Friday, August 8, 2014

Video of a Hamas Rocket Team firing beside a hotel

Hey, Jon! I remember your routine about the difference between journalists reporting from Gaza and reporting from Israel. You know, the one with the reporter in Gaza in a flak jacket and the reporter in Israel looking like he's on vacation?

How about a follow-up on this reporter from India, and his four-minute video of Hamas assembling and firing a rocket from beside his hotel?

Loads of comedy potential there, right?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In the Company of Heroes - Lt. Dan Gordon Maj. Gen. Avigdor Kahalani

Now this is a beautiful article - and it builds as it goes!

July 29, 2014
In The Company of Heroes
By Dan Gordon
I had the great privilege of accompanying Major General (Ret) Avigdor Kahalani to an artillery battalion, somewhere in the war zone. General Kahalani is one of Israel’s greatest war heroes, a veteran of the Six Day War, The Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War. It is not an exaggeration to say that were it not for the actions of Avigdor Kahalani and the men under his command, the Syrians, who had already taken most of the Golan Heights, would have been able to push into Northern Israel, and the fate, not only of the war but, of the State of Israel would have been very much in doubt.

Instead, Kahalani and those under his command were instrumental, not only in recapturing the Golan Heights, but pushed deep into Syrian territory until they literally were within artillery range of Damascus. It was a feat almost unheard of in the annals of modern warfare, in which a country recovered from a devastating Pearl Harbor like attack, were confronted with totally new tactics by a well trained, superbly well-armed adversary, adjusted to the new realities, counter attacked, and within two and a half weeks were on the outskirts of the attacking force’s capital. Quite simply, General Kahalani and others like him saved Israel. At the end of his military career, General Kahalani entered politics, was elected to Israel’s Parliament, served as an inner circle cabinet minister, and participated in some of the Israeli government’s most critical debates and decisions. After retiring from the political arena Kahalani became the Chairmen of AWIS, the Association for the Welfare of Israel’s soldiers.
It was in that capacity that he went out to meet with the soldiers serving, under fire, in the field. For those young soldiers it was a chance to meet a living legend, as close as Israel has to Patton or MacArthur. I thought he was going to give them a sort of pep talk, though their spirits didn’t need any rallying.
I’ve been in the Israel Defense Forces for forty years, and I’ve never seen morale so high, and never seen the country so united behind its soldiers. The other day I was in a restaurant at a crossroad just before the Gaza border. It’s sort of the last place to get a good meal before you hit the border into no man’s land. I was hungry as your basic honey badger, and had ordered a huge meal, knowing it would probably be the only chance I’d have to eat that day. When I went to pay the bill the waitress said it had already been taken care of.
“Somebody bought me lunch? “ I asked, wanting to thank my benefactor.
“No,” she said, “Somebody picked up the bill for every soldier here.” There were easily fifty soldiers eating lunch there. “It happens like that every day now,” she said and smiled.
I’ve had total strangers take me in, offer me a bathrobe while they washed my uniform, feed me, literally offer me their beds to sleep in and their bathrooms to shower in. Amazing…amazing.
So the troops didn’t need a pep talk.
But what Kahalani told them, I found extraordinary.
He spoke quietly. So quietly the young soldiers leaned forward to catch ever word and when he spoke it was with a conviction that came straight from his heart and went straight into the hearts of all of those who heard him.
“We never taught you to hate,” he said, “not this army, not the Israel Defense Forces. We never taught you to hate. And there are armies in the world who do that. And I don’t know, maybe it works to a degree, maybe by hating the enemy you are a fiercer fighter. I don’t know. But we never taught you that. And I’ll tell you why. If we teach you to hate, you can’t undo that. You’ll come back from the war and it won’t be the “enemy,” it will be your brother in law, or your neighbor or your former friend. Once you teach people to hate, they’ll find someone to hate. So we never taught you that.”
Suddenly he was speaking, not like a General but like a loving father to his much loved sons and daughters.
“We never taught you that. You know why you’re here. It’s not to hate anybody. It’s to defend your people, your homes and your families. Each of you has to feel as if the whole fate of the whole people of Israel is on you shoulders. Each of you holds that fate in your hands. But it’s not about hatred. And now you’ve inherited that tradition from my generation, and you’ll be the ones to continue it. But those who inherit have a responsibility. I know you won’t disappoint me.”
That was the pep talk from Israel’s Patton during a cruel and vicious war that was forced upon us by an equally cruel and vicious adversary, Hamas.
The pep talk was: Don’t hate. Do what you need to do to defend your homes, your families and your people. But don’t hate.
To the Palestinian people of Gaza: We don’t hate you. We don’t wish you ill. We want only to live in peace side by side with you. When you come out of wherever you’ve been able to take refuge, ask yourself why Hamas never built you any shelters to protect you. They’re great at digging tunnels after all. They’ve dug them under our border, intending to murder as many of our civilians as possible; our women and children, gathered in agricultural village dining halls. Not soldiers, not warriors, but our women and children and old people.
So they’re good at building tunnels.
Why didn’t they build any for you to take shelter in?
Then look at your neighborhoods, which are destroyed now because they housed the entrance points to those tunnels, not next to your homes but in your homes!
They turned your homes and neighborhoods into rocket launching sites and weapons storage depots. Not by accident, but to make you vulnerable, to insure, in fact, that you would be in harm’s way no matter how many warnings Israel issued before it attacked. Ask why Hamas told you to ignore those warnings and that it was your duty to stay in those neighborhoods that they had turned into military targets.
Ask yourself why Hamas didn’t accept the Egyptian Cease fire proposal that would have prevented the ground invasion and all the subsequent death and destruction.

