Archive for February, 2011


Continued from THE UNITED NATIONS – 1
( )

The missing factor


Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click:   type: how to avoid armageddon

Similarly, in the Arab-Israel conflict, global power struggles and diplomatic considerations, concern about oil supplies and religion have plagued most efforts at promoting peace in the Middle East. At every stage there have been member states of the U.N. that have fostered tension and worked to prolong and even exacerbate the conflict. Especially cagey on this issue, had been the Soviet Union during the 44 years of its existence as a prominent member state and a permanent member of the Security Council. It sent huge supplies of sophisticated weaponry to the Arab states, thus accelerating the arms race in the Middle East. Tens of thousands of Soviet military experts trained Arab military forces. Soviet pilots engaged Israeli fighter planes in aerial dog fights during the War of Attrition in 1969-70. The Soviet Union even hoodwinked the Arab states into thinking that Israel was about to attack Syria – thus playing a significant part in causing the seismic Six Day War in 1967.

For a few years after the dismantlement of the Soviet Union, Russia played a far less disruptive role in global affairs. In the last few years, however, it seems to be returning to its former cynical stand against Western interests, offering support to many regimes hostile to the U.S.A., as well as those that are Israel’s enemies.

On the other hand, the U.S.A. has frequently invoked its right of veto in the Security Council, in order to prevent resolutions it deemed unfair or dangerous for Israel. For the Arab and Muslim nations, as well as many of their supporters, the U.S.A. use of veto is seen as detrimental to the cause of peace. It should be remembered, however, that the Security Council is traditionally negatively disposed towards Israel. This is because among the five permanent veto-wielding members, Russia and China usually adopt positions that are hostile to Israel, while France has a tradition of bias in favor of the Arabs. Among the ten rotating non-permanent members, there is always a significant number of Arab, Muslim and non-aligned members that are traditionally hostile to Israel. For these reasons it has usually been impossible for Israel to get a fair hearing on the Security Council, which has repeatedly condemned the Jewish State, yet never adopted a resolution critical of armed attacks against Israel by Arab countries or militant organizations, except a mild rebuke for Hamas in 2009. The American veto has often been the only thing preventing universal international sanctions or military force against Israel.

Anti-Israel resolutions take up an inordinately large proportion of the United Nations Organization’s time and resources. This is readily obvious when accessing the organization’s official website. If we take as a general example the General Assembly’s 64th Session in 2009, we can find an impressive list of resolutions dealing with a large number of global issues, including agricultural development, women’s issues, eradication of poverty, human rights, disarmament, economic cooperation, energy sources, combating desertification, as well as a great deal of talk on the organization’s budgetary concerns. All very important stuff. But in a world festering with grave human rights abuses and mass murder of civilians in a dozen countries, as well as numerous volatile border disputes, the General Assembly limited its attention briefly to Myanmar, North Korea, Iran, while mention was also made of the situation in a number of non-self-governing territories.

Yet, twenty-nine General Assembly resolutions censured Israel for its actions in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. This was more than the censure of all the other countries combined. Significantly, not a single resolution was passed in connection with the ongoing atrocities in Darfur, the Congo, China’s brutal occupation of Tibet, Zimbabwe, etc.
This doesn’t mean that Israel should be above the law. Most countries can be cited for shortcomings in their human rights records and it is legitimate for the U.N. to focus on Israel, caught up in a life and death struggle with its neighbors and desperately needing to defend itself. But surely the focus should be on all the other involved parties as well. With all this intense focus on Israel, why is little or no concern shown for the constant threats, armed aggression and false propaganda waged against her? Clearly, there is a lot amiss in the U.N., at least where Israel is concerned.

Interestingly, there are approximately 20 special U.N. offices and committees dedicated to the Palestinian cause alone. No other country or region is the beneficiary of so many bureaus in the U.N. These include the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People, Information Activities on the Question of Palestine and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. These and other bodies within the United Nations Organization, supposed to help the Palestinian people, each employ scores of people and use up an annual budget of millions of dollars. Much of their work directly or indirectly promotes anti-Israel propaganda throughout the world. And significantly, they do absolutely nothing to further the cause of peace, which is what the U.N. was set up to do in the first place.

However, the largest agency within the U.N., existing primarily to help the Palestinians is UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), with a staff of over 25,000 and an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, donated mainly by the U.S. and countries of the European Union. At the time of writing, according to UNRWA, there are over 4.7 million Arabs registered as refugees, many of them third generation descendants. They live in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and are aided with food supplies, education and health services. Many have never held a regular job.

Clearly this is an ongoing humanitarian crisis of gargantuan proportions that must be addressed by humanity and the U.N. is to be commended for its involvement. But there are a few salient points regarding the Arab Refugee Problem that are seldom, if ever addressed.

At the time of writing this book, apart from the Arab refugees, there are over 21 million refugees in the world, as the result of wars, forced uprooting of populations by despotic regimes and natural disasters, spread over Asia, Europe, Central and South America and Africa. The United Nations set up a separate agency in 1950 to help these people – the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In contrast to the Palestine Refugee Problem, this humanitarian situation, with a population over four times larger than the Palestine refugees, nevertheless employs a staff of approximately 6,300 people in more than 110 countries – a quarter of the number of aid workers for the Palestinian refugees (or a discrepancy of one-sixteenth).

Going back to the time that the Arab Refugee Problem emerged in 1948, it should be remembered that the first half of the 20th century saw many dreadful wars in which over eighty million people became refugees. In most of the cases, refugees were resettled in places outside the countries were they had dwelt. This is what happened with the Armenians during the 1915 expulsions and the refugees from the Balkan wars as well as the Greek-Turkish conflict following World War I. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of Finns expelled by the Soviets from Karelia rebuilt their lives in Finland. So did millions of ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Prussia and other parts of Europe, and relocated to devastated Germany after World War II. The independence of India in 1947 precipitated terrible internecine strife between Hindu and Muslim communities, that led to population changes of over twelve million. In all these cases every effort was made to settle the respective populations as quickly as possible in their new places of domicile, and they were all duly resettled.

