zaterdag 6 februari 2010

Scholen in Israel gaan voor het eerst les geven over Eichmann proces

Terwijl veel mensen denken dat Israeli's geobsedeerd zijn door de Holocaust, blijkt dat het Eichmann proces in Israel niet voorkomt in de schoolboeken. Dit proces is heel belangrijk geweest voor Israels identiteit en omgang met de Holocaust:
According to Michael Yaron, who is charged with the history program at the Education Ministry, "if prior to the trial the dominant view was that Jews went like sheep to the slaughter, then following it the concept of courage received broader significance. It was a process that commenced with the Eichmann trial and has become stronger since, both due to the impact of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War."
The Education Ministry stressed emphasis will be given in the new lessons to describing those who perished, survived and rebelled during the Holocaust, as heroes. "The idea is to entirely remove from the lexicon the concept of sheep to the slaughter, which stemmed from paternalism or misunderstanding of what took place in the Holocaust," said Dr. Orna Katz, a history teacher and a member of the team for implementing the new program.
Dat zou bij ons ook wel wat meer mogen gebeuren. Ook zou er meer aandacht mogen zijn voor de oorzaken van de Holocaust en het antisemitisme dat al voor de nazi's aan de macht kwamen aanwezig was en door hen tot zulke grote 'hoogten' werd opgestuwd.
Last update - 07:11 04/02/2010       
Israeli schools to teach about Eichmann trial for first time
By Or Kashti
High school students will learn for the first time about the Eichmann trial and its impact on the shaping of the collective memory of the Holocaust in Israel.
The new chapter in the history program will be introduced in the coming school year, and questions on the subject may be used in the matriculation exams. To date, the subject was not officially taught in history classes in schools.
"The trial of [Nazi war criminal Adolf] Eichmann is a watershed in the transformation of the Holocaust into a central element of Israeli identity," said Prof. Hanna Yablonka of Ben-Gurion University, who chairs the committee advising the Education Ministry on the Shoah.
She says that the 50-year anniversary of the capture of Eichmann in Argentina, and his trial in 1961 are "an opportunity to bring forth for the students some of the founding events that altered the face of Israeli society."
Learning about the Eichmann trial will be carried out within the framework of the new history program and will include six lessons. It will be the first time that schools will officially deal with the trial, and the broader aspects of society's attitude toward Holocaust survivors and the changes that this underwent over the years.
According to Michael Yaron, who is charged with the history program at the Education Ministry, "if prior to the trial the dominant view was that Jews went like sheep to the slaughter, then following it the concept of courage received broader significance. It was a process that commenced with the Eichmann trial and has become stronger since, both due to the impact of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War."
The Education Ministry stressed emphasis will be given in the new lessons to describing those who perished, survived and rebelled during the Holocaust, as heroes. "The idea is to entirely remove from the lexicon the concept of sheep to the slaughter, which stemmed from paternalism or misunderstanding of what took place in the Holocaust," said Dr. Orna Katz, a history teacher and a member of the team for implementing the new program.
One of the ways this will be done, according to sources in the ministry, is by not asking "judgmental questions, such as why did the Jews not fight?"
As far as Yaron is concerned, the purpose of the new lessons is "for the pupils to understand that the memory of the Holocaust is a dynamic process, which is very much affected by processes in Israeli society. These are subjects that to date were not taught in schools."
Yablonka, who published several books on the subject of attitudes toward Holocaust survivors during the first years of statehood said, "the absorption of survivors [as immigrants] was a complicated story. It cannot be said that they were ridiculed or rejected."
"The Eichmann trial gave the survivors an important social role: They were the sole link to the Jewish past that was murdered in the Holocaust," she said. "The trial was also the first time in which the survivors were perceived as part of the Holocaust story, and subsequently there was gradually an end to the talk of the '6 million' and a change to dealing with survivors" as actual people.
It is too early to tell if the new lessons will include a critical approach to the Eichmann trial and the use that was made of it by the leadership of the country, as was argued by Hannah Arendt at the time.
"Beyond the great importance of placing Eichmann on trial, the trial had political aspects as well, like comparing the Nazis and the Arabs," said Katz. "Precisely because of the enormous impact of the trial, such questions are particularly important, and it is not clear whether the new chapter will address them. If the end result is that we return to adopting the standard cliches, then we gained nothing."

De Israelische aanval op de meelfabriek van Gaza - een Monty Python moment in de Guardian?

Dvar Dea neemt een van de vele beschuldigingen van de commissie Goldstone onder de loep, en komt tot de conclusie dat het absurd is te beweren dat een zware bom de meelfabriek in Gaza trof. Hieruit blijkt ook weer duidelijk de tunnelvisie waaraan de Goldstone commissie leed. Andere verklaringen dan dat Israel bewust de meelfabriek bombardeerde om zo de burgerbevolking honger te laten lijden worden niet in beschouwing genomen.
Imagine a stop motion animation where a big heavy hammer hits a wooden surface, but instead of a loud bang and a crash a faint chirp like sound is heard and the stricken wood has a small crack on its surface, nothing more. This type of absurdity is usually associated with the cartoons from the famous 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' and not with respectable media services, such as the Guardian.

However, according to this distinguished British newspaper an 500 kg airplane dropped Israeli bomb produced the following damage to the El Bader flour mill, Gaza's only flour producing factory, seen in the pictures below taken from the IDF reply to the Goldstone report and a BBC report from June 2009.

Al Bader flourmill January 9 2009

Al Bader flourmill January 10 2009

Al Bader flourmill January 11 2009

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Does that look like the kind of damage caused by a 500 kg bomb?

According to the Guardian, a UN demining team found the front half of a Mk82 airplane dropped bomb in the second floor of the Al Bader flour mill on January 25, 15 days after the place was supposedly bombed by the Israeli air force and destroyed the Gaza Strip only flour producing mill, as claimed by the Goldstone report and its defenders, who built a charge of war crimes against Israel saying we prevented food from the population of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, even though food keeps coming in daily from Israel.

According to the site of the Federation of American Scientists, the Mk82 is a 500 kg airplane dropped bomb, it is an unguided bomb, a dumb weapon, intended to create maximum blast and destruction, a fact that is not evident from the pictures above. The blast is so powerful that its casing is designed to slow down its fall so the bomber will have enough time to escape the blast. Now let's back up and look at those pictures again - if a jet fighter like the F-16A-D needs time to get the hell out of that thing how come the structure is intact, the roof is still there, and the machines look damaged but nothing like what we would expect from a 500 kg explosion? And judging from the quoted UN demining team in the Guardian who found the fragment in the second floor of the mill, the second floor is still there. In other words:

Guardian Gaza kaboom

And another thing: How did the supposed incriminating fragment get there? Where is its the point of entry? This is not a simple question, because according to ORDTECH MILITARY INDUSTRIES, a Greek defense company established in the mid-1980s, this 500kg bomb isn?t meant to penetrate, but to take out "fragment sensitive targets" in the outdoors such as, troops, oil facilities and radar. A building on the other hand is a good protection against fragments, therefore a bad target for this type of a bomb.

All this adds up to the following absurdity. The IDF has a detailed account of its activities at the time of the alleged bombing. It describes a complex ground battle that took place in the area of the Al Bader mill, involving troops, tanks and Apache helicopter gunships on the Israeli side, and booby trapped houses on the Hamas side, some of them adjoining the flourmill.

From the IDF response to Goldstone, p. 41 - 44:

163. With respect to the allegation of deliberate targeting of the el-Bader flour mill, the IDF conducted a command investigation, which gathered evidence from numerous sources, including relevant commanders and officers and ground and aerial forces. In addition, the investigator received information from the Israeli CLA, which was in direct contact with the owner of el-Bader flour mill, Mr. Rashad Hamada. The command investigation included several findings, which are delineated below.

