Thursday, January 05, 2017

From Ian:

Obama’s last-minute own-goals
A similar dynamic is at play with Obama’s execrable maneuver at the U.N. Security Council. The decision to clear the path for a resolution holding that the Western Wall is actually a Palestinian possession is a serious blow to our ally (and our honor) and proof that Obama’s rhetorical support of Israel was always more about political necessity than personal conviction. Even as the move will please some — though by no means all — leftists on the party circuit, it is nevertheless a political gift to the two politicians Obama (probably) detests most: Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump.
For almost eight years, Netanyahu has argued domestically that the deteriorating relationship with the United States isn’t his fault, but Obama’s. The president just settled that argument for him.
Meanwhile, the resolution helps Trump enormously. Simply by taking office while holding what once were conventionally pro-Israel positions, Trump can play the role of Israel’s defender, both domestically and abroad. It is lamentable that Israel is now a partisan issue in America, but Obama ceded the winning side of the issue to his Republican successor.
Much has been written about how Obama has left the Democratic Party and ideological allies in shambles by putting his perceived interests and ego ahead of everything else. As he leaves office, he has turned that domestic story into an international one too.
PMW: Hanan Ashrawi rejects Kerry's speech because he didn't give PA rights in Israel
Ashrawi stated that Kerry gave Israel "a great prize" because he referred to "a Jewish state" - something the Palestinians "have refused and still refuse" to accept. In addition, Ashrawi interpreted Kerry's speech as denying the Palestinian "refugees" the "right of return." The two things are interconnected. The PA knows that were significant numbers of refugees to enter Israel they would turn it into a binational state, which is why the PA refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi: "The six principles that [US Secretary of State John] Kerry presented are undeniable Zionist principles that serve Israeli interests. For example, he spoke about Jerusalem - a capital of two states. He didn't say that East Jerusalem is occupied, but rather that Jerusalem is a capital of two states... Secondly, he said 'a Jewish state,' giving them [Israel] a great prize. We have refused and still refuse to say that Israel is a Jewish state... Even on the issue of the refugees, he [Kerry] automatically denied them the right of return, and said that it is necessary to reach a just solution of compensation and resettling and the like. In other words, there is no right of return." [Official PA TV, State of Politics, Jan. 3, 2017]
PLO's Hanan Ashrawi rejects Israel as a Jewish state, rejects Jerusalem as Israel's capital

MEMRI: Fatah Official Sultan: Transfer of U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Will Lead to Renewed Bloodshed

BESA: Kerry’s Attack on Israel: A Failed Attempt to Divert Attention from Obama’s Disastrous Foreign Policy
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Secretary of State John Kerry’s attack on Israel last week represents a vain attempt to deflect attention from the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy. Kerry’s fixation on the Palestinian issue explains why Russia, with one-tenth the GDP of the US, has emerged as the winner in Syria against both US and Israeli interests and why Iran, its ally, has come to control two more Arab capitals by proxy. Instead of promoting core US interests, Kerry has squandered efforts on promoting a two-state solution that has failed to materialize since it was first proposed by the Peel Commission eighty years ago. Hopefully, the next administration will give core US interests their due and find creative ways to deal with the fallout of a Palestinian national movement that has failed for 100 years.
In US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent speech, in which he attempted to defend Washington’s abstention on the UNSCR resolution against Israeli settlements, he sounded more similar than ever before to the European leaders who reflexively condemn Israel. The similarity is rooted in a predicament shared by both the US under Obama and the EU – a weak and ineffectual foreign policy. Obama’s and Kerry’s “European” orientation has reduced American influence in world affairs to its lowest point since WWII and most certainly since the Vietnam War.
Just as the Europeans cover up their geostrategic weakness by ganging up on Israel, so too have Obama and Kerry zeroed in on Israel and the Palestinian issue as a means of covering up the abysmal failures of their foreign policy. Unfortunately, Israel is saddled with the costs of those foreign policy failures.

Greg Sheridan: Obama's Middle East Cluster Mess
....sheer irresponsibility and multiple counterproductive consequences [from] the outburst of anti-Israel actions from US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in their last days in office ...
At the fag end of his presidency, Obama reversed the longstanding US position of vetoing wildly one-sided anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council. Instead he passed a resolution claiming that every Israeli who lives anywhere beyond the 1967 ceasefire lines is an illegal settler, and that ludicrously blames Israel for the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and by implication puts that dispute at the centre of the Middle East’s woes. This was followed up by Kerry’s last big speech as Secretary of State, 70 minutes spent lambasting Israel and the settlements.
This is truly an epic cluster mess that will have doleful consequences for a long time. Malcolm Turnbull rightly, and courageously, called out the resolution as “one-sided” and “deeply unsettling” and said, further, “Australia stands with Israel. We support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made equally strong statements. She and the Prime Minister displayed moral clarity and strategic sagacity.
Obama, on the other hand, emerges as his own kind of post-truth president, his undergraduate certainties and left-liberal pieties utterly undisturbed by eight years of Middle East reality. To believe, while hundreds of thousands die in Syria, civil war rages in Iraq, Yemen and Libya collapse, and the sectarian Shia-Sunni hostility rips through the region, that Israel is somehow the central issue in the Middle East is irrational, impervious to facts.
Washington Post uncovers omissions in Kerry's speech
The Washington Post fact-checked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent speech criticizing the settlement enterprise, and found that a number of his claims contained inaccuracies, significant omissions or exaggerations.
Examining Kerry's claim that "every United States administration, Republican and Democratic, has opposed settlements as contrary to the prospects for peace," the Washington Post found that while the overall claim was true, an important nuance was omitted.
"He's wrong to paint all administrations with the same brush, as sometimes the language (such as in the Ronald Reagan years) was as mild as saying settlements were 'not helpful' -- not that they were illegal," the article noted.
It also said that when U.S. President Barack Obama took office, "the Israelis believed they had an agreement with the Bush administration, reached in 2004, to allow for continued settlement growth in areas that Israel would expect to retain in a peace deal," but that the Obama administration refused to acknowledge the deal.
The article also pointed out that, despite his focus on settlements, "Kerry did not mention that during the second Bush administration and the Clinton administration, Palestinian negotiators were said to have rejected proposals from Israeli prime ministers that would have resulted in a Palestinian state after land swaps that allowed the Israelis to keep major settlements." (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Sr. US official: Israel did not see positive aspects of Kerry speech
It is unfortunate that the six principles US Secretary of State John Kerry laid out for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations received much less attention in his speech 10 days ago than his strident criticism of the settlements, a senior US official said on Thursday.
The official said that the US does not feel a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be imposed, and that Washington continues to believe it can only be reached through negotiations.
Senior White House official Ben Rhodes has said in recent days that the US has no intention in either supporting or abstaining on another UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there are “strong signals” that decisions made at a French Mideast conference on January 15 might then be incorporated into a decision to be brought for endorsement either by the Security Council or the Mideast Quartet.
Kerry's six principles, the official said, were offered in the spirit of efforts to restart negotiations – not impose a solution – and there is much in the principles that Israel could perceive as “gains and wins.”
Here's A Complete List of All The Terror Attacks Against Israelis Since Thanksgiving
What the Obama administration can’t get itself to admit is a self-evident fact that has made stability in the Middle East elusive for all these years: sectarian violence.
No act more clearly expresses this seething hatred against the Jewish people as terrorism. In the last few months, the Jewish State has been bombarded by a consistent wave of terror attacks.
Here’s a complete list of terror attacks in Israel…since Thanksgiving.
1. November 27: ISIS fighters fire mortars and unleash a salvo of bullet at the Israeli Defense Forces stationed near the Golan Heights in an ambush attack. IDF soldiers managed to kill four terrorists. There were no Israeli casualties.
2. December 12: ISIS fighters fire rockets from the Sinai Peninsula aimed at the Israeli border crossing with Egypt. The rockets failed to cross over into Israel. Instead, they landed in Egyptian territory.
