Thursday, April 2, 2009

The IDF Must Hold Fire

Monday, March 30, 2009


The latest furor over supposed Israeli war crimes in Gaza has once again followed the classic pattern: a charge made without any evidence later proves to be unverifiable, Israel is put in the untenable position of trying to prove the negative statement, the world media trumpets the charges in bold page 1 headlines, and when the facts are made available, corrections are published in small print well on the inside. The only difference from the alleged Jenin "massacre" is that this time the charges were made by Israelis-- published in English rather than in Hebrew to make it clear that they were playing for the world media rather than attempting to have a serious public discourse within Israel.
Of course, for the next few years anti-Israel websites and public demonstrations will prominently feature "IDF War Crimes" as part of their many grievances against Israel. But focusing on what did and didn't happen, while important both for the historical record and for Israelis who want to know that their sons behaved morally, really isn't the essence of the issue. After all, in every single war there are soldiers who have indeed behaved immorally; in every single war, civilians are killed either by scared teens armed with weapons, by angry soldiers who just watched their friend get blown into small bits, or by human error when shells didn't get aimed where they were intended. And when fighting against an enemy that doesn't hesitate to use human shields, that cynically uses schools as rocket launching pads and hospitals as military headquarters, that tells its own population that the highest calling they can seek is to become martyrs, civilian casualties are bound to be higher.
So what IS the essence of the issue? It's those who are opposed to any defensive action Israel takes, regardless of the provocation, regardless of the rationale, regardless of the situation where one side is clearly told that its fate is to be exterminated. It's well summarized on this sign displayed at the anti-Israel protest in San Francisco during the Second Lebanon War:

Hezbollah or Hamas can murder Israeli civilians at will, can rain rockets down over the entire country, and can blow up buses and cafes. But the IDF? It--and only it-- must hold fire. That's the message that is really being delivered to Israel. Double standards, anyone?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BBC Invents "Annapolis Deal" and "Annapolis Accords"

According to the BBC and Reuters, the "ultranationalist"  Foreign Minister of the "right-leaning"(not to mention Zionist warmonger chauvinist) Israel government has torn up an agreement, just like you know who used to do in the 1930s.  "Israel FM rejects Annapolis deal" headlined the BBC. Reuters claimed that the  "ultranationalist"  Foreign Minister of the "right-leaning" forein Minister said that "ultranationalist" "right-leaning" Israel  would not be bound by "US-backed understandings."
But there was never any Annapolis deal, there was never an Annapolis Accord, and there were never any "US-backed understandings." BBC and Reuters invented it all. There were never any agreements, because the Palestinians refused to sign any agreements. More about that here: BBC Invents "Annapolis Accords" 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

United States to rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council

Is this good or bad for Israel? Could the HRC be any worse than it is?
UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- The Obama administration decided Tuesday to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations' premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states.
"Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. "With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system. . . . We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies."
The United States announced it would participate in elections in May for one of three seats on the 47-member council, joining a slate that includes Belgium and Norway.
New Zealand, which had also been on the ballot, supports the U.S. decision and withdrew its name to make room for the United States, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced. "Frankly, by any objective measure, membership of the Council by the U.S. is more likely to create positive changes more quickly than we could have hoped to achieve them," he said.
The decision was welcomed by U.N. officials and rights advocates, who had been briefed on the decision. Human rights activists have been advocating U.S. membership in the council since its creation in March 2006.

"This is a welcome step that gives the United States and other defenders of human rights a fighting chance to make the institution more effective," said a human rights advocate familiar with the decision. "I think everybody is just desperate to have the United States and Barack Obama run for the human rights council, and countries are willing to bend over backward to make that happen."
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the 60-year-old Human Rights Commission, which lost international credibility after countries with abysmal rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, were allowed to join and thwart criticism of their actions.
Reached Tuesday, Bolton denounced the Obama administration's decision. "This is like getting on board the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg," he said. "This is the theology of engagement at work. There is no concrete American interest served by this, and it legitimizes something that doesn't deserve legitimacy."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Muslim education on Al-Jazeera.

Muslim education on Al-Jazeera.

Does this require comment? It was shown in a TV show on Al-Jazeera. The speaker is a Saudi Cleric.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: How old are you, Omar?
Omar: Eight years old.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Do you like the Jews?
Omar: No.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: You hate them. Why do you hate them? What did the Jews do?
Omar: They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Well done. They wanted to kill the Prophet Muhammad. And what are they doing to our Muslim brothers now? They are killing them. When you curse them, what do you say? "Oh God…"?
Omar: Oh God, destroy the Jews.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: Well done. "And support…"?
Omar: The Muslims.
Khaled Al-Khlewi: The Muslims. Well done, my dear. Do you want to come with me to Saudi Arabia? I have a son like you, called Abdallah. You can play with him. Will you come with me? Will you give me this nice jacket you are wearing? Let me give you some water… May Allah protect you. I will give you this book and some water. Goodbye, my dear.

