Wolman: Wright mucks up Gaza

The New Yorker sent Lawrence Wright, its Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer, over to Israel and Gaza to report on "What really happened during the Israeli attacks?" I’m not sure what the reason was for the question mark, unless it was a hint not to take what’s written as what really happened. Wright’s letter from Gaza is disappointing, but then it could have been worse. Had Jeffrey Goldberg remained on The New Yorker’s staff, he would most certainly have been the one David Remnick sent over for this assignment. We can all imagine how Jeffrey’s piece would have read.

After giving a second read to Wright’s letter, I couldn’t quite understand my deep initial antipathy. But then I noticed that the first seventy paragraphs or so are only a preamble to the last twenty in which Wright finally addresses the actual Gaza invasion. By the time this reader reached the supposed subject of the piece, he was already zoned out from Wright’s jaded history and observations. Perhaps this is the only way a New York-based weekly magazine can get away with discussing possible Israeli war crimes – by first providing a great deal of background information in conformance with the basic Hasbara narratives of the conflict.

Wright attempts to present a timeline of what happened leading up to the Gaza invasion. He starts back in June 2006, six months after Hamas had won the Palestinian parliamentary elections. According to Wright, a "moment of promise" in the "opportunity for peace" culminated in bloodshed June 24, 2006, when Hamas commandos killed two Israeli soldiers and captured a third from a Merkava tank–teenaged Gilad Shalit. In retaliation, the Israelis over the next months arrested 64 senior Palestinian officials and killed over 400 Gazans, including 88 children, and turned Gaza upside down looking for their missing soldier.

Left unexplained is why Wright believes that on June 24th peace still had a moment of promise. He suggests that Hamas’ goal in capturing Shalit was to put a halt to the peace initiatives. Apparently Hamas’ stated goal – to negotiate for some of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners – is not sufficient to explain the Hamas attack. Wright also refers to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza settlements as if it was an Israeli peace overture. He writes,

"From the Israeli perspective, at least, the Gaza problem was supposed to have been solved in August, 2005, when Ariel Sharon, then the Prime Minister, closed down the Jewish settlements on the Strip and withdrew Israeli forces. The international community and the Israeli left wing applauded the move. But, almost immediately, mortar and rocket attacks from the Strip multiplied."

As Shlomo Ben-Ami and others have noted, Ariel Sharon conceived of the unilateral withdrawal of the settlers and Israeli forces from Gaza as a means to avoid further peace initiatives and demands for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, not as a stimulus to the peace process. Wright is correct about the international community’s approval–if by "international community" he follows the US State Department meaning, i.e., any ad-hoc collection of countries expressing (either willingly or by pressure) public agreement with a United States position. The Israeli left wing did applaud, if by left-wing one includes Israelis such as Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz’s own version of Tom Friedman and one of Wright’s sources. But moderate leftists and peace negotiators such as Shlomo Ben-Ami and Yosi Beilin warned from the time of Sharon’s announcement that a unilateral, as opposed to a negotiated, withdrawal would lead to negative consequences for the peace process and quite likely an acceleration of violence. Ben-Ami in his 2006 book, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace predicted rather accurately what has happened in the aftermath. 

For me, a key litmus test in truth telling on the situation in Gaza is how a report handles the takeover of the Strip by Hamas. If the narrative doesn’t refer to the Bush-Rice-Abrams backing (most likely even initiating) of Mohammed Dahlan’s Gaza coup attempt, which preceded the Hamas preemptive counter-coup, then it is seriously remiss. It is amazing to what extent the mainstream media continues to ignore David Rose’s well-sourced report on the US role in Dahlan’s power play, which appeared in Vanity Fair.

Wright does state that "Fatah refused to step aside and let Hamas govern." He mentions the "large demonstrations by both factions in the West Bank and Gaza, along with kidnappings, gun battles, and assassinations."  And he even refers to the peace accord between Fatah and Hamas arranged by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. But he fails to inform that the United States opposed the Saudi accord, and subverted it by conspiring with Dahlan in his attempt to organize a putsch. Unfortunately, for the United States, Israel, Fatah and Dahlan, Hamas routed Dahlan’s forces.

Wright’s treatment of Gaza is mostly nasty (quite a contrast with this site’s reporting from Gaza last spring). Here is the tenor: The Israelis would like to ignore Gaza and forget it even exists (after 36 years of insisting they had to place settlers there). The West Bankers want to distance themselves from their poor relatives. Egypt’s only goal is to make sure Gaza remains Israel’s problem. A Saudi with a drink in his hand tells Israel to get the bombing right this time.

We are informed Gaza ran out of allies before the invasion. While this may be mostly true if one considers only the corrupt rulers and elites of the Arab countries, and the GWOT leaders of Europe and the United States [Global War on Terror], for the Arab and Muslim populations across the globe empathy with Gaza is one of the few political stances they all hold in common. Gaza can only be kept friendless by the application of authoritarian repression and Western interference.

According to Wright, "the territory has long had the highest concentration of poverty, extremism, and hopelessness in the region." There is nothing there for the children to do, yet the Gazans love nothing more than to fuck and have more kids. (One man tells Wright that Gazans love to procreate.)The movie theaters are shut down. Little music can be heard. Sports facilities have been destroyed. Sharia law is being introduced.

Wright goes through a litany of Hamas social policies of which he obviously disapproves. This is a subject worthy of discussion, and I share some of his concerns, but what do these policies have to do with what really happened in the Israeli attacks? Many of the same criticisms can be made of the social practices in the ultra-orthodox towns of Israel, but would that help to explain the Gaza invasion? Saudi Arabian society is far more repressive than Hamas’ Gaza. Still this hardly provokes New Yorker writers to suggest we invade Saudi Arabia.

Apparently Wright didn’t find any Gazans with something positive to say about Hamas. Gazans not in Hamas are worried. "The whole place is becoming a mosque," complains one female reporter. A native Gazan businessman says he feels like "a refugee in my own country" since the Hamas takeover. An economist tells Wright that "Secular people are punished. The future is frightening."

He devotes six paragraphs to a visit with a cell sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, a faction which Hamas has acted against. The complaints from these Jihadists are the opposite of the previous quoted Gazans. “We thought Hamas was going to apply Islamic law here, but they are not.” He [the leader of the Jihadi coalition] spoke of the “fancy restaurants on the beach” and said that Hamas tolerated uncovered women there. “They have a much more moderate way of life, and we cannot deal with that.” Well, which is it in Gaza?

Wright provides the obligational presentation of the more outrageous clauses in the Hamas Charter, and says that the charter "has come to embody the fear that many Israelis hold about the Palestinians." Yet, he fails to report that Israel was not very fearful of the Charter at the time of Hamas’ founding in 1987. In fact, the Israeli government initially aided Hamas and supported its growth, calculating that the Islamists would be a useful tool to reduce the strengths of the more secular Fatah and PLO.

Ari Shavit is given space to recall 2002 and his experience visiting a bombed cafe in Jerusalem. Since Gaza and Hamas are the current evil-doers, we only hear about Hamas attacks and Gazan celebrations of the Moment Cafe bombing. The fact that all the Palestinian factions were involved in suicide bombings at that time is no longer relevant, as Fatah and the West Bankers are currently the good Palestinians.

Wright asserts, "The Hamas [suicide bombing] attacks derailed the peace process initiated by the Oslo accords and hardened many Israelis against the Palestinian cause." Which is to say: The failed negotiations, Sharon’s provocative march on the Temple Mount, the Israeli massive overuse of force to quell the initial outbreaks of the Second Intifada (before any suicide bombings I might add), and the election of right-wing tough guy Sharon evidently had no causal relationship to the Palestinian attacks or the derailment of the peace process. In fact, and it is hard to believe Wright doesn’t know this, the peace process died with the elections of Ariel Sharon and George Bush. The violence that followed was in response to the violence. It developed its own momentum divorced from the failed peace process. It was an escalating tit-for-tat. 

Gaza is sui generis from Wright’s perspective, as if God instead of resting on the seventh day, fooled around for a few hours and built himself an anti-Eden and called it Gaza. I began to see Gaza as, I suspect, many Gazans do: a floating island, a dystopian Atlantis, drifting farther away from contact with any other society. Wright offers a very concise take on the origins of Gaza and mucks it up for some unrevealed reason. He correctly asserts that Gaza was part of Britain’s mandate over Palestine, but then goes on to say that the Brits "considered Gaza res nullius — nobody’s property." I spent quite some time Googling round to find out the source of Wright’s claim here without result. No reference to Britain specifically considering Gaza res nullius came up.

Curiously, the legal concept of res nullius is often introduced by certain Israeli supporters and legal experts, especially the Commentary and David Horowitz crowd, in order to claim that Israel is not illegally occupying the territories. But they claim that all the territories – the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – not just Gaza are res nullius. The majority of international legal experts dispute that res nullius applies to the occupied territories.

During the 1948 war, Palestinian refugees did flee to the Gaza Strip. When the armistice lines were drawn, Gaza was under the control of the Egyptians. After the 1967 war, control switched to the Israelis. But Wright goes further and claims "Israel and Egypt agreed to try to set up a Palestinian entity that would rule Gaza, but it was clear that neither party wanted responsibility for the Strip, so it remained in limbo, little more than a notional part of a Palestinian entity that might never come into existence." The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Agreement called for a resolution of the Palestinian issue. From the time the Arab League recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people, Gaza was considered an integral part of the Palestinian territories even by Egypt. This was reaffirmed in the Oslo accords. So it’s unclear to me why Wright would seek to portray Gaza as a "notional part of a Palestinian entity". Of course, for the Israelis a hived-off Gaza lessens the current demographic threat and it would like nothing better then to declare Gaza an orphan, and an unloved one at that.

There are other inaccuracies which leads one to wonder how familiar Wright is with his subject matter. For example, he has Salam Fayyad, the current Prime Minister as a Fatah loyalist, when in fact Fayyad is an independent. In the last Palestinian election he ran for the Legislature on the list of a small party he organized with Hanan Ashrawi.

He notes splits within Fatah’s leadership, but ignores the ‘radical’ Meshal’s recent statements indicating Hamas’ willingness to accept a state based on the 1967 borders.

Wright repeats an excuse Israel gives for the timing of the Gaza attack, that Hamas was introducing GRAD rockets into Gaza. Yet, he must know that Israel has not shut down the tunnel smuggling and, if Israeli’s claims about the GRADs are true, GRADs are obviously still being stockpiled.

More seriously, Wright wrongly interprets Israeli tactics:

The Israeli military adopted painstaking efforts to spare civilian lives in Gaza. Two and a half million leaflets were dropped into areas that were about to come under attack, urging noncombatants to “move to city centers.” But Gaza is essentially a cage, and the city centers also came under attack. Intelligence officers called residents whose houses were going to be targeted, urging them to flee. The Air Force dropped “roof knockers”—small, noisemaking shells—on top of some houses to warn the residents to escape before the next, real bomb fell on them.

Israel may claim it drops leaflets and makes calls to spare civilian lives, but obviously if that is the case, it never investigates how these tactics work in practice. With no safe place to go, with attacks on anything that moves, with bombings shifting from one locale to another, Israeli warnings only increase civilian panic. Why flee your home if you don’t know whether you will be safe out in the open, and there is no place to flee to? Or whether the school or refugee center you reach will be the next target. Had Israel been serious about protecting civilians, then it would have opened its borders and let the non-combatant Palestinians flee from the war zone as international law demands. But Israel would not countenance Palestinian refugees on its territory, so it could only urge that they even more tightly concentrate themselves in the Gaza urban areas, which the Israelis eventually ended up attacking anyway.

Several times Wright repeats the Israeli mantra that no country would accept the rocket firing on its citizens that Israel has experienced. He even quotes Obama in Israel last year, “No country would accept missiles landing on the heads of its citizens. If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” The twelve thousand rockets and mortars fired into Israel between 2000 and 2008 are noted, but the context is missing. This is partially correct, but not very illuminating.

By hewing to the Israeli narrative, Wright is unable to see the truth, that both sides are locked into a strategic race for deterrence against the other. "Collective punishment" applied to civilians, aka terror when the other side is employing it, is the means by which Israel seeks to maintain deterrence, and hence control, of the Palestinians. In response Hamas has attempted to establish its own deterrence vis-a-vis Israel with guerrilla actions, terror attacks, suicide bombings (a tactic which turned out to be a failure and counterproductive), and more recently, inaccurate rocket attacks.

In military and think-tank circles Israel is fairly open about its application of collective punishment. Indeed, civilian death tolls have never led to Israeli second thoughts. Gaza worked, they will say. Less obvious and accepted is the notion that the Palestinians are also in their own way also seeking a deterrent capability. (During the Second Intifada the Palestinians overplayed their hand and went beyond deterrence in the way they accelerated the suicide bombings, deluding themselves for a brief period of time into thinking these tactics were so successful they could achieve parity with Israel by their use. Instead the carnage provoked a ferocious Israeli reaction and the Israelis crushed the Palestinian uprising. Hamas has since returned to searching for a way to establish a level of deterrence. Fatah has abandoned the armed route, but has gained nothing with the Israelis. Whether Fatah will remain passive remains to be seen.)

Being the far superior power, Israel has determined the rules of the conflict. Hamas and the Palestinians respond. Seen in the context of a mutual game of deterrence, Hamas’ strategy and tactical maneuverings are rational, even if the acts themselves are immoral. We are not simply seeing the bloodthirsty cravings of extremists or the primitive urges for revenge as Wright implies.

Basically Israel is satisfied with the status quo. The Palestinians want to upend that status quo – aiming for one state or two states – i.e., some end to the occupation. To deter Palestinian violence against the current order, Israel enforces a limited but still severe collective punishment on the Palestinian civilian population as the price for its militants’ activities. Moreover, the Israelis expect the Palestinian population to blame the militants for the Israeli punishment, and eventually to demand that the militants stop their attacks on the Israelis. Hamas knows it cannot defeat Israel militarily, but it also cannot let Israel pay no price for the continuation of the status quo.

Firing rockets is a signal to the Israelis that the Palestinians will not just passively (or non-violently) accept the current situation. The wild inaccuracy of Palestinian rockets is intentional. The rockets cause psychological angst for Israeli civilians and a political problem for the Israeli government, but they don’t kill many Israelis. If the rockets were more effective at killing, the Israelis would retaliate with overwhelming force. The intensity of the rocket firings is gauged to keep Israeli cost-benefit calculations for an escalated response or a full invasion below the threshold. Hence, it is inaccurate to say that Hamas wants to kill as many Israelis as possible. If that was the aim, they would choose other tactics.

Once Israel refused to lift the blockade on Gaza during the cease fire, Hamas had no choice but to up the ante. Their people were approaching destitution, just as Israel intended. Hamas needed to try and force Israel to negotiate an amelioration of the blockade, even if the odds of success were against them. To renew the ceasefire with the blockade still in full force would have irreparably eroded support for Hamas.

Armed with this analysis we can reject one of Wright’s conclusion. He writes,

"They also underscore the biases that had taken root in each camp: the Israeli belief that Hamas terrorists and the Gazan people were one and the same; the Gazan tendency to support any act of resistance against the Israelis, no matter how self-defeating it might be."

While the majority of Israelis probably do see Hamas and the Gazan people as one and the same, Gazans have been much more circumspect about supporting "any act of resistance." If one examines Palestinian polling since the Oslo accords, you will see that Palestinians’ approval of suicide bombings and other acts of violence have varied greatly over the period. As their situation has only worsened, Gazans in their desperation have been willing for all kinds of strategies to be tried, both violent and non-violent. All have been self-defeating. Until Wright and the Israelis can demonstrate to the Gazans an alternative other than surrender, Wright should be more careful in his judgements.

Wright’s letter from Gaza is not completely one-sided, but neither does it answer the question posed.

About Bruce Wolman

Bruce Wolman is a citizen journalist who has lived in Norway and the Washington area.
Posted in Beyondoweiss, Gaza

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  1. I think you are far to kind to Hamas Wolman.

    I think you misrepresent Wright’s gist, which did include comments that support the element of Hamas’ hope to “deter”, but with FAR FAR less, and FAR FAR more accurate emphasis on their internal self-talking political struggles.

    For example, during the decision process to resume shelling, there was reported to be great dissension expressed particularly from the older (and more mature) social service focused members that suggested patience and towards some negotiation, rather than militant “deterrence”.

    The literally adolescent voice prevailed. Anger, more than strategy.

    In developing business relationships, the effort to develop credibility is not a “surrender” but an intentional strategy towards a viable end.

    The paths for Hamas are very limited now in that respect, not primarily because of Israel’s initiated hostility, but because of Hamas’ historical pattern of timing really intentionally intimately gruesome terror and only hopefully gruesome rocket-firing intentionally to disrupt reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Israel.

    They may be “true” to the spirit of non-compromise with Israel, and popular for that, but relative to the prospect of peace in any terms over the next two decades at least, they are a liability to the Palestinian cause whether described as either liberation or as well-being.

    • Mooser says:

      Oh, listen! I hear a voice from the dying past kvetching, all the way.
      Don’t worry Richard, I believe it’s the haredim who are breeding the fastest in Israel, while all the “white Jews” run away. That’ll work out good!

      Why don’t you call us back when you can figure out how to make Israel a workable society without sucking off my American dollars, huh? It’s, you know, bad for the Jews.
      BTW, you get anywhere with the cute Rabbinical student?

    • Citizen says:

      Those confined in the Warsaw Ghetto should have more maturely developed their
      business relationships with the German Defense Force; earned more street cred as
      real adults.

    • VR says:

      What Richard proposes is that the Palestinians in Gaza wear targets on their backs. They must be quiet as they are exterminated, while Israel pursues a no peace peace, a peace with no justice. It is like Malcolm X illustrated about the black man about to be lynched – “Shhhh…be quiet as we put this rope around you’re neck, don’t struggle, surrender.” If the black man lashes out as they attempt to lynch him is is violent, that angry black man.

      Citizen fives a good illustration in regard to the Nazi’s and the resisters in the Warsaw ghetto – they should have just surrendered. In fact, Israel is like that strong Nazi in Saving Private Ryan, who asks his weaker victim Stanley Mellish to just surrender and be quiet, only the battle is not so nearly close between the almost defenseless Palestinians and the fourth most powerful forces armed forces on the planet. But it is just as perverse –

      SSSHHHH! BE QUIET

    • Bruce says:

      Well, Richard you would think that.

      For me it is not a matter of being kind or mean, it’s a question of the facts.

      Personally, I oppose Hamas, just as I oppose all right-wing religious political movements which are convinced they have some divine lock on truth and believe they exclusively know God’s wishes.

      Could you give a citation of Wright’s comments “that support Hamas’ hope to ‘deter’” instead of presenting your own?

      I agree there were Hamas members, especially those that have to deal with the human consequences of violence, which cautioned against militarily challenging the blockade. But, if you bothered to read my post until the end, you will have noticed that my point is that the game being played is deterrence through violence, and Israel, being the stronger party, has set the rules of the game. You ignore this because you can’t bring yourself to accept that the situation is fundamentally the result of Israeli strategy. You want to pin the blame on Hamas.

      Games of deterrence are intellectually challenging in the war rooms, but deadly on the ground. Unfortunately, the chess players in Tel Aviv, Washington and Damascus are not directly in the line of fire. At least the Hamas leaders know that their decisions put targets on their backs.

      There was a time when Hamas challenged the embargo by blowing holes in the fence bordering Egypt, allowing the Gazans to flood the border to resupply. This should have been the kind of relatively non-violent action to gain your approval. It also would have been the perfect opportunity for Israel and the US to turn a page. After all, the photo ops were similar to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. But what happened? Israel and the US demanded that the Egyptians close up the holes and reinstate the caging of the Gazans. You should acknowledge this kind of resistence gets the Palestinians nowhere and that they did make the attempt.

      Your assertion, The paths for Hamas are very limited now in that respect, not primarily because of Israel’s initiated hostility, but because of Hamas’ historical pattern of timing really intentionally intimately gruesome terror and only hopefully gruesome rocket-firing intentionally to disrupt reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Israel. besides being almost grammatically unreadable, does not fit reality. Hamas terror has its own logic. Usually tit-for-tat with the Israelis. At times Hamas worked against Fatah. Other times with it. At one point during the Second Intifada, they ended up in competition over which group could carry out more suicide bombings. It’s a Wittian stretch to see the main motivation behind Hamas terror as disrupting Fatah and Israeli reconciliation. Hamas just has to leave Israel to its own devices for that.

      We have almost as good a laboratory test as one is able to find in the real world with the strategies of Hamas and the PA in dealing with Israel. Fatah is following a strategy along the lines of your preachings. What have they obtained from the Israelis? Nada, except for special privileges for their elite. The test is not over, but Fatah looks like the spent force at the moment.

      • potsherd says:

        Speaking of walls coming down, this is a heartening sight for the anniversary of the coming-down of the Berlin Wall.

        link to haaretz.com

      • Its not Wittyian logic to identify the patterns of timing historically of terror attacks in particular.

        The shelling after the formal cease-fire ending was more driven by anger, than by strategy to disrupt negotiations, and was much more of a negligence in policy formation than a cynical one.

        Israel’s deterrence strategy is intended to be opaque, meaning that their definition of success is zero shellings as result, and 100% of discovered rocket launchers hit. Perfection in deterrance, as impossible as it is in fact. That position is unlikely to change at all, as the consequences of relaxation of that for “an even playing field” (an abstraction), is terrorized and/or murdered Israelis. As the responsibility of a state is prominently to protect its civilians from harm, especially from unprovoked harm, that policy will remain, and responsibly (your contention of tit for tat about the shelling is comic, you know the shelling is random, not a response to a “tat”).

        Hamas has no ability to punish Israelis. (By definition, what deterrance means, punishment IF the other does something).

        The pattern of militancy, driven by rage, is escalation. After Hamas shelled the desert (early following the end of the formal cease-fire) as a deterrent warning, it had the option of whether to escalate (as “deterrent”), or drop it. They chose to escalate.

        Your contention that Israel defined the “rules” of the game, is accurate to a point. But, that point ignores Hamas’ participating in co-defining the rules that they play by.

        You also very negligently ignore the street cred fight that Hamas and Fatah used to fight among themselves on the basis of how much they could stick it to Israel, which Fatah renounced.

        The Dahlan actions (not controlled in fact by either US or Israel, but also a street cred fight of his) to the extent that they were part of a PA effort to assert universal civil order under a monopoly of force thesis, was NOT irrational, not corrupt in essence.

        Israel has NOT recently pursued an earnest strategy of realizing peace, that is agreed. If anything, (similar to Hamas’ “offer” for a renewed cease-fire, or acceptance of Palestine at 67 borders but insisting on 100% right of return for anyone that asserted they were of Palestinian ethnic descent) it held out really impossible pre-conditions and positions. Its negligence in not assisting Abbas’ responsible success is a great tragedy of Israel’s policy, a failure of imagination and will. They failed to take the moderate gamble of thoroughly arming the Palestinian police, so that Palestine could be viable. And, they until very recently, failed to relax any intrusions into Palestinian life.

        One significance of Hamas timed terror to disrupt negotiations (particularly when they were feasible in the 90′s), is that it gives Israel an out. Why give them that bluffing room at all?

        Wolman,
        You know clearly what I mean about Hamas’ credibility, and the already 4 steps back that their “leadership” has compelled in whatever goal of Palestinian solidarity you invest in: liberty, or improvement in well-being.

      • Citizen says:

        “Its not Wittyian logic to identify the patterns of timing historically of terror attacks in particular.”

        Why do you brag about your lack of awareness or care for the patterns of cause and effect?” Do you wish for us to also deny in the same way, for example, a flu virus, or a tooth ache, or how about the phenomena of “anti-semitism?” Do you ignore the patterns of pogroms and their context in the time of Czarist Russia?
        How about Pearl Harbor? Hitler’s invasion of Poland? John Brown? Speak to us more about Wittyian logic, please. We need to know more about how the match and the matchbox became one.

      • Citizen says:

        “They failed to take the moderate gamble of thoroughly arming the Palestinian police, so that Palestine could be viable. ”

        Actually, Mister Witty, the first targets of OP Cast Lead was to drop the dreidels
        on the Palestinian police.

      • Dan Kelly says:

        …besides being almost grammatically unreadable

        lol

      • Citizen says:

        “Your contention that Israel defined the “rules” of the game, is accurate to a point. But, that point ignores Hamas’ participating in co-defining the rules that they play by.”

        Yeah right. The Warsaw ghetto peeps also participated in co-defining the rules that they played by.

      • VR says:

        Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims’ struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorizing them was the purpose.

        Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors. The danger in this excessive use of legality actually undermines legality, diminishing the credibility of international institutions such as the United Nations. It becomes apparent that the powerful, those who make the rules, insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism.

        Attacking civilians is the last, most desperate and basic method of resistance when confronting overwhelming odds and imminent eradication. The Palestinians do not attack Israeli civilians with the expectation that they will destroy Israel. The land of Palestine is being stolen day after day; the Palestinian people are being eradicated day after day. As a result, they respond in whatever way they can to apply pressure on Israel. Colonial powers use civilians strategically, settling them to claim land and dispossess the native population, be they Indians in North America or Palestinians in what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories. When the native population sees that there is an irreversible dynamic that is taking away their land and identity with the support of an overwhelming power, then they are forced to resort to whatever methods of resistance they can.

        Just as the traditional American cowboy film presented white Americans under siege, with Indians as the aggressors, which was the opposite of reality, so, too, have Palestinians become the aggressors and not the victims. Beginning in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately cleansed and expelled from their homes, and hundreds of their villages were destroyed, and their land was settled by colonists, who went on to deny their very existence and wage a 60-year war against the remaining natives and the national liberation movements the Palestinians established around the world. Every day, more of Palestine is stolen, more Palestinians are killed. To call oneself an Israeli Zionist is to engage in the dispossession of entire people. It is not that, qua Palestinians, they have the right to use any means necessary, it is because they are weak. The weak have much less power than the strong, and can do much less damage. The Palestinians would not have ever bombed cafes or used home-made missiles if they had tanks and airplanes. It is only in the current context that their actions are justified, and there are obvious limits.

        A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalize them?

        NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

      • Terrorism is a descriptive term, not normative.

        It refers to the objective practice of specifically attacking civilians to achieve some political end.

        When states attack civilians systematically for a political end with no basis of rationale for the system of selection of targets, that is terror. Israel’s actions in Gaza can only be described partially as state terror. A large proportion (I don’t know if it is 80% majority, 50% or 30%) of targets and actions were valid militarily by all conventional standards of military strategy and law.

        NONE of Hamas’ targets were militarily legitimate targets, whether they were desparate or not.

        By your description, EVERY action by Hamas is immune from moral or legal scrutiny, which I regard as ludicrous.

      • LeaNder says:

        This is a very good point, Bruce:

        There was a time when Hamas challenged the embargo by blowing holes in the fence bordering Egypt, allowing the Gazans to flood the border to resupply. This should have been the kind of relatively non-violent action to gain your approval. It also would have been the perfect opportunity for Israel and the US to turn a page. After all, the photo ops were similar to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. But what happened? Israel and the US demanded that the Egyptians close up the holes and reinstate the caging of the Gazans.

        I was stunned by these activities, visually highly effective, and yes, Gazan’s must have been absolutely crestfallen. No matter if peaceful (I know who disagrees) or non-peaceful actions the results remain the same.

      • LeaNder says:

        not Gazan’s of course but the people of Gaza

      • potsherd says:

        There is no descriptive definition of “terrorism” that does not perfectly describe the Israeli doctrine of “deterrence.” Yet Hamas is not allowed to defend itself against Israeli state terrorism.

      • Shingo says:

        “NONE of Hamas’ targets were militarily legitimate targets, whether they were desparate or not.”

        I see, so Hama’s fault is not that they retaliated, but that their rockets and shells weren;t accurate enough or had sufficient range to hit a military target. It’s Hamas’ fault that they don;t have anti aricraft missiles that can knock F-16′s out of the sky.

        The sad fact Ricahrd, is that your argument comes down tot he simple premise that Israel’s actions are legitimate becasue they have lzer guided weapons and Hamas do not.

      • VR says:

        What we have with Witty’s “deterrence” doctrine is the adoption of Nazi preemptive doctrine adapted to a domestic scale. Plain and simple.

      • Colin Murray says:

        We have almost as good a laboratory test as one is able to find in the real world with the strategies of Hamas and the PA in dealing with Israel. Fatah is following a strategy along the lines of your preachings. What have they obtained from the Israelis? Nada, except for special privileges for their elite.

        One can contrast the complete failure of Fatah’s strategy with the results of Hamas’ … there are no more Israeli colonies in Gaza. Who has done a better job of defending their people? I suspect a large portion of Israeli antipathy towards Gaza and its people is simply spite because it is there that proponents of Israeli ethnic cleansing and colonization suffered their most profound and humiliating defeat. “If we can’t have it, we sure as hell aren’t going to let you enjoy it in peace.”

