Friday, August 22, 2014

Yes, all victims are equal, but some are more equal than others

...My point is not that Israel should ignore the laws of war because of the hypocrisy and double standards of our critics. Israel should pride itself of not behaving like China, like Russia, or like Sri Lanka. But Israel’s leaders must understand that this theater of the absurd will go on as long as they stay on the defensive instead of going on the offensive. Answering smears won’t do it. Exposing the crimes of our enemies and publicly embarrassing them will.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
i24 News..
20 August '14..

David Hume’s theory of “concentric circles” provides an explanation for people’s selective empathy: the more pain affects you, the more you care –and vice versa. Hume gives a graphic example: if you were told that your finger will be cut off tomorrow, you would spend the night tossing and turning; but if you were told that hundreds of people will die tomorrow at the other end of the world due to a natural disaster, you would sleep soundly. Cable television and the Internet have mostly turned Hume’s theory on its head, because we all see the world’s tragedies all the time. The average New Yorker is still more likely to lose sleep over his investment portfolio than over the number of Yazidis killed in Iraq, but the world’s tragedies are constantly displayed on our screens. And yet, people still have a selective way of relating to those tragedies. Hume’s theory is still valid, but for different reasons. Selective empathy in the 21st century is less the result of distance than of substance -- your chances of gaining sympathy are less affected by how far away you are than by who is harming you.

As The Economist wrote recently: “Though it has long been known that there is little correlation between the attention paid to conflicts and their levels of casualties, the disparity is depressing.” In terms of Google searches, Ukraine gets far more intention than Syria, even though there have been 20 times more victims in Syria than in Ukraine since the beginning of the year. The thousands of deaths in Iraq went unnoticed until the United States announced its air strikes. Try googling “Central African Republic” and you get 30,000 results on the news section. Type “Israel Gaza War” and you get 3.5 million entries. And yet, more people (about 2,500) have died in the Central Africa conflict this year than in Gaza.

In 2009, Israel became the target of an orchestrated international campaign following Operation Cast Lead, a campaign that culminated in the Goldstone Report. At the same time, the Sri Lanka government brutally decimated the Tamil independence movement, killing at least 40,000 Tamils and producing hundreds of thousands refugees. A UN human rights commission was set-up but it has yet to compile a report (five years after the deeds); there were no massive demonstrations around the world, and the media barely covered this tragedy.

As British writer and comedian Pat Condell pointedly asked: “Where were you all progressive humanitarians when Assad was butchering thousands in Syria, or Bashir in Sudan? Where were the angry mass demonstrations for those people or for the victims of the butchery in Nigeria? Or for the thousands murdered in Iraq? But the Jews of Israel finally respond to being constantly attacked by Islamic terrorists, and the world goes insane.” Or, as French writer and professor Pierre Jourde recently wrote: “One hundred lynched Christians in Pakistan are worth less, media-wise, than one dead Palestinian.” The same goes for the non-Muslim victims of the Islamic State in Iraq and of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Fabrication and Myth of the Palestinian Underdog

...Clearly, Israel has many strengths, including a thriving economy, a relatively powerful army, and strong American support. But as Hanson noted, it’s still a tiny country with few friends and many enemies, and anti-Israel protesters intuitively sense this. So don’t be fooled by their pretensions to “moral indignation” against Israel’s “oppression of the underdog.” They’re just doing what mobs have done since time immemorial: targeting a victim they see as fundamentally vulnerable.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
21 August '14..

One of the enduring myths of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is that much of the West supports the Palestinians out of natural sympathy for the underdog. Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution effectively demolished that myth last week, pointing out that if sympathy for the underdog were really driving the massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations sweeping the West, one would expect to see equally massive demonstrations in support of occupied Tibet, the undoubted underdog against superpower China, or embattled Ukraine, the equally undoubted underdog against superpower Russia. In reality, he argued, anti-Israel sentiment flourishes not because Israel is Goliath, but because it is David:

Israel is inordinately condemned for what it supposedly does because its friends are few, its population is tiny, and its adversaries beyond Gaza numerous, dangerous and often powerful.

