Hamas Admits They Did As Israel Said

Israel took steps to protect the civilians even while bombing purportedly civilian targets. They gave notice by telephone, leaflets and broadcasts. Israel claimed that they had to bomb homes and hospitals, schools, etc. because Hamas was using them to store weapons and as offices for the war.

It saddens me that I won’t hear retractions or corrections from my favorite “progressive” sources–but they are no better than the Tea-party at admitting their mistakes.  In fact KPFA has become wall-to-wall anti-Israel. I doubt I’ll hear any corrections or change of opinion.

While Hamas now admits the truth, they have more excuses than my little brother used to.

This is from Huffington Post. Please go there to read the longer version.

Hamas Admits ‘Mistakes’ During Gaza Battle

Posted: 09/12/2014 2:45 am EDT Updated: 09/12/2014 8:59 am EDT
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Two weeks after the end of the Gaza war, there is growing evidence that Hamas militants used residential areas as cover for launching rockets at Israel, at least at times. Even Hamas now admits “mistakes” were made.

But Hamas says it had little choice in Gaza’s crowded urban landscape, took safeguards to keep people away from the fighting, and that a heavy-handed Israeli response is to blame for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

“Gaza, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south, is one uninterrupted urban chain that Israel has turned into a war zone,” said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza.


Increasingly, the discussion is not about whether the Hamas rockets were fired from civilian areas, but exactly how close they were to the actual buildings.

“The Israelis kept saying rockets were fired from schools or hospitals when in fact they were fired 200 or 300 meters (yards) away. Still, there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with,” Hamad told The Associated Press, offering the first acknowledgment by a Hamas official that, in some cases, militants fired rockets from or near residential areas or civilian facilities.

The questions lie at the heart of a brewing international legal confrontation: Did Hamas deliberately and systematically fire rockets at Israel from homes, hospitals and schools in the hope that Israel would be deterred from retaliating, as Israel claims? Or did Israel use force excessively, resulting in deaths among people not involved in combat operations?

The answers could help determine whether Israel — or Hamas — or both are ultimately accused of violating the international laws of war in a conflict that caused tremendous damage.

According to Palestinian figures, nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed — roughly three quarters of them civilians and including more than 500 children — and 11,000 were wounded. The war also left some 100,000 homeless. Seventy-two people were killed on the Israeli side, including six civilians.

Ahead of a U.N. investigation, the Israeli military has released reams of evidence, including satellite photos and aerial footage, to support its claims that it acted responsibly and attempted to minimize Palestinian casualties. It asserts that Hamas made no effort to disguise its attempt to maximize Israeli civilian casualties.

Throughout the war, the Israeli air force compiled dozens of video clips showing alleged wrongdoing by Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction.

These videos, many of them posted on YouTube, appear to show rockets flying out of residential neighborhoods, cemeteries, schoolyards and mosque courtyards. There are also images of weapons caches purportedly uncovered inside mosques, and tunnels allegedly used by militants to scurry between homes, mosques and buildings.

“Hamas’ excuses are outrageous, misleading and contrary to the evidence supplied by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the reality documented by international journalists on the ground in Gaza,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.

But a black-and-white satellite image released by the Israeli military illustrates the difficulties in proving the point. The army says the image, taken of the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan, shows four rocket launch sites sitting next to a cluster of schools and a nearby residential neighborhood.

Such images, it says, are evidence that Hamas used built-up areas for cover — and carelessly exposed civilians to danger in Israeli retaliatory strikes. However, the image itself is grainy and shows no clear signs of rocket activity, though rocket launchers are often hidden underground. The army refused to say how it had made its conclusions.

A visit to the area this week found three separate military sites — possibly training grounds — slightly larger than football fields located close to the state schools.

The sites are mostly concealed from street view by barriers made of corrugated iron, but one bore the sign of Hamas’ military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, while another bore the sign of the Islamic Jihad, a militant group allied with Hamas. The bases were deserted. Visible from the outside were human cutout figures and what appeared to be exercise hurdles.

There were no overt signs of rocket launchers or craters in the ground outside, though dirt appeared to have been disturbed either by some sort of blast or the work of heavy military-type trucks. There were pieces of mangled concrete scattered on the ground. The school buildings appeared untouched.

Hamas tightly restricts access to such facilities, and it was impossible for photographers to enter the sites. Israel confirmed the area was targeted in airstrikes.

Another location identified by the Israeli military as a rocket-launching site is in northern Gaza around the newly built Indonesian hospital. Immediately to the north of the two-story hospital and across the road to the west are two Hamas military facilities. Both stand in close proximity to residential homes. The hospital stands intact, while nothing is visible from inside the bases.

Hamad, the Hamas official, argued that many of the buildings shown in Israeli videos were either a safe distance from the rocket launchers or that the buildings had been kept vacant during the fighting.

The ground in Sheikh Radwan, for instance, lies some 150 meters (yards) away from the neighborhood, and the schools were empty for summer vacation.

