Tuesday, November 30, 2010


According to The Guardian (US embassy cables: Qatari prime minister: 'Iranians lie to us') Quatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani has characterized Qatar's relationship with Iran as one in which "they lie to us, and we lie to them."

According to the Melbourne Age (Iran accuses Israel of bomb attacks on nuclear scientists) Iranian state media reports blamed Israeli agents on motorcycles of attaching bombs that killed a nuclear scientist and wounded another yesterday.

Chalk that down to another lie exposed by WikiLeaks.

On the other hand, Israel's foreign and defense policy received significant backing from Wikileaks on the Iranian issue as many world leaders including in the Arab world think like Israel on Iran but, as YNet puts its "are ashamed to admit it."

One of the villains of WikiLeaks appears to the Age's poster boy Turkey which is in bed with some very nasty characters but most of us (barring Age readers) already knew that!

Flotilla Groupie Flunks

Flotilla Journalism - that sinking feeling.

Jamie Hyams of the Australia Israel Review puts Fairfax flotilla groupie Paul McGeough under the MEDIA MICROSCOPE and guess what?

Under examination, McGeough fails every test of journalistic excellence which leads us to one question. Who nominated him for a Walkely?

"... the flotilla was attempting to breach the partial blockade Israel had legally imposed on Gaza in response to the terrorism, rockets and recalcitrance of its Hamas rulers. However, not only does McGeough neglect to mention the legal basis or the terrorism, in his 4,300 word feature, he didn’t find room to mention Hamas even once. It was simply “an Israeli-imposed blockade that effectively makes 1.5 million people prisoners in their own homes.” No-one is confined to their homes. McGeough gave absolutely no explanation of Israel’s reasons for the blockade..."

Hyams concludes that this "was simply a public relations piece for the Free Gaza Movement, and both McGeough and Fairfax should be condemned for trying to pass it off as journalism."


Monday, November 29, 2010

... and now for some Good Weekend letters ...

Apologies for spoiling your breakfasts yesterday with that pitiful offering of thanks from the Australians for Palestine for recent favours done to its campaign of delegitimising the only true democracy in the Middle East.

My peace offering today is the two letters from the Age/SMH  Good Weekend Magazine of  Saturday, 27 November 2010 that actually dealt with some of the issues raised in the Fairfax PR campaign on behalf of the Free Gaza (but not from the terrorists who run the place) Movement:

Paul McGeough can romanticise the Gaza flotilla movement all he likes, but the fact remains that there would be no blockade if Hamas would accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish sovereign state in the region. In its constitution, Hamas unashamedly calls for Israel's destruction and the eradication of its Jewish inhabitants, and Israel retaliated only as a last resort."

Alan Freedman
East St Kilda, Vic

"There was a serious inaccuracy in Good Weekend's article on the Gaza flotilla (November 6): it claimed that Mohammed Al-Dura, 12, who has become a Palestinian icon, was killed by Israeli forces in 2000. A ballistics expert testified in a French court that it was impossible for that to have occurred, given where Al-Dura was sheltering, and argued that the event was staged. In June this year, the BBC apologised for making the same allegation and for a 'breach of standards in relation to accuracy'. 

It is important to correct the record.

Vic Alhadeff
Chief Executive Officer
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Darlinghurst, NSW

Remarkable, that the BBC can apologise for a "breach of standards in relation to accuracy" and all we get from Fairfax is a lame correction the size of a postage stamp and a couple of letters three weeks after the event.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Three too many good weekends late ...

It took the Melbourne Age a good few weekends but yesterday, it finally got around to publishing some responses from its readers to that hideous six page Good Weekend PR piece for the Israel bashing lobby written by the lobby's prize poodle Paul McGeough on the Free Gaza thugs and its "movers and shakers".

Well, naturally the Age had to include in the correspendence published a thank you letter from Australians for Palestine (aka Australians who don't give a rats about Palestine but really want the Jewish State destroyed) for giving their PR campaign a dodgy free kick along with an atrocious fifty metre penalty awarded against the opposite view which rarely ever gets a look in when McGeough lifts up his poison filled jaundiced pen.

Here's the fawning AFP letter from Moammar Mashni (and please don't lose sight of the fact that until very recently one Michael Shaik was on the AFP payroll):

"Rarely has such a vivid account of the blockade of Gaza been made available in mainstream media. Huwaida Arraf, Michael Shaik, Greta Berlin et al should all be commended for their acts of humanity. Thank you for sharing these extraordinary stories."

What the letter forgot to thank McGeough for was the extraordinary fact that his six page article on the subject of "Free Gaza" failed to mention that Gaza is run by a terrorist organisation whose written aim is to destroy the Jewish State and commit genocide against its inhabitants. Or that it's thug led jihadist government whose Moslem Brotherhood roots can be traced to a Palestinian leadership that collaborated with the Nazis and rules over its people with a similar iron boot.

Or that these particular fascists have a record of oppressing Christians, women and homosexuals (not to mention its one Jew who was kidnapped and remains incarcerated without any of the normal rights accorded to such prisoners in civilized societies). In other words, if you truthfully want to "free Gaza" then a good start would be to campaign against Hamas and not hide it away Basil Fawlty fashion by saying,

"Don't mention Hamas!"

The equivalent is to produce a lift out on yesterday's State elections without mentioning one of the major parties in the contest or omitting to mention the personalities or the major issues over which the election was fought.

Do they really call that journalism?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Latner aims for the stars - Israel bashers scurry

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon, more on the brilliant 19-year-old Cambridge student, Gabriel Latner who nailed the pompous Lauren Booth (your typical Brit these days i.e. she works for Tehran’s state-run global TV channel and recently converted to Islam) to the wall at a recent debate of the prestigious university’s debating society. 

Latner, who will be coming to the United Nations in 2011 as an intern with UN Watch, is standing for the office of president of the Cambridge University Student's Union - the organisation that expelled him after the recent debate on whether Israel is a rogue state. 

Latner's speech was described by the Irish Independent as “the most brilliantly audacious defence of Israel since Moses parted the Red Sea.”

Kol Hakavod.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

British Israel Group on Christian Israel Bashers

Finally, a Christian Reaction

Anglicans, Methodists and numerous other Christian organization are jumping on the band wagon to bash Israel. The comments made in their articles are so far removed from truth that one wonders just what does the Christian religion stand for.

One of the latest diatribes comes from the Rev Edwin Arrison, an Anglican priest and Board member of the Centre for Christian Spirituality in Cape Town, South Africa. Such were the irrational claims stated by Rev Arrison, that Malcom Hedding, the Director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (www.icej.org )was motivated to write a considered reply.

His letter below puts the record straight from a Christian perspective about life for the Christian community here in Israel. This is a community that is growing consistently year on year, with full freedom to practice their religion unlike any other country in our region.

Dear Rev. Edwin Arrison

I recently read your article in the Mail and Guardian. Living in Israel and deeply engaged in these matters I was consequently amazed that you could so easily blur the line between fact and fantasy. We all believe in a free press, but this also means that we should protect this freedom by also believing in and ensuring a factual press!

Many, if not all of your assertions were untrue and at best sweeping generalizations. For instance Jesus was not born in Palestine, according to the biblical record, but in Bethlehem of Judea. He was consequently never a Palestinian with an identity other than Jewish. To suggest otherwise is to contradict the clear biblical record. Actually, the Bible nowhere refers to the region of Jesus' birth and ministry as Palestine. You should know this. Jesus was born to a Jewish family, is of the line of David, was circumcised on the eighth day, had a Bar Mitzvah, lived under the law and was acknowledged as a Rabbi. You can't be more Jewish than this and consequently Paul asserts that our faith has Jewish roots. Palestinian? I think not!

Your furthermore assert that Christian tourism to Israel is Israel centric to the detriment of Palestinians. Where is your burden of proof? Some of the biggest tour companies in Israel are Arab Christian owned. They have Arab/Palestinian guides and specialize in Holyland Pilgrimage. If you know anything about the tourist industry here this is a term for tours that do not emphasize Israel, but specialize in Christian sites and the relevant Christian communities in the land. This is a huge sector within the travel industry of which, apparently, you know nothing!

I am responsible for organizing Israel's biggest annual tourism event. This involves an eight day event that brings thousands of evangelical Christians from over a hundred nations to Jerusalem. There is nothing bigger in Israel. We also bring Christians to Israel throughout the year, so we know something about this market. At the annual event in the Jerusalem Convention Center we have plenary sessions that introduce our participants to Arab and Palestinian Christians. We also arrange bus tours to their respective communities so that our participants can meet them personally and learn to know their struggles and hopes. Therefore your assertions are not based on fact but sadly propaganda!

