The U.S. media’s shift on Israel continues. Last night NBC had an excellent report on the assault on the UN school in Gaza that killed 15, in which Richard Engel and Kate Snow expressed doubt about Israeli claims that it was not responsible for the attack. Engel noted that four UN schools had been hit in four days.
“Witnesses say five explosions tore through this UN run school in northern Gaza. The playground took a direct hit….. An outdoor class was soaked in blood… Ambulance after ambulance brought in the injured, mostly children, before going back for more.”
His report featured a father whose six children were blown away like scraps “of paper” and the Medea-like appearance of a Palestinian woman speaking English who expressed rage at the world’s deference to Israel and then turned away in anguish.
Eugene Robinson has burst free. At the Washington Post he writes a column headlined, “Israel is acting as if it is free of moral responsibilities.” He says the onslaught on a tiny enclave people can’t escape is “wrong by any reasonable moral standard.”
The civilian death toll in Gaza from Israel’s latest incursion is appalling. The right to self-defense is inalienable, but it is not free from moral constraints…
But unleashing such devastating firepower on a tiny, densely crowded enclave in which civilians are trapped — and thus destined to become casualties — is wrong by any reasonable moral standard…
The scale of death and destruction appears to be aimed not just at lessening the actual threat from Hamas but also at punishing Gazans for elevating Hamas to power in the first place. Netanyahu seems determined to teach them a lesson.
I gather Robinson was on Morning Joe today. But will Chris Matthews have him on Hardball? Matthews has been having Senator Chuck Schumer in, twice lately, to explain that Israel is far superior to Palestine when it comes to the rule of law.
Last night, CNN’s Erin Burnett had on Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, who became defensive about all the imagery of Palestinian civilian deaths on American television, and who said that the networks aren’t telling the whole story, of rockets being found in U.N. schools. I felt that Burnett’s silence as he expostulated was eloquent. They’re children, was her message. Her approach to the interview was, Give the man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.
MJ Rosenberg was appalled. “Miami ambassador to Israel dude is clearly unhinged by bad media,” he tweets. “What a pig.” And:
For my fellow Jews out there. Israel’s Amb. Dermer (Miami Beach) is such a shvitzer. Not an effective cool liar like Michael Oren.
— MJ (Mike) Rosenberg (@MJayRosenberg) July 25, 2014
Richard Engel also isn’t buying the Israeli line:
UNRWA says it has “no evidence to suggest that” school was used by militants as human shields — Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) July 24, 2014
More from NBC. Here is Ayman Mohyeldin’s photo of a child’s trike hanging from a bombed apartment building:
The tricycle hauntingly swung amidst the smoldering ruins of the building leaving one wondering if there was a child on it at the time of the strike?
Here is Mohyeldin’s moving photo of men praying at Ramadan— at a time when so many Gazan families have been “destroyed,” Mohyeldin states.
Reinforcements for Israel: Joe Klein defends the Israeli onslaught at Time, “A Just but Bloody War.” The war hasn’t been that bad, he says, citing “alleged Israeli brutality.” I believe Klein began his career as an anti-Vietnam war writer; but here he defers to Israeli informants, even Netanyahu.
The ground campaign that followed was limited as well, confined to Shejaiya, a neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City that was a warren of Palestinian fighters and the launch point for a very elaborate tunnel system from Gaza to Israel. The fighting has been brutal, to be sure. More than 500 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed. But it was not an indiscriminate massacre. Israel was protecting its border, the right of any sovereign nation…
“I don’t like the civilian casualties that result from bombing the homes of the Hamas leaders,” [Peace Now’s Ori] Nir says. “And what’s happening in Shejaiya is horrible, but I think it falls within the normal rules of war. The moral bottom line seems clear.” And then, semi-amazed to be doing so, he quoted Netanyahu: “‘We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.’”
There have been the predictable anti-Israel riots in Europe, mostly populated by Islamic groups; the parlor left has been appalled, on cue, by the alleged Israeli brutality–without questioning the deadly cynicism of Hamas.
The moral bottom line is clear to Peace Now, but it is not clear to Eugene Robinson. I wonder if Klein considers Robinson, Richard Engel, and Ayman Mohyeldin the parlor left. Klein does not mention the right to resist occupation and portrays the West Bank– where people have no rights, where the occupation is approaching its jubilee year, and Israel has no “border”– as a fortunate outcome, the client government having done an “excellent job” of providing “law and order.”
Back to Gaza, here is Mohyeldin’s report on/photograph of a badly-burned bank official who “did everything Israel warned him to.”
He did everything Israel warned him to do. But in the end it was not enough to save his family. Hassan Al Hallaq is a 35 year old IT manager at the Bank of Palestine. He was having dinner with his two sons, his wife, his mother, his sister and her husband and their son when two Israeli missiles hit their apartment building. His wife was 9 months pregnant with their third boy. Everyone died. He survived with a a badly broken leg and severe burns all over his face and body. I interviewed him while recovering at the hospital. “I have lost everything” he told me. Watch his interview on www.nbcnews.com
Then there’s Chris Hayes’s interview with the American victim of an Israeli police beating, Tariq Abu Khdeir, here and here, in which the amazingly-poised youth says he got just a “taste” of what Palestinians experience every day.
And, another sign of a transformation at a neoconservative stronghold– James Downie’s piece at the Washington Post on the most vile op-ed you will ever read, referring to Israel lobbyist Thane Rosenbaum’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, whose justification for attacks that kill civilians reminds Downie of Osama bin Laden.
Even if Rosenbaum’s logic about the adult population in Gaza was correct, that would still mean that well over 100 innocent children have been killed since the conflict began. (Also, why, in Rosenbaum’s telling, are the diapers in Gazans’ homes necessarily dirty? Would these people be civilians if the diapers were clean?) Second, the claim that voting for a government takes away someone’s status as a noncombatant would be ludicrous if applied to all populations in all conflicts equally. Such an attitude would at the very least contradict Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention