Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where life imitates art

The scenario seemed disturbingly familiar to me. Bellow I have paraphrased a descriptive summary of a video posted by blogger Sabbah in early December 2008.

Footage filmed by Jamal Abu-Sa'ifan, a Palestinian resident of Hebron, documented a terrorist Israeli settler shooting two members of his family.

The shootings followed the eviction of Israeli settlers from a Palestinian house they had occupied in Hebron. Settlers attacked the nearby house of the Abu-Se'ifan family. During ensuing clashes, a settler fired his handgun at Hosni and his father 'Abd al-Hai. The son was hit the chest and the father was wounded in the arm. Other members of the family managed to overcome the shooter and the two injured men were taken to a Hebron hospital. But a short while later more terrorist-settlers from the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba arrive at the scene and fire their guns at the Palestinian family.

Here is the video:

I mentioned that the video was disturbingly familiar to me. I had seen it all before in a movie that had terrified me as a young child.

What happened outside Hebron -- to my mind at least -- resembled a scene right out of the Planet of the Apes. In the post-apocalyptic 1968 movie, a master race of apes leave their protected compounds from time to time to go on hunting expeditions. The privileged apes shoot at communities of humans reduced to a primitive existance. They burn the humans' simple houses to the ground.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz described the settler violence near Hebron as "A pogrom. This isn't a play on words or a double meaning. It is a pogrom in the worst sense of the word. First the masked men set fire to their laundry in the front yard and then they tried to set fire to one of the rooms in the house...."

Daniel Levy at TPM Cafe describes how the Bush Administration has refused to hold Israel to account for expansion of settlements on the West Bank. He blogs:
The U.S. is on paper opposed to settlement expansion. The U.S. narrative, though, has shifted. Initially settlements were characterized by the U.S. as "illegal"--that description was dropped by the Reagan Administration and never returned to. Settlements became no more than "unhelpful" and later on an "obstacle to peace"--a language which the Bush Administration has occasionally used. What the U.S. has not done is to take a firm, consistent, and unrelenting position that Israel uphold its commitment to a settlement freeze--and without such U.S. action, the Israeli cost-benefit calculation on settlement expansion vs. freeze is always skewed in favor of the former.
Levy notes that settler violence and lawlessness is highly organized. He makes the case that violence-prone Jewish settler groups should be categorized as "terrorist organizations" by the US State Department. Levy also points to a recent Council on Foreign Relations and Brookings Institute report which advises that US aid to Israel be conditional pending a freeze on all new settlements.

So what if Israeli democracy is to some extent held hostage by extremists in the settler movement? Why does it matter what role America and the world chooses to play?

It matters precisely because -- as the final scene of the movie reminds us -- we had a choice.


  1. Not a word about Hamas.
    Greetings Jotman, a new low. What a shame this blog is becoming.

  2. Greetings Anonymous,

    No. I did not mention Hamas rocket attacks in this post. Neither did I mention the ongoing Israeli air and ground assault on Gaza that have resulted in thousands of Palestinian casualties.

  3. Jotman

    perhaps you should mention Hamas - particularly, how many Israelis are killed by Hamas missiles? any at all ?
    and how many Palestenians ?

    BTW I remember watching I think Scott Ritter video (if you can't find it - perhaps I may provide link) where he was giving interview about US position towards state of Israel. among other things he said that any criticism of Israel is sort of unspoken taboo in US. (last year Jim Carter was even accused of anti-semitism for his book - remember?)

    then more interesting part was his explanation about why US feels it is so important for them to aid and protect Israel. here is what I remember and what I've understood from his point: because there are ultra-right christian fundamentalists in US who are apparently a core of GOP and therefore practically control the whole political "kitchen" there, and those guys sacredly believe into Rupture and Christ's advent. so, essentially for all those things to happen there MUST be a biblical Israel - which oh so coincidentally located on the territory of the country Israel. so, the very existence of the state of Israel is crucial to those christian fanatics - and therefore they will always make sure that state of Israel continues to exist and is supported by all means. and after all - all those "zionists" (aka supposed jews) might be not the main driving force of what's going on in Gaza now - but those very fanatical christians....

    oh, one more thing I recall from Ritter - which relates to what you said here ("what if Israeli democracy is to some extent held hostage by extremists") : Ritter was explaining about Israel attitude towards Iran, and he has mentioned one IDF general who has introduced the concept of "Konsepsia", which is basically filtering out the intelligence data and leaving only those "facts" which suit the "Konsepsia" (say, "Iran wants to destroy Israel")...

    so, you're not so far from truth. extremists do hold it hostage !


  4. perhaps you should mention Hamas - particularly, how many Israelis are killed by Hamas missiles? any at all ?

    The number appears to be 12 (Economist)

  5. Jotman

    I guess that number is mostly (if not entirely only) of Israelis killed AFTER Israel has launched their air-strikes and then ground offensive.

    perhaps I should have made my question more clear:

    instead of

    "how many Israelis are killed by Hamas missiles?"

    should be

    "how many Israelis are killed by Hamas during the period when Hamas ended Dec 19th truce ans resumed shelling Israel and BEFORE the Israel retaliated with massive air-strikes on Dec 27th ?"

    in other words, my main point was: even though Israel justified its attacks on Gaza as retaliation to Hamas rocketing, in reality Hamas rockets didn't kill ANY Israelis prior to that. while Israel's air-strikes and then ground invasion has kille already so many, especially civilians.

    as I remember, there were NON killed by Hamas within that period.

    you refer to Economist source - could your provide URL?

    here is the only thing I could find on Economist :


    "... Israel professed outrage at Hamas’s lobbing of rockets from Gaza, which had killed precisely one Israeli between July and the start of the present Israeli onslaught ... "

    this answers my clarified question, but only partly - because 1 killed is not necessarily during the period AFTER truce ended and before IAF strikes.

    Independent quotes Israeli FM saying:

    "Seventeen people have been killed in attacks from Gaza this year, including nine civilians, six of whom died from rockets, and eight soldiers, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry. "

    again - during the whole year, not during the period after truce. and from those only 6 died from rockets.

    here is an article I found on The Sun (BTW a good read, author quite touches upon the same points I am trying to make!), with a slightly different numbers:

    Last 7 yrs - 14 Israelis killed by Hamas rockets,
    5000 Palestinians killed by Israel

    "Zionist massacre in the Gaza that was underway as 2008 made way for 2009. Those who justify Israel's attempt to strangle the Palestinians, to deny them the right to exist in a sovereign state, quote from the Bible, from ancient texts, and they brand all Palestinians terrorists. In other words, Israel is fulfilling a holy mission by obliterating these "pests" from the face of the earth. Some claim Hamas has been pounding Israel with rockets, hence Israel's right to retaliate with maximum force.

    Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian (UK) last week, made the point that in seven years of conflict, 14 Israelis were killed by Hamas' rocket-fire while an estimated 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments...

    In the face of such facts, those who defend Israel's atrocities, nay, genocide, sound very much like people who blame the victims, not the rapists, for this ghastly crime... "


    original article:

    Israel courting doomsday
    Raffique Shah
    Sunday, January 4th 2009
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161419993 )

    well, of course I realize that there might be a factor of "different sources - different numbers" (those by or pro- Israel or Palestine). although Reuters quotes quote similar numbers:

    "rocket fire into Israel by Hamas guerrillas that have killed 22 people since 2000"
    (http://uk.reuters.com/article/UKNews1/idUKTRE50851M20090109?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0 )

    in any case, the main point remains the same: there is no way Israel and USA (the ONLY! UN SC member who first vetoed earlier resolution and then later "abstained from" last one communique voted 14-0 by the rest of UN SC members about seize fire) can possibly justify the MASSACRE or mass slaughter of Palestinians by silly, no, totally moronically stupid excuses that "Israel only defends itself". from what, from those "toothpicks" (as mentioned in your latest post) ?

    USA as usually and perhaps as alwasy applies DOUBLE STANDARDS towards itself / Israel and the rest of the world. no any other proper explanation.

    "Many voices around the world speak up for the Palestinians, but few in the U.S. Congress....
    When these events occur, there's almost a knee-jerk reaction of Congress that endorses 1,000 percent what Israel is doing. said Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat and Lebanese-American who has voted against some of the measures and did so again on Friday.

    "Israel is our ally. ... It always has been, with which I perfectly agree. But I don't believe in allowing that to blind us to what is in our best interests, or giving knee-jerk approval to anything Israel does. We don't do that with any other ally," he told Reuters. "

    EU I think are not so much better than USA, indulging themselves practically in demagogy, as here is the perfect example :

    Israel "Excessive" but "Not Disproportional"

    cool, huh? so, what else it is than a duplicitous word jugglery ?
    yeah, sure - it is "proportional", with the slight nuance that the PROPORTION is too huge: 1 Israeli killed since July 2008 to Dec 27th (as quoted above from Economist) - and on other hand already what, 1000 Palestinians killed by IDF during last 2 weeks? alright, even if it is 12 Israelis killed (as Jotman quoted) - still, the "proportion would be": almost 100 to 1 ?

    ok, here is another source:

    "Medics in Gaza said the Palestinian death toll had risen to 784. Ten Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as three civilians hit by Hamas cross-border rocket fire."
    (http://uk.reuters.com/article/UKNews1/idUKLS69391620090109 )

    alright, 784 / 13 = 60
    so, the "proportion" is 60 to 1 - and that is AFTER Israel launched its strikes. quite "proportional" ...

    after such open, blunt and shameless support ("knee-jerk approval to anything Israel does") of Israel USA should shut the f*** up and stop BSing the rest of world about 'democracy', 'war on terror' and other inflammatory rhetorics it always employs (just browse all those 4 months old news about S. Ossetian conflict to refresh the memory) - because it has lost whatever possibly remaining credibility !

    because it is indeed "anything" Israel does, as :
    - kills civilians (incl. women and children);
    - violates "UN havens" (shelters) - as those 2 UN schools;
    - shoots at Red cross reps (AFP);
    - denies ANY and ALL access to reporters to the conflict zone;
    - denies relief / medical work;
    (http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/friday/news/ny-wogaza095992190jan09,0,4179212.story )

    hell, it openly shows the middle finger to the UN !
    ("Israel rebuffs U.N. ceasefire calls" Reuters)
    so, basically, it is US+Israel - and the rest of the world.
    these two can do whatever they want - anyone else can't, or else will be condemned, branded by all imaginable accusations etc.

    so, I would rather say not "what a shame this blog becoming" (the first comment) - but "what a shame this world becoming" !

    P.S. "100 Survivors Rescued in Gaza From Ruins Blocked by Israelis" (Washington Post)

    now, imagine for a moment - this headline was in Aug 2008 and instead of "Israelis" it would be Russians ? ;)
    or Myanmar, or China ....

    what a foul cry, no, a HOWL will be raised by Western MSM ! what a tireless bashing it would have been!

    BIAS - no more words.


  6. 1a,

    The Economist stat I recalled from the most recent print edition. If you look at the chart in this post:


    12 killed, I think, refers to the number killed by Hamas rockets since Israel withdrew from Gaza sometime in 2005.

    The Israelis will say one has to look at the bigger picture, the terror the attacks put in the minds of the civilian Israelis. This point can't be ignored. To some extent the "small numbers killed in Hamas rocket attack relative to the numbers killed in the invasion" argument invites a misleading analogy.

    Obviously, Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But were the attacks unprovoked? Reading US media accounts, it's easy to get the impression that they had been unprovoked.

    However, the attacks can be seen as response to another provocation.

    Israel's renewed blockade of supplies to Gaza, perceived as a provocation by Hamas, directly preceded the resumption of rocket attacks. According to Wikipedia:

    "The International Criminal Court plans to include blockades against coasts and ports in its list of acts of war in 2009."

    Of course, Gaza is not a country. But one could argue that a blockade is a blockade.

    As Economist points out (I quote it in full in the next post):

    "...Even during the now-lapsed truce, Israel prevented all but a trickle of humanitarian aid from entering the strip. So although Israel was provoked, Hamas can claim that it was provoked too...."

    To say the rocket attacks were more of a provocation than the economic blockade would be to see mainly one side of things. The US media has not had very much to say about the blockade, has it? We only here about the Hamas rockets.

    Of course, Israel says that the blockade was needed to stop shipments of rocket parts into Gaza. But then why was much humanitarian aid also blocked?

    When we take the aid blockade into consideration, the rocket attacks look like "tit for tat." Rocket explosions make for better TV images than the does the effects of any aid blockade. Nevertheless, both populations were stressed, but in different ways. Hence, it looks like tit for tat.

    The Israeli invasion appears to take things to a new level. I am far from convinced Israel did everything in its power to solve the problems by means other than resorting to a massive escalation in violence that has caused thousands of casualties.


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