Friday, May 31, 2013

Mass Graves in Jaffa – but Who Killed Them?

MAY 31, 2013 2:15 PM 2 COMMENTS
Jaffa, Israel. Photo: wiki commons.
Over the past couple of days the Arab media have been reporting on the discovery of mass graves of Arabs in Jaffa.
The Al Aqsa Foundation made the discovery and naturally they want the world to assume that these Arabs were killed by Jews:
Six mass grave sites dating back to the 1936 Palestinian uprising and the 1948 Nakba were discovered around the Jaffa cemetery, the al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported Wednesday, revealing hundreds of bodies of Palestinians killed by Zionist forces.
“During [the foundation’s] repair and maintenance work on the [Kazkhana] cemetery, we discovered nozzles to dig into the ground where we found the mass graves…including hundreds of skeletons and human remains of rebels, martyrs and civilians who perished during the Nakba,” head of the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, Sheikh Mohammed Najem, said in the report.
The foundation has proved the remains date back to the victims killed in the 1948 war, whether from bombings and shelling of residential neighborhoods or snipers located around the city, the report said.
“The Kazkhana cemetery has exposed the historical facts that Israel has tried to hide and erase for over 65 years relating to the massacres committed by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba,” it read.
Al-Monitor, however, shows that the source of the graves is not nearly as definitive as the virulently antisemitic Al Aqsa Foundation implies:
Researcher and historian Mahmoud Obeid, a Jaffa resident, told As-Safir, “We discovered six mass graves, two of which we dug up. Our estimate is that they contain around 200 bodies, with an unknown additional number in the other graves. The remains belong to people of different ages, including women, children and the elderly, some of which bear signs of violence.” But he indicated that “the bodies were buried following Muslim traditions, and were therefore probably victims of the nakba. But, in truth, we lack any other evidence [as to the nature of these deaths].”
According to Obeid, the coming days will reveal more about the victims buried in these graves. He stated that Jaffa residents await a legal decision by the religious affairs court to open the rest of the graves in order to ascertain what their contents are. He pointed out that “upon opening them, we might discover documents that would indicate the identities of those buried in the graves.”
Eghbariyeh, on the other hand, preferred not to commit to a single explanation and said, “Further documentation and in-depth research is needed to find out what the truth is about these graves. We are certain, however, that the remains belong to our ancestors killed by occupation forces.” The identity of those who buried them remains a mystery, as Eghbariyeh added, “We are not certain if all the remains were buried by our people, or if occupation forces secretly buried some of them, only to be later found out.”
Efforts are under way to uncover the true stories of the victims interred in the newly discovered mass graves. Eghbariyeh indicated that this task would take quite some time as the Al-Aqsa Association searches for Jaffa residents who lived through the nakba able of offering information pertaining to these graves and the circumstances surrounding their use.
They don’t know the date of death, they don’t know who killed them. All they know is that they were buried Islamically.
Instead of consulting historians or news accounts, the Al Aqsa Foundation will look for elderly residents who will recount fuzzy anti-Jewish rumors they heard when they were children. That will be all the “proof” they need.
However, far more Palestinian Arabs were killed by the British during the 1936 riots than were killed by the Jews in the War of Independence!
The history of British brutality against the Arabs of Palestine is not well known. I once excerpted an amazing paper that described the brutality in detail.
I just found another paper, this one unpublished and in draft format, but equally amazing in what it reveals.This paper specifically talks about how the British used the RAF to help quell the riots.
Some excerpts:
Brigadier Evetts, the senior Army officer, deliberately tempted the armed bands to attack convoys in order that the RAF could respond, a vigorous approach more akin to Callwell’s small wars than Gwynn’s policing.
The number of combined actions increased in July due to increasing rebel activity and better co-ordination. On 9 July a Hart answered a call to search an area. Finding four armed Arabs who then hid in a hut, the pilot informed the road patrol and pinned the men in a hut until the patrol arrived, rather than inflict a few casualties and let the gang disperse.59 On 19 July following an XX call, a Hart of 6 Squadron engaged fifteen rebels attacking a Jewish potash convoy on the Jericho-Jerusalem road. Another four aircraft joined the action, killing seven rebels, the aircraft being hit four times.60 On 29 July the Police warned of another ambush of a Jewish convoy on the same road. The first aircraft arrived within nine minutes of the XX call, and attacked and pinned the retreating enemy down, killing eleven of them. In July, 6 Squadron responded to thirteen XX calls and claimed to have inflicted thirty-seven enemy casualties, and reported a similar tempo for August and September.
The armed bands grew in number and size, reinforced by sympathizers from Syria and Iraq. The bands totalled around 1500 to 2000 full-time partisans – often ex-soldiers, criminals or adventurers not tied to one place – and could call on perhaps five-times as many locals for specific actions.
On 2 September the Cabinet decided on ‘intensive measures, designed to crush Arab resistance’. Lieutenant-General Dill was dispatched with a second division, the Army calling-up all high readiness infantry reservists, and expecting to govern under martial law.
…Large actions continued as 1st Division arrived. At Nablus on 24 September, the Royal Scots Fusiliers engaged several bands led by Fawzi. Aircraft responding to XX callsclaimed forty-one out of the fifty enemy killed, firing 332 rounds from machine guns and dropping 33 bombs, with one aircraft hit in the radiator and forced to land, and Flying Officer Ramplini wounded in the wrist. The 6 Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) records the moral effect of using large bombs on the population of Nablus but unfortunately there is no further explanation.
When the District Commissioner for Galilee was murdered in September 1937, the British response was immediate and aggressive, declaring the AHC illegal. The RAF flew six Arab leaders to exile in the Seychelles and removed the Mufti from his official posts. He fled to Damascus to form the Central Committee of Jihad. Rebel leadership fragmented, the urban effendi class being increasingly replaced by peasant terrorists who targeted fellow Arabs. Six peasant partisan commanders formed the titular Bureau of the Arab Revolt in Palestine. By October 1937 Arab armed bands established control over Samaria and Galilee.

In another large action on 3 March 1938 a XX call from a column of the Border Regiment, under heavy fire from high ground near the Jenin-Haifa road, was answered within fifteen minutes by four aircraft. The rebel band split into two, and was pursued by other columns and numerous aircraft sorties until dark. The rebels’ strength was estimated to be between 300 and 400 men. The British claimed to have killed sixty, over half by aircraft for the loss of one killed, and three wounded…Aircraft dropped forty-seven bombs and fired 5000 rounds.
[September 1938] For RAF armoured car crews [Air Commodore Harris] wrote] ‘as the civil-writ no longer runs, all the advice I can give them is that when in aid of the (non-existent) civil power, they should fire when they must and keep on firing as long as appears militarily essential’. He fitted his SSOs’ unmarked cars ‘with two Mauser sub-machine gangster-guns’ to ‘produce a terrific rate and spread of fire ahead to compete with the bandits dressed as Palestine police who now do much of the holdup work’. In that event of European war, Harris thought:
We must (and under such circumstances can) make up for a lack of numbers by using rougher methods with the rebels than we dare do in peace. One 250lb or 500lb in each village that speaks out of turn within a few minutes or hours of having so spoken; or the complete blotting out of a few selected haunts, pour encourager les autres’.

…Wingate’s SNS had more success inflicting casualties on Arab bands than Regular Army units whose ‘chances of contact with an enemy, who is an enemy one moment and a peaceful villager the next, almost negligible’, albeit using controversial techniques. Harris thought a gendarmerie made up of SNS-type groups, with the backing of air power, was the solution. Harris wanted more Gladiators:
In this regard the Glosters [Gladiators] are an outstanding success. Not only are they killing oozlebarts [Arab bands - EoZ] wholesale with their four front guns, and many more than the Hardys and Hinds in equivalent situations, but they are doing it, in my opinion, with vastly less risk to the crews. No 6 Squadron losses, compared with the total number of fighting crews, have been so heavy lately that one wishes, if it is at all possible, to provide the safest as well as the most efficient aircraft for their highly dangerous task of ground strafing.

He also thought ‘the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand and, sooner or later, it will have to be applied’.
There was brutality by British soldiers and police in this period [late 1938-Jan. 1939]. The GOC’s explanation described the difficulty of combating a fragmented revolt, using intimidation and where the enemy hides amongst women and children. He defended the use of cordon and search operations, where those escaping were shot, and collective punishments when individuals could not be identified.
The British were engaged in what would certainly be considered war crimes today. And the casualty rates of some of these actions were high enough to justify mass graves. There is also no doubt that many civilians were also killed, although the papers I’ve seen are reluctant to go down that path.
Keep in mind also that (as this paper mentions in passing) Arabs were killing other Arabs during the revolt as well as in the months leading up to the 1948 war.
We can expect that the Al Aqsa Foundation will continue to claim that the apparent Arab victims purportedly discovered in Jaffa could only have been killed by Jews. History shows that this is far from obvious, and when this story gets into the more mainstream media, lets hope that the reporters are smart enough not to swallow the lies from an organization that routinely lies to further its agenda.
Elder of Ziyon is one of the world’s most popular pro-Israel bloggers. His website is

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Israeli Backers of the Two-State Solution Should Support the Levy Report

By Dr. Max Singer
BESA Center Perspectives
Paper No. 204
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israeli advocates of the two-state solution should support the findings of the Levy Commission, which affirms Israel’s right to settle in the West Bank. Israel will thus be viewed as giving up its own territory in any future agreement. Israeli citizens should not deny their country’s rights in order to strengthen the argument for removing settlements.
Opponents of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and supporters of a two-state solution should support the Levy Commission’s affirmation of Israel’s rights in the territories. The Commission concluded that “Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a settlement cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal.” It did not say, however, that the settlements should stay where they are.

