The sound of silence

by Chris Bertram on May 20, 2004

I’ve just finished reading the Haaretz coverage of yesterday’s incident in Gaza , when the Israeli army fired tank shells into a demonstration. Nor is this an unprecedented event, as some of the commentary elsewhere in Haaretz recalling the Qana massacre reminds us. It is a common trope in the “blogosphere” to write of symptomatic silences, to accuse people of indifference or lack of balance for failing to mention some event or incident. I’ve read endless outrage in the blogosphere condemning the BBC or whoever for putting the work “terrorist” in inverted commas. Stupid comments by Jenny Tonge or whoever excusing suicide bombers generate thousands of words of commentary. (And lest there be any doubt, I have always and will always condemn actions such as suicide bombing which target civilians.) I’ve looked at a lot of blogs this morning—the usual suspects, the leftie warbloggers, the boy-wonder journalists, the distinguished lawyers, economists and political scientists, and so on. Of events in Rafa, not a mention.

[Update: not total silence. Jonathan Edelstein , as so often, is worth reading on this.]

{ 73 comments }

1

Motoko Kusanagi 05.20.04 at 9:50 am

Well, the Rafah Kid had a few posts about it…

2

Mark Byron 05.20.04 at 11:09 am

I’m working up a post at present; that was overkill, both figuratively (using tanks and missles where rubber bullets and tear gas would have been more appropriate) and literally.

3

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 11:32 am

A couple of things, since my name was mentioned:

First, it doesn’t appear that the IDF deliberately fired into the crowd – the casualties were caused either by a shell that set off an explosion in a nearby building (the IDF’s version) or a warning shot that went wrong.

Second, Palestinian demonstrations in the past have frequently contained armed men (and this one took place in an active battle zone), so it wasn’t a circumstance in which tear gas or rubber bullets could have been used safely.

In other words, I think this belongs more in the category of “fighting a clean counterinsurgency is impossible” rather than “massacre,” which of course is all the more reason for Israel to get the hell out of Gaza.

4

Chris Bertram 05.20.04 at 11:48 am

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it. The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so. You say on your blog that you are willing to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt. In your comment here you seem more accepting of their version that that. Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions. But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

In any case, we can both agree, that firing tank shells in urban areas is likely to result in tragedies like this.

5

pepi 05.20.04 at 12:30 pm

I heard the interview on Channel 4 news yesterday, with an IDF spokeswoman. She said it was not deliberate and that they were very sorry and there would be an investigation and so on, but then when pressed on she got a bit irked and started going on about how that area is full of people smuggling weapons, how IDF soldiers have been killed there, how that woman with her kids has been slaughtered, all of which is true, but… still doesn’t “explain” anything about this, and why try and explain an error if you just said you don’t know what happened?

Seems to me that pointing out all those other things in reply to this incident kind of contradicts the “non deliberate” version of facts.

And I just don’t know how it can be described as a case of warning shots gone wrong, when you fire right into a crowd of people and kill ten. That’s pretty good aiming for it being a mistake.

Plus I don’t understand why tear gas or rubber bullets would be less safe even in the case there were armed men in the crowd?

6

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 12:56 pm

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it.

Fair enough; I certainly don’t object to your linking to it.

Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions. But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

To the best of my knowledge, incidents of this sort involving the IDF have usually turned out to be negligent rather than deliberate. The IDF is sometimes careless with civilian lives (firing warning shots by tank is a case in point)but has rarely if ever targeted civilians. For the record, I’m a bit skeptical of the IDF’s version (i.e., detonation in a nearby building) and tend to think a badly aimed shell is more probable. We’ll find out more in coming days; if this was deliberate, I hope the commander involved gets shot.

7

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 1:01 pm

And also for the record, negligence can be a war crime in itself.

8

dsquared 05.20.04 at 1:07 pm

The IDF is sometimes careless with civilian lives (firing warning shots by tank is a case in point)but has rarely if ever targeted civilians

I’m not a military man, but I don’t think one has to be a military man to understand that

a) a tank makes a pretty poor weapon for the exercise of non-lethal force

and

b) for projectile weapons in general, if you point it at someone and press fire, you’ve pretty much targeted them.

9

nick 05.20.04 at 1:13 pm

The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so.

And sadly, the US media is more craven and apologetic than elements of the Israeli media, particularly Ha’aretz. And that might explain the silence: when the major US news networks begin their reports by discussing the official ‘explanation’, it sets an example to the party of ‘factchecking your asses’. (Same with the treatment of the Pentagon’s official ‘explanation’ for shooting up another wedding party, this time in Iraq.)

It was interesting to watch CNN’s coverage: their stringer in Gaza is a Briton, and his live report describing ‘horrific scenes’ literally caused the anchors to go into spin mode, knowing that Dore Gold and the other Likud flacks would put a black mark against their name for such ‘biased’ reporting.

And to add to what dsquared said:

The IDF is sometimes careless with civilian lives (firing warning shots by tank is a case in point)but has rarely if ever targeted civilians.

By that sort of rationale, the 9/11 hijackers were just targetting a few large office buildings.

10

Chris Brooke 05.20.04 at 1:22 pm

Chris — Melanie Phillips is on the case…

11

nick 05.20.04 at 1:25 pm

Shorter Melanie Phillips: Israel hasn’t nuked Gaza, so critics of Israeli policy ought to shut up.

12

Barry 05.20.04 at 1:29 pm

Is this a ‘warning shot’ fired from a tank main gun?!?

13

Tom T. 05.20.04 at 1:36 pm

Sullivan has it, as does the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

14

yabonn 05.20.04 at 1:37 pm

An annoyed chris’s shorter blogosphere :

the usual suspects, the leftie warbloggers, the boy-wonder journalists, the distinguished lawyers, economists and political scientists, and so on.

Lol.

… Glad that slightly off topic commenters were spared, though.

15

a 05.20.04 at 1:48 pm

After Melanie Phillips, read this Arab News Editorial.

16

ogged 05.20.04 at 2:50 pm

I doubt you read us, but we did mention it, though there didn’t seem to be much to say.

17

Doctor Slack 05.20.04 at 3:35 pm

The IDF is sometimes careless with civilian lives (firing warning shots by tank is a case in point)but has rarely if ever targeted civilians

I guess I, too, am missing the fine distinction here. How is using indiscriminate lethal force aimed at a crowd of civilians not “targeting” them?

18

Dave 05.20.04 at 3:39 pm

I was obviously disturbed by the news, but until I get more information about the incident (which was picked up at least by CNN, NBC, NPR, and the Beeb), I’m going to have to go with Edelstein’s assessment.

Our own possible slaughter of a wedding party in Iraq yesterday demonstrates the difficulty of fighting an armed insurgency in a civilian area. Bad intelligence, or even just the mixing of militants and innocents, can (and usually does) end up in tragedy.

In the current situation, Israel’s elected government has a political obligation to its citizens to fight groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They also have an obligation to try to get as few of their soldiers killed as possible. Given the choice between fighting in a way that is conscientious of civilian lives vs. fighting in a way that kills a maximum number of militants while losing a minimum number of soldiers, then, Israel will choose the latter – even when that choice is clearly unethical.

That doesn’t change the fact that what happened yesterday was awful. I think we do need to recognize that there is a difference between direct targeting of civilians and loss of civilian life during a two-sided, armed conflict. If this turns out to be a case of the former, then the people responsible should be punished (though I doubt they will be). If it is a case of the latter, then it is simply one more sad reason for both sides to find some solution to the problem ASAP.

19

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 3:42 pm

And I just don’t know how it can be described as a case of warning shots gone wrong, when you fire right into a crowd of people and kill ten.

A shot intended to strike in front or to the side of a crowd can, if badly aimed, hit the crowd. It’s happened before. I’m not saying this is what happened in Rafah – at this point, nobody knows for sure – but I don’t think an assumption of deliberate conduct is warranted.

