A cartoon from the Miami Herald. It is very different from the vicious anti-Israel cartoons one has seen this week in Europe
* Brendan O’Neill: “Why are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali, Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his [multiple] drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’… Other nations’ warmongering [including all 5 members of the UN security council] makes the current assault on Gaza look like a tea party in comparison… Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israel.”
* Will Saletan: It’s understandable that there’s concern and anger around the world about the Israel-Hams conflict – war is horrible, and any number of deaths should trouble us. But by the standards of any other army Israel is acting in a moral way. Indeed through its great care in avoiding killing civialns, and in comparison to just about every other conflict, Israel may be raising the moral standards of warfare.
* Washington Post Editorial: “Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks.”
Tom Gross writes: This is another in an ongoing series of dispatches about the current conflict between Hamas and Israel. I attach three articles below, with a note about the UN first.
For those who missed them, other dispatches include:
* Israel’s Iron Dome is amazing, and that’s a problem (& Al-Ahram: “Destroy Hamas -- Thank you Netanyahu”)
* Abbas to Hamas: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” (& Media misreports international law)
* The song Israeli schoolchildren sing to deal with rocket attacks (& Hamas admit to using human shields)
* Video dispatch 26: Intensifying conflict as more rockets aimed at Tel Aviv
* BBC admits Gaza airstrike photos are fabricated (& Swastikas by the Western Wall)
* Let’s hope John Kerry and the EU don’t insist on their early release
* “From Gibraltar to the Khyber Pass, the U.S. shares values only with one country”
These can all be viewed here.
You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
1. Under pressure, UN today admitted Hamas stored rockets at a UN school
2. “There’s something very ugly in this rage against Israel” (By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked magazine, July 15, 2014)
3. “Israel may be raising the moral standards of warfare” (By Will Saletan, Business Insider / Slate, July 12, 2014)
4. “Hamas is playing a dangerous game with Gazan lives” (Washington Post Editorial, July 16, 2014)
UNDER PRESSURE, UN ADMITS HAMAS STORED ROCKETS AT A UN SCHOOL
[Note by Tom Gross]
In spite of the dramatic news of the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people (including many Americans and Europeans), the BBC is, at the present time, continuing to devote considerable portions of its international news broadcasts to excoriating Israel.
But what the BBC and many other media are failing to tell their audiences is that earlier today – under pressure from Israel and the U.S. – the UN agency UNRWA admitted that 20 Hamas rockets (of the kind used to kill Israeli civilians) have been stored at an UNRWA school in Gaza. This is, of course, not news to people who follow the region closely – Hamas has for years stored its arsenals, and fired rockets at Israel, from hospitals, schools, ambulances, mosques and the like, in multiple breaches of international law. It’s just that journalists for many western news outlets deliberately don’t tell their audiences this.
UNRWA is the western-funded, Gaza-based, primarily Palestinian-staffed agency which supplies very dubious figures about the number of civilian deaths in Gaza (classifying some militants as civilians) – figures which are then unquestionably accepted and rebroadcast by many in the international media, such as the New York Times, without any regard for UNRWA’s past track record of libeling Israel.
Today’s statement, which UNRWA took a full 24 hours to release, while robust, is less than fully truthful.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness is a British citizen, who previously worked for 23 years as a foreign correspondent and in senior editorial positions at the BBC and has a decades-long record of bias against Israel. Gunness is close friends with the BBC’s notoriously anti-Israel “chief Middle East correspondent” Jeremy Bowen.
I revealed Gunness’ close friendship with Bowen in a dispatch in 2009, here.
Nor is the BBC finding space in its attacks on Israel this hour, to mention that Israel thwarted a major terror attack this morning involving 13 Hamas gunmen who infiltrated into Israel by underground tunnel from Gaza.
I attach three articles below. I was unable to send a dispatch in the last couple of days but placed these articles on my public Facebook page at the time they were published.
As a reminder, if you want to receive articles more quickly, I sometimes place items on my public Facebook before I have time to prepare a dispatch, so please “like” this page to receive such articles: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
The first article below, by Brendan O’Neill, a subscriber to this list, is particularly worth reading. While some extreme left-wing Jews continue to be at the forefront of defaming Israel, O’Neill is another non-Jewish journalist who points out that many of Israel’s critics are motivated by their racist hatred of Jews, rather than out of any genuine concern for Palestinians. If they did actually care about Palestinians they would, of course, oppose Hamas.
