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Friday, July 25, 2014

US Pressuring Israel Into Cease-Fire

What you are not reading in The New York Times or hearing on CNN:

Israel is being coerced to agree to a cease-fire being brokered by the United States and Egypt, just as Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposition to the IDF is beginning to crumble. Owing to additional funding being provided by the US to Israel for more Iron Dome anti-rocket systems, Israel is under great pressure to agree to John Kerry's proposal.

Additionally, captured Hamas fighters have revealed that a major kidnapping operation was planned for the Jewish High Holy Days, i.e. late September, making use of the tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel. Unknown to the world, these tunnels have been dug over the course of many years in preparation for this attack.

In short, the current war has averted a disaster in the making.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Roger Cohen, "Hope in the Abattoir": Where Is Cohen's Apology?

Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen has no credibility. He also has no journalistic integrity.

As recently reported by The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) (http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=35&x_article=2764):

"Days after a New York Times editorial completely distorted a Hebrew poem cited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the Chaim Nahman Bialik was a rejection of human revenge, not an endorsement of it – columnist Roger Cohen similarly distorts another Israeli source. Cohen writes ('Israel's bloody status quo'):


Sheldon Adelson’s right-wing Israel Hayom, the biggest-selling newspaper in Israel, has called for Gaza to be 'returned to the Stone Age.' During the last Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza, in 2012, a government minister called for Gaza to be consigned 'to the Middle Ages.' Before that, there was the Gaza War of 2008-2009, in which 1,166 Palestinians died and 13 Israelis, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The story goes on and on. There is no denouement. Gaza, a small place jammed with 1.8 million people, does not recess to the Stone, Iron, Middle or other Ages. It does not get flattened, as Ariel Sharon’s son once proposed. The death toll is overwhelmingly skewed against Palestinians. Hamas, with its militia and arsenal of rockets, continues to run Gaza. The dead die for nothing.

Like the editorial writer who either ignored or did not comprehend the well-known, crucial lines of the Bialik poem rejecting the notion of human vengeance, Cohen has completely distorted an excerpt from Israel Hayom by removing it from its context. Here is what Israel Hayom's Amos Regev actually wrote:

The Gaza Strip must be returned to the Stone Age. Not in the sense of destroying every home and all the infrastructure, which would leave Gaza residents wandering among ruins. Rather, Israel should eliminate every rocket, bomb and gun in Gaza. In other words, get rid of the arsenal Hamas has accumulated over the past 10 years. The snake must be defanged, leaving Hamas without rockets. The most it would have left would be stones. . . .

Rather, Israel must return Hamas to a situation in which the most it can do is throw stones. This is how it was when Hamas was founded, in Gaza, during the First Intifada. But since then, particularly over the past 10 years, Hamas equipped itself with long-range rockets. It would take only 10 days to return Hamas to the Stone Age.

In other words, Regev is not talking about 'flattening' Gaza, as Cohen would have readers believe. Rather, Regev's reference to the 'Stone Age' refers to the demilitarization of Gaza, in which Hamas, stripped of its rocket arsenal, would be armed only with stones."


Does Cohen bother apologizing for this grotesque distortion in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hope in the Abattoir" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/opinion/roger-cohen-the-shared-destiny-of-israel-and-gaza.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region)? No way.

Instead, Cohen concludes his op-ed today concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a vacuous conclusion:

"Nobody is going away. The peoples of the Holy Land are condemned to each other. Without that realization, any truce, even any demilitarization of Gaza, will only be a way station to the next round of slaughter."

Needless to say, Cohen makes certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Cohen also ignores the fact that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements. In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

Also, no mention by Cohen of the recent results of a Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too) which determined (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Or in other words, Israelis are willing to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state. On the other hand, a clear majority of Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's right to exist. But why should Cohen mention this, given his need to "balance" the blame for the latest outbreak of fighting in Gaza?

Disgusting.

New York Times Editorial, "Gaza’s Mounting Death Toll": More Distortions From the Times

In an editorial entitled "Gaza’s Mounting Death Toll" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/opinion/gazas-mounting-death-toll.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), The New York Times begins by declaring:

"These days, even a school — clearly identified as a shelter run by the United Nations — cannot protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza from deadly attacks."

Although the Times goes on to acknowledge, "There are competing charges over who carried out the attack" on the school in Beit Hanoun, the Times goes on to ask if Israel is "doing enough" to avoid damage to UN facilities:

"According to a United Nations official in New York, at least 72 United Nations schools, hospitals and offices have been damaged in the fighting, even though they are clearly marked. At the same time, the United Nations did not enhance its own credibility and influence when its Human Rights Council focused entirely on Israel in a resolution on Wednesday, opening an inquiry into possible Gaza-related human rights violations."

