Sunday, July 31, 2016

The headline in the New York Times says "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press."

So how is Israel's free press being "crushed"?

The article gives exactly three examples:

1. The Israel Hayom newspaper is unabashedly (and embarrassingly) pro-Bibi. While it might chill any staffers on the paper from writing anything against the prime minister, that does not "crush" Israel's free press.

2. Walla News became more pro-Netanyahu when its parent company, the Bezeq communications company, benefited from some government legislation.

3. The government has tried to open up TV channels to more competition, which is regarded by the op-ed writer as a cynical ploy to kill networks that Bibi doesn't like.

So how is the Israeli press responding to being "crushed"?
Although for years the most widely read daily, Yediot Ahronot, and its owner took a decidedly anti-Netanyahu line, claims of left-wing bias fall flat these days, when most Israelis are getting their news from Israel Hayom or Walla News, and when the only remaining liberal bastion — Haaretz — struggles to stay afloat. And yet Mr. Netanyahu continues to present himself as a victim of a vindictive press.
But Yediot is still around. Haaretz is still around. No one is pressuring them to change their editorial line. The success of Israel Hayom and the poor performance of Haaretz have nothing to do with governmental policies, and everything to do with Israelis considering Haaretz to be way too far left and Israel Hayom being free.

There must be more evidence for this crushing of free press , right?
The only heartening thing in all this is that news outlets are pushing back to maintain their independence. Investigative “60 Minutes”-type programs like “Uvda” (“Fact”) and “Hamakor” (“The Source”) continue to delve into government corruption and to air in prime-time slots. “Despite the assault on the press, the Israeli media remains very critical, very aggressive, and has a lot of chutzpah. It’s a kind of basic instinct that’s part of our DNA,” Ms. Dayan, who hosts Uvda, told me.
OK. We determined that major TV and newspaper outlets are quite harsh on Bibi even after he's "crushed" the free press. But at least the article proved that Walla is firmly under Bibi's control, right?

Earlier this year, Walla News’ diplomatic correspondent Amir Tibon wrote an article critical of Mr. Netanyahu’s response to the latest wave of Palestinian violence under the headline “Netanyahu’s Promises of Calm Replaced by Cheerleading.” Soon after the piece was published, Mr. Tibon was told that the prime minister’s office was pressuring editors to remove it from the website. Taking to Twitter, Mr. Tibon wrote of the prime minister’s “attempts to silence criticism.” Apparently as a result, his article remained in place. One thing did change, however: The word “Netanyahu” was removed from its headline.
Hold on - Walla published an anti-Netanyahu article? But I thought they were in his pocket! You know, the whole Bezeq thing?

I don't know why the headline was changed, but could it be that it was not accurate? Hell, I've prompted the New York Times to make changes in its articles - does that mean that I am crushing America's free press?

So, there you have it. Free speech is being "crushed" by Bibi while a vibrant, free press continues to attack him with no fear - and that free press is documented in the very article that claims the opposite.

Words have no meaning any more when dealing with Israel.

(h/t Yenta, Leo dam Hofshi)

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  • Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

Reporter Ariel Kahane heard my talk in Jerusalem a couple of weeks ago, and wrote about it in Makor Rishon's magazine.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of an underground meeting in the pre-state days. Late at night, in a remote synagogue at the southern outskirts of Jerusalem, about two dozen people gathered. [I counted over 30 - EoZ] They came to hear a man whose name they do not know and whose picture they were not allowed to take. Not only Orthodox Jews were there, even a German government official took the trouble to come from one of the Arab countries in the region. Like the rest of those who came, she too has been following for years the man who lives in New Jersey but calls himself Elder of Ziyon, a US high-tech worker who has become a one-man hasbara machine.

"Elder," as he calls himself after the famous protocols, has for years run a free blog that is witty, tenacious and knowledgeable. On a daily basis he crushes Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda, and ridicules the hypocrisy of its liberal supports. You could say he's one of the few that does not succumb to political correctness and refutes it with intelligent and well reasoned arguments.

Here's a typical example from Tuesday. In this short but well-sourced article, Eldar established how the New York Times ignored the murder attacks on the 'Hyper-Cacher' market and the Jewish school in Toulouse in its reports on Islamic terrorism in France. "According to the New York Times and others Muslim attacks on non-Jews belong to a different, more outrageous, category than attacks on Jews. There's a kind of understanding for anti-Semitism" he says, touching the root of the matter.

His achievements include exposing the Nazi tendencies of a researcher at Human Rights Watch; discovering anti-Semitic teachers and anti-Semitic content at UNRWA's institutions in Gaza; the discovery that Omar Mashrawi, a Gazan child whose father works for the BBC, was killed by a Hamas rocket and not by IDF fire, and more.

This record may not cross the threshold of the mainstream media but it is certainly familiar with the insiders, both supporters of Israel and its opponents. Therefore, when Elder announced he was coming to Jerusalem and that he would give a lecture there, it was obvious that one should go hear it. In the overview he gave he turned a spotlight on the permanent anti-Semitism published daily in Arab media, and which isn't reported in Israel.

"One still has to say that European anti-Semitism was far worse," he said, "but the Arabs have permanent anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. In Egypt, Jordan, and by Mahmoud Abbas, of course. Anti-Semitism in the Arab world today is the worst it has ever been". Elder buttressed these arguments with clear-cut cartoons and quotes from Arab media.

His words were surprisingly reinforced by the German representative. "You talk about everything that appears in the Arab media for all to see, but it's nothing compared to what is said in mosques. I've been living in Arab countries for ten years. I was in Yemen, Jordan and other places. You have no idea about the things they say about you. For them you were and still are sons of monkeys and pigs". In a personal conversation with her later she was shocked to hear that most Israelis do not speak Arabic, so we do not know how our neighbors are talking about us.

For his part, Elder stressed that Arab anti-Semitism gets routinely ignored by the civilized world, "except for one situation. When the Israeli government shouts and calls attention to displays of anti-Semitism in the Arab world or the Palestinian Authority, the international media wakes up. When Israel is silent, the West is silent as well. But that's what needs to be done to combat the phenomenon, to expose them and shame them, and that's what I, with my dull resources, intend to continue doing.

"From the place I am today I would like to reveal myself, institutionalize my activity and immigrate to Israel. I'm happy each moment I'm here. I don't reveal myself because I still need to make a living" says the still anonymous blogger, hoping his words reach wealthy Israel supporters who are looking for new avenues for their donations.

If you are one of those wealthy Israel supporters....let's talk!

(h/t Yoel)

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From Ian:

PMW: Fatah cartoon: Long-nosed Jew explodes Muslim world
Fatah posted a cartoon showing a long-nosed Jew with an Israeli flag on his arm lighting a fuse to blow up a bomb. Inside the bomb, a Shi'ite Muslim and a Sunni Muslim are lighting fuses to blow up each other.
The cartoon, which was posted on Fatah's Information and Culture Commission website, expresses the libel that Jews/Israel seek to destroy the Muslim world, and are possibly taking advantage of the internal Muslim fighting to do so. The cartoon is also critical of the Muslim world, which is depicted as so focused on killing each other that they do not see the Jews taking advantage of it to kill them.
Palestinian Media Watch has documented the PA libels that Israel/Jews are behind all conflicts in the world and that Israel/Jews are to blame for all bad in the world.

