Saturday, May 03, 2008

Failing the test of history

From Ynet News, 30/4/08, by Martin Sherman:

Palestinians have attained ‘failed state’ status even before it was established

... the Palestinians have undermined – indeed invalidated – their claim to statehood ... Failure to achieve statehood is the ultimate indicator ....

And the Palestinian failure has been undeniably staggering. In fact a strong case can be made for the claim that, in the history of modern national independence movements, none have enjoyed conditions more conducive to success, and yet achieved such miserable results, than that of the Palestinians. Indeed, the proponents of Palestinian statehood must be compelled to respond to a simple but trenchant question: Why hasn't it happened up to now? For it should not be forgotten what the Palestinians had in their favor:

  • Decades of unmitigated support and patronage of the USSR, one of the world's two post-WW II superpowers
  • Almost universal international endorsement of their claims
  • Highly supportive coverage in nearly all major international media
  • Massive financial backing making the Palestinians the highest per capita recipients of international aid on the face of the globe
  • Almost two decades of highly accommodative Israeli administrations which not only acknowledged but often even identified with their claims of statehood

Yet in spite of these highly benign circumstances the Palestinians have not managed to produce any semblance of a sustainable society. The Palestinian leadership has done nothing but bring about a repressive and regressive interim regime that provided little but the pillage of the Palestinian people and the squander of the vast amount of resources provided by donor nations.

Nearly a decade and a half after the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinians have shown the world that they simply cannot "cut it." All they have been able to establish was both tenuous and dysfunctional, from a corrupt kleptocracy to a tyrannical theocracy – both now sliding into abysmal anarchy and chronic chaos accompanied by fratricidal fury. Indeed the Palestinian state has perhaps the unique, if dubious, distinction of attaining "failed state" status before it was in fact established.

So today, decades after other movements for national liberation across Africa and Asia, with far less financial and political support, managed to throw off mighty empires, the Palestinians with all the might of the Muslim world, and its vast petro-riches, behind them, have been unable to wrest independence from a tiny mirco-state like Israel – not only when it opposed such independence, but even when it did not!

Clearly then, the time has come for the international community to recognize that rather than a coherent, cohesive national entity, the Palestinians comprise an amorphous amalgam of clans, gangs and bands whose overriding aspiration to not to establish a state for their own people but to dismantle a state of another people.

Clearly the time has come to remove the issue of Palestinian statehood from the international agenda – for the Palestinians themselves have shown that they are patently incapable of maintaining such statehood. ... continual and chronic failure to attain it, even under the most benevolent conditions, must surely be clear grounds for disqualification.

Accordingly, the time has come challenge the validity of the conventional wisdom which holds unquestioningly that "the Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” Not because of any objections raised by the opponents of such a state, but because the Palestinians themselves have manifestly failed the test of history.

Happy 60th birthday, Israel: well done for surviving

From The Spectator, by Melanie Phillips, Wednesday, 30th April 2008:

...Next week, on 8 May, Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of that declaration [of indpendence]. With every decade that it clocks up, people ask the same question: will Israel still be there for the next one? It is indeed astonishing that it has not only survived but is flourishing. Its situation as a permanently embattled nation is unique. On the day after Ben-Gurion declared its independence, six Arab armies invaded and tried to wipe it out. With the current exception of Egypt and Jordan, the Arab and Muslim world has been trying ever since.

Israel is the only country whose creation was approved by the UN; yet it is the only country whose legitimacy is called into question. It is the only country which the world requires to compromise with its Palestinian Arab attackers and accede to their demands, even while they are firing rockets at its schools and houses and blowing up its citizens. It is the only country which continues to provide electricity and basic services to those attackers and routinely treats thousands of Palestinians in its own hospitals, even those who have Israeli blood on their hands. And yet it is the only country which, in the court of public opinion, is condemned for behaving ‘disproportionately’ when it uses targeted military means to defend itself, and is accused of causing the very ‘Nazi’ or ‘apartheid’ atrocities of which it itself is the victim.

At present, the situation looks particularly ominous. Israel is menaced on several fronts by Iran which, racing to develop a nuclear weapon, is threatening a new genocide of the Jews while denying the last one. In Lebanon Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iranian-sponsored army Hezbollah, which is once again armed with thousands of rockets, says the next attack on Israel is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 Iranian-backed Hamas, which is pledged to wipe out Israel and every Jew, has built a well-trained standing army of at least 20,000 men and a huge arsenal of weapons smuggled in from Egypt, and relentlessly attacks Israel with rockets and bombs.

It is widely expected that, once Independence Day is over and President Bush has returned home from his celebratory visit, Israel will finally mount a major incursion into Gaza to deal with Hamas. If it does, Western opinion, which largely ignores Israeli victimisation, can be guaranteed to cry ‘atrocity’ once again. And just as before, Hamas will deliberately place women and children in the line of fire to maximise civilian casualties in order further to inflame that opinion.

For Israel finds itself trapped by a pincer movement of military and psychological attack from not only the Arab and Muslim world but also the West. And Britain, whose intelligentsia has swallowed wholesale Arab and Muslim lies, is the Western leader of those baying for Israel’s head. Thanks to the poison spread by the British media, the universities, NGOs and the churches, Israel has been systematically demonised and delegitimised.

Few are aware, for example, how both Hamas and Hezbollah deliberately position both terrorists and weaponry in densely populated civilian areas, using women and children as human shields. While British headlines scream at Israel for causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, few are aware that Hamas has been stealing fuel supplies intended for Gaza’s population and blowing up the crossing points to provoke Israel into closing them, to escalate the conflict and inflame the world. Even fewer are aware that many of the most inflammatory images from the region are fabricated, since both Hamas and Hezbollah routinely stage ‘atrocities’ or artificially exaggerate incidents using doctored footage — courtesy of British journalists who are threatened with murder or kidnap if they fail to toe the line.

More fundamentally, the obsessional demonisation of Israel is based on a false set of beliefs taken straight from Arab propaganda — that as a result of Holocaust guilt, Israel was created when a load of European Jews with no claim to the land were dumped on Palestine, driving out its rightful Arab Muslim inhabitants....

