* A female Arab combat soldier in the IDF
* Robert Fisk admits the “resistance” is bringing Qassams and Kalashnikovs into Gaza
* Fisk asks, amazingly, “Has Hamas lost its moral compass?”
* Red Cross convoy attacked in Gaza (but since Israel had nothing to do with it, media ignores it)
Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The other part (titled: Police probe “Kill Jews” remark at Oxford university (& Mussolini iPhone app withdrawn) can be read here.
1. Goldstone co-author: Hamas fired “something like two” rockets before Gaza war
2. NY audience vote that “The U.S. should step back from its special relationship with Israel”
3. Fisk admits the “resistance” is bringing Qassams and Kalashnikovs into Gaza
4. Red Cross convoy attacked in Gaza
5. A female Arab combat soldier in the IDF
6. PA security official: No coordination with Israel on al-Qaeda arrests
7. Israeli killed in West Bank attack
8. Shalit family begs Red Cross: Please try and visit our son
9. Palestinian Investment Fund launched
10. 54 Congressmen demand Obama pressure Israel to end “siege” of Gaza
11. Pro-Government protestors attack Italian embassy in Tehran
12. Medical hope for Congo
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
GOLDSTONE CO-AUTHOR: HAMAS FIRED “SOMETHING LIKE TWO” ROCKETS BEFORE GAZA WAR
Desmond Travers, a retired Irish army colonel with a track record of anti-Israel statements, who was chosen by the UN to co-author last year’s Goldstone Report, claims Gaza militants fired only two rockets at Israel prior to last’s winter conflict, according to a new report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).
Travers disputes that Israel launched the offensive in Gaza on December 27, 2008, as an act of self-defense in response to Hamas rockets.
The JCPA report quotes an extensive interview with Travers in the Middle East Monitor, in which he also says that Hamas had sought “a continuation of the cease-fire” prior to Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
Travers also rejects Israel Defense Forces photographs as proof that Hamas hid weapons in mosques during the conflict. “I do not believe the photographs,” Travers (who worked with Goldstone) said.
In fact, in a one month period alone, as documented even by Hamas themselves (who proudly lauded the attacks) hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.
Travers is also involved in the Russell Tribunal coming up in March which will put Israel “on trial”.
NY AUDIENCE VOTE THAT “THE U.S. SHOULD STEP BACK FROM ITS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL”
Yesterday, Intelligence Squared US (IQ2US), the Oxford-style debate series that is popular among the intelligentsia in London and New York, hosted a debate on the American/Israeli relationship to a sold-out audience at NYU’s Skirball Center.
By a vote of 49% to 47% the audience voted in favor of the motion “The U.S. should step back from its special relationship with Israel” (4% abstained).
The evening’s winning team arguing for the motion comprised Roger Cohen, formerly The New York Times’s foreign editor and now a columnist for the paper, and Columbia University Arab Studies professor Rashid Khalidi.
Arguing against the motion were former senior U.S. diplomat Stuart Eizenstat and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich.
Roger Cohen won over New Yorkers by claiming: “Jihadi terrorism aimed at the United States is not primarily motivated perhaps by the Palestinian issue, but it is a major factor.”
“If the United States moved away from the special relationship what will happen with some of our allies?” asked Rashid Khalidi. “They would applaud. They see the United States as systematically weakening itself by this perverse special relationship.”
John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News Nightline, moderated the debate, the results of which don’t bode well for Israel.
FISK ADMITS THE “RESISTANCE” IS BRINGING QASSAMS AND KALASHNIKOVS INTO GAZA
In an article in today’s Independent (of London), anti-Israel polemicist Robert Fisk, reporting from Gaza, admits that the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border are being used to bring in “Qassam rockets, Kalashnikov ammunition, explosives” for what Fisk calls “the resistance”.
Fisk writes: “Terrorists they may be to the Israelis – the promiscuous use of this word makes it fairly meaningless these days – but heroes they are to the Palestinians of Gaza. Rich ones, too, perhaps.”