3. December 14: A Palestinian lone wolf terrorist stabs two police officers and a 12-year-old boy in the head with a screwdriver in East Jerusalem.
4. December 14: A Palestinian gunman shoots at a vehicle carrying Israelis in Ramallah, West Bank.
5. December 19: A Palestinian gunman shoots at a vehicle carrying Israelis near Ofarim, West Bank.
6. December 23: A Palestinian lone wolf terrorist stabs a 50 year old Israeli man near outside of his home in Efrat, West Bank.
7. January 3: Several Palestinians riding motorcycles ram through a temporary roadblock, injuring two Israeli border officers.
Haim Saban ‘deeply disturbed’ by US abstention on UN resolution
Israeli-American television mogul and top Democratic donor Haim Saban said he was “deeply disturbed” by the Obama administration’s abstention on a recent United Nations Security Council resolution labeling Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem a “flagrant violation under international law.”
Saban also decried as “one-sided” US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech the following week, which slammed Israeli settlement construction as the major obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Saban, who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Democrats and pro-Israel causes over the years, said in a statement released by his publicist that “as a longstanding Democrat who has supported and defended President Obama on his treatment of Israel throughout his presidency, I am deeply disturbed by the Administration’s decision not to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and Secretary Kerry’s subsequent one-sided speech.”
He added that rather than promoting peace and serving US interests, “these actions undermine our country’s long-standing support for Israel and harm any long-term prospects for peace, which is in our national interest.”
Tarek Fatah: Security Council resolution reveals UN hypocrisy
To ask Israel to give up control of King David’s Temple is equivalent to asking Muslims to give up the Kaaba in Mecca, or for Sikhs to abandon the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Having said that, Israel must end its control of the West Bank east of its security wall and areas in Jerusalem that lie east of the Jewish holy sites.
The Mount of the Olives and areas east of that hill could very well be the capital of a future Palestinian State.
It is in Israel’s own interest that the world sees it ending what the UN says is “occupation”.
There must be clearly defined borders that ensure the Jewish state’s security while the Palestinians have a contiguous country of their own.
As for the UN and its hypocritical moaning over Jewish settlements, perhaps it may want to look beyond its historic anti-Semitism and stop Moroccan settlements in occupied Western Sahara, end Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua and take Pakistan to task for building Chinese settlements in occupied Balochistan.
Ten Senate Democrats Join Republicans to Condemn Anti-Israel UN Resolution
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are among 21 senators who have signed onto legislation that rejects the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2334, which calls Israeli construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem “illegal.”
The December 23 anti-Israel resolution passed nearly unanimously besides the Obama administration’s decision to break with tradition and abstain from voting instead of vetoing it. Because the United States is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a veto from them would have automatically failed the resoution and prevented it from passing.
The bipartisan legislation rejecting UN Res 2443 was co-authored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). It also has the support of 10 other Democrats who broke with President Obama and urges all U.S. presidents and their administrations to uphold the American tradition of “vetoing all United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to insert the Council into the peace process, recognize unilateral Palestinian actions including declaration of a Palestinian state, or dictate terms and a timeline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Democratic Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also signed the bipartisan measure.
The legislation quotes Obama, who in a 2011 speech before the United Nations General Assembly said, “peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
How Israel could wage 'war' on New Zealand
It's unlikely the New Zealand Defence Force top brass were quaking in their boots at the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's threat that New Zealand's actions support for a United Nations Security Council resolution criticising Israel amounted to a "declaration of war".
The prospect of an actual physical invasion of New Zealand by Israel is laughable. Sheer distance, let alone any other issue, makes such an attack unthinkable.
Neither Israel's airlift nor naval capabilities could manage such a stretched deployment, especially as this would almost certainly be a go-it-alone exercise.
Depending on who you listen to, the Netanyahu outburst could be interpreted as Israel feeling as if New Zealand was the one declaring hostilities.
Either way, New Zealand seriously irked Israel by co-sponsoring the resolution condemning Israel's provocative 'settlements' programme, for which Netanyahu warned there would be "consequences" in the Israel-New Zealand relationship.