Essentially your difficulty is that you don't live in Israel and therefore you have no understanding of the facts on the ground. You therefore express real concern for the Palestinian Christians but totally ignore the fact that they have been and are brutally persecuted by their Arab/Palestinian Muslim neighbors. In Gaza the Muslim/ Palestinians lynched them on the streets and beheaded the Director if the Bible Society there. The remaining Christian leaders fled to Bethlehem where they are now in hiding. Bethlehem itself, once a Christian village, is entirely Muslim. The very small Christian community is treated with disdain and disrespect and some of their courageous leaders have been shot. Of course you write nothing of this and will not because it does not suit your narrative. We know all of this because we are engaged with them and have poured millions of Shekels into their communities to help them. I wonder how much money you have invested in their well being?

You further write that Jesus is on the side of the weak. You also imply by this that Israel is their oppressor. On what factual grounds do you make such a sweeping statement? I travel all through Israel and the Palestinian Authority and I have yet to see the poverty levels one witnesses in South Africa. Millions of people live in shanty towns, 40% are unemployed, crime is out of control and the country is the rape capital of the world. It appears that you have a bigger problem on your doorstep. Didn't Jesus say something about taking the plank out of your own eye? For sure IsraelIsrael? has made mistakes and there are serious issues to be addressed, but to highlight the plight of the Palestinians without reference to Muslim persecution against them is dishonest. Why would one do this? Because it is both politically correct and popular to bash
Actually, when I last read the Bible, I discovered that Jesus is no respecter of persons and He loves us all the same. Indeed, if anything, He calls on all men, rich and poor, regardless of race, creed or national affiliation to repent and warns that failure to do so will lead to destruction. (John 3:16) I suppose this annoying part of the Bible is reserved for evangelical Christians like me who still believe in the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church!

Then there is your smear against the American Church. You unashamedly imply that they serve mammon and thirst for Armageddon. You further assert that this group is in the millions. I actually have a home in the USA and have preached in all Christian traditions throughout that country. I have rarely found this theological position. I do not deny that this theology exists, but only a tiny minority hold it. You demean the Body of Christ in that great country by suggesting that they live for mammon and long for conflict. Shame on you! Indeed no other nation has invested in world missions to the extent that American Christians have. The official statistics prove that they have been and are the most generous people on earth!

And then concerning the weak: Over the last ten years the Muslims of North Sudan murdered two million Christians in the South. These dear Christians, many of them Anglican, endured a genocide that is unspeakable. Many of them were actually crucified! They produced a DVD called, "we thought God forgot us." The question is why? The answer is simple, because the wider Church left them to die and to die alone! Most Christians are not bothered and know nothing of it. These are the weak and we have all neglected them and have not stood up or done anything to defend them. What have you done? The problems of the Palestinian Christians pale into insignificance compared to this and this, friend, is where you need to find your prophetic voice, or is it more comfortable to bash Israel?

Actually, we are deeply involved in South Sudan. We have poured millions of Dollars into their well being and, as of writing, my daughter, who lives in Israel, is in Juba the capital of South Sudan. She tells me that there are only four other agencies there; three evangelical aid groups from America and a Jewish relief organization. Isn't that interesting?

I would very much like to know the relief programs that you have put in place to help these weak Christians. After all you are deeply concerned for Christian spirituality, you live in Africa and you are looking at the wholesale murder of the Church. Today, the Christians of Egypt have been plundered and murdered. It's all over the media. I sincerely trust that you equally stand up for them. After all these Christians are the ancient Coptic Church that goes back to the early Church. Who will be their voice?

Best regards,

Malcolm Hedding

South African born Minister of the Assemblies of God of Southern African and outspoken critic of the Apartheid regime and presently serving as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm reading an online article from my local broadsheet about the launching of a deadly missile attack from North Korea on neighboring South Korea which left two dead.

This is news?

The Palestinian thugs who rule over Gaza have been raining missiles at Israeli civilian targets in Southern Israel for years and the same news media routinely ignores those attacks.

Lift your game Al Age. It's only going to be news if the American puppet South Korea retaliates or acts to defend its citizens and the UN sets up a commission (led by a pompous self-aggrandising stooge) to investigate South Korean war crimes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Human Rights Founder Speaks Out

A long time Human Rights activist speaks out on UNWatch -Human Rights in the Middle East by Robert L. Bernstein

The Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights
University of Nebraska at Omaha
November 10, 2010

You may wonder why a man just shy of his 88th birthday would get up at 5 in the morning to fly to Omaha to give a speech. Frankly, since accepting this kind offer, I’ve wondered myself. Here’s why. Having devoted much of my life to trying to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights come alive in many places in the world, I have become alarmed at how some human rights organizations, including the one I founded, are reporting on human rights in the Middle East.

In reading about the discussions and actions of students on American campuses, I learned, of course, that the Israel-Palestine issues were very polarized, sometimes hostile, and that a lot of the hostility was by students angered over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the endless process of trying to establish a second state.

I know we all believe in free speech. We believe in equality for women. We believe in tolerance of each other’s religious beliefs and in an open campus. When I go back to New York, tomorrow night, I will be attending the 150th anniversary of Bard College, a college very involved in the Middle East, as it has a combined degree program with Al-Quds, the Palestinian university in Ramallah. Here is what Leon Botstein, Bard’s President, says about education: “Education is a safeguard against the disappearance of liberty, but only if it invites rigorous inquiry, scrutiny, and the open discussion of issues.”

Believing in all these values and the others of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what is taking place on American campuses puzzles me. It seems to me that the State of Israel has all the values we just outlined. It is surrounded by 22 Arab states occupying 99-1/2% of the land in the Middle East and these states do not share these values. Israel, which occupies less than ½ of 1%, does share these values. There is a battle about two things: First, the size of the 23rd state, the new Palestinian state, which at present has many of the same values as the other 22 states. Secondly, the claims of many Arab states, Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, about the very legitimacy of the State of Israel. I don’t think human rights organizations alone can solve this mess but I do wonder about the discussions on many campuses, particularly about Israeli abuses, regardless of what you believe about them, and whether they are constructive. I don’t see how discussions of Israeli abuses can take such precedence over the kind of state that will be next to Israel. That is, not only internally, although human rights advocates should care about that more than they do, but in its foreign policy toward its neighbor Israel.

With this and similar thoughts on my mind, I decided that accepting the honor of speaking here tonight would make me sort things out about the difficult situation that exists and then take this one opportunity to try and articulate my thoughts. So, here I am to do that.

While I was in Israel during the first week of October, I met with government officials, NGOs, educators, and, of course, the press. One journalist I met with was Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab, who basically believes the Arab governing structure, including Palestinians, is doing great harm to the Palestinians and that they would be much better off engaging with the Israelis. He constantly points out that most Israeli Arab citizens do not want to be part of a different state. He is in Ramallah in the West Bank almost every day and he also speaks on American campuses frequently – where he actually feels the most hostility. Should he come to Nebraska, I’m sure that won’t be the case.

In thinking about campuses and why they are often so polarized, it occurred to me that one of the principal reasons is the encouragement they are getting from human rights organizations, including the one I founded – Human Rights Watch. I have found myself in strong disagreement with the policies and actions in the Middle East of Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations that have similar policies – like Amnesty International and The Carter Center. These disagreements have actually polarized my own relationships with the organization as it chooses not to engage on the issues but instead to declare that I wish special treatment for Israel.

At Random House, I had the same wonderful assistant for 37 years. When you work together for that long, obviously, conversations get rather frank. Anne Johnson, that was her name, often said to me, “You have the greatest butterfly brain in the world. It doesn’t stay on anything very long.” She was right and hence, before we get to the heart of the matter, there will be a few preambles which will help explain my view of the principal issues we are here to look at.

Though I’ve never spent time in Nebraska, I have come here with a very warm feeling because of two Nebraskans who influenced me in my life – one at the very beginning and one more recently. In World War II, I spent three years in the Army Air Force, non-flying, with the last two years on an airbase in Assam, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where I used to have long talks with my Commanding Officer – a warm, professorial colonel who I was extremely fond of. One day I asked him, “Colonel, what are you going to do when the war’s over?” He said, “I’m going to go home to Nebraska and run for governor.” I kidded him about that, but when I got home in early 1946, I received a big box of pins, streamers, and pamphlets – all saying “Val Peterson for Governor,” and promising that if I did a good job of campaigning with Nebraskans in New York, he’d make me a member of the Nebraska navy. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He was three times governor!

The other man is Ted Sorensen, who sadly died last week. Ted and I were friends for many years. His house in Bedford was right around the corner from mine, and we played tennis often. One of my wife Helen’s proudest moments was when our son, Tom Bernstein, decided to have a book party to launch the then-Senator Obama’s book, at our apartment in New York. Helen said, “We have to have Ted Sorensen,” and I believe that is where they met – and Ted became such a great help in Obama’s campaign.

Here are a few thoughts about Ted that were not in his glorious obituary. He had the nastiest forehand I’ve ever seen, where he would bend over and cut the ball viciously. It would struggle across the net and bounce in some peculiar way. It brought the most wonderful laughs from Ted as his opponents struggled to change position.

Gillian and Ted gave an annual Christmas Eve party at their Bedford home, where Ted greeted his friends – the well-known and the not-so-well-known – with equal respect and joy.

There was also his wonderful humor. The last time I heard him speak was at the offices of the Carnegie Corporation at a reception for Vaclav Havel hosted by Ted’s friend, Vartan Gregorian, President of the corporation. Ted started by saying, “Vartan could have had almost anyone speak here – even Henry Kissinger or Bill Clinton.” But said Ted, “My friend Vartan is a great proponent of free speech – and that’s why he had me.”

During my twenty years at Human Rights Watch, I had spent little time on Israel. It was an open society. It had 80 human rights organizations like B’Tselem, ACRI, Adalah, and Sikkuy. It had more newspaper reporters in Jerusalem than any city in the world except New York and London. Hence, I tried to get the organization to work on getting some of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly free speech, into closed societies – among them, the 22 Arab states surrounding Israel. The faults of democratic countries were much less of a priority not because there were no faults, obviously, but because they had so many indigenous human rights groups and other organizations openly criticizing them.

Founding of Human Rights Watch

My concentration on free speech came both from my background as a book publisher – I was at Random House for over 34 years, the last 25 as Chairman and President – and from my belief that if there was free speech, those free to speak would be sure to bring attention to all the other important human rights issues. I got into human rights because, as a book publisher in the 1970s, I was invited to the Soviet Union to discuss copyright with the Soviets. In 1973, they signed the International Copyright Law. They then asked me to publish Soviet books so they would make some money. In 1976, at a dinner party in Moscow given by The New York Times staff, I met the famous Soviet scientist turned dissident Andrei Sakharov and his remarkable wife, Yelena Bonner Sakharov. After two hours of talking, I said, “I have to publish your autobiography. It will be one of the most important books of our time.” To my surprise and joy, he said, “I want you to do that.” Knowing that his mail would be censored, I asked, “How can I get you a contract?” He said, “We’ll sign one right now.” Andrei then stuck out his hand, we shook, and he said, “Now we have a contract. You work out the details.”

Andrei Sakharov was the most famous scientist in the Soviet Union because he had helped them develop the atomic bomb. He then became a fervent advocate of human rights and while the Soviet government could not jail him because of his prominence, they tried to silence him. They did this by exiling him to Gorky – a city miles east of Moscow – having KGB stationed at his home and following him whenever he went out – for eight years. During this time, Andrei was writing his autobiography. He carried it everywhere because his apartment was frequently searched. That didn’t stop the KGB. At a visit to the dentist, he was anesthetized and when he woke up, the first 150 pages of his manuscript were gone. In one of Andrei’s first statements after deciding he had to speak out, he said: “Intellectual freedom is essential to human society – freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship.”

The Soviet Union, unhappy with my signing Andrei Sakharov, withdrew my visa. I went back to New York and decided Random House would publish Soviet writers as well as other writers behind the Iron Curtain who were being silenced – the most prominent of whom was Vaclav Havel. With some well-known writers, such as Toni Morrison and E.L. Doctorow, we started the Fund for Free Expression to try and keep the writers’ names prominent. In 1976, a document called the Helsinki Accords was signed by the Soviet Union and the West. It had as one part of it, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had been approved in Paris in 1948, it became prominent after the signing of the Helsinki Accords as it became part of the Cold War battle. The Soviets at the international meetings were blocking discussion of the human rights parts of the agreement. George Bundy, President of Ford Foundation, and Arthur Goldberg who was the American representative to the Helsinki Talks, felt an NGO was necessary to support them. Aware of the Fund for Free Expression, they asked me if I would develop one. With Ford Foundation’s support, I started Helsinki Watch and followed in the next four years to start Americas Watch, Asia Watch, Middle East Watch, and Africa Watch. It was too confusing, so in 1980, we merged them into Human Rights Watch. That is a story for another time.

In 1998, when I reached the age of 75, I told Human Rights Watch it was time to get another Chair and I became Founding Chair Emeritus. While I kept attending many Human Rights Watch meetings, I spent most of my time helping the Chinese form their own human rights organization – an organization called Human Rights in China – which has become quite prominent. I hope you visit their Web site. At the moment, Human Rights in China, is leading the fight to free Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. They have an office in Hong Kong, but as free speech is not popular, their Beijing office is currently based in New York in the Empire State Building.

Human Rights Watch and the Middle East

I continued to follow the work of Human Rights Watch and about six years ago became a member of the Middle East North Africa Advisory Committee because I had become concerned about what had appeared to me to be questionable attacks on the State of Israel. These were not violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but of the laws of war, Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. There has been an asymmetrical war – you might call it a war of attrition in different ways involving Israel – not only with Palestinians but sometimes involving other Arab states, but of course, involving Iran and its non-state proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. In reporting on this conflict, Human Rights Watch – frequently joined by the UN – faulted Israel as the principal offender.

It seemed to me that if you talked about freedom of speech, the rights of women, an open education and freedom of religion – that there was only one state in the Middle East that was concerned with those issues. In changing the public debate to issues of war, Human Rights Watch and others in what they described as being evenhanded, described Israel far from being an advocate of human rights, but instead as one of its principal offenders. Like many others, I knew little about the laws of war, Geneva Conventions and international law, and in my high regard for Human Rights Watch, I was certainly inclined to believe what Human Rights Watch was reporting. However, as I saw Human Rights Watch’s attacks on almost every issue become more and more hostile, I wondered if their new focus on war was accurate.

In one such small incident, the UN Human Rights Commission, so critical of Israel that any fair-minded person would disqualify them from participating in attempts to settle issues involving Israel, got the idea that they could get prominent Jews known for their anti-Israel views to head their investigations. Even before Richard Goldstone, they appointed Richard Falk, professor at Princeton, to be the UN rapporteur for the West Bank and Gaza. Richard Falk had written an article comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust. Israel, believing this should have disqualified him for the job, would not allow him into the country. Human Rights Watch leapt to his defense, putting out a press release comparing Israel with North Korea and Burma in not cooperating with the UN. I think you might be surprised to learn the release was written by Joe Stork – Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Middle East Division – whose previous job for many, many years, was as an editor of a pro-Palestinian newsletter.

Following this, Richard Goldstone resigned as a Board member of Human Rights Watch and Chair of its Policy Committee to head the UN Human Rights Council investigation of Gaza. Human Rights Watch has been, by far, the biggest supporter of the UN Council, urging them to bring war crimes allegations against Israel – based on this report. I don’t believe Human Rights Watch has responded to many responsible analyses challenging the war crimes accusations made by Goldstone and also challenging Human Rights Watch’s own reports – one on the use of phosphorous, one on the use of drones and one on shooting people almost in cold blood. A military expert working for Human Rights Watch, who seemed to wish to contest these reports, was dismissed and I believe is under a gag order. This is antithetical to the transparency that Human Rights Watch asks of others.

After five years of attending the Middle East Advisory Committee meetings, seeing the one board member who shared my views leave the organization, another supporter on the Middle East Advisory Committee who had joined at my request being summarily dismissed, and having great doubts about not only the shift in focus to war issues but also the way they were being reported, I wrote an op-ed in The New York Times questioning these policies. To me, the most important point in my op-ed was the following: “They (Human Rights Watch) know that more and better arms are flowing into Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet, Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.”

A Human Rights Watch Board member told The New Republic that they go after Israel because it is like “low-hanging fruit.” By that, I think he means that they have a lot of information fed to them by Israel’s own human rights organizations and the press, that they have easy access to Israel to hold their press conferences, and that the press is eager to accept their reports. The organization, most would agree, was founded to go after what I guess you would call “high-hanging fruit” – that is, closed societies, where it is hard to get in. Nations that will not allow you to hold press conferences in their country. Nations where there are no other human rights organizations to give you the information.

It has been over one year since the op-ed appeared. Little has changed. For example, within hours of the flotilla incident, Human Rights Watch was calling for an international investigation pointing out that any information coming from the Israeli Army was unreliable. That was before any of the facts were known. I spent the first week of October in Israel seeking out as many different views as I could. I was privileged to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I spent a day at Al-Quds, the Palestinian university in the West Bank, with the university’s President Sari Nusseibeh, his staff, and students. I also met with NGOs including Jessica Montell of B’Tselem, passed an evening with my dear friends Natan and Avital Sharansky, and spoke with many journalists and government officials. I visited S’derot, the town most shelled by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. I came back convinced more than ever that Human Rights Watch’s attacks on Israel as the country tried to defend itself were badly distorting the issues – because Human Rights Watch had little expertise about modern asymmetrical war. I was particularly concerned that the wars were stopped but not ended – so they became wars of attrition.

