The Day In Israel: Tues Sept 8th, 2009

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Never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity watch: A week after the first official meeting on economic peace between palestinian Minister for National Economy Bassem Khoury and Israeli Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom – designed to better the lives of palestinians – the former announced there will be no more meetings.

Khoury was the subject of much criticism following his meeting with Israeli Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, and as a result said he would not meet with the minister again until Israel complies with the Palestinian Authority’s demands, mainly those that were raised during the joint economic committee meeting.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:00PM: The IDF has opened an investigation into palestinian allegations that soldiers opened fire and killed two children who were waving a white flag during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year.

At the time, I analyzed a number of reports of the incident and concluded that something was fishy.

I’m reproducing the relevant part of my post below in the hope others will give it some thought.

The Sydney Morning Herald has published a propaganda piece about a palestinian family that claims an IDF soldier deliberately shot at the children and grandmother (accompanied by this photo of grandma, looking every bit like the starving concentration camp victim).

Here are the events as described in the SMH:

Souad Abed Rabbo was in her apartment on the edge of the Jabalya refugee camp near the Israeli border on January 7 when the call came from Israeli soldiers for everyone in the area to come outside.

Her apartment had been bombed, and there was an Israeli tank unit approaching the building.

We started coming outside of the apartment, and we were waving white flags to show that we were not fighters,” she said through a translator yesterday.

Among the first to exit the building were one of her sons, Khaled, and his wife and three daughters, Amal, 2, Sammer, 4, and Souad, 7.

Two soldiers were standing on either side of the tank outside the house, she said. Another of her sons, Husam, told the Herald that one of the soldiers was an officer.

“They were standing there just looking at us, and they were eating chips and one had chocolate and they were talking to each other,” Husam said.

“We were waiting for about 10 minutes for directions on where we should go.”

Husam and another son, Ahmed, said a third soldier rose from inside the tank, holding his rifle.

Their mother says she did not see the third soldier until he started shooting.

“He did it very slowly,” Ahmed said. “He took careful aim at the little girls, and shot Amal and Souad three times. Sammer started running back up the steps toward the house and he shot her also.”

Their grandmother started shouting, trying to push her son, Khaled, the father of the two shot girls, and his wife, back into the house. She was also shot, three times.

One bullet passed through her upper arm, another passed through her torso underneath her rib cage, and another was lodged in her abdomen.

Ahmed, Husam, and another son, Farj, recall that their mother and the three girls were dragged inside the house. “When the soldiers realised that two of the girls were dead, they said Khaled could take her to the hospital,”

Khaled starting shouting for help.

One neighbour who heard him was Ehab al-Asheikh, an ambulance driver, who told the Herald he went outside to see what had happened.

“I wanted to use the ambulance to drive Khaled to the hospital but I was prevented from doing so by the soldiers,” he said.

Khaled said the soldiers told him he could take his daughter to the hospital, and he set off on foot with Sammer in his arms. His wife walked with him, carrying one of the dead girls, and another brother, Ibrahim, carried the second dead girl.

Sammer was taken to Shifa hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Egypt and is now in intensive care in a hospital in Belgium and reportedly has severe spinal injuries.

The Israeli Defence Forces later destroyed the building, and all the other residential buildings in the neighbourhood.

Ehad al-Asheikh showed the Herald his ambulance which, was crushed almost beyond recognition underneath the rubble of his former home.

An Israeli military spokesman, Captain Benjamin Rutland, said the allegations were being treated seriously and being investigated.

“With regard to this particular incident, this is being investigated at the very highest levels of the IDF,” Captain Rutland said. “It is a very thorough investigation.”

Captain Rutland stressed that at no stage did the IDF target civilians.

Khaled Abed Rabbo showed pictures of the dead girls taken on his mobile phone. He also claims that he has video footage of the girls, taken after they had died, but this was not shown to the Herald.

Khaled Abed Rabbo is on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as a policeman. The family is associated with the Fatah movement of the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and is not believed to have any connections to Hamas.

He is demanding a full inquiry and wants the chance to present his own evidence.

“Why do they come after us?” Khaled asked the Herald. “We are not militants here. We are not Hamas. We are just ordinary people.

“Somebody did this to my daughters and I want the world to know what is going on here.”

