Monday, January 26, 2009


160 Supporters of Israel met at 11am to hear Eric Moonman president of the ZF and  Geoffrey Smith Director of the Christian Friends of Israel explain procedures for meeting up with their MP on Israel and the right of Self Defence.
After the very recent war in Gaza it was indicated how important that the real facts of engagement be explained, and the need for the International Community to prevent the rearming of Hammas and understand how close Iran are to having their own Nuclear Weapons.
Details were provided by Hagai Merom, current treasurer of the World Jewish Agency and an ex member of the Israeli Parliament; Anthony Julius ( successful Lawyer in the Lipstadt vs Irving case) and  Ran Gidor, Political Attache of the Israeli embassy
The need for the present supporters ( about 50% Jewish and 50% Christian) to be far more politically active, especially to educate, not only the local MP, but also the media and the local newspapers, especially on the historical facts, was discussed.
Then we all traipsed to the House of Commons. Here we were joined by more supporters for the afternoon session
We were fortunate to hear from a range of speakers including MPs Louis Ellman( Lab Liverpool Riverside),
 Lee Scott (Con Ilford North), Sir Alan Beith( Liberal Democats) and David Burrows
( Con Shadow Minister of Justice). One major message coming across was the problems Israel faced in the debate in the House of Commons where there were 27 anti Israel and 9 pro Israel Speakers.
It seems the Speaker of the House was determined to ensure all the anti Israel Speakers should have their voice heard.
Essential for the future was to arrange that any MP who had never been to Israel to be given the opportunity through either Conservative or Labour Friends of Israel to see the situation for themselves especially in Sderot in the South.
Finally we were again fortunate to hear from Talya Lador Fresher the Deputy Ambassador. She gave the up to date humanitarian position and pleaded that money from Europe and the world go into the correct hands and not for Terrorist means. She believed the war had weakened the radicals but improved the pragmatists.
While we heard from such distinguished people many of us were visiting with our local MPs.  In all over 80 MPs were individually contacted and as a result made more aware of the actual position in the Middle East

Written by Michael Reik ZF Council Member.


Hamas is a bully aided by a bigger bully, Iran. And, just as strident and threatening human bullies get away with their aggression so long as no one calls their bluff, so Hamas has been getting away with murder and torture because the UN and many states won't call its two-faced self-portrayal as the victim in the piece. In the struggle to take over Gaza from Fatah, it went on a rampage that killed hundreds of Palestinians. Even during this most recent assault, in early January, it executed Fatah members for violating their house arrest. A few weeks ago, Hamas determined to hurt yet more of its compatriots by introducing Islamic hudud punishments to the Strip, from amputations and stonings, to crucifixions and hangings.

Like all bullies, it likes to taunt its victims. It did just that for years after Israel left Gaza, firing rockets every day into towns like Sderot or Netivot. No one who has dismissed these rockets as harmless homemade toys has ever had the guts to spend a few weeks in Sderot, scurrying from shelter to shelter. And, oh yes, it also built up an arsenal (supplied by Iran) of Grad missiles that certainly aren't anybody's toys.

Like all bullies, Hamas likes to make boastful threats. Its 1988 Covenant is replete with them. It threatens to destroy the State of Israel by violence and violence alone. It says it will never accept the work of conferences or peacemakers, and only jihad will solve its problems. Meanwhile, the Palestinians see their lives drained away in a culture that embraces death and martyrdom, their children exposed to a steady diet of military training and preparation for violent death as suicide bombers.

Even if the Palestinians want peace, Hamas won't let them have it, because Hamas knows best, and jihad "is the only solution." Don't believe me, read the Covenant. It likes nothing better than killing Jews, and the bigger bully in Teheran thinks that's a damn fine thing too. No one says a word, because the UN is dominated by the Islamic states, and the Western governments know where the oil comes from, and nobody likes the Jews much anyway. The people calling for the end of Israel while they march on the streets of London and Dublin aren't all Muslims by any means.

There can be no greater indication of this boastfulness than what has happened in recent days. Having taken a heavy battering from Israel, Hamas now proclaims a "great victory," and its supporters dance in the ruined streets of Gaza, drunk on their own demagoguery. For all its bluster, Hamas, like all bullies, is a coward at heart. Watch those films of Hamas gunmen dragging screaming children along with them to act as human shields, watch how they fire from behind the little ones, knowing no Israeli soldier will fire back. And even as they put their own children's lives at risk, they shout to high heaven that the Israelis are Nazis and the Jews are child-killers. This blatant pornography spreads through the Western media, and people never once ask "what does this look like from the other side," because they are addicted to the comforting news that the Yids are baby-killers as they'd always known, that they do poison wells, that no Christian child is safe come Passover. Hamas has become proficient at resurrecting the blood libel, just as its fighters use the Nazi salute, just as their predecessor in the 1930s and '40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, conferred with Hitler about building death camps in Palestine and raised a division of SS troops in Bosnia to fight for the Reich.

We watch The Diary of Anne Frank on television, and some of us attend Holocaust Remembrance Day events, and others pay lip service to Jewish victimhood; we like our Jews emaciated and helpless under the SS boot. But the moment real Jews stand up and show themselves the stronger for all their deaths, it awakens an atavistic fear, and people recoil from them. Jews in uniform, how unseemly. Jews beating the bully, how unheard of. Jews with their own state, what upstarts.

IN MY home country of Ireland, we glamorize the great nationalist heroes who rebelled against the bullying forces of imperial Britain in the uprising of Easter Sunday 1916. In France, they venerate the heroes of the Resistance against the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. In Spain, they have not ceased to heap praise on those who fought against the forces of fascist bullies and lost. To stand up against an enemy bent on your destruction is everywhere counted an act of bravery. But not when it comes to Israel. In 1948 and 1967 and 1973 and 2006, Israel fought off overwhelming forces who made no secret of their plans for an imminent massacre of the Jews. But nobody now seems to care, no one lauds the courage the Israelis displayed, and no one praises the extraordinary restraint they showed in victory.

In a bizarre reversal of all their commitment to human rights and the struggle of men and women for independence and self-determination, the European Left has chosen again and again to side with the bullies and to condemn a small nation struggling to survive in a hostile neighborhood. It is all self-contradictory: The Left supports gay rights, yet attacks the only country in the Middle East where gay rights are enshrined in law. Hamas makes death the punishment for being gay, but "we are all Hamas now." Iran hangs gays, but it is praised as an agent of anti-imperialism, and allowed to get on with its job of stoning women and executing dissidents and members of religious minorities. If UK Premier Gordon Brown swore to wipe France from the face of the earth, he would become a pariah among nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to do that to Israel and is invited to speak to the UN General Assembly.

Israel guarantees civil liberties to all its citizens, Jew or Arab alike, but it is dubbed "an apartheid state"; Hamas, ever the bully, kills its opponents and denies the rest the most basic rights, but we march on behalf of Hamas. The Left prefers the bully because the bully represents a finger in the face of the establishment? Almost no one on the Left has any understanding of militant Islam. Their politics is a politics of gesture, where wearing a keffiyeh is cool but understanding its symbolism is too much effort even for intellectuals.

I have personally had enough of it all. The whining double standards, the blatant lies, the way their leaders have forced Palestinians to suffer for 60 years because peace and compromise aren't in their vocabulary and because they won't settle for anything but total victory. Painful as it was, in the 1920s Ireland created a republic by compromising on the status of the North. Ireland subsequently became a prosperous country and, in due course, one of the hottest economies in the world. When the Israelis left Gaza in 2005, they left state-of-the-art greenhouses to form the basis for a thriving economy. Hamas destroyed them to the last pane of glass. Why? Because they had been Jewish greenhouses.

