Guest Post: Protective Edge: Did Israel win?

This is another Guest Post by Brian Goldfarb, a continuation of sorts to his previous post about Operation Protective Edge.


Hamas war crimes (Branco @ Legal Insurrection

Perhaps this would better titled “An outsider’s view…: Part 2″, if only because what follows arises out of the Hamas/Islamic Jihad unprovoked attack on Israel and Israel’s entirely justified and proportional response. Those who are inclined to argue with that word “proportional” should hold your ire: I will be referring you to some articles later on which I urge you to read.

Let’s start with this article entitled “The Conditions of Victory and Peace” by Shoshana Bryen in the Gatestone Institute. Her opening is the following:

“The Israeli public is in a notably bad mood.

The Hamas rockets have, for the time being, stopped; the current cease-fire is holding. The tunnel threat, a strategic one most Israelis had not understood until several days into the war, has been alleviated; many Hamas rocket manufacturing facilities have been destroyed; a substantial percentage of the Hamas arsenal has been used up; and Hamas achieved none of its strategic goals — not large-scale Israeli casualties or physical destruction, an airport, a seaport, or the opening of border crossings. Israeli children have returned to school and, after a brief dip, the Israeli economy is expected to grow for the year.

But Israelis polled opposed the cease-fire by 54-37% and, while 83% approved of the conduct of the IDF, the Prime Minister’s approval fell from 59% to 32% with the cease-fire. Some 59% think Israel didn’t win the war, and 16% think Hamas won. [Palestinians would agree, 79% of them think Hamas won the war and more than half support Hamas's strategy of "armed resistance" for the future.]“

Anyone out there who felt that my previous article might reflect at least some aspects of reality might be bemused by this. Anne, of course, reflected the view stated above in her comments a few days ago, musing that some sort of proper victory was within Israel’s grasp. I will, however, stand by my assertion that the Gazan “victory celebration” was far more out of relief by most (even those who celebrated without a gun in their backs) that the fighting and bombing had stopped. And nothing so far quoted from this article negates this optimistic take on the situation. People don’t have to be rational in their reactions to the extreme situations they have just experienced, even if that isn’t how they would conduct their lives “for real”. This mind-set may not change, even after the IDF has conducted its inquiry into the conduct, execution and results of Protective Edge, even though (despite Hamas’s claims for – a very pyrrhic – victory) the IDF will be much better equipped, psychologically, to say nothing of militarily (Iron Dome will be even more effective next time) for the next time Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah is emboldened to try its might against Israel.

However, Bryen goes on to argue, the sort of victory that the Israeli population crave can only be won by actual defeat in detail of one’s armed opponents and, where necessary, actual occupation of the ground those opponents used to control. As a military strategist of World War 2 stated, “You can bomb the hell out of a piece of land, but you don’t own it until you stand a scared 18-year-old with a rifle on it” (I claim the veracity of the statement, even if the quote is rephrased). That is something that neither the US population regarding IS, nor the Israeli population regarding Hamas and Gaza, appear prepared to countenance.  Or, as she puts it:

“Control of territory and the ability to subject one’s enemies to enforceable rules is the only known mechanism for ending, rather than managing, a war. Despite the Western propensity for “peace processes” and negotiations, it is hard (impossible?) to find a historical example of one side simply agreeing to give up its mission, arms, ideology, or interests without a forcing mechanism — military defeat.”

She continues:

“We don’t like to talk about “winners” and “losers,” preferring to “split the difference” or find a “win-win” formula. But “peace” itself was defined by Machiavelli as “the conditions imposed by the winners on the losers of the last war.””

She has more to support her position. My response, however, is “maybe”, as I hope to demonstrate. That is, we might be moving into a different era from the one that Bryen describes, just as the world we live in now is very different from the one my parents lived in (and maybe your parents, too).  A reasonable question at this point is to ask, how is this world different. Well, it would seem unremarkable to assume, for a start, that whoever, de facto, controls a defined territory is, equally de facto, the “state” for all practical purposes, even if that “whoever” is most definitely a non-state actor. Thus, Hamas controls Gaza and is, therefore, the body to be dealt or negotiated with.

However, there are those who would disagree with this, and quite forcefully. For a start, we might want to respond, that Bryen’s view is a few hundred years old, and the world is a far more complicated, not to say a very different, place than it was in the Europe of Machiavelli’s time. However, we have Professor Louis Rene Beres, holder of a PhD in International Law from Princeton, saying (in this Gatestone Institute article Israel-Hamas ceasefire breaches international law  that:

“Once again, Israel and Hamas have agreed upon a so-called “cease fire.” Once again, as Hamas regards all of Israel as “Occupied Palestine,” the agreement will inevitably fail. And once again, for Israel and the wider “international community,” there will be significantly dark consequences for international justice.

In specifically jurisprudential terms, the immediate effect of this latest cease-fire will be wrongfully to bestow upon the leading Palestinian terror organization (1) a generally enhanced position under international law; and (2) a status of formal legal equivalence with Israel, its beleaguered terror target.

The longer-term effect will be seriously to undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of international law itself.”

Look at the full title of Beres’ article: it includes the words ‘Israel-Hamas cease-fire breaches international law’. His argument is that no actual state entity, such as Israel, established by the UN in 1947, can bestow on a non-state organisation, and certainly not on one widely recognised as a terrorist organisation, the legitimacy of equal status with an actual state entity. Indeed, he goes on, at some length, to make this abundantly clear:

“The longer-term effect will be seriously to undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of international law itself.

No authoritative system of law can allow or encourage accommodation between a proper national government and an unambiguously criminal organization. In this connection, however unintentionally, Israel should not further support its relentless terrorist adversary in Gaza by agreeing to any temporary cessation of hostilities. Instead, it should continue to do whatever is needed in tactical or operational terms, while reminding the world that the core conflict here is between an imperiled sovereign state (one that meets all codified criteria of legitimacy of the Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, 1934) and an insurgent organization that (a) meets none of these criteria, and (b) systematically violates all binding expectations of international humanitarian law.

By definition, under pertinent rules, Hamas is an illegal organization [...]

In any conflict, under law, the means that can be used to injure an enemy are not unlimited. No matter how hard those who would justify the willful maiming and execution of noncombatants in the name of some abstract ideal may try to institute certain self-serving manipulations of language, these people misrepresent international law. Always.

Whenever Palestinian insurgents (Hamas, Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad; it makes no legal difference) claim a right to use “any means necessary,” they are trying to deceive.”

There is more, much more. I am not, of course, a lawyer, let alone one conversant in international law, but while Beres may be correct as to the strict interpretation of international law, including that relating to conflict, in terms of realpolitik, this isn’t much help. Israel has to deal with the world as it is, not as the lawyers might wish it to be. And in the world as it is, Israel has to deal with Hamas, with or without a long spoon, with or without intermediaries. And, in terms of realpolitik, Hamas are in charge of Gaza. And there are many who would, anyway, question the extent to which Israel is “a proper national government”, to the discomfort of the likes of Louis Rene Beres, but not, I hasten to add, to mine: as far as I am concerned, Israel is, indeed, “a proper national government”, as has been proved time and again over the last 66 years.

So we have Bryen suggesting that what is peace is defined by the winners and imposed on the losers, and Beres asserting that the Israel-Hamas cease-fire is unlawful under international law: thus both are saying that, in effect, that until Israel re-occupies Gaza and expels, or whatever, Hamas, it won’t “win” – which is what most Israelis appear to believe and want (although they can’t really, can they, want the headaches of managing a re-occupation of Gaza which they’ve largely just reduced to rubble – however justifiable that might be under international law). Superficially, this appears to be what they are saying, even if Beres wraps it up in legal niceties that any cease-fire between the two is unlawful.