Also, Israel, at its inception as an independent state after May 1948, absorbed over a million Jewish refugees fleeing from the wrath of their neighbors throughout the Arab world as well as the surviving remnants of the Holocaust in the then inhospitable Communist countries such as Poland, Rumania and Hungary. Most of these people came with little money, assets or job skills, while Israel at that time was in dire financial straits. But with the help of Jews from all over the world, the vast majority of Jewish refugees to Israel were given homes and jobs and soon became productive, self-sufficient citizens.

But the Arabs, on the other hand, have deliberately perpetuated their refugee problem for over three generations in order to use it as a political and military weapon against Israel. This is grimly paradoxical, as the Arab world constantly spends enormous sums of money for the purchase of arms, instead of aid for their fellow Arabs – turned into refugees as a result of their attempt to dispossess another people of their lands.

What makes the Palestine Refugee Problem even more unique is that its perpetuation, demanded by the Arab countries, purposefully constitutes a major factor in preventing peace in the Middle East, and is ironically enabled by the world agency set up to promote peace among all people – the United Nations Organization.

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click:     type: how to avoid Armageddon


February 28, 2011 at 6:29 am 1 comment


Lofty aims stymied by

global politics


Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”

Available through Amazon Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

Ironically the United Nations Organization, the very body that facilitated Israel’s establishment as a modern independent state in 1948, has become a major factor in delegitimizing it. Though Israel has been invaded twice by neighboring countries, needed to pre-empt a third invasion, and been subjected to wars of attrition, and tens of thousands of terrorist attacks, the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization have seldom censured any of its assailants, while perennially placing Israel in the dock.

After starting out in 1945 with 51 member states embracing noble ideals, which as written in its Charter, include being “committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.” This momentous document talks about taking effective measures to prevent or remove threats to peace, and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.  

And in truth, the UN through its various agencies has done a tremendous amount of good work, helping improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people all over the world, by facilitating aid in education, health care, combating hunger, economic and infrastructural development, human rights and international justice.

But, like any large human endeavor comprising many different groups of people, there are bound to be coalitions with diverging interests that ultimately foil the very purpose that got the endeavor started in the first place. In the overall cause of peace, this is clearly the case in the U.N. Perhaps this was inevitable because from its very inception, the organization’s official aims were severely compromised through its composition of incompatible national and ideological blocs. The democratic states in the West, led by the U.S.A., faced the Communist Bloc that was led and welded together with the firm grip of the Soviet Union (the huge conglomerate of nations of which Russia was the main component). The Soviet Union (which ended in 1991) was intent on spreading its influence throughout the world, while the U.S.A. was equally intent on preventing this spread. This confrontation became known as the Cold War, and dominated international relationships for 45 years until the dismantlement of the Soviet Union. During all this time there was a continuing state of political conflict, military tension and economic sanctions. Although the military forces of the USA and the Soviet Union never clashed openly on the battlefield, the conflict was waged through military coalitions and strategic deployments, reflected in the nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars and the quest for dominance in space.

Meanwhile the establishment of Israel as an independent state in 1948 galvanized the Arab world to strive for its eradication and the Middle East became a flashpoint in the bitter rivalry between the two main blocs in the U.N. A number of factors made the Middle East a very important region, especially after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1951. The Arabs constituted a major political bloc – therefore currying favor with them made sense for any national leadership. Also, it meant acquiring a more advantageous position with the rest of the huge Muslim world. But the major issue has always been oil, and the Arab nations have the largest reserves in the world.

A third large bloc in the U.N. was the non-aligned states, which were mainly the developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Despite being called non-aligned, many often automatically sided with the Soviet Union in its confrontation with the U.S.A. A large part of the non-aligned states were the Arab and Muslim countries.

In the nineteen nineties a new world order emerged with the disintegration of the Communist bloc. Dozens of countries, formerly obliged to be part of the Soviet Union or under strict Communist scrutiny, began one by one to claim their full national independence. Most aligned themselves with the West. Concurrently, South Africa abolished its odious apartheid system; Israel and the Palestinians had agreed upon a peace process; Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan. (It had already signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.) And the world seemed to have become a happier, much safer place.

But meanwhile, a new threat to peace and goodwill for all people had emerged – global terrorism, spearheaded by a number of Islamic organizations such as Al Kaida, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah and Hamas, and backed financially, logistically and with training by Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Also, devastatingly for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, terrorism of an unprecedentedly deadly kind, repeatedly hit all the major cities of Israel. Paradoxically, just when there seemed to be a distinct hope for peace through the establishment at long last, of autonomy for the Palestinians, with the possibility of independence, all Israel’s major cities were suddenly subjected to hundreds of stabbings, shootings and bombings on a daily basis.

In order to cope with this untenable situation Israel needed to send its armed forces into the Palestinian cities and confront the terrorists directly.

It is more than likely that most Arabs – like people anywhere else – would prefer to lead their lives in peace and prosperity. But frequent Israeli incursions into their towns and villages and the interminable road-blocks – all designed to prevent acts of terror against Israeli citizens – seriously disrupt the lives of the ordinary Arab citizens and have embittered them even more towards Israel.

