Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CBC, December 28, 2010

Suing Israel

December 28, 2010News > World
Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish plans to sue the Israeli government for a military attack which killed his daughters and niece, the CBC's Aaron Saltzman reports
This is a truly sad story, and one cannot help but feel the pain and the loss this man has suffered. However, this report is woefully incomplete. It misses the fact that the Israel Defence Force investigated these deaths and concluded that the attack that caused them was "reasonable"and that the IDF's decision to shell the building - after identifying suspicious-looking figures on the roof - was justifiable. But even before that, several IDF officers had contacted Dr. Abuelaish personally and urged him to move his family out of the building. Also, the IDF had blanketed the area with leaflets advising civilians to leave. For whatever reason, Dr. Abuelaish chose to ignore those warnings. 

Something else the CBC has chosen to ignore is the fact that Hamas admits using its own civilians as human shields, and thinks nothing of booby-trapping civilian infrastructure .  A full and unbiased report would have noted these facts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2010

11/28/2010 02:05
Israeli official asks: What sort of peace are you offering us; Revolutionary Council urges PA to foil J'lem-Golan Heights referendum law 
The Fatah Revolutionary Council concluded its fifth convention in Ramallah over the weekend by declaring its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The council also urged the Palestinian Authority leadership to work toward foiling a new Israeli law requiring a referendum before any withdrawal from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights that has not been passed by two thirds of the Knesset.

The Palestinians are opposed to any understandings between Israel and the US that could harm their interests, the council said.

“The council affirms its rejection of the so-called Jewish state or any other formula that could achieve this goal,” said a statement issued by the council.

“The council also renews its refusal for the establishment of any racist state based on religion in accordance with international law and human rights conventions.”

The council made its statement as Israel awaits a document from the US which would set out an incentives package in exchange for a 90-day freeze on new settlement construction based on the terms of the 10- month moratorium on such activity which expired on September 26.

The Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt all settlement activity before direct negotiations can be resumed.

An Israeli government official on Saturday night called on the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations without any preconditions.

“Let us meet and talk,” he said.

The official said he was disappointed by the council’s statement with respect to a Jewish state.

“I would ask the Palestinians the following question: If the Jewish state is fundamentally illegitimate in your eyes, what sort of peace are you offering us? “It is clear that their refusal to recognize the Jewish state’s legitimacy is the true obstacle to peace and reconciliation,” the official added.

In its statement Saturday, the Fatah council said it was categorically opposed to proposals for a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians under the pretext that “illegal settler gangs can’t be put on an equal footing with the owners of the lands and rights.”

Israel has long assumed that any final status agreement would include land swaps.

The Fatah leaders said they supported PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s policies, especially with regard to the peace process with Israel.

“The council salutes President Mahmoud Abbas for adhering to the basic rights, first and foremost the right of return for Palestinian refugees,” the statement said. “Also, the council salutes President Abbas for standing up against pressure aimed at resuming the peace talks without achieving the demands of the Palestinians.”

The council dismissed plans to supply Israel with weapons in return for reviving the stalled peace talks. It added that the Palestinians would not accept any understandings between Israel and the US which could “harm Palestinian rights and prolong occupation.”

The reported US package of incentives to Israel does not serve the cause of peace, the Fatah council cautioned.

“Such gifts to the occupier will only make the occupier more stubborn and radical.”

Referring to the new Israeli law regarding Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the council said it was in violation of international law and urged the PA leadership to make efforts through the UN and the Security Council to thwart it.

Abbas told Fatah leaders during the three-day gathering that the Palestinians want a just and comprehensive peace, but would not compromise on their rights.

He also ruled out the possibility of returning to the negotiating table without a full cessation of construction in settlements and east Jerusalem.

In its sessions, the council also reiterated its opposition to the idea of creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders. A PA official said there was no change its position on this issue.

“The PA leadership dismisses the idea of a state with temporary borders, the official said.

“We insist that the issue of borders and security be the first to be discussed when the negotiations resume.”

The official’s statements follow statements by several Israeli politicians who recently came out in favor of creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders in an effort to prevent a diplomatic vacuum and give the Palestinians the responsibility that a state would provide.

