Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

Wishful thinking about Hamas

Today, the CSMonitor says: Hamas bends to pressure in Gaza and abroad by Rafael D. Frankel. According to the author, since “Rockets no longer fly into Israel from the Gaza Strip. And Gaza’s Islamist rulers saw their support base drop below 20 percent…”, this somehow means that Hamas “bends”.

Let’s consider an opposite idea: Hamas is having trouble exactly because of its unbending stance: none of their genocidal goals, antisemitic charter, uncompromising Jihadist stance, terrorist methods or totalitarian grip has changed a bit. Their position did not change even as little as to share power with their Fatah brothers, whose leadership still refuses to recognize Israel.

BTW, this particular “news piece” very often gets floated in the Western media. Recently, Jimmy Carter announced that now Hamas can be trusted, even though Hamas stridently rejected his pleas. Earlier, SFChron and other outlets cooked up a sudden “shift” in Hamas’ position (exposed by the ADL). It seems that each time when Hamas handlers put out the magic word, it gets uncritically accepted by the Western media as an evidence of their salvation and enlightenment.

Hamas loves Jimmy Carter
Obama’s administration seeks a way to fund Hamas
Hamas Wins Teachers Union Elections for UN Schools in Gaza
What about all the good Arabs/Muslims?


July 10, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | , | 1 Comment

Khaled Abu Toameh: How to help the Palestinians

An excerpt from another great piece by Khaled Abu Toameh. Unfortunately, for many people “pro-Palestinian” necessarily means “anti-Israel” and vice versa. In my experience, two kinds of people usually make such mistakes:
1) uneducated (of whom surprisingly large number are reporters, editors and politicians), and
2) malicious, who often know how to manipulate the first kind.
Unfortunately, when subject turns to the Middle East, often emotions take priority to facts.

How To Help the Palestinians by Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson NY)

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want the international community to hear anything about massive abuse of human rights and intimidation of journalists that its security forces are practicing almost on a daily basis in the West Bank.

They want the US and the rest of the world to continue believing that peace will prevail tomorrow morning only if Israel stops construction in the settlements and removes a number of empty caravans from remote and isolated hilltops in the West Bank.

The Palestinians do not need a dictatorship that harasses and terrorizes journalists, and that is responsible for the death of detainees in its prisons. In the Arab world we already have enough dictatorships.

The Palestinians do not need additional security forces, militias and armed gangs. In fact, there are too many of them, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

American and European taxpayers’ money should be invested in building hospitals, schools and housing projects. Investing billions of dollars in training thousands of policemen and establishing new security forces and prisons will not advance the cause of peace and coexistence.

There is no doubt that many Palestinians would love to abandon the culture of uniform and weapons in favor of improved infrastructure and medical care.

As for the international media, it’s time to abandon the policy of double standards in covering the Israeli-Arab conflict. For many years, the mainstream media in the US and Europe turned a blind eye to stories about financial corruption under Yasser Arafat. The result was that Arafat and his cronies got away with stealing billions of dollars that had been donated to the Palestinians by the Americans and Europeans.

Back then, many foreign journalists said they believed that the stories about financial corruption in the Palestinian areas were “Zionist propaganda.” Other journalists said they would rather file an anti-Israel story because this way they would become more popular with their editors and publishers.

Recently, a Palestinian TV crew was stopped at a checkpoint in the West Bank, where soldiers confiscated a tape and erased its content.

This incident, hardly received any coverage in the mainstream media in the US and Europe.

The reason? The perpetrators were not IDF soldiers, but Palestinian Authority security officers. And the checkpoint did not belong to the IDF; it was, in fact, a Palestinian checkpoint.

The story of the detention of the TV crew — which, by the way, belonged to Al-Jazeera and the erasure of the footage did not make it to the mainstream media even after Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends journalists worldwide, issued a statement strongly condemning the assault on the freedom of the media.

“Journalists must be able to work freely,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The erasure of this video footage proves that the Palestinian security forces try to cover up their human rights violations. This incident should be the subject of an enquiry by the Palestinian Authority.”

Walid Omari, the head of the Qatar-based satellite TV station’s operations in the West Bank, told Reporters Without Borders that his crew was preparing a report on the death of a detainee at the Palestinian Authority detention center in Hebron that might have been the result of torture.

“We were the only ones to investigate this case and we did it despite strong pressure from the Palestinian Authority,” Omari said.

Al Jazeera’s Hebron correspondent went with a cameraman to the victim’s home in the village of Dura, where they interviewed the family and filmed the body.

As they were returning to Hebron in a vehicle displaying the word “Press,” they were detained by Palestinian Authority security forces at a checkpoint and taken to a police station, where the video footage they had just recorded was erased. They were allowed to go after an hour.

