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Comments about Mohammed Omer needs an investigation :

Home page Ben posted on July 03, 2008 at 02:01:03 AM
"The most important example is the myth-making around footage of Mohammed Al-Dura, emblematic for people who push the idea that the Israeli army deliberately kills civilians."

Mira, this makes it sound like you're saying the Israeli army does not deliberately kill civilians. Is this what you're saying?
Mira posted on July 03, 2008 at 03:09:00 PM
I think if the IDF had policy to murder civilians evidence would have come up in 5 years of UCU boycott campaign.
Brian Goldfarb posted on July 03, 2008 at 04:54:22 PM
Ben, are you saying that the IDF does _deliberately_ kill civilians? If so, may we have your evidence, please? You will note that the Mohammed Al-Dura case is unravelling at the seams. This is not to say that the boy isn't dead; what evidnece there is does point to him being dead, unfortunately. However, the evidence that the IDF shot him, accidentally, deliberately, or even with a ricochet, is fast vanishing into the ground. So, it seems quite reasonable to ask you to produce the evidence for the assertion in your statement that the Israeli army does deliberately kill civilians.

To put it rather more pointedly, not to say crudely: put up or shut up.

Jonathan Romer posted on July 03, 2008 at 05:04:22 PM
If the IDF is deliberately targeting civilians, Ben, why the need to fabricate the al-Dura case?
Noga posted on July 03, 2008 at 05:36:14 PM
"Mira, this makes it sound like you're saying the Israeli army does not deliberately kill civilians. Is this what you're saying?"

Ben's question, in essence, seems to agree with Andre Glucksmann's definition of terrorism as:

"a deliberate attack by armed men on unarmed civilians. Terrorism is aggression against civilians as civilians, inevitably taken by surprise and defenseless. Whether the hostage-takers and killers of innocents are in uniform or not, or what kind of weapons they use—whether bombs or blades—does not change anything; neither does the fact that they may appeal to sublime ideals. The only thing that counts is the intention to wipe out random victims. The systematic resort to the car bomb, to suicide attacks, randomly killing as many passersby as possible, defines a specific style of engagement."


Ben's question also makes it sound as if he is open to persuasion. If there were some way that could prove that the IDF does not deliberately kill civilians, qua civilians, then Ben would re-assess his commitment to boycotting Israel.

It's a tough one but this is where Ben and his fellow-boycotters can be useful, after all. They could persuade Hamas and Hizzbulla to separate their militia from the civilian places: like build their weapons workshops away from crowded apartment blocks, shoot their qasssams away from civilian centers, dig their weapons smuggling tunnels in open fields and not inside inhabited houses, house their rocket launchers and piles of weapons in uninhabited zones, etc. This would create a visible and easily monitored separation between the militants and the civilians. If, once this separation is in place, the IDF will be seen to target civilians, then Ben's premise will be proven beyond a doubt.

What says Ben?
James Mendelsohn posted on July 03, 2008 at 05:42:07 PM
great post Mira
Tavarich posted on July 03, 2008 at 06:15:02 PM
Oh yeah Ben drop yourself right in it, one thing to write this tripe for Evangelicals Occasionally... [sic Now!] and another thing altogether to post on Engage with people who actually know what they are talking about.
Saul posted on July 03, 2008 at 06:39:30 PM
Typical Ben: the reality of house demolitions, detention without trial,(illegal) torture, blockades of Gaza, hundreds of checkpoints in the Occupied Territory,harrasment and humiliation, a wall between village and its agriculture - none of this is  enough for him.

Like Pilger, he has to go one step further and enter the land of fantasy; that Israel murders more journalists than any other country (not true); that the IDF committed a massacre in Jenin (not true); that the IDF deliberately target civilians and children (not true) - which is not to say journalists and civilians, including children do not die (for which the IDF is,  by defnition, responsible and, as such, accountable).

Deep down, of course, Ben would love it to be true. It would make his day. He'd be there writing about it with glee.

Pity, as with the French libel case, he has to make do with unfounded assertion and fabrication. And, in so doing, undermining all the serious work Israelis, Palestinians and others are doing to end this oppressive (and verifiable) state of affairs.

But of course, for some strands of the "resistance", there are no such things as "civilians" in Israel (especially, say in Sderot) so, no problem there.
Bill posted on July 03, 2008 at 07:16:22 PM
I think if the IDF was out to maximize or even simply "enhance" civilian causalities above those collateral damages inevitable when a terrorist group embeds itself among willing and unwilling civvies*, then Gaza and the West Bank would be seeing MUCH higher non-combatant casualty rates.  

(*but embedding terrorists among civilians to kill Jews on the other side of a green line isn't "as such" a war crime is it?  I believe it's a human right these days.)

Home page Ben posted on July 04, 2008 at 02:48:34 AM
@ Mira
I didn't realise that you considered the UCU boycott campaign such a reliable source of information about Palestine/Israel.

It seems Mira is not the only one who thinks Israeli soldiers have not deliberately killed civilians. But this is just some of the evidence available:

Sister and brother Asma and Ahmad al-Mughayr, aged 16 and 13 respectively, were both killed with a single bullet to the head “within minutes of each other on the roof-terrace of their home” as they took clothes off the drying line and fed the pigeons. [1] Yet the Israeli army immediately claimed that Asma and Ahmad had been killed by an explosion caused by Palestinian fighters. At the hospital in Rafah, there was anger at the way in which Israel lied about the killings:

"Dr Ahmed Abu Nkaria, who pronounced the Mughayar children dead, insists on proving the manner of their killing. He pulls Asma's body from the mortuary's refrigeration unit and fumbles through the teenager's hair to reveal the hole where the bullet entered above one ear and ripped a much larger wound as it emerged above the other.

‘The Israeli propaganda is that they were killed in a work accident. These are the kinds of lies they tell all the time,’ he says. ‘They say all the dead are fighters. They say they do not deliberately kill children, but about a quarter of the dead from the first day of shooting are children. The evidence is here in the morgue. Does this girl look as if she was blown up by a bomb?’" [2]

In the first weeks of the Intifada, Palestinian doctors were noting with despair that Israeli soldiers seemed to be shooting to kill, or leave maximum damage. At the Shifa hospital in Gaza in October 2000, the head of the emergency services talked of how “‘In this time, there is a change of method”, adding that “the Israelis are trying very much to kill very many people’”. [3] The same article noted that “doctors at St John’s hospital in Jerusalem have treated 18 Palestinians shot in the eye”.

A particularly appalling incident was the murder of 13 year old Iman al-Hams, a school girl from Rafah. In October 2004, she entered an area declared out of bounds by the Israeli army and shortly afterwards, was riddled with bullets from automatic gunfire. [4] In the subsequent investigation, Israeli television broadcast a recording of internal communications between the soldiers, as Iman was first identified as a child and then shot:

"Iman, a short, slight girl wearing a school uniform and carrying a schoolbag, had entered an off-limits area and was spotted about 100 yards away from an Israeli position during the Oct. 5 incident in Rafah, Gaza Strip. After the ‘verification,’ the company commander, identified only as Captain R., sums up by telling his soldiers: ‘Anyone that moves in the zone, even if it is a 3-year-old boy, should be killed.’" [5]

While this incident seems exceptional for its cold-blooded brutality, the same report later cited a B’Tselem staff member who pointed out that “‘disregard for human life and being trigger-happy is not exceptional at all’” and that “‘the exceptional part here is that it was documented’”.

Incredibly, however, the army acquitted the commander of Iman’s death, accepting his defence that “he fired into the ground near the girl after coming under fire in a dangerous area” – though without explaining “why the officer shot into the ground rather than at the source of the fire”. [6] An army statement declared that “‘the investigation concluded that the behaviour of the company commander from an ethical point of view does not warrant his removal from his position’”.

In fact, in an extra twist, the commander in question was later compensated to the tune of over £10,000, as well as having all legal expenses reimbursed. [7] Ha’aretz noted that “the judges who acquitted Captain R accepted his version of event [sic], in which he stated that the shots that he fired were not aimed directly at the girl’s body…and that he believed that the young girl posed a serious threat”. He has since been promoted to major.

In a report issued early on in the Second Intifada, Physicians for Human Rights described how their “analysis of fatal gun shot wounds in Gaza reveals that approximately 50% were to the head”, such a high proportion suggesting that “soldiers are specifically aiming at peoples’ heads”. The report went on to note that based on “the numerous head and eye injuries, the high proportion of thigh wounds and fatal head wounds” PHR documented, IDF soldiers are firing “to injure and kill, not to avoid loss of life and injury”. [8]

Finally, since some of you mentioned Al-Dura specifically:

"Al-Dura became a symbol because his killing was documented on videotape. All the other hundreds of children were killed without cameras present, so no one is interested in their fate. If there had been a camera in Bushara Barjis’ room in the Jenin refugee camp while she was studying for a pre-matriculation test, we would have a film showing an IDF sniper firing a bullet at her head. If there had been a photographer near Jamal Jabaji from the Askar camp, we would see soldiers emerging from an armored jeep and aiming their weapons at the head of a child who threw stones at them…it is certain that the IDF has killed and is killing children." [9]

[1] ‘Israel/Occupied Territories: Killing of children must be investigated’, Amnesty International, MDE 15/055/2004, May 25 2004
[2] 'Palestinian doctors despair at rising toll of children shot dead by army snipers’, The Guardian, May 20 2004
[3] 'Palestinians' tell-tale wounds expose shoot-to-kill tactics’, The Guardian, October 5 2000
[4] ‘Gaza girl death officer cleared’, BBC News, October 15 2004
[5] ‘Israeli army under fire after killing girl’, The Christian Science Monitor, November 26 2004
[6] ‘Gaza girl death officer cleared’, BBC News
[7] ‘IDF officer cleared in death of Gaza girl to receive compensation from state’, Ha’aretz, December 14 2006
[8] ‘Evaluation of the Use of Force in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank’, Physicians for Human Rights, November 3, 2000
[9] ‘Mohammed al-Dura lives on’, Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz, October 7 2007
Toby Esterhase posted on July 04, 2008 at 07:31:53 AM
You forgot Little Saint Hugh, Ben.