... despite entering its seventh decade of living under existential siege, Israel is prospering. Its economy is booming, it leads the world in high-tech, and property prices in Tel Aviv rival those in London. Second, having stared over the edge of the cultural abyss it has started to realise the danger. It is beginning to turn education round, with a new awareness dawning among high school principals of the need to teach Jewish history, identity and values. And although unprecedented numbers of mainly secular Israelis now choose to live abroad, there are rapidly growing numbers of the religiously orthodox who know exactly what they are fighting for and are prepared to die for it — as do the majority of middle-of-the-road Israeli citizens.

The same, however, can’t be said of the Palestinian Arabs, who are simply falling apart. The rise of Hamas, the progressive Islamisation and terrorisation of Palestinian society and the continued corruption and factional fighting within Fatah are all taking their toll. Increasingly, Palestinians are packing up and leaving. It is they rather than the Israelis who are in despair. Their sense of national identity — always artificial — now lies finally shattered by the death cult that acts in their name. After all, with even supposedly secular Fatah being steadily Islamised, why on earth would any Palestinian in his right mind want to live in a repressive Islamic republic — which Palestine would without doubt become — where dissidents are thrown from the tops of tall buildings?

And here lies the paradox which offers the best hope for Israel’s future. For the very Islamism which so menaces it might finally unlock the door to peace. This is because both Islamism and Iran threaten not just Israel but the ‘moderate’ Arab world too. Accordingly, the last thing those Arabs want is an Iranian-backed, Islamised state of Palestine. Egypt and Jordan simply cannot afford to have Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood on their doorsteps in a Hamas-dominated Gaza or West Bank. Currently, they rely on Israel to prevent it. But increasingly, talk of some kind of Jordan–Egypt–Palestinian confederation is in the air.

As the analyst Jonathan Spyer has noted, Jordan’s recent decision to connect Jericho to the Jordanian electricity grid is an example of its increasing involvement in the West Bank. And behind the scenes, the more realistic Palestinians have grasped that their best chance of having any future at all lies in just such a confederation. Such an outcome would have history on its side...Jordan is historically the state of Arab Palestine. This was the original two-state ‘solution’ back in 1921, when Winston Churchill unilaterally gave away three quarters of the original territory of Palestine to the Hashemite dynasty, creating what is now Jordan, with the remainder supposed to go to the Jews.

But this chance of an end to the dispute is currently being undermined by the self-serving meddling of America which, like Europe, falsely casts the Arab war against Israel as a boundary dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and is trying to force the agreed outline of a Palestinian state by the time President Bush leaves office..

...Despite its sham nature, however, this appeasement process has had two baleful consequences. It has caused Olmert, under pressure from the Americans, the Israeli media and powerful Israeli oligarchs who want the economic advantages of peace at any price, to destroy checkpoints, release prisoners and float the possibility of territorial concessions — all of which promote and incite further Arab violence. And it has caused Jordan to put its own confederation idea on ice. Thus meddling America is destroying the best option for the Middle East to resolve its core dispute — that it is left to sort it out by itself.

Indeed, much of the responsibility for these six decades of conflict lie with a Western world which, from 1921 onwards, has chosen to appease Arab violence while shedding crocodile tears over its Jewish victims. But the future of Israel is the future of the West. If the front line in Israel were to go down, the West would be next. Given its current internal appeasement of Islamism, however, the West may go down anyway. At least Israel knows it has to fight to survive. As a result, in 60 years’ time it will still be there. Can the same be said for Britain or Europe?

AUSTRIA: Land of Dungeons and Suppressed Memories

By Steve Lieblich, originally posted 3 May, updated 6 May 2008:

Austria has had some bad press in the past. In 1986 President Kurt Waldheim’s Nazi past was revealed, in the late 1990s a number of prominent museums refused to return paintings to the Jewish families who had originally owned them, in 2000 the extreme-right Freedom Party was admitted into the coalition government.

Now Austria has once again achieved international notoriety. This time for secretly imprisoning young girls as sex slaves in soundproof, subterranean apartments.

Cartoon by Edel Rodriguez

A year ago Natascha Kampusch emerged from eight years’ in a basement cell in the Viennese suburb of Strasshof, Lower Austria.

And now Josef Fritzl is accused of imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth in a basement dungeon for 24 years and fathering seven children by incestuous rapes of her in the Lower Austrian town of Amstetten.

Many people are now asking why these two such similar crimes occurred in the same area. One of the victims, Natascha Kampusch told the BBC's Newsnight program that Austria's Nazi past might have played some role. "I think (abuse) exists worldwide, but I think it's also a ramification of the Second World War and its connection to education and so on," she said.

When I heard about these crimes, I was, of course horrified, but from what I know of Austria, I was not surprised. When I checked the map for the locations of these crimes, my feelings were vindicated.

Only 20km from the town where Josef Fritzl allegedly locked his daughter in a basement dungeon for the last 24 years, is the site where my father, Yisrael (‘Srulec’) Ben Zvy Lieblich (z”l) together with tens of thousands of other Nazi prisoners were interred 65 years ago in a massive 50.000 m2 dungeon code-named Bergkristall, a top secret Nazi underground Messerschmitt (aircraft) factory. Constructed by prisoners of the KL Gusen II concentration camp within the Mauthausen-Gusen complex, it became one of the most horrific concentration camp sites in European history due to its high mortality (up to 98% - average survival period 4 months). 20,000 prisoners died in that dungeon.

The secrecy surrounding that massive dungeon was hermetic. Even the test pilots didn't know where the planes had been constructed. But all the residents of the pretty alpine villages of Langenstein and St. Georgen an der Gusen certainly knew...

Nearby, a smaller (12.000 m2) underground installation code-named Kellerbau was another dungeon factory for the production of machine guns for Steyr-Daimler-Puch. A few km south, at Ebensee, at the southern tip of Lake Traun, was another dungeon factory for the Nazi "secret weapon", the V2 rocket, where another 20,000 prisoners were worked to death.

Austria was not "Hitler's first victim" as many Austrians still ridiculously claim. It was his birthplace, his home and his refuge. It was to the Austrian Alps that he retired with his closest, most trusted henchmen to enjoy the "good life". The Mauthausen Camp was first established to quarry the granite with which Hitler planned to build his grand palaces - the "Eagles Nest" from where he would rule the world.