It wasn’t a Zionist plot.
It was an Egyptian proposal, endorsed by the Arab League and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. and Israel accepted it immediately and unconditionally!
It was Hamas which rejected it by launching a massive rocket attack, followed up by four separate terrorist tunnel attacks aimed not at our soldiers but at our women and children, who were meant to be murdered, maimed and taken hostage, dragged back through those tunnels into Gaza, so Khaled Mashal could declare a Divine Victory from a five star hotel in Qatar while you eat the dust of Gaza.
Look at your neighborhoods.
How’s Hamas’s Holy War working out for you?
Are your lives better?
Do your children have a better future?
Do they have any future but suffering?
Hamas and their ilk have been trying to drive us into the sea for over a hundred years now.
How’s that working out for you?
Look at your lives and look at ours.
Despite not knowing one day of peace, our cities are beautiful, our women are gorgeous, our men handsome, our children, the apple of our eyes, our industry flourishes, our start up nation is the envy of the world. Our sense of personal happiness, though we have been constant victims of terrorist attacks and war, is amongst the highest of any people on earth. We live longer, have more college graduates, more computers more scientific papers published, more artists, musicians, scientists and entrepreneurs per capita than almost any place on earth. Our cows produce more milk than any other dairy cattle. Our agriculture exists almost entirely on reclaimed water and no country on earth does more with desalinized water than Israel. Droughts which would destroy another country have no affect on us. And we’ve done all that despite Hamas and their ilk’s stated plans to destroy us.
You’ve gone to war against us three times in the last five years.
You’ve initiated each one and we’ve begged you, before each, not to launch more rockets at us.
But each time you were promised a new divine victory.
The rockets would be the sword that would defeat us.
We invented Iron Dome.
The tunnels would be Hamas’s “surprise” that would “open the gates of hell to us.”
We’re inside those tunnels right now. Blowing them up.
And who has paid the bitterest price?

Is it worth it? Are you getting something out of all this?

Here’s an idea. You’ve tried war three times in five years? Try something new.
Try peace.
You don’t even have to call it peace.
Just stop trying to kill us and prepare to be amazed at how good your lives will become..
But what about the siege?