I don't think that one has ever been properly investigated.
Evan posted on July 04, 2008 at 07:57:32 AM
This is a sorry state of affairs - hopefully the foreign ministry will look into this matter as soon as possible.

As is often the case on CiF, some of the comments left on Pilger's peace rival it in sheer anti-Israel hysteria. Look at the poem by "ninexile", for instance, who does not consider Israeli non-combatants as civilians and "decoma", who claims Israelis are Nazis, that Israeli snipers deliberately kill Palestinian children and that Palestinians are suffering "cultural genocide" (this person also terms suicide bombings "martyrdom operations" and "resistance").
Jonathan Romer posted on July 04, 2008 at 08:34:12 AM
The terrible thing about al-Dura, Ben — or at least terrible for you — is that it forces people to ask questions: "Prove to me that the child you claim is dead, is dead." "Prove to me that he died when and where and how you say he did." "Prove that the bullet that killed him was Israeli." "Prove that there was no thug with a black mask and an AK47 standing behind him."

If these are questions that are asked in no other conflict, or that are all but impossible to answer, or that sometimes hide or excuse a case of genuine brutality, you have no one to blame but the people who foisted the Jenin and al-Dura slanders on the world, and people like you, who were so eager to run with them.

In addition to which, there is also your little slide from:

"... you're saying the Israeli army does not deliberately kill civilians"


"... thinks Israeli soldiers have not deliberately killed civilians".

It sounds like you want to take the probable fact that some Israeli soldiers, like some soldiers in every war, have done brutal, illegal things, and then pass it off as IDF policy. You wouldn't do that, would you Ben?
Mira posted on July 04, 2008 at 09:50:14 AM
When somebody gets murdered, you go through the suspects and you look for vested interests. What your theories, Ben? Why would the IDF want to kill Palestinian children?

David Galant posted on July 04, 2008 at 11:10:08 AM

Some British police execute (innocent) foreigners on the Tube. Applying your logic I deduce that all British are xenocides. So when are you going to stand trial?

Danny Smircky posted on July 04, 2008 at 06:02:48 PM
Ben, it is a tragedy when innocents (especially children) die in any conflict.  You have suggested that the IDF 'deliberately killed civilians' and thereby revived the centuries old blood libel against Jews.

Perhaps you might like to comment upon instances of Palestinian terrorists deliberately killing civilians.  For instance this 10 month old baby girl shot in the head by a sniper:


- or do you make no distinction between Israeli soldiers and civilians, regardless of their age?  

Further examples would be redundant.  Your own words condemn you.
Zkharya posted on July 04, 2008 at 06:56:47 PM
Ben is on a neo-Christian journalistic crusade to enscapsulate the Jewish state of Israel as crucifying the Palestinian Christian or Muslim Lamb-Child.

For him Zionism and the Jewish state it created is a new Crucifixion, while Palestinian Christians and Muslims are the new Christ-Church.
Bella Center posted on July 04, 2008 at 07:36:06 PM
It is a nasty irony that John Pilger etal have appropriated Martha Gellhorn's reputation to vilify Israel. Let's remember what she actually wrote about the Palestinian refugees in her Atlantic Monthly essay, The Arabs of Palestine:

Fred posted on July 04, 2008 at 07:58:49 PM

"It sounds like you want to take the probable fact that some Israeli soldiers, like some soldiers in every war, have done brutal, illegal things, and then pass it off as IDF policy."

What happens then when the system doesn't hold those soldiers to account? If soldiers aren't punished when they do illegal things, what does that say about policy?

This change in policy has led to a drastic fall in the number of Military Police investigations. From the beginning of the current intifada (29 September 2000) to 14 February 2007, the Military Police investigated only 239 cases involving shooting by soldiers. Only 30 of these investigations resulted in the filing of indictments. During this period, 3,963 Palestinians were killed, among them 814 minors (under the age of 18). Some of those killed were indeed killed while fighting against Israeli soldiers or civilians, however hundreds of others were not involved in the fighting.

Since the outbreak of the second intifada, Israel has increasingly avoided accountability for the serious violations of the human rights of residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for which it is responsible. This avoidance is seen, in part, in its policy not to open criminal investigations in cases of killing or wounding of Palestinian who were not taking part in the hostilities, except in exceptional cases, and in its enactment of legislation denying, almost completely, the right of Palestinians who were harmed as a result of illegal acts by Israeli security forces to sue for compensation for the damages they suffered.

Zkharya posted on July 04, 2008 at 10:48:52 PM

there's no question some IDF soldiers do and have done bad stuff. But so have Palestinian Arab Muslims. As to what constitutes official or unofficial policy, these matters may of course be addressed. The problem with Ben is that he is only interested in holding Israeli Jews to his particular standards, and not Palestinian Christians or Muslims (or, arguably, British or American cultural Christians). For him, the Jewish state has no legitimate security concerns, its very existence is a crime against humanity. Any Palestinian Christian or Islamic threat, aggression, abuse or atrocity is, in the final analysis, the responsibility of the Jewish state, Israeli, Palestinian or 'Zionism'.

In the civil war, which is what the Palestinian Christian and Muslim-Israeli Jewish conflict is, and which has been fought since 1948 and before, abuses and atrocities have been threatened or committted by both sides. Ben is only interested in those from Jews, because he sees the conflict essentially in terms of good versus evil, and has done since he was a teenager. His perspective has not substantially evolved, as you can tell.

Saul posted on July 04, 2008 at 10:51:11 PM

What you say is no doubt correct. However, Ben is saying something different; Ben is claiming that Israel has a deliberate policy of killing civilians.

It is unfortunately the case that, as with Northern Ireland (where the UK did have a "shoot to kill" policy), states vary rarely hold their troops to account (even or, rather, especially, in cases of extremity). In the wake of Mai Ling, only one US serviceman has ever been convicted (and, as you are no doubt aware, Vietnam was never a "legal" war). A similar picture appears in relation to the crimes of Abu Graib.

None of these facts is to justify Israel's refusal to investigate, nor to stop or undermine demands that guilt be legally apportioned followed by appropiate punishment. Rather, that on this matter, as with many others, contrary to Ben's accusation, Israel is far from unique in its State's protection of wrongdoing.

It would help all of use concerned with such matters, both in Israel and elsewhere, if people like Ben did not add fantasy to an already diffuclt reality.
Joshua posted on July 05, 2008 at 11:22:52 AM
'What happens then when the system doesn't hold those soldiers to account? If soldiers aren't punished when they do illegal things, what does that say about policy?'

In terms of what the British and Americans did at Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it suggests that there was very little difference between the Allies and the Nazis. And, a similar point could be made about wars in Vietnam, Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many people are also still waiting for the British soldiers who murdered 13 civil rights protestors, 7 of whom were teenagers, in Derry in 1972 to be brought to justice.

Home page Ben posted on July 05, 2008 at 12:31:33 PM
On Engage, facts aren't so much inconvenient as an incitement to desperate scrambling for distractions and unhinged ad hominems.

@ David Galant
“Some British police execute (innocent) foreigners on the Tube. Applying your logic I deduce that all British are xenocides. So when are you going to stand trial?”

@ Toby Esterhase
“You forgot Little Saint Hugh, Ben…”

@ Danny Smircky
“You have suggested that the IDF 'deliberately killed civilians' and thereby revived the centuries old blood libel against Jews…”
“…or do you make no distinction between Israeli soldiers and civilians, regardless of their age?”

(The comments about blood libel by Toby and Danny are imagined, because as we all know, critics of Israeli policy are never accused of anti-semitism, and to suggest this would to be guilty of The Livingstone Formulation®.)

Personal favourite’s got to be Zkharya, simply because he managed the impressive feat of outdoing, well, himself:

“Ben is on a neo-Christian journalistic crusade to enscapsulate the Jewish state of Israel as crucifying the Palestinian Christian or Muslim Lamb-Child. For him Zionism and the Jewish state it created is a new Crucifixion, while Palestinian Christians and Muslims are the new Christ-Church.”

Wow. Also, Fred raised a good point. There is a well-established pattern of Israeli soldiers either escaping any kind of discipline, or receiving a risibly token punishment, on the rare occasion that the death of a Palestinian civilian even becomes an issue worthy of investigation. In September 2005 five Palestinians were killed in Tulkarm, with a Ha’aretz investigation establishing that “none of the five were armed at the time”, and that “the younger three had never belonged to a terrorist organization”. [1] For IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, however, there was no case to answer since “‘the operation's prime objective had been achieved: the arrest of the two suspects’”. One Israeli soldier later revealed that in his unit the attitude was, “‘so kids got killed. For a soldier it means nothing. An officer can get a 100 or 200 shekel [£12.50-£25] fine for such a thing’”. [2]

[1] ‘IDF chief clears soldiers who killed five Palestinians in raid’, Ha’aretz, September 14 2005
[2] ‘Israeli soldiers tell of indiscriminate killings by army and a culture of impunity’, The Guardian, September 6 2005
Zkharya posted on July 05, 2008 at 02:18:09 PM
Well done, Ben.

Israeli Jews do bad things. But Palestinian Arab Muslims (and, arguably, to a lesser extent, Christians) also do, and threaten, bad things.