-- Tom Gross
“WE HAVE WITNESSED ANTI-ISRAEL SENTIMENT BECOMING MORE VISCERAL, MORE EMOTIONAL, MORE UNHINGED THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN”
There’s something very ugly in this rage against Israel
By Brendan O’Neill
Spiked magazine (UK)
July 15, 2014
Why are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they’re at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’, and generally scream about Israeli ‘bloodletting’. (When the West bombs another country, it’s ‘war’; when Israel does it, it’s ‘bloodletting’.)
Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. Parisians who have generally given a Gallic shrug as French troops have basically retaken Francophone Africa, stamping their boots everywhere from the Central African Republic to Mali to Cote d’Ivoire over the past two years, turned out in their thousands at the weekend to condemn Israeli imperialism and barbarism.
Americans who didn’t create much fuss last month when the Obama administration announced the resumption of its drone attacks in Pakistan gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to yell about Israeli murder. (Incredibly, they did this just a day after a US drone attack, the 375th such attack in 10 years, killed at least six people in Pakistan. But hey, Obama-led militarism isn’t as bad as Israeli militarism, and dead Pakistanis, unlike dead Palestinians, don’t deserve to have their photos, names and ages published by the concerned liberals of Twitter.) Meanwhile, hundreds of very angry Brits gathered at the Israeli Embassy in London, bringing traffic to a standstill, clambering on to buses, yelling about murder and savagery, in furious, colourful scenes that were notable by their absence three years ago when Britain sent planes to pummel Libya.
Such are the double standards over Israel, so casually entrenched is the idea that Israeli militarism is more bloody and insane than any other kind of militarism, that many Western liberals now call on their own rulers to condemn or even impose sanctions against Israel. That is, they want the invaders and destroyers of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere to rap Israel’s knuckles for bombing Gaza. It’s like asking a great white shark to tell off a seal for eating a fish. America must ‘rein in Israel’, we are told. ‘The international community should intervene to restrain Israel’s army’, says a columnist for the Guardian, and by ‘international community’ he means ‘a meeting of the UN Security Council’ – the Security Council whose permanent members are the US, UK and France, who have done so much to destabilise and devastate vast swathes of the Middle East and North Africa over the past decade; Russia, whose recent military interventions in Georgia and Chechnya suggest it is hardly a devotee of world peace; and China, which might not invade other countries but is pretty adept at brutally suppressing internal dissent. On what planet could nations whose warmongering makes the current assault on Gaza look like a tea party in comparison seriously be asked to ‘rein in’ Israel? On a planet on which Israel is seen as different, as worse than all others, as more criminal and rogue-like than any other state.
The double standards were perfectly summed up last week in the response to an Israeli writer who said in the UK Independent that Israel’s attack on Gaza and its ‘genocidal rhetoric’ made her want to burn her Israeli passport. She got a virtual pat on the back from virtually every British activist and commentator who thinks of him or herself as decent. She was hailed as brave. Her article was shared online thousands of times. This was ‘common sense from one Jew’, people tweeted. No one stopped to wonder if maybe they should have burned their British passports after Yugoslavia in 1999, or Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in 2003, where often more civilians were killed in one day than have been killed by Israel over the past week. Why should Israel’s bombing of Gaza induce such shame in Israeli citizens (or Jews, as some prefer) that burning their passports is seen as a perfectly sensible and even laudable course of action whereas it’s perfectly okay to continue bounding about the world on a British passport despite the mayhem unleashed by our military forces over the past decade? Because Israel is different; it’s worse; it’s more criminal.
Of course, Western double standards on Israel have been around for a while now. They can be seen not only in the fact that Israeli militarism makes people get out of bed and get angry in a way that no other form of militarism does, but also in the ugly boycotting of everything Israeli, whether it’s academics or apples, in a way that the people or products of other militaristic or authoritarian regimes are never treated. But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven’t only seen these double standards come back into play – we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.
HOW TO MINIMIZE CIVILIAN DEATHS
Israel May Be Raising The Moral Standards Of Warfare
By Will Saletan
Business Insider / Slate
July 12, 2014
Israel’s air war in Gaza has now killed more than 100 people. Around the world, there’s concern and anger. These concerns are appropriate – war is horrible, and any number of deaths should trouble us. But given that this war is happening, let’s focus on the narrower question of how to minimize civilian deaths, now and in future conflicts. How bad is this war compared to others? Are Israel’s attacks indiscriminate?