During 50 days of fighting, many observers witnessed rocket launches from what appeared to be urban areas. One piece of video footage distributed by the AP, for instance, captured a launch in downtown Gaza City that took place in a lot next to a mosque and an office of the Hamas prime minister. Both buildings were badly damaged in subsequent Israeli airstrikes.

There was other evidence of Hamas having used civilian facilities: Early in the conflict, the U.N. agency that cares for Palestinian refugees announced that it discovered weapons stored in its schools as they stood empty during the summer.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt urban areas were used to launch rockets from in the Gaza Strip,” said Bill Van Esveld, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “What needs to be determined is how close to a populated building or a civilian area were those rocket launches.”

The issue may never be conclusively settled as both sides voice competing narratives over their conduct in the deadliest and most ruinous of the three wars since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

“Yes, Hamas and others may have used civilians as human shields, but was that consistent and widespread?” said Sami Abdel-Shafi, a Palestinian-American who represents the Carter Center in Gaza. “The question is whether Israel’s response was proportionate.”

The war erupted on July 8 when Israel launched a massive aerial bombardment of Gaza in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire by Hamas and other Gaza-based militant groups — part of an escalation that began with the killing by a Hamas cell of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.

The Israeli army says Hamas fired almost 4,000 rockets at Israel, including 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, and scores of mortar shells. Israel carried out some 5,000 airstrikes, in addition to using powerful artillery and gunship fire.

Frequently, Israeli arms struck hospitals, schools, homes, mosques, factories and office towers. Israel said the buildings had been used for cover by militant fighters, and that whenever possible, it provided warning to civilians that strikes on their buildings were coming.

Israel disputes the makeup of the Palestinian casualty figures, saying that nearly half the dead were militants.

Nevertheless, the death toll and number of civilian deaths have led to harsh condemnations of Israel and raised questions on the proportionality of Israel’s response. In an apparent attempt to head off international investigations, the Israeli military said Wednesday it has opened criminal investigations into two high-profile cases involving Palestinian civilian casualties.

Hamas also has been sharply criticized for launching rockets aimed at Israeli cities and towns. Israel says its own civilian death toll would have been much higher had it not been for its rocket defenses.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has appointed a commission to look into the latest fighting. Its report is expected no sooner than March.


Rotten Apple

I do not dislike Apple because their products are closed and locked down to block other people’s innovation, unless they pay exorbitant royalties. I do not dislike Apple because they are too expensive. I do not dislike Apple because many of their innovations were invented by others and appropriated by Apple (Mouse and graphic interface from Xerox PARC, tablet from 2001 Space Odyssey, multi-processors from Intel, etc.) I do not dislike Apple because they are twice to three times the price of equivalent power in a newer Windows or Linux computer.

This graphic, from the US Uncut page on Facebook, explains why I dislike Apple


(Republished under copyright, “Fair Use” doctrine.)

Immigration and Its Sources

In 1968 I went to Brazil to teach counseling at the University of Brasilia, to be a chaplain to Protestant students and to help the city administration of Brasilia create a new and more humane city. I was a newly ordained minister, but studied urban administration at the U. of Chicago and also made counseling the focus of my masters program at seminary. Almost as soon as I arrived, the Brazilian military invaded the parliament and the university, arresting, torturing and killing students, teachers and political leaders who were opposed to the elite, right-wing and to the intervention of the US and exploitation of Brazil’s resources.

The troops came equipped with military gear clearly stamped “US Army”. Tanks, artillery, jeeps, and even pistol holsters with a big white star. Over the next two years, I found that a US CIA presence was behind the scenes, CIA and US military people were teaching torture methods, and US IBM computer equipment was being used to “track rebels.”  I lost three friends, two Dominican priests killed and one young woman literacy teacher unspeakably tortured, even beyond simple rape.

I found similar things happening in Uruguay, Argentina and elsewhere.

In more recent years I have spent a great deal of time in Mexico, studying Spanish and just living. I began to get in touch with a different side of the US-Mexico relationship. One key was reading the amazing book by Richard Grabman, “Gods Gachupines and Gringos: A People’s History of Mexico” A history book written for guys like me who fell asleep in history class. One portion of the book explains the history of the US-Mexican relationship.

I grew up in Texas. We took one semester of World History, one semester of US History and one full-year, two semesters of Texas History. I learned that Texas, which was a part of Mexico, declared it’s independence from Mexico in 1835 because of the poor treatment the people of Texas were getting from the Mexican government and with the support of the large, wealthy landowners from the United States. One major, but unstated, reason–which we never learned in Texas History class–was the Guerrero Decree which in 1829 abolished slavery in all of Mexico. The Texas landowners mostly from the United States, many absentee, were fearful that Mexico would imposed this Decree on Texas–and why would it not.  However, these landowners were growing cotton and other crops and wanted to continue using black slaves to work the fields.

This was the real impetus for the revolution and independence of Texas. It was demonstrated when, after the Mexican surrender, the plight of black slaves deepened. By 1845, the United States annexed The Republic of Texas by treaty and the number of slaves jumped by over 500%.