Only Israeli Jews you hold to your abstract standard of quasi-Christian perfection. Which is ironic, given that it is Palestinian Christians and Muslims who believe in Jesus Christ, not Israeli Jews.

You don't believe the Jewish state of Israel has any right to defend or preserve itself. It is itself a bad thing.

Zkharya posted on July 05, 2008 at 02:36:40 PM
'On Engage, facts aren't so much inconvenient as an incitement to desperate scrambling for distractions and unhinged ad hominems.'

No, Ben. The accurate observation that you are only interested in one set of facts, namely those that portray Israeli Jews as the absolute evil in this conflict, Palestinian Christians and Muslims as the absolute innocent or good.

Killing children, deliberately or accidentally,is bad. And it has undoubtedly occured. Of course Palestinian children have periodically been attempting to kill, injure or maim Israeli soldiers in this conflict, but that is beside the main point. But Palestinian Muslims have been killing, both deliberately, incidentally or accidentally, or attempting to kill, Palestinian or Israeli children since before the Jewish state of Israel was born.

Name any conflict in which children do not die. The current Anglo-American expedition to Iraq has arguably killed rather more, directly or indirectly. Yet you are interested in the Israeli-Palestinian like no other, and in the crimes and misdemeanors of only one party: Israeli Jews. Alone of all the peoples and groups in the world.

'Palestine was, is and forever shall be' is the line in your poem, or something like that. 'Palestine' that is to say, 'Palestinian Christians and Muslims', is/are an eternal, quasi divine concept for you. Which is one of the reasons why I described your 'methodology', which is actually something closer to dox- or theology, as quasi-religious.

And I am sure what I wrote was your personal favourite: it was the one thing closest to the truth.
Zkharya posted on July 05, 2008 at 02:44:55 PM
'There is a well-established pattern of Israeli soldiers either escaping any kind of discipline, or receiving a risibly token punishment, on the rare occasion that the death of a Palestinian civilian even becomes an issue worthy of investigation. '

Guess what punishment Palestinian militants get for killing Israeli Jewish children.

Why do Israeli Jews have to be perfect?
jeremy posted on July 05, 2008 at 03:27:46 PM
A similar discussion, covering some of the same information that Ben has (very selectively) copy-and-pasted, took place at Engage last autumn in response to another anti-Zionist journalist's claims about the IDF. There seems little point in indulging Ben with undeserved attention regarding a matter for which he's already clearly forged an opinion.

As poster David Miller noted in the earlier thread:

"I have tried to corroborate the stories of soldiers out there who have been told to kill civilians indiscriminately but without success. It's not a wall of silence that I come against; my contacts really try hard to get to the truth of these matters. But people like Moshe either refuse to confirm what they've told Guardian journalists such as Conal Urquhart and Chris McGreal  or my contacts are unable to identify the soldiers making these confessions or they don't exist. Now I have absolutely no doubt that there must be maverick soldiers in the IDF who are prepared to cross the line; no human being is immune from dehumanisation, particularly those who have witnessed the carnage caused by suicide bombers. Such fighters need to be identified and removed from duty. But I have yet to get any useful corroboration of a deliberate and cold blooded policy such as the one described by Urquhart and McGreal in the Guardian. The only verified quote I've come across that can be attributed to Col. Pinhas Zuaretz is that the IDF does not shoot at children. So I'm not sure when he rewrote the rules of engagement allowing IDF soldiers to shoot civilians as young of 14.  I'm not saying that such policies cannot exist; it's just that in the absence of any convincing evidence to the contrary, (no disrespect intended to B'Tselem)  I remain sceptical that this sort of illegal activity really is going on behind our backs."

That summed it up fine then and not much has changed.

See: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/comment.php?id=1463

The Martha Gellhorn artile posted above is worth a read. Some of it is a bit dated and some of the language would not be considered appropriate today, but much of it is still relevant. See:  http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/196110/gellhorn

I found a conversation she had with a school teacher in an Arab village particularly notable:  
At this point, I decided to make one long, determined stand to see whether there was any meeting ground of minds on a basis of mutually accepted facts and reasoning.

"Please bear with me and help me," said I. "I am a simple American, and I am trying to understand how the Arab mind works, and I am finding it very difficult. I want to put some things in order; if I have everything wrong, you will correct me. In 1947, the United Nations recommended the Partition of Palestine. I have seen the Partition map and studied it. I cannot tell, but it does not look to me as if the Arabs were being cheated of their share of good land. The idea was that this division would work, if both Jews and Arabs accepted it and lived under an Economic Union. And, of course, the Arab countries around the borders would have to be peaceful and cooperative or else nothing would work at all. The Jews accepted this Partition plan; I suppose because they felt they had to. They were outnumbered about two to one inside the country, and there were the neighboring Arab states with five regular armies and forty million or more citizens, not feeling friendly. Are we agreed so far?"

"It is right."

"The Arab governments and the Palestinian Arabs rejected Partition absolutely. You wanted the whole country. There is no secret about this. The statements of the Arab representatives, in the UN are on record. The Arab governments never hid the fact that they started the war against Israel. But you, the Palestinian Arabs, agreed to this, you wanted it. And you thought, it seems to me very reasonably, that you would win and win quickly. It hardly seemed a gamble; it seemed a sure bet. You took the gamble and you lost. I can understand why you have all been searching for explanations of that defeat ever since, because it does seem incredible. I don't happen to accept your explanations, but that is beside the point. The point is that you lost."

"Yes." It was too astonishing; at long last, East and West were in accord on the meaning of words.

"Now you say that you want to return to the past; you want Partition. So, in fact you say, let us forget that war we started, and the defeat, and, after all, we think Partition is a good, sensible idea. Please answer me this, which is what I must, know. If the position were reversed, if the Jews had started the war and lost it, if you had won the war, would you now accept Partition? Would you give up part of the country and allow the 650,000 Jewish residents of Palestine -who had fled from the war--to come back?"

"Certainly not," he said, without an instant's hesitation. "But there would have been no Jewish refugees. They had no place to go. They would all be dead or in the sea."
Given that there no Jews remained in the areas of Mandate Palestine under Arab control after the 1948 war, this is hardly idle conjecture.
Jonathan Romer posted on July 05, 2008 at 03:48:09 PM
As Ben says, there is a well established pattern of Israeli soldiers not being properly held to account. Of course that pattern is well established in _every_ army, but Ben has eyes only for one. Weak accountability for abuse of power may be an unsavoury truth, but Israel is not unique — name a country where it doesn't happen.

We could have a discussion about all the reasons why this happens, and whether Israel is or isn't any different in this regard, and I'm sure Ben and Fred would be more than happy to have that discussion. They would like that because it keeps the spotlight on Israel and takes it well away from the dishonesty of equating individual Israeli misdeeds with the deliberate Palestinian policy choices of operating from within civilian populations and targeting civilian populations.

The IDF sets out an ideal of "the purity of arms" and Ben is full of righteous outrage that they fail to live up to it. Hamas invents rationales for making every Israeli a military target. That's a standard below which it is impossible to fall, but Ben is happy to hold them to nothing higher. Don't come here, Ben, complaining that your "facts" are not treated seriously. You have nothing positive to offer a discussion of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
jeremy posted on July 05, 2008 at 03:54:48 PM
Last sentence should be: "Given that no Jews remained..."


Bill posted on July 05, 2008 at 04:15:38 PM
"Why do Israeli Jews have to be perfect?"

Should that be rephrased to "Why should ONLY Israeli Jews have to be perfect?"

Funny how civil rights opponents never said Jim Crow African Americans had to be perfect (or just literate – sometimes in multiple languages!) to be able to vote when standing next to illiterate rednecks who could vote frequently and often!  After all, if you believe that uppity eddykated Scopes guy with his rocks and evylooshun, they came from the cradle of humanity and also founded several impressive civilizations above and below the Sahara.  We should expect more from them compared to the descendents of Neanderthals.  I suspect they knew that we’d never believe it.  How times change!

That's not, "as such," an ad hominem (such a convenient addendum that "as such" is!  Thanks Boycotteers!). That's an ugly and racist attitude that too often sits right in the middle modern thought's comfort zone.  Change a place, a people and a test, and the Blame Only Israel Crowd is there.  Cinderella, your shoe and a sober examination of your premises are waiting.  You have a seat right next to Tom "Jews are smart so let's boycott them but not them Chinamen or Hottentots" Hickey.
zkharya posted on July 05, 2008 at 05:10:51 PM
sorry ben, just remembered you dont say 'forever' but 'palestine, palestine, you were, you are and shall be.' but the formula is biblically derived, consciously or unconsciously, in your case probably first from revelation, itself from ezekiel. In anycase, it is a pretty strong indicator of your nationalist identification.
resistor posted on July 05, 2008 at 05:20:00 PM
This article by Amira Hass is to the point


Don’t shoot till you can see
they’re over the age of 12

By Amira Hass
From Ha’aretz
November 20, 2000

He doesn’t know how many children have been killed in the violence of the past two months, but he’s sure that the army ‘shoots everyone who needs to be shot.’ A day in the life of an IDF sharpshooter.

You can find soldiers like him at any military post in the West Bank or Gaza. But we met in an Israeli city. He is the same age as many of those who are confronting the Israel Defense Forces. He is smiling, shy but frank, and tends to favor subjects in the humanities. If he were out of uniform, you might think he was on his way to India or South America.

“Every day, the orders for opening fire change, sometimes several times a day,” he says.

“Every day before we go out they define the principles for opening fire. This also changes from place to place.

“There are places where the orders are more lenient than in other places. The orders, wisely, are that we should be very selective, very precise. Or it depends on the day. After the lynch, for example, the orders for opening fire were far more lenient than they had been the day before. But usually the instructions for opening fire are not permissive at all. There seems to be an impression that I am eager to open fire, but on the contrary, I’m glad that the orders for opening fire are moderate.”

