Author Topic: Israel, and its neighbors  (Read 870735 times)


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WSJ: Not another US style counterinsurgency
« Reply #2850 on: December 29, 2023, 03:39:28 AM »
Please, Not Another U.S.-Style ‘Counterinsurgency’
Why do Americans push on Israel a doctrine that failed in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan?
Dec. 27, 2023 10:45 am ET

Rep. Seth Moulton’s letter (Dec. 21) challenges your editorial “Biden’s Rising Tension With Israel” (Dec. 15), which noted the simple fact that Israel’s troops in Gaza are suffering more casualties to “satisfy the U.S. President’s demands on how to fight in Gaza.” In other words, the Israelis have been asked to fight with much less air power and artillery, and also to advance faster, to end the war sooner. The two requirements aren’t additive: To move faster with less firepower multiplies casualties.

Mr. Moulton writes, “A basic principle of counterinsurgency warfare is that you must work assiduously to distinguish terrorists from innocent civilians who must be won over, lest someday they become terrorists as well. Anyone who misunderstands this principle risks winning battles but losing the war.” This invocation of the peculiar and utterly discredited U.S. practice of “counterinsurgency warfare” is passing strange, for that failed doctrine was the root cause of the enormously costly American defeats in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Moulton himself cites its fundamental—and fundamentally erroneous—doctrine: “innocent civilians . . . must be won over.” That will be impossible because Hamas, like the Viet Cong, Iran’s Iraqi militias and the Taliban, would promptly kill anyone who acts or speaks as one who has been “won over.” Moreover, that futile pursuit typically expands into costly and useless “nation-building,” another giant distraction.

My war was in El Salvador, the one and only war against guerrillas in which the U.S. side won, and the guerrillas were utterly defeated, because there were neither U.S. troops nor generals with Ph.D.s preaching counterinsurgency warfare. It was all done the old-fashioned way, by patiently ambushing and killing guerrillas in many small fights, until they gave up, stopped fighting and tried their hands at electoral politics.

As Mr. Moulton writes, “Hamas must be eliminated.” That is what Israel has been doing—with rifles and grenades, house by house, basement by basement, in one tunnel after another, with scant opportunities for air or artillery support.

Edward N. Luttwak


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Former PM: Take out Iran
« Reply #2851 on: December 29, 2023, 03:45:42 AM »
The U.S. and Israel Need to Take Iran On Directly
Make the ayatollahs pay for sowing chaos through their Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi proxies.
By Naftali Bennett
Dec. 28, 2023 6:05 pm ET

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, backed by Iran, massacred 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, resulting in full-scale war in Gaza. Hezbollah, also backed by Iran, has launched more than 1,000 rockets at northern Israeli communities since then, risking regional conflagration. Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are attacking and hijacking ships in the Suez canal, threatening one of the world’s most vital waterways. Militias in Syria and Iraq, with support from Iran, are attacking U.S. bases and—as always—threatening moderate Arab nations.

Notice a pattern? The Iranian regime is at the center of most of the Middle East’s problems and much of global terror. Yet inexplicably, almost nobody is touching it. For the past 45 years, the regime has been the source of endless war, terror and suffering throughout the world. I’ve come to realize that enough is enough. The evil empire of Iran must be brought down.

As a young officer in Israel’s special forces, I spent a great deal of time fighting Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy. I studied its methods and vulnerabilities. I targeted its commanders and fighters. In 2006, as a reservist, I commanded a special search and destroy team in the second Lebanon War.

Only after that war, in which I lost my best friend, did I begin to realize our great folly. We were fighting the wrong battle, and that is exactly what Iran wants us to do.

In the late 1980s, Iran embarked on a simple yet brilliant strategy: Set up terrorist proxies across the Middle East. Fund them, train them and arm them. Let them do the dirty work of fighting and dying.

Iran executed this plan well. There is little direct war taking place between Iran and Israel. Instead, Iran constantly attacks Israel via its proxies in such places as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen. Its brutal Quds unit exported terror around the globe. Iran’s terrorist proxies have waged war on every moderate element in the Middle East. They’ve attacked the Saudi oil company Aramco, the United Arab Emirates, the Kurds and Israel on many occasions. The most amazing part: Iran has largely gotten away with it.

There is a new cold war taking place in the Middle East. On one side, there is a corrupt, incompetent and hollow empire—the Islamic Republic of Iran—similar to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. On the other side, there is a thriving, free and strong democracy—Israel (and its allies)—reminiscent of the U.S. in the original Cold War.

When I became prime minister in June 2021, I decided to change this. I told my three security chiefs—the heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad and Shin Bet—that my goal was to avoid, if reasonably possible, local clashes with Hezbollah and Hamas. Rather, Israel’s national-security resources must be focused on weakening our primary enemy—Iran.

There are many ways to weaken Iran: empower domestic opposition, ensure internet continuity during riots against the regime, strengthen its enemies, increase sanctions and economic pressures. But Israel can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. The U.S. should be leading the effort. This doesn’t require a full-scale war, just as the demise of the Soviet Union didn’t result from total war. Rather, the Soviet Union collapsed from internal rot coupled with external pressure applied by the U.S.

As prime minister, I made another decision regarding Iran. I directed Israel’s security forces to make Tehran pay for its decision to sponsor terror. Enough impunity. After Iran launched two failed UAV attacks on Israel in February 2022, Israel destroyed a UAV base on Iranian soil. In March 2022, Iran’s terror unit attempted to kill Israeli tourists in Turkey and failed. Shortly thereafter, the commander of that very unit was assassinated in the center of Tehran.

It turns out that Iran’s tyrants are softer than one might expect. They gleefully send others to die for them. But when they’re hit at home, suddenly they become timid.

The U.S. and Israel must set the clear goal of bringing down Iran’s evil regime. Not only is this possible. It is vital for the safety and security of the Middle East—and the entire civilized world.

Mr. Bennett served as Israel’s prime minister, 2021-22.


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NYT: Screams without words
« Reply #2852 on: December 29, 2023, 07:53:53 AM »

A woman links arms with a man on a gray sofa in a living room with a white wall. The couple is flanked by two younger women. A wedding portrait hangs on the wall.
Gal Abdush’s parents, center, and her sisters. The photograph on the wall shows Gal and her husband, Nagi. The couple had been together since they were teenagers.
‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7
A Times investigation uncovered new details showing a pattern of rape, mutilation and extreme brutality against women in the attacks on Israel.

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By Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam SellaPhotographs by Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Jeffrey Gettleman, Anat Schwartz and Adam Sella reported from across Israel and interviewed more than 150 people.

Dec. 28, 2023
At first, she was known simply as “the woman in the black dress.”

In a grainy video, you can see her, lying on her back, dress torn, legs spread, vagina exposed. Her face is burned beyond recognition and her right hand covers her eyes.

The video was shot in the early hours of Oct. 8 by a woman searching for a missing friend at the site of the rave in southern Israel where, the day before, Hamas terrorists massacred hundreds of young Israelis.

The video went viral, with thousands of people responding, desperate to know if the woman in the black dress was their missing friend, sister or daughter.

One family knew exactly who she was — Gal Abdush, mother of two from a working-class town in central Israel, who disappeared from the rave that night with her husband.

As the terrorists closed in on her, trapped on a highway in a line of cars of people trying to flee the party, she sent one final WhatsApp message to her family: “You don’t understand.”

Based largely on the video evidence — which was verified by The New York Times — Israeli police officials said they believed that Ms. Abdush was raped, and she has become a symbol of the horrors visited upon Israeli women and girls during the Oct. 7 attacks.

Israeli officials say that everywhere Hamas terrorists struck — the rave, the military bases along the Gaza border and the kibbutzim — they brutalized women.

A two-month investigation by The Times uncovered painful new details, establishing that the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7.

Relying on video footage, photographs, GPS data from mobile phones and interviews with more than 150 people, including witnesses, medical personnel, soldiers and rape counselors, The Times identified at least seven locations where Israeli women and girls appear to have been sexually assaulted or mutilated.

5 mi.10 km.
© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap
By The New York Times
Four witnesses described in graphic detail seeing women raped and killed at two different places along Route 232, the same highway where Ms. Abdush’s half-naked body was found sprawled on the road at a third location.

And The Times interviewed several soldiers and volunteer medics who together described finding more than 30 bodies of women and girls in and around the rave site and in two kibbutzim in a similar state as Ms. Abdush’s — legs spread, clothes torn off, signs of abuse in their genital areas.

ImageCars — some destroyed by fire, others damaged — in a clearing among trees.
A camp area on Oct. 11 at the rave site in southern Israel.Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Many of the accounts are difficult to bear, and the visual evidence is disturbing to see.

The Times viewed photographs of one woman’s corpse that emergency responders discovered in the rubble of a besieged kibbutz with dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin.

The Times also viewed a video, provided by the Israeli military, showing two dead Israeli soldiers at a base near Gaza who appeared to have been shot directly in their vaginas.

Hamas has denied Israel’s accusations of sexual violence. Israeli activists have been outraged that the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, and the agency U.N. Women did not acknowledge the many accusations until weeks after the attacks.

Investigators with Israel’s top national police unit, Lahav 433, have been steadily gathering evidence but they have not put a number on how many women were raped, saying that most are dead — and buried — and that they will never know. No survivors have spoken publicly.

The Israeli police have acknowledged that, during the shock and confusion of Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israeli history, they were not focused on collecting semen samples from women’s bodies, requesting autopsies or closely examining crime scenes. At that moment, the authorities said, they were intent on repelling Hamas and identifying the dead.

Messages on a mobile phone screen.
Ms. Abdush’s sister showing one of the last messages Ms. Abdush sent on Oct. 7.

A combination of chaos, enormous grief and Jewish religious duties meant that many bodies were buried as quickly as possible. Most were never examined, and in some cases, like at the rave scene, where more than 360 people were slaughtered in a few hours, the bodies were hauled away by the truckload.

That has left the Israeli authorities at a loss to fully explain to families what happened to their loved ones in their final moments. Ms. Abdush’s relatives, for instance, never received a death certificate. They are still searching for answers.

In cases of widespread sexual violence during a war, it is not unusual to have limited forensic evidence, experts said.

“Armed conflict is so chaotic,” said Adil Haque, a Rutgers law professor and war crimes expert. “People are more focused on their safety than on building a criminal case down the road.”

Very often, he said, sex crime cases will be prosecuted years later on the basis of testimony from victims and witnesses.

“The eyewitness might not even know the name of the victim,” he added. “But if they can testify as, ‘I saw a woman being raped by this armed group,’ that can be enough.”

‘Screams without words’
Sapir, a 24-year-old accountant, has become one of the Israeli police’s key witnesses. She does not want to be fully identified, saying she would be hounded for the rest of her life if her last name were revealed.

She attended the rave with several friends and provided investigators with graphic testimony. She also spoke to The Times. In a two-hour interview outside a cafe in southern Israel, she recounted seeing groups of heavily armed gunmen rape and kill at least five women.

She said that at 8 a.m. on Oct. 7, she was hiding under the low branches of a bushy tamarisk tree, just off Route 232, about four miles southwest of the party. She had been shot in the back. She felt faint. She covered herself in dry grass and lay as still as she could.

Two people in high-visibility vests walk along a path toward severely damaged low buildings.
Volunteers with an emergency response team at the Kfar Aza kibbutz this month. The kibbutz was among the places attacked on Oct. 7.

About 15 meters from her hiding place, she said, she saw motorcycles, cars and trucks pulling up. She said that she saw “about 100 men,” most of them dressed in military fatigues and combat boots, a few in dark sweatsuits, getting in and out of the vehicles. She said the men congregated along the road and passed between them assault rifles, grenades, small missiles — and badly wounded women.

“It was like an assembly point,” she said.

The first victim she said she saw was a young woman with copper-color hair, blood running down her back, pants pushed down to her knees. One man pulled her by the hair and made her bend over. Another penetrated her, Sapir said, and every time she flinched, he plunged a knife into her back.

She said she then watched another woman “shredded into pieces.” While one terrorist raped her, she said, another pulled out a box cutter and sliced off her breast.

“One continues to rape her, and the other throws her breast to someone else, and they play with it, throw it, and it falls on the road,” Sapir said.

She said the men sliced her face and then the woman fell out of view. Around the same time, she said, she saw three other women raped and terrorists carrying the severed heads of three more women.

Sapir provided photographs of her hiding place and her wounds, and police officials have stood by her testimony and released a video of her, with her face blurred, recounting some of what she saw.

Yura Karol, a 22-year-old security consultant, said he was hiding in the same spot, and he can be seen in one of Sapir’s photos. He and Sapir were part of a group of friends who had met up at the party. In an interview, Mr. Karol said he barely lifted his head to look at the road but he also described seeing a woman raped and killed.

Since that day, Sapir said, she has struggled with a painful rash that spread across her torso, and she can barely sleep, waking up at night, heart pounding, covered in sweat.

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“That day, I became an animal,” she said. “I was emotionally detached, sharp, just the adrenaline of survival. I looked at all this as if I was photographing them with my eyes, not forgetting any detail. I told myself: I should remember everything.”

That same morning, along Route 232 but in a different location about a mile southwest of the party area, Raz Cohen — a young Israeli who had also attended the rave and had worked recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo training Congolese soldiers — said that he was hiding in a dried-up streambed. It provided some cover from the assailants combing the area and shooting anyone they found, he said in an hour-and-a-half interview in a Tel Aviv restaurant.

A head-and-shoulders photo of a man with a beard, wearing a black T-shirt, looking up to his left.
Raz Cohen, a security consultant, survived the Oct. 7 attacks by hiding in a dried-up streambed.

Maybe 40 yards in front of him, he recalled, a white van pulled up and its doors flew open.

He said he then saw five men, wearing civilian clothes, all carrying knives and one carrying a hammer, dragging a woman across the ground. She was young, naked and screaming.

“They all gather around her,” Mr. Cohen said. “She’s standing up. They start raping her. I saw the men standing in a half circle around her. One penetrates her. She screams. I still remember her voice, screams without words.”

“Then one of them raises a knife,” he said, “and they just slaughtered her.”

Shoam Gueta, one of Mr. Cohen’s friends and a fashion designer, said the two were hiding together in the streambed. He said he saw at least four men step out of the van and attack the woman, who ended up “between their legs.” He said that they were “talking, giggling and shouting,” and that one of them stabbed her with a knife repeatedly, “literally butchering her.”

Hours later, the first wave of volunteer emergency medical technicians arrived at the rave site. In interviews, four of them said that they discovered bodies of dead women with their legs spread and underwear missing — some with their hands tied by rope and zipties — in the party area, along the road, in the parking area and in the open fields around the rave site.

Jamal Waraki, a volunteer medic with the nonprofit ZAKA emergency response team, said he could not get out of his head a young woman in a rawhide vest found between the main stage and the bar.

“Her hands were tied behind her back,” he said. “She was bent over, half naked, her underwear rolled down below her knees.”

Yinon Rivlin, a member of the rave’s production team who lost two brothers in the attacks, said that after hiding from the killers, he emerged from a ditch and made his way to the parking area, east of the party, along Route 232, looking for survivors.

Near the highway, he said, he found the body of a young woman, on her stomach, no pants or underwear, legs spread apart. He said her vagina area appeared to have been sliced open, “as if someone tore her apart.”

Similar discoveries were made in two kibbutzim, Be’eri and Kfar Aza. Eight volunteer medics and two Israeli soldiers told The Times that in at least six different houses, they had come across a total of at least 24 bodies of women and girls naked or half naked, some mutilated, others tied up, and often alone.

A paramedic in an Israeli commando unit said that he had found the bodies of two teenage girls in a room in Be’eri.

One was lying on her side, he said, boxer shorts ripped, bruises by her groin. The other was sprawled on the floor face down, he said, pajama pants pulled to her knees, bottom exposed, semen smeared on her back.

Because his job was to look for survivors, he said, he kept moving and did not document the scene. Neighbors of the two girls killed — who were sisters, 13 and 16 — said their bodies had been found alone, separated from the rest of their family.