The so called “siege” which is nothing more than a sanction regime, was put in place because you keep trying to kill us!
So stop.
You’re smart people. You’re industrious people. Stop trying to kill us and you won’t need to be a martyr to get into Paradise. You’ll have Paradise on earth. You can become the Singapore of the Middle East. You have beautiful beaches that can be developed for tourism. You’re on the Mediterranean for Goodness sake! You are creative and hard working and talented. Put those talents to use at trying to improve your lives instead of trying to end ours.
You will become the gateway between Europe and the Middle East. There are donors lined up and waiting to offer you a Marshall Plan that will make your lives sweet. The plan that Khaled Mashal has for you, however, leads only to death.
You don’t even have to love us.
You don’t even have to like us.
In fact you can continue to hate us, if that gives you some sort of emotional comfort. It won’t bother us. Knock yourselves out. Just stop trying to kill us
When Hamas tells you it’s a Holy War tell them to read the Quran. The Sura of The Children of Israel; Sura 17:104, “And we said to the Children of Israel, Dwell securely in the Promised Land, and when the last warning comes,  we will gather you together in a mingled crowd”

That’s us!!
How much more mingled can we get? We’ve been gathered together, not just according to our prophecy, but to yours!
We come from every corner of the earth, because for two thousand years every Jew on Earth, who celebrates Passover or Yom Kippur, be they black white, brown or any of the rainbow hues the make up our people, says, “Next Year in Jerusalem”.
So read that part of the Quran when they tell you to strap a suicide belt onto your son or daughter.
And for all your supporters and enablers, for those who march to end the death and destruction, if you really care about the Palestinians of Gaza, as you claim to, just tell them to try to stop trying to kill us.
Give it a decade.
Try it.
We’re not going anywhere. You won’t defeat us. You won’t destroy us. You won’t cast us into such despair that we leave the land we’ve yearned for, worked for, sweated and bled for, for two thousand years. We won’t withdraw from the Middle East. Because we live here. Our religion wasn’t born in Poland. It was born here. Our language wasn’t born in Russia or America or France or Ethiopia or Yemen or Morocco. It was born here. And I promise you, we won’t become war weary. We can’t afford to.
Just stop trying to kill us.
Because we don’t hate you. We don’t teach our children or our soldiers to hate you. The words of our national anthem sum up the only thing we want; Lihiot am chofshi bi artzeinu, Eretz Zion, Yerushalayim....” To be a free people. In our land. The land of Zion, Jerusalem.” Just like it says in the Quran.

Dan Gordon is a captain in the IDF (res)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hamas Manual on Urban Warfare

Hey Jon,

I'm sure you can mine this for comic gold - A Hamas Manual for Urban Warfare!

And yes, human shields are an official tactic - because the Geneva Conventions are for sissies, right?

Why isn't Hamas firing rockets into Egypt?

So Hamas says their war with Israel is all about Israel's closure of border crossings with Gaza, and its naval blockade. But Hamas also has a border with Egypt, and Egypt has also closed their border with Gaza.

There have been attacks in Egypt over the past several years; see this recent article, for example. But why isn't Hamas firing thousands of rockets into Egypt?

I can think of a few answers:
1. Egypt's response would make Israel's actions look tepid;
2. It's okay to kill Jews, not to kill Arabs;
3. Hamas's attack really isn't about the border crossings, it's about having a Jewish neighbour.

Anyone want to guess which answer is right?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dr. Mads Gilbert

I've seen a letter circulating from Dr. Mads Gilbert, describing conditions in Gaza. It's here, among other places.

