Israel, Rwanda, The Gestapo: A hypocritical world

April 24, 2002


[Note by Tom Gross]

The world has, in the case of Israel alone, failed to differentiate between deliberate intent to kill civilians, such as that ordered by the UN's favorite "celebrity terrorist" Yasser Arafat over the past four decades, and the unintentional deaths of civilians in legitimate battle.

When for example in 1944 British warplanes missed Gestapo HQ, and accidentally hit a children's home, burning to death 83 children and four nuns, the democratic world did not accuse Britain of being "morally repugnant" as UN envoy Terje Larsen described "Operation defensive shield."

Attached are:

(1) A satire about today's CNN world.

(2) An account of the real massacre at Jenin, that carried out by the British in 1938, according to documents declassified by the ever-secretive British Foreign Office only in 1989.

(3) A Jerusalem Post editorial pointing out that "Even Shakespeare might have been at a loss to describe the irony of Israel's current situation, as what is quaintly known as the international community gathers in judgment."

By contrast, for example, it points how the UN, far from lifting a finger to stop the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, actually reduced the size of the UN mission as the genocide proceeded.

(4) A Reuters report (incidentally using the word terrorism) about how the U.N. Commission on Human Rights last Friday rejected a motion that urged Russia to investigate alleged widespread violations by its forces in Muslim Chechnya. Any idea how the Arab states voted on this one?

(5) A piece by John Podhoretz (in the New York Post) pointing out that maybe Amnesty International ought to read what terrorists themselves say (such as the interview with a leading Islamic Jihad bomb-maker in Jenin in last Thursday's al-Ahram,) before flinging charges of atrocity against Israel. (John Podhoretz is a subscriber to this email list.)

-- Tom Gross



If CNN had reported the Passover story
By Daniel P. Waxman

The cycle of violence between the Jews and the Egyptians continues with no end in sight in Egypt. After eight previous plagues that have destroyed the Egyptian infrastructure and disrupted the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens, the Jews launched a new offensive this week in the form of the plague of darkness.

Western journalists were particularly enraged by this plague. "It is simply impossible to report when you can't see an inch in front of you," complained a frustrated Andrea Koppel. "I have heard from my reliable Egyptian contacts that in the midst of the blanket of blackness, the Jews were annihilating thousands of Egyptians. Their word is solid enough evidence for me."

While the Jews contend that the plagues are justified given the harsh slavery imposed upon them by the Egyptians, Pharaoh, the Egyptian leader, rebuts this claim. "If only the plagues would let up, there would be no slavery. We just want to live plague-free. It is the right of every society."

Saeb Erekat, an Egyptian spokesperson, complains that slavery is justifiable given the Jews' superior weaponry supplied to them by the superpower God.

The Europeans are particularly enraged by the latest Jewish offensive. "The Jewish aggression must cease if there is to be peace in the region. The Jews should go back to slavery for the good of the rest of the world," stated an angry French President Jacques Chirac.

Even several Jews agree. Adam Shapiro, a Jew, has barricaded himself within Pharaoh's chambers to protect Pharaoh from what is feared will be the next plague, the death of the firstborn. Mr. Shapiro claims that while slavery is not necessarily a good thing, it is the product of the plagues and when the plagues end, so will the slavery.

"The Jews have gone too far with plagues such as locusts and epidemics which have virtually destroyed the Egyptian economy," Mr. Shapiro laments. "The Egyptians are really a very nice people and Pharaoh is kind of huggable once you get to know him," gushes Shapiro.

The United States is demanding that Moses and Aaron, the Jewish leaders, continue to negotiate with Pharaoh. While Moses points out that Pharaoh had made promise after promise to free the Jewish people only to immediately break them and thereafter impose harsher and harsher slavery, Richard Boucher of the State Department assails the latest offensive. "Pharaoh is not in complete control of the taskmasters," Mr. Boucher states. "The Jews must return to the negotiating table and will accomplish nothing through these plagues."

The latest round of violence comes in the face of a bold new Saudi peace overture. If only the Jews will give up their language, change their names to Egyptian names and cease having male children, the Arab nations will incline toward peace with them, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah declared.