When the war turned against him, and the Allies closed in from the West while the Communists closed in from the East, it was in Austria that Hitler built his Alpine fortress; his most strategic armaments factories; and barracks for his elite forces that would turn the tide against the enemies of the "thousand-year Reich".

All this was done with the active, even enthusiastic collaboration of the local populations of the picturesque hamlets and villages scattered throughout the Alps. It is my impression that the conspiracy of secrecy that Hitler established there has yet to be exorcised; that many, if not most Austrians prefer to hide their demons (and secretly nurture them) rather than bring them out into the light of day and dispatch them once and for all, as most Germans have done or are doing.

Liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp May 1945.

Mural in a car park near the site of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, July 2007

Today, the history of the Mauthausen Camp complex is still largely suppressed ("buried"). The Bergkristall tunnels are on private property and inaccessible to historians and families of former prisoners. The remnants of the Gusen 1 and Gusen 2 Camps are virtually obliterated. They look like normal alpine-village housing estates, with happy playgrounds.

Site of the camp Gusen I is today’s Gartenstrasse, in Langenstein.
(Photo © christoph mayer chm)

In the midst of this housing stands a Museum, built on private land over the site of the Gusen 1 crematorium, and funded by survivors of the camp. Nearby a camp-prisoners' barracks still stands, now a multi-residential apartment block for people either oblivious or indifferent to the building's horrific past.

The Gusen 1 "Jourhaus" - the imposing granite gatehouse and office of the Gusen 1 camp also still stands, converted by a "creative" Austrian architect into a luxury villa that houses a family with children who play hop-scotch on the driveway. Surrounded by similar luxury houses, it would be impossible for a casual bystander to recognise this blood-drenched site for what it is.

Gusen 1 Concentration Camp “Jourhaus” (entrance gate and office) c1944

The same building, now a “family home” July 2007

Near Mauthausen, I saw children's playground equipment built with granite blocks identical to, and probably pilfered from the nearby infamous Mauthausen quarry with its stairway of death. Austrian children today play and frolic on stones quarried by slaves who had been tormented to death by their grandparents.

And yet Alfred Gusenbauer, the chancellor of Austria, has launched a public-relations effort to salvage Austria's reputation - an enterprise akin to putting make-up on a rotting corpse. Heinz Fischer, the Austrian president, has said, “There is definitely nothing fundamentally Austrian in this case.”

How pathetic.....

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ziegler’s UN Follies

From Azure Magazine, Spring 5768 / 2008, No. 32, by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch in Geneva [very brief excerpts only - follow the link to the full article, complete with copious references]:

On March 26, 2008, to cheers and acclaim, Jean Ziegler was elected by the newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council to serve as one of its expert advisers. .... It was one more triumph in a remarkable career....

.... being one of Europe’s most successful celebrity activists, Ziegler is also one of the continent’s most industrious anti-American and anti-Israel ideologues as well as a prominent apologist for a rogues’ gallery of Third World dictators, including Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.....

... even some of his most prominent defenders have acknowledged that his work is not always trustworthy. His mentor Roger Girod, head of the University of Geneva’s sociology department, conceded while arguing for Ziegler’s tenure that “the pamphleteer is never wholly absent” in his scholarship and that “the most penetrating analyses are marked by polemical partisanship.” Moreover, Girod continued, “since he writes rapidly, Jean Ziegler does not eliminate his factual errors.” Girod’s support notwithstanding, the 1977 decision to grant Ziegler tenure provoked outrage from several scholars and public figures in Switzerland, one of whom, the historian Herbert Lithy, carried through on a threat to return his honorary doctorate in protest.

Indeed, Ziegler himself has admitted that in the struggle to convey his overarching message, facts are not always his first concern.

He claims that as a child in Switzerland in the 1940s he witnessed a train accident in which a crashed vehicle was revealed to be carrying Nazi weapons, demolishing his youthful illusions about his country’s alleged neutrality. Ziegler presents this incident as a primal, formative experience, essential to the shaping of his adult character. Der Spiegel has reported, however, that there is no record of such a crash, and Ziegler’s own sister thinks he invented the story. Indeed, Ziegler’s strained relationship with the truth has led one Swiss reporter to conclude a lengthy profile of the UN Special Rapporteur by describing him as a “menteur et affabulateur”--a liar and a teller of tales....

... For the most part, Ziegler’s advocacy has been undertaken on behalf of dubious and troubling causes.

...Ziegler has actively supplied political and diplomatic aid to some of the most brutal regimes in recent memory. Ethiopian dictator colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, accused of widespread human rights violations and of bringing his country to starvation, handpicked Ziegler in 1986 to be one of five experts who prepared a constitution calling for one-party rule--Ziegler was the only one from outside the Soviet bloc.

Ziegler has also paid visits to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Kim Il Sung in North Korea, and in 2002 he fawned over Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe--then in the midst of engineering mass famine through violent land seizures--saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.”

Regarding Hezbollah, Zeigler has stated that “I refuse to describe Hezbollah as a terrorist group. It is a national movement of resistance.”

Ziegler has also helped to promote and protect the careers of several European intellectuals with questionable if not disturbing reputations. In April 1996, for instance, he came to the defense of Roger Garaudy, a former French Stalinist and convert to Islam whose book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel denies the Holocaust....

...Ziegler has also come to the aid of Tariq Ramadan, the controversial Islamic author who has written in praise of his maternal grandfather Hasan al-Banna, the Egyptian founder of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and Sheikh al-Qaradawi, the contemporary theologian of the human bomb.

Ramadan, also reared in Geneva and now a leading European intellectual, is a close friend of Ziegler and his family: He stuffed envelopes, made phone calls, and put up posters for Ziegler’s parliamentary election campaigns. This affection apparently is reciprocated.

In 1993, Ramadan wrote an open letter protesting the staging of Mahomet--a play written in 1736 by the French philosopher Voltaire--in Geneva, on the grounds that it would offend the Muslim community. Ziegler’s wife, Erika Deuber Ziegler--a member of the communist-affiliated Swiss Party of Labor and then director of the cultural affairs department for the city of Geneva--promptly blocked the performance by withholding a 310,000 franc subsidy.