Arab People vs. Arab Governments

In talking about Arabs, I want to be clear. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 40 years of human rights work, it’s that you must separate the people that you’re talking about from their government. When a totalitarian or authoritarian government are the rulers, the people, whatever they believe, are shut down – shut down hard – and only the views of the government rule, while those with other views are imprisoned, tortured, exiled – anything to silence them.

People, I believe, are the same everywhere and I believe that, given the chance, good things can happen. I’ve learned it over and over again, starting with seeing Germany and Japan change so dramatically after a devastating war – and more recently with South Africa, South Korea and with many countries in South America.

I believe the Arab people, given the chance, would not be opting for committing genocide of Israel – as Iran, supported by Hamas and Hezbollah, does. I believe the Arab people, like any people, would opt for a better life for themselves. The great majority would want it on this earth, not in the hereafter, and I question very much whether they would want to go to war if there were any other possible way of avoiding it. We will never know until their governments allow free speech, or until human rights organizations do a better job of trying to ferret out what the people actually think, as opposed to their government.

The Rockets of Hamas and Hezbollah

It is impossible to talk about human rights in the Middle East without looking at some of the factual background. The UN passed resolution 1701 at the end of the Lebanon War, which said that Hezbollah should be disarmed. The UN sent between 12,000 and 15,000 troops who are in Southern Lebanon, near the Litani River, which is 15 miles from the border of Israel. Not only has Hezbollah not been disarmed, but it has also reportedly brought in between 40,000 and 60,000 rockets from Iran. The rockets are of much longer range and power than they had at the start of the last war and it has been reported that some may contain biological and chemical agents. These weapons are buried in homes and public buildings – all along the Israeli border. This, of course, has occurred under the eye of the UN forces.

In addition, despite the blockade, I have read that thousands of tons of arms have poured into Gaza. When President Obama was in S’derot in southern Israel, the town most targeted by Hamas rockets, he said he would not want Sasha or Malia to go to school there. I believe that President Obama is dedicated to the defense of Israel. It’s obvious to him and all of us that if there were 40,000 to 60,000 rockets on the other side of the Potomac River or the Hudson River near New York where I live, or any place where American citizens were threatened, and these rockets were in the hands of an enemy that had demonstrated it had little care about protecting its own citizens, you would not want your children to go to school there either. In fact, I question if we would want the rockets just left there on our border, opposite one of our great cities, with the enemy having the option of whether or not to use them. The fact that the UN has been unable to stop this build-up of arms, in the two places that Israel has voluntarily left, is a huge international failure. It is difficult to see how anyone can promise Israel security without addressing the situation.

It is hard for human rights organizations to do anything when war starts. Can anything be more threatening to civilian life than the thought of another war in Gaza? Shouldn’t human rights organizations be talking to the Gazans about the wisdom of their government in re-arming? Instead, there is a debate about the blockade of Gaza. The debate over the blockade and whether Israel is achieving the right balance in trying to keep Gaza livable while keeping Gaza unprepared for war is too complicated to discuss here. We do know that a ship, coming from Iran and loaded with sophisticated arms, was apprehended by Israel off the coast. Yet, many visit Gaza and call for a complete lifting of the blockade without mentioning arms. Human Rights Watch believes the blockade is illegal based on their opinion that Israel and not Hamas controls Gaza. If one believes Hamas controls Gaza, a blockade is a legal way of trying to prevent rearmament. Hamas’s irresponsible use of arms, even to the point of sacrificing its own citizens as a way to build world sympathy, is well-known. When you visit the Gaza border, the Israeli Army will give you a long list of everything that is going into Gaza and it is known that as the rocketing seems to have been contained, that Israel is trying to be more liberal. With all this happening, should a human rights organization limit the debate to a discussion of a blockade without discussing the arms build-up?

It is containing the arms build-up that is holding back the unfettered economic build-up of Gaza, which the world is so willing to help and which would create jobs. I have read that many of the youth, unable to get any other jobs, go into jihad as the only way to get money. It seems to me that, sadly, the blockade is not very effective in stopping arms. Like on the Lebanon border, their use could lead to war and the time to talk about that is now. In fact, the last war in Gaza occurred when the blockade failed to stop rockets going into Israel.

When I was in Israel, I went to the Gaza border and I learned that since the beginning of 2010, more than 11,000 patients with their escorts exited the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel. Surprisingly and sadly, this policy has risks. I was told the Israelis make the Palestinians change cars at the border because cars had been rigged to explode. A woman on crutches was changing cars. She fell down. Three Israeli soldiers ran to help her get up. She blew herself up, killing the four of them. The Hamas government is preaching genocide of Israel, yet Israel is treating Gaza’s sick. It struck me as bizarre that in an asymmetric war of attrition, which we’re still learning about how to fight, a nation cares for the sick of a neighbor that is preaching genocide to its people and the only human rights comment has been that they are not doing it well enough.

No Position on War

Human Rights Watch’s mandate states that they do not take a position on war, and they are very proud of this. They continually point out that they are not an anti-war group. Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas are preaching genocide, not only of Israel but of all Jews everywhere. Genocide is one of the greatest human rights violations, and the Genocide Convention states it must be acted upon when it is first threatened. I believe that Human Rights Watch’s position is that their mandate to not take sides in a war takes precedence over the Genocide Convention at this time. It is fair to ask, “Why?”

The reason they give for not taking sides on a war is that it is their responsibility to protect civilians on both sides during a war. Not before the war, and not after the war, but during the war. How can they protect Israeli civilians during a war when the opposition’s aim is genocide and when Hamas states that there are no civilians since all Israeli Jews serve in the military? How can they protect Palestinians when their armies are not uniformed, hide their arms among the civilian population and in public buildings, and shoot from heavily populated areas? Can you ignore what might happen to the civilians after the war, depending on who wins? The whole world is talking about how to prevent Iran from getting an atomic bomb. Human Rights Watch’s policy is to criticize actions, not words. One must ask, is the creation of a bomb an action, or only its firing? There is no doubt they would criticize the launch of a nuclear weapon – but of course it would be too late.

Human Rights Watch’s method to save civilians during a war is to investigate after the war and determine whether civilian deaths were avoidable or not. They do this primarily by interviews with Gaza citizens who are frequently accompanied by Hamas minders. They then believe by talking to those who lived through the war that they can determine whether civilian deaths were justified or not. It is this issue of civilian deaths which is perhaps the most focused-on discussion of all human rights discussions concerning Palestine and Israel. Human Rights Watch believes that they can sort out where civilian deaths should not have occurred and then by severely attacking those who committed those deaths can shame them into being more careful next time. The argument over the 1,200 to 1,300 deaths in Gaza has been intense. Let me make perfectly clear that nobody, certainly those who have spent our lives in human rights, want any civilian death (or for that matter, soldier’s death) to occur. Certainly not avoidable ones. However, if by chance, Human Rights Watch is wrong in their analyses of the deaths in the Gaza war and blaming Israel for deaths that are really the collateral damage of war, think of the damage that’s been done to Israel. On Thursday, November 4, a report came out that Fathi Hamad, the Hamas administration’s Interior Minister, revealed that as many as 700 Hamas military-security operatives were killed during Operation Cast Lead. The number, consistent with Israel’s examination, is significantly higher than the numbers given by Hamas and used by the Goldstone Report. It would indicate that about 60 percent of those killed in the war were actively engaged and not civilians – despite Hamas’s tactic of embedding itself in the civilian population of Gaza. If this report holds up, it will be interesting to see if the Goldstone Report and Human Rights Watch reports are reevaluated by them – all of which took the Palestinians’ figures as fact.

The facts that are known about civilian death in war make the Gaza reporting even more questionable. In Daniel Goldhagen’s book, Worse Than War, he shows that 9 out of 10 people killed in war on terror today are civilians. Yoram Peri, in his book, Generals in the Cabinet Room, says that over 90 percent of the people killed in war starting after World War II – which is when non-uniformed armies started to appear – have been civilians and that there have been over 28 million people killed. Only with democratic armies – like the U.S., NATO, and Israel – are the facts very clearly different. In Gaza, if the new report about Hamas is verified, at most there was one civilian killed for every two Hamas fighters. In Human Rights Watch’s three major reports, they cite 51 cases that they consider war crimes, but with a methodology that is now being questioned by many. Think about all the media coverage and outrage this has generated. In contrast to this number, I picked up the Security Council report for October entitled Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and found these figures: In Somalia, “3.25 million civilians were estimated to be in need of emergency aid and 1.1 million civilians displaced” by the war there.