(In fact the British media almost never use the word “Palestinian” and “terrorist” together, even when writing about the suicide bombers of recent years, or the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre and airline hijackings in the 1970s, so I am not quite sure why Fisk regards the use of this word as “promiscuous”.)
Last week I had the pleasure of observing Fisk sitting in the auditorium at the Herzliya security conference in Israel with a scowl on his face. The next day he wrote an article praising to the hilt Judge Richard Goldstone and saying “The real danger… is a nation called Israel.”
Fisk has another 5200-word diatribe about Israel in The Independent tomorrow which went on line tonight and I have just read.
Fisk writes “it is a fact – that it [Israel’s security barrier] has decreased the number of suicide bombers in Israel, but it is an outrage… The Wall. It snakes … over hills like a beast, a confidence trick…”
HAMAS HAD A MORAL COMPASS?
Later in the piece Fisk asks, amazingly, “Has Hamas lost its moral compass?”
But at least Fisk writes of “the Hamas murders of collaborators during the Gaza war a year ago. They killed 35 Palestinians.”
In fact, as I outlined on this email list in a series of dispatches a year ago, Hamas killed considerably more than 35 Palestinians and they have since been included in the list of “Palestinians killed by Israel” put out by international human rights groups, left-wing Israeli human rights groups, and the much-discredited Goldstone Report.
For those interested, you can watch ths short impromptu interview that Israeli TV asked me for at the Herzliya conference.
Also, someone whom I don’t know wrote up a talk I gave earlier this week at the JCPA (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs), the think tank headed by Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold.
RED CROSS CONVOY ATTACKED IN GAZA
A roadside bomb was detonated as a Red Cross convoy passed by in northern Gaza a few days ago. The device blew out the windows of one vehicle, but luckily no-one was injured, a spokesman for the Red Cross said.
This is not the first time the Red Cross has been targeted by Islamic radicals who (among other things) reject the “cross” part of the “Red Cross” – and yet this news was barely reported anywhere. It did go out on the international news agency wires but most news broadcasters and newspapers decided to ignore it.
Would they have reacted the same way if instead it had been Israel that had targeted a Red Cross convoy? Or would they have run it as a “breaking news” item for hours on end, and brought in studio “experts” from NGOs to explain how Israel was committing “war crimes”?
A FEMALE ARAB COMBAT SOLDIER IN THE IDF
The following are extracts from an article by Chen Kotas Bar in Ma’ariv, one of Israel’s Hebrew dailies:
IDF Cpl. Elinor Joseph was born in Gush Halav in the Galilee to an Arab Christian family. Her father served as a paratrooper in the IDF. She identifies herself as “Arab, Christian, and Israeli.”
“I was born here. The people I love live here – my parents, my friends. This is a Jewish state? True. But it’s also my country. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
“I believe that everyone should enlist. You live here? Go defend your country. So what if I’m Arab?” she says.
Cpl. Joseph serves in the Caracal battalion, which operates on the Egyptian border and is engaged in blocking the entry of terrorists and smugglers into Israel.
PA SECURITY OFFICIAL: NO COORDINATION WITH ISRAEL ON AL-QAEDA ARRESTS
The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Ibrahim Ramadan, a Palestinian Authority Preventative Security official, has denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that Israel and Palestinian security forces coordinated the arrest of an Al-Qaeda-linked cell in the West Bank.
Ha’aretz reported that the PA and Israeli security forces recently teamed up to make a joint arrest of six members of a radical Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda in the town of Qabatiya near Jenin.
ISRAELI KILLED IN WEST BANK ATTACK
A Palestinian police officer from the “moderate” Fatah faction murdered an Israeli soldier at random in broad daylight in Tapuach, south of Nablus, this afternoon.
MK Michael Ben Ari of the rightwing National Union party lashed out at the Israeli government following the attack. “Netanyahu is busy removing roadblocks and allowing terrorists to move freely, and the consequences are quick to follow,” Ben Ari said.
