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Thursday, January 29, 2015

HRW's anti-Israel bias, illustrated, from their annual report

Human Rights Watch has released its 2015 World Report, a 650 page document that goes through the human rights records of every country.

Here is a chart for how often some nations are named in the report:


This gives you an idea of how skewed HRW is when dealing with Israel, placing its importance as a human rights violator somewhere between Syria and Russia.

This isn't a perfect metric. For example, I didn't include the United States (83) because many of its mentions have nothing to do with human rights. "Palestine" or "Palestinians" are mentioned 98 times, but the vast majority of those mentions were regarding them as victims of human rights violations, not violators.

Even with those flaws, this chart is a fairly accurate view of HRW's thinking on who are the biggest violators of human rights, and therefore it is a good indicator of HRW's anti-Israel bias. To think that Israel's human rights posture is deserving of more attention  than those of, say, the DRC or Saudi Arabia or Mexico is the height of absurdity. However, it fits in very well with the patterns we have seen in HRW reports and Ken Roth's tweets being heavily weighted to damn Israel far out of proportion to any human rights issues it has..


2015 Hasby Award - Best Own Goal

A new category this year, and definitely one of the most fun to choose.

The nominees for the Hasby for Best Own Goal are:

Max Blumenthal and David Sheen - ToiletGate
George Galloway - everything

And the winner of the 2015 Hasby for Best Own Goal is...

01/29 Links Pt1: PLO tournament named after terrorists who killed 46; Jeffrey Goldberg's libel

From Ian:

Is Israel Guilty of War Crimes?
It seems that half the world supports demands for Israel to lift its entirely legal weapons and dual-use materials blockade of Gaza, so that Hamas can get down to seriously importing long-range missiles from Iran and its other allies, as well as large quantities of cement to build more terror tunnels. In a recent interview between a Reuters reporter and a Hamas leader, the Hamas official stated openly that "the group would press on with restocking its arsenal or [sic] rockets and other weaponry and shoring up its underground network. In peace we make preparations, and in war we use what we have readied."
Calls for an end to the blockade (which does not block the import of genuine humanitarian goods at all) amounts to a policy of arming terrorists. Hamas has already diverted billions of dollars of aid money to build concrete-lined tunnels and purchase missiles and other arms, leaving ordinary Gazans without the basic necessities of life, while the Hamas elite drives expensive cars, shops at a mall selling designer goods, and builds luxury apartments.
After the premature end Operation Protective Edge, the international community promised to pour in more billions to rebuild Gaza. If there is no blockade, those billions will build another arsenal, and with that arsenal, Hamas will start another war in which even more Gazans and Israelis will die or fall injured.
The simple solution to this is peace -- which Israel has always asked for. But Hamas, as stated in its Charter, rejects peace out of hand and for all time. What is needed is a government in power in Gaza that cares about the well-being of all its citizens, and that might see permanent peace with its neighbours as the right way forward for everyone.
Fatah and PLO tournament named after terrorists who killed 46
Earlier this month, a sports festival organized by Fatah and the PLO included a tournament named after two terrorists who planned and carried out some of the most lethal terror attacks in Israel's history:
The Martyr Raed Al-Karmi and Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Tournament
Raed Al-Karmi was responsible for the murder of 9 Israelis from 2001-2002 and Dalal Mughrabi led the killing of 37 in 1978.
PLO representative Mazen Abu Zaid said that the recent festival's purpose was to "renew our commitment and loyalty to the blood of the Martyrs, and to show support for President Mahmoud Abbas." He praised terrorists Raed Al-Karmi and Dalal Mughrabi as "Martyrs" and stated that their blood had been spilled to "draw the map of the homeland" and to deliver the message that "Palestine is one, indivisible unit":
"[PLO representative Mazen Abu Zaid] added that the blood of Martyr Raed Al-Karmi... and the blood of Martyr Dalal Mughrabi... had been absorbed into the soil of the homeland, and embraced the blood of the Gazan Martyrs, in order to draw the map of the homeland for us and to serve as a message: Palestine is one, indivisible unit." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 18, 2015]
Thousands attend funerals of IDF officer, soldier killed in Hezbollah ambush
Maj. Yochai Kalangel, 25, who was killed in Wednesday's Hezbollah attack against IDF soldiers near the Lebanese border was laid to rest at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Thousands of people arrived to honor Kalangel who was killed along with St.-Sgt. Dor Haim Nini when Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon attacked IDF vehicles traveling in the village of Ghajar in the Galilee panhandle with Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Kalangel grew up in the West Bank settlement of Elazar in Gush Etzion, and leaves behind a wife, Tali, and their one-year-old child. He is one of six siblings, and on Independence Day this year he was awarded a General Staff commendation for excellence.
Tamir, Yochai’s brother, told reporters that Yochai, or “Joha” as the family knew him, “was a giant of a man, salt of the earth, a great warrior.”
Update on Wounded Soldiers’ Conditions
Ziv Hospital in Tzefat (Safed) reports that the medical condition of five of the IDF soldiers wounded in yesterday’s Hezbollah attack have improved.
All five are now listed as lightly injured.
Later today they will undergo additional medical examinations, and the hospital will decide if they need further treatment, or if they can be released.
The soldiers jumped from their vehicle after witnessing the first vehicle blown up by the long-range anti-tank rocket, and thus saved their lives.