Far cooler diplomatic relations are inevitable. Israel may withdraw from active involvement in the New Zealand government's five-country working group on small, smart, innovation-driven economies. For Spark's chief executive, Simon Moutter, the momentum achieved in a private sector-led trade mission to Israel last year may be jeopardised.
New Zealand vandals target sponsor of UN resolution
The office of New Zealand’s foreign minister was vandalized in an apparent retaliation for the country’s sponsorship of a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.
Murray McCully’s constituency office in Auckland was spray painted on Wednesday with the words “traitor Jew hater McCully.”
McCully represented New Zealand at the UN when the country sponsored the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements along with Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal.
The resolution says that the settlement enterprise “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and calls for a complete end to all construction in areas Israel captured after the 1967 Six Day War.
It also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967” — language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts, and that an Israeli official warned would provide “a tailwind for terror.”
Isi Leibler: Israel and the Trump administration
Netanyahu must consult Trump privately and try to obtain his support on the following core ‎issues:‎
1. A reaffirmed commitment to President George W. Bush's April 2004 letter in which he ‎agreed that the 1949 armistice lines could not serve as the new borders and that the U.S. ‎would recognize the demographic changes justifying Israel retention of the settlement blocs. ‎Bush made this commitment in recognition of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement. It was ‎unilaterally rescinded by Obama. ‎
2. Formal U.S. endorsement to annex the major settlement blocs, which, prior to Resolution ‎‎2334, all parties acknowledged would always remain part of Israel in a final settlement.‎
3. Recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights.‎
4. Assurance that the U.S. will exert pressure on Iran. If Trump achieves detente with the Russians, ‎Netanyahu's excellent relationship with Putin could also be leveraged to deter Iran and ‎Hezbollah from stoking the fire against Israel.‎
‎5. Promotion of America's global position in an effort to neutralize the double standards and ‎bias against Israel at the U.N.‎
Finally, he should emphasize that while the majority of Israelis remain adamant that they do ‎not want to annex 3 million Arabs and wish to separate from the Palestinians, a two-‎state policy, as originally conceived, is now not even on the horizon. The U.N. Security Council ‎resolution that Obama facilitated has empowered the radical Palestinian leaders, reinforcing ‎their delusion that Israel is doomed to destruction in stages and that the Jews will follow in the ‎footpath of the Crusaders.‎
Why the Israeli Left Should Support Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
The Israeli left should support efforts to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which are both “justified” and would help bolster its legitimacy in the eyes of the Israeli public, Don Futterman argued in Haaretz on Tuesday.
Futterman, the Israel Program Director for the U.S.-based Moriah Fund, noted that the Jewish nation shares “deep emotional, cultural and historical attachments to Jerusalem.”
“It is a tactical error to create even the appearance that the Israeli left cares less about Jerusalem than other Jews do,” he added. “The debate over Jerusalem has to evolve to reflect today’s reality. No one in Israel imagines Jerusalem will not continue to be the capital of our country or the seat of our government, or that Israel would ever turn over control of Jerusalem to an international agency.”
Futterman also noted that the move would be “justified, and not just in terms of finally implementing the 1995 congressional decision to do so.”
“It is one of the quirks of the ongoing appeasement of Arab countries and the Islamic world that the United States and all other nations have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv,” he wrote. “Long after the Arab oil boycott was relocated to the dustbin of history, this historical oddity remains because of the anticipated apocalyptic response; the peace process would be derailed, permanently, or the Islamic world would rise up in revolt.”
State Department won't help Trump plan Israel policies
President-elect Trump won't get any help from the State Department in implementing Israeli-relation policies opposed by President Obama before his inauguration.
"The short answer is no," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "You have one president at a time."
Obama's team invoked that axiom to justify high-profile foreign policy actions in recent weeks, notably his decisions to sanction Russia over the election year cyberattacks and to allow the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israeli settlement construction. Kirby's statement extended that principle to barring any aid in helping the Trump team prepare to move the United States embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognize Jerusalem as the nation's capital.
