How Many Civilian Casualties in Gaza?

24 July 2014

How Many Civilian Casualties in Gaza?
At the time of writing, it is reported that over 800 civilians in Gaza have been killed in the current conflict with Israel. But is this true? Where did these figures come from? Are they reliable? 

The short answer is that the figures come from Hamas and they are not reliable. They have been deliberately distorted. This is how.

In the first place, a directive from the Hamas Interior Ministry instructed spokesmen to report that ALL casualties are civilian. Further, they are instructed not to show pictures of rockets being fired from civilian areas. This can easily be confirmed by reference to the stalwart translation work of Memri.org. 

Secondly, from Hamas sources Al-Jazeera has compiled a list of what it says are civilians killed. This shows that male deaths were over 80% of the total. Even more indicative, those men between the ages of 18 and 38 were over 65% of the total. This means that deaths among men of fighting age are disproportionately high. 

Thirdly, the policy of Hamas to use civilians as human shields has contributed .... 


Mazal Tov President Abbas Part 2

22 January 2012

Mazal Tov, President Abbas (Part 2)

Lenin, Abbas and the UK Deputy Prime Minister


Lenin is credited with having coined the expression 'useful idiots'. By this is meant the service provided by innocent and ideologically blinded western politicians and reporters who defended the young Soviet state and did their best to deny, excuse or shield its totalitarian savagery from exposure.

In other words, the useful idiots served a totalitarian, anti-democratic and anti-liberal purpose. In reality, by defending revolutionary totalitarianism instead of supporting the democrats and liberals, who were being wiped-out by Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin and Stalin, they became dangerous idiots.

To look at this from another angle, the only people who are fooled by useful idiots are the liberal democrats who fail to see that their own liberal-democratic way of thinking and behaving is far from being shared by everyone. The liberal-democratic view that thinks disputes should be settled on a win-win basis without violence is fine when dealing with others who share a similar outlook. When reinforced by well-established and agreed structures, limits and laws the advantages seem obvious...

Mazal Tov, President Abbas (Part 1)

21 January 2012

Mazal Tov, President Abbas (Part 1)

Solidarity with the Palestiniansx


Earlier this month, a momentous occasion passed for the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas - he began the eighth year of his four-year term as President. But instead of a tsunami of congratulations from the world's leaders for this popular figure on such a remarkable anniversary, the occasion has been almost universally ignored.

The absence of elections for the Presidency is not the only feature of Palestinian democracy to be ignored by large sections of the world's political leaders and media. They have also ignored repeated cancellations of the Palestinian local elections. Likewise, the disappearance of elections to the Palestinian Authority has been greeted by silence. This is not an oversight. There is a pattern and the pattern is clear. 

The Palestinian leaders, in both Gaza and the Disputed Territories, jettison democracy ... 

Tzipi Livni: Inept or Dangerous?

26 Oct 2011

Tzipi Livni: Inept or Dangerous?

Misrepresenting Israel Abroad

Tzipi Livni is currently leader of Kadima ('forward') the largest opposition party in the Knesset. But if the remarks made by her deputy Shaul Mofaz at his recent Sukkot party are anything to go by (he announced that he would be the next Prime Minister of Israel), she won't be in this top position long. In a sense, this would be a pity. There is something comically entertaining in observing the constant stream of back-biting, incompetence, personal animosity and wishful-thinking at work. 

Of course, this faint enjoyment would be spoiled entirely if these people ever came to power. But working on the assumption that Mofaz is as deluded as his leader, we may be forced to suffer her as boss of Kadima for some time yet. So we may as well make the most of the entertainment value of her speciality: sounding like a petulant, spoilt child in a constant sulk.

Unfortunately, we cannot rely on this...   

The New Egypt and the Clash of Civilizations

22 February 2011

The New Egypt and the Clash of Civilizations

More Lessons of History


In 1973, the leaders of Egypt learned two critical lessons from the October 'Yom Kippur' War. The first was that it took a truly enormous effort to make even limited military gains against Israel. As part of its preparation for the assault, Egypt devoted a huge proportion of its GNP to the military. Military spending rose from 13% of GNP in 1969 to 25% by 1973.

Employing advanced Soviet bridging techniques, an extremely enterprising technique to blast tank pathways through Israeli sand-barriers and a huge supply of sophisticated Soviet weaponry, the much admired assault by Egyptian forces was a tremendous success in crossing the canal and pushing back Israeli defences. Yet even with the advantage of a powerful opening attack and almost total surprise, the attack failed to completely achieve its modest aim of seizing two Israeli military roads running parallel to the canal a mere 30 kilometres (20 miles) inside the Sinai....


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The Fantasy of a Demilitarised Palestinian State

14 June 2010


The Fantasy of a Demilitarized Palestinian State

The Critical Security Needs of Israel for a Viable Peace


As Prime Minister Netanyahu demonstrated in his speech at Bar Ilan University exactly a year ago, at last we have a leader who makes a central diplomatic issue of the central Israeli requirement for peace with the Palestinians. This is that if the 2-State Solution is to be the solution in reality it is proclaimed to be in theory, the Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state.