      • Bruce says:

        Witty,

        I almost agree with Nolan. Some of what you write in reply is simply bullshit, taken out of thin air, and not worthy of a response. I will let others judge.

        Too many of your so-called insights is psychobabble of a Krauthammerian nature. Charles is a psychiatrist, which he takes as giving him license to pontificate on the mental condition of everyone he disagrees with. I’m not sure on which basis you have decided you are an expert in flushing out other people’s motives. But hardly a paragraph goes by that you are not dissecting the emotional state of those whose actions or words you don’t approve of.

        Most of the rest of what you write I find incomprehensible, including your not so cool, calm, collective, closing about my awareness of Hamas credibility. It might be me – a victim of limited intelligence. But I have to say that I don’t have this problem with anyone else writing on this site. I may disagree with them 100%, but I get the gist of what they are saying.

        And let me congratulate you on a first – the first person besides his mother to defend Mohammad Dahlan’s actions as not being corrupt. Do you realize how off-the-wall you sound at times?

      • If you don’t understand what I mean, ask.

        They are coherent.

      • Shingo says:

        “The shelling after the formal cease-fire ending was more driven by anger, than by strategy to disrupt negotiations, and was much more of a negligence in policy formation than a cynical one.”

        Tell me Richard,

        Seeing as Hamas have killed about the same number of people with all their shelling as Israle killed in a matter of hours during the Novermber 4th raid, are we safe to assume that Israel’s massacre of Gaza was driven by anger? Was it an act of negligence too?

      • Its an unknown Shingo.

        The purpose of deterrence is to stop harms coming your way. Genuine peace is the most effective deterrent. Neither Hamas nor Israel is attempting that relative to each other.

        Short of that, the message that Israel got “leave us alone” is occurring. But, it is accompanied by the message “if you relax an iota, we will harm you to the bone, and we HOPE to do that”, which is the motivation for the blockade.

        If they instead pursued either of the policies, “leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone”, or “lets be friends in fact”, then the blockade would get lifted, not immediately, but over time as the words are regarded as truthful.

        Hamas has taken four steps back in either of the strategies, and has not indicated that it is internally motivated to change them. So, without fundamental change, the same patterns repeat.

        Are they willing to change their view, their approach?

      • Shingo says:

        Whenver you are backed into a logical corner, you feign ignorance.

        You can afford to trivilize this as 2 bad sides at play, because the consequences for Israel are insignificant. Hamas and Gaza tried peace nad it was no deterrent to Israel’s agression. What’s more, Israel refuse to leave the Palestinians alone, because they are either commited to driving them off their land in the West Bank, or to punicheing them in Gaza.

        Hamas have not taken any steps backward. They support a 2 state solution and Israel does not. They proposed a long ceasefire and Israel rejects it. Who has taken steps backward but Israel?

    • Nolan says:

      The paths for Hamas are very limited now in that respect, not primarily because of Israel’s initiated hostility, but because of Hamas’ historical pattern of timing really intentionally intimately gruesome terror and only hopefully gruesome rocket-firing intentionally to disrupt reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Israel.

      They may be “true” to the spirit of non-compromise with Israel, and popular for that, but relative to the prospect of peace in any terms over the next two decades at least, they are a liability to the Palestinian cause whether described as either liberation or as well-being.

      That’s pure and utter bullshit. It doesn’t even dignify a response.

      • MRW says:

        Correct.
        ++++++++++++++++++++

      • Shingo says:

        Ansolutely Nolan,

        If Hmas’s brand of terror is intentionally and intimately gruesome, then surely, Israel’s terror, which is an order of magnitude more destructive, is worse, is it not?

        And speakign of a liability, is not the Israeli government a liability to the those who want peace in Israel, esepcially when Tzipi Livni tells the world that a ceasefire is not in Israel’s stratetgic inmterests?

      • Nolan says:

        Well, the issue is that Fatah, the opposition party, was and most likely still is a favorite among Palestinians. The majority of Palestinians are secular. Sure, a great number of Palestinians are traditional in the social sense, but they are not dogmatic like Hamas or its ideology. If there were no occupation and the region’s borders were open and people were free, Hamas wouldn’t stand a chance in getting elected or reelected.

        Part of the problem Palestinians faced in 2006 wasn’t either party’s “standing up” to Israel or what have you. A significant part of that choice had to do with quality of life.

        When Arafat was negotiating with Israel, at first Palestinians had high hopes. Then Israel reneged on a few promises and Arafat lost some popularity. Then when Arafat became too “uppity” as they used to say in the Jim Crow era, Israel gave Hamas a boost, encouraging them in hopes they would contain Fatah.

        By the time the elections came about, Fatah were extremely unpopular; they lost the confidence of the electorate because they failed to deliver on the 1993 Oslo promises, and to a great extent, they were corrupt. Workers who were employed by the Palestinain Authority had to go on strike after strike before the Fatah leadership paid them their saleries on time. With Hamas in control, that corruption became a thing of the past. At the same time, Israel collected taxes from the Palestinians, but didn’t pay those sums to the Palestinian Authority so that they could in turn pay their employees and invest in public infrastructure.

        In essence, Hamas’ ascendancy to power isn’t really an embrace of their ideology, but simply a lack of a better option at that place in time. And, to a great extent, Israel played a major part in that, in the delegitimization of Fatah in the eyes of the Palestinians.

        Sharret’s quote in one of the posts below is quite relevant in this context. It seems that peace in the Middle East is viewed as a threat by the Israeli government because then there will be greater mobility and travel and that’s not good when one seeks to maintain an exclusively Jewish state. Plus, reaching that permanent state of peace would entail making compromises, some territorial and some demographic. Israel wants neither.

      • I agree that Israel handled the politics of it very amateurishly, also indicating their ambiguous (to the point of deception) commitment to peace.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Amateurish? Wittty, the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian children isn’t merely “amateurish.” You keep trivilializing Israel’s responsibility for outright war crimes. It’s disgusting.

      • Shingo says:

        Chaos4700,

        You hit the nail on the head. Propagandists like Witty express never ending outrage at the rocket atatcks by Hamas, yet if one were to describe them as “amateurish”, they would have a fit. The sad fact is that Hamas’ rocket attakcs are extremely “amateurish”.

  2. Rehmat says:

    Your analysis is almost to the point. IOF did not withdraw from Gaza in good faith. They left because the cost on maintaining the occupation was becoming unbearable for the parasite state. Zionist regime came up with this brilliant scheme (withdrawal) under which it could still control Gazans in their daily lives without cleaning their garbage.

    There was never “peaceful intentions” – as a few years of peace could usher the very destruction of the Zionist regime. War and ethnic-cleansing is the soul of Zionist movement – as
    Moshe Sharret, Israel’s second prime minister (1954-56) wrote in his Diary:

    “The State of Israel must invent dangers, and to do this, it must adopt methods of provocation and revenge. And above all, let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”

    Annapolis Accord – Another Zionists’ Deception
    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

  3. potsherd says:

    Rehmat, that Sharret quote is a bombshell, but it’s new to me. Could you provide a cite?

    • Tuyzentfloot says:

      Potsherd, this is a valuable analysis of the Sharett diaries : link to chss.montclair.edu. I think it’s also the only source of the quote.

    • Potsherd, start with

      Livia Rokach, “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism”, a Study of Moshe Sharett’s Personal Diary.

      link to chss.montclair.edu

      The diaries themselves were published in Hebrew in 1979, and were subsequently suppressed.

    • Nolan says:

      I’m not posting this to put anyone down, but the tactics referenced regarding Sharret are nothing new.

      This kind of stuff has been the mobilizing force behind Israel’s political history since 1948. In the late 50s, Ben Gurion, for example, made it perfectly clear that Israel must provoke a war to expand its territory and take over Jerusalem. In 1967 that was precisely what Israel did.

      Avraham Sela, for example, reported that “The Egyptian buildup in Sinai lacked a clear offensive plan” and that “Nasser’s defensive instructions explicitly assumed an Israeli first strike.”

      Also, After 1967 Weizman admitted that “there was no threat of destruction” and that the Egyptians would have “suffered a complete defeat” regardless of who attacked first.

      Then, regarding the attack on Syria, Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister at the time, said, “I know how at least 80% of all of the incidents there (Golan) started. In my opinion, more than 80%, but let’s speak about 80%. It would go like this: We would send a tractor to plow someplace where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they did not start shooting, we would inform the tractor to progress farther, until the Syrians, in the end, would get nervous and would shoot. And then we would use guns, and later, even the air force, and that is how it went.”

      In 1997, Dayan gave an interview to the the New York Times. In the interview, he explained that, “greed for land” and “good land for agriculture”, led Israel to take the Golan by force.

      • yonira says:

        Wasn’t Nasser a Mossad spy? he thought that expelling the UNEF forces from the Sinai would cause Israel to act, it didn’t. So then he decided, as an Israeli spy, that maybe by amassing over 100K troops and 1000 tanks, this would cause Israeli to strike, but it didnt. As a good Israeli Spy, Nasser decided that maybe closing the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships would provoke Israel enough to attack. I am surprised that it took the sleezy Israeli spy Nasser so long to come up w/ the right amount of actions to provoke Israel.

        This reminds me of the Israeli spies who fired off over 8000 bottle rockets into Israel….

        Look for my next post, where I prove Israel is responsible for the death of Elvis, global warming, Katrina, and the disappearance of sun spots.

      • Shingo says:

        Listening to Isrtaeli’s debate is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you can’t help but stop to watch.

        Plenty Israeli military and political figures have subsequently admitted that Israel was not faced with a genuine threat of attack, and instead, deliberately chose war in 1967.

        Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli army chief of staff during the war, later stated:

        “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”

        General Mattityahu Peled, a member of Israel’s general staff in 1967, opined that “the thesis according to which the danger of genocide weighed on us in June 1967, and that Israel struggled for its physical existence is only a bluff born and developed after the war.”

        Menachem Begin, not yet prime minister but a member of the Israeli cabinet, allowed that: “The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

        See that yonira? Your Israeli proaganda BS just went pffff.

        That’s the beauty of Israeli propaganda. You can always go back and get a quote from an honest Isrlei leader who had brain fart and blurted out and honest statement, which debunks the lies of the Yonias of this world.

        BTW Yonira, you do realise that closing the Strait of Tiran only affecrte 5% of goods going in and out of Israel, as compared to the blockade that Israle has imposed on Gaza that affects 100%?

        And seeing as Israle sawthat as reason to starta war, then I take it you fully suport the rockets from Gaza.

        “This reminds me of the Israeli spies who fired off over 8000 bottle rockets into Israel….”

        Actualy it was 7,700 shells fired by Israel into Gaza during 2005/2006.

        Any questions?

        Look for my next post, where I prove Israel is responsible for the death of Elvis, global warming, Katrina, and the disappearance of sun spots.

      • Nolan says:

        Yonira, you might want to invest in ear plugs and an eye mask, that way you will never have to confront reality.

        It’s too bad reality isn’t on your side, otherwise you’d have something more substantial to post than those schoolyard snarks.

    • It was not Sharett who said that. It was Livia Rokach’s interpretation of what Moshe Dayan had said. Sharett was in the minority among the leadership of the Zionistas in that he sought peace agreements with the Arab world. This is Wikipedia’s explanation of the mix-up:

      * This has been reported to be a direct quotation of Dayan in the diaries of Moshe Sharett, but is actually derived from an interpretive commentary by Livia Rokach in “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism” (1980) upon statements of Dayan reported in Sharett’s diaries, from accounts provided to him by Ya’acob Herzog and Gideon Raphael — in other words: a third-hand interpretation of Dayan’s meaning, based on a second hand report of his arguments. Sharett’s summation of Dayan’s statements of 26 May 1955 read:

      “We do not need a security pact with the U.S.: such a pact will only constitute an obstacle for us. We face no danger at all of an Arab advantage of force for the next 8-10 years. Even if they receive massive military aid from the West, we shall maintain our military superiority thanks to our infinitely greater capacity to assimilate new armaments. The security pact will only handcuff us and deny us the freedom of action which we need in the coming years. Reprisal actions which we couldn’t carry out if we were tied to a security pact are our vital lymph … they make it possible for us to maintain a high level of tension among our population and in the army. Without these actions we would have ceased to be a combative people and without the discipline of a combative people we are lost. We have to cry out that the Negev is in danger, so that young men will go there….”

      Rokach’s interpretive assessment of this diary entry by Sharett produces:

      ” The conclusions from Dayan’s words are clear: This State has no international obligations, no economic problems, the question of peace is nonexistent… It must calculate its steps narrow-mindedly and live on its sword. It must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no — it must — invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge.. . . And above all — let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”

      Rokach’s book is a must read to understand the thinking of the mainstream Zionista leadership then and NOW!

  4. Donald says:

    I agree with much of your criticism of the article, but I’m amazed that people here manage to read it without explicitly acknowledging the damning passages about Israeli brutality and petty bureaucratic sadism. I cited some big chunks in the earlier thread. There’s some weird double standard I don’t quite understand between how people here saw the Moyers interview with Goldstone and this article by Wright. Moyers totally reinforced the hasbara account of how the Gaza War came about. Hamas rockets and Israeli overreaction was his message. Yet people here seemed to think that it was more positive than negative. This article is simply much better than what Moyers gave us. It describes Israel’s blockade in detail as the cruel, petty, sadistic action that it is–I’m not going to cut and paste the relevant paragraphs (I did so in the other thread) and you just don’t get that in the MSM very often if at all. It also mentions the day-to-day violence of the Israelis and even gives credence to the Hamas negotiator’s suggestion that Shalit could have been one of the Israeli soldiers involved in shooting at random Palestinian civilians across the border. And he’s describing violence before the Gaza War. Notice what Wright does here. A Hamas negotiator criticizes Shalit as someone who possibly has committed war crimes and while Wright points out that we don’t know that Shalit personally did anything like this, he actually supports the Hamas claim by saying that yes, Israeli soldiers do in fact shoot civilians across the border and make much of the Gaza Strip’s arable land unreachable for Palestinian farmers. Give some credit here, for God’s sake. How many mainstream American journalists have done this?

    Yes, the article is wrong in hasbara-like ways (one thing that you didn’t mention that bugged me was the “five invading armies” bit, knowing that what happened in 48 was more complicated than that), but he should be critical of Hamas, so long as the criticisms are accurate. When I complain about the MSM I’m not demanding that they churn out articles that focus almost exclusively on Israel’s crimes to make up for all the years of BS they put out earlier. I want them to give me a complete and accurate picture. Wright failed miserably in important ways, notably, as you say, in leaving out how the US instigated the Palestinian civil war. But telling us that Hamas is not all sweetness and light–he should be doing that and it ought to be a big chunk of any story on Gaza. As Human Rights Watch pointed out (HRW, that organization that according to Bernstein just picks on innocent little Israel), Hamas was engaged in violent political repression this year. He should also report on the suffering of Israelis under rocket fire–small compared to Palestinian suffering, but real, and the rocket fire is a war crime. Yes, this aspect of the story is greatly hyped in the US, but it ought to be in any account.

    Any intelligent person who got through this article would notice that it started out with the standard “liberal” Israeli viewpoint, and then somewhere along the way the standard narrative is inverted and we’re in a world where the Israelis shoot random civilians and engage in Kafka-like policies obviously designed to impoverish over one million people. Again, give a little credit here.

    Incidentally, on the rational vs. irrational theme regarding war crimes, I don’t object to describing Hamas actions as irrational. Both sides deliberately kill civilians in an attempt to influence the behavior of the other side–one could call this “rational” in an immoral sort of way, I suppose, but it’s the immoral aspect that should dominate one’s analysis, not the rationality. What I want to see is enough honesty in the press so that we recognize our own bloodthirsty dehumanizing impulses underneath all the “rational” rhetoric. Hamas leaders are the same as Israeli leaders and American leaders–i.e., they’re murderous bastards. And anyway, their violent actions have been irrational even leaving aside the morality–they’ve done nothing except give the Israelis a propaganda weapon to use in order to (falsely) justify their own far greater crimes. It only would seem “rational” from the viewpoint people adopt in wartime, when our lizard brains take over.

    • Donald says:

      “they’ve done nothing except give the Israelis a propaganda weapon to use in order to (falsely) justify their own far greater crimes.”

      To be clear, I’m not saying that the actual sequence is Palestinian violence, followed by Israeli violence. It’s more often the other way around, or rather, it’s Israeli violence, Palestinian retaliation, and then Israeli retaliation against Palestinians for having the temerity to retaliate. And then it is sold in America as Israeli self-defense.

      Still, it does the Palestinians no good. Plus it’s immoral when aimed at civilians.
      (Attacks on the IDF are moral, but probably still stupid.)

      • Bruce says:

        Donald,

        First off, I will “explicitly acknowledge the damning passages about Israeli brutality and petty bureaucratic sadism” in Wright’s article.

        My complaint is that these passages were surrounded by so many inaccuracies and Hasbara narrative that I’m not as certain as you that readers who didn’t already know as much will get the implications. We all read an article coming in from our own perspectives, so its hard to guage how others will react. Witty liked Wright. He didn’t like Goldstone. Maybe you should ask him why?

        I’m not convinced that Israeli brutality and bureaucratic petty sadism is going to be enough to change American policies. The Israeli narratives are going to have to be challenged. Someone else on the site linked to Jeff Harper’s experience lobbying our Congress (link to icahd.org):

        When, recently, I did the rounds of Congress and the State Department promoting a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I was told that “justice” is not an active element in American foreign policy. I was advised by seasoned lobbyists not to even mention the term “human rights” in my meetings with senators and congress people, because it sounds anti-American, as if something trumps American law and policy (which human rights indeed does).

        Only a few years ago, a majority of Americans opposed the use of torture. Polling now appears to indicate otherwise.

        I was one that approved of the Moyers interview with Goldstone, so let me try and defend myself against the charge of holding to a double standard. Moyers was asking questions. Although I might have asked different ones, Moyers questions did allow Goldstone to answer his critics and defend his report. Yes too many of Moyers questions reinforced Hasbara accounts of how the Gaza War came about, but Goldstone handled the ones he wanted and overall the effect was powerful, the report and Goldstone’s integrity was enhanced. Had Moyers been doing a report on the Gaza war and his reporting mirrored his questions, then I would have been criticizing Moyers as you and others have.

        Wright was offering us some kind of definitive report on what happened. For me, the essential information was lost in a great deal of misinformation.

        As I stated in my posting, discussing Hamas’ policies is a subject worthy of discussion. But Israel did not invade Gaza to protect the human rights of those under Hamas rule. If one decides the Hamas government is a big part of the invasion story, then you have to discuss it sufficiently, as you say “give a complete and accurate picture.” It is not sufficient to write about the Hamas political repression without putting it in a proper context. First, there was the violent attacks by Dahlan’s security forces in Gaza followed by the attempted coup. Second, Hamas has been undergoing severe political and physical repression at the hands of the Israelis and the PA in the West Bank. Then, there are the reports that certain Fatah elements (and perhaps the PA itself) were providing intelligence to the Israelis during the Gaza invasion. I’ve never heard of an insurgency treating collaborators with the enemy during a war situation in a particularly kind manner. Yes, knee-capping Fatah members is brutal, but as Americans are so fond of saying, some of them were ticking-bombs. By the way, even some Gazan Fatah members considered the Dahlan and PA actions to be deplorable. They even supported Hamas during the counter-coup and Israeli invasion.

        I’m all for bringing attention to immorality in foreign policy and this should be the role of the media. Unfortunately, those of us who want a morality-based foreign policy are out-in-the-cold when it comes to actual decision-making in Washington and Jerusalem.

      • I liked Wright because he presented the conflict as a conflict, as a “tit for tat”, holding both responsible for their participation in a death dance, and for the acknowledgement that the IDF has a RESPONSIBILITY to protect civilians when attacked militarily (even if you call it “deterrent”).

        There is no prospect that unilateral and random shelling of civilians is a “deterrent”.

        My attitude towards Goldstone, was that it was information, not authority. And, I did regard the original mandate as biased, some due to the bias of the Human Rights Committee, and some due to the structure of investigating a prospectively accountable state and an unaccountable faction, and somehow ascribing balance to that structure.

        I don’t think the findings are deniable as in “there was no event”. The only questions possible are to the context, interpretation and remedy. And, most of the contentions that people have posted here, seem to merit change and internal censure/discipline/prosecution of any negligent parties.

        I don’t see that there is any path forward without qualitative change in Hamas’ intentions and means (which would be very contreversial among their solidarity) or their rejection by the Gazan people. Until those changes occur, Gaza will remain stuck. If it happens slowly, by quiet rather than renunciation of terror, the relaxation on Israel’s part will be delayed and thought of as insufficient.

      • Shingo says:

        “There is no prospect that unilateral and random shelling of civilians is a “deterrent”.”

        That’s only the case for Gaza because Israel are infitntely more powerful. As Tom Friedman of the New Yorker remonded us, the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians was not an unfortunate and undesirable by-product of that war, but rather, was a vital aspect of the Israeli strategy — the centerpiece, actually, of teaching Lebanese civilians a lesson they would not soon forget.

        So you see Richard, it’s perfectly acceptable to you and Israel’s supporters for unilateral shelling of civilians to be used as a “deterrent”, but not for Hamas, or are you just opposed to it being random?

      • potsherd says:

        The effective difference between Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian areas and Israel’s bombing/shelling/mortaring/ of civilian areas is that the Palestinian attacks rarely do any harm, whereas the Israeli attacks cause massive loss of civilian life.

    • Citizen says:

      I for one sure did not laud Moyers’s interview. And I do agree with your comparative analysis. Remember the old standard leading question, “When’s the last time you beat you wife?” Moyers’s whole train of questions were, “When’s the last time you didn’t beat your wife?” And he ignored that the accused had only flippers for hands.

      • Donald says:

        Citizen–

        Yeah, we’re in agreement, at least on the relative value of Moyers vs. Wright. I think Moyers did a lot of harm as well as a lot of good in that piece. Wright did more or less the same thing, except that I think he did much more good than Moyers in bringing out the facts about the blockade and Israel’s violence even before the Gaza invasion.

        Bruce–

        I mostly agree with your analysis of the article’s flaws, though I also think it ended up making Hamas seem a bit more sympathetic than they usually look in the American press. (Which admittedly isn’t saying much). The net effect, I think, will be positive. I’m going to guess that Israel supporters of the Dershowitz variety will be livid over the article, because the average New Yorker reader probably doesn’t read human rights reports on Israel and so would have been unaware of just how brutal Israel has been. They’ve already heard countless times the usual storyline about Hamas and Israel’s needs for security, so what was new here would be Israeli brutality.

        Admittedly, the article is bad for the same reason the Moyers interview was worse–people will see a journalist accused of too much sympathy for the Palestinians (happened to Moyers and I’m guessing will happen to Wright) and this person still concedes too much to the hasbara narrative. That strengthens the narrative. (I’m going to call this the Tom Friedman effect, because a couple of friends of mine both think that Tom Friedman is sympathetic to the Palestinians, which gives him a lot of power to trash them and be believed.) I’m guessing, though, that the Wright piece will do more good than harm.

      • Donald says:

        Incidentally, on the Moyers/Goldstone interview, Goldstone could have corrected Moyers and mentioned the blockade and Israel’s violence before the Gaza War, but he chose not to. I have trouble blaming him, but all the same, he let those misperceptions stand. One can admire him for the stand he’s taking, but his public statements have been less than perfect.

      • Bruce says:

        Donald,

        I agree about Goldstone not correcting all of Moyer’s misrepresentations. The problem is even more apparent in the Goldstone-Gold debate at Brandeis. The difficulty is that Goldstone has to draw the line at defending his report, not Hamas. If he ends up as Hamas’ defense attorney, he discredits his own work. At Brandeis, Goldstone discussed his report, Gold indicted Hamas. There was nobody on stage to defend the Palestinians or Hamas.

        I am considering writing about the Goldstone-Gold debate, and in particular Jacoby’s absurd description of it in the Boston Globe.

  5. BradAllen says:

    Did everyone forget how Gaza became so radical…
    Fox News, 2003:
    “Israel’s military on Tuesday ordered 15 Palestinian detainees expelled from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, an action human rights groups denounced as a violation of international law.

    Israel maintained this policy for sometime as Sharon was planning his withdrawl from GAZA. Sharon was no dummy and did not evacuate Gaza out the goodness of his heart, but a sinister way to create a open air prison and fill it with the most radical of Palestinians and then deal with it in one blow. Today’s Gaza is the creation of Israel, planned and calculated in a sinister way to dump Palestinians in this prison and choke them to death.

    I hope he can come out of his coma soon so he can be tried along with Karadizch.

  6. GalenSword says:

    The Looming Tower is a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of Zionist hasbarah crap.

    In Taming Obama by Pruning Advisors, I wrote:

    Arch-Zionist and New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick commissioned screen writer Lawrence Wright (The Siege) to create the official 9/11 narrative to drown out such legitimate questions.

    Today Wright’s book entitled The Looming Tower serves as scripture for the War on Terror. The book fulfills the following Zionist goals.

    (1) It ties a lot of disconnected information together to fabricate a compelling script defining a vast Islamic fundamentalist terrorist conspiracy, which UBL is supposed to head but really does not exist and which can only be fought by stripping Americans of their Constitutional rights.

    (2) It transformed the Zionist genocidal war against Palestinians into the American War on Terror with the goal of forever hitching the USA to Zionist ideology and policy.

    (3) It justified an Afghanistan and then an Iraq invasion as well as attacks on Somalia, Lebanon, Gaza, and Pakistan that made no sense whatsoever for the USA however much Zionists might welcome the incineration of Arabs and Muslims.

    (4) It creates a framework to demonize the most mainstream currents of Islam in order to facilitate the marginalization of American Muslims and to make sure that they cannot participate in a meaningful way in the debate over American foreign policy.

    (5) It provides a rationalization for a pointless continuation of the War against Terror in Afghanistan in order
    to forestall attempts to bring Bush administration criminals to justice,to discourage scrutiny of Zionists in the Obama administration,to keep Israel and Zionist plutocrats on the expanded military gravy train,to continue intimidation of American Muslims, and to prevent the American public from realizing that the US and Israel have no interests in common whatsoever.Remnick made this achievement possible by providing Wright with full use of the fabled New Yorker resources for research and fact checking although in this case they were corrupted to provide distortion and fabrication conforming to the desires of wealthy Zionist advertisers, who brought the magazine back from the brink of bankruptcy.

    With such talented support Wright’s lies are sophisticated. They depend on subtle mistranslation or elipsis and calculated distortion of the timeline. They start from the beginning of the book with the discussion of Sayid Qutb and continue right through to the end.

    The crowning example is Wright’s explanation of the meaning of the book’s title on pp. 394-395.

    The duties of this religion are magnificent and difficult,” bin Laden said in a videotaped speech that was later discovered on the computer of a member of the Hamburg cell. “Some of them are abominable.”

    Bin Laden spoke about the Prophet, who warned the Arabs that they would become weak because of their love of lif and their fear of fighting. “This sense of loss, this misery that has befallen us: all these are proof that we have abandoned God and his jihad,” bin Laden said. “God has imposed inferiority on you and will not remove it from you until you return to your religion.”

    Recalling the Prophet’s injunction on his deathbed that Islam should be the only religion in Arabia, bin Laden asked, “What answer do we have for God on the day of reckoning? … The ummah in this time have become lost and have gone astry. Now, ten years have passed sine the Americans entered the land of the two holy places. … It becomes clear to us that shying away from the fight, combined with the love of earthly existence that fills the hearts of many of us, is the source of this misery, this humiliation, and this contempt.”

    These words reached into the hearts of nineteen young men, many of whom had skills, talent, and education, and were living comfortably in the West; and yet they still resonated with the sense of shame that bin Laden sang to them.

    What do we want? What do we want?
    Don’t we want to please God?
    Don’t we want Paradise?

    He urged them to become martyrs, to give up their promising lives for the greater glory that awaited them. “Look, we have found ourselves in the mouth of the lion for over twenty years now,” he said, “thanks to the mercy and favor of God: the Russian Scud missiles hunted us for over ten years, and the American Cruise missiles have hunted us for another ten years. The believer knows that the hour of death can be neigher hastend nor postponed.” Then he quoted a passage from the fourth sura of the Quran, which he repeated three times in the speech — obvious signal to the hijackers who were on their way:

    Wherever you are, death will find you,
    even in the looming tower.

    No English translation of the Quranic verse 4:78 renders بروج مشىدة as in the looming tower.

    Muhammad Asad interprets the verse as:

    Wherever you may be, death will overtake you — even though you be in towers raised high.

    The mistranslation of mushayyadat meaning lofty may be a confusion of the Hebrew word shed meaning demon with the colloquial Arabic pronunciation musheyyda.

