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Day 1 at JVP: lemon squares, pinkwashing and high rate of miscarriages in Gaza

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Today (Friday, March 13th) was the first day of the Jewish Voice for Peace meeting, in Baltimore, Maryland. The “National Members Meeting” happens once every two years. This year, it is being held at The Hyatt Regency, in the harbor area of downtown Baltimore. I am here, staying at the hotel, and participating. I started going to monthly JVP meetings in New York City, after the Gaza crisis last summer. Attending this conference is the next step in my development… I am not Jewish, but joining JVP seemed like the best way for me to develop politically in this area. When I heard about the National Meeting, I talked it over with my mother and then I signed up. The fee was on a sliding scale. I paid the full cost, which seemed appropriate, since I’d only been participating with JVP for about 6 months, and was therefore somewhat of a guest…

The Hyatt Regency is pretty nice. I arrived by train (the Acela) a day early, so that I could go to the Walters Art Museum before the conference. I also wanted to get situated and be comfortable in my hotel room, before the conference began… When I checked in on Thursday night, I ran into some JVP organizers who had arrived early so that they could set up. Alana, one of the leaders, told me that The Hyatt is the only hotel in Baltimore where the hotel staff is unionized. Later, I heard that it was the largest unionized hotel, so maybe it is not the only one.

+++

I went to the art gallery this morning. I also went into The Basilica of the Assumption (“the first Catholic cathedral in North America”) and bought some religious knicknacks in the gift shop. Then I walked back to the hotel, so that I could formally check into the JVP meeting, at 4 p.m. We were given totes which included nice postcards with political slogans on them, and I plan to send those to friends. There was complimentary coffee, and brownies and lemon squares. The lobby was crowded with people.

+++

First I went to a movie screening. The movie was, “Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back.” It was a short documentary about a political struggle in Seattle in 2012. The Israeli government, in collusion with “Stand With Us,” which is a pro-Israel propaganda organization, attempted to sponsor a series of talks about gay life in Israel. Speakers from Israel were scheduled to share personal “LBGT experiences.” A small group of LGBT activists recognized immediately that these would be “pink-washing events” designed to sell Israel to the LGBT community.

The activists initially were successful. They spoke to the “Seattle LGBT Commission.” It seemed like the members of the Seattle LGBT Commission were pretty unfamiliar with Middle East politics… They were fairly receptive to the complaints of the activists, some of whom were gays from the Middle East… The Seattle LGBT Commission agreed to cancel most of the events. It seemed like a triumph.

But then, Zionist extremists swung into action. The activists began receiving terrifying, threatening emails… Then, the Seattle LGBT Commission was bullied into writing a letter, actually apologizing for having cancelled the pink-washing events (because, by not hosting the events, the Commission had supposedly failed to create a neutral space to discuss LGBT issues.) The Zionist extremists successfully made it seem like the pink-washing events would have been innocent, neutral exchanges of ideas. It took a lot of work for the activists to successfully reframe the issue.

Two activists spoke at the conclusion of the movie, Selma Al-Aswad and Wendy Elisheva Somerson. They felt that, in spite of all the twists and turns, and all the setbacks, in the end, they won. Now there is a Seattle chapter of “Queers against Israeli Apartheid.” Today, in the northwest coast states, it simply isn’t possible for the Israeli government to push this type of propaganda. The larger LGBT community has become moderately educated about Israel-Palestine, and they know about the phenomenon of “pink-washing” and they take it seriously. If a proposed cultural or political event seems suspicious, they’ll call up the activists and ask, “is this pink-washing?”

Al-Aswad and Somerson pointed out that their watershed 2012 experience was made possible by their long history of working together and doing coalition work. They’d been organizing together since 2007. That history made the 2012 successes possible.

+++

After the movie and talk, I went back to my room and ordered room service — delicious, fresh crab cakes, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, a salad with ranch dressing, and a glass of white wine.