The writer is the incoming editor of the leading international journal Middle East Quarterly and the author of a blog entitled, 'A Liberal Defence of Israel’.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Over 450 people from the Leeds Jewish and non Jewish community and from as far away as Newcastle packed the hall in the Etz Chaim synagogue to hear the keynote speaker Lorna Fitzsimons.  It's a long time since we had such a turnout for an Israel event. The talk started with a message from Ambassador Prosor to the packed hall.  This was followed by a video link up to Sderot and a talk with Rob Cohen, a Leeds man now working in Sderot.  He explained the situation in the town and how people are not confident that Hamas will not target them again sometime in the future.  The speaker was introduced by Fabian Hamilton MP and we were then treated to a stimulating and enlightening talk by Lorna Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of BICOM.  There were lots of questions and the vote of thanks was given by Dan Cohen, President of the BHH Synagogue.  Lorna was given a standing ovation by the packed hall. We finished off the evening with el moley rachamim for the fallen soldiers, and a special prayer for those missing in action and especially for Gilad Shalit and a refuah shelema for the wounded. We had invited a number of city councillors who attended the meeting. We also had a large number of students from the University and the cross section of the people attending encompassed all ages.  This will go down as a major event in the Leeds Jewish calendar


• Now is the time of opportunity for Israel, the Palestinians and the international community – we have changed the equation. Everybody should Rally behind the Palestinian Authority presenting the option of negotiation and development
• Speaking to Hamas now will not empower the Palestinian Authority; it will empower a radical organization set on a fundamental jihadist agenda that influences the entire free world.
• The Sunni World is aware of the threat of the fundamental jihadist agenda and has geared together to back the Palestinian Authority – they need to be strengthened! They know the threats first hand

Let’s remember what Israel and the world were and are still being faced with:

Israel and Hamas

We need to remember and say clearly what Hamas stands for:
• It is sworn to Israel's destruction.
• Its charter is aggressively anti-Semitic;
• It is following a Pan-Jihadist agenda: they are bent to “liberate” all former Muslim lands from Infidels. It is Israel today and Spain and France tomorrow.
• The closest it has ever come to terms with the Jewish state is the offer of a long-term Tahdiya (lull) – in order to allow itself to re-cooperate
• "Anyone who thinks Hamas will change is wrong," said supreme leader Khaled Mashal in 2006. Could he be any clearer?
• Hamas is Toxic. It is toxic for Israel, for the Palestinians, for the entire Middle East and for everybody who seeks a peaceful solution.
• This is the first time in history that a war of this nature has taken place:
o Where a nation under siege is against a group of terrorists that don’t respect any laws or norms
o Where the country fighting it is also supplying its adversaries with food, water, aid and electricity so they can keep on fighting!

Hamas is holding the Palestinians in Gaza hostage
• It uses its inhumane practices on its own people: since Israel launched its offensive, Hamas has continued killing its brethren. 35 Palestinians suspected of “collaboration” have been executed. 75 members of Fatah have been shot in the legs.
• Even now, after a unilateral ceasefire has been declared, Hamas is still shooting Fatah people, kidnapping and imprisoning them in Gaza
In the meantime, Hamas abuses ordinary Palestinians
• What kind of person, we must ask, uses a house of prayer as a weapons depot, uses schools - a place where children gather - as a battlefield, uses hospitals to cower behind injured civilians? The answer is the same: Hamas terrorists.
• Hamas has booby-trapped countless residences and public structures in Gaza – they proclaim it on their web-sites and now we can establish that from our own experience.
• All of Hamas’ military command posts and ammunition dumps are located in residential and public buildings, so the damage caused to the structures in Gaza is the sole responsibility of Hamas
• When civilized people look at children, they see the future. When Hamas terrorists look at children, they see targets and human shields. This must not be allowed to continue.

“Hamas government” is an oxymoron.
• Democracy is not just about a process – it is all about values.
• Hamas is bent on fundamental jihadist agenda that abuses human rights and hi-jacks people’s liberties in order to achieve its aims.
• Hamas is not about self determination, good governance or improving the living conditions for the Palestinian people. The Gazan population was hostage to the juhadist agenda and their rights were abused.
• Hamas has never accepted the Oslo Accords. Thus, it has never accepted the basis for the authority it purports to represent.
• Hamas assumed power within the Gaza Strip through a violent the putsch
• What Hamas stands for brutality and cruelty, this was recently enshrined in its legal system - whipping, dismembering and execution are now its standard punitive actions in Gaza.

Instead, Hamas is governed from Iran, by a regime who is one of the most perverse abusers of human rights in the world.


• “The Gaza that Israel left in 2005 was bordering Egypt. The Gaza that Israel was forced to enter to defend its citizens from is now bordering Iran,”
• While Hamas is holding Gaza hostage, the conservative clerics in Iran pull the strings of the terror regime
o Iran exports to its cronies the goal of destroying Israel and has provided Hamas with:
o weapons (the advanced Grad rockets now allowing Hamas to target major cities such as Beersheva)
o training (in Lebanon, Syria and Iran)
o and money ($20-$35 million annually).
o just a few days after ceasefire, Iran is once again making plans to try and ship over longer missiles to fire at Israel – this needs to be stopped!
o Iran is paying for more devastation: it has threatened withdraw its funding of Hamas if a ceasefire was agreed.
o In the meantime, IRGC has announced that 70,000 Iranian students are ready and awaiting calls to launch suicide bomb attacks against Israel against Israel
Iran is exploiting the Gaza operation to encourage the spread of a fundamental jihadist agenda
o Iran is also using the opportunity to divert attention away from its illegal nuclear programme – the free world is aware of this
o Iran also wants to prolong the fighting in the hope of mobilizing the Muslim world against Israel.
o The conflict in Gaza marks the first time that the Iranian Shia influence has spread into a Sunni organisation: the Shia crescent of terror is expanding beyonds its own borders
o The Sunni Arab world is up in arms about this – in Doha last week Saudi-Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority representatives all sent that message to the rest of the world.
Drive for Peace
o Israel strives for peace for its people and for all those who wish to live in peaceful and prosperous coexistence alongside it. Israel had to defend its way of life
o The conflict in Gaza is emblematic of the new challenges and opportunities facing the entire world: keeping extremism outside of the social fabric of societies
o We shouldn’t allow our agendas to be dictated by threats of violence; threats to our ways of life; threats to our values
o All democracies face the same challenge today – defending themselves against this high wave of fundamental jihadist agenda
o Such behaviour will not be allowed to become the norm; that our people will not allow terror to fester in our schools, kindergartens and religious establishments.

Friday, January 16, 2009


On Thursday 15th January 2009 a group of activists headed to the Iranian embassy to demonstrate against the country that is funding the current war in Gaza – Iran. 
This was to remind the community that Iran sponsors Hamas, that they are providing the rockets and missiles that are fired at Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod
and that Iran has told Hamas not to accept any ceasefire.  We urged supporters to come out and show support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian-sponsored terror. 
The demonostration of 500 strong people included Jews, Arabs and Christians. This included representatives from Iranian Friends of, and Iranian dissidents who oppose the current regime.
This was a peaceful demonstration, which went very smoothly thanks to the help of the police.  
The demonstration featured a used Kassam Rocket – one of  many which have been fired down on Israel in the past few years, specifically weeks. 
Additionally, many protestors dressed up with face masks of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, and held up quotes in speech bubbles: 
Israel will be annihilated
Anyone who recognizes Israel will burn
Israel will be destroyed
The demonstration was organised by a group of Zionist Federation activists. 
ZF_Iran_Protest_1 and ZF_Iran_Protest_1 by Blake-Ezra Cole
2009.01.15 Iran Embassy Rally (105) (1024x683).jpg by Giora Hirsch
For more information please contact:
Alan Aziz
Zionist Federation
Tel: +44 (0)7768 946 868

Thursday, January 15, 2009


By Moshe Arens

It is not only our naive foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who has announced that in the wake of the Gaza operation, Israel has restored its deterrent capability. Many of Israel's politicians are echoing this view. This would suggest that whereas Hamas did not hesitate to launch rockets against Israel's towns and villages over these past years, after the blows it took these past weeks it will not dare to do so again in the future.