One can only imagine the international media’s reaction had the TV crew been detained by Israeli security forces. Anti-Israel groups and individuals would have cited the incident as further proof of the “occupation’s brutal measures” against the freedom of the media.

Moreover, it is highly likely that Israeli human rights organizations like Betselem would have dispatched researchers to the field to investigate the incident had IDF soldiers been involved.

Yet foreign journalists and human rights activists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories either chose to ignore the story or never heard about it simply because it was lacking in an anti-Israel angle.

One can also imagine how the media and human rights organizations would have reacted had a Palestinian died in Israeli prison after allegedly being tortured.

Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel
Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel (US campus redux)

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Palestinians | , , | Leave a comment

Barry Rubin’s excellent response to Tom Brokaw

As always, Barry Rubin offers thoughtful point-by-point response: The problem isn’t admitting past mass murders of Jews but preventing new ones

Here’s only the intro and the conclusion, sorry to butcher it like this. As always, I recommend the whole thing. The emph. is mine.

During President Barack Obama’s visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, the following exchange took place:

NBC New’s TOM Brokaw: “What can the Israelis learn from your visit to Buchenwald? And what should they be thinking about their treatment of Palestinians?”

Obama: “Well, look, there’s no equivalency here.”

The president almost sounds rattled, as if it is dawning on him just how much harm he has done, what demons he has unintentionally unleashed, by things he has said and left unsaid.

Some see Brokaw’s question as an attempt to suggest there is some equivalency here. A lot of academic and media nonsense has already promoted this idea. Indeed, Obama’s speech in Cairo–though he didn’t intend this (but then he doesn’t intend a lot of problems he’s creating due to his lack of knowledge about the region, its history, and international affairs in general)–contributed to such views by its ham-handed structuring and content.

Indeed, there are those who have looked at the Buchenwald model for guidance. The founder of the Palestinian national movement, Amin al-Husseini, spent World War Two in Berlin as an ally of Hitler. He also asked for his staff to visit working concentration camps. The purpose of the visit was to learn how to create similar facilities for Jews in the British mandate of Palestine once Germany captured it and turned it over to him.

But I’m glad to answer Brokaw’s question.

From Buchenwald, Israelis learned that others will usually not stand up for them. Jews–many of them today’s Israelis–watched as Britain, France, and other countries wouldn’t stop Hitler and indeed were ready to “engage” with him. Just as European countries and many in America are willing to do today with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah despite their openly genocidal programs.

Thus, even if Israel is held to a double standard, its record has been better than that of even Western counterparts. Only by lying about that record—the norm in the Arabic-speaking world and all-to-common in the Western one—can it be made to seem terrible.

What few people in the West know is that the Arabic-language media daily claims Israel has committed massacres and atrocities that never happened. By constant repetition passionate hatred is built up based on lies. In the West misreporting is often dangerously slanderous, often because it repeats things that are simply false.
We need only remember what the Nazis believed and did, what Israelis believe and do, and what their enemies believe and do. It should not be so hard to understand the distinctions.

So in summary, Mr. Brokaw, the single most important lesson we learned from Buchenwald is this: Never again.

We know that the Western world is very fond of dead Jews, at least once they are dead. It is no great act of heroism to insist that a mass murder of Jews happened more than 60 years ago. What we need today is people who will expose those who want to repeat the process, to help Israel defend itself against such people.

But, Mr. Brokaw, let me ask a question: What can you learn from President Obama’s visit to Buchenwald? Let me limit myself to two points

First, if you and others advise us to behave in a way and to follow policies that would lead to a similar outcome at the hands of the closest thing to the Nazis that exist in our contemporary era, we will ignore that advice.

Second, ask yourself why you and others slander us and portray us as villains rather than victims at the same time that you whitewash terrorist and would-be committers of genocide.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | | Leave a comment

NPR stokes the myth of the “Israel Lobby” despite the US-Israel tensions

For ideologues, if reality contradicts their theory, the theory always wins.

Today, one must be blind to deny tensions between the US and Israel. Facts be damned, this is the second week the NPR reruns its old multi-part Cambridge Forum program The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with pseudo-scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt insinuating “America’s unconditional support” of Israel.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , , | Leave a comment

“If Only Israel” syndrome

AJC Executive Director David Harris has a great article at his blog In the Trenches: What’s the IOI – “If Only Israel” – syndrome? I quote the beginning and the ending, but recommend the whole thing.

It’s the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s best interests by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with its neighbors would be at hand. But since it doesn’t, then Israel constitutes the principal, perhaps only, real obstacle to a new day in the Middle East.