Israel war crimes in Gaza - Canard

The "war crimes" described in a postwar discussion at the Oranim military preparation school by Israeli soldiers never happened. The soldiers were quoting rumors and hearsay. An IDF investigation has managed to disprove every one of the claims. The same result could have been achieved if journalists like Amos Harel and Boaz Shelah, who marketed these rumors irresponsibly in canard after canard, and op-ed after op-ed defending the canards, had followed elementary rules of professional jounalism and checked the leads that were based on hearsay.
Now it is too late, as the entire world is convinced that Israel committed these nonexistent "war crimes."
The awkward officialese of the announcement below cannot compete with the polished sensationalism of Amos Harel. The truth is not always well written.
Ami Isseroff

Military Police investigation on Rabin Center statements: Based on hearsay

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, decided to close the Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police case of the statements made by soldiers at the Rabin Military Preparation Center about Operation Cast Lead.  This decision was made after the Military Police investigation found that the crucial components of their descriptions were based on hearsay and not supported by specific personal knowledge.  In particular, this includes the two alleged stories that raised suspicion of acts in which uninvolved non-combatants were fired upon.

Additionally, it was found that once the claims were checked, they were not supported by the facts as determined by the investigation.

The investigation was initiated by the Military Advocate General after reviewing claims made during a conference at the Rabin Military Preparation Center in which soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead were present. The Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police was ordered to investigate the claims made, with an emphasis on the alleged firing at uninvolved non-combatants.

The investigation concluded from the soldiers who participated in the conference that the stories told were purposely exaggerated and made extreme, in order to make a point with the participants of the conference.

For example, the story in which a soldier was claimed to have been given orders to fire at an elderly woman was clarified during the investigation.  In fact, the soldier witnessed no such thing, and was only repeating a rumor he had heard. In an unrelated investigation, it was found that in a similar incident, a woman, suspected as being a suicide bomber, approached an IDF force, which opened fired towards her after repeatedly trying to stop her from advancing.

This same soldier admitted that he had not witnessed the additional disrespectful and immoral incidents he had described during the conference.

A claim made by a different soldier who had supposedly been ordered to open fire at a woman and two children was also clarified as an incident that he had not witnessed. After checking the claim, it was found that during this incident a force had opened fire in a different direction, towards two suspicious men who were unrelated to the civilians in question.

During the Military Police investigation, two additional claims arose regarding improper conduct. These claims were separate from those made at the Rabin Military Preparation Center. It was found that these incidents do not raise suspicion of unjustified opening of fire.  This finding is based on a debriefing which had occurred close to the time of one of the incidents and upon further investigation conducted by the Military Police.

It must be stated that during these investigations, the participants at the Rabin Center said that they had based their claims relating to the use of phosphorous munitions on what they had heard in the media and not on their personal knowledge.

The Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, concluded the findings of the Military Police investigation:
"It is unfortunate that none of the speakers at the conference was careful to be accurate in the depiction of his claims, and even more so that they chose to present various incidents of a severe nature, despite not personally witnessing and knowing much about them. It seems that it will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals of the IDF and its soldiers, who had participated in Operation Cast Lead, in Israel and the world."

The IDF Spokesperson Unit wishes to stress that the Military Advocate General's conclusions refer solely to the investigations that focused on the transcripts of the Rabin Military Preparation Center conference, in addition to the two separate aforementioned claims. This investigation is additional and not a substitute for the investigations conducted on all levels of the IDF, following Operation Cast Lead.  

Obama's Iranian initiative

This article by Amir Taheri seems to be, unfortunately, all too close to the truth.
Friday 27 March 2009
By Amir Taheri