The objection made to many or all of the settlements is that they are thought to interfere with peace negotiations and/or block a two-state solution. These arguments are just as strong if the settlements are considered legal as they are if they are thought to be illegal; the question of legality is separate from that of prudence about Israel’s settlement policy. The Levy Commission didn’t claim that its findings about the legal status of settlements and Israel’s claims to Judea and Samaria meant that Israel should keep the settlements, nor did it reject the idea of transferring the bulk of Judea and Samaria to a Palestinian state. It also did not speak of the disputes about private ownership of particular pieces of land used for settlements.
There are two problems with the common assumption that one who feels strongly about restricting settlements and negotiating a two-state solution should strengthen his case by supporting the international position that the settlements are not just imprudent but also illegal. First, it is based on a falsehood; the settlements are not illegal. The director of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) essentially conceded as much to Haaretz, while attacking the Levy Commission: “Ambassador Baker seems to have misunderstood the nature of our concerns, which stem from the added impediments the Levy report poses for achieving a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – not the technical and legal reasoning used to arrive at its conclusions, which is irrelevant to our concern.” In other words, he said, the legal arguments of the Commission may be correct, but they make it harder to achieve what we think is the best diplomatic solution. The correct response to the Levy Commission for those who share the IPF’s concerns is to say – as many supporters of the Commission do – that even though the report is correct, it is not a reason to keep the settlements or to object to a Palestinian state.
The second problem is that rejection of the Levy report has the effect of helping the attack on Israel’s legitimacy. The report’s conclusion permits Israel to say, “Our settlements are legal, and we have a legal claim to the land, but because of our desire for peace we will agree to restrict settlements and try to negotiate a division of the land.” This is very different than Israel admitting that it had no right to make the settlements in the first place. Giving up land you own – or may own – to make peace is very different from giving up land that you took with no right. If Israel is seen as a thief who drops the stolen goods, the situation is different than if Israel is viewed as pursuing a compromise towards peace by relinquishing its claim to disputed property.
Israel has very little basis to resist any terms of an imposed international plan concerning the territories if it must admit that Judea and Samaria are “Palestinian land” to which it never had any legal claim, which it has been occupying only because it had the military strength to take it, and because it served security interests. There will be little international sympathy for Israel as an admitted thief.
Fortunately, Israel has not stolen anyone’s land. Even if it is ultimately decided that the way to achieve peace is for almost all of Judea and Samaria to become Palestine, it was not yet Palestinian land when Israel took it. Israel does not have to go into negotiations as a guilty party. The purpose and point of creating the Levy Commission to address the question of law was to enable Israel to stand up against those who want to treat Israel as a thief.
Mainstream Israelis who believe that Israel can only prevent its destruction by restricting or retreating from settlements should endorse the Levy Commission so that they can urge Israel’s government to demonstrate its commitment to peace by not standing on its legal rights, and so that Israel can go into negotiations as a self-respecting and lawful member of the international community. Loyal citizens of Israel should not deny Israel’s rights – and its fundamental moral position – in order to improve the argument for their diplomatic strategy.
Some advocates of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank are so convinced that only such a withdrawal can save Israel that they are willing to brand Israel as a thief of Palestinian land if such a false brand is necessary to compel Israel to end the occupation. Unfortunately a byproduct of that strategy is that it undermines the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to its territory within the 1967 lines.
The Levy Commission – like many previous legal opinions – says that the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which was reaffirmed in the UN Charter, is still valid. The Mandate was an international decision to designate part of the former Ottoman Empire called Palestine as the Jewish homeland, and it specifically authorized Jewish settlement in all the land west of the Jordan River.
This Mandate is the legal authority for the Jewish state, and it applies equally to both sides of the 1967 lines. Anyone who denies its application to the West Bank denies its application to Tel Aviv and Haifa. While the Mandate doesn’t determine what the borders should be in the future, it does say that Israeli settlements were legal, however unwise they may have been, and however much they may now stand in the way of peace.
The previous Netanyahu administration created the Levy Commission because it thought it important to increase recognition of the legal basis of Israeli actions in Judea and Samaria. But in the face of attacks by settlement opponents the government hasn’t stood up for the Commission and its report. The government was right to appoint the Levy Commission. The new Netanyahu government should go one step further and adopt the Levy report, and challenge the myth that Israel stole Palestinian land.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Israel says will act to prevent S-300 missile systems from becoming operational
By Barak Ravid, HAARETZ  5-29-13

Netanyahu tells European foreign ministers that if the Russian missile systems get into Syria, Israel’s ‘entire airspace will become a no-fly zone’ and therefore it ‘cannot stand idly by.’

Israel’s National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror sketched out what Jerusalem’s “red line” is vis-à-vis the S-300 missile systems Russia intends to send to Syria before the 27 European Union ambassadors in Israel.
Two diplomats who were in the room during the briefing last Thursday, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was a closed event, said that Amidror stressed Israel will act “to prevent the S-300 missiles from becoming operational” on Syrian soil. This message was also conveyed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon when he said on Tuesday that if the missiles reach Syria “Israel will know what to do.”

Amidror’s briefing, the diplomats said, made it clear that Israel estimates that sooner or later Russia will provide Syria with the missile systems and for reasons unrelated to Israel – namely Russian rivalry with the U.S., Britain and France on the Syrian issue. “We understood from Amidror that the Israeli government thinks the missile transfer cannot be prevented, therefore it will act against them after the transfer but before they become operational,” one of the diplomats said.
The S-300 system is considered one of the world’s most advanced aerial defense systems. Apart for the system’s advanced radar, which can identify and track long-range targets, the missile themselves have a range of 200 kilometers.
Because of the system’s advanced technology, the time required to make it operational can range between three to six months. Syrian operators and technicians also need to undergo training, possibly in Russia, but in order to fully calibrate the system and make it operational some of the process will have to take place in Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked government ministers not to comment publicly about the S-300 systems, but in talks behind closed doors with diplomats and foreign ministers he relayed his concerns on the matter, in an attempt to exert last-minute pressure on Syria. The British Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday that a delegation of Israeli intelligence officials arrived in Syria on Tuesday for more talks with senior Russian government officials.
A senior Israeli official and a European diplomat who are involved in the talks said that even though Netanyahu has not said so explicitly, he signaled in the past two weeks in talks with several European foreign ministers that his efforts to convince President Vladimir Putin not to provide Syria with the systems did not bear fruit.
“If the missiles are provided and become operational Israel’s entire airspace will become a no-fly zone,” Netanyahu told the European foreign ministers. “The missile transfer is a significant security challenge to Israel and we will not be able to stand idly by.”
In the briefing to the European ambassadors Amidror tried to clarify Israel’s policies on other issues concerning the Syrian civil war, and denied international media reports that Israel prefers President Bashar Assad remains in power.
“We are not interested in intervening or influencing the situation inside Syria,” Amidror told the ambassadors. “We will only act when needed to protect our security, and thus we will prevent in the future the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.”
According to one of the diplomats present at the briefing, Amidror concluded by saying that for Israel, the strategic issue is weakening Hezbollah and Iran, and its policies are determined accordingly.
The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Denis MacEoin  5-27-13