Five years later, when his dissertation to the University of Geneva was rejected, Ramadan turned once again to Ziegler and his wife for assistance. Ramadan’s thesis recast the Muslim Brotherhood as a progressive social and religious movement and excised its teachings of jihad and misogyny, not to mention its support for Nazi Germany--a position that struck Ramadan’s two French supervisors as so untenable that they refused to award him a commendation. After Ziegler and his wife threatened a public scandal, however, a new jury of supervisors was formed--an exceedingly rare occurrence. With the removal of a few passages, Ramadan’s work was approved, giving him the academic credentials that have allowed his career to flourish.

Most striking, however, is Ziegler’s role in co-founding, co-managing, and eventually winning the Muammar al-Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. In April 1989, just a few months after Pan Am flight 103 was blown up by Libyan intelligence agents, killing all 259 people on board, Ziegler announced the prize’s creation. It was widely believed to be a transparent attempt to change Libya’s damaged international image as a terrorist state. The British newspaper The Independent, for instance, wrote:
Until now, the main international peace prize has been funded by a company which manufactures explosives for weapons. If we can believe reports from Geneva, the next big award in this field will be sponsored by a regime which specializes in giving them away. According to Jean Ziegler, the Socialist MP who is Switzerland’s answer to the late Abbie Hoffman, the $250,000 prize will bear the name of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, who has provided a $10 million fund for it.… Mr. Ziegler said the award was designed to be the “Anti-Nobel Prize of the Third World.” The Swiss gadfly is the perfect person to represent such a foundation, as he has long been a professional Third Worlder.

... Ziegler was not only a member of the prize’s founding jury, but essentially its unofficial spokesman....

...Libya has used the prize to galvanize and unite prominent opponents of the United States. Among others, the award has been granted to Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and “the children of Iraq and victims of hegemony and embargoes.” Finally, the prize has celebrated prominent racists and antisemites. For example, Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader known for his black supremacist ideology and his frequent antisemitic statements, was awarded the Qaddafi Prize in 1996. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Bin Muhammad--who told an October 2003 meeting of Islamic nations that Jews were responsible for all the world’s ills--was granted the prize in 2005. Other winners have included “the stone-throwing children of Occupied Palestine.”

In 2002, thirteen “intellectual and literary personalities” were given the prize for their “thought and creativity.” One of those chosen by the prize committee was Garaudy, the French Holocaust denier. Another was Ziegler himself....

...The vitriol of Ziegler’s anti-Americanism is particularly striking when compared to his criticism of other countries. He has referred to President Bush, for example, as “the Pinochet who sits in the White House,” asserted that the American government is an imperialist dictatorship that uses “predators” and “mercenaries” to implement world domination, and claimed that the United States is committing “genocide” in Cuba. By contrast, Ziegler has referred to the genocide in Darfur as a mere cause for “concern”, and has characterized Khartoum’s role in the atrocities as “alleged.”

Ziegler’s attitude toward Israel is equally intense. As far back as 1982, during the First Lebanon War, he unsuccessfully lobbied for the expulsion of Shimon Peres, then head of Israel’s Labor party, from the Socialist International. Less than a year into his term at the UN, Ziegler delivered a report accusing Israel of policies that “created hunger and threaten starvation of the most destitute.” In January 2003, he told Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya, an Egyptian quarterly, that the policies of “colonial repression” practiced by Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials are “criminal and classifiable as crimes against humanity.” He declared that “an international force is urgently required to ensure that no further demolition of houses and destruction of livelihood of the Palestinian people take place.” Later that year, after testifying before the UN Third Committee on Human Rights, Ziegler informed journalists that Israel was responsible for inflicting “some form of brain damage” upon Palestinian children.

The peak of Ziegler’s anti-Israel rhetoric came in 2004, however, with his presentation of a report to the Commission on Human Rights describing his visit to the West Bank and Gaza--significantly, the only foreign locale he had visited that year. His twenty-five-page report accused Israel of numerous violations of human rights while simultaneously exculpating Palestinian terrorist groups from any responsibility for the conflict. Ziegler then swiftly issued a UN press release that “urgently” condemned Israel for destroying tunnels used by Palestinians for smuggling weapons and called for an “outpouring of condemnation” against the Jewish state. The Israeli army was accused of torturing and killing civilians, and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon of committing “state terror.”

In May of that year, Ziegler also authored a letter to Caterpillar Inc., on official UN stationery, urging the maker of bulldozers and other heavy equipment to boycott Israel, a demand soon adopted by the Arab League’s Central Boycott Office in Damascus. A few months later, Ziegler fired off another official UN letter, this time to the European Commission, urging it to cancel its trade agreement with Israel because of the latter’s alleged violations of the Palestinians’ right to food. This final missive was particularly bizarre because by the UN’s own standards, the food, situation in the Palestinian territories has never come remotely close to the “catastrophe” Ziegler described, nor has it ever been ranked as one of the world’s food emergencies. In fact, when the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition compared nutritional risk in selected refugee populations in November 2003, the West Bank and Gaza ranked lowest.

Ziegler had by this time become so identified with the Palestinian cause that when reporters in Brussels asked the Commission on Human Rights for a response to the report, they identified him as the “Special Rapporteur on Palestine”--a position Ziegler has never held. ...

... at a pro-Palestinian rally in Geneva, he called Gaza “an immense concentration camp,” and Israeli soldiers “concentration camp guards.” The following year, the Second Lebanon War galvanized Ziegler’s renewed involvement in the region. During the war, the Human Rights Council sent a mission to the war zone to document Israeli “war crimes.” In addition, four of the council’s human rights experts conducted their own fact-finding mission. Yet Ziegler decided to visit Lebanon in order to conduct his own inquiry into alleged Israeli violations of the Lebanese people’s right to food. While in Lebanon, he referred to Hezbollah as a legitimate political organization. At the conclusion of the mission, he held a UN press conference in which he called for Israeli officers to be prosecuted for war crimes....

....There are several reasons Ziegler’s official conduct remains largely unchallenged: First, there is the role that major NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, play at the UN. Few people outside the institution realize just how influential NGOs have become within the UN’s Byzantine human rights system. In fact, they wield immense power: They initiate the creation of new mandates, nominate the mandate-holders, and supply much of the data then cited by the newly appointed experts, who are unsalaried and understaffed. In short, the legitimacy of every UN human rights official lies in their hands. Among the major NGOs, some have openly endorsed Ziegler, while others have been complicit through silence. ...