What Dr. Gilbert describes is heartrending - but know your sources. In the case of Dr. Gilbert, it's worth seeing comments by NGO Monitor. Here is an excerpt from an article entitled Dr. Mads Gilbert: Exploiting Medicine for Propaganda and Hate:

In 2009, Dr. Gilbert traveled to Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital as a member of the Norwegian Aid Committee, NORWAC, an NGO funded by the Norwegian government ostensibly to provide health care services in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. During the fighting and afterward, Gilbert repeatedly and falsely accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and invented allegations of use of illegal weapons, while making no mention of evidence that Al-Shifa hospital had been used for military purposes and also shielded the Hamas leadership...

In addition, the centrality of his ideology was highlighted in comments following Al-Qaida's terrorist attacks on USA on September 11, 2001, in which Dr Gilbert expressed sympathy with the terrorists. Days after the atrocity, in an interview for the Norwegian newspaperDagbladet Gilbert said "The attack on New York did not come as a surprise after the policy that the West has led during the last decades...The oppressed also have a moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with." When asked directly in the same interview, "Do you support a terror attack against the USA?," Gilbert replied, "Terror is a bad weapon but the answer is yes within the context which I have mentioned."

He has loads of sympathy for Palestinians, but the rest of us don't count, it appears.

For more, click here.

A Native Canadian who gets it

... and he is articulate in explaining it to others:

Why I Decided to Start Wearing a Kippah (and no, he's not becoming Jewish)

Here's some of the piece, by Ryan Bellerose; click the link above to see the rest:

I grew up in Northern Alberta, where racism is pretty ingrained. In fact, my own grandfather on my mother’s side was more than a little bit racist against Natives (which was funny because all of his daughters married Native men and had Native kids.) One time he accused me of stealing the radio knobs off his 1977 T-Bird with the phrase “ I know Indian kids steal.” At the time, I laughed and so did my cousins, but it’s only recently I recall with some animosity that it made no sense for me to steal his stupid radio knobs. I didn’t even have a car! I have seen and dealt with overt and hidden racism for much of my adult life as well. Maybe thats why this week I finally had enough.

I have started to understand that certain kinds of hate are “acceptable” while others are taboo. On a Facebook group dedicated to “peaceful rallies” I had some moronic young woman tell me “ The Jews are the bad guys, they control the banks and the media and the Arabs don’t even have tanks or planes.” I thought at first I was watching a bad YouTube video. These are the things I see on Facebook, statements so abjectly stupid that I am often at a loss to respond. I am always shocked that nobody else says “ That’s just stupid, stop spreading idiocy.”

Saturday, August 2, 2014

WSJ: Palestine Makes You Dumb

I've been wondering about this point, too -

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, "Palestine Makes You Dumb"

Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Times, as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses "Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs."

OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.

When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there's something wrong there, too.

Go to the article for more.

Video: Reporter acknowledges rocket launches from Shifa Hospital in Gaza

Speaks for itself, I think...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hamas broke the Cease Fire - America admits, UN hedges

Israeli Hadar Goldin - Hadar ben Chedva Leah - is now a captive of Hamas. He was captured in a surprise attack by Hamas, during the cease-fire.

Per Voice of America (US Condemns Gaza Cease-fire Violation), the US acknowledges that this is what happened:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon had announced the 72-hour cease-fire late Thursday, in a statement Friday decried its “outrageous violation" and called for the missing soldier's immediate release.
Kerry called upon the international community to "redouble its efforts to end the tunnel and rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israel and the suffering and loss of civilian life."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking on CNN, said the attack posed a "barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement'' and repeated the call for the Israeli soldier's release.
The United States urged the international community to condemn the Hamas cease-fire violation in the "strongest possible terms,'' Earnest said.

The UN, on the other hand, isn't ready to admit wrongdoing by Hamas. From the International Business Times (Gaza conflict: Israeli soldier reportedly captures as ceasefire unravels):
"The United Nations is not in a position to independently confirm these reports," said United Nations Envoy Robert Serry. "However, if corroborated, this would constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian cease-fire in place since 8 A.M. this morning by Gazan militant factions, which should be condemned in the strongest terms." However, it’s still unclear if Hamas fired during “ongoing operations,” in the tunnels.