164. From the outset of the Gaza Operation, the immediate area in which the flour mill was located was used by enemy armed forces as a defensive zone, due to its proximity to Hamas?s stronghold in the Shati refugee camp. Hamas had fortified this area with tunnels and booby-trapped houses, and deployed its forces to attack IDF troops operating there. For example, 200 meters south of the flour mill an IDF squad was ambushed by five Hamas operatives in a booby-trapped house; 500 meters east of the flour mill another squad engaged enemy forces in a house that was also used for weapons storage; and adjacent to the flour mill, two booby-trapped houses exploded.

165. The IDF ground operation in this area began on 9 January 2009, during night time. Before the ground operation, the IDF issued early warnings to the residents of the area, included recorded telephone calls, urging them to evacuate. Such telephone calls were made to the flour mill as well.

166. While preparing for the operation, the commanders identified the flour mill as a ?strategic high point? in the area, due to its height and clear line of sight. Nevertheless, in the planning stage, it was decided not to pre-emptively attack the flour mill, in order to prevent damage to civilian infrastructure as much as possible.

167. In the course of the operation, IDF troops came under intense fire from different Hamas positions in the vicinity of the flour mill. The IDF forces fired back towards the sources of fire and threatening locations. As the IDF returned fire, the upper floor of the flour mill was hit by tank shells. A phone call warning was not made to the flour mill immediately before the strike, as the mill was not a pre-planned target.

168. Several hours after the incident, and following a report about fire in the flour mill, the IDF coordinated the arrival of several fire engines to fight the fire.

169. The Military Advocate General reviewed the findings and the records of the command investigation and other materials. In addition, the Military Advocate General reviewed the information included in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report, as well as the transcript of the public testimony of Mr. Hamada to the Fact-Finding Mission.

170. Taking into account all available information, the Military Advocate General determined that the flour mill was struck by tank shells during combat. The Military Advocate General did not find any evidence to support the assertion that the mill was attacked from the air using precise munitions, as alleged in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report. The Military Advocate General determined that the allegation was not supported in the Report itself, nor in the testimony to the Fact-Finding Mission by Rashad Hamada, who had left the area prior to the incident in response to the IDF?s early warnings. Photographs of the mill following the incident do not show structural damage consistent with an air attack.

171. The Military Advocate General found that, in the specific circumstances of combat, and given its location, the flour mill was a legitimate military target in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict. The purpose of the attack was to neutralize immediate threats to IDF forces.

172. The Military Advocate General did not accept the allegation in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report that the purpose of the strike was to deprive the civilian population of Gaza of food. In this regard, he noted the fact that shortly after the incident, the IDF allowed Palestinian fire trucks to reach the area and extinguish the flames, as well as the extensive amount of food and flour that entered Gaza through Israel during the Gaza Operation.

173. Although the Military Advocate General could not conclusively determine that the flour mill was in fact used by Hamas?s military operatives, there was some evidence of such use. The Military Advocate General noted that Mr. Hamada testified before the Fact-Finding Mission that after the operation he found empty bullets on the roof of the flour mill. This could not have been the result of IDF fire, since ? as was evident from the findings of the command investigation ? the IDF forces which occupied the mill?s compound three days after the incident did not occupy the roof of the mill, where they would have been exposed to enemy fire.

174. Accordingly, the Military Advocate General found no reason to order a criminal investigation regarding the case.
English spelling mistakes are at the source

The Guardian wishes to discredit all that by a single item, full of holes:

1) A bomb fragment, from a bomb that produces an explosion far more powerful then the one evident in the pictures above.

 2) An unknown point of entry. The UN demining team says they have two, as yet unavailable pictures, which may or may not show a point of entry.

3) An unknown point in time for this particular fragment to reach the mill, since it was found 15 days after the alleged bombing. Enough time for it to get there because of a separate set of circumstances, and to cool off if it was due to an explosion.

4) Other scenarios were not examined and discredited. It is important to note that there are other scenarios possible, more consistent with the evidence. It could have exploded elsewhere and the blast threw the fragment into the mill, it could have broken apart in mid air, or may be the actual content of the bomb was many times below 500 kg.

I, on my part, know that my sense of humor and creative absurdities are many times below those of Terry Gilliam, but apparently that is not the case when it comes to the Guardian?s accusations against Israel, at least the creative absurdities part of it. The problem is they weren?t trying to make a joke. And although first reaction is a giggle or two, it is really, really, not funny at all.

Hat tip: IsraelMatzav

Related link: When ludicrousness stops being funny, the Guardian Gaza report.

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at Dvar Dea,


Egyptische redacteur krijgt waarschuwing wegens ontvangen Israelische ambassadeur

Dit zijn de dus vriendschappelijke relaties met Egypte, in ruil voor teruggave van de Sinai en ontmanteling van de nederzettingen aldaar. Dat is een van de redenen dat Israeli's niet enthousiaster zijn over vrede met Syrië. Niet alleen ligt de Golan strategisch en dichter bij Israelische steden, maar waarom risico's nemen en dingen opofferen als je er zo weinig voor terug krijgt? Egypte werkt Israel daarnaast ook diplomatiek op alle manieren tegen, de media en imams verspreiden kwaadaardige leugens over Joden en hun vermeende almacht en slechtheid en wakkeren hiermee het conflict tussen Israel en de Arabische wereld aan.
Egypte heeft voor de 'vrede' met Israel niet alleen de Sinai teruggekregen, maar ook een zak geld van ruim twee miljard per jaar van de VS. Ook krijgt het van de VS modern wapentuig, zogenaamd nodig in de strijd tegen de islamisten. Egypte is nu een vriend van het Westen in het Midden-Oosten, en de dictator Mubarak wordt door het Westen gesteund. Soms vraag ik me wel eens af of er nou zoveel mee is gewonnen, en of de vrede tussen Israel en Egypte niet gebruikt had kunnen worden voor echte toenadering. Carter heeft wellicht te zeer op Israelische concessies gefocused, Begin was te zeer bezig met het behouden van de Westoever en om die buiten de deal te houden, en voor Sadat was het al een enorme concessie als eerste Arabische staat vrede te sluiten met Israel en te accepteren dat de Palestijnen er buiten bleven. Maar er was wellicht vooral te weinig controle op juist de 'softere' afspraken, zoals culturele uitwisselingen, economische samenwerking etc. Praktijken als onderstaande behoren inmiddels sinds jaar en dag tot de normale gang van zaken, maar druisen in tegen het vredesverdrag tussen Israel en Egypte, in ieder geval tegen de 'geest' ervan (maar ik denk ook tegen de letter), en daar zouden de VS Egypte misschien eens aan kunnen herinneren.

Egypt Editor Challenges Union over Israel 'Warning'

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's journalists union issued a warning to a magazine editor on Tuesday after she received the Israeli ambassador in her house, prompting her to cry foul over freedom of the press.

Hala Mustafa, editor-in-chief of Al-Demoqratiya magazine, stirred up a controversy in September after receiving Israeli envoy Shalom Cohen.

A five-member panel, citing union rules barring support for normalisation of ties with Israel, issued a warning against Mustafa, rather than taking more serious action.

"We limited ourselves to issuing a warning because the commission's job is not to punish or seek vengeance against a colleague but to guarantee decisions are taken in a democratic manner," said panel member Gamal Fahmi.

Any act of normalisation with Israel by union members can lead to a reprimand or even expulsion.

The committee "took into account" that Mustafa had "given assurances she was not familiar with the details of this ruling on normalisation. She thought it only applied to travelling to Israel."