It was also the start of the US-Mexico war; a war intended to grab Mexico’s land from the Texas border all the way to the Pacific.

So it has been throughout the history of the US and Mexico. As the Mexican’ say, “Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de dios, y tan cerca de los estados unidas.” (Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the US.)

Even right now, we subsidize the giant corn industry so it can undercut the Mexican corn farmers. When the farmers can’t sell their corn and make a living, we blame them for their own poverty or for trying to come across the border into the US. I’m not saying that all of Mexico’s ills are made in the US. They have enough corrupt politicians and corrupt rich elites of their own, but we have made it possible for a large portion of the Mexican economic problem.

All this is prelude to this slide show I found on Huffington Post. You will have to go there–to the bottom of the page– to see it.



More Ways the Right is Destroying Israel

I’m in a lot of pain. I’ve been a supporter of Israel for all my adult life. I think Israel’s claim to that area is just as legitimate as that of the Palestinians. The partition of Palestine and the establishment of Israel was followed almost immediately by the attacks of the Arab neighboring states. Palestinians left mostly–some were driven out by the kind of atrocities which happen in all wars, but most left, relying on the promises of the Arab countries. Moreover, Israelis were also driven out of through atrocity as well. In fact more Jews were displaced in Arab and Muslim countries than Palestinians in Palestine.

It also seems to me that the evidence is very clear. Hamas started the most recent Gaza conflict. Investigators have been regularly finding justification for Israel’s attacks on schools and other supposedly neutral facilities as they uncover caches of Hamas rockets and other weapons hidden in private residences, hospitals and schools. Hamas continues to pursue the goal of driving all Israelis into the Mediterranean and continues to state that ALL Jews are to be killed. Even some Arab countries are supporting Israel’s fight against both Hamas and Hezbolleh.

All of that is true and much more. But it is not a justification for the policies of Israel against West Bank Palestinians. Today, the latest land grab was declared. You can read the facts in this article from Reuters through Huffington Post. The “Settlements” are an abomination. The right-wing policies of Netanyahu are destroying Israeli credibility and fueling the delegitimacy movement.

The whole Settlement movement is the recipient of 100s of millions of dollars from US pseudo-Christians who call themselves Christian Zionists. There is no justification for this kind of exploitation. It is time to put an end to supporting the Israeli right. They are as bereft of moral standing as the right is in the US.

Sure it pains me to have to say all this. I have Israeli friends and colleagues whom I love. I continue to support their right to exist in that place, but not the continued theft of Palestinian lands nor the treatment Palestinians receive from the Conservative, Right-wing, UltraOrthodox Israeli government. I could not maintain my own integrity if I don’t speak out.

Israel Announces Massive West Bank Land Grab

Posted: 08/31/2014 8:30 pm EDT Updated: 2 hours ago


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.  Israel's prime minister declared victory Wednesday in the recent war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying the military campaign had dealt a heavy blow and a cease-fire deal gave no concessions to the Islamic militant group.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. rebuke.

Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared “state land, on the instructions of the political echelon” by the military-run Civil Administration.


“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move “counterproductive” to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.

Tensions stoked by the incident quickly spread to Israel’s border with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and the two sides engaged in a seven-week war that ended on Tuesday with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

The notice published on Sunday by the Israeli military gave no reason for the land appropriation decision.

Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, territory the Palestinians seek for a state, said the appropriation was meant to turn a site where 10 families now live adjacent to a Jewish seminary into a permanent settlement.

Construction of a major settlement at the location, known as “Gevaot”, has been mooted by Israel since 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site.

Peace Now said the land seizure was the largest announced by Israel in the West Bank since the 1980s and that anyone with ownership claims had 45 days to appeal. A local Palestinian mayor said Palestinians owned the tracts and harvested olive trees on them.

Israel has come under intense international criticism over its settlement activities, which most countries regard as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the creation of a viable Palestinian state in any future peace deal.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to cancel the appropriation. “This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza,” Abu Rdainah said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke off U.S.-brokered peace talks with Abbas in April after the Palestinian leader reached a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates the Gaza Strip.

In a series of remarks after an open-ended ceasefire halted the Gaza war, Netanyahu repeated his position that Abbas would have to sever his alliance with Hamas for a peace process with Israel to resume.

The administration of President Barack Obama, who has been at odds with Netanyahu over settlements since taking office in 2009, pushed back against the land decision. It was the latest point of contention between Washington and its top Middle East ally Israel, which also differ over Iran nuclear talks.

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” said the State Department official, who declined to be identified.

“This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians,” the official said.

After the collapse of the last round of U.S.-brokered peace talks, U.S. officials cited settlement construction as one of the main reasons for the breakdown, while also faulting the Palestinians for signing a series of international treaties and conventions.

Israel has said construction at Gevaot would not constitute the establishment of a new settlement because the site is officially designated a neighborhood of an existing one, Alon Shvut, several km (miles) down the road.

Some 500,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Middle East war. (Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrea Ricci)

Oh, Big Pharma, That Explains It

Really?  No surprise here. You wonder where all the phony anti Marijuana “data” comes from. It comes from the pocketbook of the pharmaceutical industry. This article is from Ring of Fire.