Reports from military experts like Colonel Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, and Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, claim that the Israeli Army performed admirably in Gaza and added that they have done nothing different than the U.S. and NATO forces facing the same problems in trying to avoid civilian death.

It is interesting that our daily newspapers often state how many civilians and how many enemy troops were killed. They only seem to do this with democratic armies. Again, no one is in favor of unnecessary civilian deaths. However, it seems to be that somehow, putting the two figures together with no comment implies that civilian death could have been avoided. The sad fact, as we have seen, is that, except with democratic armies, most deaths are civilian. Actually, in view of the one-sided statistics on civilian death that are emerging, the press might consider praising democratic armies for their successful attempts to minimize civilian casualties.

Human Rights Groups and Civilian Deaths

This has led me to believe that while there should certainly be oversight over democratic forces in battle, I question whether human rights organizations, unless they change their methodology and in my view, their attitudes, and are more accountable in terms of accuracy, are the right parties to do this. If they wish to continue as judges of democratic armies whose lives are at risk, they must be accountable. It would be interesting to review their past accusations of war crimes by the Israeli Army in view of the statistics that are emerging. War is a miserable business and should be avoided wherever possible, but the judgments being made by human rights organizations separating collateral damage in war from war crimes, I believe, are frequently unrealistic in asymmetric wars, and there should be some input by military authorities on what is possible. The efforts of the Israeli Defense Forces, NATO and the U.S. to avoid civilian death are consistently criticized by human rights groups as being insufficient or even non-existent. Military judgments of their own actions, particularly by Israel, are consistently accused of prejudice or lies. Yet the statistics show that civilian death by democratic uniformed armies are much, much, much lower than the 9 out of 10 civilian deaths in general conflicts. I’m sure this is going to be discussed by others. I leave that to journalists, military experts and human rights groups to make a judgment of what is occurring. The question of civilian death in war is not simple, especially when sometimes avoiding civilian death could mean increased risk for your own troops.

One of the principle causes of genocide is hate speech. It is common knowledge that hate speech is what is used to build-up to genocide. Human Rights Watch and others, to the best of my knowledge, will not take a position on hate speech because they believe that it interferes with free speech and is a risk that must be taken. Many free speech advocates, including myself, agree that there should be great latitude in tolerating hate speech in an open society where others can attack it. In the Arab world and Iran, there is no free speech, and the hate speech is government sponsored. Here is a typical quote – one of thousands – from Gaza. In a sermon, Ahmand Bahr, acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said, “Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one.” Even on the West Bank, where Salam Fayyad is improving the economic condition and security, little has been done to stop hate speech and “martyr killers” are celebrated as heroes. Saudi Arabia’s publishing industry is spewing out textbooks for young children calling Jews “apes and pigs.” When Human Rights Watch went to Saudi Arabia to raise funds, it is doubtful that this was discussed, but they can tell us if it was. I believe this is a major issue, as the hate speech is going out into the Arab world uncontested. To those who say there is hate speech in Israel as well, it is true, but it is contested and the number of people it can affect is infinitesimal compared to the 350 million of the Arab population.


I am going to bring up the right of return only briefly because it is so complicated. The right of return is endorsed by Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations – unless I have missed something. They realize that there is not going to be a return of people, but that there will be compensation and that the right must be recognized. To me, it is the same philosophy that leads them to not taking sides in a war – the theory that one mandate decision is suitable for all occasions. I believe that the Arab decision to keep refugees in labor camps for 60 years along with the UN decision to have a different definition of refugee of Palestinians has made a mockery of what was intended. The right of return for all refugees is defined as being only for the people who actually left their country. However, the definition of a Palestinian refugee is different. It is for those who left Israel, their children born in exile, and for all of their heirs. Thus, while in every other case in the world, the refugee numbers go down over time, the number of Palestinian refugees has gone up. The original 600,000 is now up to 4 million worldwide, all claiming the right of return. While human rights organizations feel that the principle should be recognized, why do they not question the special status recognized for Palestinian descendants which makes solving the problem difficult, if not impossible? In the last few weeks, Jordan, with more Palestinians than the West Bank, withdrew rights they had previously given Palestinians which would have allowed them to remain in Jordan. If there is a Palestinian state, there will be 4 million – most in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, many of whom have not been given any citizenship. Since it is clear that they will not return to Israel but may receive compensation, will the Arabs be asking that 4 million people be returned to the West Bank and Gaza? Might human rights organizations be looking into this now?

Another factor that has not been dealt with is that the 800,000 Jews who left Arab countries and went to Israel immediately received citizenship and while they do not want a right of return, it is reported that they left over twice the amount of worldly goods in the Arab countries than the Arabs leaving Israel. What, if any, adjustments should be made to recognize this?

All such movements of population are both sad and difficult when they are made necessary by intolerance and hate. But, actually, the world has tried desperately to do its part by paying the substantial costs of the refugee camps for over 60 years – reportedly over $13 billion with perhaps a quarter of it paid by the U.S. and little paid by the Arab countries.

If human rights organizations wish to be involved in this issue, it should not merely simplify it by saying that they accept the right of return – including the special refugee designation – of Palestinians as a principle.

The last point that human rights organizations, it seems to me, have avoided, and where they could be very helpful, whether it is in their mandate or not, is to start talking about what kind of second state is going to be next to Israel. And do the Palestinians have any responsibilities in talking about that? When Yelena Bonner Sakharov went to Oslo two years ago to represent her deceased husband at what was to be a celebration of Nobel Peace Prize winners, she asked, “What kind of a state is going to be next to Israel? Judenfrei, free of Jews, just as Hitler would have wished?” No Jews, of course, is only one of the human rights abuses that would exist in the state next to Israel, where open borders should be a desirable outcome.

Human rights issues must be considered in the settlement in the Middle East. Human Rights Watch and others have taken positions on the Wall, the borders, and the occupation, so it is hard to separate human rights issues from political issues. I have tried to show that they are doing damage in their focus on “war” issues, particularly on the issue of “civilian death” where they have questionable expertise. At the same time, in their attempts to do what they think is evenhanded, they fail to recognize the virtues of nations that have had considerable success in making the Universal Declaration of Human Rights truly universal.

Certainly those who disagree with me may think I am too harsh on Human Rights Watch’s Middle East policies and point out that they are doing good work elsewhere. They are! But the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has become such a crucial issue. I believe that unless human rights organizations correct some of the things discussed tonight, their authority in the rest of the world will be questioned. The polarization takes place when one party dismisses another by simply saying that a view is “pro-Palestinian" or "pro-Israel.” The discussion – to be worthwhile – must be issue by issue.

Moral Clarity

At the beginning, I told you how Natan Sharansky came to my hotel and gave me an autographed copy of his latest book Defending Identity. In it, he has some very harsh words concerning human rights organizations. Having spent nine years in Soviet prisons, he has a very clear picture of the difference between free and totalitarian nations.

Here are a few sentences from his book: “The hypocrisy and double standards of the international human rights organizations reflect the disappearance of clear moral criteria that alone can guard human rights. A refusal to see the difference between free and totalitarian societies, between a state at peace and a state at war against terrorist regimes, undermines the universal values on which a claim to human rights is based.”

He adds: “A commitment to human rights is above all a commitment to democracy and freedom and to the right to defend them. To equate all cultures, to refuse to distinguish between those that are democratic and those that are not, is the profoundest betrayal of human rights. . . It is acceptable to hold democracies up to a higher standard as long as you recognize that democracies, by definition, are already maintaining higher standards.”

And he also says: “In its refusal to distinguish democratic from nondemocratic regimes, the human rights movement undercuts its own commitment to democratic freedoms and itself becomes a tool of undemocratic powers.”

In closing, let me go back to my days with Colonel Peterson. When the war ended in 1945, the Allies had destroyed 66 Japanese cities. 65% of Tokyo residences were destroyed; 90% in the third-largest city of Nagoya. Three million Japanese civilians and soldiers were killed, 4-1/2 million wounded. But the war had truly ended and brutal as it was, it was over. Building rather than destruction became the aim. Think about it, only twenty-five years later, in the 1980s, Toyota and Nissan and all Japan had become an economic success as a democratic state threatening nobody.

