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Monday, September 03, 2007

New Statesman (UK) equates IDF with terrorists

In a most reprehensible example of journalistic bias, a column today in the New Statesman looks at Israeli IDF camps aimed at foreigners and compares them to Hamas camps that indoctrinate campers in terror:
The British children who train to fight in Israel

How each year scores of British teenagers go to the Middle East to learn about soldiering and defending Israel

Matthew Holehouse

In 2001 shocking reports surfaced from Gaza of summer schools being organised by Islamic Jihad, which were teaching Palestinian adolescents to become suicide bombers. The Israeli government denounced the camps as evidence that a new generation was being brought up to hate and to kill.

What went unreported was that at a purpose-built barracks in the Negev desert, every summer hundreds of Jewish teenagers from Europe, Mexico and America pay to spend nine weeks saluting, marching, firing guns and otherwise pretending to be soldiers.

Marva, run by the Educational and Youth Corps of the Israel Defence Force and conducted entirely in Hebrew, simulates the basic training of Israeli conscripts for 18-28 year old members of the Diaspora. Dressed in boots and olive fatigues, and obliged to carry an M16 assault rifle at all times, school leavers on gap years do push ups in the dust, perform night marches with laden stretchers, maintain civil defence shelters, fire machine guns at paper figures and simulate military manoeuvres, as well as taking classes in Jewish identity and the history and values of the IDF. Karaoke and dance-offs also feature.

With the security situation improving, increasing numbers of British Jews, through youth groups such as RSY Netzer and Federation of Zionist Youth, are signing up to one of the four 120-strong sessions held every year. One half are girls, and large numbers come from public schools in Manchester and North London.

Blogs written by participants revel in the camouflage-induced machismo. "By the end of the first week we were beginning to look like soldiers" writes American Joseph Fisher. "Strict discipline is enforced by our mefakdim (commanders). There is a great atmosphere of camaraderie."

Participants deny that the course was overtly anti-Palestinian. "I never heard that sort of comment from an official source – although there were some very right wing individuals taking part," says Mark Fitch, a Manchester student who took the course last year. "There was a lot of debate about the IDF, and whilst obviously by going on Marva they implicitly endorsed the army, a lot of people said that they were torn about using guns and running about."

Since the start of the Second Intifada some aspects of the course have been reconsidered. Sessions on house-to-house fighting have been dropped, as have re-enactments of the Battle of Ammunition Hill, one of the bloodiest engagements of the Six Day War, has been cut. "They're very aware of looking politically correct," says Fitch. "When discussing the Middle East they really do try to present both sides of the story and the overriding message is of striving for peace.


Most recently, British 16 and 17 year olds have been able to take part in Gadna, the week-long course taken by Israeli schoolchildren in preparation for military service and which has recently come under fire for becoming increasingly militaristic. "Shooting an M16 gun… physically lying on the land of Israel, learning how to defend it, gave me an immense sense of pride" writes a breathless Aimee Riese, a London schoolgirl and recent participant, in the Jewish Chronicle.

And this, really, is the objective.

...There's not much to be won in games of moral equivalence and assertions as to which side's indiscriminate attacks on civilians are the more reprehensible. But ask yourself this question: If these were British Muslim 19 year-olds firing machine guns and running assault courses in Pakistan or Yemen, would we not have them all arrested at the airport?

Now, let's take a short look at the Islamic Jihad camp that was reported on in the summer of 2001, and see if you can spot any differences - because apparently Mr. Holehouse cannot:
The Islamic Jihad is running a summer school - to teach boys the benefits of becoming suicide bombers.

A new generation of children, Palestinian boys aged between 12 and 15 years old, is growing up amid conflict and violence.

The boys are told not only that it is good to kill, but also that it is good to die.

They learn that suicide bomb attacks have proved the most deadly way to hit the Israelis.

Mohammed, a 14-year-old boy, draws himself with explosives strapped to his body, ready to blow himself to pieces if it means killing Jews.

"Yes," he says, when asked if he wants to be a suicide bomber. "I want to liberate Palestine and be part of the revolution."

The boys are shown pictures of those who have already died in the conflict with Israel.

They are taught that to give their lives is to be guaranteed a place in heaven.

And to be a suicide bomber is one of the highest forms of martyrdom.

They will be greeted in paradise by 70 virgins.

"We are teaching the children that suicide bombing is the only thing that make the Israeli people very frightened. Furthermore, we are teaching them that we have the right to do it," said Islamic Jihad member Mohammed el Hattab, one of the teachers on the programme.

"We are teaching them that after the suicide attacks, the man who makes it goes to the highest state in paradise," he said.
So this moral midget Holehouse is comparing a program that indoctrinates 12-15 year olds into killing Jewish civilians with one that mimics basic training for adults (plus a very short course for 16-18 year olds that he didn't bother mentioning very much.) He finds it supremely offensive that Israel might want to instill pride in Jews worldwide. He implies that the IDF is based on a hatred of Palestinian Arabs even as he quotes denials, while the Jihad camp is clearly based on hating Jews. The IDF course stresses peace and the Islamic Jihad course stresses death -but Holehouse cannot be trusted to report that small inconvenient fact.

And finally he explicitly equates training with the IDF, probably the most moral army in the world, with terrorist training camps.

(Oh, and Hamas camps teach children to fire weapons at the age of 8.)

Obviously Holehouse knows the facts - clearly he read the articles in 2001 about Islamic Jihad - so his specious comparisons are not done out of ignorance but out of pure hatred for Israel and for Jews who identify with Israel.