(Ring of Fire is one of the best commenting news sources on the Internet.


Painkiller Drug Companies Are Funding Anti-Marijuana Research

Painkiller-producing drug companies have been paying top, scientific researchers to compile and publish skewed findings that overemphasize the dangers of marijuana, Vice Reported. But should that come as any surprise? Drug companies are powerful and ridiculously rich entities that will stoop to any low level to protect profits.

According to Lee Fang, leading companies Purdue Pharma (Oxycontin), Reckitt Benckiser (Nurofen), and Alkermes (Zohydro) are among the main culprits. Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University is a well-known and highly regarding medical researcher who has produced anti-marijuana opinions for many news outlets, and he is paid by these companies to do so.

As medical marijuana support gains traction in America, drug companies have become very concerned for their profits as a surge of research has shown that marijuana is a much safer alternative to addictive and deadly, synthetic painkillers. Fang reported that painkillers kill 16,000 people a year while there has yet to be a single reported, official or unofficial, marijuana overdose.

Dr. A. Eden Evins is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, staunch critic of marijuana, and also paid by the drug companies. Her opinions on marijuana have been misguided by Big Pharma’s payouts. “When people can go to a ‘clinic’ or ‘cafe’ and buy pot, that creates the perception that it’s safe,” said Evins. However, she neglects to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands, of “pain clinics” spread across the country that give easy access to deadly painkillers.

Employing a handful of doctors, would-be patients could walk-in without an appointment and see a doctor with any supposed symptom or ailment; back pain, toothaches, depression, boredom, unemployment, and walk out with a prescription for synthetic, opioid painkillers.

As Fang noted, drug companies that produce these deadly medicines have remained as silent partners and financial contributors, Purdue and Alkermes being among the top funders for anti-marijuana initiatives. Recent studies have illustrated the impact that legalized, medical marijuana has had opioid use.

JAMA Internal Medicine published a study this week stating that states with legalized, medical marijuana have enjoyed a 25 percent decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths. Patients, who would otherwise be taking painkillers for their ailments, have turned to medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

According to countless studies, medical marijuana relieves the same symptoms as painkillers with the same effectiveness without the harmful, and sometimes deadly, side effects.

Snowballing support and recent studies that are increasingly showing the benefits of medical marijuana are sure to be making the drug companies nervous. Marijuana has been proven numerous times to provide better, safer relief for ailments including: pain, depression, anxiety, nausea, loss of appetite, and many more. The drug companies seem to be fighting a losing battle, and in this case, public opinion has been beating about Big Pharma’s dollars.

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.

Let’s Hear It For Ganja!

I’m becoming more and more unhappy about government curbs on many non-addictive drugs. We keep hearing about the use of psilocibin mushrooms in treating anxieties and depression. Studies at several university medical schools have shown that it is more effective than the psychotropic anti-depressants sold by Big Pharma with zero to few side-effects.

Now here is another study that shows the potential benefits of marijuana–even when not identified as “medical marijuana.”

This article is from the excellent source, Science Daily.


Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study finds less domestic violence among married couples who smoke pot

August 26, 2014
University at Buffalo
New research findings from a study of 634 couples found that the more often they smoked marijuana, the less likely they were to engage in domestic violence. “These findings suggest that marijuana use is predictive of lower levels of aggression towards one’s

Hamas Discovered by Media

The major news media have been AWOL during the Gaza conflict. They have not reported on Hamas tactics, strategies or Hamas’ war crimes. Moreover Hamas has fed them large amounts of rabid propaganda and the news media have duly reported it as news.

Only now, as the reporters and photographers pull out of the way of the Hamas terrorist reach and threats are some of them releasing accounts that contradict what they were shown. These include videos of Hamas setting up rockets near hospitals and in residential areas. Now they are beginning to report on the extent to which Hamas ran the same victims in front of the reporters several times in order to increase the count of the wounded children. It is reminiscent of the widely published photo, also published by Hamas some years ago, showing what purported to be six different bomb craters, but quickly demonstrated to be nothing but PhotoShop.

This article is well protected so that I am unable to copy it. That’s okay as the link is here:

The New Republic: What Took So Long?

Please use the link to read this report.

An Intelligent Voice on Hamas

This evening I had an unpleasant conversation with a good friend who is also an extreme anti-Israel, pro-Hamas partisan. While he would say that he is pro-Palestinian, which he is, when I brought up the basic issues of the Hamas missiles and the wording of the Hamas Covenant including these clauses: ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’ and ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him,’ he had some excuse that other documents don’t say these things and Hamas no longer holds them.

But if so, why don’t they change them? They don’t make the change because Hamas continues to be an extreme, fanatical terrorist group.

This was a very uncomfortable discussion with someone I respect and with whom I am often in agreement. But on this subject, he, and his church associates are fanatical supporters of the effort to delegitimize Israel.

This article has a much more enlightened view. It comes from Huffington Post.

