Friday, December 31, 2010
Have a happy new year.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
The issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a problematic one that must be solved by agreement between Israel and Palestine when the two sides are ready and able to make peace.
The "settlers" themselves have been the victims of one of the great racial slurs of our time. To be sure, there are some settlers among the several hundreds of thousands who are troublesome but we are talking of a small minority and certainly much smaller in percentage terms than the extremists on the Palestinian side whose villainous behaviour is regularly ignored or excused by some segments of the media.
Which brings me to the story of the West Bank's burning sheep which demonstrates the sheer bastardry of the media and others when it comes to dealing with Jews and Arabs in this part of the world - Leftists Caught Red-Handed: `Burning Sheep' Libel Was Faked.
A Jordan Valley Arab farmer has admitted that he concocted a story about Israeli settlers deliberately burning his sheep to disguise his own blunder of losing control of a brush fire.
Various groups agitating against the settlers immediately spread the story about the Arab shepherd who "saw settlers light a fire in the field where his herd was grazing, burning to death 12 pregnant ewes, and then drive away."
Of course there was no fact checking by those who were eager to spread yet another unconfirmed story of condemnation. It was yet another rush to judgement like the Al Dura case, the Jenin "massacre" and the flotilla fraud story.
The problem here was the story had no credibility. The supposed sheep burning occurred on the Sabbath, when observant Jews are forbidden to drive.
Despite the doubts, the B'Tselem and Yesh Din human rights group alleged that this so-called attack was another one of hundreds of supposed acts of vandalism by Jews against Arabs and the Palestinian Authority called on the international community to pressure Israel to stop "settler violence."
As has been the case with the flotilla fraud, there has been no apology or words of regret about the libels against the settlers, nor are we likely to see any sign of the lies abating.
More likely is the possibility that some sleazy journalist will repeat the lies and that some media group will not only swallow those lies but also award him or her a prize for great journalistic prowess.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
If the peace process is to go anywhere, the lessons that Israel has learnt in the past two years also must be taken on board by the international community. If they are simply ignored, then Israelis will never feel confident enough to finally withdraw from the West Bank and an atmosphere of trust will be impossible to establish.
Under such conditions, the situation in the Middle East will continue to fester and prospects of peace will remain extremely dim.
Sharon alludes to the role of the media in partly helping create this mood and there can be no better example than the appalling material coming from such media groups as Fairfax here in this country.
Yesterday's effort from Jason Koutsoukis Little Hope for Middle East Accord in 2011 demonstrates yet again how analysis becomes tainted when important facts are ignored.
The two sides "sat down for face-to-face talks on September 2. The talks were polite, perfunctory and ultimately a waste of time." However, Koutsoukis omits to mention that there were no face to face talks for over nine months while Israel enforced a freeze on building within its settlements. He knows that there is no Israeli policy of settlement expansion but rather, that any growth is taking place within the existing settlements.
It seems customary among Fairfax writers to forget that Hamas is committed to destroying Israel but Koutsoukis continues to mention that no peace deal is "possible" while Hamas is left out of negotiations.
Give us all a break, please.
We know that Israeli PM Netanyahu is committed to two states but does either of the Palestinian leaderships really "want the two-state solution after all"?
Rhetorical question Jason.
Then there's the Mavi Marmara which we all know wasn't a humanitarian mission in the first place (unless the only thing we read about the conflict is the Age). We know the flotilla carried useless supplies that even Hamas didn't want. Out of date medicine anyone?
How anyone could be so naieve or delusional as to think that the IHH provocateurs (nine of who died after the IDF had to come on board to save its soldiers under attack) were "citizens"?
Oh that's right.
"Israel said" the lives of its soldiers were threatened. Nevermind that the visual evidence proved what they said was the truth and that others (including the journalist apologists who quoted them) were not.
Naturally, Fairfax readers wouldn't know because most of the facts are only found in the blank pages.
Why on earth would the Egyptians want to seize Gaza-bound anti-aircraft missiles in the Sinai?
Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula recently seized a large store of weapons and explosives that were to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported Tuesday.And why on earth would anyone covering this part of the world suppress such information from its readers?
The cache of weapons included dozens of anti-aircraft artillery shells and several anti-aircraft missiles, according to the report. The weapons and ammunition were discovered in a hole inside an isolated desert storage facility.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
No surprises there and no angle with which to paint the Little Satan as evil so it's been left alone by the media crowd in this country along with the revelations that the Stuxnet worm has set the Iranians back two years in their endeavours to become nuclear.