"If the next administration wants to move forward, that's certainly their prerogative but under President Obama — and he's still president of the United States — we don't support that and we at the State Department here wouldn't support efforts to move in that direction while we're still in office," Kirby said.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Real Estate Agent Sees You Think Trump Will Move Embassy; Has Bridge To Sell You (satire)
A property agent who has noticed you believe President-elect Donald Trump will make good on his campaign promise to transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem suddenly has a deal for you on a bridge in Brooklyn.
George C. Parker, a broker at a local real estate agency, thinks you make an ideal candidate as a buyer for the 130-year-old Brooklyn Bridge, which connects lower Manhattan with the bridge’s eponymous borough. He came to that conclusion after discovering that you are among the people who take at face value the incoming chief executive’s pronouncement that he will order the State Department to begin moving the diplomatic facility to Israel’s declared capital, in a departure from three successive presidential administrations.
A 1995 Congressional law mandates that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, the only national capital in which the American Embassy is not located. Presidents Clinton, Bush (the younger), and Obama have each signed a waiver every six months postponing fulfillment of the law, citing national security considerations – despite campaign promises to allow the embassy move. Trump, however, has provided clearer indications than the previous three presidents that he will accept, even endorse, the move, including continued statements to that effect and the appointment of an ambassador to Israel who strongly believes the embassy must be moved to Jerusalem. Given Trump’s history of saying whatever he thinks his audience finds most convincing in order to generate attention or support, Parker has determined that the credulousness with which you accept the embassy promise makes you an ideal client for the purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“I have the documents in my office,” assured Parker. “You can stop by at your convenience and we can have the deal finalized by next week.”
The 7 Things NPR Wants You to Know About Settlements
For example, the introduction refers to Israelis "citing religion, history and Israel's security among their reasons" for being the territories versus Palestinians who "see their presence there one of the key obstacles to a peace agreement and the creation of a Palestinian state." Lending weight to this Palestinian perspective is the authors' sweeping suggestion that it is shared by "the rest of the world."
What the authors strategically omit is that Israelis and supporters of the Jewish state around the world see the key obstacle to a peace agreement and the creation of a neighboring Palestinian state as the steadfast refusal by Arabs and Palestinians to accept a Jewish state of any size, within any boundaries, in the region.
Below are the 7 "things" chosen by the NPR editors to misinform their readers:
1. Settlements are growing rapidly
2. Settlements complicate efforts for a two-state solution
3. The distinction between East Jerusalem and the West Bank
4. What does Israel say about settlements?
5. How about the Palestinians?
6. Has Israel ever dismantled settlements?
7. What are the proposed solutions?
Free Elor Azaria
The problem with the Azaria decision isn’t with its process but with its premise: a detailed examination of a soldier’s conduct is sensible only if we assume that the victim is entitled to the fundamental protections we award citizens and, in cases of outright war, enemy combatants. But terrorists deserve none of these protections. Having resolved to operate outside the scope of civilized conduct, they sign their own death warrants when they pick up the knife or the gun and set out to murder and maim whomever they happen to meet. The circumstances of their demise hardly matter: whether they are killed in action or executed once neutralized is a matter for technical and internal arbitration, not criminal investigation. Azaria may be guilty of disobeying the army’s open-fire regulations, and if he is he should be punished accordingly, but to convict him as you would someone who had taken the life of an innocent man is a grotesque mockery of justice.
Sadly, too many Israeli politicians and senior officers opted to applaud Azaria’s prosecution as a way of demonstrating to the world that the IDF is truly, as the old talking point had long argued, the world’s most ethical army, with the chief of staff even taking the extreme step of condemning the solider before his trial had even begun. That’s a shame. It’s vital, of course, that the IDF remain impeccably committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct, but it’s far more vital that it win its war against those who work tirelessly to snuff out Israel’s existence. And winning the war on terror means denying the terrorists their chief advantage, namely committing violence and then demanding to be tried and treated fairly because they are, technically speaking, merely civilians.
