.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Martyr inflation

At the end of Operation Cast Lead, Hamas came out with a press release that claimed that only 48 "mujahadeen" had been killed during the fighting, while they estimated that they killed some 80 Zionist fighters.

Since then, they have kept adding more and more Gaza "martyrs" who were members of the Al Qassam Brigades to their website. At last count, Hamas has listed out the biographies of no less than 305 Al Qassam terrorists with details of their careers as fighters. (188 of them were listed as "civilian" by the PHCR.)

So in the end they understated their real casualties by an order of magnitude, and they also overstated Israel's casualties by an order of magnitude.

I'm sure that they are equally trustworthy in other areas.

What does a moonbat feed a starving Gazan?

From San Francisco's local ABC website:
A Watsonville art teacher and her husband are among three dozen people who have reportedly been detained in Egypt on their way to the Gaza strip.

Kathleen Crocetti had hoped to deliver a mural to a community center in Gaza, where a pro-Palestinian freedom march is planned for New Year's Eve.

Crocetti and her husband, Bill Lucas, have been ordered not to leave the hotel where they are staying, about 30 miles from Gaza, without a police escort.

"Clueless" is an understatement.

The IDF confirms that weekly demonstrations are always violent

A month ago, I wrote "Protests that happen in Bilin and Na'alin (weekly, not daily) are anything but peaceful, and IDF soldiers often get injured from the violence."

A commenter insisted that I was wrong, and said that "The overwhelming majority of demonstrations at both sites you mention have been thoroughly peaceful. Your claim to the contrary is not only not objective, but also not true. "

His evidence for this statement was a heavily edited video that didn't show any demonstrator violence and seemed to show the IDF shooting tear gas for no reason.

Well, I asked the IDF themselves. This response is from the IDF Spokesperson's Office, sent to me via email, and is on the record:
In 2009, there were weekly riots in both Nil'in and Bil'in every Friday, with the exception of 18.12.2009 in Nil'in. Every one of these protests has featured violence on the part of the protesters, for the most part that entails rock throwing, although firebombs, and burning tires are also a frequent occurrence.

These riots have been taking place on a regular basis at both locations for the past two years. In 2009, 57 defense force personnel were injured by rioters. The security forces take standard riot dispersal measures when the riots turn violent and in 2009 they arrested 20 rioters in Nil'in and 20 in Bil'in.

On several occasions during these riots, defense force personnel were seriously injured. In January, a Nil'in rioter hurled a rock, hitting a reservist in the face, causing permanent damage to his eye socket. In another incident during a Nil'in riot in April, both an IDF officer and Border Police officer were seriously injured by hurled rocks and had to be taken to a hospital to treat their facial injuries.

Administrivia open thread

I recently started a new job, and it will not afford me the ability to post as often as I have been. I've been trying to compensate this week by sleeping less, but that is not a very good long-term strategy! I have a couple of other non-blog related projects that I need to be spending some time on. Sorry!

In response to reader requests, I changed the comments to now open up in a new window rather than a pop-up, which messed some people up. Let me know if this is better.

Meanwhile, here is an open thread....

Today's PalArab news 12/31/2009

The PA seized 19,000 shekels worth of nuts that were supposedly grown in Israeli farms in the West Bank. Their goal is to stop all imports of West Bank Jewish products by the end of 2010.

Palestinian Arabs are dismayed at Jimmy Carter's pretend apology to American Jews. After all, they note, he had been such a friend to them; they are hoping that it is just a political move to help his grandson run for office and that it doesn't reflect his real feelings.

Palestinian Arabs are also complaining about an Israeli tourist campaign in China which include pictures of the Temple Mount. They are also upset that Chinese media sometime say that Tel Aviv is a "coastal city" and not the capital of Israel. Some 20,000 Chinese tourists visit Israel annually according to the article.

The 45th anniversary of...what?

Mahmoud Abbas will be giving what is billed as an important speech tonight, marking the 45th anniversary of the "start of the Palestinian revolution."

What momentous event happened 45 years ago?

Yasir Arafat co-founded Fatah in 1954 along with a number of other people, mostly Palestinian Arabs who were working in Gulf states and who went to college in Cairo. The PLO was founded in May,1964 and Fatah did not join it until 1967. There were other, mostly small, Palestinian Arab "liberation" groups that formed in the 1950s and 1960s.

So what, in Mahmoud Abbas' mind, was the seminal event that occurred 45 years ago?

Why, it's the anniversary of Yasir Arafat's first terror attack, an unsuccessful attempt to bomb Israel's national water carrier.

Out of all the events that Abbas could choose, it is notable that he chooses to commemorate the anniversary of a terror attack as the real beginning of the supposedly "national" movement.

Remember, in 1965, the PLO and Fatah's ambitions did not include the West Bank or Gaza at all. The original PLO Charter says:
Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area [part of the mandate that Syria seized - EoZ.] Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.
In this sense, I agree with Abbas that it is worthwhile to look at the history of the Fatah and PLO organizations that he heads. The goals have not changed, even if the tactics have.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

UNRWA/Hamas lovefest

Palestine Today reports that outgoing UNRWA commissioner Karen Abu-Zayd met today with Hamas officials to say farewell.

According to the article, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised Abu Zayd in front of other Hamas officials, saying that she was daring in her role for the past nine years. He expressed hope that she would continue to speak out on behalf of Palestinian Arabs even after she leaves office.

Abu-Zayd, on her part, complimented Hamas on facilitating UNRWA's work , especially in the area of security, and she agreed to keep speaking out after she leaves her position.

UNRWA and Hamas - made for each other.

Israeli war crimes against Gazan sperm!

Palestinian Arabs keep trying to claim that Israeli weapons caused all sorts of genetic mutations in Gaza.

Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, director of the Emergency Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, tells Palestine Today that there have been over 75 cases of babies born with heart defects in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead.

A quick calculation shows that, in the US, about 0.9% of all babies are born with congenital heart defects (36,000 a year.) In Gaza, this would translate to over 500 babies born with such a condition every year. Perhaps those evil Israeli chemical and radiological weapons had a positive effect on Gaza children!

But more insidiously, Hassanein claims that these weapons have caused Gaza men to have abnormal sperm, low sperm counts and, tragically, infertility. To many Arabs, this could be worse than birth defects, as it attacks the very source of their manliness, and nothing is more important than that.

Perhaps some NGO will start keeping track of the number of dead and mutilated Gaza sperm, adding millions to the number of victims of Israeli aggression.

The "Holocaust survivor" moonbat

It is amusing to see how the Gaza Freedom March moonbats are acting in Egypt:
More than 1,000 people from around the world were gathered here on Tuesday for a solidarity march into Gaza despite Egypt’s insistence that the Gaza border crossing that it controls would remain closed to the vast majority of them.

The protest, the Gaza Freedom March, was planned for Thursday and intended to mark a year since Israel’s three-week military assault on the territory. On Tuesday, hundreds of the frustrated activists gathered to press their case on the front steps of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate here, holding “Free Gaza” signs and chanting, “Let us go.” Some declared a hunger strike.

About 100 French citizens staged a sit-in in front of the French Embassy, and some Americans pleaded for help at the United States Consulate.

The Egyptian government agreed to let 100 activists into Gaza on Wednesday, according to one of the organizers of the march.
The world of these moonbats is absurdly egotistical. Back in the good old days of protests, a hunger strike would be used to protest a real injustice. These guys are instead going on a hunger strike as a publicity stunt in order to be able to go and perform another publicity stunt - a purely symbolic entrance to Gaza that will provide essentially no real services to Gazans!

(Yaacov Lozowick shows two other examples of pure narcissism on the part of these protesters.)

The star of the protests is Hedy Epstein. As the New York Times writes (and includes a picture):
One protester, Hedy Epstein, 85, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in Egypt from the United States on Saturday. She said she started a hunger strike on Monday.

“My message is for the world governments to wake up and treat Israel like they treat any other country and not to be afraid to reprimand and criticize Israel for its violent policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” Ms. Epstein said. “I brought a suitcase full of things, pencils, pens, crayons, writing paper to take to children in Gaza — I can’t take that back home.”