UN outraged by Hamas (but not because of human shields or rockets or terror)


It turns out that the UN is capable of strong language against Hamas - but only when it is the victim:
The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process, Robert Serry, has expressed outrage by the assault on the UN premises in Gaza this morning.

“During a pre-announced demonstration, of which Hamas was well aware, a number of protestors climbed the perimeter wall and entered the compound causing damage to United Nations premises and property,” Mr. Serry said today in a statement from his office, UNSCO.

Due to precautionary measures taken, United Nations personnel working in the compound were fortunately unharmed.

The Special Coordinator noted with “deep concern” that, despite repeated assurances, the security forces in Gaza did not take the necessary and timely measures to protect UNSCO's compound.

“Pending a full transfer of security responsibilities to the legitimate Palestinian Authority, we continue to hold Hamas fully responsible for the security and safety of all United Nations personnel and operations in Gaza,” Mr. Serry said.

As this serious incident took place in the context of increasing incitement against the United Nations in Gaza, the Special Coordinator is conducting an urgent review of operations in Gaza.
It is very rare for the UN to express "outrage" explicitly at Hamas. They did express outrage over rockets being stored in UNRWA schools but didn't blame Hamas explicitly, and in 2006 they said they were outraged at Hamas police stealing supplies from a UN warehouse.

So, in Israel and the territories, the UN only seems outraged when it is the victims of attacks. Even though the UN routinely expresses outrage over terror attacks worldwide, I haven't yet found any such expressions for Hamas' explicit policies of using Gazans as human shields, or their terror attacks or rocket fire against Israel.

Hamas reacted to this statement with derision:
Hamas prominent leader Salah Bardawil stated Wednesday that the UN resolutions by Robert Serry to halt aid provided for the victims of the Israeli aggression on Gaza had led to the popular anger the world witnessed Wednesday .

Bardawil said that claims of Robert Serry that Hamas holds responsible for the angry reaction of the refugees towards the United Nations staff are just " an attempt to jump over the reality ", pointing out that the masses wanted to tell Serry they reject the United Nations to be part of the siege imposed on the Gaza people .

" It would have been better for Mr. Serry to consider the serious repercussions of the UN decisions over reconstruction and adis for the victims of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza, rather that distribution of accusations ." Bardawil added.

B'Tselem's interpretation of international law is wrong

B'Tselem released a report on the IDF's policy of striking houses during the Gaza war.

The first 36 pages of the report are meant to humanize the victims, in order to prime the reader to think that certainly Israel must be guilty of war crimes. Once B'Tselem greased the wheels, it tries to interpret international law in a biased and incorrect way.

The organization admits multiple times that it has no access to IDF intelligence as to why specific targets were struck, It only mentions that the IDF has not released the details of why it considered the houses targeted to have been legitimate targets. Without a single shred of evidence, B'Tselem claims that Israel was targeting people, not facilities.

Many Hamas military branch commanders – mid‐level and up – had, in effect, turned their apartments also into bases or operational headquarters where they received military intel and from which orders were issued to their subordinates, including orders for operations against our troops and for firing rockets at Israel […] During Operation Protective Edge, there was widespread use of private homes for concrete military purposes. There is no doubt that these are legitimate military targets under international law.
But that's not good enough for B'Tselem, which insists that unless the IDF tells them the specific intelligence that went behind the attacks, then B'Tselem's guesses must be more accurate:

It is possible for residences of operatives of Hamas or other organizations to be considered legitimate military targets, but to be defined as such, what they were actually used for must first be determined. IHL stipulates a twofold test for deciding whether a structure is a “military objective”: the structure must make an effective contribution to military action, and harming it must give the attacking party a clear military advantage.

In spite of this, the IDF Spokesperson did not explain the connection between any of the houses attacked as specified in his statements and any military activity. The term “operational infrastructure” proves nothing in itself about any alleged military use of the residence. Its repetition does, however, serve to unmask the attempt by policymakers to lend an air of legality to such attacks.

