Archive for July, 2014
Thursday, July 31st, 2014
This is an important article and reinforces my recent posts on this subject.
John Kerry Has Hamas’ Back: So Who Has Israel’s?
By Lee Smith. July 30, 2014
You know there’s something going on when Haaretz, the flagship of the Israeli left, reads like it’s being edited by Dick Cheney. Last Friday Secretary of State John Kerry presented the Israeli cabinet with a draft of a ceasefire agreement that, in the words of Haaretz columnist Barak Ravid, “could have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.” The draft, Ravid explained, “recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal.” Accordingly, wrote another Haaretz columnist, Ari Shavit: “The Obama Administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends.”
The fact is that Haaretz is simply in step with Israeli public opinion. One poll, conducted by Israel’s Channel 10, showed that 87 percent of Israelis were in favor continuing the operation in Gaza, with another 69 percent in favor of toppling the organization that the White House wants to save. Another poll showed that 86.5 percent are against a ceasefire right now because “Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered.” Therefore, explained one pollster, Netanyahu would be confronting the vast majority of Israel if he accepted, as Obama reportedly demanded in a phone call Sunday, an immediate ceasefire.
“Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas,” Netanyahu told President Obama, according to an Israeli transcript of a recording of the phone call. (A transcript the White House and prime minister’s office now claim is false.) “It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.” To which Obama snidely responded: “I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.” When Netanyahu objected to Obama’s high-school mean-girl treatment—“I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks”—the president of the United States simply ignored him: “The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.”
Obama’s big theory of the Middle East seems to be that Israel is the least popular kid in the lunchroom, which means that it is lucky to have the United States as any kind of friend at all. But what neither the president nor his peripatetic secretary of State appear to have noticed is that the least popular kid among Middle Eastern leaders isn’t Bibi—it’s Obama. While self-infatuated postering may be the key to popularity among a certain segment of the president’s daughters’ peer group, it tends to go over badly with world leaders who face real threats—and who feel that America regularly lies to them. According to reports, Cairo was so angry that Kerry involved its regional rivals Qatar and Turkey in discussions over what new Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi considers a vital national interest that it refused to send its foreign minister to meet with Kerry in Paris.
Not surprisingly, the Palestinian Authority, in whose name Obama and Kerry are supposedly acting, was also furious with the administration. Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party released a statement critical of the White House as well as his intra-Palestinian rivals: “Those who want Qatar or Turkey to represent them should leave and go live there.” The reality is that the ceasefire makes plain what the United States’ traditional regional partners have long feared: Obama is lining up against America’s traditional friends in the Middle East, with Jerusalem directly in the crosshairs.
It’s at times like this that Israel could use a powerful friend in Washington. When Israel is at war with a terrorist group that plotted to send hundreds of its members through tunnels to slaughter and kidnap thousands of Israelis this coming Rosh Hashanah, and the White House proposes a ceasefire agreement that works to the advantage of the terrorists, it makes you wish there was a large, well-funded lobbying organization that wasn’t afraid to remind the White House of the overwhelming American support for Israel among both Jews and Christians.
When the secretary of State is off cavorting with the foreign minister of Turkey, which plans to send another “aid” flotilla to Gaza, and whose prime minister recently accused Israel of “barbarism that surpasses Hitler,” it makes you wish there was a well-oiled pro-Israel outfit with some ace political fixers and analysts in its pocket and an outsized reputation for fearlessly lobbying both Congress and the executive branch.
When European governments and Arab states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan—and even the Fatah government in Ramallah—are more in sync with Jerusalem about current events than the White House, it makes you wish there was someone able to get the president of the United States on the phone to remind him that the Israel-U.S. alliance is one of the pillars of American Middle East policy, and that abandoning that alliance will hurt the entire region, which it is intended to help stabilize.