Striking, isn’t it?

Poor Israel. If only it had the visual acuity of these “enlightened” souls, then all would be hunky-dory. After all, according to them, Israel holds all the cards, yet refuses to play them.

The thinking goes: Why can’t those shortsighted Israelis figure out what needs to be done – it’s so obvious to us, isn’t it? – so the conflict can be brought to a screeching halt?

Thus, if only Israel froze settlements. If only Israel removed checkpoints. If only Israel recognized the Hamas government in Gaza. If only Israel stopped assuming the worst about Iran’s “pragmatic” leadership, which just wants a nuclear weapon for defensive purposes. If only Israel got beyond its Holocaust trauma. If only Israel ______ well, you can fill in the blank.

The point is that, for sufferers of IOI, it essentially all comes down to Israel.

And the IOI syndrome has only been strengthened by the advent of the new Israeli government, of course.

But unless and until Israel’s neighbors recognize its inherent legitimacy, and stop viewing it as a temporary interloper that can be defeated militarily or swamped by Palestinian “refugees,” then whatever the IOI crowd insists upon will be a secondary issue in the real world.

Unless and until this recognition is reflected in Palestinian and other Arab textbooks, where children have been taught for generations that Israelis are modern-day Crusaders to be driven out, then what hope is there for the future?

Unless and until the Palestinian Authority succeeds in building a serious governing structure, including an enhanced capacity and political will to combat Palestinian terrorism, then Israel will have no choice but to operate in the West Bank to prevent attacks against its civilians.

And unless and until the forces seeking Israel’s annihilation – from Iran’s current regime to Hamas to Hizbullah – are marginalized or replaced by those committed to coexistence, then there will always be a long shadow cast over the road to peace. Some would argue that this view gives the spoilers too much power over the process. I believe it simply acknowledges the inescapable and ominous reality that Israel faces.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu makes his first visit to Washington since his election earlier this year, and as the IOI chorus once again raises the decibel level, let’s hope that cooler heads prevail.

Israel doesn’t need sanctimonious lectures on peace. It needs genuine partners for peace. Without them, peace remains elusive. With them, peace becomes inevitable.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | , | Leave a comment

Remember those noisy protests against Israel’s Gaza Op?

Remember waves of raging hatred that spilled on the streets around the globe a couple of months ago?
Worldwide protests staged against Israel’s offensive in Gaza
Global protests condemn Gaza war
The Intifada is globalized as the Gaza War becomes a world war

Here’s a recent piece of news about a similar, but much more brutal, operation in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka presses offensive against rebels: “attack on a makeshift hospital … killed 64 patients and bystanders Saturday.”

A terrible tragedy… but where are the protests? Where’s the raging hate? Where are calls to dismantle Sri Lanka?

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Media bias | | Leave a comment

Do we have enough Jews?

Regarding this recent news story: Italian ship captain: Israeli security officers drove Somali pirates away

Israeli private security guards exchanged fire with pirates who attacked an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board far off the coast of Somalia, the ship’s commander said Sunday. Cmdr. Ciro Pinto told Italian state radio that six men in a small white boat approached the Msc Melody and opened fire Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire.

This reminded me an old anecdote:

At the Russian War College, the general is a guest lecturer and tells the class of officers that the session will focus on potential problems and the resulting strategies. One of the officers in the class begins by asking the first question, “Will we have to fight in a World War Three?”
“Yes, comrades, in all likelihood, you will,” answers the general.
“And who will be our likely enemy, Comrade General?” another officer asks.
“The likelihood is that it will be China.”
The class looks alarmed, and finally one officer asks, “But Comrade General, we are 150 million people and they are about 1.5 billion. How can we possibly win?”
“Well,” replies the general, “think about it. In modern war, it is not the quantity, but the quality that is key. For example, in the Middle East, 5 million Jews fight against 50 million Arabs and the Jews have been the winners every time.”
“But sir,” asks the panicky officer, “do we have enough Jews?”

The incident with the pirates did not go without a controversy. Tom Gross notes in NRO:

But one organization — and no surprise, it is the BBC — despite running a 23-paragraph story about the incident, went out of its way not to mention that the saviors of the ship and its 1,500 passengers were Israelis. Is the BBC ever willing to portray Israelis in a positive light?

UPDATE: Following criticism, on Monday night the BBC subtly added the word “Israeli” into the eleventh paragraph of their article — but its time stamp remains unchanged, despite the update. This is not the first time the BBC has subtly updated pieces without telling readers. See here for example, or here.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Piracy | , , , | Leave a comment

War of numbers in the Israel’s Gaza op.