....Second, there is the peculiar culture of the UN itself. Among European officials, more than a few may secretly admire Ziegler’s forthright anti-Americanism and his rhetorical broadsides against Israel. Moreover, in what may be a strategic move on his part, Ziegler has largely refrained from criticizing specific European governments at the UN, thereby disarming potential opposition to his anti-American statements.

Most important, however, is the fact that UN diplomats prefer a certain measure of vice over bad publicity for the world body as a whole, leading them to indulge even the most problematic conduct by their peers. To be a UN diplomat is to be a member of an exclusive club that has the potential to reward loyalty with lucrative jobs and benefits from an array of interconnected foundations and organizations. This practically requires that members “go along to get along”--or face the loss of their professional future. For all these reasons, UN officials such as High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, despite repeatedly being asked to speak out against Ziegler’s politicization of his mandate, have--with one exception in 2005--chosen to remain silent. Whatever Jean Ziegler may say or do, he is still one of their own....

....Taking all of this into consideration, one can only conclude that the Swiss government’s decision to nominate Jean Ziegler to the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee may well be right...He and his career are what the UN’s highest human rights body has become in microcosm.

And just like Jean Ziegler, if the UN as a whole continues on its current path, not only its image and institutional legitimacy will suffer, but so will all the great good which it once set out to do.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

10 most wanted Nazis

From The West Australian, 30th April 2008:

A Perth man fighting extradition to Hungary has been named on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of the 10 most wanted suspected Nazis.
Charles Zentai ... is wanted in Hungary for allegedly torturing and murdering 18-year-old Jewish man Peter Balazs in Budapest during army service in World War II.

....Mr Zentai is ranked at number seven in the centre’s top 10 ... [see below]

Mr Zentai ...last week lost a constitutional challenge in Australia’s High Court against the power of state magistrates to rule on extradition matters. The ruling cleared the way for the Perth Magistrates Court to continue extradition hearings against him.

....If Mr Zentai is extradited, it would be the first time an Australian has faced a court charged with Nazi war crimes. In 2001, Konrad Kalejs died before he could be extradited from Australia to face a trial over his alleged crimes.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of 10 most wanted Nazis:1. Dr Aribert Heim, whereabouts unknown: Indicted in Germany on charges he murdered hundreds of inmates at Mauthausen concentration camp where he was camp doctor. Disappeared in 1962 before planned prosecution.

2. John Demjanjuk, in United States: Ukrainian immigrant alleged by US authorities to have been guard at Nazi camps. He denies that. Extradited to Israel in 1986, where he was sentenced to death for allegedly being Treblinka camp guard Ivan the Terrible. Verdict overturned in 1993 and Demjanjuk returned to America. US citizenship restored in 1998, then removed in 2002. Seeking to appeal court’s January rejection of challenge to immigration judge’s order that would send him to Germany, Poland or Ukraine.

3. Sandor Kepiro, in Hungary: Former Hungarian gendarmerie officer accused of involvement in wartime killings of more than 1000 civilians in Serbia. Convicted twice in Hungarian courts, in 1944 and 1946, but never punished. Kepiro, who moved back to Hungary in 1996 after decades in Argentina, denies accusations. Hungary reinvestigating.

4. Milivoj Asner, in Austria: Police chief in Croatia’s wartime Nazi puppet regime, he is suspected of active role in persecution and deportation to death of hundreds of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. In 2005, Croatia requested his extradition from Austria, which refused, saying he is unfit to stand trial or be questioned.

5. Soeren Kam, in Germany: Former member of SS wanted by Denmark in assassination of journalist in 1943. Extradition from Germany was blocked in 2007 by Bavarian court that found insufficient evidence for murder charges.

6. Heinrich Boere, in Germany: Admitted hit man for Waffen-SS accused of killing three Dutch civilians. Sentenced to death in absentia in 1949 in Netherlands, later commuted to life in prison. German courts refused to extradite him, then declared conviction invalid. Prosecutors in Dortmund, Germany, brought new murder charges against him this month.
Charles Zentai

7. Charles Zentai, in Australia: Former Hungarian soldier has been under investigation by Hungary’s Foreign Ministry since December 2004 on suspicion of killing Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944 for failing to wear a yellow star identifying him as Jew. Zentai denies charge and fighting extradition.

8. Mikhail Gorshkow, in Estonia: US officials and Jewish groups accuse Gorshkow of helping kill Jews while serving as interpreter and interrogator for German Gestapo in Belarus. He returned to native Estonia in 2002 just before federal court stripped him of US citizenship for lying about his war record. Prosecutors in Estonia investigating case.

9. Algimantas Dailide, in Germany: Convicted in 2006 in Lithuania of helping round up Jews for Nazis as officer in Vilnius security police. Sentenced to five years in jail, but judge ruled he was too frail to serve sentence. He had been deported from US to Germany in 2003 for lying on immigration application. Lives in Germany, but went voluntarily to Lithuania for trial.

10. Harry Mannil, in Venezuela: Former officer in Estonia’s political police and German security forces during Nazi occupation of Estonia. US authorities investigating Mannil’s 1990s visa application concluded he took part in murder of hundreds of Jews, barring him entry. Was cleared in 2005 by Estonian investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sanctuary in Auschwitz

A story to commemorate Yom Hashoah (27th of Nisan 5768 - Friday, 2 May 2008), from, Apr 29, 2008, by MENACHEM Z. ROSENSAFT, a New York lawyer, president of Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan and founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors:

... sometimes, my mind drifts backward in time to other synagogues, other sanctuaries that I can only imagine.

...At the end of August [1943], my father, Josef Rosensaft, was deported Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In mid-October 1943, during Succot, my father smuggled a tiny apple into the Birkenau barrack where the inmates had gathered to pray so that the highly respected Rabbi of Zawiercie, known as the Zawiercier Rov, could recite the Kiddush blessings. Throughout the prayers, my father recalled, the aged Rov stared at the apple, obviously conflicted.

At the end of the clandestine service, he picked up the apple and said, in Yiddish, almost to himself, "In iber dem zol ikh itzt zogn, 've-akhalta ve-savata u-verakhta et Hashem Elohekha...' (And over this, I should now say, 'And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless your God...').