Needless to say, no mention by the Times that in recent days rockets have twice been discovered in UNRWA schools in Gaza (see: http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-placement-rockets-second-time-one-its-schools) and that these rockets have been turned over by the UNRWA to Hamas. Why does this information go missing from the Times editorial?

The Times concludes its editorial by observing:

"Secretary of State John Kerry has been working feverishly to get a cease-fire, but his mission is hugely complicated. Meanwhile, the killing goes on."

No mention by the Times that Hamas, not Israel, has been refusing efforts to achieve a cease-fire. As reported by Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-stubbornly-refusing-ceasefire-bid-kerry-150758663.html):

"US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday blamed Hamas for the continuation of the conflict in Gaza, saying the Islamic militants were refusing all ceasefire efforts.

'They've been offered a ceasefire and they've refused to take the ceasefire,' Kerry told ABC television, adding Hamas has 'stubbornly' refused efforts to defuse the conflict 'even though Egypt and others have called for that ceasefire.'

By its behavior, Hamas had 'invited further actions' by the Israelis to stop the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, Kerry said.

'It's ugly, obviously. War is ugly, and bad things are going to happen. But they need to recognize their own responsibility,' he added, referring to Hamas."

But why should The New York Times acknowledge that Hamas is responsible for the continuation of the fighting? After all, this would not be in keeping with ongoing efforts being made by Andrew Rosenthal's op-ed page to vilify Israel (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/mohammed-omer-darkness-falls-on-gaza.html).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Washington Post Editorial, "The U.S. should push for the disarming of Hamas in Gaza-Israel cease-fire": Bravo!

The John Kerry comedy show? After failing to reach agreement with Iran in Vienna two weeks ago (see: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/john-kerry-in-vienna-extension-of-nuclear-talks-likely-108845.html), Kerry handed Khamenei sanctions relief totaling $2.8 billion in exchange for a 4-month extension of the meaningless P5 +1 talks. This way, Obama, currently AWOL from the Oval Office, was not forced to acknowledge failure.


Next, Kerry was off to Cairo to try his hand at fostering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Prior to meeting with Egyptian President Sisi at the presidential palace, Kerry and his aides were forced to undergo a humiliating metal detector test (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28444187), amounting to yet another sign of international contempt for the embattled Obama administration.


Yesterday evening, Kerry left Israel following a frosty photo-op session with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.606915).


Where will Kerry land next? Maybe it's time for more Botox injections.


Meanwhile, no IDF fatalities overnight. As mentioned yesterday, Israel is learning how to effectively conduct ground operations in built-up areas by means of enhanced ground-air coordination. Last night, more than 150 Hamas militants surrendered to the IDF in Khan Yunis and Rafiyah (see: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-150-hamas-terrorists-surrender-to-idf-1000957726).


Also, the FAA has cancelled its ban on flights to Israel after it "carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation." Senator Ted Cruz had suggested that the Obama administration was responsible for the FAA action "in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands"  (see: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/ted-cruz-barack-obama-israel-faa-109294.html).


In addition, Israel has received some important backing from The Washington Post. In an editorial entitled "The U.S. should push for the disarming of Hamas in Gaza-Israel cease-fire" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-should-push-for-the-disarming-of-hamas-in-gaza-israel-cease-fire/2014/07/23/7c2d1d9e-1284-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html?hpid=z4), WaPo provides the moral clarity that has been absent from Andrew Rosenthal's New York Times op-ed page:

"THE DISTINGUISHING feature of the latest war between Israel and Hamas is 'offensive tunnels,' as the Israeli army calls them. As of early Wednesday, 28 [now 31 - JG Caesarea] had been uncovered in Gaza, and nearly half extend into Israel, according to Israeli officials.

. . . .

The newly discovered structures have only one conceivable purpose: to launch attacks inside Israel. Three times in recent days, Hamas fighters emerged from the tunnels in the vicinity of Israeli civilian communities, which they clearly aimed to attack. The ­concrete-lined structures are stocked with materials, such as handcuffs and tranquilizers, that could be used on hostages. Other tunnels in northern Gaza are designed for the storage and firing of missiles at Israeli cities.

. . . .

By design, many of the tunnels have entrances in the heavily populated Shijaiyah district, where the Israeli offensive has been concentrated. One was found underneath al-Wafa hospital, where Hamas also located a command post and stored weapons, according to Israeli officials."

Indeed, Israel's only option is to eliminate these tunnels and thereby prevent future massacres of civilians in the agricultural communities adjoining the Gaza Strip. Wars are ugly, but this is a war of necessity. Moreover, I cannot think of another country capable of facing such a missile onslaught - more than 2,000 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since the renewal of hostilities - with such stoic forbearance.

