Monday, June 12, 2006

The blood on our hands

By Bradley Burston (Haaretz).

It was easy for us, much, much too easy, to have gone through this entire weekend, and still not see the blood on our hands.

One reason is that we don't watch Al Jazeera. Another is that we don't really see ourselves.

We immediately found no end of ways to disengage from the tragedy of a family erased for the crime of picnicking on a beach.

The World Cup was one method. Another was reflex.

The ineffable anguish in the image of a girl running on a beach where her family lay in pieces on the sand, was shown again and again and again on Al Jazeera, but it passed swiftly from Israeli television screens and from the Israeli consciousness, replaced, in many cases, with indignation over the world's propensity to pre-judge and condemn us.

It wasn't us, we told ourselves. And if it was us, we were more than justified.

"I categorically reject all the attempts to impugn the morality of the Israel Defense Forces," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, opening the cabinet session on Sunday.

"The Israel Defense Forces is the most moral army in the world. It has never conducted a policy of harming civilians, and is not doing so today."

Were we, in fact, at fault?

The army's front commander for Gaza, Major General Yoav Galant, said Sunday that "the picture is unclear. The artillery fire has been well-analyzed, and the question marks are multiplying as to whether the artillery fire was the cause of the incident."

Say he's right. Say it wasn't our fault. Say we dismiss as irrelevant the fact that five IDF shells landed nearby at the same time, and that the trajectory of the sixth is unaccounted-for.

Pretend, for argument's sake, that the army's statements on the incident were not meant to confabulate, that is, to unconsciously replace fact with fantasy in someone's memory.

Make believe that it was only coincidence that when Army Radio said the probe was to determine who was responsible for the killing of the Ghalia family, it suggested that the choices were "an Israeli artillery shell, or a Palestinian Qassam rocket that landed in the area by mistake."

And while you're at it ...

Say the blood that is on our hands is not that of Ali Ghalia, the father of the family, his wife Ra'isa, four of his daughters, one aged 2, and his eight-month-old son

Say the blood is not that of Mohammed Dura, the 12-year-old boy killed early in the Intifada in a crossfire between Israelis and Palestinians.

For every Mohammed Dura, there have been hundreds and hundreds of Palestinians killed by the IDF in error, in conjunction with the killing of terrorists, or because overwhelming force and remote technology was applied in order to minimize the risk to Israeli troops.

There was no news crew to film them, so the world cares nothing for them. And neither do we. Their tragedies are no less unbearable, surely no less unbearable than the hundreds of our own the world cares nothing for.

We can live with it, as we live with the idea of sending thousands and thousands of artillery shells into one of the most crowded districts on the planet, in order to try to hit three-man mobile crews firing a rocket not much bigger than a broom - the equivalent of going after a fly with a pile-driver.

We live with it because we Can't Just Do Nothing, as if thousands of shells, many of them directed at open spaces calculated precisely to hit nothing, are the only possible alternative.

We can live with it, fundamentally, because we don't know what else to do, and because the only thing left for us to believe, is that it's wrong to negotiate.

"The entire protest was ugly from the standpoint of morality," said senior Likud lawmaker Yuval Steinitz, referring to a small demonstration of leftists near the house of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz Saturday morning - a rally that included Olmert's daughter Dana.

The demonstration was over the killing of the Ghalia family in Gaza, and in favor of resuming peace talks, even with a government with whom we share only mutual abhorrence.

"Instead of demonstrating against the side that fires Qassams with malice aforethought against civilians, Israeli civilians, the civilians of Sderot," Steinitz added, "they protest against the side that, as a last resort, must defend its citizens, is obligated to defend its citizens, and responds with fire."

In the long run, if we are to be able to live with it, it will be because in fighting Qassams, we have developed smarter and smarter ways kill fewer and fewer Palestinian civilians. On Sunday, soon after a 60-year-old Sderot man was critically wounded when a Qassam slammed into a school, the IAF attacked a Hamas rocket crew as they prepared to fire another, killing two of them and wounding the third. There were no civilian casualties.

46 Comments:

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

once again I will say that I agree with the bottom line - there are much better ways to deal with the Kassams than firing Artillery. I have mentioned that before on comments here on the blog.

But, all those innocent people who are killed, are a result of a War they brought on themselves. Israel didn't start this round of fighting. And all the attempts to end this have just ended up with something blowing up in an Israeli city.

The fact that we take the Kassams so lightly is another indicator of the same problem - they are only little rockets.. they are home made... they are broom size...
Hmmm... well the bombs that blow up are also home made... and 52 mm Mortars are no bigger than a bowling pin. SO WHAT??