+++

7p.m. was the official welcoming ceremony, in one of the very large gathering rooms. It was exciting to see the giant audience. We were told that Rachel Corrie’s parents were in the room with us. Then Rebecca Vilkomerson introduced four, dramatic, 10-minute speeches. The speakers were Amer Shurrab, Eran Efrati, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III, and Donna Nevel. Amer Shurrab spoke first. He is a Palestinian who has had several family members killed. He spoke about the terrible situation in Gaza. He mentioned one thing that I wasn’t familiar with — the fact that the IDF had used toxic chemicals in their bombardment last summer. Many women in Gaza have been having miscarriages since then, possibly due to exposure to those chemicals.

Then, Eran Efrati spoke. He is an Israeli leftist. He was extremely encouraging of the JVP movement, and expressed his joy at being here. He talked about being shocked by what has been happening in Israel — tortures in prisons, lynch mobs in Jerusalem going after Palestinians, Israelis beating Palestinians unconscious, and, in general, a racist mentality which made people think it was O.K. to actually say, last summer, “we are going to collectively punish the Palestinians.”

Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III is a black pastor from Baltimore. He spoke about the need to really make a consistent, sustained effort in our politics and in our organizing. He told us we needed to listen to the black community, not just blab our thoughts to the black community (my word choice.) He also said, “bend your privilege, in the direction of justice.”

Donna Nevel, JVP board member, spoke about Islamophobia. She said we are all guilty of Islamophobia to some extent. For example, after watching T.V., do we sometimes secretly wonder if Islam really is the most violent religion? She reminded us that these thoughts are wrong. When people who are Christians commit acts of violence, we don’t think it’s “Christian violence.” It’s not framed that way in our media. She also said that the worst global violence is perpetrated by the U.S. Government and its allies.

At this point, I began to feel very tired and cold. There was more programming scheduled — a few movies were being shown. I decided to come back to my room instead, and write this entry, in privacy. I am very much looking forward to the activities of Day #2.

Claire Paddock
About Claire Paddock

Claire Paddock lives in New York City.

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21 Responses

  1. just
    just
    March 14, 2015, 9:56 am

    “At this point, I began to feel very tired and cold”

    I can empathize. You’re doing the right thing, though. It’s hard work to face it all~ it does assault your senses and your emotions, sometimes resulting in physical discomfort. I don’t think that you can be fully humane and not experience that. The good news is that you have support nearby, and a big community out here.

    Thank you, Claire. I hope Day # 2 is exciting and helpful to you.

  2. jon s
    jon s
    March 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

    “the fact that the IDF had used toxic chemicals…”

    Really? The IDF used chemical warfare? This is a “fact”?

  3. jon s
    jon s
    March 15, 2015, 6:08 am

    Kris,
    The claim that I questioned was that the IDF used toxic chemicals last summer.

    Your first three links are irrelevant.

    The fourth link claims that the IDF used white phosphorous last summer , despite the fact that it was widely reported that the use of WP was discontinued by the IDF after Cast Lead. See here, from a source highly critical of the goverment and military:

    http://972mag.com/israel-gives-up-white-phosphorus-because-it-doesnt-photograph-well/70063/

    As to the use of flechette munitions: I don’t know whether or not such munitions were used .
    In any case, they are not “toxic chemicals”.

    • March 15, 2015, 8:24 am

      From The Jerusalem Post:

      IDF reduced use of white phosphorous after being slammed with harsh criticism for its use during Operation Cast Lead.

      White phosphorus bombs exploding over Gaza city . (photo credit:REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

      The High Court of Justice on Sunday recommended the IDF cease all use of white phosphorus (WP)..

      The recommendation was non-binding,.

      FYI, Cast Lead was the 2012, not the 2014 assault on Gaza. I was thinking that was the most recent one but it’s hard to keep up.

      The 2014 assault was, of course, “Protective Edge”. Or maybe “Pillar of Defense”. Itreally is hard to keep up.

      Let’s see what weapons the Light Unto Nations used against the civilian population in Gaza in that “operation”.

      Well, wait. Let’s first further explore Cast lead and the 2008-09 slaughter, whatever cute name that was called.

      Controversy erupted when Norwegian Dr. Erik Fosse, who recently visited Gaza to treat the wounded, accused Israel of using internationally prohibited weapons in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.