Prof. Malcolm Levitt
Dept. of Chemistry
Southampton University
11th May 2013

Dear Professor Levitt,
I am not a chemist nor, indeed, a scientist of any kind. My academic background exists in a very different field, but one, I hope, that is of articular relevance to the subject of this e-mail. I am a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies and a former editor of The Middle East Quarterly, an international journal. My PhD was in an adjunct area of Persian Studies. I have a particular interest in the Middle East (where I have lived, first in Iran, later in Morocco) and my several visits to Israel have created in me a particular interest in matters relating to that country, both religious and political.
I was alerted today to a statement you made recently relating to the decision by Professor Stephen Hawking to boycott a conference due to be held in Israel, when you said ‘Israel has a totally explicit policy of making life impossible for the non-Jewish population and I find it totally unacceptable.’ Assuming I have quoted you correctly, I feel impelled to ask you where on earth you obtained such a manifestly nonsensical view. Like anyone, I feel free to criticize Israel when its government policies stray from the straight and narrow. Like any country, Israel makes mistakes. But when critics level accusations that are simply divorced from reality – that Israel practises apartheid, for example, or that it is ‘a Nazi state’ – then I cannot let such remarks pass by.
Israel is the one country in the Middle East (and often far beyond) of which it plainly and categorically cannot be said that it ‘has a totally explicit policy of making life impossible’ for adherents of any but the dominant faith. In Iran, for example, members of the indigenous Baha’i religion (about which I have written extensively) are hanged, imprisoned, denied employment in all professions, refused entry to the universities, and are threatened with genocide. Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews there are treated harshly. For many, life is impossible. Jews have been driven out of all the Arabs countries. In most Arab countries (notably Egypt), Christians are persecuted, churches are destroyed, and whole communities have been leaving over the past ten years and more. Those are all countries you would do better to condemn.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian population has risen steadily since 1948. And Israel’s treatment of the Baha’is is exemplary: they have their international centre in Haifa, where they have built gardens, terraces, and white marble buildings facing the Mediterranean, half of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that puts the Iranian regime to shame. The other half of the UNESCO site is situated outside Acre and contains the holiest of the Baha’I shrines. In Iran, every single one of the Baha’i holy places has been bulldozed, never to be rebuilt. Every Baha’i cemetery has met the same fate.
In Israel, then 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law guarantees the safety of all Jewish and non-Jewish sacred sites:
1. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.
1. Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.
2. Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.
1. This Law shall add to, and not derogate from, any other law.
2. The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this Law, and he may, after consultation with, or upon the proposal of, representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.
3. This Law shall come into force on the date of its adoption by the Knesset.
This Law is rigorously applied to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Baha’i and other holy places. There is nothing remotely like it in any Islamic country. In Saudi Arabia it is expressly forbidden to build churches, synagogues, temples, and it is illegal for Christians and others even to meet in their own homes to worship.
The Israeli law of citizenship and other related laws confer on all citizens the same rights and responsibilities. This applies to non-Jews as fully as to Jews. Arabs are full citizens of the state, they may vote in all elections, they may form political parties (and there are quite a few of them), they may stand for parliament (and a great many serve in it), they serve as members of the Supreme Court, as judges in other courts, as university teachers and professors, 20% of all students in all universities are Arabs (with Arabs forming 18% of the population), and so on. There is, quite flatly, no law or regulation calling for any form of apartheid. Go to Israel (and it may help you a lot to do so) and watch: no restaurants barred to Arabs, no shops barred to Arabs (Christian or Muslim), no buses for Jews only, no trains, no university campuses, no hotels, no beaches. All Israelis have the same rights.
Not only that, but consider the situation of women in Muslim countries, especially now that Salafi and other radical Muslim groups are taking overacross the region. In Israel, women have full rights with men. That includes Muslim and Christian women. In all Muslim countries, homosexuals face hanging, flogging, and other cruel punishments. In Israel, they hold gay pride marches. Muslim and Christian as well as Jewish men who are gay only have rights and protection under the law in Israel.
I have hinted at religious freedom and its denial in all Muslim states. The Israeli position has been set out thus:
“Every person in Israel enjoys freedom of conscience, of belief, of religion, and of worship. This freedom is guaranteed to every person in every enlightened, democratic regime, and therefore it is guaranteed to every person in Israel. It is one of the fundamental principles upon which the State of Israel is based… This freedom is partly based on Article 83 of the Palestine Order in Council of 1922, and partly it is one of those fundamental rights that “are not written in the book” but derive directly from the nature of out state as a peace-loving, democratic state’… On the basis of the rules – and in accordance with the Declaration of Independence – every law and every power will be interpreted as recognizing freedom of conscience, of belief, of religion, and of worship.”
I find it remiss of you, as someone endowed with considerable intellect, to have been so grossly misled about the reality of life in Israel. Your statement goes beyond the limits of reasonable and fair discourse. I can only consider you to have been misled by unprincipled persons who wish to disseminate falsehoods about Israel for base motives. In the face of the facts I have given and your freedom to board a plane to Israel in order to see all of this for yourself, I have to ask you to apologize to the citizens of a moral, ethical and democratic people, both Jews and Arabs, who have endured almost daily attacks from enemies determined to wipe them from the face of the planet. That Jewish Israelis have had the patience and moral strength to hold out the hand of friendship to so many Arab citizens while experiencing suicide attacks and rocket fire from their brethren across the border should inspire you to think again. As a university teacher you have a responsibility to dissociate yourself from such a totally explicit lie as the one you have uttered. Please reassure me that you understand the points I have tried to make.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. Denis MacEoin

The Palestinians (and Hezbollah)  may have already defeated Israel in the international public relations war.

a) The Palestinians have gained control of the reporting of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the world media by gaining control of the words, phrases and definitions that the world media currently utilizes in describing underlying political, military and social conditions and in explaining their causation; in describing events on-the-ground; in presenting alternative negotiating positions; in evaluating proposed solutions; etc. Some examples include:
     *occupation, occupying power, illegal occupation, brutal occupation;
     *West Bank, occupied territories, Palestinian territories, Palestinian West Bank;
     *militants (referring to those Palestinians committing acts of terror) rather than using the term "terrorists";
     *catastrophic economic conditions in Gaza caused by Israel's economic blockade, the economic and health catastrophe now occurring in Gaza, collective punishment, high unemployment rate which makes it difficult for Palestinians to feed their families, cuts in electrical power distribution which greatly curtails factories, inability to run hospitals due to the lack of electrical power and basic medical supplies;
     *disproportionate response, innocent civilian casualties, women and children killed; 
     *military check-points that choke Palestinian development, daily humiliation, humiliate Palestinian residents, prevent Palestinians from seeking medical care.
b) The Palestinian's usually get their version of the story out first and their spokespersons stay "on message." Even when, as is frequently the case, the Palestinian-issued accounts prove to be false, their story gains worldwide headlines. On the other hand, Israel's response pattern is to hold back until they can demonstrate the validity of their information. Then the Israeli story, if it's covered at all, is relegated at best to the inside pages of newspapers or to the tail end of TV news broadcasts.

c) The Palestinians (and Hezbollah) exercise extremely tight operational control over all media access in nearly all areas that are controlled by the Palestinians or Hezbollah. In order to obtain any information on events occurring in these areas, the western media is forced to rely nearly entirely on the inputs generated by local stringers (who are usually allied with the local extremist establishment). Should any member of the media report any "unfriendly
information" then the reporter's physical safety is explicitly threatened and the reporters' organization will be threatened with denial of all future access. The western media, by continuing its presence in these areas, has demonstrated its willingness to comply with these restrictions on its reporting and it has also demonstrated that it will not reveal these restrictive and bias-inducing conditions to their audiences.