The United States, for the most part, understands this principle well; it’s why we have such useful tools as drones, and why we run the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Most Israelis understand it as well, which is why hundreds took to the street today to support Azaria and why former generals like Uzi Dayan, Moshe Dayan’s nephew and one of Israel’s most astute military thinkers, testified in the sergeant’s defense. “Terrorists,” Dayan said during the trial, “must die, whether or not they posed a threat at the very moment of their killing.” It’s a lesson Israel can’t afford to ignore.
Jonathan S. Tobin: Not a Simple Case of Manslaughter
The trial and today’s conviction of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria is being celebrated by some as an example of how Israel’s justice system has vindicated the honor of the nation. That’s true. Sergeant Azaria was convicted of killing a terrorist who had already been captured and disabled. A video of the shooting appears to prove Azaria is guilty of manslaughter and the court rejected the attempts of his defenders to claim that his actions were appropriate or an effort to save his comrades from a danger that not longer existed.
And yet it must be said that, contrary to the arguments of Israel’s critics, a wave of support inside Israel for the defendant among the general public and many politicians is not an indication that 50 years of “occupation” has destroyed the country’s moral compass. If, despite the evidence that compelled the court to convict Azaria, so many Israelis on both the right and the left view this as more than a simple case of manslaughter, it is not because they are immoral or indifferent to Arab suffering. Rather, it is because the context of this controversy is a brutal war in which Israel’s youth is placed in harm’s way by their country’s foes; not an ordinary criminal case.
The context of the shooting was a brutal stabbing attack on a group of Israeli soldiers by two Palestinians. The terrorists managed to wound one Israeli. One of the assailants was shot dead during the struggle while the other was wounded. The latter, Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, was lying on the ground seemingly incapacitated when Azaria arrived on the scene six minutes later. While he claimed afterward that he shot al-Sharif because he thought he was still a threat, his comments on the scene seemed to indicate that his motive was revenge for the stabbing of a fellow soldier rather than an effort to avert an imminent danger.
Max Boot: A Victory for Law in Israel
The latest case in point is Sergeant Elor Azaria, an Israeli army medic who was videotaped shooting in the head a wounded Palestinian assailant who was lying on the ground motionless in the West Bank city of Hebron after having stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. Some Israelis on the far-right —including the current defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman–celebrated Azaria as a victim whose actions were excusable in the war on terrorism. The Israeli Defense Forces high command took a very different view of this shocking breach of the laws of war. Azaria was court-martialed, and now he has been convicted of manslaughter by a military court.
The court proceedings shredded Azaria’s contradictory defense, with the sergeant’s lawyers telling the court that the man he shot, Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, “appeared to pose a danger because he was still moving” while also “bringing medical witnesses who asserted that he was already dead by the time Sergeant Azaria shot him in the head.”
Americans know from own experience how difficult it is to hold errant soldiers to account for crimes committed during the course of a conflict. Witness the My Lai Massacre in 1968, when soldiers from the Americal Division murdered hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. The only soldier convicted of this terrible crime was Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader. Though he was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, he would serve only three and a half years under house arrest, thanks to the misguided leniency extended by President Nixon.
It is never easy and seldom popular to hold soldiers to account. The IDF understands that such discipline is essential in order to keep the military’s honor clean and to maintain the moral high ground over adversaries who violate the most basic laws of war, to say nothing of the tenets of humanity. Israel can hold its head high for holding Sergeant Azaria to account even if it will get no credit from the rest of the world.
Netanyahu backs pardon for soldier convicted of killing wounded stabber
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening said he backs calls to pardon an IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant, and described the conclusion of the months-long trial as “a hard and painful day.”
The Jaffa Military court earlier Wednesday convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria, 19, for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian who minutes before had stabbed two other soldiers.
The trial deeply divided the country, with politicians and current and former army generals alternately supporting or condemning Azaria’s actions.
Politicians from across the political spectrum responded to the verdict by calling for a presidential pardon to prevent Azaria serving jail time.
