Thursday, July 22, 2004

In the Letters to the Editor section of the New York Times of July 22, Mubashir Hassan argues, regarding Israel's justification for its security wall, that "One can argue similarly that if there were no occupation, there would be no terror"
He thus ignores the fact that even before Israel was accused of being an "occupier" in administering the disputed territories post-1967, there was Arab terror, which, between 1949-1967, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis.
His suggestion that Israel should erect a wall "on its own land and not on land belonging to the Palestinians" is insidious because until 1967, all the land that was then Israel was claimed by the Arab Palestinians, Israel having no right to exist. 

Moreover, one needs to follow Hassan's path backwards.  Since indeed there was Arab terror prior to the so-called "occupation", the ending of such, including dismantlement of Jewish civilian communities, etc., will not bring about peace.  For if the terror existed, which it most certainly did, and the "occupation" didn't, what else, then, was causing the terror?  The very existence of the state of Israel!  What "Palestine" were Arabs trying to "liberate" prior to 1967 if not the state of Israel?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Myre Responds

On July 9th, I wrote the following letter to the New York Times:-

A report by your correspondent Greg Myre on Israel's military activity in the Gaza Strip notes that "the Palestinians have fired more than 300 of their crude, homemade rockets in recent years, to little effect." (July 9). In addition, he records the death of an Arab woman, a mother of 7, shot in the street.As regards the number of rockets, Israeli sources claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types have landed among Jewish civilian targets, both in the Gaza area and within Israel, since the Arabs initiated hostilities in September 2000. The disparity in numbers is too great and raises doubts as to the reliability of your paper'snews.Moreover, Myre studiously avoids noting who killed the woman. Was it an Israeli soldier, a Palestinian militant or could not Myre have written that the source of the gunfire was in doubt? The context unfairly incriminates, without factual basis, Israeli forces.

I received this from the Public Editor's office
Dear Yisrael Medad,
Thank you for your message.Regarding your first point, are there reliable news reports to which you can direct me which claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles have been fired?

To which I replied

see this progression of news:-
a) see this LATimes report from April 2001 which counts 56 mortars since February (a two month period) and that was three (!) years ago.
Palestinian Use of Mortar Shells Signals New Escalation of Conflict
By Tracy Wilkinson
GAZA CITY Palestinian fighters have added mortars to the arsenal they regularly use against Israel, drawing heavy retaliation and signaling a new phase in half a year of conflict. In a rare interview, Palestinians who claim responsibility for firing mortar shells into Israel proper, as well as at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, said they already have succeeded in one goal -- unnerving the enemy. Next, they said, they will attempt to improve their aim to exact more casualties. An Israeli government spokesman on Monday branded the firing of mortars at the Jewish state an act of hostility that marks a dangerous new level of warfare. Gaza has seen a fierce escalation in recent days, with Palestinians firing mortars at Israeli targets and Israel retaliating with rockets, anti-tank missiles and mortars of its own. There has been minor damage on the Israeli side, while two Palestinian police stations, an office of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement and a civilian home were destroyed over the weekend. After months of using rocks, assault rifles, Molotov cocktails and the occasional suicide bomber in their fight to oust Israel from the West Bank and Gaza -- and taking the brunt of casualties -- Palestinians have increased both the range and the destructive potential of their firepower by using the mortars. The use of such weapons also stands in sharp contrast to years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the first intifada, which began in 1987 and in which Palestinians’ choice of arms was much more limited. In early February, for the first time, Palestinians began lobbing mortar shells at the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in Gaza. On March 18, the first mortars were fired at Israel proper, hitting an army base near the Nahal Oz kibbutz. The kibbutz was hit April 3. In all, there have been 56 mortar attacks since early February, according to a tally by the Israeli army. Sporadic at first, they are now occurring with regular intensity. Another shell crashed Monday into the Atzmona Jewish settlement in Gaza. Palestinians said that on Sunday Israelis launched surface-to-surface missiles, another first in the spiral of violence. No Israelis have been killed in the shelling, but three were injured, including a 1-year-old. The retaliatory rocketing by Israel, which has come swiftly since the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office last month, has injured scores of Palestinian police and civilians. “We consider ourselves to be free to act against Israeli targets, without restraint, whether inside or outside of Gaza,” said the leader of a unit that has carried out shelling. This story was published on Tuesday, April 10, 2001. Volume 121, Number 17
2) an AIPAC report on October 7, 2002 (two years ago) counts over 1100Terrorists have established weapons factories throughout Gaza Gaza’s crowded cities and neighborhoods are conducive to concealing the manufacture and spread of dangerous weapons technology. In response to mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel, in recent weeks, has destroyed dozens of arms factories and weapons workshops that have allowed Hamas, with the aid of the PA, to produce massive caches of explosives and ammunition and to develop a series of indigenous rockets known as the Qassam. The Qassam-1 is thought to have a range of up to three miles, while the six-foot-long Qassam-2 has a range of up to five miles and can carry a payload of more than 20 pounds of explosives. Several Israelis, including a 16-month-old boy, have been wounded in rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. Since the violence began more than two years ago, the Palestinians have launched more than 1,100 mortars and Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel.
3) found the first recorded use of artillery in Commentary July 2001 - three years ago"On January 30, Palestinian artillery was put to use for the first time when a mortar shell hit the settlement of Netzarim in Gaza... "
4) in a report in HaAretz, eight months ago, more than 3000 mortars and rockets had been launched(the web source is actually pro-palestinian)Two out of fiveNADAV SHRAGAIHa'aretz, 25 September 2003Almost 40 percent of the Israeli fatalities in the intifada were murdered in the territories. From September 2000 to the beginning of the hudna, 17,405 attacks were recorded in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza StripFrom September 2000 up until the beginning of the hudna, or cease-fire, (in early July this year), 18,135 terror attacks were recorded. Of these, 17,405 (96 percent) were in the territories and "only" 730 (4 percent) were in the state of Israel. That is, for every attack within the Green Line, there were 24 attacks in the territories. The attacks within Israel were relatively few, but very deadly. The overwhelming majority of terror victims within the Green Line - 401 people - were murdered by suicide bombers and 54 were shot to death. In the territories, on the other hand, there were countless attacks, but they were relatively less lethal. But they succeeded in disrupting the routine of life there for long periods of time. * Shots were fired at passing vehicles 2,199 times, and 100 people were killed (89 in the West Bank and 11 in the Gaza Strip) * Roadside bombs were detonated 1,091 times in the territories, and only rarely by suicide bombers. As a result, 64 Israelis were killed (37 in the West Bank and 27 in the Gaza region). Another 657 bombs were found and disarmed before they exploded. * Shots were fired at settlements 739 times, killing 17 people. * More than 1,800 grenades were thrown at soldiers and civilians, especially in the Gaza Strip. * Eighteen attempts to run over Israelis were recorded (with no fatalities), and 2 people were killed in 68 stabbing and other assaults. * More than 3,000 mortars and Qassam rockets were fired during the past three years at settlements in the Gaza Coast Regional Council.
5) is the web for the Gazan Jewish communities. they have counted some 4200. I am pretty sure the NYT quotes PA sources so the Jewish communities should be at least as reliable
eventually, on July 17, I received this response from Greg Myre
Mr. Medad,
In response to your e-mail about my story, I have rechecked the information on the Qassam rockets, and it is correct. Furthermore, the information you offer does nothing to contradict my story.I wrote that the Palestinians have fired more than 300 Qassam rockets since the current fighting began in September 2000. The Israeli military has cited this figure repeatedly in recent days. As of today, the army spokesman's office says the figure is 320. That's basically all you need to know, but I will elaborate.The recent Israeli incursion into the northern Gaza Strip was carried out specifically to stop Qassam rocket fire from that area, according to the military. The military has not cited other types of fire, such as mortars or missiles, for staging this operation. This is why I gave the figures for the Qassam rockets and not other types of weapons.In contrast, you cite a rather different figure - '4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types.' I'll take your word that this figure is accurate, but I don't think it is relevant to this story, and I also think it is meaningless without further explanation.The Qassam rocket is the most dangerous of these weapons. As I'm sure you know, rockets killed two Israelis last month, prompting the Israeli invasion. This was the first time that the Qassams caused any deaths. As my story noted, they are extremely inaccurate and have caused few injuries and relatively little damage.The other 3800 'mortars and missiles of various types' have not caused any deaths, and as far as I know, no serious injuries. There is nothing wrong with mentioning this figure, but it's critically important to note that as weapons they have been almost totally ineffectual, a fact your letter fails to mention.You also raised a question about the Palestinian woman shot dead in Gaza. My story reported all the information that was available to us, citing Palestinian witnesses and the Israeli military. I said that there was a gunbattle in the neighborhood and the women and her children fled, and that she was shot dead in the street.I don't know who shot this woman, and my story didn't claim to have this information.During the past four years of fighting, I am sure there have been cases where Palestinians have been killed by Palestinian fire. However, having covered the fighting since it began, I am quite certain that in the vast majority of cases like this, Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.Neither side conducts detailed forensic studies to provide absolute proof of the source of fire. In addition, the Israeli military acknowledges that it rarely has precise information on Palestinian casualties.In this case, and others like it, I am not inclined to suggest that a Palestinian was killed by another Palestinian, or an Israeli killed by another Israeli, unless we have some evidence pointing in that direction. The overwhelming evidence is that Palestinians are killing Israelis, and Israelis are killing Palestinians.Sincerely,Greg Myre

To which I then replied

thanks for replying. that the other almost 4000 ballistics of various types were ineffectual is problematic.I am sure that the intention of those that launched them was murderous and thatthey were mostly, if almost exclusively, aimed at civilian targets and therein liesan important point, especially as Israelis reactions to these attacks sometimescause unintended Arab civilian casualties - which are played up. the media imageof a big military power oppressing an under-defended population is something thatis a bit unfair.if the NYTimes would devote a story to the entire issue of the threat facing Israelfrom these missiles, rockets and mortars, a threat that would only increase ifIsrael does indeed disengage, and a threat that no fence that I can imagine would halt,and a threat helped along by Egyptian either indifference or active conspiracy, that would be a contribution of good for the Palestinian woman, in this case I was just complaining about unclear languageand am aware how stories are edited and re-edited down the road.again, thanks for the input and providing me with more information than I need know.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Treason. Treason?!

In an item by Ma'ariv's Nadav Eyal, Tomy Lapid of Shinui is quoted as saying that a "government with Hareidim is treason (begida, in Hebrew) against the secular public". (it's in the Friday, July 16th issue, page 5, at bottom right).
Gee, doesn't he know that that word is prohibited from use in polite company and that he might be accused of fomenting murder, subversion and other forms of usuraption?
Or is it that only when right-wingers use it that every newspaper will carry an accusatory headline, that every TV news program will excorciate them and that every radio interview program will denounce them?
Ever since the Rabin assassination, that word has been banned from use by our trendy liberal, progressive and humanist lefties who dominate all forms our public discourse in Israel.  But, of course, Lapid, to an extent, belongs to that milieu and so, we won't hear any murmurings of discontent, no denunciations.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Maybe Just Unattainable

James Bennet asserts the New York Times of July 15 that the Palestinian Authority's "institutions of statehood are crumbling" and highlights this by juxtaposing two Jenin residents who first met in 1989 during what he terms the "first Palestinian uprising against Israel", ("In Chaos, Palestinians Struggle for a Way Out").

Actually, this pattern of self-destruct was already apparent during the truly first Arab revolt, against the British Mandate and the Zionist community, in the years 1936-1939. Internecine fighting, mutual assassinations, local banditry, countryside pillaging of peasants by marauding bands of terrorists all were present at that time and subverted any hopes for unity of purpose.

There is a pattern here. It could be that statehood is not an attainable goal for Palestine's Arabs, or, as logic dictates, they don't deserve it.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Myre Mires and Muddles

Greg Myre, a New York Times correspondent in Israel, reported in the July 9 issue on Israel's military activity in the Gaza Strip. He noted that "the Palestinians have fired more than 300 of their crude, homemade rockets in recent years, to little effect." In addition, he records the death of an Arab woman, a mother of 7, shot in the street.
It can be found here:

As regards the number of rockets, Israeli sources claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types have landed among Jewish civilian targets, both in the Gaza area and within Israel, since the Arabs initiated hostilities in September 2000. The disparity in numbers seems to be too great and raises doubts as to the reliability of the paper's news.

And I will ignore that remark about "little effect". Who cares? What counts is the intention of the terrorists to kill and damage as much as possible.

Moreover, Myre studiously avoids noting who killed the woman. Was it an Israeli soldier, a Palestinian militant or could not Myre have written that the source of the gunfire was in doubt? It has happened before that Pals. have killed their own people, even by accident. The context unfairly incriminates, without factual basis, Israeli forces as if they purposefully shot down a mother of seven.
see Myre's reply on July 17