Recorder's notes:

 Israel's government and media were criticized for Israel's ineptness in making its own case and in responding to various Palestinian and Hezbollah accusations, thus creating, by default, substantial victories for the Palestinian and Hezbollah public relations machines. 

Three of Israel's major public relations defeats were described in detail 

1) The Palestinian-generated fires that damaged the Church of the Nativity's interior during Israel's siege of Palestinian gunmen who had taken up positions inside the church; 

2) The deaths of civilians (mostly women and children) when an apartment building in Kana, Lebanon collapsed several hours after an Israeli air attack on nearby Hezbollah missile firing positions; and 

3) Israel's incursion into Jenin. The discussion of the world's media coverage of Israel's April, 2003 military incursion into Jenin was cited as the most illustrative: Palestinian spokespersons (Saeb Erekat, Yasser Abed Rabdo, Ahmed Abdel Rahman) claimed that Israel had carpet bombed and destroyed the entire Jenin camp, that Israel had massacred thousands (500 to 3000, "half of them women and children"), that the Israeli invasion army bulldozers had buried the "martyrs" in mass graves in order to conceal the massacre, and that 60 to 70 Palestinians had been summarily executed by the Israeli military. For several weeks, these and similar stories dominated the world news media and the editorial pages of much of the world press (Agence France Press, Associated Press, BBC, CBS, CNN, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, NBC, United Press International, United Nations press releases, etc.). Nearly two weeks elapsed before Israel began to respond: in fact, only about 10% of the buildings in the camp had been destroyed, neariy all due to the intense building-by-building, hand-to-hand combat that took place (this was confirmed by satellite photographs, interviews with PLO fighters and independent on-the-ground NGO obsen/ers); there had been no summary executions; the total Palestinian death toll was set at 56 (neariy all of them fighters) by the Palestinian medical authorities and was confirmed by Fatah's director for the Northern West Bank (Kadoura Mousa Kadoura). However, the early false stories of Palestinians killed and massive destruction still dominates the public's memory of the incident]

[Recorder's notes: some of the news organizations that have readily accepted these Palestinian and Hezbollah demands were listed. However, since I do not have any independent ability to confirm this information, I did not include this list in these notes.]

Richard Landes  5-26-13

On Feb. 19, 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Dr. Yehuda David upon his acquittal in France's highest court after he had been sued for libel by Jamal al-Dura for refuting claims that Jamal was injured in a 2000 shooting in the Gaza Strip. Israel was further vindicated in relation to the incident Sunday when a government report said the IDF was not responsible for the death of Jamal's son, Muhammad
In the flood of commentary and analysis of the Al Durah controversy, I’ve tried to fisk the most important typical responses. And of course, I have a backlog of articles to fisk. But this one by Shmuel Rosner jumped to the top of the pile because of its honest reappraisal. It helps to understand some of the factors that played at the time the story broke, and answer Vic Rosenthal’s question:
Why didn’t then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and then Prime Minister Ehud Barak demand that all the footage shot by France 2 on that day be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?

Before adding my commentary to Rosner’s mea culpa, I’d like to acknowledge the courage involved in this piece, and the remarkable fact that the New York Times published it. As someone laboring in the wilderness for a decade, all I can say is, Wow!

