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Friday, July 14, 2006

A guest post by Zahava

Sorry about the lack of Photo Friday today.  I am out with the kids tending to the bee hives.  However, I hope you enjoy this guest post by my lovely wife Zahava.  Shabbat Shalom.

Dear Treppenwitz Readers:

I don’t often offer my 2 cents — at least not publicly — on matters of politics. However, in light of the deteriorating security situation here in Israel, I believe our continuing struggle with 'image' and the fair portrayal of Israel in the media must continue to be  a priority. We simply cannot afford to overlook the damage that agenda-driven 'human interest stories' inflict upon the world's perception of the situation here.

The best recent example that jumps to mind of how Israel is demonized in the media is the unfortunate story of the young Gazan girl (Hadeel Ghalia) who lost her family in an as-yet, unexplained explosion. The source of the explosion is irrelevant, although certainly not the result of IDF artillary as had been initally widely reported. Also irrelevant is the 'human interest' aspect of the story when outsiders attempt to link it to Israel's ability to protect both its land and citizens. Before anyone starts shouting that I am a heartless monster, please take a moment to consider the sentiments behind these statements.

On a human, and even more importantly, on a humane, level my heart breaks for this orphaned Palestinian girl. It is truly tragic that she will grow up without a family to love, guide, educate and cherish her. There is no mitigating information that would make me feel otherwise. Contrary to reports (read: thinly-veiled accusations) elsewhere on the Israeli-Anglo blogosphere, I don’t think that there is anyone who doesn’t feel some level of both sympathy and empathy for this girl.

My major philosophical break, however, is with feelings of responsibility. I do not feel responsible for this girl’s situation. Not. One. Bit.

Again, before playing the 'heartless b*tch' card, please allow me to explain .

It is not surprising – given my status as an Olah (immigrant) to Israel – that I am quite proud to be an Israeli citizen. I am proud of our land, our heritage, our government (okay, maybe this last part isn’t always true).  And I am especially proud of our armed forces because, despite protestations to the contrary, they conduct themselves with an unprecedented respect for human life – their own as well as our enemy’s. Do they occasionally err? Yes. In time of war, no army can escape isolated errors of judgment.

However, our armed forces, often at great risk to themselves, operate in such a manner so as to cause the least damage to civilian population centers as possible. This is especially difficult when Israel’s enemies deliberately place their entire terror/military infrastructure in the heart of their own civilian population centers.

This does not dismiss the tragic fact that armed conflicts exact civilian casualties. But when an enemy uses their own civilian populations to shield themselves from retaliation it contextually reflects a different attitude about the value of civilian life.

It is no accident that Palestinian militants and other Islamic holy warriors hide behind women and children. They count on the high value placed on human life by the Judeo-Christian tradition to weigh heavily on our retaliatory decisions. They exploit this fact and scream ‘war crime’ and ‘atrocity’ to the western media when, despite the multiple precautionary layers, our need to strike at those who have attacked us result in less-than-desirable results. And sadly enough, they are no longer simply hiding behind their women and children.  Israeli security prisons are bursting with young men, women and even teenagers because they are actively recruited as instruments of terror.

The issue of militants taking refuge in centers of civilian populations is an enormous problem that is completely ignored in the international discussion of the local conflict.

First and foremost, our military has a responsibility to Israeli civilian populations to do everything in its’ power to keep them safe. It is unreasonable to suggest that a pursuit of a known terrorist be aborted simply because he/she has taken refuge in a place were civilian lives are jeopardized. As long as the terrorist remains free to operate, lives of all citizens – Arabs and Jews – are endangered. Terrorism isn’t selective.  By definition it is deliberately random with the primary goal being the loss of civilian life.   Bombed busses aren’t able to eject their Arab riders and detonate only the Jewish ones! The pursuit of terrorists into civilian populations isn’t designed to heighten the risk to Arab populations, but rather to lessen the risk to all populations.

Another issue often swept under the proverbial rug is the fact that these civilian populations have not made any noticeable attempt to force the terrorists to stop using them as human shields! This is not to suggest that they want to be shields. But, to date, these folks have not done much to “take back their neighborhoods.” And while one can argue that is a difficult and dangerous task to oppose armed militants in ones midst… so is being a human shield!