I guess those are the "strongest possible terms" the UN could come up with... and I bet Jon Stewart thinks this whole thing is really funny, and presents more opportunities for sarcasm aimed at reinforcing his particular perspective. Any jokes for the Goldin family, Jon? How about for all the people who will die during what should have been a 72-hour cease-fire?

Reporters make good human shields, too

(h/t Jewish Press, via my friend from Chicago)

What does proportionality mean?

This from Dore Gold, formerly Israel's ambassador to the UN, writing in the Los Angeles Times ("Israel's Doctrine of Proportionality in Gaza"):

It should be recalled that proportionality in international law has a very specific meaning: It is the calculation a military commander must make as to whether the military advantage to be gained by the use of force is greater than the probable harm that may be inflicted on the surrounding civilian population. Anyone who complains about “disproportionality” must explain exactly what the IDF should have done to neutralize the terrorist threat from Shajaiya while causing less destruction than what occurred.

What do you think, Jon? Sound reasonable?

For the rest of Ambassador Gold's article, click here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Journalists threatened by Hamas

Sometimes the news is uncomfortable, and we'd prefer not to hear about it - or not to have the world hear about it. Unfortunately, in a democracy (=Israel), there isn't much you can do about it. In Gaza, on the other hand, you have options...

So it is that Gabriele Barbati had to wait until he was out of Gaza to tweet:
Out of far from retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris
@IDFSpokesperson said truth in communique released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not behind it

And Wall Street Journal reporters Tamer El-Ghobashy and Nick Casey tweeted photos indicating that damage to a hospital was caused by Hamas rockets, and that Hamas was using said hospital as a base of operations - and then they deleted the tweets.

Want to know more? Look at the Jerusalem Post's article here.

An Unlikely Defender of Israel: Sam Harris?

Sam Harris is part of the modern wave of militant atheists, and an avowed opponent of the whole concept of a "Jewish state". Having said that, and perhaps even because of that, I think this Salon piece on his position regarding the war in Gaza is a worthwhile read.

Here's an excerpt:
[T]his gets to the heart of the moral difference between Israel and her enemies. And this is something I discussed in The End of Faith. To see this moral difference, you have to ask what each side would do if they had the power to do it.
What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted? Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident. They’re not targeting children.
Go here to read more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Journalists in Gaza

Here's an interesting piece; I hope they will add more to it during the day:

ABC Goes Inside Gaza with an Israeli Armored Unit

“The Cruel Lady” rolled along.
That’s the nickname the Israeli soldiers use to describe their armored personnel carrier, or APC – it’s basically an oven on wheels. ABC News traveled into Gaza on an APC with troops from the Israeli Defense Forces’ 188 Armored Brigade today, witnessing a rarely-seen side of Israel’s conflict with Hamas, now in its third week.
The soldiers in “The Cruel Lady” were accompanied by two tanks, all under the command of Col. Tomer Ifrah...

Who is abusing the Palestinians?

Is Israel the nation that is abusing the Palestinians? Let's look at the neighbours:

Beginning in 1950, Egypt refused to allow Gaza-registered Palestinians to enter Egypt, let alone work and live there. They feared dilution of their economy, as well as political strife. In contrast, Israel regularly licensed thousands of Palestinians to come work in Israel, until those workers began carrying bombs into the country.

Jordan allowed the Palestinians entry, and even citizenship, from the time Jordan was first formed. On the other hand, the Jordanian army declared war on the Palestinians in 1970, killing 3,000 in a ten-day rampage which became known as Black September. The Jordanians feared a Palestinian take-over of their country, and reacted with force. Israel has consistently negotiated with the Palestinians, despite their violence.