The fact that the perpetrators left no dead cutthroats behind for the media to turn into innocent choir boy martyrs means that story goes into the blank pages as well.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
More than forty, mostly innocent people, lost their lives yesterday in a senseless suicide bombing.
Four times as many as the number who died on the Mavi Marmara - none of them innocent.
How many column inches will be invested by the media on this story on the day after tomorrow and after that?
Very few, I'll bet.
UPDATE: The latest figures from the burqa bombing show the death toll has increased to above 80. The number of deaths by Muslim on Muslim violence this year is in the thousands and would fill hundreds of Mavi Marmaras. Have a Good Weekend.
Indeed, it was said by a group of activist academics in the United States who mistakenly warning against Israel's possible "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians in the "fog of war" during Operation Cast Lead that "the expulsion of people according to race, religion or nationality would constitute crimes against humanity and will not be tolerated."
But this is precisely what Abbas continues to maintain he will do - transfer the settlers out of his Palestinian State signalling his intention to commit a crime against humanity.
Of course, the President of the other part of Palestine wants to destroy Israel and kill the Jews there. Again, if you supported his regime and his policies were directed against any other group, you would be described a racist. In our perverted universe, they'll probably award you something instead.
As for the President of the larger part of Palestine (the one that's only part racist), it's time for him to resign again.
Thanks again to the elderofziyon for this cartoon of the man who threatens to resign all of the time, who should resign but won't do it:
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
The important awards around the world always seem to acquire a special name like the "Oscar" for the Academy Award. We have the Emmys and the Logies and a litany of other very worthy awards for hardworking artisans who ply their trade around the world.
But it takes something really special to achieve that which Fairfax scribbler Paul McGeough has achieved in the past fortnight - two awards for the price of one. Nominated for a Walkley by Fairfax which also sponsors the very same awards, McGeough won his for an execrable one sided and mostly discredited piece on May's phony fascist Free Gaza flotilla. Closely on the heels of this achievement comes the news that the same individual has snaffled a Dishonest Reporting award for the same shtick drek.
This is truly an outstanding achievement deserving of a special title similar to a "Fisk" so that people will forever associate the winning of dual awards of this nature with all that is pathetic in the world of journalism.
The association of McGeough's efforts with the fascism of Hamas, the IHH and their progenitor the Moslem Brotherhood whose Palestinian leader once sat at the heels of Hitler and plotted the final solution with Eichman and McGeough's own style of writing makes the choice of title a simple one - congratulations on becoming the inaugural McGoebbels winner in 2010.
Read what Dishonest Reporting has to say about this year's McGeobbels winner and about the others consigned to infamy here. J-Wire also has a commentary on the man here.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Dullard of the Year's latest work - Don’t blame Wikileaks for our incompetance
He's right for once.
I blame his English teacher.
Israel repudiates bigoted rabbis
Your story "Students targeted after rabbi's anti-Arab edict" (December 18-19) omits some critical details. The petition of a group of rabbis in Israel to forbid renting homes to non-Jews was immediately condemned by political and religious leaders, including Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Tzohar organisation, representing 600 religious Zionist rabbis in Israel, rejected the petition as contrary to Jewish religious law and affirmed the right of Israel's non-Jewish minority residents to live with equal rights under the protection of the law. Israel remains the only country in the Middle East in which public statements of bigotry are met with immediate repudiation from senior mainstream political and religious leaders.
What surprises me is that bigoted journalists like Koutsoukis think they can get away with suppressing information that should give their stories proper context.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
He concludes by asking the same question that many of us are puzzled about and that is why an award for rubbish when there must be some decent journalists working around the country.
Last year was an astounding one for news media. Think of Kevin Rudd’s fall from grace, the federal election, the economic meltdowns in Greece and Ireland, the WikiLeaks saga, and what a flop the final episode of “Lost” was. Surely there were news articles about issues of more importance – news articles with objective, not objectionable, content – news articles with fewer mistakes! The Walkleys are supposed to award fact, not fiction.
There are a slew of products here, and beautiful restaurants. Is this the Gaza we have been hearing about?"
A Sudanese official, who arrived in the Strip about a month ago with hundreds of visitors from Arab countries on the "Viva Palestina" aid convoy, was quoted by Palestinian news agency Maan as saying.
"Where is the siege? I don't see it in Gaza. I wish Sudan's residents could live under the conditions of the Gazan siege," he reportedly added.
If someone covers this story from YNet News then there might be an element of truth in the story behind the next Walkley Award.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Even the arch prizewinning idiot at Fairfax made a clumsy but failed attempt to paint it as something sinister over a leak which did nothing other than prove an Israeli diplomat's prediction back in the earlier 1990s about Iran's nuclear aims 100% correct. Naturally, the beady eyed idiot and his mates continue to ignore numerous inconvenient WikiLeak revelations.
As it has turned out so far, WikiLeaks have in the main, endorsed Israeli positions on a raft of issues and have not only proven its critics wrong but, in many cases, exposed them as liars.
The Arab states are the ones who have been baying for Iran's blood more than the Israelis. Iran has been exposed as a weapons supplier carring arms in Red Crescent ambulances and not to be trusted. Turkey's PM is corrupt, has eight Swiss Bank accounts and is not to be trusted (except by those fools on the flotilla in which he embedded IHH cutthroats). Sudan's President has $9b stashed away in UK banks.
So the usual suspects have had no choice but to fall back on Plan B - blame the Jews.
Across the internet, they are twittering and bleating about a Zionist conspiracy. The Jews have bought Julian Assange (even though Assange receives the support of many of the celebs of the hate Israel crowd and he has a loopy anti-Semitic liar named Israel Shamir working on his WikiLeak cables back in Russia).
Here's the story - Jews Control Julian Assange: WikiLeaks And Mossad Deal Protects Israel: Report Theorists
What else can I say but enjoy.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Respected US jurist Alan Dershowitz in Finally, A Hamas Leader Admits That Israel Killed Mostly Combatants In Gaza discloses how Hamas lied about the casualties of Operation Cast Lead and how the United Nations, the Goldstone Report, various "human rights" organisations and many in the media automatically favoured the distorted numbers offered by Palestinians and rejected Israel's documented figures.
"Since the end of the Gaza War in January 2009, Israel has stood accused of targeting civilians, rather than terrorist combatants. The Israeli Defense Force has claimed that during Operation Cast Lead it targeted only combatants in its efforts to protect its civilians from rocket attacks. It has also claimed that most of the dead were combatants and issued lists of names of many of the combatants killed and identified them as members of the specific Hamas military units. Despite unprecedented efforts to avoid civilian casualties—including hundreds of thousands of leaflets, telephone calls and non-lethal, noise-making warning bombs—some civilians were killed, because Hamas deliberately hid behind civilians, using them as shields, when they fired rockets at Israeli civilians."
Now the truth is out but there will be no retractions and the lies will no doubt continue.
The declaration received swift condemnation from most sectors of Israeli society from Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu down. The Israeli PM asked "how would we feel if someone overseas said that it is forbidden to sell apartments to Jews? Such things should not be said, not by Jews and not by Arabs. Such things should not be said in a democratic country, especially not in a Jewish and democratic one".
Throughout the country and across different parts of the political spectrum, religious and community leaders and the media were equally strong in repudiating the repulsive sentiments expressed in the declaration. Jewish communities across the world, including our own here in Australia, rightly condemned them in the strongest terms.
Yesterday, the Melbourne Age published a piece by Jason Koutsoukis about events in the city of Safed - ARAB STUDENTS GET HARSH LESSON IN RACISM FROM HOLY CITY where a mob of 60 ultra-orthodox Jews intimidated an Israeli Arab chanting ''kill the Arabs'' outside his apartment. Koutsoukis described the atmosphere in the northern Israeli city in the aftermath of the rabbis' declaration. He concluded with a quote from Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi who claimed that ''Fascism has raised its head in Israeli society''.
Taken in isolation the piece by Koutsoukis might be regarded as a worthwhile way to expose of the evils of the disgusting declaration of the rabbis which deserves our condemnation in the strongest terms.
Unfortunately, by telling less than half (correction, a quarter) of the this unsavoury tale, Koutsoukis must face allegations of racism similar to those he exposed in his article.
Koutsoukis quoted one Member of Israel's Knesset (and an Arab member who is customarily hostile to his country's Jewish majority) but failed to mention the overwhelming condemnation throughout Israel of the rabbi's statements, including that of the nation's Prime Minister.
By concealing this, Koutsoukis changed the context of a story about racism by a group of extremist rabbis and their redneck followers who simply do not reflect the views of the people into a comment on all of Israeli society.