I think what happened on friday is horrible, no matter who's fault it was. And I hope that this entire thing will come to an End, But as long As Hamas and Co. are attacking Israel I don't see that Israel has much choice but to return fire and WIN.

BTW - Israel hasn't fired anything in the past 2 days into Gaza, in return more than 50 Kassams landed in Israel, and most likely many more have landed in Gaza since only about 50% of them actually land in Israel... what does that tell you about our dear Palestinian friends??

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Well, there is one alternative: negotiations.

Thanks for your comment.

 
At 10:48 PM, Blogger Marvin said...

so the Palestians have no blood on their hands.

Gert - How do you talk with ones who do not recognize your right to exist. HAMAS is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Griffon said...

Oleh Yahshan said...

"But, all those innocent people who are killed, are a result of a War they brought on themselves. Israel didn't start this round of fighting."

Are you suggesting that the Palestinians invaded Israel? That the Palestinians bulldoze and steal jewish homes and land? That the Ashkenazi Israelis were living happily in "Israel" for generations before the Palestinians decided to immigrate there from all over the world and declare someone else's land their State? And in doing all this brought the War on themselves?

You don't happen to be acquainted with Rear Adm. Harris, by any chance?

Marvin,

How do you talk with people who call you "two leged beasts" and treat you accordingly? Ever heard of the expession Palestinian cruxifiction? Do you know what it refers to?

What are the pay rates for this stuff these days, anyway?

 
At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Griffon - So mere words, justify the slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women and children.
In 1947 the land was given by the United Nations to Israel, since then the Arabs have tried several times to wipe Israel of the map.
And liberals and Europeans root for the slaughter of Jews.

 
At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Griffon said...

anonymous,
I don't know how you can say "mere words, justify the slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women and children." But it takes all types I suppose.

No innocent deserves to die by definition. All people have a right to exist. This is also beyond dispute.

What is in dispute by both parties is the right of the State of Israel and/or the State of Palestine to exist and if they are to exist where their borders are.
Disolving a state does not mean exterminating it's citizens.
Anyone who uses the phrase "should be wiped off the map" is confusing these two things either for themselves or for others.

The United Nations did not grant land to anyone. It couldn't because it didn't own it.
In 1947, the United Nations allowed for the creation of two states, didn't they? The other one was Palestine which the state of Israel promptly invaded and has been encroaching on and stealing from ever since. This is beyond dispute.

The State of Israel refuses to acknowledge a State of Palestine. Israel calls on the authority of the UN when it suits and rejects it when it doesn't. It is in breach of countless UN Resolutions.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

griffon,
1. I was referring to the recent round of violence, not to the entire conflict.

2. Are you saying that Israel does not have a right to exist?? Do the Jewish People not have the right of self determination??

3. How is Israel stopping anyone from Declaring a state?? Is there anyone on the Palestinian side who has?? or are they waiting for something (perhaps the destruction of Israel)? Israel declared independence the first chance it got, The U.S. actually did the same. The Palestinians did not.

4. It's funny my history books say that Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, with the help of Iraq and others Invaded the Area of "Palestina/EI". If I remember correctly Israel did not sit in Gaza, or the West Bank in 1949. But then again I might be wrong... Please enlighten me...

Oh and please - can you give me you solution to all of this?? I would love to here your insight on it!

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Richard said...

Another Israeli strike today. I've not read the details yet.

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous whoever said...

2. Are you saying that Israel does not have a right to exist?? Do the Jewish People not have the right of self determination??

Hey, oleh. Enlighten me will ya?

Why do you falsely imply that Jews and Israelis are one and the same?

Most Jews are NOT Israelis. But you already knew that.

My brother in law is a Jew - but he ain't an Israeli.

Seems to me, being so disingenuous makes you part of the problem you ask for advice about.

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the Palestinians who so carefully filmed a landmine on the beach killing their own, just so they could make a propaganda movie.

Sweet folks to deal with.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

whoever,

The fact that not all of a population, is living in an area does not mean it's not theirs.
Not all British people live in GB. Nor do all Americans live in the U.S. This does not in the least change the fact that it is their right to live there.

And as far as I am concerned one can answer the 2 questions separately. Although the answer is usually the same.
Jews have the right of self determination - with that right Israel was established. This does not mean that all Jews have to move there or be a part of it (see my first part of this answer).
Not all Jews are Israeli and not all Israelis are Jewish.. SO What?? does this change anything??

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

hi gert,

i have finally posted some new things on my blog and have changed up the format.

hope all is well.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

I will come and check it out, thanks.