This may turn out to be one of the many cases where the truth is never known. If, as I suspect, the crowd was hit by a shell, the only evidence as to the gunner’s intent may be his word. Those who believe that the IDF targets civilians as a matter of policy (or that it is, in Ogged’s words, “normally barbarous”) will be inclined to doubt him, while those who believe that most IDF soldiers are decent people who would not knowingly fire into an unarmed crowd will be inclined to find him credible. The direction of my own biases should be fairly obvious.

At any rate, the argument over whether this was a deliberate act (which I admit to starting) obscures the main issue – that Israel shouldn’t be in Gaza, and that disasters can’t be avoided in this type of war even with the best of intentions. Disengagement is the best option – indeed the only option – for Israelis and Palestinians.

By that sort of rationale, the 9/11 hijackers were just targetting a few large office buildings.

Oh, please. The intent of the 9/11 hijackers (so far as it can be divined) was to knock down buildings and kill everyone inside. The civilian casualties of 9/11 were in no way collateral to the hijackers’ goals. (Yes, I know “collateral” is a dirty word to many, but international law permits civilian casualties as long as they do not result from force disproportionate to the military objective. It is this rule of proportionality, as opposed to the rule prohibiting deliberate killing of civilians, that the IDF often violates. Firing a warning shot with a tank may be a war crime, but not the one you think – the distinction is similar to that between murder and manslaughter.)

Is this a ‘warning shot’ fired from a tank main gun?!?

If the IDF is to be believed (and I’m not saying yes or no to that), the crowd didn’t respond to warning shots fired with small arms.

In any event, a few thoughts on the original topic of this thread (i.e., silence): It may be that both the author of the main post and the warbloggers are responding to what they perceive as silence elsewhere. Right-wing bloggers often assert that the thousands of words they write about suicide bombings or Jenny Tonge are a reaction to a lack of outrage in the mainstream media. Likewise, the author of this post was outraged by what happened in Rafah (as I am, regardless of whether it was deliberate), looked around and saw silence in the blogosphere. If a right-wing blogger (one of the sane ones, at least) were to be asked why he had nothing to say about Rafah, he would probably reply that the subject had been done to death in the mainstream media and there was no need for blog comment.

The problem in both cases may actually be not knowing where to look. Rafah has received comment in the Israeli blogosphere; look here, for instance, and scroll down.

20

Dave 05.20.04 at 3:47 pm

How is using indiscriminate lethal force aimed at a crowd of civilians not “targeting” them?

What you describe is “targeting” them.

However, using indiscriminate lethal force aimed at armed militants in a crowd is not. It is irresponsible, and in many situations unethical, but it is not “targeting civilians”.

21

q 05.20.04 at 3:57 pm

J.Edelstein: “The direction of my own biases should be fairly obvious.” Not to me. Could you expand on this?

22

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 4:00 pm

I guess I, too, am missing the fine distinction here. How is using indiscriminate lethal force aimed at a crowd of civilians not “targeting” them?

What Dave said. If a soldier actually aims at a crowd of civilians, then he has targeted them. On the other hand, a soldier who fires a shot in an area where there is a high risk of civilian casualties but does not intend to hit them has not targeted them, although he may have committed the war crime of disproportionate force.

A number of commenters seem to be assuming that any shot that hits a crowd was aimed at the crowd. Take it from someone who’s served in the military – shots often don’t go where they’re aimed.

23

Richard Bellamy 05.20.04 at 4:05 pm

I agree with Jonathan. A blog is not a news source. Bloggers look to comment on under- or mis-reported news. If they read the CNN account and think, “That seems about right,” then there’s really no reason to blog about it.

24

Chris Bertram 05.20.04 at 4:08 pm

Thanks for that link Jonathan.

You write:

Those who believe that the IDF targets civilians as a matter of policy (or that it is, in Ogged’s words, “normally barbarous”) will be inclined to doubt him, while those who believe that most IDF soldiers are decent people who would not knowingly fire into an unarmed crowd will be inclined to find him credible.

But, of course, that doesn’t exhaust the possibilities. We can reject Ogged’s view and accept yours whilst leaving a great deal of room for nasty possibilities in between. To take an example from another conflict: did the British Army have a deliberate policy of killing civilians back in 1972? No. Were *most* British soldiers decent people who would not knowing fire into an unarmed crowd? Yes, most of them probably were. Did soldiers from the Parachure Regiment kill thirteen people on Bloody Sunday? They sure did.

I know the Israeli army like to peddle a mythology about itself that it is somehow different from other armies, but that’s a mythology that has been difficult to take seriously since about 1982. And the more and the longer you put young men into such situations, the more closely they will end up resembling all the other decent young men in other armies who have ended up doing terrible things or looking the other way when others have done them. But I suspect we agree about that.

25

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 4:10 pm

J.Edelstein: “The direction of my own biases should be fairly obvious.” Not to me. Could you expand on this?

My impression, based on the IDF soldiers and reservists I have met as well as my reading, is that the great majority of them would not knowingly aim at a crowd of unarmed people.

26

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 4:12 pm

And the more and the longer you put young [Israeli] men into such situations, the more closely they will end up resembling all the other decent young men in other armies who have ended up doing terrible things or looking the other way when others have done them. But I suspect we agree about that.

We do.

27

asdf 05.20.04 at 4:15 pm

there was a story on CBS radio this morning quoting some Israeli official saying that they fired it as a warning shot, in an area where the crowd wasn’t, but some terrorists had wired the buildings with explosives.

meanwhile, the US abstained from the UN Security Council resolution on this topic.

28

q 05.20.04 at 4:29 pm

29

Dave 05.20.04 at 4:31 pm

There was a story on CBS radio this morning quoting some Israeli official saying that they fired it as a warning shot, in an area where the crowd wasn’t, but some terrorists had wired the buildings with explosives.

I’ve heard this too, and it seems reasonable, but I’m going to be skeptical until there’s more evidence of what actually happened.

30

ogged 05.20.04 at 4:38 pm

Those who believe that the IDF targets civilians as a matter of policy (or that it is, in Ogged’s words, “normally barbarous”)

As you and Chris both recognize, there needn’t be a policy of targeting civilians in order for civilians to be killed. I don’t much care about the motives of individual soldiers, and I’m sure that they, like most people everywhere, when not in frightening situations, and not faced with a foe about whose full humanity they have some doubts, are fine people.

When a policy that predictably leads to civilian deaths has been pursued for decades, we needn’t debate the fine points of intent to call it both “normal” and “barbarous.”

31

Eve Garrard 05.20.04 at 4:41 pm

Chris, you think that those who are broadly sympathetic to Israel should be criticised for their silence about Rafah. And you’re reluctant to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt with respect to whether or not they were intentionally targetting civilians. But you yourself haven’t posted about the murder of the Israeli mother and her two young children at very close range, or about the beheading of Nick Berg, or about the Palestinian gruesome display and desecration of Israeli body parts. These are cases where there can be *no* doubt about the perpetrators’ motives, since they clearly do intend what they’re doing, and indeed tell us that they do aim to kill civilians. Do you think you should be criticised for this silence?

32

Chris Bertram 05.20.04 at 4:49 pm

No Eve, I don’t think that’s fair. I wasn’t taken aback by the fact that person X in particular or person Y in particular hadn’t commented on Rafah. People blog about different things, blogs aren’t news outlets, and they don’t aim for comprehensive coverage of atrocities (we’d never stop – but Berg was mentioned on CT, by the way). Rather I was struck by the fact that I visited blog after blog after blog this morning and *no-one* was commenting. Sure, I’ve discoved some exceptions since, but the point about the pattern nevertheless remains.

33

robbo 05.20.04 at 4:53 pm

Daily Kos covered it.

34

Dave 05.20.04 at 4:54 pm

Let’s not be naive. People are going to display outrage when it supports their political beliefs, and they’re not going to waste their time and energy when it doesn’t.