Or to put it more bluntly, condemning Israel entails no costs and frequently provides benefits, whereas supporting it could invite retaliation from its numerous enemies. So just as Western countries are reluctant to push China on Tibet for fear that China will retaliate by barring access to the world’s largest market, or to push Russia too hard on Ukraine because Russia is a major natural gas producer with no qualms about cutting off supplies to its political opponents, they often find it easier to push Israel than to push its enemies.

Take, for instance, the cases of Qatar and Turkey, currently Hamas’s two main patrons. Qatar is Hamas’s leading financier, giving it hundreds of millions of dollars per year to build its rocket arsenal and tunnel network; it hosts Hamas leader Khaled Meshal; it reportedly torpedoed an emerging Hamas-Israel cease-fire deal by threatening to kick Meshal out if he signed; and according to former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, about a third of all cement imported to Gaza for Qatari-sponsored projects was instead diverted to Hamas’s tunnel network–presumably with Doha’s willing cooperation, since EU-managed projects suffered no similar diversions.

Journalism 101: How Dumb are NY Times Headline Writers?

The NY Times headlined a report on Gaza rockets being fired at Israel, breaking the latest cease-fire, this way: Rockets From Gaza and Israeli Response Break Cease-Fire. So if only Israel hadn't responded, the cease-fire would still be alive? Really NY Times?

Alex Safian, PhD..
CAMERA Media Analyses..
19 August '14..

There is an art to writing a good headline. Too long and it won't fit, too short and it won't really describe the story. It requires a concerted effort to find just the right pithy and evocative words that still accurately describe the story's content.

Because it's an art, there is a lore that's developed. Perhaps the greatest headline, certainly in tabloid history, was on the front page of the New York Post on April 15, 1983: Headless Body In Topless Bar, hitting all the themes that tabloid writers and tabloid readers cherish.

Apparently the august New York Times just can't afford that class of headline writer.

Case in point comes with this morning's news that rockets from Gaza have once again been fired into Israel, violating the latest cease-fire.

At first, believe it or not, the Times headlined the story by questioning whether the rockets that landed in Israel really came from Gaza: "Rockets Said to Be Fired from Gaza Strip Puncture Latest Cease-Fire" (the site keeps track of headline changes).

So, the headline writer seemed to be saying, the Israelis said the rockets were fired from Gaza, but who knows, maybe they were lying.

No, Israel Doesn’t Cause Anti-Semitism

...The Jews can defend themselves against anti-Semites and they can call attention to this ideology in an effort to rally decent people against the haters. But they can’t make it go away by being less aggressive in defending their rights any more than they can do so by other actions. Those who believe that Israel can reduce anti-Semitism by behaving differently are buying into the same myths that tormented previous generations. Both the Israeli government and Diaspora Jewry should ignore their suggestions.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
20 August '14..

Is the rising tide of hatred that is being directed at Jews in Europe and elsewhere the fault of Israel? That’s what many anti-Zionists have been claiming, and now their argument is echoed by the Forward’s J.J. Goldberg who writes in his column that the assumption that only Israelis face the consequences of their government’s policies is now being again proved false. He has a point in that, obviously, Jews everywhere are at risk of attack from those who hate Israel. But the fallacy here is that these anti-Semitic attacks are in any way Israel’s fault.

Goldberg’s main objective in this column is not so much to blame the Jewish state for what is happening to Jews elsewhere—though clearly he intends to wrongly lay some of the responsibility for these outbreaks on the Netanyahu government—as is it is to make a broader point that Israel needs to listen to the Diaspora rather than reject out of hand criticisms of its policies. He believes that Israelis must understand that as the nation state of the Jewish people, what Jerusalem does—whether in terms of war and peace issues or domestic ones that concern the rights of non-Orthodox denominations—has an impact on Jews elsewhere. I think he’s right about that and also right to advocate that Israel must think of its security in global terms that extends to the wellbeing of Jews everywhere.