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

gert,
bradley Burston has published a 2nd part to the article:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=726327

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous whoever said...

oleh,

You're too aggresive a Jew for me to talk to or read, any more. You are clearly part of the problem, and nothing you said changes anything. Not for the better at any rate.

Count antagonising me (and others)as a victory if it satifies your ego. I don't give a damn about anything you have to say here or anywhere else any more. So enjoy your hollow victory as you make more enemies instead of so badly needed friends.

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

"You're too aggresive a Jew for me to talk to or read, any more."

huh??? can you explain how I was aggresive?

Also why is being an aggresive JEW a bad thing?? or do you like you Jews nice, weak and easy to beat??

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Griffon said...

Oleh,
you twist everything. You know and weknow it.
B'nai B'rith and the ADL (Neo-cons) are very good at this sort of thing. The game is you don't contest the irrefutable points but bring in twisted redherrings and try to get your opponents to talk on these points that don't exist such as comparisons between Jews living outside Israel with absolutely no connection with it to British and American ex-patriots.

You keep the game up until you exhaust your opponent and try and leave the impression with readers that you won the argument and are therefore right in what you say or you create the illusion that the truth lays somewhere in between the opposing viewpoints.

Binge, purge, repeat ad nauseum.

 
At 8:05 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

griffon,
it's seems that you have not answered, even one of my questions. Instead you are busy accusing me of twisting facts ETC.

if nothing else answer my last question:
Can you give me you solution to all of this??

Was the strait forward enough for you or am I twisting the facts again? or maybe I beeing to aggresive a Jew??

 
At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Griffon said...

Onyer bike, Oleh. Games up, mate.

The readers can see for themselves by reading the various comments from the start to see what you are doing.

To which you would ordinarily respond "Me? Me? What am I doing?. Please enlighten me.
But it is all there to see; as is Israel's history in dealing with the Palestinians.

I know you, Oleh, won't be interested in this latest piece of that history following but others might be.

" The debate over the beach explosion is unlikely to die down however. Mr Garlasco who is now the senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch, said yesterday: "Of course I can't be completely conclusive but all the evidence points to its being a 155mm Israeli shell which killed the Palestinians on the beach."

Mr Garlasco said that most of the serious injuries of the victims in the Gaza hospitals that he had visited were to the torsos and heads, which were inconsistent with a land mine or of a bomb embedded in the sand. "If this had been a landmine I would have expected to see serious leg injuries," he said. Mr Garlasco said that while he could not rule out the theoretical possibility that Palestinian militants had rigged up an unexploded 155mm shell to make an explosive device of their own, that too would have normally produced many more severe leg injuries.

Mr Garlasco produced a four to five-inch, mainly blackened shell fragment which he collected about 100 yards from the scene of the explosion and in which the figures 55 and the letters "mm" are clearly discernible. While acknowledging that this was not itself definite proof that the shell had killed the Palestinians he said some fragments and shrapnel which the Palestinian police explosives department say they took from the scene where the victims were killed were definitely from a 155mm shell."

From- http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0614-01.htm

 
At 11:23 AM, Anonymous bernarda said...

"Are you saying that Israel does not have a right to exist?? Do the Jewish People not have the right of self determination??"

Two different and unrelated questions.

From where do you get the idea that Israel has the "right" to exist? Zionists invaded, occupied, and colonized Palestinian lands. By what right? The bible says so?

What does it mean to say that the Jewish people have a "right" to self-determination and how does that relate to Israel? Most Jews already have the right to self-determination as citizens of the various countries they live in, just like are the other citizens in those countries.

If you say that Jews must live apart from other people and thus have their ethnically-cleansed state, how is that any different than what Hitler was saying? Why do you think Jews are the exception?

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

berbarda,
last time I checked Hitler wanted to Kill all the Jews not move them into their own area.

Where have you read that I said "that Jews must live apart from other people and thus have their ethnically-cleansed state"? All I said was that Jews have the right to self determination. Do not assume one from the other.

"What does it mean to say that the Jewish people have a "right" to self-determination and how does that relate to Israel? "
- hmm.. let me think this one through for a second - maybe because Israel is the end result of the Jewish Self determination?? No that would be crazy.

Griffon,
Even Mr Garlasco, cannot determine who was behind the killing of the 9 people on the beach last Friday. That did not stop the world, including koffee Annan From saying it's Israel's fault. The conclusion were drawn before any investigation took place (Israeli or otherwise) - it also lead to amazing conclusions that it was fired from the Sea (see the PA tv broadcast showing how and Israeli ship did it), or even from the Air.
- I fail to see the point of what you are trying to say here!