How do you know they are moderate? What are the criteria?

“Sharpshooters are given precise orders to open fire. On people who throw firebombs, you aim for the legs, but people who pull out weapons can be shot straight on.”

They gave you video cameras.

“They call this a documentation kit, and see to it that every person killed is photographed. And then it will be confirmed that he was not under the age of 12, that he was holding a gun.”

That is, the Palestinian figures are false?

“It’s hard for me to determine, but I can remember a few cases when we definitely shot at adults and we prayed that the soldier in charge of the kit had filmed it because there they will accuse us of having killed a child. It could be that there are mistaken statements, there are also errors, and a child was killed because of a soldier’s stupid mistake. And I haven’t heard them publicizing this (in the Israel Defense Forces) afterward.”

What is a mistake? That the rifle moved?

“For example, someone says to the other forces that he has identified someone suspicious — we identified a boy who is making strange movements, maybe he wanted to pick up a stone or something like that. The one who identified him strongly requests permission to fire in his direction. The forward command, the brigade commander, definitely does not allow it, and he continues to plead, and so the commander says, if you think he is very suspicious, fire a warning shot, and a warning shot is 20 meters, and fire into an open area. From the debriefing afterward, it turns out that that he had seen the person’s head through a telescope, took five meters, and the wind ... The rifle wasn’t aimed so precisely, and he hit him right in the head.”

Do you know how many children have been killed?

“No. If we ask, they tell. And there are places where they provide the figures without us asking.”

And do you know how many dead there have been altogether?

“No, I’ve heard various numbers in different places, but I wouldn’t sign on them.”

And children?

“I can’t estimate at all the number of children who have been killed.”

How do you explain that people have been hit in the upper part of the body? Do you need skill to be on target?

“The IDF shoots very selectively, shoots everyone who needs to be shot — or at least in 90 percent of the cases. That is to say, everyone who throws a Molotov cocktail and can kill someone else — so if he’s holding it [the firebomb], we shoot him. We don’t fire at him with an automatic weapon, but we shoot at him with a sharpshooter’s rifle, and in most cases these aren’t long ranges. A sharpshooter, from 200 meters, has no problem hitting the head and certainly if he aims at the head — the upper part of the body — there’s no problem. A firebomb endangers the soldiers in the Jeeps, who are 25 meters away.

“A sharpshooter is like a pilot, his work is very clean, certain, but there are also other sharpshooters, and then the work is very dangerous. The real danger for a sharpshooter is another sharpshooter, a Palestinian. And they have them. There are even some who are not bad. If you have the weapons and the sights, unfortunately you have a 50 percent chance of hitting the target. In this war the ranges are short. A sharpshooter is measured at 500-600 meters, then he’s a real sharpshooter.”

And when do you begin to get skillful?

“We as sharpshooters have taken good care to look, even though they haven’t told us to, for places where there could be other sharpshooters — houses, windows that catch someone’s reflection — because this is what is really scary. What is also scary are stray bullets. Their firing is not aimed. Especially as the IDF is very afraid that [Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat will decide to deploy the Palestinian police. At the moment, they are acting of their own accord sometimes, but if he decides, the IDF will have more of a problem, because they are simply better trained. The Tanzim are untrained guys, no one has helped [train] them and sometimes when they say on the radio ‘exchanges of fire,’ we laugh. This is not Hezbollah that the IDF trained in the past, this is not Hamas that Iran has trained and not even Palestinian policemen who received full backing for their training. The IDF has watched them train and knows how they practice. They know how to shoot precisely and they have precise and reliable weapons. This is what the IDF fears.

“I have to say that the IDF was ready in advance for these disturbances. I remember that about two months before it all began, I really wasn’t thinking in this direction. I was pleased and optimistic that [Prime Minister Ehud] Barak had been elected, and that the peace process was moving forward. We had a discussion with commanders, and they said that unfortunately the IDF is expecting that there will be disturbances. Then, they said it was because of Arafat’s needs in advance of establishing a state. They told us that Arafat had learned from Israel that establishing a state by force and with many dead is a positive thing; it strengthens the leader, a bit, but they said that mainly it gives values to the inhabitants, esprit de corps, like we have.

“This is also the case for the State of Israel, after three wars, when seven armies attacked us. They expected that there would be something, only they didn’t know whether it would be a war, disturbances, demonstrations. They were hoping it would be demonstrations, but prepared for the possibility that it would be a war. There are contingency plans that set out in astonishing detail what happens if they decide, and if they decide then within a few days we occupy the territories we have given to them and set up a military government like in the 1950s, something like that. Of course this is terrible. Even I, a simple soldier, have heard about these plans.”

Do you remember how it all started?

“My father took the trouble to get very angry at [Likud MK Ariel] Sharon when he visited there [the Temple Mount]. Then I thought this was an ordinary event.”

Didn’t you know that on the Friday, four people were killed at the mosque and another two near Mukassad Hospital?

“I didn’t know, no. I think that after the first day, you become a soldier. On the first and last day (of service) you go back to being yourself again, to your political ideas, and afterward you try to cut yourself off. In my opinion, most of the Jewish settlements beyond the 1967 borders are not important. But at the moment you are a defender, and one hundred percent a defender, and the people are very important to you. We as Israelis have to decide on a clear line, because if we decide that we aren’t giving back the settlements then we, the soldiers, will find it much easier to fight. At the moment I am sure that Arafat also knows this.”

Someone who is about to throw a firebomb is in motion all the time, so how do you aim when someone is moving all the time?

“It depends on the distances. At 100 meters it’s not hard, and we also practice this, and there are also easy targets, it all depends on the distance. At 500 meters you already know not to aim at the head but at the middle of the body, because it’s easier, and you also have to take into account the wind, and the deviation, but at 100 meters it’s almost sterile firing, very easy. In Lebanon a sharpshooter has to be far more skilled, the distances were from 700 to 1,000 meters. Here, it’s 100 meters.”

Is it easy to shoot at the head?

“Yes. The guys there, and also those who throw Molotov cocktails, or even shoot, have an instinct to stop, a second to think where to throw or shoot, and this second gives the sharpshooter five or six seconds, and it’s no problem. If he stops, and if you’re also far away, the head is no problem.”

Behind the Jeeps there is someone standing with a rifle. Isn’t he a sharpshooter?

“He usually shoots rubber bullets.”

And what kind do you shoot?

“A sharpshooter fires a lethal bullet, a bullet bigger than an M-16, but its quality is superior to a submachine gun bullet.”

The Palestinians say that the IDF uses a high muzzle velocity. Is that what you do?

“The muzzle velocity for sharpshooters is not that high, less than that of an ordinary M-16. The question is how critical this is. A sharpshooter’s bullet kills if it hits the body. This is a bullet that is ‘metal jacket’ — covered entirely in metal. In a regular bullet, the bottom part isn’t covered, and this interferes with the aerodynamics. On the part that isn’t covered, the air eats the lead a bit — like air can eat a part of a mountain, and gradually it gets into the inside of the bullet and distorts its direction. In sharpshooters’ weapons this doesn’t happen.”

That is, the lead is entirely covered in metal.

“Correct, and it’s more aerodynamic. It comes to a point and it is long. What is also important is the weapon itself, the muzzle, that nothing be attached to the muzzle. Ideally, next to every sharpshooter there is someone who aims, standing there with binoculars.”

Of course you also see.

“You see through the telescope whether you’ve hit the person, but you don’t see exactly where the bullet is going. And if there is a person whose job it is to aim, he can even see this. Through regular binoculars you can see the reverberations the bullet leaves, the dust, the tin, and then he says that you hit at two o’clock, 60 centimeters next to the person. If a sharpshooter isn’t accurate with the first bullet — with the second it’s almost a sure thing.”

Do they tell you to aim for the head, or is it up to you?

“If they tell a sharpshooter to fire his intention will be to hit the head. Because if a sharpshooter fires, he fires for certain in order to kill. Unless there are specific individuals — in this war it hasn’t happened much — whom you’re told to shoot in the legs, and they also ask sharpshooters to do this.”

Why haven’t there been?

“There was a policy that you only shoot at people who are clearly endangering lives. This decreases the amount of shooting by the IDF and the number of wounded, and maybe increases the number killed. Meanwhile, the IDF is trying very hard not to shoot, not to kill, to let them demonstrate a bit — maybe also because of what they told us about two months before it all started, to let Arafat have his demonstrations without giving him and other countries an excuse to get into a state of war.”

Isn’t there a danger that a competition will develop as to who will do more sharpshooting?

“With us, there is no such thing. Somebody told me that at a place where he was, some guys went by and the veterans were angry because the young people weren’t restrained.

They were keen to fire. But even I, who before the army said I would try very hard not to shoot, if you’re already there and into the weapon and you go out on an ambush — it’s terrible to say this, but you hope that something will come of it. You sit there at night and it’s very boring and you’re very tired, and the last refuge is that you really will catch the bad guys and teach them a lesson.

“At one place, the older guys arrived to replace us, and they didn’t believe that the young guys were shooting so much. After they say ‘stop’ you have to stop shooting immediately. And it took them another minute. Because of the keenness to shoot. These are things, in my opinion, that make the IDF stumble, the lack of restraint. There are even soldiers who fire a rubber bullet but load a regular bullet ahead of it — it increases the force. It usually kills.”

Do you know about investigations of errors?

“Every IDF shooting is reported and investigated.”

I’ve been at those places, those demonstrations, where the Palestinians open fire.

“Are you trying to say that the Palestinian firing is pathetic?”