35

Chris Bertram 05.20.04 at 5:02 pm

And Eve, I should have called you on “those who are broadly sympathetic to Israel”.

What does that mean?

I’m broadly sympathetic to Israelis, support their right to self-determination (and their right to legitimate self-defence), salute the fact that so many Israelis are prepared openly to criticize their government and demonstrate against it, am glad that the Israeli press is more independent and critical than its US counterpart ….

But I’m not sympathetic to Ariel Sharon, to his opponents within Likud or to anyone else on the Israeli right. And nor, I imagine, are you.

36

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 5:18 pm

When a policy that predictably leads to civilian deaths has been pursued for decades, we needn’t debate the fine points of intent to call it both “normal” and “barbarous.”

On the other hand, what if a country is forced into a war, not of its own choice, that cannot be fought effectively by other means? If a country responds to this moral catch-22 by using tactics that put civilians at risk – as every country in that position, without any exceptions of which I’m aware, has done – then it is stretching a point to condemn it as barbarous. One can, of course, debate the degree to which Israeli military action in Gaza is a war of choice (in which case its tactics must be seen in a different light); my personal opinion is that it is partially but far from entirely so.

37

q 05.20.04 at 5:19 pm

“Of events in Rafa, not a mention.”

Chris- Death/violence in Palestine and Israel happens too often, and is destined to happen for the next 30 years …

38

Eve Garrard 05.20.04 at 5:24 pm

Chris, my fault, I didn’t emphasise enough what I’m particularly interested in, namely the role being played by our assessments of motive. Everyone in this debate (well, almost everyone) agrees that the targetting of civilians is wrong. But you’re focussing your criticism on silence about a case where there’s room for some doubt about the intentions of the perpetrators – that’s why there’s room for disagreement about whether the benefit of that doubt should be given. Suppose, as you think, silence about this kind of case is objectionable, even though we’re not yet clear exactly what the intentions were. Then surely silence about cases (such as the close-range murder of the Israeli children) where there can be no such doubt because the perpetrators explicitly tell us they aim to kill civilians, is even more open to criticism? (I should say I’m not particularly aiming this argument at you; I find a remarkable silence about this case, and the others I mentioned, from many people who are broadly sympathetic to the Palestinian side.)

39

Eve Garrard 05.20.04 at 5:40 pm

Chris – no, I don’t support Likud or Sharon (though I’ll certainly support him in any attempts to take Israel out of Gaza). But I’m extremely interested in the patterns of hostility to Israeli actions, and how they compare with hostility toward (or neglect of) actions by others on the international stage.

40

Chris Bertram 05.20.04 at 5:47 pm

Eve, I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t think that the murder of that mother and her children was other than a disgusting crime.

It is hard to compare it to this case, though. The events in Rafah are the consequence of a deliberate policy by the Israeli state. Did anyone on the ground mean to kill civilians? I don’t know. Was it foreseeable that civilians would be killed as part of the operation? Yes. Is some doctrine like double effect relevant here? It would be if the end that was aimed at were a legitimate one. So, for example, if the action were part of an operation in legitimate self-defence. Even here, though, considerations of proportionality would come in, and I think the case would be hard to make. When one factors in the suspicion that the motive behind the operations in Gaza is primarily political and has to do with the position of Ariel Sharon within his party, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that something extremely nasty is happening.

41

Dave 05.20.04 at 6:02 pm

I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t think that the murder of that mother and her children was other than a disgusting crime. … The events in Rafah are the consequence of a deliberate policy by the Israeli state.

Murder of civilians is a deliberate policy of what passes for Palestinian leadership, not just a consequence of one. There is no comparison.

42

Eve Garrard 05.20.04 at 6:15 pm

Chris, I don’t think I know anyone either (including left-wing friends who are genuinely unsympathetic to Israel as you I’m sure are not) who doesn’t think the murder of the Israeli children was a disgusting crime. But I notice that these people don’t *post* about it, nor has the press made much of it either.

As far as the nature of events at Rafah goes, I too don’t think the two cases are very comparable. But I thought your original piece wasn’t about Rafah, but rather about the ominous (as you see it) silence about it on the blogs. What the two cases have in common is the killing of civilians, and the intentions of the agents concerned is generally thought to be crucial to the moral evaluation of such killings. Since Rafah is a case where the motives aren’t clear, and since the cases I cited are ones where the motives are very clear, isn’t a silence about the latter at least as ominous, and potentially as revealing, as a silence about the former?

43

ogged 05.20.04 at 6:25 pm

Jonathan,

I think we’re in agreement, despite being biased in different directions. Thanks for the sane reply.

44

M. Gordon 05.20.04 at 6:28 pm

There was a story on CBS radio this morning quoting some Israeli official saying that they fired it as a warning shot, in an area where the crowd wasn’t, but some terrorists had wired the buildings with explosives.

I think this account violates Occam’s Razor. I would tend towards the “warning shot gone awry” hypothesis, though that, too would violate Occam’s Razor, which would in principle favor the “intentional shot” hypothesis. But, who listens to talking razors anyway?

45

pepi 05.20.04 at 6:40 pm

Jonathan –A shot intended to strike in front or to the side of a crowd can, if badly aimed, hit the crowd. It’s happened before.

See, what I don’t understand is, why they needed to fire shots _at all_.

Warning for what? If those people were just walking, and none were armed, as it appears, and were not shooting any IDF, then why fire at all?

I mean, that there _had_ been attacks against the IDF from people in those area, that there’s smugglers and terrorists, that there’s a conflict going on and people getting killed and you name it, is completely irrelevant to the specific incident. It didn’t happen during combat.

I’m not saying this is what happened in Rafah – at this point, nobody knows for sure – but I don’t think an assumption of deliberate conduct is warranted. This may turn out to be one of the many cases where the truth is never known.

Yeah, I would guess so…

Those who believe that the IDF targets civilians as a matter of policy (or that it is, in Ogged’s words, “normally barbarous”) will be inclined to doubt him, while those who believe that most IDF soldiers are decent people who would not knowingly fire into an unarmed crowd will be inclined to find him credible.

Well, that’s not my way of seeing this. I don’t have any bias in terms of believing that most IDF are _either_ deliberately targeting civilians all the time, or decent people all the time. The IDF is big, there’ll be decent people, there’ll be less decent ones, and all degrees in between. It’s not a matter of decency. It’s a matter of policies. I don’t think “the” policy is targeting civilians just for the heck of it, of course. But I do think that when it happens, either by error or because some in the military take their liberties with the notion of anti-terrorist action or because there’s been attacks before so everyone is trigger-happy, it gets sort of justified, or minimised, or brushed away in terms of, oh, that’s bad, we’re sorry, but well, they’re terrorists, there’s a war, it happens.

Kind of a deja-vu feeling these days…

If that’s the mentality that terrorism engenders in those it attacks, then it’s already won.

At any rate, the argument over whether this was a deliberate act (which I admit to starting) obscures the main issue – that Israel shouldn’t be in Gaza, and that disasters can’t be avoided in this type of war even with the best of intentions.

The best of intentions in this specific situation would have meant no one would have pulled any trigger because it was an unarmed crowd and there was no need to fire.

That’s what would make sense to me, at least.

And I don’t think one specific incident can obscure any larger picture. They’re different things, they can both be considered at the same time. Especially because to disengage properly you need to fight properly. Against terrorists, not against any crowd who might contain terrorists.

46

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 6:41 pm

I think this account violates Occam’s Razor.

I’m not sure Occam’s Razor can really be applied to this situation, given that each of the three main theories requires only one assumption and that all three assumptions are plausible.

More Israeli blog comment here, BTW.

47

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 6:50 pm

See, what I don’t understand is, why they needed to fire shots at all. Warning for what? If those people were just walking, and none were armed, as it appears, and were not shooting any IDF, then why fire at all?

Possibly because, if they continued to advance in the direction they were going, they would have ended up right in the middle of the IDF, thus drastically increasing the danger both to Israeli soldiers and themselves.