When Israel endures a decade of rocket fire from Hamas and world opinion calls Jews the aggressors, when European streets are filled with pro-Hamas demonstrators, and anti-Semites see an opportunity to drive France’s Jewish community out of the country, it makes you wish there was some big broad-shouldered American institution holding the line against the world’s increasing racist enmity toward Israel and the Jews. It would tell the White House, whispering first in its ear and then more loudly if necessary, “OK, that’s enough. America stands for something better than the prejudice and savagery embodied by the political players you say you trust.”
Of course, the pro-Israel community does have an organization like that—or it did. Sure, AIPAC gets House and Senate members to sign letters supportive of Israel and makes statements of its own. On Monday, for instance, AIPAC President Robert Cohen said, “It is essential that the United States works closely with our democratic and indispensable ally, Israel, to ensure Jerusalem is able to keep its citizens safe from terror.” But it’s crunch time for Israel, and thus also for the organization that is supposed to represent most potently the U.S.-Israel friendship, a relationship Obama is crashing on behalf of Israel’s adversaries. So, the question is why won’t AIPAC say out loud what everyone, including the Israeli left, now sees plainly? Regardless of what Obama may feel in his “kishkes” about the Jewish state, his policies are hostile to Israel.
John Kerry was determined to broker a deal that would not only bring about a ceasefire but also preserve his failed peace process. The problem with his attempt to rescue his own public profile and salve his wounded ego was that he didn’t study the region carefully enough: Both Israel and Egypt consider the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian iteration Hamas to be serious threats to their own national security, and it is hard to say that the fears of both governments aren’t well founded. Both Israel and Egypt found Kerry’s proposal way too favorable to Hamas. (Indeed, Kerry had told Hamas via a Qatari intermediary that many of the Palestinian terrorist group’s demands would be met.) That was too much for Kerry, who can’t stand to be left in the corner at the dance. As the secretary showed last week when a live mic caught him on Fox News saying “we have to get over there,” Kerry needs to be in the mix, to be holding important press conferences in foreign capitals and shaping big events. Accordingly, when Israel and Egypt showed Kerry the door, the only place left for him to go was Turkey and Qatar—who back Hamas. Now, so does John Kerry.
And yet here’s the key point. For all Kerry’s preening and apparent naiveté, he wasn’t freelancing. Rather, as administration officials made clear, the secretary was implementing the president’s agenda, which is finally less about Turkey and Qatar, which are secondary actors, than it is about Iran. True, Tehran and Hamas’ political leadership have been on the outs since their disagreement over the Syrian civil war, with Iran standing behind Assad and Hamas leaders like Khaled Meshaal, once based in Damascus, finding it impossible to support Assad’s slaughter of fellow Sunnis. However, Hamas’ current campaign is being directed not by Meshaal, but rather, as the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger Tweeted last week, by the military commanders on the ground. As Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs research associate, and (Ret.) Brig. Gen. Shimon Shapira told me, “Iran bypassed Hamas political leadership and reached out directly to the military commanders.” Hamas’ campaign therefore is effectively an audition to show Iran that it’s a more than useful deterrent against Israel.
The effect of Kerry’s ceasefire draft then is not simply to leave Hamas with a de facto victory—its arsenal will remain, as will the tunnels not yet destroyed, and it can boast of closing down Ben Gurion for 48 hours and can repeat the performance any time it likes. The point is to balance Iran against Israel.
With the P5+1’s interim agreement signed with Tehran in January, the White House acknowledged Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Now the Kerry ceasefire draft shows the administration is willing to stab Israel in the back as many times as necessary in order to secure any kind of agreement with Iran—regardless of the fact that Israel considers the Iranian nuclear program to be an existential threat. Israel needs to defeat Hamas to protect its own people, from missiles and tunnels, and from a future Iranian nuclear bomb. The White House doesn’t want an Israeli victory in Gaza, lest that threaten the White House’s strategic goal of reaching an accord with Iran, which backs Hamas. So, on both the ego-driven and larger geo-strategic levels, Washington’s dog in the Gaza fight isn’t Israel. It’s Hamas.
AIPAC is either an organization whose purpose is to maintain the broad bipartisan consensus on Israel, or it’s a last line of defense, standing up to tell the president he’s gone too far. The Israeli public has spoken very clearly, and with one voice. The seriousness of the threat is clear. So, where is AIPAC?
Lee Smith is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is also the author of the recently published The Consequences of Syria.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
William McGurn in the July 24, 2014 copy of the New York Post wrote: Obama’s Israel legacy: A Hostile Democratic Party. It’s worth reading and reacting to and to wonder whether this explains Secretary of State Kerry’s blatant call for a cease fire in the Israel-Hamas war ––– on Hamas’s terms!
The left wing media have tried to excuse this as an “unfortunate” error by Kerry, because he so urgently wants a truce. Perhaps. But I doubt this. Rather, I believe this shows how the relationship between the United States and Israel has floundered and that the Obama administration really tilts toward Hamas in this war. However, you decide. Now, to the McGurn editorial:
“It’s a the-chicken-or-the-egg question. Which came first: the Obama administration’s public contempt toward our allies in Jerusalem, or liberal Democratic animosity toward Israel?
“Either way, when Barack Obama steps down as president in January 2017, the Democratic Party he leaves behind will be one whose sympathies no longer embrace the Jewish state.
It’s an extraordinary legacy. And it’s underscored by the more or less constant snubs President Obama has directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Of course, world leaders not getting along is nothing new. As Churchill’s wartime liaison to de Gaulle said of Britain’s French ally, “The greatest cross I have had to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.”
“But the case of Obama and Netanyahu is much more than a clash of personalities. It’s a conflict between two competing world views. And if a poll released this month by the Pew Research Center is any clue, this conflict has now become embedded in American party politics.
“Pew asked a basic question: “In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, who do you sympathize with more?”
“Overall, Pew found a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, sympathize more with Israel. But the breakdown by party is where it gets interesting: Basically, support for Israel gets stronger as you move right, and weaker as you move left: 77 percent of conservative Republicans support Israel, against 64 percent for moderate Republicans. In sharp contrast, just 48 percent of moderate Democrats support Israel, and only 39 percent of liberal Democrats.
“To slice it another way, support for Israel is a minority opinion in the Democratic Party. Pew adds that “the partisan gap in Mideast sympathies” reflected in the poll “has never been wider.”
“Now, some complain the wording of the question doesn’t quite support the conclusion the party has become anti-Israel. All these Americans are saying, goes this claim, is that Palestinians are more downtrodden.
This is wishful thinking. For one thing, the Pew findings are consistent with a just-released Gallup Poll reporting that while 65 percent of Republicans say Israel’s actions against Hamas are justified, only 36 percent of Democrats do.
“These results don’t come in a vacuum. Remember how Democrats booed Israel at their 2012 national convention?
“Party-platform drafters had dropped a plank from 2008 that said, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Party leaders intervened to restore the deleted language via a convention vote.
“The jeers came when the convention chair — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — called for a voice vote on the amendment, and met with shouts of opposition. Villaraigosa had to ask three times, because the “no’s” were so loud. And he was roundly booed when he then declared the necessary two-thirds of delegates had voted for the change, when the “no’s” filling the hall suggested otherwise.
“Both Obama’s policy and his personnel picks reflect these sentiments. Long before his secretary of state, John Kerry, sneered about the operation against Hamas, he’d used the loaded term “apartheid state” in reference to Israel’s future. Meanwhile, as defense secretary the president installed a man who could not bring himself to call Yasser Arafat a terrorist.
“Israelis, of course, have lived through US presidents who were less than chummy. But give credit where credit is due: When on Yom Kippur 1973 a massive, Soviet-backed force of Syrian and Egyptian troops attacked Israel, Richard Nixon immediately airlifted the arms Israel needed to prevail. Can anyone imagine Obama doing the same — at least in time to make a difference?
“Jimmy Carter wasn’t thought friendly, either, and his UN ambassador had to resign after it emerged he’d met secretly with the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Carter brokered the Camp David Accords, and his more vitriolic assertions about Israel came only after he’d left office.
“Throughout all these years, American politics had plenty of liberal Democrats who strongly supported Israel. We still do. But they’ve become outliers.
“Put it this way: While states and congressional districts with liberal Jewish populations may continue to send pro-Israel liberals to Washington, trends suggest these pro-Israel liberal Democrats will decline as anti-Israel liberal Democrats take their place.
“Already, the anti-Israel liberals seem to wield the real power. For example, what does the president’s approach to the Middle East and Israel say about the influence of New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer?
“The simplest explanation is that President Obama is giving his party what most of its members want. And years from now, we are likely to look back at the Obama era as the moment in American history when the Democratic Party shifted, openly and decisively, against Israel.”
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
The following is a letter written by David Horowitz, director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center a conservative 501 (c) (3) organization at HorowitzFreedomCenter. org. The letter is directed to both American Jews and American non-Jews, and was meant to be a fund-raising vehicle for the Last Resistance/Freedom Center. But it has so many important, so many cogent points, I thought it appropriate to present its message here:
“Even before the recent Israeli ground and air operations in Gaza, the BDS movement – that would stand for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – was gaining traction… not just in France, or Germany, or Oman: right here in America.
“BDS is being sold – as everything evil and stupid is being sold these days – as a moral good. The argument goes like this: Israel, a nation formed in response to the cold, concrete reality of extermination, has let its economic and military power go to its head. They, now, are the oppressors; they now are Goliath in a main battle tank facing a brave Palestinian David with a rock in his hand; they now are the racists. They now – Israel – are the Nazis.
“Here is Israel at the time of its formation by the United Nations in 1948. Actually, you can’t see it on this map because it’s so small – smaller than the state of New Jersey.
“On that same year, the Arab nations surrounding the new country attacked what was then mostly small farming communities and tried to drive the Jews into the sea.
“But The Israelis won.
“The Arabs tried it again in 1967. The Jews beat them again. Then, in 1973, the Arabs tried again, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday – and the Jews won again.
“Israel’s territorial gains did not come from Israel attacking the Arabs. They came from Israel being attacked by the Arabs.
“And Israel has always tried to give the land back in exchange for peace, as it did when it voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula – which is bigger than Israel itself – back to the Egyptians who had tried to attack them from the Sinai, and likewise, they gave the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinians who had attacked them – from the Gaza strip.
“Since then, thousands – thousands! — of rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel from schoolyards and orphanages and hospitals in — Gaza.
“How many rockets and mortars would you allow to fall on your house by neighbors that have been swearing to kill you for 65 years? How many times will someone keep hitting you before you hit back?
“The Palestinians daily call for the Jews to be driven into the sea. The Jews have one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world. They could drive the Palestinians into the sea any time they wanted to. They don’t.
“The instant that Hamas or Hezbollah get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they will do with it what they do every day with their rocks and mortars and missiles. They will use it. On Israel. The Israelis have an estimated 500 nuclear weapons and could destroy the Arabs any time they chose. They don’t.
“Those are not Nazis. Those are moral, civilized people.
“Israel is an island of civilization in a sea of barbarity, and that is why it is being targeted. Uncomfortable with those words, “civilization” and “barbarity?” Well, in Israel women can do whatever they please – including leading the state of Israel. In the surrounding Arab nations women are treated as chattel. They’re just property: useful for creating sons and carrying things.
“In Israel, homosexuals are tolerated and celebrated as individuals – why, just as if they were real people! In the surrounding Muslim nations they are hung from construction cranes in public squares. In Israel, scientists at the University of Haifa are studying In-homogeneous tachyon dynamics. The latest scientific invention in the Arab world is a buzzer that goes off when a Muslim falls asleep against his prayer rug.
“Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was used, in the main successfully, against racist South Africa. Racist South Africa used brutal force to suppress people along racial lines.
“Israel, on the other hand, is the only nation in the entire Middle East where Arabs have a free and fair vote. Israel allows Israelis of any ethnicity to be elected to the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament – including Arabs. So: If you’re in favor of equal rights for women, legal protections for homosexuals, advances in science, the arts and medicine, and political access and personal rights guaranteed by law — you definitely should support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – for every nation in the region EXCEPT Israel.
“Finally, I’ll just say this – because this is really what drives this whole thing. It is absolutely true that criticizing the actions of the State of Israel is not in itself anti-Semitism. Israel is as subject to criticism and condemnation as any other nation on earth.
“But you cannot understand Israel’s actions without understanding the pervasive, unrelenting, hate that surrounds that outpost of civilization. From Hezbollah rockets made in Iran, to BDS sanctions made in Berkeley and Santa Monica, the attacks on this country and its people cannot be understood without getting to the bedrock essence of the nasty, petty, small and mean-spirited emotion that drives anti-Semitism.
“And that emotion is Envy.
“Genesis, Chapter 26, verses 12 through 16:
“And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Aby melech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
“That was thousands of years before there was a religion called Islam. And when the Israelis, as a gesture of peace and goodwill, turned over the Gaza Strip in 2005 the first thing these modern-day philistines did was smash the windows of the greenhouses that had been handed to them by other people’s labor. Once again, they filled wells in the desert with sand.
“Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, by far the safest home the Jews have ever known was here in America. No doubt there was anti-Semitism here, but with a few exceptions it was golf-course anti-Semitism: disgraceful, but a long, long way from the pogroms and the death camps. Why was America such a safe home for the Jews? Well, because up until very recently — 2008 let’s say – envy was not admired here in America. “Coveting” wasn’t sold here as a virtue, either.
“So, to the American Jews who voted in huge numbers for the man who was personal friends of Palestinian terrorist – Rhashid Khalidi – to babysit his children – to the American Jews that watched and supported Occupy Wall Street as it smashed crystal windows and denounced Jewish bankers; to the American Jews who continue to vote for an ever more powerful state when no one in the world has more to fear from powerful states like the National Socialist German Workers Party or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; to those American Jews who watched through the 1930’s and 40s and ask, “how could they have let that happen?” I would simply say, “How can you let this happen? Why do so many of you vote for this to happen – pay for it to happen?”
“Tea Party Conservatives, like me – genuine friends of Israel and the Jewish people – look at you and think “It’s obvious you’ve lost your minds. Have you lost your souls as well?”
Monday, July 28th, 2014
In the world’s of astrophysics, mathematics, and quantum mechanics, the concept of multiple universes/parallel universes have been considered as hypothetical.
In our world, the world of here and now, in the affairs of the human condition, parallel universes are quite common and quite visible. Take for example, the ideas and data provided in an essay by perhaps well-meaning physicians blaming the Israelis for the carnage of the Hamas-Israeli war now shaking the Middle East –––– followed by a response by other perhaps well-meaning physicians blaming the carnage of the war on Hamas.
Two utterly different views, too utterly parallel universes. You decide which universe is the real one.
Published online July 22, 2014 –
An open letter for the
people in Gaza
We are doctors and scientists, who
spend our lives developing means to
care and protect health and lives. We
are also informed people; we teach
the ethics of our professions, together
with the knowledge and practice of it.
We all have worked in and known the
situation of Gaza for years.
On the basis of our ethics and
practice, we are denouncing what we
witness in the aggression of Gaza by
We ask our colleagues, old and
young professionals, to denounce
this Israeli aggression. We challenge
the perversity of a propaganda that
justifi es the creation of an emergency
to masquerade a massacre, a so-called
“defensive aggression”. In reality it is a
ruthless assault of unlimited duration,
extent, and intensity. We wish to report
the facts as we see them and their
implications on the lives of the people.
We are appalled by the military
onslaught on civilians in Gaza under
the guise of punishing terrorists. This is
the third large scale military assault on
Gaza since 2008. Each time the death
toll is borne mainly by innocent people
in Gaza, especially women and children
under the unacceptable pretext of
Israel eradicating political parties and
resistance to the occupation and siege
This action also terrifi es those who
are not directly hit, and wounds the
soul, mind, and resilience of the young
generation. Our condemnation and
disgust are further compounded by
the denial and prohibition for Gaza to
receive external help and supplies to
alleviate the dire circumstances.
The blockade on Gaza has
tightened further since last year
and this has worsened the toll on
Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people
suff er from hunger, thirst, pollution,
shortage of medicines, electricity,
and any means to get an income, not
only by being bombed and shelled.
Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water
and food scarcity, sewage outflow
and ever decreasing resources
are disasters caused directly and
indirectly by the siege.1
People in Gaza are resisting this
aggression because they want a
better and normal life and, even
while crying in sorrow, pain, and
terror, they reject a temporary truce
that does not provide a real chance
for a better future. A voice under
the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al
Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza:
“They are killing us all anyway—
either a slow death by the siege, or a
fast one by military attacks. We have
nothing left to lose—we must fi ght
for our rights, or die trying.”2
Gaza has been blockaded by sea and
land since 2006. Any individual of
Gaza, including fi shermen venturing
beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast
of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli
Navy. No one from Gaza can leave
from the only two checkpoints, Erez
or Rafah, without special permission
from the Israelis and the Egyptians,
which is hard to come by for many,
if not impossible. People in Gaza are
unable to go abroad to study, work,
visit families, or do business. Wounded
and sick people cannot leave easily
to get specialised treatment outside
Gaza. Entries of food and medicines
into Gaza have been restricted and
many essential items for survival are
prohibited.3 Before the present assault,
medical stock items in Gaza were
already at an all time low because of
the blockade.3 They have run out now.
Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its
produce. Agriculture has been severely
impaired by the imposition of a buff er
zone, and agricultural products cannot
be exported due to the blockade. 80%
of Gaza’s population is dependent on
food rations from the UN.
Much of Gaza’s buildings and
infrastructure had been destroyed
during Operation Cast Lead, 2008–09,
and building materials have been
blockaded so that schools, homes, and
institutions cannot be properly rebuilt.
Factories destroyed by bombardment
have rarely been rebuilt adding
unemployment to destitution.
Despite the difficult conditions,
the people of Gaza and their political
leaders have recently moved to
resolve their confl icts “without arms
and harm” through the process of
reconciliation between factions,
their leadership renouncing titles and
positions, so that a unity government
can be formed abolishing the divisive
factional politics operating since
2007. This reconciliation, although
accepted by many in the international
community, was rejected by Israel.
The present Israeli attacks stop this
chance of political unity between
Gaza and the West Bank and single
out a part of the Palestinian society
by destroying the lives of people
of Gaza. Under the pretext of
eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying
to destroy the growing Palestinian
unity. Among other lies, it is stated
that civilians in Gaza are hostages of
Hamas whereas the truth is that the
Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and
Gaza has been bombed continuously
for the past 14 days
followed now by invasion on land
by tanks and thousands of Israeli
troops. More than 60 000 civilians
from Northern Gaza were ordered to
leave their homes. These internally
displaced people have nowhere to
go since Central and Southern Gaza
are also subjected to heavy artillery
bombardment. The whole of Gaza is
under attack. The only shelters in Gaza
are the schools of the UN Relief and
Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain
shelters already targeted during Cast
Lead, killing many.
According to Gaza Ministry of Health
and UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1
as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in
Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded
are children. Those buried under
the rubble are not counted yet. As
we write, the BBC reports of the
bombing of another hospital, hitting
the intensive care unit and operating
theatres, with deaths of patients and
staff . There are now fears for the main
hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most
people are psychologically traumatised
in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years
has already lived through their third
military assault by Israel.