The symbiotic relationship between the publicity-seeking and equally narcissistic Epstein and the group that is more than happy to trumpet her supposed Holocaust-survivor credentials is complete.

To call Epstein a Holocaust survivor is to stretch the definition of the term. While Epstein did lose her parents in the Holocaust, she herself spent all of World War II in England. Yet she has no problem using this non-experience as the moral fulcrum for her ego-driven moonbattery ("I can't take that back home!")

(Israel has shipped paper, pens and crayons into Gaza.)

UPDATE: Epstein has a telling interview in the Lebanon Daily Star. Regarding her hunger strike, she says:

“There comes a time in one’s life when one has to step up and risk one’s own body. We’re in a desperate situation here, but not as desperate as the people in Gaza.”
And here may be the key to her own hatred of Israel:
“I’ve been involved with the Israeli-Palestinian problem for many years. It probably goes back to my childhood, because I born in Germany and my parents were anti-Zionists,” she said.

“When Hitler came to power in 1933 I was 8 years old, and my parents very quickly realized that Germany is not a place to raise a family. So they tried to leave to go anywhere in the world, but there was one place they were not willing to go, and that was Palestine.”

It is possible that she is making this up after the fact, but if it is true, Epstein may be redirecting her own anger at her parents' decision - that may have led to their deaths - against the very nation that could have saved them.

Good news: Water desalinization plant goes online

From YNet:
The desalination plant in Hadera, which is considered the largest in the world, has commenced infusing water into the Mekorot system, Water Authority Chairman Uri Shani declared last Wednesday.

In recent weeks experts have been holding extensive testing aimed at ensuring the water's quality. The plant has been given the Health Ministry seal of approval confirming that the water being desalinated meet Israel's drinking water standards.

In the future, the plant will reach a maximum output of 127 [million] cubic meters per year.

The plant in Hadera is an addition to two existing active facilities in Ashkelon and Palmachim. When it reaches full productivity, accumulated desalination in Israel will amount to 300 million cm per year.

Abraham Tenne, desalination department head in the Water Authority told Ynet this week that the new plant will make a considerable contribution to the water economy in Israel and noted that as a result water reserves will be more secure in 2010.

He further added that the first benefactor will be Lake Kinneret which suffers an ever diminishing water level.
Charlie Ettinson has some good observations on the story.

And Israel21C has a story on how Mekorot is providing the desalination technology for California.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saudi op-ed on runaway girls misses the point

Reading the Saudi press is like looking at the world through a concave mirror.
There is something about the lack of compassion and the rush to judge a Saudi woman’s behavior that’s very troubling in Saudi society.

Recently a 15-year-old girl was found by the Hai’a in Riyadh with her much older Yemeni lover. The girl was from the Eastern Province and had an affair with the man who was a taxi driver. He moved to Riyadh and asked her to join him. She took the bus and lived with the man in the city for two weeks. Their behavior, however, made the Hai’a suspicious and they questioned her. It didn’t take long for the girl to confess her affair and she was jailed.

The report of the girl’s arrest in one Saudi newspaper prompted nearly 400 comments from Saudis who nearly universally condemned the girl’s actions and pinned the blame on her family for their failure to control her. The number of comments to the newspaper is telling in that this case has touched a raw nerve among Saudis. As far as I’m concerned it’s a bonafide sampling of Saudi attitudes about runaway girls. And it doesn’t give Saudi women much hope for the future.

Not a single comment to newspaper editors addressed the central question about this teenager’s behavior. Why did she run away and take up residence with a much older man? The reaction was to punish the girl and hold the parents responsible for their lack of vigilance. It’s as if their sole role in raising their child is to act like prison guards with a lock and key instead of emotional support.

One person went so far as to acknowledge that the girl may have been abused at home, but it’s preferable to being abused by mom and dad instead of “wolves” in the big, bad city. What malarkey. If this person represents true Saudi attitudes, then he’s suggesting that our society wants the girl to exchange one hell for a lesser hell and take comfort that she knows her tormentors.

Girls run away for a reason. They are abused emotionally or physically. They are forced into marriage. They have their wages seized by their male guardians. Their brothers exert complete control over their lives. Parents often marry their daughters off to a “sugar daddy.” The girls live in a velvet prison of luxury and watch their parents reap the benefits of the marriage. Yes, some girls are idiots, but the vast majority of young females are victims of domestic abuse.

As a last resort they escape from the very people who should take care of them.
For Saudi Arabia, this is a very liberal article, saying that parents must act like normal parents act and not treat their children like slaves to be sold to the highest bidder. The English-language press in Saudi Arabia will often have self-critical articles like these, pointing out these sorts of problems in Saudi society.

Notice, however, what is missing, both from the letter-writing Saudi public and the outraged op-ed columnist.

Not a single person even considers that the older man did anything wrong.

He was not jailed. He is not blamed. He is peripheral to the story, as if it is perfectly natural for a middle-aged Arab man to have sex with any willing 15-year old girl. What would be considered statutory rape in most Western countries is not even worthy of being commented upon. For a society that claims that it is protecting women by its laws, it is beyond sickening that the women get punished when taken advantage of.

And Saudi society is so sick that even the feminists (this article was written by a woman) cannot conceive that men should act as anything but animals around young girls.

Wow.

In other news...

"Siege" news: Today, Israel is sending in window glass and refrigerators to Gaza.

Mortars continue, maybe: The Al Aqsa Brigades (Fatah) claim to have shot a mortar towards Israel yesterday. Israel says it wasn't aware of any such attack.

Fly the friendly skies: The PA announced its intentions to build an airport between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. It knows that Israel is not keen on the idea, so
...the Authority is betting on U.S. intervention to force Israel to agree to the establishment of the airport.

Not so friendly skies: Speaking of airplanes, Lebanon claims to have shot anti-aircraft fire at Israeli jets in Lebanese airspace.

And Naharnet is also reporting that Al Qaeda is trying to infiltrate Lebanon via the Fatah al-Islam group, hiding in Palestinian Arab "refugee" camps and intending to attack UNIFIL forces and others.

Hamas marking anniversary of Cast Lead

Hamas is doing what one would expect it would to commemorate its great "victory" last year.

It is rounding up and abducting dozens of Fatah members, just like the good old days.

Also, the Al Qassam website keeps on adding names to their list of "martyrs" from the war. PTWatch found a new one today, a "noble fighter" that was listed as a "civilian" by PCHR, bringing our total to 352 "civilians" who were members of terror groups and 662 total legitimate targets who were killed in Cast Lead.

PA making money from stolen cars

From Ma'an:
Palestinian Authority police in Ramallah said on Monday they confiscated and destroyed 72 stolen cars.

The police said the cars were crushed into “iron cubes” which will be sold in an auction. The proceeds will be transferred to the ministry of finance.
So, that explains why they don't attempt to return the cars to the people they were stolen from! (And most of them are stolen from Israel.)

Gaza war repost: What was the alternative?

Last year on this day, I posted this article:

There has been no shortage of criticism of Israel for finally deciding to do something about incessant rocket attacks against its citizens. From the U.N. Secretary-General calling Israel's actions "excessive" to French President Nicolas Sarkozy saying that Israel is using a "disproportionate use of force" to the EU's Javier Solana saying "There is no military solution" to the situation in Gaza, down to the more reliably anti-Israel crowd from the "progressive" Left who decry the deaths of civilians, a large segment of the world seems to agree that israel has no right to act as it has been for the past few days.

Certainly, no one wants to see innocent people die in a massive military operation. But before you criticize Israel you need to answer a simple question:

What is the alternative?


It is easy to mindlessly repeat the comforting words "peace" and "truce" and "practice utmost restraint." Mantras require no thought. They are just soothing, comforting sounds with no meaning and no depth.