      During a press conference on July 13 at Al-Shifa Hospital, attended by Al-Monitor, Dr. Fosse said, “Many of the casualties that have arrived at the hospital confirm Israel’s use of internationally banned weapons of the [Dense Inert Metal Explosive] DIME variety.”

      Testimony given to Al-Monitor by Palestinian nurses, doctors and human rights activists indicate that the Israeli army used DIMEs, which causes the loss of limbs and leads to wounds that do not respond to treatment.

      In addition to the use of DIMEs, which we have proven, we have seen other indicators that prove the use of other lethal weapons that we have yet to identify. We received bodies with strange wounds, some of them charred while others were exposed to nail shrapnel. Some bodies even arrived at the hospital beheaded, and others have been crushed, as if a huge rock had fallen on them,” he said.

      Evidence of War Crimes Committed by Israeli Forces
      •Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented evidence of widespread violations of the laws of war committed by the Israeli military during “Operation Protective Edge,” including: •The reckless and disproportionate use of deadly force in densely populated urban areas.
      •Attacks on medical facilities and workers and UN schools sheltering displaced civilians.
      •Attacks on civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the homes of Palestinian political and military officials.

      The Use of Reckless & Disproportionate Force
      •The Israeli military employs a strategy known as the Dahiya Doctrine, which calls for the systematic use of massive and disproportionate force, including against civilian targets, in order to defeat and deter enemies. The doctrine is named after the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut, a stronghold of the Hezbollah movement, that Israel virtually destroyed during its assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
      •During “Operation Protective Edge” the Israeli military used imprecise weaponry, artillery in particular, in densely populated areas, leading to huge civilian casualties. On August 15, Haaretz newspaper reported that up until that point, the Israeli army had fired at least 32,000 artillery shells into Gaza – four times the amount used during “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s devastating 22-day assault in the winter of 2008-09. On July 30, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning an attack on a UN school in Jabalia that killed at least 17 civilians sheltering from the violence, noting:
      “It is inevitable that the repeated use of artillery in densely populated civilian neighbourhoods will lead to the unlawful killing and injury of civilians and destruction and damage to civilian buildings, regardless of the intended target. Israeli forces have used such reckless tactics before, including in Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in 2008/9, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them civilians.”

      •Israeli forces destroyed entire neighborhoods in areas such as Shejaiya in central Gaza, Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, and Khozaa, and flattened high-rise residential buildings and shopping centers.(See here for video of Beit Hanoun being destroyed in the space of less than one hour.)
      •On July 28, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon warned that Israeli attacks on Gaza raised “serious questions about proportionality.”
      •On July 23, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, expressed deep concern over possible Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza, telling a special session of the UN Human Rights Council:
      “The targeting of civilian homes is a violation of international humanitarian law, unless the homes are being used for military purposes. Attacks against military objectives must offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances, and precautions must be taken to protect civilian lives… A number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belie the claim that all necessary precautions are being taken. People – particularly the elderly, sick and those with disabilities – are not given sufficient time to scramble out of their homes. When they do manage to run out into the street, there is nowhere to hide and no way of knowing where the next shell or missile will land.”

      •The vast majority (approximately 70-75%) of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military during “Operation Protective Edge” were civilians. In comparison to the 1473 to 1666 Palestinian civilians killed by Israel, only four Israeli civilians and one foreign worker were killed by Palestinians during the same period. The number of Palestinian children killed alone (approximately 500) exceeds the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in rocket and all other attacks over the past decade.
      •Over the course of its ground invasion, the Israeli military twice invoked the so-called “Hannibal Directive,” which calls for pouring heavy fire into the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas when an Israeli soldier is believed to have been taken prisoner, in order to prevent their capture:
      •On July 20, the Israeli military launched a bloody assault against the residential neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza City following the apparent capture of a soldier by Palestinian fighters, killing more than 66 people including at least 17 children, 14 women and four elderly people. In the space of less than an hour, the Israeli army fired more than 600 artillery shells into Shejaiya. Condemning the high civilian death toll, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israel’s actions “atrocious.” In a press release accompanying an open letter to Israel’s attorney general on July 21, 10 Israeli human rights organizations expressed “serious concern” about “the legality of the operation, and in particular, the potential violation of the fundamental principles of the laws of war, specifically the principle of distinguishing between combatants and civilians.”
      •On August 1, the Israeli military killed between 130 and 150 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in Rafah in southern Gaza after an Israeli soldier was reportedly taken as a prisoner of war by Palestinian fighters (he was later declared dead by Israel). During the assault, Israeli forces fired more than 1000 artillery shells in the space of three hours.

