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The Day in Israel: Wed Mar 25th, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day

US President Barack Obama does not think peacemaking will be easier with the new Israeli government.

When asked by reporters at his second White House news conference whether a right-wing government led by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign minister-designate Avigdor Lieberman would make peacemaking more difficult, Obamas responded:

“It’s not easier than it was but I think that it’s just as necessary. We don’t know yet how the Israeli government will look like and the future leadership of the Palestinians,” he said.

Funny, because that’s how I feel about peacemaking with the new US administration. At least the part about things not being easier.

We are in for one hell of a ride. Emphasis on hell.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

8:10PM: The Jerusalem Post reports:

Allegations that IDF soldiers deliberately shot and killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead have been found to be categorically untrue by official army investigations, an IDF source told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the investigations have not yet been officially released to the public. He stressed, however that the investigations were close to completion.

The investigations examined claims made by graduates of the Rabin Pre-military Academy during a conference held last month, which were later written up and printed in an academy pamphlet.

Sections of the Israeli media then seized on the claims, and the allegations went on to make headlines around the world.

During the conference, one soldier claimed a marksman opened fire on a mother and two of her children, in full knowledge that they were civilians, after a squadron commander told them to walk into a no-entry zone.

“All of the soldiers who were involved in the conference were questioned – not as a punishment – but in order to understand whether they had witnessed these things. From all of the testimonies we collected, we can safely conclude that the soldiers who made the claims did not witness the events they describe,” the source said.

“All of it was based on rumors. In the incident of the alleged shooting of the mother and her children, what really happened was that a marksman fired a warning shot to let them know that they were entering a no-entry zone. The shot was not even fired in their general direction,” the source said.

“The marksman’s commander ran up the stairs of a Palestinian home, got up on the roof, and asked the marksman why he shot the civilians. The marksman said he did not fire on the civilians. But the soldiers on the first floor of that house heard the commander’s question being shouted. And from that point, the rumor began to spread,” the source added.

“We can say with absolute certainty that the marksman did not fire on the woman and her children. Later, the company commander spoke with the marksman and his commander. We know with certainty that this incident never took place,” he said.

The source said that a second allegation of killing of civilians was also false, though he could not provide further details at this stage.

“We investigate every allegation in order to see whether these incidents took place, and to draw conclusions if necessary,” the source stressed.

“Unfortunately, due to competition, sections of the press picked up this story and ran with it. It is a shame the media promoted this sort of spin all over the world,” he added. It is unlikely the damage to Israel’s image from the allegations can be repaired, irrespective of the results of the investigation, he noted.

“It is a shame that the media allowed Palestinian manipulations to spread,” he said.

“Look at the allegation that we killed 48 civilians in a UN school in Gaza. In reality, seven people were killed, and four to five of them were terrorists. The UN apologized, but the damage is done,” the source said.

6:58PM: Curious slideshow-photo combination of the day:

AFP

6:43PM: Prime Minister Designate Binyamin Netanyahu said he will negotiate with the PA for peace. Which is interesting – and disturbing – considering his views on the PA. From the end of 2007:

Opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel has no partner for a real peace with the Palestinians, dismissing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s diplomatic efforts as “making peace with a virtual partner, in a virtual reality.”

“We have a partner for words, but not for deeds, certainly not for fighting terrorism, and, to my regret, no partner for a real peace,” the Likud leader told Israel Radio.

According to Netanyahu, there is no basis for Olmert’s statements that Israel has a peacemaking partner in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and that Abbas is committed to curbing terrorists in his midst.

“Not only are they not fighting Hamas, Abu Mazen [Abbas] is incapable even of taking control of Fatah, his own people, who tried to assassinate the prime minister of Israel a few months ago.”

6:10AM: The Butler did it, with a computer, in the offices of the Independent: More shoddy journalism with this statement from an article on Iran in the UK’s Independent from Monday:

Average Iranians, as opposed to their leaders, are more drawn to American culture than any other people in the Middle East.

I am guessing Ms Butler has never been to Israel.

(hat tip: Melvyn)

6:02AM: Professor Barry Rubin tackles the media’s treatment of allegations of immoral IDF conduct during Operation Cast Lead.

The Blood Libel Continues but Isn’t Very Well Done

The blood libel against Israel continues to expand. Yet there is something very curious about it. The project is being conducted with such vague and shoddiness it makes me more and more suspicious of how little they have.

In fact, this kind of work would flunk a journalism school course. Consider:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/gaza-war-crimes-investigation.

This is an article on a report. Who is publishing the report, who wrote it, doesn’t say. Examples? One of a teenage boy used as a human shield by Israeli troops allegedly. (You think they’d have some shame and not use precisely the thing Hamas did with thousands and then demonize Israel with one case.)

But while at least a date is given, no documentation is cited. The name of the boy isn’t given. It never says whether there were witnesses or who they were.

In contradiction to the most basic journalistic practice, a woman is cited extensively but not identified–it is hinted she is a UN human rights expert but it doesn’t say what agency she works for. Her sole qualification? A five-day visit to Israel and Gaza.

I suspect that if we were to see this report it would be the usual junk. In other words, Palestinians mostly Hamas sympathizers doing Pallywood. What strikes me though is if the Guardian wants to push this why it isn’t more credible by giving several examples and making them sound firmly proven. (I guess they don’t have to as they can make up anything.)

It sounds like the reporter didn’t see the report. Who are these human rights experts mentioned? It doesn’t even say who is publishing or compiled the report. .

As I’ve said before, it is amazing how much is being built on how little, how shoddy it is and how they are getting away with it. If this debate was at all fair they would be held up to ridicule but obviously the goal is to shock people into thinking Israel is monstrous by repeating all the adjectives.

But I really find this article shocking not because it shows anything against Israel but because it is just so flimsy.

As I mentioned earlier in a note but I will be more specific now, Canada’s largest -circulation newspaper, the Toronto Star, turned down an op-ed from me because they said the story wasn’t much covered there. In fact, their correspondent (who remember was in Jerusalem and not in Gaza) wrote a lurid piece of advocacy journalism even accusing Israel of using white phosphorus to burn people up (even the UN has ridiculed that notion).

There can be no doubt that we are facing the intellectual/media equivalent of a pogrom in which intoxicated people work themselves into a frenzy, pass wild rumors, and then attack the Jews confident that they will suffer no prosecution by the authorities.

5:55AM: A day after we heard the response of Israel Defense Forces Chief Gabi Ashkenazi to soldier testimonies alleging IDF soldiers harmed palestinian civilians in cold blood during Operation Cast Lead,  Southern Command Chief Brig.-Gen. Yoav Galant has now weighed in on the subject.

Southern Command Chief Brig.-Gen. Yoav Galant commented for the first time Tuesday on the IDF’s recent military operation in the Gaza Strip  and the ethical dilemmas that accompanied it.

“I’m proud that we have such a moral army, which respects international law,” Galant said during an event in honor of the Medical Corps.

Galant spoke of the extensive preparations carried out ahead of the operation, and of Hamas’ attempts to involve civilians in the fighting. “The Palestinian gunman held his arms cache in his home, came out to fight and went back to the house believing that we will not target him there,” he claimed.

“All in all, 800 terrorists and 300 civilians we did not want to hurt had been killed in the operation. This ratio, of almost a quarter uninvolved (victims) is an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of campaigns of this nature,” he added.

Galant did not directly address recent testimonies by soldiers who claimed they were ordered to target civilians, but said: “The soldiers were faced with tough moral dilemmas, and at the same time the command was required to exercise moral balance, when every mistake could lead either to the failure of the mission or to the killing of civilians.

“Some 300 houses in Gaza were abandoned after we alerted them by phone on imminent shooting. Only the residents of one house chose to stay put.”

According to the brig.-gen. he was currently in the process of conducting inquiries of all the units that participated in the operation, “And the results give the sense of a moral, disciplined army.”

Meanwhile, here is a picture of Yoav Galant:

Galant

And you may recall my post on Israeli Navy Commander Adm. Eliezer Marom.

I’m definitely more inclined to believe the lost tribes of Israel ended up in Asia.

5:40AM: Evil flashback: Deceased dictator Idi Amin talks about his betrayal of Israel.

His laughing when Hitler is mentioned is particularly chilling.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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