might want to resettle Palestinian refugees in Palestine, not Israel; or that Israel and President Bill Clinton made a good offer in 2000 and it was a mistake to reject it. Or a dozen other points necessary as a basis for real peace.
  • Palestinian public opinion polls consistently show overwhelming support for hardline positions and for terrorism against Israeli civilians.
  • An unyielding historical narrative still predominates that the whole land between the Jordan River and the sea is and should be Arab Palestine.
  • Of course, Hamas governs about 40 percent of West Bank/Gaza Palestinians and opposes Israel’s existence explicitly. The PA and Fatah do not vigorously combat the Hamas world view, except perhaps for its idea of an Islamist state.
  • On the contrary, Fatah and the PA put a higher priority on conciliation with Hamas rather than peace with Israel.
  • This conflict is not continuing because there is a dispute about the precise boundary line between Israel and a Palestinian state. It is going on because the Palestinian leaders—all of them—are either unwilling or unable to accept Israel’s permanent existence, the end of the conflict, the abandonment of terrorism, and the settlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state.
  • What should have been happening recently is that the PA sent delegations around the world to announce it was the sole legitimate government of the Gaza Strip, that Hamas seized power in a coup and murdered Fatah people in cold blood, that Hamas is an extremist terrorist group, and that the PA demands the international community restore its own rule to the area. Instead, it sent delegations around the world to blame Israel for every problem and tried to negotiate a deal with Hamas without requiring any change in that organization’s policy or goals.

...none of these points—except for the barrier posed by Hamas’s rule over Gaza—is really understood by most governments, academics, or journalists.

... it’s clear that whoever governs Israel the PA is incapable of making comprehensive peace. There is no peace process but rather a long-term peace recess.

There’s nothing left or right wing about the above analysis. Tsipi Livni and Ehud Barak know these things. Equally, this analysis doesn’t mean Israel cannot work with the PA on such matters as stability, economic well-being for Palestinians, blocking terrorism, or keeping Hamas out of power on the West Bank.

There is a Palestinian partner for the above four issues, but not for a comprehensive solution ending the conflict forever in exchange for a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. As we learned in the 1990s with the peace process and more recently with disengagement, Israel’s actions—no matter how conciliatory and concessionary—cannot make peace when the other side is unwilling and unable to do so. It’s time for the rest of the world to learn this fact.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, email him directly at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pres. Obama Invites Hamas Terrorists to America

From The New Media Journal, February 7, 2009, by Dr. Paul L. Williams:

By executive order, President Barack Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in migration assistance to the Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza.

The "presidential determination" which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States was signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4.

President Obama's decision, according to the Register, was necessitated by "the urgent refugee and migration needs" of the "victims."

Few on Capitol Hill took note that the order provides a free ticket replete with housing and food allowances to individuals who have displayed their overwhelming support of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006.

The charter for Hamas calls for the replacement of the nation of Israel with a Palestinian Islamic state.

Since its formation in 1994, Hamas has been responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks, including the 2002 Passover suicide bombing. The leaders of the movement signed the World Islamic Statement of 1998 – a document, penned by Osama bin Laden, which declared war on America and Israel.

President Obama's executive order is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many with ties to radical Islam, to our shores....

Bos Smith and Michael Travis contributed to the writing of this article.

Palestinian Child Abuse continues

From Arutz Sheva, 16/2/09, by Gil Ronen:

Hamas Kiddie-TV Puppet Bear wants to Kill Jews Too

After having three puppet hosts -- Farfur the Mickey Mouse look-alike, Nahoul the bee and Assoud the rabbit -- all die on TV, Hamas children's television has introduced a fourth puppet host. The new one, a bear named Nassur, appeared Friday on Hamas TV promising to be a Jihad fighter, and declaring war on the Zionists.

Below is the full transcript of the video (by Palestinian Media Watch):

Nassur: "I will join the ranks of the Izz A-Din Al-Qassam [Hamas'] Brigades. I will be a Jihad fighter with them and I will carry a rifle. Do you know why, Saraa?"

Saraa: "Why?"

Nassur: "To defend the children of Palestine, the children who were killed, the children who were wounded, the orphaned children. That's why, from this moment, I declare war on the criminal Zionists. Not only me, me and you. You are ready, right, Saraa?"

Saraa: "We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for our homeland!"

[Al-Aqsa TV, Feb. 13, 2009]