Israel-Gaza: War, Terrorism and Change in the Middle East

Posted: 08/02/2014 12:30 pm EDT

The current conflict in Gaza has polarized the world and pitted those with Palestinian and Israeli sympathies against each other in a way that has rarely been seen before. Inundated by images of human suffering, people are understandably emotional about the conflict.

Still, as the crisis in the Middle East deepens, it is important to differentiate between the humanitarian aspect and the geopolitical one. On the humanitarian side, the loss of civilian life is deplorable and should be criticized. A dead child should stir our conscience no matter what our views on the religious and cultural history of Israel and Palestine.

But on the geopolitical side, things are not so black and white. It’s tempting to cast this conflict as a battle between Muslim Arabs and Jews, but it is also inaccurate. This latest battle is really a struggle between a new Middle East and the old one. In other words, a Middle East trying to enter the modern world (however haltingly) of economic and social development and moving away from religious and tribal strife. The birth of this new Middle East, as the bloody and chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring shows, has been a difficult one and the Israel-Gaza conflict is an extension of that.

While scholars, journalists, and political analysts routinely focus on historical and cultural context to explain the conflict, they often miss, or even deliberately ignore, the core issue of Islamic fanaticism that Hamas represents and which most of the world fears. That fanaticism, and the violence that accompanies it, is the real reason that the U.S., Egypt, and other moderate Arab nations are either rallying behind Israel or at least refusing to side with Hamas. Israel, for good or bad, represents a geographical and strategic defense against forces of Islamist extremism in the region.

The popular belief that U.S. support of Israel in the Gaza conflict is about oil is mostly fantasy. The U.S. is moving rapidly towards energy independence, driven by the proliferation of natural gas and renewable energy, thereby reducing its dependence on Middle East oil. Even the theory of ‘peak oil’, which postulates that American oil supplies are about to peak and then decline dramatically, is now viewed as doubtful as new technologies for drilling and untapped oil reserves increasingly reduce the shortfall from existing wells. It’s also equally fallacious to believe that U.S. policy is dictated by Jewish money in Congress since the Arab nations have plenty of money to counter any influence. The reason for the U.S. support of Israel is none of these things but about the need to curb the power of a militant organization like Hamas.

Equally telling is the Arab reaction to the conflict. Egypt, which shares a cultural and religious affinity with the Palestinians, is nevertheless refusing to back them and has even closed its border. As a CNN report points out, this is because Egypt has grown tired of religious violence and is afraid of being infected by the extremism of Hamas; and other Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, usually quick to blame Israel for any conflict, are clearly reticent to do so this time.

The Middle East (or parts of it anyway) are shunning fundamentalism openly by rejecting the narrative of Hamas as a group of freedom fighters and treating them instead as the military and political arm of an extremist religious faction which derives its power through conflict with Israel that it is. This is not a pro-Jewish stance but it is an anti-terrorism one.

To ignore this obvious fact is to turn a blind eye to reality and in the process make it impossible for a better future to unfold in Gaza. This also sidelines what could be a major step forward for the Middle East and an encouraging sign of a movement towards modernization and secularism. The stance against fundamentalism represents change and hope for the Middle East (and perhaps the world), and yet few observers are giving it its due – opting instead to focus only on the humanitarian aspect of this conflict while ignoring the geopolitical one.

Let’s be clear. The Gaza conflict needs to end soon, but it will not happen unilaterally. As Hamas’ irresponsible violation of the 72-hour ceasefire by killing Israeli soldiers shows, the group cares less about the welfare of Palestinians and more about its own religious and political goals of terrorizing Israel and establishing an Islamic regime along the lines of an ISIS. That does not mean that the Israeli government does not share blame for the humanitarian crisis created by this war, but given the incessant rain of rockets on its territory and the very real threat posed by the tunnels under Gaza, it is highly unlikely that Netanyahu can back down without the disarmament of Hamas.

The world now needs to exert pressure on Hamas to stop fighting unconditionally, and after that, on Israel to create a long term solution for the Palestinians that will almost certainly not give either side everything it wants but maybe enough to end the cycle of violence. The shift in perspective in the Arab world might facilitate this.

This dual viewpoint may not be satisfying for people who prefer to indulge their outrage instead but it is the only one that can resolve the situation.

Sanjay Sanghoee is a political and business commentator. He is also the author of two thriller novels. Follow him @sanghoee.

The Israelis are getting clobbered  in the media. All my progressive/liberal/leftist friends are cheering for Hamas.
This is a more realistic version of the Hamas atrocity.
Let’s be clear, it does not excuse Israeli right-wing policies against the Palestinians in the West Bank. It also does not excuse the Christian Zionists from the US, who donate large sums to establishing settlements in Palestinian territory. But to try to prevent the predations of Hamas is self-defense.
This column was found in Huffington Post. You may read the who thing there.

“We have urged them, implored them to use their influence to do whatever they can to get that soldier returned. Absent that, the risk of this continuing to escalate, leading to further loss of life is very high.”

So spoke a State Department official regarding John Kerry’s calls to Turkish and Qatari leaders regarding the Israeli soldier presumed to have been abducted. But one has to wonder to what end. The Qataris, in particular — who never met a radical Islamist group they did not like — fully understand the value of the abduction of a soldier to Hamas, and will do little or nothing, regardless of Kerry’s pleas.

Nor would a return of the soldier have the effect that Kerry imagines. If anything, the abduction itself will only steel the resolve of Israeli leaders, and the vast majority of Israelis themselves who now support the determination of their government to destroy the Hamas tunnel network. It is the abduction itself that emphasizes the risk to individual Israelis of the Hamas tunnels that are exactly designed to create a new threat of abduction and attacks within Israel proper. The return of the soldier will not mitigate the psychological impact of the abduction itself.

Like John Kerry, many American observers seem to bend over backward to not acknowledge the central premise of Hamas strategy. Media reports describing Israeli attacks on a school or a hospital leave a listener wondering at its abject cruelty. Democrat Hilary Clinton suggested that Hamas puts missiles in schools because Gaza is so small, suggesting there is not enough room for them elsewhere. Republican Joe Scarborough raged against Israel attacking a school, never questioning whether there was a reason for targeting the school other than to unleash carnage on the local population seeking shelter there. There is a better way, he states bluntly, but he does not suggest what that is.

Like the abduction of the soldier, which Hamas hopes will draw Israel deeper into a land war on its soil, each Hamas tactic is designed primarily around the Israeli response it will engender. Hamas places missiles in schools precisely because when Israel strikes to destroy the missiles, it will produce images of death and devastation that will be broadcast worldwide. Hamas places the entrance to tunnels into Israel beneath hospitals and mosques for the same reason. It may be a general principle of the laws of war that using civilian populations as shields against attack is a war crime, and that civilian deaths that result from attacks on military assets placed deliberately within civilian areas are the responsibility of the party that put the civilians at risk. Yet this is central to Hamas strategy, and the resulting outrage across the world is evidence that legal principles have little salience in the battle for the hearts and minds of the world audience.

And the Hamas strategy is working. At a time when Nouri al Maliki and Basher al Assad are dropping barrel bombs on civilian villages, at a time ISIS has expelled the entire Christian population of Mosel under threat of beheading — and in some areas reportedly implemented a policy of forced clitorectomies — it is the actions of Israel in Gaza that draws protesters into the street in cities across Europe. While the Shi’a and Sunni are massacring each other in far greater numbers, can it really be that the outrage of the world is only peaked when it is Jews who are killing Arabs? How can it be that in a Middle East that has erupted in turmoil, it is only Israel’s war with Hamas that the United Nations Human Rights Council has decided should be subject to a war crimes inquiry for “indiscriminate attacks on civilians.”

Last week, the United Nations made a mockery of itself and that decision. When a UN agency found that two of its schools were being used as missile bunkers by Hamas — schools adjacent to facilities for displaced Palestinians — the UN agency did not that the missiles be destroyed, or perhaps taken away by an international agency, but rather that they be removed from the school by Hamas. Thus, within the same week, the UN delivered back to Hamas missiles whose only conceivable use is for firing at civilian populations in Israel, thereby becoming an active co-conspirator in exactly the type of war crime it announced that it is seeking to investigate.

It is a terrible and ugly libel to suggest that Hamas’ actions are somehow evidence that Palestinian mothers and fathers love their children less than do any other parents. This point was argued vehemently by an Al Jazeera op-ed in the wake of an earlier Hamas war, and indeed to make such an argument is to deny the basic humanity of the victims of missile strikes in Gaza. The author scoffed at the words of Golda Meir to Anwar El Sadat as they moved toward a peace accord — “We can forgive you for killing our sons, but we will never forgive you for making us kill yours” — as a thinly veiled attempt to wrap the devastation Israel inflicts in a veil of moral piety.

But for all the author’s moral outrage — outrage that is mirrored now across the world — he declined to address the central charge that has been heard repeatedly over the years: How can Palestinian parents continue to support leaders within their community who would deliberately use their children as human shields? The fact that this Hamas war was provoked more to elevate Hamas’ own standing than to achieve any concrete results — beyond lifting an economic isolation that Hamas itself provoked — makes the question of Palestinian passivity in that regard all the more troubling. There is nothing new about Hamas’ tactics, and its leaders have been upfront about their willingness to sacrifice Palestinian children — along with the rest of the civilian population — in pursuit of their own strategic goals. Even as we watch image after image of stricken Palestinians mourning their dead children, we hear the corresponding words of a Hamas official: “What are 200 martyrs compared with lifting the siege?” Indeed, according to a paper in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Hamas–the elected government of Palestinians in Gaza–willfully sacrificed more that 160 Gazan children before any fighting in the digging of the tunnels themselves.