Before you jump down my throat and tell me that “it isn’t easy",  and that innocent Palestinian civilians are threatened – often at gun point – to comply with the terrorists’ wishes, I’d like to remind you of the power of collective consensus.

Certainly, there is much work to be done in the drug-infested inner cities in the US. But much has been accomplished in this regard. And it begins with a brave refusal to allow armed drug lords to continue with the intimidation and violence they use to dictate their terms to society. It begins with a group of committed individuals saying “go somewhere else, I won’t be a party to this.” Some of these brave and committed individuals sacrifice their lives by saying no. But in this sacrifice, they hope to put an end to intolerable conditions. For their kids. For their grandkids. For justice.

A couple of days ago Steve Erlanger (aptly dubbed the “official spokesman for Hamas” by our friend Robert Avrech over at Seraphic Secret) wrote a lovely little human interest piece about the goings-on in Gaza. The original title was “Once Again, Gazans Are Displaced by Israeli Occupiers.” The title has since been changed – one would hope, due to complaints, but it was actually the contents of this article that inspired me to express myself today.

I don’t have the energy to run around correcting every inaccurate detail of every anti-Israel article. But I can't overstate the importance of insisting that news outlets clearly diferentiate and identify information which is factual from that which is editorial.

Journalists are entitled to their opinions, and should be encouraged to express them. But, they should be both accurate and honest about when they are reporting facts and when they are sharing their opinions. That line is no longer blurry… it has disappeared altogether in the main stream media… and sadly, editors don’t seem to mind this breach of ethics that occurs when journalists shop their own personal agendas under the guise of hard news.

Here is what I wrote to the editors:

“Once Again, Gazans Are Displaced by Israeli Occupiers.”

To the Editors:
“At least Israel should release the women and children prisoners of ours that they have,” he [Mr. Edbary] said. “It’s shameful.”
This article is shameful. The sensationalized title is deliberate in its’ obfuscation of the facts. Gazans have not been displaced by “Israeli occupiers,” – their “displacement” is due to Hamas’ refusal to cease missile attacks from Palestinian territory into Israeli areas of civilian populations, and renounce terrorism.
Once again, Steve Erlanger is all too eager to cast Israel as the “occupier.” Shameful is the fact that the Palestinian women and youths in Israeli jails have been caught trying to take innocent Israeli lives.

Shameful is the idea that these prisoners’ rights are more valuable than the lives they attempted to take or jeopardize.

Shameful is the fact that militant Palestinian factions use densely populated civilian areas as refuges.

Shameful is the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians elected a government that both endorses, and actively supports, terrorist activities.
Israeli civilians face daily threats from rocket attacks, suicide bombers, snipers, and roadside bombs. These threats have only escalated since the completion of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon and ‘disengagement’ from Gaza.   Good intelligence rather than a decline in terror attempts have been responsible for the perception of calm that existed prior to Israel’s recent retaliatory activity.
The myth of a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza  is just that – a myth. Border crossings have been opened on an ongoing basis to allow humanitarian supplies (food, medicine, etc.) to reach the civilian Gazan population.   IN many cases Hamas has thwarted these attempts to aid their own people.
Israel is not responsible for the Palestinians living in Palestinian controlled areas.  The Palestinian Authority is. At present, the Palestinian Authority is run by Hamas.   Rather than creating municipal infrastructure, legislation, or the development of economic recovery plans, Hamas has placed its’ priority on recruiting the weakest, poorest, and least educated members of their society into its’ military wing to perpetuate the untenable state of “low-intensity warfare” against its’ neighbor Israel.

Fortunately for Israel, the majority of these recruits fail at their missions, hence their confinement in Israeli prisons. But the fact Hamas recruits these young men, women and even children, trains them, and finances their missions without a word from Mr. Erlanger? Now that is “shameful.”
Zahava Bogner
Efrat, Israel

I don’t know if Mr. Erlanger is actually anti-semitic, anti-zionist/pro-Palestinian, or if he simply has a misplaced sense of sportsmanship which has him constantly painting the Palestinians as the victimized underdogs. What’s more, I really don’t care.

In nearly every piece he writes, facts are made subordinate to opinion. And while opinion is valuable, it should not determine nor dominate a discussion of why the average Gazan is being oppressed.