So, where does any confidence that I might have that things might be different from this view come from? Apart, that is, from burbling along about the damage that Hamas has sustained in all sorts of ways, including losing vital personnel and vital war material. Oddly enough, there have been some recent developments that might just support an optimistic view of this whole otherwise sorry mess.

Hamas fires rockets from residential neighbourhoods

Firstly, just a couple of days ago, The Times of Israel had an article  entitled “Hamas admits to rocket fire from residential areas” by Hamza Hendawi and Josef Federman. When you’ve stopped pinching yourself (after all, we’ve only, so far, had unreliable Western and Indian journalists reporting this), note this:

“But Hamas says it had little choice in Gaza’s crowded urban landscape, took safeguards to keep people away from the fighting (sic), and that a heavy handed Israeli response is to blame for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

Even Hamas now admits “mistakes” were made.”

So, yes they did fire from residential areas, but it was all the Israelis fault that they did so. Of course it was. How could it be otherwise? It is, after all, the Zionist entity that it to blame for everything. Except that even admitting that rockets were fired from urban areas should, fatally, undermine any charges against Israel at the ICC.

Hamas continues, in an attempt to blame someone, anyone, else than themselves for this state of affairs by arguing that:

““Gaza, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south, is one uninterrupted urban chain that Israel has turned into a war zone,” said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza.

Increasingly, the discussion is not about whether the Hamas rockets were fired from civilian areas, but exactly how close they were to the actual buildings.”

Empty spaces in Gaza

Actually, of course, that quite clearly is not true: just google a map of the whole of Gaza to see just what open country there is in Gaza. [Anne adds: Alan Dershowitz in the JPost writes about the Empty Spaces in Gaza] Israel, with a reasonable high density of population, still manages to situate its active military, such as artillery units, in open country so as not to put civilian areas at risk. And Hamas? Need you ask? And if you must, here’s where really contorted verbal gymnastics comes in:

“”The Israelis kept saying rockets were fired from schools or hospitals when, in fact, they were fired from 200-300 meters [220-328 yards] away. Still, there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with,” Hamad told The Associated Press, offering the first acknowledgment by a Hamas official that, in some cases, operatives fired rockets from, or near, residential areas or civilian facilities.”

So it’s still the Israelis’ fault and – yeah, and I’ve got some prime real estate below the high water mark to sell you. This is despite the fact that:

“Ahead of a UN investigation, the Israeli military has released reams of evidence, including satellite photos and aerial footage, to support its claims that it acted responsibly and attempted to minimize Palestinian casualties. It asserts that Hamas made no effort to disguise its attempt to maximize Israeli civilian casualties.
Throughout the war, the Israeli Air Force compiled dozens of video clips showing alleged wrongdoing by Hamas, an Islamic terror group sworn to Israel’s destruction.

These videos, many of them posted on YouTube, appear to show rockets flying out of residential neighborhoods, cemeteries, schoolyards and mosque courtyards. There are also images of weapons caches purportedly uncovered inside mosques, and tunnels allegedly used by operatives to scurry between homes, mosques and buildings.”

I do wish that The Times of Israel would stop using words like “alleged” and “purported”: leave that to The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC. My wife’s cousin, called up as part of the reserve – a tracker of missiles out of Gaza to determine where they came from – knows where they came from, and it wasn’t open country. He also told us that the entirely unlovely Lyce Doucet (of the BBC, peh, peh, peh) visited his unit and he showed her a screen shot of a barrage of missiles heading out of Gaza – several dozen – and she gulped. Not that any of it appeared in her televised report, of course.  Again, there’s a lot more, and it’s well worth reading, even if the Hamas-originated material needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, a very large pinch, at that.

Finally, and most surprisingly, is this Times of Israel article headlined “Hamas may break taboo and seek to negotiate with Israel, leader says“. If true (and not just a political ploy aimed at gaining Western sympathy for the poor benighted Palestinians trapped in Gaza by the nasty Israelis), this really does herald a breakthrough and an intimation that my overall contention in these two articles on Protective Edge may just be on the right track.

“In a dramatic political about-face, a senior Hamas official said that his movement may seek to negotiate with Israel, claiming that Islamic faith does not prohibit such contacts. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, told Palestinian Al-Quds TV on Wednesday that Hamas may be forced to negotiate with Israel, since the vast majority of Gaza Strip residents demand it.

“From the point of view of Sharia (Islamic law),  I say this in all honesty, nothing prevents [negotiations] with the occupation. Just as you negotiate with it using weapons, you can negotiate using words,” Abu Marzouk said. “I believe that if things continue as they are now, Hamas may not have a choice.”

If true, this is a clear admission of defeat by Hamas. We will just have to wait and see.

But, adding all these articles up, we can notice a sea change in Hamas’s approach to Israel, out of necessity, perhaps, but a change nevertheless. It may be, finally, a recognition that they cannot destroy Israel; that (although they would never admit it) democracy may well be (if not always) stronger than theocratic autocracies, dictatorships and even totalitarian despotisms: when roused, strong democracies will persevere and overcome, because their fighters do not seek death but life, and will strive to protect and preserve it while their ideological opponents seek death and glory, a literally fatal combination. Further, if you are dead, you cannot continue to pursue glory.

Of course, whether such negotiations would be in good faith is another matter, part of which is the Hamas Charter, of course.

I haven’t forgotten “proportionality”: those who seek to accuse Israel of a disproportionate response to Hamas should read the following articles from the Elder of Ziyon blog: the first is on Hamas’s violation of human rights in attacking Israel.

This is followed by two articles on Israel and proportionately:

Israel is not violating international law in Gaza, part I
Israel is not violating international law in Gaza, part II


Anne adds:

I too discussed Israel’s proportionate response in my post on The disproportionate focus on Israel’s proportionality.

The subject was also brought up in an earlier post, The disproportionate hatred of Israel in which I quoted from Shoshana Bryen’s article on The Doctrine of Proportionality.


Brian, thank you once again for providing a different angle and a deeper insight into the repercussions of Operation Protective Edge. It is interesting, though maybe a bit depressing, that the outcome of the war – whether victory or defeat – depends on the viewpoint of the author.  That in itself would suggest that Israel’s victory was not outright.

Will Hamas live to fight another day? Despite the optimism in some of the quoted articles, I fear the answer is Yes.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Israel’s home-grown anti-Israel media bias

Media BiasI have focused many times on the endemic anti-Israel bias of the international media.  Unfortunately and shockingly, according to the Israeli press watchdog Mida, much of the background of this bias is home-grown, emanating from Israeli journalists themselves.

Seth Frantzman’s article, “The Israeli origins of anti-Israel bias” starts with the mention of Matti Friedman’s withering critique of AP’s media reporting, (which I wrote about last week) but takes the matter further.

Some excerpts from the Mida article (which is quite long but is vital reading for anyone interested in understanding the pernicious anti-Israel bias in the media):

This mantra – that the media hates Israel and there isn’t much one can do about it – creates an easy scape-goat.  Blame the New York Times for the coverage of Israel.  Blame the Guardian and BBC.  Blame “them.”  But it misses the forest for the trees.  The fact is that almost every anti-Israel story originates in Israel, not in the conspiracy minded editorial offices in New York or London, and many of those stories are the result of Israeli media and Israeli NGOs.  When I raised this point to a media professional here he replied “Israel is a free country with a free press.”  Israel is a free country, but some of its critical press is unrelenting in creating well-packaged stories to feed to a salivating foreign media. [...]