Our military spokesmen boast of the blows Hamas has received, of the massive destruction of its infrastructure, of the hundreds of Hamas fighters who have been killed, and of the fact that a "price tag" has now been put on their rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, high enough to keep them from repeating such attacks in the future. Some even use the expression the "landlord has gone crazy" to express that from now on, Hamas will fear massive Israeli responses to any attacks. Enamored with the concept of deterrence, some even have gone so far as to claim that the blows delivered by the Israeli Air Force to Lebanese targets during the unsuccessful Second Lebanon War, nevertheless succeeded to reestablish Israel's deterrent capability in the north, as the recent Katyusha rockets that fell on Nahariya were no more than "an isolated incident."

Deterrence, after all, provides the best of all possible worlds - the enemy is deterred from launching aggressive action, war and the attendant loss of life is avoided, and in an atmosphere of stability, life can go on normally. The popularity of the concept of deterrence goes back to the Cold War, when the nuclear capabilities of the U.S. and the Soviet Union deterred both countries from launching nuclear strikes on each other. And in fact, the mutually assured destruction, even after being hit by a nuclear strike, was sufficient to establish a balance of terror.

This concept may apply to some of Israel's neighboring states, countries with considerable human and material assets that might be severely damaged by an Israeli response to aggression, and countries that have totalitarian governments whose rule might be endangered under such circumstances. Whether a nuclear Iran could be deterred by such considerations is not at all certain. That question is being pondered by decision makers in Jerusalem and Washington.

But deterring a terrorist organization is quite another matter. It does not seem likely that a terrorist organization could be deterred from pursuing its aims, which include terrorizing civilians. Terrorist organizations do not generally own substantial assets that are vulnerable to attack, and striking them seems to increase their support from their fanatical fans. Their leaders, if killed, are quickly replaced by others. No, Al Qaida cannot be deterred; it has to be defeated. The claim that Hezbollah has been deterred from using its massive rocket arsenal on Israel is based on the fact that since the cease-fire, their rockets have not struck Israel (except for the recent attack in the north). But it is far more likely that rather than being deterred by Israel, Hezbollah intends to move at the time and place of its choosing. The capability to strike is there, and the proverbial pistol in the first act will go off before the play is over.

Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, cannot be deterred. As the organization is struck, its support among the local population grows, and its popularity among fundamentalist Muslims around the world increases. It attaches no value to life, whether Muslim or Jewish. Israel is concerned over the loss of life in the Gaza Strip during the current round of fighting, but Hamas is not. The infrastructure in Gaza, if destroyed or damaged, will quickly be rebuilt with foreign donations after the fighting is over. If a cease-fire is established before Hamas' rocket capability has been eliminated, the group will be seen as the victor.

The idea of deterring Hamas is a fantasy. Hamas has to be defeated. Defeating it means eliminating its ability to launch rockets at Israel, and that means that the IDF has to reach the areas where the rockets are being launched. When the rockets cease falling on Israel, it will be clear who won this conflict, and from that point all other issues regarding the presence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip can be dealt with.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Myths and Facts About The Gaza War

"Israel broke the cease-fire with Hamas."

"Israel has reacted to Hamas rocket fire with 'disproportionate force.'"

"Palestinians in Gaza are innocent victims."

"Israel's operation in Gaza will only embitter Palestinians and make them seek revenge rather than peace."

"Israel should negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas."

"Hamas targets military objectives."

"Hamas fears Israel's military might."

"At the end of Operation Cast Lead, Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas."

"Israel deliberately attacked a UN school."

"Media coverage of Operation Cast Lead is fair and accurate."


"Israel broke the cease-fire with Hamas."


On June 17, 2008, after several months of indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire (tahadiya). Almost immediately afterward, terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. Despite what it called a "gross violation" of the truce, Israel refrained from military action.1 In fact, during the six months the arrangement was supposed to be observed, 329 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel.2

While there were considerably fewer Palestinian assaults after the agreement than before, terror continued. Nevertheless, the IDF did not respond to the provocations. On the contrary, Israel significantly increased the amount of goods delivered to the Gaza Strip.

During this period, Israel also expected to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier taken hostage by Hamas in June 2006. The group repeatedly increased its demands for the number of prisoners it wanted released in exchange for the lone Israeli captive, but never agreed to grant his freedom.

Violence escalated in early November after the IDF carried out a military operation close to the border security fence on the Gazan side that killed seven Hamas terrorists. Israel acted after discovering that Hamas had dug a tunnel under the fence and planned to abduct more Israeli soldiers. Hamas responded by shelling Israeli towns and has continued the rocket barrage ever since.

When the Hamas-imposed six-month deadline expired in December, Israel hoped an agreement could be reached to extend the cease-fire. Instead, Hamas began firing what would be hundreds of rockets into Israel.

When the bombardment began, it became apparent Hamas had used the lull to upgrade its arsenal with weapons that were too sophisticated to have been designed or built in Gaza. These advanced Qassam and Grad rockets, which have placed 1 in every 8 Israelis in mortal danger, originated in Iran. They were smuggled into Gaza in pieces, assembled, and fired from launch pads well-hidden and shielded in Palestinian population centers.

Once launched, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have as little as fifteen seconds to reach a bunker before a rocket detonates. Hamas has turned all of southern Israel into a place that more resembles a post-apocalyptic world, rather than a modern, civilized society. Imagine never being able to step outside without remaining in sprinting distance of a concrete bunker. Imagine having to dive into the safety of a bunker 30 times a day, everyday. Try to imagine the terror of the rocket whistling down, not knowing whether it will land a mile a way, or directly above your head. Can you imagine the sudden shock when you feel the impact, the relief that overcomes you that you are still alive and the immediate sorrow and concern that follows when you realize that others like - your family and friends - may not have been so lucky this time?


"Israel has reacted to Hamas rocket fire with 'disproportionate force.'"


Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. As Professor Alan Dershowitz has also noted, "The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday (December 30, 2008), when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives."3

As the London Times said in response to this charge during Israel's war with Hezbollah, this criticism "is lazy and facile in several ways, especially in implying a moral relativism between the two sides that does not exist. This is not the contest between misguided equals that many in the West seem to see. One is the region's lone democracy, which for much of its existence has faced a very real existential threat and would like, if possible, to live in peace with its neighbors. The other is a terrorist organization, bent on preventing such a future."4

Furthermore, Since Hamas' stated objective is the destruction of Israel, isn't the appropriate response the destruction of Hamas? Wouldn't random missile strikes on Palestinian cities be proportionate to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel? Can you imagine any of Israel's critics accepting those responses?

When Palestinian terrorists plant bombs at Israeli shopping malls and kill and maims dozens of civilians, would the "proportionate response" be for Israelis to plant bombs in Palestinian malls? No one in Israel believes this would be a legitimate use of force. Thus, Israel is left with the need to take measured action against specific targets in an effort to either deter Palestinian violence or stop it.

What would America do if terrorists fired thousands of rockets targeting U.S. cities? After 9/11, we saw that America took the same type of action as Israel by launching military strikes against the terrorists. U.S. forces used overwhelming force and though they never targeted civilians, some were inadvertently killed. Americans believe in Colin Powell's doctrine, which holds that "America should enter fights with every bit of force available or not at all."

The United States uses overwhelming force against its enemies, even though the threats are distant and pose no danger to the existence of the nation or the immediate security of its citizens. The threat Israel faces is immediate in time and physical proximity, and poses a direct danger to Israeli citizens. More than 6,000 rockets have now fallen on Israel's cities and now that Hamas has acquired long-range missiles, more than 900,000 civilians are in danger. Still, Israel has not used its full might as the Powell Doctrine dictates. The use of force has been judicious and precise.