Netanyahu accuses France of funding anti-Israel groups
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he ordered an investigation into French-funded organizations that he labeled anti-Israel, as Paris moved to limit the foreign financing of mosques.
After a spate of deadly jihadist attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Saturday announced Paris was considering banning foreign funding of mosques.
“This sounds familiar to us. We are also disturbed by such donations to organizations that deny the State of Israel’s right to exist,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
A preliminary inquiry has revealed that several European countries, including France, directly support organizations that engage in anti-Israel incitement, call to boycott the country and do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, Netanyahu said.
“We will discuss this with them because terror is terror everywhere and incitement is incitement which, apparently, encompasses the world, [and] governments must be as united as possible in dealing with them,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu said the findings of the completed investigation would be submitted to the French government.

  • Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
B'Tselem's Gaza war site lets you filter deaths by many criteria. Even though they tend to avoid labeling people as militants if they can, something interesting can be seen when you look at men between 20 and 30 killed during Protective Edge:

A total of 771 men in that age group were killed during the war, according to B'Tselem. Of those, the site says, only 184 did not participate in hostilities. About 3 out of 4 of all men killed in that category were terrorists.

Now, Gaza has about 200,000 men between 20 and 30. Perhaps 10% of those men are members of terror groups. So Israel did an excellent job in targeting terrorists in that age group - even though terrorists generally wouldn't wear uniforms during the war.

Some of the "civilians" in that age group appear to be miscategorized:
'Abd a-Rahman Muhammad 'Odeh Barrak. 24 years old, resident of Wadi a-Salqa, Deir al-Balah district. Killed on 19 Jul 2014, in Deir al-Balah, by gunfire. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed along with three other operatives in a military branch in the bombing of farmland in the east of the city of Deir al-Balah.

Some of the "civilians" were probably not so innocent, as B'Tselem's description of this man shows:
'Udai Rafiq Sa'id a-Sultan. 21 years old, resident of Beit Lahiya, North Gaza district. Killed on 10 Jul 2014, in Jabalya, North Gaza district, by missile fired from an aircraft, during the course of a targeted killing. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed along with two people he was driving in his car, one of them an operative in the Islamic Jihad's military branch.
If you are driving terrorists around during wartime, that pretty much makes you a combatant under international law.

Many others of the Gazans between 20-30 who were killed happened to be nearby when Israel targeted terrorists, such as this guy:
Saleh a-Zgheibi, 21 years old
Killed on 18 Jul 2014, in Rafah, by gunfire from a tank.
Saleh Suliman Muhammad a-Zgheibi. 21 years old, resident of Rafah. Killed on 18 Jul 2014, in Rafah, by gunfire from a tank. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed in the Bahraini neighborhood together with an operative in the military branch of Fatah.
While there are certainly some who cannot be identified as having done anything wrong, the statistics within that age group show very clearly that Israel was targeting only militants among a much larger population.

Which strongly indicates that the children and women and elderly who were killed were also the victims of Hamas' human shield policy far more than of any sort of carelessness on the IDF's part. It makes no sense to assert that Israel would be so efficient at targeting terrorists out of the young adult male group and at the same time randomly tossing bombs at houses filled with innocent people, as the NGOs are trying very hard to imply.

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I put subtitles on this video that has been going around. I'm not sure when it was originally shot.

It reveals the depths of immorality in parts of Palestinian Arab society as a father urges soldiers to kill his son, whom he is demanding to throw stones.

The father clearly wants his son to be killed on video, with his Palestinian flag. He wants to create another Mohammed Al Dura for his "cause."

This child abuse and desire to use children's lives for cynical public relations purposes is sickness that is simply not reported.

(h/t Ibn Boutros)

UPDATE: The subtitles are a bit off in timing, apologies.

UPDATE 2: It was recorded from a different angle and posted top an Arab site on Facebook, where the "high five" that the boy gave the soldier was edited out while the caption says that the boy refused to shake the soldier's hand.

(h/t Bob Knot)

UPDATE 3: IBA asked Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to comment. They didn't.

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  • Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

Egypt's Sky News has an interview with Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.

In a TV appearance, Zaki said that the purpose of the Balfour Declaration was for the West to place a Jewish state in a position where it would divide the Asian and North African Arab worlds. And that the US is now pursuing a policy to keep the Arabs fighting each other in order to ensure that Israel is the most powerful nation in the region.

The conspiracy theories don't stop there for this Fatah official. He also says that the purpose of Netanyahu's visit to African nations earlier this month was to threaten Egypt with cutting off the supply of water upstream of the Nile with the Renaissance Dam being constructed now in Ethiopia.

This is yet another example of how Palestinian officials can say outrageous things and the world media is silent, while every statement from every Israeli politician is examined in minute detail to look for evidence of anything unprofessional.

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  • Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

The Hamas government closed 6 swimming pools in northern Gaza on Saturday, because the water was not being properly filtered.

This came after an expose by Palestine Today (Islamic Jihad) about numerous private swimming pools in Gaza that did not have adequate filtering or chlorination. Swimmers complain about itching after swimming in those pools.

In other news - Gaza seems to have quite a few swimming pools, even as the media and NGOs talk about their water shortages.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

From Ian:

Israel fires back at US over criticism of settlement building
The Israeli government on Friday fired back at the US State Department over its criticism a day earlier that Israeli construction over the Green Line is “provocative and counterproductive.”
In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected the US argument that recently announced plans to build in East Jerusalem were undermining the prospects for a two-state solution, calling that argument “factually baseless.”
On Wednesday, Israel announced the approval of 323 tenders for housing units in East Jerusalem, and plans to build 770 units in Gilo. While much of the international community considers Gilo a settlement, Israel considers it a neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem and argues that it will be part of Israel in any negotiated peace agreement.
The international outcry, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachshon on Friday according to Haaretz, “was done with the full knowledge that the neighborhood of Gilo in Jerusalem will be part of Israel in any conceivable agreement reached through negotiations. The argument that building in Gilo undermines the two-state solution is factually baseless and distracts from the real obstacle to peace — the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, under any borders.”

Golan Druze leader disputes UN statement on ‘hardship of Israeli occupation’
A leader of the Druze population of the Golan Heights disputed the assertion of a United Nations committee that accused Israel of imposing economic and social hardships on his community.
Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, told Makor Rishon that the UN Economic and Social Council’s recent statement on the area was “a total joke,” the daily reported Friday.
Unlike other Druze populations in Israel who serve in the Israel Defense Forces, the Golan’s Druze population of some 20,000 has been careful not to align itself publicly with the Jewish state, which annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967.
The eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria changed that, causing a sharp increase in the number of Golan Druze who applied for Israeli citizenship, which has been available to them since 1981.
Abu-Saleh objected to the inclusion of his native area in the UN panel’s statement earlier this month, which said that “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
The UN Funds Repressive Regimes at the Expense of US Taxpayers
A new report shows how the U.S. contributes more money to the U.N. than it spends on shipbuilding for the Navy, yet there is a huge disparity in what it receives back compared to many repressive countries.
The United Nations recently released a report detailing the countries of registration of the recipient vendors of $17.6 billion the U.N. system spent on goods and services in 2015.
The report received some modest attention in the press. However, the general unfamiliarity with the U.N. can lead to misunderstandings about what information this report was actually providing. For instance, a Forbes article misinterpreted the report as one listing which countries contribute most to the U.N. system. This misinterpretation inspired this article piece to illustrate the difference.
Unfortunately, the U.N. system does not report its revenues as frequently as it does procurement. Analysis requires going back to 2013, which is the last year that both procurement and revenue data were published by the U.N. Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
In 2013, the U.N. system procured $16.38 billion in goods and services (the summary page for procurement of goods says $16.1 billion, but the dataset yields the higher number) and (after eliminating duplicate information for Aruba, the “State of Palestine,” the Republic of Korea, and the Holy See) $53.9 billion in revenues from governments in 2013. In other words, in 2013 the U.N. system spent about 30 percent of the revenues received from governments on goods and services.
Many nations benefit significantly from this system, receiving far more from the U.N. than they pay into the system in contributions. For instance, a Swiss news outlet observed, “Switzerland is the United Nation’s fourth-biggest supplier, behind only the United States, India, and the United Arab Emirates, providing almost 5 percent of all the world body’s goods and services in 2015.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

