Sunday, January 31

The Goldstone Report and Decisions

Time is running out for both Israel and Hamas. Both sides have to account for possible war crimes that were committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year.

I am not an International Law expert nor am I a lawyer. As a layman observing the positions of both sides towards the Goldstone report, there are facts that are difficult to deny or overlook.

Judge Richard Goldstone said in an interview that he could not refuse to head the commission when he wrote the protocol himself for the report on war crimes after having been invited to do so. He knew that the UNHRC was very biased against Israel. He admitted that himself. Despite that how could he refuse to head a commission of enquiry if he wrote the protocol himself? This is when he was manipulated.

Because it was stacked against Israel, and would have been a one-sided investigation, and I wasn't prepared, let alone as a Jew, but as a human being, to get involved in investigating under a one-sided mandate. And I refused. And I was then invited by the president of the Human Rights Council to visit with him. And he asked me what I thought would be an even-handed mandate, and I told him, and he said, "Write it out for me." And I wrote it out. And he said, "Well, that's the mandate that I'm giving you, if you're prepared to take it." Well, it was very difficult to refuse, in that situation, to get a mandate that I'd written for myself”.

The UNHRC knew that by using Goldstone, who has an impressive legal record, the report would carry far greater weight. Goldstone fell into the trap, the faulty and biased methadology was the result, and this was based solely on false Hamas witness reports in Gaza which was well organized and a great compromise on credibility and fairness.

Israel shot herself in the foot by not allowing Goldstone and his team to go to areas hit by Hamas rockets in order to investigate the damage, injuries and fatalities caused to Israel's citizens over the past 8 years which sparked off Israel's retaliation against the Hamas terrorists. Israel is now paying a very heavy price for this mistake which resulted in the report being based solely on false reports from Hamas witnesses in Gaza with a total absence of witnesses from the Israeli side.

Now the die is cast and Israel is evasive by producing a shallow document of 46 pages as a response. It is obvious that this is Israel's attempt at whitewashing and is a refusal to cooperate with the Goldstone commission. Israel refuses to establish a commission of enquiry concerning its conduct during the Gaza War. The result of this superficial document will bring Israel to the International Criminal Court.

This document will not satisfy the world and will not contribute to finding the truth. The part that the IDF played in Operation Cast Lead is not even mentioned.

Hamas has had their own kangaroo enquiry and admits that its intentions were to target military targets but their methods were primitive and inaccurate. We all know this to be a blatant lie. Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist and every method to maim and kill Israelis is legitimate in their armed struggle against Israel. They have stated this ad nauseam.

Despite all its faults and inaccurate findings, the Goldstone report has received accolades internationally. It is an important UN document accusing Israel of committing serious war crimes in Gaza. This must be taken seriously and we, as citizens of Israel, have a right to know the truth.

Israel owes it to its citizens and the IDF to establish an independent commission of enquiry for the sake of truth and its international standing. The knee jerk reaction of producing a document of whitewash and hogwash will only add fat to the fire and will bring Israel closer to giving accountability in the International Criminal Court.

Saturday, January 23

Continue the Siege on Gaza or Not?

The siege on Gaza continues. Gaza has become an overcrowded prison - a boiling pressure cooker on the verge of exploding. Gaza is choked by Israel and now by Egypt as well. There is an element of “collective punishment” while many innocent Gaza Palestinians are living in severe poverty and in squalor with no hope for a better future. How can we as Israelis ignore this tragic situation without a care or conscience?

The fault for the siege not being lifted must be laid on the doorstep of the Hamas regime! Hamas has no desire to recognize Israel’s right to exist or to negotiate with Israel. As far as they are concerned every terrorist action against Israel is justified in order to bring Israel’s destruction closer! They have stated this ad nauseam!

Israel has security needs that must not be underestimated. However does this justify the siege on Gaza? It will not weaken Hamas tyranny on Gaza. It will only strengthen it. As I mentioned before in a previous article, Hamas survives in a siege situation. Their freedom is not curtailed. Their leaders meet with their chief, Khaled Mashal in Syria - he who sets the tone and ideology of this terrorist, Islamist, fascist movement. He is “brave” - far from the Palestinian people, resident in his luxurious home in Damascus where he can spew out his demagogic hatred against Israel and the Jewish people. He is cruel, ruthless and does not intend to ever release Gilad Shalit as his ransom increases daily. In Gaza innocent Palestinians are trapped by his folly and fantasies of destroying Israel and the Jews.