First, it’s important not to get consumed by whether you love or hate Israel. There will be other wars in other places. We need to build rules that apply everywhere. Second, we don’t need to debate the conduct of Hamas. Hamas rejects the whole idea that it’s wrong to target civilians. So behaving better than Hamas isn’t a standard worth talking about. Let’s focus instead on what Israel is doing.
1. The casualty rate. Total deaths in Gaza now exceed 100. Every account except Israel’s says most are civilians. That’s a bad ratio, but it’s skewed by the low number of Hamas military deaths, which can be traced to two factors: Most Hamas officers are lying low (literally – many are underground), and Israel has mostly targeted assets such as rocket launchers, not people. The better measure of Israel’s moral performance, then, is the number of civilian deaths. The latest tallies range from 58 to 75, though the numbers will be higher by the time you read this.
How does that compare to other conflicts? Wars differ in nature (ground vs. air, for example), pace, and duration. So let’s look at air wars and compare the civilian death rates per strike. So far in Gaza, Israel has hit approximately 1,100 sites. Using the high-end casualty count, that’s an average of one civilian death for every 14 to 15 sites struck. In the 1999 Kosovo air war, Human Rights Watch found that NATO had killed approximately 500 civilians in attacks on more than 900 targets. That’s more than one death for every two targets hit. In the invasion of Iraq, HRW cited a low-end estimate of about 3,500 civilian deaths but attributed most of these to ground combat. There seems to be no separate count for the bombing campaign. In Libya, according to the U.N. Human Rights Council, NATO killed only 72 civilians in 3,327 strike sorties. That’s three times better than Israel’s performance. Because of population density, you’re less likely to hit civilians in Libya than in Gaza. But in areview of the Libya campaign, HRW also credited “the care NATO took in minimizing civilian harm.”
2. Israel’s practices. On the whole, the worst incidents in Gaza have resulted from strikes on houses. In traditional rules of war, houses are off limits. Israel’s stated rationale for hitting houses in Gaza is that “Hamas was running the operations of their units out of these homes. Some had weapons storage caches in them.” But residents have already asserted that in some cases there was no such basis. Israel hasn’t clarified whether it thinks these houses were valid targets or whether it hit them by accident.
The “terrorists work from home” rationale raises ugly problems for the rules of war. Israel’s warning procedures, however, could become a model. In the Kosovo war, HRW says NATO failed to issue warnings that might have spared civilians. In Iraq, HRW’s report doesn’t mention any warnings during the air campaign. In Libya, the U.N. report says NATO touted its “leaflets and radio broadcasts,” which told civilians how “to avoid areas likely to be struck.” But leafleting is unreliable, and radio announcements about “areas” are, by nature, vague.
Israel claims to be doing something much better. Here’s how the IDF’s spokesman describes it:
“We phone up our enemies and tell them that we are going to blow up the building, we throw non-explosive munitions, and that is a sign they are supposed to vacate the building. Only once we have seen them vacate the building – and we are talking about [hitting] command and control places and not the terrorists themselves – then we hit.”
In other accounts, Israeli briefers have said that they also send text messages and that the final warning shot, known as a “knock on the roof,” can be a mortar strike that hits just hard enough to scare everyone out. “According to the procedure,” says Ynet, an Israeli news site, “it is only after the IDF makes sure residents have evacuated the premises that the missile that could destroy the house is launched.”
In the history of warfare, this kind of systematic warning – direct, specific, double-layered – is unprecedented. It lets the enemy military officer escape in order to avoid killing his family. But how strictly is the IDF adhering to this policy?
In some cases, there’s video evidence of targets being warned or knocked. In other cases, Gazans have confirmed that they received calls or warning flares.
But the IDF’s performance seems inconsistent. In one incident, residents say that there was no phone call and that the strike, which killed six people, came only four minutes after the knock. In another case, a video shows just one minute between the knock and the strike. In two of the worst mass-death incidents, one in Khan Yunis and the other in Rafah, residents say there were no warnings.
