Posts Tagged Operation Cast-Lead

World’s gone mad and it don’t seem right

I sleep in a little on one Sunday morning and everything’s gone crazy.

1. Vandalising in the name of “social justice”

From what I gather, some of the “social justice protesters” in Tel Aviv from last year tried to put up tents in Rothschild Blvd again, but were arrested as the government didn’t want the whole of central Tel Aviv to shut down for a second year in a row. This sparked a whole new protest, which blocked Ibn Gvirol and marched south, joining-up with some kind of anti-homophobia protest.

At some point, the whole thing went out of control and the protesters started just smashing things. The police responded with what has been alleged to have been “police brutality”. It’s hard to tell either way, but I can say this: breaking into and smashing-up banks is not a good way to defend “social justice” or to get any kind of point across.

Haaretz report HERE, more photos HERE.

2. Flare-up around Gaza

There has been another of what are becoming routine flare-ups in violence around the border between Gaza and Israel. Jerusalem Post reporter Yaakov Katz even argues that this one is half-hearted compared to the last ones.

It is a very sad state-of-affairs that this kind of language can be used about an incident that has killed 14 Palestinians so far and has forced a million Israelis to be living in bomb shelters for a week, with rockets seriously damaging a school in Sderot, amongst other things.

However, I have heard reports privately that the IDF General Staff has been pulling all-night meetings and could be planning another large-scale Gaza incursion. That is not going to be fun for anyone, but may be necessary in order to stop these perpetual flare-ups. I’m not sure which is the bigger evil, in all honesty.

That brings me to…

3. Third Intifada

Nathan Thrall argued in the New York Times Sunday Review that a third intifada is inevitable. For some reason, this was released online on Friday, but it has caused a stir amongst a lot of analysts who accuse Thrall of actually supporting the idea.

One point that has been repeatedly made is that another intifada would pose little real threat to Israel, but could well unseat the current Palestinian leadership (not a bad outcome IMO). Fatah and Hamas know this, so they have been doing everything they can to avoid it and to keep their peoples’ attention on Israel.

There also seems to be a threat from within that is coming to unseat Mahmoud Abbas – Salaam Fayyad has just announced that he may challenge the Palestinian Authority presidency in the event that elections ever actually happen.

4. Egypt: the tale of two presidents

The results of Egypt’s presidential elections are rumoured to be coming any minute. This has not prevented both candidates announcing victory and the supporters of both holding huge, angry riots against each other.

Essentially, the country is polarised. Half hate the old regime candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, and half hate the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed  Moursi. Whoever wins, there will be mass dissatisfaction and possibly violence.

5. And the rest

I’m getting a little tired of writing out these short summaries, so to conclude: Sudan is exploding and Turkey is about to go to war with Syria over what was probably a stunt to prevent further Syrian airforce pilots defecting (shooting down a plane is a good way to do it).

Gotta love the Middle East.

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The real crisis is the America-centric Zionism

Jordan Chandler Hirsch has given the best review that I have seen yet of Peter Beinart’s new book The Crisis of Zionism (UPDATE: except this one) (disclaimer: I have not read the book myself). For those who don’t follow these things, for the past couple of years, Beinart has been trying to pioneer some new form of “liberal Zionism” that, for reasons explained below, I find deeply flawed.

Before I get into that, I would just like to highlight one important point that Beinart has backtracked on. In the New York Review of Books essay with which Beinart originally launched his campaign, he had a premise that was very popular with quite a few of the Jews who were inclined to agree with his position anyway (hi Liam): that the reason American Jews have become increasingly alienated towards Israel is that they cannot “blindly support” Israel the way AIPAC does (which AIPAC doesn’t actually do).

This is understandably an attractive prospect for Beinart and his followers — who wouldn’t want to believe that everyone naturally agrees with them and if only the establishment were different, they would be super popular. Unfortunately for Beinart (and Liam), this assumption is not grounded in reality.  He has since been proven wrong and quietly moved away from this position:

Diaspora Divided > Jewish Review of Books.

Beinart—though he doesn’t explicitly admit to it—largely walks back his theory of political distancing in The Crisis of Zionism. In fact, in direct contradiction to his article in The New York Review of Books, he endorses Cohen’s argument that, for the vast majority of American Jews whose ties to Israel are weakening, intermarriage is a more important factor than politics. Noting that the intermarriage rate among Jews today is “roughly 50 percent,” Beinart admits “the harsh truth is that for many young, non-Orthodox American Jews, Israel isn’t that important because being Jewish isn’t that important.” Later, he states, quite rightly, “it would be wrong to imagine that young, secular American Jews seethe with outrage at Israel’s policies.” “For the most part,” he writes, “they do not care enough to seethe.”

Hirsch goes on to explain the important flaws in Beinart’s thesis. He more-or-less describes my point of view as well: rather than addressing the problem, Beinart is just presenting Read the rest of this entry »

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All’s not fair in love and law: Goldstone reconsiders his report

I don’t see how this could be an April Fools joke, but it seems too good to be true. Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the Goldstone Report – an investigation into Israel’s 2008/09 Gaza incursion, has written an op-ed in today’s Washington Post that all but exonerates Israel from all of the report’s accusations, whilst condemning Hamas for making no effort to reduce its war crimes.

He admits that Israeli policy was not to target civilians, meaning that the Israeli authorities would not be guilty of any crimes against humanity, and even commends Israel on investigating the individual incidents that his report identified (although he does criticise the process for being too slow and for not being public).

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes – The Washington Post

While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

He re-iterates that none of his findings were proven judicially and that their recommendation was always that they were to be investigated further.

…To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank…Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.

And lastly/most importantly, he repeatedly notes that he did accuse Hamas of crimes against humanity and castigates them for not only failing to investigate them, but for continuing to perpetrate them for the last few years.

…Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations.

At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.

That last point is extremely important. Just because the attacks do not cause heavy casualties does not mean that they are not criminal. They have caused huge psychological damage to the people of southern Israel (for example, 90% of the children in Sderot suffer from PTSD) and caused the population to have to always be within walking distance of a bomb shelter and to never be above the first storey of any building.

Given how many bodies have taken this report to be effectively a conviction against Israel for warcrimes, this article by Goldstone himself is a landmark. It completely undermines the credibility of the EU, the UN General Assembly and a wide array of NGOs, academics and media outlets throughout the world. For example:

EU endorses Goldstone report – Europe – Al Jazeera English

The European Parliament has backed the findings of a UN-backed report into last year’s Gaza war, which heavily criticised Israel and accused both Tel Aviv and Hamas of war crimes.

The assembly is the second institution after the United Nations to stand in favour of the report, with just over 50 per cent of politicians passing the resolution.

…”For the first time, a resolution voted in the European Parliament acknowledges Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law,” Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, parliament member, said.

A key finding of the Goldstone report, published last September, was that Israel used disproportionate force in response to rocket attacks by Gaza-based fighters and failed to take adequate measures to protect civilians during its onslaught.

I really wonder what the anti-Israel side are going to be saying about this one. I hope they take it on board and start scrutinising Hamas more closely.

That said, I fully expect to start seeing articles condemning Goldstone as a “Zionist tool” and for supporting Apartheid (having spent the last 2 years praising him for fighting against Apartheid) and then going on about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians whilst pretending that Hamas are just a Muslim version of the Christian Democrat Party*.

 

 

*Whilst also having much nicer things to say about Hamas than the Christian Democrats.

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