Kadima leadership candidate Shaul Mofaz unveiled a plan a year ago in which Israel would annex settlement blocs while withdrawing from 60 percent of the West Bank, comprising Areas A and B, where 99.2 of the Palestinians live, and additional land to create a contiguous Palestinian state. Intensive negotiations would then begin on final borders.

Mofaz said that he has met with senior Palestinian, American and European officials who have privately endorsed his plan.

President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have also expressed support for the idea of creating a Palestinian state with temporary borders.

Journalist Yair Lapid, who is expected to run for the next Knesset, wrote in his Yediot Aharonot column last week that Israel should forget about trying to achieve peace and instead focus on creating a Palestinian state as soon as possible.

“The time has come to separate the question of establishing a Palestinian state from the question of peace,” Lapid wrote.

“Israel must work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state not because it would bring peace, but rather because it would be much easier to manage the conflict vis-a-vis such a state.”

He predicted that the establishment of a Palestinian state would “take the world off our backs, curb the process of turning us into a pariah state, enable us to maintain our security with fewer restraints, lift the burden of controlling three million people, and enable us to manage the discussion on our final borders and the future of the settlements.”

What's missing:
Everything. Once again, this entire story is missing from all major Western mass media. Quite simply, Fatah, the supposedly "moderate" Palestinian party, has:
  1. Rejected the concept of a Jewish state
  2. Rejected the right of Israeli citizens to determine their own future in a referendum
  3. Rejected the concept of land swaps, a basic component of every negotiation since the Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.
  4. Rejected Israel's right as a sovereign nation to undertake agreements with the United States
In other words, Fatah has made it pretty clear that there is little or no point in negotiating anything. And yet we don't see this reported anywhere. Why have the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, Canada's Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other major media chosen to ignore it completely.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ottawa Citizen, November 24, 2010

... before I was so rudely interrupted by Jason Kenney: I hate terrorism, whether committed by a man in a turban or a politician in a suit

Excerpt 1:
Rumbling towards us is a major crisis in Lebanon with Canada's fingerprints all over the casus belli. The head of the inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri and most of the "investigation" muscle is Canadian.(1)

But it is the full-on over-identification of Canada with the most extreme Israeli government in history (2) which is utterly mystifying. This is a government busily humiliating U.S. President Barack Obama over settlements (3), burying the hopes of peace under the concrete of spreading and illegal construction, and an apartheid wall on Palestinian land declared illegal by the international courts (4). The courts are treated with the same contempt as the will of the United Nations has been for more than 40 years (5).
Canada under Harper supports Israel on all of the above, as it did in the brutal massacre of more than 1,000 civilians during the attack on Gaza (6), with the entire territory rendered as basically an open-air prison camp, as British prime minister David Cameron described it. And as it did when Israel attacked a humanitarian aid ship (7) in international waters (8), killing nine, wounding scores, and kidnapping hundreds (8) whom they took in shackles to a jail in the desert, robbing many of their possessions (9). Substitute Iran for Israel in that last sentence and ask yourself what the Harper response would have been. You'd have been wearing tin hats in Toronto.
Excerpt 2:

Let me say this for the ten-thousandth time, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of, or a supporter of, any terrorist organization(10). I hate terrorism, whether it is carried out by a man in a turban with a beard in the Tora Bora, or a statesman in a suit in the White House, in Whitehall or Tel Aviv.
I witnessed the results of it in my own east London constituency on 7/7, as I had previously in the aftermath of Israeli massacres in Lebanon and in Palestine. I am trying to bring about an end to all of this, to bring peace to the Holy Land. And the price of peace is justice for the Palestinians, as the Prince of Peace would surely have recognized.

What's missing:
(1) While the current head of the UN inquiry is Canadian, Lebanon specifically requested that the tribunal have "an international character". As for the "investigation muscle", it seems that Mr. Galloway is here referring to the fact that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in an investigative journalism coup, revealed information gathered by a Lebanese policeman.  What is most interesting, however, is that Mr. Galloway appears to be blaming Canada for a crisis that may or may or not occur, simply because a Canadian TV network has apparently exposed the guilty parties - parties who have been issuing threats should anyone accuse them. In effect, he's blaming the police investigator for finding the criminal.