 
At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Griffon said...

From Information Clearing House-
/www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13627.htm
by John Pilger

"How ironic this is, considering that the rise of Hamas was due in no small part to the secret support it received from Israel, which, with the US and Britain, wanted Islamists to undermine secular Arabism and its "moderate" dreams of freedom. Hamas refused to play this Machiavellian game and in the face of Israeli assaults maintained a ceasefire for 18 months. The objective of the Israeli attack on the beach at Gaza was clearly to sabotage the ceasefire. This is a time-honoured tactic.

Now, state terror in the form of a medieval siege is to be applied to the most vulnerable. For the Palestinians, a war against their children is hardly new. A 2004 field study published in the British Medical Journal reported that, in the previous four years, "Two-thirds of the 621 children . . . killed [by the Israelis] at checkpoints . . . on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half the cases to the head, neck and chest - the sniper's wound." A quarter of Palestinian infants under the age of five are acutely or chronically malnourished. The Israeli wall "will isolate 97 primary health clinics and 11 hospitals from the populations they serve."

The study described "a man in a now fenced-in village near Qalqilya [who] approached the gate with his seriously ill daughter in his arms and begged the soldiers on duty to let him pass so that he could take her to hospital. The sol-diers refused."

 
At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday about 100 muslims were blown up by other muslims somewhere in the middle east or south asia.

tsk tsk tsk but clearly there are no Jews to blame so it's not really worthy of our notice.

 
At 4:43 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Griffon:

For John Gilfer to make such an argument he would have to ignore a well-documented fact that Palestinian terrorists have often used children as cover from Israeli fire. The death of Palestinian children is as much the fault of the Israeli snipers as it is the terrorists who throw them out on the street in the middle of a crossfire. We should remember the young boy (13 yrs old I believe) who was caught with a bomb belt at a checkpoint. Use of children is a wide spread phenomenon in the Palestinian terrorist organizations and it is something we must point out and condemn as much as we must condemn the killing of children by Israeli soldiers.

 
At 5:01 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

Any articles supporting this? I'd like to look into it.

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:40 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Hi Gert,

I found reference to it in the 2005 and 2006 Amnesty International Reports. The 2005 Report dedicates a small part to the "Use of Children by Armed Groups" in their Palestinian Authority section. The 2006 report states "Armed groups continued to use children to carry out attacks and transport explosives or weapons."

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

I think I can find that easily and will look into it. Thanks.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Sophia:

Funny old world, isn't it? I was just discussing totalitarianism elsewhere...

If you don't want to have anything to do with this blog, then don't come here and whinge. Nothing untoward you has been done here, by me or by David. Grow up. This is getting petty and your behaving like a petulant child, throwing toys out of her pram.

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Griffon said...

The damning statements was made in a report to the The British Medical Journal. The numbers and facts were deemed credible enough for them to publish them.
These figures and eye witness report were then quoted by Pilger. This is plain to see.

More twisting.

 
At 8:35 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

Griffon,
I have a hard time taking something seriously when it's first paragraph is this:

"Miller's truth was a glimpsed reality on television on 9 June when Israeli warships fired on families picnicking on a Gaza beach, killing seven people, including three children and three generations.

For Starters having nothing to do with what did kill those people on the beach we know for a fact that it was not a navy ship. - Further more the Television scene he is referign to is a very poorly edited clip that was broadcasted on PA television - you can see it on PMW.org

What that represents is a final solution, agreed by the United States and Israel, to the problem of the Palestinians."

Nothing really more to say on this.. other than I very much doubt anything this guy writes.
sorry griffon try to use sources that actually use FACTS!!

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This yahshan is hijacking this blog as a personal platform. He's chasing away readers with his perpetual lies and lack of linked or reliably confirmed souces. And he's wasting your time and energies, everyone. That's what people like him DO. They don't want debate - they want arguments - never ending arguments.

They raise you 'hits' temporarily - but soon you find they drop, drop, drop.

 
At 9:09 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Sophia:

Thanks for the shout-out. What is a flawed blog? Should I go to yours to find the perfect blog?

Am I right to say that if a blog has opinions on it with which you dont agree than it is flawed?

And what do you make of the fact that there are many discussions on Gert's blog that are very critical of Israel and Zionism where I dont say anything? There goes your theory I guess.