From Ian:

Richard Landes: Anti-Zionism: 21st Century Avatar of the Longest Hatred
The supersessionism among progressives rests on a morally sadistic ‘secular’ replacement narrative: Israel has replaced the Nazis while the Palestinians have replaced the Holocaust-era Jews. As pleasing an historical irony as such moral inversions may seem to Nobel Prize winners, it would be dangerous to mistake it for the reality on the ground, where Israel does everything it can to avoid behaving like Nazis, while some of its enemies openly admire Nazis.
This replacement narrative offers not only freedom from Holocaust guilt; it also offers moral elevation, the chance to tower over Israel and judge her harshly. ‘Israel has lost all moral high ground,’ pronounced UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen in response to the Jenin ‘massacre,’ when in fact, he was looking at the lowest score for civilian casualty ratios in the history of urban warfare. Deep moral disorientation ensues: a mainstream news commentator claims that the picture of 12-year-old Muhammad al Durah, caught in a crossfire, ‘symbolically replaces, erases the image of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto.’
From these heights, European moral superpowers like Sweden, and individuals like Jostein Gaarder, sit in judgment on Israel, despising these sovereign Jews, feeding their supersessionist fantasies at the price of becoming untethered from reality. It is a small step to transforming Holocaust Commemorations into platforms for attacking Israel as the new genocidal force on the planet.
The megaphone effect
‘Leftist’ anti-Zionism has allowed internet-empowered Jihadis to spread their memes and icons of hatred the world over. Activist journalists, post-colonial scholars, feminists, ASHamed Jews, NGO activists, all reaffirm and reinforce the narrative: Blame Israel; exculpate the Palestinian ‘resistance’; conversely do not exculpate Israel and do not blame Jihadi extremism. Indeed, the more sincere the Western anti-Zionism, the better is the cover under which the hatreds spread. Progressives introduce the campus to virulent ‘human-rights’ anti-Zionism and mobilise the ensuing indignation to make Israel an international pariah.
It is common wisdom on today’s global progressive left to consider anti-Zionism as unrelated to anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia as the new anti-Semitism. The evidence presented at the Bloomington conference suggested that this is a serious misreading. In the 21st century anti–Zionism plays, mutatis mutandis, the role that anti-Semitism played in early 20th century Europe. The papers delivered at Bloomington made clear that in this current climate, being a vocal anti-Zionist, laboring to see the global humiliation or elimination of Israel, means you put wind in the sails of real-live exterminationist Jew-haters, with people who harbor paranoid, genocidal fantasies. When Leftists chant ‘We are all Hezbollah, Now!’ or ‘Muqtada al Sadr – Anti-Imperialist Solidarity!’ they encourage and empower the real 21st century avatars of the Nazi delirium, namely the triumphalist Jihadis.

DNC Featured Denial of the Existence of Israel
It wouldn't be the DNC convention without an anti-Israel theme. And, in tune with the theme, it's thinly disguised as positivity.
The Democratic convention audience erupted in cheers Thursday night when the Rev. William Barber II urged them to love Jews and Palestinians equally.
"When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child ... we are reviving the heart of our democracy," said Barber, who is also the president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.
"Jesus, a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted," he said.

Barber denied the historical existence of Israel in typical PLO propaganda fashion. Jesus was not a Palestinian. He was a Judean.
Palestine was a Roman colonialist term and the term Palestine has no reference and no relevance to the current Muslim settlers and colonialists who call themselves "Palestinians". (h/t dabney)
RJC Ad Hammers ‘Today’s Democratic Party’ for Anti-Israel Displays
The Republican Jewish Coalition released an ad Friday charging that the Democratic Party of today is hardly the one of old when it comes to support for Israel.
Citing the Washington Free Beacon report that Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), a Hillary Clinton superdelegate, called Jewish settlers “termites” before an anti-Israeli group, the narrator said “anti-Israeli Democrats are on full display at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.” Johnson offered up a half-hearted apology for the comment, calling it a “poor choice of words.”
While Democrats waved the Palestinian flag at the convention, the Israeli flag was burned outside the arena while onlookers chanted in support of the intifada. The Clinton campaign condemned the burning.
However, the ad featured other activists around the convention in Philadelphia speaking out against Israel, including one woman who said the U.S. was acting like a “terrorist” by giving money to Israel and another making the oft-repeated slur against Israel as an “apartheid” state.
Secretary of State John Kerry used this slur in 2014, remarking his concern that Israel could become an apartheid state if a two-state solution was not reached soon.
“Radical Democrats. Stridently anti-Israel,” the narrator said. “Sadly, this isn’t the old Democratic Party. It’s today’s Democratic Party.”

  • Friday, July 29, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
  • ,

Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is the only sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court, on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape.)

This week, the government of Mahmoud Abbas, in its weekly cabinet meeting, announced:
The Council welcomed the agreement between Mr. President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, on the establishment of a joint ministerial committee between the two countries. Four agreements were signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs with Sudanese officials: a political consultation agreement, a convention on the Joint Ministerial Committee, a protocol of political consultation and the Convention on General Education and the Convention on Cultural and Academic Cooperation in the field of higher education between the two countries, stressing that these signed agreements will lead to the strengthening of relations and increasing cooperation between the two countries for the benefit of the two brotherly peoples.

For some reason this wasn't considered to be newsworthy.

Even the "human rights" NGOs who are agitating to have Bashir arrested have nothing bad to say about Mahmoud Abbas treating him like  a respected head of state.

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An extra column by Mike Lumish.

jihad"Occupy" is an unusual word.

It is not a very nice word, either.

In terms of the never-ending Arab and Muslim violence against the Jews of the Middle East the word "occupy" has ominous connotations.

It implies the brutal military occupation of those heinous Jews upon another people's land.

The word "occupy" also, of course, has benign connotations when used in other contexts. For example, no one would have any problem, - other than Jihadis - with the fact that I am occupying my chair in my office.

The truth, however, is that Israel occupies Israel like France occupies France or the Czech Republic occupies the Czech Republic. There is nothing remotely illegal or illegitimate, to use Obama's term, about Jews living and building in the land Jewish people have occupied for over 3,500 years.

The Land of Israel is where Jews come from.

The very word "Israel" means, along with the Jewish State, the Jewish people. Israel is the Jewish nation. So to argue that Israel is illegally occupying Israel is to argue that the Jews should have no home. And Israel includes that part of Israel that the Jordanians dubbed "West Bank" in order to rob the Jewish people of our posterity within our own homeland.