The explanations the IDF Spokesperson and the MAG provided for the destruction of operatives’ homes are unconvincing and appear to be no more than a cover‐up for the actual reason for the destruction – the identity of the occupants. In this sense, these strikes constitute dozens of cases of punitive house demolitions – prohibited in themselves – carried out from the air. 
 Somehow, the IDF's refusal to reveal sensitive military information has been transformed into B'Tselem's being able to read minds as to the real reason houses were targeted.

B'Tselem admits that it has no real information to make any determination:
The military refrains from giving the public the answers to these questions.  Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, B’Tselem cannot know what considerations underpinned the attacks. Some of B’Tselem’s investigations did lead to conjectures regarding the reasons for an attack on a specific house, such as: the presence of a Hamas operative in the house at the time of the attack or several hours earlier; the fact that the homeowner’s son was an operative – at one or another level of seniority – in an armed Palestinian group; or the firing of Qasam rockets from somewhere near the house. However, in the absence of an official statement from the military, B’Tselem cannot determine with certainty why a given house was attacked, whether it met the definition of a legitimate target and if so, whether the attack may be considered proportionate.  
Yet it makes its baseless charges anyway!

When it suits its purposes, B'Tselem says that Israeli intelligence in Gaza is top-notch, using that to prove that Israel should have known that civilians were likely to be killed:
[T]he military has powerful intelligence capabilities with respect to Gaza residents. Intelligence information made it possible for the military to know the precise location of people it intended to target. The Ground Forces journal mentioned above provided a detailed description of surveillance measures available to the military, including observation balloons, drones, and observation officers who analyze the findings.50 Given all this, whoever gave the orders to attack knew – or should have and could have known – about the presence of civilians at the site of the target.
However, if the IDF intelligence is so good, that implies that the IDF knows far more about the nature of the military target itself.

If the target is a legitimate military target, then the issue of likely civilian casualties is weighed against the value of the target. A reasonable military commander makes that decision under international law. B'Tselem is confusing its ignorance of what the commanders know with the idea that the commanders don't know any more than B'Tselem does about the value of the targets, and it makes up its own fiction about what they assume must have been the targets - Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants hanging out in crowded apartments, not seriously considering that they would have command and control centers hidden specifically in residential buildings.

Here is the crux of B'Tselem's conclusions:
[T]he issue at hand is what conclusions policymakers may draw from the conduct of Hamas and other armed Palestinian organizations. The above quoted statements by the prime minister and the chief of staff indicate they believe that Hamas and the military share the responsibility of taking precautions. For example, in a case in which Hamas did in fact conceal weapons in a residential building, thereby turning it into a military target that may be targeted, Israel’s interpretation would be that the military would attempt to warn the building’s occupants before striking. If the warning accomplishes its objective so the civilians are unharmed, Israel can use the incident to showcase how the military abides by IHL. If civilians are harmed, whether or not a warning was issued, Hamas will be held responsible.

Accepting this interpretation would mean that there are no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli action and that whatever method it chooses to respond to Hamas operations is legitimate, no matter how horrifying the consequences. This interpretation is unreasonable, unlawful, and renders meaningless the principle that IHL violations committed by one party do not release the other party from its obligations toward the civilian population and civilian objects.63

Yet this interpretation is designed to block, a priori, any allegations that Israel breached IHL provisions. It focuses exclusively on policymakers’ intentions, which cannot be examined as no official information is available, while completely ignoring the outcome, even when the same deadly results are seen time and again.  Several days into the fighting, decision makers surely would have had no doubts about the results to be expected from continuing the policy of attacking homes.

In light of all this, the argument that the house bombing policy is lawful must be rejected.
The highlighted area is completely wrong. Israeli military commanders must, under IHL, decide on the value of the target and also decide whether civilian casualties are proportionate given the value of the target. Under IHL, as we have seen, even a relatively low value military target - destroying the ability of the enemy to communicate for only a few hours - was considered so valuable that the killing of 16 civilians during the attack was not considered disproportionate. That's IHL,  B'Tselem's incorrect interpretation isn't.

There is one other salient missing piece of data that undermines B'Tselem's analysis. B'Tselem doesn't know how many targets Israel decided not to attack because of the likelihood that civilian casualties would be disproportionate to the value of the target. There might have been thousands of such targets, and the houses targeted might be a small percentage of the total possible targets in Gaza because they did have high military value. B'Tselem's accusations have a false assumption: that Israel acted in an unrestrained manner. But it cannot know that without knowing Israel's entire intelligence operations.

Anyone can make guesses. But if you are going to write a report that accuses a country of disregarding the lives of people for no good reason, you should not base this report on ignorance - ignorance that B'Tselem even admits.