The Lebanese government killed thousands of Palestinians in 1975-1976, during the Lebanese Civil War, when the Palestinians backed the PLO-sympathetic Lebanese National Movement against Pierre Gemayel’s Lebanese Front. Between June 12th and August 12th in 1976, Phalangist forces killed 2500 Palestinians in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Israel, in contrast, provides food, water, and medical help to refugee camps - even though refugee camps exist only because their residents insist on staying there and claiming "refugee" status, rather than building homes and communities, so as to keep their claim to Israel alive.

The Syrians refused to grant the Palestinians citizenship, but allowed them to live and work there. This ended when the Palestinians attempted to overthrow the Syrian government in the late 1970’s, as part of the Islamic Front. In 1982 the government responded by smashing the largely-civilian city of Hama, killing at least 10,000 residents.

The Israelis are the only government in that area to negotiate with the Palestinians and try to find compromise, rather than simply slaughter them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A third rocket cache in a UN School - no kidding!

Imagine that! A third cache was found today!

Reuters quotes UN spokesman Christopher Gunness, saying, "This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of U.N. property." 

CBS has Mr. Gunness saying, "We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school. This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises." CTV has the same quote.

Of course, Reuters buries this after nearly 800 words of a 1,000-word piece. And CBS puts it after more than 1,200 words of a 1,500-word piece. And CTV puts it as the last lines in a 1,200-word piece... Because Hamas storing rockets in schools is just not newsworthy?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why is there an Israeli blockade of Gaza?

I don't know, Jon. Might have something to do with the arms ships that have been seized in coastal waters over the years. (Information below is courtesy of Wikipedia, CNN and Jewish Virtual Library, but you can find all sorts of articles around the web about each of these. You have a good research team, Jon; use them.):

The Santorini - March 2001

The Karine-A - January 2002
  • 122 mm Katyusha rockets.
  • 107 mm Katyusha rockets.
  • 80 mm mortar shells.
  • 120 mm mortar shells.
  • Anti-tank missiles.
  • Anti-tank mines.
  • Sniper rifles.
  • AK-47 ("Kalashnikov") assault rifles.
  • Ammunition.
  • Two and a half tons of pure explosives.

The Francop - November 2009
The seized weaponry consisted of 9,000 mortar shells, 2,125 107-mm Katyusha rockets, 685 rocket fuses, 690 122-mm rockets, 21,100 F-1 fragmentation hand grenades, and 566,220 AK-47 rounds.

The Victoria - March 2011
  • C-704 anti-ship missiles
  • 230 mortar shells, caliber 120mm
  • 2,270 mortar shells, caliber 60 mm
  • 2 radar systems manufactured in England
  • 2 rocket launchers
  • 2 hydraulic mounting cranes for the radar system
  • 66,960 7.62x39 rounds (Commonly used in the AK-47).

The Klos C - March 2014
A large quantity of long-range missiles, identified by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as M-302s, were found concealed under bags of Portland cement on the ship, which was then directed to berth in Israel.[4] With the Klos C secured by the IDF, and with the cooperation of its captain, the Panamanian flag it had been sailing under was lowered, and the flag of Israel as well as the Israeli Navy ensign were raised. The freighter was then escorted to Israel in a convoy.[5] After docking in the port city of Eilat, the Israelis unloaded the Klos C's cargo and discovered an additional 181 mortars, and 400,000 rounds of ammunition meant to be used in assault rifles. 

Not all of these were headed for Gaza, of course; some were for other peace-loving farmers...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hamas Executing Palestinians

If the world is worried about collateral damage and Palestinian civilians in Gaza, why are they not reporting on this? Jon?

Take a look at this from this page at the Al Quds website:

If you don't read Arabic, then I'll explain it: That's a gallows, meant for those who "collaborate" with Israel. (Here's the Google Translate version of the page; clumsy, but it will serve.)

Is anyone in the media covering this story?

(h/t Bassam Tawil and The Gatestone Institute)

A collection of very good posts

Jon, if you're looking for more information about the Middle East, you might take a look at this; there's a lot to choose from at the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival!