It is a situation for which the United Nations Organization was created. In theory it has the framework to deal with conflict. Its various agencies, commissions, committees and procedures were set up in order to prevent or end conflict and help maintain peaceful relationships among all nations. Until the time of writing the U.N., since its inception, has dispatched over 60 peacekeeping missions to dozens of countries, deploying hundreds of thousands of military and civilian personnel to help out as police officers, mine dismantlers, ceasefire observers, administrators, economists, legal experts, electoral observers, human rights monitors and specialists in governance and other related fields. In many parts of the world the United Nations has played a role in trying to help resolve conflict. Sometimes it has succeeded. But there have also been serious failures, such as the inaction of U.N. forces stationed in Rwanda that permitted the massacre of over 800,000 people in 1994; and the failure the following year to intervene in the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia; and the continuing failure to prevent genocide or provide assistance in Darfur. The first two failures were due to ineptness by U.N. military forces on the spot and unwise top-level decision-making. The latter failure, till now, is primarily due to international politics and concern for regular oil supplies at stable prices.

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click:  type: how to avoid Armageddon

Continued at United Nations – 2:

February 27, 2011 at 5:46 am 1 comment


Continued from “Why Jenin?” –



Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: type: how to avoid Armageddon

Even before the advent of Photoshop, propagandists had turned the old adage, “A photo never lies,” on its head. Through shrewdly-worded captions any picture can make a convincing claim about anything. Also, photographs can be staged so as to convey any special message. In the case of television the addition of sound, accompanied by sincere-sounding commentary can make a picture be worth a million words in propaganda value. This was the case with the iconic Mohammed al-Durrah incident.

On September 30, 2000, which was the second day of the Second Intifada (Arab Uprising), a France 2 cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, filmed a 27-minute video clip of a battle involving an Israeli army position and Gazan security forces at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip. What was shown to viewers on France 2 a few hours later was a dramatic scene, in which Jamal al-Durrah and his 12-year-old son, Mohammed, are seen crouching behind a concrete barrel, taking cover from fire from the Israeli position. Mohammed is seen, desperately clinging to his father and crying in terror, while his father is waving frantically to beg the soldiers to stop shooting. A sudden blast in front of them stirs up a cloud of dust that obscures the camera for a moment. When the dust settles we see a heart-rending scene: Mohammed is lying by his father with his head on his lap. The father also appears to have been seriously wounded.

In the broadcast the Israel bureau chief of France 2, Charles Enderlin told viewers that the father and son had been the “target of fire from the Israeli positions,” during which the boy had been killed. The clip was distributed free of charge to networks around the world. The scene aroused deep dismay and anger everywhere it was seen, and great wrath among the Palestinians, who were already engaged in a violent uprising, openly using firearms in their confrontation with the Israeli forces.

The death of Mohammed al-Durrah became a rallying cry. The slain boy was hailed throughout Arab and Muslim countries as a martyr. Streets and parks have been named after him in many countries; postage stamps show the picture of him and his father taking cover behind the concrete drum; a 51-storey skyscraper in Dubai is called the El-Durrah Tower.

But something didn’t seem right with the televised scene, which lasted for less than a minute (out of the 27 minutes filmed). While the father and son are seen cowering behind the concrete barrel, which supposedly shields them from the Israeli position, nevertheless, the wall against which they are seen leaning (and which is not facing the Israeli position) is suddenly struck by two bullets that appear to have come from somewhere 90 degrees to their right, a direction to which they are completely exposed. Clearly the bullets have not come from the direction of the Israeli position. A puff of dust from the impact of the bullet drifts very slightly to the left and a round hole appears where the bullet struck. There are a few more similarly sized, round holes on the wall. But this doesn’t make sense, because bullets fired from the direction from which they are taking cover (behind the barrel) – supposedly the Israeli position – would make very elongated holes because of the acute angle between the wall and the Israeli position. Yet the father and son continue leaving themselves exposed to the direction from which the bullets striking the wall have been fired. It was from this direction that cameraman Abu Rahma was shooting his film, while behind him was a position of armed Palestinian security forces.

Interestingly, the son, who had been half-sitting, half-kneeling at his father’s side, before the blast, is seen lying, fully-stretched out alongside his father after the dust clears. Surely, if a person is hit while sitting down, he doesn’t stretch out full-length into a lying position. He keels over, perhaps convulsively, and would normally remain in a crumpled position.

Another strange thing is that the cameraman had shouted, “The boy is dead,” even before the blast, when the lad was still holding on to his father.
To any discerning viewer the scene should have prompted a few questions. And indeed, a number of serious commentators, journalists and researchers began to ask questions. Apart from the shape of the bullet holes that were clearly inconsistent with the position of the Israeli soldiers, why hadn’t the cameraman focused on Mohammed and his father after they had been hit, in order to see the extent of their injuries and to witness their evacuation.

Another worrying factor is the fact that requests by journalists as well as the Israeli Army to see the entire, unedited footage of the scene were consistently refused by France 2. There was one exception, however. In October 2004, France 2 allowed three highly respected senior French journalists to view the entire 27 minutes.

In a scene shown in the unedited film, the dead boy, Mohammed, who is lying with his hand covering his eyes, is actually seen lifting his hand away from his face as though he is peeking at a camera, and slightly raising himself, while his legs move. This was not shown in the public broadcast. When asked why this scene had been omitted, bureau chief Charles Enderlin said it was cut in accordance with France 2’s ethical charter, because it showed the boy in his death throes, which he called “unbearable.” This seemed a strange decision, since this particular scene might have presented a hopeful moment for the viewers, because what it shows is that the boy is alive and also there is no evidence of blood anywhere, therefore, it would seem that Mohammed might not have even been wounded. It is hard not to assume that the reason for cutting out this particular frame had to with France 2 saving face rather than to save viewers from witnessing an “unbearable” scene.