The Skeptic’s Curse
TEL AVIV — In late September 2000, at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, the French TV station France 2 aired some 60 seconds of footage allegedly showing the killing of a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip.
Muhammad al-Dura, who was 12 at the time, and his father are shown caught in an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters. The boy cowers behind his father, with what sounds like gunshots crackling in the background. Smoke then blocks our view. When it lifts the boy is flattened, listless, and his father is lying against the wall, apparently in serious physical distress. The footage soon became one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
No one knows what happened exactly at the Netzarim Junction that day. The French broadcast claimed that gunfire from Israeli soldiers killed the boy. That version of the facts immediately became the official Palestinian account. Israel did not accept responsibility, nor did it deny being involved. And so the French-Palestinian narrative stuck.
But this Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a report undermining that account. The document concludes there is “strong evidence” that Muhammad and his father “were not hit by bullets at all in the scenes filmed.” It also details many errors, omissions and open questions in the widely accepted narrative of the event.
I first heard that there might be a problem with the al-Dura story soon after the incident. I was the head of the news division at Haaretz at the time, and a young reporter approached me to say that a high-ranking official at the Israel Defense Force would be staging, in front of a crew from “60 Minutes,” a re-enactment of the shooting to prove the French and Palestinian chroniclers wrong.
I believed the initial story about al-Dura, and I was highly suspicious of the motivations of anyone attempting to disprove it.
Note a few things here. “I believed the initial story about al-Durah.” This readiness to believe the worst of the Israeli army – that they’d target a father and child and rain down bullets upon them, was pervasive, particularly among the journalists who were most proud of their self-critical attitude. As Bet Michael said to me in November of 2003 (after I had studied with Shahaf and seen the France2 raw footage with Enderlin),
BM: 100%. The israelis killed the boy.
RL: Really? Are you aware of the investigation and its findings?
BM: The investigator was a nut… some engineer with the army who argued a conspiracy theory that he kid committed suicide.
RL: Suicide?
MS: (to me while BM waxed eloquent to
NB) He’s being sarcastic.
RL: Were you being sarcastic?
BM: Not at all. I meant every word.
RL: Suicide?
BM: Oh, that was sarcastic, but since then the IDF has killed over 200 palestinian children, you can check with B’tselem.
Here’s a close-up view of the world of aggressive lethal journalism, backed by their “researchers” who systematically compile the lethal narratives. At the time I did not realize it, but I should have after Jenin in 2002, that the lethal journalists – in the case of many, probably not even knowingly – were now dominant in the journalistic scene in Israel.
The reporter and I both thought the military was crazy to do such a thing; it would look like an exercise in white-washing.
Another major theme. When I reported my research to a dear friend from the 1990s (who was on the board of B’tselem), his immediate response was, “You’re whitewashing the occupation.” Or to another friend who, finally giving into the evidence, responded, “It was still our fault. If there hadn’t been a settlement there this wouldn’t have happened.” Somehow it was our fault that they faked it and we’re getting demonized with it. More insight into masochistic omnipotence syndrome.
Her story ran on Nov.7, 2000, with a headline calling the probe “dubious.” To some, the piece seemed to portray one of the men behind the investigation, the physicist Nahum Shahaf, as eccentric, even weird. According to one critic, we “attacked him ferociously.”
If the history of “hit-jobs” in the media is done, the early 21st century will have a special place for the kind of aggressiveness with which the media themselves took the initiative (rather than taking direction from political interests) against people they didn’t like. The “conspiracy theory” that Charles derided became canonical at the hands of Anat Cygielman, who derided the whole affair.
If one thinks of this affair as a form of the emperor’s new clothes – except, here, the procession of an icon of hatred, rather than a silly naked emperor – then the court that falls in line is the journalists. Interesting to know the social framework in which this happened.
I plead guilty: I believed the initial story about al-Dura, and I was highly suspicious of the motivations of anyone attempting to disprove it.
This is pretty amazing courage in our day and age, and even more in this affair. As Anne-Elisabeth Moutet comments about the French scene (in the context of which one should understand a fair amount of Charles Enderlin’s behavior):
To understand the al-Dura affair, it helps to keep one thing in mind: In France, you can’t own up to a mistake. This is a country where the law of the Circus Maximus still applies: Vae victis, Woe to the vanquished. Slip, and it’s thumbs-down. Not for nothing was Brennus a Gaul. His modern French heirs don’t do apologies well, or at all if they can possibly help it. Why should they? That would be an admission of weakness. Blink, and you become the fall guy.
In my delineation of the characteristics of lethal journalism Middle-East style (Al Durah Journalism), I call this honor-shame journalism because the operative mechanism is, prefer public honor and private guilt to private integrity and public shame.
In this instance Israel’s supporters seemed excessively argumentative, politically motivated, even conspiratorial. (Shahaf had also investigated the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.)
Shahaf was an easy target. Even those who agree with him and learn from him find him difficult, and he’s definitely believes that what we are told is not what happened to Rabin.  But the “excessively argumentative” nature of the problem was in part because of the “et alors” reflex that was so frustrating to those who made the arguments.
But the “politically motivated” is the more telling remark: this was pervasive after Al Durah, especially in France, but really everywhere. Any Jew/Israeli who defended Israel had to be doing it because they were partisan. In France, accusations of communautarisme where so common that a number of people who were not Jewish, when they defended Israel to their co-citoyens, got the response: “Oh I didn’t know you were Jewish.” This atmosphere, in which, in the words of Shmuel Trigano, “a Jew cannot bear witness,” explains in part why it took so long for the French to even see, much less admit the growing wave of anti-Semitism, and why the phenomenon of alter-juifs – Jews who had had great success while hiding their Jewish identity, suddenly saying, “as a Jew, I must denounce Israel’s terrible deeds.”