The piece encompasses what has become systemic and rotten within the Fairfax organisation: yet another piece seeking to delegitimise the Jewish State, this time with Tibi's equally outrageous claim of fascism which would make no sense at all if Koutsoukis has given some space to revealing the nation's response to the declaration.
Since Koutsoukis arrived in Israel two and a half years ago, he could have written similar articles about anti-Semitic calls by the Palestinian Muslim clergy and about Palestinian attacks on Jews on every single day of his term as Middle East correspondent for Fairfax.
The Palestine Media Watch and Memri websites document hundreds of racist attacks from Palestinian pulpits, the majority of which occur with the blessing of the Palestine Authority in the West Bank and/or Hamas in Gaza.
Here are but two recent examples of news stories that were consigned to the blank pages -
Hamas: Allah, kill Christians and Jews "to the last one"
PA TV broadcasts song calling for Jihad against Israel: "Draw your sword, let it not return"
About these, The Age remains silent.
On Friday the Jerusalem Post described how Palestinians had desecrated and ancient Jewish holy tomb by daubing vile hateful and racist graffiti on its walls but, as is the custome with Fairfax journalism, this story was ignored by Koutsoukis.
Yet, he rarely ever misses an opportunity to highlight bad behaviour from Jewish extremists.
I do not condone the events of Safed or the racist pronouncements of the rabbis. They are offensive and have rightly been condemned in Israel from the top down. However, by selectively highlighting what happens in Israel and then suppressing more common and often more vile instances of racism from the Palestinian side, Koutsoukis and his newspaper show their bias and their true colours.
They are no better than any nasty mob that seeks to intimidate innocent minorities with their stones and with their racist slurs.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
SUBJECT: (S) REORIENTATION OF POLICY PRIORITIES: ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: This cable sets out amended assessments, priorities for relevant interactions on Israeli-Palestinian Issues (paragraph 2-end) by Department personnel and other Country Team members.
A. (S/NF) USG focus on obtaining freeze in Israeli settlements in the West Bank for additional 90 days has been discontinued. Recognized that previous 10-month freeze was wasted by Palestinian Authority, which failed to enter direct talks in good faith. PM Netanyahu considered USG request for additional 90-day freeze, though concerned about domestic political fallout. Contacts with PA and Department assessment indicated that new freeze would achieve little: Israel reluctant to discuss border issues in isolation from other Final Status Issues including security, refugees, Jerusalem; Palestinians seeking Israeli border concessions, unwilling to engage on other issues.
PM Netanyahu has encouraged “economic peace” in West Bank, fueling economic growth there by easing freedom of movement, access, etc, bolstered by Quartet envoy Blair. Reluctant to give ground in substantive negotiations on Final Status Issues, because of domestic political constraints and own traditional ideology, but acutely conscious of importance of ties to USG, therefore susceptible to cautious risk-taking in context of improved faith in USG.
Palestinian government - stability and orientation
PA President Abbas heading unreformed Fatah movement, nearing end of political career, reluctant to take personal risk. Unwilling or unable to concertedly encourage policy of reconciliation with Israel, evidenced by ongoing incitement and delegitimation (see November PAendorsed study discounting Jewish connection to Western Wall); occasional comments, when abroad, in recognition of Jewish rights in region met with heavy criticism within Fatah and beyond.
President Abbas formally committed to demand for right of return, although hints at opportunities for compromise. Inconsistent on possibility of West Bank land swaps to resolve settlement bloc issue. Unhelpfully encouraged by numerous international players to believe he can establish Palestinian state without confronting Final Status Issues. PM Fayyad, presiding over admirable progress toward institution-building in Palestinian West Bank territories with summer 2011 statehood timetable, lacks public backing to promote compromise, debilitated by difficult relationship with Abbas.
USG ultimately asking Israelis to relinquish territory to which they claim peerless attachment, from which they were attacked for first two decades of statehood; to enemy/partner that fostered recent terrorist onslaught that killed hundreds of their people, and some of whose institutions vow unceasing enmity against them; against track record of international failure to prevent violent, Iranian-backed Islamists (Hezbollah, HAMAS) filling vacuum left by previous US-backed Israeli withdrawals (Lebanon, Gaza); (b), USG can serve all interests by stringent oversight of process of Palestinian state-building, to promote reconciliation, minimize military, demographic threats to Israel.