Gazans need a plan. They need jobs, schools, housing, healthcare, and a government willing and able to deliver these things to them. The possibility for these things existed under Israeli “occupation”, but they preferred to self-govern and self-determine… which, of course, is their right.  But it seems odd that they refused to accept these things from the Israeli government, yet they won’t demand them from their own leadership either.

The world has shown unprecedented generosity to three generations of Palestinian refugees. Yet while the typical Palestinian family remained in squalor, Arafat’s estimated personal wealth grew to around $33 million dollars.

When you factor in the additional resources being poured into bombs, missiles, and terrorist activity it is not hard to understand why they lack the down payment on some of the municipal infrastructures so sorely lacking in Palestinian society.  Donations from around the world probably would not have solved all their problems, but my guess is that it would have gone a long way towards giving a hopeful future to those now so despondent over their situations that their only option is to don a 10-kilo bomb belt and try to take as many Israeli civilians as possible into the next world with them.

So, Mr. Erlanger (if you’re listening), If you’re not part of the solution, you might very well be part of the cause. Allowing the Palestinians to perpetuate the myth that the destruction of Israel will solve their problems dooms both Israelis and Palestinians to a future of warfare and tragedy.   

The only motivation I can identify in Mr. Erlanger’s agenda is that it will certainly assure him a secure future of writing about the intractable Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Posted by David Bogner on July 14, 2006 | Permalink


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If you have any doubts about where Erlanger stands, just read the second half of this book review:

Posted by: Ben Chorin | Jul 14, 2006 2:12:24 PM


This is a well written piece. You should blog more often!!

Posted by: seawitch | Jul 14, 2006 3:05:01 PM

Hear, hear!!

Posted by: zemirah | Jul 14, 2006 3:31:13 PM

Great Post Zahava! The reason I support Israel is because of it's potential, there's alot of good we (the youth, from around the world) can learn from your land and people... apart from war. I've seen what terrorists can do to innocent lives back here so I know what they're capable of, regardless of the brains behind their motive. It's obvious that they want you all out of your land, but that's not going to happen! They've often undermined the meaning of 'Israel a Sovereign State'.

The Political System in Israel is not perfect (like any other political system in the world) and sometimes is a reflection of how costly bad decisions can impact on innocent lives, but again, it's not a reason why anyone should undermine the Sovereignty of another country ... I know there's no foreseeable solution in the Middle East but I hope a time will come when Ishmael will be tamed enough to live with every man.
A gentiles Sentiments Only.

Posted by: pk | Jul 14, 2006 3:46:27 PM

Excellent post! I'd like to send it to a few newspapers back in California who need a reality check but I won't plagiarize -- I love the sentiment, and the way you presented the facts. Why don't you 'guest blog' more often?

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 14, 2006 4:02:22 PM

Zahava, well you still haven't started your own blog as per my request (I guess a girl can't expect everything)...but you have posted...so right now, that's good enough for me.
Thank you for this very articulate, clarifying post. Excellent.

Posted by: cruisin-mom | Jul 14, 2006 4:02:27 PM

well you know me, dear Zahava - and my political stance (meaning I have none)
But I wanted to say, you and your family's saftey are on both of our minds.
Keep safe and be well.

Posted by: lisa | Jul 14, 2006 4:04:00 PM

Great Post!

A better analogy than the drug war is the spontaneous organizations - largely started by women - that sprung up in Northern Ireland. There, too, civilians faced down a ruthless, anarchic terrorist leadership. These organizations managed to delegitimize the IRA and force it towards a political resolution of the situation.

And while I agree with your post - don't bother with the Erlangers of this world, or with the NY Times. They are like the fool in the Maharal's fable who first shoots the arrow, then draws a bullseye around it: they see only facts that fit their romantic left-wing template of "White European Oppressor vs. Noble Brown-Skinned Third-Worlder".

Posted by: Ben-David | Jul 14, 2006 4:06:01 PM

Amazing, Zahava. Thank you :)

Posted by: Shayna | Jul 14, 2006 4:17:30 PM

Spot on, Zahava.

I agree that you should start your own blog.

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 14, 2006 5:25:21 PM

Well done.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 14, 2006 5:47:18 PM

Dear Zahava, thank you. It's a comfort to feel that we are not alone in our efforts to make the truth known. Sometimes I fear it's my obsession, maybe I'm under a delusion? and the Guardian and the Frankfurter Rundschau are right, and I am wrong? Thank you for reassuring me that I'm still sane.