Within the progressive Jewish world — where the anguish expressed in Golda Meir’s words is deeply felt — there is always an outcry when Israeli bombs kill Palestinian civilians, both out of moral outrage for the death and destruction and because of the ultimate bankruptcy of an Israeli strategy for which there is no endgame. But with each successive conflict, as Hamas missiles reach deeper into the country and the tunnels are deeper and longer, those voices become less vocal. While for some the broader conflicts in the region have emphasized the importance of pressuring Israel to remove settlements from confiscated Palestinian lands and live within its internationally accepted borders, for others the emergence of ISIS has only emphasized the long history of conflicts in the region and made the Hamas commitment to the destruction of Israel the sine qua non of the conflict. It is neither a metaphor nor a bargaining chip.

It is hard for many to accept the implications of that stance, but with each war Hamas aids our understanding and acceptance of their commitment. Indeed, Hamas has achieved what Bibi Netanyahu could not: it has forced progressive Jews to understand, if not accept, the logic of Israeli policies that they have long fought. Progressive Jews might have objected to Israel blocking the shipments of building materials and concrete into Gaza, but in this war the world has seen the complex network of tunnels built with an estimated six hundred thousand tons of concrete that we were told was urgently needed for schools and hospitals that were never built. Progressive Jews might have objected that Israeli was needlessly undermining Gaza economic development by preventing the development of a Gaza port, but the vast store of missiles is evidence that the boarded ships found to be filled with armaments intended to be used to kill Israelis were but the tip of the iceberg. Thus, the voices on the Jewish left have become muted.

John Kerry hopes that the growing destruction might have brought a moment of greater clarity where each side would be looking for a reason to stand down. But instead, the cunning of Hamas strategy is evident as more of its constituents are killed or maimed, even as it claims victory over the forces of the occupation. With each such claim — and now with the apparent abduction of a soldier — Hamas only confirms the belief on the part of Israeli leaders — and Hamas antagonists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well — that the war has not yet reached is necessary political conclusion. While Kerry pleas for Hamas to undo its latest provocation, it is apparent that neither side is listening, nor willing to stand down. Israel and Hamas are engaged in a battle that each believes can only end with Hamas forcing Israel and Egypt to yield to its terms, or being destroyed as a political force. Unless, of course, the Palestinians of Gaza themselves finally stand up and demand an end to Hamas’ leadership, which has done so much to destroy their community.


Gaza: Another View

My “progressive” news sources continue to fall all over themselves to decry Israel’s part in the Gaza conflict. They ignore the fact that instead of building homes, schools, hospitals with the construction materials that were allowed into Gaza, Hamas diverted those materials to build a sophisticated and elaborate underground tunnel structure under many residential areas which end with hundreds of tunnels under the border into Israel for the purpose of kidnapping, and terrorizing Israelis. The extent of this tunnel system has amazed foreign observers. (And embarrassed Israeli intelligence and military who, while knowing about some tunnels, had no idea of the extent of the construction.)

This article from the New York Times provides a more balanced perspective including the political gains for which Hamas was aiming in starting this conflict. (Oh, you didn’t know that Hamas started it when they stepped up their missile and rocket attacks to over 100 a day and sent them even beyond southern Israel? You didn’t hear about the three Israeli teenagers abducted and killed by Hamas? You heard about the Palestinian child who was murdered and burned. Did you hear about the arrest and prosecution of the Israelis who perpetrated this crime?)

Hamas Gambled on War as Its Woes Grew in Gaza

GAZA CITY — When war between Israel and Hamas broke out two weeks ago, the Palestinian militant group was so hamstrung, politically, economically and diplomatically, that its leaders appeared to feel they had nothing to lose.

Hamas took what some here call “option zero,” gambling that it could shift the balance with its trump cards: its arms and militants.

Now, this conflict has demonstrated that while Hamas governed over 1.7 million people mired in poverty, its leaders were pouring resources into its military and expanding its ability to fight Israel. If it can turn that improved military prowess into concessions, like opening the border with Egypt, that may boost its standing among the people of Gaza — although at an extraordinarily high cost in deaths and destruction.

“There were low expectations in terms of its performance against the recent round of Israeli incursions. It’s been exceeding all expectations,” said Abdullah Al-Arian, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar who is currently in Washington. “And it’s likely to come out in a far better position than in the last three years, and maybe the last decade.”



Smoke trails rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel on Tuesday. Credit Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Hamas had been struggling. The turmoil in the region meant it lost one of its main sponsors, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom it broke with over his brutal fight against a Sunni Muslim-led insurgency, and weakened its alliance with Iran. It lost support in Egypt when the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted and replaced with a military-backed government hostile to Hamas.

Unemployment in Gaza is around 50 percent, having risen steeply since Israel pulled out its troops and settlers in 2005 and severely tightened border restrictions.

Hamas appeared powerless to end the near-blockade of its border by Israel and more recently Egypt. It could not even pay its 40,000 government workers their salaries.

The group was so handicapped that it agreed to enter into a pact with its rival party, Fatah, to form a new government. But that seemed only to make matters worse, sowing division within its own ranks, with some in the military wing angry at the concession, while providing none of the economic relief Hamas had hoped for.