Last week, I read that the first 5-star hotel for businessmen opened in the West Bank. I read of other businesses starting up there. It is a small start but the economy is looking up. Recently, a book called Start-Up Nation told the story of Israel’s business success. It has registered 7,600 patents in its 60-year history. The 22 Arab states have registered 700, about 30 per state. The West Bank before Arafat’s Intifada had an open border with Israel and at some point, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Fayyad, if they are to succeed, will have to address the issue of hate. As for Gaza, it is certainly appropriate in Nebraska to quote Warren Buffet. In fact, getting to the end of a speech without mentioning him I consider extraordinary. One of his clear, direct, concise statements could apply to Gaza: “You can’t make a good deal with bad people.” However, if the West Bank starts to compete with Israel in building rather than destroying, they will have better lives for themselves, and to their surprise, they will have the free world, including Israel, helping them. The campuses of America should be thinking harder about what human rights organizations are doing. Are they helping the peace process?

In closing, let me make a statement to whichever students choose to listen: When I was in Israel, I talked to 18 year-olds, both boys and girls, who were not going to college but instead were going into the army for three years and then for one month a year until 45 or 50 years old. They’ve been doing this for 60 years. And most of them have faced some kind of danger during that period. They are not involved in the peace process. They are involved in the defense of their country and have to hope that their government will avoid war. I also think of the Palestinian 18 year-olds – particularly those in Gaza who can’t get jobs because their economy is not thriving. I believe it is not thriving specifically because their government is bringing in arms and Israel is trying to stop them. And their government is preaching genocide. Many of these students can’t afford college and that leaves jihad as their only opportunity. If college students can help bring the human rights movement back to trying to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights truly universal in the Middle East, they will be making a valuable contribution.

Hat tip Students For Peace in the Middle East

Monday, November 22, 2010


Canada's PM Steven Harper knows what anti-Semitism is and one hopes the rest of the world is waking up to the hyenas:
There are, after all, a lot more votes in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand whatever the cost. And friends, I say this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Several rockets were fired from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists at civilian targets in Israel in the last week prompting Israel to lodge a protest with the United Nations.

This is not a joke but organisations like the UNHRC, Amnesty International and many media outlets are treating it as such by ignoring the story as if it didn't happen.

Consigning it to the blank pages perfectly and to their everlasting shame highlights their hypocrisy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Israel's unreported war

The issue of media bias in the Israel/Arab conflict has been a hot topic lately. This is one of the items about Israel that goes unreported in favour of stories of dubious merit and credibility designed to give an unfavourable impression of the Jewish State.

Israel's unreported war
One of the great features of a civilised state is the willingness to accept that mistakes can be made and investigate them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The following report from the Meir Amit Terrorism and Intelligence Centre is a long and comprehensive rebuttal of the lies you might have read in a broadsheet newspaper or elsewhere over the past few months about the Free Gaza flotilla. 

This is the Executive Summary to the Report:


1. The objective of this report is to examine the 561 passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, their identity and the ideology, nature and goals of the organizations behind them, based on the large amount of evidence accumulated since the flotilla. Even if our information is not complete, it clearly provides a picture of their most prominent common characteristics.

2. The Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the last flotilla, was launched, along with two cargo ships, by an extremist Turkish Islamist organization called IHH, which played a key role in the extensive preparations for the voyage. The IHH operatives, some of whom boarded the ship in Istanbul without undergoing a security check, were those who were the most active assailants in the violent, premeditated confrontation with the IDF (while the IDF took control of five other ships - as well as the Rachel Corrie - without exceptional incident).

3. An examination of the Mavi Marmara passengers and organizations sheds light on the coalition the flotilla's activists and organizations belonged to. They came from many countries and differed in nature and ideology, from extreme Islamic to the extreme left. Most, but not all, were united by a common hostility to Israel (and sometimes to the Jewish people), support for Hamas and its ideology, and hostility to their perception of the liberal West, as it is today.

4. The analysis contained in this report is based on the Mavi Marmara's passenger list seized aboard the ship, categorized according to national affiliation and port of embarkation. The analysis of the passengers' identity and the dozens of participating organizations is based on a great amount of varied information; statements made by Mavi Marmara passengers during questioning, documents found on the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla, open source media information (including the Turkish media), open source information from the participating organizations and information from Israeli security sources.

5. Of the 561 Mavi Marmara passengers, 380 were from non-Arab Islamic countries (mostly Turkey) 107 from Arab-Islamic countries and 74 from the West. Examination provided the following insights:

A. The flotilla was basically a Turkish project. More than 60% of the passengers, 353, were Turkish. There were Turkish passengers, including IHH activists, aboard two other ships, the Gazzeand the Defney, as well.

B. The largest Arab delegations were from Algeria (32 participants) and Jordan (31 participants).

C. Only 13% of the passengers were from Western countries. The largest delegation was British (28 participants). Conspicuous among the Western passengers were activists of Arab-Muslim origin. Some had previously participated in the land and sea convoys to the Gaza Strip and some were involved in anti-Israel activity in their home countries.

6. Ideologically, many Mavi Marmara passengers belonged to extremist Islamist organizations, especially the Turkish IHH and other Islamist organizations operating in Turkey. There were also Arab and Western activists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. There were Western radical left activists, who were in the minority. There were also volunteers, motivated by an authentic desire to help the Gazans. This melting-pot coalition was led by IHH and united by their common hostility to Israel (and sometimes to the Jewish people), support for Hamas (not for the Palestinian Authority), and hostility to the West and its values.

7. The flotilla had the following goals:

A. It was the showpiece of a broad international coalition whose main political objectives were to isolate Israel, wage a smear campaign against it, increase international pressure and finally to turn it into a pariah state and delegitimize its existence.

B. An examination of the documents and statements issued by IHH and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), the two most prominent organizations participating in the flotilla, shows unequivocally that the objective of the flotilla was not to bring humanitarian assistance to the residents of the Gaza Strip, but rather entirely political: An internal FGM document, the IHH website and a statement made by Bulent Yildirim two months before the flotilla to an audience of Islamist supporters give witness to a series of political-propaganda goals: to show support for Hamas, to force Israel to change unilaterally its policy of closure of the Gaza Strip (while completely ignoring the security considerations which led to it), to create a media circus regarding the so-called "siege" and to isolate Israel.

C. The FGM and IHH had their own particular motives. There are indications that IHH also intended to further complicate the troubled relations between Israel and Turkey, which have been problematical in any case since Prime Minister Erdogan rose to power, by violently opposing the IDF while emphasizing the Turkish aspect of the flotilla. The FGM also had its own motive for wanting the flotilla to succeed (according to an internal document), to improve its ability to raise funds for its activities in view of its financial difficulties.

8. The organized violence aboard the Mavi Marmara:

A. From the beginning, IHH prepared to employ extreme violence against the IDF and implement a plan which included preparing battle positions, equipping the operatives with and offensive and defensive weapons, and briefing them before the battle. To that end weapons and equipment were loaded aboard the Mavi Marmara and improvised weapons were made during the voyage. The latter included lengths of iron pipe, wooden clubs, axes, knives, Molotov cocktails and slingshots.

Information in our possession indicates that there were one or two guns aboard the Mavi Marmara and that at least one was fired at the IDF soldiers as soon as they descended from the helicopter. In addition, IHH operatives took three guns from IDF soldiers and turned them against the forces. Eight IDF soldiers were wounded; two of them were shot (one with ammunition not in IDF use - i.e., which belonged to IHH - and the other with a weapon taken from a soldier).

B. An examination of the names of the Turks killed indicates that almost all of them (eight of the nine) belonged to IHH or were from political parties or other organizations affiliated with it. Most of them (seven of the nine) had announced in one way or another before the violent confrontation that they intended to die as shaheeds. It is difficult to assesses the degree of enthusiasm and authentic commitment of each of those who sought to fulfill his aspiration to become a shaheed, but their stated intention provides a clear indication of the nature of the hard core of the operatives who confronted the IDF forces aboard the Mavi Marmara.

C. An examination of the names of the 53 wounded in the confrontation whose names appear on the list issued by IHH, show that all except one were Turks. Most belonged to IHH or Turkish Islamic organizations collaborating with it. None of them belonged to pro-Palestinian or Western or Arab-Muslim human rights organizations with the exception of one man (who was not seriously wounded) from Indonesia.

9. Employing extreme violence while paying lip-service to non-violence:

A. The flotilla's organizers often made a point of representing themselves as pro-peace and human rights activists (the flotilla was called the "Freedom Flotilla") whose activities were non-violent. In reality, there is a great deal of information illustrating the fact that IHH planned and prepared for a violent confrontation with the IDF soldiers. IHH has a history of violent behavior, which was made evident during its confrontation during the previous overland convoy, in which the organization's leader Bulent Yildirim participated, with the Egyptian security forces in January 2010.

B. Apparently most of the human rights activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, including those who had joined the IHH coalition, were not aware of the high level of violence IHH intended to employ during the voyage. However, we have proof from an internal FGM document attesting to the fact that the organization considered that "the only way for Israel to stop [the flotilla] is to use force."