Rivlin says he’ll weigh pardon request from Hebron shooter, not politicians
Facing calls to pardon an IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin’s office clarified that defendants, rather than politicians, must apply for clemency, saying he will consider all requests “in accordance with standard practices.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum responded to the verdict by calling for Elor Azaria, 19, to be pardoned after he was found guilty by the Jaffa Military court for shooting and killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant.
Azaria’s sentencing will take place in just over a week, on January 15, according to the IDF. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, though analysts expect him to receive less than that.
His defense team has already said it will appeal.
'We're going to tear the Azariya ruling apart'
Senior Israeli jurist and defense attorney Yoram Sheftel has joined the defense team of Sgt. Elor Azariya, the IDF soldier convicted Wednesday of manslaughter over the shooting death of an Arab terrorist last March.
In an interview with Army Radio Thursday morning, Sheftel slammed the verdict, saying the court’s decision was disconnected from reality.
“We’re going to tear every key claim in this ruling to shreds and show how it is flawed from beginning to end,” said Sheftel.
“My first impression from the reading of the decision is that it is utterly disconnected from the facts.” (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Poll: 70% of public favors pardon for Hebron shooter
Most Israelis support granting a pardon to Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted Wednesday of manslaughter and conduct unbecoming over the shooting of an immobilized terrorist during a security incident in Hebron last March, a poll commissioned by Israel Hayom has found.
Some 70% of those polled said they believed Azaria should be pardoned immediately, while 19% opposed a pardon and 11% said they had no opinion.
The survey was conducted by the New Wave Research Institute from a random pool of 500 Jewish Hebrew-speaking Israelis over the age of 18, and has a 4.4% margin of error.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed support for pardoning Azaria.
Elor Azaria’s trial is over, but the tribulations have only just begun
The army also needs to ask itself “if there are more potential Elor Azarias out there” and do what it can to prevent similar incidents.
“Soldiers and commanders know very well what is expected of them,” Kasher said in a phone briefing organized by The Israel Project after the verdict was delivered.
Kasher added that the IDF would do well to have the operating procedures “written in a more concrete way.”
But these concerns should be kept in proportion, Cohen said, warning against looking to the Azaria incident for “sweeping conclusions” that have relevance outside this particular case.
The judges’ decision to dismiss the Hebron residents’ testimonies doesn’t mean that all Jewish settlers testimonies will be discounted in the future, Cohen said, though he “understands that some people will say that.”
However, both he and Kasher saw this case as an aberration, an individual soldier who acted incorrectly, and not indicative of a systemic problem.
Cohen also brushed off an oft-heard claim that this verdict will make soldiers think twice before firing their weapon when necessary. “The IDF is better trained than that,” he said.
Azaria verdict may pose far-reaching global implications for Israel
A court case that reverberated across the country on Wednesday may see even greater ripple effects beyond its borders, as far as the International Criminal Court and Israel’s legitimacy are concerned.
At the ICC, Hebron shooter Elor Azaria’s manslaughter conviction may affirm the credibility of Israel’s apparatus for prosecuting its own soldiers.
This is important because it is the decisive issue affecting whether the ICC will dive deeper into the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
If Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda finds that the IDF properly prosecutes its own for alleged war crimes, then she is barred from intervening, as the ICC is only a court of last resort when a country fails to prosecute its own.
IsraellyCool: The Manslaughter Conviction Of Elor Azaria Will Be Used To Harm Israel
I’m not happy about the conviction for manslaughter of Elor Azaria but I am not surprised. Elor was accused of killing a terrorist who’d carried out a stabbing against another soldier in Hebron. The terrorist had been shot, was lying on the ground and Elor Azaria had then shot him in the head. This became a huge, international incident because anti-Israel NGO B’Tselem very quickly released a video of the incident.
I’ve barely said anything about the case because, very early on, I didn’t like something I saw in the videos. He arrived late on the scene: I worked that out by combining the first two videos in the public domain. When he arrived he was sauntering, not running with purpose. He cocked his weapon while it was pointing at the sky: this is a Hollywood movie move. It is not what trained counter terrorism officers do when there is an imminent threat.