How the British fought terror in Jenin
By historian Rafael Medoff
April 18, 2004

'Demolishing the homes of Arab civilians... Shooting handcuffed prisoners... Forcing local Arabs to test areas where mines may have been planted..."

These sound like the sort of accusations made by British and other European officials concerning Israel's recent actions in Jenin. In fact, they are descriptions from official British documents concerning the methods used by the British authorities to combat Palestinian Arab terrorism in Jenin and elsewhere in 1938.

The documents were declassified by London in 1989. They provide details of the British Mandatory government's response to the assassination of a British district commissioner by a Palestinian Arab terrorist in Jenin in the summer of 1938.

Even after the suspected assassin was captured (and then shot dead while allegedly trying to escape), the British authorities decided that "a large portion of the town should be blown up" as punishment. On August 25 of that year, a British convoy brought 4,200 kilos of explosives to Jenin for that purpose.

In the Jenin operation and on other occasions, local Arabs were forced to drive "mine-sweeping taxis" ahead of British vehicles in areas where Palestinian Arab terrorists were believed to have planted mines, in order "to reduce [British] landmine casualties."

The British authorities frequently used these and similar methods to combat Palestinian Arab terrorism in the late 1930s.

British forces responded to the presence of terrorists in the Arab village of Miar, north of Haifa, by blowing up house after house in October 1938.

"When the troops left, there was little else remaining of the once-busy village except a pile of mangled masonry," The New York Times reported.

The declassified documents refer to an incident in Jaffa in which a handcuffed prisoner was shot by the British police.

Under Emergency Regulation 19b, the British Mandate government could demolish any house located in a village where terrorists resided, even if that particular house had no direct connection to terrorist activity. Mandate official Hugh Foot later recalled: "When we thought that a village was harboring rebels, we'd go there and mark one of the large houses. Then, if an incident was traced to that village, we'd blow up the house we'd marked."

The High Commissioner for Palestine, Harold MacMichael, defended the practice: "The provision is drastic, but the situation has demanded drastic powers."

MacMichael was furious over what he called the "grossly exaggerated accusations" that England's critics were circulating concerning British anti-terror tactics in Palestine. Arab allegations that British soldiers gouged out the eyes of Arab prisoners were quoted prominently in the Nazi German press and elsewhere.

The declassified documents also record discussions among officials of the Colonial Office concerning the rightness or wrongness of the anti-terror methods used in Palestine. Lord Dufferin remarked: "British lives are being lost and I don't think that we, from the security of Whitehall, can protest squeamishly about measures taken by the men in the frontline."

Sir John Shuckburgh defended the tactics on the grounds that the British were confronted "not with a chivalrous opponent playing the game according to the rules, but with gangsters and murderers."

There were many differences between British policy in the 1930s and Israeli policy today, but one stands out the British, faced with a level of Palestinian Arab terrorism considerably less lethal than that which Israel faces today, utilized anti-terror methods considerably harsher than those used by Israeli forces.

The writer is visiting scholar at SUNY-Purchase. His most recent book is Baksheesh Diplomacy: Secret Negotiations Between American Jewish Leaders and Arab Officials on the Eve of World War II (Lexington Books, 2001)



"International hypocrisy"
The Jerusalem Post
April 22, 2002

"The jury, passing on the prisoner's life, may have in the sworn twelve
a thief or two guiltier than him that they try."

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 2, Sc. 1.

Even Shakespeare might have been at a loss to describe the irony of Israel's current situation, as what is quaintly known as the international community gathers in judgment. On Monday, the UN Human Rights Commission slammed Israel for "mass killings" of Palestinians. On Thursday, UN representative Terje Larsen described Israel's behavior as "shocking beyond belief." The next day, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to send a "fact-finding team" to Jenin.

In response, Israel has stated that it will cooperate with a UN team because it has nothing to hide, but that the team should not include Larsen, UN Human Rights Commission chief Mary Robinson, or UN Relief and Works Agency Commissioner-General Peter Hansen.

It should surprise no one that Israel singled out these three officials, because each has long ago given up any pretense of objectivity between Israel and the Palestinians. Larsen, though at one time a go-between between Binyamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat who reportedly was trusted by both men, has become a mouthpiece for the Palestinian side since becoming a UN official.

