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A Few Gaza Notes:

(1) A retired British colonel, on the BBC no less, says that there has been "no time in the history of warfare when an army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and the deaths of innocent people than the IDF" did in Gaza.

UPDATE: I hadn't noticed the typically "neutral" BBC headline at the beginning of the video: "Israel continues offensive despite UN resolution."

(2) I was going to do a post on the media "narrative" of the Gaza fighting, but I don't think I could do a better job than this post at the Huffington Post, of all places.

One thing to emphasize: during the Gaza fighting, I could tell you day by day approximately how many Palestinians had been killed, because the media so emphasized this point. I don't have a clue how many Afghans have been killed by NATO's actions in Afghanistan, or by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq. And in those cases, if the media did report casualty figures, they would never conflate the deaths of noncombatants with those of "the enemy." The media consistently reported that "___ Palestinians have so far been killed," as if the deaths of Hamas terrorists were just as regrettable as the death of a child who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(FWIW, Hamas claims that only 58 of its fighters were killed, and also claims, absurdly, that it killed dozens of Israeli soldiers. The IDF claims that 3/4 of those killed were "Hamas militants." One difficulty is that besides separating civilians from "militants," one has to separate combatant civilians and non-combatant civilians. A "civilian" who stores Hamas weapons in his house, or goes to the roof of a military target when the IAF warns in advance that they plan to bomb it, may be a "civilian" if he isn't officially a member of the Hamas armed forces, but he is not a "noncombatant.")

(3) Leading NGOs performed as usual, advocating not for human rights or international law, but for their own ideological agendas. As usual, NGO Monitor has the scoop.

Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch gave a revealing interview to Ha'aretz columnist Amira Hass (who, I'm sure not coincidentally, is the Israeli reporter least likely to ask him any hard questions). If you read the interview closely, you will notice that Garlasco was happy to pass on speculation, rumor, and innuendo about Israeli actions, but says that Hamas's use of civilians as human shields--which was well-documented prior to the recent fighting, and was documented by a variety of sources during the fighting--is not something he's willing to acknowledge without seeing it with his own eyes. "How," he adds, "can anyone trust the Israeli military?"

Sidenote: Oddly enough, Garlasco claims that the U.S. military sends HRW a list of all the bombs it uses in Afghanistan and Iraq, daily. If so, why? Since when does the U.S. reveal military secrets to outside third parties?

TGGP (mail) (www):
I don't trust those NGOs and I'd be happy for the existence of an organization whose mission was to fact-check them, but it's disappointing that it's focused on Israel. It's a tiny little country way over the ocean and I'm tired of hearing about it. It's similarly disappointing that the Institute for Historical Revisionism seems entirely devoted to World War 2 &the Holocaust. How about World War 1 (from whence revisionism really got its start) or the American war of independence?
1.21.2009 8:17pm
Anderson (mail):
Since when does the U.S. reveal military secrets to outside third parties?

That should be one's first clue that the information is not actually a military secret.
1.21.2009 8:18pm
MikeP (mail):
From his bio:

Before coming to HRW, Marc spent seven years in the Pentagon as a senior intelligence analyst covering Iraq. His last position there was chief of high-value targeting during the Iraq War in 2003. Marc was on the Operation Desert Fox (Iraq) Battle Damage Assessment team in 1998, led a Pentagon Battle Damage Assessment team to Kosovo in 1999, and recommended thousands of aimpoints on hundreds of targets during operations in Iraq and Serbia. He also participated in over 50 interrogations as a subject matter expert.



1.21.2009 8:23pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
You are probably correct on the general thrust. Two points only:

1) I would not be so quick to generalize that we don't document civilian deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere - when a US bomb hit that Afghan school killing ~50 a couple of months back it was all over the news. Likewise, there was a media firestorm when the estimates were published of how many thousands of Iraqi deaths the invasion was responsible for - if I remember correctly, there were huge discussions of it on this very blog, in fact. I watch a lot of college football, so I know that it often feels like everyone - and especially the refs - is against only the team that you support, but these things are usually better spread out than one imagines.

2) Pursuant to the point above, when an American ally kills a couple of thousands people in areas with tons of civilians, resulting in significant anti-American sentiment in a region that has already sent terrorists against us, there's gonna be attention, there's just no other way around it. Again, I agree with your general thrust that there is a ton of unfair or unjust attention, and you are right to speak out against it. However, I'm not sure that any other country so deeply intertwined with our own - to the point that American law bloggers such as yourself passionately come to its defense when it is criticized - has killed that many people without attracting at least some negative attention and / or condemnation for it.

In all, I agree with you overall, but I think that you overstate your point somewhat because of a perfectly understandable homefield bias, and I find it a bit disingenuous to complain about Israel drawing so much attention in America when both our alliance and the cultural affinity of a significant portion of our population with it is so close and deep.
1.21.2009 8:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Vermando.
IMO, the point was not the attention, but the inaccuracy of the facts.
1.21.2009 9:02pm
Eric T (www):
Another thing that the statistics don't reveal is how many of the Palestinian deaths were Fatah members killed by Hamas, using the war as cover.
1.21.2009 9:17pm
berp:
[Editor: A reader who needs to be referred to "select a blogger."]
1.21.2009 9:18pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Vermando,

All good points — still, DB is right: the "running death toll" isn't something I've seen applied to Afghanistan, or indeed any NATO operation. I wake up to NPR in the mornings, and the BBC snippets on the hour during the Gaza incursion always gave a number of Palestinians killed to date. They did not do that about Afghanistan in 2002, still less now. And the (never cumulative) reports of Afghani deaths do seem always to distinguish between civilians and Taliban/AQ forces, to the extent they know.
1.21.2009 9:25pm
David Warner:
Vermando,

Nice post.

"American law bloggers such as yourself passionately come to its defense when it is criticized"

I'm not so sure they're on the defensive, nor should they be.
1.21.2009 9:28pm
Brett A. (mail):
It mystifies me that anyone takes Hamas's claims seriously, including their casualty counts. After all, it has been pretty much an acknowledged point in the western newspapers that Hamas will claim a victory just from surviving from the Israeli assault - what makes them think that Hamas wouldn't bullshit in other areas?

To be honest, it would probably be easier to manage this if Western reporters were allowed into Gaza while this had been going on. Then, at least you would have had a variety of images and videos, not just Hamas-made propaganda and selectively picked Al-Jazeera footage.
1.21.2009 9:50pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
First of all, Israel does deserve some kudos for the lengths to which they went to reduce civilian casualities in many instances.

However, I am deeply disturbed by the post-conflict actions which seem to be designed to strengthen Hamas by weakening the PA. It is almost as if Israel seeks to be back here every few years, and this is DEEPLY irresponsible.
1.21.2009 9:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brett, given the number of times western (!) wire services were either punked by Hizbollah, or did it themselves in 2006, what is the basis for your optimism?
1.21.2009 10:01pm
gray (mail):
Mr Bernstein

Perhaps you could view this photo on the BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7841999.stm

and tell us what munition is being used?

I cannot verify the location of the photo but for now I accept in good faith that is somewhere in Gaza.