Juan Cole's commentary: A Cease-Fire is Not Enough?

Juan Cole, a Professor of History at University of Michigan, thinks that Israel's goal in Gaza is to take it back. In a July 27 article entitled "Gaza: Why a Cease-Fire is Not Enough",  he writes, "It is frankly stupid to think the Israelis can, in Mitt Romney’s words, kick the can down the road forever on making peace with the Palestinians. It hasn’t tried because Israel wants Palestinian land and resources and won’t give them up."

Mind you, Cole doesn't seem to feel any need to support his assertion; it is true simply because the professor says it is. He has not a single quote from any Israeli leader to support it. He has not a single action in the part of Israel that demonstrates it. All he has is, "I say so."

Professor Cole also seems to be in need of some help with his data. He writes, "Gaza is not a country, that Israel can be at war with it. It is a tiny strip of land surrounded by Israel from land, sea and air, which is kept from exporting its made goods for the most part, faces severe restrictions on imports, and therefore has had imposed on it a 40% or so unemployment rate."

How many mistakes can we find in this passage?
1. Gaza is a country - it has its own government, with authority of taxation, laws and courts, and defense. How do you define "country"?

2. Gaza is not surrounded by Israel - it also has a border with Egypt. Presumably Professor Cole is aware of this? Perhaps he omits it because it's inconvenient to admit that Egypt has also closed its border crossings with Gaza?

3. Gaza is "kept from exporting its made goods for the most part" - Israel permits Gaza to run its exports through Israel, so long as they are not destined for the West Bank.

Why not the West Bank? It may have something to do with articles like this:

December 30, 2005
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was closed for several hours Friday after a Palestinian police protest forced European Union monitors to leave in fear for their safety, authorities said.
In other signs of the chaos in Gaza, a 14-year-old Palestinian was killed Friday when gunmen attacked a police station where their relatives were being held, Palestinian security officials said.
And, no progress was reported in winning the release of three British hostages, kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in Rafah earlier in the week. (Posted 11:55 a.m.)

Or this, from January 3, 2006
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Random kidnappings. Daily exchanges of gunfire between police and armed militants. Different neighborhoods patrolled and controlled by competing militias.
It appears as if Gaza has degenerated into anarchy.
In just the past 10 days in the 146-square-mile territory (about twice the size of Washington, D.C.):
• Three Palestinian government offices were occupied by gunmen.
• Armed militants detonated explosives in a United Nations club.
• Three British nationals were kidnapped at gunpoint.
• An Italian man was abducted.
• Two rival families unloaded weapons at each other in a personal dispute.
• A Palestinian police officer was killed in a shootout between police and militants.
• The Palestinian-controlled border crossing was shut down by police angry at the death of their colleague, prompting European Union monitors to leave.
• Palestinian police took over government offices in their continuing protest.
• Israel launched air strikes on suspected militant targets.
Gaza was not supposed to turn out this way.
Last summer, Israel ended its 38-year military occupation of the area. For the first time in history, Gaza came under Palestinian rule.
No Ottoman Turks, no British mandate, no Egyptian control, no Israeli occupation. And in November, the Palestinian Authority took control over an international border crossing for the first time in history.
But since then, it's the absence of law and order in the territory that's been its most notable feature.

And so on. And yet, it wasn't until 2008 that Israel closed its border with Gaza. If anything has been "imposed", it's been self-imposed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Look Jon, Concrete Tunnels!

Here's an issue that caught my attention today: The use of humanitarian concrete to build tunnels for Hamas in Gaza. 

It seems to me that there ought to be lots of comic potential here - maybe Hamas could go into subway tunnel construction for my home city, Toronto? 

Our Mayor, Rob Ford (you may have heard of him) has been pushing for subways for a long time, but people say that it takes too long to build them, and the construction would disrupt the city. Maybe he ought to hire Hamas for the job - these guys dig huge, new tunnels all the time, they do it so quietly that no one notices, and they do it fast!