Posted by: Lila | Jul 14, 2006 6:27:15 PM

Kol HaKavod, Zahava.

Posted by: Imshin | Jul 14, 2006 7:39:45 PM

Excellent post! Would love to hear more from you (as well as knowing what the reaction was to your letter to the editor.)

I have a question to those who constantly support and report the news from the other side, such as Lisa and her journalist friends - Can you or will you give offer your two cents to what Zahava just wrote? It seems so obvious, but it doesn't seem to be written on your blogs. Just curious why?

Posted by: jaime | Jul 14, 2006 8:30:09 PM

Excellent piece! I'm joining with everyone: it sounds like a really good idea for you to start your own blog! : )

Posted by: Irina | Jul 14, 2006 10:44:58 PM

Sorry, hope that didn't sound rude or confrontational - sincerely meant that as curiousity only and to learn more behind the choices of editors and journalists.

Posted by: jaime | Jul 14, 2006 10:48:47 PM

Zahava, I agree that you're a fantastic writer & should have your own blog. I also wanted to commend your courage. Admirable.

Posted by: soferet | Jul 14, 2006 11:18:48 PM

Israeli Jets Strike Hezbollah Targets in Southern Beirut

gotta kepp doin it

Posted by: rafe | Jul 14, 2006 11:49:14 PM

It's been my observation that "anti-Semitism" is usually sufficient explanation for such idiotic criticism of Israel's measured response to the terrorists' indiscriminate attacks. Those who call themselves "anti-Zionist" are simply making a distinction without a difference. For all practical purposes "anti-Zionism" (when applied to you Jewish settlers) means the same thing as "anti-Semitism". If you collectively have no right to defend yourselves, then you individually can be ordered to simply line up in front of box cars for your express trip to Auschwitz. NEVER AGAIN!!!

Posted by: Bob | Jul 15, 2006 2:18:02 AM

you seem a well educated woman and this was a well written blog post.

for your effort, perhaps consider a summer vacation to gaza for you and your gorgeous family... according to you it's a lovely and safe place to be right now. maybe plan a beachfront picnic... lightening (or 155mm shells in this case) never strikes the same place twice, right?

not something you want to do? hmmm, maybe it's because your (admittedly imperfect) government has turned gaza into 'Auschwitz for arabs'.

Posted by: ima | Jul 15, 2006 6:36:05 PM

Well, ima, Gaza is finally free of Israeli occupation, but it seems that it's still not good enough.

Remember what happened here

Zahava, an excellently written piece! You've put in to very precise words what needed saying and without pulling punches. Yesher Koach!
(PS please keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.)

Posted by: jennifer | Jul 15, 2006 8:54:29 PM

Either the Palestinians self govern and self determine or they get the vote in the country that rules them, Israhell.

You want you cake and eat it too. You want laboreres who cannot vote or demand the protection of the law, you want to rule over millions of induiginous people and deny them citizenship in both their own state and in the one that governs all of Palestine (the Israhelli State).

What ever gave you the notion that you had a right to move on to other people's land and deny them any human civil rights at all?

Were you suffering so in the land of your birth?

Posted by: Eugene Weixel | Jul 15, 2006 9:47:12 PM

Clearly innnocent civilians are dying on both sides. An Israeli life is not more important than a Palestinian life, and vice versa.If Israel wants peace, it should behave as such.The list of human rights violations is long, and humiliating. Gaza is hardly free of Israeli control, punishment, ETC. The suffering of one group is not superior to that of another. It should never be used as an excuse to destroy more innocent lives.

Posted by: an American p.o.v. | Jul 15, 2006 10:22:27 PM

Ima, Eugene, POV and all those making their contorted calculations to support Palestinian victimhood:

The Palestinians spent SIX MONTHS digging a tunnel into sovereign Israeli terrority, in a premeditated attack.

However much they suffer - it's on them and their leadership, which chose this course of action.

Innocence and virtue are not determined by just adding up casualties. Aggressors should not complain when their would-be victims defend themselves.

Oh, and Eugene - the Palestinians have been almost entirely replaced in the Israeli economy, larely because of their violence. Among the hulking concrete ruins of Gaza, one prominent one is the Erez Industrial Zone, built with international funding, which was supposed to bring industry and jobs to Gaza. The Palis torched it.