(2) While Mr. Galloway may have his own feelings about the "extremism" of the current Israeli government, it is worth noting that Israel's current prime minister has recognized the two-state solution and was the the first to ever offer a freeze in settlement construction. What's more, if Mr. Galloway studied a little history, he would find that Menachem Begin, in a speech that was considerably more hardline than anything Netanyahu has ever said, told Ronald Reagan that Israel is neither a "vassal state" of the US, nor a "banana republic".

(3) Mr. Obama was the first US President to link peace talks to settlement construction. All previous negotiations had continued without any freeze whatsoever. In this way, Mr. Obama made it impossible for the Palestinians to come to the table as long as construction continued. Mr. Obama backed the Palestinians and the Israelis into opposite corners and, arguably, was therefore the architect of his own humiliation.

(4) Calling Israel's separation barrier an "apartheid wall" is blatant political rhetoric. Most of it is a fence, not a wall, and the sole reason for its construction was to prevent the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel. The fact that suicide bombers now rarely detonate themselves within Israel is proof of its effectiveness.

(5) The International Court of Justice did not issue a ruling on the legality of the separation barrier. It issued an advisory opinion. As such, it is not international law. In addition, the United Nations General Assembly recognizes that  it"... is empowered to make only non-binding recommendations to States on international issues...". In other words, its resolutions are not international law either. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, with its automatic, built-in anti-Israel bias, it's hardly surprising that it has passed so many resolutions critical of Israel.

(6) More rhetoric from Mr. Galloway. The Hamas Minister of the Interior has admitted that the majority of those killed in Israel's actions in Gaza were fighters (English report here).

(7) Far from being simply a "humanitarian aid ship", the Maavi Marmara was found to be carrying members of a militant organization, bent on confrontation with Israeli soldiers. As for Mr. Galloway's complaint about this happening in international waters, the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994 reads:
Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

(8) Using the word "Kidnapping" is highly inflammatory. These people were arrested. However, within days, Israel had released all of the passengers from all the ships prevented from reaching Gaza.

(9) Mr. Galloway here repeats accusations made by flotilla passengers. These accusations are under investigation by Israel - and IDF officers have demanded that anyone found guilty of theft be prosecuted.

(10) Mr. Galloway has personally handed funds to leaders of Hamas. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Canada, the US and the European Union.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Guardian, November 23, 2010

Israel must hold poll on any peace plan withdrawal after Knesset vote

Legislation will make it more difficult for Israeli parliament to approve any exit from occupied territories
    Israeli soldier stands guard in Ghajar on the Israeli-Lebanese border 
    The new law means withdrawal from territories such as the village of Ghajar which was captured from Syria will go to referendum if not approved by two-thirds of the Knesset. Any peace deal involving withdrawal by Israel from annexed territory in East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights will need to be ratified by a national referendum under legislation approved by the Israeli parliament late last night. Land ceded to the Palestinians in exchange for the inclusion of some West Bank settlements within Israel when borders are drawn would also be subject to a referendum (2). But the West Bank, which Israel has occupied for the past 43 years but never annexed, is not covered by the legislation which passed by 65 votes to 33.The bill, promoted by the rightwing Likud party and backed by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, takes immediate effect. It comes as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are stalled despite a US push, including significant inducements offered to the Israelis, to get the two sides back round the table.Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, criticised the new national referendum law. "The Israeli leadership, yet again, is making a mockery of international law, which is not subject to the whims of Israeli public opinion," he said. "Under international law there is a clear and absolute obligation on Israel to withdraw not only from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, but from all of the territories that it has occupied since 1967 (3). Ending the occupation of our land is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum." Under the law, a referendum will be required if withdrawal from annexed territory is not approved by a two-thirds majority in the Knesset (parliament).It was opposed by Tzipi Livni, leader of the centre-right Kadima party which is outside the coalition government. The issue, she said, was "not about who wants and who does not want to cede parts of the land. It is about decisions that should be taken by the leadership that understands the scale of the problems and is privy to all their aspects. The people are not a substitute for such leadership."Before the vote, Ehud Barak, the defence minister and leader of Israel's Labour party, issued a statement saying the bill was "a concrete block on the head of efforts to advance the diplomatic process … The government pledged to advance the peace process."Israel has no history of holding referendums, and the new law does not specify how such a move would be funded.The move was very significant, said Israeli political analyst Yossi Alpher. "In effect, it weakens the authority of the Knesset to decide these issues and turns it over to a system that has never been tried in Israel. It's extremely difficult to predict how the [new] system will behave. It is clearly intended to make it more difficult to approve withdrawal from these territories. It really strikes at the heart of the Israeli parliamentary system." (4)

