Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Responding to Reckless and Inaccurate Palestinian Propaganda


 **First -- my apologies for my absence... my real job and real life have kept me fairly busy this fall, and I have been shifting my preaching style to more interactive, less texted forms.**

 **Second -- what follows is VERY long... I know. And I am sorry. But when people who should know better just pass along crap about the Middle East without checking it, or concern for the impact of the lies and inaccuracies, the "Big Lie" must be shot down... and then usually cannot be done quick and easy...**

 **Third -- I am NOT sure what is happening with the formatting here... I hope this last edit has fixed the paragraphs, but just in case, I am setting off MY paragraphs (as opposed to those from the article being critiqued) with beginning and ending "**" **

   **I have copied the “article” below, without consent, off a site called “” I have done this so that MY readers can see the bs that is being claimed as fact by this a$$clown. A note to Mr. Cole and the owner/operator(s) of -- PLEASE come and try to attack me legally for this unauthorized copying, because, I promise, if you do, you will find yourself on the receiving end of multiple suits for libel and reckless endangerment, as well as wire fraud. Not a threat, an iron clad promise.**

 **To my chagrin, this "article" was posted to facebook by my friend, John Rouse, once a respected journalist, but these days, seemingly reduced to using the internet as I suspect that Henry Fonda’s character in “On Golden Pond” would have – to generate enough discussion that the alerts that someone has commented on something he posted would give him constant feedback that he is, in fact, still alive, and in John’s case, still relevant.**

 **John Rouse the newspaper editor would NEVER have allowed an article like this to run in his newspaper – the number of factual errors and examples where unsubstantiated opinion is presented as fact is egregiously large. Yet, in his new internet ambassador role, John simply comments after posting “I just found the piece interesting. Readers can make up their own minds. There was stuff in there I never knrw. [sic]” [note: He DID ix that typo later on.]**

 **The comment shows how far John has fallen – not only could he not be bothered to correct his obvious typo, but his lack of responsibility is painfully typical of how too many REPORT the “news” on facebook – simply passing along, not bothering to fact check. A side note to John: did it ever occur to you that the reason you "learned" so much stuff from this article that you had never heard before was because most of this article was pure, opinionated b.s., with little or no basis in fact or reality???**

 **So here, as a public service to John, and to others who might easily be taken in by this a$$clown, Juan Cole, and his lies, is a BRIEF, seriatum, fact check. [yes, I KNOW it is long... trust me, if I had the time or energy to waste on schooling this moron, it would have been MUCH longer!] Please note – the wide margins are from the original, the brown represent hyper-links to Mr. Cole’s alleged sources (which sadly did not translate over to this forum), many of which are, to a trained eye, on first blush, even more spurious than his own conclusions… my insertions will be obvious, marked with ** and indented.**

Informed Comment / By Juan Cole
Top 10 Myths About Israel's Attack on Gaza

     **The classic propagandist’s trick… accuse the other side of exactly the sin you know yourself to be committing. In this case, passing off myths as truth.**

These misconceptions are spread by the American media.

     **An even more outrageous and ironic twist of the knife, as the reason many people will be taken in by this crap is because exactly the opposite of what is being claimed here is true – the Western media (American included) has been guilty of under-reporting, especially when it comes to the real origins of the current (or any) fighting from the terrorists’ side.**

November 19, 2012 |

1. Israeli hawks represent themselves as engaged in a ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians in which Hamas refuses to join. In fact, Israel has refused to cease colonizing and stealing Palestinian land long enough to engage in fruitful negotiations with them.