      Attacks on UN Schools Sheltering Civilians
      •On at least seven different occasions, the Israeli military attacked UN schools sheltering displaced civilians, killing approximately 43 people and wounding hundreds more in three of the incidents: •On August 3, an Israeli missile strike outside of a UN school in Rafah in southern Gaza killed at least 10 civilians, including at least one child, and wounded dozens of others. Condemning the attack, UN officials said that they had informed the Israeli military of the exact GPS coordinates of the school, where approximately 3000 Palestinians were taking shelter, 33 times in an attempt to prevent it from being bombed, the final time just an hour before the attack. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the Israeli attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act,” while a US State Department spokesperson declared “the United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling,” adding, “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.” The incident was the third time an Israeli attack killed civilians taking refuge in a UN school in the previous 10 days.
      •On July 30, at least 17 people were killed, including four children, and almost 100 wounded when Israeli tanks shelled a UN school where more than 3000 internally displaced people (IDP) were taking shelter in Jabalia in northern Gaza. Condemning the attack, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared: “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.” According to UN officials, they had given the Israeli military GPS coordinates for the school 17 times since July 16 in an attempt to ensure it wasn’t attacked.
      •On July 24, a UN school in Beit Hanoun where approximately 1500 IDPs were sheltering was struck by several Israeli missiles, killing at least 16 people and injuring 150 others. According to UN officials, they twice asked the Israeli military to allow a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the school during the day, but Israel refused.

      Attacks on Hospitals & Other Medical Facilities
      •At least 24 medical facilities were damaged and at least 16 health care workers were reportedly killed in Israeli attacks. Notable examples of attacks on medical facilities include: •On July 23, the Israeli military shelled the Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital east of Gaza City seriously damaging the building. Between July 11 and July 17, Israeli forces attacked the hospital on three occasions, injuring four patients and staff.
      •On July 21, Israel attacked the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza, killing four people and injuring 40 others.
      •On July 12, an Israeli airstrike killed two residents of a special needs facility in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza and seriously wounded several others. The dead were 31-year-old Ola Washahi and 47-year-old Suha Abu Saada, who both suffered from severe mental and physical handicaps.

      (See here for a more extensive list of attacks against medical facilities and workers.)
      •On August 7, Amnesty International issued a statement entitled “Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army,” which read in part:
      “An immediate investigation is needed into mounting evidence that the Israel Defense Forces launched apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza, which have left six medics dead.”

      “‘The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues as they try to save lives, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza,’ said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. ‘Even more alarming is the mounting evidence that the Israeli army has targeted health facilities or professionals. Such attacks are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes. They only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court.’”

      Attacks on Palestinian Civilians
      •Human rights groups have documented a number of cases of civilians being directly attacked by Israeli forces during “Operation Protective Edge.” In its August 21 daily Gaza emergency update, the UN noted:

      “Human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns regarding incidents where civilians or civilian objects have been directly hit by Israeli airstrikes, in circumstances where there was allegedly no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity. Such cases raise concerns about the targeting of civilians, in violation of the principle of distinction.”
      •On August 4, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled “Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians,” which read in part:
      “Human Rights Watch investigated eight Israeli airstrikes that were apparent violations of the laws of war before the ground offensive that began on July 17, 2014. The findings and reports of numerous new civilian casualties heightened concerns for the safety of civilians during the ground offensive.”