Liberal Western Angst…

[...] Amazingly Steven Gutkin, the AP Bureau Chief in Jerusalem from 2004-2010, wrote a reply to Friedman on September 6th.  Gutkin reveals something fascinating about his view of the Israeli “story.”  For him “it’s also a story about the persecuted becoming the persecutors. All of this, of course, is happening to the people of the Bible, the descendants of the Hebrew slaves who were led out of Egypt by Moses and from whose ranks emerged Jesus Christ. It’s as if a new chapter of the Bible is being written in our times.”

This speaks to the heart of what Friedman got wrong: It is precisely those like Gutkin that are the reason Israel fares so badly in international media.  His “Jewishness” informed his support for “plight of the weak.”  His focus on some convoluted story about the “persecuted becoming the persecutors” is what informed the slant of the coverage.  The irony is that if he wasn’t covering Israel, but Pakistan, then the persecutors remaining the persecutors don’t get some special biblical moral twist put on them. [...]

…Through An Exclusively Secular Liberal Israeli Lens…

When we move beyond this little AP spat we see how it plays out on a much larger scale.  Consider a BBC report from October 2013.  The writer seeks to shed light on “Jerusalem communities.”  She argues “Shabbat in Jerusalem means everything is closed down from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening.”  She interviews an Israeli Jew named Dor Dirkovich who perpetuates this narrative by complaining the city is too Orthodox.  The author has a negative view of the Haredi society which “is very closed and insulated against the outside world.”

But something is missing from this analysis, right?  Arab Jerusalem, one third of the city. 288,000 residents according to the article.

Consider another example of the “segregated bus lines” Israel was said to have launched in March of 2013.  At the Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey wrote, “Starting today Palestinians travelling from the West Bank into Israel have their own bus lines.” The Times in London claimed “‘Apartheid’ anger as Israel starts separate bus lines in West Bank.’” Al-Jazeera jumped on as well “Israel launches segregated bus service” and the Telegraph also talked about “Palestinian-only buses.”  But when one looks at where the story originated, it wasn’t from the “anti-semitic” foreign media, it was from the Israeli media.  The Washington Post admitted “according to Haaretz, the two new non-mandatory public bus lines will start from checkpoints and run north toward Tel Aviv.”

The story was entirely fabricated. (Emphasis added.) [...]

..Mixed With Classic Blood Libels…

When it comes to particularly salacious stories about Israel, there is a blend between foreign media inventing pseudo-blood libels and also being careful about passing on wrong information.  For instance, conspiracy theories that ran wild in Israel such as a 2009 article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet claimed Israel was stealing Palestinian organs.

But a case in January and February of 2013 where Israeli media reported that Ethiopian Jews awaiting immigration had been given a birth control drug without their apparent consent could have resulted in a flood of misleading stories by international media attuned to anti-Israelism.  It was responsibly reported at The Guardian and The Telegraph, the latter of which even questioned if the story was even true.

However, a Forbes writer named Elise Knutsen turned it into a classic anti-Semitic story.  She claimed that “That Israel should allegedly engage in this activity is particularly shocking, considering the practice was widely used by the Germans throughout the Shoah.”  Insanely, she noted “From a sociological perspective, this incident shows the strain between Israel’s religious heritage and its modern political agenda. ‘Behold, the heritage of the Lord is sons, the reward is the fruit of the innards’…the Torah proclaims. The involuntary sterilization of African immigrants suggests that the Jewish moral code (inextricably connected with Israel’s domestic legal codes) can be selectively applied to those with ‘desirable’ backgrounds.”

The classic case of mixing modern Israeli history with biblical narratives and the turning Israel into the “new Nazis” is part of an anti-semitic agenda that Friedman noted in his Tablet piece.  But what is interesting is how closely this piece jives with the self-described agenda of Gutkin: Israel is a biblical story and Jews who were persecuted became persecutors. [...]

..With Readily Packaged Stories…

To truly understand what’s happening we have to go beyond the fact that international media often allows its own version of events, and even the terms it employs, to be shaped by highly critical local reporting by radical-left media in Israel. (Emphasis added.)

Israel fares badly in international media for the same reason it fares badly in its own critical media.  As the US Senator Daniel P. Moynihan noted “The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.”

Israel has a robust, active and highly critical human rights machine.  Israeli human rights organizations receive almost all their funding from foreign sources, often European governments.  A 2010 Wikileak cable noted “B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell…estimated her 9 million NIS ($2.4 million) budget is 95 percent funded from abroad, mostly from European countries.”   These organizations are often headed by leaders who seek to tar Israel with the worst brush possible and they feed international media information on allegations of Israeli abuses.

Israel’s real problem in facing the international media may therefore not be the anti-Semitic agenda of a few crackpots, which indeed there are. [ ... ]

..Creating A Closed and Partial Information Loop

Israel’s problem is that members of the international media – such as AP bureau chiefs or others – who reside in Israel live within a milieu of Israelis who primarily lean to the left.  They are fed information by NGOs such as Rabbis for Human Rights.  Some of them already have the ready-made narrative of “giving a voice to those who have none” or “helping the weak.”  A ready-made narrative of Israel already exists, set in stone since the 1960s, and tragically fed by former Israeli elites who dislike the current right-wing government and use foreign media to get back at it.

The international media thus naturally gravitates towards Israel’s critical press like Haaretz that has no problem publishing misleading stories such as the May 18 headline “settlers torch Palestinian orchard” for Lag B’omer which was subsequently corrected.

On the other hand, the more interesting stories in Israeli society, such as about Jewish diversity, or about minority communities that don’t get media attention, such as the Druze, Circassians or Ahmadiya, are routinely ignored.

The tragic fact is that international media’s focus on Israel is a twisted blend of Jewish leftists from abroad posted to Israel who have a contentious relationship with the Jewish state. It concentrates on Israeli media sources from the highly critical left, and fits them into a pre-conceived box relating to the conflict through such themes as “David versus Goliath” and “weak Palestinians suffering at the hands of Israel,” with clichés in the background about the “persecuted becomes the persecutor.”  Both the Israeli public and the world at large deserve better.

Sadly, with the extreme-left firmly entrenched in all branches of the media and the cultural elite, I see little chance of this happening.

Reinforcing Frantzman’s thesis about Israeli anti-Israel bias, the journalist Tom Gross reports how the English-language edition of Haaretz, Israel’s most notoriously extreme-left (practically anti-Israel) newspaper, (and a source of so much of the international media’s bias) distorted his and Matti Friedman’s words during an interview:

The English edition of Haaretz today runs a shortened version of the interview with former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman and myself, about international media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As I noted in a dispatch last week, the piece originally appeared in Hebrew, published on September 5 in the Marker magazine (which forms part of the Haaretz weekend edition):

http://www.themarker.com/markerweek/1.2424631

Both Matti Friedman and I were unhappy with the way the Haaretz English edition today changed and skewered what we said.

Friedman made the following statement this morning: “The sloppy translation and condensation of Dafna Maor’s good Hebrew piece from ‘The Marker’ 10 days ago does no favors to the writer or her interviewees — nuance and context are lost, and a quote is misattributed to me. This is carelessness, not purposeful warping of content, but if it causes this very important issue to seem less serious, that would be unfortunate.”

I would add too, that this is not the fault of the journalist who interviewed us, Dafna Maor, who is the foreign editor of The Marker, but of the editors at the English edition of Haaretz.

After our complaints (the editor of the Haaretz English edition is a subscriber to this list) Haaretz agreed to change the online version of the article, but the print edition remains with the version which misrepresents what we said.

Although the distortions were probably the result of the understaffing at Haaretz (the paper recently dismissed about a third of its staff to stem mounting losses) there is also concern about its over-politicization. There is considerable unease among some of the staff at the Hebrew edition of Haaretz who say that the English edition had distorted their articles, or added misleading headlines to their pieces.

