Will this get widely reported?

November 22nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses said. An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses shortly after the killing.

Some in the crowd stomped and spit on the bodies. A sixth corpse was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people screamed, “Spy! Spy!”

No doubt the evidence was carefully considered in a fair trial.

Witnesses said a van stopped in the intersection, and four masked men pushed the six suspected informers out of the vehicle. Salim Mahmoud, 18, said the gunmen ordered the six to lie face down in the street and then shot them dead. Another witness, 13-year-old Mokhmen al-Gazhali, said the informers were killed one by one, as he mimicked the sound of gunfire.

They said only a few people were in the street at first — most Gazans have been staying indoors because of the Israeli airstrikes — but the crowd quickly grew after the killings. Eventually several hundred men pushed and shoved to get a close look at the bodies, lying in a jumble on the ground. One man spit at the corpses, another kicked the head of one of the dead men.

“They should have been killed in a more brutal fashion so others don’t even think about working with the occupation (Israel),” said one of the bystanders, 24-year-old Ashraf Maher.

One body was then tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. A number of gunmen on motorcycles rode along as the body was pulled past a house of mourning for victims of an Israeli airstrike.

Funnily enough, Hamas brutally murdering Palestinians gets far fewer headlines, than Israel missile strikes killing Palestinians.

UPDATE1: A Hamas official has criticised the killings, or at least criticised “The way these collaborators were killed and the images after their death …”. 

UPDATE2: Egypt has announced a truce between Israel and Hamas. This is a good thing. Now if Hamas could just drop their objective of destroying Israel, then a durable peace for land settlement could be contemplated.

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Today’s Middle East post

January 11th, 2009 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

First we have some nice photos from the Auckland protest, equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

protest1

Oh a nice professional sign comparing Israel’s response to 10,000 rockets to Nazi death camps where Jews were gassed, and their possessions looted.

protest2

While this protester gets marks for his home made sign.

Ironically I suspect that if WWII was occuring today, they would be demanding Churchill be placed on trial, for an unacceptably high civilian death toll in Germany.

Anyway once again I am pleased to quote Chris Trotter. Chris explains why so many on the left support liberation movements:

A fairly substantial chunk of the New Zealand Left would echo Keith’s view. In part this is because a great many leftists see Israel as the primary instrument of “US imperialism” in the Middle East – making the Palestinian cause one of the World’s last great unresolved struggles for national liberation.


For leftists of Keith’s generation, people who came of age in the early-1960s, when the empires of the European powers were being challenged by a multitude of national liberation movements, the anti-colonial struggle was something to be supported wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

Even more exciting for these young leftists was the fact that most liberation movements espoused some variant of the socialist ideology, and many enjoyed the backing (overt or covert) of the Soviet Union and/or the Peoples Republic of China.

National liberation struggles and the socialist revolution seemed inextricably linked.
Except of course when it came to liberation movements to free countries under Soviet control!
Hamas is anything but secular and quasi-socialist, and its dedication to the elimination not only of Israel, but of the entire Jewish people, is unequivocal. In the words of its own charter:


“The Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.”

The last time people talked about the Jews in this way, they were wearing brown shirts and jackboots. And the fate they had planned for the Jewish people gave new meaning to the word “disproportionate”.
And this is not some anicent centuries old text, this is the Hamas charter.
Which is why I find it so hard to respond with any degree of positivity to Keith Locke’s call for New Zealand to stand up and be counted among the outspoken opponents of what is happening in Gaza.


Were Hamas a secular and socialist organisation dedicated to the creation of a secular and socialist state of Palestine: a state where all those with an historical and/or religious attachment to the Holy Land; Jews and Arabs, the followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all the people of the Book – could live together in peace and harmony; well, then I might feel differently.

But it isn’t.
Michael Laws also writes today on this issue:

There was twit-nit Catholic priest Gerard Burns daubing his blood over a peace monument, bizarro MP Keith Locke accusing Israel of war crimes, and sundry radio commentators giving full voice to anti-Semitic outrage.

All followed a simple maxim, straight out of Animal Farm: Israel wrong, Palestinians right.

Indeed.

Almost without exception, liberals accept that the Israelis are the baddies. They are the ones with the fighter planes, helicopter gunships and tanks tearing through the ghettoes of Gaza. As John Minto opined this past week they are the primary aggressor. Ipso facto, they are morally inferior.

The truth is considerably different. The Gaza Strip is a territory controlled by an Islamic fundamentalist faction that has sworn to wipe Israel from the planet. It has been doing its best by launching rockets at Jewish settlements, arming and directing suicide bombers, and ending the uneasy ceasefire.

Yep, they are delighted that they finally got Israel to respond.

The only problem is that Hamas are not freedom fighters. In fact, they are not even sane. They are religious fanatics. Fundamentalist nutters armed with guns, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. Their idea of a Palestinian state is one that eradicates Israel. They emerged victors after a bloody civil war with the Fatah party in 2006 killing plenty of innocent civilians themselves and now consider that Hamas is the frontline in the fight against the infidel.