This is to say that the foundation of the conflict is an irrational and Koranically-based hatred toward the Jewish people, without whom Islam would never have emerged to begin with. Without Israel, which is to say without the Jewish people, there never would have been a Koran or the emergence of imperial Islam.

Muslims who care about Islam owe everything to the Jewish people because were it not for the Jewish people Islam could never have developed.

Understand, of course, that I take no particular pride in the Jewish roots of the Islamic faith, but it is historically undeniable. Islam, as George W. Bush famously misstated, is not a "religion of peace." On the contrary, Islam is a religion of war and submission that divides the world into Dar al-Islam, the Home of Islam, and Dar al-Harb, which is the Realm of War or House of the Heathens.

Christianity, despite the historical behavior of Christians, actually is a religion of peace because its founding figure, Jesus the Jew, was a philosopher of peace.

Judaism is a religion of law, which is to say, a religion of justice.

There are mystical and spiritual aspects to the faith, such as QBL (Qabalah) or Tikkun Olam, a notion which derives from the former and that means to "repair the world," but at its core Judaism is grounded in Torah, just as Islam is grounded in al-Sharia.

The difference is that the Torah does not require its imposition on other people while al-Sharia insists upon its imposition upon all non-Muslims.

And that is the very definition of Jihad.

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From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Time to walk away from US aid
Today, both economics and strategic arguments indicate that the opposite is the case, even if walking away involves ending US military aid.
If Israel cuts its losses and begins to develop a fifth generation jet fighter that meets its own specific needs, rather than one designed by a committee to meet other countries’ needs poorly, it will end up both far safer and far more prosperous than if it goes ahead with the F-35 project. It will produce a better plane, better suited for Israeli defense needs, and simultaneously stimulate the growth of Israeli military industries, providing jobs for thousands of Israelis.
If Israel walks away from the military assistance package currently under discussion, it will be in a position to sign joint development deals with the US and other governments on a project by project basis and so ensure that we develop the weapons systems we need, not the ones the US thinks we should have, as we need them. Just as India is investing billions of dollars in joint projects with Israel, so will the US in the future.
It is far from clear that the US can afford its $400b. white elephant. It is abundantly clear that Israel cannot afford it.
Whether or not a Trump or Clinton administration will be more forthcoming is really beside the point. The point is that the US aid deal is really a deal for Lockheed Martin, not for Israel. And we need to say no.
Elliott Abrams: The New State Department Assault on Israel
Why is this approach stupid? For two reasons. First, it’s false: construction in outlying areas of the West Bank may indeed appear to be a problem in creating a Palestinian state, but construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem is not, nor is construction in major blocs Israel will keep. Second, this failure to make distinctions means Israelis will disregard U.S. complaints instead of listening to them. If the State Department criticized construction by settler groups in remote West Bank areas, it would actually have most Israelis on its side. But when it treats Jerusalem neighborhoods and a place like Maale Adumim as indistinguishable from any and every settler activity no matter how remote, Israelis will mostly shrug and wonder why the Americans are so dumb.
And that’s actually a good question. Why are we, or rather why is the State Department? I suppose State is just following orders from the White House, but that only raises the stakes; it does not answer the question. Who is the intended audience for this attack on Israel? If the answer is Israelis and their government, it will fail due to its continuing refusal to make logical distinctions. If the answer is Americans, including members of Congress, then this attack–launched by a lame duck administration during this convention week– will have zero effect.
So here’s a theory: the intended audience is European governments, and others around the world. This kind of assault makes their own assaults on Israel easier: they can see us and raise us in the level of criticism of Israel. They can be encouraged in planning attacks on Israel in the UN General Assembly in September. They can offer six-paragraph screeds where they explain how these new housing units threaten peace, security, and the two-state solution.
The State Department statement came the same week that the Palestinian Authority announced it would sue the British government over the Balfour declaration. It is true that this was in many ways a comic announcement, but it displayed a complete lack of serious intent to move forward toward peace or peace negotiations. In that sense it is completely consistent with the way the Palestinian Authority and the PLO have behaved throughout the Obama years.
With all the misery and bloodshed in the Middle East; with all the terrorist attacks Israel must face; with chaos in Iraq and Syria; with a PLO thinking not about talks but about lawsuits against the UK, it’s remarkable that housing construction strikes State as the critical problem we face. Meanwhile, also this week, a Saudi delegation visited Jerusalem. As The Times of Israel reported, “a retired Saudi general visited Israel this week, heading a delegation of academics and businessmen seeking to encourage discussion of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative.”
When the Saudis have a more realistic approach to Israel than the State Department, American policy is far out of whack.

  • Friday, July 29, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Office of the EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza proudly showed photos of the International Palestine Festival that it sponsored:
The ‪#‎EU‬ is among the main supporters of the Palestine International Festival as part of the support to the ‪#‎Palestinian‬ cultural sector and organizations and as part of the ''Palestinian festivals towards cooperation and community inclusion'' EU funded project.

There is nothing wrong with the EU sponsoring such a festival, although some might wonder why money is being spent on something like that.

However, the actual Facebook page of the festival itself mentions one of the events that occurred last night:

Fans of revolutionary songs... Tonight at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah at 8:00

Here are the videos they showed as examples of "revolutionary songs"

The EU is also sponsoring the promotion of violence and terror at this festival.

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  • Friday, July 29, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

Yesterday, Islamic Jihad held a festival in Gaza called "Bond of Blood."

The terror group unveiled a long-range rocket whose capabilities it has kept secret, putting three question marks on the rockets instead of a name:

The missiles are of course meant to perform war crimes, since they cannot be aimed at anything but large population centers.

Other photos from the festival show that it was meant to be a family-friendly event:

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Law professor Peter Margulies has written a detailed explanation, based on his own interviews with relevant Israeli officials, on the quality of IDF investigations of incidents that occur during war. He concludes that the IDF is doing quite a good job at maintaining the independence and quality of investigations, which is opposite of the constant charges hurled at Israel by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

It is a long and somewhat technical paper, but it is instructive to compare the quality and detail of his observations with the amateurish and simplistic attacks by Amnesty and other NGOs on Israel's military judicial process.

Critics of state investigations of alleged violations of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) often accuse those inquiries of being insufficiently independent from the chain of command. Medicins Sans (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) raised this argument about the recently completed—and exhaustive—U.S. investigation into the October 2015 bombing of a MSF facility in Kunduz, Afghanistan. And earlier in July, Amnesty International leveled a similar charge against Israel’s efforts to investigate LOAC violations during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. But a careful review of LOAC suggests that the situation is more complex than Amnesty’s rhetoric reveals.

Israel has taken substantial structural steps toward independence in LOAC investigations. Independence in investigations is not an end itself—its primary purpose under LOAC is the promotion of effective, timely, and accurate investigation of war crimes allegations.

To assess the independence of an investigation, it is necessary to define independence. Mike Schmitt has suggested that, under LOAC, independence is narrowly defined as standing outside a particular operation’s chain of command. The principle of independence under LOAC does not disqualify a state from reviewing allegations about the misconduct of that state’s forces. In the Kunduz case, MSF argued that the U.S. should have relinquished control to a little-known, never used transnational mechanism, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. However, international law assumes that states are competent to investigate alleged abuses involving their own forces. The principle of complementarity holds that states, which after all make international law, should have the authority to address their own LOAC violations unless such states default in their duties. That authority is an incident of state sovereignty. Moreover, a contrary view would let states off the hook, inhibiting the development of robust state investigatory capabilities. The world has turned to ad hoc tribunals like the Nuremberg Tribunals and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) when the volume and scale of widely acknowledged atrocities and the absence of a state response called out for such a forum. And the International Criminal Court (ICC) can step in today to prosecute matters when a state brought within the ambit of the ICC’s governing Rome Statute has failed to fulfill its own responsibilities. However, state investigations are the default setting for LOAC violations.