      “The attacks Human Rights Watch investigated include a missile attack that killed four boys on a Gaza City pier and wounded three others, multiple strikes over several days on a hospital for paralyzed and elderly patients, attacks on an apparent civilian residence and media worker’s car, and four previously documented strikes. In many, if not all, of these cases, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target. Israeli forces’ failure to direct attacks at a military target violates the laws of war. Israeli forces may also have knowingly or recklessly attacked people who were clearly civilians, such as young boys, and civilian structures, including a hospital – laws-of-war violations that are indicative of war crimes.”

      •On July 16, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians: Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy,” which read in part:

      “Human Rights Watch investigated four Israeli strikes during the July military offensive in Gaza that resulted in civilian casualties and either did not attack a legitimate military target or attacked despite the likelihood of civilian casualties being disproportionate to the military gain. Such attacks committed deliberately or recklessly constitute war crimes under the laws of war applicable to all parties. In these cases, the Israeli military has presented no information to show that it was attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties.”

      Targeting of Homes of Palestinian Political & Military Leaders
      •The homes of Palestinian political and military officials and fighters were also targeted by the Israeli military, in violation of the laws of war, killing and wounding scores of civilians, including relatives of the intended targets. As noted by Amnesty International in a Q&A released on July 25: “Israel appears to consider the homes of people associated with Hamas to be legitimate military targets, a stance that does not conform to international humanitarian law.”

      Targeting of Civilian Infrastructure
      •On July 29, Israel destroyed Gaza’s only power plant. Amnesty International condemned the attack as an act of “collective punishment” against the entire population, while Human Rights Watch issued a statement entitled “Widespread Impact of Power Plant Attack: Curtailed Sewage Treatment, Food and Water Supply, Hospital Operations,” which read in part:

      “Damaging or destroying a power plant, even if it also served a military purpose, would be an unlawful disproportionate attack under the laws of war, causing far greater civilian harm than military gain.”

      “The shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant has had an impact on the population far beyond power outages. It has drastically curtailed the pumping of water to households and the treatment of sewage, both of which require electric power. It also caused hospitals, already straining to handle the surge of war casualties, to increase their reliance on precarious generators. And it has affected the food supply because the lack of power has shut off refrigerators and forced bakeries to reduce their bread production.

      “‘If there were one attack that could be predicted to endanger the health and well-being of the greatest number of people in Gaza, hitting the territory’s sole electricity plant would be it,’ said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. ‘Deliberately attacking the power plant would be a war crime

      • CloakAndDagger
        CloakAndDagger
        March 15, 2015, 12:05 pm

        I think we are being unfair to Israel by listing all their crimes and flouting of International law. I am sure we can list all the International laws they are abiding by, and it will be a long list, right? So, here’s a game: let’s make a list of those International Laws that they have, in fact, abided by. Let me list the first 10, and you can each add the rest:

        1.

        Umm…

      • Kris
        Kris
        March 15, 2015, 12:30 pm

        Thank you very much, Giles, excellent info.

      • RockyMissouri
        RockyMissouri
        March 15, 2015, 1:24 pm

        THANK YOU.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        March 15, 2015, 4:13 pm

        “Jon s”, I keep on telling you, check your shoes.

        “Jon s” why not follow a very simple rule which will keep your Vibram out of a lot of excrement: If you think Israel wouldn’t do something, they probably have.

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 15, 2015, 4:36 pm

        Giles,
        “FYI, Cast Lead was the 2012, not the 2014 assault on Gaza. I was thinking that was the most recent one but it’s hard to keep up. “.

        No, you’re mistaken:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza_War

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2015, 7:38 pm

        C&D~ d’oh!

        Thanks, Giles.

      • March 16, 2015, 11:14 am

        Giles, “FYI, Cast Lead was the 2012, not the 2014 assault on Gaza. I was thinking that was the most recent one but it’s hard to keep up. “.

        No, you’re mistaken: –

        Precisely my point. The attacks of Gaza are so frequent and the silly names given to the attacks change so frequently it’s next to impossible to keep up.

    • Kris
      Kris
      March 15, 2015, 12:59 pm

      Thanks, jon s, for this link. The article, written in 2013, says Israel was not going to add to its stockpiles of white phosphorus because of all the criticism following Israel’s use of WP to destroy people in Gaza. Obviously, it doesn’t say that Israel didn’t use WP in 2015.