While the siege continues, the evil Hamas regime is strengthened. The chances of a change in the Hamas regime are decreased. The economic situation in Gaza will worsen.

Whatever decision is taken on Gaza will have its risks and its problems.

However, from a long term point of view, it would be advantageous to both Israel and Gaza that the siege be lifted without compromising on the security needs of Israel. This would weaken Hamas in the long term. In this context, an international force as well as observers should be maintained on the borders of Gaza coordinating with the IDF. This would serve the purpose of side lining and weakening Hamas who are not accountable to their people as they are a terrorist group of Islamist fascists with its own hate agenda bolstered financially by the evil Ahmadinajad regime in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Innocent Palestinians are entitled to basic human rights. These rights include the freedom of travel. Why should they be punished? Opposition to the Hamas regime ought to be encouraged.

The enemy of Hamas is prosperity and economic stability. If Palestinians in Gaza could be helped financially to become economically viable, this would go a long way in improving the desperate situation in Gaza and would be a start in the rehabilitation of Gaza which is more than overdue. While under siege, Gaza can never be rehabilitated and Hamas's hand will only be strengthened in the long term. It will remain a vicious circle.

One of the severe tragedies of the siege is the fact that the Palestinian people resident in Gaza have very little access to humanitarian aid whether it is medical, food supplies and economic improvement. Israel claims that essential goods and humanitarian aid are coming into Gaza but the facts on the ground show that it is insufficient. The reason is crippling burocracy on both Israel and the Egyptian sides.

As we all know a terrible earthquake of disastrous dimensions occurred in Haiti resulting in the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of people as well as destruction of gigantic proportions. Israel, as always, responds generously by sending medical personnel and building a field hospital to treat the injured as efficiently as possible. Of course this is praiseworthy. As Israelis we are proud of the efficiency and achievements of Israel in its life saving mission and the fantastic field hospital Israel had built.

On the other hand, in Israel's backyard conveniently forgotten is the chronic human tragedy in Gaza that nobody wishes to discuss.

Politics aside and Hamas aside, Israel could have made an effort to establish a field hospital there. It would of cost them far less and it would have helped a lot in alleviating the desperate health situation in Gaza. There are innocent Palestinians in Gaza who are suffering while Israel turns a blind eye. Hamas does not need Israel's help and Israel owes these bloodthirsty terrorists nothing. They could be isolated in an army action preventing them from interfering with a massive humanitarian effort to improve the situation in Gaza. Hamas does not want humanitarian aid or improvement of conditions for Palestinian people resident in Gaza. They know that it world weaken their status amongst the Palestinian people. Israel by her behaviour is actually playing into the hands of Hamas. Hamas can only survive when the Palestinian people are facing inhuman hardships.

An old Zionist friend (who does not live in Israel but tours Israel frequently) wrote the following to me in anger:

You forget the daily humanitarian aid given to Gaza as we speak and please don't forget the daily supplies during the war last year. Where is your sane and logical criticism of Hamas, what they do, and what their aims are? The two situations are not the same, nor are they comparable. Haiti doesn't fire rockets at us, try to infiltrate and murder our women and children and doesn't have as part of its constitution the destruction of Israel. If Hamas in Gaza didn't want to kill us, I have no doubt Israel would do everything it can to help them build themselves up”.

However, we must differentiate between the evil Hamas regime in Gaza which is preventing aid from reaching the victims of the war as it does not serve their agenda. The children of Gaza are in a crisis and are not responsible for Hamas terror. They are conveniently forgotten and the suffering of innocent people there is overlooked by Israel while they get all the accolades for their praiseworthy actions of saving lives in Haiti. When it comes to basic humanitarian aid – this goes beyond politics even to the children of Gaza. We must never view all the residents of Gaza as terrorists and deny them the aid that they need. Israel is capable of helping these people in a massive humanitarian effort no less. The political situation of course is different – but what is the same and is the lowest common denominator that both Gaza and Haiti share and that is the immense human suffering. In the former the suffering was created by Hamas and Israel shares some responsibility, while the latter is a natural disaster of horrendous proportions.

It is very sad that a situation has been reached whereby Israel does overlook the suffering on its doorstep – barely an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. It is neither politics nor support of Hamas but simple humanitarian aid to those caught up in a war for which they were not responsible.