Yet these are the people that Minto, the Greens, the Catholic fringe and Kiwi liberals seek to embrace.

The UN has got it right (this time). They have called for both sides to stop fighting. But the Greens and Minto want Israel to unilaterally stop, and nothing to be done about the rocket attacks from Hamas.

This is not to suggest that Israeli actions over these past 60 years meet any antipodean morality test either. There have been inhumane actions and outrageous abuses. But not this time: not in Gaza in 2009. Israel is responding as any nation would were it under continual military harassment.

This is quite right. Israel bashers can’t tell the difference between the times when their actions have been outrageous, and legitimately responding to Hamas and their rocket attacks.

The death of innocents in Gaza is regrettable it is sad and it is wrong. But all the more so for being orchestrated by Hamas, in pursuit of their despicable ends.

And this could all end is Hamas will agree to cease the rocket attacks.

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More perspectives on Israel conflict

January 10th, 2009 at 9:45 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes in today’s Herald, criticising Israel:

The reality is Israeli excesses helped pave the way for Hamas to become a power in the first place. Israel is not alone in facing provocations from “terrorists”. But the extent of its retaliation will simply empower its enemies further as Palestinians react against the loss of life. At the end of the day, the moral arguments used by both sides to promote their excesses will not have much currency.

Israel does often over-react but it is easy to criticise imperfect reactions from the “armchair” so to speak.  But when the Red Cross is concerned, we should be also:

Even the International Committee of the Red Cross says: “The Israeli military [has] failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”

That is not good.

What will matter is the consequences that result from the Gaza War. If Israel’s onslaught destabilises the Middle East further how much longer will it be able to count on the United States for unwavering support?

In this case though, there has been considerable support for Israel’s right to try and stop the rocket attacks. Russia and China have been muted – not just blaming Israel. The EU and most western states have been careful not to just blame Israel or call on them to stop unless Hamas will agree to stop also.

Even in Canada, the new Liberal (centre-left) party leader is taking a balanced view:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says Israel is justified in taking military action to defend itself against attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

“Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself,” he told reporters in Halifax on Thursday after speaking to a forum of business leaders on the economy.

“Israel has been attacked from Gaza, not just last year, but for almost 10 years. They evacuated from Gaza so there is no occupation in Gaza.”

And I can only quote approvingly from Chris Trotter:

To the Israelis, however, a more persuasive precedent might well be found in their own history. After all, in ancient Judea, wasn’t it the Jews who found themselves in exactly the same position as present-day Palestinians: under the heel of a brutal army of occupation? Was not the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-73AD, and the second, far more destructive Jewish-Roman War of 132-35, the intifada of their time?

And what was the outcome of those revolts? Massive retaliation: countless deaths, towns destroyed, lands seized, and, in the wake of that final, cataclysmic defeat, the “ethnic cleansing” of Judea – the 1,900-year Jewish Diaspora.

“Impossibel!” you say. “Unthinkable!” Not really. What, after all, was the policy of the Allied Powers regarding the German speakers of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II – if not “ethnic cleansing”? The intractability of the problems caused by ethnic Germans living amongst Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and Rumanians led to the wholesale uprooting of entire communities. Families which had lived in the same towns, farmed the same land, for hundreds of years were simply put on trains and “resettled” in the West. Under the auspices of the “Big Three” – the USA, the USSR and the British Empire – Eastern Europe was ruthlessly, and very effectively, “cleansed” of its German-speaking population.

The Germans, of course, had sent six million of Europe’s Jews in the opposite direction, to an altogether more permanent kind of “resettlement”.

And can anyone seriously doubt that, should Hamas “win”, their “final solution” would be any different?
It’s a fascinating day when you have Fran O’Sullivan and Chris Trotter taking positions that people might expect to be reversed. Just shows how complicted the Middle East is!
UPDATE: Also a good post by Vibenna on why he is pro-Israeli:

The blogsphere is alive with a surfeit of outrage against the Israelis, so it seems appropriate to explain why, despite the Gaza incursions, I am pro-Israeli.

Well, it’s an old chestnut, but you can’t get past the Holocaust. In living memory there was the attempted genocide of all European jews, and nearly six million of them were exterminated. This is living memory. When I was a kid in Wellington, I lived next door to a woman who had a concentration camp tattoo on her arm; she showed me it one day …

Now, Hezbollah has as one of its primary goals the elimation of the Jewish state, while Hamas states that judgement day will not come until muslims kill all the jews. (Except for those hiding behind cedar trees. I know, it’s weird, but that’s religion for you.) You can’t tell people who have been through a holocaust just to lie down and take that.

Does that mean Israeli has a right to attack its neighbours? Absolutely not. Does it mean they have to put up with attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah, or associated splinter groups? Absolutely not.

But is the Israeli response disproportionate?