What's missing:
(1)   The use of this photograph is fairly typical of reporting in the Western mass media. It bears no relevance whatsoever to the article on hand. Why was this particular image chosen? Is it because of the contrast between the heavily armed soldier and the clearly unarmed little boy? Is it because the soldier appears, from this angle, to be aiming his rifle at the boy? Or because the boy looks so dejected? Clearly, this picture tells a story. Unfortunately, it's a blatantly anti-Israel story that has no place in this report.

(2) Israel is a democracy. A referendum is nothing more than a vote put to the electorate. It is the ultimate expression of democracy. Any deal between Israel and the Palestinians will almost certainly have a huge impact on ordinary citizens, no matter where they live. Are these citizens not entitled to have a say?

(3) This statement is simply untrue. UN Resolution 242 Section 1 (i) clearly states: "Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;" It does not say "the territories" or "all the territories". It deliberately states "territories", because the framers of this resolution believed that Israel was entitled to secure borders - and understood that the 1948 armistice lines - commonly known as the Green Line - did not provide security to Israel.

(4) Note that every Knesset member quoted here is against the referendum law. Isn't it surprising that even though the law passed with a majority, The Guardian was unable to find a single Knesset member to speak up for it?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BBC News Online, November 19, 2010

Israeli air strikes hit two Gaza towns (1)

Trails of rockets fired from Gaza – January 2009
Rocket fire from Gaza has dropped sharply since 2008 (2)
Israeli air strikes hit three sites in the Gaza Strip, in response to a rocket and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza earlier, the Israeli military said. It did not confirm the targets, but AFP news agency said the towns of Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis were hit.
At least six people were injured, witnesses and medical officials said.
The Israeli army said Palestinian militants had fired 10 mortars and a rocket into Israel over the past two days which had caused no casualties. "The targeting of these terror-linked sites was in response to the firing of rockets at Israel's southern communities," the army said in a statement. "The IDF will also continue to respond harshly to any attempt to use terror against the state of Israel," they added.
Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for the Hamas-run medical services in Gaza, told AFP that four people were injured in a strike that targeted a home east of the central town of Deir al-Balah.
The injured, who included two women, were taken to Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital, he said.
Meanwhile, two people suffered minor injuries in Khan Younis.

Rocket fireThe long-range rocket fired from Gaza earlier on Friday, which struck near the town of Ofakim, was the first of its kind in several months, an official said.
Grad-type rockets, from a Soviet design, have a range of up to 40km (25 miles), about twice the distance of the Qassam rockets made in Gaza and usually used by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli air strike on Wednesday killed two members of the Army of Islam, a Palestinian militant group.
Rocket fire from Gaza has dropped sharply since Israel's devastating 22-day offensive in December 2008.
In the past 18 months one person in Israel, a Thai farm worker, has been killed by a rocket fired from Gaza.
According to Israeli Defence Force figures, 180 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel by militants in 2010.
The United Nations says that in 2010, 55 Palestinians, including 22 civilians, have been killed by Israeli military action in Gaza.
The UN says over 200 Palestinians have been injured in the same period.(3)

What's missing:

(1) This headline focuses exclusively on the Israeli action. It says nothing about the fact that rockets - including lethal Grad rockets - and mortars had earlier been fired into civilian areas of Israel. Also, by referring to "two Gaza Towns", it implies that Israel has targeted civilian areas. A reader going no further than the headlines would not know that Israel aimed specifically at terrorist targets within the two towns. 

(2)  The caption to the photograph reinforces the false impression given by the headline. It implies that Israel had no right to attack the "two Gaza towns", because "rocket fire from Gaza has dropped sharply." Once again, it does not tell the reader that rocket had only just struck Israel a few hours earlier.