The Hebrew edition – despite having some fine writing and writers – also contains many articles that have undermined the state of Israel, or are factually incorrect — for example, the headline that wrongly claimed that a majority of Israelis support “apartheid”; this was then reprinted in papers around the world. As a result, thousands of Israelis have canceled their subscriptions to Haaretz.

So much so that in the last few weeks the owner and publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, has in desperation asked several of his leading writers personally to phone subscribers who have cancelled, to persuade them to rethink their decision. This evening he has invited hundreds of Haaretz subscribers who have cancelled — after 20 or 30 years as subscribers — to a gala reception with staff at Tel Aviv museum. They will, he says, be served special refreshments, discuss their dismay with staff, and be given a private viewing of the museum, in an effort to win them back.

However, several people I know who have been invited this evening (all of them on the Israeli center-left) say they are so fed up with the fact Haaretz so often paints Israel in the worst possible light, that they no longer want anything to do with the paper, and will not attend.

You can read Gross’ and Friedman’s interview at Tom Gross’s link (scroll down to the end), since the Haaretz link is behind a paywall.

If Haaretz is panicking then this is a good sign. It means that the mass of cancellations of subscriptions is making a dent and is making them sit up and take notice. Whether this will have a practical effect in the field, i.e. in their articles, reports and translations, remains to be seen.

We Israeli readers of the national press also need to take responsibility and hold the editors and publishers of these anti-Israel articles accountable for their part in the aleihum on Israel in the international media.

Posted in Antisemitism, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The UN – the source of the legal pogrom against Israel

UN’s anti-Israel bias

As we look about the Middle East in horror at the barbarity committed by Islamists of all stripes, we can but gape in astonishment at the focus of the UN on Israel’s alleged war crimes – which, even if they were committed (which is a highly tendentious claim) bear no resemblance to the bestiality carried out by the likes of ISIS.

In fact with its microscopic and obsessive focus on Israel, the UN has become a prime source of the huge wave of antisemitism currently sweeping the world in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. Ironically but in typically shameful fashion, the UN housed a conference on anti-Semitism last week without agreeing to actually sponsor it.

… it wasn’t the UN that decided to address the threat global anti-Semitism posed to international peace and security. Rather, it was the UN Permanent Mission of Palau and the Aja Eze Foundation that sponsored the lunchtime conference.

“But why couldn’t the UN, founded on the ashes of the Jewish people, and presently witnessing a widespread resurgence in anti-Semitism, sponsor a conference on combating global anti-Semitism?” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. “The answer is clear: Because the United Nations itself is the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism.”

Bayefsky was one of eight panelists who urged the international community to recognize that as anti-Semitism rises, global security falls. They said failure to act against such bigotry enables ISIS and other fundamental Islamic groups.

“Where is the outrage? Where are the universal condemnations?” said Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Prosor said. “The silence is very similar to the silence of the 1930s and we all have a responsibility to stand up and fight.

“Will you stand with those who fire rockets, kidnap girls out of classrooms, and cut off the heads of journalists? Or will you stand up for freedom?” said Prosor.

“Every nation has a right to protect themselves, yet most condemn Israel’s right to protect itself. Many condemn genocide yet do not do anything against those who seek to annihilate Israel,” said Dr. Caleb Otto, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations.

However, the UN disproportionally singles Israel out among its 193 members, Bayefsky said.

For example, 35% of all resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council that criticize nations on human rights records condemn only Israel. Of all the 2013 General Assembly resolutions criticizing specific countries for human rights abuses, 70% were about Israel. And 50% of the emergency special sessions of the General Assembly over six decades were convened to denounce Israel; no emergency special session has been called on any other state in over thirty years, Bayefsky said.

This kind of institutionalized anti-Semitism not only threatens Israel, it threatens regional stability, said Mark Langfan, Arutz Sheva UN Correspondent/Security Analyst.

Brigitte Gabriel

Wearing a Star of David, Brigitte Gabriel, founder, CEO and president of ACT! For America, decried those who questioned Israel’s right to defend itself during Operation Protective Edge. She said she found that appalling given that Hamas’ charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

Pastor Mario Bramnick, Chief Liaison for Israel and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership, said visitors to the UN “will see Israel falsely portrayed as a murderer, an illegitimate occupier and a baby killer.” They see a nation charged with apartheid and genocide.

Regardless of faith, race or creed, people must not be silent in the face of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel vitriol, Bramnick said to a standing ovation.

Watch this clip of the human rights expert Anne Bayefsky at the UN conference where she calls out the UN for being the source of the legal pogrom against Israel:

In a devastating critique, filled with facts, statistics and fury, Bayefsky called out the UN itself for not just ignoring the rise of anti-Semitism and the threat it poses to global peace and security, but for legitimizing and promoting it.

According to Bayefsky, the answer to the question why the UN was not sponsoring and participating in the conference addressing Anti-Semitism was: “the United Nations itself is the leading purveyor of Anti-Semitism.”

Not only did she give the back of her hand to the well-publicized “photo ops” of the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the gates of Auschwitz, Bayefsky fairly spat out that such hollow gestures are “not an alibi” for “inciting murderous intolerance towards the remnants of the Jewish people in the here and now.”

And the latest appointment by the United Nations of a commission to review whether human rights violations were committed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, is a “legal pogrom” against the Jewish state.

“Hired guns, posing as independent arbiters, like William Schabes, are appointed to discover what they’ve already decided – Guilty!”  And Bayefsky wields the heavily-freighted term with precision, “Sermons about Never Again? Then never forget that perversion of the legal system is how genocide begins.”

Since the UN’s favourite weapon of choice against Israel is international law, the Tower has produced a timely article on Everything you need to know about international law. The article is very long but if you really want to understand the issues, this is a must read.

The article addresses the by now well-known bias of William Schabas who has been appointed to chair the investigative committee of Israel’s “war crimes” – in other words, in Alice in Wonderland fashion, the verdict has been decided before any evidence has been entered:

… past experience virtually negates the likelihood of widespread violation of international humanitarian law by Israel’s soldiers. So why is it that the UN commission investigating Protective Edge is only looking into Israel’s actions, and not also those of Hamas, which violates international law by using human shields, staging attacks from within civilian areas, and indiscriminately attacking Israeli civilians? The commission itself may have already given the answer.

William Schabas—appointed to the UN commission investigating Israel’s actions in Protective Edge—has said it is his “profound belief that international law can be used to demonstrate and underscore the violations committed by the State of Israel,” further adding that he would like to talk about “crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, all of which I think can be shown to have been perpetrated at various times during the history of the state of Israel,” concluding that “with a bit of luck and by twisting things and maneuvering we can get [Israelis] before the courts.” More recently, Schabas admitted to the existence of legal double standards against Israel, explaining,

The fact that there haven’t been inquiries into some atrocities, into some areas of violent conflict in the world, is explained by the political balances and the relative strength of the powers. That’s a very unfortunate situation, but that’s a fact of life. And different crises and different countries fare differently, depending on where they are…we unfortunately live with that as a reality in the world situation.

The behavior of many other jurists demonstrates that they hold these same troubling and, frankly, dangerous views, though they may not be so bold as to openly admit to it. But justice doesn’t need “twisting” and “maneuvering.” A jurist’s personal biases should play no part in a legal determination. The very idea of double standards in law is repugnant, oxymoronic and self-defeating. Law must be objective and blind. It cannot serve political ends, no matter how noble, and definitely not political power interests. In determining guilt and innocence, it cannot allow for the subjectivity exhibited by Schabas. Otherwise, countries that abide by international humanitarian law will be increasingly limited from defending their civilians against unscrupulous actors that ignore and exploit the laws of war. These actors will, in turn, be encouraged to commit further atrocities shielded in the knowledge that “power interests” will protect them from accountability. Legal military actions will be labeled “war crimes” because “political balances” demand it. Real genocides and crimes against humanity—like the extermination of the Yazidis and other minorities currently underway in Iraq—will go unanswered if “power interests” wish to give the perpetrators immunity. Nations otherwise inclined to intervene will refrain out of fear that their leaders, military commanders, and soldiers might be arbitrarily subjected to prosecution if “power interests” dictate it. This leads to an environment where criminals are free to act with impunity, but those who would uphold the peaceful international order have their hands tied behind their back and can only sit and watch in horror as massacres unfold around the world.