    The faulty rendering is only a small piece of the Wright’s big lie. He states in his “Notes” (p.485) that he took “Speech of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden on the occasion of the Fitr celebration of the first schawal 1420″/”Rede des Scheich usamma Bin LADEN anlasslich des Fitr-Festes erster schawal 1420″ from the “Motassadeq Document which Chester Rosson translated.

    Ramadan 1420 took place in Dec-Jan 1999-2000. Eidu-l-fitri was Jan. 7, 2000.

    The Quranic passage 4:78 is a hardly inappropriate reminder to people in the midst of a celebration that they should still think about the time when they will be called to final accounting after death.

    Probably many Eidu-l-fitri sermons with which UBL grew up contained such recommendations.

    The speech had absolutely no connection to the 9/11 attack as is almost certainly true for UBL himself.

    Because the entire mythology of the War on Terror is filled with the sort of misrepresentations littering the Pulitzer Prize winning Looming Tower, Zionists like Frum (and Judea Pearl) are absolutely unwilling to countenance any critical reevaluations of the case for the war from which they and the State of Israel have benefited so much.

    Never has there been a greater need for government officials, who like Van Jones are willing to challenge Jewish Zionist shysters about the crap, which Israel advocates have dumped on the American people.

  7. robin says:

    Wolman is right on here. The article does good in presenting facts, but it does so in a context of obfuscation. I.E. the analysis does not fit reality, and the facts that disprove the analysis are omitted in a blatant way.

    It also insinuates too often, especially with the use of quotes. This includes my earlier criticisms of the inclusion of the Shavit and Alpher quotes.

    And also the Gaza woman who used to support Osama bin Laden, until she saw death and destruction in operation Cast Lead. What’s the insinuation here? What is the reader learning about Gaza through this quote? First of all, there is the ridiculous implication that there wasn’t much death and destruction in Gaza until Cast Lead. Then there is the presentation of “this person in Gaza supported Osama bin Laden”. Then, the implication that, “maybe Cast Lead was a good idea, because after getting a taste of their own medicine people in Gaza have stopped supporting terrorists”. I mean, isn’t the point of quoting Palestinians to allow them to tell their side of the story (as do the quoted Israelis), not to make them look like scoundrels? And to misinform by insinuation about their history? I mean this is an ordinary person. Why would you use this quote? What is its informative value?

    • Dan Kelly says:

      Excellent deconstruction robin. This is one of the most important jobs in combating Zionist propaganda: breaking down the writing and uncovering the insinuations and implications in the narrative. You do it well. Thank you.

    • The implication is the acknowledgement by millions historically, of the futility of militancy when it clearly results in civilians’ suffering predominately, as all wars do.

      Why would you criticize a Palestinian woman’s recognition of that?

  8. Mooser says:

    Please don’t tell me it was Zionists who were responsible for the wave of crap following 9-11 which morphed into the War against Muslims launched by the US. Let me go on believing it was a spontaneous outpouring of prejudice on the part of American Christians, in response to 9-11.

    • Donald says:

      Doesn’t have to be “either/or”. (And it wasn’t all Zionists or all American Christians, but a large chunk of both groups, with considerable overlap when you consider the Christian Zionists.)

      • Mooser says:

        Of course, Donald, you are right. But I am getting the feeling that the same techniques America has used on the Muslims will be the most effective anti-Zionist techniques, when the time comes.
        In fact, if they asked me for advice, I would say: “Just tell the truth, and nobody will believe it”

  9. Mooser says:

    Citizen, I can’t thank you enough for directing me to “Failed Messiah.com”
    I love that site! Always I find something surprising and fresh there! Thanks.

  10. Brewer says:

    I cannot escape the impression some folk just do not “get” rocket logic.

    If the motivation of rockets was anger, provocation etc as some posters have alleged, the weapons could easily be designed to cause greater injury and death. Fact is they are, in the main, sodium and sugar-fueled pieces of water pipe, sans exploding warheads or fleschettes.

    Many Gazans are imprisoned within a few miles of the land that they own. As I have previously posted, Sderot is built on about 14,000 dunums, of which, 400 dunums was owned by Jews before the inhabitants were expelled weeks before the ’48 War began. Rocket fire is intended to discourage further settlement and is therefore an integral part of resistance to occupation.

    I have never seen it tested but I suspect that a case could be made that, as settlers are complicit in the contravention of Geneva 4, they may not be considered “civilians” at all.

    • edwin says:

      Just because one is a war criminal does not make one a military target. I am quite sure that children, for example, would be civilians and not war criminals. I would expect adults were civilians as well.

      What I see as the issue surrounding this is – what value is international law anyway when there is careful selection of what laws to complain about and what laws to ignore. Refugees have a right to return – but that is not discussed. Even more to the point – when there is an attempt by Palestinians to hold themselves and Israel accountable to international law by joining the international criminal court – let’s just say these things take time – lots of time. No hurry.

      link to icc-cpi.int

    • Shmuel says:

      Brewer:

      I have never seen it tested but I suspect that a case could be made that, as settlers are complicit in the contravention of Geneva 4, they may not be considered “civilians” at all.

      Palestinian spokesmen have used a similar defence in the past, regarding attacks on Israeli civilians both in Israel and the OTs (“there are no Israeli civilians”). In terms of the Geneva Conventions and international law, things are not that simple. First, the distinction is between “combatants” and “non-combatants” (not “civilians”), protecting even soldiers not directly involved in combat. Second, Geneva 4 deals with settlement by an occupier in occupied territory. According to international law, Israel is not an occupier in Sderot (as opposed to Kiryat Arba or Efrat), and so land settled by theft in Sderot does not, technically, constitute the settlement, by an occupier, of its own citizens in occupied territory.

      • Brewer says:

        Smuel.

        I must admit, your first point is moot. I have a few problems with your second however. Sderot is disputed territoy – how could it not be when it is 100% occupied by Israelis and Palestinian title to it is upheld by the U.N.

        Another fundamental point with which I disagree is “According to international law, Israel is not an occupier in Sderot”.
        As far as I know, recognition by the U.N. is still conditional on the settlement of the refugee situation. This is another reason why acknowledgement of the Nakba is pivotal. (See below)

      • Shmuel says:

        Brewer,

        I am not an expert in international law, but as far as I know, the 1949 Armistice Lines (the “Green Line”) have been accepted, de facto, as Israel’s sovereign borders. For example, the decision by the International Court of Justice in 2004, condemning Israel’s “security wall” specifically referred to the illegality of constructing the wall on the Palestinian side of the Green Line – implying that the “Israeli side” is sovereign Israeli territory. I’m not sure about the relevance of the conditionality of UN Resolution 273 – concerning Israel’s admission as a UN member state – to the recognition of Israel’s borders and sovereignty in international law.

        I agree with Edwin’s criticism of the application of international law and law in general.

      • The 1949 lines are still legally temporary armistice lines.

        The ambiguity of the status of the borders is what gives each opportunist party the rationale for pushing for more, rather than just accepting enough.

        The advantage of them is that they do roughly describe where the varying populations live (with minorities in each). Because of the odd shape of the 1949 lines, Israel in particular feels/is vulnerable.

      • I’ve not heard of ANYONE, except you and militants, refer to Sderot as “occupied territory”. The only theory that affirms that is the idea that any Israel is occupied territory, a truly reactionary approach (even if “progressives” adopt it).

      • Chaos4700 says:

        “The 1949 lines are still legally temporary armistice lines.”

        That sounds an awful lot to me like a concession that Israel has violated that armistice many, many times over, considering Israel’s role in instigating the 1967 war (you can ask Moshe Dayan himself about that, he’s got some handy quotes he put out before he died) up to and including Israel’s impunity — sustained bombing campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza, incidental air strikes in Syria and Libya, etc.

        So how come you don’t condemn Israel for violating the armistice? I thought you believed in peace.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Witty answer us straight — do you deny what happened to the Palestinian village of Najd?

  11. I have not read every comment but it does not seem that anyone has mentioned two key facts that Wright neglected in his article.

    The first is that the Israelis began planning for the invasion at the time the cease-fire was negotiated, as reported in Ha’aretz.

    The second is that on Nov. 4, as reported on Israel’s YNet, Israel deliberately broke the cease fire, killing six Hamas members in Gaza who it said were trying to dig a tunnel into Israel to capture more soldiers, a ludicrous story on the face of it since having foreknowledge, if such indeed was the case, they could have easily prevented it. I can’t locate the YNet story but here’s a link to the Guardian’s which had roughly the same information:
    link to guardian.co.uk

    Wright also failed to mention that the day before Shalit was captured, the Israelis came into Gaza and kidnapped two Palestinian twin brothers. That is not surprising since actions like this have long been routine in the West Bank (under the PA) and in Gaza.

    What Wright did mention in passing was that Israeli soldiers regularly take pot shots at Palestinians who come into their gun sights. This was happening a block from where we were in Rafah in 2004. This was the case since the 60s for members of Palestinian militia groups in Jordan before Black September 1970 when Israeli planes would fly over Jordan at daybreak looking for human targets to shoot. When staying with DFLP and sleeping outside in the warm night that summer, we would be awakened while it was still dark and told to move our blankets into a nearby cave.

    In Lebanon, across the border, we had to ride in a car with our heads outside the windows to keep an eye out for Israeli fighter planes. Had we spotted one we were told that we would have to ditch the car and start running because the Israelis would surely bomb or strafe the car. The number of destroyed cars littering the sides of the roads convinced us the driver wasn’t kidding.

    All in all, the story could have been worse. As it is, there is enough in it to expose the cowardice of Obama administration and the immorality of Israel lackeys in Congress and, as such, it will no doubt come under attack by the Jewish Thought Police (JTP).

    • “Deliberately broke the cease fire”.

      Are you saying that orders came from the top echelons to shoot a small group?

      And you know this how?

      Or, are you in fact exagerating, projecting?

      • potsherd says:

        Haven’t people been telling you this about a hundred times? Just how thick are you?

      • You “telling” me, tells me nothing.

      • potsherd says:

        People cite sources, evidence. You ignore them, then return like to dog to its vomit to the same old lies.

      • tree says:

        Richard,

        Jeffrey gave you a link to the story in the Guardian that proves that Israel deliberately broke the ceasefire. You’ve been given other links to various articles in Haaretz and others about the same thing, numerous times. Still you protest otherwise and act as though everyone who mentions this is making it up. The only one projecting here is you.

        You won’t accept information that doesn’t mesh with your fantasy Israel and create scenarios that mesh with your fantasy Hamas and fantasy Palestinians. Thus you insist that Hamas must have allowed rocket fire “in anger” when you have no information whatsoever about the decision making that went into Hamas’ choice not to extend the ceasefire. You don’t know what you are talking about and yet you are “in fact exaggerating, projecting”. If you consider yourself so enlightened maybe you should heal yourself before proscribing for others.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Witty, how come the entirety of the Gazan people are automatically culpable, in your eyes, for every single rocket leaving Gaza, no questions asked, but when the Israeli military conducts a deliberate violation of the ceasefire and the government not only doesn’t deny the action, but boasts about it, suddenly it matters to ask questions?

        Not only that but you ask questions that cannot be answered without either Israel’s full cooperation — requiring their government to choose integrity over self interest — or a military operation of some kind to forcibly secure the internal records that would constitute proof.

        Your racist double standard shines through yet again. The Palestinians are left having to prove their innocence, collectively, while Israel is given carte blanche.

      • Mooser says:

        People cite sources, evidence. You ignore them, then return like to dog to its vomit to the same old lies

        And every comment thread that goes over fifty comments devolves into the same exact thing. Witty does what you describe above, and you guys feel compelled to answer him with facts and the obvious. And how could you not?
        No.5 Never give an inch!( There may be somebody new listening, and they can be fooled.)
        No.6 Stay up all night, type nonsense for hours, but get the last word! (See parenthetical note on No.5)

        Nothing will happen here until Witty goes. I will admit, he is the best excuse for anti-Semitism I’ve seen in a while, he makes it all seem so probably true.
        But, that’s what Phil; wants, I suspect. To go just so far, and no further.
        There will be

      • Chaos4700 says:

        I’m compelled to agree with you Mooser. I don’t argue with Witty because I believe he’ll ever suddenly respond rationally. I do it because — and this is probably going to sound strange and a bit self-riteous, but — I feel like I have a responsibility to the truth.

        I also recognize that the crap Witty spews does work on some people. If we ignore him when he posts, it does look like he raises points that we can’t (instead of don’t) contest. At least this way, he is the one revealed to be the obstinate, reality-denying needlessly provocative one.

      • “Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had personally approved the Gaza raid, the Associated Press said. The Israeli military concluded that Hamas was likely to want to continue the ceasefire despite the raid, it said. The ceasefire was due to run for six months and it is still unclear whether it will stretch beyond that limit.”

        This seems to be true.

        It still does not affect the meaning that you insist on “Israel broke the cease-fire”, as indicating that the cease-fire stopped at that point. That is false. The headline in the Guardian was “Cease fire broken”. The content of the article was “cease-fire stressed”, with no certainty stated that the tunnel was not meant for offensive purposes.

        Would that have been a violation of the cease-fire, to dig a tunnel for the purpose abduction?

        Did you read the news today, “oh boy”?

        link to haaretz.com

        In its official response, Hamas called Mofaz’s offer “Zionist vulgarity” and said it would never recognize Israel or give legitimacy to the occupation.

        “Any negotiation with the Zionist enemy regarding rights and legitimate recognition would only give it further excuse to commit crimes,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

        Do you interpret that statement as “Hamas is willing to recognize Israel?” or that “Hamas has always sought to negotiate directly with Israel?”

      • Chaos4700 says:

        “…and said it would never recognize Israel or give legitimacy to the occupation. “

        Wow, and here we see the Zionist blind spot in action. Witty confronts the fact that his argument was overturned only to insist that it actually wasn’t, contrary to what we can all see, and then proceeds to produce a quote and then ignore half of his own quote to construct his argument.

        Or, Witty, are you arguing that the Palestinians must accept an occupation that they have every legal right to recognize? Which Israel are Palestinians supposed to accept? The UN 181 borders? The 1948 borders? The post-1967 borders? Today’s? Which ones, Witty? You can’t recognize a country that has no defined borders and refuses to conform to international law regarding them.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        “…every legal right to resist” that was supposed to say, sorry.