To read the actual international law that underpins B'Tselem's false accusations, see my previous articles on the principle of distinction and the principle of proportionality. International law gives far more leeway to military commanders than B'Tselem is willing to admit.

To sum up: if someone told you that she bought a diamond ring for $3,000, you cannot say that she paid too much without examining the ring and knowing something about diamonds. But that is what B'Tselem is doing here: determining that Israel acted in a disproportionate manner without knowing what the actual targets were, how important they were, what international law says about proportionality and distinction - and then B'Tselem  makes the assumption that its ignorance of the facts is evidence.

White House tells NYT how upset it is at Bibi. Nothing about Boehner.

Ron Dermer
Why is Israel supposed to be more responsible for upholding US diplomatic protocol than the Speaker of the House?

The White House has gleefully used this latest incident as an excuse to escalate tensions with Israel rather than to downplay them. The latest NYT article - based on those famous unnamed sources - is the latest part of this anti-Bibi campaign, and there is really no other way to describe it:
The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress on Iran without consulting the White House.

The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.

The official who made the comments to The New York Times would not be named, and the White House declined to comment. The remarks were the latest fallout after Mr. Dermer, without the White House’s knowledge, worked with House Speaker John A. Boehner to arrange the speech, which is scheduled for March.

The remarks are likely to escalate a feud between the White House, Republicans on Capitol Hill and Mr. Netanyahu over the invitation, which has led to a new low in American-Israeli relations and threatened to mar the long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.
Dermer says that he assumed that John Boehner would know the logistics involved when he is the one who extended the invitation:
In a telephone interview late Wednesday, Mr. Dermer said, “I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country’s interests.” He said he never meant to slight the White House by keeping the confidence of the House speaker, who had suggested the invitation. He said he left it to Mr. Boehner to notify Mr. Obama’s team.

“My understanding was that it was the speaker’s prerogative to do, and that he would be the one to inform the administration,” Mr. Dermer said. “The prime minister feels very strongly that he has to speak on this issue. That’s why he accepted the invitation, not to wade into your political debate or make this a partisan issue, and not to be disrespectful to the president.
Rather than investigating whether this makes sense, the NYT then takes aim at Dermer:
“He’s a political operative, he’s not really an ambassador,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel. “What he did was totally unacceptable from a standpoint of diplomacy. To think about going behind the back of a friendly country’s administration and working out this kind of arrangement with the parliament or the Congress — it’s unheard-of.”

Mr. Kurtzer said while it was unlikely the Obama administration would take the extraordinary step of declaring Mr. Dermer “persona non grata” — the official method for a foreign diplomat to be ousted from a country — it could request that Mr. Dermer by reprimanded or removed.

“He has soiled his pad; who’s he going to work with?” Mr. Kurtzer said.
Kurtzer is essentially calling Congress an enemy of the White House, colluding with foreign leaders against the President. Isn't that a bigger deal than how Israel acts?

But the Times is silent on this.

While I don't know if it is wiser for Bibi to keep his appointment with Congress or to apologize to Israel's best ally over this incident, it sure seems that the lack of public anger from the White House towards the person who actually extended the invitation indicates that this supposedly huge breach of protocol is more an excuse to attack Bibi than anything else.

Which also indicates that Obama is trying to use this incident to affect the Israeli elections, taking its cue from some left-wing Israeli media who have pounced on this incident. And not affecting the elections was the supposed initial excuse given for Obama not to meet with Netanyahu to begin with!

I wish some real reporter would call up the Office of the Chief of Protocol and find the written rules around visits by heads of state that are not initiated by the President.  Obviously the New York Times can't think of doing something that simple to find out exactly how this should have been played out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

01/28 Links Pt2: B’Tselem Adds to the False Gaza War Allegations; Europe's Real "Resistance"