     **It is true that SOME Israeli governments, have, historically, been guilty of allowing settlers to squat on land that is not legally theirs, or even, in earlier days, allowed the building of new settlements on unowned land in the West Bank. It is also true that THIS current Israeli government, has approved similar development of unowned land, which has been, and continues to be a deterrent to getting new peace talks started with Abbas, not Hamas. In fact, no Israeli, hawk or dove, will allow Hamas, identified by most Western nations that still have any sense of a moral compass, as a terrorist organization, to come to the table, until they denounce terror, cease rocket attacks, and clearly and unequivocally accept Israel’s right to exist as a free country in peace. The stalled peace process is with Fatah, over the West Bank – Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2009. Gaza is where Hamas forces its will on the native Palestinian population. Having pulled out in 2009, Israel cannot possible be colonizing or stealing land – she is not a physical presence in Gaza until the unending rocket assaults from Gaza force her to send in troops to protect her citizens. Tel Aviv routinely announces new, unilateral house-building on the Palestinian West Bank.**
        **Routinely? See above. House-building? ROUTINELY, when settlers unilaterally ignore Israeli laws designed to prevent such actions, the Israeli Supreme Court rules against them, and requires them to stop and retreat. That the government is ROUTINELY incapable of forcing the settlers to abide by Israeli law simply is sad proof that ALL cultural and religious groups have their extremists who believe the law does not apply to them, usually because they claim to be doing “God’s work.” All such extremists are an impediment to peace. And, please don’t get me started on the quality of this “source,” although Reuters, unlike Mr. Cole, at least accurately limits the areas of such claims to areas completely divorced from what is happening in Gaza.**

There is no peace process. It is an Israeli and American sham. Talking about a peace process is giving cover to Israeli nationalists who are determined to grab everything the Palestinians have and reduce them to penniless refugees (again).

        **I almost don’t know where to start on this one. The first sentence is correct. While even I will admit that both sides bear the responsibility for this truth, there is no way that it is a 50-50 split. When virtually every third party who has attempted to bring peace agrees that “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” the breakdown starts to become clear. While it would help if the Netanyahu government would make a better overture, and take fewer actions that can be interpreted negatively by Palestinians (again, all almost exclusively in the West Bank, not Gaza), it is also clear that the situation on the Israeli side is a direct result of the previous failures to achieve peace, which are virtually all at the feet of Palestinian intransigence, and the lack of desire to settle for a 2-state solution.**
       **“Talking about a peace process” is an attempt by the world to push the parties towards the table. It is NOT, nor can it be, a cover to anyone, unless the admission here is that one party has no use for peace… and let’s be clear which party is holding out for a ONE-state solution (hint – NOT Israel!).**
       **And again, can we talk about the rhetorical inconsistency and stupidity inherent in the claim that Israeli nationalists “are determined to grab everything the Palestinians have…” after a) unilaterally leaving Gaza, and b) constantly making overtures to Fatah to come to the table…**
       **And again the propaganda tricks in “reducing them (the Palestinians) to penniless refugees (again)”… who made them refugees in the first place? NOT the Israelis (at least not for MOST of them… see below). Who KEPT them in refugee camps rather than resettling them from 1948 – 1967. Not the Israelis – these people were living in Jordan and Egypt! When did the standard of living RISE for Palestinians? After 1967, when Israel’s pre-emptive and defensive war succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams! Who abdicated responsibility for return of these people to the PLO, even as they made plans to fight for the return of the lands they were on? The Arabs, not Israel – in fact, in 1970, both Jordan, and to a lesser degree, Syria, forced Palestinians OUT of their countries out of fear that they would destabilize things, which is how Arafat came to be based in Tunisia! And where has the world’s significant aid to the Palestinians disappeared since Arafat shook hands with Israel on the White House lawn? Too much of it was deflected into the pockets of Arafat and other Palestinian leaders, leaving the people Palestinian people in need. If you want to claim they are victims, I am fine with that… just blame the real villains for victimizing them…**

2. Actions such as the assault on Gaza can achieve no genuine long-term strategic purpose.

       **Sorry -- where is the "myth" here?! Mr. Cole jumps right into his Pallywood inspired propaganda shrieking on this one!**
       **Opinion, and inaccurate at that, because it precludes any possibility of military success. That is NOT the position of an unbiased reporter, but of a Hamas sympathizer, who KNOWS that weapons caches are routinely stored in the basements of hospitals and schools, launchers placed in the middle of densely populated neighborhoods, and children used as human shields by armed Hamas soldiers and their proxies… all of which make the likelihood of a total Israeli military success in completely wiping out the installation that routinely launch rockets indiscriminately into sovereign Israeli territory slim at best. But such a total success WOULD BE a “genuine long-term strategic” victory.**
       **12000 rockets from Gaza into Israel over the last decade. Indiscriminately. But Israel drops one bomb, more carefully targeted than is required (or achieved) by ANY other military, and how quick Hamas is to cry foul… **