A woman, center, was comforted after the missile attack in Yahud. Credit Dan Balilty/Associated Press

When Hamas sent a barrage of rockets into Israel, simmering hostilities, and back and forth strikes, erupted into war.

At first, when Hamas rockets were being intercepted mainly by Israel’s Iron Dome system as Israel hit Gaza with devastating force, the group strove to persuade its supporters that it was having enough impact on Israel to wrest concessions: Its radio stations blared fictional reports about Israeli casualties.

But as it wore on, the conflict revealed that Hamas’s secret tunnel network leading into Israel was far more extensive, and sophisticated, than previously known. It also was able to inflict some pain on Israel, allowing Hamas to declare success even as it drew a devastating and crushing response. Its fighters were able to infiltrate Israel multiple times during an intensive Israeli ground invasion. Its militants have killed at least 27 Israeli soldiers and claim to have captured an Israeli soldier who was reported missing in battle, a potentially key bargaining chip.

And on Tuesday its rockets struck a blow to Israel — psychological and economic — by forcing a halt in international flights. Hamas once again looks strong in the eyes of its supporters, and has shown an increasingly hostile region that it remains a force to be reckoned with.

Behind the Escalations in Gaza


Hamas, Mr. Arian said, has demonstrated that “as a movement, it is simply not going anywhere.”

But Hamas’s gains could be short-lived if it does not deliver Gazans a better life. Israel says its severe restrictions on what can be brought into Gaza, such as construction materials, are needed because Hamas poses a serious security threat, and the discovery of the tunnels has served only to validate that concern.

So far, at least 620 Palestinians have died, around 75 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations, including more than 100 children. Gazans did not get a vote when Hamas chose to escalate conflict, nor did they when Hamas selected areas near their homes, schools and mosques to fire rockets from the densely populated strip. At the family house of four boys killed last week by an Israeli strike while playing on a beach, some wailing women cursed Hamas along with Israel.

“It comes at an exceptionally high price,” said Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. “When the bombs stop and the dust settles, people might have different calculations about cost-benefit.”



A home that was destroyed by a Hamas missile near Ben Gurion International Airport in Yahud, near Tel Aviv. Credit Gideon Markowicz/European Pressphoto Agency

It is also unclear whether, when the fighting ends, Hamas will have the same kind of foreign support it has had in the past to rebuild its arsenal or its infrastructure; Egypt, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has destroyed hundreds of the tunnels that were used to bring in arms, money and supplies, and has kept the proper border crossing mostly closed. There are also some diplomatic efforts underway seeking to force Hamas to surrender its weapons in exchange for a cease-fire, a demand it is not likely to accept.

Omar Shaban, an economist and political independent, sat in his walled garden in the southern Gaza town of Deir al-Balah as shells crackled nearby and said he fervently hoped, but also doubted, that both Hamas and Israel’s government would reach for a substantive deal.

“This war will end tomorrow or after tomorrow, we will have another cease-fire, we will have another siege and Hamas will continue to run the scene,” he said.

“Gaza is a big problem for everybody, for Hamas, for Fatah, for Israel,” he added, ticking off the list: shortages of water, housing and medicine, a population explosion, growing extremism.


The Toll in Gaza and Israel, Day by Day

The daily tally of rocket attacks, airstrikes and deaths in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

OPEN Graphic

In exchange for a cease-fire, Hamas is demanding Israel and Egypt open their borders to end the restrictions on the movement of people and goods — the most immediate issue for ordinary Gazans. It is also asking for the release of prisoners — but avoiding the deeper political issues of the conflict.

Mr. Shaban said that Hamas, confronted in recent years with the often conflicting requirements of its roles as an armed resistance group and a governing party, for once was “being clever enough to demand conditions that are in touch with the people. The people are realistic.”

Bassem Naim, a member of Hamas’s political wing and a former health minister in Gaza, acknowledged that relations have soured with Iran and the Arab world, but said that it could survive.

“I can’t deny the difficulty,” he said in a recent interview. “But Hamas was active and operating here inside the country before the Muslim Brotherhood was in the presidential palace” in Egypt.

Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, but an international boycott prevented it from governing. It returned to power in Gaza in 2007 after ousting the Fatah-led government by force.

Hamas overreached, Mr. Shaban said, more than doubling Gaza’s administrative budget to more than $800 million — not including the financing of the militant Izzedine al-Qassam brigades.

But as the recent fight with Israel has revealed, Hamas was importing tons of cement — desperately needed for Gazan schools and houses and construction jobs — to reinforce the tunnels it built to infiltrate Israel and hide its weapons.

“They have different priorities,” Mr. Shaban said of the military wing. “Don’t send rockets while we don’t have milk for our children.”

But, he added, “do we stop struggling with Israel? I believe in peace, a two-state solution, I never liked conflict. But Israel did not leave us anything. What Hamas is doing is partially supported by the people.”

Kareem Fahim contributed reporting from Cairo, and Fares Akram from Gaza.

(This article is copyrighted material distributed under the “Fair Use Doctrine”, permissible because of the small number of readers of this blog. Any reference should include credit and links to the original article in The New York Times.)


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