The law must not be used against Israel as a political weapon simply because Schabas absurdly wants to drag Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court. No state should be held to a higher legal standard than others, even if the motivations are noble political ends, or highly positive views of that state. The very notion is absurd. Law must be objective and blind to the identity of the parties, judging individuals and states by their actions, not vice versa. Otherwise, the result is not justice, and law becomes a popularity contest.

Read the whole thing.

Will Israel attack Spiderman too? (via Israellycool)

Schabas’s extreme anti-Israel bias was brought to the fore by his utterly absurd statement that Israel would even object to Spiderman if he headed the probe:

Schabas’ appointment to head the panel has been assailed by Israeli government officials due to the Canadian law expert’s past statements regarding Israel’s alleged complicity in war crimes against the Palestinians.

In his interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Schabas vowed that he would “put my opinions aside” and proceed with the investigation in an impartial manner.

“This is an investigation that is necessary,” Schabas said. “I will not resign. I do not hate Israel. I will put my prior positions aside.”

“Even if Spiderman was heading the probe, they would’ve attacked him,” he said. “Our people will be on the ground very soon.”

Schabas should not hold his breath. The Palestinians themselves are having second thoughts about taking Israel to the ICC because the whole thing might backfire in their faces:

Soon after the beginning of the military campaign, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which controls Gaza, announced they would pursue ICC action against Israel.

Israel also announced Thursday it would launch several independent inquiries into incidents that took place during the fighting in Gaza, including the shelling of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school.

International law expert Rodney Dixon was quoted in an ICC report as saying that Israel’s announcement may delay the ICC probe, as The Hague’s “prosecutor’s attention is shifted from possibly launching an investigation to whether an investigation by Israel is genuine, and covers the same persons and conduct of any potential ICC investigation.”

According to the report, senior ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has yet to receive “a positive confirmation” from PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki‎ regarding the Palestinians’ request to launch an official investigation against Israel.

International law experts said that pursuing ICC action may backfire on the Palestinians, as Israel could, as a countermeasure, demand that a war crimes probe be launched against Hamas, both over its use of civilians as human shields during Operation Protective Edge, and over its indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli cities since 2000.

However, I hold out no hopes whatsoever that Israel would get a fair hearing at the ICC either.  An international institution which can cast doubt on the renowned independence and fairness of Israel’s judiciary when it says it’s waiting to see “whether an investigation by Israel is genuine” gives us no reason to believe that it would be any more balanced towards Israel than the UN.

And meanwhile, ISIS is beheading away, while the UN concentrates on Israel…

Posted in Antisemitism, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Good News Friday

Another week has flown by and it’s time for my latest Good News Friday installment.

An OTI WAVE system attached to a Samsung smartphone

We’ll start this week’s post with the very latest hot-off-the-press news from Apple, whose latest development has made one Israeli firm into a big winner:

An Israeli company is poised to cash in on one of the new products and technologies Apple just announced. Its Apple Pay system is ideal for Rosh Pina-based On-Track Solutions (oti), a major player in the mobile wallet business. With Apple announcing that a new NFC (near-field communication) solution for mobile payments will be built into the new iPhone 6, 6+ and Apple Watch, oti said that it would bring the same capabilities to older iPhones, via add-on hardware.

That was enough for investors to bid up the price of oti’s shares on the NASDAQ, and oti stock was up some 75% at one point Wednesday before settling down by the end of the trading day.

Although less “glitzy” than the hardware products announced by Apple at a conference Tuesday, like Apple Watch and iPhone 6, Apple Pay may yet have as big an impact as other Apple devices.

Another oti solution for iPhones is the company’s NFC Insert, comprised of a thin film NFC antenna that connects to the iPhone operating system via the SIM card. The antenna folds onto the backside of the iPhone, where it is protected by any standard case. Several mobile operators around the world are currently piloting this product, which oti calls “cleverly unobtrusive.”

“With the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6, the oti WAVE becomes the leading cost-effective solution for existing iPhone and iPad models that enables secure NFC payment transactions,” said oti’s CEO, Ofer Tziperman. “Apple’s adoption of NFC technology is a strong validation of our long-term vision and investment in NFC technology, as well as that of our partners and business customers,” he said.

Here’s a short video of the NFC technology:

Kol hakavod to OTI on their clever developments and mazal tov on their success. Let’s see the BDS bigots try to boycott Apple! :-)

LOOK – the eyeglass tracker

Another Israeli technological product is bound to be of enormous advantage to a huge number of people - LOOK, the smart tracker to find your glasses!

Anyone who wears glasses knows the disaster of misplacing your specs. Not only do you spend hours frantically  turning over every single thing in your house, but you do so blindly because, without your glasses, you can’t see a thing.

If you know all to well what we’re talking about, then you will probably be happy to hear about the LOOK glasses locator. Launched as an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that is hoping to raise $50,000, the tiny LOOK chip easily attaches to most any pair of glasses to help the user locate them with a Bluetooth-connected device. Created by CEO Dafna Ariely (the mom of the bestselling author of Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely) after she couldn’t find her own glasses, LOOK is the smallest attachable glasses locator that’s hoping to shake up the market.

You may be thinking to yourself—someone has to have thought of this already—but the truth is that LOOK is the first Bluetooth-connected and fashion-conscious glasses tracker that fits on the arm of most glasses. The user is able to track their glasses with an application that causes the chip to beep, informing the user when they are approaching the mystery location of their glasses. According to the creators, the chip is so light that it doesn’t add additional weight to the glasses, measuring only 35 mm long and 10 mm wide.

Watch the video to see how LOOK works:

What a brilliant idea! As a glasses-wearer since the age of 2 (!) I am forever losing my glasses. As they say in the article, I need my glasses to find my glasses. This device will save me hours of frustrated searching and temporary blind-as-a-batness.

Kol hakavod to the Arielys for coming up with this ingenious device. I hope their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing brings them in enough funding to mass-produce the LOOK. I know I will be a devoted customer!

Naomi Elishuv plays her violin

I’ll conclude this post with a wonderful heart-warming story from Israel’s bio-medical field: Israeli neuro-surgery helped a world-renowned violinist regain her ability to play after suffering from hand tremors for decades:

Israeli neurosurgeons at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center helped former world-renowned violinist Naomi Elishuv overcome hand tremors to regain the ability to perform, in a remarkable surgery that had Elishuv playing Mozart while they operated on her brain.

“This is the first time ever that I have performed brain surgery on a person who played the violin during the operation,” said Professor Itzhak Fried, Sourasky’s director of functional neurosurgery.

According to Fried, the surgeons implanted a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of Elishuv’s brain that was the source of the hand tremors which prevented her from playing, and the electrodes emitted impulses to suppress the tremors.

“It’s a shame that I didn’t know about this operation before,” said Elishuv, who was forced to give up playing the violin nearly two decades ago. “Now I’m going to live again.”

Watch Naomi Elishuv play Mozart before and during surgery below:

At the end of the video the doctor asks Naomi how she is feeling. She answers “I’m controlling” – meaning she can control the bow.

What a fantastic story! Kol hakavod to the neuro-surgeons who performed this delicate operation. We wish Naomi Elishuv a full recovery and may she continue to entertain us with her violin for many years to come.