He added that Mustafa had agreed to respect the 1981 ruling, something she would neither confirm nor deny.

However, she said she "totally" rejected the warning, telling AFP she might even turn to the courts for redress of what she said was a "moral injury."

"It goes against freedom of expression ... which the union should protect," she added.

In 1979, Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but there continues to be a generally hostile popular attitude towards anything implying normal relations between the two neighbours.

Separately on Tuesday, the panel suspended for three months the deputy editor-in-chief of the government-owned weekly October for having had dinner with an Israeli diplomat, Fahmi said.


Dreigende taal tussen Israël en Syrië

Waar komen de plotselinge dreigementen tussen Israel en Syrië vandaan? Het begon met Barak, die voor Israelische oren had gezegd dat als er niet zou worden onderhandeld, er een oorlog zou kunnen komen, waarna men vervolgens zou onderhandelen over precies dezelfde zaken als die nu op tafel liggen. Met andere woorden, laten we nu gaan onderhandelen en ons die oorlog besparen. In zijn woorden:
"just like the familiar reality in the Middle East, we will immediately sit down [with Syria] after such a war and negotiate on the exact same issues we have been discussing with them for the past 15 years."
Barak staat bekend als iemand die met Syrië wil praten en bereid is tot concessies. Hoe kon Syrië deze boodschap dan als een dreigement voor oorlog opvatten? Heeft Syrië Baraks opmerking oprecht verkeerd begrepen of heeft men die bewust aangegrepen om dreigende taal naar Israel uit te slaan en daar een rechtvaardiging voor aan te kunnen voeren? Het doel daarvan zou kunnen zijn om ofwel de aandacht van bondgenoot Iran af te wenden, ofwel Israel te laten buigen om de crisis te bezweren, ofwel om uitspraken aan Israelische leiders te ontlokken die het land in moeilijkheden brengen. Het lijkt er vooralsnog op dat dat alledrie is gelukt. Lieberman is uit de bocht gevlogen, waarna Netanjahoe sussende woorden heeft gesproken. Dat ook Assad met zijn dreigementen Israelische steden met raketten te bestoken en zich te mengen in een eventueel conflict tussen Israel en Hezbollah, een grens overschreed is vergeten. Alleen Liebermans woorden worden nog overal geciteerd en de regering als incapabel afgeschilderd.
Lieberman warns Assad: War will end your regime
By Haaretz Correspondents and Agencies, By Amos Harel, Mazal Mualem and Avi Issacharoff

Israel sought to soothe Syria with assurances yesterday that it does not seek war but rather unconditional peace talks. These comments followed the angry reaction from Damascus to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's unprecedented threats against President Bahar Assad's family and regime.

Defense officials said there was no basis for any new tension despite the friction this week between Jerusalem and Damascus. They said the Israel Defense Forces had not changed its alert state on Israel's border with Syria and Lebanon.

Several hours earlier Lieberman warned Assad that Syria would lose any conflict with Israel, and the current regime would disintegrate.

"Assad should know that if he attacks, he will not only lose the war. Neither he nor his family will remain in power," Lieberman said at a business conference at Bar-Ilan University.

The foreign minister's remarks came after Assad told Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos on Wednesday that Israel was pushing the Middle East toward a new war.

"Our message should be that if Assad's father lost a war but remained in power, the son should know that an attack would cost him his regime," Lieberman continued. "This is the message that must be conveyed to the Syrian leader by Israel."

Lieberman said Assad's comments had "crossed a line" by directly threatening Israel and implying that any future conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah would draw Syria into the mix.

"Anyone who thinks territorial concessions will disconnect Syria from the axis of evil is mistaken," Lieberman said. "Syria must be made to understand that it has to relinquish its demand for the Golan Heights."

In a bid to calm things down, a top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel wants to start talks culminating in a permanent peace agreement with Syria. He added, however, that Jerusalem would continue to react against any threats to its safety.

After a meeting between Netanyahu and Lieberman, Nir Hefetz, head of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister's Bureau, said the two men were stressing their commitment to peace with Syria.

Lieberman and Netanyahu sought to clarify that the "government's policy is clear, that Israel desires peace and to engage in unconditional talks with Syria," Hefetz said.

Shortly after the PM's message, Defense Minister Ehud Barak also relayed a soothing message to Syria from Labor Party headquarters.

Barak's statements this week on Syria were meant for Israeli ears, to emphasize the importance of peace talks, a defense official said. In no way did Barak insinuate that Israel intended to attack Syria, he said.

Barak said the stalled peace process with Syria could bode ill for the future of the Middle East.

Speaking to the IDF top brass, Barak added that "just like the familiar reality in the Middle East, we will immediately sit down [with Syria] after such a war and negotiate on the exact same issues we have been discussing with them for the past 15 years."

The defense official said Israel was operating on several levels to make sure that misunderstandings between the two countries did not deteriorate into diplomatic tension.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Bureau said Netanyahu had told cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser to ask every minister to refrain from discussing Syria in the media.

Barak called on Assad to join him at the negotiating table. "We have all been at this table, we all know what's on it. Instead of exchanging verbal blows through the media, let's sit down via our envoys and talk," Barak said at a meeting of Labor's executive committee.

Barak said he and other top defense officials believe that an agreement with Syria is a key Israeli strategic interest.

Lieberman's comments drew harsh criticism from several Knesset members, some of whom urged Netanyahu to rein in or dismiss him.

The Kadima party said that "Netanyahu's government is playing with fire. Netanyahu must rise above his political problems and show responsibility to the future of the state he's in charge of."

According to Kadima's Shaul Mofaz, "Ranting and raving is not a work plan. A responsible leadership checks and weighs its words." Fellow Kadima MK Roni Bar-On called Lieberman's threats "reckless irresponsibility, almost bordering on meltdown."

As Labor MK Eitan Cabel put it, "Netanyahu must stop war instigator Lieberman."

Assad said in an interview published in The New Yorker this week that if Israel agrees to return the Golan there will be peace.

"If they say you can have the entire Golan back, we will have a peace treaty. But they cannot expect me to give them the peace they expect .... You start with the land; you do not start with peace," he told Seymour Hersh in Damascus.

Assad told Hersh that Israel lacks true leadership as it had under Yitzhak Rabin. "They do not have any of the old generation who used to know what politics means, like Rabin and the others," Assad told Hersh. "That is why I said they are like children fighting each other, messing with the country; they do not know what to do."

Assad said that "I have half a million Palestinians and they have been living here for three generations now. So, if you do not find a solution for them, then what peace are you talking about?"

Hersh reported that a senior Syrian official told him Damascus had renewed intelligence-sharing efforts with the United States and Britain after a special request by U.S. President Barack Obama.

U.S. special envoy George Mitchell relayed Obama's request, even though Syria is on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terror.

The White House declined to comment on Hersh's report, which also said that Assad agreed to the request but warned Mitchell that cooperation with the CIA and Britain's MI6 would stop "if nothing happens from the other side."