The problem with this argument does not lie with the effort to wake up Israelis to the need to think more about the ties to Diaspora Jews. Rather, the flaw here is more fundamental. Goldberg’s attempt to draw a clear distinction between what he calls “old anti-Semitism” that was driven by “myths and fantasies disconnected from reality like drinking Christians’ blood or killing God” and what he calls the “new anti-Semitism” is misleading. So, too, is the assumption that anti-Semitism, whether we are talking about the hate directed at Jews during the medieval era, the Nazi-era assault, or today’s “new” variant, is the natural byproduct of Jewish actions rather than the psyches and the dark intentions of the anti-Semites. Goldberg writes about the current wave of hate:

The new anti-Semitism includes some of that, but it starts with something else: an anger at Jews over something that actually happened. Israel was created on land that Muslims, like it or not, considered part of their sacred waqf, the indivisible House of Islam. Many Muslims haven’t gotten over it. Hey, Osama bin Laden wanted Spain back.

While Goldberg acknowledges that it can be asserted that Israel’s existence or anger about its actions are a mere pretext that are used to legitimize expressions of hate that stem from the same beliefs that motivate “old anti-Semitism,” he thinks Hamas and others those who stoke hatred of Jews with traditional calumnies “would have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames of the conflict.”

Let’s draw some distinctions here. There is nothing anti-Semitic about criticizing Israel’s policies. It is a vibrant democracy and people there, like Americans and any other free people, criticize their government all the time. But those who believe that the Jews, unlike every other people on the planet, have no right to their own country and no right to defend themselves are subjecting them to discriminatory treatment. Anti-Zionism is, by definition, an act of prejudice against Jews. Moreover, those who campaign against Israel’s existence are drawing on the same anti-Semitic playbook that “traditional” Jew-haters have always used, including the same irrational myths that Goldberg cites.

Anyone taking a good look at the rhetoric and the signs that are present at anti-Israel demonstrations understands that what is on display is not the function of a political debate but a visceral hatred against Jews that is very much in tune with classic anti-Semitism. That is made abundantly clear by the manner with which these haters target not only Israelis but also everything connected with the Jews for boycott, including kosher food or Jewish ritual practices like circumcision.

Surprise! The Cease Fire That Broke Itself, Part II

...Sadly, each day provides more and more examples of this unwillingness to state clearly that Hamas breaks cease fires. I will not offer a theory as to why, but it is certainly bad journalism.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
20 August '14..

In a recent post, found here, I noted the widespread failure of news media sites to say straightforwardly that Hamas has broken several cease fires. This just happened again, so herewith a couple of the most remarkable examples.

Foreign Policy wrote this:

Efforts to end six weeks of fighting in Gaza collapsed as rocket fire from the strip broke a cease-fire and Israel carried out renewed strikes in the area.

Interesting formulation: Israel carried out strikes, but on the other side was “rocket fire.” It would seem that in Gaza rocket fire makes its own decisions about shooting: no terrorists, no Hamas, no Islamic Jihad.

Then there is this rather fantastic example from the Daily Telegraph in London:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Israel is losing the information war by Caroline Glick

...Our leaders and spokespeople cannot win the information war by devoting themselves to pointing out the West’s hypocrisy and double standards, or the rank mendaciousness and bigotry that stands at the core of their approach to Israel. No one ever won a war by only playing defense. And we won’t win this one by explaining why we aren’t war criminals. We will only begin to make progress when we define the goal of our hasbara as forcing an unwilling media and international community to discuss the truth by taking deliberate actions that will make it impossible for them to ignore it.

Prosor at UN discussing
Hamas war crimes
Caroline Glick..
20 August '14..

For most Israelis, the international discourse on Gaza is unintelligible.

Here we were going along, minding our own business.

Then on a clear night in June, apropos of nothing, Palestinian terrorists stole, murdered and hid the bodies of three of our children as they made their way home from school.

Before we could catch our breath from that atrocity, they began shelling our major population centers with thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars, and infiltrated our communities along the border with Gaza through underground tunnels to kidnap and murder us.

And as the Palestinians did all of these things, they used their civilian population and the foreign press corps as human sandbags. They ordered their own people not to evacuate their homes from which Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists launched their missiles, rockets and mortars at Israel. And they launched missiles at Israeli cities from outside the hotel where the foreign reporters were staying.