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: B’Tselem Adds to the Chorus of False Gaza War Allegations
In its report on IDF strikes during the 2014 Gaza conflict, B’Tselem presents a simplistic and distorted political narrative of Israeli guilt and Palestinian victimhood, according to Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor. B’Tselem’s publication follows those of Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and other investigation NGOs, contributing to the campaign surrounding the UN Human Rights Council by William Schabas, as well as Palestinian Authority efforts focused on the International Criminal Court.
“Once again, and regardless of the circumstances and available evidence, B’Tselem has contorted the facts in order to pronounce Israel guilty,” said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Advisor. “Contrary to such claims, Hamas is morally and legally responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza: Hamas systematically conducts military operations from within civilian areas and stores its rockets in schools, mosques, and private homes.”
B’Tselem’s claims regarding international law are marked by major omissions and distortions. It notably fails to state that under the laws of war, the presence of civilians does not render military objectives immune from attack. B’Tselem also does not explain why targeting Hamas fighters or Hamas command centers did not “effectively assist military efforts” or “provide a military advantage” to Israel.
NGO Monitor notes that, as in the past, this publication fails to present definitive evidence that would justify the allegations. Indeed, it is clear that B’Tselem, like other politicized NGOs, lacks the necessary information, including military intelligence and command decisions. B’Tselem also lacked direct access to Gaza, instead presenting unverifiable “testimonies” from purported victims and eyewitnesses in Hamas-controlled territory, mixed with other data that originated with the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza. (h/t Bob Knot)
Europe's Real "Resistance"
Europe's policies of encouraging groups such as Hamas, which constantly espouse violence, demolishes the Palestinian effort to achieve a responsible Palestinian state that finally could end the conflict with Israel.
The West has been duped. The French have naïvely taken the bait: they now associate Palestinian "Resistance" with the courageous French underground Résistance that fought the Germans in World War II. They incorrectly assume that the Palestinian "Resistance' must be a good thing, too.
But the Palestinian Resistance bears no resemblance to the French Résistance of Word War II. There is no way to compare them. The Palestinian "Resistance" is nothing more than terrorist organizations repressing their own people. They do not resist an evil force; they are an evil force.
The truth is that the Europeans do not really care about the Palestinians, only about destroying Israel.
Now the International Criminal Court is planning to investigate Israel because it had the gall to defend itself against terrorism, while what did Europe do? Europe, in the face of terrorism, invited every terrorist-sponsoring dictator to join it in a march to protest the very murders that these dictators had paid for.
There is no difference between Hamas's aspirations to be "liberated from the Zionist occupation," and radical Islam's aspirations to be liberated from the "Christian occupation" of Europe.
All "Resistance" should be against radical Islam as embodied by groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Islamic State, among others. They are the ones we should resist. They should not be allowed to rule us in some Islamist "Palestinian State."
Beinart is Wrong on Palestinian Incitement
On January 15, noted Israel critic Peter Beinart declared that Palestinians who hate Israel never claim that they were inspired by anti-Israel incitement.
Just six days later, on January 21, a Palestinian who stabbed twelve Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus said he was inspired by "radical Islamic broadcasts."
Beinart is a CNN commentator, a columnist for Haaretz, and a fellow at a liberal think think, the New America Foundation. He made a splash in 2012 in the Jewish world with his book The Crisis of Zionism, in which he called for a boycott of Israelis who reside in areas beyond the pre-1967 armistice line.
Appearing on the "Voice of Israel" radio show on January 15, Beinart attempted to explain Palestinians hatred of Israel and Jews. Here's what he said:
"I know a lot of Palestinians who hate Israel, in fact I would say almost all the Palestinians I know hate Israel, but when I ask them why they hate Israel, and I've talked many, many, many times with people about this, they don't mention textbooks, or movies, or names of streets that have terrorists on them…But what they tell me, what I hear about, again and again and again, is the personal trauma and suffering that they and people they love have experienced."
Internal Emails Show Al Jazeera English Banning Use of Terms ‘Terrorist,’ ‘Militant,’ ‘Islamist’
Shortly after news broke of a deadly January 27 attack by Islamic terrorists on a hotel in Libya’s capital, Al Jazeera English executive Carlos van Meek shot out an email to his employees.
“All: We manage our words carefully around here,” the network’s head of output wrote to staff at the Doha-based news channel’s New York and Washington, D.C. newsrooms. “So I’d like to bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up.”
In an email obtained by National Review Online, van Meek warned the network’s journalists against the use of terms including “terrorist,” “militant,” “Islamist” and “jihad.”
“One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter,” the Al Jazeera executive wrote.
The word “extremist” was labeled off-limits. “Avoid characterizing people,” van Meek said. “Often their actions do the work for the viewer.”
“Do not use,” van Meek’s said of the term “Islamist.” He described it as “a simplistic label.”


Aboud Dandachi: Fight extremism by buying Jewish newspapers

Aboud Dandachi, the Syrian activist living in Istanbul, makes an interesting point about how Europeans should respond to the rising tide of increase in anti-Jewish attacks. Excerpts:

On January 27th 2015, commemorations were held world-wide in remembrance of the Holocaust. Seventy years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, these remembrances are as necessary as ever, as evidenced by the past year’s rising tide of antisemitic attacks the world over. And while it may be impossible to stop every terrorist attack everywhere in the world, the manner in which societies and individuals react to such atrocities is just as important as “killing the bad guys”.
A case in point would be the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in early January. In the aftermath, a massive two million strong march was held in the heart of Paris in support of freedom of expression. The phrase #JeSuisCharlie became the most widely used hashtag in Twitter’s history. To meet the increased demand from multitudes of first-time readers seemingly eager on making a statement against extremism, the publication run for the magazine’s January 12th 2015 issue was increased from 60,000 copies to three million, and increased again to five million, and yet again to seven million copies.
Marches, Twitter campaigns, and a massive surge in readership. And yet largely relegated to the background was the fact that Jews were specifically targeted during those three terrible days in Paris. Indeed, for months before the Paris terrorist atrocities, Jews in much of Europe had been subjected to a relentless wave of vicious antisemitic attacks. An atmosphere of raw, unchallenged hatred for all things Jewish preceded the events in Paris, and the warning signs were there for anyone who cared to pay attention. When Jews in Denmark trying to hold an event calling for religious coexistence are chased off the streets by “Allahu Akbar” screaming-black-banner-waving thugs, then very soon someone will get it into their head to try to kill Jews in Paris.
Marches, Twitter campaigns, and millions of new readers. Momentary, short-term reactions to a very long term problem, one that has been building up for years. In the wake of such atrocities, it is natural for individuals to feel a strong need to act. And nothing reputes terrorism as effectively as making a stand with its intended targets and victims. By making a stand with the Jewish communities of Europe and the world over.
And one effective, long term method of displaying solidarity with Jewish communities world wide is to show the same enthusiasm for their publications as the world has displayed for scooping up issues of Charlie Hebdo. To repudiate global extremism, one only needs to act on a very local level.
....Holocaust commemorations are held just once a year, and if a society feels compelled to respond to atrocities in its midst with million-person marches, by that time it is probably too late, extremism has already dug its roots deep into that society. Extremism is more effectively fought on the individual level, with small, daily acts of kindness towards those that may be vulnerable, and the ostracizing of those groups and individuals who are hateful in their speech and behavior (I’m looking at you George Galloway, you shameful carpetbagger). Global extremism is most effectively fought by very local acts of consideration.
And in this day and age, fighting extremism can be as simple as buying a newspaper. Şalom.
Read the whole thing.

(h/t Michal)

Arab columnist argues that Palestinian suffering is worse than Holocaust

Jihad el-Khazen is a writers whose op-eds appear in many major Arab media outlets.

In 2006, he wrote something amazing:
About a month has passed since I made my suggestion to popularize the term 'Nazi Zionist' and the derivative 'ZioNazi', and readers are still discussing the matter....

What I say about myself is what I said when I put the term forward on September 5, 2006. I said at the time that the objective of the term was to exasperate the Zionists, because nothing vexes them as much as associating them with the Nazis. I do see the term as an exaggeration, since the crimes of the Nazis against the Jews are greater that the crimes of the Israeli government against the Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs. There is nothing between the Arabs and the Jews that is the equivalent of using gas chambers.
In other words, he is advocating calling Israelis "ZioNazis" not because there is any truth to the term, but because there is inherent value in upsetting the Jews.

Of course, using that logic it could be argued that cartoons making fun of Mohammed are important because it causes Muslims to get angry.

Khazen at least knew in 2006 the difference between the truth and his rhetoric. Nowadays, not so much:

On TV today (writing on Tuesday afternoon) at 8:20 in the morning I saw two young women in front of me talking about Auschwitz and the seventieth anniversary of its liberation.

Auschwitz was 70 years ago, yet there are daily holocaust of Palestinians in the country committed by Israeli government among whose members claim that their families perished in the Holocaust. Their Holocaust that lasted six years or so, and the Palestinian Holocaust has been going on continuously for 66 years.

Every day there is a Palestinian people ruled by the Israeli occupation, and if the subject is the extermination of entire families, there are Palestinian families destroyed in Israel's war on the Gaza Strip last summer.


...In the Christian West there was anti-Semitism against Jews over the centuries, and this culminated with the Holocaust, which pushed the Palestinians from their land and their lives paid the price of other crimes.

There is a museum, or museums, for Auschwitz. Why do not I see a museum for 517 children killed by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in the Gaza Strip over only ten days? [This is a lie - EoZ] Fifty children were killed every day but no one mentions the names of the child victims.

The memory of Auschwitz is being exploited to divert attention from the crimes of the Israeli government.

Today I read calls from the heads of Jewish associations that require the enactment of laws against anti-Semitism... There are campaigns of anti-Semitism against Muslims in Europe, but the news about that is limited; the focus on solely on anti-Semitism against the Jews.

The uproar after terrorism in France diverted attention from the crimes of the Netanyahu government....
See other gems from el-Khazen here and a 2006 essay I wrote here.