Hamas heeft wel/geen spijt van raketaanvallen op burgers

Hamas stelde eerder dat het niet tot doel had om Israelische burgers te doden tijdens de Gaza oorlog. Haar raketten, gericht op militaire doelen, zouden per ongeluk burgers treffen omdat ze nou eenmaal niet zo nauwkeurig zijn. De opmerking in haar rapport aan de VN dat het Hamas speet als er Israelische burgers geschaad waren, werd echter haastig weer ingetrokken: het laatste wat Hamas wil is wel zich verontschuldigen voor Israelische burgerslachtoffers.
Mohammed-Faraj al-Ghoul, justice minister in the Hamas government and the chairman of the committee which drafted the report, said on Saturday "some words or phrases were taken out of context. The report held the [Israeli] occupation fully responsible and it did not include apologies."
More than 500 Israelis were killed in suicide bombings during a Palestinian uprising from 2000. Many of those bombers were sent by Hamas, pursuing what it calls "martyrdom operations."
Asked whether the expression of regret to the United Nations marked a change in that strategy, a Hamas official in Gaza told Reuters: "There is no change in the movement's policy, and that includes our position on the martyrdom operations."
Na de bloedige jaren van zelfmoordaanslagen in bussen en discotheken, heeft Israel maatregelen genomen waarvoor het nog geregeld internationaal wordt bekritiseerd en veroordeeld (zoals de 'muur'), maar die wel zeer succesvol bleken om zelfmoordaanslagen te voorkomen (er worden nog steeds geregeld aanslagen verijdeld).
Sindsdien hebben Hamas en co hun toevlucht gezocht in het afvuren van raketten en mortiergranaten op burgerdoelen zoals Sderot en andere 'nederzettingen' rond de Gaza strook. Ook heeft men Ashkelon meermaals getroffen en tijdens de Gaza oorlog kwamen de raketten tot in Ashdod en Beersheva. Rond de Gazastrook liggen ook militaire bases en er loopt een weg langs de grens die door het leger wordt gepatrouilleerd. Als Hamas burgerdoden zou willen vermijden waren er dus genoeg militaire doelen voorhanden geweest, militaire doelen die bovendien, en dat is het grote verschil tussen Israel en Hamas, doorgaans buiten civiel gebied liggen en dus kunnen worden getroffen zonder burgers in gevaar te brengen. Zelfs met de onnauwkeurige raketten van Hamas.
Hamas hoopt garen te spinnen bij de internationale kritiek die Israel ten deel viel tijdens en na de Gaza oorlog, maar het is moeilijk je als onschuldig slachtoffer te presenteren en tegelijkertijd te staan voor je antisemitische principes. De VN is immers volgens het handvest van Hamas door de zionisten in het leven geroepen om de wereldmacht over te nemen.
Van een standvastige en principiële organisatie als Hamas zou je verwachten dat men zou verklaren ten overstaan van de internationale gemeenschap waarom het de heilige plicht van iedere moslim is om zoveel mogelijk zionistisch bloed te vergieten en zo bij te dragen aan de heilige strijd voor de bevrijding van Palestina. Je hebt principes of je hebt ze niet...
Last update - 18:03 06/02/2010
Hamas backtracks: We didn't apologize for rocket fire against Israel civilians
The Hamas government in Gaza distanced itself on Saturday from an earlier statement in which it expressed regret for harming Israeli civilians in rocket attacks.

Hamas, in an unusual move, expressed regret for the deaths of Israeli civilians in Palestinian rocket attacks during fighting in Gaza a year ago.

That apology was part of the Hamas government's response to a United Nations report that alleged both Hamas and Israel committed war crimes during Israel's Gaza offensive last winter. The UN report, authored by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, accused Hamas of firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians.

On Saturday, the Gaza government said the report it submitted does not include any apologies in this regard.

In the report by a committee set up by Hamas to examine the UN war crimes allegations, the authors said "we regret any harm that may have befallen any Israeli civilian."

"We hope the Israeli civilians understand that their government's continued attacks on us were the key issue and the cause," added the report, of which Reuters obtained a copy.

Mohammed-Faraj al-Ghoul, justice minister in the Hamas government and the chairman of the committee which drafted the report, said on Saturday "some words or phrases were taken out of context. The report held the [Israeli] occupation fully responsible and it did not include apologies."

Israel, where Hamas suicide bombers have killed hundreds of civilians over two decades, had already dismissed any apology for the three non-combatants hit by rockets from Gaza in the war as insincere.

In response to the report, delivered to the UN this week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Friday that "for years Hamas has boasted about deliberately targeting civilians, either through suicide bombings, by gunfire or by rockets. Who are they trying to fool now?"

Hamas' apology was also denounced by a spokesman for the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Ahmed Assaf said he was "stunned" at the remark in the UN report this week and said Hamas should apologize rather to fellow Palestinians for deaths and injury caused when Hamas routed Fatah forces to seize control in Gaza in 2007.

Assaf urged Hamas "to apologize first to the Palestinian people for its bloody coup which has ... caused the worst damage to the Palestinian cause."

Dozens were killed in the days of civil war in Gaza. The division of the Palestinian territories between the two rival parties has hamstrung efforts to negotiate the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Assaf also said that Hamas' statement, issued to deflect UN accusations that its forces committed war crimes by firing rockets from Gaza at nearby Israeli towns, had been an admission that such rocket-fire had not helped ordinary Palestinians.

At least one senior Hamas official, who declined to be named, said the movement remained ready to conduct "martyrdom operations" - suicide bombings of Israeli buses, cafes and the like, which have not, however, been seen for several years.

The Hamas report, after listing Palestinian grievances such as the Israeli embargo on Gaza, reaffirmed comments by officials of the 22-year-old Islamist movement that its improvised rockets were fired purely defensively and were aimed at Israeli military targets. They simply lacked the necessary accuracy, Hamas said.

"It should be noted that the Palestinian not an organized army that possesses developed technological weapons," the report said. "It may target a military site or a tank position and their fire goes astray...and hit a civilian location, despite their efforts to avoid hurting civilians."

Israel and independent rights groups say Hamas has broken the laws of war by indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets and mortars around Israeli towns, notably Sderot, close to the Gaza border, in the years since the group won a parliamentary election in 2006 and seized full control in Gaza in 2007.

Some 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed in a three-week Israeli offensive launched on Dec. 27, 2008. Israel and the Palestinians were urged by UN investigator Richard Goldstone in September to conduct credible inquiries into possible war crimes committed by their forces.

Both sides presented documents to the UN in recent days which they say showed they had conducted suitable investigations. In a message on Thursday to the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withheld judgment on whether either party had met Goldstone's recommendations.

UN member states "will consult on the further course of action," General Assembly spokesman Jean Victor Nkolo said.

Rights group Amnesty International called Ban's message "deeply disappointing."

"Amnesty International believes that the information [Ban] had received was sufficient to show clearly that the steps taken by both sides have been completely inadequate," it said in a statement.

Israel, which has furiously rejected Goldstone's report as unbalanced, says Hamas deliberately puts Palestinian civilians in harm's way in order to shield its fighters and to exploit international pressure on Israel over civilian deaths.

Diaa al-Madhoun, a Palestinian judge who took part in drafting the report to the United Nations, told Reuters that the expression of regret conformed to what he said was Hamas' "commitment to international humanitarian law."

"It is part of our religion not to target civilians, women, children and the elderly, who do not take part in the aggression against us," he said, echoing language in the Hamas report.

More than 500 Israelis were killed in suicide bombings during a Palestinian uprising from 2000. Many of those bombers were sent by Hamas, pursuing what it calls "martyrdom operations."

Asked whether the expression of regret to the United Nations marked a change in that strategy, a Hamas official in Gaza told Reuters: "There is no change in the movement's policy, and that includes our position on the martyrdom operations."

Studie naar armoede in Israel

Mij verbazen deze cijfers minder dan de professoren die het onderzoek uitvoerden, maar schrijnend is het zeker. Wat ik niet helemaal begrijp is waarom Israel met Engeland werd vergeleken, en niet met een land met een vergelijkbaar nationaal inkomen en ook een wat 'rommeligere' (politieke) cultuur - Griekenland bijvoorbeeld, of Italië. Israel is geen West Europa en zal dat ook niet snel worden. Dat is natuurlijk geen excuus voor schrijnende armoede. Armoede is, zoals de onderzoekers terecht stellen, niet alleen sociaal gezien onaanvaardbaar maar kost een land uiteindelijk meer dan de bestrijding ervan zou kosten.

The Jerusalem Post / 05/02/2010 07:30
The dire plight of Israel's most poor

No food, chronic health problems, no electricity - grim findings in new study.

Israel's poor live in a much deeper state of poverty and are far more socially isolated than their counterparts in the United Kingdom, a study carried out by academics at Bar-Ilan University and the University of Bristol has found.

According to the research, which is to be officially published next week at a joint conference of the European Network for Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet) and the Forum for Research on Social Policy in Israel, people living in poverty here are six times more likely to go without food than Britain's poor and are four times more likely to have their phones or electricity disconnected.

Dr. Menachem Monnickendam, senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan's Weisfeld School of Social Work, and Prof. David Gordon, director of the Townsend Center for International Poverty Research at Bristol University, worked together with funding from the British Academy to compare official statistics from both countries. The two told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that they were shocked by the findings of their research.

"The results surprised both of us," Gordon said in a telephone interview from Britain. "When you look at headline figures, Israel has only a slightly higher poverty rate than the UK, so neither of us expected to find such stark differences, but the depths of Israel's poverty is much, much worse than in Britain."

Monnickendam, who is chairing Monday's conference at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, said he was very alarmed by the findings.

"When all the data came out, I felt very, very uneasy. I was sure that the depths of poverty in Israel would not be as bad as in England. I was sure that Israel, a good welfare state, would come out looking much better than the capitalistic British state. But the results were very different to what I expected," he said.

Using data from the Central Bureau of Statistics annual Social Survey and from the similar British research network, MORI, the two academics compared the lives of poor living in London and Tel Aviv.

To make the comparison more exact, explained Monnickendam, several elements highlighting the cultural, social and economic differences between the countries were removed.

Among other findings, the two researchers noted that Israel's poor were much more likely to suffer from chronic health problems than those in the UK, with 52 percent of the poor here reporting chronic illnesses compared to only 32.7% in Britain.

Additionally, 16% of Israelis said their health conditions were a serious obstacle to everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, while only 1.3% in the UK reported the same. In Israel, 43% said they did not fill medical prescriptions from their doctors, compared to only 6.4% in the UK.

The study also found that 16% of Israel's poor had admitted to going without food at least once in the past five years, while only 4% in the UK said the same, and 16% of the poor in Israel said their phone or electricity had been switched off, compared to only 6% in Britain.

"We also found that the poor in Israel have many social problems and sometimes are completely isolated socially, with many of them suffering from social problems and no one to help in the home," explained Gordon, observing that "the social safety net in Israel does not seem to be working effectively for a large number of poor people."

"Israel will have to make a choice in future, whether it is going down a free capitalist route like the US and [other places] where there are large disparities between rich and poor, or whether it will become more like places such as Germany [with social welfare assistance]," he said.

Gordon, who arrives in Israel on Saturday evening, said he would argue in his presentation at the conference next week that the cost of poverty for a country was much higher than that of actually solving the problem.

"There has been a lot of research in the UK, and much of it is applicable to Israel, about how it is extremely costly for a state to have a high rate of poverty," concluded Gordon. "In Britain, poverty costs the state some €30 billion, a price much greater than ending poverty – and, of course, there are also the tremendous social costs of poverty such as social isolation, bad education outcomes and bad health. The bottom line is that poverty costs a country much more."

Monday's conference on poverty in Israel is the first such event to be organized jointly under the auspices of the Forum for Research on Social Policy in Israel and ESPAnet, a European organization that only recently accepted Israel as an official member.

Palestijnen en Israeli's komen met plan voor gemengde wijk in Jeruzalem

Dit is een mooi plan, maar het is triest dat een gemengde wijk de uitzonderking is en niet de regel. Overigens zijn er al de facto gemengde wijken, vooral omdat Arabieren naar sommige Joodse wijken in Oost-Jeruzalem trekken. Terwijl Joden die in Arabische wijken gaan wonen altijd veel (negatieve) aandacht trekken, lezen we nooit over de Arabieren die Pisqat Ze'ev willen 'overnemen'.

Palestinians, Israelis propose plan for mixed Jerusalem neighborhood
Nir Hasson / Haaretz
February 5, 2010 - 12:00am

For the first time since Jerusalem's unification after the Six-Day War, a plan has been proposed to create a fully integrated Jewish-Arab neighborhood in the city. The residential area is planned at Tantur, between Bethlehem and the south Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. It would feature 800 housing units and a hotel district.

The project is being promoted by a group of Palestinian and Israeli public figures who hired architect Eli Reches to plan the neighborhood. The plans have been presented to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

According to Jerusalem City Councilman Meir Margalit, Barkat didn't rule the project out, but thinks it should be pursued at a different location.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, representing the Quartet of Mideast peace mediators, has reportedly expressed support for the initiative.

The concept was initially proposed by Hasson, a Hebrew University geography professor, during a tour of the site nearly a year ago with a group that included Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and the municipality's engineer, Shlomo Eshkol.

Hasson pursued the project after the city's former mayor, Uri Lupolianski, tapped him to explore options for building affordable housing in Jerusalem. Hasson also hopes to see a similar mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood go up in the north of the city.

Among the Jews in the group promoting the Tantur project are the former director general of the Jerusalem Development Authority, Ezri Levi, the former director general of the Jerusalem municipality, Aharon Sarid, and a senior staff member from the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, Israel Kimchi.

Arab participants include journalist Rami Nasrallah, who served as an adviser to the late Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini, and Haifa University geography professor Rassem Khamaisi. A number of other Palestinian participants asked not to be identified at this stage.

Master plan changed

Some of the land for the project is owned by the Al-Tantur monastery, which has given its preliminary approval. The rest is owned by Christian residents of Bethlehem. The area was initially planned as an Arab neighborhood, but after the Interior Ministry demanded changes to the city master plan, the site was designated for green space.

Some left-wing observers say the demanded change was an attempt to scuttle Arab construction in the area. According to Hasson, "the neighborhood can be a nice link between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. You need to think about the future in which [residents of the] two cities talk to each other."

Members of the group promoting the project acknowledge that many difficulties lie ahead before the neighborhood takes shape. Levi rates the chances of success at 50 or 60 percent, but called the concept "correct."

Others, however, see the proposal for a mixed neighborhood as a plan to bypass objections to an Arab neighborhood, saying that in practice the group will build an Arab residential area.

Margalit said that "what is necessary is to find models for living together ... We are sowing seeds here that can go far."


vrijdag 5 februari 2010

Hooggerechtshof Israel bekritiseert toelaten gescheiden bussen door minister

Eerder deze week schreef ik dat het laatste woord hier nog niet over is gezegd, omdat de beslissing van de minister in feite ingaat tegen de Israelische wet. De idee dat er bordjes komen in de bussen dat een en ander vrijwillig is werd niet erg gerloofwaardig geacht:
"Perhaps you should put up signs against use of violence instead," quipped Justice Yoram Danziger.
"Although the minister stated that the commission's normative position – not to regulate lines that allow gender segregation is acceptable – in actuality he reached the opposite conclusions than those reached by the committee and failed to explain how his new position is consistent with Israeli law," read the plaintiffs' statement to the court.
Men sprak ook de vrees uit dat dit de weg kan openen naar segregatie op meer terreinen, en het einde dan zoek is. Als het aan de ultra-orthodoxen ligt, heeft de vrouw nou eenmaal een ondergeschikte rol in de samenleving.
The Jerusalem Post
Court slams Katz for his approach to sex-segregated buses
05/02/2010 04:58

Judges criticize transportation minister's decision to allow continued operation of buses.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday criticized Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz's decision to allow gender-segregated buses to continue operating, saying his suggestion to hang signs asking non-religious passengers to respect the haredi community's sensitivities while explaining that the separation isn't mandatory, was unsatisfactory.

"Perhaps you should put up signs against use of violence instead," quipped Justice Yoram Danziger.

The High Court has been deliberating the case on the legality of "mehadrin" buses for three years. In May 2008, the court asked the transportation minister to establish a committee to investigate the functioning of the segregated lines.

The request was in response to a petition by the Israel Religious Action Center and others who claimed that the lines are illegal because they discriminate against women, restrict freedom of movement and limit freedom from religious coercion.

The lines, which were launched over the past decade to increase haredi use of public transportation, were meant to be regulated on a voluntary basis, with both the front and back doors of the buses to be open for boarding, though people could choose where they wanted to sit.

In practice, the committee discovered, the rules regarding separation were strictly enforced by members of the haredi community, and women who sat in the front of the bus were often intimidated and bullied into moving to the back or getting off the bus altogether.

The committee ruled that the practice is unjust and that there was no plausible way to legalize it, but that as long as the separation was practiced on a voluntary basis there was nothing the state could do.

In his decision, Katz adopted the committees' conclusions, but the plaintiffs were unsatisfied. They asked that the court order the minister to respond to all their claims in full.

"Although the minister stated that the commission's normative position – not to regulate lines that allow gender segregation is acceptable – in actuality he reached the opposite conclusions than those reached by the committee and failed to explain how his new position is consistent with Israeli law," read the plaintiffs' statement to the court.

The court has yet to decide whether to issue the order, and will hold further hearings on the petition.

"The suggestion that a voluntary arrangement can be enforced is very funny," said Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center.

"I think the countdown started today about segregation as a religious expression in the Jewish state," she continued. "It's a slippery slope. If signage makes it kosher, then next we are going to find segregated post offices, HMOs and sidewalks, all of which we already know examples of.

"Either the court will decide that this has no room in the public sphere and we will not go down the slippery slope, or the court says signage makes it all right and we're going to float with these signs down the slippery slope and become a very extreme variety of Judaism," said Hoffman. "God help us if that is the case."

Jerusalem City Councillor Rachel Azaria told reporters Thursday that Katz had "betrayed the secular, religious and most of the haredi society.

"Katz's decision is purely political," she said. "It is unconscionable that because of Shas's parliamentary clout, every woman will have to sit on the back of the bus when riding these lines."

Katz's decision was welcomed by the Rabbinical Committee on Transportation, whose spokesperson said that the minister had shown proper sensitivity to the needs of the haredi community. The spokesman also said that the legal battle is unnecessary because there was never an issue of coercion.

There are currently 56 mehadrin lines operating in and between 28 cities.

Israel moet onafhankelijk onderzoek naar Gaza Oorlog uitvoeren

Een wel doordacht pleidooi voor een onafhankelijk onderzoek naar de Gaza oorlog. Ondanks, of misschien juist omdat de internationale kritiek zo onfair is, moet Israel zelf goed uitzoeken wat er is gebeurd en (mogelijk) misging. Het gaat daarbij niet alleen om mogelijke oorlogsmisdaden, maar ook om strategische fouten, onvoldoende voorbereiding en planning, ondoordachte publieke uitspraken van politici en de legerleiding etc.
Met een ding ben ik het niet eens: Ami Isseroff herhaalt de veelgehoorde bewering dat Israel een hoop schade aanrichtte in Gaza, maar Hamas 'stronger than ever' was. Het viel veel Israeli's terecht nogal tegen dat het niet was gelukt Hamas harder te treffen, maar zij heeft zeker een flinke klap gekregen. Het is niet voor niets dat er het afgelopen jaar nauwelijks nog raketten op Sderot en omgeving werden afgevuurd. Deze rust is de laatste tijd aan het verdwijnen, en een nieuwe confrontatie is niet uit te sluiten, maar Hamas kwam zeker niet sterker uit de Gaza oorlog, en heeft in deze oorlog geen enkel succes binnengehaald (dit in tegenstelling tot Hezbollah in de Libanon oorlog van 2006).
Inescapable conclusion: Israel must probe the Gaza war
There is no doubt about it. The Goldstone report about Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza war of 2008) is not about "justice." It is based on an investigation initiated with the most malicious intent, by a UN body, the UNHRC, that is obsessed with the mission of delegitimizing Israel. Its major conclusions were decided before there was any "investigation," and the investigation that was undertaken was a bad joke, consisting mostly of collecting Israel-bashing libels from anti-Israel NGOs. Judge Goldstone was enlisted in this nefarious project to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the "human rights" advocacy of countries like Libya and Sudan. He did not exercise the best judgment in accepting the charge and did not conduct a fair investigation.

The Goldstone report was meant to be, and will be, the centerpiece of a vicious PR campaign and UN propaganda persecution against Israel. It gives the usual sources many opportunities to rant about "Zionist war criminals" and "Zionist war crimes" and to attempt to force a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out that Goldstone went beyond the various human rights organizations with his fantastic contention that the Israeli government diabolically planned in advance to murder Palestinian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. (see THE CASE AGAINST THE GOLDSTONE REPORT: A STUDY IN EVIDENTIARY BIAS).

However, it is time to say what everyone knows and will not admit. Israel's army probes of the Gaza war crime allegations are not going to satisfy many critics, nor will documents like the one
issued recently by the Israeli government, and other reports that are either in preparation or submitted. The Israeli MAG (Military Advocate General) reported that they investigated X number of cases raised ( about 140 at this time) by the infamous Goldstone report and closed them. But the skeptics will dismiss it all as "Zionist propaganda" because they have been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that only an independent civilian inquiry will discover the truth.

Contrary to the impression that some people seem to have, the report presented to UN Secretary General Ban was not the final Israeli rejoinder to the Goldstone report. Israel is preparing a very long report that will be a point by point refutation:

The 40-page "letter" was delivered to Ban, explaining the independence of 's legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.

Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not the IDF's answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is currently being completed, and will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report

The "40 page letter" referred to above may or may not be the 46 page document that is posed at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website - Gaza Operation Investigations - an update. That document details the structure and independence of the Military Advocate General's office and the Israeli investigation process, as well as giving finding regarding some of the cases.

These efforts, which impress Israel's friends, are not necessarily going to convince the the world, and do not change the fact that there were, and are, real problems that require both judicial and administrative or legislative remedies.

The problems are evident even in the handling of the rebuttal. According to Haaretz, newspaper, the letter sent to Secretary General Ban claimed that two IDF officers were disciplined for improper use of white phosphorus in one incident on January 15, 2009. But according to
Haaretz newspaper, the IDF promptly denied that any officers were disciplined!

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.

The report, which was a sensation for a day, seems to have vanished without a final resolution - either a clear official confirmation or a clear denial. This is not indicative of an orderly process of investigation, to say the least. If Haaretz is referring to the 46 page update document, there is indeed a report that officers were disciplined in section 100 and what is apparently the same report for the same incident is given in Section 108:

One of these incidents involved alleged damage to the UNRWA field office compound in Tel El Hawa.102 The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas. Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a Brigadier General and a Colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others.

There is no mention of white phosphorus in that section. In Sections 118-120, the document states categorically that all IDF use of white phosphorus was found to be legal and there were no violations. The Haaretz article related an entirely narrative that is not taken from the document, and their source is not clear. The IDF denial that officers were disciplined for any reason that is quoted in Ha'aretz is also unexplained.

If we don't believe our own report, it is not likely that anyone else will believe it. If different branches of the IDF cannot ascertain whom the IDF punished and for what, there must be at least some procedures that require investigation and correction.

According to the report, about 150 cases were investigated and 36 were referred for disciplinary action. Details are not given for every case. In the entire Gaza operation, we are supposed to believe, almost nobody made serious errors in judgment. We are to believe that almost all the decisions were correct, even though soldiers died from friendly fire, and three little Palestinian girls, whom everyone admits were blameless, daughters of a blameless physician, Dr. Izzeldin AbuelAish, were killed by mistake..Those are three wrongful deaths that we can identify by name. Even the most pro-Israel enthusiast might think it is suspicious if the IDF says, "We investigated ourselves and we found ourselves almost blameless."

If all the IDF decisions were correct, then how did it happen that we waged an expensive and risky war, and at the end of the war there was a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Hamas remained stronger than ever? It is unlikely that Israeli generals are war criminals as Goldstone charges, but nobody should get a prize for the planning and execution of the Gaza war. The Goldstone report or some similar kangaroo proceeding, should also have been foreseen by the planners since allegations of Israeli "war crimes" are not new. Even if there were no instances of criminal malfeasance, there was certainly a failure of decision making, and there errors of judgment and lapses in discipline. We all know about the graffiti left in Gaza by various IDF soldiers, and about the inciteful pamphlets initiated by fanatic rabbis and distributed by the IDF "through an oversight." What mechanisms were put into place to correct these problems?

We were assured, from the start, that the Gaza war would not be like the Second Lebanon war. Officers and government officials would not speak out of turn, and would not make pointless bellicose remarks. But pointless bellicosity continued long after the Second Lebanon war, and the Goldstone report used them as "evidence" against Israel. For example, In October 2008, just before General Eisenkott said, regarding Lebanon:

What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."

This is the sort of primitive and needless bragging and bullying that used to characterize Arab leaders. It is in a class with the threats made by Gamal Abdul Nasser before the
Six day war. Whatever policies the government adopts, they are not set by the IDF, and whatever military doctrines the IDF adopts, they are not more effective if discussed in public. Wars are not won by rhetoric. If the Israeli government wanted to warn the Lebanese against testing Israeli patience, there were other, more credible and more civilized ways to do it.

Even more pointless were the remarks of Eli Yishai, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. He said on February 2, 2009

Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.

We can point out that these remarks were made after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead and cannot prove intent, though they might say something about general policy and state of mind They are not evidence surely, as Yishai didn't plan the operation. They were utterly pointless because unlike General Eisenkott, Yishai is not a military authority and is not in charge of military planning. He should stick to what he knows.

Perhaps the skill of Alan Dershowitz can convince friends of Israel that it is not illegal to call for destruction of homes, as he does so well. But if you require a Dershowitz or a Clarence Darrow to defend you and to produce an exegesis of your remarks in the manner of the Rashi and the Rambam, you are in trouble. Those who are not so well disposed to our cause will take the remarks literally. As the Israeli government had to be aware of the hostile international environment, what possible excuse was there for remarks such as these, intended evidently to garner support from Shas party voters. What is a minister of a religious party doing meddling in foreign policy and military strategy in public? Yishai probably knows even less about military strategy than he knows about industry, trade or labor. What purpose did these remarks serve?

At least some Israeli authorities have understood that an independent investigation is required. Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the Military Advocate General's international law department during Operation Cast Lead
called for an investigation, though she is apparently convinced that all is well in the best of all possible worlds:

"There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets," she said. "As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings."

Nonetheless, she added, "We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends - who don't want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts - the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us," she said.

"If they need a commission of inquiry then that's what we'll give them," she added. "I really don't think we have anything we need to hide."

It is not so clear that everything is under control and nothing can go wrong, as Sharvit-Baruch implied. If she had done her job right during the Gaza war, there might not have been a Goldstone report. Moreover, if everything is just fine, then how did it happen that her remarks, made in confidence to a closed forum, were published the next day in Haaretz? Leaks of this sort are the rule, rather than the exception. What sort of army cannot keep secrets?

Menachem Mazuz, Israel's outgoing government counsel (a title erroneously translated in English as "Attorney General") also explained why an independent investigation is needed:

"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."

"Some sort of committee" is not enough. There must be a judicial committee of inquiry or judicial proceedings in regular courts regarding criminal allegations. The investigation or trials would not satisfy everyone. The Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that they won't try any of their "alleged" war criminals and their supporters will continue to rant about Zionist war criminals, backed by the Arab world and degenerates like the Dutch socialite Greta Duisenberg. But friendly governments will at least have a solid basis to reject the Goldstone allegations and to combat the campaign of pseudo-legal war criminal proceedings being waged by Palestinians and their supporters.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are opposed to a probe. But they are among the "suspects," because part of Goldstone's allegations, the most serious ones, claim that the Gaza operation was planned to harm civilians and to harm infrastructure in order to hurt civilians. Of course, intentional destruction of some infrastructure may have been done based on the doctrine that we must destroy "infrastructure" of terrorists. That is not criminal, but since terror groups do not have and do not need much infrastructure, it is probable that this doctrine is mistaken. But it is clear that suspects in a possible investigation should not be deciding whether or not to have an investigation.

A second investigation, non-judicial, is needed to examine the tactical and strategic and policy aspects of
Operation Cast Lead. Before the next war, we must find out what really went wrong in Operation Cast Lead, and in the Second Lebanon War. Obviously, not all the lessons of the Second Lebanon war were learned, because in some respects the Gaza war was a repeat performance. This is true despite the great strides taken by the IDF in repairing itself, and despite the fact that both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister had been replaced, and nobody doubts the professional qualifications of the present incumbents. And the problem is not confined to military planning.

The two wars share too many negative characteristics in common: Both were long drawn out operations that generated a lot of destruction and civilian deaths on the enemy side, but did not inflict a decisive blow on the enemy. Both brought charges of Israeli "war crimes."

Israel's friends may be willing to help us, especially as the United States, Britain and others may be accused of similar war "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan by the same coalition of terror groupies But friends can only help those who help themselves. And we need a real investigation, because there are real problems that exist regardless of the Goldstone report. The same sorts of problems have been dogging the IDF and Israeli government since the
Yom Kippur War: poor intelligence, poor decision making, poor strategy, neglect of essential preparation, flaws in implementation. Israelis who do not believe me, should consider this example, which is easy to check. What is the status of the air raid shelters in your town. Are they all clean and ready? Were they all opened and ready for use when there was a drill?

After each war there is an "investigation" and we are assured that the problems will not recur, but they do. Condemning the Goldstone report is not enough. Friends of Israel have to understand that along with condemning the Goldstone report, we must call for independent inquiries.

What is more important than the last war or last wars, is the next one. The next Lebanon or Gaza war, if there will be one, is being planned according to the same formula: a long war of attrition featuring air and ground operations. The minister of religion and the minister of rabbit growing will issue bellicose announcements about grinding the enemy to dust and will be duly quoted in the media. The confidential remarks of every military official in closed door forums will make daily headlines. The network and media photographers and correspondents will have weeks to report about the real or imagined agony of innocent Lebanese civilians. The enemy will be able to generate a great deal of Pallywood and Hoaxbulla - dead bodies taken from morgues, staged ambulance emergencies, the same person losing a different home on different days. The anti-Israel lobby will have a PR festival, and
Israel will accomplish no strategic objective other than to strengthen its enemies.

Well-meaning polemics against the Goldstone report, as bad as the report is, miss the point. It is always valid to ask for an independent civilian investigation of criminal actions when there are reasonable suspicions. Justice must be seen as well as done. When the military and civilian decision process has produced two catastrophic failures in a brief period, it is also imperative to hold a serious and probing technical and policy review as well. It is not unpatriotic to mount these investigations. It is common sense, good government and good Zionism.

Ami Isseroff
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New Israel Fund subsidieert anti-Zionistische propaganda

De rechts-zionistische organisatie "Im Tirtzu" heeft felle kritiek op het New Israel Fund, een Amerikaanse organisatie die allerlei progressieve organisaties in Israel steunt. Voor een deel zijn dat prima organisaties en samenwerkingsprojecten tussen Joden en Arabieren, maar sommige van deze organisaties zijn wel erg eenzijdig in hun campagnes en kritiek op Israel, en sommigen zijn tegen Israels bestaansrecht als Joodse staat en verspreiden leugens en propaganda over Israel.
Im Tirtzu heeft haar legitieme kritiek echter in discrediet gebracht door een nogal persoonlijke aanval op een lid van Meretz en voorzitster van de internationale raad van het NIF. Ami Isseroff schrijft hierover:
However, Im TIrtzu deserve the same hearing as others. The "rights" advocates ask us to separate the political message of groups like New Profile from the facts they present. There are, for example, real human rights violations at checkpoints that don't serve the cause of Israel in any way, and Machsomwatch exposes them. That doesn't mean Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state and it doesn't mean Zionism is racism, but it points out a fault that is in urgent need of correction. However, the same advocates who want us to accept testimony from Machsom Watch or Betselem, have no problem trying to discredit the facts that Im Tirtzu presents as the work of "settlers." It doesn't matter who said it. It matters that it is true.

New Israel Fund supports anti-Zionist propaganda

There is no doubt that the New Israel Fund means well - or at least many of its members and contributors do. But there is also no doubt that the New Israel Fund supports or collects funds for some of the most odious organizations in Israel - organizations whose goals have nothing to do with democracy and nothing to do with peace - organizations whose only goal is to besmirch Israel and to destroy Zionism and the Jewish state.

Zochrot is one example of these organizations. It organizes activities to perpetuate the myth that Israel was founded by "ethnic cleansing" of hapless and peaceful Palestinians who were minding their own business in 1948 - the Palestine Nakba myth. Its brochure claims that Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. Its Web site links to the BADIL organization, that is dedicated to blocking any solution to the Palestinian refugee problem other than return to original (nonexisting) homes in Israel. New Israel fund also supports the innocently named "Coalition of Women for Peace" which is likewise involved in the delegitimation of Israel and Zionism, as well as New Profile, an organization noted for encouraging draft dodging.

The activities of New Israel Fund have been known for some time. The controversy over them was ignited by a
study soon to be released by a right-wing group, Im Tirzu, which claims:

92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report to criticize the IDF's conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.

Among the NGOs listed in the report are Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Doctors for Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.

Im Tirtzu has its own political ax to grind, and showed execrable judgment in ad hominem attacks on Meretz politician Naomi Hazan, currently president of the international board of the New Israel Fund. The Im Tirtzu ad caricatured her with an "N.I.F." horn and titled her "Naomi Goldstone Hazan." In Hebrew, the word for horn is keren, which also means fund. This clever pun was lost on English speaking readers of course, who only saw a Jew with a horn.

The ad claimed that without the New Israel Fund there would not have been a Goldstone report. But we know that the New Israel Fund didn't initiate the Goldstone report, and that committee members were determined to find Israel guilty regardless of the evidence. There would have been a different Goldstone report without the New Israel Fund, with the same conclusions,

Hazan didn't initiate the Goldstone report and is not responsible for its findings. As president of the international board she may have much power, but it is doubtful if she is solely responsible for approving the funding requests of each organization. There was no excuse for their obnoxious advertisement, nor is Naomi Hazan responsible for all the output of all these organizations. Hazan is a passionate advocate of peace and is entitled to her opinion, though New Israel Fund doesn't have to support it. Im Tirtzu's regrettable misuse of their findings gave enemies of Israel just the opening they needed to destroy the credibility of a legitimate finding.

However, Im TIrtzu deserve the same hearing as others. The "rights" advocates ask us to separate the political message of groups like New Profile from the facts they present. There are, for example, real human rights violations at checkpoints that don't serve the cause of Israel in any way, and Machsomwatch exposes them. That doesn't mean Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state and it doesn't mean Zionism is racism, but it points out a fault that is in urgent need of correction. However, the same advocates who want us to accept testimony from Machsom Watch or Betselem, have no problem trying to discredit the facts that Im Tirtzu presents as the work of "settlers." It doesn't matter who said it. It matters that it is true.

Nobody denies that N.I.F. supports these organizations, and it is a fact that most of these organizations are out to destroy Israel. We need to separate the message from the messenger. It is too bad that middle of the road, responsible groups, including peace groups who are desperately in need of funds, did not dare to raise the issue of New Israel's selective funding of radicals, and left it to Im Tirzu. Where were all the Tikkun Olam people when Zochrot and Adallah were telling lies about Israel? Isn't correction of falsehoods also Tikkun Olam?

A recent
article by Solomonia about New Israel Fund attracted vigorous protests claiming that these organizations are only fighting for civil rights and pointing out injustices. Let's be clear. If there is an injustice in any democratic society, it is the duty of citizens to report it, to highlight it and to fight it. But the way to fight Jim Crow in the United States was not to join the Cominform and insist that America must be destroyed. Similarly injustices in Israel cannot be fixed by those who advocate the destruction of Israel. Decapitation is not a good way to cure headaches. The Arab society that would replace Israel would not have the same respect for human rights, and there are also the human rights of Israeli Jews to consider. We are also human and have rights.

It is right and proper for any organization to give evidence to an investigatory commission, but it is wrong for them to give fabricated evidence, to claim that dead terrorists are civilians and to pass off hearsay as fact. It is right to point out inhumane behavior at checkpoints. It is wrong to use instances of brutality in a campaign to delegitimize the state. It is right for Breaking the Silence to uncover abuses by the army, and to provide documentation of these abuses to Israelis. It is wrong for Breaking the Silence to take their traveling road show of Israeli atrocity stories to US campuses, and show it to 18 year olds who never served in the army, never heard of Hamas and have no other background information about the Middle East. Adallah has the right to advocate for an Arab Palestinian state perhaps, but it is simply insane for New Israel Fund to collect money from Zionist Jews to give to an organization of that type, and we do not need Im Tirtzu to tell us that.

How can we explain the fact that Jews, not necessarily anti-Zionist Jews either, founded and contribute to and support a charity that funds organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel and defamation of the Jewish people? Rather than advancing peace and democracy in Israel, these activities make "peace" and "democracy" into hateful words among the Israeli Jewish public, because in propaganda, "peace," "democracy" and "justice" have been made synonymous with defamation and genocide of the Jewish people, destruction of Israel and dissemination of lies. Are there no causes in Israel and no organizations that really advance peace and democracy that are more worthy of funding by the NIF than the mendacious political extremists and degenerates of groups like Zochrot?

An article by Ben-Dror Yemini, translated from Hebrew, explains the Israeli Zionist point of view:

(Translation of Article by Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma'ariv, 2.2.10)

The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people's right to self-determination.

The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the "UN Human Rights Council." It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.

But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description "human rights." If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.

For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the "right of return." Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass "return" after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan "human rights."

None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.

The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.

There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund's intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews' right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a "state of all its citizens," in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about "human rights."

How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.

Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with "the rights talk" has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.

Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel's right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.

Not every group funded by the New Israel Fund is anti-Zionist. We don't want New Israel Fund to stop funding projects in Israel and we certainly want them to encourage human rights, democracy and peace. But responsible people who really care about these issues should ask of the N.I.F. that it limits its funding to groups that really support democracy and human rights, not groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel.

Ami Isseroff