The Israeli military allowed the paramedic to speak with reporters on the condition that he not be identified because he serves in an elite unit.

Many of the dead were brought to the Shura military base, in central Israel, for identification. Here, too, witnesses said they saw signs of sexual violence.

Shari Mendes, an architect called up as a reserve soldier to help prepare the bodies of female soldiers for burial, said she had seen four with signs of sexual violence, including some with “a lot of blood in their pelvic areas.”

A woman stands in a large metal container whose doors are open, showing wrapped bodies stacked on shelves, while a man with a gun stands looking in her direction.
Shari Mendes, an architect who was called up as a reserve soldier to help handle the bodies of female troops, in a container used to hold bodies before their removal to a morgue at the Shura military base in central Israel.

A dentist, Captain Maayan, who worked at the same identification center, said that she had seen at least 10 bodies of female soldiers from Gaza observation posts with signs of sexual violence.

Captain Maayan asked to be identified only by her rank and surname because of the sensitivity of the subject. She said she had seen several bodies with cuts in their vaginas and underwear soaked in blood and one whose fingernails had been pulled out.

The investigation
The Israeli authorities have no shortage of video evidence from the Oct. 7 attacks. They have gathered hours of footage from Hamas body cameras, dashcams, security cameras and mobile phones showing Hamas terrorists killing civilians and many images of mutilated bodies.

But Moshe Fintzy, a deputy superintendent and senior spokesman of Israel’s national police, said, “We have zero autopsies, zero,” making an O with his right hand.

In the aftermath of the attack, police officials said, forensic examiners were dispatched to the Shura military base to help identify the hundreds of bodies — Israeli officials say around 1,200 people were killed that day.

The examiners worked quickly to give the agonized families of the missing a sense of closure and to determine, by a process of elimination, who was dead and who was being held hostage in Gaza.

According to Jewish tradition, funerals are held promptly. The result was that many bodies with signs of sexual abuse were put to rest without medical examinations, meaning that potential evidence now lies buried in the ground. International forensic experts said that it would be possible to recover some evidence from the corpses, but that it would be difficult.

Mr. Fintzy said Israeli security forces were still finding imagery that shows women were brutalized. Sitting at his desk at an imposing police building in Jerusalem, he swiped open his phone, tapped and produced the video of the two soldiers shot in the vagina, which he said was recorded by Hamas gunmen and recently recovered by Israeli soldiers.

A colleague sitting next to him, Mirit Ben Mayor, a police chief superintendent, said she believed that the brutality against women was a combination of two ferocious forces, “the hatred for Jews and the hatred for women.”

Some emergency medical workers now wish they had documented more of what they saw. In interviews, they said they had moved bodies, cut off zip ties and cleaned up scenes of carnage. Trying to be respectful to the dead, they inadvertently destroyed evidence.

Many volunteers working for ZAKA, the emergency response team, are religious Jews and operate under strict rules that command deep respect for the dead.

“I did not take pictures because we are not allowed to take pictures,” said Yossi Landau, a ZAKA volunteer. “In retrospect, I regret it.”

There are at least three women and one man who were sexually assaulted and survived, according to Gil Horev, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs. “None of them has been willing to come physically for treatment,” he said. Two therapists said they were working with a woman who was gang raped at the rave and was in no condition to talk to investigators or reporters.

A man with a beard and black jacket looks off to his left.
Yossi Landau, a volunteer with the nonprofit ZAKA emergency response team, said he had not taken pictures of the bodies because it was not allowed. “In retrospect, I regret it,” he added.

The trauma from sexual assault can be so heavy that sometimes survivors do not speak about it for years, several rape counselors said.

“Many people are looking for the golden evidence, of a woman who will testify about what happened to her. But don’t look for that, don’t put this pressure on this woman,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. “The corpses tell the story.”

The woman in the black dress
One of the last images of Ms. Abdush alive — captured by a security camera mounted on her front door — shows her leaving home with her husband, Nagi, at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 7 for the rave.

He was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt. She was dressed in a short black dress, a black shawl tied around her waist and combat boots. As she struts out, she takes a swig from a glass (her brother-in-law remembers it was Red Bull and vodka) and laughs.

You’ve got to live life like it’s your last moments. That was her motto, her sisters said.

At daybreak, hundreds of terrorists closed in on the party from several directions, blocking the highways leading out. The couple jumped into their Audi, dashing off a string of messages as they moved.

“We’re on the border,” Ms. Abdush wrote to her family. “We’re leaving.”


Her husband made his own calls to his family, leaving a final audio message for his brother, Nissim, at 7:44 a.m. “Take care of the kids,” he said. “I love you.”

Gunshots rang out, and the message stopped.

That night, Eden Wessely, a car mechanic, drove to the rave site with three friends and found Ms. Abdush sprawled half naked on the road next to her burned car, about nine miles north of the site. She did not see the body of Mr. Abdush.

A woman in a car, illuminated by an internal light.
Eden Wessely, a car mechanic, drove to the rave site looking for a missing friend but instead found Ms. Abdush sprawled half naked on the road next to her burned car.

She saw other burned cars and other bodies, and shot videos of several — hoping that they would help people to identify missing relatives. When she posted the video of the woman in the black dress on her Instagram story, she was deluged with messages.

“Hi, based on your description of the woman in the black dress, did she have blonde hair?” one message read.

“Eden, the woman you described with the black dress, do you remember the color of her eyes?” another said.

Some members of the Abdush family saw that video and another version of it filmed by one of Ms. Wessely’s friends. They immediately suspected that the body was Ms. Abdush, and based on the way her body was found, they feared that she might have been raped.

But they kept alive a flicker of hope that somehow, it wasn’t true.

The videos caught the eye of Israeli officials as well — very quickly after Oct. 7 they began gathering evidence of atrocities. They included footage of Ms. Abdush’s body in a presentation made to foreign governments and media organizations, using Ms. Abdush as a representation of violence committed against women that day.

A fuzzy photograph of a woman’s body lying on the ground next to a white vehicle.
A screenshot from a video showing Ms. Abdush’s body.Credit...Eden Wessely

A week after her body was found, three government social workers appeared at the gate of the family’s home in Kiryat Ekron, a small town in central Israel. They broke the news that Ms. Abdush, 34, had been found dead.

But the only document the family received was a one-page form letter from Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, expressing his condolences and sending a hug. The body of Mr. Abdush, 35, was identified two days after his wife’s. It was badly burned and investigators determined who he was based on a DNA sample and his wedding ring.

The couple had been together since they were teenagers. To the family, it seems only yesterday that Mr. Abdush was heading off to work to fix water heaters, a bag of tools slung over his shoulder, and Ms. Abdush was cooking up mashed potatoes and schnitzel for their two sons, Eliav, 10, and Refael, 7.

The boys are now orphans. They were sleeping over at an aunt’s the night their parents were killed. Ms. Abdush’s mother and father have applied for permanent custody, and everyone is chipping in to help.

Night after night, Ms. Abdush’s mother, Eti Bracha, lies in bed with the boys until they drift off. A few weeks ago, she said she tried to quietly leave their bedroom when the younger boy stopped her.

“Grandma,” he said, “I want to ask you a question.”

“Honey,” she said, “you can ask anything.”

“Grandma, how did mom die?”

A woman with her eyes closed rests her head on the shoulder of a man wearing a skull cap, looking out of a window.
Ms. Abdush’s parents, Eti Bracha, 56, and her husband, Eli, 60.

Jeffrey Gettleman is an international correspondent and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of “Love, Africa,” a memoir. More about Jeffrey Gettleman


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2853 on: December 29, 2023, 08:03:05 AM »
no we don't need a ceasefire!



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Gaza: Life is tougher when you are stupid
« Reply #2856 on: December 30, 2023, 08:51:49 AM »
The Ruined Landscape of Gaza After Nearly Three Months of Bombing
The destruction of homes, schools and other buildings resembles some of the most devastating campaigns in modern history
Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood on Oct. 10. VIDEO: Mohammed Alaloul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
By Jared MalsinFollow
 and Saeed ShahFollow
Updated Dec. 30, 2023 9:42 am ET

The war in the Gaza Strip is generating destruction comparable in scale to the most devastating urban warfare in the modern record.

By mid-December, Israel had dropped 29,000 bombs, munitions and shells on the strip. Nearly 70% of Gaza’s 439,000 homes and about half of its buildings have been damaged or destroyed. The bombing has damaged Byzantine churches and ancient mosques, factories and apartment buildings, shopping malls and luxury hotels, theaters and schools. Much of the water, electrical, communications and healthcare infrastructure that made Gaza function is beyond repair.

Most of the strip’s 36 hospitals are shut down, and only eight are accepting patients. Citrus trees, olive groves and greenhouses have been obliterated. More than two-thirds of its schools are damaged.

Oct. 11

Almost half of Gaza’s buildings have been damaged or destroyed.



Jabalia refugee camp



Jabalia refugee camp


tree crops





About 85% of the strip’s 2.2 million people have fled their homes, most of them to the south.

2 miles

Nov. 10

2 km





Families flee to the south.

Dec. 19

More than 21,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children, according to Gaza health officials.

Mourners in Rafah bid farewell to relatives killed.

Note: Damage as of Dec. 16. Areas where tree and building damage overlap appear darker.

Sources: Corey Scher/CUNY Graduate Center, Jamon Van Den Hoek/Oregon State University (building damage); Dr. He Yin/Kent State University (tree damage); Getty Images (2 photos); Zuma Press (1 photo)
Israel says that the bombing campaign and ground offensive has inflicted thousands of casualties on its intended target, Hamas. That U.S.-designated terrorist group’s cross-border assault on Oct. 7 killed 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials. The attackers tortured residents and burned homes as they went.

In Israel’s response, its bombs, artillery shells and soldiers have killed more than 21,000 Palestinians, according to health officials in Gaza. The figure doesn’t distinguish between civilians and militants. Most of them are women and children, those officials said.

The destruction resembles that left by Allied bombing of German cities during World War II. “The word ‘Gaza’ is going to go down in history along with Dresden and other famous cities that have been bombed,” said Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and the author of a history of aerial bombing. “What you’re seeing in Gaza is in the top 25% of the most intense punishment campaigns in history.”

The Al-Karameh neighborhood in northern Gaza, first in May, then in October after Israeli airstrikes on the region began.
Three months ago, Gaza was a vibrant place. Despite decades of Israeli occupation, sieges and wars, many Palestinians enjoyed living there beside the Mediterranean Sea, where they gathered in cafes and seaside restaurants. Families played on the beach. Young men crowded around TVs in the evening to watch soccer.

Today, Gaza is a landscape of crumpled concrete. In northern Gaza, the focus of Israel’s initial offensive, the few people who remain navigate rubble-strewn streets past bombed-out shops and apartment blocks. Broken glass crunches underfoot. Israeli drones buzz overhead.

In the south, where more than a million displaced residents have fled, Gazans sleep in the street and burn garbage to cook. Some 85% of the strip’s 2.2 million people have fled their homes and are confined by Israeli evacuation orders to less than one-third of the strip, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli military said it is targeting Hamas and taking steps to avoid killing civilians, including by encouraging residents to leave areas it is attacking. The Israeli air force has said its bombing campaign is causing “maximum damage.” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in October that “while balancing accuracy with the scope of damage, right now we’re focused on what causes maximum damage.”

A Palestinian woman in her damaged apartment on the outskirts of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. PHOTO: MAHMUD HAMS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Israel has accused Hamas of using civilian buildings to hide entrances to tunnels in which it stores weapons and hides commanders. “When you ask why civilian infrastructure is being damaged in Gaza, look at where Hamas built its military infrastructure, then point your finger at Hamas,” Eylon Levy, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister’s office, said on Dec. 17 on X, formerly Twitter. The U.S. recently pressed Israel to try to limit the number of civilian casualties.

With the war zone mostly closed to the outside world, experts are surveying damage by analyzing satellite imagery and using remote sensing, which monitors physical characteristics by measuring reflected and emitted radiation at a distance. Their findings, they said, are initial and will need verification on the ground, but are likely an underestimate.

According to analysis of satellite data by remote-sensing experts at the City University of New York and Oregon State University, as many as 80% of the buildings in northern Gaza, where the bombing has been most severe, are damaged or destroyed, a higher percentage than in Dresden.


Beit Lahia in northern Gaza on Dec. 26, following Israeli bombardments. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
He Yin, an assistant professor of geography at Kent State University in Ohio, estimated that 20% of Gaza’s agricultural land has been damaged or destroyed. Winter wheat that should be sprouting around now isn’t visible, he said, suggesting it wasn’t planted.

A World Bank analysis concluded that by Dec. 12, the war had damaged or destroyed 77% of health facilities, 72% of municipal services such as parks, courts and libraries, 68% of telecommunications infrastructure, and 76% of commercial sites, including the almost complete destruction of the industrial zone in the north. More than half of all roads, the World Bank found, have been damaged or destroyed. Some 342 schools have been damaged, according to the U.N., including 70 of its own schools.

An assessment by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that Israel dropped 29,000 weapons on Gaza in a little over two months, according to U.S. officials. By comparison, the U.S. military dropped 3,678 munitions on Iraq from 2004 to 2010, according to the U.S. Central Command. Among the weapons provided by the U.S. to Israel during the Gaza war are 2,000-pound “bunker buster” bombs designed to penetrate concrete shelters, which military analysts said are usually used to hit military targets in more sparsely populated areas.

Gaza has a rich 4,000-year history. It was a Canaanite and Pharaonic port city that served as a waypoint on trade routes between Africa and Asia. Through history, it built back from wars, sieges, plagues and earthquakes. In 332 B.C., it was the last city to resist Alexander the Great’s march to Egypt—an act of defiance that fueled a mythology of a people who would never bow. The municipality of Gaza’s symbol is a phoenix.

Saint Porphyrius Church following an Israeli airstrike in October.

Mohammed Saber/EPA/Shutterstock
A destroyed building at the Islamic University of Gaza, in Gaza City, in November.

Omar El-Qattaa/AFP/Getty Images
The headquarters of the Palestinian parliament in Gaza City was destroyed by Israeli forces during their ground operation.

Abed Sabah/Reuters
The Great Omari Mosque, one of the most important cultural sites in Gaza City, before it was destroyed.

Mahmoud Issa/Zuma Press
The majority of Gaza’s residents are either refugees themselves or descendants of those who fled land that is now the state of Israel.

Israel seized the Gaza Strip from Egypt in 1967. In 2005, a year after another Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza, it withdrew its remaining soldiers and settlements, although it maintained control over the enclave’s borders, coastline and airspace. Israel and Egypt severely restricted movement in and out of Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of it, ending decades in which many Gazans worked inside Israel and learned Hebrew.


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Maps
The current war hasn’t spared treasured historic sites. The Great Omari Mosque, an ancient building that was converted from a fifth-century church to a Muslim place of worship, has been destroyed, its minaret toppled. An Israeli airstrike in October hit the fifth century Church of Saint Porphyrius, killing at least 16 Palestinians sheltering there.

“The loss of the Omari mosque saddens me more than the destruction of my own house,” said Fadel Alatel, an archaeologist from Gaza who fled his home to shelter in the southern end of the strip.

The exclusive Rimal neighborhood, with its broad boulevards and beauty salons, was reduced to rubble in the opening days of the war. Israeli attacks have destroyed Gaza’s main courthouse, parliament building and central archives.

Israel says many of its airstrikes have targeted Hamas’s network of tunnels underneath Gaza, which they say also hid hostages taken on Oct. 7. Those tunnels lie beneath densely populated areas in ground that contains important municipal infrastructure, making for a challenging battlefield.

“It’s not a livable city anymore,” said Eyal Weizman, an Israeli-British architect who studies Israel’s approach to the built environment in the Palestinian territories.

Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, first in May, then after Israeli airstrikes began in October.
Any reconstruction, he said, will require “a whole system of underground infrastructure, because when you attack the subsoil, everything that runs through the ground—the water, the gas, the sewage—is torn.”

Europe’s cities were rebuilt after two world wars. Beirut rose again after civil war and Israeli bombardment. Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa have limped back to life after U.S.-led air campaigns leveled them during the war against Islamic State, though reconstruction has been slow for both.

Gaza faces unique challenges. No one knows who will take control if Israel achieves its aim of destroying Hamas. Israel has said it opposes a U.S. plan to place the Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the occupied West Bank, in charge of the strip.

The enclave’s unusual status as a territory with borders controlled by Israel further complicates any road to recovery. After other recent wars in Gaza, Israel has sometimes blocked the entry of construction materials, arguing Hamas could use them for military purposes. In 2015, a full year after a 2014 cease-fire, only one house had been rebuilt—not because of a lack of funds, but because cement wasn’t allowed in.

An analysis by the Shelter Cluster, a coalition of aid groups led by the Norwegian Refugee Council, concluded that after the current war, it will take at least a year just to clear the rubble, a task complicated by having to safely remove unexploded ordnance.

Rebuilding the housing will take seven to 10 years, if financing is available, the group said. It will cost some $3.5 billion, it estimates, not including the cost of providing temporary accommodation.

Tents housing displaced Palestinians in December in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. PHOTO: MAHMUD HAMS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
The level of damage in Gaza is almost double what it was during a 2014 conflict, which lasted 50 days, with five times as many completely destroyed buildings, according to the Shelter Cluster. In the current conflict, as of mid-December, more than 800,000 people had no home left to return to, the World Bank found.

“In a best-case scenario, it’s going to take decades,” said Caroline Sandes, an expert in postconflict redevelopment at Kingston University London.

Alaa Hasham, a 33-year-old mother living in Gaza City’s upscale Rimal neighborhood, used to enjoy sitting in her apartment’s rooftop garden, taking her children to a seaside resort on the weekends and playing chess with friends. She fled with her family soon after the bombing began, joining the small minority of Palestinians who were able to leave for Egypt.

Though her home is destroyed, she is clinging to hope that someday she will return to Gaza.

“People think I’m crazy for wanting to go back,” she said. “Gaza is a special place.”

Corrections & Amplifications
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in October that “while balancing accuracy with the scope of damage, right now we’re focused on what causes maximum damage.” An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Hagari as saying that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.” (Corrected on Dec. 30)

Abeer Ayyoub, Anas Baba, Joanna Sugden and Suha Ma’ayeh contributed to this article.


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Michael Yon calls Israel "Zionstan , , , evil".
« Reply #2857 on: December 31, 2023, 06:44:51 AM »

The Torah Graphic below came today from a small group of Jewish friends. When I first started realizing the evil from Zionstan — formerly known to me as Israel —I was compelled to speak up.

And it is my business 100%.

I am American. My country is involved.

Zionstan demands my obedience, support, and sometimes silence, and pushed Death Jabs. Zionstan can go to hell. My concern was that close Jewish friends and associates would feel or think I was turning on them and not limited to Zionstan. Similar to California — I spent about two years in California and made great friends and loved California. Old California, that is. The Great Californias did millions of Great Things. But Old California morphed into Californiastan. There is New Yorkestan, Chinastan, Francestan, Germanystan…the Stans are growing.

Zionstan is hardcore Evil. Zionstan clearly was involved in the Hamas attacks on 07 October Massacre that killed over a thousand Jews. But Zionists don’t care about average Jews, and treat Christians and Muslims as their dog servants. Zionstan will do cheetah backflips to pull us into war with Iran. But have you personally met any Iranians you actually want to kill? I tend to get along very well with Iranians. A war with Iran would be catastrophic and I personally would revolt against killing random Iranians. Expect a false-flag from Zionstan. And be prepared to stand alongside true Jewish Brothers and Sisters in the massive genocides unfolding.


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WSJ: Israel's Supreme Court divides and rules
« Reply #2858 on: January 03, 2024, 08:28:33 AM »
Israel’s Supreme Court Divides and Rules
No time like a war to grab new powers and reignite old arguments.
The Editorial Board
Updated Jan. 2, 2024 6:40 pm ET

There was no good reason for Israel’s Supreme Court to rush and every reason to wait. “United we win” is the ubiquitous slogan on the Israeli home front, where even bitter rivals have formed a wartime unity government. By acting now to quash the remnant of judicial reform, the court risks plunging Israel into the peacetime squabbles of Oct. 6—and the ruinous, provocative months that preceded it.

In an 8–7 decision on Monday, Israel’s court struck down the “reasonableness” law passed in July. This is the first time the court has overturned part of a Basic Law, akin to a constitutional amendment. It isn’t too much to call this Israel’s second “judicial revolution.”

The first that went by the name, in the 1980s and 1990s, saw the Israeli court claim unusual powers to interfere in political decisions. Its architect, Chief Justice Aharon Barak, nonetheless pledged in 1992 to rule “in complete subservience to the words of the Basic Laws.” He explained that “the people are sovereign, and the Basic Laws are supreme.”

That changed on Monday. As the Times of Israel writes, the justices can now tell the Knesset “not only when its regular laws violate the rules of the game, but what the rules of the game can actually be.” Chief Justice Esther Hayut appealed to the principles of Israel’s Declaration of Independence to grab this power.

The court hurried to issue a divisive ruling, though delay and unity is surely in the country’s interest, because in two weeks the majority behind it will be no more. Justices Hayut and Anat Baron retired in mid-October and can join decisions only until mid-January. Both voted to overturn the law.

If the government had behaved this way, rushing past an institutional conflict of interest to allow outgoing members to cast significant deciding votes during wartime, the court might have deemed the action “unreasonable.”

That was the judicial doctrine at issue. After the government’s reform proposals met stiff popular resistance, only one token change passed the Knesset: no more using “unreasonableness” as the sole factor to block a government decision.

As Justice Yael Willner explains in a dissent, government decisions would still have had to meet the court’s standards of legitimate authority, valid process, good faith, pertinent considerations, proportionality, nonarbitrariness and antidiscrimination. The justices would hardly have been left defenseless against executive overreach.

Unwilling to cede an inch, Israel’s court has seized another mile. It had other options. Many of the 12 justices who claim the right to overturn Basic Laws voted against exercising it in this case, preferring to interpret the new law narrowly instead. That would have mitigated any perceived danger. But the eight in the majority chose to salt the earth.

In the short run, the court will be rewarded for its timing. Its critics have pledged to put the matter off until the war is won, lest domestic disorder undermine the war effort and encourage Hamas and Hezbollah.

In the long run, the court may find that it has harmed itself while killing a reform package that was politically all but dead. Benny Gantz, the opponent of Benjamin Netanyahu who could be Israel’s next Prime Minister, now says that after the war, “We will need to decide relations between the branches of government and legislate a ‘Basic Law: Legislation’ that will anchor the status of Basic Laws.”

Mr. Gantz could now find broad consensus—precisely what Israel’s government had lacked before and Israel’s court lacks today for its willful wartime decision.


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not only during a war but on December 31st
« Reply #2859 on: January 03, 2024, 08:40:45 AM »


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Why I support Israel
« Reply #2860 on: January 03, 2024, 05:42:25 PM »
Recent column

“I have a premonition that will not leave me: as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”
-   Eric Hoffer

First of all, no I’m not Jewish. I suppose however that I’m a Zionist though I say that with some surprise as it never occurred to me to call myself such before now.

By Zionist I mean I support the right of Israel to exist, to have secure borders, to have the right to control immigration, to defend itself by all means recognized for any other state, and to retaliate against aggression by all means recognized for any other state.

Why? No seriously why? What business is it of mine?

Well for one, consider the alternative. The atrocities of Hamas are well known in sickening detail and cannot be denied because Hamas is documenting and boasting about them.

Still they are being denied, even justified by some of the vilest people one can imagine. That should be enough in and of itself.
Israel by contrast still attempts to minimize civilian casualties among a population that hates them. And one wonders why. They’re not going to affect public
opinion that way.

It appears to have something to do with Jewish ethics. And here we come to an important reason.

Israel is part of Western Civilization, is in fact historically one of the twin roots of the West. The other being ancient Athens, with the emphasis on ancient.
Us anthropologists like to classify human organization in ascending levels according to how many people they can support: bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states.

We tend to forget there’s a level above states – civilizations. A civilization is a group of nations with recognized commonalities of culture, law, etc. The definition gets vague around the edges but can often be practically defined as speakers of related language families.

Isolationists do not see a level above their country. A luxury only maintainable in big powerful states such as ours.

When we play the parlor game of “When did Western Civ begin?” it’s fun to argue, was it when the democratic party of Athens swore not to take revenge on the out of power oligarchs even for the murder of their families? Was it when the Romans put the Twelve Tablet of the law in the public forum for all to read?

Or was it when the Prophet Nathan told King David, “Thou art the man!”

One moral law for king and peasant alike, what a concept! One that is not shared by every culture, even today.

I believe Western Civ has evolved some basic assumptions that are worth keeping and worth spreading for the benefit of all mankind. Such as the rights of Man, equality under the law, the dignity and worth of the individual.
Our civilization is under attack, from without and within by an axis of enemies united for the sole purpose of opposing the West. Israel is one front in a multi-front attack on the West. I believe Ukraine is another, and I greatly fear the opening of another front, perhaps in Taiwan – or here.

But perhaps that’s a bit tin-foil hat conspiratorial for some of my readers. So here are some practical questions I like to ask.

Who is more likely to develop…?
-   A cure for cancer?
-   Significant life extension?
-   Clean cheap sources of energy?
-   Cheap practical desalination tech? (Oops, cross that one off. Already done.)
Seven million Israelis or 700 million Arab Islamists?

And that’s why I support Israel, for my own self-interest.

"As weird as it's gotten, it still hasn't gotten weird enough for me."


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2863 on: January 04, 2024, 11:40:15 AM »
The Nork skill set appearing here makes perfect sense; I had not thought of it.


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2864 on: January 04, 2024, 12:01:10 PM »

NK company built the tunnels and

even more in Lebanon than Gaza   :-o

And the Iranians with their underground nuc  bunkers....

gives a whole new meaning to moles....


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2865 on: January 07, 2024, 07:06:56 AM »

The Strategies of the Israel-Hamas War

By: George Friedman

It is difficult to understand the strategy of a country at war sitting outside the command center. However, when analyzed from the initiation of war to its conclusion, strategy becomes clear. You must understand the imperatives driving each side, the forces available to each side and the price each can pay for victory. We are now at the moment – and perhaps even past it – when the war can be understood enough to explain why certain things have played out as they have.

Israel has maintained a dominant military position since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, even if it has largely been a defensive one. Its historic enemy, the Muslim nations of the Middle East – here, we use Muslim rather than Arab because the list includes Iran, which is predominately Shia Persian – were divided into multiple factions that were forced to take the offensive if they were to engage in war, giving Israel the advantage of the defensive and putting the onus of initiation onto its enemies. This meant intelligence was the core of Israel’s position; an intelligence failure would shift the advantage to the enemy’s offensive.

Hamas, Israel’s primary enemy in the current war, had two parallel challenges. One was that the Arab factions were divided and competing with one another. The second was what it saw as the unpredictability of Israel and its ability to strike. Hamas had to dominate the Arab factions to protect itself, and it had to weaken Israel to protect and advance its position.

The key for Hamas, then, was Israel. If it defeated or weakened Israel, it would raise its standing in the Arab world, solving both its strategic challenges. It would be the dominant force in its region.

Hamas understood that for Israel, intelligence is fundamental. Israel had gone through a prior intelligence failure that had deeply traumatized it. In October 1973, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal and, moving deep into the Sinai Peninsula, were able to threaten southern Israel. Syria had moved into the Golan Heights to threaten Israel's north. Both were supported by the Soviet Union.

Israeli intelligence had completely failed to anticipate the attack, and for several days nothing less than the survival of Israel seemed at stake. When it was clear that Israel was no longer in danger, Moscow rescinded its support. Since then, Israel’s strategy has been to detect attacks and rapidly defeat its enemies before it loses its international benefactors. Israel transformed its intelligence system into what it believed was able to detect potential dangers. And yet Hamas managed to launch a surprise attack at least partly on the belief that Israel was not expecting one, and that the government was distracted by internal political disputes.

Hamas' strategy required complete surprise. In turn, that required that the group blind Israeli intelligence to the force being built in Gaza and groomed for combat. Hamas achieved total surprise, adding to its success the capture of nearly 250 Israelis who would be held as hostages and, to some extent, would force Israel to proceed with caution in any counterattack. Hamas miscalculated what the response would be, and Israel chose the strategy of total war, which inevitably resulted in deaths on all sides. Hamas presented Israel with a fait accompli. It forced Israel to fight on Hamas’ terms and territory, and with the distant potential that the Israelis were so much off balance that Israel proper might be endangered. Unreliable intelligence and an underestimation of Hamas’ abilities left Israel with few options.

Israel’s imperative is the destruction of Hamas and the deterrence of intervention by other Arab forces. Hamas' misjudgments have given the Israelis a helping hand. The expectation that Hezbollah and others might be willing to fight under Hamas’ command failed to materialize. Since Oct. 7, Hamas has adopted a defensive posture, using hostages for protection and deploying forces to the north. The deployment there, as well as in the south, gave Israel the option of negotiation – which both parties effectively rejected. Israel had to guarantee that another surprise attack by Hamas was impossible. It could not rely on intelligence, even as it had to free the remaining hostages. The only strategic solution was an assault on Hamas, designed to guarantee the group could not repeat its success.

Israel had the choice to use heavy artillery and air power or to put boots on the ground, supported by heavy armor and air power. The latter would result in heavier casualties for Israel and possible defeat in the area. To do nothing was to admit weakness and to abandon the hostages in Gaza. Israel elected to deploy ground forces in the north in an attempt to break Hamas.

So far, neither side has achieved its imperatives. Hamas is not leading an Arab force to victory, and Israel is in this position because of a major intelligence failure. The war is not over, and fighting may continue for a long time, but Hamas’ hopes that a stunning attack would elevate it to Arab leadership failed. So too did the Israeli strategy of deterring or intercepting and pre-empting any surprise attacks.

There will be massive changes in thinking on both sides.


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MSM puts finger on Netanyahu
« Reply #2866 on: January 08, 2024, 09:09:04 AM »
DNC Drudge headline:


What does Netanyahu have to do with this?
He can't control what the terrorist proxies of Iran do.


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Tom Friedman's soft jihad against Israel.
« Reply #2868 on: January 12, 2024, 05:45:42 AM »
Tom Friedman's Soft Jihad Against Israel
by A.J. Caschetta
Special to IPT News
January 11, 2024

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Friedman stands with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, in Lebanon, circa 1984. Image Source: Time / Thomas Friedman Collection

The New York Times employs a diverse group of anti-Israel writers, such as Soliman Hijjy, who loves Hitler, and Raja Abdulrahim, who blames Israel for Palestinian suicide bombers. Occasionally their over-zealous anti-Zionists get carried away, like Jazmine Hughes and Jamie Lauren Keiles whom the Times fired in November after they signed a letter accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing," "apartheid," and genocide."

But the Times' most effective anti-Israel scribe is not a raving, knuckle-dragging "river to the sea" enthusiast. Rather, it is Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer prize-winning columnist whose polished anti-Israel rhetoric has done more damage to Israel than that of the Times' hardcore Israel haters.

As William McGurn observed in comparing Barack Obama's anti-Israel sentiments to those expressed by Rashida Tlaib, "Obama would never be so crude as to invoke river-to-the-sea language or actually come out and say that Israel is as evil as Hamas ... his argument is smooth and sophisticated. That's what makes it so pernicious."

Likewise, Friedman's appeal is his claim to have staked out a consistently moderate and objective approach to Middle East affairs. His soft jihad against Israel is more subtle and acceptable, making it dangerous precisely because it is entertained by rational people and policymakers, especially Democrats.