If one defends oneself it must be from self-interest (i.e., right-wing politics). Automatically suspect. If one admits to one’s fault, one is noble. Of course no one, surprisingly not the French who pride themselves on their méfiance (skepticism/mistrust), wondered about the politics and self-serving communautarisme of the Arab Muslim community who was insisting on the truth of their lethal narratives. Highway to the auto-stupefaction of rekaB Street, and the reason that roosters on Global Warming are owls on Global Jihad, and vice-versa. In one case (right-wingers on Jihad) it’s opposing others, in the other, (left-wingers on Warming), it’s about criticizing ourselves.
Yet from the start, there were many unanswered questions. The footage wasn’t continuous and key moments — such as when the boy ostensibly is struck — aren’t shown.
Don’t forget the lack of ambulance evacuation scenes of either the father or the boy. Given how many scenes of ambulance evacuation were staged that day, how could a dozen cameraman – and especially Talal Abu Rahma – have missed filming a real, heartbreaking one?
There was also the case of the Israeli doctor who was cleared of defamation charges by a French court last year: He had been sued by Muhammad’s father, Jamal, for claiming that scars on Jamal’s body, allegedly caused by Israeli bullets, were caused many years before the incident.
Over time, with every new investigative report — there have been too many for me to keep track — and every new detail disclosed, my uneasiness has grown. Although I very much wanted to believe that Israel wasn’t at fault, I couldn’t overcome my suspicion about the attempts to clear its name. On the other hand, the original narrative had too many holes to ignore.
Fascinating. Rosner says he wants to believe Israel is innocent, but the very fact that he might be motivated by that (apparently illegitimate) desire kept him from allowing himself to look at the powerful evidence that this terrible story about his own people was not true. Normally one is worried that partisan motives might make one ignore evidence, but in this case – and here we approach hyper-self-criticism – it that noble concern makes on ignore the evidence. Freud’s Moses and Monotheism has this quality to it, as Yosef Yerushalmi pointed out. It’s an one of the major “discontents” of assimilation according to Barry Rubin’s brilliant book.
And now the Israeli government’s new report claims the broadcast was “edited and narrated” in a misleading way. The voice-over says, for example, that “Jamal and his son Muhammad are the target of fire coming from the Israeli position” and then that “Muhammad is dead and his father badly hurt.” But according to the government report, “in the final scenes the boy is not dead.” In the last seconds of the footage, the “boy raises his arm” and “turns his head.”
And, according to the government report (and anyone else who’s examined the evidence), Enderlin had no, repeat no evidence to corroborate his cameraman’s claims about this coming from the Israeli position. (Indeed not once in any of the footage that Talal shot of the Israeli position before and during this sequence is there any sign of fire from there.)
Asked whether he might not have been hasty about this by Adi Schwartz for Haaretz, November 1, 2007, Enderlin responded: “what would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?” (The quote is absent in the English version of the article.)
And of course, while “the child does not die on camera” is the more radical statement about the footage reconsidered, the most fundamental part of the story as a lethal narrative, is the huge opening that Enderlin gave the demonizers by saying “target of fire coming from the Israeli position.”
Not that this solves the puzzle exactly, especially since the report’s authors didn’t interview Jamal or French TV executives, and they didn’t exhume Muhammad’s body for examination.
I agree the committee should have tried to interview Enderlin, Jamal and Talal (and anyone else present at Netzarim that day). I don’t think they would have come, not even Enderlin. But it’s not too late for an honest international inquiry. My guess is Enderlin knows his goose is cooked and will do anything to hamstring that initiative. It wouldn’t be the first time.
And yet my thinking has changed. I started out believing the dominant version of events largely because I was made skeptical by Israel’s attempts to save its skin;
Now there’s a double-bind, schizophrenigenic approach – the very fact that you are defending yourself leads me to reject your arguments.
now, I accept the possibility that the Israeli government’s take might be correct after all.
An intellectual! Someone capable of being convinced by empirical evidence.
This evolution brings me relief: I want to be able to trust what my government says. But that carries its own problem: what about my own motivations? Have I really been swayed by the new evidence, or am I finally giving in to a deep desire of letting Israel off the hook?
The only way to know is to explore further. The Al Durah evidence is only the beginning. The impact of this Icon of Hatred played in the dynamics of globalization – both the energizing of an apocalyptic death cult in the Muslim world and the paralysis of an ability to defend ourselves on the part of progressive forces in the West – and the school of lethal journalism (and lethal NGOism) that it empowered, still hold hegemony today among the major players in the Western public sphere. When the whole picture is considered, just as with the campaign of Jihadi suicide bombing, it inspired, the Al Durah icon of hatred ultimately hurt Muslims far more than Israel, its ostensible target.
I tweeted the Al Durah forgery has hurt the Arab world more than any other society, by injecting them with a death cult, acknowledging that fake can awaken from arab nightmare to a visitor from Egypt. His response:
Indeed, I believe so too. I chatted with people from Gaza and the West Bank. They are sick of the status quo and want peace.
Emad el Dafrawi is just the kind of person we’d like to believe is among the “vast majority” of really moderate and humane Muslims and who is (accordingly?) in grave danger.
Al Durah’s the red pill. And tackling it is the road out of rekaB Street and on to recovery: Want to wake up and figure out what’s going on? Take it.