Time is not on the side of the Israelis, moderate Palestinians, relatively moderate regimes in region, or the American interest. State-championed (Iran) Islamic extremism feels itself ascendant, sees America hesitant, in retreat. Previous lukewarm allies such as Saudi Arabia concluding that Iran will prevail in nuclear face-off with USG, looking to safeguard own interests via altered alliances, domestic nuclear initiatives, etc. Warmer allies such as Jordan, concerned for fundamental interests, recalibrating relations with Iran.
When Paul McGeough received a Walkley for his infamous flotilla propoganda piece, the value of the prize plummeted to the worth of less than one big fat bagel.
Honest Reporting has recognised Fairfax Flotilla groupie Paul McGeough with a front page Op Ed entitled - Australians Reward Shoddy Journalism .
Biased and one-sided reporting of the Gaza flotilla earns one journalist a prestigious award despite the holes in his winning entry.
As demonization and delegitimization of Israel moves further into mainstream media and Western society, writing something negative about Israel, irrespective of its quality or credibility, can be enough to gather accolades.
In the latest example, Sydney Morning Herald correspondent Paul McGeough received the Walkley Award, Australia's version of a Pulitzer Prize, for his coverage of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara.
I have some objections to the article, particularly with its title.
I'm an Australian and the award of a prize for journalism of this sort was not done in my name.
I accept no part in it and, indeed, I am like many of my fellow Australians repulsed that such Goebellian garbage as that which McGeough produced on the phony flotilla should even be considered as having sufficient merit to be nominated for such a journalistic award.
Honest Reporting states that the Walkleys are prestigious.
Not any more.
I understand that many of these awards are self nominating and that Fairfax is on the board of the Walkley Foundation so we can all understand the precise value of McGeough's Walkley is less than one big fat bagel.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Out of tune singing? Check
Out of synch singing? Check
Something passing for dancing? Check
Expressing support for Iran? Check
Butch woman impersonating a robot? Check
Old codger in a trenchcoat banging a rod against his hand? Check
Multiple arrests? Check
Drunk camerman? Quite possibly
All in all, another group of pricks in a hall
Writing in the Guardian, Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong get their knickers in a knot over some of the views of Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo (pictured above), the dissident languishing in a Chinese jail - Do supporters of Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo really know what he stands for?
"Liu has also one-sidedly praised Israel's stance in the Middle East conflict. He places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict on Palestinians, who he regards as 'often the provocateur'."
Oh well, off with his head then!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
This Jerusalem Post article ‘Nazism, Islam shared common enemies - the Jews' covers a newly released report by the US National Archives which details the close collaborative relationship between Nazi leaders and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, indicating that Nazi authorities planned to use Husseini as their leader after their conquest of Palestine.
The report notes that the evidence "is significant in light of Husseini’s lenient postwar treatment." Moslem Brotherhood leader Husseini was allowed to flee to Syria after the war despite enough evidence to bring him to trial as a war criminal.
The Moslem Brotherhood is the direct ancestor of a number of Islamic Jihadist groups including Hamas which rules over Gaza and which receives the support of various media groupies, the BDS movement and other organisations promoting Palestinian rejectionism of Israel as a Jewish State.
The article in the Jerusalem Post has not been cited by anybody in Australia. Guess there's no Walkely Award available for exposing fascists these days.
More to come on this subject ...
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Steve Lewis of the Melbourne Herald Sun covered this story - Israel gives rare honour to Australian Aboriginal activist yesterday but where was Jason Koutsoukis of the Fairfax media organisation?
Covering a pro Fatah or Hamas rally, perhaps?
Grasping the real issue on Israel
There is a great scene in Wall Street, when Gordon Gekko advises his protege to focus on the real issue. "The rest," he says, "is just conversation".
The editorial "Back to Mid-East drawing board" (December 13) depicts Israel's settlements as "the roadblock" to peace. The real issue is the Palestinian leadership's consistent refusal to accept Israel's presence; the rest is just conversation.
Settlements, refugees, borders, Jerusalem can all be discussed once the real roadblock has been removed. The Palestinian people deserve a state - and leaders who will negotiate in good faith.
Vic Alhadeff Chief executive, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Darlinghurst
One can only hope that the people at Fairfax grasp the point he is making because there's been a hell of a lot of irrelevant conversation in their newspapers about the conflict.
