Protecting Israel's Blockade of Gaza

29 June 2015

Protecting Israel’s Blockade of Gaza

The Legal Rules and Israel’s Hasbara

The new flotilla of ships from Sweden and elsewhere, currently attempting to breech Israel’s efforts to stop war-material reaching Hamas, will provide Israel with enormous diplomatic and hasbara opportunities.  These will be primarily in the areas for the promotion of Israel’s legal rights and opportunities to shift public perceptions of Israeli blame onto the Palestinians. 

Israel’s legal rights to act in international waters against attempts to break a lawful blockade are specific.  They include the legal permission to stop, search, divert, seize and even attack ships attempting to breech the blockade. 

The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 1994 provides:

How Israel Can Benefit Diplomatically from the Dissolution of the Palestinian Unity Government

 18 June 2015

How Israel Can Benefit Diplomatically from the Dissolution of the Palestinian Unity Government

With the end of the PA-Hamas ‘government’, we can now expect greater international pressure on Israel to embark again on the ‘peace-process’ with the PA.  Indeed, only recently PM Netanyahu announced a readiness for such talks.  This may have been advantageous from an image point of view.  But it also involves a serious difficulty which can easily be rectified.  

The difficulty is that simply agreeing to peace-process negotiations with the PA creates a false impression.  This severely damages Israel by fostering the incorrect belief that a win-win solution to the conflict is possible.  Yet as long as the Palestinians refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, and to deny 2 states for 2 peoples, there can be no implementation of the favorite solution of the international community – the 2-state solution.

A diplomatic own-goal

That is, agreeing to talks as if a win-win solution to the conflict were feasible in these circumstances obscures from view the zero-sum/winner-takes-all strategy of the Palestinians. As a result, this remains the unseen driving force of the conflict (see Abbas’ Cairo Interview and The Israeli Demand that Palestinians Accept Israel as a Jewish State ).

Without this being clear, those who profess to believe that peace will only be achieved by an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will continue to blame Israel for not agreeing to withdraw. Israel’s diplomatic approach is thus a key element that reinforces the belief that Israel is yet again to blame for the inevitable failure of any talks. 

In other words, the continued lack of international awareness of the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state is in part due to Israel’s own international diplomatic stance. This in turn is reflected in its non-existent public diplomacy on this core issue.

Solving the problem

Therefore, a better response is to ...

Elections and the Shell-Shocked ‘Left’

Elections and the Shell-Shocked Left

The Dangerous Mizrachi Red-Herring

Currently, it looks as if it may prove harder to form the new coalition government than expected. This will provide at least some uplift to the spirits of the Center-Left which is still in a state of shock. 

The election result obviously disappointed and dismayed many – especially in the media. As a result, many have been casting about for a scape-goat. This turns out to be voters of a Mizrachi background. They are variously supposed to be too hostile to the Arabs to appreciate the finer points of genuine peace-mongering, or too poor or uneducated to understand that by voting for Bibi they were voting against their own interests. 

This reminded me of a talk I attended many years ago in the UK given by James Klugmann. James was one of the brilliant group of Cambridge communists associated with the spies Philby, Burgess and others before the Second World War. He was also a marvelous lecturer. Almost everyone who met him immediately called him James (his name was actually Norman). 

In this particular talk, his purpose was to answer the question of why the then British Prime Minister, the Labour leader Harold Wilson, was such a failure and had betrayed the working class yet again. Klugmann said he had asked this question at an earlier version of the talk and a voice in the audience had shouted, 'because he's a bastard'. Klugmann responded that while this theory certainly had its attraction, he wasn't entirely sure it satisfied as an explanation.

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Loading the Legal Dice against Israel

08 March 2015

Loading the Legal Dice against Israel

The Core Legal Deceptions of Israel’s Opponents

1. The Framework of Deceit

Legally framed attacks on Israel by critics and enemies feature prominently in the international mass media with propaganda hostile to Israel.  Repeated by political leaders, commentators and at every opportunity by the Palestinians, their claims have become more or less standard ‘truisms’:

1. The West Bank is occupied;

2. The occupied West Bank is Palestinian territory;

3. The border of the Occupied Palestinian Territory is the 1949 Armistice Line between Jordanian and Israeli military forces: the Green Line;

4. The Jewish communities inside the Green Line are illegal under international law;

5. Israel is required to withdraw from the West Bank.

Yet all this has been almost without public challenge by Israel’s hasbara.   This has created the impression that Israel has no adequate response to the accusations and that it is guilty as accused.   As a result, the allegations have been widely and uncritically accepted as established truth. 
A ‘key feature’ of these accusations is that they are conducted in a very peculiar way.   The dice are loaded against Israel by a major deception.