* * *

By the way, do you remember how Obama once named Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan as one of his top five international friends? Well, Erdoğan is no longer talking with America's president (see: http://rt.com/usa/174700-erdogan-talk-obama-syria/).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mohammed Omer, "Darkness Falls on Gaza": A Propaganda Piece Finds Its Way Into the Times

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Darkness Falls on Gaza" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/opinion/gaza-under-israels-onslaught.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), subtitled "Gaza Under Israel’s Onslaught," Mohammed Omer writes:

"RAMADAN, when night descends, is usually a joyous time. Friends and family gather to break their fast at the iftar meal. Not this year.

Nights are the worst. That is when the bombing escalates. Nowhere is safe. Not a mosque. Not a church. Not a school, or even a hospital. All are potential targets."

Okay, we know that Hamas launches rockets from mosques, schools, hospitals and cemeteries (see: http://www.algemeiner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Shujaiya-2.jpg). But why does Omer interject "churches"? Christians in the Muslim Middle East, especially in Gaza, have been singled out for persecution. As Michael Curtis, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University, wrote in a Gatestone Institute article entitled "The Disquieting Treatment of Christians by the Palestinians" (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2838/palestinians-christians):

"Christian graves in the Gaza Strip have been dug up. Anti-Christian graffiti has appeared, and Christian cemeteries and statues have been defaced. . . . In Gaza in June 2007 a leader of the Baptist Church, one of the oldest in the area and which contains Gaza's only Christian library, was kidnapped and murdered. The Sagrada Familia school in Gaza was torched, and the nuns' building in the Convent of the Sisters of the Rosary in June 2007 was looted, and holy images and sacred books were burned."

Notwithstanding discrimination against Christians by Palestinian Muslims, Omer is obviously intent upon winning over Christian readers of the Times.

Omer goes on to say:

"The long siege has bled the Gaza Strip dry. There is no money for public services; the majority of the population lives in abject poverty. And now at least 120,000 Gazans have been displaced by the fighting, thousands taking temporary shelter in United Nations schools. Many will return to homes damaged or destroyed, with little or no means to rebuild. Cement is especially severely rationed because Israel suspects it is diverted by Hamas to build tunnels for fighters."

Fascinating! Israel "suspects" that cement has been "diverted by Hamas to build tunnels for fighters"? Are we to believe that the miles of tunnels leading out of Gaza, which were intended for attacks against Israeli agricultural communities, are the product of spontaneous generation and were not built with cement imported from Israel? And tunnels for "fighters"? Is this what people who indiscriminately target Israeli civilian population centers are called? Sorry, Mohammed, but "terrorists" is a far more apt description.

Omer continues:

"A cease-fire agreement is possible, but all parties need to be at the table; Hamas was not consulted over the one proposed by Egypt last week. Even peace might be possible — if the international community has the courage to engage in dialogue with Hamas. The terms outlined by Hamas for a cease-fire are the same as those the United Nations has called for repeatedly: open the border crossings; let people work, study and build the economy. A population capable of taking care of its own would enhance Israel’s security. One that cannot leads to desperation."

"[I]f the international community has the courage to engage in dialogue with Hamas"? Needless to say, no mention by Omer of the Hamas charter, which denies Israel's right to exist and calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis. Omer would have us believe that it takes "courage" to chat up such monsters? Personally, I think it takes "stupidity."

However, far more odious than Omer's op-ed is the escalating barrage of venomous commentary being aimed at Israel by Andrew Rosenthal's New York Times op-ed page. Nathan Thrall's "How the West Chose War in Gaza" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/nathan-thrall-how-west-chose-war-in.html) was absurd. Omer's opinion piece amounts to abject propaganda.

* * *

Just a few words about the fighting in Shajaiya, where Hamas has introduced a brigade-sized force to confront the Israeli army. We are witnessing a learning curve involving IDF ground-air coordination, and tactics are evolving, which should reduce IDF casualties.

Monday, July 21, 2014

David Ignatius, "How to break Hamas’s stranglehold on Gaza": Two Blind Mice

The geocentric model of the universe, which explained how the sun, the moon and the stars revolve around the earth, persisted until the 16th Century. Although the underlying facts were wrong, some of world's most brilliant people continued to "improve" the geocentric model until Copernicus came along in 1543 with his heliocentric model of the solar system. Bottom line: Before wedding yourself to a universally accepted model, review the underlying facts.

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "How to break Hamas’s stranglehold on Gaza" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/07/21/how-to-break-hamass-stranglehold-on-gaza/?hpid=z3), David Ignatius writes:

"Hamas’s biggest weakness of all is its unpopularity among Palestinians in Gaza now. A poll taken in June, before the latest fighting began, showed that 70 percent of Gazans wanted a continuing cease-fire with Israel; 57 percent wanted a Fatah-Hamas unity government to renounce violence against Israel; 73 percent thought nonviolent resistance had a positive impact, and large majority thought Hamas had failed to deal with crime and corruption.