The Peace Team comprising of 13 young Israelis and 13 young Palestinians competed among 16 national teams at the AFL's last world championships held in Melbourne in 2008. The concept was a raging success and drew compliments wherever they travelled during the tournament.
The objective of the Peace Team jointly sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace & Al Quds Association for Democracy is to promote dialogue between the two peoples and to ultimately bring about peace in the region and a film about the team's tour of Australia recently won an international award for best documentary.
However, not everybody supported the Peace Team back then. The paradox is that pro-Palestinian groups claiming to be in the "peace camp" opposed it vehemently. The team was fiercely opposed by Australians for Palestine and by others who are now in the BDS movement, the phony Free Gaza movement and the ISM.
No surprise there because these people, particularly their slimy "movers and shakers" and the media pack that supports them have no interest in bringing about a reconciliation between the people and achieving a peaceful two State solution. They are in fact "the war camp".
I understand that during the championships of 2008 threats were made to the courageous young Palestinians by such groups even before they entered the country.
During one of the games a war camper turned up at a Prace Team game with an Istael Apartheid banner.
Now imagine that!
There's a mixed team of Israelis and Palestinians out there playing a game of footy together and some cretinous supporter of the terrorists has the gall to waive a placard alleging apartheid. That's how stupid the war campers are.
This fellow fully deserved the wrath of a burly British footballer who told him to "p___ off". And being the gutless wonder that he was, that's exactly what he did.
The majority of people on both sides of the conflict want peace and it is a pity that there are extremists that want to make mischief, especially in a country like Australia.
In the meantime, please read this Op-Ed piece from Ynet about the supposed blockade in Gaza entitled "Blockading the Truth", which highlights just how much aide is going into Gaza and exposes claims of a siege as complete falsehoods.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald correpsondent Paul McGeough was aboard Challenger One, some 150 meters away from the Mavi Marmara when the Israeli navy intercepted the Gaza flotilla.
Now, his account of the incident has earned him a prestigious Walkley Award, the Australian equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. The honor disturbs me for three reasons.
Two of the reasons deal with points of contention McGeough was in a unique position to clarify for history's first draft -- but he instead muddied the waters. The third reason has more to do with the language of his dispatch.
1. McGeough failed to shed light on the flotilla's radical Islamic organizers.
Most prominent among the convoy's organizers was the IHH, a radical Islamic relief fund based in Turkey. As Malam points out, the IHH is linked to Hamas,and "supported jihadist terrorist networks in Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya." It is also has ties to Turkey's ruling party.
What did McGeough say about the organizers? Not much:
The flotilla drew on funds from NGOs in Turkey, Malaysia, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Sweden.
With the paper's considerable resources, McGeough and his editors could have and should have been aware of the IHH's background before the correspondent even made his travel plans. If indeed they knew, it was irresponsible to not disclose this.
2. The flotilla was not a "humanitarian convoy."
The convoy's humanitarian veneer masked a political agenda to provoke an embarrassing confrontation with Israel. Some of the people aboard the ships were specifically recruited to attack Israeli soldiers. Among the items found aboard were bullet-proof vests, night vision equipment and rifle scopes, saws, knives, gas masks and slingshots.
McGeough missed it.
If the critique ended here, you could reasonably conclude that McGeough was either sloppy,simply had the bad luck of being on the wrong boat while one of 2010's biggest stories unfolded meters away. But then there's my third concern.
3. Inflammatory language suggests sympathy for the flotilla.
This particular snippet rightly outraged the Jewish community, and called into question McGeough's impartiality:
Then, the tightening noose. Sneaking up and around every boat, there were bullet-shaped hulks which soon became impossible to hide as the moonlight made fluorescent tubes of their roiling wakes. First one, then two and maybe four could be seen sneaking in from the rear.
They hunted like hyenas – moving up and ahead on the flanks; pushing in, then peeling away; and finally, lagging before lunging.
Lest we forget, here's the headline, which sets a tone for the rest of the story:
Prayers, Tear Gas, and Terror
If there's terror, it's because there are terrorists. That's McGeough and the SMH's subtle, most damning stab at Israel.
You can't expect journalists to write be-all end-all stories. The descriptive language of his own voice suggests McGeough saw exactly what he wanted to see.
And that's not worthy of the honor conferred by the Walkley Foundation's award.
The three reasons reported by Backspin would surely be enough to demonstrate that nowhere near the necessary research was put into McGeough's effort and one wonders what criteria (if any) were applied in the case of this particular award.