Israeli soldiers do not deliberately target noncombatants. The murder of innocents is the goal of the Palestinian terrorists. In fact, what other army drops leaflets to warn people to leave an area they intend to attack even though it gives up the element of surprise and allows the bad guys to hide as well as the innocent to escape?

IDF activities are governed by an overriding policy of restraint and a determination to take all possible measures to prevent harm to innocent civilians.

No innocent Palestinians would be in any danger if the Palestinian Authority took steps to stop terrorism or if the international community, especially the Arab world, had pressured Hamas to stop attacking Israel.

No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst, Israel would have no reason to come to their neighborhoods.

It is a tragedy whenever innocent lives are lost, and Israelis have consistently expressed their sadness over Arab casualties. By contrast, when innocent Israelis are murdered by terrorists, Hamas holds rallies to celebrate the murders.


"Palestinians in Gaza are innocent victims."


It is tragic that many Palestinians who are not directly involved in terrorism are suffering as a result of the actions of their leaders. While no one wants to see any noncombatants harmed, it is important to acknowledge that all Palestinians in Gaza bear some responsibility for their current predicament. After all, they voted to empower Hamas in an election in which they knew the organization's platform called for the destruction of Israel and the use of terrorism to achieve its aims.

The Palestinians in Gaza have done nothing during the last three years to stop Hamas from launching rockets into Israel. At any time the people could have said, "Enough! We do not support terror." Instead of allowing rocket crews to fire Qassams from their houses, yards, or neighborhoods, the people could have said, "Stop! I will not allow you to make us a target. I will now allow you to use my family as a shield."

For the last three years, the Palestinians of Gaza have said, in effect, "We don't mind if Israelis are murdered by Hamas rockets, but the world should support us."

During World War II, the German people were not spared suffering from the Allied invasion because they were noncombatants or because some could claim they were not Nazis and did not support Hitler. All the German people were held to account for their failure to stop their leaders from carrying out their aggression and genocidal policies.

The Palestinians now are also being held to account. What is different, however, is that unlike the Allies in World War II, Israel is doing everything possible to avoid hurting Palestinian noncombatants despite their culpability. Even now the Palestinians have the power to stop the war by demanding that Hamas cease firing rockets. Alas, they refuse to take the one step within their power to ease their suffering.


"Israel's operation in Gaza will only embitter Palestinians and make them seek revenge rather than peace."


After the Blitz in World War II, the British did not worry whether Germans would hate them for bombing their cities. In fact, unlike Israel, the allies had little concern during the war for inflicting suffering on German civilians. Undoubtedly, many Germans still harbor anger toward the British and other allies for their actions during the war, but this did not prevent Germany from ultimately coming to terms with its neighbors and becoming a peaceful member of the international community.

It is not Israeli actions that provoke Palestinians to choose terror over peace, it is the indoctrination of Hamas, which teaches children from an early age to hate Jews, to seek the destruction of Israel and to glorify martyrdom.


"Israel should negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas."


Hamas does not negotiate with Israel. Hamas denies Israel's right to exist. Hamas refuses to abide by previously signed agreements. Even the recently-expired six-month "cease-fire" between Israel and Hamas had to be slowly and painstakingly negotiated through Egypt because Hamas would not talk to Israel.

Throughout 2008, Israel worked with the United States toward an equitable two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority while Hamas did everything in its power to disrupt and derail the peace process - firing thousands of rockets into Israeli towns and cities, firing on Israeli soldiers and civilians and attempting to infiltrate Israel for the purpose of committing suicide bombing attacks. Hamas also continues to hold 22-year-old Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier the group kidnaped in June 2006.

Hamas made clear that the "cease-fire" was not a prelude to peace. On the contrary, Hamas used the time to build more tunnels to smuggle weapons and supplies from Egypt; to build more rockets and to improve the range and accuracy of its existing arsenal. A new cease-fire before the tunnels and weapons are destroyed or neutralized would simply give Hamas the opportunity to follow the example of Hezbollah and rearm and regroup for a future battle to achieve its goal of Israel's destruction.


"Hamas targets military objectives."


Hamas consistently judges the success of their attacks by the number of Israelis they kill - men, women, children. Hamas does not even try to attack military targets; their rockets are directed toward towns, cities and farms rather than military bases. The group's rockets land on playgrounds, apartment buildings, public parks, schools and private homes.

Hamas terrorists choose not to expose themselves by firing these weapons from open areas. They construct launch pads in densely populated regions in Gaza, using the local Palestinian population as a shield because they do not care if their fellow Palestinians are killed by their own misfiring rockets (as frequently occurs) or by retaliatory strikes by Israel. The leaders of Hamas, like their ideological soulmates in Hezbollah, actually prefer that Israel hits back because they know that if civilians inadvertently are casualties, the international community will blame the Israelis.


"Hamas fears Israel's military might."


Hamas terrorists believe they are fighting a holy war against infidels and that is why no diplomatic agreement with them is possible. It is their religious conviction that they must create an Islamic state and that there is no place in the Islamic world for a Jewish state (or a Christian one for that matter).

Because of their faith, Hamas foot soldiers believe Allah will welcome them to Paradise if they are killed by Israel in what they see as their defense of Islam. The Hamas terrorists' extremism goes much further. It would be one thing if they were willing to sacrifice their own lives for their beliefs, but they also are prepared to jeopardize the lives of others as well. That is why they have no reticence about using their fellow Palestinians as shields. If Israel is dissuaded from attacking for fear of killing innocents, Hamas can continue to terrorize Israelis with impunity. If Israel does attack, Hamas will use the death of any noncombatants for propaganda purposes and to rally support.

At the first sign of danger, the leaders of Hamas typically run and hide. Their bravery extends to sending young disciples to become martyrs and using the rest of the population to protect themselves.


"At the end of Operation Cast Lead, Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas."


Some analysts suggest that Israel cannot destroy Hamas or provoke regime change in Gaza and, therefore, Israelis will have to negotiate in the end with Hamas, making Operation Cast Lead a pointless exercise in destruction.

Hamas has not hidden its objective of destroying Israel. It has conducted a three-year terror war since Israel's evacuation of Gaza, which followed the five-year Palestinian War that claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives. No country would show the degree of restraint that Israel exhibited as its cities were rocketed.

The purpose of the Israeli operation is to reduce the possibility of Hamas threatening Israeli lives to as close to zero as possible. No one should expect that the outcome of the war will be a desire on the part of either side to negotiate with the other. Article 13 of the Hamas covenant makes clear the group's raison d'etre: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors" (Article 13).

For Israel, the notion of negotiating with Hamas was best summed up by Golda Meir when she said, "They say we must be dead. And we say we want to be alive. Between life and death, I don't know of a compromise."


"Israel deliberately attacked a UN school."


They say that truth is the first casualty of war and Israel has frequently found this to be the case. Reports of Israeli atrocities in its military operations are often out of context, misleading, half-truths, or outright fabrications. Israel often reinforces negative media reports by reacting in a knee-jerk way to accept blame when asked for a reaction to allegations. The media does not wait to learn the truth because that typically requires careful, dispassionate analysis that does not conform to journalists' need to immediately fill time and space.

The best example of this was the infamous case that occurred during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza in 2000 when a TV broadcast showed a Palestinian father shielding his son from bullets. The child was allegedly killed and Israel was immediately blamed. It took many months, but we now know Israeli troops did not kill Mohammed al-Dura.

Israel faced a similar rush to judgment after reports of an Israeli attack on January 6, 2009 on a UN-run school in Jabalya. The building was not being used as a school at the time but was sheltering Palestinian noncombatants. Initial reports said at least 30 Palestinians were killed and UN officials claimed they had given Israeli forces coordinates of this building and others that they said were not associated with Hamas. The incident was immediately portrayed as a deliberate Israeli attack on innocent people.