"I saw children, women, and fathers are digging through the ruins to find the bodies of their loved ones," Larsen exclaimed while touring Jenin. "What I saw is unbelievable. This is a sad, shameful chapter in Israel's history." He also described the scene as like "an earthquake."

As one of the first prominent international officials to tour Jenin after the battle, one might have thought Larsen would feel compelled to impose some degree of blame on the Palestinian side, or at least to accurately describe what he saw.

Aerial photos of Jenin clearly show the "refugee camp" is a small part of the city, and the part of that camp that was destroyed was on the order of 100 meters square (see While Larsen seems to admit the Palestinians' own designation of Jenin as their "suicide-bomber capital" was accurate, he did nothing to dispel the notion that Israel committed a wanton massacre that had almost nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

Robinson, arguably the chief human rights official in the world, has been no better. According to the April 15 statement issued by the UN commission she heads, "The international community cannot permit the indiscriminate killings of Israeli civilians or the wanton killings of Palestinian civilians... It cannot be right to wage war on civilian populations." What a tidy package of moral equivalence, wrapped neatly in a bow.

Palestinians massacre Israelis and Israelis "wage war on civilian populations." How eagerly, even before its fact-finding team has been named, do these UN officials conclude that Israel is second to none in slaughtering innocents.

Not to be out done by his colleagues, Hansen did not bother restraining himself, "It was hell in the camp, and we will not exaggerate if we say that a massacre was carried out there... Having seen the reality with my own eyes, I cannot call what happened there by any other name." Contrast this with the delicate admission of New York Times reporters: "Dozens of interviews with residents of the camp, hospital officials, Israeli soldiers and officials, and Palestinian fighters produced no solid evidence of large-scale, deliberate killing of civilians in the camp. Palestinian claims of hundreds of dead appear to be exaggerated."

Already, it is possible to discern a two-tiered division of labor in the rolling indictment of Israel the Palestinian propaganda machine will blithely continue lying about hundreds of dead, while the more sophisticated charge will be reduced to "excessive use of force."

But most of the lesser charges should already be treated with a high degree of suspicion. Just who, for example, is responsible for what destruction there is in the cramped combat zone of Jenin? And why has Israel been so slow to let humanitarian aid workers in?

If someone would pay attention to Israeli reports, confirmed in the international press, that the terrorists had rigged dozens of houses, alleys, and even the street itself with explosives, this mystery would be solved. The New York Times reports Israel started using bulldozers when the Palestinians were exploding whole buildings on the soldiers. And even UNRWA itself is echoing Israeli warnings that the many booby-traps left by Palestinian forces endanger relief workers and returning residents alike.

There was no massacre in Jenin, but even the massacre Israel is baselessly accused of pales beside those with which its accusers are complicit. The Dutch government has just resigned over a report confirming that a Dutch UN battalion charged with protecting Bosnian civilians actually helped Serb forces separate men from their families before massacring over 6,000 of them. The UN, far from lifting a finger to stop the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, actually reduced the size of the UN mission as the genocide proceeded.

This same UN bureaucracy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by a committee some members of which, logically enough, wish they could withdraw their award not from Yasser Arafat but from Shimon Peres. The miasma of international hypocrisy is running so thick that Israel should consider wearing its pariah status as a badge of honor.


[One wonders how the Arab states voted on this one TG]


Russia savours victory on Chechnya Human Rights
April 20, 2002

Russia, savouring a rare diplomatic triumph on Chechnya, on Saturday applauded the U.N.'s top human rights forum for defeating an attempt to condemn Moscow for alleged abuses in the separatist region.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights rejected a European Union-sponsored motion on Friday that urged Russia to investigate alleged widespread violations by its forces and also called for a "negotiated political solution."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the rejection of what it called a "tendentious draft" was part of a general re-alignment of views in the world community on how to defeat international terrorism.

Sixteen countries, including China, Cuba and India, supported Russia by voting against the text. Fifteen states voted in favour and there were 22 abstentions.

The result overturned the result of the previous two years when the U.N. body condemned Russia for alleged abuses and asked High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to draw up an annual report on Chechnya.

The rejected text, co-sponsored by countries including the United States, urged Moscow to undertake criminal investigations into alleged violations by its forces and also condemned "all terrorist attacks, kidnappings and public executions" by Chechen fighters.