And here’s the version of events as reported in the Independent:

Mr Abed Rabbo stood near the wreckage off his subsequently destroyed home on the eastern edge of the northern Gaza town of Jabalya yesterday and described how a tank had parked outside the building at 12.50pm on 7 January and ordered the family in Arabic through a megaphone to leave building. He said his 60-year-old mother had also been shot at as she left waving her white headscarf with her son, daughter in law and her three grandchildren.

“Two soldiers were on the tank eating chips, then one man came out of the tank with a rifle and started shooting the kids,” Mr Abed Rabbo, who receives a salary as a policeman from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said. The family say they think the weapon used by the soldier was an M16 and that the first to be shot was Amal. Mr Abed Rabbo said that Suad was then shot with what he claimed were 12 bullets, and then Samer.

The soldier who fired the rifle had what Mr Abed Rabbo thought were ringlets visible below his helmet, he said. The small minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the army are in a unit which did not take part in the Gaza offensive and only a very small number of settlers who also favour that hairstyle serve in other units.

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Khaled Abed Rabbo said that there had been a delay before the ambulance could reach the building because the road from the west had been made impassable by the churning of the tanks.

The soldiers had in the end let the family leave on foot, he said. He added that they walked two kilometres before finding a vehicle to take them to Kamal Adwan Hospital. He said: “I carried Suad, who was dead, my wife carried Amal and my brother Ibrahim carried Samer.”

Which raises the following questions:

  1. How come in the SMH version, the grandmother was shot after the children were shot, a while after she left the house waving white flags, but in the Independent version, she was shot as she was waving a white headscarf?
  2. How come in the SMH version, Amal and Souad were shot three times, but in the Independent version, Souad was shot 12 times?
  3. How come mention is made in the SMH version of Sammer being shot as she “started running back up the steps toward the house,” yet this rather relevant fact is omitted from the Independent version?
  4. According to the SMH, the grandmother was shot three times, with bullets passing through her upper arm and her torso underneath her rib cage, and another being lodged in her abdomen. If the IDF soldier was really aiming at the family, how come he was not able to kill her (like he allegedly did to the kids)? If anything, she was an easier target. Furthermore, how come in the photo, she looks like she has nothing more than an arm wound?
  5. How come in the SMH version, the soldiers dragged the family into the house, but in the Independent version, the soldiers let them alone?
  6. How come in the SMH version, there was no delay in finding an ambulance, since one of the neighbors was an ambulance driver, yet in the Independent version, there was a delay before an ambulance could reach the building “because the road from the west had been made impassable by the churning of the tanks”? And even then, the family only got to an ambulance after a 2 km walk?
  7. How come in the SMH version, the ambulance driver complained that he was prevented from getting to the hospital by IDF soldiers, resulting in the family walking there on foot, yet the Independent version makes no mention of this, and in fact makes it sound like the ambulance did make it to the hospital?
  8. How come in the Independent version, the father was able to see ringlets visible below the soldiers helmet, despite trying to avoid being hit by bullets? Furthermore, how is this even possible, given (as the Independent actually mentions) “the small minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the army are in a unit which did not take part in the Gaza offensive and only a very small number of settlers who also favour that hairstyle serve in other units”?

I also raised more questions in this post (7:33PM update).

8:15PM: Who said this in response to the Swedish blood libel?

“We have the right to question the reasons why Israel is keeping the bodies of martyrs and what secret they seek to preserve.”

“Is it that the bodies were mutilated? My answer is yes until proven otherwise. Is it that their bodies have been stolen? My answer is yes, until proven otherwise.”

The answer is Mohammad Barakeh.

Knesset member.

Which begs the question: why hasn’t he already been charged with treason?

7:46PM: This post on one of the forums seems to suggest that Garlasco knew his hobby could get him into trouble.

I remember you asking about using a psydonym before your book was published. Using your real name it really was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

I hope it doesn´t affect your career in anyway and your employers judge you for the man you are and not on the grounds of some political article on the internet.
You only have to look at the rest of that website to know whose behind it.

Skip

7:35PM: Here’s an insight into Garlasco’s Nazi memorabilia obsession: this PDF file hosted on his site.

6:55PM: Garlasco has responded on this Nazi memorabilia forum.

Thanks guys,

I would react but I don’t want to encourage them. Still, I doubt they read my book.

But Phil is right, this is more about where I work than anything else.
Kind Regards,
Marc

He’s also saying something similar here.

5:22PM: Fellow Nazi memorabilia collectors are getting their lederhausen in a bunch over Omri’s article on Marc Garlasco.