The details of what happened are still under investigation, but Israel maintains it was not aware that the building was being used as a shelter and that Israeli forces fired at the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area. Israel later identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Asker, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza. A witness from Jabalya said that he had seen Abu Asker in the area of the school right before the attack when he answered a call for volunteers to pile sand around the camp "to help protect the resistance fighters".5 In addition, two residents of the area near the school told the Associated Press they had seen a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street close to the school .6 A series of explosions followed, indicating the presence of munitions and explosives in the building, which was not being used as a school at the time.

This is not the first time terrorists have fired mortars from a school in Gaza, nor is it the first time terrorists have exploited UN facilities. UN officials in Gaza, who never condemn Palestinian terror (the UN never passed a resolution condemning Hamas terrorism), have a long record of looking the other way while Hamas carries out its activities. UN officials in Gaza are there to help Palestinians and their bias often clouds their judgment and therefore independent verification is needed before accepting their claims.

We do know that through its use of civilians as shields, Hamas has brought death and destruction to the people of Gaza as well as southern Israel. The loss of life in Jabalya is tragic and would not have happened if Hamas was not rocketing Israel. The rush to blame Israel is also a reminder that first reports out of Gaza cannot be trusted.


"Media coverage of Operation Cast Lead is fair and accurate."


Israel has learned that its enemies will do everything they can to manipulate the media to influence public opinion during conflicts such as the one going on in the Gaza Strip. Israel will be accused of massacres, fabricated casualty figures will be distributed, photographs will be doctored and journalists will be threatened. These and other ploys will be used to create sympathy for the Palestinians and cast aspersions on Israeli forces in the hope of turning world opinion against Israel.

Too often, irresponsible journalists have repeated unverified and often inaccurate information in their haste to be the first to report a story. In an effort to present an evenhanded account, some reporters have the mistaken belief that allowing an Arab spokesperson to lie and then giving an Israeli a chance to respond represents a balanced account. This is like allowing a spokesperson to accuse Israelis of beating their spouses and then inviting an Israeli to deny that they beat their husbands and wives. Israel is always put on the defensive, often through outrageous and false accusations, which are repeated by other media so lies become accepted as truth.

One of the first examples of this in the Gaza war occurred after Israeli forces fired on a UN-run school on January 6, 2009. The press immediately reported that more than 30 Palestinians seeking shelter in the building were killed and the attack was portrayed as a deliberate assault on innocent people. Hours later, Israeli investigators reported that they had fired on the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area. Witnesses supported the Israeli account, but the initial impression was already created and reinforced by repeated claims by UN officials discounting the Israeli version.

Israel was consistently victimized by Arab propaganda and media irresponsibility during the 2006 Lebanon War. Israel was accused of massacres that never happened. Reuters was duped by doctored photos and had to withdraw them. Other photos, showing Hizballah fighters setting up rockets in civilian neighborhoods were suppressed because they did not conform to Hizballah's propaganda message that Israel was indiscriminately attacking innocent Lebanese.

Hamas has adopted a similar approach. As CNN's Anderson Cooper reported, "Inside Gaza, press controlled by Hamas is heavy-handed. There are few press freedoms inside Gaza and Hamas controls who reports from there and where they can go. While pictures of wounded children being brought to hospitals are clearly encouraged, we rarely see images of Hamas fighters or their rockets being fired into Israel."7

Israel naturally wants to shape media coverage as well, but Israelis know the first time they are caught telling the type of lies common to the other side their credibility will be shot. Moreover, while they may want to exert some influence by, for example, limiting reporters' access to troops, the other side still succeeds in making its case. As CNN's Nic Robertson noted in criticizing Israel's decision not to embed reporters during the Gaza operation, "The officials we talk to say it's for security and our safety, but it creates an impression that they don't want the suffering that's happening in the Gaza Strip right now to be witnessed by the world, but it is and right now you could make a real case that the message that's coming out is one that's essentially controlled by people that are perhaps more partisan to the situation inside the Gaza Strip than a lot of international journalists".8

Given the history of coverage of the Middle East conflict, it behooves journalists to take great care in how they report stories from both sides of the Gaza battlefront and it will be up to those following the coverage to hold the reporters to the highest journalistic standards.

Even before Israel initiated Operation Cast Lead, many journalists were quick to report whatever they were told by Hamas. When Hamas staged blackouts in Gaza, the media incorrectly reported that Israel was preventing the Gazans from having fuel and electricity. Israel was regularly blamed for a "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza while, at the same time, truckloads of goods were sent in from Israel each day. While Israel's air attacks on Gaza immediately made the front page of newspapers around the world, the rocket barrages on southern Israel, and the impact they have had on the population over the last three years, have rarely been mentioned.

The media often turns conflicts into numbers games, keeping running tallies of casualties. Israel always is accused of disproportion because fewer Israelis typically die in confrontations. Israelis, however, are under no obligation to take greater casualties for the sake of looking better in the media box score. It also should come as no surprise that a regular army that is highly trained and is targeting terrorists will kill more people than the terrorists who are indiscriminately firing explosive rockets at civilian population centers in Israel.

The casualty figures reported by Palestinians have also proven completely unreliable in the past and no one should take them as fact. We know that the Palestinians will routinely call attacks "massacres" and invent large numbers of fatalities, so journalists should be on guard for such unverified claims. Even when bodies are presented as evidence, we have learned that they are often not the victims of an Israeli attack and sometimes they are not even dead (a classic Palestinian video shows a funeral in which the pall bearers drop the stretcher with the "corpse" who then gets up and runs away). Perhaps the most dramatic example occurred when the Washington Post published a photograph9 during the first Lebanon War of a baby that appeared to have lost both its arms. The UPI caption said that the seven-month-old had been severely burned when an Israeli jet accidentally hit a Christian residential area. The photo disgusted President Reagan and was one reason he subsequently called for Israel to halt its attacks. The photo and the caption, however, were inaccurate. The baby, in fact, did not lose its arms, and the burns the child suffered were the result of a PLO attack on East Beirut.

Early in the Gaza war, the media reported that nearly three hundred Gazans were killed in the incursion. These numbers came from Palestinian sources. Moreover, what many reporters left out is the fact that even Palestinians admitted the majority of those casualties were Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.

Some reports have also cited UN officials on conditions in Gaza and these must also be treated as suspect. UN representatives in Gaza are not impartial observers; they are individuals there specifically to aid the Palestinians and are naturally sympathetic to their cause. UN operatives in Palestinian territories have often been found to be apologists for terror with an animus toward Israel. Richard Falk, the special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, for example, has a long history of venomous anti-Israel remarks.

The media is reporting how the Arab world is outraged by Israeli actions, but this is also not a complete account of the facts. First, most of the Arab world does not get its news from the Western media, which at least claims a measure of objectivity; the leading source of news for most Arabs is Al-Jazeera. This network has no pretensions that it is balanced and presents non-stop coverage from a Palestinian perspective with the aim of generating hostility toward Israel. Al-Jazeera has not been reporting on the incessant rocket fire on Israel or its impact on the population. Still, what is striking is how many Arab leaders and commentators have blamed Hamas for provoking Israel. Also, while Hamas has received some rhetorical support from Arab states, they have shown no interest in coming to the group's defense. Accurate reporting would note that for all their statements of support for the Palestinian cause, none of the Arab states are willing to do any more to defend them.

It is a journalist's duty to report on every situation in as unbiased a manner as possible. To do this, reporters who interview Palestinian spokespeople or hospital officials should check their facts with other sources, including the IDF and the Israel Foreign Ministry, both of which have been historically honest in their fact-collecting. If journalists are not careful in their reporting of the situation in Gaza they will be later castigated by their colleagues, as was the case after the last Lebanon War.