The munition is almost certainly WP with an airburst fuze. I presume you are aware of the legal status of the employment of this weapon in this manner?
1.21.2009 10:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gray.
Interesting picture. If that were a WP explosive round with airburst, the pieces would be on the ground before anybody could react, much less start running.
This is a smoke round, which uses chunks of impregnated felt. They fall much more slowly than do pieces of an exploding shell. Which is why you can see pieces in the air and people running at the same time. They do not fall as slowly as the left-over scraps at a fireworks show, for example, so they do describe relatively straight lines
Smoke rounds are legal, even using WP.
Early in the festivities, there were a number of distance shots of this kind of munition. Nice cone-shaped dispersion of chunks falling slowly enough that at first it looked as if they were pieces of the casing of a shell whose lethality had been delivered so rapidly as to be invisible. But nope, smoke shells and the pieces are the point. They hit and fire up dense smoke.
It is odd that the IDF is legally allowed to use HE, autocannon, guided missiles, and all that really lethal stuff in civilian areas, but to complain about a smoke round which is nowhere as lethal....
Is to hope to trade on the ignorance of your audience.
1.21.2009 10:24pm
Bleepless:
Brett A., I am not sure that anyone takes any claim by Hamas seriously, but they pretend to do so for propagandistic purposes. The UN, the "mainstream" media and similar people are, all too often, committed to an opinion so strongly that mere truth is irrelevant at best and frequently an impediment.
1.21.2009 10:28pm
Ariel:
Jenin - initially 500 claimed dead. Later revised to ~50. But not until after the world had put all the blame for "war crimes" on Israel. 'Nuff said about the casualties in Gaza.
1.21.2009 10:30pm
Jagermeister:
The munition is almost certainly WP with an airburst fuze.
Check out this WP image from Google, and you'll see that WP generates MUCH more smoke. I'm not sure what is shown in the picture, but I'm pretty sure it isn't WP. The video at the end of the article doesn't see to show anything. But, nice try.
1.21.2009 10:33pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
To be fair, Garlasco of HRW doesn't only say absurd things against Israel; he also says them against Hamas:
Garlasco and Human Rights Watch also examine the other side, and he says, "We believe that the Grad and Qassam are illegal weapons because they are not accurate enough to be used in this situation." He adds that Hamas makes frequent use of land mines and explosive charges that are liable to injure civilians.
There is no such doctrine as a weapon being "illegal" merely because it isn't accurate.
1.21.2009 10:48pm
gray (mail):
Jagermeister that picture is ground burst.

Richard Aubrey WP is impregnated into wafers as the media call it, we used to call them sponges. Once the wafers are expelled from the shell they do not travel at the speed of splinters but would fall down. I have witnessed this a few times. Chemical smoke comes out in larger canisters as well. All those pieces can only be WP

When I first saw the pictures my thoughts were that it sure looked like WP but they wouldn't use it airburst because the screen is much less effective that way. Well they weren't making a screen . . . .

I personally know the Amnesty International weapons expert who has identified WP shell debris on the ground . If he says WP is on the ground you can be assured it is. He was a British Officer as well.
1.21.2009 10:57pm
davidbernstein (mail):
DN, but by saying that, he manages to avoid saying that the use of the weapons is "illegal" because Hamas is targeting civilians. If the weapons were accurate, that would just make it worse, not better.
1.21.2009 10:57pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Since Hamas does not wear uniforms, or carry ID, I wonder how anyone could objectively total Hamas casualties vs. those of non-Hamas.
1.21.2009 11:15pm
soldier of fortune:
The last I heard 1200 Hamas supporters were killed, or .092% of the population. This is a ridiciously tiny portion of the population. The death toll will make absolutely no impression on Hamas and they continue to make attacks on Israel once they rearm. And this pinprick will not discourage Israel's other enemies, like Iran. The percentage should have been in the 20-30% range.

As I have argued in the past, Israel should be able to use any weapon in its defense--white phosphorus, fuel-air explosives, cluster bombs, or whatever. The weapons of war should be cruel for two reasons--to end the threat quickly, and impress upon your enemies that you will use any means necessary to defend their interests. They may think twice about attacking you again.
1.21.2009 11:30pm
Michael B (mail):
The Gaza conflict went global, not local. No, not in full-bore military mode, but via the MSM's "adroit" handling of the facts, the way in which that adroitness was promulgated and via the Left and Left/Islamicist alliances, it went global. In terms of the "narrative" of those events, it was largely and consciously avoided or elided by legacy media, the msm.

But it was covered by citizen journalists - i.e. the true Fourth Estate - v. here.
1.21.2009 11:31pm
Michael B (mail):
s/b "The Gaza conflict went global, not merely local."
1.21.2009 11:32pm
Patrick S. O'Donnell (mail) (www):
A few Gaza notes, in q &a form, of a different suasion than those provided by Bernstein.
1.21.2009 11:41pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I also see a problem with the causulty figures in another area. All sides seem to play very loose with police forces who depending on circumstances may be civialian or military in nature and in the former case may or may not be legitimate targets.
1.21.2009 11:58pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Michelle,

Thank you for the comment. Agreed, and I apologize that my post was not clear that I agree with the main thrust of the Professor's assertion - certainly any news outlet that treated casualties from American planes that way would be banished from educated consideration (see Jazeera, Al).

On the specifics of the running death toll, I wonder how much it has to do with the fact that what many of Israel's critics wanted was for them to stop, and so the running death toll was a way to call moral attention to the fact that, indeed, with each extra day of attacks the death toll would get higher and higher. That would certainly distinguish it from operations which people have been told or expect will last a longer period of time or have a different objective than striking certain targets for a short period and then getting out. On the other hand, as you point out, we did not and almost certainly never would see such a toll from, say, NATO strikes in Kosovo, though presumably plenty of civilians died from those. On that point, the Professor is certainly correct that Israel and the Palestinians are treated differently than other Western countries and those whom they attack.
1.22.2009 12:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bernstein:

by saying that, he manages to avoid saying that the use of the weapons is "illegal" because Hamas is targeting civilians


You seem to be saying that HRW has hesitated to condemn Hamas for targetting civilians. But in fact HRW has done that many times. Like here:

Firing rockets into civilian areas with the intent to harm and terrorize Israelis has no justification whatsoever


And here:

We … strongly urge Hamas to adopt and publicize, without delay, a policy of full respect for humanitarian law principles that will include an unconditional end to attacks that target civilians


And here:

Hamas must cease immediately “Qassam” rocket and mortar attacks against civilian areas


And here:

Human Rights Watch called on the Palestinian government led by the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, to state unambiguously that attacks targeting civilians constitute grave crimes no matter what the circumstances.


I don't know why you would be suggesting that HRW wants to "avoid saying" something they've actually said repeatedly, for years.

nieporent:

There is no such doctrine as a weapon being "illegal" merely because it isn't accurate.


HRW has explained what they mean when they say "the Grad and Qassam are illegal weapons because they are not accurate enough to be used in this situation." See here:

As parties to the armed conflict, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have an obligation to abide by international humanitarian law. The targeting of military installations and other military objectives is permitted, but Hamas must take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm and is prohibited from targeting civilians, or launching indiscriminate attacks or attacks that would cause disproportionate harm to civilians compared to the expected military advantage. Hamas commanders must choose such means of attack that it can direct at military targets and minimize incidental harm to civilians. If the weapons it uses are so inaccurate that it cannot direct them at military targets without imposing a substantial risk of civilian harm, then it should not deploy them. Deliberately attacking civilians is in all circumstances prohibited.

The rockets fired by Hamas - locally made Qassam rockets and some more advanced Russian-designed "Grad" rockets - are considered to be so inaccurate as to be incapable of being aimed in a manner to discriminate between military targets and civilian objects, at least when, as has been the case, they are targeting populated areas. Statements from Hamas officials indicate that they are directing their rockets at Israeli population centers. The use of such rockets against civilian areas violates the prohibition on deliberate and indiscriminate attacks. Likewise, a party that launches rockets from populated areas - thus making civilians vulnerable to counterattacks - violates the requirement to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under its control against the effects of attacks.


Emphasis added.
1.22.2009 12:07am
Vermando (mail) (www):
Mr. Aubrey,

Good point on the attention / factual inaccuracy distinction. I may be off base or my post may simply not apply to the extent that the Professor is really speaking out against the second and not the first. I structured my comment that way because, to that extent, I simply agree with him that people need to do a more honest and better job. On the other hand, I took his comment about the death toll in Palestine (whose accuracy I do not think he has disputed) to be about something broader, namely, the attention that the American media gives to the Israel / Palestine conflict, particularly when Israel is on the offensive. This point dovetails with his previous posts pointing out that the media focuses so much on this conflict and not other ones such as, for example, Sri Lanka's with the Tamil Tigers.

For what it's worth, I made the college football analogy because while I am sure that the Professor knows the death toll from Gaza and notes when it is on the news, I don't - I remember somebody mentioning something about 2,000 a few days ago, but after that, I really don't remember hearing any numbers, and I'm not sure if that number is accurate. On the other hand, I remember much more clearly hearing how many civilians were killed by American fighters in various conflicts, especially the controversial ones, such as the dropping of the A-bomb and the firebombing of the German and Japanese cities. I don't mean to say that the numbers were not being reported from Gaza the way people here have described, only that we tend to notice things more when they get their hairs on end.
1.22.2009 12:14am
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Vermando,

Yes, I thought maybe the running-death-toll thing might have been pegged to the assumption that this was a short military strike that might be curtailed at any time, so we might as well know what it's costing in terms of life, day by day. It's not quite as though the media never do this outside of Israel; they tried, at least, during the Russia/Georgia spat.

I wonder that no one has set up an interactive map of the globe, showing where there are conflicts, how long they've been going on, how many are dead, how many are daily being killed. If such a thing were linked to news stories about the conflicts, I think it'd be an eye-opener.
1.22.2009 12:20am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Deliberately attacking civilians is in all circumstances prohibited.'

Yeah? By whom? Tell it to Harry Truman.
1.22.2009 12:40am
Michael B (mail):
Patrick S. O'Donnell,

Mr. Shalom (sic), whom you link, begins with the proportionality boogeyman. And how does he answer his own query? He suggests Israelis need to retreat further still, by moving out of the "occupied territories," as if that would solve anything at all. Israel submitted itself to the Oslo initiative, and what occurred? Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and what occurred? Israel withdrew from Gaza, rendering all of Gaza Judenfrei, free of any and all Jooooos, and what occurred?

As far as proportionality in concerned and as conceived within a long tradition of just war theory, there are two or three conceptions of proportionality that people appear to be using.

Firstly and more commonly, there is a conception of "proportionality" wherein the meaning applied is little or nothing more than a numerical, empirical reduction: e.g., Hamas has fired a rocket, hence Israel can now be allowed to fire a rocket or some equivalent thereof. That itself is a simplistic example of a simple concept, but that captures the essence of this informal usage.

Secondly, there are variously debated conceptions of proportionality as used within a long tradition of just war theory, both as applied to jus ad bellum (justifications for going to war in the first place) and jus in bello (justifications for using specific tactics and strategies within the conduct of the war, after the decision to go to war has been made).

Whereas the first sense of the term would effectively reduce to farce and a comedy of errors (at least so within most any, real-world scenario), the second set of conceptions as applied to jus ad bellum and jus in bello justifications seeks to come to terms with all the real-world complexities while also seeking to apply moral considerations that are commensurate with those real-world complexities. (The Israeli vs. Sunni and Shi'a Muslim conflict is arguably the most complex conflict on the face of the planet due to the various ideological, social, cultural, racial/ethnic, historical, political, religious, propaganda/media driven, etc. aspects of the conflict.)

Israel, currently, is being disproportionate only in the first, simplistic sense of the term, a sense that does in fact reduce to farce and tragi-comic conceptions given the real-world complexities involved. Still, to reject that simplistic conception is not remotely the same thing as rejecting the second set of real-world considerations.

Proportionality, better conceived within jus ad bellum and jus in bello considerations reflects a viable set of ethical conceptions. But it is the Sunni and Shi'a Muslim militant actors who are overtly seeking the elimination of Jews and Israel as a whole; by contrast Israel is seeking to secure its borders and its citizens. It is the former - Iran, Syria, other state actors, Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Islami Jihad, et al. - who are and long have been the aggressors. By contrast, Israel needs to secure its borders and its citizens, within both short and long term considerations.

In terms of the complexities involved, they are too numerous and in fact too complex to outline very well, but they include such things as Hamas's Charter - effectively its very Constitution - which contains undisguised avowals to murder Jews and eliminate Israel from the face of the planet. That Charter, in turn, is reflective of societal wide indoctrination or enculturation of virtually all Sunni Arab citizens, from the earliest ages and forward (link is brief youTube video). Other notable factors could be outlined - including the fact Hamas's soldiers/civilians fire munitions from within civilian centers, thus ensuring more rather than fewer civilian casualties - but that should be sufficient for a beginning. In sum, Mr. Shalom's forté has little or nothing to do with reality.

To the contrary and decidedly so.
1.22.2009 1:16am
televizyonun icadı (mail) (www):
thanks very good
1.22.2009 2:51am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
eagar:

'Deliberately attacking civilians is in all circumstances prohibited.'


Yeah? By whom? Tell it to Harry Truman.


By whom? By the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Truman attacked civilians after 1949? I didn't know. Please tell us about it.
1.22.2009 2:56am
ari8 (mail):
What a laughable article O'Donnell links to, by turns inaccurate (Gaza, for example, had the highest economic growth rate in the world from 1967 to 1987) and disingenous, excusing any and all bad conduct by Hamas as Israel's fault.

There's always an easy way to tell if an article abut Hamas is to be taken seriously: when the author talks abut Israel's recent "provoking" of Hamas by closing the borders, and the subsequent "humanitarian crisis," does he also note that at various times over the past decade and a half, including recently, when Israel did open the border crossings, Hamas proceeded to launch mortars at the crossings and send suicide bombers to the crossings, with the express intent of shutting them down, regardless of the effect on the civilian population?

This one not only doesn't mention that, but in its attempt to persuade the reader of Hamas' moderation, fails to point out that whenever since Oslo peace talks were making progress, Hamas responded with waves of horrific suicide bombings.
1.22.2009 3:59am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gray.
I didn't say it wasn't WP. I said it was a smoke round using WP.
There is another kind of WP munition, which combines an explosive charge to spread pieces of raw WP as fragments. It is less effective as a smoke producer, as the WP frags are spread more widely than is useful. Although it will do in a pinch. This is more lethal than WP smoke, but neither are as bad as HE.
1.22.2009 7:57am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, yeah.
I believe that torturing one's political opponents is considered bad form.
Anybody got some NGO on record about the current fate of Fatah boys falling into Hamas' hands?
Didn't think so.
Any organization or individual who can object to Israel's tactics and ignore or excuse--which we will guarandamntee see--Hamas' tactics vis a vis other Palestinians doesn't need to be taken seriously. Condemned, maybe. But not taken seriously.
1.22.2009 8:07am
TokyoTom (mail):
(1) David, you might find the comments by the retired British military officer convincing, but it seems to me he's missed a larger picture - and ignores strategy in favor of a narrow discussion of tactics - by premising his discussion on an acceptance of Israel's famous, and entirely unconvincing "lack of choice".

It is hard to find much, if anything, in Israel's actions to admire. It has bottled up 1.5 million desperate Palestinians in Gaza, cutting virtually all commerce other than pathetic dribs and drabs of humanitarian relief and smuggling through a partially leaky border crossing that it abandoned to the autocratic Egyptian regime, and refusing to allow trade even when Hamas was complying with the ceasefire. Israel broke the ceasefire, and its supposedly strenuous efforts to efforts to "reduce civilian casualties and the deaths of innocent people" have produced damage to vital infrastructure running in the billions of dollars - including direct attacks on several UN schools and other structures - destroying more jobs and housing (tens of thousands now homeless), on top of all the deaths and injuries (including unusual ere injuries stemming from the use of white phosphorus in urban areas and apparently also from testing new very destructive DICE weapons). And what was achieved, other than proving that the IDF is much more powerful than Hamas (which is much more toothless than Hezbollah), that the investments by the international community in Gaza mean nothing to Israel, and that politicians love to see the rubble of others bounce, especially around election time? It has of course sown more dragon's teeth, strengthened Hamas and weakened moderates.

Israeli historian Avi Shlaim very effectively cuts through the nonsense:
As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting". ...

Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It did so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. ... And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. ...

There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones.


And don't miss Tony Caron, the South African Jew who is now an editor at Time:
And then the horror unfolds, as it always does — the hundreds of civilians accidentally massacred as they cowered in what they were told were places of safety, mocking Israel’s torrent of self congratulation over its restraint and its brilliant intelligence — and the hopelessly out-gunned enemy manages to survive, as he does every time. And by surviving, grows stronger politically. No matter how many are killed, the leaders targeted by Israel’s military are endlessly regenerated in the fertile soil of grievance and resentment born of the circumstances Israel has created. Circumstances it has created, but which it, and its most fervent backers refuse to acknowledge, much less redress.

Arafat is dead and gone. So are Sheikh Yassin, and Rantissi. And Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyeh. Israel’s ruthless efficiency at killing the leaders of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups is second to none, and yet, no matter who it kills, there are always thousands more, ready to declare, “I am Spartacus”. That’s because those who step up to lead these organizations are acting not out of personal ambition — leadership in Hamas is a death sentence. The endless stream of Palestinians willing to sacrifice themselves in the role, then, is a symptom of the condition of their people. And Israel’s leaders know this. Asked when running for Prime Minister a decade ago what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian, Ehud Barak — the man directing the current operation in Gaza — answered bluntly, “I’d have joined a terror organization.


Moreover, the deliberateness with which Israel acts reinforces other evidence to the effect that the disproportionate use of force and devastation of Gaza are precisely the objectives of the IDF and the Israeli government. Phillip Weiss has a selection of interesting statements by Israeli officials (including one by Sharon's advisor Dov Weissglas - he of putting the Palestinians in Gaza "on a diet" - which makes it clear that the purpose of the withdrawal from Gaza was to end the peace process), as does Nazareth-based reporter and author John Cook, who refers to a
new “security concept” in an article published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies two months before the assault on Gaza. Conventional military strategies for waging war against states and armies, he wrote, could not defeat sub-national resistance movements, such as Hizbollah and Hamas, that have deep roots in the local population.

The goal instead was to use “disproportionate force”, thereby “inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes”.

Col Siboni identified the chief target of Israel’s rampages as “decision makers and the power elite”, including “economic interests and the centres of civilian power that support the [enemy] organisation”.


This is consistent with that assertion by Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy defense minister, on army radio in 2008 that Israel is prepared to bring a "bigger shoah" on Palestinians in response to Qassams.

Further statements by IDF spokesmen in Haaretz make it clear that the IDF intended to do maximum damage to Palestinians in order to avoid deaths to IDF soldiers - a goal in which it was remarkably successful:
We are very violent. We are not shying away from any method of preventing casualties among our troops.

For us, being cautious means being aggressive .... That creates enormous damage on the ground. I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock."


Guess I'll take a break before getting to your other number items.
1.22.2009 8:50am
PubliusFL:
TokyoTom: apparently also from testing new very destructive DICE weapons

How atrocious to try using new weapons specifically designed to have as focused a destructive radius as possible in order to minimize the possibility of collateral damage! I'm surprised you're not also condemning Israel for using smart bombs instead of exclusively unguided munitions.

I also find it interesting that Shlaim states that "far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing," but also quantifies the harm by pointing out that "in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children." A majority of the population of Gaza is children, so you would expect a majority of the casualties also to be children (I am not aware that they are unusually bomb-resistant) if Israel were really guilty of indiscriminate bombing of the population of Gaza. The fact that only about a sixth of the casualties were children suggests strongly to me that a significant amount of discrimination was going on. That would be consistent with a little more than 2/3 of the casualties being combatants, and the remaining 1/3 being more random collateral damage.
1.22.2009 9:37am
Yankev (mail):

There's always an easy way to tell if an article abut Hamas is to be taken seriously: when the author talks abut Israel's recent "provoking" of Hamas by closing the borders, and the subsequent "humanitarian crisis," does he also note that at various times over the past decade and a half, including recently, when Israel did open the border crossings, Hamas proceeded to launch mortars at the crossings and send suicide bombers to the crossings, with the express intent of shutting them down, regardless of the effect on the civilian population?
It would appear that the sources that TokyoTom -- as well as TT's past posts -- fail this test.

And no one who has pointed out the disproportion in arms or casualties has offered a single workable suggestion as to what Israel is supposed to do. Ignore the attacks? Israel tried that, at the cost of virtually shutting down entire towns such as Sderot, while Hamas acquired more and more powerful missiles, with the range to reach further and further into Israel. Reopen the crossings? As Ari18 pointed out, when Israel did that, Hamas attacked the crossings with mortars and suicide bombers. Launch thousands of inaccurate anti-personnel rockets, loaded with nail shrapnel, randomly into Gaza towns? Absurd, and besides, casualties then would be even higher -- the missile toll in Israel has been low only because Israel has invested money in sirens and shelters, warned people to seek shelter on as little as 15 seconds' notitce, and has shut down schools and businesses for weeks at a time. Hamas by contrast seeks to maximize casualties among Arab as well as Israeli citizens, and had taken none of these protective measures.

Negotiate with Hamas? Over what? Hamas' stated goal is the destruction of Israel, period, and the extermination of the world's Jews, whom they believe to be the source of all evil in the world (read the Hamas charter some time). Hamas has said again and again that there can be no negotiation with Israel. Hamas' actions show they are sincere in their goals. How often to they have to say this before Israel's critics will believe it?
1.22.2009 9:58am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Yankev.
They believe it. They just don't see it as a problem.
1.22.2009 10:24am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

I personally agree that one should not negotiate with Hamas per se, or with Fatah. This follows the same principles that Israel shouldn't negotiate with the GOP or the Democratic Party but rather with the US government. However, I think that negotiating with the PA even when the PM was a member of Hamas would have been helpful.

One of the problems with negotiating with political parties is that it encourages dishonesty, and in many parts of the Arab world, dishonesty towards non-Muslims is not frowned upon. Neither you nor I really know whether Hamas or Fatah differ at all in their end goals.

The only negotiating partner needs to be the PA, and if that organization is sufficiently disfunctional and corrupt that no negotiations are credible, those issues need to be addressed first. In the end, the only thing that matters is that the negotiators are held accountable by their people.

As I stated many times earlier, the conflict is small in its impact, and the follow-up more important. Israel is screwing up the follow-up royally, and my prediction is a Hamas landslide in the next PA election unless Israel starts facilitating the reconstruction of Gaza a bit more.

The IDF does deserve some credit for trying to avoid civilian casualties, but foreign policy based entirely on fear will eventually lead to the destruction of your nation unless that is turned around.
1.22.2009 10:28am
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
TokyoTom, as you neglect to mention Palestinian actions in any way, what would be the evidence that you have attempted a balanced analysis?
1.22.2009 10:31am
David M. Nieporent (www):
TokyoTom writes:
It has of course sown more dragon's teeth, strengthened Hamas and weakened moderates.
Are you auditioning to be JBG? You provide two links for "strengthened Hamas." The first, from the Spectator, is a long column about how Hamas was weakened. The second, from the Abu Dhabi-based National, is simply a claim from Hamas that they have been "strengthened," and when I say "from Hamas," I mean "from a Hamas guy who is so secure in Hamas's strength that he's hiding in Syria while Israel is attacking Hamas in Gaza."
1.22.2009 10:45am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

it was a smoke round using WP


It's true that Israel is permitted to use "smoke round[s] using WP." But since this is a densely populated area, there other issues that come into play. Some helpful details are here.
1.22.2009 11:28am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
One issue is that Hamas started it, chose the venue in which to fight. Given that, hiding behind civilians and strained interpretations should not constrain the IDF.

The viewers-with-horror try to conflate smoke rounds with WP with explosive WP.
Herewith a story. An acquaintance of mine was fighting in Europe. At one point, he had an 81mm mortar section duking it out with a German field gun. They were out of HE, and had to use their last explosive WP. The good guys won. When they got onto the German position, they saw that some of the dead had slashed themselves with their knives, apparently attempting to cut the still-burning WP frags from their flesh. The stuff will do that.
So, getting caught trying to pretend one is the other--as Gray did--ought to be humbling when one considers that most people know the difference.
1.22.2009 12:57pm
Yankev (mail):

Neither you nor I really know whether Hamas or Fatah differ at all in their end goals.
We can look at what they do, at what they say in English and what they say in Arabic.

Fatah says in Arabic that it wants the Zionist entity to be eradicated, spiritualluy, culturally and religiously, and that every last cm. of Israel is rightfully Palestine. Abbas says that the time for armed struggle is not now, that he regrets this fact, that he hopes to resume armed struggle when the time is right, and that he is proud of his role in armed struggle in the past. Fatah schools, mosques, newspapers, radio, TV and spokesen praise "martyrs" and incite people to kill Jews for the good of Palestine and the world. His actions and Fatah's are consistent with his words in Arabic. In English, Fatah waffles about Israel's right to exist, and spreads ridiculous and irresponsible propaganda.

Hamas does pretty much the same, except subsitute "good of Islam" for "good of Palestine", and Hamas' words in English are consistent with their words in Arabic. And Hamas has the added goal of driving Jews out of the entire world, not just out of portions of the middle east.

Maybe you are willing to take the chance they don't really mean it. Israel can't afford to take that chance.
1.22.2009 1:44pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
So, juke, you are contending the GC is in force somewhere in Asia? News to me.
1.22.2009 3:32pm
gray (mail):
Richard Aubrey - Getting caught indeed. In 14 years in the artillery I only knew one type of WP round. I've fired and observed 100's of them. How many have you fired ?

You could change the fuzes but the round stayed the same. Smoke HC was different and non incendiary. So the idea of WP smoke and a different WP "start a fire" munition is a non starter.

If you have evidence to the contrary please present and until them please avoid accusations of ill will.
1.22.2009 3:38pm
emsl (mail):
For all of those who so casually claim that Israel was conducting a genocide, or was "making war on the Palestinian people", let me pose this thought experiment. Assume you are correct. Given the number of deaths and injuries, does it not follow that the IDF is, without question, the most incompetent, bumbling army in the history of warfare to accomplish so little (again, assuming the goals you assert) with so many bombs, tanks, etc.? With the same armaments, the Russians were able to inflict at least 100 times the number of deaths. With technology far below that, the Sudanese Army has inflicted thousand if not tens of thousands times the number of deaths.

But wait, no one, not even Hamas, accuses the IDF of such magnificent incompetence. I suggest that the only conclusion, therefore, is that the IDF was NOT in fact seeking to maximize deaths of civilians, or conduct a genocide, or indeed any of the similar accusations.

There may be some valid complaints against the IDF, but is not only pointless but counterproductive to make absurd accusations which simply contaminate any meaningful discussion and immediately polarize all participants.
1.22.2009 3:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gray.
I was grunt. We used WP grenades and had WP available with mortars, arty, and tac air. The WP material was dispersed by an explosive charge. It was raw WP, a soft metal which is nearly impossible to quench.
The IDF munition is different from the stuff we had. That's why it looks different. That's why it acts differently.
Did your rounds have impregnated felt in them that made a pretty cone-shaped pattern as they sped toward the ground? Didn't think so.
1.22.2009 3:58pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Please do not clutter up the thread responding to jbg's trolling!
1.22.2009 4:06pm
jkel (mail):
It is unfortunate that TokyoTom would uncritically parrot the left line that "Israel broke the ceasefire". Why not mention that this "breaking" of the ceasefire was an attack on militants who were digging a tunnel into Israel apparently to execute another abduction? Why not mention that rocket fire into Israel never completely ceased throughout the six months? Why not mention that Israel was prepared to extend the cease fire another 6 months but Hamas refused? (And please none of those unsubstantiated Carter comments that Israel would only allow 15% of normal supplies).

And what's up with pointing out that Tony Caron is a South Africa Jew? So what. I'm also one of those. Does it somehow give me extra-special credibility (or maybe a nice hat)? Mr. Caron is well know to also parrot the left line. (I'm well known in my circles to parrot a more right line). So, why point out his religion and nationality? (Why am I asking so many questions?)
1.22.2009 6:22pm
Yankev (mail):

And what's up with pointing out that Tony Caron is a South Africa Jew? So what. I'm also one of those. Does it somehow give me extra-special credibility (or maybe a nice hat)? Mr. Caron is well know to also parrot the left line. (I'm well known in my circles to parrot a more right line). So, why point out his religion and nationality? (Why am I asking so many questions?)
TokyoTom is convinced that anyone who criticizes Israel will be falsely smeared as an anti-Semite. He has mentioned this in thread after thread, and believes that it is done to pre-empt any analytical criticsim or discussion. He also stretches this theory to posit that NO criticism of Israel can possibly be anti-Semitic, so long as there is at least one Jew willing to level similar charges or use similar terms. When challenged, he tends to fall back on ad hominem and on a reiteration that whether the criticism is sincere, or anti-Semitic, or (and I am using Sharanksy's terms now, not TT's) functionally anti-Semitic (i.e. relies on one or more of demonization, delegitimization or double standard) is irrelevant and a distraction from the true issues. Similarly, if his facts are challenged, he tends to employ a 2-pronged response of ad hominem and of finding one or more Jews who have put forth the same inaccurate "facts" or some version of them.
1.22.2009 6:45pm
TokyoTom (mail):
PubliusFL: I agree that Israel's air and land attacks have NOT been completely indiscriminate, but that leaves Israel saddled with responsibility:

- on top of Hamas fighters, leaders, policemen, etc. who were targeted, for directly and deliberately destroying billions in vital infrastructure and leaving tens and tens of thousands homeless;

- for tremendous collateral damage, including many women, children and elderly, resulting from Israel's tremendous firepower, deliberately used despite the dense urban setting in order to limit the loss of IDF lives; and

- for all of its actions that led directly and foreseeably to Israel's "need" to kill thousands of Palestinians.
1.23.2009 12:05am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

So we can agree on the following points:

1) Hamas's messages in Arabic and English are consistent while Fatah is probably lying in English.

2) Negotiations with Fatah have been a mixed success at best.

Does point 1 imply that Hamas is a more credible negotiating partner than Fatah? After all, they do seem more honest.

However, where is the real solution to this problem? Is destruction of infrastructure and public works followed by interference in PA law enforcement and reconstruction going to make Israel more secure or less over a period of time? Do these operations make Jews more hated or less by Muslims in the area?

It seems to me that real solutions are going to be both difficult and demanding, and require a combination of peace concessions, military action, diplomacy, and fairness.
1.23.2009 12:56am
TokyoTom (mail):
when Israel did open the border crossings, Hamas proceeded to launch mortars at the crossings and send suicide bombers to the crossings,

I recognize this. But do you and others recognize that Israel has insisted on dealing only with the PA in Gaza - despite the lack of a PA presence -, not Hamas, and that during the ceasefire Israel did not keep its part of the bargain by opening the crossings more? Besides a stick, what incentives has Israel ever provided Hamas to NOT attack Israel when it unilaterally lets humanitarian supplies (from the UN and others) through? Israel opens the crossings only to make it look like it is trying to prevent a humanitarian crisis (but keeping things basically as tight as a drum in order to make Gazans miserable (keeping them on a "diet" as Dov Weissglas would have it), but never in order to advance a political deal with Palestinians.

And no one who has pointed out the disproportion in arms or casualties has offered a single workable suggestion as to what Israel is supposed to do.

Nonsense; the obvious workable suggestion - very often mentioned - is the one staring Israel in the face: for Israel to act as if it sincerely wants to settle with the Palestinians by working towards a viable Palestinian state, and by negotiating with the Palestinians' chosen leaders rather than beating the whole population with a stick, supposedly until they choose leaders that Israel likes.

But the Israeli government has made it clear that it has no intention of ever reaching a political settlement with Palestinians, as Dov Weisglass, then adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated in October 2004:
"The significance of the [Sharon's Gaza Strip disengagement] plan is the freezing of the peace process," Dov Weisglass told Haaretz newspaper, adding the US had given its backing. ... "It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians ... When you freeze [the peace] process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the [Palestinian] refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. ... Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. ... And all this with authority and permission. All with a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."


The lack of interest by Israel in engaging with Arafat and the Palestinians is a factor in the rise of Hamas, and its
attack on Gaza has left them stronger there, and further undermined Fatah on the West Bank. All of this was predictable, as Shimon Peres noted in 2004 (same link as above) in response to Sharon's actions:
Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres has responded by saying that the "stalling games" outlined by Mr Weisglass are sure to backfire.

"Can Israel expect to stop diplomatic processes around the world? We should not delude ourselves. Until we have peace we [cannot expect] calm and security," he said.


Gideon Levy offers one take on how unproductive the attack on Gaza has been:
The describing of the operation as a "military achievement" by the various generals and analysts who offered their take on the operation is plain ridiculous.

We have not weakened Hamas. The vast majority of its combatants were not harmed and popular support for the organization has in fact increased. Their war has intensified the ethos of resistance and determined endurance. A country which has nursed an entire generation on the ethos of a few versus should know to appreciate that by now. There was no doubt as to who was David and who was Goliath in this war.

The population in Gaza, which has sustained such a severe blow, will not become more moderate now. On the contrary, the national sentiment will now turn more than before against the party which inflicted that blow - the State of Israel. Just as public opinion leans to the right in Israel after each attack against us, so it will in Gaza following the mega-attack that we carried out against them.

If anyone was weakened because of this war, it was Fatah, whose fleeing from Gaza and its abandonment have now been given special significance. The succession of failures in this war needs to include, of course, the failure of the siege policy. For a while, we have already come to realize that is ineffective. The world boycotted, Israel besieged and Hamas ruled (and is still ruling).

But this war's balance, as far as Israel is concerned, does not end with the absence of any achievement. It has placed a heavy toll on us, which will continue to burden us for some time. When it comes to assessing Israel's international situation, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled by the support parade by Europe's leaders, who came in for a photo-op with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel's actions have dealt a serious blow to public support for the state. While this does not always translate itself into an immediate diplomatic situation, the shockwaves will arrive one day. The whole world saw the images. They shocked every human being who saw them, even if they left most Israelis cold.

The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way.

Graver still is the damage this will visit upon our moral spine. It will come from difficult questions about what the IDF did in Gaza, which will occur despite the blurring effect of recruited media.

So what was achieved, after all? As a war waged to satisfy considerations of internal politics, the operation has succeeded beyond all expectations. Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu is getting stronger in the polls.


Hamas' actions show they are sincere in their goals. How often to they have to say this before Israel's critics will believe it?

That's not the question - the US has negotiated with all matter of enemies. The question is what is Israel's strategy and whether it is one that treats Palestinians as other than dogs or cockroaches.
1.23.2009 1:17am
TokyoTom (mail):
TokyoTom, as you neglect to mention Palestinian actions in any way, what would be the evidence that you have attempted a balanced analysis?

Village Idiot, are there any Palestinians on this thread whom I should upbraid for supporting Hamas?

Or are you suggesting, that by focussing my arguments towards those who ARE here that I disagree with, that I am being "functionally anti-Semitic", as Yankev would have it?

Surely a "balanced analysis" doesn't mean that I have to try to carry on an empty conversation with people who are not here.

My simple point here is that Israel's behavior is not dictated by Hamas or anyone else. Accordingly, it has responsibility for its own behavior.
1.23.2009 1:26am
TokyoTom (mail):
You provide two links for "strengthened Hamas."

David, mmaybe my links weren't the best ones to support my point, but there are many others out there that support my view (including the Gideon Levy quote above). But certainly don't take my word; use your own noggin and let your fingers do their own walking.

Your JGB reference escapes me, but I shall strive harder to provide links consistent with whatever point I'm trying to make.
1.23.2009 1:30am
TokyoTom (mail):
For all of those who so casually claim that Israel was conducting a genocide

emsl: Do you like strawmen, or is there someone here who's making that claim?

"making war on the Palestinian people"

Israel has of course NOT be waging any type of conventional war against the Palestinians. But it has been very deliberately punishing Palestinians collectively for the behavior of Hamas by strangling Gaza economically and, in this latest attack (as noted by the Israeli defense paper noted above), using "disproportionate force", thereby "inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes", and targetting "decision makers and the power elite" (and their extended families if they happen to be present), including "economic interests and the centres of civilian power that support the [enemy] organisation". In other words, virtually all of Gazan society has been under attack.
1.23.2009 1:45am
TokyoTom (mail):
It is unfortunate that TokyoTom would uncritically parrot the left line that "Israel broke the ceasefire". Why not mention that this "breaking" of the ceasefire was an attack on militants who were digging a tunnel into Israel apparently to execute another abduction? Why not mention that rocket fire into Israel never completely ceased throughout the six months? Why not mention that Israel was prepared to extend the cease fire another 6 months but Hamas refused?

jkel, on what basis do you claim I "uncritically parrot" anything? I've previously referenced a recent study, using data from the IDF, regarding how ceasefires have been broken.

As for your questions, why not mention the details acknowledged here by the Israelis?
1.23.2009 2:14am
TokyoTom (mail):
TokyoTom is convinced that anyone who criticizes Israel will be falsely smeared as an anti-Semite. He has mentioned this in thread after thread, and believes that it is done to pre-empt any analytical criticsim or discussion.

And Yankev is not sufficiently committed to good faith dialogue to directly address me. Your powers of mind-reading are unconvincing, and your insistence on setting up strawmen is also an escape from engagement. I am NOT "convinced that anyone who criticizes Israel will be falsely smeared as an anti-Semite" (or as anti-Israel), nor have I made such a statement on any thread. I have noted - and documented - that it FREQUENTLY occurs. Yes, I believe that anti-Semitism claims are often trotted out in order to dodge discussion of what Israeli and US policies make sense.

convinced that anyone who criticizes Israel will be falsely smeared as an anti-Semite

More feeble mind-reading/strawman. I have no such conviction.

He also stretches this theory to posit that NO criticism of Israel can possibly be anti-Semitic, so long as there is at least one Jew willing to level similar charges or use similar terms.

Again, false.

When challenged, he tends to fall back on ad hominem

Please demonstrate.

and on a reiteration that whether the criticism is sincere, or anti-Semitic, or (and I am using Sharanksy's terms now, not TT's) functionally anti-Semitic (i.e. relies on one or more of demonization, delegitimization or double standard) is irrelevant and a distraction from the true issues.

This appears to be your only fair and accurate statement. Thanks for this, at least!

Similarly, if his facts are challenged, he tends to employ a 2-pronged response of ad hominem and of finding one or more Jews who have put forth the same inaccurate "facts" or some version of them.

Care to demonstrate ANY ad hominem, short of my noting that you prefer to play the victim rather than responding to me on any issue of substance?

As to "facts", I don't recall you contesting any. You just seem to dislike that some Jews disagrees with you.

And as for jkel's question [So, why point out his religion and nationality?] obviously my intention in quoting and citing to Jews and Israelis is help people here to focus on the arguments that they make (the ones I interesting to me, anyway), rather than to get bogged down in considerations as to whether such persons or the arguments they make are anti-Semitic or anti-Israel, which seems very much to be your concern, even here.
1.23.2009 2:41am
TokyoTom (mail):
David, moving on to item (2), permit a few observations regarding the athor's comments on the media "narrative" of the Gaza fighting:

Terms like "children slaughtered" or "humanitarian crisis" are never used in the same sentence with "American offensive" or "American military operations," and the term "American aggression" is never used to describe what most consider the prototype of a just war in Afghanistan.

The same could also be said of most of our reporting about Iraq. Yes, there appears to be a double standard, but the author seems to think that the US media are right to uphold the typical exceptionalism whereby we ignore the deaths and suffering resulting from our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Should or should we not be paying attention to the the havoc we wreak? The author, like most Americans when our own behavior is involved, seems to forget the differences between jus ad bellum and jus in bello.

Second, it's awfully hard for foreign media to distinguish between the injuries of militants vs. civilians when Israel has itself deliberately prevented foreign media from entering Gaza.

Finally, the author seems to suggest that photos and film of people who are injured or killed are "designed" to create sympathy. Some might just call this "reality" and those recording it "reporting". That it creates sympathy is a result of our human nature, which is the very reason why Israel has made very diligent efforts to prevent us from seeing such images:
“Any journalist who enters Gaza becomes a fig leaf and front for the Hamas terror organization, and I see no reason why we should help that.”

That startling moment of candor comes from Danny Seaman, the head of Israel's Government Press Office.

Further, while this is just my own impression, it seems to me that the suffering of Israelis as a result of missile attacks or suicide bombings has always gotten at least its fair share of media attention, and that the American media has generally viewed Israel with much more sympathy than the Palestinians.
1.23.2009 3:19am
TokyoTom (mail):
(3) Garlasco was happy to pass on speculation, rumor, and innuendo about Israeli actions

Your view, but again, Israel prevents him and others who could verify from getting in - and he sounds like he has the experience necessary to make qualified guesses. Shall no one speculate simply because Israel is making a concerted effort to prevent hard facts from being confirmed?

"How," he adds, "can anyone trust the Israeli military?"

Do you expect people not to read? Garlasco states that "They said in Lebanon they did not use cluster bombs. We found 4 million. They evade answering that they use phosphorus, and we stand there every day watching. Garlasco is clearly right on these points - the IDF and the "National Information Directorate" should be a little more honest.
1.23.2009 3:34am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tokyo.
Do you think that the media, were they to get in, would actually tell the truth. Israel remembers, if you pretend not to, the falsehoods, the staged pictures, of the outside media in 2006.
You've heard of al Dura and the faked death of a child. That went to trial in France. It also started the intifada with the willing connivance of the press.
Either you are ignorant of the media's proclivities in this area, or you hope to give them another chance to do what they've done before.
You cannot be dumb enough to think we'd get the truth.
1.23.2009 8:08am
Yankev (mail):
einfevher, when someone says that he wants to exterminate your entire counrty and an entire people (whether they live in that country or not), what is there to negotiate over?