“Correct. I agree. Usually the Palestinian fire is pathetic.”

And the army knew it was pathetic.

“Yes. The shooting is totally pathetic. And until there’s shooting, you know that most of it will be into the air..”

Is this showing off?

“Yes. The IDF knows this.”

So why kill, why not just injure?

“If you decide to wound people, more people will get hurt, and the question is whether this is better. Wounding fans anger even more.”

Who told you so?

“This is my opinion. That is, if you wound someone, even the process of getting hit, when he screams, says that it hurts.”

The IDF knew that the Fatah firing was just showing off, and that the refining of the shooting should be prevented, yet nonetheless “Palestinian firing has gotten better,” that is, the policy of a severe response hasn’t helped.

“I have a friend who’s a settler, and for him the firing isn’t pathetic at all. In his opinion, every time they shoot, we have to warn them by firing back a lot more. If you were to talk to him, this conversation would be totally different. You are talking to me, and by my nature I ask myself more whether just to let them shoot, maybe not fire back. When I am a soldier I don’t ask myself; I ask, but there are orders, and I know in advance that if they shoot, you have to ask whether I need to shoot again.

“It would be too bad for the IDF if it didn’t happen this way. The mistakes occur because this is not the way it is conducted. One person decides to shoot, or someone else decides the opposite, not to shoot. Now I’ll be a bit tougher: The IDF shoots because nevertheless there are cases when soldiers are killed.”

Do you feel that this is out of revenge?

“I don’t know whether the IDF takes revenge. But every time, after there’s a serious incident, it’s political, you can feel it. You as a soldier know that if in the papers today they have written about a lot of things that happened to the IDF, then they will allow you to shoot more. That on that same night I’m going to be shooting more than I did the night before.”

Because you want to, or because they let you?

“Because they let me. I didn’t want to shoot that much, though there are a lot of soldiers who do want to shoot. At first I also wanted to shoot, and after I shot a few times I said, enough.”

You haven’t shot children.

“All the sharpshooters haven’t shot children.”

But nonetheless there are children who were hit, wounded or killed after they were hit in the head. Unless these were mistakes.

“If they were children, they were mistakes.”

Do they talk about this?

“They talk to us about this a lot. They forbid us to shoot at children.”

How do they say this?

“You don’t shoot a child who is 12 or younger.”

That is, a child of 12 or older is allowed?

“Twelve and up is allowed. He’s not a child any more, he’s already after his bar mitzvah. Something like that.”

Thirteen is bar mitzvah age.

“Twelve and up, you’re allowed to shoot. That’s what they tell us.”

Again: Twelve and up you’re allowed to shoot children.

“Because this already doesn’t look to me like a child by definition, even though in the United States a child can be 23.”

Under international law, a child is defined as someone up to the age of 18.

“Up until 18 is a child?”

So, according to the IDF, it is 12?

“According to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I don’t know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

And children are from 12 down. Is there no order that between 12 and 18 you shoot at the legs and not the head?

“Of course we try to see to it that he really is over 20.”

In the 10 seconds that you have.

“In the 10 seconds that I have, I have to estimate how old he is.”

And in what direction the wind is blowing, and the deviation here and there, and which way he’ll jump the next moment.

“Yes, but there are hardly any mistakes by sharpshooters. The mistakes are made by people who aren’t sharpshooters.”

And it turns out that they happen to hit the children’s heads, and all this is just by chance?

“If you say you have seen children that have been hit in the head a lot, then it is sharpshooters.”

So what you’re saying is that our definition of children is different.

“Your definition is different.”

Because for you it’s someone who is 12.


But a child of 13 doesn’t bear arms, no matter what you call him, a boy or a teenager or an adult.

“He isn’t holding a gun but a firebomb, and in certain places it is possible also to fire on people who throw firebombs.”

Do you know how many people were killed yesterday?

“No. To my regret.”

From what you say about the instructions to be cautious that are given to you as sharpshooters, I conclude that all the people who were killed were armed. But it doesn’t look that way to me, because I am familiar with the events in the field.

“Nor does it look that way to me. There’s nothing to be done, if the IDF decides that it is responding and reacting, a lot of mistakes will happen and relatively a lot of them will be killed. On the other hand, a lot more could be getting killed.

I have seen a pamphlet of instructions for opening fire.

“There is no such thing, they don’t give them out at all. Everything is according to orders the commander gives that morning.”

I want to persist in the matter of the 12-year-olds. Why was this age set?

“I have heard that it was important to the IDF to know whether someone was over 12, so therefore I understood that the age of 12 is a border line. They haven’t told us any age, just that we must not shoot at children. The IDF doesn’t specify ages. We take care not to kill, not to have incidents with many dead. Six dead is normal, there could have been a lot more.”

What do you mean by normal?

“Because they did shoot at us, and if someone shoots at you, even if it’s pathetic, you have to return fire.”
David Galant posted on July 05, 2008 at 06:21:13 PM

When I was a university student, if I had been asked to provide proof of a statement and I had instead avoided the question, I would have not received a passing grade. All we have done is to point out that you have exactly that.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You've not even risen to the lesser standard of proof of any evidence whatsoever. The issue is not that civilians die, but that it is a government policy. Your claim is that the policy of the government of Israel is murder of civilians -- examples of civilian deaths is not such proof. The natural response for any rational person is, "And your proof is?" I'm still waiting for you to provide the government or IDF document that states the policy. Or a statement by the Prime Minister of Israel expressing that policy.

Until then, for your own sake if no other, please stop digging a deeper hole.
resistor posted on July 07, 2008 at 12:57:29 AM
David, this is the argument that David Irving gave to deny that Hitler ordered the Holocaust.

To paraphrase

The issue is not that Jews died, but that it was a German government policy. Your claim is that the policy of the government of Germany was murder of civilians -- examples of civilian deaths is not such proof. The natural response for any rational person is, "And your proof is?" I'm still waiting for you to provide the government or Wehrmacht document that states the policy. Or a statement by the Chancellor of Germany expressing that policy.

For Irving's identical position see



4.2.4 At all times in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War, Irving exculpated Hitler from involvement or even knowledge of the few atrocities against Jews he is still prepared to admit actually happened.

Fred posted on July 07, 2008 at 02:39:02 AM
http://www.shovrimshtika.org/testimonies_e.asp?cat=19Rank: First Sergeant
Unit: Orev (Elite Unit) – Nahal Brigade
Place of incident: Bethlehem Area
Summer of 2003

The last straw was the brigade commander who stood in front of us briefing us, telling us we’re in a Hudna [Arabic: cease-fire], and that it was a sensitive situation. He talks about all that and a minute later he says, still in briefing: “Every kid you see with a stone, you may shoot him.” Like, kill him. A stone! It was either the brigade or the battalion commander, I don’t remember. This was the briefing. “Now, the situation here is fragile, and a stone is a murder weapon, you know what it is. I saw a woman who was hit by a stone.” I think it was the battalion commander… He saw that the brigade commander was there. It was the Ezion brigade commander, ***.

So the brigade commander *** gave an order that you may shoot a kid throwing a stone?

Yes, because it is a murder weapon, because they throw stones on the road. It was during the Hudna…

The witness: 1st Sergeant, Paratroops
The Location: Jenin
Date: February-May 2003

We were expressly
told that we were just waiting for someone to climb on an APC, and ordered
to shoot to kill. We quickly understood that we weren’t expected to deal
with armed people as no armed Palestinian would roam the streets with so
many APCs around. They (our authorities) were looking for children or plain
people daring to climb on an APC or on any other armored vehicle. We
understood that from the talks with our officers.

After a day or two, a 12-year old kid climbed on one of the APCs. There were
lots of guesses about his age. First they said he was 8, later, that he was 12. I
don’t know. In any case he climbed on an APC and one of our sharpshooters
killed him. I already mentioned, we were looking for kids. The neighboring
company also had an incident with a kid or teenager, climbing an APC, who
was also killed. Some of us said that this whole operation was unnecessary as
its purpose was to kill kids, while others said that it was very good.
Was it known that he was unarmed?

He was surely unarmed and he climbed on this…. No one asked you why
you had two Xs (a mark on the rifle signaling a killed target), and if they were
armed, they were legit targets.

From the diary of Chris Hedges, former New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief, June 14, 2001:
Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered – death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo – but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 09:56:56 AM

having read the article, I am not sure of the point you are trying to make. You perhaps confuse the agenda and assertions of the reporter, Amira Hass, with those of her interviewee. The sharp shooter says they are told not to hit children below twelve unless throwing petrol bombs etc. He acknowledges that mistakes happen but that that is inevitable. He also makes the point that the IDF limits casualties, and that 'there could have been a lot more'. This fact is very important since, if you actually compare the IDF with other armies in counter insurgency and urban warfare, the IDF is, in fact, very careful.

I am not sure what you are resisting, 'Resistor': perhaps common sense?
Bill posted on July 07, 2008 at 04:56:31 PM
Honestly, here's the ugly truth of it.  If someone is coming at a soldier with intent to do damage and they can't tell if it's a rock, grenade or Molotov, I'm going to neutralize that threat.  Since they haven't invented the phaser with the convenient stun setting (should we blame the Israelis for that too?  Why not!), that tragically often means shooting the attacker with a bullet if the soldier not geared up to use tear gas (the effectiveness is debatable under certain close conditions).  That's not IDF training, or US or UK training, that's common sense -- very painful and cruel common sense.  And the people sending these children out to the front line ahead know this, as well as the psychological damage this does to disciplined soldiers in such asymmetrical confrontations.  That's why they send out the kids.  It's the one of the whole points of enlisting child soldiers worldwide aside from the ease of indoctrinating and deploying them.  It's not an apologia for shooting children by soldiers who are consistently held to a stratospheric standard next to "militants," but a the brutal reality of bringing children into the battlefield, mixing "militant" infrastructure among civilian infrastructure and airing kiddie-vid that glorifies martyrdom to encourage participation in lieu, along side, or ahead of more heavily armed "militants".