Interestingly, during the entire confrontation between the Israeli soldiers and the Palestinians there were a number of reporters and cameramen from various news channels and publications at the scene. Both Reuters and the AP captured moments showing Jamal and Mohammed al-Durrah at the concrete cylinder, but the crucial minute of footage was captured only by Abu Rahma.

Raw footage from these other news organizations shows a number of separate scenes involving scores of young men walking around, joking and smoking, while there is the sound of shooting. There are scenes where they suddenly scramble for cover, while a few meters away young men are chatting and smoking. There is a puzzling scene when a large group of men are standing near the el Durrahs. Suddenly, as if by cue, they all begin to run away. Only the el Durrahs remain. One telling scene shows a protester falling and clutching his leg, as if shot. An ambulance appears immediately to pick him up. Later the same man is seen jumping out of the ambulance with a smile on his face. Scenes are often staged for the camera. But that is not to say that the particular scene showing Mohammed suddenly lying fully stretched out and his father appearing to be wounded had definitely been staged. But the shenanigans in front of the camera by the crowd beforehand makes it not unlikely.

Journalists began asking questions that were uncomfortable for Mr. Enderlin, his cameraman, Jalal Abu Rahma and France 2, as well as the Palestine Authority. For the latter, the questions were quickly settled. As far as they are concerned Israel is always guilty, therefore there is no doubt that Israel had murdered the young boy and therefore there was no need to examine the matter any further. Fine, but then other questions arose. Why was there no blood at the scene until later the next morning when some brightly colored red goo appeared near the barrel? And why weren’t any bullets available for forensic examination?

There were other inconsistencies. In the initial broadcasts around the world the boy was called Rami. In an interview with the Esther Schapira, a journalist working for the German TV channel ARD, the doctors at El-Shifa Hospital in Gaza said that a 12-year-old fatally-injured boy with the same name had been admitted to the hospital some time in the morning and not after 3 pm, when the shooting was said to have been filmed? Was this the same boy who had taken cover behind the concrete cylinder? If so, how does one explain the time discrepancy?

Philippe Karsenty, a French a financial consultant who runs a media watchdog, Media-Ratings. ran an article on his website in November 2004, entitled “France 2: Arlette Chabot and Charles Enderlin should be removed from their positions immediately.” He wrote that the scenes with the el-Durrahs had been faked by the cameraman, that Mohammed had not been killed, and that Enderlin and Chabot (France 2’s news editor) should be sacked.

In response Enderlin and France 2 filed defamation suits which they won and Karsenty was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €3,000 in costs. Karsenty lodged an appeal that same day.

The presiding judge of the 11th Chamber of the Appeals Court of Paris requested that France 2 turn over the raw footage of the incident to the court, but Enderlin claimed that there had never been 27 minutes of raw footage, maintaining that altogether there had been only 18 minutes of footage shot in Gaza. This was strange because three years earlier the footage had been seen by three leading French journalists, who had commented critically on it.

On May 21, 2008, the Appeals Court handed down its decision, finding in favor of Karsenty. It cited the “inexplicable inconsistencies of the viewable images,” and the “contradictory answers of the cameraman Talal Abu Rahma regarding the sequence of the scenes and the conditions under which they were filmed.” Also noted were the contradictory answers given by Charles Enderlin to the questions relating to the editing of the film. Enderlin and France 2 have lodged an appeal, which at the time of writing is still to be decided.

Now, I can’t know for certain whether the scene filmed by France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma was all absolutely factual and that, as he had said, 12-year-old Mohammed el-Durrah and his father Jalal, were taking cover behind a concrete drum at 3 pm, when Israeli soldiers fired on them, killing Mohammed and severely wounding his father. But this is the story that the world saw, believed and largely still believes.

However, studying the available footage over and over again, and reading many of the accounts that refute this story as well as the accounts that claim the story to be absolutely genuine, I find myself agreeing that France 2 had probably presented a very false report.

But the trouble is that as a Jew and an Israeli I find myself happy to think this. While striving to be objective, I nevertheless want to believe that Charles Enderlin and Jalal Abu Rahma messed up. I want to believe that the Israeli Army would never fatally shoot a boy and wound his unarmed father on purpose. Also, I am happy to believe that the adversaries of my people and my nation are capable of lying, fabricating a scene or even killing their own people for the sake of besmirching Israel’s name. And it’s precisely because this is what I want to believe, that I must question the honesty and validity of my conclusions. I need to try and give Abu Rahma and Charles Enderlin some credit for honesty and professional integrity.

But there are too many factors that indicate that Karsenty was probably right in his accusation that the scenes shown on France 2 were faked; that the 11th Chamber of the Appeals Court of Paris was right in supporting Karsenty’s claim; that all the journalists who doubted the video presentation of the al-Durrahs were right; and that falsehood and unprofessionalism ruled on that sad day.

If I am sure about anything, it is that this miserable episode has done nothing whatsoever to foster peace or help the Palestinians in any way. Also it’s part of a huge pattern, purposely misrepresenting factuality so as to put Israel in a bad light throughout the world. Whenever a lie is exposed, it is seldom acknowledged and redressed through public admission by those responsible for the lie in the first place. And even when this happens Israel still remains odious and guilty in the eyes of all those who relish its battering and seek its downfall.

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: type: how to avoid Armageddon

February 26, 2011 at 7:23 am Leave a comment


(Continued from:   )



 Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

 In 2002 a battle took place in Jenin, which turned out to be a classic example of how this collaboration is done. Jenin is a town in northern Samaria with a population of 120,000. The refugee camp, where the battle took place has a population of about 35,000. As usual, whenever there is a major battle involving the Israeli army, most media sources all over the world promptly report Arab claims that a massacre of innocent people has been perpetrated by the Israelis, while downplaying Israel’s version of the events and indeed ignoring what had preceded the battle. For almost ten years before the battle in Jenin, Israel’s citizens had been subjected to literally hundreds of armed attacks launched from towns and villages in the West Bank. Ironically, it was after the beginning of the peace talks with the Palestinians that the attacks had escalated on an unprecedented scale. Almost every day dozens of Israelis were blown up by suicide bombers in buses, restaurants, shopping malls and wedding halls; there had also been knifings, shootings and ambushes on the roads. These attacks reached a peak at a Passover dinner in a hotel in Netanya on March 27, 2002, when 30 Israelis were killed and 140 were injured in a suicide bombing.