Then he carried on walking (not running) till he had a clear shot past other soldiers who were standing closer than he was and between him and the terrorist. It’s also clear from the time taken to remove the wounded soldier, the terrorist had been lying for some time. By the time Elor shot, the ambulance had left. If the terrorist had a suicide vest he would have detonated. That always looked like a failure of local command to me, but that’s not what this trial was about.
What should happen is a worldwide acknowledgment that the IDF is the most moral army in the world and that it deals with transgressions with the seriousness they deserve.
What will happen is that the Jew hating world will judge Elor Azaria as the representative of all Israelis and even all Jews and will judge all Judaism by his actions.
Headline Fails as Israeli Soldier Convicted of Manslaughter
Why do the headlines matter? As we’ve noted, most people simply skim headlines, both in newspapers and on social media, and do not read most of the actual articles that are presented to them. So for many casual readers who don’t closely follow the Israeli-Arab conflict, all they know about the latest in the Mideast is from the headlines and alerts of articles they don’t read.
The Times of London says that the terrorist was simply a Palestinian:
This type of headline was also repeated by media outlets including:
Irish Times: Israel’s PM wants pardon for soldier who killed Palestinian
International Business Times: Who Is Elor Azaria? Israeli Soldier Convicted Over Death Of Palestinian
Financial Times: Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting Palestinian
Channel 4 UK: Israeli soldier convicted over Palestinian death
New York Daily News: Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter in shooting death of wounded Palestinian man
Meanwhile, The Australian says that the terrorist was a “shot Arab”:
Azaria headline round-up: UKMW prompts Guardian correction. Indy improves. Telegraph misleads.
Here’s a quick rundown of problematic headlines, and the response of editors to our complaints.
The Guardian: We complained to editors after they published a story by Peter Beaumont with an accompanying headline (Israeli soldier found guilty of manslaughter after shooting wounded Palestinian) omitting the fact that the “wounded Palestinian” was an attacker. We then tweeted the following:
The Guardian promptly corrected the headline:
2. The Telegraph: We also complained to Telegraph editors for the following headline, which similarly omitted the fact that the wounded Palestinian was an attacker:
However, unlike the Guardian, the Telegraph refused to correct the headline, and offered an explanation which – even after reviewing it a few times – is far from clear.
3. The Independent: Unlike the Guardian and Telegraph, the Indy at least included (in the strap line of their article) the fact that the Palestinian shot by Azaria was an “assailant”. Further, at some point, editors made an improvement to the actual headline, adding the word “attacker”:
4. Times of London: Times of London published an article by Gregg Carlstrom titled “Netanyahu backs soldier guilty of killing Palestinian”.
Incomplete Headlines Mislead on Elor Azaria Shooting
After an Israeli military court today convicted Israeli soldier Elor Azaria of manslaughter for fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron last April, several media outlets published incomplete and misleading headlines, ignoring the fact that Fatah al-Sharif was an assailant while noting only that he was wounded.
Clearly, obscuring the fact that the wounded Palestinian subsequently shot dead is an assailant who just carried out an attack is a gross distortion of the facts surrounding the case. Several months ago, Presspectiva, CAMERA's Hebrew department, called out Haaretz's English edition for repeated headlines failing to identify the wounded Palestinian as an assailant while the Hebrew edition did commendably note the key fact that he was an attacker. Since then, Haaretz's English edition has significantly improved and has routinely identified the wounded Palestinian whom Azaria shot dead as an assailant.
Today, several international media outlets are guilty of publishing similarly misleading headlines. The New York Times' original headline , for instance, was: "Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Who Shot Wounded Palestinian, Guilty of Manslaughter."
nyt Azaria headline.
Following CAMERA's communication with The Times, editors promptly revised the headline to reflect the fact that the Palestinian was an assailant. The amended headline reads: "Israeli Soldier Who Shot Wounded Palestinian Assailant Is Convicted of Manslaughter."
nyt azaria amended.
Similarly, AFP's original headline noted that al-Sharif was "prone," but ignored the fact that he was an attacker:

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