Last Friday, US President Barack Hussein Obama broadcast a videotaped message on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, triggering a new debate about the future of Irano-American relations.
Sending a Nowruz message to Iranians was nothing new for an American president. The first such message was sent by Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, in 1883, a tradition followed by his 22 successors.
However, Obama's message had two new features.
First, it was addressed to both the "people and leadership" in Iran. The intention was to show that Obama acknowledges the legitimacy of the current system and rejects all ideas of supporting Iranian patriotism against Khomeinism.
The second novelty was Obama's tone of supplication.
As Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami put it: the man is practically begging the Islamic Republic to take notice of him!
Obama's message represents a return to President Jimmy Carter's Iran policy. Carter, too, was prepared to flatter, cajole, and beg to win a smile from the mullahs.
Some analysts see Obama's message as an indication of Vice President Joseph Biden's influence in shaping the administration's Iran policy. A supporter of dialogue with Tehran for years, Biden seems to have sidelined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has always espoused a tougher policy toward the mullahs.
But what are we to make of Tehran's response?
Some analysts claim that the Islamic Republic has already rejected Obama's overture – end of story. Others, anxious to promote Obama as a political wizard, insist that he has already scored a hit by forcing Tehran to acknowledge that the ball is now in its court.
A closer look at Tehran's reaction may reveal a more complicated pirouette.
To start with, it is important that Tehran has publicly responded to the message at the highest levels, including the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In previous years, the regime either ignored the American president's Nowruz message or commented on it through the state-owned media. This time, however, the "leadership", directly addressed by Obama, has come out with a direct response.
The carefully prepared Khomeinist response uses a number of rhetorical techniques the mullahs have developed over centuries.
The first is "badal-zani" or inversion.
This means using an adversary's arguments against him. In his message, Obama had invited the mullahs to change their behaviour on certain issues. In his response, Khamenei says: if you change, we will also change!
The second technique is "doon-pashi" or "spreading grains to attract the birds". The idea is to tantalize the birds with the promise of more feed while leading them into a cage. Khamenei did that by mentioning a number of issues of interest to Obama, a signal that he might be ready to discuss them as the first step toward a broader dialogue.
The third technique is "lapushooni" which could be translated as "hiding the essential while highlighting the irrelevant." Khamenei used this technique by talking of "insults" and ignoring his regime's stated aim of driving the Americans out of the Middle East as a prelude to global conquest in the name of the Khomeinist version of Islam.
It is clear that Khamenei wishes to encourage Obama's illusions that dialogue could produce positive results.
One might ask why was it that the "Supreme Guide" rejected similar offers from both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush?
The Clinton offer of a "Grand Bargain" under which the US would recognize the Islamic Republic as the regional superpower was made in 2000, and rejected for two reasons.
The first was that the Clinton administration was in its lame-duck stage, and the "Supreme Guide" was not sure it could deliver on its promises.
The second reason was that, Tehran had scored major diplomatic successes in Europe, no longer felt isolated, and enjoyed relative economic health thanks to steady oil prices.
In 2006, it was the turn of the Bush administration to have the door shut in its face by Tehran.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's invitation to dialogue was rejected because Tehran felt that the US had "lost in Iraq" and would soon retreat from the Middle East in humiliation.
More importantly, perhaps, Khamenei distrusted and feared Bush. The mullahs believed that Bush, in his heart, was committed to regime change in Iran.
Thus prospects for a "dialogue" with the United States appear better under the Obama administration than under Clinton's or Bush's.
One reason is the presence of Joe Biden, regarded by Tehran as "a valued friend". However, the main reason is Tehran's perception of Obama as an inexperienced and naive politician who could be taken for a ride without much risk, a reincarnation of the hapless Carter.
Tehran knows that Obama desperately wants to be different from Bush and would be prepared to go far to de-Bushisize American policy.
The idea is to use Obama's naiveté to buy the Islamic Republic another four years of insurance against its adversaries.
Khamenei's "yes-but" answer gives Obama something to chew upon for a few months. Obama will then be invited to wait for Iran's presidential election and the formation of a new administration in Tehran. Khamenei may even ask Ahmadinejad not to stand again, citing "health problems".
That would enable Khamenei to engineer a victory for Mir-Hussein Mussavi Khamenehi, a fellow Azerbaijani from the same village.
Mussavi-Khamenehi has a long history of contacts with the US and is already praised in Washington as a promising "new-old face".
Obama-idolators would hail Mussavi-Khamenehi's victory in the June presidential election as a great success for their "wizard". Ahmadinejad, the genuine anti-American and Holocaust-denier, will be gone, replaced by a politician with secret contacts with Washington since 1985, (the trouble with Ahmadinejad is that he really means what he says).
These developments would fill what is left of Obama's term. During that period, Tehran will have its bomb, will spread its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan, will strengthen its hold on Lebanon and Syria, and will go onto the offensive in the Gulf and Pakistan.
And then either Obama wins a second term and continues his confused policies or there will be a new US president, who will also see himself as the great genius who could do what all his predecessors failed to do: tame the Khomeinist beast with sweet words.
Amir Taheri's new book "The Persian Night: Iran Under The Khomeinist Revolution" is published by Encounter Books, New York and London.