      • Shmuel says:

        Chaos,

        I appreciate your reasons for responding to RW, but:
        1. That duty-to-the-truth thing of yours will land you in the hospital some day. You have to let stuff go.
        2. Anyone who reads the other comments here knows that RW’s posts are full of it.
        3. Engaging him just eggs him on and exposes the innocents to even more of his nonsense.
        4. If no one responds, the intelligent reader will understand that his posts are being ignored, not that the clever, well-read and outspoken people here are dumbstruck by the brilliance of his observations. If some respond, that effect is lost.
        5. Parents’ wisdom: He just wants attention. Ignore him and he’ll go away.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        That’s all well and good, Schmuel, but won thing I learned very early in my life is that the bullies don’t go away if you ignore them. They simply take that as a sign that there is more they can take from you if they push a little harder.

        You have to realize, the context is larger than just this blog. Anything RW posts that doesn’t get contested can get linked at the other blogs he haunts as “proof.” Perhaps you think that doesn’t matter but, how do you think the massive fabrication about Israel came about in the first place? There isn’t a magic wand or a spell or even merely a handful of wealthy PR geniuses who pushed it out there. The Zionist regime and the shadow under which they conduct their crimes unmolested is built by the hands of people like Witty — selfish dupes who continue to build the scaffolding that supports it all.

        And don’t worry about me and the hospital. One of my strengths I’ve come to rely upon, is that I have an infinite capacity for sorrow.

      • tree says:

        Chaos,

        “Which Israel are Palestinians supposed to accept? ”

        Well, according to Mofaz, its Israel with 40% of the West Bank, as he’s “generously” offered the Palestinians 60% of their occupied territory. I’m guessing that the 60% will not be contiguous, let alone viable, in any sense of the word.

      • Again, the contention “Israel broke the cease fire” is at best an opportunistic INTERPRETATION of events, an interpretation that I disagree with, given that both Israel and Hamas returned to the cease-fire.

        The significance of the statement “Israel broke the cease-fire” is to place the Hamas shelling after the formal cease-fire as “tit for tat”.

        That might be the case if they shot ten rockets into the desert, a warning. But, the reality of the ten days was increase in frequency, accuracy, distance and population of the targeted civilian towns/cities BEFORE Israel undertook any military action.

        It was an example of Hamas goading Israel to respond militarily, in a cynical twist of the Ghandian formula “the purpose of civil disobedience is to evoke a response.”, with the gullible here regarding shelling civilians with rockets that do kill, with non-violent civil disobedience.

        The self-talkers adopt it as impermeable logic. The realists see through it. Ask Steve Walt if he thinks that the Hamas rockets were non-violent civil disobedience, or even a limited and proportional response.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Wait a minute! So if Hamas continued to attack Israel during the ceasefire, you would produce that as proof that Hamas isn’t committed to peace. But because they returned to the cease-fire — you regard that as proof that Israel didn’t break it?!

        So basically as far as you’re concerned, the Palestinians are f*cked no matter what they do?

      • Hamas if fucked if it continues with its “we will never recognize Israel” theme, and Gazans that allow Hamas to continue in any role as political power, will continually get caught in the middle of fights initiated by Hamas’ violent agitation.

        I get that Gazans are cornered, and deserve a better life, and that Israel puts the screws on Gaza by restricting the flow of materials in and out.

        How is the question. It is NOT a question of what I think that “they” should do, but the question of whether there is any path created by Hamas “leadership” to improve their lives.

        No criticism from you of Hamas’ statement “we will NEVER recognize Israel”.

        I hope you never then cite Hamas’ willingness to recognize Israel, or to negotiate with Israel as proof of any subsequent point. (Shingo did mostly. I don’t remember if you did as well.)

      • Shmuel says:

        I really admire your patience and tenacity Chaos, but I believe there comes a time to stop arguing basics with people as dishonest and evasive as RW. I don’t think you have to worry about those who read this forum regularly. They do not come here to read Witty. They come here for Phil and Adam and commenters who develop the ideas that they present. Zionists or Zionist dupes might drop by from time to time out of curiosity or in search of a good fight with the antichrist, but I can’t see them being influenced one way or the other by Witty’s dime-a-dozen hasbara points (ditto for any links he might scatter to the winds). He really isn’t that good or original.

        I see the value of the discussion here in developing ideas that go beyond the basics of Palestinian humanity and Zionist history 101, and in challenging those who have honest questions and are willing to consider honest answers. Witty is a waste of time. He muddies the waters and stands in the way of both of these goals. I urge you to reconsider your position. He may not actually leave (he seems rather obsessed with Phil), but he will certainly post far less if he is not contested.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Your argument is a load of bullshit. Like I keep saying, you blame the Palestinians for everything — even the way Israelis vote! Even when Israel targets and murders civilians! — and you place no responsibility on Israelis.

        This is the heart of apartheid, Witty — your privileged Jewish elite that can do no wrong, and the “animalistic” Arabs who are fools in your eyes for not bending to Zionist whims.

        And on top of all of that you construct some sort of elaborate myth around Hamas that they had all of this planned, in spite of the fact that the Israeli government itself said they were planning this from even before the withdrawal, the proverbial bombshell or Operation Cast Lead.

        Israel is the obstacle to peace, Witty. Israel is the one breaking ceasefires and stealing homes and treating other human beings like dirt. And until you confront that, Witty, your argument will continue to be little more than flaccid propaganda that pretends to be the fig leaf over Israeli crimes against humanity.

      • Bruce says:

        Witty,

        Your comment here is rather knee-jerky.

        In the political world, NEVER has a relatively short shelf life. It was not so long ago that Israel and Zionists insisted there was no Palestininan People, and even if there was they would never recognize the PLO as its representative.

        We have numerous statements from Hamas officials. Meshal told the New York Times Hamas could accept the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. It is possible that Hamas could accept moving to two states without still recognizing Israel, particularly Israel as a Jewish state. Wouldn’t you consider this to be an improved state-of-affairs over the status quo, especially if Hamas is willing to accept a long-term hudna? What is needed is clarification from Hamas not necessarily immediate knee-jerk CRITICISM of the Wittian kind.

        Mofaz’s plan requires that Hamas accept the Quartet’s demands, which means that Hamas has to RECOGNIZE Israel just to get a seat at the negotiating table. It also offers only 60% of the 22% for the initial state. Is it a surprise that Hamas would respond to what any Palestinian would consider as an insulting proposal with defiance?

        You raise “the question of whether there is any path created by Hamas “leadership” to improve their [Palestinian] lives. Hamas social programs and then its attacks on Palestinian corruption upon taking office did improve Palestinian lives. (I am not saying there may have been negative aspects to Hamas rule, but that is not the question you raised.) Israel and the US snuffed out these improvements as they could not accept Hamas rule.

        So the question really is whether the Palestinians have any path to an improved life that does not involve surrending to Israeli and American dictates and denying their own right to full self-governance (and by that I mean the same self-governance you insist Jews should have the right to)? Then there is the question of whether Palestinians should accept any improvement in their lives, even if it means giving up rights they consider essential? I strongly argue that is not a decision for you to make.

        May I remind you that you are not a Palestinian. You are a Jewish Zionist. You should be spending most of your time encouraging your fellow Jewish Zionists – who are self-governing as you so fervently think they should have the right to do – to reform their policies in accordance with your recommendations, and you should not be wasting so much of your time and ours at Mondoweiss.

      • It was not me saying that, it was Israel’s YNet News and the Guardian saying it. But it should be obvious even to those who are either incapable of thinking logically or deliberately disingenuous, that since these members of Hamas were reportedly engaged in digging a tunnel and there was no claim that an attack was immanent, there surely would have been orders from above when it came to breaking something of such importance as a ceasefire, unless that was Israel’s intention in the first place which the same logic dictates it clearly was. Own up Wittgenstein, covering up for Israel’s crimes is actually your day to day job. I guess it’s like cleaning up after circus animals. Someone’s got to do it.

      • Citizen says:

        This has all been covered before; Witty’s POV has been demolished at least fifty times on this blog by facts. Dick Witty, here, try updating yourself on the political relationship between pornography and reality:
        link to gilad.co.uk

      • Mooser says:

        ” is that I have an infinite capacity for sorrow.”

        And I would timidly suggest you have the requisite compassion to go along with it. That’s wonderful! An infinite capacity for sorrow and a just about infinite compassion (from which incompetent dry cleaners may reasonably be excluded, there is a limit) are characteristics you share with the great ungulates.

      • Shmuel says:

        Jeffrey Blankfort:

        But it should be obvious even to those who are either incapable of thinking logically or deliberately disingenuous, that since these members of Hamas were reportedly engaged in digging a tunnel and there was no claim that an attack was immanent, there surely would have been orders from above when it came to breaking something of such importance as a ceasefire, unless that was Israel’s intention in the first place which the same logic dictates it clearly was.

        The logic is indeed obvious, but it involves breaking away from deeply-ingrained premises. I have had this particular discussion on a number of occasions, and the premises of those who view it as some kind of trump card, explaining the entire dynamic of Israel’s actions in Gaza, work something like this:

        1. The governments of western-democratic states are – except on very rare occasions (some may even concede the entire Bush era as the exception that proves the rule) – eminently reliable, and will always do the “decent” thing.
        2. Israel is a western-democratic state.

        Hence:
        If Israel claims there was an imminent threat and that they were “forced” to follow a particular course of action in order to neutralise that threat, they are to be believed both with regard to the existence of the threat and that the course of action they followed was necessary and unavoidable.

        Of course, neither premise is true, but unless we deal with those premises, the obvious motives of Israel’s 4 November attack will never break through.

        Equally deeply ingrained is the premise that Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular are eminently unreliable and will always do the “indecent” thing.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        “…are characteristics you share with the great ungulates.”

        Heh. Thanks for the compliment, Mooser, and I suspect there are other characteristics I share as well. I dare say I’ve demonstrated that I have the temperament (and kick) of a mule at times, as well. :)

      • I do believe that Hamas is responsible for a great deal of the harms that Gazan Palestinians experience. As I’ve said many times, and most of the world includes in their math of the situation, is that the history of intimate gruesome terror followed by “reduction” of terror in the form of only shelling Israeli civilian towns, is not forgettable and leaves Hamas 4 steps backward to start the game.

        Bruce,
        I take Hamas at its published word (as does the majority of the world), that “never” really means it, at least as far as their intent goes.

        Certainly, the Mofaz offer for 60% of the West Bank to be Palestine was more than insulting. But, their reactions describe their habitual exagerated response. Rather than state, “what an idiotic offer”, they confirmed that they meant, “we have NO intention of recognizing Israel, period.”

        Its heard, and very sadly.

        It CONFLICTS with your and others’ “summary” that Hamas intends to accept Israel, at 67 borders (of course with their kicker in there, which you so conspicuously omitted, of unlimited right of return accompanying).

        Not a change of heart, you gullible “solidarity with the Palestinian people”.

        The few that equate my criticisms of Hamas with some generalization to Palestinians, conduct a malevolent bait and switch. Hamas and “the Palestinians” are not equivalent terms, anymore than likud and Zionism are equivalent terms, or likud and Israelis.

        Its a fraudulent equation, a fraudulent misrepresentation of my views.

        Its said that you also limit the range of those that you consider “authentic” Palestinian voice to militants. There are MANY others that hold different views. Palestinians’ experiences also vary, though I expect that the vast majority have experienced some (considerable) insult and harrassment from the occupation.

        The response to that varies. Some affirm that reconciliation is possible, even after experiencing likud’s idiocies, knowing that good is a natural state that patience often realizes. Others define specific conditions for reconciliation, that are at least on the table as identifiable and actually plausible objective conditions.

        But, radical solidarity, like the right-wing of AIPAC relative to Israel, take the maximalist positions rather than the prospective.

      • Bruce says:

        Witty,

        Don’t confuse yourself with “the majority of the rest of the world”. That would border on megalomania.

        You have no idea what the rest of the world thinks. The 1 billion Muslims alone read it quite differently than you.

        This dialogue is at an end from my side.

      • tree says:

        But “we have NO intention of recognizing Israel, period.” is not what they are quoted as saying. I’ve read several different sources on the Hamas reaction to Mofaz’s statement (all of them Israeli, unfortunately, as it would be better to have a direct Palestinian report for the accuracy of the statement) and none of the sources quote Hamas the way you do.

        Here’s a Hamas spokesman reported in Ynet.

        Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri told Ynet in response to Mofaz’s plan, “This is a very important step, but we are interested in its translation from talk into action.”

        “Obviously, such comments carry a lot of weight when they come from someone of Mofaz’s stature – a man who went to war against Hamas and the resistance and is familiar with the issue’s political and security-related aspects,” said al-Masri.

        The senior Hamas figure said he would not dismiss any offer “if it is based on the recognition of the basic rights of the Palestinian people and its right to be rid of occupation.

        “The Israelis realize that we (Hamas) are a key player in the political arena. It would be a mistake to ignore Hamas and deal solely with (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas,” he said.

        And here’s the Jerusalem Post:

        Hamas rejected an alternate peace plan presented by Kadima No. 2 Shaul Mofaz on Sunday, saying the group would not negotiate with Israel, Army Radio reported.

        “Hamas will not negotiate with Israel,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. “We do not believe in engaging with the occupation, or in talks that would beautify its face in the eyes of the world.”

        Here’s ArutzSheva:

        Hamas, meanwhile, praised the plan. Calling it an “important step,” a Hamas spokesperson said that “even if the Israeli government has come to this understanding late, that Hamas must be dealt with, Mofaz’s plan is important.”

        And here is Haaretz:

        In its official response, Hamas called Mofaz’s offer “Zionist vulgarity” and said it would never recognize Israel or give legitimacy to the occupation.

        “Any negotiation with the Zionist enemy regarding rights and legitimate recognition would only give it further excuse to commit crimes,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

        Note that the the first paragraph is not a quote and the second paragraph does not say what the first one implies it says. And neither of them say what you claim they do.

        In fact none of the Israeli sources claim what you are claiming.

      • Bruce,
        You’ve done this before. “The dialog is over”.

        You think that Hamas is making progress?

      • Tree.
        Links?

        So, you are saying that Haaretz misreported. Its possible.

      • Shingo says:

        Richrd,

        Why do you presist with the list that both Israel and Hamas returned to the cease-fire after Novmeber 4th? This is flat out false and you know it. I have chellenged you many times to ptoduce evidence of it and you have failed to do so. A Google seas search turns up a blig post by someone called Ricahrd Witty, but nothing else.

        If you expect to be taken seriously, though I suspect you gave up on that long ago, you had better prove this argument.