They are being launched to ensure that Jewish-Israelis are the first to exploit key resources.**

      **Again – what resources? This is Gaza, which has virtually no natural resources to speak of, besides 1.7 potential victims for Hamas to use and exploit. And an interesting rhetorical flourish here, that links Israel and Jewish… and in the process, exposes the REAL animus and bias of the “reporter.”**

Rattling sabers at the Palestinians creates a pretext for further land-grabs and colonies on Palestinian land. That is, the military action against the people of Gaza is a diversion tactic; the real goal is Greater Israel, an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over all the territory once held by the British Mandate of Palestine.

        **OMG – if this wasn’t so damned slanderous, it would be amusing for its stupidity, its inaccuracy, and its creative selection of the LEAST reputable source available to back his point. Further land grabs? Again – Israel LEFT Gaza… the OPPOSITE of land grab. Israel built (lamentably, but understandably) a separating wall between herself and the West Bank Palestinian population, to make terroristic incursions from that territory far more difficult. “Diversion tactic”? One side of the conflict has, consistently, over the last decade, used negotiations and cease-fires as a diversion… to give themselves time to re-arm, recoup, and make new plans for attack. And again, that side has been Hamas, NOT Israel. Trust me, if the goal was a “land grab” to create a “Greater Israel,” Israel would have done so long ago, and no Hamas or Palestinian effort would have stopped them. Who gave back the Sinai in return for peace? Israel. Who unilaterally left Gaza? Israel. Who has tried repeatedly to return most of the West Bank in return for a meaningful and sustainable peace? Israel. “Land grab”? Get real! And Israel has NEVER established “colonies” – in territory won in 1967 or anywhere else – since her independence was declared.**

3. Israeli hawks represent their war of aggression as in ‘self-defense.’ But the UK Israeli [note: in Mr Cole's original, Israeli is struck thru] chief rabbi admitted on camera that that the Gaza attack actually ‘had something to do with Iran.’

       **It was launched after yet another escalation in rocket fire from Gaza. That is not only self-defense, but it is LEGITIMATE self-defense. Clever use of the cross-thru to imply a cabal between Britain and Israel… except virtually every spurious article this clown brings to support his absurd arguments has a British source, which is far closer to the current political reality, at least as applies to the British media.**
       **And it is clear that the Israeli response DOES have “something to do with Iran,” since Iran is the source of the rockets currently being fired from Gaza that have now brought Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem into range, increasing the number of Israeli citizens in target range from 1 million to almost 3 million.**

4. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinians of Gaza as “bad neighbors” who don’t accept Israel. But 40% of the people in Gaza are refugees, mostly living in refugee camps, from families in pre-1948 Palestine that had lived there for millennia.

        **Again, the skillful and deliberate blurring of history… many families have roots in what was originally called Philistia by the Romans, to punish the Jews for their rebellion in 135 CE, but was not again called Palestine, even informally, until modernity, and not formally defined until the League of Nations broke Palestine out from the former Ottoman Empire and awarded Great Britain the Mandate for its oversight in 1920. Some of the families that can make that claim are even Jewish! However, there is no indigenous people who can claim an ethnic or cultural identity called “Palestinian.” It simply did not exist as an entity, at least not until the Arab countries exacerbated the refugee problem created during Israel’s War of Independence (the ONLY such war in modern history, btw, in which the country declaring independence was attacked by neighbors intent on making her disappear), when the majority of refugees CHOSE to leave their homes at the request of the attacking Arab armies, who wanted them out of the way so they would not be impeded in their presumed march to “push Israel into the sea.” When that did not happen, the refugee “problem” was created, and the failure of the surrounding Arab countries to normalize and settle the refugees amongst their own population created what is today referred to as the “Palestinian people.”**
       **Amongst those whose families voluntarily vacated and became refugees was Mahmoud Abbas himself. In recent days, he has publicly and clearly expressed that he would like to visit Safed, the city his ancestors vacated, but he has no claim on returning there to live.**
       **Bottom line, however, whatever the origins of the people currently living in Gaza, that does not excuse their inability to elect leaders who will recognize Israel’s legitimacy, or work to bring a peace that would help citizens on both sides. Neighbors who allow rockets to be launched from their territory into the country next door can hardly be seen, credibly, as anything but poor neighbors!**

They were expelled from what is now Israel in the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing campaign. Israelis are now living in their homes and farming their land, and they were never paid any reparations for the crimes done to them.[pdf] “Israel’s failure to provide reparations to Palestinian refugees over the past six decades is in blatant violation of international law.” Israel does not accept Palestine’s right to exist, even though it is constantly demanding that everyone, including the displaced and occupied Palestinians, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

      **On top of the clear evidence above, the opinions sited in these articles are, at best, minority opinions. Every framework towards a permanent peace agreement has made clear that the final resolution to the return question must be negotiated by the parties. Any serious attempt at reaching a negotiated agreement will require compromise and creativity from both sides – for the Palestinians to expect Israel to accept a stipulation that would, on demographic grounds, obliterate her character as a “Jewish state” is the logical equivalent of admitting that they really don’t seek a meaningful peace agreement. And again, see Abbas’ statement about his own personal “claim” to return as evidence that those who refuse to compromise on this issue are creating an invented excuse, designed to be used as a tool against Israel rather than a negotiating position.**

5. Israeli hawks and their American clones depict Gaza as a foreign, hostile state with which Israel is at war. In fact, the Gaza strip is a small territory of 1.7 million people militarily occupied by Israel (something in which the UN and other international bodies concur). Israelis do not allow it to have a port or airport, nor to export most of what it produces. Palestinians cannot work about a third of its land, which is reserved by Israel as a security buffer. As an occupied territory, it is covered by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations by their military occupier. Indiscriminate bombing of occupied territories by the occupier is clearly illegal in international law.

     **Now Mr. Cole has gone off the deep end, and is REALLY becoming offensive to anyone. “Israeli hawks and their American clones”?? Seriously? In fact, the US, and much of Europe, define Gaza as a disputed territory, whose ultimate resolution is still to be defined in negotiations, currently being ruled by Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, with a clearly stated agenda to utterly destroy her neighbor, Israel. It is certainly foreign to Israel. It is clearly in a continuing state of belligerence towards Israel, defined by over 12000 rockets sent from Gaza into Israel at civilian targets – a clear violation of international law and every meaningful morality of western civilization.**
       **Whatever its size or population is irrelevant to the state of belligerence its government continues to foster, whether the UN and other international bodies concur or not.**
       **Militarily occupied? Again, do I have to repeat the argument? Israel unilaterally withdrew all forces. THERE IS NO MILITARY OCCUPATION!! Bring as many “witnesses” as you want - water will still be wet, the sky will still be up, and the sun will still “rise” in the east no matter what witnesses may claim to the contrary. Israel has NOT prevented the current elected leadership of Gaza from creating port or airport. I WOULD expect that, if Hamas had attempted such an effort, Israel would have done everything legally possible to blockade the effort, as there is already a steady stream of weapons entering the territory illegally, and to allow more would be a legitimate threat to her security. There is no credible evidence for the claim about preventing exports. Exporting products would add to Gaza’s economy, increasing her stability, which would be to Israel’s benefit, which is why, despite the continued state of belligerence a) Israel has encouraged foreign economic help for Gaza, and b) Israel is the leading conduit for humanitarian aid entering Gaza (NOT Egypt, as would be otherwise expected. In fact, when Israel pulled out, significant amounts of agricultural equipment were left behind, to assist the Gazan economy. That equipment has all been destroyed and repurposed to military usage by the Hamas regime.**
       **The claims about Israel’s incursion into “a third of [Gaza’s] land” for a “security buffer” are pure fabrication and antilogical, given that final borders of Gaza remain to be negotiated, if a legitimate leadership ever fulfills the necessary prerequisites to negotiations listed above (beginning with recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and cessation of rocket fire).**
       **And, since Israel has withdrawn troops from the area, the claims of Geneva convention violations must no longer be relevant, but that doesn’t stop Mr. Cole and other propagandists from repeating them as part of their “Big Lie.” As has been demonstrated, here, and elsewhere, multiple times, Israel's carefully targeted, multi-fail-safed targeting of strictly military targets in Gaza is hardly “Indiscriminate,” as Mr. Cole claims in raising his false Geneva Conventions claim. This moves from farcical propaganda to offensive irony in light of the completely indiscriminate and premeditated rocket fire that provoked Israel’s response.**