Monday, January 12, 2009


By Ian O'Doherty
Monday January 05 2009
So, it's genocide now, is it? Or is it actually another holocaust, something which one typically restrained Palestinian analyst described as "worse than Hitler's war against the Jews"?

Are we watching the ethnic cleansing of an entire people? Are we witnessing the deliberate eradication of a race?

Well, no actually, we're not.

Yet the conventional dinner party wisdom which we've had to put up with in the media, both here in Ireland and generally across Britain, is that somehow Israel is the aggressor in the rapidly worsening situation in Gaza.

Footage of air strikes with the ensuing photogenic explosions and dramatic plumes of smoke, quickly followed by clips of collapsed buildings and enraged mourners, makes far better copy than actually looking at the reasons why Israel has done what it's done.

Anyone who devotes only a cursory glance at the news, both print and television, would be forgiven for thinking that, out of spite, might and malice, Israel has decided to destroy the Palestinian people.

The problem with that conclusion -- and it's not something you're going to learn from the BBC and most other outlets -- is that, contrary to the currently popular belief, Israel is actually acting with a ridiculous degree of restraint.

Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough.

But behind that statistic there is a human dimension which tends to be rather ignored.

I know many people in the southern Israeli town of Sderot and what is remarkable about their stories is not the number or make of rockets which have fallen on them on a daily basis for years, but the psychological carnage this wreaked upon them.

One woman freely admitted to me that she hasn't had a proper night's sleep in more than two years as she and her family now basically live in their bomb shelter and it's hard to tell who she hates more -- the Muslim terrorists of Hamas or the Israeli government which she thinks has abandoned them.

It's a common feeling amongst residents of southern Israeli towns who have been the silent victims of a long campaign of violence, intimidation and murder carried out by Hamas. And now, finally, that the Israelis have said that enough is enough, they are somehow meant to be the aggressors?

There are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, but one of the main problems in this debate lies in the cowardly tendency of the Western media to apply equivalence to both sides.

Thus, Hamas is seen to be as legitimate a government as the Israelis, and its rocket attacks across the border from Gaza are seen as being part of a yet another, intractable, interminable Middle Eastern dispute.

There's just one problem with that approach -- it's completely wrong.

Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organisation intent on the eradication of the state of Israel and all its citizens; a violent fascist regime that allows honour killings and the execution of homosexuals to continue in its sphere of influence. Bankrolled by Iran, it manages to make even Hezbollah look like a moderate organisation.

But Hamas is clever.

As a friend of mine from Sderot pointed out, one of its favourite tactics is to launch Qassams from Palestinian schoolyards -- while the schools are still in session.

Hamas does this, you see, knowing that the IDF can't immediately strike back (they can vector a rocket launch site within 90 seconds) because the last thing the Israelis need is footage of a devastated Palestinian school with dead kids.

And, over the last week, we have seen carefully manipulated footage of dead civilians, with the fact that they were effectively used as human shields conveniently ignored. When Israel pulled out of Gaza -- ironically, the last battalion of IDF troops to leave Gaza contained some people from Sderot -- they were acceding to international and internal pressure. The doves on the Left said it was to prove to Palestinians that they wanted to give Palestinians independence, the hawks on the Right -- and there are some truly scary right-wingers in Israel, even as ardent a supporter of the country as I am will freely admit that -- prophesied that it would lead to carnage.

And, lo and behold, virtually as soon as the last jeep left Gaza the rockets started. And then the blockade began, and the whole damn mess started all over again.

But there's a bigger picture here, something which Israelis have been trying to broadcast to the world, but which, thanks to their spectacular inability to accurately and sympathetically portray their point of view, has not been properly transmitted. It's this -- Israel is the front line of the war between democracy and Islamic fascism.

Would you rather live in a society with a free press, equal rights for women -- and anyone who knows an Israeli woman will know that they're not easily suppressed, anyway -- equal rights for gay people and a proud and stubborn belief in the right of the individual to lead their life in the way that they see fit or would you rather exist in a society where women who dare to speak their mind are executed, where gay people are not just shunned but murdered and where having a dissenting thought marks you out for death?

The civilian deaths in Gaza are to be mourned, and anyone who says otherwise is reprehensible. But in a sick and twisted irony, they are mourned more by Israelis than by Hamas, who know that every dead Palestinian kid is worth another piece of propaganda.

Here in the West, where we share the same values as Israel, we need to start standing shoulder with this tiny oasis of democracy in a vast desert of savagery.

To do otherwise is moral cowardice of the most repugnant kind.

Thursday, January 8, 2009



January 4, 2009 
Dr. Max Singer
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 56,
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: While Israel cannot achieve total military victory against the Hamas, there are many kinds of victories it can achieve during the long period before the Palestinians change enough to make peace possible. Concerning the current Gaza battle, victory means forcing the Palestinians to stop regularly firing missiles into Israel; and this is a victory that is existential for Israel.

We need to start with a simple view of the Gaza problem. The problem was that Palestinians were firing rockets from Gaza to nearby Israeli cities and settlements. Israel needs to stop the firing - or else it will get worse. That's why Israel went to war last Saturday. Israel will have won the war if after it is over there is no further steady stream of rocket attacks. On the other hand, if when the war is over the rocket firing soon continues it will mean that Israel lost. 

Many people have had the correct insight that Israel cannot achieve victory over the Palestinians, but they are confused into thinking that Israel cannot win any victory. Israel cannot win a complete victory over the Palestinians like the victory the US achieved over Germany and Japan in 1945; mainly because Israel cannot usefully occupy and rule the Palestinians for the long run, nor for long enough to be able to change their society into one that is ready to live in peace with Israel. And of course Israel cannot destroy the Palestinians. 

Therefore after any war, Palestinian enemies will still be there seeking ways to attack Israel, and Israel will have to live with the continued existence of the Palestinians on our borders. That is the correct insight about no possibility of victory.

However, there are three ways Israel can win an important and critical victory over the Hamas. One is if Hamas is being hit so hard that it does not think it can accept further losses and therefore calls for a ceasefire and agrees that it will see that there are no more missile attacks on Israel from Gaza. This is very unlikely, especially because Hamas does not appear to be troubled by the pain of the citizens of Gaza. But if they did this it would be a victory even if it only stopped the missiles for six months, provided that Israel was prepared to attack Gaza again as soon as they started firing missiles again. 

We often will have to make do with temporary victories. Our basic task is to defeat each and every kind of attack that the Palestinians devise. Each of our victories will lead, some time later, to a new Palestinian attack which must be defeated in turn.  This will not continue forever, but it will continue until the Palestinian society or politics changes and/or the political environment that now supports the Palestinian war against us changes. Those changes will happen and when they do there will be a chance to achieve peace. In the meantime we must go from victory to victory. 

A second way Israel can win this battle is if its attacks so weaken and embarrass Hamas that it loses its control over Gaza. This is too difficult an objective to be used to guide Israel's policy. It may be a by-product of Israel's pursuit of victory; it should not be the goal. 

The third way Israel can achieve victory, the one that is the only practical goal for Israel, is to fight until we achieve enough control in Gaza so that missile attacks from Gaza are as difficult for the Gazans as suicide bombings from Judea and Samaria are for West Bankers.

Israel does not occupy Judea and Samaria, but it operates there enough so that it prevents almost all suicide bombing attacks - despite continued Palestinian attempts. This kind of victory will be very difficult to achieve in Gaza. It will require many months with intermittent hard fighting and many casualties on both sides. These great costs are only justified because this victory is necessary for Israel's survival.

Two questions can be raised. First, can Israel really achieve this victory? Second, is it really necessary; isn't there an easier way to achieve victory, that is, to stop the missile fire?