Egypt Bans Dying During Protests (PreOccupied Territory)

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

Check out their Facebook page.



Cairo, January 28 - Renewed civil unrest over the last week has prompted an Egyptian government concerned about its image to outlaw dying as a result of being shot or beaten by police.

Uploaded footage of a young woman killed by a police shotgun blast on Saturday spread rapidly across social networks this week, prompting authorities first to deny the police were involved, and then, when incontrovertible video evidence emerged that they were, to issue a ban on leaving this mortal coil by way of being hit by a law-enforcement fusillade.

The incident began as a commemoration of protesters killed during anti-government demonstrations, but the nonviolent gathering was not approved by Egyptian authorities, leading the police to open fire on the protesters. Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was hit in the chest and died soon afterwards. The following day, 18 more protesters were killed, and although their deaths had less of an impact in international media, the Sisi government immediately moved to make dying in such a fashion illegal.

The courts will now be authorized to levy stiff penalties on those caught losing their lives during confrontations with police, with lesser fines for bystanders or passers by not directly involved in the protest. Funerals for those who died unlawfully will be similarly banned, and anyone caught conducting or attending such a funeral will be charged, as well. Illegal funeral attendees who get killed by police will face the stiffest penalties of all.

"The malcontents fomenting unrest must understand the threat to pubic safety that dying by cop presents," said Sisi spokesman Thisaint Selma. "The Egyptian people will no longer tolerate those who, ostensibly in their name, go and get themselves killed, and endanger others in the process. This must stop immediately." He vowed that the government and police would act with a "strong hand" to bring violators to justice.

The announcement elicited objections from the Association of Funeral Directors, who accused the government of harming their livelihood. "The lading cause of death in Cairo over the last four years has been police gunfire," noted the group's chairman, Al-Digg Thenberi. "Our industry's services have been in high demand, and now our chief source of livelihood will be removed. We ask the government to help us negotiate this new situation."

At the same time, enterprising attorneys have begun advising their clients to make use of official media information in formulating either a defense or preemptive action to forestall accusations or convictions of dying at the hands of law enforcement. "Government-controlled news outlets are chock-full of stories about Jews controlling all sorts of important industries, and how notorious they are for framing others and getting others to do the dirty work," explained Geddaway Withett, whose firm specializes in legal defense. "It shouldn't be too difficult to persuade the judge that it was all a Zionist conspiracy."

01/28 Links Pt1: Two soldiers killed, 7 hurt in attack on Lebanon border; IDF strikes Syria targets

From Ian:

Two soldiers killed, 7 hurt in attack on Lebanon border
Two soldiers were killed Wednesday when an Israeli army patrol came under anti-tank fire from Hezbollah operatives in the northern Mount Dov region along the border with Lebanon.
The IDF confirmed that at least seven soldiers were wounded in the attack and ruled out the possibility that a soldier had been kidnapped.
The two soldiers were not immediately named. They were identified as a company commander and another soldier.
“Earlier today, an anti-tank missile hit an IDF vehicle in the Har-Dov area, killing two soldiers and wounding an additional seven, two of them moderately,” said the IDF in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The soldiers’ families have been notified.”
The vehicles were hit by Kornet guided anti-tank missiles, Channel 2 reported.
Photos that emerged after the attack showed two badly damaged vehicles in flames. The IDF vehicles were unarmored. Later reports said they were not traveling on a border road, but on a dual-use military-civilian road.
IDF strikes Syria targets; sirens sound in Golan Heights
For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling. The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The IDF said it found no evidence of a second round of rocket or mortar fire and launched a probe as to why the sirens were triggered.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.
Is Hezbollah trying to draw Israel into a ground offensive?
Indeed, although it seems counterintuitive, there may be some in Hezbollah who hope to see Israeli tanks entering Syrian territory and hitting Syrian military targets.
The shelling has so far succeeded in only slightly disrupting routine life in the Golan Heights and closing the Hermon ski resort for several hours. But one can assume that if Hezbollah was indeed behind the attacks, as some in Israel claim, it won’t be the last such strike by the terror group’s contingent in the Syrian Golan.
The next stage, as far as Hezbollah is concerned, could be to try to further upset the security situation by firing rockets sporadically into the Israeli Golan Heights, in a manner that may force the IDF to send troops deep into Syrian territory.
This would make it easier for Hezbollah to exact Israeli casualties and at the same time focus Arab public opinion on the battles in the Golan Heights, distracting it from the daily acts of carnage perpetrated by Assad loyalists.
Furthermore, if Hezbollah manages to draw Israel into committing even a small number of troops to a ground incursion in the Syrian Golan Heights, the Sunni radical groups Islamic State and al Nusra Front will be in the problematic position of being portrayed as collaborators with Israel in its battle against the Assad regime and its Lebanese ally.
The rockets fired at the Golan Heights constitute a serious challenge for Israel. On the one hand Jerusalem seeks to deter Hezbollah from continuing to disrupt life in the north. On the other, too aggressive a response will prompt Hezbollah to escalate its attacks in a manner that may leave Israel no choice but to deploy ground troops, furthering the goals of Assad and the rest of the Shiite axis.