But calling for "peace" without a plan is not only shortsighted; it is counterproductive to the idea of peace itself. Certainly terrorists are not subject to international pressure nor to criticism by peace activists; their goals are inherently antithetical to peace. By calling on "both sides" to halt "hostilities" you are equating terror with self-defense, you are legitimizing terrorism and you are calling on the terrorized side to turn the other cheek and become the passive recipient of death and destruction - because the terrorists are unlikely to be swayed by your arguments. A vague desire for "peace" is not only meaningless, but it helps embolden terror.

The most common plan is never stated but it is implied by "peace activists." This plan is for Israel to do nothing - to accept rockets in the Negev as an ugly but permanent fact, perhaps to move residents further north for their own protection; to continue to provide Gaza with aid and to medically treat Gazans, to open the borders for unlimited trade with Gaza, to allow Hamas to import as many weapons as it wishes - because anything less than that is still considered "occupation." These so-called peace activists are nothing of the sort - they just want Israel to be destroyed as much as the Arab terrorists do. Their real plan is to replace the Jewish state with another Arab state where terror attacks against Jews can again become a daily occurrence in Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jerusalem. If this describes you, sorry for wasting your time - I suggest that you volunteer as a human shield for Qassam rocket launchers.

Some have called for another "truce." The idea seems appealing - let both sides stop attacks and bring things back to the status quo.

However, the status quo was completely unacceptable. Let's look at the last "truce." While Israel sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, building materials, food, fuel, clothing and many trucks full of other essentials, Hamas eliminated any vestiges of freedom, arrested scores of Fatah members who survived the coup, imported Katyusha rockets and tons of weapons and explosives, built hundreds of Qassams, built up its cash reserves by indirectly using money that the international community sent to build up the PA, and started building tunnels for the express purpose of kidnapping Israelis. Even the rocket fire didn't halt until September and it restarted only two months later.

It is a well-established rule that it costs much less to solve a problem earlier rather than later. The "truce" - as well as the one that preceded it in late 2006 and early 2007, when Israel likewise refrained from military actions while Gaza terrorists continued to shoot rockets and arm themselves - is not a solution to any problem; it is a postponement of a much bloodier clash that is inevitable when we are dealing with one side that wants no less than the utter destruction of the other.

Another alternative that peace activists like to trot out is "end the occupation." Somehow, it is hoped, Israel's giving up land will magically make Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the PFLP and DFLP and PRC and Al Aqsa Brigades and Free Galilee Brigades and all the other terror groups put down their arms and happily accept Israel's existence.

Not only is this wishful thinking, but all evidence proves the exact opposite. Israel quit Gaza and it only emboldened terrorists to do more. What can explain thousands of rockets towards Sderot if you think that Arab terrorists do not have any land ambitions beyond the "territories"? In Arabic, they call Sderot and Ashkelon and Netivot "settlements," which means that the careful distinction that the world laboriously makes between "Israel proper" and the "territories" is completely meaningless to one side of this conflict.

Some say they understand Israel's motivation, but call for Israel's response to be "proportionate." What they don't recall is that Israel has had that policy for years now. Rather than respond immediately and devastatingly to rocket attacks, Israel has counseled its Negev residents to grin and bear it; it built shelters and installed sirens; it occasionally responded with targeted attacks against rocket launchers or terrorist leaders. This did not stop the rocket fire - rockets that have no purpose other than to terrorize civilians. For Israel to slowly increase the level of response is the guaranteed way to start the dreaded "cycle of violence."

A single attack by Israel to shut down the kidnap tunnel in November resulted in hundreds of rockets in response. A massive attack is meant to stop the "cycle of violence," and it has a much better chance of doing so.

Of course Israel needs to ensure that a minimum of civilians are hurt - and it is doing so. If you have any suggestions of how Israel can do a better job in that respect, I'm sure that the IDF is more than willing to listen. But keeping Hamas in power, unchecked, is not a formula for peace.

Criticizing is easy. Solving a problem is much harder. If those who say they want peace can offer better and realistic alternatives, where Israeli citizens as well as Gazans can both be safe and secure, please offer them.

One year later, it is instructive to see how the normally leftist writer Yaron London looks at the results of Cast Lead:
A year has passed since Operation Cast Lead. The Gaza vicinity region is calm and prosperous. Residents who left for fear of Qassams are returning home. Apartment prices are increasing. Even nature is blossoming. The blessed rain of the beginning of winter has woken the sleepy seeds of wild flowers. The soft hills of the "vicinity" have been speckled with yellow and red patches. It's possible that this is what these landscapes looked like last year as well, but no one was gazing at them, but rather westward, to locate a rising missile and precede its diving fall by taking shelter.

Hamas is deterred. Not because its leaders and the teachers of Islamic law have changed their opinion as to the way the conflict in the Middle East should be solved. Our monitors, who listen to the preaching in their mosques and to the radio broadcasts on their stations, have not discovered signs of moderation. As they did before the operation, the preachers talk about the Jews, the descendants of apes and pigs, who spread wars and epidemics and heresy and communism in the world, and that they must be expelled from the this world. Hamas fighters have not lost their courage. They are as fanatic and daring as they were. The virgins waiting for them in heaven have not lost their patience as well.

Hamas refrains from firing because it needs a timeout in order to establish its rule, rebuild the destructed houses, intensify its military power and fulfill the Shalit deal. When its leaders feel that they have completed their missions, when they believe the time is right, they'll resume their attacks. And maybe not. Perhaps they have learned their lesson. In any event, we cannot doubt the assertion that had we not sent a blow of fire to Gaza, Hamas would have continued firing.

We're enjoying a state of calm which is seldom violated. What was its price? The price was 10 fallen soldiers and more than 300 injured Israelis. There is no way to weigh this loss. The world has worsened its criticism against Israel. It's unpleasant, completely unpleasant, to face boycotts and curses, but the stains added to our image have not damaged us in measurable areas. The economy is good. The commerce relations have not been hurt. The countries leading the world – the United States, Russia, the European community, China, India, Canada, Brazil – have not changed their attitude towards us. They have not even compensated the Hamas regime for the suffering of the Strip's residents. Egypt has tightened its relations with us. Saudi Arabia has rebuked Hamas and has not adopted the Gazans with money. The Palestinians in the West Bank have not launched a third intifada. For now. Turkey, with which we have always had unstable relations, was angry and cursed us, but a year later it is clear that its interests have cooled the growling of its feelings. Venezuela, Bolivia, Mauritania and Qatar have severed their diplomatic ties with Israel. It's a shame, but not a disaster.

In fact, the prices for housing in Sderot have skyrocketed since the operation.

Israel's MFA says:

In 2008, 1750 rockets and 1528 mortar bombs were fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip against communities in southern Israel. In addition, during the three weeks of the operation, Hamas launched another 571 rockets and 205 mortar bombs at Israel. Yet, in the year since the operation, only 127 rockets and 70 mortar shells have been fired into Israel. This dramatic decrease in the number of missiles hitting the south is positive proof of the operation's success.
From Israel's perspective, if it would not have attacked after patiently absorbing years of incessant rocket and mortar fire, things would be worse today than has Cast Lead not happened. President Obama's wonderful oratory would not have convinced Hamas to stop the rocket fire. While I (and the PA, incidentally) would have preferred to have seen Hamas destroyed, the major objective of the operation has been met: to enable the residents of southern Israel to have reasonably normal lives, and to protect their human rights - an objective that most "human rights" activists seem to minimize or ignore.

For the many facile critics of Operation Cast Lead, they have yet to have offered an alternative. Anyone can criticize; but those who cannot offer a better idea have no basis for criticism.

And, like it or not, Cast Lead has accomplished what nothing else would.

Compromise radicalizes Arabs against Israel

A Lebanese newspaper is reporting that Israel might withdraw from the northern section of Ghajar in January. The reason given is quoted in YNet:
According to the report, the UN and the United States hope that Israel's withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar will lead to an ease in tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
Notwithstanding the legal issues involved, that statement of hope is maddeningly wrong.

The very thought that Israeli compromise on Ghajar can "ease tensions" with a Lebanese government which supports Hezbollah is an inversion of reality, and a case study in Western diplomatic incompetence when it comes to the Arab world.