The future? Asked if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should send security personel and other officials to take over administration of Gaza, 65 percent said yes. The poll was published in July by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and its senior fellow, David Pollock."

So what isn't Ignatius telling us about the results of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll results (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too)? David Pollock also states (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Ignatius commends Jackson Diehl for his WaPo opinion piece published yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/jackson-diehl-when-gaza-fighting-is.html), in which Diehl declared:

"A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be a new generation of Palestinian leaders with a genuine mandate from their people."

However, as I observed yesterday, Diehl is also ignoring Palestinian radicalism, held by a majority of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, which rejects Israel's basic right to exist.

Build a model for peace based upon Palestinian moderation and common sense? Regrettably, both Ignatius and Diehl are ignoring the underlying facts.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jackson Diehl, "When Gaza fighting is over, there is a way to change for the better": Keep Kerry Far Away!

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "When Gaza fighting is over, there is a way to change for the better" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jackson-diehl-when-gaza-fighting-is-over-there-is-a-way-to-change-for-the-better/2014/07/20/a597a540-0dc1-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?hpid=z2), Jackson Diehl writes:

"A smart U.S. strategy would aim at brokering a deal between Israel, Abbas and Hamas whereby prisoners are released and the blockade on Gaza eased in exchange for Hamas’s commitment to a long-term cease-fire and free and fair elections for a unified Palestinian government. The result could be a new generation of Palestinian leaders with a genuine mandate from their people. The new crowd might turn out to be more or less willing to negotiate with Israel or to lay the groundwork for statehood. But they would, at least, end a dismal era in which one set of Palestinian leaders dodged multiple peace proposals and the other engaged in futile wars."

Ease the blockade on Gaza, so Hamas can import more concrete for building tunnels into southern Israel and acquire more advanced missiles from Iran? No way.

Diehl, whom I respect, needs to have another look at the Hamas charter:

"But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

. . . .

For Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates. Only when they have completed digesting the area on which they will have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion, etc. Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there. Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators."

Israel should enter into a brokered deal with Abbas and Hamas? Diehl is ignoring Hamas's raison d'être.

Meanwhile, John Kerry is planning a trip to Cairo to implement a ceasefire. Caught on a hot mic yesterday, (see: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/20/politics/mideast-kerry-hot-mic/index.html?hpt=hp_t1), Kerry discussed the Israeli military operation in Shejaiya with a State Department aide, Jonathan Finer:

Kerry: "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation. It's a hell of a pinpoint operation."

Finer: "Right. It's escalating significantly. It just underscores the need for a cease fire."

Kerry: "We've got to get over there."

Finer: "Yup, yup."

Kerry: "Thank you, Jon. I think, Jon, we ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around. Let's go."

Well, how about not going, John. What is it that you hope to accomplish? As noted by Jackson Diehl today, "this is the third mini-war between Israel and Hamas in less than six years," and Gaza needs to be demilitarized in order to free Israel from an incessant missile threat and to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars being given to Gaza be used for the social welfare of its some 1.8 million inhabitants, instead of for armaments and tunnels.

What should Kerry, whose negotiations involving the Ukraine, Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority have come to naught, do instead with his time? How about a few more Botox injections, John?

The IDF's need to continue its current ground operation was highlighted by two incursions into Israel this morning by Hamas terror squads. As reported by Ynetnews (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4547287,00.html):

"The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said two terror cells infiltrated into Israeli territory Monday morning through a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip.

Observation units identified the terrorists; Israeli Air Force planes attacked and hit the first cell. An IDF force deployed to the area killed some 10 terrorists from the second cell. IDF forces are continuing to scan the area.

The terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory Monday morning between two kibbutzim, Erez and Nir Am. After two hours, in which residents were directed to remain indoors and lock their doors – roads were even closed to traffic south of Ashkelon – IDF forces killed the terrorists."

A video of one of the attempted infiltrations this morning:



Bottom line: Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life on both sides, there is still work that needs to be done to prevent future Hamas terrorism.

Support for Israel from the international community? Although Obama and Kerry are providing Israel with wavering support at best, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, yesterday told it like it is (http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2014/07/20b.aspx?lang=eng):

"Canada condemns in the strongest terms Hamas’s shameful decision to continue its cowardly and indiscriminate violence that has today cost the lives of 13 soldiers. Yet another breach of a ceasefire by Hamas in Shejaiya confirms that it has no interest in peace.

Hamas’s continued aggression, combined with cowardly tactics that endanger civilians, has resulted in the tragic deaths of approximately another 87 Palestinians. Innocent civilians living in Gaza deserve far better than the reckless actions of this terrorist organization."

God bless Canada!