Sunday, January 10

The Illegal Settlers and Apartheid

Many Zionists and supporters of Israel loathe the comparison of Israel's policies with the old apartheid system of white South Africa. Perhaps it is an odious comparison but it is not totally devoid of some truth.

Israel within the green line is a democracy in every sense of the word - certainly to the outsider this is without doubt. There are no signs of discrimination between Jewish citizens and the non-Jewish minority who are also Israeli citizens. Equal rights are applicable to both groups. There is a certain amount of social discrimination and there is a preference to employ Jews rather than non-Jews in the work place but this is not enacted by law as in apartheid South Africa under infamous Job Reservation Act.

However in the occupied territories - the home of the right wing settler movement - apartheid is alive and kicking.

In the occupied territories one must bear in mind that the Israeli settler is a member of a powerful and dominant majority. He is by no means persecuted.

Apart from that, Israel favors settlers based on their national identity and discriminates against Palestinian people resident in the occupied territories.

The settlers are a comparatively well off lot compared to the Palestinian population. The Israeli tax payer pays the bill for the infrastructure of their illegal settlements as well as the network of roads linking them. The IDF protects and cossets them all the time - at the taxpayers' expense to keep an illegal right wing, religious Zionist project of illegal settlement going.

The "phony settlement freeze" apparently is not "phony" enough for these illegal settlers. The cosmetic Netanyahu freeze was sufficient to illicit an illegal settler response against the IDF and the building inspectors who are supposed to "enforce" the cosmetic freeze for US consumption. In reality, there is no settler freeze and more land is being built for settlements at the expense of the future Palestinian state.

Settlers ensure that discrimination against the Palestinian population continues by the establishment of roads for "Jews only". Roads for Palestinians remain little more than dirt tracks. As an ex-South African now living in Israel for most of my life, I cannot deny that feeling of déjà vu.

There is no doubt that the so-called freezing of settlements by the right-wing Netanyahu Government is really a form of appeasement of its US ally and has no moral significance whatsoever beyond just that.

Laws favouring the illegal Israeli settlers in the territories at the expense of the Palestinians are reminiscent of the white apartheid regime of South Africa. The excuse of "security" as the reason to whittle away Palestinian land in favour of illegal settler colonization is despicable and immoral. It limits Palestinian freedom and development opportunities.

The "natural growth" excuse bandied about by the illegal settlers is total hogwash. It is an excuse to further expropriate Palestinian land rendering a future Palestinian state not viable. Apart from that, there are still housing advertisements to encourage potential new settlers to buy housing units in the occupied territories.

Illegal settlers being Israeli citizens have the same rights as all Israeli citizens yet they deny civil rights to their Palestinian neighbours. These Palestinians have no freedom of movement and have very little legal recourse especially when they are ill treated by settlers, the State of Israel or if their property is confiscated by settlers and their orange groves and olive plantations are uprooted. Israel then claims that it does not wish to rule or colonize another people. Yet in practice that is exactly what they are doing.

The Israeli Government fails to realize that the laws favoring illegal settlers encroaching on Palestinian life is morally unacceptable and this is the attitude of most of the world. Even many Israelis and the Jewish people across the world find no justification for Israel's illegal settlement policies. MANY ISRAELI APOLOGISTS CLAIM THE WORLD IS ANTI-SEMITIC BECAUSE THE WORLD OF NATIONS IS AGAINST ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES.

The settlers view themselves as victims when the victims are really the Palestinian People resident in the occupied territories.

Thursday, January 7

The Siege on Gaza – A Year Later

A year has past since the Israeli Army moved into Gaza in the Cast Iron Lead Campaign against the Hamas terrorist regime. Hamas was responsible for shelling Sderot and other Israeli towns. They created fear and havoc as well as injuring and killing innocent people. Prior to Operation Cast Lead, Hamas was warned to cease their terror against Israeli citizens but to no avail.

In the aftermath of this war, Hamas-ruled Gaza was blockaded. Only emergency goods were allowed in and travel in and out of Gaza was severely restricted. Arms smuggling in the tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt continued. Egypt's attempts to stop the smuggling were only partially successful.

Accusations against Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian population were quick in coming but no condemnation of Hamas for the terrorist rocket attacks against Israelis in the Negev towns within the green line over the past 8 years.