The reason for this demand is simple. Without the acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state there can be no confidence that '2-State Solution' will end the conflict as its promoters believe or pretend to believe. Instead, it will only be a new stage in the war against Israel. Therefore, the incessant repetition of the demand for acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is needed to expose its serial rejection by the Palestinians for as long as they refuse to accept it. 

Further, with sufficient repetition and constant promotion, the fact that it is impossible to solve the conflict on the basis of a 2-state solution without this Palestinian acceptance will make it possible for Israel to attract far wider public and diplomatic support. Otherwise, Israel's position is widely seen as illegitimate with the result that it is perpetually on the diplomatic defensive....

The Gaza War Flotilla and Israel's 'Hasbara'

06 June 2010


The Gaza War Flotilla and Israel's 'Hasbara'

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

The deluge of international anti-Israel hysteria at the killing of the nine 'activists' aboard the Mavi Marmara by Israeli forces once again demonstrates how automatic the reflex has become that Israel is in the wrong. Once again we had an exhibition of how it is considered completely legitimate to savage Israel with any arguments no matter how ignorant or fanciful. But it was just as easy to despair at the feeble and inept way that Israeli spokesmen responded. 


We are now used to the abysmal story that the intelligence behind our military preparations for the flotilla were hopelessly inadequate. So it was probably small wonder that Israel's hasbara preparations (explaining, propaganda, public relations) were no better. This is not easy to understand or forgive. After all, the arrival of the supposed humanitarian flotilla had been trumpeted well in advance. And Israel is famous for its cutting edge intelligence that is the envy of the world?

Yet watching rampaging interviewers on UK television accuse Israel of 'piracy' in 'international waters' pass with scarcely any counter-attack or serious challenge from the Israeli spokesman added self-made insult to injury.

Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 2)


04 April 2010

Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 2)

Obama’s View of International Conflict


There are two major factors that explain President Obama’s approach and why it is going so seriously wrong (see Explaining Obama's Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel #1 ). 

The first factor is that Obama is guided by a distinctive understanding of international conflicts and their resolution. The origins of this view lay in his earlier years as a political activist which were largely spent in communal, religious and labour circles. The main issues involved were with various leftish/liberal/radical activists over causes such as poverty, racism, injustice, lack of opportunities and so on. There's nothing essentially wrong with that, of course. And in so far as he considers the blame for social ills to originate within the capitalist system and/or with US imperialism and its racism, inequalities, arrogance, this goes a long way towards explaining his radicalism and his associations in Chicago politics....

Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 1)


02 April 2010


Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 1)

The Unfolding Disaster

The key argument to be made is that President Obama has a distinctive understanding of international conflict and of the Middle East in particular. Further, the argument is that this understanding is fatally flawed. As a result, instead of being the framework for solutions to the conflicts in the region, it is in fact making the problems in the region worse (see The Weakness of Obama's International Leadership #1 ).

Although some of the gloss has worn-off, there are many who still love President Obama. His words have a wide appeal. But to love him for his words and to ignore that everything he touches in the region is going badly wrong is to be too easily satisfied. 

His policy of getting tough with Israel over settlement building and the public battering of Netanyahu by Obama, Biden and Clinton, has predictably hardened the attitude of the leaders of the PA towards returning to negotiations; they can hardly afford to look softer than the US president. At the same time, looking over their shoulders at Hamas, they are pleased at the golden opportunity to look tough. In any case, why do they need negotiations when it looks certain they can get far more by letting the US, UN and Europe impose tougher terms on Israel than they could possibly get themselves?

Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 2)

04 April 2010

Explaining Obama's Disastrous Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel (Part 2)

Obama’s View of International Conflict



There are two major factors that explain President Obama’s approach and why it is going so seriously wrong (see Explaining Obama's Mishandling of Iran, the Middle East and Israel #1 ). 

The first factor is that Obama is guided by a distinctive understanding of international conflicts and their resolution. The origins of this view lay in his earlier years as a political activist which were largely spent in communal, religious and labour circles. The main issues involved were with various leftish/liberal/radical activists over causes such as poverty, racism, injustice, lack of opportunities and so on. There's nothing essentially wrong with that, of course. And in so far as he considers the blame for social ills to originate within the capitalist system and/or with US imperialism and its racism, inequalities, arrogance, this goes a long way towards explaining his radicalism and his associations in Chicago politics. 

When applied to an international context this perspective locates the major causes of international injustice and conflict with US capitalism and US hegemony. In this view, the heart of international conflict is the legacy of colonialism, the Cold war, and US culture – all of which Obama highlighted in his Cairo super-speech in 2009. That is, in common with left-leaning liberals and radicals, this perspective sees the US as the major culprit in international affairs.