And while such barbarism gets justly condemned elsewhere, when it comes to the conflict at hand, people are OK with this.

What amazes me is the support people seem to have (in effect, though likely not intent since their internalized bigotries drive them) for Hamas, Fatah and company to effectively enlist child soldiers to participate in operations solely to be cannon fodder for public relations purposes.  Look at their media and education programs romanticizing children to become killers (the Romper Room Killer Do-Bee, Mickey the Martyr Mouse, etc).  It's no different than any other enlistment propaganda.  And for Christ's Sake, they're even sending out kids with mental disabilities to ferry explosives (e.g., that one case of the checkpoint).  If Israel is to be painted as a villain for shooting a child in a combat zone operating as a combatant or otherwise in the company of combatants, shouldn't those drafting those underage victims have even greater condemnation?  I'd expect sophisticated advocates for children to recognize the nuance here.  But I guess not.  Not when it can be used to further dehumanize Jews-and-only-Jews.
David Galant posted on July 07, 2008 at 06:31:27 PM

Although your comment is a cheap shot, you are absolutely right, I should not expect an extraordinary claim to have extraordinary proof. Instead I should accept the wickedness of the Israel goverment based upon emotional reaction to a series of terrible incidents offered without context instead. Rather like condemning the RAF for war crimes like the intentional bombing of civilians in Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin and numerous other German cities and civilian deaths from the bombing of the Ruhr valley dams. Don't bother that there was a war going on at the time. Who needs context when you have emotion?

Hitler had so many willing executioners that I don't think he did explicitly do more than order that the Jewish problem be finally solved. Do you think that you could at least find a document relating to that? Or are you just going to continue to carp.

Neither you dear resistor nor dear Ben have offered anything but emotional response to terrible events. I really do think that you (all) do need to provide something more solid than a list of events out of context. We Isrealis are just like every other group, some of us are wicked -- does that mean that it is national policy to be wicked? Such an inference is ludicrous, but that is the one that you and Ben have made.
Mira posted on July 07, 2008 at 06:35:30 PM

How did we get from a piece demanding an investigation and good reporting for Omer to being confronted with charges that the IDF has policy to kill civilians?

Pushing this theory (I'm not missing the point am I? That was how Ben kicked this off) that the IDF has policy to kill civilians involves denying the certaintly that, if such a policy existed, there would outcry from what is a citizen army with a large body of refuseniks. To basically say or insinuate that Jews will go along with a policy to deliberately kill Arab non-combatants (no answer to my question about motives) is a claim that is both extraordinary and frequently made. As David Galant says "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof". That was the point of my piece, really, and none is forthcoming. There is proof of civilian deaths, and these are terrible, but that wasn't the insinuation made at the top of these comments - the insinuation made was that the IDF has policy to kill civilians. The grounds for thinking this are so scant that you have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe it.

Mira posted on July 07, 2008 at 06:40:33 PM
US Army deliberately targets civilians, right?
Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 06:41:28 PM

that's nasty and bad. But it doesn't mean it's a general policy. But there are other intermediate cases. A stone can be a deadly weapon. It can take out an eye or render someone unconscious. Perhaps the IDF is reprehensible for not supplying enough non-lethal riot gear, or water cannon, for instance. But the situation is one of urban warfare, with plenty of Palestinian militants armed.

If a soldier is charged with guarding Israeli Jewish lives, even settlers, he is not obliged to leave his post because of children casting stones, especially not in a situation where plenty of armed militants would take advantage of his leaving his post. Under a hail of stones I am not sure a soldier is necessarily obliged to retreat, and certainly not to throw stones back. In certain situations I can see it would be legitimate to shoot to warn, then to wound, then, even, to kill. In such situations, Palestinians had to go a long way out of their way to approach the entrances to such settlements and the soldiers guarding them.

The dates of the articles you give are the height of the second intifada. I'm sure Chris Hedges does document atrocities. Which is bad, yes. But why only highlight Israeli barbarities? Ben White is determined to illustrate that only one side, the Palestinian, has legitimate security concerns, or aspirations for national self-determination or justice.

The second Intifada was the latest stage of the vicious civil war has been waged since 1947. Israeli Jews have done, and continue to do, bad and nasty things, including the abuse of Omer, even if the soldiers were concerned with his smuggling thousands of pounds in cash into Gaza.

But not Israeli Jews alone. Ben White, by his conspicuous omission, implies that, in the end, anything bad Palestinian Muslims and Christians do, or threaten to do, to Israeli Jews is ultimately excusable or justified. He is a pro-Palestinian nationalist who thinks that that necessarily excludes recognising any legitimacy in Jewish or Zionist nationalism. He defines the Palestinian situation as that of the native Americans and Israeli Jews as equivalent to the European settlers in America.

Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 06:55:34 PM
It has been a savage war, both parties have done savage things. Ben White insists that the fundamental 'inequality' of the conflict +must+ be recognised i.e. that Israel must be recognised as permanently in the wrong, Palestinians permanently in the right.

But, if Israel were not strong, she would not exist. The Yishuv had to contend not only with Palestinians, but 5 regular Arab armies to ensure its survival and statehood. Ben thinks that is the original sin, from which all subsequent sins flow.

Israeli Jews kill more Palestinian Muslims and Christians than vice versa. But Palestinians Muslims, at least, kill as many Israeli Jews as they can get. That, it seems to me, is at least an equivalence, not to mention a balance of power, of a sort.
Home page Ben posted on July 07, 2008 at 08:00:01 PM
@ Mira

"How did we get from a piece demanding an investigation and good reporting for Omer to being confronted with charges that the IDF has policy to kill civilians?"

Let me help you out. It went like this:

1. In your original post you included a reference to "people who push the idea that the Israeli army deliberately kills civilians", which made it sound as if you were saying the Israeli army does NOT deliberately kill civilians.
2. After I queried this, you responded, "I think if the IDF had policy to murder civilians evidence would have come up in 5 years of UCU boycott campaign".

Thus the first mention of 'policy' came from...you. That's how we got there Mira. I never actually mentioned a "policy", though I did provide some examples of where the IDF had deliberately killed civilians (examples which are just scratching the surface).

But somehow, the thread became full of arguments about proving the existence of a "policy", the ancient blood libel, a 'Lamb-Child' and all kinds of other, I'm sure unintended, distractions and ad hominems.
Toby Esterhase posted on July 07, 2008 at 08:03:53 PM
I'd like those who accuse Israel of being a child-killing state to address the problem of the blood libel.

It is clear - read Julius' article - that the charge of child-killing has been made against Jews in every century for over a thousand years.

It is clear that it is always false.

Now Ben White and others come along and they say that Jews in the Middle East now have an organized policy of killing children.

Their position is clear:  every time Jews have been accused of having a common plan to murder children before the middle of the 20th century, it has been shown to be an antisemitic forgery.  But now, Jews in the Middle East actually do have a common plan to murder children.  Unfortunate, but true.  Israeli Jews are now what centuries of antisemites falsely claimed Jews always were.  And the supporters of Israeli Jews falsely raise the history of the blood libel in order to keep the conspiracy going and to hide the common plan to kill non-Jewish children.

You're the one crying wolf here, aren't you Ben White?  For centuries there have been false accusations of child-killing.  Now, suddenly, we're supposed to believe that even though they were always false in the past, they are true in the present.

I'd be interested, anyway, to see what those who say that Jews are now child-killers have to say regarding the blood libel.

Brian Goldfarb posted on July 07, 2008 at 08:49:11 PM
I am reminded in this of a neighbour of my parents (literally, he lived next door) who served in WW2. He escaped from Dunkirk and later was posted to the Far East, where he was promoted to Sergeant. While in India, close to the Burmese frontier, he was riding "shotgun" in a jeep when driving through the bazaar. On rounding a corner, he saw a man with his armed raised and a bottle in the raised hand. By his own account, he didn't ask questions, he used the sten gun he was armed with and shot the guy, on the assumption that the bottle was a Molotov cocktail. The jeep carried on, and he never knbew the outcome, except that, having reported the incident, he wasn't reprimanded and certainly not charged.

By the time I knew him, he was close to my age, a Principal lecturer in science in North London Polytechnc and normally wouldn't hurt a fly. However, I can understand and appreciate his responses as a younger man, as I can those of the vast majority of Israeli soldiers.

I supose that Ben would say that the British army of the early to mid-1940s had a policy of killing civilians, based on a couple of incidents like this.

Ben, if you believe that, you'll believe anything. And you clearly do.
Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 09:25:56 PM
You are being disingenous. You are quite an emotionally involved pro-Palestinian nationalist. You write poems about it. You place Israel and Zionism in the category of ‘invaders’ who ‘fear memory’ and ‘tyrants’ who ‘fear songs’, your songs, among others. You even write exegeses  of biblical passages, equating Ahab’s murder and stealing land with Jewish settlers, though not ancient Israel with modern, presumably, as that exegesis would accord some measure of legitimacy to a Jewish state.
You have no interest in Palestinian Christian or Muslim sins, errors, crimes or misdemenours, be it rejection of all forms of accomodation or compromise with Jewish aspirations to justice and restoration or partition, past, present or future.
Interestingly, Chris Hedges writes:

'Every new death pushes the voices of moderation deeper into the background. Azmi, who has Israeli friends, says he no longer speaks of them for fear of being branded a collaborator. Those moderates who keep open the channels of communication are often the first to be silenced by their own side. As in most conflicts, all dialogue has been reduced to a scream.'