Maybe now you'll amuse us with another ideological contortion to "blame" Israel for not giving Palis jobs...

Posted by: Ben-David | Jul 15, 2006 10:40:44 PM

Ima, Eugene, POV and all those making their contorted calculations to support Palestinian victimhood:

The Palestinians spent SIX MONTHS digging a tunnel into sovereign Israeli terrority, in a premeditated attack.

However much they suffer - it's on them and their leadership, which chose this course of action.

Innocence and virtue are not determined by just adding up casualties. Aggressors should not complain when their would-be victims defend themselves.

Oh, and Eugene - the Palestinians have been almost entirely replaced in the Israeli economy, larely because of their violence. Among the hulking concrete ruins of Gaza, one prominent one is the Erez Industrial Zone, built with international funding, which was supposed to bring industry and jobs to Gaza. The Palis torched it.

Maybe now you'll amuse us with another ideological contortion to "blame" Israel for not giving Palis jobs...

Posted by: Ben-David | Jul 15, 2006 10:41:42 PM

I don't find anything "amusing" about this on-going conflict. And how far back in history shall we venture? 6 months? A couple decades? Thousand years?
In your opinion who are the victims?

Posted by: an American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 12:01:16 AM

Ben Chorin: YIKES! That was an eye-popping read.

Seawitch and Zemirah: [blush] Thank you both. I simply don't have the time to guest-blog more often. Running a design studio and being a mother-to-three are basically two time-and-a-half jobs.... But I deeply appreciate the encouragement! :-)

pk: "....but I hope a time will come when Ishmael will be tamed enough to live with every man." From your lips to Hashem's (G-d's) ears!

aliyah06: Thank you! Your desire to contact other media outlets is extremely gratifying! See my response to Seawitch and Zemirah re: more frequent guest blogs.

Cruisin-Mom: Thank you for your kind words! [blushes, again] If I could a way to transcribe my thoughts directly from my head to a webpage I might consider blogging myself.... Until such technology exists, however, I am afraid it will be a more random thing.... :-P

Lisa: Thank you! Please don't worry too much, but it does mean the world to all of us to have you and yours thinking of us! And during these stressful times, your family's limoncello recipe is doing a remarkable job of soothing frayed nerves!

Ben-David: [blushes profusely!] Touché to the analogy in Northern Ireland -- thanks! Re: the Erlangers of the world -- believe me, I know that reaching them is hopeless. My goal is really to get people who might be influenced by his words to think more critically about what they read, and to also let the editors at the NYTs understand that there are folks who notice when they are being sold a platform as opposed to being presented with facts.

Shanya: Thanks! :-)

Rahel: Coming from someone as eloquent as yourself, the compliment means quite a bit! Thank you. Re: starting my own blog -- think enough has been said on this... :-)

Jack: Thank you.

Lila: Extremist rhetoric IS defeaning! Glad to be a comfort.

Imshin: [blushes] Thank you! Of course, you should know that shortly after this was published, I read your inspiring words and wished that I could have been as eloquent and as brief as you were! You SO summed up my sentiments in your "Fluey-haze" post!

Jaime: The editor at the NYT never responded, thus I would assume that they opted not to publish my letter. [I for one, am shocked! LOL] Re: Lisa and her journalist friends, I would be extremely intersted in their perspectives as well, and like yourself, I do not mean this in a rude or confrontational way.

Irina: Thanks. Maybe someday....

Soferet: Thank you very much complimenting my writing. However, I am not sure why you think I have shown courage, in all honesty. In my mind, there is no good reason that after 58-plus years a significant percentage of the region's population lives in hopeless squalor. As an Israeli, I tend to hold the so-called leadership of the Palestinians responsible. I truly believe that their leaders have held them hostage for three generations to further their (the leaders') personal agendas. However, I would be criminally naive as to think that most Palestinians would share the same thoughts. There is no question that Israel has erred in policy over the years. I simply don't think that we can right those errors by pointless handwringing and self-flagellation. And, I find it difficult to criticize Israeli policy -- even policy which has proved to be less than perfect -- because it has always been determined in the face of an enemy which to this day refuses to recognize Israel's very existence!

Rafe: Nothing would make me, and I dare-say another 6-million-plus Israelies, happier than peace.

Bob: I agree. Anti-zionist is simply an attempt to appear to be politically correct and still anti-semitic.

Ima: Perhaps you need to reread the post. You seem to have missed or ignored the points.

Jennifer: Thank you! It should go without saying that we have a soft-spot for sailors in this household! Please know that yours is ALWAYS in our hearts and prayers!

Eugene Weixel: Perhaps you too need to reread the post.

American p.o.v: As I made crystal clear in the introductory portion of my post -- I am distraught by the many personal tragedies this conflict has inflicted, and it doesn't matter to me whether the sufferer is Palestinian or Israeli. I have not said that a Palestinian life is worth less than an Israeli life -- I have, however, said terrorists place less value on the lives of their compatriots than Israelis do. Think about that for a moment! Do you realize that the average Israeli cares more about the safety of the average Palestinian than the officers in the Palestinian Authority do?! Please do not preach to me about the sanctity of life or the humiliation of the Palestinian people unless you are prepared to, in the same breath, acknowledge long list of places that the Palestinians can -- but regrettably have not -- demonstrated their desire for peace as well.

Ben-David: The issue of the number of casualties speaks to one of the central issues of this post: in simply tallying the volume two distinct and essential elements to resolution of the conflict are overlooked -- 1) the two sides do not place the same value on life in this world, and 2) the willingness to "die-for-the-cause" is bound to increase the number of casualties. How can the world view the death of a suicide-bomber on the same moral plane as one of his/her victims? Even while the "grieving" mother of the the bomber exclaims on-camera that her only wish was that her child had more lives to dedicate to the cause? I keep returning to Golda Meir's sentiment... until they teach their kids to love life more than they hate us.....

Posted by: zahava | Jul 16, 2006 12:10:23 AM

Your argument is the same argument your opposition would make. These continual rounds of finger pointing, are fruitless.
Harboring an attitude of indifference towards humanity is reflective of "contorted ideology" --not the opposite.

Posted by: an American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 12:14:05 AM

"Please do not preach to me about the sanctity of life or the humiliation of the Palestinian people unless you are prepared to, in the same breath, acknowledge long list of places that the Palestinians can -- but regrettably have not -- demonstrated their desire for peace as well." My original post discussed loss of life on both sides, and the perpetual blame game is obviously of no resolution. I think a more apt question is who has the power to influence, and foster peaceful relations between the conflicted parties ?

Posted by: an American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 12:23:09 AM

Just to clarify:1st was directed at Ben-David. Thanks.

Posted by: an American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 12:27:14 AM

American p.o.v.: We seem to have cross-posted. Yes, you did discuss life lost on both sides, but your original comment, as well as your most recent ones seem to imply that the onus of solution lies on squarely on Israel's shoulders. Israeli citizens do not enter Palestinian cafés, hotels, or busses with 3 to 10 kilos of explosive strapped to their bodies in a determined effort to kill, maim, and terrify Palestinian civilians. For the past 58-plus years, the Palestinians have been engaged in a frightening form of assymetrical warfare which violates every principal of the Geneva convention.

And I think that I MORE than answered your question regarding who has the power to influence -- though sadly, that power is not being used for peaceful purposes. Terrorists summarily execute any and all Palestinian citizens that they suspect of collaborating (working) with Israel towards peaceful coexistence.

Until the terrorist infrastructure is eliminated, most efforts to broker a meaningful peace will, I fear, evaporate.

The more apt question is not who has the influence and power to foster peace -- but rather is, "who among the Palestinians has the courage to fight terrorism?"

Palestinian terrorism is not just aimed only at Israelis. It is aimed at Palestinians as well.

Posted by: zahava | Jul 16, 2006 12:47:13 AM

Jaime - I think that Lisa and the other journalists are currently up North or in Gaza covering the war zones for their respective employers, so they probably didn't see your question.

Posted by: lisoosh | Jul 16, 2006 1:30:41 AM

To those who disparage Israel. It is easy to come up with trite comments in which you blame Israel for all of the woes of the Palestinians.

There is often a lack of substantive commentary in these criticisms. They consist of Israel kicked out the indigenous people, they won't let them return, they have all the power blah, blah, blah.

If you want to be intellectually honest than you have to reexamine the question of who is indigenous and stop the stupid power comments.

If Israel had as much power as you attribute to it there wouldn't be a war right now.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 16, 2006 3:09:11 AM

"Terrorists summarily execute any and all Palestinian citizens that they suspect of collaborating (working) with Israel towards peaceful coexistence." If you believe this, then what action can be taken by Palestinians without jeopardizing more lives? Retaliation by Israeli military -ETC. is (also) largely taken out on Palestinian civilians. This is a fact. Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights,Oxfam, and an entire slew of other humanitarian organizations have documented these atrocities(see "Geneva convention violations"). No one is discounting the amount of suffering and lives lost on both sides. However,if Israel is going to take action it should be against terrorism - not innocent men, women and children. This is not a remedy - punishing an entire people for the actions of propagators of terrorism is less than humane. Israel has more power and authority in regards to change - the U.S. supports this area both politically and militarily.(no support for the two state solution,etc) I.E. Given current events Israel (per the norm) is depicted favorably in the news (see CNN, etc)- and broadcast media reports were/are biased and non objective at best. In regards to the New York Times article disagreeing with
Israel's position & the reaction that this is the equivalent of being an anti-semite or anti-zionist? This is a ridiculous (if not offensive)accusation, and is too convienent to be taken seriously. If a person disagrees with another who happens to be of another ethinicty, religion etc. - does this make them racist? a bigot? Hardly. Israel is the recipient of continual support from the U.S. (on many different levels - including cultural/ I'm certain your aware there is a Jewish population in the U.S.) The petty banter of which side started what, when, where, and how - in the end is of no use. Is it more important to be right - or have peace?.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 3:17:18 AM

Jack: "intellectually honest" is a (laughable) misnomer. given the number of various religions across the globe, "intellectual honesty" per you can only be achieved if one prescribes to Judeo-Christian beliefs or "it's our land because God gave it to us a thousand years ago.." (note your implication above). Herein lies the tension you've overlooked. Israel is not at war because they lack power, but to dismantle Hezbollah/other terrorist organizations. Power always brings opposition, it's a historical fact Jack.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 5:25:57 AM

sigh...I am compelled to jump in here because of the constant barrage here (and on the news media) of comments about "Palestinian civilians."

Exactly WHAT causes you to believe that the dead are always 'civilians?' Because Hamas/Fatah/Hezbollah SAY they are? These are the people who brought you the fake "Jenin Massacre" and staged "martyr funerals" with live actors on the byre. I have no doubt there ARE real civilian casualties among the Palestinians, just as there are among the Israelis, but the history of propagandistic distortion by the Arabs should cause you to pause before shrieking about 'civilian deaths' at the Israelis....I've been out of it for years, but my specialty at one time was the use of propaganda to support totalitarian regimes---and one sterling and oft-used example was how to turn to the loss of fighters into a propaganda victory: strip your dead of weapons, drag them into the nearest church or hospital, call the media and NGOs and scream 'civilian massacre.' A dead fighter without his weapons looks exactly like a civilian, since they don't wear uniforms. Wise up, folks.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 16, 2006 7:12:08 AM

American p.o.v.: Do you really mean to suggest that as long as Palestinian lives remain endangered by their own terrorist infrastructure that Israel should not protect herself?

Re: Amnesty International and the other human rights organizations, et al, I will consider their reports and documentation more compelling when their lens is equally focused on ALL violations. There has been a resounding silence on the part of these organizations when the Red Crescent has been caught using its' ambulances to transport weapons, when women have feigned pregnancy to smuggle bombs into crowded cafés and commercial centers! Where are their condemnations of the atrocities in Darfur? In the Balkans? How about oppression of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Re: your assertion that Israel is somehow punishing an entire people for the actions of a few -- if this were really the case there would not be a ground offensive in Gaza -- in its place would have been an air campaign designed to wipe out all life in the area. Instead, Israeli soldiers are putting their own lives on the line to ensure that the civilian loss of life in Gaza remains as low as possible.

Your attempt to call my criticsm of Mr. Erlanger an accusation of racism/biogtry is galling. My criticsm of Mr. Erlanger is his unbalanced portrayal of events in this region. The news is not supposed to be "infotainment." There is supposed to be an element of objectivitiy in journalism. Ignoring an entire set of facts/events because they aren't convenient to supporting your [personal] interest is deceitful and a breach of ethics.