There was a national consensus in Israel that these terror attacks had to be stopped, no matter what it took. On March 29, 2002 the Israeli Army began a campaign to rout out militant groups from six major Palestinian towns in Judea and Samaria, from where most of the attacks had been launched. Seven years earlier, as part of the Oslo Peace Process, complete self-rule of these towns had been turned over to the Palestinian Authority by Israel, as part of the process that was to lead to a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel had occupied Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip as a result of the Six Day War in 1967 (see Chapter 8 – The enforced Arab refugee problem).

On April 3, the Israeli Army entered the Jenin refugee camp, where the militants were dug in. They had set up strong defensive positions to entrap the Israeli soldiers, including hundreds of booby traps and mines. The only way the area could be taken without incurring heavy losses, was by heavy artillery and air bombardment. But this the Israeli high command refused to order because of the proximity of Arab civilians, even though it meant risking the lives of its soldiers. Because the  Israeli Army refrained from using carpet bombardment, which most, if not all other armies would have used in similar circumstances, the battle for Jenin lasted much longer than it needed to. During the nine days of fierce, often close-combat fighting Israel lost 23 soldiers and 52 were wounded, figures that would have been much lower had Israel been unconcerned about Arab civilian casualties.

However, from the outset, rumors of terrible massacres and colossal destruction in Jenin, spread throughout the Arab world. The Secretary-General of the Palestinian Authority, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, declared that thousands of Palestinians had been killed. Palestinian Information Minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, claimed mass graves for 900 Palestinians in the camp.

Nevertheless, subsequent investigations and reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Time Magazine and the BBC (none particularly sympathetic towards Israel) confirmed the death toll of combatants and non-combatants on the Arab side to have been less than 60. Also, they all concluded there had not been a wholesale massacre of civilians.

Despite the subsequent clarification of the true number of casualties (53), and the limitations that Israel had imposed on itself in the use of firepower, there was widespread denunciation of Israel throughout the world by governments, international agencies and media sources.

Israel was accused of war crimes by many human rights organizations and western newspapers. Amnesty International (which had admitted that Arab reports were grossly inflated) nevertheless reported that there was “clear evidence” that the IDF committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians, including unlawful killings and torture. The report also accused Israel of blocking medical care, using people as human shields and bulldozing houses with residents inside, as well as beating prisoners, and preventing ambulances and aid organizations from reaching the areas of combat even after the fighting had reportedly been stopped.

Even though I wasn’t there I can believe that some if not all of Amnesty International’s claims are true. Because that’s what happens in every war. This might sound callous, but when sitting comfortably in a quiet room far away from a terrible, raging battle, one can readily be appalled by such a report. One can also understand the indignation felt by those investigating the facts on the spot, assailed by the sight of terrible devastation and the lingering stench of cordite and death. Clearly, because of the terrible scenes after the battle, impartiality on the part of the investigators was impossible. Also, eyewitness accounts by locals, which provide most of the evidence are invariably, to put it mildly, unreliable – especially in the Middle East.

Furthermore, in the midst of battle, a soldier tries to adhere to the rules of legally acceptable carnage, which generally means shooting only at armed belligerents, avoiding harm to civilians and undue damage to property, allowing free movement of ambulances and treating prisoners according to the Geneva Convention. There are other international rules of warfare, as stipulated in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and amended with a number of Declarations and the Geneva Protocol of 1925. According to these rules it seems that in every single battle in the last hundred years up to the present day, all the rules regarding warfare have been broken by all  belligerent nations, even the most enlightened ones. And seldom is there any widespread censure, although notable exceptions have been the Nazi War Crimes Tribunal, and cases held in the International Court of Justice for crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo.

But against Israel, the moral outrage expressed throughout the world is always immediate, global and intense, as was the case after the Battle of Jenin.

The United Nations General Assembly subsequently passed a scathing resolution condemning Israel’s military action in Jenin by 74 votes to 4, with 54 abstentions. Even though background reports issued to the delegates included mention of many of the terror acts that provoked Israel’s response (albeit referred to as attacks by militants), Israel was exclusively slammed in the General Assembly vote.

No one noted that Israel had the military capability of destroying the militants’ bases in Jenin in a few hours and with very little loss of its own forces simply by using artillery and aerial bombardment – like the Coalition Forces had employed in the two Gulf Wars against Iraq (1991 and 2003), or Nato forces had employed in Serbia (1999). No one found it relevant that in order to minimize civilian casualties, Israel chose to root out the terrorists, not with intense artillery and aerial bombardment as it could easily have done, but by using mainly ground forces – a tactic infinitely more dangerous for her own combatants because of Israel’s concern for Arab civilian lives. The UN vote also ignored the usual terrorists’ method of positioning themselves in the midst of unarmed fellow-Arab civilians.

When considering the nature of the battle in Jenin – with the narrow alleyways, hundreds of booby-traps and mines that the Israeli soldiers needed to cope with, the resoluteness of their adversaries, and Israel’s decision not to use artillery or aerial bombings, one can appreciate that the damage, while seeming dreadful, was actually minimized. Furthermore, much of the damage was probably caused by booby traps and mines which the militants themselves had placed around their homes.