Over the One Voice affair, Ben, you certainly proved yourself to be one of those who silence the voice of Palestinian moderates by your scream that Israel be recognised as permanently in the wrong, Palestinians as in the right. Only by recognising the fundamental non equivalence of both parties, you fatuously wrote, will peace come the closer.

You write how Israelis allegedly bury Palestinian history but wholly omit to mention how Palestinian Christians and Muslims routinely bury, deny or erase Jewish history e.g. deny any Jewish temple stood on the site of the Haram, never mind that,  for most of Palestinian Christian and Islamic history, Palestinian Christians and Muslims have believed Jews to be a people dispossessed, justly for their sins. And that is before we get onto the subject of holocaust denial (or affirmation, if we are talking about the first Palestinian national leader, Haj Amin Al Husseini).

You are firmly committed, it seems to me, to your poetical but polemical goal of casting Israeli Jews in the role of European settlers in America, Palestinian Christians and Muslims in that of native Americans, since that, in your view, presents Israeli Jews in the least sympathetic light, and with the least legitimacy.

‘What lies beneath’, a reference to a Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfieffer film (unless to poems by Larry harpel and Karen Chappell ) i.e. Palestinan Jewish ethnic cleansing will return to haunt/kill/ethnically cleanse Israeli Jews. But most modern states were born in wars involving some degree of displacement or other. Did Harrison Ford’s students threaten to murder him or dispossess him? Your choice of metaphor is lurid and gruesome, Ben, as befits many civil wars, but not much more than that.
Saaul posted on July 07, 2008 at 09:26:19 PM
Ben, many of the posts dealt with your points head on, most notably the unexceptional notion that state's do not prosecute their own soldiers. These you have ignored and/or characterised as "distractions and ad hominems". Once again, you raise a point and then run away.

Toby's point is valid. It shows once again the ease by which antisemitic libels get attached to Israel as an allegedly "exceptional" case. Instead, you imply it is a diversion, whish, as you know, is a canard of Israel "obssesives". The accusation was made at Jenin - it was false; the shooting of a Palestinian child on TV was false. And yet, people still peddle both incidents as if they were true: that is why Toby's question deserves an answer. It is no different from the reasons for the transmutation of a Jewish conspiracy into the myth of an omnipotent "Israel Lobby".

It is thus not only two millenia of history on his side it is you, not Toby, that are being called to account, an account you dodge (again and again) as a diversion.

Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 09:57:25 PM
Ben, if you say the Israeli army, the body of soldiery, rather than individual Israeli soldiers from time to time deliberately murder civilians, you are implying, if not directly asserting, a policy. And if you say it deliberately murders children, you are doing the same with regard to children.
David Galant posted on July 07, 2008 at 10:03:20 PM

Thank you "resister" for jogging my mind. There is actually a document, the January 1942 Wannssee minutes, which makes clear that the Holocaust was Nazi Germany government policy. In 1961 former SS Colonel Eichmann, who wrote the minutes, made clear that they _were_ talking of killing. I and others are simply asking for the equivalent document for the claim that killing civilians is an Israel government policy.
Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 10:13:21 PM
Concerning  Chris Hedges’ piece, which is a mainstay of ‘the IDF deliberately murders children’:

‘A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered – death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo – but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.’

a) The silencers were almost certainly rubber projectile kits: bullets are replaced by blanks that fire rubber pellets
b) Hedges’ sees no children shot

This is slim witness for the charge that Israeli soldiers are more child murderous than those of any other ethnic conflict in the world, including Palestinians. I might add Hedges’ reports Palestinians suspect Lebanese Arabs are involved, since the Arabic broadcasts betray an Arabic dialect. This would not absolve the IDF, but it would clarify matters.

But I do not doubt Israeli Jewish soldiers have deliberately murdered civilians, including children. This is bad. This is evil. But it is not uniquely or exceptionally evil. These things happen in savage civil wars, which this war has proved to be for over 60 years now.

Zkharya posted on July 07, 2008 at 10:39:31 PM
Ben is attempting to define the IDF as a the murder of children, civilians or innocents, just as Zionists have gratuitously murdered or dispossessed the, to all intents and purposes, innocent Native American-Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

Palestinian then Israeli Jews were never faced with existential threats against which they were entitled to defend themselves, nor had Jews rights of restoration and return equivalent to those of Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

Zionist Jews were an alien, European colonial intrusion, stealing land to which they had no entitlement and dispossessing the rightful Native American-Palestinian Christian and Muslim owners.

Jewish nationalism=bad, Palestinian nationalism=good. Zionism crucified/tried to erase, from the map,/destroy/kill Palestine, but Palestine will arise ('was, is and will be'), like Harison Ford's victim, to avenge itself.

Mira posted on July 08, 2008 at 12:55:00 AM
Toby, Ben says I misunderstood. Even though I clearly started of talking about the Israeli army (and if an *army* is accused of deliberately killing  civilians what else could it be but policy) and it was he who changed "army" to "soldiers" - Ben says I'm the one who misunderstood.

There's a possible answer Toby - maybe the blood libel was also just a big misunderstanding all these years.

(No, Ben isn't saying that - just me.)
Jonathan Romer posted on July 08, 2008 at 05:38:23 AM
Our Ben likes word games. He thinks that if he claims the IDF deliberately kills civilians without using the word 'policy', he can tar Israel with the charge of infanticide and still be able to deny that he said it. It only sounds good inside your own head, Ben; outside of that echo chamber it's just fatuous. But it's an answer, at least, to my question of 3 days ago: You're exactly the kind of person to take wrongs done by individual soldiers and inflate them into proof of Israel's evil essence.
Toby Esterhase posted on July 08, 2008 at 03:04:38 PM
Iran, on the other hand, does have a policy of killing children.

Zkharya posted on July 08, 2008 at 03:13:32 PM
Ben White has an interesting take on Ahmadinejad's views on the Holocaust:

History, Myths and All the News That’s Fit to Print

Ben White (www.benwhite.org.uk)

The Palestine Chronicle, 10th January 2006

Ever since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, relations between Iran and the West have grown increasingly strained. There is no one simple reason for this, and responsibility lies with the Americans, the British, the Israelis, and the Iranians themselves. There are big issues at play, and a lot at stake, from Iran’s nuclear programme to the miserable occupation of Iraq, from Israel’s desire for regional hegemony to Iranian domestic politics.
Out of these complex factors, the theme that has often dominated in the media has been the various comments made by President Ahmadinejad regarding Israel. Spread over several months, there have been three particularly high-profile remarks made by the Iranian head of state that have drawn strong condemnation from statesmen and commentators alike, and contributed to the deterioration of EU-Iranian relations.
At the end of last October, Ahmadinejad was addressing an anti-Zionist conference, during which he reiterated his support for Ayatollah Khomeini’s position that Israel “must be wiped off the map”. Despite the fact that anti-Zionism has been a core element of Iranian policy since the 1979 revolution, these reported remarks touched off a media frenzy and diplomatic firestorm.
Even though these views were nothing ‘new’, there were other incongruities about the incident. Ahmadinejad had not necessarily, as many assumed, called for an apocalyptic battle to wipe out the Jews. Moreover, Israel’s presence on the map has a corollary in Palestine’s cartographic absence, and an anti-Zionist position might well be expressed by the desire to see the Israeli ethnocratic, apartheid infrastructures dismantled – and in that sense remove Israel from the map.
But in what becomes a consistent theme, whatever the actual meaning of Ahmadinejad’s comments – and there is at least more ambiguity than most allowed – a head of state was being threatened with diplomatic sanction at the highest level, not for his nation’s behaviour, but for his beliefs. Meanwhile, Israel, highly successful until now in keeping Palestine very much off the map, points the finger and says, ‘We told you so’.
The second, highly publicised, remarks came in mid-December, when Ahmadinejad was reported as denying the Holocaust. The President’s remarks, as detailed on the official Iranian news agency website, did not actually denote a disbelief in the genocide perpetrated against the Jews during World War II. Rather, they sought to highlight the hypocrisy of European guilt over the Holocaust contrasted with their support for the colonisation of Palestine:

“If the Europeans are telling the truth in their claim that they have killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the World War II - which seems they are right in their claim because they insist on it and arrest and imprison those who oppose it, why the Palestinian nation should pay for the crime. Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets, missiles and sanctions.”

This is not a particularly controversial argument – the Jews were persecuted in Europe, but the guilt of the Western powers was salved at the expense of the Palestinians. The news agency goes on though to report that the President described how “some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets because when a person expresses disbelief in God, religion and prophets they do not object to him but they will protest to anyone who would reject the Holocaust”. Again, Ahmadinejad is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute Holocaust deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout believer like the Iranian President, this must seem like a strange situation.
Note also that the President said that “some have created a myth on holocaust”. While most people immediately equate a ‘myth’ with a fabricated fairy-tale, this is not necessarily the case. A quick consultation of dictionary definitions confirms that “many historians consider that myths can also be accounts of actual events that have become highly imbued with symbolic meaning” [my italics], this from Wikipedia. The entry continues, “This process occurs in part because the events described become detached from their original context and new context is substituted, often through analogy with current or recent events”.
Even more relevantly, given the use of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as a propaganda tool of Zionist apologists, historian Richard Slotkin has described the process whereby historical events become ‘myth’ thus:

stories drawn from a society's history that have acquired through persistent usage the power of symbolizing that society's ideology and of dramatizing its moral consciousness--with all the complexities and contradictions that consciousness may contain.