      This is worth reading:

      Israel gives up white phosphorus, because ‘it doesn’t photograph well’

      By Idan Landau

      A certain air of nostalgia dominated Maariv’s headline last Thursday: “Due to criticism in the world, IDF parts ways with white phosphorus”: just like the old Galil assault rifle and the old two-way radios that generations of soldiers grew familiar with. A couple of years ago we learned the IDF was giving up its cans of preserved meat (the kosher version of SPAM). Now, it’s white phosphorus that we say goodbye to.

      [Twilight. The IDF and white phosphorus exchange a final gaze. A sad violin tune is heard. Curtain down.]

      So the IDF is looking for a replacement for the white phosphorus bombs. A senior officer in the ground forces explained: “As we learned during Cast Lead, it [white phosphorus] doesn’t photograph well, so we are reducing the supply and we will not purchase beyond what we already have.”

      “It doesn’t photograph well.” In all honesty, the man is right.

      This item caught me by surprise. The IDF is giving up white phosphorus? Wait a minute; the IDF never used white phosphorus during Cast Lead. So how exactly do you give up something you never had? Chemical weapons are something the Syrians use, no?

      Okay, after a while the army did remember that it had been confused, and it did use white phosphorus, but only in open territories and not against people.

      Okay, then the IDF remembered that it got it wrong again and that it did use white phosphorus in urban areas. Two hundred bombs, actually. But this was only in order to create a “smoke screen,” and there is nothing wrong with that. And if there was something wrong, it’s insignificant and unintentional, and it would be thoroughly investigated, so that no stone is left unturned.

      That’s all well and good, except that at least 12 Gazans met their horrific death this way, burned to death by white phosphorus. Among them were three women, six children and a 15-month-old baby girl. Dozens more suffered burns from the material which continues to burn through flesh and tissue until it reaches the bone. Doctors in Gaza were helpless in treating the unfamiliar burns. Israel didn’t give them time to prepare themselves; white phosphorus shells hit Al-Quds Hospital and completely burned the top two floors.

      These facts were already known in the first days of Cast Lead. Human Rights Watch published a thorough investigation – one of the most thorough I have read – of Israel’s use of white phosphorus and its devastating effects. IDF soldiers who took part in the Gaza campaign also testified on the extensive use of white phosphorus, including direct fire on houses suspected of being booby-trapped (and not for “masking” purposes as the IDF later claimed).

      Indeed, the outcome “didn’t photograph well,” and that’s the reason the IDF is parting ways with white phosphorous. Not, god forbid, the hell that Ghada Abu Halima went through from the moment she was burned by white phosphorous and lost five family members, up until her death two and a half agonizing months later. Ghada managed to give her testimony and to have her photo taken, which “didn’t look good,” and “burdened Israeli hasbara [propaganda],” as the Maariv reporter put it.

      The lessons of Cast Lead – and more accurately, the lessons of the Goldstone committee – were already partly implemented during Operation Pillar of Cloud. The smoke that rose over Gaza five months ago wasn’t white phosphorus, but the goal was the same. Masking. So nothing is seen or photographed. It worked well with the Israeli media, which anyway doesn’t take much interest in Gaza, in war and in peace, so there is no danger that things “look bad.” It didn’t work as well with the foreign reporters, despite and perhaps because of the message the IDF sent them when its bombs knowingly targeted a press building in Gaza. Thus the gap continues to grow between Israeli self-perception and its image in the world.

      Right now, someone is sitting at a drawing desk in Rafael or Elbit (Israeli arms manufacturers), trying to figure out how to invent the next magic weapon – the one that removes the idea of freedom from Gazans’ minds and at the same time, “photographs well.” The development plan has already been approved, the budget is on its way and the pilot is only a matter of time. In the weapons lab called Gaza, testing is part of the battle. Yet this weapon will fail too — as will the one that comes after it. As long as we have eyes, nothing that Israel does in Gaza will “photograph well.” You hear that over at Rafael? Maybe you should simply cut to the heart of the problem? Right-wing groups like Im Tirzu already get it: deal with those who can see.