But their missing the point. Omri is not accusing Garlasco of being a Nazi. He’s just raising questions regarding Garlasco’s track record in bashing Israel.

4:48PM: Solomonia on HRW inspector Marc Garlasco’s Nazi collectible fetish:

Now, there’s nothing wrong with German WW2 memorabilia per se, nor with sporting the handle “Flak88″ on various collector forums, and he doesn’t appear to have hidden it at all. It’s just a hobby, right? (And more than a minor hobby…dude wrote a book.)
But was Human Rights Watch aware of this when they hired him? Did they do a moment’s due diligence on themselves…say, 1/100 the “investigating” they supposedly do on so many others?

And if they did know, didn’t it occur to anyone at HRW that it might cause appearance problems when this guy went and started to investigate Israeli actions? (Please don’t tell me, “Well how did they know he would be investigating Israelis?” Come on, HRW has a bit of an obsession in that direction.) Add in the fact that his credentials for having the position he holds are questionable in the first place, and the resulting statements and reports he’s been involved in have been repeatedly discredited…and you’ve got a formula for disaster.

Side note: Before you get too excited in your googling, there is no evidence that Garlasco is actually a Nazi. As Omri notes in a follow-up: No, The Stormfront.org Flak88 Guy Is Not Marc Garlasco.

This is about a guy with a serious thing for Nazi stuff issuing widely read reports on the actions of Jews defending themselves. It’s about judgment, propriety, qualifications…and Human Rights Watch.

3:35PM: Omri Ceren has posted a terrific (or should that be terrifying? ) piece on Human Right Watch investigator Marc Garlasco. Known for his overt, anti-Israel proclivities, there are strong indications that he may also have an unhealthy obsession with all things Nazi.

Which I’m sure you’ll agree makes for an enlightening combination.

marc garlascoThere are two Marc Garlascos on the Internet. One is a top human rights investigator who, having joined Human Rights Watch after several years with the Pentagon, has become known for his shrill attacks on Israel. The other is a Marc Garlasco who’s obsessed with the color and pageantry of Nazism, has published a detailed 430 page book on Nazi war paraphernalia, and participates in forums for Nazi souvenir collectors.

Both Marc Garlascos were born on September 4, 1970. Both have Ernst as their middle name. Both live in New York, NY. Both have a maternal grandfather who fought for the Nazis. I’ve put links and screenshots on all this after the jump, and you can click through for full-sized versions. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that both Marc Garlascos are the same person.

Bloggers and activists concerned about Israel have been baffled and frustrated by the first Garlasco almost since he joined HRW. On his public photography site he posts gratuitous Palestinian and Lebanese death porn in between galleries of cute Western-looking kids playing soccer (no link – keeping his kids out of it). He provides a seemingly never-ending stream of interviews to all kinds of outlets, where he spins tales about ostensible Israeli atrocities. The only problem is that many of these tales – per Soccer Dad and IsraPundit and Elder of Ziyon and NGO Monitor and CAMERA and LGF – are biased and inaccurate. That doesn’t stop Garlasco from putting them into the kind of HRW reports that make their way into international anti-Israel condemnations and academic anti-Israel dissertations.

Then there’s the second Marc Garlasco, who I caught wind of from Elder of Ziyon. Elder had just finished tearing apart another one of HRW Garlasco’s anti-Israel reports when he found the Amazon profile of collector Garlasco. This Garlasco’s Amazon book reviews show a nearly obsessive knowledge of Nazi-era Luftwaffe Flak and Army Flak. A little more searching revealed that he’s written a gigantic book on the subject that retails for over $100. He regularly participates in forums about Nazi medals under the handle Flak 88, where he posts galleries of his prizes and admires what others have managed to collect. On those forums he uses the email [email protected], which points to a family genealogy site he set up in 2002.

—-

So we have to assume he’s not leading a double life and that his employers know about his extracurriculars. If so we can also safely assume they’ve investigated the numerous demonstrable errors in his anti-Israel writeups. They presumably concluded that his apologism for antisemitic genocidal Hamas lunatics is unrelated to his obsession with antisemitic genocidal Nazi lunatics. That would be an interesting to hear.

If Garlasco has been less than forthright about what he does in his off-time – and if HRW hasn’t taken an hour to Google him and figure it out for themselves – that would be interesting in a different way.

Either way, someone needs to explain why he keeps getting sent to the Middle East to write debunked report after debunked report, lest people suspect that he has an unseemly motive for his consistently anti-Israel errors.

