Monday, 12 January 2009

Israel Matzav: Russia provoking war to raise oil prices?#links#links

Israel Matzav: Russia provoking war to raise oil prices?#links#links

Israel Matzav: Italian UNIFIL contingent finds plastic explosives near base#links#links

Israel Matzav: Italian UNIFIL contingent finds plastic explosives near base#links#links

Israel Matzav: You can take a Muslim out of Gaza but you can't take Gaza out of a Muslim#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: You can take a Muslim out of Gaza but you can't take Gaza out of a Muslim#links#links#links


The post-WWII international order is changing warfare. In many ways, this is good. Yet it's not unreservedly good. One institution that was certainly meant to be good but in reality is problematic is the internationally imposed ceasefire.

Wars have always been part of the human story, and I see no reason to expect this to change. In the past, wars were fought until one side won by destroying the ability of the other side to fight, or the other side sued for peace, or, rarely, a third side convinced the warring parties to desist. In all three scenarios, someone came away from the war with some achievement: the instigators with what they initially intended, or the defenders having proven to the instigators that they couldn't have what they wanted. I realize this is an oversimplification, but it's essentially true none-the-less. The British didn't want a French-dominated Europe at the turn of the 19th century, so they stopped it from happening. (Whether this was "good" or not, I can't say). The Northern states wanted to retain the Union, so they battled until the South agreed to stay put. The Reds wanted to control Russia and call it the Soviet Union, so they battled the Whites until Soviet domination was solid. And so on and on and on.

Countless millions of people lost their lives in these wars, and the suffering was immeasurable. Yet the clarity resulting from the end of hostilities wasn't always bad. Freed slaves were better off than before the war, no matter how you look at it; within the span of human memory the Union contributed to the defeat of the less nice side in the Great War, and at the very edge of living memory, some children who remembered Gettysburg lived to see VE-Day.

The combination of the United Nations Security Council and modern technology that can bring the horrors of war into faraway living rooms mean that many wars are no longer allowed to rage until one side wins. Not all wars, mind you: the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s were mostly resolved on the ground before the world got around to stopping them; the Russians in Georgia last summer stopped inflicting pain when they felt like it, not when anyone stopped them; and the wars of Africa go on, and on, and on.

Those African horrors demonstrate that the international mechanisms work only when there's a will to enforce them. The case of Israel's wars may hint that sometimes, the international determination to enforce ceasefires actively prolong the conflict, since the Arab side knows that Israel won't be allowed to do what would have been obvious throughout history: decisively win. As Tzipi Livni told Newsweek the other day:

Hamas's strategy is resistance and survival. As long as they survive, this is a victory. When they know the international community is putting pressure on Israel, they can hold out, waiting for Israel to be stopped. It is a pity … [But] I cannot tell you that this is the last operation. If they target us again, we will act again. Strongly.

None of us truly doubt that there will be additional rounds, sometime down the road. After all, what do our enemies stand to lose? Or more accurately, what do they stand to lose that would hurt them enough they won't take the risk?


Here's a link to a lecture given in May 2002 by Hanoch Marmari, at the time editor-in-chief of Haaretz, at an international conference of media types. It's a bit more self-congratulatory than warranted, but otherwise worth reading, even though it's almost seven years old. He enumerates five fundamental sins of the media reporting on the Mideast: Obsessiveness, prejudice, condescension, ignorance, and the fifth, which he adds at the end, naivete. Nor does he shy away from criticizing the media for their heavy-handed interventions in the events themselves:

One day, historians examining this period of crisis will have to consider the circular process by which the media were transformed from observers to participants. From covering the story to playing a major part in it, to stimulating and sometimes agitating the environment for their own media purposes. The media in this cruel Israeli-Palestinian conflict are like a very rich junkie, who parks his Mercedes on the high street of a slum. You can be sure that in no time at all, everyone will be out there, pushing a whole variety of merchandise.

The reason I'm citing him here, however, beyond the value of his comments, is because of the story with which he opened his talk, the story of one Abu Ali of Jenin who told a gullible European journalist the IDF had killed all nine of his children, even while all nine were still very much alive; the European newspaper which turned this into a two-page story somehow never got around to informing its readers that thankfully, the story actually wasn't true. In case you wonder if Abu Ali might at least have been sincere, though mistaken, Marmari makes it quite clear later on that this couldn't have been true: whoever was there and knew the facts, such as his one anti-Israeli reporter Amira Hass, knew fully well that there had been no massacre.

Which means Abu Ali lied. Me, I'd be superstitious to tell someone about the death of my children, but perhaps that's just me.


Those of you old enough to remember the turn of the century may recollect the persistent story, repeated endlessly as an article of faith, whereby the international blockade of Iraq throughout the 1990s had caused the death by starvation of half a million Iraqi children. That's 500,000 children, a large number by any standard.

Then, in 2003, the Americans invaded Iraq, and for a few months it was safe enough for Western journalists to wander around the country, reporting on the lack of WMD and how awful the Americans were. One story that didn't get told was the story of the parents of those half a million dead children. So far as I can remember, there was never a single interview with a single Iraqi parent who told about how their child had starved to death. Moreover, there were no pictures of Iraqi children on the verge of starvation. Nor any stories about the allies rushing large convoys of basic foodstuffs to a famished populace.

The entire story disappeared. I'll go out on a branch here and speculate that it was never true, and was tailored from full cloth by a combination of liars who invented it and malicious ignoramuses who gleefully disseminated it.

If anyone wishes to disprove me, I will of retract this allegation once it has been proven wrong.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 of course gave birth to a whole industry of unverified and often wrong numbers of casualties. Of course, unlike the previous case, when the Americans and British invaded Iraq in 2003 they set in motion a train of events in which many tens of thousands of Iraqis did die, most of them civilians, and most of them at the hands of their fellow Arabs. Yet Google enables you the opportunity of going back to the media reports of 2003 and 2004, where you'll see that the numbers of the purported dead were significantly higher than the numbers being cited in, say, the horrific year of 2006; an indication that once again some observers were not being careful with their numbers, peculiar as this may sound.

Compared to the true and false numbers bandied carelessly around for Iraq, the numbers of dead in Gaza in this campaign are paltry: not hundreds of thousands, but hundreds, period. Were the real number to be in the thousands, we'd be hearing about it; since the IDF itself says its troops have identified hundreds of fighters they have personally killed in battle, it's likely the total is more or less correct. That some of them, probably even a few hundred, really are non-combatants, most horrifically children, is true. Yesterday, according to the reports, the troops reported they had killed up to fifty armed Hamas fighters.

Yet that number deserves to be looked at again. The IDF and the armed wing of Hamas are engaged in fierce face-to-face combat in a densely built city. Hamas prepared for this battle for quite a while, it dug tunnels, stored explosives in homes, booby trapped schools, a zoo, and many residential buildings - and the number of civilian dead on a typical day of fighting is... Five? Ten? Twenty?

That's what the international tumult is about? Did I miss something?

taken from : Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


There were compelling reasons for European colonialism, created largely in the 19th century, and peaking in the early 20th. Most of them had to do with money: Smallish European countries exploited much larger tracts of territories elsewhere, taking out minerals, selling in their own industrial products, exploiting cheap labor where this made sense, and eventually recruiting large numbers of natives to fight in the European wars of the 20th century. Of course it was more complex, but I think that's a reasonable synopsis. The British, by the way, at least said they were bringing enlightened modernity to benighted primitives, so they had a moral justification; to an extent, this was demonstrably true. The rest of the European colonials don't seem much to have troubled themselves.

Whenever a post-colonial-guilt-ridden-hate-infused critic of Israel sets off on one of their rants about Israel's colonialism, it might be a good tactic to calm then down and ask them, quietly, to describe what precisely Israel's colonial goals are. Certainly not exploitation of Palestinian mineral resources, of which there are none? Selling Israeli produce? To the Palestinians? Huh? Exploiting cheap labor: For a while we were indeed doing this, and the level of Palestinian economic quality of life rose dramatically, but that was before the 1990s; nowadays Israelis employ very few Palestinians because of the security complications, and the sole losers are the Palestinians themselves; the Israelis have replaced them with Africans, Asians and East-Europeans. As for the idea of recruiting them for our wars, well....

Like the British, however, Israel did have the conceit of improving life for the Palestinians. In one case, for example, Israel refurbished the largest hospital in Gaza, and even built an entire second wing, including a large concrete basement.... Yup, this is going exactly where you thought it might be going:

Hamas leaders hiding in basement of Israel-built hospital in Gaza.

takem from : Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Chronicles I - 16:15-18: "Forever remember His covenant that he commanded forever; That He made with Abraham and swore to Isaac; and confirmed in a decree for Jacob, for Israel, as an eternal covenant; saying to You I will give the Land of Cannan as your alloted heritage"

taken from B'NAI ELIM (

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