Israeli compromise doesn't engender goodwill in the Arab world. Rather, it radicalizes the hardliners, who are emboldened to demand more.

This fact should be obvious to even the most obtuse diplomats. Yet, Westerners continue to stubbornly project their own worldview on an Arab world that, on the whole, simply does not have the same way of thinking.

If the Arab world believes that Israel is inherently illegitimate, it will not "compromise" with her. It will use any means - diplomatic, military, and public relations - to destroy Israel. And Israel, to the Arab world, is worse than illegitimate - it is symbolic of Arab impotence and a constant reminder of Arab shame. Some of the means will be tactical and some will be strategic, but the very concept of compromise assumes that each party has a modicum of respect for the other.

For Israel, for better or for worse, the only respect that it can gain in the Arab world is the respect of the strong.

Most Israelis don't really care about Ghajar (although most north Ghajar residents might be very upset at losing their rights as Israeli residents.) But it is a card that Israel holds, and it makes no sense to give it up in the hope for an abstract measure of goodwill on the other side. In fact, it is counterproductive.

I am sure that there are concrete things that Israel can demand in return. The idea that relations will improve on their own as a result of a unilateral concession, however, is foolish.

Still trying to improve comments

I turned off a feature in the comments that would have allowed near-real-time updates from within the comment system. It would have been cool to turn it into a sort-of chat board, but this blog doesn't have enough members in the commenting community to make it worthwhile, and by turning it off the comment threads are now top-down chronologically.

You can create a profile, upload an avatar, and have people see all of your comment history, which is nice. Still seems a little screwy; I created an avatar but not all new comments had it.

You can click on "Like" and tell people that you liked another's comment.

Internally, it tells me not only how many people commented but also how many people read the comments (in total, not on a post-by-post basis.) It was higher than I thought but I don't know how they calculate it; whether one person who reads every comment might skew the numbers or not.

I can configure the comments to pop-up, to be in a new window/tab or to be integrated with the blog. Integrating it with the blog added too much time to my already long page load time, and I think I like pop-up better than a new window.

Somehow I can change the colors but it is not my top priority now; I'd have to do some CSS stuff.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I scoop Arutz-7 by a month

On November 26th, I showed a series of pictures of Gazans celebrating Eid from the Palestine Today website, and looking quite healthy. This is something I have been doing for a while now.

Today, Arutz-7 noticed those same pictures from a month ago.

The Israeli press really needs to read my site more often.

The question that the White House should answer

The White House announced:
The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations.
Earlier today:
Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias said Monday that 500 housing units have recently been authorized in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood. According to Atias, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat gave the go ahead for the building in order to address the lack of housing in the city, for Jews and Arabs alike.

Atias made these statements on the heels of Palestinian accusations that Israel is not allowing Arabs to build in the city outside of some isolated cases.

According to details gathered so far, out of the 500 housing units authorized in Silwan, only two of them are for Jewish residents living in the neighborhood. Minister Atias presented this figure in response to allegations that Israel is only allowing construction for Jewish housing after 692 housing units were authorized in Jerusalem outskirt neighborhoods Neve Yaakov, Har Homa, and Pisgat Ze'ev.
The White House statement seems to imply that it would be against the 500 Arab houses being built in Silwan as well. If it supports the construction of Arab houses, that means that the White House is only against Jews living in east Jerusalem. If it is against the construction of Arab houses in Silwan, it would be consistent, but it would mean that the President holds that Jerusalem must remain a stagnant city until there is some sort of "peace" agreement, which may never happen.

So does the President support the building of Arab houses in the eastern part of the city?

An enterprising reporter should ask the White House press secretary that very question tomorrow.

(By the way, the White House makes a major error by capitalizing the E in "East Jerusalem," implying that it is the name of part of the city. That very capitalization seems to prejudge the US position on the outcome of those negotiations.)

Comments on comments

The new comment system is a little maddening. I cannot figure out how to change it from placing new comments on top to on the bottom, as it did before. However, when one is replying to other comments, the replies seem to go top-down, making scrolling through the comment threads difficult.

The good news is that the comments are now RSS-compliant, so I can keep track of them that way.

Echo is still adding features and listening to complaints, so the jury is still out.

Lebanese singer claims Israeli death threats

In a bizarre story in the Arabic media, Lebanese singer Najwa Karam is claiming that she has received death threats from Israel.

Apparently, at a concert in Amman, a number of Palestinian Arabs started singing patriotic PalArab songs. This was considered incitement by Israel and prompted the death threats.

This is not the first time that Ms. Karam has made this claim. In 1996, the she says that the Israelis also threatened her life, and she called on Lebanese security agencies to protect her.

It seems that the Mossad calls up its potential victims before assassinating them, just to give them a sporting chance.

The Firas Press article that covered this story includes four large pictures of the singer, something that one never sees in any other news stories.

This must be the best way to increase album sales in the Arab world.

Palestinian Arab op-ed slams Hamas for Gaza war

Palestine Press Agency has an Arabic op-ed that pulls no punches in blaming Hamas for Gaza suffering. Excerpts:

All this happened a year ago and still Hamas is reopening the wounds of the Gaza Strip. It continues to dance on wounds because Hamas appeared to have become addicted to dancing on the blood and body parts of the victims.

A year ago and is still Hamas is singing of victory, drawing a surreal picture that violates all logic and facts, Hamas still celebrating the victory!!! What kind of victory is this?? We would be the happiest people if there is a real victory against Israel, but when you follow the facts of what happened we find that Hamas was planning the disaster from the beginning. It scrapped the truce and threw a barrage of rockets and ignored all the warnings and incurred this hell and destruction and the huge number of martyrs and wounded of our people, who were left alone by Hamas to face the Israeli military machine. Afterwards Hamas emerged from the shadows to celebrate what it called the victory and danced on the remains of the martyrs and the blood of the wounded and the ruins of houses.

What sort of madness is this? What sort of victory are you talking about?!

A year later Hamas leaders are celebrating the anniversary of that victory with impudence and insolence. Haniyeh and other leaders talk of victory by reviewing an honor guard on the red carpet, pretending that they took the Soldiers of God from heaven to support them and defeated Greater Israel and how this battle has miraculously joined other great victories like the conquest of Makkah and dozens of battles of Islam.
It is too bad that European leftists cannot get to read such articles in their cafes as they protest Israel and trendily support Hamas.

One year later: Emotions versus facts in Gaza reporting

I just looked at a CNN interview of Taghreed El-Khodary, a New York Times reporter in Gaza, on December 28th, 2008.

She describes the chaos and fear of Gazans in the first days of Cast Lead, as well as her own fear. Superimposed over her interview are images from Arab TV of rubble and fires.

El-Khodary begins by talking about how Hamas places its facilities in residential areas, but does not ascribe any blame whatsoever on Hamas for doing so. On the contrary, she says that Israel is trying to make Gazans turn against Hamas but that she has only heard anger against the US, Egypt, the PA and Israel, but none against Hamas by ordinary Gazans. This appears to be her way of saying that she herself is angry at Israel and not at Hamas, as this is an old reporter's trick of finding others who confirm the reporter's already preconceived notions.

Video, as a whole, is a much more emotional medium than print. While El-Khodary's written reports are edited and polished to New York Times standards of seeming objectivity and distance, her live report shows her understandable frustration and fear, which is far more visceral and powerful.

She describes how close she herself lives to a police station that was targeted as well as to a mosque that Israel had warned residents would be bombed.

Most emotionally, El-Khodary also talks about walking outside a hospital over the bodies of unrecognizable students, many still in school uniforms, waiting to be identified.

Finally, she says flatly that Israel is engaging in "collective punishment against the people of Gaza. "

This is a purely emotional statement, not a factual one, but live television does not have editors and a statement like that carries more weight than any number of carefully-written newspaper articles that may add caveats and context.

At the time of the report, El-Khodary said that over 290 were killed. According to PCHR, by the end of December 28th, some 362 had been killed.