        Oh and you’ve got to love the claims made by the IDF. What greater admission that Israel were inciting Hamas in to a reaction? So according to the IDF Hamas was likely to want to continue the ceasefire despite the raid, but wasn’t building a tunnel to capture a soldier, which was the justification for the raiad, a violation of th eceasfire?

        Hasn’t the IDF just admiited to their onw lies?

        And to state that the ceasefire was due to run for six months, but that it was unclear whether it will stretch beyond that limit, does that not contradict the original statement? Or is it an admission that the ceasfire woudl end because as Tzipi Ivni said, a long ceasefrie was nto in Israel’s strategic interests.

        I doubt any of these contradictions even occured to you.

        Yes, the Hamas shelling after the formal cease-fire was “tit for tat”. Not only do the ISD statements confirm that, but what else coudl it be?

        And, having suffered the killing fo 6 or 7 nPalestinians, why is it that Hamas are only allowed to respond with a warning, by firing ten rockets into the desert?
        The reality of the ten days was that no Israeli was killed by the rockets.

        Israel undertook any military action on the 4th of November, and having solicitied a reaction from Hamas, achieved what they wanted, a reason to esclatae the violence into an all out siege.

        How can you possibly accuse Hamas of goading Israel to respond militarily, whne Israel had aclready tatcked militarily? You are a cynical and doishonest spin doctor, not to mentinom, nauseatingly hypocryticial and filled to your eyeballs with double standards.

        And since hen did you start quoting Steve Walt? Is he credible all of a sudden?

        You’re a very sick individual Witty. or as Chaos woudl say, sick on Ziocane.

      • tree says:

        Rihard, if I make more than two links my posts get held up as spam.

        Try this, from Google news. It lists all my sources for the above quotes.

        link to news.google.com

        Mainly I’m saying that you misquoted. Also, the Haaretz reporter may have misinterpreted what was said, but not misquoted.

  12. Brewer says:

    Jeffrey Blankfort.
    Entirely agree. I also think that Bill Moyers displayed a lack of journalistic integrity by ignoring the fact that Hamas had demonstrated good faith by holding to the ceasefire for so long in the face of the refusal to open the Rafah crossing. In my view, proper discourse with Goldstone is impossible without reference to these facts.

    • VR says:

      I do not mean this as an excuse for Bill Moyers interview, just a statement of fact. The entire PBS group has been under constant attack by those in Washington who hold the purse strings. In fact, the board itself has been set upon and changed with personnel in order to bring about that “balance,” if you know what I mean. Certainly not an excuse, but Moyers unfortunately seems to have made a decision in the Goldstone interview to live another day.

      • potsherd says:

        And so they castrated the Beeb

      • Mooser says:

        In fact, the board itself has been set upon and changed with personnel in order to bring about that “balance,”

        Google ” Tomlinson PBS”. And remember, SP (Starting Post) is the only way! Any other way of playing the ponies is a mug’s game.

      • Not just PBS:

        Israel Wages Battle Against ‘NY Times’

        Jerusalem — For the past 10 days, the State of Israel has been waging a battle against the New York Times, for what it calls tendentious and unfair coverage of the Jewish state.

        link to thebulletin.us

      • Mooser says:

        Oops, America First, you didn’t Google, did you? Tomlinson was appointed by the Bush administration to give PBS the proper conservative bias. Zionists had nothing to do with it, as I remember, it was all about the Christian conservatives.
        But that’s all right, any attempt to treat the Israelis how Muslims have been treated should work fine.

      • Mooser says:

        Tomlinson and CPB:

        link to mediamatters.org

        For a start, and there’s lots more.

      • tree says:

        Mooser,

        Googling also gets you this, the successor to Tomlinson:
        <a href="link to wrmea.com;
        "Israel-Firster Cheryl Halpern Named Head Of Corporation for Public Broadcasting"

        CHERYL F. Halpern, a major Republican fundraiser, has been elected the new chairwoman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The private, nonprofit corporation, created by Congress in 1967, describes itself as “the largest single source of funding for public television and radio programming.”

        Halpern has served on the CPB board since 2002, and has criticized National Public Radio’s Middle East coverage, calling it biased against Israel. She has overseen such U.S. government-funded media projects as Voice of America, Radio Marti in Cuba and Radio Free Iraq. Formerly chairwoman for the Republican Jewish Coalition, Halpern currently sits on the board of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a spinoff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s Washington, DC lobby. In 2001 she used her own personal funds to commission a review of anti-Semitism in Syrian textbooks.

        Halpern was a delegate from the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations to the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women’s Rights in 1995 in Beijing, and from 1998 to 2002 chaired the United Nations Advisory Council of B’nai B’rith International. Halpern’s selection as CPB chair, warned the citizens’ group Common Cause, may “mean more politicizing for public broadcasting.”

        Perhaps not surprisingly, Halpern’s family has business interests in Israel. She is married to Fredrick Michael Halpern, a real estate developer born in Bayreuth, Bavaria, who is a member of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith as well as of AIPAC. The couple has three children.

        Also from the article:

        A spokeswoman for National Public Radio, Andi Sporkin, criticized the corporation under the chairmanship of <bKenneth Y. Tomlinson, Halpern’s predecessor, who conceived, but did not implement, a plan to monitor NPR for anti-Israel bias: The Sept. 27 Los Angeles Times quoted Sporkin as saying, “The events at CPB over the last six months have been disappointing for public radio as we’ve watched an organization that has supported public broadcasting for four decades, and through all administrations, become an instrument of ideology and agenda. Our hope is that the new leadership acknowledges the value Congress and millions of Americans have placed on public broadcasting’s service and integrity, restores the vital fire wall, and rights the course of CPB.”

        Sounds like Tomlinson was a Zionist too.

        And here’s another one from MediaMatters:

        But while also citing Halpern’s 2003 Senate Commerce Committee testimony, the Times failed to identify remarks Halpern made in that testimony and elsewhere that suggest that she may be as divisive as Tomlinson. As other media outlets have noted, Halpern 1) has, like Tomlinson, accused National Public Radio (NPR) of airing news reports that are biased against Israel;…

        link to mediamatters.org

        Sounds like Zionism had something to do with it.

      • tree says:

        OK, I get it. I can’t seem to make a link or create a quote today without f**king it up. Best I retire for the day.

        “Sounds like Tomlinson was a Zionist too.
        And here’s another one from MediaMatters:”
        and “Sounds like Zionism had something to do with it. ”
        were my comments and not part of the quote. Sigh…

  13. Brewer says:

    “Refugees have a right to return – but that is not discussed.”

    This seemingly rather prosaic idea is pivotal.

    All other matters flow from it and any debate/article whatever that does not explicitly take it into account is meaningless in my view. Furthermore, ignoring it is a key tactic of the hasbara – it is part of the distortion of the timeline that anti-Palestinian propaganda uses very effectively – violent expulsion becomes abandonment by placing it during the ’48 hostilities rather than where the majority of it belongs – in the months leading up to the Arab League action. Thus, by cribbing a few weeks, the Arab action becomes an “attack” rather than a move to stabilise a situation that demanded action.
    Debating Palestinian resistance as a post 1967 phenomenon similarly distorts the picture. Without the context of mass expulsion and continued dispossession, Palestinian action can be depicted as active aggression rather than defence.

  14. Citizen says:

    These seminal basic issues are ignored because they raise questions about Israel’s a priori legitimacy.

  15. Citizen says:

    Since the USA is up to its neck in enablement of oppression of Gaza and that oppression is the one thing all Arabs agree on, here’s a short fairly reent article on US verus Israeli interests–Note particularly that Truman never recognized a Jewish state
    in his quick public letter recognizing the State of Israel:
    link to intifada-palestine.com

  16. Citizen says:

    Here are this year’s signposts on the way to status quo land grabs by Israel in accordance with the Zionist expansion mission, and on the way to the US-Israeli war with Iran–note especially the latest joint US-Israel war game and the comment of the US navy officer that the Israel will be “defended” exactly as if were the 51st US state:
    link to counterpunch.org

  17. Real alternative media:

    Quarterback, Congressman—and Now a Convict
    By Jim Traficant

    The major reason for the average American to be so passive and inactive is quite simple—the mainstream media of the U.S.A. distorts the truth—withholds the truth—and in many instances is controlled and influenced by foreign entities. I even question the loyalties and politics of some of their owners and publishers.

    America needs to be informed—needs to hear and read the whole story, the truth, the facts and the dynamics of political action that secure and protect our freedom. Having said that, I encourage you to subscribe to AFP and read my weekly column. I plan to address the influence and power of AIPAC and its control over our very lives. The reason to abolish the Federal Reserve system; the reason to abolish our Communist progressive income tax; the absolute need to repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution; and my proposals to save and create jobs; to stop the hemorrhaging of our federal debt, to reverse our massive trade deficit and stop illegal immigration.

    link to americanfreepress.net

  18. Citizen says:

    Hey, let’s throw in Phil and Witty’s tension, who’s the real jew? After all, it’s a traditional debate going back–how long? Anyway, when it comes to English (goy) tax money, it just made the news once again:
    link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

  19. MRW says:

    America First, that link about how the Israeli Embassy is pressuring the New York Times bears repeating in full, and makes me wonder if Friedman’s column today is in response to it:

    Israel Wages Battle Against ‘NY Times’
    BY DAVID BEDEIN, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT
    FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2009

    Jerusalem — For the past 10 days, the State of Israel has been waging a battle against the New York Times, for what it calls tendentious and unfair coverage of the Jewish state.

    At the focus of the storm is the Goldstone report. Recently, there were many exchanges between the newspaper’s journalists and editors with Israel Foreign Ministry representatives, and yesterday the Israeli delegation in the UN sent an official complaint to the newspaper’s editorial board.

    The complaint, signed by the Israel UN delegation’s spokeswoman, Mirit Cohen, says that the newspaper uses subjective negative language about Israel and failed in writing fair and accurate coverage.

    The complaint also states: “Again and again we encounter distorted phraseology that is liable to cause the innocent reader to think that the report found definitive proof that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. This is a report that is flawed from the outset, which gives legitimacy to a terror organization that fires missiles at innocent civilians. The New York Times’s bias in ignoring this reality requires reexamination”, wrote Cohen.

    The New York Times has yet to respond to the Israeli government’s unprecedented attack on the New York Times.

    David Bedein can be reached at [email protected]

    • MRW says:

      Friedman’s last lines are:

      If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I just don’t want to subsidize it or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America. If and when they get serious, they’ll find us.

      I hope he means the $15 billion in direct and indirect funds. That’ll get their attention.

      • Mooser says:

        MRW, I read that as “Let the Israelis kill all the Palestinians while we look the other way. You’ll notice that the sentence implies (status quo, both parties) the old “equivalency” hasbara canard.

        You really don’t want to look for anything from Tom Friedman in this area. He’s probably just smarting from his straitened circumstances. His wife’s strip-mall and shopping-center real-estate empire has fallen on hard times of late, and Tom is thinking it’s him that needs the money, not Israel.

      • MRW says:

        Yeah, you’re probably right, Mooser. I was probably reading too much into it. I know about his new financial circumstances; he’s no doubt arguing to get his wife’s fortune back on track.

    • Colin Murray says:

      “[The New York Times has] tendentious and unfair coverage of the Jewish state.”

      Who could have guessed?

    • Shmuel says:

      Not that the item itself doesn’t ring true, but I would treat anything reported by “Middle East correspondent” David Bedein with a seaful of salt. The man is a right-wing settler with his very own hasbara agency – the Israel Resource News Agency (formerly the Israel Resource Center).

    • Bruce says:

      I assume that means Norway and Sweden are out-of-firing range for a few days.

  20. Colin Murray says:

    Hezbollah gears up for new war, Fighters rearm and reinforce positions in valleys amid fears that Israel is about to launch attack on Islamic group

    According to Israeli military and intelligence analysts, any move against Iran would require a move first against Hezbollah’s capability to disrupt life in northern Israel with its rockets.

  21. MRW says:

    To anyone new to this site, and who has waded through these comments, and wonders if Witty’s gyrations over who broke the ceasefire on Nov 4, 2008 might be correct, here’s Channel 4 and Mark Regev, the Israeli spokesman clarifying it for you. I would tend to take an Israeli official’s word for it over Mr. Witty’s ridiculous circumlocutions. (Had he been watching the PM news on Nov 4, 2008, he would have encountered the breaking news announcing it.) Case fucking closed.
    link to youtube.com

    CNN confirms it

    • Shmuel says:

      MRW:

      Case fucking closed.

      Until Mr. W decides to repeat this particular blatant falsehood once again. As long as we continue to take his dishonesty, liberal posturing and time-wasting seriously, nothing will ever be fucking closed.

      • MRW says:

        You’re right, and I appreciate the spanky-spanky. I need to be reminded again and again, I guess. Thanks for helping me wean myself off the reply button in these instances. Suspect you might be doing it a few more times, but I will learn. :-)

      • Mooser says:

        Shmuel, aren’t you the guy who said, about 75 comments ago:“I really admire your patience and tenacity Chaos, but I believe there comes a time to stop arguing basics with people as dishonest and evasive as RW.”

        Didn’t take long, did it?

        All Witty has to do anytime he wants to is throw down some basic hasbara lies and disrupt the thread. I thought perhaps when Witty made those accusations against Phil’s integrity at the time of the Gaza trip (brainwashed, coerced, bought) he might do something.

      • I think the assertion “Israel broke the cease-fire” is an interpretation, not a fact. It is unknown by you or I if the tunnels were offensive or not, even existed. And, we don’t know if building the tunnels as all would be a violation of the cease-fire (or could anyone as the two parties never sat in a room together to clarify exactly what the agreement meant in grey situations).

        And, we don’t know if the violation of the cease-fire necessarily means that the cease-fire was no longer in effect.

        And, we don’t know if the citations of rockets fired in November and December were Hamas’, or violations of Hamas instructions.

        My understanding was that in December, the rockets that were fired from Gaza, were NOT fired by Hamas, that they declared that they would keep the cease-fire, but that they would no longer discipline other factions to do so.

        We DO KNOW though that at the end of the formal cease-fire Hamas did incrementally shell first the desert, then Sderot, then Ashkelon, then Beersheba, before any Israeli military response.

        And, we do know that that response was overwhelming in its prospectively legitimate targets, and overwhelming in its more obvious punitive targets.

        And, we do know that there was heated discussion among Hamas leadership from different sectors on the decision to resume shelling Israeli civilian towns, and that the militants won the argument.

        Similarly, to within Israel and the US as well, the military voice carries a great deal of weight, over the political, and over the rational.