It doesn’t take a PhD to understand what the game is. And Israelis – even many with PhDs – understand what is happening.

This is why so many Israelis are up in arms about our government’s failure to impact the wall of lies that comprises the discourse on Israel in the Western world.

The knee-jerk reaction of many Israelis to the sight of UN officials, CNN anchors and New York Timesreporters accusing us of committing war crimes is to blame ourselves.

Our hasbara (public diplomacy) is a catastrophe, our defenders are incompetent idiots, we moan and scream.

But the truth is not so simple. Our speakers have gotten much better over the past several years. Some, like ambassadors Ron Dermer and Ron Prosor and IDF Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, are excellent.

Hamas isn’t in the business of governing Gaza; it’s in the terrorism business

...Want to ease the suffering of ordinary Gazans and ordinary Israelis? Remove Hamas. The “siege” would instantly disappear, and there’d be no impediment to open border crossings, a seaport and an airport. Want to ensure increased suffering for ordinary Gazans and ordinary Israelis? Lift the blockade with Hamas still in control. Ongoing bloodshed would be guaranteed.

David Horovitz..
Times of Israel..
19 August '14..

At some point, it might be worth internalizing what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying since the start of Operation Protective Edge six weeks ago: that Israel should be prepared for a long conflict.

As rocket fire on Beersheba Tuesday afternoon marked the latest in a string of Hamas truce violations, the notion that some kind of lasting arrangement was soon to emerge from the indirect negotiations in Cairo (a notion much hyped in some quarters in recent days) was again rudely shattered.

Netanyahu is not about to approve a deal that gives Hamas any remotely significant diplomatic reward for firing 3,500 rockets at Israel, building an elaborate cross-border attack tunnel network under the border, and holding the citizens of Gaza — and to an extent those of Israel as well — hostage to its elaborate war machine.

The prime minister’s problem — and Israel’s — is that Hamas is still far too strong, and that Hamas will always be far too cynical, to be deterred by Israel’s ongoing response to the attacks from Gaza, the counter-strikes that follow its rocket fire. Hamas lost dozens of its tunnels, and perhaps 1,000 of its gunmen, and pleaded for a ceasefire, apparently believing it could negotiate a diplomatic resolution more satisfactory than the military face-off had yielded.

But most of its elite fighters are still alive. It still has thousands of rockets, and is capable of manufacturing more in mid-conflict. Its local political leadership is safe and sound in the Gaza underground. Its overseas leadership is in still better shape, cosseted in Qatari luxury. And it cares not a whit about the suffering that its violent Islamist extremism is bringing down upon Gazans (a very substantial proportion of whom voted for Hamas in the relatively democratic parliamentary elections of 2006). Thus Israel’s firm negotiating posture has sent Hamas back into conflict.

As Hamas keeps telling anybody who asks, it is bent on “ending the occupation of Palestine” — i.e. ending the existence of Israel. Unfortunately, too few people are asking. Understandably appalled by the death and devastation in Gaza, much of the watching world, including its leadership, are confusing cause and effect.

Hamas is not seeking freedom for the people of Gaza when it demands the “lifting of the siege,” a seaport and an airport, and when it fires rockets because its demands are not being met. It is, rather, seeking the capacity to further its goal of wiping Israel out by getting all those irritating restrictions lifted on its capacity to build a still nastier war machine. The Israeli-Egyptian security blockade did not predate Hamas’s violent seizure of Gaza in 2007; it was imposed after the Islamists took control, and would be removed if Israel’s security was no longer threatened by Hamas and its fellow Islamist terror groups. Want to ease the suffering of ordinary Gazans and ordinary Israelis? Remove Hamas. The “siege” would instantly disappear, and there’d be no impediment to open border crossings, a seaport and an airport. Want to ensure increased suffering for ordinary Gazans and ordinary Israelis? Lift the blockade with Hamas still in control. Ongoing bloodshed would be guaranteed.

Sri Lanka, Gaza and defeating terrorists

..."We gave clear instructions: no cease-fires, no negotiations until we defeat the LTTE completely," Sri Lankan Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Washington Post in February 2009. "The LTTE would use cease-fires and peace talks to reorganize and resupply weapons. There have been...dozens of negotiations and more than 10 cease-fires. Everything failed. After every period of negotiation, they came back stronger. We decided enough was enough."