Here are two articles on the tunnels; kinda makes you wonder why anyone thinks the Israelis shouldn't blockade Gaza...

Some Concrete Facts about Hamas (Tablet, Liel Leibovitz)

Israeli troops entering Gaza last week have so far uncovered 18 tunnels used by Hamas to send armed terrorists into Israel and built using an estimated 800,000 tons of concrete.

What else might that much concrete build? Erecting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, required 110,000 tons of concrete. Hamas, then, could’ve treated itself to seven such monstrosities and still had a few tens of thousands of tons to spare. If it wanted to build kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters, like Israel has built for the besieged citizens of Sderot, for example—after all, noted military strategists like Jon Stewart have spent last week proclaiming that Gaza’s citizens had nowhere to hide from Israel’s artillery—Hamas could have used its leftovers to whip up about two that were each as big as Giants Stadium. And that’s just 18 tunnels. Egypt, on its end, recently claimed to have destroyed an additional 1,370. That’s a lot of concrete.

You may find such calculations callous. They certainly pale in comparison to heart-wrenching photos of dead children on the beach. But they matter a whole lot: If you’ve ever read Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, or played Sim City, or just looked out your window and paid attention to your city’s changing skyline, you know that  urban leaders are measured not by what they say but what they build. And Hamas, almost exclusively, chose to build tunnels, bunkers, and launching pads for missiles.

Or how about this one:
The Moral Chasm Between Israel and Hamas (Wall Street Journal, General (ret.) James T. Conway)
Americans are understandably concerned when they hear that the majority of Palestinian casualties in the fighting between Israel and Hamas have been civilians and when they see images of houses in Gaza reduced to rubble and women wailing. Given the lack of corresponding Israeli civilian casualties to date, this creates the impression of an unequal - and hence immoral - fight between Israel and Hamas.

Although American empathy for noncombatants is a critical component of who we are as a people, it should not blind us to reality: Israel's military exists to protect its civilian population and seeks to avoid harming noncombatants, while its adversary cynically uses Palestinian civilians as human shields while deliberately targeting Israeli civilians.

I recently had the opportunity to see for myself the moral chasm between how the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas treat civilians during military operations. In May I joined a dozen other retired U.S. generals and admirals on a trip to Israel with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Just outside Hamas-ruled Gaza, we toured a tunnel discovered less than one kilometer from an Israeli kindergarten. Unlike tunnels that I had seen during the Iraq war that were designed for smuggling, this Hamas tunnel was designed for launching murder and kidnapping raids. The 3-mile-long tunnel was reinforced with concrete, lined with telephone wires, and included cabins unnecessary for infiltration operations but useful for holding hostages.

Israel, fearing just such tunnel-building, has long tried to limit imports of concrete to Gaza for anything but humanitarian projects, yet somehow thousands of tons of the material have been diverted for terror use rather than building hospitals or housing for Palestinians. Since the beginning of ground operations into Gaza, the IDF has uncovered approximately 30 similar tunnels leading into Israel, in addition to the more than two dozen discovered prior to Operation Protective Edge. Hamas operatives have been intercepted emerging from such tunnels in Israel carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs, apparently hoping to replicate the successful 2006 kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, for whom Israel exchanged 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.

Want to know more about the tunnels? How about these articles:
Business Week
USA Today (nice picture!)
Washington Post
New York Times (hope you have a paid subscription, Jon)

What do you say, Jon? Newsworthy?

Why create this blog?

From time to time, I see events that I think could really use the "Jon Stewart" treatment. You know, like this:

So I decided to create this blog in order to call attention to events that could use his acerbic wit.

I expect that part of the material on this site will be excerpts and links for articles; part will be my own writing and research. We'll see how it develops...

If you would like a quick guide to starting a blog of your own, click here for instructions (pdf).