6. Israeli hawks see themselves as innocent victims of bewildering Palestinian rage from Gaza. But Israel not only has kept Palestinians of Gaza in the world’s largest outdoor penitentiary, they have them under an illegal blockade that for some years aimed at limiting their nutrition without altogether starving them to death. I wrote earlier: “The food blockade had real effects. About ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. A recent report [pdf] by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that, in addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers. “ If any foreign power surrounded Israel, destroyed Haifa port and Tel Aviv airport, and prevented Israeli exports from being exported, what do you think Israelis would do? Oh, that’s right, it is rude to see both Palestinians and Israelis as equal human beings.

     **Most of the blame for any accuracy in these claims (which is suspect at best), must go far more to the Hamas oppressors in Gaza than to any perceived continued oppression at the hands of a withdrawn Israel. The fact that the (fiction) author here quotes something he himself wrote earlier as “evidence” can hardly inspire confidence in either factuality or accuracy to his claims.**
       **Despite the totally gratuitous closing statement of this point, which, to any rhetoretician or anyone seeking truth about this subject, would disqualify the entire content as the biased opinion it is, allow me to answer his rhetorical question which precedes it… when that actual scenario DID play out in spring of 1967, Israel first appealed, through proper diplomacy, to the United Nations, to end the blockade peacefully. When that failed, Israel took the legal and moral step of launching a defensive and pre-emptive strike, which became the victory of the 6 Day War. In other words, instead of launching immediately into attack, or whining and claiming victim status, Israel, at all stages, acted responsibly, and took military action only as a last resort. So, thanks for asking!

7. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinian residents of Gaza as followers of Hamas, a party-militia of the Muslim religious right. But half of Palestinians in Gaza are minors, who never voted for Hamas and cannot be held collectively responsible for that party.

     **A big, ironic LOL!! Again with the meaningless phrase “Israel (sic) hawks.” Clearly, the intent of the repeated, undefined refrain is to cast Israelis as hawks, or at least a portion of them.  However, the propaganda effect is a) to keep undefined what portion of Israelis are being blamed -- is it just hawks, the government, the entire population?  and b) to blur the lines.  Compare this to my VERY deliberate distinction between Hamas actions and impact on Palestinians in Gaza.  THIS is the difference between spouting propaganda and hiding behind rhetorical tricks to avoid acknowledging a lack of factual evidence, and reporting facts and data.**
     **Some in Israel do, in fact, demonize. Most, however simply call what they see. In the last elections, more Palestinians living in Gaza voted for Hamas leadership. No demonizing, simple and accurate reporting. Some even recognize the possibility that most Palestinians are every bit Hamas’ victims as Hamas hopes to make Israelis. NO Israeli defines Hamas as above – that is actually closer to Hamas' fatuous self-definition. Recognizing that he has failed to make any of his preceding 6 points effectively, the author now seeks to exempt the majority of the population from responsibility from Hamas – not by accurately blaming Hamas and distancing themselves, but rather, by spurious legal technicalities. Unlike Hamas, Israelis would never seek to blame minors for anything to begin with. Collective responsibility is a Hamas tactic, not an Israeli one.**