But just for fun let's pretend that I am a blind supporter of Israel and zionism and whenever I hear any bad things about them I jump up to their defense. If this is the case then me and you are quite similar - whenever in the past I have pointed that maybe Israel is not entirely at fault (or something to add some balance) you pipe up and cheer on the opposing side. So in your mythical world where I am just another zionist manipulator, me and you are the exact same! Its a scary thought.

Fortunately, I am nothing like you. I post comments when I feel like I have something to say or add. Whether its wrong or right, I test my opinions here and see what people have to say. You on the other hand - you just criticize, demean and annoy.

From the archives I have pulled some quotes out that Sophia once made in May 2006 directed at me:

1) "I really enjoy debating you."
2) "I really appreciated your calm in the exchanges we had."

For some reason, you have now dedicated your blog-existence to attacking me. Its both complimenting and frustrating at the same time.

Whatever happened?

 
At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Griffon said...

Your right, of course, anonymous. I engaged to point out to others the technique they use. That has been well enough done by me and others.
I will take your good advice and leave it here.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Hmm. I read Gert's blog regularly even though I always post.

What seems to be happening right now is something I first encountered elswhere, a long time ago. It led to me learning a lot -- eventually. Mainly, that so called 'forums' thrive on arguments. Chat boards too.

Even good online friends of several years standing [a few of whom I've since met face to face] will tell you this about me. Richard doesn't do debates -- he states his case.

Sometimes, often in fact, I enjoy joining ensuing conversation[s].

That way, I can keep cool and keep control. That way, words can't ever be put into my mouth. That way, I decide for myself how much of my own time and energy I choose to tie up on any given topic.

I think Gert increasingly works like this too. That's why it's his original blog-post-statements that [rightly] seem to benefit so much. He keeps control of his own worktime & energies.

Course, Gert could tell me I've gotten things completely wrong. Though even if he did, I wouldn't dream of arguing.

Just as I wouldn't with others. Here and elsewhere.

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Quick correction - I meant of course 'even though I DON'T always post.

 
At 12:49 AM, Blogger Sophia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

I quote from your comments:

"death of Palestinian children is as much the fault of the Israeli snipers as it is the terrorists who throw them out on the street in the middle of a crossfire."

" of Children by Armed Groups" in their Palestinian Authority section. The 2006 report states "Armed groups continued to use children to carry out attacks and transport explosives or weapons." [...]"

I have not found reference to the first statement, which is not to say it isn't there: I just can't find it. I was mainly looking here.

I have found reference to the second one: in the 2006 report.

"The proliferation of armed groups, the absence of the rule of law and systematic impunity compounded the atmosphere of insecurity. Scores of bystanders, including children, were killed and injured in clashes between armed groups and security forces, and by reckless use by Palestinian armed groups of weapons and explosive devices. Palestinian mortars aimed at nearby Israeli towns often missed their targets and landed in Palestinian residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Armed groups continued to use children to carry out attacks and transport explosives or weapons. Several Palestinian children were arrested by the Israeli army for their alleged involvement in such activities. The main armed groups reportedly disavowed the use of children and some blamed such abuses on local cells acting on their own initiative."

I also found reference to Israelis using Palestinians as human shields.

The use of "child soldiers" is fairly widespread in many conflicts around the world. It's deplorable but perhaps even more so to people like you and me who live in societies where this kind of practice is effectively outlawed.

The following may strike you as tit-for-tat but it isn't intended that way. I saw an interesting documentary on the BBC some months ago, about a Jewish resistance group during WW II in Belo-Russia. The group (about a 100 strong) was made up of a limited number of Jewish families that went into hiding from the Nazis in Belo-Russia's forests. With some logistical support from the local population, they lived in and operated from these forests, mounting very successful hit-and-run attacks on German columns, transports and such like. Children and adolescents fought alongside their peers and parents. It all appeared very heroic and kind of unavoidable. I'd like to think I would have liked a piece of the action, had I been there myself. Children are definitely not as innocent as the Western ideal will have us believe.

Several survivors still live in Belo-Russia to this date.

 
At 5:42 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Hi Gert,

You raise an excellent point that in much of this world children are not viewed the way we do in the "West" and that the use of children is widespread in conflict zones. I wonder the rates of children used by the IRA.

The Jewish resistance in Warsaw also used children but maybe because most able bodied teens/adults were dead. Or maybe, as you say, these kids wanted a piece of the action - its most likely a host of reasons.

The first statement you refer to is my own so you arent going to find that in the AI reports.

My impresssion is that both sides are involved in some serious human rights abuses in regards to children, human shields, etc. Israeli snipers shoot children and Palestinian terrorists blow up kids at a restaurant. Are they equivalent? I dont know.