48

pepi 05.20.04 at 7:18 pm

Chris, I don’t think I know anyone either (including left-wing friends who are genuinely unsympathetic to Israel as you I’m sure are not) who doesn’t think the murder of the Israeli children was a disgusting crime. But I notice that these people don’t post about it, nor has the press made much of it either.

It did get coverage in the media. I saw photos, read the story of the family, highlighted in front pages… If people don’t make much about it in terms of writing about it on weblogs and such it’s probably because that was the work of terrorists. It’s obviously a crime. It’s obviously done by self-declared criminals. What more can you add to that? What is left to ascertain?

Instead, whatever the IDF could do tomorrow that’s worse than what it did in Rafah, deliberate or not, it still wouldn’t make the IDF itself equal to terrorists. I don’t expect terrorists and murderers to abide by rules cos they don’t have any. But armies do. So whatever they do that steps out of those lines they have to follow as a military body, it gets called out more than what terrorists do as terrorists. That, again, is obvious to me.

I’m not saying everybody thinks the same, of course, there’s all sorts of political opinion influencing views of events here, but I think it’s a common reaction for a lot of people who are neither fanatical pro-Palestinian supporters nor viceversa.

It’s a bit like the Abu Ghraib vs Nick Berg thing. Those who say people outraged at the former aren’t as outraged about the latter are doing the most incredible acrobatics in terms of the very moral relativism they decry in those who explicitely go for the terrorists=soldiers equivalence.

Army tactics in a democracy are supposed to be accountable, criticisable, questioned, and so on.

Not that terrorists aren’t, but you know what I mean. There’s good vs. bad military actions, but there’s no good vs. bad terrorist tactic. Unless someone specifically praises a terrorist action, or a murder, or a rape, I will assume they are seeing it for the obvious thing it is, a crime.

49

Eve Garrard 05.20.04 at 8:13 pm

Pepi: There’s good vs. bad military actions, but there’s no good vs. bad terrorist tactic. Unless someone specifically praises a terrorist action, or a murder, or a rape, I will assume they are seeing it for the obvious thing it is, a crime.

Pepi, I agree with some of what you say, but I don’t think the assumption mentioned above is a safe one. Many non-fanatical people who wouldn’t praise terrorist action wouldn’t exactly condemn it either, citing excuses such as poverty, despair, and cycles of violence. Given that that attitude is quite widespread, silence about terrorist activities effectively loads the argument against those who have to face the terrorists. If every description and criticism of the Israeli army’s activities were accompanied by a comment to the effect that they were facing a crowd containing an unknown number of vicious armed criminals ready to commit mass murder when the opportunity arises, then the descriptions of the IDF would look rather different, and there would (understandably) be a considerable amount of complaint about tendentious commentary. That’s why I don’t think that most people share your view of terorists, and that’s (in part) why I don’t think that the silence about terrorist activities is indicative of shared condemnation, but rather of a very selective sensitivity to the presence of possible crimes against innocent civilians. I’m trying to work out why it’s being suggested here at CT that it’s wrong to be silent about a case where we don’t know what the morally relevant intentions were, but that it’s ok to be silent in cases where we do know what those intentions were, since the killers have helpfully told us.

50

Edward 05.20.04 at 8:16 pm

Criticism of Israel would probably attract the attention of the wrong crowd. Bloggers do not want to be smeared as anti-Semites and otherwise harassed, so they shut up.

51

Jonathan Edelstein 05.20.04 at 8:19 pm

Criticism of Israel would probably attract the attention of the wrong crowd. Bloggers do not want to be smeared as anti-Semites and otherwise harassed, so they shut up.

Let’s take this thread as a test of your theory. Quite a few of the commenters, as well as the author of the main post, have criticized Israel. Please identify all those who have been called anti-Semites or otherwise harassed for doing so.

52

Edward 05.20.04 at 8:38 pm

One link from LGF is all it takes.

53

Lance Boyle 05.20.04 at 9:12 pm

Jonathan Edelstein-
You’re right about the discourse here being polite and considerate. That seems attributable directly to the tone set by the CT posters themselves, and their discreet insistence on courtesy.
Something that seems important to me is that nowhere in this thread is there anything about the immediate context of the Rafah demonstration.
Why those people were there. What they were demonstrating against, and for. It’s as though that has no bearing on the moral judgment being weighed. The Israeli soldiers were/were not acting immorally in using tanks and helicopters to kill the people they did, and to injure the dozens of people they did. But their presence there, and its legitimacy, goes unquestioned.
The lack of name-calling and harrassment here is also probably due, at least in part, to that lack of debate on the larger context.
There’s an assumption of a kind of parity between the IDF and the Israeli government generally, and the Palestinians, whose leaders are being assassinated, in broad daylight before the eyes of the world.
I don’t think that parity exists.

54

yabonn 05.20.04 at 9:25 pm

Jonathan,

Let’s take this thread as a test of your theory.

Let’s not.

Mr Rabid Likudnik (“you show your true antisemite colors with this opposition to sharon policies”) and Mr Antisemite (“joooos are baaad, grunt, grunt”) are thankfully absent from this thread.

For such a topic in a public place, it is, at least to my eyes, rather unusual. Then again, i may haunt less policed place as you.

55

Dave 05.20.04 at 10:07 pm

There’s an assumption of a kind of parity between the IDF and the Israeli government generally, and the Palestinians, whose leaders are being assassinated, in broad daylight before the eyes of the world.

The “leaders” who have been killed are not PA officials. They are the heads of terrorist organizations which happen to be Palestinian.

Killing a Hamas official is no different than killing the head of an al Qaeda cell. Even the term “assassination” is unfair in this context, because it implies that these organizations are legitimate political entities.

That said, I would prefer that Palestinian militants adopt the same policy and go after IDF and government targets rather than civilians. Then, at least, you could make the argument that they’re legitimate freedom fighters. Likewise, it is far better for Israel to go after the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership than to take bulldozers into the middle of Palestinian towns to knock down houses that might be harboring a few thugs.

56

Miranda 05.20.04 at 10:13 pm

Chris,

the anglosphere seems – very much to its credit – upset about what’s happening in Iraq these days. Maybe this explains your emotionally overwrought post, so atypical for this otherwise well-argued blog. Sadly, the comments too are getting closer to a low-brow political forum flame war than I’ve ever seen here.

As to the subject itself: So far there is no clear explanation of what has happened. For all three versions of what caused the deaths and injuries – a rocket, a mortar shell, explosives carried in the crowd – the most trustworthy evidence probably lies in the nature of injuries. No one has bothered to document them to proper extent (as far as we know), yet the whole world, up to the highest political levels, appears to have already formed an opinion on the subject.

While no matter what the cause the explosion is doubtlessly a tragedy, in terms of the number of victims much worse things are going on at the moment without getting even remotely proportional attention. I’m reminded of the cynical (authentic or presumable) Stalin quote: one death is a tragedy, a million a statistic. The relative proportions are less drastic at the moment (should we say, yet?), nevertheless the perception of the relative significance of various conflicts is somewhat skewed, more than usually so, if I’m not mistaken.

Last but not least, maybe it’s worth to discuss whether the overexposure of this particular conflict is conductive to its resolution. And, to the well-being of the rest of the world.

57

bellatrys 05.21.04 at 12:16 am

Kos covered, Whiskey Bar covered, I covered it. Part of the problem – obvious if you check out the Kos threads – is that we’re at critical mass now on outrage. There is so much CF right now in so many directions that some people are having meltdowns – to the point of real health issues – from the stress and also that there’s a kind of mental gridlock that results from trying to crossreference and comment on all of it simultaneously, a sort of psychic logjam that is afflicting particularly longterm bloggers, whereas newcomers like myself who have recently broken *out* of that due to the Military Industrial Complex’s facade starting to crack and handing us vulnerabilities to target, are still having trouble keeping up with it, because the whole US foreign policy for the past 50 years has been, in two words – Beyond Recognition. And now the whole three-ring-circus of smoke, mirrors, juggled chainsaws, flaming batons, highwire motorcyclists and dancing bears is tumbling down in realtime, thanks to the miracle of the internet…

(Plus some of us do have jobs, necessary to keep up with these our neuromancing lives, because it’s hard to post when they’ve shut off the power, and posting from work isn’t always feasible either.)