The Israeli Demand that Palestinians Accept Israel as a Jewish State

15 January 2015

The Israeli Demand that Palestinians Accept Israel as a Jewish State

Why the Deal-Maker for Israel is the Deal-Breaker for the Palestinians - and Vice Versa

Part 1 Reut and wrong

Gidi Grinstein is founder and CEO of the Re’ut Institute of Tel Aviv. The great thing about his article Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People / Palestine as the Nation State of the Palestinian People (Re’ut-Institute website), is that it takes as its subject the crucial issue at the heart of the Israeli conflict with the Arabs. The not-so-great-thing is that it does this with a shallow analysis that trivializes and distorts a serious matter.

The issue is the Israeli requirement that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People.   Prime Minister Netanyahu has regularly made this the fundamental building block of any 2-State Solution.  For example:

There will be no Palestinian state before the state of Israel is recognized as the Jewish people’s state, and there will be no Palestinian state before the Palestinians declare an end to the conflict.
( 02/12/2012)
Gidi Grinstein finds that this Israeli demand is:
a just one, yet non-essential, and therefore unnecessary.  
Unfortunately, he supports this view with some silly arguments. Yet, Gidi Grinstein is both smart and substantial.  Therefore, his use of explanations that trivialize the issue is worrying.  For example, he says this:  

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Abbas' Cairo Interview: The Demise of Israel: Hidden in Plain Sight

12 December 2014


The Demise of Israel:  Hidden in Plain Sight

Here are three quotations from the interview given by PLO appointed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Egyptian newspaper ‘Akhbar Al-Yawm’ on 30 November 2014.

Israel must recognize the June 4, 1967 border.
We cannot recognize a Jewish state.
There are six million refugees who wish to return, and by the way, I am one of them.
(MEMRI 05 Dec 2014 Special Dispatch 5898)

The occasion was the meeting of the Arab League on the previous day in Cairo where the Arab League restated its position as:

categorical rejection of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state
(Al-Ahram online 29 Nov 2014)

These terms were almost identical to a statement by the 22-member body made earlier in the year when the Council of the Arab League stated that it:

emphasizes its rejection of recognizing Israel as a ‘Jewish state’
(Al-Jazeera online 09 Mar 2014)
The same Al- Jazeera article observed that:

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B’tselem and the Martians Part 2

16 August 2014

B’tselem and the Martians (2) 

The Gaza War and Hamas

In Part 1 it was suggested that whereas the Martians were only able to see one of the parties to a conflict due to an equipment malfunction, B’tselem has no such excuse. Its failure to see is a product of downplaying or ignoring what it prefers not to see. 

As an illustration of this, Part 1 noted that the B’tselem website covers the conflict in Gaza with only a single article devoted to Hamas out of 15 front-page articles (on 11 August 2014). This briefly comments that the Hamas practice of firing rockets from civilian areas in Gaza into civilian areas in Israel is ”morally and legally reprehensible” – but apparently this is not illegal or criminal for B’tselem.

Given the unrelenting blame heaped upon Israel by B’tselem elsewhere on its website with a variety of accusations of criminal activity, it is hard to view this mild rebuke as other than a mere token. Presumably, its inclusion is intended to provide at least some appearance of 'balance' in its criticism.

How else to explain that nowhere in the article, or elsewhere in its coverage of the war, or elsewhere on the B’tselem website, is there any mention that Hamas is a murderous anti-Semitic terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of as many Jews as possible?     

Typically, this is also absent from the coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by the mainstream mass media.   But why would B’tselem want to hide it?   Is it such an irrelevance that it can be ignored?   Or is it information critical to understanding the conflict?   

B’tselem and the Martians Part 1

14 August  2014

B’tselem and the Martians (1)

The Gaza War and Hamas

Shortly after writing the previous blog entry (How Many Civilian Casualties in Gaza?) a link to the website of B’tselem arrived from a friend. This devotes many articles to the damage and casualties in Gaza. Possibly, the sender meant them as an antidote to my article. Instead, it reminded me of a story I heard many years ago.

This was not long after the BBC’s monopoly of British television was broken by ITV.   One of the innovations of ITV was the introduction of wrestling into sports programs.   Much of this was the sham, entertainment-type of wrestling - far too vulgar for the BBC.   

One day, as the wrestling was being shown; earth was visited by beings from space – almost certainly Martians.   While circling the earth, their receivers somehow picked up the wrestling transmissions.  

Unfortunately, these suffered a serious malfunction – and only one of the wrestlers was visible.   The Martians watched as the lone wrestler repeatedly smashed his head against the corner post, screamed in agony, twisted his arms behind his back, contorted his face in pain, bounced off the ropes, rose into the air and crashed to the floor in an unconscious heap.

Disturbed by this alarming display, the Martians could see no rational explanation and concluded that the earthlings were mad.  Curiosity satisfied, they reversed direction and headed back into space never to return.   

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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 

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 .... 

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Mazal Tov President Abbas Part 2

22 January 2012

Mazal Tov, President Abbas (2)

Lenin, President 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.