And there's more to this story with questions being asked about McGeough's Good Weekend lift out which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age and the "corrections" subsequently published in both newspapers which blamed others for a glaring error in the text but more of that later.
I mean the fact that Australia's government believes that Iran is a problem and that while it continues to threaten a friend, Israel, there is every chance that the Israelis might launch a preemptive attack before the Iranians have a nuclear weapon that works.
And when the Australian intelligence community warns that Iran should not be seen "merely" as a rogue state, that does not mean that Iran is no longer a danger to regional and international security.
Nor does it mean that the Age should refrain from telling its readers about the WikiLeak revelations about Iran moving weapons around for Hizbullah in ambulances during the 2006 war or about Turkey's PM and his Swiss bank accounts.
Oh dear ... but that's blank page stuff only, is it?
Saturday, December 11, 2010
In this Associated Press piece Hamas PM: We're ready for referendum on peace deal, we're told that ... "In recent years, Hamas has tried to reach out to the West, and its supreme leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, has expressed support for a Palestinian state in 1967 borders.
At the same time, Hamas has not revoked its founding charter which calls for Israel's destruction, and Hamas officials won't say whether they see a two-state deal as a final arrangement or a step toward eliminating Israel."
As the esteemed Elder points out this the sort of unmitigated bullshit that Hamas groupies would like the world to believe. From Firas Press
[Hamas leader Mahmoud al-] Zahar stressed in a speech in the beginning of celebrations of the 23rd anniversary of Hamas' inception "that the [Hamas] movement was launched to continue the jihad until the liberation of all Palestine."
Zahar burned an Israeli flag on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of its launch in southern Gaza City.
He said "The journey of jihad and martyrdom began 23 years ago and will continue until the liquidation of the masses of aggression, treachery and even high banners of faith and bring us day after day, year after year from Palestine .. all of Palestine."
"The Jihad will continue until the liberation of the Palestinian city of Jerusalem to pray a prayer of thanks after the liberation of all Palestine..."
And a correspondent quoting from the HAMAS TV children's show "Tomorrow's Pioneers", Hamas TV, 9/22/09:-
Nassur and Saraa have a disagreement about what the "expulsion" of the "Jews or Zionists" means. Saraa adopts the argument that they should be "chased away" and that "we don't want to do anything to them, just expel them from our land." Nassur, on the other hand, endorses the view that they should be "erased" and that "we want to slaughter them so they will be expelled from our land." Saraa eventually concedes, and the two compromised that "we will expel them from our land using all means, and if they don't want to go peacefully, by words or talking, we'll have to do it by slaughter.""
Nice words to teach your kids and its no wonder that the Walkely Award people must be so proud to endorse idiots who would have us believe that all this talk shouldn't be taken seriously.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Today, that was demonstrated in a letter published in the Melbourne Age and written by Michael Medawar, North Melbourne in which the lie that mere criticism makes you antisemitic was repeated:-
"IF YOU criticise the US you're labelled a terrorist; if you criticise Israel, you are labelled anti-Jewish/Semitic. If you criticise China, Islam or Christianity, it's called freedom of speech."
Mr. Medawar, you are as much of an idiot as the Age editor who allowed this tripe to be published.
The best news story was won by The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough for his coverage of the Gaza aid flotilla, also run prominently in The Age.
The story described what happened from a jaundiced perspective that has subsequently been completely debunked and discredited.
The twitterers on WikiLeaks have come up with a saying that sums up the emerging challenges which that phenomenon bring to society and to the journalists and commentators who are supposed to be recording the events of our times:
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
The Walkelys of 2010 demonstrate clearly to us that there are no revolutionaries in Australian journalism today.
Quite the opposite and, as a result, the journalist profession in this country is now in tatters.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I just learned great news: German law professor Christian Tomuschat, the anti-Israel and anti-American official heading the U.N. committee to enforce the Goldstone Report, has resigned. The biased U.N. probe now has no leader, and is in disarray.
This unprecedented resignation follows a global campaign by UN Watch that exposed Professor Tomuschat's egregious bias and breach of his obligation under international law to be objective and impartial:
• UN Watch's team of researchers tracked down and translated Professor Tomuschat's German academic writings.
We published a 30-page report revealing how he had frequently compared Israeli actions with the "barbarism" and "inferno" of World War II; how he performed legal work for PLO leader Yasser Arafat; and how he repeatedly accused Israel of “state terrorism.” This was reported worldwide.
• When Tomuschat delivered his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in September - calling for the investigation of Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes in Gaza - UN Watch was the only group to take the floor and directly challenge Tomuschat for his bias, stirring reactions from Tomuschat as well as the council president himself.
• When Tomuschat then appeared at a U.N. press conference, journalists followed up on UN Watch's campaign and challenged Tomuschat to defend himself.
Finally, thousands of UN Watch supporters worldwide have been taking action on our website every day to demand from the U.N. that Tomuschat resign. In the end, he gave in.
It's one more UN Watch victory for the genuine principles of human rights, international law, and Middle East peace and security.
If you would like to ensure our ability to achieve more such victories in the future, please, Margot, consider sending a secure online donation now so we can continue speaking truth to power. Any donation, $25, $100, or $1,000, will make a true difference.
Thank you so much for your support.
Hillel C. Neuer
The latest batch of WikiLeak confidential US embassy cables tell of the discovery of extraterrestrial life forms on earth according to this morning's Sunday Sun newspaper.
The dispatches sent out by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this year reveal that the space visitors, who first arrived on the planet in the late 1940s, are friendly and "willing to share their technology and culture for the good of mankind."
The Sunday Age refused to report on the leaked UFO cables. A Fairfax spokesperson would neither confirm or deny that his organisation's reluctance to reveal these startling revelations has anything to do with the fact that the aliens travel around in tanks and communicate only in the Hebrew language.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Mearsheimer and Walt's flawed thesis about the Israel Lobby must now surely be in tatters following the revelations that so many Arab States have lobbied hard for United States action against Iran.
Yet, after being implored by Arab leaders to cut of the head of the snake, the Americans could not be persuaded to attack the dictatorship whose Revolutionary Guards last year butchered and raped their own people in their own streets to avail themselves of absolute power.
Naturally, one didn't get this feeling about Iran when one read what one thinks was supposed to be passing for analysis on the WikiLeaks from Fairfax Middle East guru Paul McGeogh.
Nor would one expect this from a man who produced six pages of twaddle (aka free publicity) for the Free Gaza movement without mentioning Hamas and its genocidal policies. For Age readers, Hamas is the boy scout movement that helps little old ladies cross the busy streets of Gaza on their way to modern air conditioned well stocked supermarkets that we don't need to know about. The same Hamas that today rivals Mahatma Ghandi for loving peace and its Jewish neighbours.
Any person who can consign the thuggish Hamas junta in Gaza to the blank pages would have been expected to be champing at the bit in waiting for the WikiLeak revelations to damn the Little Satan Israel and therefore must have been most disappointed to discover nothing of the kind in the Assange revelations.
McGough's WikiLeak analysis still predictably scoffs at Israel and the Arab states concerned about Iran's nuclear buildup and its arming of local terror groups but, true to blank page tradition, it misses the leaks about Iran moving weapons to Hizbullah in Red Crescent ambulances during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, not to mention Turkey's questionable dealings with terror groups. Heaven forbid that the host of the flotilla that carried jihadists, useless medicine and a bunch of warm and fuzzy Pinocchios through the Mediterranean last May is a shonk with secret Swiss bank accounts and who sleeps with and accommodates would be mass murderers.
No, just as Basil doesn't mention the Germans, we don't mention much about Iran. What we do instead is we mock Israel because one of its diplomats expressed concern privately as early as 1993 about the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapons programme. But instead of laughing that off as McGeough does, we should be congratulating him for his prescience in predicting the future. Actually, it wasn't that hard really because, after all, those who had their eyes open when Iran and Irak fought out their little war in the 80's know that the leadership of both sides were nasty bastards.
And nasty bastards like Iran, Irak, Syria, Turkey, Hizbullah, Hamas and the IHH must be consigned to the blank pages of the Age.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Thanks to MERE RHETORIC for "WikiLeaks – I Will Make A Lot Of Peace In The Middle East"
It makes a lot more sense that what passed for analysis in my local broadsheet and is a lot funnier.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Please send beady eyed McGeough out to investigate this Mr. Fairfax because he surely couldn't make more of a mess with that than he has done with his so-called analysis of Wikileaks.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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!
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
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."
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.
Chief Executive Officer
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
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
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?
Friday, November 26, 2010
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.”
Thursday, November 25, 2010
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?
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
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
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.
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