"Kh'vel nisht essen (I will not eat)," he went on, "veil ikh vel nisht zat sein (because I will not be satisfied), un ikh vill nisht bentchn (and I refuse to say the Grace After Meals)." And with that, he put down the apple and turned away.

The rabbi never lost his faith in God. Like the hassidic master, Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, however, he was profoundly, desperately angry with Him, and this anger caused him to confront God from the innermost depths of his being.

One evening around the same time, my father and a group of Jews from Zawiercie were sitting in their barrack when the Zawiercier Rov suddenly said, again in Yiddish, "You know, der Ribboine shel-oilem ken zein a ligner" (the Master of the Universe can be a liar). Asked how this could possibly be, the rabbi explained, "If God were to open His window now and look down and see us here, He would immediately look away and say, 'Ikh hob dos nisht geton'" (I did not do this) - and that, he said, would be the lie.

THE FOLLOWING year....Millions of European Jews had already perished. Thousands were dying daily. It was the most unlikely setting for prayer and devotion to God. And yet that night, the Jewish kapo in charge of Block 11 wanted my father to conduct the Yom Kippur service. Half-naked, emaciated, starved, my father chanted Kol Nidre from memory in the Death Block of Auschwitz, and led the prayers there that evening and the following day for his fellow prisoners. As a reward, the kapo gave my father and the other inmates of Block 11 an extra bowl of soup to break the fast.

A barrack in Birkenau during Succot, 1943, and Block 11 in Auschwitz on Yom Kippur, 1944, became synagogues for a few hours, sanctuaries for Jews, many about to die, fleeting refuges from horror and agony, where my father and the Zawiercier Rov simultaneously reached out to and defied God.

AT THE outset of the 21st century, Jews throughout the world are blessed to be able to gather and pray publicly in comfort and safety.

Still, we should remind ourselves every once in a while, as we sit in our elegant synagogues, that the essence of our identities and of our prayers emanate from deep within our souls.

I would like to believe that there are moments when my prayers, our prayers, transcend the years to merge with those that rose out of Block 11 and a Birkenau barrack, and that together they somehow reach their destination. [Amen - SL]

Hamas: Hundred of thousands ready to become martyrs

From Ynet News, 29/4/08, by Ali Waked:

Speaking at conference in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar warns Israel [that] Hamas has 200,000 suicide bombers waiting to attack....

...During a conference held at the Islamic University of Gaza, Zahar said that Chief of Egyptian Intelligence Omar Suleiman would declare the beginning of a ceasefire if the "Zionist entity" were to agree to it. Despite the ceasefire negotiations, 15 Qassam rockets and 20 mortar shells were fired at Israel on Tuesday.

According to Zahar, if Israel delays in accepting the truce it will pay a heavy price.....

....Zahar hinted that the Palestinian organizations utilized past periods of calm in order to rest and re-arm themselves. He listed Hamas' conditions for truce, which included the ceasing of Israeli attacks against Palestinians, removal of the siege on Palestinian territories, and the opening of all crossings.

A German's View on Islam

Sion emailed me this essay, purportedly by Dr. Tanay, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Wayne State University Medical School, Detroit, Michigan*.

A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War ll owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

"Very few people were true Nazis," he said, "but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything, I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."

We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the [spectre] of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave.

It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor killing. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

The hard quantifiable fact is that the "peaceful majority," the "silent majority," is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The average Japanese individual prior to World War ll was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were "peace loving"?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life. ...

*Dr. Emanuel Tanay MD is a well-known forensic psychiatrist who has been an expert witness in many famous cases. He has served as an officer or committee member on the Michigan Psychiatric Society, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and others. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and of the American Board of Forensic Psychiatry and a distinguished fellow of the APA and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFC).

A Holocaust survivor himself, Dr Tanay coauthored a book about the survivors of the Holocaust and was asked by the German government to consult on just compensation for the Holocaust survivors. Dr. Tanay has served on several journal editorial boards, authored many publications, and presented countless times on forensic medicine. His efforts have also produced many awards and commendations from groups such as the Michigan State Medical Society, APA, the Detroit Institute of Technology, and AAFC, among others.

You can access Dr Tanay's online Survivor's testimony to the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gazan mother and four children killed by Palestinian explosives

From DEBKAfile, April 29, 2008, 11:16 AM (GMT+02:00):

The Israeli cabinet session opened Tuesday, April 29, in Jerusalem with prime minister Ehud Olmert voicing deep regret for the deaths of 4 Palestinian children and their mother in Bet Hanoun Monday...The family died when two Palestinians carrying arms and large bags of explosives were hit near the family’s home in Beit Hanoun by an Israeli air attack shortly before they launched themselves against Israeli troops. The family was killed when the explosives blew up....

...Israeli patrol forces entered the Gaza side of the Erez crossing early Mon. April 28 for an operation to keep armed infiltrators, missile-launchers and snipers away from the border fence.....

....Hamas retaliated by blasting Sderot, Ashkelon, Netav Ha’asara in the north and Kerem Shalom in the south with at least 18 missiles and mortar fire. A woman was injured falling over in her rush for shelter. Several shock victims were treated. Netiv Ha’asara was hit by heavy 120mm mortars. The Israeli air force went into action twice.

All the civilian locations bordering on Gaza went on high alert for marauding terrorists.

In the last two weeks, Hamas gunmen breached the border fence four times with fatal results. One incident, a major armored vehicle attack on Israeli civilians at Kerem Shalom, was foiled ten days ago.

As Israel-Palestinian clashes escalated Monday, Hamas called on all armed Palestinian wings to join forces for a wholesale assault on Israel, dashing the prospects of Egypt’s bid to negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza.

Palestinian representatives mevertheless set out for Cairo to discuss terms. The food convoys continued to roll into Gaza from Israel through the Sufa crossing in the south.

Diggers honoured in Beersheba

From The Australian, by Martin Chulov, Beersheba April 29, 2008:

....A bronze bust of an Australian Light Horseman was unveiled [yesterday] as the centrepiece of an Australian peace park just outside Beersheba in southern Israel, near the scene of the cavalry charge on October 31, 1917, that changed the course of World War I.

[photo courtesy of the ABC]

[Follow the link to see an ABC video about the ceremony]

The Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade charged across the desert, overrunning the Turkish trenches and capturing Beersheba.

[The pivotal importance of the Battle of Beersheba is not well known. On that fateful October 31, 1917, 800 soldiers of the Australian Light Horse Brigades charged the Turkish defenders with only horses and bayonets, overran them, and captured the wells of Beersheba. This famous and heroic action turned the tide of the Palestine campaign. It was only a few weeks later on 9 December 1917, that Allenby marched on to capture Jerusalem, and less than a year later, on 1 October 1918, that the 10th Light Horse regiment from WA led the Australian Mounted Division into Damascus to accept the formal surrender of the Ottoman Empire. Thus the British Government's Balfour Declaration, of November 2nd, 1917 (two days after the battle of Beersheba), was put into effect through the heroism of these ANZACs. The history of Zionism would be very different if not for this action. - SL]

The park, named the Park of the Australian Soldier, was opened by Governor-General Michael Jeffery and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Five years in the planning, the park is an initiative of the Melbourne-based Pratt Foundation, which has worked with the City of Beersheba council in an effort to produce a facility that taps into the legacy of the Australian campaign and builds on what Mr Peres described as a bilateral relationship "without any bad weather".

Major-General Jeffery, who visited Australian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before travelling to Israel, said: "Some 773 of the 100,000 Australians who have fallen in the defence of freedom across two world wars have fallen here."

He praised the Desert Mounted Corps, among them the 4th and 12th Light Horse that fought in the Holy Land, as being among history's finest warriors, renowned for "courage, initiative and a pervasive sense of humour".

The bronze bust of the Light Horseman was made by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett.

Up to 100 descendants of the original Light Horsemen travelled to Israel last November to re-enact the military assault of October 31, 1917, that came to be regarded as the last of the great cavalry charges.

Monday, April 28, 2008

UN Watch Statement on the "Forgotten Refugees"

From The UN Watch Web site:

UN Watch Oral Statement
Agenda Item 9: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Racism Doudou Diène

UN Human Rights Council, 7th Session, March 19, 2008

Delivered by Regina Bublil Waldman

Thank you, Mr. President.We thank the Special Rapporteur for his work against racism, and address two areas of his report.

Dr. Diene, in Addendum 1 you mention Libya’s treatment of ethnic minorities. In Addenda 3 and 4, you envision a multicultural society based on two principles: respect for historical truth and non-discrimination against minorities. As a victim of Libyan discrimination, I agree: only with historical truth can we build a better future.

Today I wear my traditional ethnic dress to celebrate my heritage, but also to mourn its destruction. One million Jews lived in the Middle East at the turn of the century. Today, less than five thousand remain.

Their plight has been ignored by the international community. Their story is my story.

In 1948, there were thirty-six thousand Jews living in Libya. Today, there are none.
During the 1967 war between Israel and her Arab neighbors, mobs took to the streets and shouted, “Edbah el Yehud!” — “Slaughter the Jews!”

They burned my father’s warehouse and came to burn our home.
An honorable Muslim neighbor stopped them, and saved our lives.

The government ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Libya, where my family had lived for hundreds of years. They confiscated our homes and all our assets.

We were given this one-way travel document — never allowed to return.
My family was put on a bus to the airport. The bus driver got out, and tried to burn the bus with us in it. We were rescued from death by two Christian friends.

I come here today bearing no hatred -- only these historical truths:

  • Jews have been an indigenous people of the Middle East for over 2,500 years.
  • On the basis of race and religion, Arab regimes subjected Jews to arbitrary arrest, confiscation of property and expulsions. This is fully documented in this report by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
  • The UNHCR has ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were ‘bona fide’ refugees, victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Dr. Diene, your report envisions a future of tolerance and equality. Applying the principles you set forth, we trust you will examine the actions of Libya and other Middle Eastern countries that forced out their Jewish minorities.

Like in South Africa, only the acknowledgment of truth and history will lead to reconciliation.
Thank you, Mr. President.

Hamas propaganda fails...

The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2008, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

Hamas militiamen in the Gaza Strip on Sunday attacked fuel trucks headed toward the Nahal Oz border crossing, forcing them to turn back, sources in the Palestinian Petroleum Authority said. The fuel was supposed to go to the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] and hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the sources said.

"Dozens of Hamas militiamen hurled stones and opened fire at the trucks," the sources added. "The trucks were on their way to receive fuel supplied by Israel. The drivers were forced to turn back. Some of them had their windshields smashed."

The Palestinian Petroleum Authority reached an agreement with Israel over the weekend to receive 250,000 liters of fuel after UNRWA complained that it did not have enough fuel to distribute food aid to more than 500,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health also accused Hamas of blocking fuel supplies to hospitals and clinics in the Gaza Strip. The ministry said Hamas gunmen opened fire at a number of trucks that were trying to transfer fuel to the hospitals and clinics.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza City said that at least on four occasions over the past few weeks, Hamas militiamen confiscated trucks loaded with fuel shortly as they were on their way from Nahal Oz to the city. They added that the fuel supplies were taken to Hamas-controlled security installations throughout the city. "Hamas is taking the fuel for it the vehicles of is leaders and security forces," the eyewitnesses said. "Because of Hamas's actions, some hospitals have been forced to stop the work of ambulances and generators."

PA officials in Ramallah said Hamas's measures were aimed at creating a crisis in the Gaza Strip with the hope that the international community would intervene and force Israel to reopen the border crossings. "As far as we know, there is enough fuel reaching the Gaza Strip," the officials said. "But Hamas's measures are aimed at creating a crisis. Hamas is either stealing or blocking most of the fuel supplies." ...

...also from The Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2008, by Herb KEINON:

EU faults Hamas for Gaza fuel crisis...After expressing "grave concern" at reports that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had suspended its humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip because of a fuel shortage, and after calling for "regular and unrestricted delivery of fuel supplies" through the "controlled reopening of the crossings" into the area, the EU then singled out Hamas.

"Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have their share in aggravating the humanitarian situation, including through carrying out the attacks on the Nahal Oz and Kerem Shalom crossings," the statement read. "The [EU] president condemns such actions, which only lead to further suffering of the population."

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said that this was one of only a few times that an EU statement had actually condemned Hamas by name.....

...Israeli officials have said that Hamas intentionally targeted the crossings to stop the flow of fuel and supplies into Gaza in order to manufacture a crisis for which Israel would then be blamed.

Bizarre "justice" in Australia

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Apr. 23, 2008, by EFRAIM ZUROFF, Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

Charles Zentai
Photo: AP

In a 6-1 decision, the [Australian Supreme Court] ruled that the magistrates in Perth, where [suspected Hungarian Nazi war criminal Charles] Zentai resides, have jurisdiction to rule on the extradition request submitted by Hungary, thereby ending a legal saga that delayed Zentai's [extradition] for more than two years.

...[it is alleged that] Karoly Zentai, a Hungarian army officer serving in Budapest, apprehended an 18-year-old Jew named Peter Balasz who was not wearing the mandatory yellow star, took him to his barracks and together with two fellow officers beat him to death, and subsequently dumped his corpse in the Danube River.

After the war, Zentai's [alleged] role in the murder was revealed, but by then he had escaped to the American zone of occupied Germany. For reasons that remain unclear, a Hungarian request for his extradition was ignored, allowing Zentai to emigrate to Australia.

.... When we exposed him, Zentai denied his guilt and even expressed willingness to "go to Hungary to clear his name," but that willingness rapidly disappeared when in March 2005, Hungary issued a warrant for his arrest and asked Australia to extradite him.

... the Australian court does not address Zentai's guilt or innocence, but rather whether the Hungarian extradition request meets the local requirements for such a procedure. In theory, Zentai should have been extradited to Hungary long ago, but a technical challenge mounted by another suspect living in Perth led to a legal imbroglio that has prevented Zentai's trial for more than two years....

.... Thank God that scenario has apparently been thwarted, although the possibility still exists that the past two years of delay may ultimately spare Peter Balasz's alleged murderer his long-overdue trial ....

Hamas says cease-fire is a 'tactic'

From Associated Press, 27/4/08:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — The chief of Hamas said Saturday that the Palestinian militant group would accept an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel but it would be a "tactic" in the group's struggle with the Jewish state.

Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based Hamas leader, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television that Egypt had proposed a six-month truce between the Hamas rulers of Gaza and Israel. He said his group was ready to cooperate but added: "It is a tactic in conducting the struggle ... It is normal for any resistance ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit. ... Hamas is known for that. In 2003, there was a cease-fire and then the operations were resumed."

He warned of an explosion of violence in Gaza if Israel rejects the truce.

The Egyptian deal would also include a prisoner swap and the opening of Gaza's border crossings. The territory has been virtually sealed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas violently seized control from the rival Fatah faction last June.

Israel is to respond in coming days to the proposal but is skeptical of Hamas' motives, fearing the group just wants to use a cease-fire to regroup and rearm....

... Hamas and other militant groups have fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza at Israeli border towns in recent years....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Perpetuating myths with cheap emotion on tap

The following photograph by Paolo Pellegrin, complete with its misleading caption, remains on the Magnum Agency Website, and is part of an exhibition currently at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, despite strong evidence that photgraphs from the site of this incident are highly suspect:

"LEBANON. Qana. 56 civilians were killed during an Israeli air strike in the early hours of July 30th, 2006."

Image Reference

[In fact there were 28 confirmed deaths, but suspicion that the bodies had been transported to the site from a nearby morgue. Refer to the posting below - SL]

From a report that I have prepared from a number of sources [It's too long for this blog - follow the link to the full report]:

On the morning of July 30, 2006, in the Lebanese town of Qana, during the war between Hezbollah and Israel, a three-story building collapsed, burying the Lebanese civilians who were sleeping in the basement. Immediately the news media went into high gear denouncing this latest example of Israeli callousness. They reported that 55-60 civilians were “massacred”.

The initial estimate of 54 persons killed was based on a register of 63 persons who had sought shelter in the basement of the building that was struck, and rescue teams having located nine survivors.

... at least 22 people escaped the basement, and 28 are confirmed dead, according to records from the Lebanese Red Cross and the government hospital in Tyre. Thirteen people remain missing....

...There was little blood… all the victims… appeared to have died while as they were sleeping -- sleeping, apparently, through thunderous Israeli air attacks. Rescue workers equipped with cameras were removing the bodies from the same opening in the collapsed structure. Journalists were not allowed near the collapsed building.

Rescue workers filmed as they went carried the victims on the stretchers, occasionally flipping up the blankets so that cameras could show the faces and bodies of the dead.

But Israelis steeled to scenes of carnage from Palestinian suicide bombings and Hezbollah rocket attack could not help but notice that these victims did not look like our victims. Their faces were ashen gray…The bodies looked like they had been dead for days.

… accumulating evidence suggests another explanation for what happened at Kana. … a setup in which the time between the initial Israeli bombing near the building and morning reports of its collapse would have been used to "plant" bodies killed in previous fighting -- reports in previous days indicated that nearby Tyre was used as a temporary morgue -- place them in the basement, and then engineer a "controlled demolition" to fake another Israeli attack….

…. at this time, it looks like in the case of Qana, the world's media was duped in a cruel and colossal hoax by a terror organization that knows no moral bounds …

… it is increasingly clear that the Qana “massacre” was a stage-managed Hizballah production, designed precisely to enflame international sentiment against Israel .... Some of the principal evidence for this:

  • The Israeli bombardment took place about midnight, but the house where the civilians were gathered reportedly did not collapse until 8AM. …
  • Photos of the rescue operation...are extremely suspicious. ...the same bodies were paraded before reporters on different occasions, each time as if they had just been pulled from the rubble.
  • The very existence of these pictures raises more questions. ...“While Hezbollah and its apologists have been claiming that civilians could not freely flee the scene due to Israeli destruction of bridges and roads, the journalists and rescue teams from nearby Tyre had no problem getting there.”
  • The Christian Lebanese website LIBANOSCOPIE has charged that Hizballah staged the entire incident in order to stimulate calls for a ceasefire... “We have it from a credible source that Hizbullah, alarmed by Siniora’s plan, has concocted an incident that would help thwart the negotiations. ….Hizbullah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli Air Force. In this way, they were planning to take advantage of the death of innocents and curtail the negotiation initiative.”....

Follow the link to the full report, which is too long for me to post in full.