Israel has also killed civilians at sites where no Hamas link has been established. The worst was a nine-fatality strike on a café where people were watching the World Cup. Another was a four-fatality strike on a house in al-Meghazi. Another strike killed the driver of a news agency vehicle which, according to the Palestinian news site Ma’an, was clearly marked “TV.” The IDF says it’s investigating these cases.
3. Human shields. Israel says Hamas has inflated the civilian death count by telling Gazans to ignore strike warnings and stand in harm’s way. It’s true that some Gazans have done this. There’s photographic evidence of people going on to the roof of a targeted building after a warning. And in the worst mass-fatality incident of the campaign’s first 48 hours, witnesses say that after residents had been warned and had left the house – thereby making the IDF think it was empty – neighbors and some family members went back in to “form a human shield.” By then, the IDF couldn’t stop the missile.
It’s not clear how often this has happened or what role Hamas has played. Israel cites a TV interview in which a Hamas spokesman praised the courage of human shields. It also points to a statement from Gaza’s interior ministry, which urged Gazans not to “pay attention” to Israel’s “communications on the phones of citizens.” But praise isn’t an order, and the ministry statement may have been referring to a mass robo-calling campaign in which Israel told Gazans to leave their homes in preparation for a ground assault.
If Gazans choose to defy the warnings and go on to their roofs, what right does Israel have to strike them? The IDF claims it will strike anyway, but it has already blinked. In the case that was video-recorded, “the IDF decided not to bomb the home,” says the Israeli news site Arutz Sheva. “In most cases ... Israel will simply refrain from taking action if Israeli forces are aware of the presence of civilians in the vicinity.”
Do these factors – the fatality rate, the warnings, the shields – make Israel’s conduct acceptable? I’ll leave that to you. Either way, we need to cut through the propaganda on both sides, analyze the best information on the ground, and put it in context. In some ways, Israel is raising the standards of what can be expected in warfare. Our job is to clarify those standards and hold everybody to them, including Israel.
“THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE ANSWER IS STOMACH-TURNING”
Hamas is playing a dangerous game with Gazan lives
Washington Post Editorial
July 16, 2014
SO FAR Hamas’s military campaign against Israel has been a dismal failure. Thanks in part to Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, some 1,200 rockets fired at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities have caused only one Israeli death and a few other casualties. Attempted commando attacks via the sea and a tunnel were stopped short, and a drone that ventured into Israel was quickly shot down. Yet Hamas on Tuesday rejected an Egyptian cease-fire proposal that was supported by Western governments and the Arab League and had been accepted by Israel.
Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. More than 200 people, including a number of children, have already died in Gaza; Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas’s demands.
So far, the tactic is not working. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday condemned Hamas for rejecting the cease-fire and “us[ing] the innocent lives of civilians . . . as shields.” But Hamas’s commanders, who have burrowed into underground bunkers, appear to be doubling down. They are urging civilians who have left their homes to return, including some 15,000 who evacuated the northern part of Gaza in response to Israeli warnings. The cease-fire proposal was answered with a new barrage of missiles aimed at central Israel.
To be sure, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has more incentive than Hamas to agree to a cease-fire, even though a majority of the Israeli public probably opposes it. Israel has little to gain from a prolonged conflict; a threatened ground invasion of Gaza would cause heavy casualties on both sides and, if it destroyed Hamas, leave Israel with the problem of finding a new government for the territory. Mr. Netanyahu is seeking the renewal of the truce that ended the last Israel-Hamas mini-war, in 2012. That would end attacks on both sides while allowing for a gradual opening of Gaza’s border for civilian trade.
Hamas’s rejection reflects its weakened position compared with two years ago. Egypt’s military government has shut down most of the cross-border tunnels that Hamas depended on for weapons as well as revenue, making it impossible for the Gaza administration to pay its workforce. The Islamists sought relief by forming a unity government with the secular, West Bank-based Fatah movement, but that did not lead to the payment of salaries or the reopening of the border with Egypt. Following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month, Israel arrested dozens of Hamas’s operatives in the West Bank, making their release another objective of the missile attacks.
To its credit, Israel has used sophisticated technology, including targeted text messages and dummy warning missiles, to minimize civilian casualties. But innocent people will inevitably be killed in attacks on launchers and missile factories that are purposely placed in densely populated areas. The right response of the international community is not to surrender to Hamas’s despicable tactics but to continue insisting that it unconditionally accept the cease-fire proposed by Egypt.