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center examined the casualty numbers in the recent Gaza op.

1,166 Palestinians were killed. Most of them (709) belonged to terrorist organizations , i.e., Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others. According to the findings, 295 non-combatant civilians were killed , among them women and children. The identity and degree of involvement of the remaining 162 Palestinians (all of them male) are unclear (IDF Spokesman’s website, March 26, 2009).

Even though Hamas consistently distorts the numbers of casualties, it is the Hamas-reported numbers that Western media propagates, rarely calling them into question and typically without specifying the source. Some details of PR employed by Hamas:

4. During Operation Cast Lead Hamas adopted the policy of concealing its own casualties to prevent morale from flagging and to reinforce the (false) impression that Israel was deliberately directing its military operations against Gazan civilians. Surfers on PALDF, Hamas’s main Internet forum, were informed that it was strictly forbidden to post the names, pictures or any identifying details about “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] operatives killed or wounded until the end of the “Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip 3 (see the Appendix for the text of the instructions). In some instances reports were received of unofficial (and sometimes secret) and improvised burials during the fighting.

5. The policy of hiding the real number of terrorist operative casualties and issuing false reports about the number of civilians killed has continued after Operation Cast Lead . That was manifested by the creation of a false propaganda presentation of the mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip (the “holocaust” claimed by pro-Hamas propaganda) and the reduction or hiding of the blow dealt to Hamas’s military infrastructure and its terrorist operatives. All of the above were aimed at serving the “victory narrative” which Hamas has been carefully constructing since the end of Operation Cast Lead.

The recent wave of demonstrations around the world showed that so many readily believe in medieval myths of bloodthirsty Jews intentionally murdering innocents. From the videos I’ve seen and from my own experience, the rallying cry “baby-killers” was very popular this season.

See also:

Elder of Ziyon reflects on an effort to identify More of those “civilians” killed in Gaza – reported by “Palestinian human rights” groups, which are ether affiliated with the Islamists or too afraid to contradict them.

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Hamas | , , , | 1 Comment

BBC editor hired to correct anti-Israel bias was found to be perpetrating it

Back from the USSR, I perceived the BBC radio as a voice of freedom. These days I find it deeply disappointing because at least in one respect – its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict – the Beeb is nauseatingly biased against Israel. Today the Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust admitted bias.

Jonathan Hoffman, co-Vice Chair of the UK Zionist Federation guest posts at Z-Word:

The BBC is a unique institution. It is the largest broadcasting organisation on the planet (with an annual operating expenditure over £4 billion) and it is a public service broadcaster. The former gives it tremendous power.

The combination of size with 100% public ownership means that the BBC has very clear Editorial Guidelines.

They state: “The BBC’s commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our reputation… Impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences.“

In November 2003 in response to criticism (from both sides) about its Middle East coverage, the BBC appointed Malcolm Balen as Senior Editorial Adviser on the Middle East.

He wrote a long Report which was supposed to be internal. Reportedly it found anti-Israel bias.

Since then, the BBC  spent hundreds of thousands of B. pounds of taxpayer money on a long legal battle against making it public. This is especially hypocritical because the BBC frequently uses the Freedom of Information Act for its own reporting.

Also in response to criticism the BBC appointed its first Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen.

What happened today was the publication of a landmark decision. The highest level of the BBC’s complaints-handling structure – the Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust – has ruled that Jeremy Bowen breached both the guideline on accuracy and that on impartiality.

Read the whole post, and CAMERA (which made the complaint) promises more details.

It is not easy to distinguish the cause and effect here, but it is no surprise that UK is European center of anti-Semitism.

Of course it will take much more than this to correct the problem, but today’s step is in the right direction.

JPost’s article Complaints of BBC bias partially upheld says in part:

However, the Trust’s ruling contains no sanction, and a BBC spokesman played down its significance. In respect to one of the findings, the spokesman said that Bowen had merely been “exercising his professional judgment on history.”

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Media bias | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Excellent speech by Avigdor Lieberman and biased media

As always, Daniel Pipes’ analysis is apt and timely:
Avigdor Lieberman’s Brilliant Debut

World priorities: These must change. The free world must focus on defeating the countries, forces, and extremist entities “that are trying to violate it.” The real problems are coming from “the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq” – and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them – and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full.

We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying “I am prepared to concede,” and using the word “peace” will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” – if you want peace, prepare for war, be strong.

Pipes notes LAT’s ridiculous headline: Foreign minister says Israel not bound to follow two-state path

Contrary to the facts they are covering, but even this is not the worst.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Israel, Media bias | , , | Leave a comment