58

Lance Boyle 05.21.04 at 12:30 am

One of my biggest fears is of losing my ability to reason, and of, at the same time, losing whatever residual ability I have to distinguish the irrational from the rational in my own speech. I really worry about that a lot.
Still, one must forge on.
The word “terrorist” and the phrase “conspiracy theory” have become tools of conspiracy and terror. They will continue so unless we can agree to change the inherent semantic load of the words themselves. We could do this. We do it all the time. Like having a football team called the New England “Patriots” doesn’t mean they’re necessarily any more patriotic than anyone else.
The use of actual terror, meaning terrified people, meaning people who have been filled with terror and driven to a state of shock, meaning people who have been violently terrified into altering their actions and their states of mind, has become pandemic.
To be in opposition to terrorists in that meaning of the term would mean not creating terror in other people, not using violence to coerce other people, and not excusing or apologizing for its use by others.
Certainly the U.S. doesn’t qualify as a non-terrorizing state, and neither does Israel. Possibly Sweden does. Maybe New Zealand.
Maybe we can agree that “terror” is no longer terror, but that when we say it now we mean simply violence done to us; by people who are by definition in the wrong, because they are attacking us.
Maybe we can redefine terror to mean the use of violence by people whose military power is too weak or non-existent to viably declare war against us, and yet who nevertheless wish to stop us from harming them.
This would be a boon to many of the more fervent apologists for what are indisputably terrorist states, as it would remove the semantic confusion from their own morally appropriate use of terror to accomplish their goals.

59

Dick Fitzgerald 05.21.04 at 2:24 am

Lawrence of Cyberia has posted on Gaza the past several days, reminding us that Israel was conceived and born in terrorism.

60

pepi 05.21.04 at 8:23 am

Jonathan – Possibly because, if they continued to advance in the direction they were going, they would have ended up right in the middle of the IDF, thus drastically increasing the danger both to Israeli soldiers and themselves.

Jonathan, I do believe that usually, for the military, it’s a case of crossing that bridge when you come to it.

If you have a non-armed crowd of people marching non-violently in a non-violent way, you cannot shoot on them with live shells, period.

There’s no preventive crowd-shooting rationale.

And again, I have to wonder, what happens to the error theory when all these justifications are provided?

61

Chris Bertram 05.21.04 at 8:29 am

Eve,

As I’ve already said, my main point was about the near comprehensive pattern of silence about the Palestinian deaths in Gaza. That point remains. As for the murderous incident you mention (and other incidents prior to the recent operation) it received coverage on the first two blogs I checked just now: Harry’s Place and Normblog.

Norm doesn’t have comments, but, though the comments on Harry’s Place were marked by a spate of unseemly whataboutery (not dissimilar to the whataboutery you’ve engaged in here), no-one there complained about the selective attention being paid to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If someone had made the selective attention point in response to the post at Harry’s Place on the murder of that mother and her children, I’m sure we would both have been shocked.

62

eve garrard 05.21.04 at 9:15 am

But Chris, your original point was about the silence concerning Rafa in the *pro-war* blogs, and my point was about the silence concerning the murder of Israeli children, and allied horrors, in the *anti-war* blogs broadly sympathetic to the Palestinians. And my question was not about whether the horrors are comparable, but about whether the former silence could be wrong if the latter wasn’t. How can that question be answered by noting that a couple of well-known warbloggers did cover the Israeli children’s murder?

63

pepi 05.21.04 at 9:20 am

Eve – Many non-fanatical people who wouldn’t praise terrorist action wouldn’t exactly condemn it either, citing excuses such as poverty, despair, and cycles of violence. Given that that attitude is quite widespread, silence about terrorist activities effectively loads the argument against those who have to face the terrorists.

Well, I know that attitude exists, but I don’t really think it is as widespread as some would have it.

I’ve never heard apologies for terrorism from anyone but those who explicitely do apologise for it, those for which anything coming from the Palestinians is completely excused. I wouldn’t say that’s the majority opinion.

I may not exactly agree even with those who, without being on the extremes, do point at some factors like poverty and cycles of violence etc., but they’re not necessarily apologies or excuses for terrorism. Spotting political relations and causes is not always about excusing. The Palestinian people are kept in a state that is conducive to fanatical ideologies and violent reactions. That’s a fact. Where you place the _primary_ responsibilities for that – on Israel, or on the Palestinian and Arab leaderships, or both – depends on your point of view, of course. But, without getting into the political debate, the very fact Israel is there, and responds, feeds that ideological fertile ground for terrorism. That’s why Israel wants to pull out. Being there attracts terrorists, that’s fact.

Just like the fact the US coalition is in Iraq is attracting terrorists. I’m not apologising for terrorism if I say that. I’m not even necessarily saying that the US should not “be there” in the first place. Or that their being there is the primary and only cause for that terrorism to exist. You know?

I wouldn’t reduce all views or even just superficial impressions to just the two opposite extreme ones of knee-jerk unconditional and acritical pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian support.

To be honest, I think the most common view is that it’s all too screwed up by now, and that both sides have their responsibilities in the screwing up part. Simplistic, maybe, but that’s still not an apology for terrorism.

Plus, you may have noticed silence in the weblogs you read, but I sure don’t notice any “silence” about terrorist attacks in the media at large…

I don’t think that the silence about terrorist activities is indicative of shared condemnation, but rather of a very selective sensitivity to the presence of possible crimes against innocent civilians.

Possible? with terrorist acts, there’s no possible. It’s self-evidently so. With military action, it’s not, that’s why it causes more _political_ outrage and questioning.

That’s the point.

I’m trying to work out why it’s being suggested here at CT that it’s wrong to be silent about a case where we don’t know what the morally relevant intentions were, but that it’s ok to be silent in cases where we do know what those intentions were, since the killers have helpfully told us.

That’s not what I was suggesting at all, as far as I’m concerned. Again, first of all I don’t see this overwhelming “silence” about terrorist attacks, and secondly, it’s not “ok” to be less “concerned” about that, it’s just different reactions because it’s different acts done by different entities.

It’s not silence vs. selective attention, it’s reporting about a self-evident crime (terrorism) vs. reporting about what could be the consequences of a military policy that’s questionable (shooting into crowds). There’s just more questions to ask, about the latter event than the former. And more rules and accountability for a democratic state’s military than for terrorist organizations.

I’m not saying there’s no bias at all in interpretations of events in Israel. Of course there is. Always, from any perspective. But I just don’t see why the obvious concept that military bodies are more accountable than terrorists should be ignored.

Just like I don’t see why, in order to criticise one particular action or tactic by the IDF, one needs to point out obvious self-evident truths such as, terrorists are terrorists and do horrible things. Why do I need to relativise what the IDF has done by comparing it to what terrorists do, isn’t that exactly like what terrorist apologists explicitely do, only from the opposite extreme?

I really find this whole “but-they’re-worse! save your outrage for them!” way of reasoning very tiresome. No matter where it comes from and with what intentions.

64

Chris Bertram 05.21.04 at 9:29 am

your original point was about the silence concerning Rafa in the pro-war blogs, and my point was about the silence concerning the murder of Israeli children, and allied horrors, in the anti-war blogs broadly sympathetic to the Palestinians.

No, my original point wasn’t as selective as you claim it was. I looked at Normblog, Harry’s Place, Brad De Long, Matt Yglesias (who has subsequently posted), Electrolite, Mark Kleiman, Volokh, Atrios, Jim Henley, and a whole swathe of others. Some of these are generally pro-war, but others are not.

65

Conrad barwa 05.21.04 at 9:56 am

I’ve read endless outrage in the blogosphere condemning the BBC or whoever for putting the work “terrorist” in inverted commas. Stupid comments by Jenny Tonge or whoever excusing suicide bombers generate thousands of words of commentary. (And lest there be any doubt, I have always and will always condemn actions such as suicide bombing which target civilians.) I’ve looked at a lot of blogs this morning — the usual suspects, the leftie warbloggers, the boy-wonder journalists, the distinguished lawyers, economists and political scientists, and so on. Of events in Rafa, not a mention.

Chris, I don’t know about this; but then I don’t usually use the blogosphere as a benchmark on some issues, particularly ones that are as polarised as the ME. A lot of people say such idiotic things these days and I am unsure that there is the silence that you talk about but this could just mean that I read fewer and different blogs from you. In a sense much of this is tiring and repetitive; I mean, I think there is general agreement that targeting of civilians engaged in non-violent protest is just wrong and indefensible; this much is pretty well accepted across the different positions and few, if any are going to argue against this. So the debate will invariably move towards what actually happened, i.e. was there a mistake were the IDF actions misinterpreted or recasting the incident such as were there really just peaceful protestors or were there gun-toting and RPG wielding terrorists amongst them etc. etc. It becomes, all too predictable as to which interpretation will be preferred as, sadly too many seem to have made up their minds even before they come to consider issue. The complete unwillingness to believe one side or the other makes any real discussion or debate mostly futile.

66

q 05.21.04 at 1:48 pm

So we are debating the equivalent of how many angels you can fit on a pinhead (what is a “terrorist”), while real people have to put up with real problems. This is a good story, I was glancing over the photos thinking, oh yes another poor Arab family (so what is new), and then you realise, they are living in a football stadium!

67

Frank Wallis 05.21.04 at 2:22 pm

My little blog has a horrifying photo essay contrasting Bush laughing with AIPAC Tuesday night and a dead Palestinian boy in Rafah taking place at roughly the same time. http://www.powerskeptic.net/v-web/b2/

68

Jonathan Edelstein 05.21.04 at 2:45 pm

Here’s another Israeli blog comment, and everything else by that author is also worth reading.

69

Lance Boyle 05.22.04 at 1:13 am

Conrad Barva-
“The complete unwillingness to believe one side or the other makes any real discussion or debate mostly futile.”
I agree with you. And your analysis of the situation is reasoned and accurate. But isn’t there an advantage given to the “winner” in these kinds of situations if we don’t debate them? In the same way a teacher or parent, who can’t tell who did what to start the fight punishes both children, as the only fair way to settle things?
Doesn’t that cede the outcome to the aggressor?
Especially since we seem unable to stop the conflict itself. Aren’t you asking us to do nothing?
But then the question is as always “How do we know what happened?”
Is it possible to read between the lines?
Even as vivid as the images from Abu Ghraib are I’m still not convinced it is what it seems. Then what? Now what?
There’s an acceptance of things as they are in that recognition of futility. We can’t know so we’ll just look the other way. This has echoes in the past.
An intellectual response is more defensible but possibly less accurate or, more importantly, less honest than an emotional one.

70

Mike 05.23.04 at 11:13 pm

Chris Bertram

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it.

Bro if you don’t think Jonathan is ‘fair’ than you are 1 biased person yourself. He goes out of his way to promote rights for Arabs and Palestinians and unilateral withdrawal. In fact I doubt there is an Arab Weblog that displays key ruling in favor of the Arabs in Israel as much as Jonathan.

The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so. You say on your blog that you are willing to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt. In your comment here you seem more accepting of their version that that. Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions…..

KEY PART –

But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

You must be kidding me if you can even state that with any kind of surity bordering on arrogance it sounds.
A) Have you ever read the IPC PLO news site? Its a joke. Its like a cheap propaganda site out of the 1700’s.

B)Jenin?

C) “The Israelis must have blown up the American convoy in the Gaza Strip” Recent report says Arafat and the PLO gave the go ahead, as if common sense didn’t tell you this.

D) “It didn’t happen it all a clever Israeli lie” but sir we have the captain of the ship, a Palestinian who says so, and the weapons on videotape showing right now…
“I am telling you the Israelis are deceiving you, you know they lie too. We need to convene a joint investigation with the UN to get to the bottom of this” Abdel Rahman on Oreilly after the Karine A

1) There were 20 dead and most teenagers and civilians….
7 Dead at least 5 were gunmen.
Reports the Palestinians took bodies from the Morgue to try and trick and inflate the numbers.

2) 2 Palestinian teenage siblings were killed by Israeli gunshots Palis say. Israelis say they are investigating and that a Palestinian planting a bomb there at the time. Pali doctor “says there are only gunshot wounds no mortar wounds”
HOW MUCH YOU WANNA BET ON AN OFFER OF AN AUTOPSY?

3) Palestinians say as reported by Amy Kellog on Fox, that a 5 year old was shot and killed when she “went out to buy candy with her friends” (Right there you know its a lie.. “to buy candy”)
Israelis say there was NO SHOOTING WHATSOEVER OR PRESENCE in that area at the time.

4) Palestinians say some 40 homes and structures have been destroyed Kellog of Fox News states “her sources” have told her it looks like an ‘earthquake’ hit the area…. Israelis state that 5 have been destroyed including the home of the Sonny Corleone assassins of 4 girls aged 2-12 and their mother and 8 month fetus which was shot in the stomach to make sure he died as well.
Israelis say they are showing footage of structures that were destroyed 2 and 3 years ago.

5) A bomb exploded today in the West Bank and 2 Palestinians were killed. The Palestinians immediately said it was due to Israeli fire, assumably from the air? or a mysterious planted bomb?
The Israelis and most agree that it was a Palestinian bombmaker that went off yet prematurely again.

6) Finally, the biggest lie that was the gasoline to the Intifadah… Mohammed al-dura.

Now that’s not counting all the other lies like the Palis didn’t cheer on 9/11, except some ‘poor Palestinians’ that were paid and given sweets by deceptive ‘evil’ Israelis…
This comical farce is pumped out even to this day by Pali spokeman.

Outside of common sense of the poor liars they are (say as opposed to the slick Chinese and old Soviets, their trainers) I recently heard a Palestinian reporter speak who said forget some celebrating you could hear the celebrations from the Territories and Ramalla from miles away.

So one asks with all these lies how can reporters continue to cite Pali “sources” with any credibility while instead subjecting the IDF reports with the intense skepticism.

And how is it that when blatant lies are put forth, Karine A etc.. they are pooh poohed as just the poor Palis etc…
yet the next lie if at all believable like Rafah deaths and home destructions exagerrations and falsifications… are either given equal weight as “differing accounts” or given all the weight as all recent reports about Rafah.

So one asks some vexing questions?

1) How is it that a culture and people for the most part publically at least all go along pose, preen and lie for the cameras and Western assumably educated reporters continue to suck them down (get paid for them too) these continually proven lies while in Israel every word is questioned by the general population?
What does that say about the PLO and the Palis?

2) Will this effect future credence given to Pali ‘sources’?
Jenin didn’t seem to make a dent, as did neither the Karine A, Mohammed al-Dura, the murdering of the American Convoy etc…

3) Or will it just continue that an effective propaganda campaign as taught to them by the Viet Cong, will continue to work beautifully. As the gambler who always comes back for more, will Western sources continue to give credence to the possibility or likelihood that ‘this time’ the “Nazi” Israelis really did do it, ignore the ‘Big Lies’ of the past… This time I’m really gonna get rich at the Casino, this time the Palis must really be telling the truth…. everyone seems to be writing it…. the doctor wouldn’t lie about the wounds to the 5 year old killed, about Mohammed al-dura’s wounds, and they wouldn’t take dead animals and dig up bodies and dump them in Jenin or bring bodies from the Morgue to inflate the body count on Day 1 in Rafah to make world headlines????

WHY NOT? IT WORKS!
And even if proven false it can simply be chalked up to “differing war accounts” and the image of the Nazi Israelis is made in the immediacy effect anyway.
Its really easy to create a mess and takes a long time to clean it up…

Mike

71

Mike 05.23.04 at 11:13 pm

Chris Bertram

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it.

Bro if you don’t think Jonathan is ‘fair’ than you are 1 biased person yourself. He goes out of his way to promote rights for Arabs and Palestinians and unilateral withdrawal. In fact I doubt there is an Arab Weblog that displays key ruling in favor of the Arabs in Israel as much as Jonathan.

The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so. You say on your blog that you are willing to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt. In your comment here you seem more accepting of their version that that. Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions…..

KEY PART –

But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

You must be kidding me if you can even state that with any kind of surity bordering on arrogance it sounds.
A) Have you ever read the IPC PLO news site? Its a joke. Its like a cheap propaganda site out of the 1700’s.

B)Jenin?

C) “The Israelis must have blown up the American convoy in the Gaza Strip” Recent report says Arafat and the PLO gave the go ahead, as if common sense didn’t tell you this.

D) “It didn’t happen it all a clever Israeli lie” but sir we have the captain of the ship, a Palestinian who says so, and the weapons on videotape showing right now…
“I am telling you the Israelis are deceiving you, you know they lie too. We need to convene a joint investigation with the UN to get to the bottom of this” Abdel Rahman on Oreilly after the Karine A

1) There were 20 dead and most teenagers and civilians….
7 Dead at least 5 were gunmen.
Reports the Palestinians took bodies from the Morgue to try and trick and inflate the numbers.

2) 2 Palestinian teenage siblings were killed by Israeli gunshots Palis say. Israelis say they are investigating and that a Palestinian planting a bomb there at the time. Pali doctor “says there are only gunshot wounds no mortar wounds”
HOW MUCH YOU WANNA BET ON AN OFFER OF AN AUTOPSY?

3) Palestinians say as reported by Amy Kellog on Fox, that a 5 year old was shot and killed when she “went out to buy candy with her friends” (Right there you know its a lie.. “to buy candy”)
Israelis say there was NO SHOOTING WHATSOEVER OR PRESENCE in that area at the time.

4) Palestinians say some 40 homes and structures have been destroyed Kellog of Fox News states “her sources” have told her it looks like an ‘earthquake’ hit the area…. Israelis state that 5 have been destroyed including the home of the Sonny Corleone assassins of 4 girls aged 2-12 and their mother and 8 month fetus which was shot in the stomach to make sure he died as well.
Israelis say they are showing footage of structures that were destroyed 2 and 3 years ago.

5) A bomb exploded today in the West Bank and 2 Palestinians were killed. The Palestinians immediately said it was due to Israeli fire, assumably from the air? or a mysterious planted bomb?
The Israelis and most agree that it was a Palestinian bombmaker that went off yet prematurely again.

6) Finally, the biggest lie that was the gasoline to the Intifadah… Mohammed al-dura.

Now that’s not counting all the other lies like the Palis didn’t cheer on 9/11, except some ‘poor Palestinians’ that were paid and given sweets by deceptive ‘evil’ Israelis…
This comical farce is pumped out even to this day by Pali spokeman.

Outside of common sense of the poor liars they are (say as opposed to the slick Chinese and old Soviets, their trainers) I recently heard a Palestinian reporter speak who said forget some celebrating you could hear the celebrations from the Territories and Ramalla from miles away.

So one asks with all these lies how can reporters continue to cite Pali “sources” with any credibility while instead subjecting the IDF reports with the intense skepticism.

And how is it that when blatant lies are put forth, Karine A etc.. they are pooh poohed as just the poor Palis etc…
yet the next lie if at all believable like Rafah deaths and home destructions exagerrations and falsifications… are either given equal weight as “differing accounts” or given all the weight as all recent reports about Rafah.

So one asks some vexing questions?

1) How is it that a culture and people for the most part publically at least all go along pose, preen and lie for the cameras and Western assumably educated reporters continue to suck them down (get paid for them too) these continually proven lies while in Israel every word is questioned by the general population?
What does that say about the PLO and the Palis?

2) Will this effect future credence given to Pali ‘sources’?
Jenin didn’t seem to make a dent, as did neither the Karine A, Mohammed al-Dura, the murdering of the American Convoy etc…

3) Or will it just continue that an effective propaganda campaign as taught to them by the Viet Cong, will continue to work beautifully. As the gambler who always comes back for more, will Western sources continue to give credence to the possibility or likelihood that ‘this time’ the “Nazi” Israelis really did do it, ignore the ‘Big Lies’ of the past… This time I’m really gonna get rich at the Casino, this time the Palis must really be telling the truth…. everyone seems to be writing it…. the doctor wouldn’t lie about the wounds to the 5 year old killed, about Mohammed al-dura’s wounds, and they wouldn’t take dead animals and dig up bodies and dump them in Jenin or bring bodies from the Morgue to inflate the body count on Day 1 in Rafah to make world headlines????

WHY NOT? IT WORKS!
And even if proven false it can simply be chalked up to “differing war accounts” and the image of the Nazi Israelis is made in the immediacy effect anyway.
Its really easy to create a mess and takes a long time to clean it up…

Mike

72

Mike 05.23.04 at 11:14 pm

Chris Bertram

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it.

Bro if you don’t think Jonathan is ‘fair’ than you are 1 biased person yourself. He goes out of his way to promote rights for Arabs and Palestinians and unilateral withdrawal. In fact I doubt there is an Arab Weblog that displays key ruling in favor of the Arabs in Israel as much as Jonathan.

The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so. You say on your blog that you are willing to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt. In your comment here you seem more accepting of their version that that. Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions…..

KEY PART –

But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

You must be kidding me if you can even state that with any kind of surity bordering on arrogance it sounds.
A) Have you ever read the IPC PLO news site? Its a joke. Its like a cheap propaganda site out of the 1700’s.

B)Jenin?

C) “The Israelis must have blown up the American convoy in the Gaza Strip” Recent report says Arafat and the PLO gave the go ahead, as if common sense didn’t tell you this.

D) “It didn’t happen it all a clever Israeli lie” but sir we have the captain of the ship, a Palestinian who says so, and the weapons on videotape showing right now…
“I am telling you the Israelis are deceiving you, you know they lie too. We need to convene a joint investigation with the UN to get to the bottom of this” Abdel Rahman on Oreilly after the Karine A

1) There were 20 dead and most teenagers and civilians….
7 Dead at least 5 were gunmen.
Reports the Palestinians took bodies from the Morgue to try and trick and inflate the numbers.

2) 2 Palestinian teenage siblings were killed by Israeli gunshots Palis say. Israelis say they are investigating and that a Palestinian planting a bomb there at the time. Pali doctor “says there are only gunshot wounds no mortar wounds”
HOW MUCH YOU WANNA BET ON AN OFFER OF AN AUTOPSY?

3) Palestinians say as reported by Amy Kellog on Fox, that a 5 year old was shot and killed when she “went out to buy candy with her friends” (Right there you know its a lie.. “to buy candy”)
Israelis say there was NO SHOOTING WHATSOEVER OR PRESENCE in that area at the time.

4) Palestinians say some 40 homes and structures have been destroyed Kellog of Fox News states “her sources” have told her it looks like an ‘earthquake’ hit the area…. Israelis state that 5 have been destroyed including the home of the Sonny Corleone assassins of 4 girls aged 2-12 and their mother and 8 month fetus which was shot in the stomach to make sure he died as well.
Israelis say they are showing footage of structures that were destroyed 2 and 3 years ago.

5) A bomb exploded today in the West Bank and 2 Palestinians were killed. The Palestinians immediately said it was due to Israeli fire, assumably from the air? or a mysterious planted bomb?
The Israelis and most agree that it was a Palestinian bombmaker that went off yet prematurely again.

6) Finally, the biggest lie that was the gasoline to the Intifadah… Mohammed al-dura.

Now that’s not counting all the other lies like the Palis didn’t cheer on 9/11, except some ‘poor Palestinians’ that were paid and given sweets by deceptive ‘evil’ Israelis…
This comical farce is pumped out even to this day by Pali spokeman.

Outside of common sense of the poor liars they are (say as opposed to the slick Chinese and old Soviets, their trainers) I recently heard a Palestinian reporter speak who said forget some celebrating you could hear the celebrations from the Territories and Ramalla from miles away.

So one asks with all these lies how can reporters continue to cite Pali “sources” with any credibility while instead subjecting the IDF reports with the intense skepticism.

And how is it that when blatant lies are put forth, Karine A etc.. they are pooh poohed as just the poor Palis etc…
yet the next lie if at all believable like Rafah deaths and home destructions exagerrations and falsifications… are either given equal weight as “differing accounts” or given all the weight as all recent reports about Rafah.

So one asks some vexing questions?

1) How is it that a culture and people for the most part publically at least all go along pose, preen and lie for the cameras and Western assumably educated reporters continue to suck them down (get paid for them too) these continually proven lies while in Israel every word is questioned by the general population?
What does that say about the PLO and the Palis?

2) Will this effect future credence given to Pali ‘sources’?
Jenin didn’t seem to make a dent, as did neither the Karine A, Mohammed al-Dura, the murdering of the American Convoy etc…

3) Or will it just continue that an effective propaganda campaign as taught to them by the Viet Cong, will continue to work beautifully. As the gambler who always comes back for more, will Western sources continue to give credence to the possibility or likelihood that ‘this time’ the “Nazi” Israelis really did do it, ignore the ‘Big Lies’ of the past… This time I’m really gonna get rich at the Casino, this time the Palis must really be telling the truth…. everyone seems to be writing it…. the doctor wouldn’t lie about the wounds to the 5 year old killed, about Mohammed al-dura’s wounds, and they wouldn’t take dead animals and dig up bodies and dump them in Jenin or bring bodies from the Morgue to inflate the body count on Day 1 in Rafah to make world headlines????

WHY NOT? IT WORKS!
And even if proven false it can simply be chalked up to “differing war accounts” and the image of the Nazi Israelis is made in the immediacy effect anyway.
Its really easy to create a mess and takes a long time to clean it up…

Mike

73

Mike 05.23.04 at 11:18 pm

Chris Bertram

Jonathan, I linked to you because your coverage is normally fair-minded and even-handed, though I often disagree with it.

Bro if you don’t think Jonathan is ‘fair’ than you are 1 biased person yourself. He goes out of his way to promote rights for Arabs and Palestinians and unilateral withdrawal. In fact I doubt there is an Arab Weblog that displays key ruling in favor of the Arabs in Israel as much as Jonathan.

The Haaretz account says “IDF tanks fired shells at a crowd of protesters” and the IDF denies this was so. You say on your blog that you are willing to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt. In your comment here you seem more accepting of their version that that. Obviously, neither you, nor I nor anyone not there can at this stage adjudicate between competing versions…..

KEY PART –

But, given that IDF statements immediately after such incidents in the past have turned out to be inaccurate and self-serving (and I mentioned Qana) I don’t see why anyone should follow you in benefit-of-doubt-giving.

You must be kidding me if you can even state that with any kind of surity bordering on arrogance it sounds.
A) Have you ever read the IPC PLO news site? Its a joke. Its like a cheap propaganda site out of the 1700’s.

B) Jenin..

C) “The Israelis must have blown up the American convoy in the Gaza Strip” Recent report says Arafat and the PLO gave the go ahead, as if common sense didn’t tell you this.

D) “It didn’t happen it all a clever Israeli lie” but sir we have the captain of the ship, a Palestinian who says so, and the weapons on videotape showing right now…
“I am telling you the Israelis are deceiving you, you know they lie too. We need to convene a joint investigation with the UN to get to the bottom of this” Abdel Rahman on Oreilly after the Karine A

PRESENT –
1) There were 20 dead and most teenagers and civilians….
7 Dead at least 5 were gunmen.
Reports the Palestinians took bodies from the Morgue to try and trick and inflate the numbers.

2) 2 Palestinian teenage siblings were killed by Israeli gunshots Palis say. Israelis say they are investigating and that a Palestinian planting a bomb there at the time. Pali doctor “says there are only gunshot wounds no mortar wounds”
HOW MUCH YOU WANNA BET ON AN OFFER OF AN AUTOPSY?

3) Palestinians say as reported by Amy Kellog on Fox, that a 5 year old was shot and killed when she “went out to buy candy with her friends” (Right there you know its a lie.. “to buy candy”)
Israelis say there was NO SHOOTING WHATSOEVER OR PRESENCE in that area at the time.

4) Palestinians say some 40 homes and structures have been destroyed Kellog of Fox News states “her sources” have told her it looks like an ‘earthquake’ hit the area…. Israelis state that 5 have been destroyed including the home of the Sonny Corleone assassins of 4 girls aged 2-12 and their mother and 8 month fetus which was shot in the stomach to make sure he died as well.
Israelis say they are showing footage of structures that were destroyed 2 and 3 years ago.

5) A bomb exploded today in the West Bank and 2 Palestinians were killed. The Palestinians immediately said it was due to Israeli fire, assumably from the air? or a mysterious planted bomb?
The Israelis and most agree that it was a Palestinian bombmaker that went off yet prematurely again.

6) Finally, the biggest lie that was the gasoline to the Intifadah… Mohammed al-dura.

Now that’s not counting all the other lies like the Palis didn’t cheer on 9/11, except some ‘poor Palestinians’ that were paid and given sweets by deceptive ‘evil’ Israelis…
This comical farce is pumped out even to this day by Pali spokeman.

Outside of common sense of the poor liars they are (say as opposed to the slick Chinese and old Soviets, their trainers) I recently heard a Palestinian reporter speak who said forget some celebrating you could hear the celebrations from the Territories and Ramalla from miles away.

So one asks with all these lies how can reporters continue to cite Pali “sources” with any credibility while instead subjecting the IDF reports with the intense skepticism.

And how is it that when blatant lies are put forth, Karine A etc.. they are pooh poohed as just the poor Palis etc…
yet the next lie if at all believable like Rafah deaths and home destructions exagerrations and falsifications… are either given equal weight as “differing accounts” or given all the weight as all recent reports about Rafah.

So one asks some vexing questions?

1) How is it that a culture and people for the most part publically at least all go along pose, preen and lie for the cameras and Western assumably educated reporters continue to suck them down (get paid for them too) these continually proven lies while in Israel every word is questioned by the general population?
What does that say about the PLO and the Palis?

2) Will this effect future credence given to Pali ‘sources’?
Jenin didn’t seem to make a dent, as did neither the Karine A, Mohammed al-Dura, the murdering of the American Convoy etc…

3) Or will it just continue that an effective propaganda campaign as taught to them by the Viet Cong, will continue to work beautifully. As the gambler who always comes back for more, will Western sources continue to give credence to the possibility or likelihood that ‘this time’ the “Nazi” Israelis really did do it, ignore the ‘Big Lies’ of the past… This time I’m really gonna get rich at the Casino, this time the Palis must really be telling the truth…. everyone seems to be writing it…. the doctor wouldn’t lie about the wounds to the 5 year old killed, about Mohammed al-dura’s wounds, and they wouldn’t take dead animals and dig up bodies and dump them in Jenin or bring bodies from the Morgue to inflate the body count on Day 1 in Rafah to make world headlines????

WHY NOT? IT WORKS!
And even if proven false it can simply be chalked up to “differing war accounts” and the image of the Nazi Israelis is made in the immediacy effect anyway.
Its really easy to create a mess and takes a long time to clean it up…

Mike

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