Michael Freund..
19 August 14..

This past Saturday night, a few thousand protesters gathered in the heart of Tel Aviv, recycling tired and familiar left-wing slogans as they called upon Israel to negotiate with the Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.

In between chants of profoundly creative catchphrases such as "Bibi, go home," the participants heard speeches from several speakers, all of whom devoted more time and verbiage to criticizing Israel than our enemies.

Apparently unaware that Hamas initiated the latest round of bloodletting, Meretz MK Zahava Gal- On blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, hurling the curious accusation that he had "dragged us into a war of choice in Gaza."

But amid all the political posturing and silly self-flagellation that typifies such left-wing gatherings, there was one theme which stood out for its brazen inanity, so much so that it cannot be allowed to go unanswered.

In his remarks to the crowd, author David Grossman insisted that, "There is no military solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas," repeating a line that has become a standard mantra in left-wing circles. "There is no military solution," he continued, "that will bring an end to the suffering of the residents of the south and the inhuman distress of the residents of Gaza."

Obviously, by discounting the possible utility of a military solution, Grossman and his comrades are trying to push Israel in the direction of negotiating with the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. After all, if the Islamists cannot be defeated, then how else can the dispute be resolved? The only problem with Grossman's assertion is that it is patently false. The idea that there is no military solution to the threat posed by Hamas is wishful, rather than truthful, thinking.

Let's leave aside the question of whether a novelist such as Grossman is really in a position to provide the Israeli public with informed military analysis, and look at what a real expert has to say.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Isn't Schabas just the perfect choice for Goldstone 2?

...He has expressed no hesitation in exploiting international mechanisms to achieve political goals. He has already declared Israel guilty of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” He has no problem participating in the most fringe anti-Israel initiatives. He erases the context of Palestinian terrorism. Such characteristics define the very essence of the HRC and its NGO lawfare partners.

Anne Herzberg..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
17 August '14..

On August 11, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed the members to the latest Human Rights Council “investigation” of Israel. Predictably, one of the appointees, law professor William Schabas, is well-known for his association with many anti-Israel NGO initiatives.

Given the history of special animus towards Israel by the Human Rights Council, a body dominated by dictators and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, it is no surprise that it would appoint such a partisan figure to render judgment on Israel’s operations against Hamas rocket fire and terror tunnels. But there is another agenda at play in the Schabas appointment beyond yet more absurd condemnations of the Jewish state by Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.

One of the key components in the political war against Israel is “lawfare” or the exploitation of legal frameworks to achieve objectives that cannot be accomplished militarily. The goal is to delegitimize (and ultimately end) Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and to punish the country for its anti-terror operations.

The lawfare strategy was developed at the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN Durban Conference, which branded Israel a “racist, apartheid state” guilty of “genocide” and “war crimes” and called for “the establishment of a war crimes tribunal” and other measures.

Lawfare involves making accusations of “war crimes” and other international legal violations in the hopes that these allegations can then be turned into some form of legal “judgment” which can be used to imprison Israeli officials and implement BDS. Almost always, these violations are based upon invented or distorted concepts in international law. Another key component is to erase Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians and to immorally support suicide bombings, missiles, shootings and other atrocities as “resistance.”

Shortly after the Durban Conference, NGOs operationalized their strategy by issuing “war crimes” reports that are then used to push for UN investigations, serve as the basis for universal jurisdiction lawsuits, underpin governmental lobbying campaigns for BDS, and promote cases at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Examining the Gaza War: Appearance vs. Reality

...The people of Gaza (together with those many Israelis still forced to live under terrorist rocket attacks) are indeed victims of regional violence. But their victimization was not caused by any outside enemy. On the contrary, Palestinian suffering remains the direct result of a criminal Hamas leadership. Why is Hamas putting its weapons in the middle of homes, schools, hospitals and mosques in the first place?

Louis René Beres..
Gatestone Institute..
19 August '14..

Now that the dust has begun to settle in Gaza after Israel's Operation Protective Edge, it is again easy to feel sorry for the beleaguered Palestinians. As everyone knows who looks at The New York Times and CNN, the lingering images are incontestably painful, and continue to look "asymmetrical" and "disproportionate."

How could Hamas have been the aggressor when so many more Arabs than Israelis were killed? Surely the side with greater civilian losses must always be in the right. How could it be otherwise?

The people of Gaza (together with those many Israelis still forced to live under terrorist rocket attacks) are indeed victims of regional violence. But their victimization was not caused by any outside enemy. On the contrary, Palestinian suffering remains the direct result of a criminal Hamas leadership. Why is Hamas putting its weapons in the middle of homes, schools, hospitals and mosques in the first place?

Moreover, this Palestinian leadership sits safely away from Gaza, either tucked away in Qatar or the comfortable parts of Europe. "Martyrdom" is always welcomed, as long as it is someone else's.

Contrary to carefully scripted outbursts from Hamas, Israel's defensive responses were never gratuitous or contrived. Unlike their adversaries, Israelis receive absolutely no joy from killing others. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and related terror groups operating from Gaza, on the contrary, always seem to take calculated steps to ensure that Israeli reprisals will kill or injure Palestinian noncombatants. By directing elderly women and young children to those areas in Gaza from which lethal rockets will intentionally be launched into Israeli homes, hospitals, and schools -- with the knowledge that the Israelis will have to return fire to the places from which the fire originated -- Palestinian leaders openly violate the most elementary restrictions of the laws of war. Under international law, holding civilians in front of one as a shield is specified as a crime.

Ironically, these criminals are now proposing to bring Israel's leaders before the International Criminal Court.

When journalists can’t tell the difference, it’s not only Israel that pays the price

...On the one hand, there is a terrorist group that keeps reaffirming the genocidal goals spelled out in its fascist charter; on the other hand, there is the prime minister of a western-style democracy – but who can tell the difference??? And if the journalists who report about the democracy trying to defend its citizens from relentless attacks by murderous jihadi terrorists can’t tell the difference, who can blame their audiences?

Petra Marquadt-Bigman..
The Warped Mirror/JPost..
16 August '14..

In recent weeks, a lot has been written about the problematic media coverage of the war between Hamas and Israel. Richard Landes mentions many of the relevant articles in a thorough overview published at The American Interest, where he focuses on “The Media’s Role in Hamas’ War Strategy” and argues that “Hamas shows full cognizance of the media’s importance.” As Landes rightly emphasizes, the terror group has even “issued detailed directions to Gazan ‘social media activists’” and it is hard to imagine that the local “fixers” on whom foreign journalists working in Gaza rely would feel free to ignore what Landes calls the “Hamas media protocols.”

The media coverage we have seen largely confirms that Hamas got what it wanted: lots of images and reports about the suffering of Gaza’s civilians; barely a sighting or a mention of Hamas fighters and their use of civilian neighborhoods – including UN facilities, hospitals and mosques – to launch rockets and conceal their weapons. Likewise, the media have largely ignored the hundreds of Hamas rockets that have fallen short and have obviously caused damage and casualties.

However, by now the Foreign Press Association has protested “the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.” But it seems not everyone agrees that this protest is justified: Ha’aretz has published a lengthy report that cites several journalists claiming that Hamas “didn’t censor” the foreign media reporting from Gaza. Interestingly, most of the journalists interviewed by Ha’aretz “asked to remain anonymous.”

The views expressed by one of these anonymous journalists are arguably particularly interesting, because they show that even without any interference from Hamas, some reporters may have been all too willing to deliver what Hamas wanted. Ha’aretz cites a “reporter with 30 years experience in hot spots worldwide” who indignantly claimed that “Israel wants reporters to write about the conflict as it conceived it, as a security problem framed by the IDF,” whereas journalists generally prefer to focus on the “humanitarian impact of conflict.”