As Schmitt observes, the LOAC principle of independence also does not require civilian investigations of alleged military abuses. Civilian conduct of investigations may hinder their efficiency and accuracy, since civilians lack a firm background in tactics, munitions, personnel, and the exigencies of combat. Rather, LOAC merely requires that an investigative team is free from the operational chain of command for the action at issue.

Contrary to the recent Amnesty International report, Israel reinforces independence far more concretely than most other states. Israel has repeatedly welcomed outside scrutiny, including the Turkel Commission, a group of prominent Israeli jurists and scholars including a former Supreme Court justice, aided by international experts such as Australia’s Tim McCormack and Canada’s Ken Watkin. Israel invited this group to study its investigative process after the ill-fated Gaza flotilla raid of 2010. The Turkel Commission found that in most material respects, Israel’s process met the independence criterion. For example, as Israel’s 2014 report indicated, the investigative decisions made by the IDF’s Military Advocate General (MAG) are reviewable by the Attorney General (AG), a cabinet official outside the chain of command. Moreover, the AG’s decisions are in turn reviewable by the Israeli Supreme Court, a vigorous body that has forthrightly stated that “the combat operations of the IDF do not take place in a normative vacuum.” (Physicians for Human Rights v. Prime Minister, Para. 11 (2009)). Israel’s Supreme Court has followed up on this observation with concrete interventions that would be unthinkable under the U.S. Supreme Court’s far more deferential regime. For example, Israel’s Supreme Court has imposed constraints on the IDF’s criteria for targeting suspected terrorists (see Schmitt and John Merriam on IDF extensive targeting protocols). The prospect of the Israeli Supreme Court’s robust review, facilitated by the Court’s broad grants of standing to residents of the West Bank or Gaza as well as Israel proper, acts as an additional ex ante check on military discretion.

Following publication of the Turkel Report, an Israeli interagency team, headed by Dr. Joseph Ciechanover (who had served as General Counsel to the Ministry of Defense and Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and comprised of representatives from the IDF and Ministry of Justice, recommended further safeguards. All of the Ciechanover team’s recommendations were approved by Israel’s cabinet earlier in July. A central change was provision for a Fact-Finding Assessment (FFA) of “exceptional incidents” involving alleged loss of civilian life. (See the interagency report here.) The IDF started using the FFA Mechanism during the 2014 Gaza campaign, before issuance of the Ciechanover report. Teams of active duty and reserve military personnel from a variety of disciplines, including law, conduct the FFA. Each FFA works outside the chain of command for the operation under review.

Critics of military LOAC investigations seriously underestimate the difficulties inherent in investigating alleged war crimes. Preserving evidence under battlefield conditions is an arduous task, while witnesses in locations such as Gaza may be subject to intimidation by Hamas and other terrorist groups. Outside observers have a troubled track record when it comes to Israel’s Gaza campaigns. For example, the notoriously flawed Goldstone Commission investigation has drawn much critical commentary. All too often, these outside reports, such as the McGowan Davis report for the U.N. Human Rights Council, have failed to adequately acknowledge the challenges that Israel faces in fighting terrorist entities such as Hamas.

Israel’s critics are right on one point. Given the sheer number of military decisions in the 2014 Gaza campaign, common sense strongly suggests that the IDF’s performance was not perfect. As human beings, IDF personnel are not immune from the pull of anger, fear, and haste.

However, neither imperfections nor grievous mistakes such as the U.S. Kunduz attack necessarily translate into war crimes. For commission of a war crime, a culpable state of mind is an essential element. Article 8 of the ICC’s Rome Statute requires a showing of either intent to harm civilians or recklessness: ordering an attack with the knowledge that the resulting harm to civilians would be “clearly excessive in relation to the … military advantage anticipated.” The high threshold for proof of a culpable state of mind is no accident. Rather, it is a recognition that a less demanding test would not adequately acknowledge the risk of harm that inevitably flows from the fog of war.

Because of the exigencies of armed conflict, assessing the adequacy of a state’s efforts to investigate alleged LOAC violations cannot be reduced to a mere statistical compilation of indictments. A responsible, professional military organization such as the IDF has a range of remedies available for its soldiers’ mistakes, including the promulgation of “lessons learned” from wartime tragedies. A case in point: the MAG’s acknowledgment of the need to improve technological and intelligence capabilities to avoid a repetition of the deaths of four boys on the beach during the 2014 Gaza campaign. One hopes that the U.S. will similarly refine its own systems to avoid a recurrence of the catastrophic Kunduz attack. Any balanced assessment of Israel’s compliance with its international obligations should also take into account its readiness to prosecute IDF personnel serving in the West Bank (for example in this manslaughter prosecution based on killing of a wounded Palestinian). That willingness and reforms such as the FFA process that safeguard the MAG’s independence furnish strong evidence of Israel’s adherence to LOAC norms.

One of the referenced articles is a hugely detailed overview by two American military law experts on Israel's targeting practices in law. Again, the quality of this paper is in marked contrast to NGOs' simplistic and ignorant attacks on the IDF based on nothing more than a predetermined verdict.

Here are excerpts of the conclusion from that paper:

The central finding of this project is that the unique Israeli operational context described in Part I exerts an almost tyrannical influence over the IDF’s legal organization and Israel’s understanding and application of the LOAC. The driving forces in this context are 1) the risk of direct attack faced by the Israeli civilian population due to geography and enemy strategy and 2) the extremely high value Israel places on the safety of its soldiers. Israel’s enemies clearly understand the extent to which these two factors loom large for Israel and exploit them to offset the qualitative and technical advantages that Israel enjoys in conventional warfare. They do this by directly targeting the Israeli population, seeking to capture individual Israeli soldiers and engaging in lawfare tactics. IDF operations are clearly well-regulated and subject to the rule of law. The IDF has extremely robust systems of examination and investigation of operational incidents, and there is significant civilian oversight, both by the Attorney General and the Supreme Court. With respect to the MAG Corps, the Authors found its officers to be exceptionally competent, highly professional, and well-trained. The extent to which MAG officers are independent of commanders, especially when providing legal advice during ongoing operations, is striking.

The operational context in which Israel finds itself also drives the IDF's approach to targeting. Given the geography of Israel and the multiple potential enemies it faces, centralizing air targeting and decentralizing ground attacks makes sense. Moreover, the operational tempo of the operations merits close legal supervision, which the Operational Law Apparatus is designed to provide. It is clear that the deliberate targeting cycle process employed by the Israeli Air Force is constructed so as to identify legal issues as they crop up and to facilitate compliance with LOAC as operations are being planned, approved and executed. Doing so is, as discussed, essential to countering the specific tactics employed by Israel's opponents.