      Idan Landau is an Israeli academic at Ben-Gurion University. This post was originally published in Hebrew on Idan’s blog, “Don’t Die a Fool.“‘ it is reposted here with the author’s permission.

  4. jon s
    jon s
    March 15, 2015, 6:20 am

    There were reports of the Hamas terrorists using WP a few years ago:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0915/Israel-Phosphorus-bombshells-launched-from-Gaza

    • Kris
      Kris
      March 15, 2015, 12:37 pm

      Did you read the article to which you linked, jon s?

      “The Jerusalem Post reports that police said some of the missiles fired from Gaza contained white phosphorus, a chemical that burns on contact with oxygen. It is used in illumination rounds by the US and other militaries, but is also a potent weapon. The chemical burns until it’s deprived of oxygen or until it consumes itself, and can generate horrific wounds.

      “The Jerusalem Post quoted Haim Yalin, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, as saying: “These weapons have been banned by the Geneva convention. They cause burns among victims and they kill.”

      “How might militants in Gaza (whether the rockets were fired by members of Hamas or any of the smaller militant groups in Gaza is unclear) have obtained white phosphorus?

      “Well, Israel has used the stuff in the recent past.

      “Earlier this year, Israel said it had reprimanded two senior officers in charge of the offensive in Gaza in 2009 for exceeding their authority in using white phosphorus in Gaza.”

  5. maiselm
    maiselm
    March 15, 2015, 8:30 am

    I do not understand the light and slightly mocking tone of this report. I am attending the JVP National Membership Meeting, and my perceptions differ in gravitas from those of your reporter. JVP has doubled in size since last summer. It seems to be an organization I should have belonged to long ago, but I live in San Diego, politically back of beyond, hence I only heard of it after the war on Gaza took place. I had Zionism down on my list of very bad things and I was a supporter of BDS, but I really hadn’t brushed up on the history–hence I was like a lot of the other newbies in JVP. I believe this meeting has been very well planned to get all the new folks up to speed. JVP has welcomed us warmly, and maybe the lemon squares are otiose, but the feeling at this meeting is very good. I no longer feel like a helpless little old lady of 73 unable to contribute, and with the welcome of militants of a new generation, I’ve put my oar in.

    • just
      just
      March 15, 2015, 9:40 am

      “I’ve put my oar in”

      Bravo, and welcome maiselm! You sound as though you’ve been buoyed by your experience @ JVP. I am glad for that.

    • RockyMissouri
      RockyMissouri
      March 15, 2015, 1:27 pm

      WELL DONE!

    • annie
      annie
      March 15, 2015, 1:34 pm

      hi maiselm, better later than never! kudos for you, a jvp newbie from SD and making it to the baltimore conference. i’m a jvp member too and was extremely impressed with the last conference i attended in the bay area a couple years ago. there were so many workshop options they overlapped and no way i could attend them all. amazing line up of panels and speakers.

      i hope you reread and reassess your judgement this article has a “slightly mocking tone” for it doesn’t seem that way to me at all. first of all, MW reserves the right to title all articles published on MW. once in awhile the subject line i use for my articles makes it thru the final edit but not that often, iow it’s very likely claire did not choose the title. i liked the inclusion of the food in the article (especially the asparagus and crab cakes!) and i think the lemon squares was picked up in the title to let the reader know right off the bat in was an all inclusive timeline sort of article. i don’t think it was mocking in the least and i can guarantee you it would never be the intent of this site. we have a staff member attending the conference this year (alex) and the site is good friends and very supportive of w/jvp. we work with them a lot.

      i’m glad you’re attending the conference and very appreciative of claire for giving us this brief run down of day one. even this:

      We were given totes which included nice postcards with political slogans on them, and I plan to send those to friends. There was complimentary coffee, and brownies and lemon squares. The lobby was crowded with people.

    • Bornajoo
      Bornajoo
      March 15, 2015, 7:25 pm

      Good on you maiselm, well done!

      Hope to hear more from you.

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