Friday, January 02, 2009

Quick fisking of Richard Falk

This article by veteran Israel-basher Richard Falk in the Huffington Post is ripe for a full, line-by-line fisking. As it is, I will only show the more egregious falsehoods and bias.
During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel's 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.
It would have been nice if Falk would give a date, or a name, to whomever in Hamas supposedly offered a truce extension. Proving a negative is impossible. My recollection is that some noises were made to the Western press from anonymous "Hamas sources" floating ideas of possibly agreeing to not attack Israel for ten years if Israel first withdraws to the exact 1967 borders, and even then not recognizing Israel. To anyone who is the slightest bit even-handed, this is a non-starter.

Beyond that, when the actual chance of extending the then-fictional truce came up in early December, while Israel was more than receptive to the idea, Hamas rejected it outright, in no uncertain terms. Falk is being incredibly dishonest here by blaming Israel.

Israel indeed increased the amount of aid to Gaza during the truce by a huge amount, closing the crossings only in response to attacks (and sometimes for Jewish holidays.) It also increased the types of goods sent to Gaza, including building materials that were then used by Hamas to build underground bunkers for weapons caches, instead of allowing Gazans to build.

The truce also stated that Hamas would not be allowed to smuggle weapons into Gaza, something it ignored completely.

Falk here is cherry picking half truths to paint Israel as being guilty and Hamas as being righteous.
Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel used its authority to prevent credible observers from giving accurate and truthful accounts of the dire humanitarian situation that had been already documented as producing severe declines in the physical condition and mental health of the Gazan population, especially noting malnutrition among children and the absence of treatment facilities for those suffering from a variety of diseases.
Even when Gaza was closed to journalists - after Hamas started it volleys of rockets into Israel during the "truce" - it had plenty of people reporting the situation there, from the Free Gaza members to the Reuters and AP stringers in Gaza to the UNRWA. It is laughable that Falk is claiming that no news was allowed out of Gaza when one could see daily wire-service photos. If anything, according to Falk's logic below, Israel was keeping out the "pro-Israeli" Western press!
As always in relation to the underlying conflict, some facts bearing on this latest crisis are murky and contested, although the American public in particular gets 99% of its information filtered through an exceedingly pro-Israeli media lens.
Hamas is blamed for the breakdown of the truce by its supposed unwillingness to renew it, and by the alleged increased incidence of rocket attacks. But the reality is more clouded. There was no substantial rocket fire from Gaza during the ceasefire until Israel launched an attack last November 4th directed at what it claimed were Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing several Palestinians. It was at this point that rocket fire from Gaza intensified.
In the first two months of the "truce" there was still substantial missile fire, although Hamas did appear to try to stop it. Falk purposefully leaves out that Israel's attack was directly towards a tunnel meant to kidnap Israeli soldiers. The IDF didn't know where in Israel the tunnel was leading so it had to bomb the Gaza side, its first major operation in Gaza in months. Hamas' forebearance on missile attacks is something to be congratulated, according to Falk, but Israel's reluctance to act on solid intelligence is taken for granted.

Notice how he refers to the Hamas terrorists killed as "several Palestinians" - even though Hamas brags about its members' martyrdom. Also notice his use of the passive voice, "rocket fire from Gaza intensified," as if rockets have a mind of their own. This is a hallmark of bias.
Also, it was Hamas that on numerous public occasions called for extending the truce, with its calls never acknowledged, much less acted upon, by Israeli officialdom.
When? Where? What were the circumstances and the details? As I wrote above, the proof of this being a lie is what Hamas actually did when the truce timeline was ending.
Beyond this, attributing all the rockets to Hamas is not convincing either. A variety of independent militia groups operate in Gaza, some such as the Fatah-backed al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade are anti-Hamas, and may even be sending rockets to provoke or justify Israeli retaliation. It is well confirmed that when US-supported Fatah controlled Gaza's governing structure it was unable to stop rocket attacks despite a concerted effort to do so.
Here Falk again plays on Western ignorance about Gaza. Every rocket shot from Gaza since November has been claimed by some Palestinian Arab terror group. True, Hamas did not participate in most of the November rockets, but it wasn't Fatah either. It was the Hamas-linked PRC, and Islamic Jihad, with the PFLP and DFLP doing some others. The point is that Hamas managed to control the rockets relatively well during the truce and decided not to from that point on. This "Fatah" theory is purposeful disinformation, nothing less.
What this background suggests strongly is that Israel launched its devastating attacks, starting on December 27, not simply to stop the rockets or in retaliation, but also for a series of unacknowledged reasons.
Here he goes on to the usual conspiracy theories about Israeli elections and the Israeli psyche and so on. Of course, he ignores and obfuscates the basic facts:

* The truce was broken in November.
* When the deadline came up to extend it, Hamas refused.
* Israel waited to see if there would be a "de facto" truce anyway.
* Hamas then intensified its rocket attacks as the truce expired, making the lives of the residents of southern Israel a living hell again.
* Israel decided that enough was enough, after giving weeks of warnings.

These things all happened in the past few weeks, and are well documented. Falk is trying as hard as he can to spin this to support the terrorists that he clearly has an affinity for.