Although the Israeli positions on the LOAC principles and rules governing targeting are rather orthodox, the unique operational environment in which Israel finds itself clearly affects interpretation and application. As an example, given the propensity of Israel’s enemies to use human shields, it is unsurprising that Israel has taken the position that individuals voluntarily acting in this manner are to be treated as direct participants in hostilities. In light of its enemies’ frequent failure to distinguish itself from the civilian population, it is equally unsurprising that Israel has embraced the principle of reasonableness with respect to target identification. Perhaps most noteworthy is the high value Israel places on the safety of its soldiers and its civilian population. Although impossible to quantify, both Authors were convinced these concerns significantly influenced the value judgments made by Israeli commanders as they plan and execute military operations, value judgments that often come into play in the application of such LOAC concepts as proportionality.

In the Authors’ opinion, use of lawfare by Israel’s enemies likewise shapes, whether consciously or not, Israel’s interpretation and application of the LOAC. In particular, Israel has adopted an inclusive approach to the entitlement to protected status, particularly civilian status. Examples include Israel’s positions on doubt, its treatment of involuntary shields as civilians who are not directly participating and its view that individuals who ignore warnings retain their civilian status. Although these positions might seem counterintuitive for a State that faces foes who exploit protected status for military and other gain, such positions are well suited to counter the enemy’s reliance on lawfare. In this regard, Israel’s LOAC interpretations actually enhance its operational and strategic level position despite any tactical loss. Along the same lines, in many cases, the IDF imposes policy restrictions that go above and beyond the requirements of LOAC.
Actual military law experts agree that Israel is meeting and exceeding its legal requirements in how it conducts war. The disagreements that these authors show to specific IDF operational details proves that these papers aren't cheerleading, but sober and detailed analyses based on the specific military (and political) environment that Israel finds itself in. The contrast in quality between these papers written by experts and the armchair pseudo-analysis in NGO reports is obvious to anyone who cares to look.

Predictably, Amnesty's Jacob Burns responded to Peter Margulies' paper on Twitter with its characteristic inability to counter any specific point but rather to engage in handwaving and pointing out that the research trip was sponsored by Israel (which Margulies freely admitted in his disclaimer):

That is Amnesty's argument in a nutshell. We can't find anything wrong with what Israel is doing but we feel that it is wrong because there are relatively few successful prosecutions. The actual reason is because most IDF soldiers know the laws of armed conflict far better than Amnesty's "experts."

Jacob Burns makes one good point, that indirectly damns his own organization:

He didn't ask that Margulies talk to Amnesty's own "experts" on the laws of armed conflict, because he knows quite well that a real law expert would expose Amnesty as hopelessly naive in its analysis.

And I, for one, would welcome legal experts like Margulies to interview B'Tselem experts about their opinion of the deficiencies of Israel's military justice system. In the end, the IDF must adhere to the laws of war, and if B'Tselem knows something that the IDF doesn't about those laws, then by all means, enlighten us.

In the end, it would expose the truth that the arguments from Amnesty and B'Tselem and HRW are not based on international law but on a different, unstated standard that is not reproducible in other contexts and designed to damn Israel ab initio and only then try to justify it.  The laws of armed conflict are meant not only to protect civilians on the opposing side but also soldiers and civilians on the same side. That means that there is far more latitude in interpretation than these NGOs are willing to admit.

In many ways these NGOs are trying to rip apart international law in order to give the side that employs human shields a military advantage. That is neither international law, nor is it even "human rights."

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Unreal and totally expected:
No one who follows the Palestinian issue will be very surprised to hear of the call by Mahmoud Abbas to sue the British government over the Balfour declaration of November 1917. That was the famous letter which pledged to support the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine and is seen as a key milestone for the Zionist movement.

The promise by Arthur Balfour, then foreign secretary, led to the British mandate, mass Jewish immigration and eventually to the creation of Israel in the wake of the second world war and the Holocaust, and to the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe).
All roads lead to 'nakba."

Not that while the Guardian is careful to note that the Holocaust was a factor in the creation of Israel, it wouldn't say that Arab rejectionism, antisemitism and the desire to throw the Jews into the sea along with Arab leaders' using Palestinians as pawns were factors  to the "nakba."

Threatening legal action over a 99-year-old document is certainly a stretch, and it attracted more ridicule than serious analysis. It has in any case long been superseded by other decisions including UN resolutions. Still, the statement may be seen as a symptom of desperation about the Palestinian cause at a time when the peace process is non-existent and hopes for an end to occupation and a two-state solution to the conflict appear moribund.

“I regard what Abbas said as as a cry of anger and despair rather than a statement of intent,” said Sir Vincent Fean, former British consul-general in Jerusalem and effectively ambassador to the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. “I don’t see how he can do what he has undertaken to do. But the problem is that the two-state solution that he has advocated and argued for for so long is rapidly drifting away.”

UPDATE: Very similar language from Haaretz:
The Palestinian gambit is clearly a symbolic PR move calculated to remind the world of the plight of the Palestinians. But it is also a cry of despair. It is no surprise that Abbas made his move at the Arab League Summit. The Palestinians are clearly worried about an apparent warming of ties between the moderate Arab states and Israel, and they do not want to be abandoned. Malki called on the Arab states not to normalize relations with Israel before the establishment of a Palestinian State.
Yes, it is despair. Not despair to create a Palestinian state, but despair at finding allies to help destroy Israel using the fiction of wanting a Palestinian state.

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From Ian:

The ‘Termite’ Infamy and the Jews
Johnson, of course, is a Democrat representing Georgia’s 4th district. Greenblatt, to his credit, retweeted Johnson’s “apology” with the heading, “yes there was an apology, but no ‘point’ justifies referring to human beings in such an abhorrent, inappropriate manner.” The ADL retweeted Greenblatt’s personal tweet, but has yet to issue an actual statement on the controversy. In an election cycle that has enlivened anti-Semitism on both the far right and the far left, the ADL should have treated this moment with the gravity it deserved, responded in a professional and substantive manner, and used Johnson’s crude remarks as an opportunity to educate the electorate on anti-Semitism in all its iterations.
Another organization that has failed spectacularly this week? J Street. It is overtly anti-settlement, and, in striving to achieve its political aims, J Street makes rating and endorsing candidates a core part of its mission. Hank Johnson has been the beneficiary of both J Street’s endorsement and its fundraising. Thus in the wake of his remarks, the organization had an opportunity to demonstrate true leadership.
But how did it respond to this vile imprecation? The J Street statement incoherently contended both that “there is no place…. For personal insults or slurs against whole groups of people including settlers in the West Bank,” and that “the Congressman was clearly referring to the corrosive impact of the settlement enterprise… and not to individuals.” Indeed, the organization delivered a sharper rebuke to the media for breaking the story than to Johnson himself.
For Jews around the world, the three week period of mourning leading up to the fast of Tisha Ba’av has just started. The Talmud explains that the destruction of the Second Temple—one of the tragedies Jews mourn during the fast—happened as a result of Sinat Chinam, which is usually translated as “baseless hatred” within the nation. The phrase is often invoked to demonstrate how division renders the Jewish people weak and ripe for targeting. The responses from the ADL and J Street are distressing indicators of the condition of American Jewry as our mourning begins.
The ADL Should Not Accept Congressman Hank Johnson’s Phony Apology for Calling Jews ‘Termites’
It’s wrong for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to have failed to condemn as blatant antisemitism Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA)’s “termites” label for Jews living in Judea/Samaria.
It’s also wrong for the ADL to have accepted Johnson’s phony apology “tweet,” which read: “Poor choice of words – apologies for offense. Point is settlement activity continues slowly undermine 2-state solution.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is not alone in feeling this way.
Prominent Las Angeles Rabbi David Wolpe wrote: “That is not an apology. ‘I am sorry I said something stupid and anti-Semitic’ — that would have been a fitting apology. These are not trivial issues. . . . To call Jews ‘termites’ is base and vile.”
Commentary editor John Podhoretz tweeted: “How about using the term “anti-Semitic,” you cowards? He compared Jews to TERMITES, for f —‘s sake.”