Out of those 362, only 21 were under the age of 18. Out of those 362, only nine were women (one of those a policewoman.)

Every civilian casualty is tragic. But by any objective measure, in an area where over 75% of the residents are women or children, a rate of about 8% of the deaths being in those categories is unbelievable and unprecedented for an urban area in wartime. It indicates an almost superhuman effort to minimize civilian casualties on the part of the IDF.

The sad fact is that video cannot capture the hundreds of civilians who remain alive because of IDF policy to minimize civilian casualties, to drop thousands of flyers and send thousands of SMS messages warning civilians about upcoming strikes. A frightened reporter's live, flat statement of Israel's intentions is more visceral than any number of opposing IDF statements backed up with verifiable data.

This is not specifically CNN's fault - it is the nature of TV. Video producers are trained to look at the "human side" of the story, and to get as much live and unfiltered coverage as possible. It would be nice if 24-hour news channels would contextualize each Gaza report with the information that Israel was reacting after years of incessant rocket attacks against its citizens; that Israel went to the UN to stop the attacks and the international community did nothing, that Israel withdrew from Gaza and the attacks against southern Negev communities intensified. This is not realistic, but is means that TV coverage of a war is going to be inevitably skewed. In addition, the subtle bias of print media gets turned into a much more obvious bias of live TV.

The inescapable truth is that a single video of a dead or scared child is more powerful than mere facts, and that TV will do far more to influence public opinion than print media. The Al Dura incident showed that most starkly, and the Gaza war coverage proved it anew.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saudi Vice Squad tackles woman in toilet

From Saudi Gazette:
Passersby on the Corniche in Dammam were stunned to witness members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Hai’a) drag a young woman out of a public toilet, and hit her and kick her before forcing her into the back of a jeep Sunday morning.

The incident, reported by Al-Hayat newspaper Monday and by chance witnessed by one of its correspondents along with nearly a dozen other people, reportedly occurred in a matter of seconds.

“A group from the Hai’a went into the women’s public toilets on the Corniche and came out dragging a screaming woman toward the parking area,” Al-Hayat reported.

The woman, with “parts of her body exposed after being dragged from the toilets”, was reportedly in a “state of hysteria” pleading with the Hai’a to let her go, and then she fainted.

According to Al-Hayat, once the woman had been dragged several meters from where she fell on the road, the Hai’a then started beating her and kicking until she came to the jeep. As she tried to wriggle her way free and refused to get into the jeep, the Hai’a grabbed her by the arms and legs and “threw her on the back seat.”

The newspaper said it was in possession of the number of the vehicle.

Stunned onlookers wondered what offense the woman could have been accused of, and repeated attempts by Al-Hayat to contact two regional Hai’a heads and a spokesman were met with switched off mobile telephones and, in the case of the Hai’a chief in the Eastern Province, unanswered calls.

Text messages to all three also went unanswered.
I have no idea what that was about either. Although one letter writer to the Saudi Gazette suggested that perhaps she was really a man....

"Honor killing" in Gaza

I had missed this at the time. From PCHR:
On Friday afternoon, 27 November 2009, Rifqa Ghazi 'Abdullah Salama, 29, from al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City, was killed allegedly "to maintain family honor."

According to police sources in al-Shati, at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 27 November 2009, the woman's brother, two uncles and two cousin strangled her using a wet towel while she was sleeping at home near Hmaid intersection in al-Shati refugee camp. The police initiated an investigation into the murder and arrested the 5 accused persons. Initial investigations indicate that the woman was killed allegedly to "maintain family honor."

Sources of the forensic medicine department at Shifa Hospital reported that the woman was strangled by a wet towel.

According to PCHR's documentation, the number of people killed allegedly "to maintain family honor" since the beginning of 2009 has amounted to 10 (7 women, two men and a child) in 8 crimes. One of these crimes was committed in the West Bank, whereas the rest of the crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip.
I cannot find this mentioned in the Ma'an archives, and I do not recall seeing it in the Gaza Arab media like Palestine Today, so it appears that some murders are not being reported.

Hamas accused of closing down another NGO

Palestine Press Agency is reporting that Hamas has shut down the Cooperative Housing Foundation NGO in the Gaza Strip.

According to the article, the CHF has been heavily involved in construction, reconstruction, food supplies, and micro-credit for Gazans in need, supporting some 150,000 Gazans with 200 employees.

The CHF suffered a break-in in Gaza a couple of weeks ago.

Nothing on the CHF website about this yet.

Hamas, as usual, seems to be prioritizing its own needs ahead of those of Gazans.

"Siege" update

From Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip has increased by close to 900 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year (Col. Moshe Levi, head of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, Nov. 16, 2009).

Since the beginning of 2009, the IDF has allowed over 4,000 Palestinians from Gaza, together with 3,600 escorts, to enter Israel (or via Israel to the West Bank) for medical treatment.The IDF has also issued over 18,500 permits for Palestinians to leave Gaza and enter Israel or travel overseas (statistics as of November 16, 2009).

The IDF permitted the transfer of building materials to the Gaza Strip to facilitate the construction of a covered corridor (which opened the first week of November) to shelter Palestinians walking from the outskirts of Gaza City to the Erez Crossing.

COGAT announces the successful transfer of six water desalination systems to the Gaza Strip: On Dec. 21, 2009, six advanced water desalination systems were transferred to the Gaza Strip. The transfer was coordinated by the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) in accordance with the civil state policy toward the Gaza Strip, which aims to give a continuous response to the humanitarian needs of the Gazan civilian population.

The systems are planned to supply good quality drinking water to 40,000 citizens, and were installed as part of a sewage water treatment project in the northern Gaza Strip, which is coordinated by the Gaza CLA in collaboration with the international bodies working in the Gaza Strip and the relevant Palestinian authorities.
Also, it was announced today that a shipment of strawberries will be exported from Gaza this week. In addition, a hundred truckfuls of window glass and water filters are going into Gaza this week.

This is exactly how Arabs would treat Jews if the situation was reversed, right? Like in 1948 (from Wikipedia):
Starting in early 1948, the Arab forces had severed the supply line supply line to Jewish Jerusalem (especially to the Old City). In response, the mayor of Jerusalem, Dov Yosef, introduced a draconian system of food rationing during the siege.[10] The mallow plant played an important role in Jerusalem history at this time. When convoys bearing foodstuffs could not reach the city, the residents of Jerusalem went out to the fields to pick mallow leaves, which are rich in iron and vitamins. The Jerusalem radio station, Kol Hamagen, broadcast instructions for cooking mallow. When the broadcasts were picked up in Jordan, they sparked victory celebrations. Radio Amman announced that the fact that the Jews were eating leaves, food for donkeys and cattle, was a sign that they were dying of starvation and would soon surrender.[11]
I would like to add, once again, that I have yet to see reports of a single Gazan starving to death, despite literally years of stern warnings of an imminent humanitarian crisis.

Upgrading comments, expect some problems

Haloscan is forcing me to upgrade to a new comment system called Echo (and to pay for it!) While the features look good, I fully expect that the transition will not be smooth. It is even possible that I will lose my entire archive of comments.

Let me know what you think.

Abbas doesn't want any Israeli Arabs in "Palestine"

In an interview in Asharq al-Awsat, Mahmoud Abbas says something interesting about his negotiations with Ehud Olmert:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Would it have been possible to reach an agreement with Olmert alone?

[President Abbas] I believe it would have been possible that I go up a little, and he comes down a little. It was possible to find a solution. He said that he would give me 100 percent.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] This is important and fundamental?

[President Abbas] He said 100 percent. He would take from this side, and I would take from that side. He presented maps to me. The maps included that he would take the settlements blocs (in the West Bank) in exchange for territories in the north, west, and south of the West Bank, in addition to territories to the east of Gaza.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] To the north and west of the West Bank?

[President Abbas] Yes.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In which region in the west?

[President Abbas] In a distant region (from the triangle region), because I explained from the beginning that I would not accept anyone (from the Palestinians of Israel). We were doing well. God is my witness, he was all right; he said to me: You will not find anyone other than me; and I said to him: But you will find someone other than me.

