The Day In Israel: Mon Sept 7th, 2009

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The Arab League and Hamas both said that Arabs should not normalize ties with Israel as long as we don’t implement a ” settlement freeze.”

“It is impossible to speak of normalization when Israel rejects any significant measure,” Arab League chief Amr Moussa said at a joint news conference in Cairo with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

“Israel persists in its intransigent position and rejects every significant measure” concerning a freeze in settlement constructions, he said.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is the first time the Arabs have spoken about a “settlement freeze,” and it certainly wasn’t included in any of the no’s of the the Khartoum Resolution. I also didn’t quite catch it in the Hamas charter.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

9:50PM: Biased caption of the day:

Hebron Ceremony - AP

Israelis soldiers stand in formation in front of a torch during a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the 1929 riots in the West bank city of Hebron, Monday, Sept. 7, 2009. Jews lived and worshipped in Hebron for centuries but fled in 1929 after the city’s Arabs, angered by the increased Zionist presence in British-controlled Palestine, killed 67 Jews. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Well done AP, on trying to explain away the massacre of 67 Jews at the hands of Arab mobs, by portraying the Jews as occupiers. Reading this caption, it seems one is supposed to almost feel the Arab frustration.

If you want to know what really happened that fateful day 80 years ago, see here and here.

9:10PM: NGO Monitor has released “the first systematic study” on Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) activities in the Middle East over the past several years.

Publication coincides with the anticipated publication of the Goldstone committee’s Gaza report, and UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay’s threat of  International Criminal Court (ICC) action. The Goldstone process closely echoes HRW’s agenda and faulty methodology, which are examined in NGO Monitor’s report.

NGO Monitor’s report of HRW’s Middle East activities from 2001 to 2009, with over 80 pages of case studies and analyses of HRW’s publications related to Israel, includes:

  • Profiles of HRW’s Middle East division staff, led by ideologues with a history of pro-Palestinian activism, rather than human rights experts.  The division is headed by Sarah Leah Whitson (who actively supported the “Caterpillar” Israel boycott campaign, and led the HRW fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia). Similarly, deputy director Joe Stork, spent 20 years as a founder and editor of the radical anti-Zionist Middle East Report (MERIP), including participation in a “Zionism and Racism” conference in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, before joining HRW. Other in-depth profiles analyze the professional qualifications and biases of Executive Director Kenneth Roth, Reed Brody, Darryl Li, Nadia Barhoum and Lucy Mair.
  • Methodological failures: HRW’s publications related to Israel, including the 2002 Jenin reports, the 2006 Lebanon war, and the flood of publications on Gaza, rely largely on claims from unreliable eyewitnesses, and local NGOs with limited or no credibility.  These reports consistently confuse speculation with fact, distort international law and omit evidence that does not support the predetermined conclusions. (In many cases, HRW ignored videos showing Hamas and Hezbollah use of human shields.) These practices systematically violate the NGO fact-finding guidelines of the International Bar Association.
  • Comparative data showing the disproportionate emphasis on Israel:  This highlights HRW bias, and also diverts resources that should be focused on the oppressive regimes and absence of basic freedoms in other Middle East countries. Analysis of 2008 publications using a weighted quantitative methodology again shows HRW focused more attention on Israel than on Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and others.
  • HRW reports on Israel are focused on very narrow and artificial issues that strip the context of the conflict, and indict Israel from the beginning. This is demonstrated in HRW post-Gaza reports on white phosphorous, drones, and white flags, all based on unsupported Palestinian claims and speculation, while using terms like “war crimes” repeatedly.

These major flaws in HRW’s focus on Israel are also reflected in the activities of the Goldstone fact-finding mission on Gaza. Although Goldstone resigned as a Human Rights Watch board member after NGO Monitor noted a conflict of interest, his statements have strongly echoed and defended HRW’s bias, particularly in relation to the 2006 Lebanon War and over Gaza.

In parallel, HRW officials such as Kenneth Roth, have staunchly supported Goldstone, attacked the investigation’s critics, called for broad support of the investigation and reproached President Obama for neglecting to mention the commission in his Cairo address.

NGO Monitor’s President Prof Gerald Steinberg said “As shown by NGO Monitor’s unique in-depth analysis, HRW repeatedly applies unprofessional methodology in support of an anti-Israel bias.  Human rights values and research standards have been replaced by ideology. The evidence shows that the Middle East division of this powerful organization needs a full and systemic overhaul, to recover its moral foundation and relevance in promoting human rights, particularly in repressive regimes.

Furthermore, the UN human rights structure and the NGO community work in close coordination, and are mutually reinforcing.  Goldstone’s strong identification with Human Rights Watch forms the political foundation for his biased inquiry, while Pillay’s statement pushes the process further towards implementing HRW’s agenda”.

The study is available here.

Meanwhile, one-time Israellycool contributor Elder of Ziyon analyzes the pattern of bias in HRW’s “Precisely Wrong” report.

8:12PM: Palestine Today reports (auto-translated):

Gaza: Palestinian doctor out a pencil from the top baby rare, marathon surgery

Enable the surgeon nerves in the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, a doctor determined Kahil and his team of its doctors, anesthesia technicians, and nurses from a rare surgery in the infant Bakr Ghazal year-old son.

The baby deer was severely injured due to head into a pencil in the head, resulting in a deterioration in the degree of awareness and expand in the right eye pupil admitted to the intensive care unit and underwent the process successful.

This is disturbing all round: the idea of having a pencil lodged in your head, the quality of the auto-translation, and the picture accompanying the report:

pencil baby

That’s some one-year old.

7:20PM: Roseanne Barr continues to demonstrate the unfunny side of mental illness:

Did someone neglect to tell Madonna

that Netanyahu is a fascist and a war criminal, and that lighting shabbat candles with him would turn the stomachs of all jews who are interested in peace in israel and palestine??!!!!

Did someone neglect to tell Barr that she doesn’t know the first thing about what turns people stomachs, because if she did she wouldn’t be subjecting people to her offensiveness?

5:08PM: Separated at Birth? IAEA (potato) head Mohamed ElBaradei = fail

iaea dunce


3:50PM: Quote of the day:

“Netanyahu’s policies are the policies of a small-time politician…The decision isn’t on the question of [settlement] construction. The decision is whether or not there will be two states here for two peoples, things that Kadima has already declared its support for..It’s not just that he doesn’t make fateful decisions, he doesn’t want to make them. He makes do with speeches and photo-ops.”

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who clearly hates photo-ops.

12:06PM: Jane Fonda responds to claims she supports the destruction of Israel.

So– I wake up this morning to a barrage of emails giving me a link to a web posting that has been widely picked up. It says that Rabbi Hier at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (he and I were friends—I thought) claims I support the destruction of Israel because I signed (along with many other artists, historians, including eight Israelis, mostly filmmakers) a petition protesting the Toronto International Film Festival’s decision to feature a celebratory “spotlight” on Tel Aviv. We understand that by doing this the festival has become, whether knowingly or not,  a participant in a cynical PR campaign to improve Israel’s image, make her appear less war-like. The Israeli Consul General said a year ago that Toronto would be the launch site of an extensive “Brand Israel” campaign. Artists and others of us who love Israel do not want art to be used to whitewash the tragedies committed against Palestinians, most recently in last winter’s terrible war in Gaza (1400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, many more wounded, and there are documented human rights violations) and the ongoing blockade of Gaza that is deepening a serious humanitarian crisis, wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent people, and preventing reconstruction in the aftermath of the attack.
The letter we signed did not —repeat: DID NOT–call for a boycott of any part of the Toronto Film Festival. In fact, many of the people who signed the letter are showing films there and many of the Israeli filmmakers that go to the festival show films critical of Israel. We protest the use of Tel Aviv to rebrand Israel. We are standing up for integrity of art, not censoring anyone. The letter certainly did not call for the destruction of Israel or call into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv as a city. But In the year when Gaza happened there shouldn’t be a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv.

I have been to Israel many times. The first was in the early 1980s and it was love at first sight…for the country and for its people. I stayed in a Kibbutz with the great Israeli novelist, Amos Oz, and his family. I raised money for a senior center in Haifa, for a girl’s shelter in Jerusalem. I have spoken at the Hebrew University. I traveled into Lebanon with the Israeli army in 1981. I went deep into Russia in the  80s to secretly meet with Soviet Refusenik, Ida Nudel, after which I a national speaking tour in the U. S. to build support for letting Ida go to Israel where she now lives. In other words, I have been intimately involved with Israel over 3 decades. On almost every visit I also went into the West Bank, met with Palestinian artists, visited Palestinian refugee camps, drove through the Israeli settlements that encroach increasingly into Palestinian territory. I have seen suffering on both sides. It is out of love for Israel and all that it promised to be that I protest the use of art (which is meant to search for truth) in this branding campaign. The greatest “re-branding” of Israel would be to celebrate that country’s robust peace movement by allowing aid to be delivered to Gaza and stopping expansion of the settlements. That’s the way to show Israel’s commitment to peace, not a PR campaign. There will be no two-state solution unless this happens.

My response to Ms Fonda.

  1. If Israel appears “war-like”, it is because she has constantly been defending herself since her inception in 1948. You are old enough to remember what happened in 1967, including the Arab statements threatening Israel with annihilation. But in case you were too busy protesting the Vietnam War at the time, I suggest you pick up any reputable history book and read for yourself. You may also learn that the Arabs attacked Israel on the eve of her independence, after having rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which would have seen the two-state solution you claim to support.
  2. You stated as fact that 1400 Palestinians were killed in Operation Cast Lead, and these were “mostly civilians.” Where did you get this information? According to an IDF investigation, 1,166 palestinians were killed, with 709 belonging to terrorist organizations. And even if you are not willing to accept these figures, do you not accept the fact that Hamas terrorists were deliberately operating out of civilian areas?
  3. You mention visiting palestinian refugee camps. Have you even questioned why these camps still exist? Why is it that Israel has absorbed Jewish people from all around the world,  yet the Arab world does not take in the palestinians for which they claim to care so much?
  4. If “expansion of the settlements” is really the big issue, why did the Arab states attack Israel prior to the 1967 war, in which Israel captured these lands? Why was the PLO formed in 1964, three years earlier? Have you ever read the Hamas charter? The issue is, and has always been, the Arab refusal to accept Israel’s very existence.
  5. Why is it that you question Israel’s commitment to peace, and not the palestinians, despite the fact the latter have met Israeli peace overtures with terrorism? Why do you question Israel’s commitment to peace and not the palestinians after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was met by palestinian rocket fire into Israeli population centers?

10:06AM: Over 73 aid trucks and 440,000 liters of fuel and gas are scheduled to cross into Gaza today.

We still haven’t quite mastered that whole genocide thing.

6:08AM: The leader of Gaza’s al Qaeda-inspired palestinian terrorist group Jaljalat revealed his men recently tried to assassinate former Jimmy Carter and Tony Blair.


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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