(3) Note the contrast here. "Israel's devastating 22-day offensive" vs. a Thai farm worker killed. "Only" 180 rockets, versus 55 Palestinians killed and 200 injured - with no reference to how many of those 200 were engaged in military operations. This is a common approach - comparing "death counts", without any context. Firstly, if no rockets or mortars were fired from Gaza, Israel would have no need to undertake any actions in Gaza. There would be no casualties on either side.  Secondly, Hamas casualty figures cannot be relied upon. In the 2008 offensive, Hamas claimed over a thousand civilians killed - yet the Hamas Interior Minister has admitted that a huge majority of those killed were actually fighters.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jerusalem Post, November 19. 2010

Rocket warfare escalates as four explode in Negev     (1)

First Grad rocket from Gaza hits Ofakim since Operation Cast Lead, causing damage; three more Kassams shot.

Violence from the Gaza Strip escalated Thursday night and Friday morning, as three Kassam rockets and a Grad rocket (2) were shot from Gaza towards Israel.

The Grad rocket was the first since July, and the first to land near Ofakim since Operation Cast Lead. The rocket exploded in an open area, injuring three cows and damaging a building.

In addition, two Kassam rockets (3) landed in the Merhavim regional council of the western Negev. No injuries and damage were reported.

Another rocket was shot on Friday morning. It landed in Palestinian territory.

The escalation may have been a reaction to the IDF assassination of two members of the Army of Islam, an al-Qaida affiliated group (4) (5). Earlier on Thursday, the Army of Islam issued a threat in Hebrew for the first time, saying that Jews are not safe from attacks.

Kassam rockets have been shot from Gaza towards the western Negev almost daily since 2001. The IDF Spokesperson's unit reported that over 180 rockets have landed in Israel since the beginning of the year.
What's missing:

(1) This entire report is missing - from the world's major media outlets. Online searches of BBC, CNN, NY Times, Reuters, Canada's Globe and Mail and the Toronto Store - to mention just a few - return no results on this topic.  Yet this is an act of war. See Article 52 of the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.
Why does it matter? Because if Israel were to retaliate in order to prevent future rocket attacks, and the world media reported on that retaliation, there would be no context and Israel would once again appear to be the aggressor.

(2)  The Grad is a sophisticated rocket, first developed in the Soviet Union in 1963 and now available in various configurations. It is far more accurate and far deadlier than the home-made Kassam rocket.

(3) It is often claimed that the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are little more than a nuisance. Yet they can be deadly. In addition, because the Kassam rocket lacks a guidance system, it cannot be "aimed" at exclusively military targets. By its very nature, this makes the Kassam rocket a tool of terrorism.

(4) It could be argued that as this attack is a retaliation, Israel was the aggressor. However, the legality of targeted assassinations of known terrorist leaders is hotly debated - and in Israel, at least, the Supreme Court has ruled that these are not illegal under international law. It's most important to note, though, that Israel's attack was targeted, while the "retaliation" was not. It was clearly designed to cause terror and, if at all possible, to result in civilian injuries and death. The Israeli attack hit its intended target, with minimal damage to surrounding infrastructure and population. So, while the legality of the Israeli attack can be argued, the rocket attacks from Gaza are war crimes (see (1) above).

(5) Interestingly, the Israeli attack on the Army of Islam leaders was reported by the BBC, CNN,  and NY Times. Which begs the question: why are attacks against Israel ignored, while Israeli actions get reported?

As expected, Israel has struck back - and the BBC has reported on it. Of special interest is how the BBC leads with a headline that reinforces the notion of Israeli "aggression". In contrast, CNN deserves credit for noting in its headline that Israel has hit "targets in Gaza".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sultanknish, November 18, 2010

Obama's Jerusalem Apartheid

According to Obama and the media, Muslims have a right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but Jews don't have the right to live in apartments in their own city. 
What's missing:

Nothing's missing. This is just one more incredible sentence that, in true Sultanknish style, encapsulates the absurdity of media reporting and world attitudes in as few, carefully-chosen words as possible.