(The triangle region is at the border strip of the West Bank; it is a region that is populated by a majority of Palestinians within the green line.)

If Abbas wants a Palestinian Arab state to live side-by-side with Israel in peace, why would he not eagerly want to incorporate the majority of Israeli Arabs in his state? Notwithstanding the fact that most or all of them have no desire to become citizens of "Palestine," it is telling that Abbas specifically excludes the possibility of adding an already developed region that has a population of Palestinian Arabs that would strengthen his state.

This indicates, yet again, that Abbas is thinking long-term that Israel would also become another Arab state demographically, or at the very least he wants to keep a destabilizing force of Arabs in Israel who would follow the orders of the PalArab leadership . He'll take strategic land from within the 1949 armistice borders and keep a potential fifth column of Arabs in Israel.

If what he is saying is true, Olmert is an even bigger idiot than I thought.

One other salient point from the interview that shows yet again that elections do not a democracy make:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some people consider that the Salam Fayyad Government is exceeding its authority by announcing its project or program that includes declaring the Palestinian State within two years, i.e. by the middle of 2011. This is a program that is supposed to be the responsibility of the PLO, which is the political reference point of the Palestinian Authority and its government. Was this announcement made, as it is said, in coordination with you? What is the aim of this announcement at a time when you are trying to reach the UN Security Council in order to determine the borders of the Palestinian State?

[President Abbas] The government is the executive authority that works to build the institutions under our guidance in order that we become prepared for statehood. My executive authority is the government; it is the government that builds and brings in the money. This is the government program.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] But its project has a political aspect, and it talks about the establishment of the state within two years or a year and a half?

(Al-Ahmad [of the Fatah Centra Committee]: There is no political aspect for the government work).

[President Abbas] The government work has no political aspect. Politics and the negotiations, which are part of the political issue, are one of my responsibilities, together with the Negotiations Department and the PLO. From the day we started signing (agreements), I am the one who signed most of them in the name of the PLO.

(Al-Ahmad: Abu-Mazin is the one who brought Saeb to the Negotiations Department, and made us elect him to the PLO Executive Committee).

I am the one who brought Saeb to the Negotiations Department to replace me.

The real power is still the PLO, not the PA, and the PLO members are not elected in any real sense - Abbas even admits that he appointed Erekat to be his successor and "made" Fatah elect him.

Finally, Abbas again tries to play both sides in the "armed struggle" game. He tells Asharq Al Awsat:
As I said (in the opening address to the PLO Central Council) I am against aggression, violence, and terrorism...
Yet his Fatah platform explicitly says:
The right of resistance: stick to the Fatah movement against the Palestinian people to resist occupation by all legitimate means, including the exercise of their right to armed struggle, which is guaranteed by international law, as long as the occupation and settlement, and dispossession of the Palestinian people of their inalienable rights.

Forms of struggle in the current stage: adopting the Fatah movement of all forms of legitimate struggle, with the option of adhering to peace, but not limited to negotiations to achieve it, and it is this struggle between the forms of exercise that can be successful at the current stage of negotiations for the assignment and activated or alternatively that it did not achieve its goals:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Palestine Today calls terror attack a "heroic operation"

The drive-by shooting death of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai last Thursday is being hailed in the Palestine Today newspaper as a "heroic operation."

The paper reproduced photos of the scene of the terror attack, apparently from Israeli media, to celebrate the murder.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Palestinian Arabs call Jews "their dogs"

(reposted, I didn't realize that there was no sound in the original video.)

"ck" at Jewlicious posted a great find. In his words:
Every Friday, protesters have been gathering [in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem] lately to protest the expulsion last August of two families from their apartments after the Israel Supreme Court ruled that the land upon which their homes were built belonged to the Sephardi Jewish community. The evacuated houses were built in the 1950s by the UNWRA in order to house Arab refugees who had fled from West Jerusalem during the 1948 war. In 1967, when Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan and reunited the city, the Palestinian families were permitted to stay on as tenants. Disputing the validity of the ownership of the land, they stopped paying rent. This led to the events that preceded the protests. As you can see, the bulk of the protesters are Jewish and Israeli. What really stood out though was at around 3:19 of the video [already edited here - EoZ.]

One of the middle aged Palestinian women started chanting what sounds like the following: “Falasteene Bladna, al-Yahud klabna” – that would translate into “Palestine is our country! The Jews are our dogs!” – which is kind of odd – I mean the people walking by her in handcuffs were the aforementioned “Jew Dogs” who had been arrested whilst protesting in favor of the Palestinians. Maybe that’s why she was shushed? I mean am I hearing this right?

Sheikh Jarrah is located on the road to Mount Scopus. In 1948, during the War of Independence, local Arabs butchered like dogs 78 doctors, nurses and others who were riding in a convoy on that road on their way to Hadassah hospital. Maybe old habits die hard?

The best part is that this video came from a moonbat site that didn't even realize what the Palestinian Arab heroes were chanting.

This chant is well-known. An example of it can be heard at this rally from 2006 - in San Francisco:


And at 4:05 on this video from January, 2009 in Montreal:


As well as in San Francisco at the end of 2008.

Gaza Islamist group criticizes Hamas over rappers

Ma'an reported:
Seven Palestinian rap groups battled for the top spot in a Norwegian-funded competition in Gaza City on Monday night.

Screaming, fans crammed into a concert hall in the Red Crescent complex for the show, applauding each group on stage. The Norwegian sponsors joined via videoconference.

The competition (titled Riasalatna - Our Message) was organized by young Gazan women as the end product of a number of workshops in Gaza and the Norwegian city of Tromso. The workshops were about how to execute a project supervised by Norwegian specialists.

Norwegian judges were supposed to choose the winner of the rap contest on Monday, but the decision was delayed due to problems with the video link.

Judges said they were thrilled to participate in the event, saying it was an expression of support for the Palestinian people.

The competition’s Gazan coordinator, Nour Afana said she chose to focus on hip hop for her project because it was a point of cultural intersection between Gaza and Norway.
Now, the fundamentalist Hizb ut-Tahrir group is strongly criticizing Hamas for allowing such an event to take place. They consider rap to be a purely Western genre with no Islamic application, and says that such a competition
aims to remove the roots of Islam gradually from the hearts of our sons, and dilute Islamic values and concepts, sometimes with dancing, sometimes with mixed sessions between the sexes, and sometimes advocating the slogans of democracy, freedom and human rights that are meant to replace the legislative source of the Islamic faith.
Even though Hamas didn't sponsor the competition, it will be interesting to see if Islamist Hamas will try to defend itself.

Egypt forces Galloway to re-route

From Ma'an:
Egypt refused permission on Thursday for a Gaza-bound aid convoy in led by British MP George Galloway to enter the country through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba.

There will be "no entry from Nuweiba. Entry can only be through Al-Arish," on the Mediterranean coast, Hossam Zaki told the French news agency AFP.

The Viva Palestina convoy of 250 trucks and ambulances laden with European, Turkish and Arab donations of food and medical supplies arrived in Jordan from Syria on Wednesday and was headed to the Red Sea port of Aqaba for the ferry journey across to the Egyptian Sinai port of Nuweiba.

Entering through the port of Al-Arish would mean going around the Sinai Peninsula and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.

British MP George Galloway, said the convoy would not be deterred by the Egyptian decision.

“We feel very sad that Egypt has turned us away on Christmas Day, but we hope they will reconsider. This is a very determined convoy and we’re not going anywhere except to Gaza.”
Egypt didn't turn them away. They just told Galloway that he must follow established procedures.

People like Galloway think that they are above the law and then they pretend to be victims when the world doesn't agree.

In March, Galloway handed over thousands of dollars and dozens of vehicles to the Hamas-run government in Gaza after arriving on an aid convoy.
Can't someone in Great Britain sue Galloway, or call for his arrest, for directly supporting a terror group?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today is the anniversary of "Operation Oil Stain"

One of the problems with NGOs is that they create a framework around a topic that makes Israel appear like the aggressor. The Gaza war is a perfect example.

On December 24th, 2008, Hamas declared war on Israel. As Ma'an reported at the time,
The military wing affiliated to Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades released a statement on Thursday morning briefing the group's military activities over the first twenty four hours of an operation they called "Oil Stain" which started Wednesday morning.

According to the statement, a total of 87 shells have been fired at Israeli targets bordering the Gaza Strip including 54 mortar shells, 31 homemade projectiles which Hamas calls "Qassam", and two Soviet-made Grad missiles.

Al-Qassa Brigades threatened to enlarge the "Oil Stain" to get more thousands of Israelis "under fire". The group asserted that its fighters are "far greater than surrendering to Israeli threats and that they became much more prepared to counter Israeli aggression and to defend themselves than in the past."
Indeed, Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades website still has the original announcement of Operation Oil Stain (autotranslated as Oil Slick.)

However, in their reports about the war, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Goldstone Report all consider December 27th the first day of the war - the day that Israel struck back heavily.

Normally, if one party attacks another and even names the operation, that would be considered, objectively, the beginning of the war. Hamas continued calling the war "Oil Stain" for a full week before it abandoned the term.

When NGOs decide that the war began three days later than it really did, they are establishing a framework that damns Israel before they even write a word about the issues. It is a false framework. It makes Israel appear to be the aggressor and not as if it is reacting to deliberate and planned Hamas actions.

And those Hamas actions would be considered grave war crimes, as they targeted civilians. (Hamas press releases even brag about how Israelis are forced to go to bomb shelters!)

Israel didn't start the war, and every NGO report that says it did on December 27th is guilty of bias.

77% of Gaza women subjected to violence

A new study by the Palestine Women's Information and Media Center is saying that some 77.1% of Gaza women are subjected to violence.

The abstract is published only in Arabic so far, and the full survey results are not out yet. I do not know the definitions of the terms "verbal violence" and "psychological violence."

67% of women are subject to verbal violence
71% to psychological violence
52% to physical violence
15% to sexual violence
45% to more than one form of violence

If you combine the victims of physical and sexual violence, we see that more than half of Gaza women are physically abused or sexually assaulted, and perhaps as many as two-thirds.

Hamas loves Qaddafi

Hamas polical leader Khaled Meshal is in Libya and meeting with crazy president, and inexplicably still Colonel, Maommar Qgaddhaffphi (I think I need to spell it differently every time.

Meshal said that he would have preferred if Gaza bordered Libya instead of Egypt, as no one would be building a giant iron wall between Libya and Gaza.

I think that this is a wonderful idea. It could easily be accomplished if all Gazans would move to Tunisia, the country that already hosted the PLO leaders for a while. They can take a tiny piece of that country on the border, and see if Libya is as magnanimous as it claims.

Better yet, why not ask Qaddaphy if he would welcome all Palestinian Arabs to become full citizens of his country if they so desire. Immediately, a couple of hundred thousand would take him up on that offer. That would prove his love and loyalty.

Unfortunately, Libyan law does not allow Palestinian Arabs to become citizens, like most Arab League countries. But don't call that discrimination.

Israel allows third flower export from Gaza this month

Palestine Today reports that Israel will allow Gaza farmers to export flowers for the third time this month.

Don't expect the Free Gaza or Code Pink websites to mention this news.

Traveling open thread

Another nice thing about my trip is that I didn't have to be assaulted with Christmas music for the last two weeks!

I'll be traveling all day, so have at it.

UPDATE: I am putting a couple of posts in the queue as I fly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Richard Falk shows his hypocrisy again

From YNet:
In Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Israel's European and North American allies to press for the immediate end of the blockade "backed up by a credible threat of economic sanctions."
Isn't that "collective punishment" against the entire population of Israel, something that Falk considers unacceptable in the extreme?

(Links to other examples of Falk's lies, hypocrisy, support for terror and purposeful twisting of international law can be seen here.)

Daily Goldstone 12/24

From the University of Pittsburgh Law School website:

The Goldstone Commission Report on the January 2009 Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza — which comes before the United Nations today, November 4, 2009 — has been accused of failure on various levels. Many commentators argue that the Report fails the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Some say it reflects a failure to understand the deeper historical realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Still others say it fails the originally conceived purpose of the United Nations Human Rights Council and fails the search for objective truth. Its most glaring failure, though, has gone unnoticed. The Report fails the law.

It does so by striking out in applying the law in three key areas. Strike One: the Report incorrectly claims Israel disproportionately attacked civilians. Strike Two: the Report unjustly accuses Israel of a disproportionate response to Hamas's attacks. Strike Three: the Report treats Israel and Hamas disproportionately by holding them to different standards.

Strike One

Jus in bello is the law governing conduct during war. One of its key principles is proportionality, which requires military personnel to take precautions in targeting the enemy to ensure that the expected civilian losses are not excessive compared to the anticipated military advantage. The commander's perspective at the time of the attack is the central focus. The law assesses whether his actions were reasonable given the information he had access to, taking into account the "fog of war." Proportionality is not measured after the fact by looking at actual civilian casualties or actual military advantages. If it were, no military could ever engage in any operations.

The Report turns proportionality's bedrock premise on its head. It relies substantively on information gathered after the fact and discounts contemporaneous Israeli intentions or actions and the surrounding circumstances. The Report also undermines its own legitimacy by automatically verifying one side's statements and impugning the other's. Israel's real-time information consists of mere "allegations," but retrospective information collected months later in Gaza consists of definitive "statements." Israel admittedly did not cooperate (given the commission's biased conception), but that cannot justify reliance on the wrong information.

Strike Two

Jus ad bellum is the law governing decisions to go to war. Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter forbids the use of force without Security Council enforcement (Article 2(7)). One exception: Article 51 preserves the right to use force in self-defense. Jus ad bellum mandates that any act in self-defense constitute a proportionate response, meaning a necessary and reasonable means to counter the attack and eliminate future threats.

The Report confuses jus in bello proportionality (as explained above) with this jus ad bellum requirement of a proportionate response. Israel acted legitimately in self-defense to destroy Hamas's tunnels and rocket launchers. Hamas indiscriminately fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians for eight years. And yet, the Report does not even mention Article 51. More egregiously, it uses the incorrect assessment that particular Israeli attacks violated jus in bello proportionality to unfairly package Operation Cast Lead as disproportionate overall, a clear misapplication of jus in bello principles in a jus ad bellum framework.

Strike Three

The Report's (unfounded) legal conclusions disproportionately hold Israel and Hamas to different standards. It states unequivocally (but without factual substantiation) that Israeli forces committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as willful killing and torture.

Article 85 of Additional Protocol I states that "making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack" and launching indiscriminate attacks—the very crimes Hamas committed, according to the Report—are indeed grave breaches. But the Report never considers that Palestinian armed groups committed grave breaches. Accusing Israel of "grave breaches" while failing to similarly identify Hamas' violations exposes the commission's bias to the core.

This uneven treatment pervades the entire report. For example, Hamas and Israel both had obligations to protect civilians in Gaza. The Report's single-minded focus on Israel, however, leads to absurd statements regarding Hamas's breach of those obligations when it used civilian buildings as command centers, munitions storage and rocket launch sites. While quick to condemn Israel flat out for violations, the Report merely suggests that Hamas's actions "would constitute" legal violations.

Reading the Report in an uncritical vacuum suggests that Israel abrogated its obligations under the laws of war. In reality, the main failure lies in the Report itself. The Report fails the law. Why does this matter? Because in maintaining a delicate balance between destruction of enemy capabilities and protection of innocent civilians, the law reinforces our basic dignity and humanity in the face of the horrors of war. We cannot afford to abandon it.


Laurie R. Blank is the Acting Director of Emory Law's International Humanitarian Law Clinic. Gregory S. Gordon is an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law and Director of the UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies.

Work accident!

Another brave Hamas freedom fighter has missed his chance at getting his virgins because he blew himself up without managing to kill any Jews.

He was killed while on a "jihad mission" in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City.

The fact that Hamas is doing "jihad missions" in crowded residential neighborhoods does not seem to be much of an issue.

A day with the IDF

Today, I attended the IDF Northern Command Familiarization Day, a brand new initiative by the IDF to reach out to bloggers.

The two main events were IDF briefings at strategic mountaintops, one overlooking the entire Syrian border and the other one practically surrounded by Lebanon.

Although the information given was not "inside information," it was a good first step. It was interesting to see in person border villages that are very possibly Hezbollah strongholds: lots of typical looking houses, but very few people, no children and lots of trucks going in and out.

We learned about the village of Rajar, which is split in half along the border. The IDF does not want to put up a fence so a strange situation is set up where the residents of Rajar can sort of travel between Lebanon and Israel, the southern residents have residency rights (and jobs) in Israel, and where the border goes literally through some houses. Most interesting was the information that Hezbollah intimidates all the residents of the villages in the area, much like the mafia, and watches what they say to the media.

The bloggers on the trip were a great bunch of people. They included the bloggers for Israel Matzav, The Augean Stables, Honest Reporting, CAMERA (Israel), Jewlicious and Contentions (Commentary.) Many of them know a lot of people and had a very long and candid discussion about the various famous reporters and others whom they know personally. I, on the other hand, don't know anyone, so I pretty much just listened.

Altogether, it was a fun day, and it only makes me want to visit more often!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Abbas for new intifada in Arabic, against it in English

Mahmoud Abbas had an interview in yesterday's Wall Street Journal where he said, among other things:
I will not allow a new intifada. As long as I'm in office, I will not allow anybody to start a new intifada. Never never.
Yet just last month, in Arabic, the Fatah Central Committee that he leads called for a third intifada, and there were reports that Abbas himself called for a third intifada (without arms but with stones.) The original link to Palestine Today is gone but I found reference to it from a pro-Palestinian Arab op-ed here, where the author admits that stone-throwing is a typical feature of the Nil'in and Bilin protests that Abbas is supporting. This is a far cry from "Never never."

Abbas has learned well from Arafat to say things differently in Arabic and English.

Carter's grandson running for office; benefits from "apology"

As we mentioned yesterday, Jimmy Carter made a non-apology to Jews in the form of "sorry if some of you overly sensitive Jews were upset with my completely correct venomous anti-Israel and borderline anti-semitic actions over the past couple of decades."

It turns out that this fake apology, for some reason warmly welcomed by Abraham Foxman, didn't come completely out of nowhere. Carter's grandson is running for office and he is going to need to get some Jewish votes.
Jimmy Carter is asking the Jewish community for forgiveness -- and insists it’s not simply because his grandson has decided to launch a political career with a run for the Georgia state Senate.

Jason Carter, 34, an Atlanta-area lawyer, is considering a run to fill a seat covering suburban DeKalb County should the incumbent, David Adelman, win confirmation as President Obama's designated ambassador to Singapore.

The seat, which is university heavy -- Emory, among others, is situated there -- also has a substantial Jewish community.

The senior Carter outraged Jewish leaders with his book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” and they strongly criticized the former U.S. president for what appeared to be his likening of Israel's settlement practices to apartheid and seeming to place the brunt of the blame for a lack of peace on Israel.

On the subsequent book tour, Carter further enraged many Jews by intimating that the pro-Israel lobby inhibited an evenhanded U.S. policy.

Such bad blood could potentially translate into problems for Carter’s grandson as he considers launching a political career.

But in an interview with JTA, Carter insisted that ethnic electoral considerations were not reason enough to reach out to the Jewish community, although he did not outright deny that it was a factor.

"Jason has a district, the number of Jewish voters in it is only 2 percent," he said, chuckling.

I wonder if Carter knows the Jewish proportion of every district in Georgia?
(h/t Samson)

Moonbats over Gaza

The Daily News Egypt reports:
The Gaza Freedom March will move forward with plans to march into Gaza on Dec. 31 despite having its request rejected by Egypt’s foreign ministry Monday.

“Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point,” Ann Wright of the Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee said in a statement.

“We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and to march in Gaza on Dec. 31 against the international blockade. We are continuing the journey,” she added.

Cairo on Monday rejected a request by international activists to organize a march to the Gaza Strip via Egypt to mark one year since an Israeli attack on the enclave.

“Some international organizations have requested permission for a solidarity march — the Gaza Freedom March — into the Gaza Strip,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Egypt finds it difficult to cooperate with this march considering the sensitive situation in the Gaza Strip,” which faces a stringent Israeli blockade, the statement said. [The statement apparently didn't say anything about an Israeli blockade - EoZ.]

It warned that “any attempts to violate the law or public order by any group whether local or foreign on Egyptian soil will be dealt with in conformity with the law.”

According to Wright, Egypt’s foreign ministry said that the Rafah border will be closed well into January, citing escalating tensions.

So who is behind this march? It is Code Pink, and their description of the march clearly shows their bias against Israel:
Our purpose in this March is lifting the siege on Gaza. We demand that Israel end the blockade. We also call upon Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah border. Palestinians must have freedom to travel for study, work, and much-needed medical treatment and to receive visitors from abroad.
So they are marching from Egypt towards Rafah where Egypt has closed the border to Gaza to protest - Israel. Parenthetically, while they demand Israel ends the blockade, Egypt is only requested to open the border...which also happens to be the other way into Gaza, and which is being explicitly closed to the protesters.

When two countries both decide to guard their borders with Hamastan, why does only one get singled out?

That's a toughie.

Monday, December 21, 2009

News briefs

Jimmy Carter "apologized" to American Jews for saying things that may have stigmatized Israel. He even used the words "Al Het" that are used by Jews on Yom Kippur. Of course, he didn't apologize for any of his positions, so this is one of those situations of a non-apology in the form of "sorry if you were offended by my brilliance."

British director Ken Loach withdrew a film of his from an Australian film festival because it was partially funded by those dreaded "Zionists." Iran therefore scooped him up and is proudly screening his latest comedy at the Fajr film festival.

Hamas strongly condemned the wall that Egypt is building on the Gaza border. I guess smuggling weapons is a human right.

A small religious group in Gaza found that its assembly room or building was blown up by unidentified gunmen.

What I've been doing

I've been too busy to blog, too busy to reply to emails (and even to read them all,) too busy to read many of the comments and, most of the time, too busy to sleep.

But one of the benefits of this trip to Israel is the opportunity to meet some fellow bloggers. In a sense, this has been my "coming out" party as until a few weeks ago I was almost completely anonymous to the vast majority of bloggers. Since then, off the top of my head I have met and spoken with Richard Landes of The Augean Stables, Carl from Israel Matzav, Noah Pollak from Commentary, Aussie Dave from Israellycool, Yisrael and Batya Medad from My Right Word and Shiloh Musings, Emet m'Tsiyon's blogger, Barry Rubin of the Gloria Center, and Yosef Hartuv of the Love of the Land blog.

Yosef Hartuv lives in Hebron and I visited him there today. While there, he introduced me to some of the leaders of Hebron/Chevron including David Wilder and Miriam Levinger, very outspoken wife of one of the founders of the revived Chevron Jewish community. (Her opinions are a bit more extreme than mine, and arguing with her is useless.) Yosef's effusive compliments about me to the people he introduced me to were embarrassing.

My taxi driver Avinoam also happens to know many other well-known Israeli right-wingers, often considered extremists by many. It was almost surreal as, while I was discussing the blog with him, he asked me "Do you want to interview Geulah Cohen? Here, I'll call her up for you!" (She is recovering from spinal surgery and couldn't be interviewed but was very gracious on the phone.) I also managed to have a brief conversation with Nadia Matar, leader of the Women in Green group, from Avinoam's cell phone. Both women are very polite, very strong and much hated by many.

On Wednesday, I will have a rare treat of attending a high-level IDF briefing for bloggers. That should be a blast. (And it is totally coincidental to my being here; I didn't know about it until after I already arrived.)

Add in the usual touristy stuff and other things, and I am simply zonked.