I disagree with your tactics and your deflective style of argument, yet it would never occur to me to infer that you are either racist or bigoted. I do, however, think that you are engaged in a dangerous game of moral-equivalency.

Unless you can offer meaningful contributions to the discussion I will not respond to your future comments. You are very much involved in a the same game-blame you have accused Ben-David and Jack of supporting. I suspect that you are less interested in dialog than in trying to put more distance between the actions of the terrorists who live among the Palestinians and the rest of that society -- and I contend that this can not be done conversationally, but rather by the actions of that society. Which, to date, has not been successfully accomplished.

Posted by: zahava | Jul 16, 2006 11:21:09 AM

Point proven again - any disagreement/ disapproval equals "racism ETC." If this is a dialogue engaged with the objective of gaining (and or providing) a clear understanding of past and current events - then only responding positively to those who agree with you, and negatively to those who challenge you - is no different then the "bad" journalism you claim the NY Times is guilty of. "Ignoring an entire set of facts/events because they aren't convenient to supporting your [personal] interest is deceitful and a breach of ethics." {The blog responses alone are a good example of this.} Questioning motives and actions is not racism or bigotry. (Also you should be careful with your use of "Anti-Zionist". There are many Jews who are Anti-Zionist. In the case of the article, anti-zionism is of no relevance. This was not about religion coupled with territory,but the Hezbollah issue)This is not a black & white discussion of "Israel right - the world i.e. those who disagree with us bad". It's easy to analyze (and or name call) everyone else (or other nations) and not your own. Actions in this instance are neither here nor there, since this is a blog discussion. I was hoping you could provide insight; "contribution" through blind agreement/approval is not balanced or engaging.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 16, 2006 11:37:07 PM

Also- Humanitarian org.'s mentioned are involved in Darfur , Haiti, etc.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 17, 2006 12:16:36 AM

or "it's our land because God gave it to us a thousand years ago.." (note your implication above).

No American POV, it is more than that. It is asking yourself who deeper questions and looking harder.

It is understanding that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the state- not just saying that G-d gave us the land.

I never said that, you brought it up. You seem to think that you know all the arguments here but apparently you don't.

I don't have time to go into detail, but let me throw out something.

Do you really think that there isn't Jewish blood intermixed with the Palestinians.

Do you really think that during the past 5000 years we haven't mixed and intermixed with the others around us.

It is cute to try and claim that one people is indigenous and that because of this they should be given ownership, but it really doesn't dig into the meat very well.

And none of this discusses why a place called Jordan could be created out of nothing and not cause any problems.

Or why the refugee problem after WWII was solved so quickly compared to the so called Palestinian refugees.

In short it is much deeper than you give credit, but that is what I expect when I read comments like

There are many Jews who are Anti-Zionist

How many and is it really a large enough percentage to be noteworthy. Specifics are missing, details are important.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 17, 2006 2:08:20 AM

"Specifics are missing, details are important." I agree, hence my response to the original one sided post by you.
" short it is much deeper than you give credit, but that is what I expect when I read comments like

There are many Jews who are Anti-Zionist

How many and is it really a large enough percentage to be noteworthy." Orthodox, Contemporary, Hassidic Jews. What percentage is dubbed noteworthy? or Only persons who share your view?
"It is cute to try and claim that one people is indigenous and that because of this they should be given ownership, but it really doesn't dig into the meat very well." Agreed. However, this was your original claim. As it remains, it is clear that the objective here is the proverbial pat on the back if you agree, dismiss those who do not. So much for intellectual, insightful discussion.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 17, 2006 2:52:39 AM

As I expected you didn't address anything. Instead you tried to dodge.

If you really want a real discussion then provide something of substance and stop sticking with these plastic answers.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 17, 2006 8:39:45 AM

No one is "dodging" Jack. We're still awaiting the "substantial"
goods from you.

Posted by: American p.o.v. | Jul 17, 2006 11:53:32 PM

Read this whole post and a couple others
Jack I am reading mostly vague date dropping. You are not really giving any direct retort, just that you are for Israel's stance on things. But no complete response.

Posted by: Susan | Jul 18, 2006 12:43:34 AM

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