It may well be true that this is the general preference of most journalists, though it seems that most journalists also prefer to make an exception for Israel: whenever Israel is forced to defend itself against the terror groups on its borders, the foreign media devote very little attention to the toll these campaigns take on Israeli civilians, preferring instead to show heavily armed Israeli soldiers and tanks. Indeed, all too often, the price Israeli society pays for combatting the ever present threat of heavily armed terror groups that resemble well equipped and organized armies is belittled in the media where the “if it bleeds, it leads”-rule combines with the quest for a mindlessly mechanistic “balance” to produce ruminations about a “disproportionate” casualty count that shows too few dead Jews to warrant much empathy. And as Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has so preposterously demonstrated, Israel’s enormous investments in defensive measures can even be presented as putting Hamas at a most unfair disadvantage.

But the veteran journalist cited by Ha’aretz made the perhaps most revealing statement when she declared: “I personally chose not to speak to Hamas mouthpieces because I hold Hamas propaganda in as much contempt as that of Netanyahu.”

Debates raging on social networks illustrate that many would be inclined to consider this a “balanced” statement. On the one hand, there is a terrorist group that keeps reaffirming the genocidal goals spelled out in its fascist charter; on the other hand, there is the prime minister of a western-style democracy – but who can tell the difference??? And if the journalists who report about the democracy trying to defend its citizens from relentless attacks by murderous jihadi terrorists can’t tell the difference, who can blame their audiences?

It seems that European anti-Zionists have their new poster boy

...Rather than the Israelis becoming modern day Nazis, it is Zanoli who has, sadly fallen under the influence of his relatives and gone over to the cause of Jew hatred championed by the rulers of Gaza and its Palestinian adherents. His past heroism doesn’t give him carte blanche to deny the right to self-determination and self-defense to the descendants of the survivors of the Shoah that is accorded every other people.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
18 August '14..

European anti-Zionists have their new poster boy. In 1943, Henk Zanoli helped save a Jewish boy from the Nazis in Holland, a feat for which he was later honored by the State of Israel as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations.” This past week he returned the medal he got because some of his relatives by marriage were killed in Gaza during the recent fighting. As such, he is the perfect witness for the prosecution against the Jewish state. But though the 91-year-old Zanoli still deserves our respect, he’s lost sight of the truth about the war of his youth as well as the one being waged now against the same Jewish people he once helped.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of Zanoli’s current position as he is grieving the loss of several relatives through marriage of his grand niece, a Dutch diplomat, who lives in Gaza with her Palestinian husband. Nor do his current actions diminish the importance of what he did 70 years ago. But the implicit comparison between his condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza and the Holocaust is as ill considered, as it is offensive.

Mr. Zanoli claims to have supported the creation of Israel after World War Two but the letter he sent to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial along with his returned medal made clear that he has withdrawn that backing and not just because of what happened to his grandniece’s in-laws. Nor is he, as many of Israel’s critics say they are doing, merely advocating the end of the “occupation” in the West Bank or even that of Gaza which he claims is also “occupied” even though every last soldier, settlement and individual was pulled out of there nine years ago. Instead, he says he opposes the existence a specifically Jewish state, even though Israel grants its Arab minorities full rights. As such, what he is doing is not so much a cri de coeur against oppression as an echo of Hamas’ genocidal program that is similarly aimed at Israel’s extinction.

His characterization of the treatment of Palestinians as “ethnic cleansing” during Israel’s War of Independence is also strangely out of tune for someone claiming to be acting in concert with his support of human rights. While the plight of Palestinian refugees has been terrible, he takes no notice of the fact that these people have been kept stateless specifically in order to perpetuate the war against Israel and the Jews. Nor does he take into account the fact that an equal number of Jews were expelled from Arab and Muslim countries during this period creating a population exchange that closely resembles what happened in much of Europe after World War Two. Does Mr. Zanoli also think the descendants of Germans who were expelled in far greater numbers from parts of their country that were subsequently annexed to Poland and other nations also have a right of return and of sovereignty over their former homes? Or does he think these rules only apply to people displaced by Jews?

More to the point, the obvious analogies to the war during which his heroism happened raises other more pointed questions about Zanoli’s scruples about Israeli actions that are not explored in the New York Times feature that gives him free rein to blast Zionism with no opposing voices heard.