What you and TT seem to overlook is that Israel did sincerely negotiate with the elected leader of the Palestinian people from 1994 when Oslo was signed until (and after) the 2001 Second Intidfada that followed Arafat's rejection of a state in 97% of post-1967 Israel, with land from pre-1967 Israel added to make up the difference, and parts of Jerusalem. All this despite terror attacks during all that time, many of them funded and planned by Arafat and carried out by his security forces -- leading to a death rate among Israelis that exceeded those during the first Intifada. You also seem to overlook that Israel did not begin destroying police stations and other infrastructure until those police stations were used to plan and carry out terror attacks. Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and abandonment of Oslo were a reaction to, not the cause of, violent Palestinian rejectionism. The same is true of the security fence, the border closings, the recent Gaza campaign. Yes, these actions may cause further resentment among Palestinians. That can't be helped. If the Palestinians sincererly wanted a state living side by side with Israel in peace, they could have one tomorrow. -- Israel would welcome another trading partner, and even moreso the absence of a hostile neighbor devoted to its destruction.
1.23.2009 9:29am
Yankev (mail):

When challenged, he tends to fall back on ad hominem


Please demonstrate.

You've got to be kidding -- do you really think our memories are that short? I am not going to take the time to scroll back through old threads, and it would serve no useful purpose to dredge up some of the terms of endearment that you have been so free with.
1.23.2009 9:32am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
eagar:

So, juke, you are contending the GC is in force somewhere in Asia? News to me.


191 countries are parties to GC. And many of those countries are Asian. So you're only revealing profound ignorance to admit that it's news to you that "the GC is in force somewhere in Asia." By the way, I said nothing about Asia. Your irrelevant question is nothing but misdirection. You'd like us to not notice that you're ducking the question I asked you.

Speaking of ignorance, we're still waiting for you to explain why you implied (see here) that Truman's acts during WWII were subject to the 1949 GC.
1.23.2009 11:48am
Michael B (mail):
A comprehensive and incisive overview of Gaza and what it reflects for both Israel and the west in general, by Kenneth Levin and rightly described as magisterial by M.Phillips.

Also, K. Levin is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege, a superb and conscientious book length treatment of that earlier process - as the editorial and customer reviews at Amazon confirm.
1.23.2009 4:09pm
TokyoTom (mail):
You cannot be dumb enough to think we'd get the truth.

You`re right, Richard. I just don`t think we get the truth by closing our eyes - or having others like Israel blindfold us or restrict us to the feed of "truth" preferred by its National Information Directorate.

For the same reason, I am a strong proponent of the FOIA and limits on government secrecy at home.
1.24.2009 12:37am
TokyoTom (mail):
I am not going to take the time to scroll back through old threads, and it would serve no useful purpose

So bold to accuse yet so reluctant to provide support? What a gentleman you are! What you refer to as "ad homs" are merely descriptions of your behavior to me, including calling me a "troll" and a "propagandist" for "fascists and Islamists", and a fairly consistent pattern of trotting out strawmen and otherwise evading responding on substance. "Ad homs" are used to avoid debate, and that`s exactly what I`m calling for, not running away from.
1.24.2009 1:18am
TokyoTom (mail):
David and others, allow me to note that there is some interesting commentary at:

- London Review of Books, from quite a number of commentators here and by Henry Siegman (former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America) here; and

- the January 26 issue of The American Conservative
1.24.2009 1:58am
TokyoTom (mail):
Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and abandonment of Oslo were a reaction to, not the cause of, violent Palestinian rejectionism. The same is true of the security fence, the border closings, the recent Gaza campaign. Yes, these actions may cause further resentment among Palestinians. That can't be helped. If the Palestinians sincererly wanted a state living side by side with Israel in peace, they could have one tomorrow.

Yankev, I`m afraid it`s quite a bit more complicated than that, but in any case, to move towards peace Israel has to work with those in charge, and cannot create a responsible PA by punishing all of Gaza in order choke off Hamas. Ther is no alternative to working WITH your enemy, as the Ireland peace process showed.
1.24.2009 2:05am
Michael B (mail):
Good grief, those LRB contributors include Tariq Ali, John Mearsheimer, Alastair Crooke, Eric Hobsbawm, Rashid Khalidi and Ilan Pappe. Quite a collection, that. "Interesting," yes, bemusingly and sadly, even repulsively so.

As to the LRB in general, Venerable Beads recently offered a thoughtful evisceration titled The London "Review" of "Books".
1.24.2009 1:41pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tokyo.
Are you insisting that having bogus information fortified by various western media institutions' declining brand value would be in any sense useful?
Perhaps another al Dura would be a good idea?
1.24.2009 5:16pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Richard, I'm no fan of our corporate media, which is cowardly and institutionally prefers not to rock any boats.
1.26.2009 1:55am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tokyo.
That's nice, and all, but you haven't addressed the point that you want outside media in when the 2006 adventure shows they subtracted from the general store of correct information. Why is this an improvement?
1.26.2009 8:35am
Yankev (mail):

Israel has to work with those in charge, and cannot create a responsible PA by punishing all of Gaza in order choke off Hamas.
It is not Israel's job to create a responsible Palestinian leadership. And waging war on those who wage war against you is not punishment.

Ther is no alternative to working WITH your enemy, as the Ireland peace process showed.
The US did not work with Japan and Germany; it defeated them, until they lost the means and will to fight further.

The IRA recognized the UK's right to exist. It did not work for the goal or abolishing the UK and replacing every square inch with an Irish state. It did not call for expelling every last Englishman, Scotsman and Welshman from the UK (or even from Northern Ireland). And the Irish did not proceed to elect a government that espoused not only those goals but the extermination of every last Englishman, Scotsman and Welshman.

Once the enemy backs off from those goals, there may be something to negotiate about. Until then, abandoning military options is suicidal, and the comparison to Ireland is irrelevant.

The Israelis have been trying to negotiate since 1948. They negotiated with Egypt AFTER Egypt tired of trying to defeat Israel militarily. Negotiations succeeded in part -- Egypt got everything it wanted, and Israel got a cessation in active hostilites, but not the peace they were promised.

Israel has been trying to negotiate with the Palestinians since 1994. The process has not been successful, and will not be successful until both the Palestinian leadership and people decide that having an independent state is more important than destroying the Jewish state. Until then, any comparison with Ireland is, in my opinion, a distraction.
1.26.2009 11:27am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Yankev
You have to wonder why people keep saying this stuff.
The differences are screamingly obvious. Not just to learned debaters, but to everybody.
Yet they keep trying, in the foolish belief that somewhere out there is somebody who might be misinformed by their efforts.
I just don't get it.
1.26.2009 4:30pm
Yankev (mail):
Richard

I just don't get it.
I don't either, but then I also don't get how somebody with a long history of name calling and personal insult across a variety of threads can say he never engages in it. Perhaps because I dignified the conduct by calling it ad hominem rather than more accurately characterising it as simple playground level name calling and personal insult.

Whatever the reason, both courses of conduct are tiresome. And both are distractions.
1.26.2009 4:43pm

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