The Yesha council of settlers also blamed the attack on Israeli government policy. “The terror attack today is a direct result of the pathetic attempts to bolster Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and to lure him back to the negotiating table with security concessions, and the transfer of authority over security issues to the Palestinians, from whom the murderer emerged,” it said in a statement.
Last month Meir Chai, a kindergarten teacher and 45-year-old father of seven, was killed when a terrorist opened fire at his car in nearby Shavei Shomron. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (the so-called armed wing of Palestinian President Abbas’s Fatah faction) claimed responsibility for that attack.
SHALIT FAMILY BEGS RED CROSS: PLEASE TRY AND VISIT OUR SON
The family of the young kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit yesterday pleaded with the International Committee of the Red Cross to contact Hamas and confirm they are treating Gilad in line with the Geneva Convention, and that his health and dignity are being maintained.
The Red Cross has traditionally been hostile to Israel (and before that, during the Holocaust, to Jews; after the Holocaust too, several senior Nazi criminals fled using Red Cross papers and assistance).
In recent years, following strong pressure from Bush administration and from the American Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross has improved relations with Israel.
Convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails are afforded good treatment and many are even studying for university degrees at Israel’s Open University, paid for by the Israeli taxpayer.
(For more on this, please see the dispatch “How many degrees does Gilad Shalit have?”)
PALESTINIAN INVESTMENT FUND LAUNCHED
A $50 million private equity fund has been launched in the West Bank by two investment companies, the Palestine Investment Fund and Dubai’s Abraaj Capital. Both said they were encouraged by continuing Palestinian economic growth. The fund will provide financing for small and medium-sized businesses operating in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.
54 CONGRESSMEN DEMAND OBAMA PRESSURE ISRAEL TO END “SIEGE” OF GAZA
A letter asking President Barack Obama to pressure Israel into lifting its partial closure of the Gaza Strip has attracted the signatures of 54 members of the House of Representatives, a larger than usual number of signatures for a Congressional action critical of Israel. The letter was initiated by Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-Wa.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The letter claims that, “The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering,” and encouraged the administration to “press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza.”
The letter is also being touted as evidence that the lobbying group J-Street is making inroads in its campaign against the government of Israel. (They don’t have anything to say about the Egyptian “siege” of Gaza.)
Of course, life in Gaza is much better than the sorry tale told by so many politically prejudiced journalists and NGOs. See, for example, about 20 recent photos from Gaza if you scroll down to the second half of the page here.
PRO-GOVERNMENT PROTESTORS ATTACK ITALIAN EMBASSY IN TEHRAN
This is a follow up to my recent items on Italy and Iran. Last week, Hillary Clinton helped pressure Italy into announcing that it would cut back on its trade with Iran because of Tehran’s nuclear program.
This week, about 100 Iranians staged a violent protest in front of the Italian Embassy in Tehran, shouting “Death to Italy, Death to Berlusconi,” and pelting eggs and tomatoes against the building. Protests were also held outside the French and Dutch embassies. Some demonstrators there called for the killing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Italian government has lodged an official complaint with Iran.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini condemned the protests and said the protestors were not regular Iranian citizens but members of the government-backed Basij militia, which is linked to the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
MEDICAL HOPE FOR CONGO
The Congo, with a population of over 65 million, does not have a single plastic surgeon who specializes in burn treatment, and as a result people injured in the terrible ongoing war there – the world’s worst – often die from even relatively simple burns. In an effort to help with this “forgotten war,” Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, has flown Congolese doctors to Israel where they are being trained in how to specialize in burn treatment.
The first surgeon set to graduate and return to Congo is 33-year-old Dr Leon Mubenga. The course is funded by a private Israeli charity.
Because of Israel’s long history of enduring bomb attacks, Israeli doctors have substantial experience treating burns victims. See, for example, this piece I wrote for The Wall Street Journal about one such victim.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]