  • Thursday, July 28, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

Gideon Levy is outraged at Israelis:
One hundred and eighty babies and children up to the age of 5. One hundred and eighty helpless babies and toddlers that the Israel Defense Forces killed in Gaza in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. In their sleep, in their play, as they fled; in their beds or in their parents’ arms.
Try to imagine – the army killed 546 children in the course of 50 days. More than 10 children a day, a classroom every three days. Try to imagine.
But these updated, verified figures, released by the B’Tselem NGO on the second anniversary of the killing, are hard to imagine. It’s easier to dismiss them with a shrug, a look in the other direction or the lame excuses of Israeli propaganda.
The figures that should have haunted Israeli society and keep it awake at night – that should have sparked a stormy public debate and shaken it– are of no interest at all. Any natural disaster at the end of the world would have evoked more human feelings here than this slaughter, which Israel committed an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.
As usual, Levy is only telling a small part of the story.

Because most of these innocent children were human shields. It is Palestinian society which is so sick as to willingly put their own children (and many other family members) at risk in the hopes that Israel would not attack their terrorist relatives.

Here is a very partial list of children killed in Gaza who happened to be killed along with their terrorist relatives.

Hussein Yusef Kaware’, 13
Bassem Salem Kaware’, 10
Muhammad ‘Ali Kaware’, 13
‘Abdallah Muhammad Kaware’, 12
Siraj Iyad ‘Abd al-‘Al, 8
Qassem Jaber ‘Adwan Kaware’, 12
Protecting Odeh Kaware, Hamas

Dunia Mahdi Hamad, 16
Protecting Hafez Hamad, Islamic Jihad

Asil al-Masri, 15
Muhammad al-Masri, 14
Protecting Amjad Hamdan

Nidal Nawasrah, 4
Muhammad Nawasrah, 2
Protecting Salah Nawasrah, 24

Sa'ed al-Haj, 16
Fatmeh al-Haj, 14
Protecting Omar al-Haj, Hamas

Muhammad al-Batsh, 17
Manar al-Batsh, 13
Qusai al-Batsh, 12
Anas al-Batsh, 10
Amal Bahaa al-Batsh, 2
Protecting Yazif al-Batsh

Ru'ya a-Zweidi, 5
Nagham Mahmoud a-Zweidi, 2
Protecting Mohammad Khaled Jamil al Zweidi, 20, PIJ

Umamah al-Hayah, 8
Khalil al-Hayah, 5
Hamzah al-Hayah, 4
Protecting Usama al-Hayah, Hamas

Hiba a-Sha'er, 15
Muhammad a-Sha'er, 5
Protecting Salah a-Sha'er

Sha'ban Ziyadah, 12
Protecting Muhammad al-Maqadmeh

Razan Abu Jame', 14
Jawdat Abu Jame', 13
Aya Abu Jame', 12
Fatmeh Taysir Abu Jame', 12
Ayub Abu Jame', 10
Haifaa Abu Jame', 9
Ahmad Abu Jame', 8
Maysaa Abu Jame', 7
Sajidah Abu Jame', 7
Husam Abu Jame', 7
Rayan Abu Jame', 5
Tawfiq Abu Jame', 4
Bitul Abu Jame', 4
Siraj Abu Jame', 4
Soheila Abu Jame', 3
Rinat Abu Jame', 2
Nur Abu Jame', 2
Bisan Abu Jame', 6 months
Nujud Abu Jame', 4 months
Protecting Ahmad Sahmoud, 34

Najiyah al-Hilu, 15
Maram al-Hilu, 2
Karim al-Hilu, 5 months
Karam al-Hilu, 5 months
Protecting Muhammad al-Hilu, 29

Nariman Daher, 13
Shaymaa Daher, 10
Dana Daher, 1
Protecting Muhammed Daher, Hamas

Amin Siyam, 17
Ahmad Siyam, 15
Mustafa Siyam, 9
Ghidaa Siyam, 7
Mu'in Siyam, 5
Bader Siyam, 4
Dalal Siyam, 9 months
Protecting Muhammad Mahrus Siyam, 27

Nabil al-Astal, 13
Protecting Ashraf al-Astal, 28

Nada al-Astal, 5
Amin al-Astal, 4
Protecting Muhammad Al Astal

Abed Abu Hasanein, 14
Hadi Abu Hasanein, 12
Protecting Salah Abu Hasanein

Muhammad Abu Dabagh, 12
Ahmad Abu Qadus, 13
Abd al-Karim a-Darazin, 5
Muhammad a-Darazin, 3
Protecting Ghassan Yusef Salem Abu Dabagh. 25, Popular Front

Shamma Abu Zeid, 16
Bisan Abu Zeid, 12
Abdallah Abu Zeid, 5
Protecting Ahmed AbuZeid (apparently)

Arwa Dheir, 16
Omar 'Omar Dheir, 12
Salameh Dheir, 12
Mariyah Dheir, 12
Muamen Dheir, 9
Tasnim Dheir, 8
Muhammad Dheir, 7
Ghidaa Dheir, 7
Yamen Dheir, 6
Protecting 'Izat Salameh Mahmoud Dheir.

Nidal al-Agha, 17
Daliya al-Agha, 17
Iyad al-Agha, 16
Dina al-Agha, 14
Fadel al-Agha, 11
Protecting 'Abd and 'Ata al-Agha

Hala Abu Jaber, 9
Muhammad Abu Jaber, 3
Lin Abu Jaber, 2.5
Salma Abu Jaber, 1.5
Sama Abu Jaber, 1.5
Tuqa Abu 'Issa, 1
Protecting Ahmad Hamdan Muhammad Abu Jaber and Jaber Hamdan Muhammad Abu Jaber.

Liali a-Najar, 2
Aya a-Ramlawi, 9
Ousamah Breikeh, 16
Jana Breikeh, 3
Lama Breikeh, 1
Yazan Mu'ammar, 3
Hala Mu'ammar, 1
Omar Abu 'Amer, 12
Muhammad Ahmad Abu 'Amer, 12
Abd al-Ghani Abu 'Amer, 11
Imad Abu 'Amer, 10
Marah Abu 'Amer, 10
Yasser Abu 'Amer, 9
Issa Abu 'Amer, 8
Marwa Abu 'Amer, 5
Iz a-Din Abu 'Amer, 4
Suliman Abu 'Amer, 2
Protecting Muhammad Zaki Hassan a-Najar. 29

This does not cover all the houses bombed in Gaza - I stopped doing this exercise after identifying these 108 human shield children. There are definitely more.

Sometimes, the target escaped alive. I cannot verify those cases.

Sometimes, the target was a command and control center or a weapons cache or a tunnel opening under the houses where children lived. I cannot verify those cases.

Sometimes, the target was erroneously identified as a civilian by B'Tselem.

So there are a lot more kids who were killed while being forced to defend terrorist targets.

What becomes clear when looking at so many examples of Israel hitting homes that we know did have terrorists inside is that the IDF was not randomly firing at every building. These were valid targets. Considering that there are 1.8 million people in Gaza, the chances that so many children killed would coincidentally be in homes of terrorists is too tiny to consider.

The fact that children died is not proof of any immorality on Israel's part. That can only be proven if it can be shown that there was no valid military target and Israel knew that and attacked anyway.

What this list does prove is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other Gaza groups knowingly placed military targets among their own family members.

Gideon Levy isn't crying about what sort of society would do such a monstrous thing. Because he doesn't really care about the dead children. He wants to do what Hamas does - use them as a weapon against Israel. Just like B'Tselem. Just like Amnesty. Just like Human Rights Watch.

Which means that it is Gideon Levy and these NGOs who are the real monsters for not saying a word about - or worse, exonerating - Hamas and other Gaza armed groups for literally using their children as weapons in war.

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 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

I like to say that I’m a tribalist. Imagine my surprise to find out that this really means Jewish conspirator aspiring to world domination!

Even if it isn’t used as a stick to beat Jews with, tribalism has a terribly bad name. Law professor Glenn Reynolds defines it as “The tendency to defend our own tribe even when we think it's wrong, and to attack other tribes even when they're right, just because they're other,” and blames it for escalating violence between police and blacks in the US. Economist Barry Brownstein calls it “the worst idea in history.” His definition is “the belief in the supremacy of one’s group identity over the rights of individual human beings.”

Have you met my superhero friend, Straw Man? These professors are well acquainted with him. In order to attack an idea, they first define it as something between torturing puppies and murdering old ladies. Then, surprise, they show how it is horrible, dangerous and evil. They would define a tree as a piece of wood growing out of the ground used to lynch people on.

The fact is that tribalism is a natural human characteristic, which has developed over hundreds of thousands of years of biological and social evolution, that simply means the propensity to prioritize the good of members of one’s own group over others.

It doesn’t mean one has to hate outsiders or refuse to help them if they need help. It doesn’t mean that one is obligated to defend one’s own no matter what they do. It doesn’t mean that non-group members are inferior beings, or don’t have rights. It most assuredly doesn’t mean that outsiders should automatically be treated as enemies.

Tribal feelings apply to all sizes of groups, from the nuclear family to extended families and clans, to regional groupings and to nations. In particular, there is the idea of a people: a group whose members self-identify as belonging to it and who may share a unique language, religion, origin, ancestry, folklore, place of residence, or even certain physical features.

The paradigm case of a people is, of course, the Jewish people. This is the model that the ‘Palestinians’ would like to adopt, although they lack the language, religion, origin, or physical features. Yes, they live here now and have plenty of folklore, although it’s considerably more modern than ours. They’ve been self-identifying as ‘Palestinians’ since the 1960s.

When a people has a sovereign state, it is called a nation-state. A people can exist before the state and create it, as in the case of the modern state of Israel, or the state can be formed by diverse peoples who then grow together to become one people. This is the much-maligned “melting pot” model of the United States: Americans of diverse origins became unified as a people as a result of their experience building and defending their country. Today many Americans, under the influence of universalist ideas, are uncomfortable with this conception, seeing the demand that immigrants learn English as an excess of tribalism or even “cultural genocide.”

In any event, the tribal feelings of a people for their nation-state is called ‘nationalism’, something which is almost as strongly derided lately as tribalism in general. Nationalism is blamed for wars and genocides and almost every form of collective human bad behavior.

The position opposing tribalism is universalism, the belief that one should treat all humans exactly alike, regardless of their relationship. The corresponding antithesis to nationalism is, naturally, internationalism.

In an attempt to improve human behavior after the horrors of the first half of the 20th century, the victorious elites decided to engineer tribalism out of humans and impose an internationalist world order. Not everyone agreed with them, but those who didn’t and wanted a piece of the action pretended to do so. Thus arose the internationalist United Nations and European Union.

The failure of the UN to achieve its primary goal of ending war is due to the fact that no rational national government was prepared to give up its freedom of action while others kept theirs. In hindsight, this isn’t surprising. But as a result the UN has become a huge boondoggle, supporting countless bureaucrats and agencies. The only area in which it has been even slightly successful is in providing a way for relatively weak nations that want to gang up on Israel to do so. Even that has been unsuccessful so far, as Israel continues to thrive.

The European Union is failing today for several reasons; its aspirations to become a super-state clashed with the unquenchable nationalism of its members, and its decision to try to maintain a unitary currency for countries with totally different economic cultures was a mistake. One of the major reasons for the British vote to leave the union was the feeling that they ought not to outsource control of anything, particularly anything related to security, to outsiders, who – in tribalist manner – might put their own interests first. Universalism and internationalism (and socialism!) only work when everyone cooperates, and of course they never do.

Nationalism and, more fundamentally, tribalism, could not be suppressed, and are popping up all over, even in places like Europe where they are still strongly opposed by the elites. In America, minority groups paradoxically behave in a strongly tribal way, while at the same time they appeal to universalist ideals to justify their tribal demands. There is also the explicitly tribal (although to a great extent incoherent) Trumpist movement challenging the official universalist dogmas of the establishment.

Zionism is Jewish nationalism, and in Israel it is experiencing a political and cultural resurgence. The founding generation, which dominated the country’s early days and was strongly Zionist, was replaced by a new leadership which allowed its desire for peace to override rational constraints – the fact that Israel was opposed by strongly tribalist enemies – and adopted a universalist “solution,” the Oslo Accords. The Arabs responded rationally and tribally, grabbing as much strategic advantage as possible and stepping up the terrorism which they saw as responsible for their partial success. 

The pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction, with Israeli voters rejecting politicians who espouse universalist ideas. There is also a growing cultural backlash against the universalist elites who still dominate many areas of Israeli society, which is exemplified by the strong popular support for a soldier who (probably) violated military protocols by killing a wounded Arab terrorist after the Arab had tried to kill his comrade in arms. The fact that this places the general population in opposition to the elite army brass is significant.

It is not a surprise that tribalism, which after all developed over many millennia, can’t easily be snuffed out – especially when people who are being told to adopt more universalist views are facing enemies that are as tribal as ever. But I believe that this is not a bad development.

Tribalism and nationalism per se should not blamed for the disasters of the 20th century. It is not the idea, for example, that Germans should look out for Germans first that gave birth to the Holocaust – it is the myth of “Aryan superiority” and the ethically unwarranted belief that there is no obligation to treat outsiders humanely. Most people care more about their families than they do about their neighbors. But this does not give them the right to murder or enslave those neighbors. The fact that you care more about your country than the one next door is not a green light to invade it.

On the one hand, tribalism can become dangerous when pushed to extremes. But it is not the tribalism that is the problem, it’s the extremism. On the other hand, attempting to apply universalist beliefs as guides to action often results in worse outcomes. For example, the Oslo accords attempted to break down the barriers of suspicion between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. But the process was not successful, primarily because the Arabs were not prepared to give up their goal of total victory. Thousands of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs died as a result.

A healthy nationalism which creates national pride will have a beneficial effect on the life of a nation, by promoting cooperation, enterprise and obedience to laws. It will also encourage individuals to sacrifice personal benefits for the good of the nation, such as by doing military or other national service. 

Rather than struggling against the result of evolutionary development and trying to remake mankind according to an (inconsistent) universalist ideal, why not work with it? Why not accept the positive aspects of tribalism while opposing extremism? 

Personally, I prefer Naomi Shemer to Kumbaya.

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