One of the outcomes that occurred during the year was the Goldstone Report. This report criticized Israel for its use of disproportionate force against the Palestinian population resulting in the deaths of many innocent people. It did not condemn Hamas for the rocket attacks against the Israeli population in the southern towns in strong terms. The statement of condemnation of Hamas was almost apologetic and unconvincing. While there is no doubt that many innocent Palestinians were killed including children. Perhaps the IDF could have been more cautious when fighting in densely populated areas. Hamas will never hold itself accountable for human crimes against their own people as the Goldstone Report naively suggests in their findings. The chance of Hamas being prosecuted for war crimes against humanity remains zero not to mention their cruel methods of torture against their opponents.

The suffering of the Palestinian population in Gaza because of the siege is horrendous. The destruction of infrastructure and homes of Palestinians caught up in the crossfire was great. Even a year after the war in Gaza hardly anything had been done to alleviate the tremendous suffering of the Palestinian population because of the war. No reconstruction plans, no rehabilitation and no improvement of living standards have been initiated.

Hamas is responsible for this. It is not in their interest to do anything to alleviate the tragic situation of the Palestinian population. Their emphasis is on rhetoric of racist hatred for Israel and its people as well as provoking Israel into another attack on Gaza. They do not care for the Palestinian population at all. Maintaining Palestinian misery is Hamas's strength. They are leeches sucking Palestinian blood to feed their fantasies of hate and destruction of Israel.

Hamas is a curse on the Palestinian People! Their propaganda machine is well oiled and the financial help they get from the evil Ahmadinajad regime has played its part in prolonging their suffering.

Any hope of responsible rule and pragmatism towards Israel is not in the lexicon of the evil Hamas regime. What has Hamas achieved during their rule in Gaza? The results of Hamas rule are plain for all to see. They still believe that they can continue not recognizing Israel, and that Israel's total destruction remains their goal. They wish to establish a regime of extremist Islamism that is ruled by sharia (Islamic Laws).

Nothing can be more tragic for any nation than rule based on a fantasy of destroying another nation. This is the only goal that occupies the minds of the Hamas leadership. It is obvious at the mass rallies of stereotypic rhetoric held periodically. The evil Iranian regime that pours funds in propping up the Hamas regime without any consideration for the Palestinian population proves that Iran is just as colonialist as Israel which still occupies the West Bank and does not freeze settlements. The attempts of an uprising in Iran against the evil Ahmadinajad regime proves that Ahmadinajad is an evil dictator who wishes to extend his influence to the Palestinians and their Hamas patrons. He does not care for the Palestinian population any more than he cares for his own people. He is an evil despot who wishes to colonize another people using his new gained nuclear threat as a means to that goal.

This however does not exonerate Israel of its responsibility for the terrible onslaught of military might on many innocent Palestinians. It would be prudent to lift the siege on Gaza allowing its citizens more freedom. On the other hand, Hamas must come to terms with Israel's existence, and cease its terror against Israel before the siege can be lifted allowing Gazans the freedom of movement which they deserve.

The tunnels connecting Gaza with the Egyptian border has become a focus of weapons, goods and even drug smuggling. The racketeers running the tunnels belong to various family clans vying with each other to making large profits out of smuggling - even clashing with the Egyptian forces responsible for maintaining order.

As usual always the innocent Palestinians suffer because of Hamas intransigence and fantasies of destroying Israel.

In Iran, the people are rising against the evil Ahmadinajad regime. Eventually they will succeed. If the Palestinian population would rise up against the evil Hamas regime and establish a democratic, responsible government in its place, the siege on Gaza would be lifted allowing Gazans to re-establish their dignity and improve their economic situation.

Those who support lifting the siege on Gaza without supporting the downfall of Hamas are doing a great disservice to the Gazans who are suffering immense and indescribable hardships. They are strengthening the Hamas positions against peace, coexistence and a just solution to the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict. They are supporting the Islamist terrorist groups who are abusing human rights of Palestinians under their evil parent organization -Hamas.

Hamas is a cancer in Palestinian society! They will destroy the Palestinian People by prolonging a fantasy of hate for Israel, the Jewish people, western democratic values and basic human rights. Hamas has a manifesto closely resembling that of Nazi Germany. Its ideas on race hatred are no different.

Inshallah! The day will come when the Palestinian people will rise against the evil Hamas regime and have their personal freedom restored so that they can take their place amongst the world of nations in dignity.