Read the whole thing.

1:12PM: The palestinian Ma’an News reports:

A 13-year-old boy from the West Bank city of Nablus lost a finger while playing with fireworks on Sunday evening.

Nablus police said that the teen was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The police urged the public not to allow children to handle fireworks.

Because G-d forbid the children handle dangerous things and lose appendages.

It makes detonating a bomb belt or launching a rocket that much more difficult.

1:08PM: While their brethren in Gaza claim to be starving, palestinians in Hebron have destroyed perfectly good food, just to make a political point.

Palestinian customs agents destroyed 45 tons on Monday of what they said were spoiled foodstuffs and products from Israeli settlements which are banned in the Palestinian market.

According to officials, the expired products included chocolates, dates, jams, juices, coffee. Most of these products were found to have been labeled with false expiration dates.

The products which were determined to have come from Israeli settlements were mineral waters, pickles, fireworks, biscuits, and toys.

The governor of Hebron Hussein Al-Araj attended the destruction of the products, along with representatives of the ministries of health, economy, Preventive Security, Civil Defense, police, liaison office, Military Intelligence Service, Political Guidance, and civic society institutions.

6:15AM: Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN writes about the UN’s updated website:

The UN has just rolled out a new overhauled website. Presumably, the idea was to make it clearer what the UN does and to make it easier to access the goings-on. Insofar as UN demonization of Israel and UN-driven antisemitism are central pillars of its activities, the new site does an admirable job. In only five easy steps, the user is presented with ten categories for all meeting summaries and press releases of the entire General Assembly since they went online in 1995. One such category is “Palestinian Rights.” All the other choices list nothing but generalities.

The UN site is accessed by educational institutions, advocates, parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world in six languages. Sooner or later, almost every schoolchild in America is bound to log on to www.un.org. The American taxpayer pays 22% of the cost of building and maintaining the UN website (along with all other regular budget costs). And in only five steps your child too can listen to Iranian President Ahmadinejad deny the Holocaust and talk about those Zionists’ “ugly faces.” (These were his words at the UN Durban II “anti-racism” conference in April, which the UN has chosen to archive and place permanently on its website.)

Here are the directions to the world of UN-driven hatred for the Jewish people:

STEP 1: Go to www.un.org

STEP 2: Click “welcome” and you are greeted with “United Nations – It’s your world!” [Well, with a few exceptions]

STEP 3: Here we are at the UN English-language home page, headlined “United Nations: We the peoples.A stronger UN for a better world.” [Depending on who you are and where you live, mind you] Now click on “Stories from the UN News Center.”

STEP 4: Click on “What, when at the UN.”

STEP 5: And here (http://www.un.org/apps/news/html/whatwhen.html) we are at the gateway to everything happening at the UN. Under “At a Glance: Recent Action,” you can “browse meeting summaries & press releases” by just choosing “select body and date.” What body and date, you ask? A handy drop-down menu makes it very easy to understand the programs and priorities for anyone who isn’t quite sure what the UN does. There are ten choices: “All venues, General Assembly President, 1st Committee (Disarmament), 2nd Committee (Economic & Social), 3rd Committee (Social, Humanitarian), 4th Committee (Special Political), 5th Committee (Administrative & Budgetary), 6th Committee (Legal), Palestinian Rights, and Committee on Information.”

Of course, one thing that can be said in favor of the latest UN outrage is that it makes the double-standards applied to Israel even more obvious. The UN undoubtedly needed to expand the index because the mammoth number of resolutions, documents, press releases, meetings and conferences devoted to condemning Israel had become so large that the hatemongers needed assistance organizing all their Israel-bashing campaign material.

The amount of UN webspace dedicated only to Palestinian claims – including pre-Israel maps – is huge. There is the “United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine” or UNISPAL, and the anti-Israel non-governmental organization networking scheme called the “NGO network on the Question of Palestine.” Added to that is the constant material churned out by the only UN Division focused on a single people – the UN Division on Palestinian Rights. And then there is the UN Human Rights Council, which President Obama has now embraced. It has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN states combined. Along with fellow human rights enthusiasts China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, American representatives will be taking their place as new Council members in just one week time.

Way back in the pre-internet days of 1945, the UN Charter proclaimed the “equality of nations large and small.” Modernity for the UN has brought an end to such lofty commitments.

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About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks