Thursday, October 30, 2014

PALESTINIANS: STOP THE CHILDREN'S INTIFADA

By Khaled Abu Toameh
October 29, 2014
The exploitation of children in the fight against Israel has attracted little attention from the international community and the media. Human rights groups and the UN have chosen to turn a blind eye to this human rights abuse. Instead of condemning it, these groups are busy denouncing Israel for targeting minors.

This strategy works out well for Hamas and Fatah, who can always blame Israel for "deliberately targeting" Palestinian children — an allegation the media in the West often endorses without asking questions.

Even more worrying is that the Palestinian groups often reward the families, who then become less motivated to stop their children from risking their lives.

Adult activists who encourage and send children to take part in violence should be held accountable, not only by Israel but by their own people. If these adults want an intifada, they should be the first to go out and confront Israeli policemen and soldiers.

Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian groups are using children from east Jerusalem and the West Bank in what appears to be a new intifada against Israel.
Nearly half of the Palestinians arrested by Jerusalem Police over the past few months are minors. Some of them are as young as nine.

These children are being sent to throw stones and firebombs, and launch fireworks at policemen and IDF soldiers, as well as at Israeli civilians and vehicles, including buses and the light rail in Jerusalem.


Masked Palestinian youths hurl rocks at a Jewish kindergarten near
 the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Sept. 2014.
The exploitation of children in the fight against Israel has attracted little attention from the international community and media. Human rights groups and United Nations institutions have chosen to turn a blind eye to these human rights abuses.

Instead of condemning those who exploit the children and dispatch them to confront policemen and soldiers, these groups and institutions are busy denouncing Israel for targeting minors.

Most of the children's attacks occur after school, so they are not deprived of education. But sadly, some of the Palestinian minors get killed or wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces.

Orwa Hammad, a 14-year-old Palestinian-American boy from the village of Silwad near Ramallah, was shot dead by IDF soldiers last week. The IDF says he was spotted preparing to hurl a firebomb at Israeli vehicles.

Earlier, 13-year-old Bahaa Bader was shot dead by IDF soldiers in the village of Beit Likya, also in the Ramallah area. An IDF spokesman said soldiers responded with live fire when residents threw firebombs at them as they were exiting the village.

Last month, 16-year-old Mohammed Sinokort from the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of Jerusalem was killed during a stone-throwing incident.

This is not the first time that Palestinian groups use children in the struggle against Israel. During the first intifada, which erupted in 1987, children and women were often at the forefront in clashes with Israeli security personnel.

This strategy works out well for Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Fatah. At the end of the day, they can always blame Israel for "deliberately" targeting Palestinian children and women -- an allegation that the mainstream media in the West often endorses without asking questions.

Moreover, the Palestinian groups know that the children who are being sent to confront Israeli soldiers and policemen will not be held accountable.

Most of the minors detained by the Jerusalem Police for their involvement in the violence are released to house arrest. In cases where the children are aged nine to 13, they are referred to social welfare authorities without being detained.

The majority of these children are going out to throw stones and firebombs at Israelis because they are come from poor families or are lacking in good education and other economic and social privileges. But many of them come from middle-class families and do not live in refugee camps.

These children are victims of a campaign of indoctrination and incitement that is being waged by various Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Fatah. It is a campaign that is being waged through the media, mosques, educational institutions and the fiery rhetoric of leaders and activists
.
What is even more worrying is that the Palestinian groups often reward the families of the children by hiring lawyers and paying fines imposed on them by Israeli courts. As a result, the families are less motivated to stop their children from risking their lives.

There are also reports that Fatah and Hamas activists in Jerusalem have been paying children small sums of money to throw stones and firebombs at Israelis and block roads in several Arab neighborhoods.

Hamas and Fatah had long discovered that children are one of the most effective tools in the fight against Israel -- especially because of the damage Israel sustains in the court of international public opinion.

Thus far, it appears that the Palestinian groups have been successful in their effort to depict Israel as a country that deliberately targets Palestinian minors whose only crime is that they "resisted occupation."

Dressing children in military uniforms and allowing them to carry rifles and pistols during rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is one way of encouraging them to put their lives at risk. But of course Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions do not see anything wrong with this practice.

The adult activists who send and encourage children to take part in violence should be held accountable, not only by Israeli authorities, but also by their own people and international human rights organizations. If these adults want an intifada, they should be the first to go out and confront Israeli policemen and soldiers.

The time has come for the international community and media to pay attention to their disturbing conduct and demand that Palestinian groups stop hiding behind children.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MAHMOUD ABBAS, ENEMY OF ISRAEL


By Michael Freund 22/10/2014

For the past decade, ever since Mahmoud Abbas took the reins of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005, the international community has gone out of its way to portray him as a moderate.
Ignoring his long record of anti-Israel incitement and Holocaust denial, American presidents, European prime ministers and even various Israeli leaders often spoke of Abbas in glowing terms, describing him as a man of peace and a visionary.

Indeed, earlier this year, when Abbas visited the White House on March 17, US President Barack Obama told reporters, “I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security.”

More recently, at the Gaza donor conference held in Cairo on October 12, US Secretary of State John Kerry went out of his way to heap praise on the Palestinian leader, saying, “President Abbas, thank you for your perseverance and your partnership.”

But the jig is up. Abbas’ behavior, along with his recent anti-Israel remarks, clearly demonstrates that his ostensible moderation is nothing more than a hoax.

Calling Abbas a moderate is the diplomatic equivalent of asserting that Elvis isn’t dead, the Boogeyman is hiding under your bed, and Keeping up with the Kardashians is quality entertainment.

Take for example Abbas’ decidedly immoderate remarks last Friday to a Fatah Party gathering.

Referring to Jews who wish to visit Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, Abbas denounced them as “herds of cattle” and “settlers,” and called on Palestinians to use “any means” to stop them.

“It is not enough to say the settlers came, but they must be barred from entering the compound by any means,” he said, adding, “This is our Aqsa... and they have no right to enter it and desecrate it” – as if the very presence of Jewish visitors in the area constituted an abomination.

If that’s not a call to violence, what is? Needless to say, Abbas’ scandalous outburst did not fall on deaf ears. Less than 48 hours later, Palestinian hoodlums defaced the Temple Mount, spray-painting swastikas and other offensive anti-Semitic imagery at the site whose sanctity they claim they wish to protect.

In response to the Palestinian chairman’s remarks, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman rightly pointed out that Abbas was “trying to inflame the situation by using the most sensitive place, the Temple Mount.”

“Behind his [Abbas’] suit and the pleasantries aimed at the international community,” Liberman said, “he ramps up incitement against Israel and the Jews and calls for a religious war.”

“Abbas,” he added, “has effectively joined the front lines of extremist Islamist organizations such as Islamic State and the al-Nusra front which sanctify religious war.”

Before you start rolling your eyes at the comparison, bear in mind that Abbas forged a unity government earlier this year with Hamas, a jihadist terrorist organization that is no less extreme in its ideology and methods.

The Palestinian leader continues to head a government that incorporates the same organization that fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the summer and built tunnels with which to murder innocent civilians.

And then of course there was Abbas’ performance at the UN last month, where he delivered a hateful diatribe against Israel in the hall of General Assembly.

The purportedly reasonable Abbas decried the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 as an act of “historic injustice,” referred to Israel as “the racist occupying state” and accused it of committing “war crimes,” “genocide” and “terrorism” against Palestinians.

All this from a man who has repeatedly insisted that if a Palestinian state were ever to arise, no Jews would be allowed to live in it.

It is time for Israel and the West to stop deluding themselves regarding the true nature of Mahmoud Abbas.

Calling him a moderate is simply dishonest and deceptive. Abbas is not a friend of peace, he is an enemy of Israel, one who has refused to end the conflict and has incited to violence against the Jewish state.

He may not don the keffiyeh that was worn by Yasser Arafat, nor wave a gun in the halls of the United Nations. But even if the packaging is slightly different, the contents remain the same.

Abbas, like his predecessor, stands in the way of peace and aims to do Israel harm.

The time has come to treat him accordingly.


Friday, October 17, 2014

HOW THE DONORS SAVED HAMAS


By Khaled Abu Toameh
October 14, 2014
Rebuilding or repairing infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is the best thing that could have happened to Hamas. Hamas knows that every dollar invested in the Gaza Strip will serve the interests of the Islamist movement. The promised funds absolve Hamas of all responsibility for the catastrophe it brought upon the Palestinians during the confrontation with Israel.

Hamas will now use its own resources to smuggle in additional weapons and prepare for the next war with Israel. Hamas can now go back to digging new tunnels and obtaining new weapons instead of assisting the Palestinians whose homes were destroyed as a result of its actions.

The biggest mistake the donor states made was failing to demand the disarmament of Hamas as a precondition for funneling aid to the Gaza Strip. Hopes that the catastrophic results of the confrontation would increase pressure on Hamas, or perhaps trigger a revolt against it, have faded.

It would be na├»ve to think that Hamas would not benefit from the billions of dollars that have just been promised to help with the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, during a donor conference in Cairo.
The Palestinians were hoping for $4 billion, but the donor states pledged $5.4 billion, half of which will be "dedicated" to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.

It is not yet clear how the second half will be spent.
Qatar, a longtime supporter and funder of Hamas, promised $1 billion, while US Secretary of State John Kerry announced immediate American aid of $212 million. The European Union, for its part, pledged $568 million.

Who decides whose aid money is used for terror tunnels and weapons, and whose aid money towards humanitarian aid?
Donor states said they would funnel the aid only through the Palestinian Authority [PA]. But this does not mean that Hamas, which continues to maintain a tight grip on the Gaza Strip, would fail to benefit from the financial aid.

In fact, any funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip will strengthen Hamas, even if the money is coming through the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas has agreed to put aside its differences with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction in order to pave the way for the international community to allocate billions of dollars towards the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas even welcomed the PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah when he visited the Gaza Strip last week.

In recent weeks, Hamas had accused Hamdallah and his government of failing to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in wake of Israel's Operation Protective Edge. Hamas had also accused the Hamdallah government and Mahmoud Abbas of ordering a security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Hamdallah's visit to the Gaza Strip came on the eve of the Cairo donor conference; that is why Hamas was prepared to receive him and his ministers in the Gaza Strip. Hamas did not want the donor states to withhold the funds under the pretext that the Palestinians were still fighting among each other and unable to get their act together.

Hamas knew that this was the only way to persuade the donor states to approve billions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip. The show of "unity" between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas was mainly intended to show the donors that they should not worry about their money ending up in the wrong hands.

After all, Hamas also knows that every dollar invested in the Gaza Strip will serve the interests of the Islamist movement. Of course, this is excellent news for Hamas.

First, the promised funds absolve Hamas of any responsibility for the catastrophe it brought upon the Palestinians during the confrontation with Israel.

Now the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will no longer be asking Hamas to compensate them for the loss of their houses and family members. Any Palestinian who asks Hamas for financial aid will, as of now, be referred to the PA or the donor states.

Hopes that the catastrophic results of the confrontation would increase pressure on Hamas or perhaps trigger a revolt against it have faded now that the PA and the donor states have become the address for distributing financial aid.

Second, the talk about rebuilding or repairing infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is the best thing that could have happened to Hamas. The funds promised by the donor states will help rebuild various Hamas-controlled installations in the Gaza Strip, such as ministries, security bases, universities, mosques and charities. The infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is almost entirely controlled, directly and indirectly, by Hamas.

All investment in the Gaza Strip's infrastructure will ultimately serve Hamas's interests, even if such work is being carried out by the Palestinian Authority.

Third, Hamas members and supporters would be among those entitled to some of the money coming from the Western and Arab donors. The Palestinian Authority would find it impossible to hand out money only to Abbas loyalists in the Gaza Strip, having already promised to take care of all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, regardless of their political affiliations.

Four, the financial aid has not been conditioned on Hamas laying down its weapons or even ceding control over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. From now, the PA will be working toward rebuilding the Gaza Strip while Hamas will use its own resources to smuggle in additional weapons and prepare for the next war with Israel. This seems to be the agreed division of responsibilities between Hamas and the PA.

Five, there is no guarantee that the billions of dollars would have a moderating effect on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip or turn them away from Hamas. Some Palestinians are even worried that the international community might be trying to bribe the PA to stop it from pursuing plans to seek unilateral UN recognition of a Palestinian state. Others believe the promised funds are intended to stop the PA from signing the Rome Statute as a first step toward joining the International Criminal Court, in order to file "war crimes" charges against Israel.

The Palestinians are nevertheless willing to accept the billions of dollars. But that does not mean that they will refrain from voting for Hamas in a future election. Nor does this mean that they are going to make any concessions or moderate their demands, first and foremost the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees to Israel


The decisions made at the Cairo donor conference constitute a big victory for Hamas. Hamas can now go back to digging new tunnels and obtaining new weapons, instead of helping the Palestinians whose lives and homes were destroyed as a result of its actions. The biggest mistake the donor states made was failing to demand the disarmament of Hamas as a precondition for funneling aid to the Gaza Strip. The donors have not only saved Hamas; they have emboldened it, allowing it to stay around for many more years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

HOW ISRAEL WAS GIVAT HAMATOASTED BY “PEACE GROUPS”

Seth J. Frantzman 5-10-2014
The truth behind the Givat Hamatos scandal is that it was produced by the left-wing group Peace Now.

The breeze was hot as we made our way through a parched field. Over the hill was what looked like a mechanic’s shop with a small field in the back that had some sheep in it. A young man working at the shop gestured toward us and shouted in Arabic. We continued on, past several caravans. A woman peered at us through a window. That was in 2010, the last time I visited Givat Hamatos. The severely impoverished Jewish community, and the Arab community of Beit Safafa that adjoined it, gave no impression of being of great political importance at the time. Yet today the place is at the heart of an international controversy.

On Friday the European Union claimed that new plans to build 2,610 housing units there threatened the bloc’s relations with the Jewish state. “This represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the EU claimed.

The US State Department said Wednesday that the plans called into question Israel’s commitment to peace and would “poison the atmosphere” between Israel, the Palestinians and US. In what commentators called a “striking rebuke,” a State Department spokesman claimed that it would distance Israel from “even its closest allies.” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius joined the outraged chorus, demanding Israel to “urgently reverse this decision.” He also claimed the plans “threaten the two-state solution...One cannot claim to support a solution and at the same time do things against without consequences being drawn, including at the European Union level.”

The issue is supposedly to do with geography. One report at Middle East Monitor claimed these housing units were “near Bethlehem.” Al-Jazeera’s Gregg Carlstrom claimed that the plans “could make it impossible to ever divide Jerusalem.” According to Carlstrom’s article the building would “cut the direct route between Bethlehem and Ramallah.” The new housing would also supposedly “close off the eastern approach” to Beit Safafa, an Arab neighborhood, meaning it “could not realistically become part of a future Palestinian state.”

The truth behind the Givat Hamatos scandal is that it was produced by the left-wing group Peace Now.

Not a single one of the “breaking news” stories about this plan were real breaking news reports about a new neighborhood; rather the reports were manipulated from the beginning with the aim of generating maximum press coverage while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington.

Let's take a step back and review what we now know. Givat Hamatos is the name of a small hill adjacent to the Green Line and close to Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, just across Hebron Road, which goes to Bethlehem, from the Mar Elias monastery. After Israel annexed this area and it became part of the municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 war, the neighborhood of Gilo was constructed next to it in the 1980s.

In the 1990s another neighborhood, Har Homa, was built in the valley to the east. In the 1990s Har Homa, too, was said to be the “doomsday” obstacle to peace that would “cut off” Bethlehem from Ramallah and Jerusalem.

When several hundred immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia were settled in caravans at Givat Hamatos in the 1990s, it was not considered an obstacle to peace. In short, the very same neighborhood now supposedly “cutting off” Beit Safafa and Bethelhem was built 20 years ago, and no one cared. It isn’t a new settlement, or even a new neighborhood.

But pro-Palestinian organizations needed a news story. It was important – just as when Joe Biden visited Israel in 2010 and when Shimon Peres was in Washington in 2011 – for “peace” organizations to announce “new settlements” to create controversy and put pressure on Israel. These conveniently timed reports always claim that Israel has “announced” new plans. But even the left-leaning Haaretz admitted that, “The plan was already approved in early December 2012 by a planning committee.”

And there you have it: It wasn’t recently “announced,” it wasn’t “new” – and it wasn’t news.

The media outlets are the customers of organizations like Peace Now, and some reporters are sympathetic to repackaging statements and helping these groups drive the narrative of “new settlements.”

Foreign diplomats are also receptive. The two work in concert to create “controversy.” If the US State Department can be coddled into condemning the “new settlements” then the story “has legs” and becomes larger and larger, with more pressure building on the EU and others to condemn the “obstacle to peace” and note that Israel is “making decisions that undermine peace.”

Israel didn’t make any decisions. The Jerusalem municipality didn’t make any decisions. Nothing changed in Jerusalem between October 1 and October 4, and yet a massive story emerged as a “new settlement” was supposedly being built – atop an existing “settlement.” Most of the information published about Givat Hamatos was inaccurate; It isn’t “near Bethlehem” anymore than Beit Safafa, Ramat Rahel, Har Homa and Gilo are near Bethlehem. It doesn’t “cut Bethlehem off” from anything. Beit Safafa is partly inside pre-1967 Jerusalem’s borders, and many of its residents are Israeli citizens; they were not waiting to become part of the “future Palestinian capital.”

Of the 200,000 Jewish residents living beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem, from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot and Gilo, Givat Hamatos is the least “obstacle” to peace of any of them. It adjoins Talpiot, a Jewish neighborhood inside the Green Line, and also Kibbutz Ramat Rahel. But the kibbutz isn’t an “obstacle,” of course; isn’t cutting anything off. How does building new homes atop old ones in Givat Hamatos “block a Palestinian capital” anymore than Ramat Rahel which is across the road? The question that has to be asked is why the Israeli government’s officials and spokesmen are so slow to comment on “scandals” like this, and don’t see them coming. Every year the “peace” organizations try to embarrass Israeli officials or visiting US officials by announcing “new construction” in east Jerusalem, and each time the charade plays out the same way.

Pro-Israel groups condemn the media or Peace Now, or point out “the facts,” such as “Ramot is not a settlement,” or note that the “approval” of the plan is one step in a dozen-step process, so that it seems these plans are “announced” a dozen times by the media, each with a round of condemnations. But knowing that this is how the charade works, and knowing the media always takes the bait, why doesn’t Israel’s government plan better for these manufactured scandals? If the government doesn’t start thinking ahead it will keep getting Givat Hamatoasted whenever “peace” organizations want to provoke condemnations of Israel.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

THE SOUND OF MEDIA SILENCE


Tom Gross Mideastdispatches
29th Sept 2014
See full article at: http://tinyurl.com/lx9zovj

The same western media that criticized Israel in sensational terms this summer (“Israelis are a nation of child killers” said one British paper) have barely a word to say about all the many civilians their governments are now accidentally killing in airstrikes on Iraq and Syria. Photos of dead and distressed civilians have appeared in Arab media in recent days but I could hardly find any in the Western media I scrutinized. (In some of the cases reported in Arab media, Western warplanes hit the wrong targets and only civilians died.)

By contrast, The New York Times on Friday yet again published a weeks-old photo of the destruction last summer in Gaza on its main international news page (top of Page A4) (and a sports photo from a baseball game at the top of page A1), but nowhere could I find the New York Times showing photos, or even providing details, of any of the civilians dying in U.S. led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. (Of course, if it was a Republican president ordering the strikes, rather than President Obama, it might at least mention the civilian deaths…)

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Past analysis has shown that the U.S., which has worse intelligence on the ground than Israel, has inadvertently killed a higher proportion of civilians than Israel:
Israel’s record on civilian casualties compares well to America’s

BBC NEWS ANCHOR SUDDENLY SOUNDS LIKE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

BBC Radio’s flagship Today program interviewed the Baghdad-based Reverend Canon Andrew White (who is a long standing subscriber to this email list). He spoke of the civilians being killed in Western and Arab airstrikes in Iraq.

The BBC presenter replied in some exasperation, saying they are sophisticated, targeted strikes, and are “essential” for fighting terror.

As a friend of mine points out, did it not occur to the BBC news anchor that he sounded exactly like the Israeli government spokesperson who he so furiously attacked only a month ago.
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UNLIKE MOST WESTERN MEDIA, REUTERS HAS REPORTED ON CIVILIAN DEATHS

Unlike most Western media, Reuters has reported on civilian deaths. For example, its report today (September 29) gives one such example. It begins:

U.S.-led raids hit Syria grain silos, killing civilians

REUTERS - U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians… “The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an Islamic State base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate comment from Washington.

The strikes in Manbij appeared to have killed only civilians, not fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory which gathers information from sources in Syria. “These were the workers at the silos. They provide food for the people,” he said…

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Tom Gross adds: Not only the Western media, but Western human rights groups and the UNHRC, which seem never to tire of attacking Israel when Israel is defending itself from thousands of rockets fired at its cities, is also now strangely silent.

And unlike the IDF, which made considerable efforts to minimize civilian casualties ahead of every attack – making phone calls to homes in each targeted area, sending text messages to cell phones in Arabic, and dropping leaflets from aircraft into the targeted neighborhoods days in advance, warning residents to leave for their own safety, and calling off airstrikes it if spotted civilians in the locality – those countries currently bombing Iraq and Syria (including the U.S., UK and France) don’t appear to be doing as much.

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Tom Gross adds: Fresh on the ground analysis by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – which has proved itself to be a reliable organization these past three years (and if anything has been too conservative in its estimates) say that coalition airstrikes killed at least 28 civilians on Saturday, and 26 civilians on Friday.

These are in addition to the airstrikes on Sunday that hit grain silos instead of ISIS bases. The number of casualties in that attack has not yet been determined, only that strike killed many civilians – the exact same people who had already survived bombing raids by the murderous President Assad.

The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Minbej for an ISIS base.

The double standards of government spokespeople and the media are remarkable.


“It’s slaughter” as Juan Williams called Israel’s actions in Gaza on Fox News several weeks ago. “It’s indiscriminate, asinine,” said Joe Scarborough on MSNBC.