Its just so easy to sit in our armchairs, search on the internet for reports, blame someone and pretend like we know what goes on on the ground. So to deal with this dilemma, I blame both sides for their own abuses. To ignore one sides atrocities while explaining away anothers is morally bankrupt. From what I can tell, I think you may follow that same approach.


Also, I have posted an article in defense of Euston by one of its creators that hits on some of your own reservations so if you are interested, take a look.

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

As much as I agree with you that abuse happens on both sides and that we shouldn't be squeamish about recognising this, I feel it's nonetheless careless to make statements like:

"The death of Palestinian children is as much the fault of the Israeli snipers as it is the terrorists who throw them out on the street in the middle of a crossfire."

The latter part implies terrible culpability on the part of the adults, who clearly would be deliberately endangering the lives of these children for political purposes. This doesn't sound like any form of rational behaviour to me and it is very different from children somehow following in their peers footsteps as "child soldiers". By your own admission, you have no evidence to back-up the existence of such a practice.

 
At 8:26 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Gert:

To use children in the resistance against Israel is in no way rational. This is because those involved in the worst, totalitarian, "anti-imperialist" strands of
Palestinian terror do not conduct themselves according to a liberal rational way of thought. They are controlled by a totally different set of ideas and values. They are guided by a utopian, mythological worldview where there is no dignity in an ordinary life but rather life must be dedicated to some higher cause. All evil in this world is the work of the "other" i.e. the liberal West who incorporates the idea that life can be dignified and ordinary at the same time. These elements are shared by all totalitarian movements - both Western and non-western.

(To be sure, not all forms of Palestinian resistance are of this sort.)

The use of children by Palestinian terrorist groups is shown in the AI report. The idea that children play an important role in the liberation of Palestine runs deep in some circles. Sheik 'Ikrima Sabri is quoted as saying ""The younger the martyr, the greater and the more I respect him." This is a sheik who was appointed by the Palestinian Authority. Maybe this is just rhetoric and void of any true meaning.

But in the London newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Huda al-Husseini once said: "Before the accusations start, I want to know why we, the Arabs, insist on dying instead of living for the sake of our homelands. If these children have nothing to lose, and they think the training is part of their childish entertainment, are we supposed to continue pushing them with hypocrisy and stupid enthusiasm to actually lose their lives? Have we exhausted all the means, and all the arguments, have we exhausted our logic and brains [so that] we have nothing left to do but to gamble with the lives of children and push them to confront Israel?"

In Nov 1, 2004, a 16yr old blew himself up in Tel Aviv. After the attack, the mother of the boy was quoted as saying ""It's immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds." Two years ago (2004), the Jerusalem Post reported that Fatah had used an 11 yr old boy to transport a bomb near a checkpoint. In 2002, the Washington Post quoted Hamas member Sheik Hassan Yosef as saying: "We like to grow them from kindergarten through college." (referring to Children).

The idea that children play an important role in achieving the ends of radical Islam is widespread. One of the champions of radical Islam, Ayatollah Khomeini used children in the front lines in the war against Iraq in the early 1980s. The Iranian newspaper Etalaat, at the time, reported: "we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the minefields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone." (Taken from an article in the New Republic)

We need to wage a war of ideas against such things. We need to wage a war against the Israeli negligence of Palestinian human life that is a product of an on-going immoral occupation and radical interpretations of Judaism, messianism and zionism. But our strong criticism can not stop there as it does for many. We must point out all the evils that the tyrannies of the Middle East have caused - from those of a radical Islamist persuasion to those of pan-Arab nationalism of the worst and violent kind (ie. Ba'athism). I think i might be preaching - sorry.

I'm not sure if you agree with these views but I'm interested in your opinion.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

Firstly, you still haven't provided evidence for "the terrorists who throw them out on the street in the middle of a crossfire.", you merely brush my refutation (based on your not providing evidence, merely a statement which smack seriously of prejudice) under the carpet.

"To use children in the resistance against Israel is in no way rational. This is because those involved in the worst, totalitarian, "anti-imperialist" strands of
Palestinian terror do not conduct themselves according to a liberal rational way of thought."


Here you feel the need to artificially separate the Palestinian resistance from all other resistance movements, past and present, who've also seen the use of children and adolescents.

They are controlled by a totally different set of ideas and values. They are guided by a utopian, mythological worldview where there is no dignity in an ordinary life but rather life must be dedicated to some higher cause. All evil in this world is the work of the "other" i.e. the liberal West who incorporates the idea that life can be dignified and ordinary at the same time. These elements are shared by all totalitarian movements - both Western and non-western.