Last Thursday a bomb killed at least 17 pro-Moscow police in rebel Chechnya, just a few hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly declared the military stage of the conflict was over.

Russian troops recaptured most rebel territory in Chechnya in early 2000, but there has been no let-up in rebel attacks on Russian forces and Moscow's representatives, or in Russian reprisals.

Western governments share Russia's concern that some foreign Islamic radicals have operated in Chechnya. But they accuse Moscow of making the situation far worse by refusing to open up a peace dialogue with mainstream local pro-independence leaders.

In its statement on Saturday the Foreign Ministry said a political process was going ahead to restore constitutional order and a peaceful life for Chechnya's citizens.

Pledging continued Russian support for the global fight against terrorism, it said it was counting on "understanding and support" from Russia's partners in handling problems that would continue to arise in Chechnya.



Amnesty's Calumny
By John Podhoretz
The New York Post
April 23, 2002

Interesting, isn't it, that Amnesty International says Israel is guilty of war crimes before it actually has done any real investigating? Why, it's enough to make you think Amnesty International is guilty of a preconceived bias when it comes to Israel.

But that can't be true, can it? After all, Amnesty International is for nice and good things, like human rights, so everything it says has to be trusted. Doesn't it?

Except if you actually read the bilge it's pumping.

Amnesty's latest preliminary findings include some mindbogglingly dishonest and disingenuous claims, like this one: "The delegation received credible evidence of such serious violations including... allegations of extrajudicial executions."

Wow! Credible evidence of allegations! That's enough to convict an entire country for the commission of heinous war crimes, isn't it? Whatever happened to the key doctrine of all fair investigative inquiries the notion that an accusation is not true until it is proven true?

Amnesty International apparently thinks it acceptable to suspend elementary fairness when it comes to Israel. It accuses the Israel Defense Forces of causing "extensive damage to property with no apparent military necessity." Given that Amnesty seems to think the Israelis had no right to fight in the first place, invocation of "military necessity" is blatantly hypocritical.

In fact, before-and-after aerial photographs of the camp show that the damage to property was highly concentrated and centered in an area that Palestinians acknowledge was where activists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were holed up. (To see them, log on to

Amnesty also has the unmitigated gall to state baldly that the lack of evidence of war crimes in Jenin should actually be considered proof that war crimes took place. Consider this unbelievable statement from its report:

"Commenting on his preliminary findings following the autopsies he carried out in Jenin Hospital, Professor Derrick Pounder said: 'What was striking is what was absent. There were very few bodies in the hospital. There were also none who were seriously injured, only the walking wounded. Thus we have to ask: Where are the bodies and where are the seriously injured?' "

Gee, you don't suppose that there are no wounded in the hospital because the Israelis spent 10 days fighting house to house in order to avoid civilian casualties of any kind?

And you don't suppose there are few dead bodies because the Israelis killed very few people?

Yes, there were 50 or so bodies left rotting in the streets. But evidence suggests the Palestinians themselves knew those bodies might have been booby-trapped.

We now have independent confirmation of the booby-trap method from a source distinctly unfriendly to Israel the Egyptian paper al-Ahram, whose Jonathan Cook interviewed a leading Islamic Jihad bomb-maker in Jenin on Thursday. Cook's interlocutor is Omar, a man in his mid-30s.

"Omar and other 'engineers' made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their locations," Cook writes.

Cook then quotes Omar: "We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them."

Cook continues: "According to Omar, everyone in the camp, including the children, knew where the explosives were located so that there was no danger of civilians being injured. It was the one weakness in the plan. 'We were betrayed by the spies among us,' he says. The wires to more than a third of the bombs were cut by soldiers accompanied by collaborators. 'If it hadn't been for the spies, the soldiers would never have been able to enter the camp. Once they penetrated the camp, it was much harder to defend.' "

The booby-trapped town and the clever tactics of Omar and Co. cost 29 Israeli soldiers their lives in the Jenin siege.

What happened in Jenin was a serious battle in a serious war conducted by Palestinian combatants from inside existing buildings. As I wrote yesterday, international law plainly puts the moral onus on the Palestinian fighters for any civilian casualties and military destruction in such circumstances.

Maybe Amnesty International ought to read what terrorists themselves say before flinging charges of atrocity.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.