Outstanding speech by Matti Friedman

Matti Friedman, former AP journalist, spoke at a BICOM dinner in London on January 26. His speech is an absolute must-read. (h/t Alex)


One night several years ago, I came out of Bethlehem after a reporting assignment and crossed through the Israeli military checkpoint between that city and its neighbor, Jerusalem, where I live. With me were perhaps a dozen Palestinian men, mostly in their thirties – my age. No soldiers were visible at the entrance to the checkpoint, a precaution against suicide bombers. We saw only steel and concrete. I followed the other men through a metal detector into a stark corridor and followed instructions barked from a loudspeaker – Remove your belt! Lift up your shirt! The voice belonged to a soldier watching us on a closed-circuit camera. Exiting the checkpoint, adjusting my belt and clothing with the others, I felt like a being less than entirely human and understood, not for the first time, how a feeling like that would provoke someone to violence.

Consumers of news will recognize this scene as belonging to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which keeps the 2.5 million Palestinians in that territory under military rule, and has since 1967. The facts of this situation aren’t much in question. This should be an issue of concern to Israelis, whose democracy, military, and society are corroded by the inequality in the West Bank. This, too, isn’t much in question.

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 percent of the world’s surface become the

focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylized symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks – not Turks and Kurds, not Han Chinese and Tibetans, not British soldiers and Iraqi Muslims, not Iraqi Muslims and Iraqi Christians, not Saudi sheikhs and Saudi women, not Indians and Kashmiris, not drug cartel thugs and Mexican villagers. Questioning why this is the case is in no way an attempt to evade or obscure reality, which is why I opened with the checkpoint leading from Bethlehem. On the contrary – anyone seeking a full understanding of reality can’t avoid this question. My experiences as a journalist provide part of the answer, and also raise pressing questions that go beyond the practice of journalism.

I have been writing from and about Israel for most of the past 20 years, since I moved there from Toronto at age 17. During the five and a half years I spent as part of the international press corps as a reporter for the American news agency The Associated Press, between 2006 and 2011, I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in the coverage of the Israel story – recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political, all in the context of a story staffed and reported more than any other international story on earth. When I worked in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau, the Israel story was covered by more AP news staff than China, or India, or all of the fifty-odd countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. This is representative of the industry as a whole.

In early 2009, to give one fairly routine example of an editorial decision of the kind I mean, I was instructed by my superiors to report a second-hand story taken from an Israeli newspaper about offensive T-shirts supposedly worn by Israeli soldiers. We had no confirmation of our own of the story’s veracity, and one doesn’t see much coverage of things US Marines or British infantrymen have tattooed on their chests or arms. And yet T-shirts worn by Israeli soldiers were newsworthy in the eyes of one of the world’s most powerful news organizations. This was because we sought to hint or say outright that Israeli soldiers were war criminals, and every detail supporting that portrayal was to be seized upon. Much of the international press corps covered the T-shirt story. At around the same time, several Israeli soldiers were quoted anonymously in a school newsletter speaking of abuses they had supposedly witnessed while fighting in Gaza; we wrote no fewer than three separate stories about this, although the use of sources whose identity isn’t known to reporters is banned for good reason by the AP’s own in-house rules. This story, too, was very much one that we wanted to tell. By the time the soldiers came forward to say they hadn’t actually witnessed the events they supposedly described, and were trying to make a point to young students about the horrors and moral challenges of warfare, it was, of course, too late.

Also in those same months, in early 2009, two reporters in our bureau obtained details of a peace offer made by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to the Palestinians several months before, and deemed by the Palestinians to be insufficient. The offer proposed a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in a shared Jerusalem. This should have been one of the year’s biggest stories. But an Israeli peace offer and its rejection by the Palestinians didn’t suit OUR story. The bureau chief ordered both reporters to ignore the Olmert offer, and they did, despite a furious protest from one of them, who later termed this decision “the biggest fiasco I’ve seen in 50 years of journalism.” But it was very much in keeping not only with the practice at the AP, but in the press corps in general. Soldiers’ vile t-shirts were worth a story. Anonymous and unverifiable testimonies of abuses were worth three. A peace proposal from the Israeli prime minister to the Palestinian president was not to be reported at all.