        My feeling was that within Israel, Hamas’ discipline gained it a great deal of credibility, with the consequences that Israel would have shortly been willing to negotiate directly with Hamas, and shortly relax the limitations on cross-border trade.

        But, the timing and manner of the Hamas rocket firing, compelled Israel and Israelis to recant on that warming.

        If the opinion of Israeli’s is entirely disregarded in your thinking, that peace resulting from any persuasion is impossible ever, and that the only path forward for any option is militancy, then you are right, and I am wrong.

        I am confident that the timing of the Hamas shelling very much hardened Israeli public opinion, with the result of likely a 4-5 seat swing to the right in the elections, which would put Livni in power (and with an independant vote, not only as shadow of Olmert, who was a shadow of Sharon).

        You mistake my disagreement with your assessment of the November 4 incidents as ignorance of any incident at all, as the second CNN correspondent sited. I am not ignorant of the event, or some level of detail (to the extent possible from published conventional media, including the Guardian).

        My disagreement is with the math answer that you concluded. I don’t add “one can’t know”, “one can’t know”, and one knows the surface only, to be definitively 3. That’s what’s meant by “proof”, and by the logic to go to war rather than reconcile and treaty.

        Did Hamas state “there is no tunnel”? Or, did they just cry out “you started it” (like I’ve heard 4 year-olds complain, but still continue to fight, rather than stop themselves and say “we can work this out”).

        What do you KNOW? As distinct from what you interpret, and what you speculate?

        Even reading everything that you’ve presented, I’m not convinced that the cease-fire even was permanently broken at that point. I read evidence to the contrary (that was past tense).

      • Shingo says:

        Yes keep repeating the propaganda, over and over again Richard, and mayhe some noob will say uncle and agree with you if you promise to stop.

        There is no assertion that Israel broke the cease-fire, it is a matter of record.

        While there is no way of knowing if the tunnels were offensive or not, that claim can also easily be refuted with logic. What Hamas does on the Gaza side of the border with it’s land is none of Israel’s business, so long as they don’t venture onto the ISraeli sie of the border/wall/fence.

        The terms fo the ceasfire were unambigiouous. When mergers take place, the deals are settled by proxies, not the CEO’s themselves.

        Once a ceasfire is violated, then it ceases to exist, otherwise a ceasfire is a farce. Can you imagine Israel acceptinga ceascire from Hamas, with the proviso that Hamas are free to viloate it?

        It’s safe to assume that the rockets fired in November and December were Hamas’. They made no bones about it.

      • I say the same about you Shingo.

        The violation of the cease-fire that you assert is only regarded as such among the converted.

        You did get that Goldstone reported the Hamas shelling after the end of the formal cease-fire as a war crime?

      • Shingo says:

        I take it Richard that you are STILL unable to produce any evidence to back up your repeated argument that Hamas and Israel rturned to the ceasefire after November 4th when Israel broke the ceasefire?

        Israel’s violation of the cease-fire is a matter of record, unless you regaard CNN among the converted:
        link to youtube.com

        Or the guardian perhaps?
        link to guardian.co.uk

        Or the Irish Times, or Haaretz?

        Last but not least, halistened to you trashing the Goldstone reports for weeks, it’s anusing that you should chose to cite it to make your argument. If the Goldstone reported that Hamas commityed war crimes, then I will accept it. Do you therefore accept the reports assertion that Israel commited war crimes?

        You don’t get to pick and chose what parts of the report are valid Witty.

      • I take the Goldstone report as information. If you regard it as authoritative, then I would hope that you would accept the view that Hamas shelled civilians, a war crime. I know that he did not state that any response by Hamas would have been a war crime, but if that was the only action that they took, then 100% of their actions were war crimes.

        At least, Goldstone is only reporting incidents, serious ones, but FAR from 100%.

        My sources historically are New York Times, Haaretz, and the Guardian. I am not able to research historical articles in Haaretz. The New York Times coverage is not frequent enough to conclude one way or another.

        I read other sources today which did not conclude that the cease-fire had been reinstated, as I understood.

        The actual term used by Hamas was not cease-fire but “calm” (tahidya), no? Not quite an agreement as in a contract.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Witty: Forever rearranging deck chairs on Israel’s Titanic.

        There’s no point in talking to you, Witty. As MRW points out at the top of this thread. You lie. Outright, constantly, and without compunction. I feel sorry for Mr. Weiss that he’s had to endure friends like you — the Israeli friends I used to have, who treated me very much like you treat Phil, I severed ties with them rather comprehensively after they screwed me over on a collaborative art project. I suppose I should just feel lucky there was no money involved and the damage was mostly to creativity — although of course, as a result of their selfish actions, the Israelis did what is looking to be very permanent damage to the collaborative community before they were told to shove off. And they’re still around, to the extent that they can, whispering behind people’s backs and trying to dismember what’s left of the group.

        You keep saying the BDS movement is going to hurt, Witty. In my experience? No one’s going to miss Israeli participation. Breaking promises and exploiting others is not behavior that is limited merely to government functions in Israel.

      • Shingo says:

        Yes Ricahard,

        I do regard Goldstone’s report as authoritative, and thus I accept the view that Hamas shelled civilians, a war crime, and that Israle shalled a lot more, a much graver war crime.

        Goldstone explained why he reported incidents. He investigated the incidents that were unambigious. Investigating 100% therfore, would not have provided any more insight.

        Gettign back to my countless requests for you to provide evidence that the ceasefire was re-established after November 4th, the best youcan come up with is NYT coverage that you describe as “not frequent enough to conclude one way or another”.

        This is astounding Witty, but not surprising. You’ve been ramming this factoid of your home for months on this, and other blogs, but when you are challenged on the veracity, you can’t even come up with a single link to back up your claims.

        So Witty, when you say “I read other sources today which did not conclude that the cease-fire had been reinstated, as I understood” should we accept this as a mea culpa?

        BTW. The term “Calm” was used by the Israeli MFA REport on the ceasefire, the same report that concluded that Hamas had been “very careful” to observe the ceasefire.

      • As it was transpiring live, the November 4 incident was presented as an incident, an exception, in all the major press. Even the Guardian article presented it as such then.

        The various prejudicial interpreters went into gear, both internally in their self-talk communities, and in the world at large, putting their spin on the event.

        IF Hamas was constructing an offensive tunnel, was the November 4 incident an “end to the tahidya”?

        If, an individual saw something that he considered dangerous, reported it through his chain of comman, to the point of reaching the defense minister because the decision was that sensitive, was that “intentionally ending the cease-fire?” because a specific tactical decision came from Barak?

        Or, was the whole chain of events a communication breakdown that resulted from the absence of direct communications, which itself is a construction of the historical buildup of distrust on both sides, including presently applicable primary documents?

        The Haaretz article on the Hamas response to Mofaz is a case in point. Haaretz has a reputation for more veracity in reporting on the conflict to my mind, than the Jerusalem Post, but they read the Hamas response as a confirmation of “We will never negotiate with Israel. We will never recognize Israel.”, while other publications did not.

        Do you get that the interpretation of the that single day’s event is a continental divide on the whole war. The Hamas assertion (and solidarity) is that Israel determined that there would be war on November 4, that there was no turning back from that single event ever, and that shelling civilians was a relevant response and that no matter how they rolled it out, that it didn’t represent anything that Israel should have responded tomilitarily ever. That their escalation was inconsequential.

        On the other hand, most in the world agree that incremental escalation of shelling of civilians is an independant action, not a “tit for tat” from an event in November, especially if they never get to “we’ve done enough, we can stop now”.

        They determined that “we have done enough” only after Israel engaged in harsh military response, in which too many civilians got caught in the cross-fire.

        Is there an appropriate level of restraint that a state can take relative to a militia shelling civilians? Yes, and Goldstone outlines that there are standards of international law that are signed on to by states, if not militias.

        I’m now not sure if my observation from reading at the time on the state of resumption of the cease-fire is as sure as I prior thought. The number of reported shelling definitely was still far less in late November and December, than prior and certainly than in December/January but far more than the 4 months prior.

        Is that grey a lie? A mistake? Or an interpretation of grey?

      • Shingo says:

        However the November 4 raid was presented at the time is irrelevant. We now have 20/20 hindsight and we know that Israel attacked Gaza without any justification and killed 6 pr 7 Palestinians.

        Spin or no spin the facts are these. Until that date, there had been 4 months fo calm and no rockets. That’s it. End of story.

        If an individual saw something that he considered dangerous, reported it through his chain of comman, and all Israel had to do was set a trap and make sure no IDF soldiers were nulnerable. Instead, they escalated their existing act of war and forces the hand of Hamas and they chose a day that knew would give them media cover, the US presidential elecitons.

        Israel weren’t rushed into this. The tunnel didn’t even breach the border. You are spinnnign Witty, as Chaod said, rearranging the deck chairs on teh Titanic while hoping everyone listens to the band.

        Not only did Hamas assertain that Israel determined there would be war on November 4, but so did the world. There was no incremental escalation Witty, just as there was no return to the ceafire. Your lies have been exposed and you have been left wanting.

        For the 100th time, Israel initiated hostilities and Hamas responded. The party that initiated the conflict does not get to describe their actions as a reposnse, in the same way a rapist doesn’t get to to claim self defense.

        Yes there is there an appropriate level of restraint that a state can take relative to a militia shelling civilians? They can stick to the ceasefire.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Hypocrite Witty strikes again! We must ruthlessly question the notion that the IDF was acting under orders when it broke the cease fire on November 4th, but we must take it on faith that Hamas was building a tunnel that was hostile to Israel. A tunnel! (So Israel bombed the hospitals and schools and such because those were hostile threats to Israel, Witty? Are children a threat to Israel?)

      • Bruce says:

        In today’s Ha’aretz, an excerpt from Henry Siegman’s reply to Bradley Burston:

        “And it was none other than Bradley Burston who courageously reported
        in one of his columns that Brigadier-General Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza division, accused Israel’s government of having failed “to take advantage of the calm [during a six-month truce agreed to by Hamas and Israel] to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip …” Zakai added, “When you create tahdiyeh and the economic pressure on the Strip continues, it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.”

        That is not quite the story told by Israel’s government, or by Israel’s media, of why the IDF had to scorch Gaza, is it?” [Or our own Richard Witty.]

        link to haaretz.com

      • Chaos4700 says:

        You know, if people were throwing around Hebrew words about Israel’s strategies to, say, compare them to biblical actions of genocide by Hebrew peoples, that would be knocked as anti-Semitism. So why do Zionists do the same thing to Muslims and it remains unconfronted?

  22. harveystein says:

    (ranted shrilly, like a drunk know-it-all): YOU’RE ALL ARMCHAIR BLOGGING DORKS!!
    All this ENTIRE THREAD does is try to LAY BLAME –
    “No, you’re wrong, it’s 89% Israel’s fault, only 11% Hamas!!!”
    “X started the horrors, Y only responded to them!”

    Don’t you know that in a situation knee deep in blood, BLAME does not much good, except to conclude with the forgone conclusions you began with???

    YES the Israelis bear more RESPONSIBILITY, because (among other things) their military is 100 or 300 times more powerful than Hamas’.

    YES, the Israeli government and the Hamas “government” are perfect bedfellows, who need each other to stay in power (as many have pointed out, Hamas’ growth was greatly stimulated by Israel).

    But what do we DO to get out of this stalemate? How do we change peoples’ minds? How do we change OUR OWN minds?

    Here I sit in Jerusalem, and you guys are debating X, Y, and Z, and the biggest most depressing news is that Abbas is bowing out. The least reactive, most sober Palestinian leader in the field is fed up with Our Guy in the White House – why don’t you blame the latter, try to influence the latter, rather than parsing another way-too-long New Yorker article???

    • Shmuel says:

      Harvey,
      We “dorks” spend most of our time here discussing precisely what we think should be DONE. Setting the record straight is a part of that, inasmuch as breaking through the web of lies will help promote true reconciliation as opposed to endless negotiations and the illusion of peace-making. Speaking for myself, what needs to be DONE doesn’t include finding comfortable Palestinian stooges who will do Israel’s bidding, but rather authentic representatives of the will and interests of the Palestinian people. The former is the road to perpetual occupation, domination and violence, and I think we’ve had more than enough of that. I could see that much even when I sat in Jerusalem. It’s even more self-evident from my current seat in another ancient and no-less-holy city.

    • MRW says:

      Harvey,

      All we have to do is convince Our Guy in the White House to cut the funds.

    • Mooser says:

      Harvey, was that supposed to be some kind of a joke? “Here I sit in Jerusalem…”

      Well, brudda, you do something. I thought you guys had it all worked out, and God’s blessing too! Now you are yelling “Save us from ourselves”?

      Yup, I think that was a parody of the Israeli attitude, and quite humorous, too.

      • If you don’t know Harvey, he is one person that is “doing something”. He produces film that documents civil disobedience, that documents work by Israeli’s and Palestinians to humanize the other.

        My sense is that he is pursuing peace rather than militancy, but he is not at all adverse to severe criticism of Israeli policies, practices, story-telling.

    • Shingo says:

      “All this ENTIRE THREAD does is try to LAY BLAME”

      Yeah, those poor Nazi’s shouldn’t have faced the consequences of their actions in WWII right? Those Nuremberg trials were just a sideshow to lay blame.

    • Donald says:

      I can’t figure out if this is parody or meant seriously. Maybe it is meant to be serious self-parody.

  23. Mooser says:

    “Don’t you know that in a situation knee deep in blood, BLAME does not much good,”

    I killed my parents, but have pity on me, I’m an orphan!

    Yup, Harvey is doing parody.

  24. Pingback: When balancing two narratives leads you astray

  25. Citizen says:

    Obama needs to withold all direct and indirect funding of Israel. Our guy in the Whitehouse has that hole card, and our government has used it against many nations in the past, one example the arm-twisting our government did to get reluctant nations at the UN to vote for Partition of Palestine.

    • Citizen says:

      What’s the likelihood of our guy in the Whitehouse to use his foreign aid hole card to pressure Israel?
      Where, here’s a hint:
      Prior to the Mandate Partition vote, the two-thirds majority required for passage of the resolution was not evident, and three countries — Haiti, Liberia, the Philippines — were pressured by the US to consider changing their positions in order to assure passage; all three were very dependent on US aid; they subsequently switched their votes between November 25 and November 29. The pressure came from Jewish and Zionist supporters of partition, including some members of the United States administration and its elected officials, as well as from some private citizens. President Truman later noted, “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders — actuated by a political motive and engaging in political threats — disturbed and annoyed me.” Lenczowski, p. 28, cite, Harry S. Truman, Memoirs 2, p. 158.