The organization proposed various scenarios for possible tactical responses, such as surrounding the ship with iron bars, strewing the decks with sharp obstacles and having activists barricade themselves in the wheel house and engine room. The level of FGM violence was far below that of the organized violence prepared and implemented by IHH (which included the use of guns). However, it was contrary to the instructions the FGM gave its activists, which unequivocally forbid the use of any form of violence, physical or verbal. The expression non-violent resistance, as used by human rights organizations, is apparently open to wide interpretation.

10. In effect, during its preparations for the flotilla, IHH's approach was pragmatic while the organization indulged in doublespeak.

A. When speaking to its supporters in Turkey, the IHH leader did not conceal its extremist Islamist ideology and presented the flotilla as part the struggle waged by Islam against the so-called combined "attack" carried out by the countries and powers around the world (the United States, NATO, Russia and China). In the same breath IHH praised Hamas and used belligerent, extremist Islamist terminology.

B. However, on its website and in several statements to the press and interviews given by its senior members (primarily in English), IHH stressed it was providing "humanitarian assistance," using the terminology publicly employed by NGOs and pro-Palestinian Western organizations.

11. Involvement in global terrorism of the organizations and activists participating in the flotilla:

A. The Turkish IHH, which organized the flotilla in close cooperation with the Turkish government and played a major role in attacking the IDF aboard the ship, supported the global jihad in the past. Reliable information indicates that alongside its extensive humanitarian activity, in the past IHH had ongoing relations with Al-Qaeda and global jihad networks in the Middle East and beyond, and for that reason was in the crosshairs of previous Turkish regimes. Its ties to terrorism were manifested chiefly through the provision of logistic support for transferring weapons and funds to terrorist operatives, including terrorists planning a terrorist attack in the United States, which was prevented (the "millennium attack in Los Angeles, January 2000).

B. One of the IHH operatives aboard the Mavi Marmara participated in the terrorist attack of a Russian ferry in 1996, intended to secure hostages as bargaining chips for the release of Chechens from Russian prisons (although IHH as an organization was not involved in the attack).

C. We have no evidence that the other organizations participating in the flotilla have been involved in the global jihad, although it is possible that a number of radical Islamic operatives aboard the Mavi Marmara (and other ships) had ties, in one way or another, to global jihad organizations.

12. Support for Hamas:

A. IHH and the FGM, the two most prominent organizations behind the flotilla, have a common past of support for Hamas. They have transferred money and material aid to the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip and given it political-propaganda support. Other organizations from Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world which participated in the flotilla gave aid to Hamas in the past, mostly financial (directly or through the Union of Good) and material, and by joining the campaign to smear Israel in Arab-Muslim world and in the West.

B. In addition, many of the extremist Islamist organizations which were represented aboard the Mavi Marmara share Hamas' ideology, inspired by its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood: They are hostile to Israel, reject the peace process, oppose the Palestinian Authority, hate the West and its values and support the path of "jihad" (i.e., violence and terrorism) as the way to "liberate Palestine." Some of the leftist activists in the West who belong to the coalition hold similar anti-West anti-Israel positions, but their perspective is completely different.

C. Organizations operating in the United States and other countries where Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization are careful not to publicly support the movement and instead use the acceptable pretexts of supporting the Palestinians in Gaza or of providing humanitarian assistance for the needy. The FGM instructed its activists in that spirit, as was illustrated by internal documents seized aboard the Mavi Marmara.

13. The battle for hearts and minds and the importance of media backing: The organizers of the flotilla were well aware of the great importance of media coverage in furthering their aforementioned political goals. They made sure that correspondents, cameramen and Internet personnel were aboard the flotilla. The Turkish delegation alone had 33 correspondents and there were dozens of others who participated in the Arab-Muslim and Western delegations. An examination of the media personnel revealed that most of them worked for Arab-Muslim media (including extremely popular media, such as Al-Jazeera TV), but the leading Western newspapers and television channels were not represented.

14. The Turkish government's support of the flotilla: The flotilla's organizers have tried to represent it as the fruit of a joint effort of various NGOs without government support. In reality, the flotilla received outright Turkish government support, without which it is doubtful whether such a large operation could have been realized. In addition the Turkish government did not make an effective effort to prevent the flotilla from sailing, despite the fact that its organizers took into consideration that they were exposing themselves to significant risks should they enter into a confrontation with Israel. For example:

A. Information in our possession, based, among other things, on documents seized aboard the ships, the results of questioning the passengers, and the Turkish media, indicates extensive involvement of the Turkish government in the flotilla. That involvement increased, and metamorphosed from behind the scenes involvement during the first stages of the flotilla's planning to open, blatant involvement during and after the last stages.

B. According to the minutes of a meeting of the coalition's representatives on May 16 (Appendix B), IHH's vice president, who chaired the meeting, said that "Government did not announce openly support for the mission at first; but [in the] last few days, [we have been] getting direct support from PM and other ministers. During F2F discussions, [they] openly said that if we have any difficulties, government] will extend what support they can" (ITIC emphasis). In addition, he recently said publicly that the Turkish government and its intelligence service did not undertake any action or ask the organization to cancel the flotilla or return to port at any stage.

C. From the beginning, Istanbul was the nerve center of the intensive, IHH-led preparations for the flotilla, which began half a year before it was launched. The Mavi Marmara sailed from Istanbul after a well-attended ceremony which was fully covered by the media. A similar ceremony was held in Antalya. IHH and other Islamic Turkish organizations which participated in the flotilla were well-connected to the Islamic regime in Turkey, Turkish governmental support was manifested in organizing the flotilla, providing its organizers with governmental capabilities such as logistics and funds, and by swathing it in governmental political-propaganda protection (manifested in the Turkish government's media attack regarding Israel's takeover of the ship and Turkish pressure exerted on Israel). It can be assumed that the purchase of the Mavi Marmara from a company owned by the Istanbul municipality (Prime Minister Erdogan was at one time Istanbul's mayor) and the purchase of the two cargo ships was accomplished, directly or indirectly, with government financial support.

D. According to our information, IHH leader Bulent Yildirim and other senior figures in IHH have close relations with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and his AKP party. IHH works in close collaboration with a Turkish government institute called TIKA, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency. TIKA, which was established in 1992, answers to the prime minister's office and is an influential branch of the Turkish government, the Muslim world in general and among the Turkish-speaking communities in particular.

15. The degree of involvement or support of Arab-Muslim regimes: The degree of that involvement differed from one country to another. There were countries which gave their blessings to the activists and those whose nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara indicated a kind of defiance of the regime. For example, the large Algerian delegation was composed mainly of members of a moderate Islamic party which generally cooperates with the regime. The Yemini delegation included members of the parliament belonging to the extremist Islamic Al-Salah party, which is part of the regime. The Syrian delegation did not include members of the regime but received the regime's blessing in the form of a meeting with Bashar Assa'ad when they returned. The large delegations from Indonesia and Malaysia were composed of members of pro-Palestinian NGOs and received the blessings of their various regimes. The Jordanian delegation, on the other hand, included Muslim Brotherhood activists and members of the labor unions which oppose the regime, and the Egyptian delegation had members of the Egyptian parliament who also belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes the regime.

(Hat Tip: TBS)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Illustration from the Jerusalem Post

Comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany are becoming increasingly common anti-Semitic conspiracies are used more freely in conversation - Jerusalem Post [Anti-Semitic themes found in mainstream British circles]

Some of the anti-Semitism is inbred in parts of British culture but much of it is coming from the Palestine Lobby over there which can say whatever it likes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look what the cat dragged in?

It's pathetic really.

The Melbourne Age finally got around today to issuing a "correction" (as distinct from what the Sydney Morning Herald described as a "clarification" last week) for the outrageous claim made in its Good Weekend Bad Taste apologia for terrorist enablers in the Free Gaza movement that the Israeli army murdered young Palestinian Mohammed Al-Dura in September 2000.

Tucked away in small print under the Lotto Results, the Age "correction" blamed it all on a "mistake made in editing" (as distinct from what the SMH called "production").

Normally, one might feel sorry for the poor shmuck of an editor who committed such an embarrassing gaffe but one suspects el shmoko might get away without so much as a rap on the knuckles in this case.

Of course, there was no apology for the blood libel against the IDF just as there has been no apology over the disgusting so-called "eye witness" accounts from the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara that were published in the same newspaper in early June much of which has been discredited in many media reports.



Apologists for Palestinian terror groups try hard to isolate Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc. from the rest of the jihadi groups that infest the planet and have succeeded to some extent to avoid the connection in many circles. News of the arrest of Al-Qaida ideologue Bakri Muhammad’s arrest by Lebanese security forces in Tripoli - Al-Qaida ideologue’s arrest blow to Middle East jihadis will not help their cause.

