Posts filed under ‘Israel’

‘Kana collapse was hours after attack’

by Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

In the deadliest attack since Israel started its offensive against Hizbullah 19 days ago, 57 civilians – most of them children – were killed on Sunday in a building in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kana, apparently as a result of an IAF missile strike.

While the entire Israeli political echelon expressed regret for the results of the strike, Air Force Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel said Sunday night that the three-story building had been struck by the missiles a little after midnight and that it only collapsed seven hours later, at close to 7 a.m.

Eshel refrained from specifying what had caused the structure to collapse seven hours after it was hit, but senior IAF officers said Sunday night that the explosion could have been caused by an unexploded missile or by a Hizbullah-planted explosive device.

“It could be that there was something in the building that caused the explosion,” Eshel said.

Eshel said that close to 150 Katyusha rockets had been fired from the Lebanese village over the past 20 days. Hizbullah had hidden rocket launchers, Eshel said, in civilian buildings in the village. Video footage he presented at a press conference in Tel Aviv Sunday night showed rocket launchers being driven into the village following attacks on northern Israel.

The dead were old people, women and children from four families whom residents said had gathered to spend the night on the ground floor, where they felt they were safe from Israeli attacks. The bodies of at least 27 children were found in the rubble, said Abu Shadi Jradi, a civil defense official at the scene.

In 1996, Israel was forced to suspend Operation Grapes of Wrath against Hizbullah after IDF artillery shells killed more than 100 civilians seeking refuge in a UN building in the village.

A high-ranking IAF officer said the IDF had warned Kafr Kana residents to evacuate the village in anticipation of airstrikes on Katyusha launchers. The officer said the air force had been targeting the village for the past three days and that on Saturday night it struck 10 targets there. He said the building hit Sunday was chosen as a target after intelligence indicated that Hizbullah guerrillas were hiding inside, where Katyusha rockets and launchers were also hidden.

“We warned the residents that we would be attacking there,” the high-ranking officer said. “We work under the assumption that the villages are empty and that whoever is there is affiliated with Hizbullah.”

The IAF did attack targets in the village at 7 a.m. Sunday, Eshel said, but these buildings were 500 meters away from the building where the civilians were killed.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed deep regret for the harm inflicted on the civilians in Kafr Kana.

“I, along with Israel and the IDF, express deep regret at the death of civilians in Kafr Kana,” said Olmert. “There is nothing further from our intent than when we hit civilians – everyone understands that. When we do harm civilians, the whole world recognizes that it is an exceptional case that does not characterize us.”

Olmert said the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets at Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the current violence, “hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Kana area.”

Defense Minister Amir Peretz also profoundly regretted the fatal strike, saying, “This is a tragic incident that is the result of a war against Hizbullah, which is operating from civilian areas and knows full well that by so doing it is endangering lives.” The defense minister ordered the IDF to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz also expressed sorrow over the loss of innocent life. “We were operating in a place from where Katyushas are being fired and we distributed notices to residents. Unfortunately, people who assembled in the area, whom we were unaware of, were harmed,” said Halutz.

Nevertheless, Halutz said, the IDF would continue to fight to protect northern Israel and to bring calm to the region. “The terrorist organizations are taking cover among populated areas,” he said. “We will continue to fight, causing the minimum harm to civilians.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora demanded an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and an investigation into the attack.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she had called Saniora to say she would be postponing a visit to Beirut scheduled for Sunday and that she had work to do in Jerusalem to end the fighting. “We are also pushing for an urgent end to the current hostilities, but the views of the parties on how to achieve this are different,” she said.

AP contributed to the report.

August 1, 2006 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

The Middle East According to Dennis Miller

“A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don’t get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need.

Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country. There’s just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It’s a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like “Wiccan,” “Palestinian” sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no “Palestinians.”

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the “Palestinians,” weeping for their deep bond with their lost “land” and “nation.”

So for the sake of honesty, let’s not use the word “Palestinian” any more to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths until someone points out they’re being taped. Instead, let’s call them what they are: “Other Arabs Who Can’t Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death.”

I know that’s a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: “Adjacent Jew-Haters.” Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing: No, they don’t. They could’ve had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.

That’s no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course — that’s where the real fun is — but mostly they want Israel.

Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel – or “The Zionist Entity” as their textbooks call it — for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they’re the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God’s Earth, and if you’ve ever been around God’s Earth, you know that’s really saying something.

It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Mid east. Unless I’m missing something, the Arabs haven’t given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.

Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; five Million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals..

Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.

My friend, Kevin Rooney, made a gorgeous point the other day: Just reverse the numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not. Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea? Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible. Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children? Disgusting.

Now, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.

Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that with vital operations in Iraq and others, it’s in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that can’t be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of super models who’ve just had their drugs taken away.

However, in any big-picture strategy, there’s always a danger of losing moral weight. We’ve already lost some. After September 11th our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them. Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day) start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint.

If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan.

Please feel free to pass this along to your friends. Walk in peace! Be
Happy! Have a wonderful life!

July 28, 2006 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

The predictable condemners

Alan M. Dershowitz, The Jerusalem Post Jul. 22, 2006

The Hizbullah and Hamas provocations against Israel once again demonstrate how terrorists exploit human rights and the media in their attacks on democracies.

By hiding behind their own civilians the Islamic radicals issue a challenge to democracies: Either violate your own morality by coming after us and inevitably killing some innocent civilians, or maintain your morality and leave us with a free hand to target your innocent civilians.

This challenge presents democracies such as Israel with a lose-lose option, and the terrorists with a win-win option.

There is one variable that could change this dynamic and present democracies with a viable option that could make terrorism less attractive as a tactic: The international community, the anti-Israel segment of the media and the so called “human rights” organizations could stop falling for this terrorist gambit and acknowledge that they are being used to promote the terrorist agenda.

Whenever a democracy is presented with the lose-lose option and chooses to defend its citizens by going after the terrorists who are hiding among civilians, this trio of predictable condemners can be counted on by the terrorists to accuse the democracy of “overreaction,” “disproportionality” and “violations of human rights.”

In doing so they play right into the hands of the terrorists, causing more terrorism and more civilian casualties on both sides. If instead this trio could, for once, be counted on to blame the terrorists for the civilian deaths on both sides, this tactic would no longer be a win-win situation for the terrorists.

IT SHOULD BE obvious by now that Hizbullah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians; why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods and hide among civilians. They are seeking to induce Israel to defend its civilians by going after them among their civilian “shields.” They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and the international and human rights communities.

They regard these human shields as shahids – martyrs – even if they did not volunteer for this lethal job. Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of the shields, even if the bullet that kills them came from the gun of a policeman.

Israel has every self-interest in minimizing civilian casualties, whereas the terrorists have every self-interest in maximizing them – on both sides. Israel should not be condemned for doing what every democracy would and should do: taking every reasonable military step to stop the terrorists from killing their innocent civilians.

NOW THAT some of those who are launching rockets at Israeli cities have announced they have new surprises in store for Israel that may include chemical and biological weapons, the stakes have gotten even higher.

What would Israeli critics regard as “proportioned” to a chemical or biological attack? What would they say if Israel tried to preempt such an attack and, in the process, killed some civilians? Must a democracy absorb a first strike from a weapon of mass destruction before it fights back? Would any other democracy be expected to do that?

The world must come to recognize the cynical way in which terrorists exploit civilian casualties. They launch anti-personnel rockets designed to maximize enemy civilian casualties, then they cry “human rights” when their own civilians – behind whom they are deliberately hiding – are killed by the democracies in the process of trying to prevent further acts of terrorism.

The very idea that terrorists who use women and children as suicide bombers against other women and children shed crocodile tears over the deaths of civilians they deliberately put in harm’s way gives new meaning to the word “hypocrisy.” We all know that hypocrisy is a tactic of the terrorists, but it is shocking that others fall for it and become complicit with the terrorists.

Let the blame fall where it belongs: on the terrorists who deliberately seek to kill enemy civilians and give their democratic enemies little choice but to kill some civilians behind whom the terrorists are hiding.

Those who condemn Israel for killing civilians – who are used as human shields and swords for the terrorists – actually cause more civilian deaths and make it harder for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.

HOW THE WORLD reacts to Israel’s current military efforts to protect its citizens will have a considerable impact on future Israeli steps toward peace. Prior to the recent kidnappings and rocket attacks the Israeli government had announced its intention to engage in further withdrawals from large portions of the West Bank.

But how can Israel be expected to move forward with any plan for withdrawal if all it can expect in return is more terrorism – what the terrorists regard as “land for rocket launchings” – and more condemnation when it seeks to protect its civilians?

The writer is a Professor of Law at Harvard and the author of
Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways.

July 24, 2006 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

A New Paradigm for Israel Advocacy

by Larry Weinberg

Israel’s image around the world will not improve until we change the way we present Israel to the world.

After decades of using the same strategies and tactics, the same words and ploys and the same litany of “look-what-they did to us/look-what-they’re-doing-to-us-now” language to try to improve Israel’s image and more effectively advocate for Israel’s interests, it is now essential that we look to a new paradigm for our efforts.

We seem stuck in a pattern some would call an alternative definition of insanity: We don’t like the way Israel is perceived in the world, but we keep doing the same things over and over again expecting, somehow, that the outcome will be different. Israel’s image around the world will not improve until we change the way we present Israel to the world.

Israel isn’t a case and it isn’t a cause. Yes, it’s a sovereign state, yet it is a culture, an economy and a way of life as well. The totality of Israel is more than what is generally seen around the world through the media; usually what they cover is the result of policies created and actions taken by the government in a given period of time. Those of us who know the real Israel that exists today in the 21st century know that Israel is so much more, and so very different from what it seems to be when seen through the lenses and eyes of the cameras and reporters that deliver the news from Israel during these days of conflict.

If you “get” what I’ve just said, that the reality of Israel is different from the Israel as portrayed by a media that, quite expectedly and routinely, focuses more intensely on what blows up and dies as opposed to what adds value and saves, then you are on your way to understanding what I call The New Paradigm.

Paradigms are simple structures, and paradigm shifts are simple too, once the presumptions and prejudices that lock in the old paradigms are invalidated. So let’s look at the current paradigm, the one that doesn’t work and needs replacing.

Using the American perspective, we can say the following:

• 98% of what Americans see, read and hear about Israel is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
• and 98% of what passionate, well-meaning pro-Israel interests do about this situation is either proactively or reactively related to the conflict;
• therefore, Israel becomes more and more defined by the conflict, and the conflict only.
This is disastrous for Israel, and The New Paradigm changes it. This is what it says:
• there is more to Israel than conflict and war;
• that “more” is a society that does things every day that add value to the world;
• therefore, we need to show the world what Israel is beyond the conflict; we need to show people how Israel innovates and creates.

Think of it this way, if we were to take every possible topic you can discuss about Israel — the good and the bad — and pile them one on top of another and they created a pile 50 stories high. The topics that are about the conflict would be two, maybe three stories high (and other problems of Israeli society another two or three stories). That leaves a pile of positive stories towering over the landscape that our present advocates — with their myopic focus on the conflict and trying to prove Israel is always right — can’t even seem to see. Many of these stories are reasons for Americans to care about Israel — all of them say something that Americans desperately need to know: that there is something other than war going on in Israel.

Last year the results of a major piece of research — an in-depth study of Israel’s “brand” in America — were shown to officials of the Israeli government and selected interested parties. They showed that while Americans think Israel is unique, they don’t think it’s relevant to their lives. They found that while Americans think they know a lot about Israel, they don’t very much like what they know. So Israel has some problems because of the way it is seen, but these problems don’t conform to the critics’ usual carping about the accents of Israel’s spokespeople or the cacophony of the opinions raised in its vibrant democracy. The problems can be overcome, said the strategists from the major marketing conglomerate that conducted the study and shared its finding, and they said how to do it.

Israel needs to increase knowledge of Israel that also increases respect and esteem for Israel. Israel needs to make Americans think Israel is relevant to their lives. How? It’s not more material about the history of the conflict and who’s doing what to whom; people are clearly showing conflict-fatigue. It’s information on how Israel’s technological and biomedical innovations are saving lives and changing the world. It’s information about the hundreds of millions of people who aren’t hungry because of Israel’s advances in agriculture and the hundreds of millions of computers and cellphones and other devices made possible or made better by Israeli ingenuity.

This is not to suggest that Israel not defend itself nor take appropriate defensive measures in the communications war. Rather it is the suggestion that Israel open another major front — one that Israel has plenty of credible, effective ammunition with which to fight. It is not a suggestion that we ignore the issues of the conflict, it is the suggestion that we reallocate our effort and spend more time focusing attention on the Israel that exists beyond the conflict so that Israel’s image won’t be a prisoner of the conflict.

ISRAEL21c is a soldier in that battle. Our Web site has identified and distributed more than 800 stories that give Americans reasons to care about Israel and give Jews new reasons to be proud of Israel. Millions of people have seen our Web products. Our proactive PR program has placed more than 2,000 stories with positive images of Israel and Israelis in mainstream American media — including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, CNN, NPR and hundreds of dailies across the nation — that wouldn’t have been there without our effort to put them there. In June, we’ll bring more than a dozen reporters from youth market media to Israel and show them the Israel beyond the conflict that young Israelis are creating through fashion, music, lifestyle, cinema, environmentalism and extreme sports.

For non-Jewish young Americans who have known nothing of Israel except the conflict, these reporters may show them their first-ever images of Israel that are not related to war. They’ll see just how much life in Israel looks and feels like life in America. We’re not alone. We work with the government of Israel, UJC, AIPAC, Hillel, federations and many other agencies. We’re collaborating with like-minded groups in Canada, France and hopefully soon in the United Kingdom.

It’s absolutely time for a new paradigm in Israel advocacy. We need to stop trying to prove Israel is always right – something that most moderate Americans are just not inclined to believe – and start showing that Israel has value and adds value to the world everyday. A very prominent businessman once said, “When cancer is cured in Israel, the world will think better of the Jews.”

It may not be quite that simple, but the great things Israel does for the world do count for something. We just have to be sure the rest of the world knows about that Israel too.

The writer is executive vice president of ISRAEL21c, a California-based non-profit helping to rebrand Israel by focusing media and public attention on the 21st-century Israel that exists beyond the conflict.

July 25, 2005 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

Newer Posts