This is extremely pertinent to the use of the Holocaust, not only in terms of the Western consciousness and relations with Israel, but also in relation to Israel’s national identity. The Holocaust comes to symbolize the intrinsic anti-Jewish racism of ‘Gentile’ societies, and therefore proving the need for a Jewish state. More disturbingly perhaps, the Holocaust acts as a standard for human depravity set so high, that any treatment of the Palestinians is justifiable, as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Jews in Nazi Europe.
The third of Ahmadinejad’s reported comments made early in the New Year, created far fewer headlines, which when the content is examined, proves instructive. Associated Press carried the comments, but the BBC, keen to cover the previous remarks in detail, deemed the story not newsworthy. On the official Iranian news agency, Ahmadinejad again asked why Europe didn’t pay the cost of a Jewish state itself, but then went further. Affirming that “Iran makes a distinction between Judaism and Zionism”, Ahmadinejad suggested that the original European support for Zionism was itself anti-Semitic in motivation, by ensuring that the Jews were “expelled” from Europe.    
This phenomenon, of anti-Semitic support for Zionism, was acknowledged and taken advantage of by early Zionist proponents. There was overlap in the rhetoric of Zionism’s advocates and that of the anti-Semites, since both gained from the idea that the Jew would never ‘belong’ in a ‘Gentile’ society. Theodor Herzl recognized that the anti-Semites would be their “best friends” in galvanizing support for a Zionist state. Ahmadinejad was simply drawing attention to how anti-Semites in Britain and the US supported the Zionist project since it would mean less Jews in their own societies.
It could be argued, therefore, that the comments made by Ahmadinejad in recent months are not anti-Semitic, and instead, throw rhetorical barbs at a subject that is taboo in Western nations, namely, the complex relationship between the Holocaust, anti-Semitism in Europe, Zionism’s beginnings, and continued support for Israel. The reaction to the Iranian President’s thoughts on Israel is even stranger considering the genuine grounds for criticism that exist. The Iranian regime has closed numerous newspapers, and severe restrictions remain on freedom of expression. Internet use is monitored and limited, and homosexuals are executed. Most in the West would want to oppose the very ‘theocratic’ nature of the government itself.
Despite all that, what casts doubt over negotiations with Iran over its nuclear policy, is not its human rights abuses, but the President’s views on Zionism. A country was threatened with censorship and sanction, not because of its actions but on account of the political opinions of its leader (even assuming they were not misinterpreted). In exactly the same week as the furore over Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust remarks, a UK inquest delivered its unanimous verdict that British UN worker Iain Hook had been killed by the Israeli army in Jenin in a “deliberate” act. Another crime in a long list, yet that week, it was Iran being condemned by the international community – on account of a speech.
This very week, there was a small story in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz about a conference taking place in Acre about “finding ways to achieve a permanent Jewish majority” in the city. One of the organisers for the conference is described as believing that “Acre has the right to exist as a mixed city only if it has a permanent Jewish majority”. For Arabs to be labelled a ‘demographic threat’ is par for the course in the Israeli political establishment. But don’t expect Israel’s open support for, and implementation of, occupation, colonisation, and racial discrimination, to come under the same scrutiny as Ahmadinejad’s remarks on European history. Because that would be anti-Semitic, right?

Saul posted on July 08, 2008 at 04:53:46 PM

"many historians consider that myths can also be accounts of actual events that have become highly imbued with symbolic meaning” [my italics], this from Wikipedia. The entry continues, “This process occurs in part because the events described become detached from their original context and new context is substituted, often through analogy with current or recent events”."

Note the source, "Wikepdia"..........now, that's what you call journalism!

NIMN posted on July 08, 2008 at 04:55:48 PM
If only Engage was a partisan toward Israel as White is too Iran.......now, that would be interesting.
If it was thr 1930's he'd be saying that the show trials were legitimate cases against counter-revolutionaries.

Two legs bad - four legs good, eh Ben?
James Mendelsohn posted on July 08, 2008 at 05:17:44 PM
Noga posted on July 08, 2008 at 05:39:26 PM
This is a bit outdated, but still pertinent to some allegations made here:

Statistical Analysis of Casualties in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

"What is significant in all these comparisons is, again, the contrast between the randomness of the pattern of Israeli fatalities and the more non-random distribution of Palestinian deaths. The random distribution is typical of terrorist attacks, which, though sometimes carried out in places frequented by young people, e.g. the Dolphinarium disco attack, may equally target restaurants or buses which are used by a wide spectrum of the population. Some of the most frequent targets of Palestinian terror attacks, such as open-air markets and public buses, are used disproportionately by the most vulnerable segments of society: women, the elderly, and the poor.

The fact that Palestinian deaths caused by Israeli actions do not, as a rule, follow the same pattern would seem to undermine claims that Israel deliberately targets Palestinian civilians."

Saul posted on July 08, 2008 at 06:22:15 PM
Lest one be accused of ad hominem attacks, it is fairly obvious that his tortuous defence of a leader that, aside from holocaust denial and a call to genocide arrests trade unionists, sacks liberal academics, forces gay men to have sex changes, sanctions "morality police" undermines any legitimacy to a single word he writes on this and related topics. Be White is a sycophant to reaction.
Zkharya posted on July 08, 2008 at 08:33:07 PM
Responding to the points Noga made, if Israeli civilian casualties were proportionately more than Palestinian during the second Intifadeh, Israel was condemned for precisely the reverse situation during the second Lebanon war when Israel's military casualties were proportionaly allegedly more than Lebanese Shi'a.
Bill posted on July 08, 2008 at 08:54:05 PM
"Lest one be accused of ad hominem attacks..."

Might I recommend a "gravy for the gander" defense here?

Criticism of incandescent demonizers of Israel is not, "as such," ad hominem. Same goes for the cries of Neo-McCarthyism, etc.

Noga posted on July 08, 2008 at 10:00:50 PM
"Hezbollah casualty figures are difficult to ascertain, with claims and estimates by different groups and individuals ranging from 250 to 1,000. Hezbollah's leadership claims that 250 of their fighters were killed in the conflict,[8] while Israel estimated that its forces had killed 600 Hezbollah fighters.[8][11] In addition, Israel claimed to have the names of 532 dead Hezbollah fighters.[145] A UN official estimated that 500 Hezbollah fighters had been killed,[10] and Lebanese government officials estimated that up to 500 had been killed.[9] A Stratfor report cited "sources in Lebanon" as estimating the Hezbollah death toll at "more than 700... with many more to go",[146] while British military historian John Keegan estimated the figure could be 'perhaps as many as 1,000' (although this figure isn't based on any solid evidence).[147]"

"Israel Defense Forces
Figures for the Israel Defense Forces troops killed range from 116[16] to 120.[11] The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives two different figures – 117[17] and 119[13] – the latter of which contains two IDF fatalities that occurred after the ceasefire went into effect. An estimated 450 Israeli soldiers were wounded in Lebanon.[156]"

Mira posted on July 10, 2008 at 10:19:55 PM

The Israeli report denies physically harming him or threatening him with a gun. Says that the search was conducted according to regulations, having detained him under suspicion of conveying items on behalf of hostile elements. The paramedic found no physical cause of collapse (Omer says he had been without food, water or rest for 12 hours; the the IDF report the incident as lasting c.3 hours).

The Associated Press reports a Palestinian doctor saying that there were no injuries. Omer himself doesn't detail injuries, although he recounts an ordeal of humiliation and torture including at the hands of the IDF doctor.

The AP report no injuries.

The Reuters report says there were broken ribs.

It would help to know more about the injuries - there's more to this than injuries definitely - some forms of torture don't leave marks, and its possible to be inhumane without torture - but the injuries are important.
Zkharya posted on July 11, 2008 at 12:39:32 PM
The fact is, if Omer's desire to be impartial, in incredibly difficult circumstances, has been wrecked by this experience, that is a tragedy.
Jonathan Romer posted on July 12, 2008 at 04:36:24 AM

This thread having receded into the shadows of page three (at the time of this comment), there's little point in adding more except for completeness' sake. However:

1) If you haven't read some of Mohammed Omer's output you should. Try some of his New Statesman offerings:


Whatever other qualities his writing may possess, an attempt at impartiality is not among them. There is not a a glimmer of recognition that Hamas or any other non-Israeli actor shares any responsibility for the state of Gaza. Neither is there acknowledgment that Israel might have any legitimate grievance or grounds for action. He is also not much constrained by facts: See http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=9999&x_article=1477

2) The prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is bestowed by the Martha Gellhorn Trust. A little investigation reveals that the trust consists of no more than John Pilger and a literal handful of acolytes, whose criterion seems to be that the recipient sees the world the same way Pilger does. In other words, it's a megaphone for Pilger. The trust has awarded the prize to 12 people in 9 years. Through the odd workings of chance 7 of them write for either the Guardian or the Independent.

3) Regardless of (1) and (2) above, if Omer was actually worked over by Israeli security that's nauseating and unacceptable, it should be stopped and the culprits should be punished. But (1) and (2) do imply that no one should be taking Omer's charges as the truth unless there is corroboration — reliable eye witnesses, independent medical exam, whatever.
Mira posted on July 18, 2008 at 05:42:22 PM
Jonathan, you're right but you have to entertain the idea that Omer would write differently if he weren't reporting from Gaza at a citizen under Hamas. Hamas have a record of detaining journalists who speak unfavourably about them. Pilger has no reason to be one-sided but Omer has very real reasons.


Further update - from IPS http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43217

Gives the ambulance report of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the European Gaza hospital:

"But an ambulance report of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society says: "We note finger signs on the neck and chest." A report from the European Gaza Hospital of the Palestinian National Authority's Ministry of Health includes the following notation after examination of Omer: "Ecchymosis (discolouration caused by bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising) at upper part of chest wall was found."

The report makes these further observations: "Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain," and "by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.""

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