More of the same: the Palestinian struggle is somehow different from all other struggles against occupying forces: it is not. The means may vary, the religious veneer may be different but the basic motives are the same.

Whilst not all the evil in the world can be attributed to the West, it has played, and continues to play, a very dirty, self-serving role in that part of the world (see also my How the West was Wrong). We've messed and peddled and generally made a... mess. Then we're surprised they don't like us all that much! Please, this really is a no brainer.

"In Nov 1, 2004, a 16yr old blew himself up in Tel Aviv. After the attack, the mother of the boy was quoted as saying ""It's immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds." [...]"

The same old idea the children that "don't know": that's a very naive and somewhat romantic idea and about as true as Rousseau's cliché of "the noble savage".

"The idea that children play an important role in achieving the ends of radical Islam is widespread. One of the champions of radical Islam, Ayatollah Khomeini used children in the front lines in the war against Iraq in the early 1980s. The Iranian newspaper Etalaat, at the time, reported: "we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the minefields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone." (Taken from an article in the New Republic)"

Again, the idea that children simply don't understand anything and should be shielded from everything. Ironically, the latter is usually not achievable in circumstances far removed from our stable, liberal societies, where we pay often very young people to do our killing for us. When I was in the Belgian army as a draftee, the youngest were only sixteen. In Britain, army cadets can start their careers at 14. To be fair, they aren't allowed into battle until 18 (I believe) but many can't wait to get started.

Iran fought a war started by Iraq, started by the dictator the West so diligently supported and equipped. The US supported Iraq also militarily. Again, you're climbing on your moral high horse because you have the luxury to be able to do so.

I don't deny that radical Islam needs to be countered and is totalitarian in its outlook. I don't see the need, however, to consider the phenomenon as somehow apart from other forms of totalitarian thinking. The ideologies are often very similar, only the veneer is different. It's perfectly possible to hijack any set of ideas and turn them into a means of indoctrination and control. Of this, for example the neoconservative freedom lovers are also very guilty of: the use of overwhelming firepower, control of the flow of information, the use of simple but effective slogans etc etc etc, it's all there. The "evil empires" tend all too often to be mirror images of each other.

Best regards.

 
At 3:13 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

In a Kuwaiti newspaper Alzamim, Mahmoud Abbas illustrated how children are used not just in suicide bombing missions but in daily attacks on army positions (i.e. throwing molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, etc.) To his credit he denounces the practice. Abbas states: "I am against little children going out to die. It is a terrible thing. At least 40 children in Rafah [in the Gaza Strip] lost an arm from the throwing of Bangalore torpedoes [a form of pipe bomb]. They received five shekels [approximately $1 US] in order to throw them."

An Israeli human rights activist, Gila Svirsky, also makes note of the fact that kids are active in the streets engaging in violent attacks on army positions. She states: "Palestinian children do come out in large numbers to throw stones and sometimes even "Molotov cocktails". I do not approve of this violence, but neither a stone nor even a Molotov cocktail is worthy of bullets in response. There are more humane methods to disperse demonstrations. While tear gas is used, Israeli forces too quickly abandon this and escalate to lethal weapons." She also notes that "Sadly, the act of sending children off to fight is characteristic of many peoples struggling for independence. How often have I been to our military cemeteries in Israel and seen visitors proudly point to the graves of the very young buried there. In fact, many of the soldiers who are doing the shooting are 18-year old children themselves." (This is the point you make).

The evidence Svirsky provides does refute my inclination to believe that a good number of kids killed are the ones who act as human shields for the gunmen. She states: "I am truly incensed by the thought of Palestinian gunmen who fire from within a crowd of children. However, the killing of Palestinian children who are "shielding" gunmen accounts for only a small number of their deaths."

She was writing in Nov 2000 when things were relatively quiet compared to at the height of the intifada. She also illustrates that the reason for many child deaths is due to the location in which many gun battles have taken place. It is in the heart of the cities and villages where kids go to school and play.


In your second point, I think you are attempting to draw a linkage between the use of children in warfare by "Western" armies and those who are members of totalitarian movements, either the resistance type or state type. While I have no problem with the assertion that many aspects of foreign policy by the democratic regimes of this world have been quite illiberal in result, I believe the connection you make fogs up the differences that the "West" has with those totalitarian regimes/movements.

My identity with liberalism and the West is not based on American foreign policy. It is all too common to connect a people with their governments foreign policy while ignoring what that society is like. The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is purely based on a certain interpretation of Israeli foreign policy (treatment of the Palestinians) rather than a close look at how Israeli society really works. Subsequently foreign policy tends to be the wrong indicator to use when judging societies because as you point out, "evil empires" use the same methods. So even while the Bush admin may be involved in a policy that has so far failed to extend democracy to the middle East, Americans at home benefit from democracy and liberalism albeit with some serious flaws. But in the Middle East, the serious crimes committed by tyrannical regimes and totalitarian movements are just an extension of how those governments and movements treat their own people. From 1979, Iran has formulated a foreign policy to extend their view of Islam to secure their own interests. If we simply look at foreign policy, than Iran and America are just regional powers aiming to extend their hegemony. But to argue that they are very similar because of this interpretation of their foreign policy is only superficial considering the domestic environments.

The armies of the "West" have actually been forces of good at times. America’s intervention in WWII meant the defeat of Nazi Germany. Canadian soldiers are involved in almost every peace keeping mission in the world. The Americans intervened to help Balkan Muslims from the slaughter of Milosevic. It is also the West that leads all humanitarian missions in the case of natural disasters. And this can not be an issue of resources considering the wealth that oil brings to the tyrants of the ME. Perhaps all these positive acts are overshadowed by grave human rights abuses? Or maybe their mention just doesn’t fit with the view of many who blame the West for today's problems? Probably both.

Nice writing in your article “How the West was Wrong.” This post is long enough so we should discuss that at a later date.

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David:

Just one point:

"The armies of the "West" have actually been forces of good at times. America’s intervention in WWII meant the defeat of Nazi Germany. Canadian soldiers are involved in almost every peace keeping mission in the world. The Americans intervened to help Balkan Muslims from the slaughter of Milosevic. It is also the West that leads all humanitarian missions in the case of natural disasters. And this can not be an issue of resources considering the wealth that oil brings to the tyrants of the ME. Perhaps all these positive acts are overshadowed by grave human rights abuses? Or maybe their mention just doesn’t fit with the view of many who blame the West for today's problems? Probably both."

Few people will argue with the fact that the armies of the West have the forces of good on many occasions and I would be the last person to do so.

But we cannot deny that, well-meaning perhaps, the West has sometimes supported regimes which were brutal and repressive but with a Western coat of "democratic paint" and Western mod-cons, see e.g. the Shah's Iran. Iraq under Saddam is a little more complicated but was also a Western-styled "pseudo-democracy" and strongly supported by the West until the madman decided to invade Kuweit. I have a first hand account by a Jordanian Palestinian (a doctor working at the same hospital where my wife is a nurse) who was there at the time, claiming that the Iraqi forces' atrocities during the short occupation of Kuweit were grossly blown out of proportion by Western media.

Re. "the tyrants of the ME", please be more specific. Iran is the most cited case of such a tyranny. But you need to understand Iran's own complex brand of "theo-democracy" to see that it's far from that simple. In Iran's system of governance, you basically have democratic and theocratic elements working in parallel, as well as being intertwined in a complex feedback system, designed to keep the balance of power between these main elements. Ahmedinejad is of course a complete fool and quite a dangerous one but his executive power is very limited, much, much more limited than say the President of the US or France. The human rights issues in Iran can of course also not be denied.

Re. resources: I'm not one of those who screams "OIL!!" ,every time someone brings up the ME. The Iraq war, for example, wasn't about oil at all, in my view. Nonetheless, the West's presence in the ME and the driver for many of its actions is indeed hydrocarbons. The US's presence in Saudi Arabia, hardly a beacon of democracy itself, is clearly due to oil interests.

Your assertion: "Perhaps all these positive acts are overshadowed by grave human rights abuses? Or maybe their mention just doesn’t fit with the view of many who blame the West for today's problems?" is correct but can easily be turned around. In the great American public's mind, ignorance regarding both 1953 and the subsequent events in the Iran/US rift, as well as the fact that Saddam is essentially a Western Frankenstein (the "monster", not the "doctor") , is rife. Perhaps I should include a disclaimer to assure where my loyalties lie, whenever I bring up criticism of the "West's" foreign policy? Let me be clear: Europe's closest and most natural ally is the US. Our relationship is flawed mainly because Europe is divided and militarily insignificant: our American cousins therefore have no need to take Europe all that seriously, after all what could we do about it? I think we underestimate the importance of power, regarding how nations treat each other (allies or not) and wrote a piece about this idea some time ago: The Perspective of Power.

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Hi Gert,

sorry for the delayed response. I will read your piece Perspective of Power over the next few days and let you know if I have any comments.

all the best

 

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