And on this note I wish you all Shabbat shalom!

Posted in Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The land theft that wasn’t

Panoramic view of Gush Etzion

Israel is once more in the dock of international opinion, accused of land theft, land grabbing, illegal settlement building, expansionism, imperialism and global warming. OK, I made that last one up.

The “crime” was (as I mentioned in my post of last week) the designation of 4000 dunams of empty land as “state land” making it now possible for Israel to build on it.

A quick recap of the salient points:

The IDF on Sunday conferred the status of state land on 4,000 dunams in the Gush Etzion region, thus ending the civil administration’s investigation into the possibility that parcels were private Palestinian property.

The new designation for an area known as Gevaot opens the door for settlers to advance plans to build a fifth city in the West Bank on those dunams.

There is a 45-day period for objections to be raised. The land had previously been listed as survey land, a designation that prevented settlers and the army from moving building plans through the planning system.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said that it had acted under guidelines from the senior political echelon, issued after the end of the IDF’s mission Brother’s Keeper, to return the bodies of three teenagers Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed in June.

Gush Etzion, the southern gateway to Jerusalem (from Israelstreet blog (click to enlarge)

As I also mentioned in my post, the chances of something actually being built any time soon are pretty low, as the Israelstreet blog describes the Farce at Gva’ot:

1. In 1982, the then Israeli cabinet approved developing the site as an IDF base.

2. In 1984, the IDF actually created the base and stayed there until 1996 at which time it closed the base.

3. In 1996, the Shvut Yeshiva (in which the 3 Israeli teenagers studied) began using the modular buildings left behind by the IDF as its home. The yeshiva has remained in place until today.

4. In 1998, the Gush Etzion Regional Council developed plans to build a 6000 home city where the base had been located.

5. In 2000, the Regional Council abandoned the plans.

6. In 2008, the Regional Council resurrected the plans and petitioned the government in 2009 for action following the collapse of the Annapolis Peace Talks.

7. In 2012, the Israel Defense Ministry finally acted and authorized the construction of 523 houses.

8. In 2013, the Israel Defense Ministry froze the project.

9. Two months ago, in response to the murders of the teenagers, the Gush Etzion Regional Council renewed its call for development.

10. All of which brings us to yesterday’s decision, and the fact that all those opposed to the decision have 45 days to appeal.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, international opinion is outraged.  However all that calumny, condemnation and contumely pointed at Israel is completely misplaced, as we shall see below.

Jerold Auerbach in the Algemeiner asks:  To settle or not, that is the question and gives us a potted history of Gush Etzion:

… The Etzion bloc, located between Jerusalem and Hebron, currently comprises 18 communities with nearly 40,000 residents. Its modern origins are traceable to 1927, when Yemenite immigrants and ultra-Orthodox Jews established “Migdal Eder,” named after the biblical site (mentioned in Genesis 35:21) where Jacob pitched his tent after burying Rachel. Destroyed during the violent Arab riots of 1929, when the ancient Jewish community in nearby Hebron was also decimated, it was rebuilt between 1943 and 1947, only to be demolished yet again by marauding Arabs on the eve of Israel’s independence. More than 200 Jewish residents, who fought valiantly to the bitter end, were massacred. By Knesset decree, the day Gush Etzion fell became – and remains – the day of remembrance for Israeli soldiers killed in military action.

Following the Six-Day War, Hanan Porat, a child survivor of the Gush Etzion carnage, was determined to restore his vanquished community. Impelled by the politics of memory, he joined Rabbi Moshe Levinger and lawyer Elyakim Haetzni in urging “a Jewish vengeance of building, rebirth and return” in Hebron and Gush Etzion. Their resolute efforts were crowned with success. But in the eyes of the world (including myopic secular Israelis), the current Jewish inhabitants of these ancient Jewish communities are “settlers,” illegally occupying “Palestinian” land. In fact, like their ardent Zionist predecessors ever since the 19th century, they have returned to the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

Arlene Kushner similarly explains why Israel can allocate 1000 acres for housing (via Daled Amos):

The land in question is largely in Gush Etzion, a bloc of Jewish communities south east of Jerusalem that is solidly tied to Israel’s history – and to the modern history of Jews in the Land even before the founding of Israel.  See: http://www.gush-etzion.org.il/history.asp

It is unthinkable that this area would ever be part of a “Palestinian state,” and the notion that building here would render the “two state solution” impossible is unmitigated nonsense.

It is simply that the world has decided we have no rights to land beyond what is referred to as the “pre-1967 border” but is in fact a 1949 temporary armistice line.  An irrational fixation with that “Palestinian state” persists at all costs.  A fixation that we must counter.

In point of fact, the Oslo II Interim Agreement, as elucidated in a briefing by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “established a division of the West Bank into three areas: Area A, where the Palestinians had full control, Area B where there was mixed Israeli and Palestinian security control but full Palestinian civil control, and Area C, where Israel had full military and civilian control. Israeli responsibilities in Area C included the power of zoning and planning.  The territory which Israel declared as state land is within Area C.” (Emphasis added)