8. Israeli hawks justify their aggression on the Palestinians on grounds of self-defense. But Israel is a country of 7.5 million people with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, helicopter gunships and F-16s and F-18s, plus 400 nuclear warheads. Gaza is a small occupied territory of 1.7 million which has no heavy weaponry, just some old guns and some largely ineffectual rockets. (Israelis cite hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza in 2012; but until Israel’s recent attack they had killed not a single Israeli, though they did wound a few last March when fighting between Palestinians and Israelis escalated.) Gaza is a threat to Israel the way the Transkei Bantustan was a threat to Apartheid South Africa. As for genuine asymmetrical threats from Gaza to Israel, they could be dealt with by giving the Palestinians a state and ceasing the blockade imposed on them, or in the worst case scenario counter-terrorism targeted at terrorists rather than indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

     **Aww – once again the world’s smallest, and most hypocritical, violin plays the martyr song for Palestinians in the absence of legitimate debate. The idea that the rockets fired on Israel are inaccurate enough to have killed anyone in Israel until the recent escalation is here used as PROOF that Hamas innocent of any provocation? What have they done to prevent their towns and cities and homes from being used as military sites to target (however ineffectually) Israeli civilians? Nothing – either because they themselves have been bullied by Hamas, or because they support the actions. At this point, no matter how much I WISH the former to be the case, the evidence does not support a firm conclusion either way.**
      **And then the truly offensive slander begins. The comparison to apartheid era South Africa, no matter how attractive to some, or how useful as propaganda, simply fails the test of accuracy and fact. 12000 rockets killed that analogy! The claim of asymmetrical threats is another deliberate inversion of reality – admittedly indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians responded to by carefully limited and targeted singling out of military personnel and installations is truly asymmetry. The Israeli withdrawal was designed to allow Gaza to demonstrate its readiness and willingness to achieve peace and statehood – her failure to do so must lie 100% at the feet of Hamas exclusively. To claim that what is Israel is ACTUALLY DOING would be sufficient if only Israel did it is the height of sophistry.**

9. Israeli hawks maintain that they were provoked into the attack. But actually Ahmad Jabari, the Hamas leader the Israelis assassinated earlier this week, had been engaged in talks with the Israelis about a truce. Assassinations achieved by the ruse of openness to peace talks are guarantees of no further peace talks.

     **The world is still waiting for the definitive evidence on this claim about Jabari. Mr. Cole cites the ONLY article making this claim that has been published to date. The Ha’aretz author had ample reason to self-promote and fabricate his claims in the article for his own advancement and self-aggrandisement. In addition, if such negotiations WERE going on, Israel’s military censor almost assuredly would have shut the story down, at least until after the cessation of hostilities. The overwhelming body of multiply proven and confirmed facts on the man is that he was responsible for Gilad Shalit’s abduction, he was the leader of Hamas’ military arm, and he was the architect of the rocket strategy. The fact that he was targeted and killed in his car makes unlikely that the Israelis used a “pretext” of negotiation as a ruse to expose him to the attack.**

10. Although most American media is a cheering section for the Likud Party,in fact the world is increasingly done out with Israel’s aggressiveness. Boycotts and sanctions will likely grow over time, leaving Israeli hawks with a deficit…

       **Again, where is the myth here? The only one that I see is the one HE has invented about the leanings of the American media, one which flies in the face of the empirical evidence.**
       **Huh? Has this moron actually read American media coverage of Israel, before and during this conflict? And what myth is he exposing here (or for that matter, in most of his screed?)?**

       **Bottom line, refuting the “Big Lie” takes far more effort and ink than making it, and this case is no exception to that truth. If the author has any sincere desire to bring peace, he would do better to shut up, or at least learn the difference between fact and fiction.**

Juan Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and maintains the blog Informed Comment.

        **If this is accurate, it is truly a blot on academia. I certainly hope his efforts in areas he has actually studied or knows anything about are presented to students more professionally and without bias than is demonstrated here.**

        **Please -- do NOT give this idiot any more credibility that he does not deserve on his own. I have written this blog SOLELY for the purpose of being to post the link on Mr. Rouse's wall, to serve as an antidote to the real damage such reckless reposting of such foolish propaganda spouting can create. Please do NOT send your friends her to "learn the truth." We who support Israel, peace, and the truth are far better served by simply continuing to get the real facts out there, not by reposting crap like this and risking giving it traction by our attention.