Bakri Muhammad was linked to the two British suicide bombers who carried out a suicide bomb attack at Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv in 2003, in which three civilians were murdered. The murderers were also said to have received support from members of the International Solidarity Movement which is often lauded by Palestinian propaganda mouthpieces in the media. The ISM was referred to extensively by Fairfax journo Paul McGeough in his much criticised Project: GAZA piece in the Good Weekend edition of the SMH and AL Age Palestina.

Now you can start connecting the dots ...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Will somebody please tell me that Fairfax has embedded one of its lackeys on this ship - Brits 'held against will by Gaza aid ship'?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The "ship" in the title is not the Mavi Marmara (pictured above) but rather, the SS Fairfax (aka Titanic).

Last weekend, the two Fairfax flagships, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age Good Weekend editions incorporated an outrageously biased (even by Fairfax standards) piece of "journalism" written by Paul McGeough that covered six pages. The entire liftout was nothing less than a shameless promotion of the so-called "Free Gaza" movement - Project: GAZA. It was a story about so-called "peace activists" who are in fact about anything but peace. Their movement has as its real raison de ĂȘtre, the object of deligitimising Israel as a Jewish State and to dehumanising most of those who live within its borders.

A large part of McGeough's article was devoted to old news, much of it completely discredited, regurgitated and embellishing a cause seen by many as one that can only bring more tragedy to the people of the region.

The whole six page effort was a complete journalistic fiasco that was well fisked by the ZCV's advocacy department. A lot more in the way of fisking can be added if necessary to rebut McGeough's flattering treatment (reminiscent of the song "That's what friends are for") of Gaza "movers and shakers".

One of the results of this sort of journalism is that there is a groundswell of support developing for a new movement comprised of concerned Australians (many of them not Jewish) of varying political persuasions to foster the cause of peace and to counter the lies of the well funded (oil money?) BDS and Free Gaza groups and their media acolytes.

Meanwhile, the continuing one-sided treatment by Fairfax of a major world conflict is symptomatic of the malaise at this once greatly respected and admired media group.

According to Roy Morgan's research, the Age readership figures indicate the newspaper hit an iceberg during the last quarter with Saturday figures down a whopping 8.1%. The fall in the weekday edition was a little better with a drop of 6.5% and the Sunday Age is also struggling and destined to plunge further in the next quarter in the absence of news about the AFL which is in recess and the predicted decline of the country's Test Cricket team.

Last Thursday, tensions simmered at the Fairfax AGM and Chairman Roger Corbett was faced with several difficult questions from concerned shareholders including two on his organisation's treatment of Israel. The following is a transcript of the questioning Corbett faced and his responses from the Fairfax AGM webcast -

Michael Burd (question):

I am aware of many supporters of Israel who have cancelled their subscriptions and even advertising because of your relentless bias against Israel and the general undergraduate style left-wing nature of much of your foreign coverage and opinion. What are you going to do to restore some balance in this area?

Roger Corbett (response):

Well sir, you are entirely entitled to your opinion which we respect, there are others who would disagree with you. Only yesterday I was speaking to the Israeli Ambassador and I invited him and he accepted the opportunity of taking an interview with one of our journalists to put the Israeli point of view if you like. Our papers endeavour to be balanced, and to put both sides of the question. Does it mean that there will never be a critical article about Britain, Taiwan, Japan or America? No it doesn’t. Does it mean there will never be a critical article about Israel? No it doesn’t. But does it mean that we endeavour to be balanced in all we do? Yes we do and we’ve certainly given the Ambassador that response. But overall our editors endeavour to be as balanced as they possibly can. Does that mean Israel is immune from any criticism in our press? No sir. Next question please.
Daniel Small (statement)

As a Fairfax shareholder, I am very concerned. Firstly according to ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) data, Fairfax remains the most shorted stock on the ASX, we’ve got dividends that have fallen, a share price that continues to fall, and the only thing that has fallen further than the share price are subscription levels in Caulfield North and East St Kilda in Melbourne for The Age, and Rose Bay and Bellevue Hill for the Sydney Morning Herald. Two of the main assets that I as a shareholder have, our daily broadsheets, are nothing more than left wing rags that take their coverage directly from The Independent and The Guardian and show any lack of balance. And this can be seen most frequently in the content and selection of opinion editorial pieces and the publication or lack thereof of letters to the editor. Fairfax’s coverage of events in the Middle East are particularly and virulently anti Israel.

If you are looking for ways in which we can further cut costs at our company, for one, you can stop bombarding my telephone with resubscription calls, or letters that you post to me asking me to resubscribe to this rag because I certainly won’t do so until the quality of the journalism improves. Secondly if you are looking for further ways to save costs, you could do a hell of a lot better than retrenching your Editor Paul Ramadge, of The Age, your Foreign Editor Mark Baker, and your storytellers or journalists as you call them, Paul McGeogh and Jason Koutsoukis.

Roger Corbett (response):

Well sir I accept they’re your
opinions and there are some or many who disagree with you. We respect your right to have those opinions, and you’ve expressed them. Not everyone would agree with you as I previously said to the gentleman who asked a question about Israel. In regard to the share price, the share price has recovered from its lows and in addition to that this business is subject to cyclical pressures and this business has performed as a media company as well as any in the world in those cycles. Your comments about cost cutting and so on I note, but yes we do endeavour to promote subscriptions and we do use telephone and we do use mail and other things to do. Your comments about journalists that you talked to about personally I don’t intend to respond to those questions and all I can say is that our journalists and those that manage them do their very best to bring a balanced point of view. By the very nature of newspapers, they will always have some controversy attached to them.

A detailed analysis of the track record of the Fairfax written media on the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbours over the past decade would almost certainly render Corbett's claim that his "journalists and those that manage them do their very best to bring a balanced point of view" as being open to question.

Unfortunately, and I would suggest much to Corbett's embarrassment, his own newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, cut the ground from under his feet on the issue of "balance" when it published this small item on page 2 just one day after the AGM:

"Clarification: An information panel with the Good Weekend story ‘Project Gaza’ last weekend should not have said that Mohammed al Dura died after being shot by the Israel Defence Forces. The events at Netzarim Junction, Gaza, on September 30, 2000 remain in dispute. The information was introduced during the production process."

Exactly what is meant by "introduced during the production process" must surely be that the "disputed" claim was made by its journalist Paul McGeough who ignored a long running controversy over the child's death by writing the following (and note McGeough's comments in parentheses) when citing the reasons why one of his subjects, Greta Berlin who is married to a Palestinian, decided to become an Israel basher:

"Became hooked: 'When my daughter was refused entry into Gaza in 1997 and the death of Mohammed Al-Dura in front of news cameras on September 30, 2000' (The 12 year-old-boy died at Netzarim Junction, Gaza, in his father’s arms after being shot by the Israel Defence Forces)".

At this point the game is up for Fairfax, Corbett, his editors and their crusader for Palestine who wrote this and who authored several other pieces that have appeared recently in the Fairfax press. It's neither balanced nor supported by the evidence.

I use the word "evidence" because the real story of Mohammed Al-Dura was played out in the French legal system over a number of years and the verdict went against the people behind the people behind the cameras. The whole thing was a scam that whipped up a frenzy of hatred in the Palestinian territories and anti-Semitism around the world. It was responsible for causing countless, needless deaths on both sides and it stymied the peace process. Much of the evidence of that was in the form of film deliberately suppressed by those who falsely accused the Israeli army of the murder.

So the SMH "clarification" (interestingly, not repeated in the Age) proves that the writer of the piece is anything but balanced on this subject (we knew that anyway) so why, if you're supposed to be striving for "balance" in your presentation of the news, would you give over 6 pages of the Good Weekend to someone who is clearly "unbalanced"?

The challenge for Fairfax is now to provide some real balance by actually informing its readers of all the facts behind this conflict and remedying the error exposed in the SMH "clarification". Perhaps, an report on the courageous work of Phillipe Karsteny who uncovered the hoax and went through years of hell to prove it, might be enlightening to Fairfax readers? If they tried hard enough they might discover that Karsteny is available to take an interview.

Corbett is correct when he says his newspapers are entitled to publish the bad news about Israel but he is wrong when he claims his coverage is "balanced". To provide "balance", it would have to publish the really bad news about the other side as well. How often do we read of the excesses of Hamas and the IHH (both with connections to the notoriously racist Moslem Brotherhood)? When are we going to get the whole truth about conditions in Gaza and the terrorist thugs who rule over it instead of fluff pieces from Jason Koutsoukis about model prisons and the like? And when are we going to read something in those newspapers about the daily incitement to hatred against Jews in official Palestinian Authority media and in mosques in the West Bank?

There's lots more that can be done before there's a balance. The huge and rapidly expanding volume of blank pages in the Age is ample proof of that!