http://jcpa.org/israels-988-acres-of-west-bank-territory/

~~~~~~~~~~

Oslo aside for the moment, matters of land allocation in Judea and Samaria are complicated precisely because Israel has not annexed the area. There is a layering of laws going back to the pre-Mandate Ottoman period; the Mandate period (1922 – 1948), when Great Britain was the administrator; through the period of illegal Jordanian occupation (1949 – 1967; and since to the present with Israel as administrator.

Broadly, land in Judea and Samaria falls into one of three legal categories: state land, private land, and land whose status is to be determined. The area in question had the status of territory whose status is to be determined.  However, an investigation was required before the change of status to state land could be announced: That lengthy investigation, completed this summer, determined its status.  No private Arab ownership was uncovered. Now there will be a window of opportunity for those who might wish to contest this finding.  And as we are looking at a bureaucratic process, it will be some time before any actual building is done.

This, then, is what the furor is about.

Delving deeper into the legalities of the disputed territories, Elder of Ziyon points us to the article explaining that Everything you know about settlements is wrong:

Just as Israel was being denounced far and wide for settlement expansion, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released one of its regular reports on settlement activity. What it reveals is that Israel’s actual settlement construction pace has reached a historical low. Only 507 housing units were approved for construction by Netanyahu’s government in the first six months of 2014, a 71.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2013, with about one-third of those being built inside the major blocks that it is understood Israel will keep in any final status agreement. For a population of over 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, that pace of construction does not even allow for natural population growth, much less rapid expansion.

What’s Netanyahu doing? His government’s pattern in recent years is clear: build energetically in the major settlement blocks and in Jerusalem, while restraining growth beyond the West Bank security fence in areas that may become part of a future Palestinian state. Netanyahu doesn’t come out and say this clearly for a simple political reason: The settler lobby would condemn it and indeed is already threatening him with political revenge for restraining settlement growth. British and U.S. diplomats, as well as the American and European press, may be fooled by Palestinian and Peace Now complaints that Bibi is gobbling up Palestinian territory, but the settlers live in those places and know better — construction is slowing down.

At the end of the day, the annexation is a symbolic move. Those lands are going to remain Israel’s no matter what: They are populated by some 20,000 Israelis, adjacent to the pre-1967 border, and were recognized in previous negotiations as part of the areas Israel would keep and for which it would swap Israeli land elsewhere. Most recently, the leaked “napkin map” of the 2008 negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas marked all 1,000 acres as falling under eventual Israeli control.

At this point, the mindless refrain on settlement construction seems to have assumed a life of its own. But anyone who’s serious about addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should ignore the speeches and the rote condemnations, and study the numbers. The vast expansion of Israeli settlements in the future Palestinian state is simply not happening.

Oded Revivi, the Mayor of Efrat in Gush Etzion, is the right person to tell us that It’s time to learn the facts about Judea and Samaria:

 The recent furor surrounding the government’s decision to declare nearly 1,000 acres at Gvaot in Gush Etzion “State Land” is a classic example of the ignorance of history and law that governs most discussions of Israeli actions beyond the internationally hallowed “Green Line.” Media headlines around the world screamed about “annexation” and “land grab,” the Palestinian Authority declared it a “crime” and foreign ministries around the world have demanded the reversal of the decision. However, few articles, press releases or communiques mention the crux of the matter; the legal and historical status of the land in question.

Of course there is land privately owned by Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, what many call the “West Bank” in seeming deference to the Jordanian occupation, which invented the term as juxtaposition to its eastern bank. These areas, like privately owned territory anywhere in the world, cannot be touched unless there is very pressing reason for a government or sovereign power to do so. These areas, according to Ottoman and British records, constitute no more than a few percent of the total area, meaning the vast majority is not privately owned.

However, to contend that these territories are “Palestinian” on a national level is problematic. To claim an area belongs to a particular nation requires the territory to have belonged to that people, where they held some sort of sovereignty that was broadly recognized.

All of these criteria have been met historically by the Jewish people, and none by the Palestinians.

In fact, the Jewish people were provided with national rights in these territories not just by dint of history and past sovereignty, but also by residual legal rights contained in the League of Nations Mandate, which were never canceled and are preserved by the UN Charter, under Article 80 – the famous “Palestine Clause,” that was drafted, in part, to guarantee continuity with respect to Jewish rights from the League of Nations.

For the past almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of Jewish sovereignty and expulsion of most of its indigenous people, it remained an occupied and colonized outpost in the territory of many global and regional empires.

The Ottomans were the most recent to officially apportion the territory, in what they referred to as Ottoman Syria, which today incorporates modern-day Israel, Syria, Jordan and stretching into Iraq. Before The Ottoman Land Code of 1858, land had largely been owned or passed on by word of mouth, custom or tradition. Under the Ottomans of the 19th century, land was apportioned into three main categories: Mulk, Miri and Mawat.

Finally, Mawat was state or unclaimed land, not owned by private individuals nor largely cultivated. These areas made up almost two-thirds of all territory.

The area recently declared “State Land” by the Israeli government, a process which has been under an intensive ongoing investigation for many years, is Mawat land. In other words, it has no private status and is not privately owned.

Many claims to the territory suddenly arose during the course of the investigation, but all were proven to be unfounded on the basis of land laws.

Interestingly, it should be clearly understood by those who deem Judea and Samaria “occupied territory” that according to international law the occupying power must use the pre-existing land laws as a basis for claims, exactly as Israel has done in this case, even though Israel’s official position is that it does not see itself de jure as an occupying power in the legal sense of the term.

If none of the above convinces you, then maybe the threat of Hamas overpowering Fatah (who are not exactly tzaddikim themselves) and taking over the territories should give one pause for thought as Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Hamas says: give us the West Bank so that we can destroy Israel:

If the West Bank had one quarter of the weapons that the Gaza Strip has, Israel would be eliminated in one day. This is what Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told worshippers during a sermon he delivered on September 5.

Zahar, who, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, spent his time in hiding, was speaking during Friday prayers at Martyr Abdullah Azzam Mosque in Gaza City.

“If only the West Bank had one quarter of what Gaza has of resistance tools, the Israeli entity would end in one day,” Zahar declared, reiterating the claim that Hamas had scored a “big victory” in the war.

The Hamas leader went on to criticize those who still have doubts as to whether Israel could be destroyed.

“Those who were skeptical as to whether Palestine could be liberated are no longer doubtful after the enemy was hit from the Gaza Strip,” Zahar said. “Can you imagine what would happen if the enemy is targeted from the West Bank, which makes up 20% of the size of Palestine?”

Even the Iranians seem to think that the time has come to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

During the war in the Gaza Strip, a senior Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohamed Reza Naqdi, announced that Tehran had plans to “arm Palestinians in the West Bank” in order to destroy Israel.

Naqdi boasted that the weapons used by Hamas and other Palestinian groups during the recent war had been manufactured and supplied by Iran.

The threats by Hamas and Iran regarding the West Bank show why it is critically important for Israel (and the Palestinian Authority) to insist on the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as part of any long-term cease-fire agreement.

Even more significantly, these threats underline the need to keep the West Bank a demilitarized area in any future peace agreement, especially one that would see the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

Moreover, these threats support Israel’s insistence on maintaining permanent security control over the border with Jordan. Without such a presence, Iranian-made weapons would easily find their way into the West Bank.

What Hamas and Iran are saying is that if and when Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 lines, they, together with other Palestinians, would bring weapons into the West Bank to achieve their goal of eliminating the “Zionist entity.”

Add to this toxic mix the threat of ISIS on our northern and eastern borders and Israel would be mad to consider giving up any of the territory up to the Jordan River.

And the world is not only mad, but evil to expect and demand Israel to do so.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The West lacks a strategy to tackle ISIS

The West’s confrontation with the imperialist barbaric ISIS terrorists is floundering, and the reason is chiefly because the West lacks any coherent strategy.

Daniel Pipes was interviewed for a magazine recently and gives us the transcript in a fascinating article in which he explains both how ISIS rose so quickly, where it gets its support from, and why the West is finding it so hard to tackle it.  In short, the West has no plan:

First, the insidious role of Turkey:

What role does the Turkish government play in this conflict?

It’s the primary backer of ISIS. Without Turkish support, ISIS would not be where it is. Qatar is important, too, as a major source of financial support, but Turkey provides more than that: arms, refuge, training and medical assistance. There are even reports of retired Turkish soldiers serving in ISIS.

But why should the Turkish government have any interest at all in encouraging problems along its own border?

Erdoğan had such close personal relations with Bashar al-Assad that he and his wife vacationed with the Assads. When the troubles began in early 2011, Erdoğan gave Assad (good) advice on how to respond. But Assad rejected Erdoğan’s views and Erdoğan, who has a volatile personality, responded with great anger. Since then, Erdoğan has done everything to bring down the Assad regime, including support for ISIS.

So it all boils down to the vanity of one man?

In large part, yes. Erdoğan dominates Turkish politics. Especially since the elections of 2011, he has done whatever he wishes.

Indeed, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil, writing about anti-Jewish attitudes in Turkey at the Gatestone Institute, says that according to at least one Turkish judge, there are 44 million Zionists in Turkey!

… upon Erdogan’s election victory on March 30, he had written that, “The losers (at the ballot box) are Zionists and their conspirators.” Just imagine a Turkish Jew having a legal dispute with a Muslim Turk and facing this judge in the courtroom…

There was one problem, though, about the judge’s logic. If all of those Turks who do not love Erdogan are Zionists, election results show that there are nearly forty-four million Zionists in Turkey!

Returning to Pipes’ article:

Do you think that President Obama – or, for that matter, anyone else who holds power – has a plan to stop the jihadi forces in Iraq and Syria?

I see no plan. Western governments are sending arms, hoping that these go to the better – or less worse – elements in Syria, but that hardly constitutes a plan.

President Obama himself admitted (or proudly declared, I’m not sure of his standpoint) that “we don’t have a strategy yet“.  Considering that ISIS, or in its previous incarnation as assorted Jihadist groups, has been a known threat for years, it is incomprehensible and nothing short of a disgrace that the leader of the world’s only superpower didn’t have any strategy ready.

But the President made clear any plan to go after ISIS in Syria would take time and require a regional strategy. “We’re not going to do that alone,” he said.

Among the options Obama said he requested from the U.S. military were plans to make sure ISIS does not overrun Iraq.

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are working, he said.

“The terrorists of (ISIS) are losing arms and equipment,” Obama said, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are making inroads.

Map of ISIS, Syrian and Kurdish areas of control of Syria and Iraq

However Obama’s faith in the Kurds’ military prowess might be misplaced as Jonathan Spyer writes that the Kurds are having difficulty fighting ISIS although they confirm that US airstrikes helped them beat ISIS at Mosul Dam.

Today, not only the existence of Iraq is in jeopardy. So is the existence of the KRG itself, assailed by the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS), whose harsh brand of Islam is terrifying locals and appalling the world.

A single war between ISIS and the Kurds is now under way, stretching along an enormous front line from Jalawla, near the Iraq-Iran border, all the way to Jarabulus on the frontier between Syria and Turkey.

ISIS has not forgotten Erbil. A terror campaign has begun here. There are mysterious explosions of a type familiar to residents of Iraqi cities further south. Last week, a car bomb ripped through a central neighbourhood, wounding several people.

But Kurdish forces are hunkering down, facing the jihadis with grim determination. With the help of U.S. air cover and Iraqi special fores, they are beginning to reconquer some of the areas lost. Most significantly, these include oilfields near Mosul, retaken this week, and the Mosul Dam, which provides water and electricity for much of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are well aware of what an ISIS victory would mean. After the jihadis took the Mount Sinjar area (Shinghal in Kurdish), they unleashed a series of atrocities that shocked even this most hardened of lands.

At the fly-blown Newroz refugee camp in northern Syria, Yezidi refugees described what happened when ISIS fighters appeared in their villages near the mountain and the peshmerga fled.

“We tried to withdraw all the women and kids from the village. People who could get to the mountains were safe, people who stayed were killed,” said Kawa, 30, who was lucky enough to escape with some of his family.

The refugees’ bitterness at their abandonment by the peshmerga remains raw and palpable. But still more tangible is the sense of stark horror as they recall the jihadis’ actions.

The peshmerga’s failure to hold the line at Sinjar was a shock, both for observers and inhabitants of Kurdish northern Iraq. Gen. Haraki blames it on the help afforded ISIS by local Sunni Arabs.

But the peshmerga’s initial failure was not only the product of local Sunni support for ISIS. These once-vaunted fighters had not taken part in combat for 20 years. Deprived of modern equipment by the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and the West, which remains suspicious of Kurdish separatist ambitions, they found themselves outgunned and initially outfought by the jihadi blitzkrieg.

But, as the refugees’ testimony suggests, other Kurdish forces appeared at Mount Sinjar mountain — the ragged and formidable fighters of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia from Syria and PKK guerrillas from Turkey.

Armed only with Kalashnikovs and light machine guns, but with much combat experience, these fighters succeeded in opening a road from Sinjar up to Jezza, Rumeilan and then to the refugee camp outside Derik. Tens of thousands of lives may have been saved because of this action.

ISIS has been notably unsuccessful in its efforts to make progress in this little-reported front of the Syrian war.

The opening of the corridor from Mount Sinjar was the most notable achievement yet for the YPG/PKK.

It indicates that, for all their undoubted fanaticism, the jihadis are not invincible and can be turned back when met by equal commitment and greater skill.

This puts the lie to Obama’s ridiculous statement (in the CNN article above) that:

… “the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS … is unrealistic,” Obama said, insisting that a strong, trusted Iraqi government is critical to ousting the Islamist terror group permanently.

Returning to Spyer’s article, he demonstrates precisely how wrong Obama is:

The opportunity, meanwhile, is that Kurdish sovereignty has already emerged as a more benign successor entity in a contiguous line across the old border — and Kurdish forces are today the only ones engaged in earnest against a savage force universally acknowledged to constitute an enemy of humanity.

Gen. Haraki’s statement that the break-up of Iraq represents the solution may well be heard more widely and insistently in the months ahead. This is a war to create new borders, and to hold back the advance of a savagery not seen in the Middle East for a generation.

A hypothetical map of a “new Levant” in the region of Iraq and Syria

Daniel Pipes agrees with Haraki’s estimation about the break-up of Iraq – and Syria:

Should US and European politicians acknowledge that the map of the Middle East could be reshaped, too?

The Middle East is being reshaped. There is no Syria, there is no Iraq, and there is virtually no border between Lebanon and Iran. Kurdish autonomous regions exist in both northern Iraq and north-eastern Syria. Western policy must indeed adjust to the new realities on the ground.

Unfortunately the West seems to be waking up much too slowly and too late to the dangers and new realities enumerated by Daniel Pipes. The Jihadis are already coming home to roost in Europe – or were created in Europe and exported themselves to the Middle East.

A still image from security camera footage of Nemmouche opening fire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels | Photo credit: EPA

For example, the French terrorist who shot up the Jewish Museum in Brussels earlier this year, killing 4 people including 2 Israelis, has been fingered by a French journalist as the captor who held him hostage in Syria and tortured him:

The reporter, Nicolas Henin, said he recognized Mehdi Nemmouche from video shown to him as part of an investigation. He did not elaborate on the nature of the probe, but mentioned that “a judicial procedure” had been launched while he was still a hostage.

“After the arrest of Mehdi Nemmouche I have been shown a few audiovisual documents that allowed me to recognize him formally,” Henin, who was freed on April 20 along with three other French journalists, told a news conference.

He said Nemmouche beat him and although he wasn’t sure if other Western hostages received the same treatment, he heard Syrian prisoners being tortured in the same building.

However, despite the greater number of Muslims living in France than anywhere else, it appears that Britain is Jihad Central (Londonistan as Melanie Phillips put it), and is only now (h/t Henry) waking up to the dangers:

On Monday last week British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed legislation to prevent citizens who joined the Islamic State and other terrorist groups from re-entering Britain to “wreak havoc.” His proposal followed the Aug. 19 release of a video showing a jihadist who spoke with a British accent appearing to behead American journalist James Foley. One day after Mr. Cameron’s announcement, the Islamic State posted a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, ostensibly by the same Briton.

The jihadist’s nationality shocked Britain and the world. It shouldn’t have. Scotland Yard estimates that at least 500 Britons have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. British-born terrorists have been the most numerous, violent and influential of European jihadists since well before 9/11.

Why Britain? The reasons include the nation’s tradition as a sanctuary for dissidents; a defendant-friendly judiciary; a law-enforcement system with few Muslim informants; a profligate version of multiculturalism; and the misfortune of having Pakistan as the main source of Muslim immigrants.

…the U.K. takes pride in multiculturalism. But as Amartya Sen, the Nobel-laureate economist, puts it, what Britain has is “plural monoculturalism.” This does not promote the mixing of different cultures in a national culture, but rather focuses on preserving cultural identity.

Britain has fewer Muslims than France or Germany, yet its jihadists exceed the number in those countries.

Nowhere else in Europe have authorities felt the need to release a jihadist head count, but in confidential briefings no Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish security official offered me estimates at a fraction of British appraisals. Britain possesses a deeply rooted and insular radical Islam culture. This is why British investigators are having such a tough time identifying the murderer of the two Americans and why British tweets praising the killings abound.

America has to face up to its responsibility as a world superpower – whether it likes it or not – to provide logistical, military, humanitarian and political support to the opponents of ISIS and its Jihadist allies, even if they have to turn up their nose at the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Update (h/t Elchanan): Israel is rumoured to have been supplying intelligence data to the US and its allies for the campaign against ISIS.

Europe too has to confront the Jihadists in its midst and tackle their ideology and their malign influence amongst the genuinely peaceful Muslims.

If they don’t live up to these expectations we can look forward to ISIS taking control of huge swathes of the Middle East, including oil reserves, destablising the entire region.

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