I am no military expert, but this is not a hopeless battle. When Operation Defensive Shield was begun most experts thought that it was a hopeless cause. Israel achieved unprecedented success, developing its tactics as it went along. In some ways Gaza is much harder -- the civilian population is denser, and Hamas has accumulated more and better weapons than the West Bankers had. But some factors make Gaza easier. It is smaller and the terrain is flatter. It is mostly or all in range of Israeli artillery in Israel. 

Nevertheless, it doesn't matter whether the job is easier or harder; it has to be done. Therefore Israel must do it. Otherwise, Israel can't survive in this region.

Might there be an easier way? Nobody can be sure. One can imagine all sorts of clever tactics designed to enable the Palestinian Authority to replace Hamas, or to bring in foreign forces to prevent Hamas from firing missiles, or to get a wonderful UN Security Council resolution, or whatever. Unfortunately the evidence is that none of this will work, and any false try will be very damaging. 

No foreign force will stop Hamas from firing missiles at Israel - even if they try. Hamas is very determined and willing to take casualties to fire missiles at Israel. No foreign force will be as determined or as willing to take casualties as the Gazans are. It doesn't take much to launch 20 missiles a week. Therefore international forces will not be able to prevent missile firings. 

Controlling Gaza enough to prevent missile firings is just too big and dirty and dangerous a job for anybody to do except Israel; as is preventing arms smuggling across the borders. And Israel is the one country that has learned - in Judea and Samaria - how to do what is needed, which involves coordinated efforts by military and covert forces. 

Achieving the control of Gaza necessary to prevent missile firings will have a second powerful advantage for Israel. It will demonstrate to everyone that Israel is still - or again - capable of doing whatever is required to win the battles it needs to win to protect the country. It will show what some have come to doubt, that we are prepared to take whatever casualties, and whatever international condemnation, that we have to take to achieve our military missions, and we will undertake whatever military mission is necessary to protect our country. 

When we demonstrate these things, perhaps several times because of previous lapses, we will face many fewer attacks. 

We should not kid ourselves that this prescription will be easy or free from danger. The Palestinians have prepared many new ways to kill Israeli troops that enter Gaza, and some of them will succeed until Israel figures out how to cope with them. And despite our best efforts there will be many Palestinian civilian casualties and much suffering by the Palestinian population. There may well be a new attack by missiles from Lebanon forcing Israel to fight a two-front war again - and for much of the country to live for some time under attack by missiles. But we will either stop missile firing now, or we will have harder challenges in the future.

Israel can win because it must win, regardless of the cost. There is no substitute for this victory.

Dr. Max Singer is a senior research associate at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and at the US-based Hudson Institute.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Key messages

These are the top messages you should push at every opportunity:
• Israel has done everything it can to resolve the ongoing Gaza rocket threat through
non-military means. Eventually Israel had no option left but to act to defend its
citizens. No government, Israeli, British or otherwise, can stand by while their citizens
continue to be attacked. Ultimately Israel wants peace and quiet.

• Israel has endured eight years of attacks on innocent civilians. Since 2001, over
8,500 rockets have been fired at Israel, deliberately targeting, killing and injuring
ordinary Israelis, including children and the elderly.

• With the increase in range and intensity of Hamas’s arsenal, 12.5% of Israel’s
population – over 900,000 people – are now at risk of missile, rocket and mortar shell
attacks. Given the difference in population size, in the UK the equivalent would be about
7,500,000 people – the equivalent of the population of Greater London. If London were
attacked by missiles, rockets and mortar shells on a daily basis, the British government
would have no choice but to take action to prevent it.

• The only reason there is military action now is because Hamas refused to continue the
ceasefire. Israel tried to sustain the ceasefire which lasted from June until November 2008.
Even under intense rocket fire, Israel still tried to renegotiate the ceasefire.

• During the last week of the ceasefire, 190 rockets landed in Israel; the following week
over 500 rockets were fired at Israel. Yet Israel still resisted responding even after such
intense provocation. Israel tried to maintain the ceasefire despite the knowledge that
Hamas used this and all ceasefires to rearm and regroup, meaning that the range of their
missiles and rockets is now much greater.

• Israel is pursuing both military and diplomatic approaches – with its allies, particularly
Egypt – to reach a resolution to the situation in Gaza and southern Israel. The diplomatic
level must deal effectively with the smuggling of weaponry into Gaza and Egypt’s key
role in this effort. Q & A The following are points to use to respond to the following

Why is Israel acting against Hamas?

• Israel is acting to defend its citizens in the southern half of the country from ongoing
daily rocket attacks by Hamas and other militants in the Gaza Strip, which make life for
ordinary civilians untenable.

• In the first four months of 2008, a rocket or mortar was fired at Israel every three
hours on average.

• A ceasefire was declared in June, but was breached by Hamas throughout November
and December. Since 4 November, over 700 missiles, rockets and mortar shells have
been fired into Israel by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

• Hamas then unilaterally declared the ceasefire over on 19 December, even though
Israel was willing to continue the arrangement. From 19 December onwards, over 600
missiles, rockets and mortar shells have been fired into Israel.

• Hamas used the recent ceasefire to upgrade its military threat, by smuggling in more
dangerous weapons and longer range rockets. The new scale of Hamas’s threat has been
demonstrated by Hamas firing rockets into Ashdod and Beersheva, two large cities
between 30 and 40 km from the Gaza Strip. 900,000 Israeli civilians now live under the
constant threat of rocket attack.

• Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ began on 27 December with aerial attacks on key
militant weapons stockpiles, launch sites, smuggling tunnels, militant leaders and launch
personnel, and other infrastructure. It entered its second phase on 3 January, with the
movement of large numbers of infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and
intelligence into Gaza. The operation’s aim is to alter the current situation of constant
rocket bombardment of Israel, by severely decreasing the ability of Gaza militants to
smuggle, build and launch weapons which terrorise Israeli civilians on a daily basis.
Israel does not want to reoccupy Gaza.

Isn’t Israel’s action disproportionate?

• Israel is acting after showing months of restraint. Hamas has ignored Egyptian and
moderate Palestinian calls to maintain a ceasefire that was agreed in June.

• Israel’s operation is designed to seriously downgrade Hamas’s ability to strike at Israel.

• Israel is targeting Hamas activists, weapons, infrastructure and tunnels. UN figures
confirm that the great majority of those killed have been Hamas men in uniform. Official
Israeli sources report that an estimated 88% of those killed in Gaza have been militants.
This is much lower than any similar past event, including NATO’s operations in Kosovo
and Afghanistan, despite the more difficult conditions in Gaza such as the hiding of
terror infrastructure in civilian areas. Israel has taken precautions to protect civilian life,
with warnings to civilians to stay away from Hamas targets.

• Israel accepts its moral responsibility to minimise the risk to civilian life, but the
behaviour of Hamas, who hide weapons and bases within the civilian population, make
it impossible to guarantee no harm will come to innocent people. This does not negate
Israel’s right to act to defend its civilian population, when so many Israelis are under
constant threat.
What about the humanitarian impact of Israel’s actions?

• Israel is committed to not allowing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In the period of
the ceasefire from July to October, on average of 4,000 trucks of aid per month passed
into Gaza from Israel. Throughout this campaign Israel has allowed aid in. A major
impediment to the transfer of aid is the security threat to the crossings themselves.
Three major terror attacks have been launched at Gaza-Israel crossing points by Gaza-
based militants in 2008 alone, one of which killed two Israeli civilian fuel truck drivers
working at the Nahal Oz fuel depot, which supplies fuel to Gaza.

• Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, 335 truckloads of humanitarian aid,
amounting to 7,800 tons of food and supplies, have been transferred to Gaza.
Preparations are underway for further shipments in the coming days.

• Israel allows hundreds of medical patients into Israel from Gaza each month.
On 31 December, for example, Israel allowed 22 patients into Israel for treatment and
sent in 1,000 units of blood. For additional examples of Palestinians receiving medical
treatment in Gaza, see Ryan Parry’s recent piece in the Daily Mirror: BICOM News Archive:
Press coverage on the Gaza situation - 1 and 2 January.

• Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza,
has denied claims that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In December, he told
Canada's largest national daily, the Globe and Mail, that whilst the situation in Gaza
is not pleasant, "This is not a humanitarian crisis... It's an economic crisis, a political
crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving.” Abdel Shaafi is the son
of the late prominent Palestinian Gaza leader Dr Haidar Abdel Shaafi. He has been
critical of both Fatah and Hamas and has been associated with the Third Way
movement of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Why has Gaza been under siege? Why doesn’t Israel negotiate with Hamas?

• Israel has no interest in inhibiting access into and out of Gaza. Israel withdrew all
settlers and military forces from Gaza over three years ago and signed an agreement
with the Palestinian Authority to allow movement and access of goods and people
into and out of Gaza. This had the potential to be the first stage of the establishment
of an independent Palestinian state. But when Hamas forcibly took over in Gaza, it
became impossible to move forward. Hamas does not recognise agreements with
Israel and is committed to Israel’s destruction.

• Gaza also has a border with Egypt, but Egypt has also kept its border mostly closed
because of concern about the threat Hamas pose to the secular Arab regime in Egypt.

• Israel has been working with the moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank
to negotiate the terms of a two-state solution and to improve movement and access
in the West Bank. If Hamas were to accept the conditions of the Quartet - to recognise
Israel, accept previous Israel- PA agreements and renounce violence - they could be
part of this process. Hamas have shown no interest in reaching any agreements with

• Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other moderate Arab states have been angered by
Hamas’s refusal to negotiate a joint position with Palestinian moderates.

Does Israel want peace?

• Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza three years ago was supported by most Israelis, who
recognise the need to leave most of the occupied territories and help in the creation of
an independent Palestinian state. Most Israelis understand this is in their interests, as
the only real option for peace.

• But Israel cannot make peace alone, nor can it solve the Palestinians’ political divisions
for them. Hamas must accept a path to permanent coexistence with Israel, or the people
of Gaza must reject Hamas - otherwise a two-state solution cannot be implemented.

• Israel was left with no other choice but to undertake this operation, after years of
trying to end this situation by other means. Israel has unhappily implemented this
operation, which inevitably would result in both Israeli and Palestinian casualties.

What does Hamas want?

• Hamas is an Islamic extremist movement which believes it is a religious duty to
destroy the State of Israel and replace it with an Islamic state. The movement has a
fiercely antisemitic ideology, as expressed in its founding charter and the statements
of its leaders. It is backed by Iran, which shares its agenda of destroying Israel.

• Hamas rejects the consensus that exists between the Israeli government, moderate
Palestinians led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Quartet (the EU, UN, US and
Russian Federation), that a two-state solution is the only way to solve the Israeli-
Palestinian dispute.

What is the wider significance of what is happening?

• Hamas is part of a regional alliance of Islamist forces, led by Iran, which holds a deep
hatred of the West and is opposed to Israel’s existence. Iran trains, arms and funds groups
such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to perpetuate the conflict with
Israel, prevent progress towards a peaceful solution and foment destabilisation in the wider

• Similarly, Iran supports extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan in their insurgencies against
British and other Western forces, who are working to secure democracy and freedom in
those countries.

For further news, briefings, analysis and information, go to

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


While British and French politicians, from both government and opposition parties, continue to make ignorant statements about Israel, based largely on the misleading information they are getting about the conflict from their own media*, other European politicians are more understanding of Israel’s position.

For example, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said yesterday that Israel’s offensive against Gaza can’t be condemned as long as Hamas continues firing rockets.

“Condemning Israel is pointless because both parties have to be addressed,” he said in an interview with Dutch television. “As long as the rocket attacks continue, Israel will always say ‘we cannot accept this’, and I understand that.”

“It is always regrettable when there are civilian casualties. But at the same time, I see Hamas continuously firing rockets on Israel,” Balkenende added.

Yesterday Hamas launched another 45 rockets into Israel.

Another convoy of 80 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies was allowed by Israel to enter the Gaza Strip this morning.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Much of the world's response is a false moral equivalence that simply encourages the terrorists.

By Alan M. Dershowitz - December 31, 2008

Cambridge, Mass. - Israel's decision to take military action against Hamas rocket attacks targeting its civilian population has been long in coming. I vividly recall a visit my wife and I took to the Israeli city of Sderot on March 20 of this year. Over the past four years, Palestinian terrorists - in particular, Hamas and Islamic Jihad - have fired more than 2,000 rockets at this civilian area, which is home to mostly poor and working-class people.

The rockets are designed exclusively to maximize civilian deaths, and some have barely missed schoolyards, kindergartens, hospitals and school buses. But others hit their targets, killing more than a dozen civilians since 2001, including in February 2008 a father of four who had been studying at the local university. These anticivilian rockets have also injured and traumatized countless children.

The residents of Sderot were demanding that their nation take action to protect them. But Israel's postoccupation military options were limited, since Hamas deliberately fires its deadly rockets from densely populated urban areas, and the Israeli army has a strict policy of trying to avoid civilian casualties.

The firing of rockets at civilians from densely populated civilian areas is the newest tactic in the war between terrorists who love death and democracies that love life. The terrorists have learned how to exploit the morality of democracies against those who do not want to kill civilians, even enemy civilians.

The attacks on Israeli citizens have little to do with what Israel does or does not do. They have everything to do with an ideology that despises - and openly seeks to destroy - the Jewish state. Consider that rocket attacks increased substantially after Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, and they accelerated further after Hamas seized control last year.

In the past months, a shaky cease-fire, organized by Egypt, was in effect. Hamas agreed to stop the rockets and Israel agreed to stop taking military action against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire itself was morally dubious and legally asymmetrical.

Israel, in effect, was saying to Hamas: If you stop engaging in the war crime of targeting our innocent civilians, we will stop engaging in the entirely lawful military acts of targeting your terrorists. Under the cease-fire, Israel reserved the right to engage in self-defense actions such as attacking terrorists who were in the course of firing rockets at its civilians.

Just before the hostilities began, Israel reopened a checkpoint to allow humanitarian aid to reenter Gaza. It had closed the point of entry after it had been targeted by Gazan rockets. Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, also issued a stern, final warning to Hamas that unless it stopped the rockets, there would be a full-scale military response. The Hamas rockets continued and Israel kept its word, implementing a carefully prepared targeted air attack against Hamas targets.

On Sunday, I spoke to the air force general, now retired, who worked on the planning of the attack. He told me of the intelligence and planning that had gone into preparing for the contingency that the military option might become necessary. The Israeli air force had pinpointed with precision the exact locations of Hamas structures in an effort to minimize civilian casualties.

Even Hamas sources have acknowledged that the vast majority of those killed have been Hamas terrorists, though some civilian casualties are inevitable when, as BBC's Rushdi Abou Alouf - who is certainly not pro-Israel - reported, "The Hamas security compounds are in the middle of the city." Indeed, his home balcony was just 20 meters away from a compound he saw bombed.

There have been three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets. Not surprisingly, Iran, Hamas and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers have argued that the Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians are entirely legitimate, and that the Israeli counterattacks are war crimes.

Equally unsurprising is the response of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists.

And finally, there is the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas for its unlawful and immoral policy of using its own civilians as human shields, behind whom they fire rockets at Israeli civilians.

The most dangerous of the three responses is not the Iranian-Hamas absurdity, which is largely ignored by thinking and moral people, but the United Nations and European Union response, which equates the willful murder of civilians with legitimate self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

This false moral equivalence only encourages terrorists to persist in their unlawful actions against civilians. The US has it exactly right by placing the blame on Hamas, while urging Israel to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.

* Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School. His latest book is "The Case Against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace."