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post #591 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 07:14 PM
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No, it's only allowed to offer cover for troops not for use as a DIRECT offensive weapon.
My understanding is that it is not outlawed as an offensive weapon against combatants.

Anyway who said that Israel was using it offensively?
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post #592 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 07:16 PM
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Tuwa tehki tunsi?
Yes, but this is old ground if you recall our previous exchanges.
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post #593 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-13-2009, 07:35 PM
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No, it's only allowed to offer cover for troops not for use as a DIRECT offensive weapon.
US forces used white phosphorus munitions against Iraqis in Faluja, Iraq. Many innocent civilians were killed. There were reports of people's skin peeling off their bodies. The horror of Dresden on a smaller scale.
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post #594 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 10:12 PM
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Is Israel Losing the Media War in Gaza?

Is Israel Losing the Media War in Gaza?
Wed Jan 14, 1:55 pm ET

The arrival of Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. Joe the Plumber, at the Israeli border town of Sderot on Sunday caused a minor sensation among the members of the foreign press who were camped out there. Wurzelbacher, who got his first 15 minutes of fame as a prop for John McCain during last year's U.S. election campaign, has swapped his plunger for a reporter's notebook on a mission to cover the Gaza war for the conservative website Pajamas TV. Unable to see much of the fighting himself, Wurzelbacher - who during the election campaign warned that a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for the destruction of Israel - picked a fight of his own. Turning on his new colleagues in the foreign press corps, he groused, "You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be patriotic, protect your family and children, not report like you have been doing for the past two weeks since this war has started." His complaint, it seemed, was that he was seeing too many reports of civilian casualties inside Gaza.

But the reality is that Western reporters have done little reporting from the front lines of this latest phase of the world's most reported conflict. Barred by Israel from entering Gaza even before the firing started, most foreign reporters can only get near the war zone by chasing down the occasional rocket sent by Hamas into Israel. Still, the press has once again found itself caught in a different kind of cross fire: the propaganda battle, across all media platforms, between Israel and Hamas (and the supporters of each) for international sympathy. And the reason Joe the Plumber is angry is that, despite (and perhaps also because of) Israel's overwhelming military superiority, the Jewish state is losing on the propaganda front. (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

The Israeli government's media operations are the most sophisticated in the region, and its extensively planned hasbara campaign of public advocacy swung into high gear almost as soon as the current offensive began. Israel and its advocates are stressing a broad theme to frame the conflict - rocket fire from Gaza is an existential threat from which Israel has a right to defend itself, they argue - and they are seeking to limit reporting on civilian suffering in Gaza by challenging how much time or space media outlets devote to such images and by emphasizing the great care being taken by Israeli soldiers to avoid hurting the civilians behind whom Israel's enemies are hiding.

Meanwhile, Israeli politicians and pundits are constantly on the air painting Hamas as an implacable, genocidal foe. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fox News, "For us to be asked to have a cease-fire with Hamas is like asking you to have a cease-fire with al-Qaeda" - despite the fact that Israel and Hamas had, in fact, agreed via Egypt to a six-month cease-fire just last June. And Israeli military spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovitch is constantly reassuring TV audiences worldwide that Israeli troops are going the extra mile to avoid collateral damage in Gaza. However, some Israeli officers speak more bluntly when their audience is domestic. ("We are very violent," the commander of the Israeli army's Élite combat engineering unit, Yahalom, told the Israeli press. "We do not balk at any means to protect the lives of our soldiers.") When Israeli forces shelled a United Nations school that left more than 40 dead, the Israeli military initially did its best to back its claim (denied by local U.N. officials) that the school was being used by militants to fire at Israeli forces by releasing video footage from 2007 showing militants fighting from the compound.

Hamas' propaganda efforts are cruder and rely on the civilian casualties inflicted by the Israelis to win international sympathy. Hamas fighters have shed their uniforms and blended into the civilian population, hiding weapons and communications systems in houses and mosques. That may have contributed to a death toll so lopsided that it speaks louder than any Israeli press officer - and weakens Hamas' political rival, the moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel's decision to keep the Western press out of Gaza may also have backfired, because it's given a monopoly of coverage to the more inflammatory reporting of Arab satellite television stations such as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiyya, which maintain bureaus in Gaza. And while there are many excellent Palestinian journalists working for the Western press in Gaza, there have been some examples of doctored photographs and suspicious-looking videos showing civilian suffering. Conservative blogs have singled out one video of doctors trying to resuscitate the brother of the CNN cameraman actually shooting the video, and suggested that it was really a re-enactment.

While media wars are par for the course when Israel and the Palestinians clash, this time they seem to be following the traditional media's migration to the Internet. The Israeli military spokesman's office has its own YouTube channel (it has recorded more than 1.5 million views), while Hamas is trying to counter with a website displaying its videos and images. Bloggers have joked that this is the first war to be covered by Twitter - the Israeli Foreign Ministry has in fact been conducting public debates on the social-messaging service - while hackers have been infiltrating Israeli websites and leaving anti-Israel slogans.

The more limited role of traditional media in covering this war hasn't protected it from criticism by Israelis. The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday published an article alleging world media bias against the Israeli operation in Gaza and accusing TIME magazine of leading the charge with its cover story this week.

Ultimately, of course, the perception of Israel's military campaign will be determined by events on the ground. Even then, images will play a vital role, which is why the fighters of both sides are well aware of the need to produce what they hope will be the defining picture or video clip of the war. For Israel, that might mean images of a recognizable Hamas leader killed or captured, while for Hamas, photographs of a burning tank or captured Israeli soldier would be a great prize.

As much as each side seeks to spin the war as advancing their overall vision, Israel has yet to articulate a clear, workable exit plan that will achieve the war's objectives without reoccupying Gaza. Meanwhile, Hamas can stack civilian bodies like cordwood for the cameras and proclaim the virtues of its "steadfast resistance," but it has offered the Palestinians no explanation of how this fight will advance their national goals. To many a foreign journalist, then, this war conjures an image with which Joe the Plumber will be familiar: the proverbial pig whose nature can't be disguised by any amount of lipstick.

- With reporting by Jamil Hamad / Jerusalem
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post #595 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-14-2009, 10:24 PM
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Significant damage is being done to Israel's image regarding this fiasco.
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post #596 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 12:30 AM
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OPINION: Who will save Israel from itself?

UPDATED ON:
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
10:20 Mecca time, 07:20 GMT

OPINION: WAR ON GAZA
Who will save Israel from itself?
By Mark LeVine

The Israeli government's justifications for the war are being scrutinised [GALLO/GETTY]

One by one the justifications given by Israel for its latest war in Gaza are unravelling.

The argument that this is a purely defensive war, launched only after Hamas broke a six-month ceasefire has been challenged, not just by observers in the know such as Jimmy Carter, the former US president who helped facilitate the truce, but by centre-right Israeli intelligence think tanks.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, whose December 31 report titled "Six Months of the Lull Arrangement Intelligence Report," confirmed that the June 19 truce was only "sporadically violated, and then not by Hamas but instead by ... "rogue terrorist organisations".

Instead, "the escalation and erosion of the lull arrangement" occurred after Israel killed six Hamas members on November 4 without provocation and then placed the entire Strip under an even more intensive siege the next day.

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According to a joint Tel Aviv University-European University study, this fits a larger pattern in which Israeli violence has been responsible for ending 79 per cent of all lulls in violence since the outbreak of the second intifada, compared with only 8 per cent for Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

Indeed, the Israeli foreign ministry seems to realise that this argument is losing credibility.

During a conference call with half a dozen pro-Israel professors on Thursday, Asaf Shariv, the Consul General of Israel in New York, focused more on the importance of destroying the intricate tunnel system connecting Gaza to the Sinai.

He claimed that such tunnels were "as big as the Holland and Lincoln tunnels," and offered as proof the "fact" that lions and monkeys had been smuggled through them to a zoo in Gaza. In reality, the lions were two small cubs that were drugged, thrown in sacks, and dragged through a tunnel on their way to a private zoo.

Israel's self-image

The claim that Hamas will never accept the existence of Israel has proved equally misinformed, as Hamas leaders explicitly announce their intention to do just that in the pages of the Los Angeles Times or to any international leader or journalist who will meet with them.

With each new family, 10, 20 and 30 strong, buried under the rubble of a building in Gaza, the claim that the Israeli forces have gone out of their way to diminish civilian casualties - long a centre-piece of Israel's image as an enlightened and moral democracy - is falling apart.

Anyone with an internet connection can Google "Gaza humanitarian catastrophe" and find the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories and read the thousands of pages of evidence documenting the reality of the current fighting, and the long term siege on Gaza that preceded it.

The Red Cross, normally scrupulous in its unwillingness to single out parties to a conflict for criticism, sharply criticised Israel for preventing medical personnel from reaching wounded Palestinians, some of whom remained trapped for days, slowly starving and dying in the Gazan rubble amidst their dead relatives.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has flatly denied Israeli claims that Palestinian fighters were using the UNRWA school compound bombed on January 6, in which 40 civilians were killed, to launch attacks, and has challenged Israel to prove otherwise.

War crimes admission

Additionally, numerous flippant remarks by senior Israeli politicians and generals, including Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, refusing to make a distinction between civilian people and institutions and fighters - "Hamas doesn't ... and neither should we" is how Livni puts it - are rightly being seen as admissions of war crimes.

Indeed, in reviewing statements by Israeli military planners leading up to the invasion, it is clear that there was a well thought out decision to go after Gaza's civilian infrastructure - and with it, civilians.

The following quote from an interview with Major-General Gadi Eisenkot that appeared in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth in October, is telling:

"We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective these [the villages] are military bases," he said.

"This isn't a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorised."

Causing "immense damage and destruction" and considering entire villages "military bases" is absolutely prohibited under international law.

Eisenkot's description of this planning in light of what is now unfolding in Gaza is a clear admission of conspiracy and intent to commit war crimes, and when taken with the comments above, and numerous others, renders any argument by Israel that it has tried to protect civilians and is not engaging in disproportionate force unbelievable.

International laws violated

On the ground, the evidence mounts ever higher that Israel is systematically violating a host of international laws, including but not limited to Article 56 of the IV Hague Convention of 1907, the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Convention, the Fourth Geneva Convention (more specifically known as the "Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949", the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the principles of Customary International Humanitarian Law.

None of this excuses or legitimises the firing of rockets or mortars by any Palestinian group at Israeli civilians and non-military targets.

As Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur, declared in his most recent statement on Gaza: "It should be pointed out unambiguously that there is no legal (or moral) justification for firing rockets at civilian targets, and that such behavior is a violation of IHR, associated with the right to life, as well as constitutes a war crime."

By the same logic, however, Israel does not have the right to use such attacks as an excuse to launch an all-out assault on the entire population of Gaza.

In this context, even Israel's suffering from the constant barrage of rockets is hard to pay due attention to when the numbers of dead and wounded on each side are counted. Any sense of proportion is impossible to sustain with such a calculus.

'Rogue' state

Israeli commentators and scholars, self-described "loyal" Zionists who served proudly in the army in wars past, are now publicly describing their country, in the words of Oxford University professor Avi Shlaim, as a "rogue" and gangster" state led by "completely unscrupulous leaders".

Gazans inspect the damage after an air strike hit a mosque [GALLO/GETTY]
Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University, has declared that Israel's actions in Gaza are like "raising animals for slaughter on a farm" and represent a "bizarre new moral element" in warfare.

"The moral voice of restraint has been left behind ... Everything is permitted" against Palestinians, writes a disgusted Haaretz columnist, Gideon Levy.

Fellow Haaretz columnist and daughter of Holocaust survivors, Amira Haas writes of her late parents disgust at how Israeli leaders justified Israel's wars with a "language laundromat" aimed at redefining reality and Israel's moral compass. "Lucky my parents aren't alive to see this," she exclaimed.

Around the world people are beginning to compare Israel's attack on Gaza, which after the 2005 withdrawal of Israeli forces and settlers was turned literally into the world's largest prison, to the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Extremist Muslims are using internet forums to collect names and addresses of prominent European Jews with the goal, it seems clear, of assassinating them in retaliation for Israel's actions in Gaza.

Al-Qaeda is attempting to exploit this crisis to gain a foothold in Gaza and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, as well as through attacking Jewish communities globally.

Iran's defiance of both Israel and its main sponsor, the US, is winning it increasing sympathy with each passing day.

Democratic values eroded

Inside Israel, the violence will continue to erode both democratic values in the Jewish community, and any acceptance of the Jewish state's legitimacy in the eyes of its Palestinian citizens.

And yet in the US - at least in Washington and in the offices of the mainstream Jewish organisations - the chorus of support for Israel's war on Gaza continues to sing in tight harmony with official Israeli policy, seemingly deaf to the fact that they have become so out of tune with the reality exploding around them.

At my university, UCI, where last summer Jewish and Muslim students organised a trip together through the occupied territories and Israel so they could see with their own eyes the realities there, old battle lines are being redrawn.

The Anteaters for Israel, the college pro-Israel group at the University of California, Irvine, sent out an urgent email to the community explaining that, "Over the past week, increasing amounts of evidence lead us to believe that Hamas is largely responsible for any alleged humanitarian crisis in Gaza".

I have no idea who the "us" is that is referred to in the appeal, although I am sure that the membership of that group is shrinking.

Indeed, one of the sad facts of this latest tragedy is that with each claim publicly refuted by facts on the ground, more and more Americans, including Jews, are refusing to trust the assertions of Israeli and American Jewish leaders.

Trap

Even worse, in the Arab/Muslim world, the horrific images pouring out of Gaza daily are allowing preachers and politicians to deploy well-worn yet still dangerous and inciteful stereotypes against Jews as they rally the masses against Israel - and through it - their own governments.

What is most frightening is that the most important of Israel's so-called friends, the US political establishment and the mainstream Jewish leadership, seem clueless to the devastating trap that Israel has led itself into - in good measure with their indulgence and even help.

It is one that threatens the country's existence far more than any Qassam rockets, with their 0.4 per cent kill rate; even more than the disastrous 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon, which by weakening Israel's deterrence capability in some measure made this war inevitable.

First, it is clear that Israel cannot destroy Hamas, it cannot stop the rockets unless it agrees to a truce that will go far to meeting the primary demand of Hamas - an end to the siege.

Merely by surviving (and it surely will survive) Hamas, like Hezbollah in 2006, will have won.

Support for the war remains high in Israel[GALLO/GETTY]
Israel is succeeding in doing little more than creating another generation of Palestinians with hearts filled with rage and a need for revenge.

Second, Israel's main patron, the US, along with the conservative Arab autocracies and monarchies that are its only allies left in the Muslim world, are losing whatever crumbs of legitimacy they still had with their young and angry populations.

The weaker the US and its axis becomes in the Middle East, the more precarious becomes Israel's long-term security. Indeed, any chance that the US could convince the Muslim world to pressure Iran to give up its quest for nuclear weapons has been buried in Gaza.

Third, as Israel brutalises Palestinians, it brutalises its own people. You cannot occupy another people and engage in violence against them at this scale without doing even greater damage to your soul.

The high incidence of violent crimes committed by veterans returning from combat duty in Iraq is but one example of how the violence of occupation and war eat away at people's moral centre.

While in the US only a small fraction of the population participates in war; in Israel, most able-bodied men end up participating.

The effects of the latest violence perpetrated against Palestinians upon the collective Israeli soul is incalculable; the notion that it can survive as an "ethnocracy" - favouring one ethnic group, Jews, yet by and large democratic - is becoming a fiction.

Violence-as-power

Who will save Israel from herself?

Israelis are clearly incapable. Their addiction as a society to the illusion of violence-as-power has reached the level of collective mental illness.

As Haaretz reporter Yossi Melman described it on January 10, "Israel has created an image of itself of a madman that has lost it".

Not Palestinians, too many of whom have fallen prey to the same condition.

Not the Middle East Quartet, the European Union, the United Nations, or the Arab League, all of whom are utterly powerless to influence Israeli policy.

Not the organised Jewish leadership in the US and Europe, who are even more blind to what is happening than most Israelis, who at least allow internal debate about the wisdom of their government's policies.

Not the growing progressive Jewish community, which will need years to achieve enough social and political power to challenge the status quo.

And not senior American politicians and policy-makers who are either unwilling to risk alienating American Jewish voters, or have been so brainwashed by the constant barrage of propaganda put out by the "Israel Lobby" that they are incapable of reaching an independent judgment about the conflict.

During the US presidential race, Barack Obama was ridiculed for being a messiah-like figure. The idea does not sound so funny now. It is hard to imagine anyone less saving Israel, the Palestinians, and the world from another four years of mindless violence.

Update: In a further challenge to the democratic process in Israel, on January 12, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Central Elections Committee had voted overwhelmingly to bar Arab-led parties from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Also, there are reports that the claim that extremist Muslims are using the internet to collect names and addresses of prominent British Jews in order to attack them, might in fact have been a hoax.

Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine, and is the author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam and the soon to be published An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.
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post #597 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 12:35 AM
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Gaza: The endless cycle of trauma

OPINION: WAR ON GAZA
Gaza: The endless cycle of trauma
By Sandy Tolan, Middle East analyst

Some Palestinians still hold keys to their homes in villages that are now part of Israel, which they were forced to leave during the Nakba that marked the formation of Israel [GETTY]

The Israeli bombs and rockets streaking through the skies of Gaza trace not only a path of death and terror for Palestinians in 2009, they also outline the smoke trails of traumas past, from the Nakba, or 'catastrophe,' in 1948 to the 1967 war; from the Lebanon invasions, to the 2002 assault on Jenin. All are echoes of today's calamity of US-made missiles and mortars raining down on Gazans.

Watching history repeat itself is, of course, most horrifying for the people through whose roofs the missiles are falling, whose children are dying. For the outsider, peering in from a safe perch, it is merely surreal.

We look on as Israel replays the tape-loop of its brutal and tragic follies. Israel has shown again and again that, rather than vanquishing its enemies, it makes new ones while strengthening old ones.

Many commentators have invoked 2006 and Israel's invasion of Lebanon, when, in trying to destroy Hezbollah, it made it stronger. But this is only a relatively recent example.

'My enemy's enemy'

A Hezbollah flag flies on the Israeli-Lebanese border after Israel invaded in 2006 [GETTY]
Consider early 1988, near the beginning of the First Intifada, when Israel, trying to weaken Yasser Arafat, the late PLO leader, invoked the ill-fated strategy known as "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

In trying to marginalise the exiled Arafat and his Tunis cadre, Israel helped seed the growth of a fledgling Hamas in Gaza.

Or recall March 1968, when Israeli infantry, tanks, paratroopers, and armoured brigades - 15,000 soldiers in all - moved east across the Jordan River to attack the village of Karama. Though, technically, the Israelis won a military victory, they encountered far stiffer resistance than expected, losing 28 soldiers.

At the centre of the heroic Palestinian battle of Karama was the man who would emerge strongest from the fight: Yasser Arafat. The biggest loser was the pro-Western "moderate," King Hussein of Jordan, who in the wake of the battle was forced to declare, no doubt to the alarm of Israel, "we are all fedayeen now."

Or, we can revisit the pre-dawn of November 13, 1966, when Israeli planes, tanks and troops attacked the West Bank village of Samu, blowing up dozens of houses and killing 21 Jordanian soldiers.

The attack deepened anger on the 'Arab Street' against Israel and its Western benefactors, and badly weakened King Hussein, who imposed martial law. "The monarchy itself is in jeopardy," American officials in Amman cabled Washington.

Largely as a result of the attack, the Jordanian king was forced into a pan-Arab alliance with his arch-rival, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian president. The 11th-hour pact helped seal the fate of the 1967 war, and the 41-year occupation whose echoes can be heard in the exploding shells of Gaza.

US response

Yet it is worth considering the American response to Israel's Samu raid for the lessons it contains for US policymakers today. For although the US sided with Israel, many American officials were working hard behind the scenes to prevent war, and US officials, unlike those of the outgoing and incoming American administrations today, were furious at Israel.

The "3000-man raid with tanks and planes was all out of proportion to the provocation," wrote Walt Rostow, the national security adviser, in a memo to Lyndon Johnson, the then-US president.

"They've undercut Hussein… It makes even the moderate Arabs feel fatalistically that there is nothing they can do to get along with the Israelis no matter how hard they try."

When Levi Eshkol, the Israeli prime minister, wrote to Johnson for American support "in this difficult hour for us," the president ignored him, instead writing a note of sympathy to King Hussein, expressing his "sense of sorrow and concern … words of sympathy are small comfort when lives have been needlessly destroyed".

Then, in words scarcely imaginable for a US president today, he added: "My disapproval of this action has been made known to the government of Israel in the strongest terms."

In the end, of course, the US, distracted by Vietnam and in a Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union, backed Israel in the Six Day War, giving it a tacit green light for the surprise attack on Egypt in June 1967. (When Meir Amit, the then-head of the Israeli intelligency agency Mossad, visited Robert McNamara in the Pentagon, he told the inquiring defence secretary that the war would take "seven days".)

Lessons for Obama

US President-elect Barack Obama's election campaign promised change [AFP]
Yet US officials, before acquiescing to Israel in the final days before war, actually fought to prevent it, and it is there, in that lost moment, that the lessons lie for Barack Obama, the incoming US president.

Similar to (but far worse than) the Samu raid of 1966, Israel now wages a war whose destruction is "all out of proportion to the provocation."

Like the days leading up to the Six Day War, hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets, with mass protests in Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Doha, Paris, Athens, Istanbul, Sydney and other international capitals.

These genuine expressions of fury, combined with wide-ranging condemnations from international leaders, and increasing outrage from a vocal minority of Israelis, do not bode well for the US or Israeli governments.

Unlike 42 years ago, however, no US president, incoming or outgoing, is willing to criticise Israel.

Obama's tepid comment - "the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern" - does not qualify.

Worse, his statement in Sderot last July - "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that" - has been used as another green light by Israeli military politicians whose prime ministerial ambitions are a key factor underlying the assault on Gaza.

Hillary Clinton's declaration, during her senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday, January 13, 2008, that "the president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions," hardly points to a visionary change in US policy.

Yet if Obama wishes to preserve the truest hopes inherent in his election - that his presidency would stand for real change; that his internationalist view of the world would translate into wisdom and compassion for people other than the most powerful - he must be willing to transform US dealings in a region where the phrase "honest broker" has become a parlour joke.

For the US to restore its credibility, Obama must send clear signals that Israeli impunity cannot continue. He needs to speak hard truths to an old friend, pointing out the Jewish state's history of making its enemies stronger.

Strengthening Hamas

Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, has said Israel has created resistance.
And this, beyond the needless deaths, may be the ultimate result of the current war on Gaza. Israel, despite its stated goal of stopping Hamas' rocket attacks, has simply not done so. Despite the latest wave of assassination by bombing, Israel's attempts to destroy Hamas seem to be going the route of Lebanon, 2006.

"What is the strategic purpose behind the present fighting?" asks the normally staid Anthony Cordesman in a commentary for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC.

"Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal or at least one it can credibly achieve? … It is also far from clear that the tactical gains are worth the political and strategic cost to Israel. At least to date, the reporting from within Gaza indicates that each new Israeli air strike or advance on the ground has increased popular support for Hamas and anger against Israel in Gaza. The same is true in the West Bank and the Islamic world."

Or, as Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, declared to Israel last weekend, "you have created resistance in every household."

Thus the horrible chapter called "Gaza 2009" fits snugly into Israel's book of outsized assaults on Palestinian civilians. It seems it will ever be so, until a US president steps forward with the guts and vision to change the game.

Sandy Tolan is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, and author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.

Some Palestinians still hold keys to their homes in villages that are now part of Israel, which they were forced to leave during the Nakba that marked the formation of Israel [GETTY]
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post #598 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 03:31 PM
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US forces used white phosphorus munitions against Iraqis in Faluja, Iraq. Many innocent civilians were killed. There were reports of people's skin peeling off their bodies. The horror of Dresden on a smaller scale.
Really now, no reason to use white phosphorus as an antipersonnel weapon. Hellfire missles make a far more accurate and compelling weapon. Even the IRC, not known for its enthusiasm towards Israel, was forced to admit that “...it’s not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.”: Red Cross: No evidence Israel is using white phosphorus illegally | csmonitor.com
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post #599 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 06:16 PM
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Phosphorous would be a very effective tool to use as a terrorizing agent against a population with whom you wanted to sow panic and mayhem. Kill ratio is one metric, but psychological effect is another. The same could be said of Qassam or Katyusha rocket fire.
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post #600 of 680 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 07:20 PM
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FTL,

* Two wrongs don't make a right.

* You call Hamas a terrorsit group for killing a dozen Israeli children. Israel's current assault killed so far 250 children, 100 women and injured about a 3100 half of which are women and children. Do you call Israel a terrorist state?

* Can't Israel's mighty military target fighters instead of civilians: children, women, UN workers, paramedics? Don't they have precise, sophisticated weaponry? Or is it too hard to stop the urge of killing the goyim.
Being new to this site, I'll try to curb my tongue, but thought I'd reply to this one post of the many I've read, that you've written. Sorry in advance if it offends you. So with that in mind, here goes:

Hamas is a terrorist group. Pure and simple. As well, they are a bunch of cowards, who sow indiscriminate terror on unsuspecting civilians, ongoingly, and have been doing so for quite some time. Whereas the Israeli military tries to kill Hamas fighters, they do so with precision strikes, either by guided rockets, laser guided bombs and artillery, or other weapons that are aimed. Conversely, Hamas parks car bombs outside hospitals, schools, government buildings, etc, uses suicide bombers in crowed shopping centers and disco-techs (I had walked right by the Tel Aviv disco, a half an hour before the suicide bomber blew himself up.) As well, they launch unguided rockets, having no idea where they will land, as long as they land on Israel.

So you say: " You call Hamas a terrorsit group for killing a dozen Israeli children. Israel's current assault killed so far 250 children, 100 women and injured about a 3100 half of which are women and children." Do you understand why so many Arab civilians are getting killed? You can blame Hamas for their deaths, because Hamas intentionally lives in and around these civilians, and an airstrike, even a precision strike, cannot take out just one or a few people. Dropping a 500 or 1000 pound bomb, even if a direct hit on its intended target, will cause damage to lots of surrounding buildings and people.

I hate this war, just like I've hated every war that we've fought since Viet Nam, but feel that Israel has got to force Hamas out of Palestine if there's ever to be any lasting peace. Personally I don't think that peace is possible in the region, due in large part to the religious fanaticism on both sides. If the Jews living in Israel were to say to the Arabs living there, "Hey, we've had enough, we're leaving and going back to Brooklyn, all that we've built, we leave to you", the Arabs would still want to kill them all. Do you know that in many Arab states, their maps of the region don't even acknowledge Israel's existence. In fact when we started flying into Dubai, one of our Senior Vice Presidents flew over there to present a few gifts to the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. One of those gifts was a large wall chart of the world and where my company operated into and out of, however one of the minister's underlings wouldn't allow it to be presented because it had the state of Israel on it.

JJ
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