Friedman loves the PLO/PA

Ever since his college days at Brandeis University, where he was a leader in the so-called "Middle East Peace Group," Friedman has been an Arafat fan.

Because Friedman has been around for so long, he knows all the players. In the 1980s, as chief of the Beirut bureau of the Times, he cozied up to the PLO. In the 1990s, he cozied up to the Palestinian Authority (PA). His solution to "the Palestinian problem" has been consistent for decades now: strengthen and trust the PA, even though the PA has long demonstrated that it is not trustworthy.

In the weeks following October 7, Friedman has criticized Hamas (though not as much as he criticizes Israel) while continuing to push the PA as the alternative to Hamas. But he hasn't always objected to Hamas.

Friedman Doesn't Understand Hamas

After years of denouncing President George W. Bush for neglecting the Palestinians, Friedman welcomed the Obama administration with advice in a column on January 24, 2009, suggesting that its top priority was to "make peace between Palestinians, and build their institutions."

After nearly a decade of failed nation-building efforts, most Americans had tired of that dead end. But not Friedman, who advised Obama that "a peacemaker has to be both a nation-builder and a negotiator." Surprisingly, he argued that "Job 2 for the U.S., Israel and the Arab states is to find a way to bring Hamas into a Palestinian national unity government."

He quoted his favorite "Middle East expert," Stephen P. Cohen, formerly of the Qatar-funded Brookings Institution, to assert that, "Without Hamas as part of a Palestinian decision, any Israeli-Palestinian peace will be meaningless," and he urged the new president to "rebuild Fatah, merge it with Hamas, [and] elect an Israeli government that can freeze settlements."

The fact that in 2009 Friedman believed that Israel should not only tolerate but negotiate peace with Hamas shows that he failed to understand Hamas in 2009.

Ten years later, he still didn't understand Hamas, as his March 25, 2019 column boldly announced that, "Hamas is not an existential threat to Israel." Interestingly enough, he regularly claims that a Netanyahu government is an existential threat to Israel.

In a webinar at the Israel Policy Forum on September 13, 2023, just 27 days before the Hamas massacre, Friedman expressed his desire that the Biden administration would shoot down any Saudi-Israel peace deal unless it required Israel to make concessions so extensive that it "blows up the Netanyahu cabinet." This was a theme he returned to: "I've been really focused on just one thing: How do you blow up this cabinet?" and "How do you destroy this cabinet and get a national unity government?"

As for elections, the seasoned expert on the Middle East called for immediate elections in the West Bank, suggesting that, "if Hamas wins, let Hamas win. They will then have the burden of responsibility in negotiating."

Don't Invade Gaza?

Tom Friedman is a status quo man who wants Israel to stick to the pre-October 7 playbook – don't invade Gaza, don't wipe out Hamas, don't "overreact." He writes in his October 16 column: "If Israel were to announce today that it has decided for now to forgo an invasion of Gaza and will look for more surgical means to eliminate or capture Hamas's leadership while trying to engineer a trade for the more than 150 Israeli and other hostages whom Hamas is holding, ... it would also give Israel and its allies time to think through how to build — with Palestinians — a legitimate alternative to Hamas."

Where to start? Israel has been employing "surgical means" against terrorists in the Gaza Strip ever since PM Ariel Sharon forcibly removed all Israelis from Gaza in 2005 and allowed Hamas to establish a de facto Palestinian state on its border.

Three and a half decades have passed since the founding of Hamas, but Friedman wants more time to create a better alternative.

He still believes that "if Israel still decides it must enter Gaza to capture and kill Hamas's leadership, it must only do so if it has in place a legitimate Palestinian leadership to replace Hamas — so Israel is not left governing there forever."

Palestinians, not Israelis, are responsible for building a Palestinian government.

Still Supporting the Palestinian Authority

Friedman subscribes to the bogus view that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a secular government, overlooking the Islamist terrorist groups it controls (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Tanzim, for instance) and the financial incentives it offers to terrorists through its so-called "pay-to-slay" program which rewards the families of terrorist killers (whom it calls martyrs) with generous pensions, including its announcement, on October 15, 2023, that it was extending its payment program to 50 Hamas terrorists who were captured by IDF forces on October 7. He erroneously believes that there are substantial differences between Hamas and the PA/PLO, when the only real difference is that each believes it has the best plan for eliminating Israel.

Friedman told Vox News on October 16 that, "There is only one thing worse than Hamas controlling Gaza and that is no one controlling Gaza or Israel controlling Gaza." He continued, "I say to the Israelites [sic], before you go into it, show me the plan. Otherwise, be careful: Do not enter Gaza before you have a clear and precise idea of how you will get out."

His final column of the year asserts that Israel's "only exit from this mutually assured destruction is to bring in some transformed version of the Palestinian Authority – or a P.L.O.-appointed government of Palestinian technocrats – in partnership with moderate Arab states like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia."

In Friedman's mind, Israel will always be responsible for Gaza.

Tearing Down the Israeli Government

Friedman suffers from a virulent case of Netanyahu Derangement Syndrome, perhaps equal to his case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. He often conflates the two, making for a two-in-one target. In a column titled "Is Trump Bibi's Chump?" on January 28, 2020, Friedman (as always making rhetorical demands of politicians) told his readers that "Trump needs to ask Netanyahu: 'Will you agree right now that the remaining land will be a Palestinian state if the Palestinians agree to demilitarization and recognize Israel as a Jewish state?'"

It's Time to Ignore Tom Friedman

Friedman's December 22 column, "It's Time for the U.S. to Give Israel Some Tough Love," is overflowing with his usual bad advice, such as the need for the U.S. "to tell Israel how to declare victory in Gaza and go home."

Few people are more devoted to the idea of a two-state solution than Thomas Friedman. He wants Israel to unilaterally withdraw from what he calls the "West Bank," but the lesson of October 7 is that Gaza was a de facto Palestinian state, and it devoted all of its resources to attacking Israel. If Friedman gets his way, the "West Bank" will become another Gaza.

The October 7 Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians opened the eyes of many a Palestinian sympathizer, awakening them to the horrors of their team. But not Thomas Friedman. The three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist still advises that a two-state solution is viable, still urges Israeli restraint, and still doesn't understand that he has never understood Hamas.

Here's better advice: it's time to stop listening to Tom Friedman, stop reading his column and his books, and stop taking his soft jihad against Israel seriously. For half a century, he has played the part of Middle East roving reporter, explaining every situation as though he were commander of all the moving parts and as though he alone knew the game plan. Enough.

IPT Senior Fellow A.J. Caschetta is a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum where he is also a Ginsberg-Milstein fellow.

Copyright © 2024. Investigative Project on Terrorism. All rights reserved.


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Re: Tom Friedman's soft jihad against Israel.
« Reply #2870 on: January 12, 2024, 07:19:17 AM »
It doesn't seem they mention that Bibi hater, Israel hater Thomas Friedman (from the old neighborhood) is Jewish.

Giving up reading him was one of the easiest things I ever did.

My first taste of AI was the Thomas Friedman column generator.  These are probably better than the real thing.
(The actual column generator seemed to disappear from the internet.)

What I don't get is how intelligent people (liberals) I know read the Times and cite it  like it is the publication I presume it once was. It makes them think but not think outside of their own box.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2024, 07:40:13 AM by DougMacG »


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The International Court of (In)Justice's Jihad & Genocidal Indifference
« Reply #2871 on: January 12, 2024, 02:26:09 PM »

People are understandably reacting with astonishment and disgust to the obscene Soviet-style show trial now under way at the International Court of Justice in which Israel is being accused of genocide against the Arabs of Gaza.

It is indeed a surreal and Orwellian spectacle. Israel is the victim of attempted genocide by Hamas and its patron, Iran, which openly declare their intention to erase every Jew from the planet and wipe Israel off the map.

Israel has gone to war in Gaza solely to prevent the genocide of its people after the depraved atrocities of October 7 and the declared intention of Hamas to repeat these again and again until Israel ceases to exist. The destruction and suffering in Gaza are indeed distressing and regrettable; but that is the inevitable price to be paid even in a just war, waged as Israel is doing purely out of defensive necessity against a vicious and fanatical aggressor. As any country is entitled to do under international law, which Israel is following by the book.

Israel goes to greater lengths than any other country to reduce the number of civilian casualties among its enemy population. It does so even at the cost of its own soldiers and even where, as in Gaza, Hamas have deliberately sited their missiles and infrastructure of genocidal warfare among Gaza’s homes, hospitals and schools. They do this in order to cause civilians to die in large number, and thus provoke the world to blame Israel for taking the only available recourse to defend its people against mass murder.

This is the cynical strategy now being deployed at the ICJ’s kangaroo court in The Hague. The argument to which the ICJ — on past form — is likely to be all-too receptive effectively casts the attempted genocide by Hamas as self-defence and Israel’s defence against that murderous onslaught as “genocide”. 

The case would bring the ICJ into total disrepute if it actually had any reputation to defend. It does not. Despite its pretensions to being a court of law, it is in fact a theatre of partisan political activism. It squats at the vortex of the legal and moral black hole that is international “human rights” culture.

Laws draw their legitimacy from being passed by nations rooted in specific institutions, history and culture. Without the anchor of national jurisdiction, laws can turn into instruments of capricious political power.

The ICJ has no such national jurisdiction but is made up of many nations. That’s why, from its inception, it was in essence a political court. That’s why it’s an existential foe of Israel — the principal target of some of the world’s many human rights abusers, who have grasped that international law provides them with a potent weapon.

Along with other supposed progressives, western “human rights” lawyers have been notably subdued since the Hamas pogrom of October 7.  In that onslaught, Palestinian Arabs murdered, tortured, raped and beheaded more than 1200 Israeli victims and took 240 hostages, more than 130 of whom remain in Gaza’s underground dungeons and who are all too likely to be enduring horrific ill-treatment — those who are still alive.

“Human rights” lawyers maintain that international laws prohibiting genocide and crimes against humanity will hold war criminals and genocidists to account, and as a result will also help prevent such atrocities from taking place. The October 7 pogrom has exposed this core belief to be a murderous fantasy. 

International law did not deter Hamas then and clearly will not deter it from repeated onslaughts in future; nor will it deter Hezbollah, Iran or any other rogue actors intent upon perpetrating evil in the world. Instead, as we can all see from the black farce being staged at the ICJ, it is being used against the Israeli victims of genocide to accuse them falsely of the very crime to which they have been subjected — in order to give the genocidal aggressors of Hamas a free pass and help them in their goal of destroying the Jewish state.

Moreover, this grotesque moral inversion is hardly a surprise in the world of “human rights,” where Israeli culpability for “oppression” of the Palestinian Arabs is a given — along with the corresponding indulgence granted to those Arabs for their murderous attacks on Israelis which is deemed to be justified “resistance”.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, raged yesterday:

All the UN bodies and its institutions have become weapons against Israel in the hands of Hamas terrorists. How is it possible that the Convention for the Prevention of Genocide, which was adopted after the Holocaust, is currently being used in the UN against the Jewish state, while it is serving Hamas, which is working to destroy Israel?!

How indeed. I explained here in August 2019 how “human rights” law had become such a travesty of its foundational ideals. Reflecting on the silence of the international community over the war crimes being committed by terrorist groups in Gaza which were then firing thousands of rockets at Israel and launching aerial incendiary balloons in order to murder Israel civilians, I wrote:

The failure of the United Nations to enforce international law against such brazen aggressors indicates, however, something deeper than its endemic bias in favour of its non-aligned members and its resulting tendency to side with tyrannies and rogue regimes against those they want to destroy.

International human rights law was developed by people who were appalled by the world’s paralysis in the face of antisemitic pogroms in Eastern Europe, through which several of them lived, followed by the Nazi Holocaust.

As detailed in James Loeffler’s riveting and important book, Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century, Jewish lawyers, jurists and other activists sought to fashion international human-rights law into a defence mechanism to protect powerless minorities.

The process through which it became a weapon to be used against the Jewish people is, as Loeffler recounts, a tragic history.

At its heart lay a fatal contradiction. Activists such as Hersch Lauterpacht, an eminent British lawyer who had been born in Lvov, and oil tycoon Jacob Blaustein, the legendary head of the American Jewish Committee, thought the way to save Jews and others from oppression by dictatorial regimes was to use international law to trump national sovereignty by holding oppressors to account through international tribunals.

Others, however, such as the Lithuanian-born lawyer Jacob Robinson fruitlessly warned that for the Jewish people this was a trap. He understood it was only national sovereignty that would safeguard diaspora Jews. “The basic guarantee of Jewish freedom is the democracy of the country where the Jews live,” he maintained.

He also understood that, by superseding national sovereignty, the universalist doctrine of human rights was innately hostile to Jewish particularism as expressed through the Zionist dream of recovering the Jewish national homeland.

As Loeffler relates, this fundamental flaw inevitably turned the United Nations – the designated vehicle of international human rights – into a mortal enemy of Zionism and the Jewish people.

In 1960 the Soviet Union, recognising the opportunities offered to it by “decolonisation” around the world, pushed through the United Nations a resolution that effectively turned international human rights from being a check on state power into a vehicle for anti-colonial nationalism, positioning the USSR as the leader of the global anti-colonialist movement.

This paved the way for what was described as “an all-out assault on Israel based on the theme of anti-colonialism”. In 1962, after an epidemic of swastikas appeared across Europe, an attempt to include antisemitism in the new UN anti-racism law was rebuffed by freshly independent African and Arab states.

These denounced “Zionist expansionism” as the antithesis of human rights and declared that any talk of antisemitism was a Zionist plot.

The stage was set for the increasing demonisation of Israel tied to the dominance of international human rights doctrine, marked by the milestone 1975 UN resolution declaring “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”.

The world body turned into this Orwellian weapon against justice and the innocent because the pioneers of international human rights law got a number of crucial things badly wrong.

They failed to grasp that the world was mainly composed of tyrannies, that these would therefore dominate the United Nations, and that antisemitism was a unique phenomenon that would never be eradicated.

They failed to grasp that the uniquely particularist Jewish people would always be in the crosshairs of a universalist ideology such as international human rights.

They failed to grasp that the key factor in any fight against tyranny or antisemitism is the will to engage in such a fight. Absent that, human rights law is worse than useless; it provides an alibi for indifference and hands evil people a lethal weapon to use against the innocent.

In other words, the foundational ideas of international human rights law have themselves acted as an incendiary balloon. They have created a global scorched wasteland of innumerable innocent victims before deflating into useless detritus, which remains unnoticed by those still blinded by a naive and self-destructive ideal.

No wonder “human rights” lawyers and activists are now so silent. The savage butchery of Israelis by Hamas, the dehumanisation of those Jewish victims by western “progressives” and now the grotesque show trial to which Israel is being subjected for trying to protect its people from further genocidal attack all constitute indeed a scorched moral wasteland to which “human rights” culture has reduced the once-civilised world. 


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MSNBC morning Joe and Andrea Mitchell
« Reply #2875 on: January 18, 2024, 09:24:06 AM »
It is all Netanyahu's fault they claim
Funny, not once during this rant the was the word "Hamas" said even once !!!!!

« Last Edit: January 19, 2024, 06:37:27 AM by ccp »


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« Last Edit: January 21, 2024, 09:27:29 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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IJC Screws the Pooch
« Reply #2880 on: January 29, 2024, 06:02:28 AM »
Just Security has surprised me several times lately. Generally a neocon/left wing/Never Trump site that predictably if sometimes tepidly supports “Progressive” causes, here it lays bare the folly of any org, including the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide as it pursues Hamas in Gaza:


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2882 on: January 30, 2024, 03:28:27 PM »
not clear were they men dressed as women or women dressed as men?



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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2883 on: January 30, 2024, 04:09:37 PM »
What do you think we are, biologists?


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Hamas propaganda
« Reply #2885 on: February 01, 2024, 03:17:16 PM »


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A major and serious panel conversation
« Reply #2886 on: February 04, 2024, 08:54:07 AM »
This convo is among people far more knowledgeable than I but I do quibble that the variable of the 600,000 or so Jews who fled Arab lands to go to Israel is quite understated here.  That said, this is a serious panel conversation:


‘The British mandate completely thwarted the possibility of a common notion of citizenship.’

— Salim Tamari, sociologist at Birzeit University in the West Bank
‘This is a national conflict with religious elements. It’s much more complicated than just ‘‘us against them.’’ ’

— Abigail Jacobson, history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
‘I don’t think the Palestinians figure that they will have to pay for the Holocaust. Yet the world sees this as an acceptable equation.’

— Leena Dallasheh, historian working on a book about the city of Nazareth
‘As one friend of mine told me, after the war many Jewish survivors simply wanted to live with other Jews.’

— Derek Penslar, history professor at Harvard University
‘Since December 1947, no one in my family has entered our home in Jerusalem.’

— Nadim Bawalsa, historian and associate editor for The Journal of Palestine Studies
‘When you analyze the reasons for the Israeli success in the 1948 war, inter-Arab politics played a major role.’

— Itamar Rabinovich, history professor at Tel Aviv University

The Road to 1948

How the decisions that led to the founding of Israel left the region in a state of eternal conflict.
A discussion moderated by Emily Bazelon
Feb. 1, 2024
Share free access

One year matters more than any other for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 1948, Jews realized their wildly improbable dream of a state, and Palestinians experienced the mass flight and expulsion called the Nakba, or catastrophe. The events are burned into the collective memories of these two peoples — often in diametrically opposed ways — and continue to shape their trajectories.

If 1948 was the beginning of an era, it was also the end of one — the period following World War I, when the West carved up the Middle East and a series of decisions planted the seeds of conflict. To understand the continuing clashes, we went back to explore the twists and turns that led to 1948. This path could begin at any number of moments; we chose as the starting point 1920, when the British mandate for Palestine was established.

The Old City in Jerusalem in the early 1900s. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress
Over the following decades, two nationalisms, Palestinian and Jewish, took root on the same land and began to compete in a way that has ever since proved irreconcilable. The Arab population wanted what every native majority wants — self-determination. Jews who immigrated in growing numbers wanted what persecuted minorities almost never attain — a haven, in their ancient homeland,1
1A primary source dates the existence of a people called Israel to at least 1200 B.C. In 538 B.C., Jews built the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Romans took the city in 70 A.D., destroying most of it, and Jews began to flee. Christians became the majority around 400 A.D. Muslims conquered Jerusalem by 638 A.D.
from the hatred and danger they faced around the world.

In the time of the British mandate, Jews and Palestinians, and Western and Arab powers, made fundamental choices that set the groundwork for the suffering and irresolution of today. Along the way, there were many opportunities for events to play out differently. We asked a panel of historians — three Palestinians, two Israelis and a Canadian American — to talk about the decisive moments leading up to the founding of Israel and the displacement of Palestinians and whether a different outcome could have been possible.

The conversation among the panelists, which took place by video conference on Jan. 3, has been edited and condensed for clarity, with some material reordered or added from follow-up interviews.


Palestinians harvesting oranges in Jaffa during the British mandate. Khalil Raad, via the Institute for Palestine Studies

Degania Aleph, the first kibbutz, in 1912. Yaakov Ben Dov

Delegates to the third Palestinian Arab Congress in 1920. Haj Amin al-Husseini, third from the right in the last row, became the grand mufti of Jerusalem. Institute for Palestine Studies

An anti-Zionist demonstration at Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, on March 8, 1920. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

For centuries, Palestine was an Ottoman province with no clear boundaries.2
2Palestine sometimes meant a narrow strip of coast occupied by the Philistines in the 12th century B.C. but at other times referred to a larger territory that included southern Syria.
Muslims were the majority, living alongside small Christian and Jewish communities. The Jews were almost entirely Sephardic and native to the region, with few nationalist aspirations.

The relationships among Muslims, Christians and Jews began to shift in the beginning of the 20th century as a group of young socialist revolutionaries — including founders of the future state of Israel, like David Ben-Gurion — immigrated in waves from Russia and Eastern Europe. Fleeing ghettos, impoverishment and the violence of pogroms, they believed that the only answer to the global affliction of antisemitism was Zionism3

Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist, founded the Zionist Organization in 1897. It held international meetings, published a newspaper and created a bank.
— the vision of a Jewish home in the land of the Hebrew Bible.

The Allied powers of the West defeated the Ottomans during World War I. Afterward, one of the first big tests for the League of Nations, established by the Allies as a worldwide body of governments, was to decide the future of Palestine. The league carved up4
4The new borders were the same as those drawn in a secret deal the British and French made in 1916 called the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
the former Ottoman lands, granting Britain two mandates to govern Palestine and Iraq and giving France one mandate for Syria and Lebanon. In the language of soft colonialism, the league’s charter directed Britain and France to govern the territories for the well-being of their inhabitants “until such time as they are able to stand alone.”

The mandate for Palestine, written in 1920, stood out for its international commitment to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Emily Bazelon: Why is 1920 a good place to start the story of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians?

Leena Dallasheh: The British mandate was crucial in laying the grounds for the creation of the state of Israel and the prevention of the creation of a Palestinian state. Zionism was only able to take root in Palestine because the mandate recognized Zionist organizations as representative of the Jewish population and as self-governing institutions, basically creating the structure of a quasi state. It did this by incorporating in its text the Balfour Declaration,5
5The Balfour Declaration provided no guarantees but said the British would “view with favor” establishing a national home for Jews in Palestine. It was a response to lobbying by leaders like Chaim Weizmann, then president of the British Zionist Federation.
which the British issued in 1917.

The mandate did not similarly recognize Palestinian organizations or representation. The majority, the Palestinians, were only mentioned in the negative, as “non-Jewish communities” given civil and religious rights. That meant the Palestinians were trapped, as the Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi says, in an iron cage.6
6In his book “The Iron Cage,” Khalidi argues that Palestinians felt they could not accept the mandate “without denying their own rights, their own national narrative and the evidence of their own eyes, which told them that Palestine was an Arab country and belonged to them, and to them alone.”
The structure of the mandate prevented them from being able to have national rights or sovereignty. And that set in motion the developments in 1948 and after.

Salim Tamari: The mandate period completely thwarted the possibility of a common notion of citizenship. There was a period, at the end of the Ottoman era, when the new Constitution was adopted in 1908, establishing equal citizenship for all Ottoman subjects, instead of dividing Muslims from non-Muslims. Language was a very important articulator of national identity. Arabic was not only the language of the Muslims and Christians but the language of the Jews — the language of the land. The British framework changed all of that, creating three official languages, English, Hebrew and Arabic.

Itamar Rabinovich: The British made a lot of contradictory promises during the war. To persuade the Arabs to rebel against the Ottomans, they promised Hussein ibn Ali, the sharif of Mecca, who was from an important Hashemite family, a very large kingdom.7

In 1921, the British made one son of the sharif, Faisal Al-Hashemi, king of Iraq. For another son, Abdullah, the British government created an emirate in 1921 in what was then called Transjordan (later, Jordan, with Abdullah as king).
But they also promised to divide up the land with France and issued the Balfour Declaration. At the end of war, they had to reckon with these contradictory promises.

It’s the mandate that creates the political entity called Palestine. Before that, it was a geographic term. And the conflict between Zionism and Palestinian Arab nationalism was over the question of what would be the nature of this entity — an Arab state, a Jewish state, a binational state or partition?

In 1920, we speak about Jews and Arabs. It’s only in 1948 that the Arabs become Palestinians and the Jews become Israelis.

Dallasheh: I don’t agree with that. The research has been quite extensive and shows that there is clear expression of Palestinian identity already by World War I, and definitely clear expressions of Palestinian nationalism in the 1920s.

In 1920, in fact, one of the first mass violent outbursts occurred during the Nebi Musa procession,8
8In April 1920, Muslim leaders made speeches denouncing the Balfour Declaration at an annual Muslim procession from Jerusalem to Nebi Musa, a shrine near Jericho. The event turned into a deadly riot, with five Jews and four Arabs killed.
where Palestinian national leadership objected to Zionist plans in Palestine.

Nadim Bawalsa: The mandate period sets a precedent for how Palestine will be handled at the international level, which is to say as an exception to the law. Britain started off as the military occupier of Palestine at the end of World War I and then unilaterally altered its own status to civil administrator, even though it didn’t have the power to do so under international law. The League of Nations then left it to the British authorities to manage Palestine however they saw fit.

Around the same time, local Muslim-Christian associations were springing up all over historic Palestine, in Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Jerusalem. They would convene regularly to draft grievances and submit them to the British authorities in Jerusalem.9
9The local associations convened a Palestine Arab Congress, which met between 1919 and 1928.
They always made the same demands: self-determination as part of an undivided Arab Syria and opposition to Jewish immigration and land acquisition.

So the British were very much aware of exactly what it was that the Arabs or the Palestinians wanted. But to serve their own interests, they pitted the Palestinians against one another. Right after the Nebi Musa riots, they sacked the mayor of Jerusalem and appointed Raghib al-Nashashibi in his place. He was of the Palestinian nationalist elite who opposed Zionism, but he was more obedient and agreeable to British interests. The British also created the Supreme Muslim Council to oversee Islamic property, endowments, schools and courts and appointed Haj Amin al-Husseini, from a rival elite family, to head the council as the grand mufti of Jerusalem.10

Al-Husseini was chosen for mufti by the British high commissioner of Palestine after he stated his “earnest desire to cooperate with the government and his belief in the good intentions of the British government towards the Arabs,” according to Rashid Khalidi. A mufti can issue rulings based on Islamic law.
He was seen as more of a people’s leader, but he also collaborated with the British. The point is that during the 1920s and early ’30s, Palestinian nationalists could oppose Zionism all they wanted so long as they didn’t get in the way of Britain’s goals.

And of course, all of this falls short of actually giving the Palestinians national and territorial rights.

Derek Penslar: Many Zionists wanted to believe that they represented progress — they would come with their technology and electricity, with better farm machinery, and improve everyone’s lives. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose version of Zionism was the precursor to Likud, the party of Benjamin Netanyahu, had a more realistic vision. He said: Don’t condescend to the Arabs. They have every reason to oppose Zionism, and they will do so, until they are met with overwhelming force.11

In his 1923 essay “The Iron Wall,” Jabotinsky wrote, “As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people.”

Rabinovich: In 1923, the British offered to have a legislative council in which the Arabs would have had a larger share than the Jews, but they boycotted the elections for it. And this is a theme I think that we need to follow all the way from 1920 to 1948 — the theme of missed opportunities, mostly by the Palestinians.

Dallasheh: This council12
12The British planned a council with 22 members, including 10 British officials and two Jewish and two Christian seats, according to the historian Nimrod Lin. The British proposed councils at future points in the mandate period. Jews asked for parity with Arabs rather than proportional representation, and no council was formed.
was not supposed to be proportional or truly representative. The Zionist movement was never willing to accept that because until 1948, any such voting body would have meant a decisive Palestinian majority.


Jewish families fleeing the Old City during the 1929 unrest. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

In 1929, Jews desecrated graves in the Nebi Akasha Mosque in Jerusalem. Sepia Times/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

In 1929, Arabs desecrated the Avraham Avinu Synagogue in Hebron. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

British troops marching in Jerusalem to quell the 1929 unrest. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

A rally of Palestinians during the Arab revolt of 1936-39. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

In 1929, Palestinians rebelled. Violence first broke out over control of the holy sites in Jerusalem and spread to cities including Hebron and Safed, where Arabs massacred Jews. As Palestinian uprisings continued for a decade, the main sources of tension became the mandate policies that allowed for increasing Jewish immigration and land purchases. The mounting frustration among Palestinian farmers and laborers pressured elite nationalist leaders to finally challenge British rule directly.

Amid the violence, Sephardic Jews, who had often been critical of Zionism for dividing Jews from Arabs, moved toward the Zionists, drawn by the need for self-defense against Arabs who had begun attacking them. As the Nazis took power, meanwhile, rising antisemitism in Europe spurred the mass flight of Jews and the Zionist call to gather them in Palestine. As Jewish immigration rose, so did Palestinian opposition to it.

Penslar: The historian Hillel Cohen calls 1929 Year 0 in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This part of the story begins in Jerusalem and in particular the small area known as the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, with the al-Aqsa Mosque (the Dome of the Rock) and, below the Mount, the Western Wall. The 1929 disturbances began over a dispute in the previous year over something that seemed small — whether Jews had rights to install a screen at the Western Wall to separate men and women praying.

But there were also rumors that Jews were attempting to buy up the Temple Mount and would even destroy it. This notion that al-Aqsa is in danger — a slogan we still hear — goes back to this time. For years, stories circulated about pictures of the Dome of the Rock with a menorah or a Star of David above it. Muslims thought this meant that the Jews were planning to take over the Temple Mount. It’s true that there were attempts by Jews to purchase land in the Western Wall compound, though not to acquire the Temple Mount. The whole thing failed. But the point is the combination of religious and nationalist sentiments. One cannot separate the two.

Tamari: The 1929 clashes were clashes over turf. They took the form of a religious conflict, but behind that lurked the land question.13
13Despite the Palestinian nationalist opposition to land sales, landowners continued to sell to Zionist organizations for profit. “Oof, what can we do?” a journalist and activist, Akram Zu’itar, wrote in his diary, according to the book “Army of Shadows,” by Hillel Cohen. “A member of the Supreme Muslim Council sells land to the Jews and remains a respected personage.”

The Zionists also had a principle of hiring Hebrew labor, at the exclusion of Arab labor. The idea that Jews would work the land was central to a new Jewish identity different from the intellectual or businessman of the diaspora. The Zionists also didn’t want to be the colonial masters of the Palestinians by employing them. In order to “not exploit the Arabs,” they expelled them from the land, and that of course led to immediate clashes with the farmers.

Rabinovich: It’s also significant that Sephardic Jews in Hebron and other cities were killed by their Arab neighbors. They thought that they would be a bridge between Jews and Arabs. They ended up being victims in 1929.

Abigail Jacobson: The Jews from the Middle East, feeling connected to Arab culture and language, often sought to mediate between Zionist leaders and the Palestinians. For example, they were hired to teach Arabic and to write and translate articles from the Arabic press, about what was happening among the Arabs, for Hebrew-language newspapers.

Often, we think about the history of the mandate through points of violence. It’s also important to remember that there were peaceful periods in between those moments when people shopped together, sat in cafes, lived alongside each other.

Bazelon: In the in-between times, what happens?

Rabinovich: One answer is about the power of building the institutions of a state. The Jewish community in Palestine did this very successfully in the 1920s and much more so in the ’30s, as large waves14
14Jewish immigration increased from a high of 6,000 per year in the 1920s to as many as 60,000 annually between 1933 and 1936. Most of these immigrants fled instability in Poland. Others left Germany because of the rise of the Nazis. The Jewish share of the population in Palestine rose to about 30 percent of roughly 1.5 million in 1939 from about 10 percent of roughly 700,000 in 1920.
of Jewish immigrants arrived from Germany and Eastern Europe. They built an economic system, a health system and the Jewish Agency, which had practically the functions of a state in embryonic form. There is also the project of setting the boundaries of the state by building kibbutzim in the north, sensing that as you settle the land, you establish the facts that eventually would lead to statehood in a given territory.

There was always the issue of how explicit the Jewish leadership wanted to be about their ultimate goal. They made efforts to negotiate with Arab leaders, not the mufti, but others, to see whether compromise was feasible.15

In 1934, Ben-Gurion went to see Musa Alami, a politician with ties to the al-Husseini family and the British. Ben-Gurion said that when he tried to persuade Alami that Zionism would benefit Palestinians, Alami responded, “I would rather have Palestine remain poor and barren for even 100 more years, until we, the Arabs, have the power ourselves to make it bloom and develop.”
The Jewish side did not say, “We want a state over the whole country.”

Dallasheh: To Palestinians, the problem is outsiders are coming in and saying, “We want to be the owners and leaders on land where Palestinians have been the majority for centuries.” As a significant percentage of Palestinians become landless, the tension comes to a head in 1936 with a six-month strike.

Bawalsa: This is the first mass popular uprising of the Palestinian people — the first proper intifada. It was led not by the nationalist elite in Jerusalem but by the fellahin, the farmers, in the countryside, who were the ones suffering from loss of land. Then the elite nationalists, including the mufti, jumped on the bandwagon. The lead-up to the revolt is also when the first armed resistance groups formed — chiefly the Qassamites,16
16They were named for Izz al-Din al-Qassam, a preacher in Haifa who urged Muslims that only their guns would save them from the British turning their land into a Jewish homeland.
who played a big role in the uprising.

Rabinovich: The Palestinians were also responding to developments in the region. The French signed a treaty for gradual independence in Syria and Lebanon in 1936. That same year, the British signed a treaty with Egypt. The Palestinian Arabs said that they were being left behind. And that was part of the bitterness that led to the 1936 revolt.

Dallasheh: 1936 was a clear shift in terms of the public demands of the Palestinians, which very clearly said we are opposed to both the British colonial structure and Zionism. But the Palestinian strike ended in October 1936 with the intervention of neighboring Arab countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Transjordan — which were still basically clients of the British colonial regime.

Penslar: By this point, the British were worrying about maintaining a strong relationship with the Arab world in the event of another world war. In 1936, the British sent the Peel Commission17

In hearings held by the Peel Commission in November 1936, the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann testified about the six million Jews of Europe, “for whom the world is divided into places where they cannot live and places where they cannot enter.” Al-Husseini continued demanding an end to Jewish immigration to Palestine.
to Palestine to investigate the causes of the Arab revolt and suggest a solution. The next year, the commission recommended partition, an idea the British had in mind from Ireland. Now it was officially on the table in Palestine. It was a complicated proposal: a Jewish state on 17 percent of the land, with Jerusalem and a zone to the sea remaining in British hands, and a Palestinian state on the rest of the territory, linked with Transjordan under King Abdullah, whom the British trusted much more than the mufti, al-Husseini.

The Zionists split over the proposal. Some said that a small state in part of Palestine would be constantly beleaguered and at war. More pragmatic Zionists accepted partition in principle but rejected the Peel Commission’s proposed boundaries because they made the Jewish state so small.

Palestinians rejected partition out of hand as a theft of Palestinian land and demanded that Palestine as a whole become an Arab state.

Dallasheh: With the failure of the Peel Commission, the Arab revolt breaks out into a full-on insurgency, which the British brutally crushed.

Bawalsa: This kind of British oppression hadn’t been seen before in Palestine. It included exiling nationalists and widespread detentions as well as torture and executions. British forces seized Palestinians’ property and demolished entire villages.

Jacobson: A lot of the Palestinian leadership ended up either leaving or being exiled, including al-Husseini.18
18He fled a British arrest warrant in 1937 and went to Lebanon and then Iraq.
When the revolt ended in 1939, the Palestinians were in a very weak position, economically and politically, with many of the internal fractures in the society between Muslims and Christians, and villagers and city dwellers, exposed.

Following the revolt, the Jews who were native to the Middle East went through a major shift, too. Some of the younger generation, for example, raised in the shadow of violence, now tried to position themselves as loyal to the Zionist movement and were recruited to do intelligence work for the Jewish paramilitary forces. They start using their common cultural identity and their language skills in Arabic for purposes of security.

Penslar: The Jewish defense forces grew between 1936 and 1939, with the Haganah as the primary militia. The Haganah collaborated with the British in suppressing the Palestinian revolt; this was important in strengthening the Haganah.

This process continued into the 1940s during the Second World War. The British, who have a long history of getting colonials to do their fighting for them, were quite happy to accept Jews into the ranks of the British Armed Forces. There were a fair number of Palestinians who joined as well — between 9,000 and 12,000 Palestinians fought for the Allied forces in World War II. The number of Jews from Palestine was about 30,000. Many Jews became lower-level officers during World War II, and they brought their new military expertise to the 1948 war.


A British soldier guarding Palestinian prisoners in Jerusalem in the late 1930s. Fox Photos/Getty Images

In 1946, the Irgun, a Zionist paramilitary group, bombed British headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

A British police officer searching a Jewish man in Jerusalem as the threat of World War II loomed. Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress

Women plowing fields on a kibbutz in 1935. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The threat of World War II scrambled the geopolitics of the Middle East. To bolster support in the Arab world for the campaign against the Nazis and their allies, the British largely closed the gates of Palestine to Jewish refugees in 1939, at a time when they were also being turned away from the United States and other countries. Britain’s policy shift created an opportunity for leaders like al-Husseini to push for a representative legislative council, or an Arab Agency, like the Jewish Agency, that would provide an independent institution for their nationalist ambitions. But those leaders were weakened by British suppression19
19More than 10 percent of Palestinian men were “killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled” between 1936 and 1939, according to Rashid Khalidi. He writes that supporters of the Nashashibi family rooted out supporters of the al-Husseini family and were then killed in retaliation.
of the Arab revolts. Then the Holocaust scrambled everything once again.

Penslar: As the world headed toward the Second World War, in May 1939, the British promulgated a white paper, which proclaimed that a single state, which will have an Arab majority, will be established in Palestine. This represented a major shift toward the Palestinians. The white paper also effectively throttled Jewish immigration, which was always the single largest thorn of contention between Jews and Palestinians. If they ever agreed to joint administration of the land, who would decide yes or no on allowing Jewish immigration?

During the first couple of years of the war, the Jews of Palestine were absolutely terrified as the German forces marched across North Africa. We can’t understand the period of the Holocaust in Europe without also understanding the Jews’ sense of imminent destruction in Palestine. David Ben-Gurion, the chief Zionist leader in Palestine, said, “We shall fight in the war against Hitler as if there were no white paper, but we shall fight the white paper as if there were no war.”

In May 1942, Zionists held an emergency meeting in New York City at the Biltmore Hotel. A few months later, the scale of the Nazi genocide became clear. The reaction was public mourning and despair.

Bazelon: What were the Palestinian responses to World War II and the Holocaust?

Dallasheh: As Derek mentioned earlier, a significant number of Palestinians fought in the British Army against the Nazis. But the mufti made a visit to Hitler, which is often used against the Palestinians.20

Al-Husseini aided a pro-Nazi coup in Baghdad. When it failed, he fled to Berlin. His meeting in 1941 with Hitler was captured in a propaganda reel. Hitler told him that the “struggle against a Jewish homeland in Palestine” would be part of the Nazi campaign against the Jews.
He basically followed a simple yet morally and politically questionable philosophy: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

In siding with Hitler, the mufti was not representative of the Palestinian community. Many people rejected Nazism.21
21In his book “The Arabs and the Holocaust,” Gilbert Achcar notes articles in the Arab press that denounced Nazi brutality and fascism.

Tamari: By allying with Hitler, the mufti completely undermined himself with the British and with the European states.

Rabinovich: At the end of the war, the question is, Whose side were you on? He made a bet on Hitler, and he lost. He could not go back to Palestine as a result, even though he remained the most important Palestinian leader. When you look at sources of strengths and weaknesses for Palestinians, the mufti at that point is a deficit.

Penslar: Counterintuitively, the Holocaust both justified and weakened the case for the creation of Israel. The whole purpose of Zionism, at least as it was presented to the international community, was to establish a place for Jews who are refugees. Early in the war, the idea was that millions of Jews would survive in Europe, impoverished and persecuted, and they would need a place to go. At the end of the war, two-thirds of those Jews have been slaughtered. So where was the reservoir of Jewish humanity that would come to this future Jewish state?

There were still hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors in Europe who needed a home. But the focus also grew to include the persecution of Jews in Middle Eastern countries. There were about a million of them, and their situation was also precarious. In other words, the Zionists retooled.


Jewish refugees in Haifa awaiting deportation to Cyprus by British authorities in 1947. Hans Pinn/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Palestinian militia leader Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini with officers on the day he was killed, April 8, 1948. Chalil Rissas

Jewish children rescued from Auschwitz arriving in Haifa in 1945. Zoltan Kluger/GPO, via Getty Images

Palestinian bombers destroyed buildings on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem in March 1948. Hugo H. Mendelsohn/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Refugees leaving Jenin, in the West Bank, in 1948. John Phillips/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Shutterstock

In the wake of World War II, it was the Zionists who took up arms against the British, who were intercepting ships filled with Jews displaced by the Holocaust. Zionist militias first blew up railways and bridges but escalated to killing British soldiers. To quell the violence, the British arrested more than 2,700 Jewish political leaders and fighters. But when the attacks became more deadly,22
22In July 1946, bombs planted by the Irgun, a Zionist guerrilla group, killed 91 people at British headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Ben-Gurion and others condemned the attack, and the Irgun went underground.
the British planned to leave Palestine.

In February 1947, the government announced that it wanted to end the mandate, submitting what it called “the problem of Palestine” to the United Nations, established two years earlier as the successor to the League of Nations. The U.N. set up the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), asking it to recommend a solution. The future of the land and its peoples — at this point, about 600,000 Jews and 1.2 million Palestinians — was back in international hands.

Bazelon: In the summer of 1947, the UNSCOP delegates, who were from 11 countries, traveled to Palestine, held hearings and then recommended a partition plan with two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian. The U.N. General Assembly adopted the plan by a vote of 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions in November. Why did partition gain support?

Rabinovich: If you ask yourself how the state of Israel was created, one answer is that it had a leader — Ben-Gurion — who wanted statehood at any cost and knew how to get there. Another answer is that the world felt that it owed the Jewish people after the Holocaust. The basic argument of Zionism — that the Jews are not safe — was vindicated by the death of six million.

Dallasheh: I think there is a need to be very critical of this idea of the world owing Jews, because, yes, the world owed Jews. The Holocaust was a horrible massacre committed by Europeans and witnessed and not responded to by the U.S. and others. But I don’t think the Palestinians figure that they will have to pay for it in 1946 and ’47.

Yet the world sees this as an acceptable equation. Orientalism and colonial ideology were very much at the heart of thinking that while we Europeans and the U.S. were part of this massive human tragedy, we are going to fix it at the expense of someone else. And the someone else is not important because they’re Arabs, they’re Palestinians and thus constructed as backward, as not important, as people who do not have rights, as people whose catastrophe subsequently becomes insignificant.

It is important to highlight that this narrative is structured precisely by the rejection of Palestinian humanity that continues to be a part of the discourse in some circles today.

The United Nations partition plan, 1947. United Nations
Tamari: Sending the Jewish refugees to Palestine was a byproduct of European guilt, but a hypocritical kind of guilt because they did not want to bear the social and economic cost of absorbing the refugees themselves. The vast majority of Jewish refugees who came were not Zionists. They did not have a choice about where to go.

Penslar: It’s true that European countries did not want Jews to come back, and those who returned to Poland were persecuted and even killed. The U.S. would only take a portion of them.

A small minority of Jews who left the displaced-persons camps for Israel tried very hard to get to the U.S. But the dominant sentiment of the refugees was in favor of the creation of a Jewish state. One did not have to be ideologically Zionist to feel this way. As one friend of mine who lost her parents in the Holocaust told me, after the war many Jewish survivors simply wanted to live with other Jews.

Bazelon: Was the Holocaust the deciding factor in UNSCOP’s recommendation of partition?23
23The Zionists made sure that the UNSCOP delegates would see for themselves the dilemma for Holocaust survivors by bringing members to witness the arrival in Haifa of the Exodus 1947, a ship carrying 4,515 Jewish refugees from Europe. British war boats surrounded the ship, and three people onboard were killed.

Penslar: The Holocaust was actually not in UNSCOP’s brief. The delegates were specifically told: Here’s the problem. There are two communities, Jewish and Arab, in Palestine, and they are at each other’s throats. The British have thrown the Palestine question into the lap of the U.N. for that reason and also because Jewish guerrillas were killing their soldiers. Neither the British nor UNSCOP were thinking primarily about the Holocaust. They were thinking about what to do on the ground in Palestine.

There were two representatives from countries with large Muslim populations on UNSCOP: India and Iran. There were representatives who were sympathetic to Zionism and many who were not. When you read the transcripts of the meetings of this committee, you see that they were profoundly aware of the Palestinian as well as the Jewish viewpoint. Although the official Palestinian position was to boycott24
24The mufti instructed Palestinian nationalist leaders from Cairo, where he went after the war, not to cooperate with UNSCOP. He and other leaders saw the U.N. as an illegitimate institution, dominated by colonial powers.
the committee, its members spoke with Palestinians25

UNSCOP delegates, for example, privately met with the former mayor of Jerusalem, Hussein al-Khalidi (a relative of Rashid Khalidi, the historian).
and representatives from throughout the Arab world. The committee members knew very well that the Palestinians thought they should not pay the price for the Europeans’ outrageous antisemitism. The committee was faced with three choices: a unitary state in which the Jews would be dominated, a federated state or confederation, which is what India and Iran and Yugoslavia wanted, or partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The majority of the committee rejected the first option as unjust and the second option as unworkable. That left the third — partition.

UNSCOP considered it to be the least bad option. They did the best they could under terrible circumstances.

Rabinovich: To win votes in the U.N., there was a huge diplomatic effort by the Zionist movement, pre-state Israel, all the way from European countries to Latin America. They were very skillful at finding individuals who had relationships that could help them, like Eddie Jacobson, an American Jew who owned a haberdashery store with President Truman years earlier and helped the Zionists make their case to his friend the president in 1948. There are streets in Israel named after the foreign minister in Guatemala, Jorge García Granados, who organized a bloc of Latin American ambassadors to the U.N. to vote for partition.

Tamari: The Truman administration used very strong tactics to bring together many states. And by that time the Arabs were helpless to oppose this plan. Remember that the Palestinian militias and fighters who were involved in the rebellion in 1936 to ’39 were substantially disarmed, and the leadership continued to be exiled in 1947 and ’48.

The British were largely complicit in the Arab defeat. When the war started26
26After the U.N. vote on partition in November 1947, in the months before British withdrawal in May 1948, civil war, in effect, broke out between Jews and Palestinians.
at the end of 1947 between the Zionist forces and the Palestinians, the Arab Palestinians were not able to confront the new situation. It was an extremely unequal fight, and this is often forgotten in discussing the nature of the 1948 war.

Bazelon: Ben-Gurion accepted the 1947 partition plan on behalf of the Jewish community. Palestinian leaders rejected it.27
27According to the 2019 documentary “Tangled Roots,” Zalman Shazar, a Zionist author who became president of Israel, said of partition that “a nation that aspires to a life chooses independence and compromiseson territory.” Al-Husseini, by contrast, said that “a nation that aspires to a life does not accept the partition of its homeland.”

Jacobson: It’s often argued against the Palestinians, How come you didn’t accept partition? But it’s important not to read history retrospectively. When you look at the demographic realities of 1947 and the division of the land, it was 55 percent for the Jewish state and 45 percent for the Palestinian state even though there were double the number of Palestinians as Jews at that point. If you were a Palestinian in 1947, would you accept this offer? One needs to remember, of course, that the Palestinian national movement was ready to accept the Jews as a minority within an Arab state.

Tamari: Partition was certainly rejected by much of the Palestinian leadership, but there was no plebiscite for the people. They were not asked whether they wanted to have their own state, two states or no state. And within the Palestinian community there were two important forces, constituting at least half the Palestinian political class, which were leaning in favor of the partition. The Defense Party, headed by the Nashashibi family, saw partition as the least-bad option. The Palestinian federation of labor, which was a social democratic organization comprising the bulk of the labor movement, had two wings. One was allied with the British Labor Party and the second with the Communist Party, which followed the Soviet position in favor of partition.

Bazelon: At the end of 1947, as fighting escalated, Palestinians streamed across the partition borders, leaving the Jewish state. For decades, the Zionist narrative was that Palestinians left their homes at the urging of Arab governments, which promised they could return after a successful invasion. Arab scholars said this was false. Since 1988, Israeli academics28
28The Israeli historian Benny Morris showed that the evidence suggested Israel bore responsibility for expulsions and mass flight as a result of the war. Other so-called New Historians have contributed revisionist scholarship about 1947 and 1948.
have also written a lot about the flight and forced expulsion of the Nakba, as it’s called. How did it happen?

Bawalsa: Maybe it would be helpful if I shared my family’s story of fleeing Jerusalem in December 1947. In any war, you do your best to avoid putting yourself and your children in harm’s way. My mother’s family from Jerusalem left their home in Talbiya, in what is today West Jerusalem, and went to Cairo where they had family. They went just thinking that they would wait it out.

But in the early months of 1948, Zionist forces terrorized Palestinians. They massacred more than a hundred people in the village of Deir Yassin.29
29In April 1948, Jewish paramilitary groups killed more than a hundred of the roughly 600 residents of the village Deir Yassin, including whole families.
They destroyed Qatamon, an affluent Palestinian neighborhood near Talbiya, where many friends of my grandparents lived. There were very intense intimidation campaigns. A couple of months ago, my mother heard on the news that some of the radical Israeli settlers in the West Bank were dropping fliers in Palestinian villages and towns telling people to leave, to go to Jordan or face another Nakba. She was shaken because it reminded her of stories her parents told about Zionists using the radio or loudspeakers to threaten Palestinians to leave Jerusalem or their fate would be similar to Deir Yassin.

My grandparents didn’t expect to stay in Cairo. But since December 1947, no one in my family has entered our home in Jerusalem. My grandparents were able to briefly return to Palestine with their children to live with my grandmother’s family in Ramallah during the period of Jordanian rule until 1967,30
30From the end of the 1948 war to 1967, Jordan controlled East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
but they were not allowed to go to the west side of Jerusalem. Following 1967, we’ve only been able to go back as U.S. citizens — tourists.

Dallasheh: Deir Yassin becomes a focal point. A few survivors were put on a truck and paraded around Jerusalem, and the terror factor is significant in causing people to flee.

Plan Dalet31
31The Haganah finalized this plan in March 1948 to take control of Palestinian towns and villages within the territory of the Jewish state as defined by the U.N. partition plan. If Palestinians resisted, they were to be expelled outside the proposed borders, the plan said.
in 1948 is also one of the most controversial aspects of the war. It was a military plan that mentioned expelling the population of Palestinian towns and villages along roads that the Haganah, the Jewish defense force, was trying to control. It’s the one document that offers a kind of blueprint for expulsion, and people argue over whether it was in fact a blueprint. But to me, it’s only one factor among many that leads to the conclusion that Israel caused the crisis of Palestinian refugees, including preventing their return.

Rabinovich: Atrocities were perpetrated on both sides,32
32In April 1948, for example, Palestinian militia forces attacked a convoy of ambulances and supply trucks headed to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, shooting to death nearly 80 of the passengers, who were doctors, nurses, medial students and professors.
just to remember that.

Penslar: Public memory is still not resolved about the nature of the Palestinian flight and dispossession. The Haganah itself, at the end of June 1948, produced a document saying that the most important reason for the flight was Israeli military action. They didn’t hide this. The document is available online in Hebrew and in English.

This question really shouldn’t be a subject of ongoing debates. But it is because for many people who are attached to Israel, it’s hard to confront the fact that Palestinians were forcibly dispossessed.33
33Issues like these have been especially divisive at some U.S. universities since the Hamas attack on Israel of Oct. 7. Three critics of Harvard since then — the former Harvard president Larry Summers, the hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and Representative Elise Stefanik — criticized the university’s choice of Penslar to co-chair a Presidential Task Force on Combating Anti-Semitism. Summers said that he “publicly minimized Harvard’s anti-Semitism problem.” In response, the Association for Israel Studies and the American Academy for Jewish Research expressed support for Penslar, and more than 400 scholars of Jewish, Israel, antisemitism and Holocaust studies have signed a letter praising Penslar as “perfectly suited” to lead the task force.


Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (foreground, second from left) seeing off the last British troops in July 1948. Bettmann/Getty Images

A Palestinian refugee cut off from her home by the border established after the 1948 war. United Nations

Jewish refugees from Iraq arriving at Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport in 1951. Ruth Orkin

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 1949. United Nations

A kindergarten protected by sandbags in 1953, in Kibbutz Eyal in northern Israel. David Seymour/Magnum Photos

In 1952, an estimated 6,000 Palestinian refugees lived in the Nahr el Bared camp in Lebanon. S. Madver/UNRWA

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared itself a state. The next day, the British began leaving, and Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attacked the new state, later joined by Jordan. The internal battle between Israelis and Palestinians became a regional war. Israel fought for its survival, and the Arab countries said they were fighting to liberate Palestine. But they did not effectively deliver on their promises of military and economic support to the Palestinians.

Bazelon: How did the Israeli military win the war?

Tamari: I think the Arab defeat was almost a foregone conclusion. The neighboring Arab states were still semi-protectorates under British or French control. The only real fighting forces at the time within Palestine were under the command of Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini34

He was from the same family as the mufti and had broad appeal among Palestinians. His death in battle in April 1948 was a major blow to the Palestinians.
and a small militia in Jaffa called al-Najjadah. The volunteers who came from Syria and Lebanon, the Arab Liberation Army, were confined to the Galilee. They were easily crushed by the Zionist forces despite heavy resistance.

Penslar: There are a couple of mythological narratives. One is the old narrative: The Zionists were badly armed, poorly trained, and it was just miraculous that they were able to defeat the Palestinians and then the Arab armies. But then there’s a counternarrative, which I think is also mythological, which we’ve heard a little bit today, which is that the Zionists crushed the Palestinians and the Arab armies, and it was inevitable that they would win.

But in fact, nobody fought well in 1948. The Arab states, for the most part, could not field effective armies. Jordan had a good army, but that was about it. The Zionist forces were not well armed. They were not that well trained.

Early in the war, the Palestinians actually had the upper hand. In the winter of 1948, they controlled the roads and rural areas. All the more so when the Arab-state armies invaded in May. The first month of fighting was very difficult for Israel, and it wasn’t clear they were going to survive.

It was only when the Zionist forces were extremely aggressive in the spring of 1948, and began dispossessing the Palestinians in earnest, that the Jewish defense forces gained the upper hand.35
35The Israeli Army destroyed about 400 to 500 Palestinian villages. All told, more than 700,000 people fled or were expelled in 1947 and 1948.

The rest of the war was very much in Israel’s hands. But there’s a difference between understanding how Israel was able to win the war and arguing that that victory was inevitable. It wasn’t.

Jacobson: We should remember that the Arab countries that invaded Palestine had their own interests as well. They were not there genuinely out of an interest to help and secure and support the Palestinians only.

Rabinovich: By now you have a system of Arab states, and it has a number of dividing lines. The most important one was the rivalry between the two Hashemite kingdoms — the ones created in the early 1920s in Iraq and Transjordan or Jordan — and the Egyptian-Saudi axis. When you look at the pattern of the war, you see how it plays out. King Abdullah of Jordan was the archenemy of the mufti, and in 1948 he played a dual role,36
36In his 1988 book “Collusion Across the Jordan,” the historian Avi Shlaim writes about secret negotiations in 1947 over partition between King Abdullah and Zionist representatives.
pushing for war while in practice accepting the U.N. partition plan.

But when war broke out in 1948, he saw his chance to occupy Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank so he could extend his emirate in the desert into a real kingdom.

The Egyptians were determined to deny that. At some point, an Egyptian military column moves north from Egypt through the Gaza Strip to 30 kilometers south of Tel Aviv in Ashdod. In military terms, they should have proceeded toward Tel Aviv. Instead, they take a right and go in the direction of Jerusalem, because they are worried that Abdullah, their rival in Arab politics, could take over. When you analyze the reasons for the Israeli success and the Palestinian Arab failure in the war, inter-Arab politics played a major role.

Bazelon: Before the war, there were around 500,000 Jews and 450,000 Palestinians on the 55 percent of the land that the U.N. designated for a Jewish state. When the war ended in July 1949, Israel controlled 78 percent of the territory, and the population was mostly Jewish, with only 155,000 Palestinians. Around this time, hundreds of thousands of Jews came to Israel from countries with Muslim majorities, including Iraq, Yemen and Libya, some voluntarily and some because they were pushed out.

In other words, war, flights and expulsions transformed the demographics of Israel. What were the arguments about a Palestinian right to return after the war?

Penslar: As the war wore on, the Israeli government issued a decree not to allow the refugees to return. They did this for a variety of reasons, including fear that there would be militants among them and fear that the Palestinians would constitute a fifth column — civilians who would undermine national security.

Dallasheh: The Israeli authorities passed a law appropriating the property of people who left, destroyed their homes so they couldn’t return and used the stones to build new settlements. This was done with complete disregard for U.N. Resolution 194,37
37The resolution, passed by the U.N. General Assembly in December 1948, said that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” It also said compensation should be paid for the loss or damage of property.
which provided for the right of return in 1948 to Palestinians who wished to go back, and in order to circumvent this possibility.

Bazelon: What other choices did the new government of Israel led by Ben-Gurion make that have an impact today? Were there other, perhaps better, alternatives?

Rabinovich: I wrote a book called “The Road Not Taken.” It deals with the question of why the war did not end in a peace agreement. I would say Ben-Gurion’s logic, and I’m not justifying or denouncing it, but his logic was there was a partition plan. We accepted it, they rejected it, they fought against us. The Arab states invaded us. We barely survived. And therefore, at the end of the war we want more territory and fewer Arabs.

Jacobson: Following partition, there were different paths that could have been taken. The Palestinian Communists were a very small group, but visionary. Together with the Jewish Communist Party, they did accept the partition plan.

The 155,000 Palestinian citizens who remained in Israel following the war were granted citizenship but also placed under military rule38
38Palestinians in Israel had a right to vote beginning in 1949. But military rule subjected them to curfews and restricted them from moving freely or holding political meetings. They could be detained or deported for breaking the rules.
until December 1966. This was an extremely traumatic period for the Palestinians, given the restrictions on their civil and political rights, and it is still very much present in the national memory of Palestinian citizens in Israel. In the Jewish Israelis’ memory, on the other hand, this period was pretty much erased. The exception is the Kafr Qasim massacre39
39On the eve of a military campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, the Israeli authorities imposed a 5 p.m. curfew on Palestinian villages near the Jordanian border. People who worked out of town did not receive notice of the curfew. Nearly 50 Palestinians were shot to death on their way home to the village Kafr Qasim.
of October 1956, which exposed the Israeli public to the realities of military rule.

Dallasheh: Historians refuse to accept inevitability. History develops as a result of human agency. But I think a lot of alternatives were foreclosed in the aftermath of the Nakba, in the aftermath of the violence, in the aftermath of the Israeli insistence not only on preventing the return of the refugees but on dispossessing Palestinians all the way through the mid-1960s. Not only did the Israeli authorities continue expelling Palestinians,40
40In 1950, Israel forced nearly 2,500 Palestinian residents of the city al-Majdal, in southern Israel, into Gaza.
they also confiscated the vast majority of Palestinians’ lands.

Penslar: I know people like to talk about alternative histories, but I would focus on a different point of view. We can look at the story of Israel/Palestine from within, but if we look at it from without, we see just how dependent all of these players are on the great powers and on the international community. I mean, in 1947 and ’48, things could not have turned out the way they did without the support of the Truman administration or the Soviet Union. In May of 1947, the Soviets suddenly adopted41
41Soviet Communists denounced Zionism as a form of bourgeois nationalism (rather than class-based solidarity). But in 1947, the Soviet Union supported the establishment of Israel to diminish British influence in the Middle East and in hopes that the new state would be socialist.
a pro-Zionist position and approved of the creation of a Jewish state. And where the Soviet Union went, the Soviet bloc states were bound to follow. The Soviets also authorized the Czech government to sell to Israel a vast amount of newly manufactured weaponry. Without that materiel, it would have been much harder for Israel to win the 1948 war.

There’s a similar dynamic now in the war in Gaza, on both sides. Israel depends on the United States, and Hamas is funded by Qatar and Iran. To the extent that we can imagine roads not taken or roads to take in the future, we have to think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict much more globally and less regionally.

Rabinovich: I want to speak about the destructive power of nationalism. What we have here is the collision between two national movements that were born at about the same time. In 1905, the Lebanese intellectual Najib Azoury published a book in which he said these two national movements would have a destructive effect on the whole region. At the end of World War I, three multinational empires collapsed, the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian and the Russian. None of them was great at that point. But look at what they were replaced by — mostly ethnic conflicts and the collision between national movements in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Levant.

Dallasheh: It is important to remember the role the U.S. has played by giving almost unwavering support to the Israeli side at the expense of the Palestinian national project. If history is helpful, it’s to make us more aware of how these dynamics work.

Jacobson: It is also important to understand that this is a national conflict with religious elements fused into it. And that history is not dichotomous and binary. It’s much more complicated than just “us against them.”

Tamari: The Palestinians were not able to rely on the U.S., Europe or the Soviet Union to stop the impending catastrophe in 1948, and that is also true for the current war in Gaza. There are important differences, however. World public opinion and significant political parties have shifted in favor of the Palestinians, despite early sympathies with Israel following the Hamas attack of Oct. 7. There is continued international support for a two-state solution, but the current Israeli government insists on maintaining control over the West Bank under the guise of security. In the short run, this prolongs the life of that regime, but in the long run it will bring its own undoing.

Bawalsa: Any real discussion of what is going on today has to start with a century ago, with World War I, when Western powers redrew the Middle East for their own interests. We who live here are known as Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Israelis because of the war. And in so many other ways, we continue to feel its effects.

The Panelists:

Nadim Bawalsa is a historian of modern Palestine and the author of the 2022 book “Transnational Palestine: Migration and the Right of Return Before 1948.” He is the associate editor for The Journal of Palestine Studies.

Leena Dallasheh is a historian of Palestine and Israel who has held academic positions at Columbia University, New York University and Rice University. She is working on a book about the city of Nazareth in the 1940s and 1950s.

Abigail Jacobson is a historian in the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her latest book, written with Moshe Naor, is “Oriental Neighbors: Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine.”

Derek Penslar is a professor of Jewish history and the director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University. His latest book is “Zionism: An Emotional State.”

Itamar Rabinovich is a history professor and emeritus president at Tel Aviv University. His books include “The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations.” He was the Israeli ambassador to the United States from 1993 to 1996.

Salim Tamari is a sociologist at Birzeit University in the West Bank and a research associate at the Institute for Palestine Studies. His latest book is “The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine.”

Emily Bazelon, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, moderated the discussion.

Top image: In the war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence as a Jewish state, Arab forces attacked the Old City of Jerusalem on June 15, 1948. Photograph by John Phillips/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock


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Re: Friedman: The Real War Has Not Even Started
« Reply #2888 on: February 04, 2024, 10:17:50 PM »

I hate being negative but I've had that same thought.  First I've been saying covid-19 was a practice round, not the big one, and now this.    The Hamas attack was so well organized and so brutal, then stopped so suddenly. Ok all I really know is when the coverage stopped but it's hard to believe a number of things.  Hard to believe Iran and Hamas didn't know this is exactly how Israel would respond, so therefore wanted them to.  And hard to believe the enemy is out of money, out of terrorists, out of motive, or out of ideas on how to attack Israel, or us.


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WSJ: Israel is winning!
« Reply #2889 on: February 06, 2024, 08:41:19 AM »

You may have missed it amid the media defeatism, but Israel is winning its war in Gaza. Hamas’s losses are mounting, and support for the Israeli war effort has endured around the world longer than Hamas expected.

The war is far from over, but Hamas’s southern stronghold of Khan Younis is falling. Civilians have streamed out and Hamas’s remaining forces in the city’s west are encircled. They face an Israeli advance on all sides, and Israel is now fighting below ground in force.

Biden Administration restrictions and Israeli caution have slowed the war, but consider that the 2016-17 battle of Mosul against ISIS took nine months. “Mosul,” writes John Spencer, chief of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, “was one battle, in one city against 3 to 5k militants with limited defenses. Israel is fighting multiple battles in 7 cities against 30k militants with military grade underground cities built under civilian areas.”

Israel needs time to achieve victory, and Hamas is counting on Western powers to deny it that time. The 2009 Gaza war was brought to an end after three weeks, the 2014 war after six weeks. The “CNN strategy” of using human shields to gain media sympathy has worked every time for Hamas.

So far not this time. Oct. 7 was too brutal. This war has passed 120 days, and the U.S. and Europe refuse to call for a cease-fire.

Israel says it has killed, incapacitated or arrested some 20,000 of Hamas’s 30,000 men and dismantled 17 of Hamas’s 24 Gaza combat battalions. The losses have prevented Hamas from mounting military maneuvers and quieted its rocket fire, down more than 95% from the war’s early days.

Israel has freed 110 hostages, but its leaders are under pressure at home while 132 are still captive. The Biden Administration is using that domestic pressure as diplomatic leverage to promote a hostage deal and long pause in the war that it hopes will become a cease-fire. Never mind that leaving Hamas in control of territory is the definition of Israeli defeat. No matter the length of the pause, Israel would likely have to resume fighting afterward.

That may be why Hamas has resisted the U.S. pause and hostage-deal proposal and instead demands a cease-fire guarantee that Israel can’t give. Recall that Hamas consented to the first hostage deal after Israel took Gaza City faster than anticipated. An Israeli advance now could push the terrorists to Rafah, Hamas’s last major refuge, at the edge of Gaza.

Once Hamas’s last brigades are defeated, it will take time to sweep Gaza for terrorist cells and infrastructure. Israel is clearing urban terrain and tunnels at a “historic pace,” Mr. Spencer writes, but the tunnels are vast and soldiers find munitions in home after home.

Israel’s task for 2024 is to finish the job, but will U.S. political support hold? The Biden Administration, despite its second-guessing, continues to provide munitions and diplomatic cover that it would have a hard time withdrawing. The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll finds that large majorities of Americans support Israel and its war aims.

Europe’s elected leaders are also holding the line, and no Arab state has quit the Abraham Accords. Only Iran, which has escalated its regional war against the U.S., applies pressure. Even the United Nations International Court of Justice balked at ordering a cease-fire.

Winning the war doesn’t guarantee winning the peace afterward, but it is essential for a secure Israel and a chance for Palestinians to have a normal life in Gaza.


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GPF: No one wants to Pals
« Reply #2890 on: February 06, 2024, 08:43:07 AM »
Joking aside, this would be super bad!

Sending a message. Egypt has reportedly signaled to Israel that it would consider their peace agreement canceled if Palestinians from Gaza move into Sinai. The message was reportedly conveyed during a series of recent contacts between senior Egyptian and Israeli officials.

If Israel continues to succeed as it drives south, it seems plausible that the Pals could burst over Egypt's wall , , ,


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GPF: Israel, and Egypt's indecisiveness
« Reply #2891 on: February 06, 2024, 09:00:24 AM »

All this while Egypt's Suez revenues are down some 50% (a number relayed by a friend) due to the Houtis.

February 6, 2024
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Israel-Hamas War Underscores Egypt’s Indecisiveness
Cairo is walking a tightrope, unwilling to either categorically condemn or support Hamas’ attack.
By: Hilal Khashan

Like many other states, Egypt was caught off guard by the Israel-Hamas war. The magnitude of Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 left Egypt little room to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and the militant group, as it had done many times in the past. Cairo’s response underscores its pattern of indecisive decision-making. Rather than demand that the fighting stop, Egyptian officials merely urged against the expansion of the war into other parts of the Middle East. Egypt was essentially walking a tightrope, unwilling to either categorically condemn or support Hamas’ attack. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi isn’t concerned about the fate of Hamas, which is a close ally of his arch enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather, he’s worried about the far-reaching implications of creating a new regional reality – especially at a time when the Israel-Palestine conflict appeared to be easing and when more Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, appeared to be accelerating peace talks with Israel.

Attitudes Toward Gazans

Egyptians have developed a perception of Palestinians as troublemakers who require continuous scrutiny by the country’s intelligence services. This attitude is the result of a number of high-profile incidents involving Palestinian groups. In 1978, members of the ultraradical Palestinian Abu Nidal Organization assassinated Egypt’s minister of culture. In 1985, members of the same organization hijacked an Egyptian airliner on its way to Malta. In an effort to rescue the passengers, an Egyptian commando force launched an operation that killed 56 hostages in the crossfire. In 2012, unknown attackers killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the Kerem Shalom crossing in North Sinai Governorate. Many Egyptians accused Hamas of perpetrating the attack, which it vehemently denied.

Palestinians attempting to flee Gaza into Egypt have also faced discrimination and mistreatment. Palestinian travelers trying to enter Egypt through the Rafah crossing have long endured harsh humanitarian conditions, including shortages of drinking water and food, not to mention astronomical prices for basic necessities and a lack of public bathrooms. Those stranded at the border, including children, older people and those seeking medical treatment, must wait days to cross. Travelers have described their journeys as agonizing and humiliating.

When the crossing is open, Egyptian immigration officers approve just a small number of applications to leave Gaza. To have their applications accepted, travelers must pay $3,000 to agencies that work with a mafia of Egyptian officers and intelligence personnel. In times of crisis, bribes of up to $10,000 per person – more than 90 percent of which goes to Egyptians – are commonplace. Many people have fallen victim to scams that promise them passage if they pay bribes, only to find that their names have been left off the lists of approved applications.

These mafias have no mercy for the injured seeking treatment outside Gaza, as even they must pay $5,000 to enter Egypt. One Palestinian woman who accompanied her injured relative to a hospital in Cairo said hospital personnel prohibited wounded Palestinians from buying SIM cards or accessing the internet. They and their accompanying relatives also could not enter the cafeteria in the hospital and had to buy food from security personnel, who charged them exorbitant prices. After being attacked by el-Sissi’s supporters, she deleted her tweet and explained that she did not deny that Egypt was helping Palestinians.

Egyptian border guards charge Hamas $5,000 for each truck entering Gaza. Hamas covers the cost of food coming from Egypt, most of which is expired or nearly expired. Many Gazans report that they must pay Hamas for the food it provides them, whether donated by other countries or purchased from Egypt. Prices for all food products have skyrocketed. The price of salt, for example, soared from 10 cents per pound to $5.

Jordan’s King Abdullah has urged el-Sissi to open the Rafah crossing to bring in humanitarian aid. El-Sissi does not seem to want to antagonize the Biden administration, though Abdullah believes Washington would give the green light for the move, especially after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take steps to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gazans.

Reluctance to Help

Egypt’s reluctance to open the border is part of its pattern of unassertive actions. After withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel signed a deal with Egypt that would govern management of the Philadelphi Corridor, a narrow buffer zone along the Gaza-Egyptian border. Under the agreement, Israel handed over responsibility for border control on Gaza’s side of the corridor to the Palestinian Authority. The security situation in Gaza changed when Hamas expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization from the strip, and Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade. Due to the movement of large numbers of Gazans to north Sinai in search of food and basic supplies, Egypt took control of the Palestinian side of the corridor. The last thing Egypt wanted was a heavily armed extremist group with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood on its doorstep. Cairo even sent troops to the United States for training on locating and destroying tunnels used for smuggling weapons and other goods to Gaza. After President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, Egypt eased its restrictions. But following the 2013 coup against President Mohamed Morsi, Cairo again imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Gaza residents to Sinai. Egyptian workers bulldozed homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah City to create a buffer zone with Gaza. They also flooded the tunnels through which consumer items, weapons and militants were smuggled.

Israeli leaders now say they want to reimpose control over the corridor, angering Egypt, which argues that their bilateral agreement requires parties to obtain permission from the other party before carrying out any military action. Egypt also says Israel’s seizure of the Philadelphi Corridor would constitute a threat to its sovereignty and violate the 1978 Camp David Accords. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu downplayed the deterioration of relations with Egypt, stressing the depth of ties with el-Sissi and hinting that the leaks about his dissatisfaction with Israeli behavior are only for local consumption.

Indeed, Egypt cooperated with Israel in all of its previous wars against Hamas. For example, during the 2014 war in Gaza, several Israeli observers expressed astonishment at Egypt’s subtle approval of the conflict, which lasted 51 days. At the time, a political commentator for Israel’s Channel 13 broadcaster went so far as to say that anyone who would hear el-Sissi’s position would believe that he is a member of a Zionist movement and suggested that his stance stemmed from Hamas' being a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian officials say Israel’s attempt to control the Philadelphi Corridor will jeopardize bilateral relations, while the Israelis believe their close ties, fostered over decades since Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977, will survive the temporary occupation of the corridor. The most Egypt can do if Israel takes control of the corridor is freeze bilateral security coordination without severing diplomatic relations. Since the significant Israeli operations north of Gaza Sector and the city of Khan Younis are nearing an end, the Israeli military will soon turn to Rafah. Given that more than half the population of Gaza has taken refuge near the Egyptian border, an Israeli assault on the third and final part of the strip will force Palestinians into northern Sinai.

Lack of Interest

Egyptian attitudes toward Palestinians aren’t unique in the Arab world. Arabs often accuse the Palestinians of selling their land to the Jews and fighting among themselves while asking Arab countries for help. They frequently tell the Palestinians to try to solve their problems on their own before asking for assistance. Arab leaders and citizens, especially in Egypt, say they have given generously to the Palestinians and sacrificed thousands of their youth for the Palestinian cause. To rationalize their own failure to confront Israel, they blame the Palestinians, describing them as ungrateful traitors. They view the presence of Palestinians in any country as a bad omen for its people. Egyptians have detached themselves from the question of Palestine, viewing it as a matter for the Palestinian people to resolve. They argue that Egypt, caught in a maze of poverty, must focus on its economic development and extricate itself from foreign issues.


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Yellow Journalism
« Reply #2892 on: February 08, 2024, 10:25:24 AM »
Hamas commander lays down arms and waits for Israeli troops in south Gaza.

Guess if there are no civilians to hide behind their instestinal fortitude goes into hiding, too:


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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
« Reply #2893 on: February 08, 2024, 02:42:56 PM »

Some potent propaganda likely to come out of this.  This is very eloquent!


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What Arabs Really Think
« Reply #2894 on: February 08, 2024, 07:36:09 PM »


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WSJ: Ghost Town on the Gaza Border
« Reply #2895 on: February 10, 2024, 01:55:44 PM »
Ghost Town on the Gaza Border
Residents of the Nir Oz kibbutz once welcomed Palestinians into their homes. Now, Amit Siman Tov says, ‘Our trust has gone. Completely gone.’
By Tunku Varadarajan
Feb. 9, 2024 1:51 pm ET

Nir Oz, Israel

There was life once in this little kibbutz, in a corner of the Negev—life in its most adamant form. Many would also say that there was sweetness in this place, whose name means “Field of Strength” in Hebrew.

Men and women grew wheat and potatoes on the farmland that stretches over a mile and a quarter toward the fenced frontier of Israel. The crops, now abandoned, stop just short of Gaza, which is visible from the outer ring of the kibbutz and from the modest Jewish homes that were neat, lived in and loved. There were around 150 houses in Nir Oz, including those that were burned down, and every one is empty now, its residents dead, kidnapped or living elsewhere as “internally displaced persons”—IDPs in refugee-speak. Only four houses remain undamaged.

There is beauty amid the destruction, a reminder of a paradise lost. Flowers, glossy in the rain, bloom alongside charred houses. A magnificent ficus tree, chock full of parrots, stands unharmed. Yet abandoned tricycles and strollers tell of a place that was full of children. A soccer ball sits punctured in a yard. A young boy’s saxophone lies blackened in the rubble. Ravenous cats emerge as if from thin air as you walk by. The household bins from which they once scavenged are now empty. The “Cat Man,” a resident who put food out for them at stations around the kibbutz, is dead.

The burned out house of a young family. PHOTO: TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Also dead is the two-state solution—the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which would give sovereignty to the people from whose midst came those who laid waste to this kibbutz on Oct. 7. For eight hours they hunted down the kibbutzniks, murdering 46 people and abducting 71, amounting to well over a quarter of those who lived here, making Nir Oz proportionately the hardest-hit of the kibbutzim that Hamas invaded.

No Israeli politician of consequence speaks today of a Palestinian state, except to dismiss the idea as insane. To speak of a two-state “solution”—a word that sounds incongruous and obscene after Oct. 7—is to earn the wrath of women like Amit Siman Tov, 40, who walked me around her ghostly quiet kibbutz. She’s now an IDP in Kiryat Gat, 40 miles northeast, a city of 60,000—150 times as many people as Nir Oz. “It’s concrete,” she says. “No birds, no bicycles, no rosemary bushes.” She tells me her children, still traumatized, say they “feel safer in a building.”

Like everyone else on the kibbutz, Ms. Siman Tov lived with her family in a single-story house. Like her neighbors, she wished the Gazans well. She recalls farmhands from the strip working the fields with her father, who raised her on the kibbutz: “He was their good friend. They used to have coffee in our house. The relationship was positive.” Construction workers from Gaza would help build houses at Nir Oz. “They used to joke sometimes, ‘Oh, I’m building this for myself.’ But they were smiling, and we were smiling.” Before Oct. 7 Ms. Siman Tov would point to Gaza during bike rides and tell her kids: “There are children and women living there, just like me and you.” She wouldn’t say that now. “Our trust has gone. Completely gone.”

She escaped with her life on Oct. 7, surviving three separate raids on her house over eight hours. The family was barricaded in their safe room—or, in Hebrew, mamad, a word that is on everyone’s lips in Israel. “You should add it to the English language,” she says.

“The third time they came, we felt we were going to die.” The terrorists, having failed to break down the mamad’s door, set the house on fire. Ms. Siman Tov, her husband, their 11-year-old daughter and sons age 9, 6 and 2 laid down urine-soaked sweatshirts at the foot of the door to stop smoke from seeping in. “My daughter was pleading with me. ‘Mom, open the door. Let them shoot me. I don’t want to be burned to death.’ ”

Terrorist bullet holes on the door of a safe room. PHOTO: TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Barricaded at home, Ms. Siman Tov didn’t know the terrorists had killed her mother, brother, sister-in-law, 5-year-old twin nieces and 2-year-old nephew. She takes me to their house, her composure remarkable as we enter her brother’s breached mamad. We’re joined by Mor Tzarfati, 41, Ms. Siman Tov’s neighbor and best friend, who also survived the attack with her family when the terrorists failed to break down the door to their safe room. Ms. Tzarfati points to the bullet holes in the brother’s mamad, where he and his wife died of gunshot wounds and their three children were asphyxiated by smoke. There was blood on the walls—“spritzed,” as Ms. Tzarfati describes it.

Ms. Tzarfati and her family were lucky. The terrorists gave up after trying to batter down their reinforced door for hours. She was in her safe room with her husband, three young kids and dog, whose snout she had to clench shut with her fist to keep it from barking. After the first two waves of attacks, she heard women and children speaking in the house: “They were taking things. Helping themselves to my fridge.” The invading Gazans left shoes behind, making off with footwear stolen from kibbutzniks.

“I don’t want Israel to have any connection with Gaza,” Ms. Tzarfati says when asked what should happen next. “Our attitudes have changed.” Both she and Ms. Siman Tov—like nearly every Israeli, right or left—want Hamas destroyed.


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Newsweek: Gaza War is unique
« Reply #2899 on: February 20, 2024, 09:00:20 AM »