It is tragic, but I don’t think it is disproportionate. They are at pains to avoid civilian casualties, and have even sacrificied Israeli soldiers to minimize these in previous ground operations. Civilian casualties were far higher in WWII in the Ruhr, or in Dresden, or even among French civlians; over 15,000 French civilians were killed in the Battle of Normandy, for example. In contrast, Israel’s opponents go out of their way to cause civilan casualties.

That is the stark reality for me. Hamas try to maximise civilian casualties, Israel does not, and tries to (imperfectly) minimise such casualties.

But here’s the kicker. Israel is a democracy with reasonable equality for women. Its opponents are typically corrupt dictatorships that opppress women as point of religious principle. So I’m going for the Israelis, thanks. If you want to count up the civilian casualties, how about counting up the honour killings, beatings, murders and internecine strife amonst its opponents? Where are the outraged photographs of the 200+ people killed in Hamas:Fatah faction fighting? Where is the outrage over the suicide bombings in Israel? Where is the outrage over the state of women in the Arab world?

Well said.

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Dom Post says Hamas can end strikes

January 6th, 2009 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

An excellent editorial from the Dom Post:

But Hamas’ leaders and those who unquestioningly side with them overlook a simple fact when they deplore Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Dominion Post writes. Hamas, an organisation that is committed to the destruction of Israel, provoked the Israeli attacks and it has it within its power to stop them. All it has to do is stop firing rockets into Israeli territory.

Yes. Ask yourself this. If Israel stops it air strikes, will Hamas stop its rocket attacks? No – it will carry on. But if Hamas stopped rocket attacks, would Israel stop its strikes – absolutely.

In the past eight years 16 Israelis have been killed by rockets launched from within the strip. Israel’s response – air attacks and now a ground assault – is disproportionate. But what is Israel supposed to do? Would its critics prefer it to send a rocket back every time one landed in its territory? No other sovereign nation would tolerate a neighbour indiscriminately targeting its citizens, and anyone who thinks a people who pledged “never again” after the Holocaust would do so, has rocks in their head.

As David Cohen (currently in Israel) points out, there have been more than 9400 documented rocket attacks in the past five years, and in the last year almost 10 a day.

Hopelessly outgunned militarily, Hamas cannot hope to defeat Israel in a conventional war, but it can compete in a public relations battle for hearts and minds. The Israeli attacks are producing images of dead and wounded Palestinians that damage Israel’s international reputation.

They also serve as rallying posters for future Hamas foot soldiers.

That the strategy has cost hundreds of Palestinians their lives and condemned Gaza’s population of 1.5 million to even greater hardship does not appear to concern Hamas’ leaders.

In a column published in yesterday’s Dominion Post, Fania Oz-Salzberger, professor of modern Israel studies at Monash University in Melbourne, likened Hamas’ behaviour to that of a “poor and traumatised” man who sits with his daughter on his lap taking pot shots at a neighbour’s house packed with women and children.

That is a great analogy. And yes it is a deliberate strategy of Hamas to try and maximise civilian casualaties on both sides. Meanwhile as Whale Oil points out, Israel is going so far to minimise civilian deaths it is actually ringing neighbours of targets and giving them time to evacuate. This is why of 600 destroyed targets, there have been less than 100 civilian deaths (and around 400 non civilians). Israel is meant to have made more than 9,000 warning calls.

None of this justifies the wrongs done to Palestinians dispossessed of their ancestral lands, the unconscionable conditions in which millions of Palestinians live, or the excesses of the Israeli military. As Professor Oz-Salzberger writes: “Gazans are worse off than Israelis in every single way.”

Palestinians have reason for being poor and traumatised and bitter and vengeful.

But one simple fact remains. If Hamas’ leaders really want to end the suffering caused by the Israeli attacks they can do so.

All they have to do is stop firing rockets into Israeli territory, acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist and start negotiating.

The problems with Hamas go beyond Israel. They recently voted to bring back crucifixion as a punishment. Now think about how many pages have been devoted to the US water boarding, and how the middle east media have almost totally failed to cover this vote to legalise this most barbaric way to kill someone.

And for those who think all these problems would disappear if Israel was wiped out, reflect on this fromMr Cohen again:

While the military campaign by the Israelis is against the Hamas death-cultists who are sworn to Israel’s destruction, there is no denying it is also aimed at sending a severe message to the Islamist group’s Iranian sponsors, whose to-do list of countries to eliminate after they’re done with the Zionist entity even includes New Zealand.

Yes, follow the link. Ths is not just a war about a border.

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Israeli ground forces enter Gaza

January 4th, 2009 at 11:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports that Israeli ground forces have entered Gaza. This is a sad day, after they voluntarily left it some years ago.

Whether Israel will be sucessful with its aims to cripple Hamas remain to be seen.

While I am a defender of Israel’s right to respond to the thousands of rocket attacks Hamas launches at Israel, it doesn’t mean I agree with every aspect of their response.

Will this make things worse in the long run? Sadly it may.  The status quo of “Let Hamas keep firing rockets without a response” seems a pretty bad strategy also. This is the problem in the Middle East – there are no good options, just a series of bad to very bad options.

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