Also, surely any fair-minded person should have asked, what alternative did Israel have to engaging the terrorists in their own stronghold? One wonders how long any democratic government in the world, being subjected on a daily basis to terror attacks, would have refrained from rooting out the sources of that terror and employing any necessary means – including artillery and aerial bombardment even if civilians were present. Indeed, many Arab countries have done just that time and again to fellow-Arabs in their own countries or across the borders, and for reasons decidedly more innocuous than terrorism.

Another question any decent person should have asked was what was the reason for the attacks on Israeli citizens in the first place. After all, Israel had withdrawn its forces from these areas years beforehand as part of the purported peace process. Even if there were still issues on which the Palestinian leadership and the Israelis had not yet agreed upon, was that a reason to blow up innocent civilians in Israeli buses, supermarkets and wedding halls?

And finally, why had all these voices been silent during the years that Israel’s citizens were being blown to smithereens in their cities by terror groups? Why had the newspaper editorials not dealt with the terror directed at Israeli citizens for over a decade? Why had the United Nations with all its many bureaus and committees failed to bring the militants to account? Can it be because of a one-sided approach to the Arab-Israel conflict? And is one-sidedness a sign of prejudice? It’s hard to shake off these telling questions. It should be remembered that one-sidedness and prejudice also imply the acceptance of falsehood as evidence. And falsehood, as we have seen is a central theme in the Arab-Israel conflict.

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February 25, 2011 at 6:41 am 2 comments





Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”

Available through Amazon

Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

The Arab-Israel conflict has gone through a number of stages since it began during the first few decades of the twentieth century. During the generation before the establishment of the State of Israel (1948), the Arabs of Palestine were in a much more advantageous position. They were more numerous, better armed and usually regarded more favorably among the ruling British army and administration than were the Jews. When the 1947-49 Arab-Israel war broke out after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine, it was mainly the local Arabs with the help of volunteers from abroad, who did the fighting against the Jews. The surrounding Arab countries sent volunteers, but by and large they waited until the British evacuated Palestine in May 1948 before sending in their armies.

The rest of the world didn’t quite know what to make of the situation in which Jews were actually fighting against what seemed to be an incomparably formidable foe. After all, Jews had always been pale, plaintive, skinny or flabby and soft ghetto types, pretty shrewd when it came to making money, but not forthcoming in any physical encounter or brawl. Besides, they had gone meekly like sheep to the slaughter during the Nazi Holocaust just a few years earlier. There was even a little sympathy for them after what they had gone through, although a lot of people were rooting for the Arabs to win.

But the Arabs didn’t win, and Israel began to take on the semblance of a rather heroic, vibrant new state with sun-tanned farmers and builders, mechanics, carpenters and warrior philosophers and scientists, and the women also toted guns. Israel was seen with grudging admiration as a country that was turning the desert into bountiful farmland, and taking in and rehabilitating survivors from the purgatory that had been Europe. For the next twenty years or so these hard-working, rather gallant Jews kept winning battles and wars against the Arabs; wars that were fought against large countries with huge armies. It was David and Goliath. The little Jewish guy squaring off against the gang of neighborhood bullies, with the little guy winning every time. But in 1973 there was a different kind of war that almost spelled the death of Israel. In the end that too, resulted in success on the battlefield for Israel. Although Egypt claims that the victory was hers. What matters is that six years after that war Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty.

But, although a frigid peace with Egypt has been maintained since then, and subsequently another peace agreement with Jordan, full peace with the Arab world has eluded Israel. While many Arab countries have continued preparing for war with Israel, in tandem with Islamic non-Arab Iran, Israel has continued to find itself embroiled in another kind of ongoing war. Not a war against countries and full-scale armies like before, but against smaller militant organizations, regarded by many people as freedom fighters.

Aided over the years by petro-dollars of the oil-producing Arab states and some of the Muslim states, these organizations have vowed to continue their struggle until Israel is made to disappear. Israel regards these organizations as terrorist groups because to a large extent, their targets are ordinary civilians going about their daily lives in towns, villages, fields and roads. These organizations have also attacked passenger planes and ships. They use knives, guns, rockets and explosives. They do not balk at killing children and even babies. And very often in the midst of their killing they shout out, “Allah hua Akbar,” which means God is great!

There are about twenty such groups, intent on bringing about Israel’s destruction, most notably Fatah, which is part of the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.), the negotiating partner for making peace with Israel, that was authorized by the U.S.A., Israel and the U.N. to govern the Palestinians. Other terrorist groups include Hamas, which overthrew the P.L.O. administration  in the Gaza Strip in 2007; Islamic Jihad; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al-Aksa Brigade. Also operating against Israel is the globally-involved El Kaida. Another dominant group is Hizbullah, which determines what happens in Lebanon. There are many other smaller groups, some veteran and more or less dormant and others that keep springing up and conducting an occasional shooting, rocketing or suicide bombing.

This line-up has constituted Israel’s main military adversary in the last generation. It is an adversary that is much harder to defeat than a regular army. Armies, despite their far more devastating firepower, are nevertheless more likely to call for a cease-fire, surrender or agree to withdraw in the face of defeat. Also, the whereabouts of enemy army units can usually be identified with less difficulty and eventually put out of action if a clever, well-executed assault is made.

But terrorists wage a completely different kind of war. Even those who fight as military units, using rockets, mortars, rifle fire and hand grenades and engaging in squad or platoon-sized frontal attacks or ambushes. Terrorists base themselves in the midst of their civilian populations. Armed with guns and rocket launchers, they mingle with non-combatant men, women and children. Their bases are schools, mosques, private homes as well as other public buildings and even hospitals. They have mastered the art of burrowing tunnels and quarrying connecting passages under houses, which they use to evade any invading force.

To reach them, an army needs to strike at the general population. It is almost impossible to hit a terrorist without putting civilians in harm’s way and causing devastation to buildings and public infrastructure.

This is part of the terrorists’ strategy in their war against Israel. They maim and kill Israeli citizens, using ever more new or upgraded tactics and the result is always the same – they terrify and demoralize the general population. Also, with every spate of terror, they know that Israel will eventually strike back. As amazing as this might seem to a democratic, westerner’s mind, these people make sure that when Israel does retaliate, ordinary Arab civilians – their own people – are placed in harm’s way, and the more the better.

The reasoning behind this callous attitude is that Israel will then immediately be pilloried throughout the world in the media, universities, parliaments and the United Nations. With each incident Israel becomes more isolated and weakened. It’s a strategy that has worked with great effectiveness. Over the years from the late nineteen sixties when terrorism against Israel got under way (see Chapter 2 – A pattern of murder and approval), international support for the Palestinian cause has steadily increased, while Israel has become regarded more and more as a pariah state, constantly losing more and more international support and commercial contacts. In many western countries, Israeli representatives in music, art, literature and sport are loudly jeered or blacklisted, unless they openly criticize Israeli military actions and settlement policies and side with the Palestinians. Another aim of terrorism is to undermine the morale of Israeli society.

These people harbor a spirit of deep, intractable hatred for the Jew, whom they have been taught since babyhood, perfidiously stole their land. So it is easy to enlist volunteers who are willing and even happy to die while attacking Jews. Interestingly, what the Arab countries failed to do on the battlefield, they hope to do through terrorism. And much of the world collaborates by trying to curtail Israel’s right to defend itself – even after terrorists have targeted their own cities in Europe and America.

(Continued at “Leading to Doomsday – 2: )

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February 24, 2011 at 6:35 am 1 comment





Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click: type: how to avoid armageddon

There is one group that promotes untruths about Israel that might arouse much surprise. It is Jews! Even Israelis! In past generations the most libelous statements against Jews were often made by other Jews who had left the fold, and who were eager to demonstrate their loyalty to their new-found identities and faith. There was always a number (probably a tiny minority) who deeply hated their erstwhile Jewish identity because it had been the reason for the discrimination they had suffered and hence the source of their misery. But nowadays, Jews aren’t discriminated against like they were in previous centuries – certainly not in Westernized countries where most of those Jews who aren’t Israelis, live. So one would think that there is no longer such a pressing impetus for Jewish self-hate or the need to vociferously disclaim their ethnic or religious roots like in the past.
Yet there are many Jews in the world, as well as in Israel itself, who make inflammatory accusations against Israel or instigate highly damaging actions. We are not referring to criticism of actual procedures by Israel against local Arabs, like house demolitions or detainment of Arab youngsters together with adults – controversial actions that are dismaying to any decent person, but which might be understood in the light of the ongoing terror war that is intermittently waged against Israel. We are referring to Jews in various parts of the world, and even in Israel itself, who publicly accuse Israel of all kinds of wrongdoing, while expressing half-truths and outright lies, even to the extent of evoking comparisons with Apartheid and Nazism. These accusations are far more damaging to Israel because other people naturally conclude that if Jews and Israelis say such terrible things about Israel, then what other people (Arabs and Muslims) say about them must be true.
Constructive criticism that is based on fact should always be acceptable, no matter by who, and it is understandable that many Jews in Israel and abroad are genuinely dismayed, disturbed, ashamed and angry when their television networks show scenes of devastation and dead Arabs – often children – whenever conflict erupts on Israel’s borders.
The trouble is that the pictures seldom provide the background to each scene of mayhem inflicted on Arabs by Israel’s armed forces. Images on the media seldom if ever remind viewers that for over three generations Arabs have been attacking Jews with the stated intention of killing ordinary civilians, including women and children. Television reports seldom mention that a mangled, smoldering car in Gaza, hit by Israeli helicopters, was being used by terrorists driving to their next rocket-firing position, aimed at hitting an Israeli town or village across the border. Pictures of dead Arab women and children never mention that terrorists were shooting at Israeli villages from the homes of these people, actually using them as human shields. So the shame that many Jews feel about Israel, is largely due to an incomplete, one-sided view that they have about the conflict. In a way, these Jews might warrant appreciation for being able to set aside their ethnic affiliation in the overriding interest of morality and support for the falsely perceived innocent underdog. Many of these Jews would probably be very relieved to learn that their attitude is the result of a distorted view and therefore unjustified.
* * *
Israel’s perceived villainy is the target of many non-Arab and non-Muslim organizations outside the U.N. In recent years members of university faculties all over the world have called to boycott Israeli universities, often automatically disqualifying papers written by Israeli scholars; church groups have called for divestment from Israeli companies; trade unions have called for sanctions and boycott; parliaments have prevented the exhibit of any cultural representations from Israel, while propaganda presentations by anti-Israel Arab groups have been shown.
Would all these good people calling for condemnation, sanctions and boycott of Israel and divestment from its companies and colleges, be as sure about their stand if they knew the background to the Arab-Israel conflict, if they learned the real facts, if they wondered what it is like to be constantly threatened with obliteration – a threat that now includes nuclear destruction? Would they still call Israel an Apartheid or Nazi state if they really knew what they are talking about?
Don’t they realize that they are blatantly employing double-standards against Israel. And surely they should know that double standards imply the purposeful ignoring of pertinent facts, which is a very close relative of lying.

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February 23, 2011 at 11:54 am 2 comments






Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

Israel is often accused of being an Apartheid state. It is even compared to Hitler’s Nazi regime. These accusations appear in the media all over the world – in the supposedly enlightened westernized countries as well as in the media of Israel’s adversaries and those supporting them.

A concise review of both systems and a few salient features about Israel’s society and government should cast both these accusations in their true light.

Under Nazism there was no freedom of expression and any divergence from Nazi rule often ended in immediate hanging or shooting without proper trial. Jews were stripped of their citizenship and forbidden to study or work with gentiles, and summarily thrown out of their homes, before being sent to labor or death camps. Territories of neighboring countries in Europe were annexed by Germany. Huge camps were set up all over Europe to house tens of thousands of slaves to work in factories under conditions that frequently led to their deaths. Whole populations within Germany and the rest of Europe were systematically killed, by shooting and gassing in special death camps. This, in a nutshell, was Nazism.

The Apartheid system in South Africa that existed until 1994 (the word apartheid means separateness in Afrikaans), was developed in order to give the Whites of South Africa maximum control over the non-White majority. The non-Europeans (non-Whites), comprising mainly native Africans, Indians and mixed-races, were segregated into special living areas, subject to drastic job reservation and any education open to them was grossly inferior to the education available to average whites. The penalty for sexual intimacy with Whites was death. Blacks were not even regarded as citizens of the country of which they had been the original inhabitants. Apart from education, medical care, most transport, places of leisure and entertainment were fully segregated. Even park benches were out of bounds to non-Europeans. Whatever services were open to non-Europeans, were always inferior.

In Apartheid-era South Africa, non-Europeans could be arrested for any misdemeanor – real or imagined – and thrown into prison, where severe beatings and torture, often fatal, were commonplace. An additional discriminatory practice was the total lack of franchise, which left them permanently at the mercy of the White minority. The end of this system came to an abrupt end when Blacks were given the franchise to vote. Because they constituted the majority in South Africa, they could elect a government and parliament which summarily abrogated all the draconian laws that had made South Africa an Apartheid country. Clearly Apartheid, as heinous as it was, was never nearly as dreadful as Nazism. But it was awful enough for a large part of the world to banish South Africa from almost every international forum, sporting and cultural event, until it completely discarded this system.

Let’s examine Israel in comparison with these two nefarious systems.

In Israel there is no prohibition against freedom of expression. Unlike with Nazism and Apartheid, all people living in Israel have the right to say what they want, wherever and however they want. The only restrictions are related to incitement to hatred or violence. Interestingly, Arabs in Israel (20% of entire population) and Arabs in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), make inflammatory and seditious expressions on a daily basis through the general media; they frequently stage protest demonstrations and are even joined by Jewish sympathizers; they have elected Arab parliamentarians who freely condemn any actions Israel takes in defending its population against Arab attacks. Often they break the laws of the land with their incitement to hatred and violence, yet the law is seldom brought to bear on them

In Nazism and Apartheid, capital punishment was regularly carried out, often without any trial. In Israel not even convicted terrorist mass murderers receive the death penalty. Israel’s jails accommodate scores of Arabs tried and convicted of mass killings through shooting or bombings. There is no death penalty for these terrorists and prison sentences are usually imposed only after full judicial process that includes proper legal representation (which is usually offered by very adept lawyers who make a good living defending Israel’s enemies – financed by local and international organizations). Furthermore, all these killers are entitled to study and many acquire university degrees while incarcerated.

It is true, however, that West Bank Arabs are frequently arrested and jailed, pending investigation, because of the continuous, serious security threats on Israel’s citizens. If these threats hadn’t existed in the first place, there would be no cause for these arrests. Also there would be no need for roadblocks and checkpoints in Judea and Samaria that often bedevil the lives of the local Arabs.

The Nazi system included concentration camps, used either as killing factories or slave labor camps. No such installations or procedures exist in Israel.

Under both these systems, education was either totally unavailable to the victims or offered in a highly restricted and inferior manner. In contrast, Israel’s Arabs have access to almost any government-funded education facility, including the universities. However, Israel can be validly accused of unequal funding to the various communities, whereby Arab schools regularly receive proportionally less funding. This arouses regular protests by Arabs and Jewish groups as well. This inequality of funding is due to bureacratic and political reasons and has little or nothing to do with racial antipathy. Also it is a far cry from Nazi or Apartheid procedures. If there is anything that can indicate the speciousness of accusing Israel of being a Nazi or Apartheid state, it is the easily verifiable fact that over 20% of the students at Israel’s universities are Arabs – a fair reflection of the Arab population in Israel. Interestingly, Israel universities are hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment – demonstrations, propaganda material and even lectures abroad – by Arab students, post-graduates and even lecturers and professors. Another indication of the fallaciousness of Israel being a Nazi or Apartheid state is the presence of hundreds of Arab doctors in Israel’s hospitals – many are even heads of departments.

Under Nazism, execution was the immediate consequence for any Jew guilty of sexual intimacy with a non-Jew. A similar fate awaited any Black even suspected of sexual intimacy with a white person. However, while most people in Israel might not approve of sexual intimacy between Jews and Arabs, the very thought of a death penalty or any punishment, would be absolutely ridiculous.

An additional vital difference is the right to vote in local and national elections that is granted to all Israeli citizens, no matter who they are. This right gives the Arabs a voice and representation that is frequently more critical of Israel’s policies than Israel’s enemies. Often these criticisms are accompanied by fallacies and half-truths and can be seen as abuse of the political freedom offered to all citizens in Israel.

One last point showing the monumental absurdity in accusing Israel of being a Nazi or Apartheid state: Arabs in Israel have far more civil and human rights than their fellow-Arabs anywhere else in the Arab or Muslim world. So, among all the accusations leveled against Israel, the false charge that it is a Nazi or Apartheid state is the nastiest lie of all. And it does nothing to further the cause of peace, neither does it help the Arabs in Israel and its neighboring territories and countries.

Continued at:

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February 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

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