The massacre in Gaza spares no
one, and includes the disabled and
sick in hospitals, children playing on
the beach or on the roof top, with a
large majority of non-combatants.
Hospitals, clinics, ambulances,
mosques, schools, and press
buildings have all been attacked,
with thousands of private homes
bombed, clearly directing fi re to target
whole families killing them within
their homes, depriving families of
their homes by chasing them out
a few minutes before destruction.
An entire area was destroyed on
July 20, leaving thousands of displaced
people homeless, beside wounding
hundreds and killing at least 70—
this is way beyond the purpose of
finding tunnels. None of these are
military objectives. These attacks aim
to terrorise, wound the soul and the
body of the people, and make their
life impossible in the future, as well
as also demolishing their homes and
prohibiting the means to rebuild.
Weaponry known to cause longterm
damages on health of the whole
population are used; particularly non
fragmentation weaponry and hardhead
bombs.4,5 We witnessed targeted
weaponry used indiscriminately and
on children and we constantly see that
so-called intelligent weapons fail to
be precise, unless they are deliberately
used to destroy innocent lives.
We denounce the myth propagated
by Israel that the aggression is done
caring about saving civilian lives and
Israel’s behaviour has insulted our
humanity, intelligence, and dignity
as well as our professional ethics and
eff orts. Even those of us who want to
go and help are unable to reach Gaza
due to the blockade.
This “defensive aggression” of
unlimited duration, extent, and
intensity must be stopped.
Additionally, should the use of
gas be further confirmed, this is
unequivocally a war crime for which,
before anything else, high sanctions
will have to be taken immediately on
Israel with cessation of any trade and
collaborative agreements with Europe.
As we write, other massacres and
threats to the medical personnel in
emergency services and denial of
entry for international humanitarian
convoys are reported.6 We as
scientists and doctors cannot keep
silent while this crime against
humanity continues. We urge
readers not to be silent too. Gaza
trapped under siege, is being killed
by one of the world’s largest and
most sophisticated modern military
machines. The land is poisoned by
weapon debris, with consequences
for future generations. If those of
us capable of speaking up fail to do
so and take a stand against this war
crime, we are also complicit in the
destruction of the lives and homes of
1ÅE8 million people in Gaza.
We register with dismay that only
5% of our Israeli academic colleagues
signed an appeal to their government
to stop the military operation against
Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that
with the exception of this 5%, the rest of
the Israeli academics are complicit in the
massacre and destruction of Gaza. We
also see the complicity of our countries
in Europe and North America in this
massacre and the impotence once
again of the international institutions
and organisations to stop this massacre.
We declare no competing interests.
*Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers,
Derek Summerfi eld, Mads Gilbert,
Swee Ang, on behalf of 24 signatories
New Weapons Research Group and Univers
Genoa, Genoa, Italy (PM); James Lind Library,
Oxford, UK (IC); Institute of Psychiatry, King’s
College,London, UK (DS); Clinic of Emergency
Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway,
Tromso, Norway (MG); and Barts and the Royal
London Hospital, London, UK (SA).
1 United Nations Offi ce for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Aff airs (OCHA). Occupied
Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency
situation report (as of 21 July 2014, 1500 hrs).
July 22, 2014).
2 Webb-Pullman J. Dignity or death—we cannot
give up now. http://gaza.scoop.ps/2014/07/
(accessed July 22, 2014).
3 Gilbert M. Brief report to UNRWA: The Gaza
Health Sector as of June 2014. http://www.
unrwa.org/sites/default/fi les/fi nal_report_-_
gilbert_2.pdf (accessed July 22, 2014).
4 Naim A, Al Dalies H, El Balawi M, et al. Birth
defects in Gaza: prevalence, types, familiarity
and correlation with environmental factors.
Int J Environ Res Public Health 2012; 9: 1732–47.
5 Manduca P, Naim A, Signoriello S. Specifi c
association of teratogen and toxicant metals in
hair of newborns with congenital birth defects
or developmentally premature birth in a cohort
of couples with documented parental exposure
to military attacks: observational study at
Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza, Palestine.
Int J Environ Res Public Health 2014; 11: 5208–23.
6 Ma’an News Agency. 4 killed, over 50 injured
as Israel targets al-Aqsa hospital. http://www.
aspx?ID=715087 (accessed July
AND NOW THE RESPONSE
Tamir Wolf, MD, PhD1; Danny Hava Brown, BA2; Shachar Moshe Aharony,
1 Tel-Aviv, Israel
2 Senior policy advisor to Dr. Michael B. Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the
US from 2009 to 2013, currently the Abba Eban chair in international diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Hertzliya, Israel
3 Urology Division, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, Israel
Dr. Tamir Wolf
8 Kaf Gimel Yordei Hasira St.
A few weeks ago, while 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and
murdered, the wife of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman, Mahmoud
Abbas, was discharged from an Israeli private hospital after orthopedic
surgery. More often than not, reality is far from black and white 1.Yet, in
the depiction of the current situation- “An open letter for the people of
Gaza” 2 – reality is seemingly black.
Twenty-four signatories claim to “report the facts as we see them” and
under an “ethical and practice” pretense, use the pages of The Lancet,
to chant skewed and shamelessly unfounded propaganda that would fail
any peer review. Under false claims of “no conflict of interest”, the authors
who are deeply involved in pro-Palestinian organizations slander Israel.
Their evidence-less attempt to hide behind their medical degree in order
to spread the propaganda of the terrorist organization Hamas, is a
betrayal of our profession. A lot has been said about the bias of the
international media in the portrayal of this conflict 3. This rebuttal in The
Lancet is our attempt to show the other side of the coin *.
We are baffled by the decision of The Lancet’s editorial board to publish
this one-sided op-ed, full of hatred, ill-conceived notions and factual
chicanery. This publication definitely defies, in our eyes, the very calling of
The Lancet to “…consider any original contribution that advances or
illuminates medical science or practice, or that educates or entertains the
journal’s readers” 4.
Like the authors, we too went through medical school. Like them – we too
are horrified by the deaths of innocent women and children. Unlike them,
the word “massacre”, used whimsically, is not foreign. Our families went
up in smoke in Europe. Israel is our home now. Unlike all of them, we
served in the (Israeli Defense Forces) IDF, and treated multiple
Palestinians. Our humanity has been truly put to the test on more than one
occasion, and we are proud to say that we prevailed.
A few days ago we saw a photo in one of the social networks in which a
muslim protestor somewhere in Europe holds two signs. One saying “Stop
Hamas terrorism on Israel”, the other “Free Gaza from Hamas”. This says it
all. But how did we even get here, to a third round of fighting with Hamas?
* Throughout the process of writing this response, we had 7 sirens go off in Tel-Aviv
indicating a missile was heading our way, giving us 1:30 min to head for shelter. On one
occasion, fragments from a missile after interception with “iron dome” fell on our
neighborhood synagogue, 1 meter away from our balcony. We urge you to think of that
the next time you sit down to write a manuscript.
In August 2005, Israel disengaged unilaterally from Gaza. Israel dismantled
settlements and uprooted over 10,000 Israelis. It withdrew its military and
civilian presence from every inch of Gaza, effectively ending the
occupation. Israel continued to uphold its obligations under the 4th
Geneva Convention in matters where it continues to have effective
control such as providing water and electricity 5. Likewise, and in direct
contrast to the libels told in the Open Letter, Israel has always allowed the
passage of food, medicine and fuel into Gaza †.
Rather than using the end of the Israeli occupation to create the
“Singapore of the Middle East”, Hamas overthrew the PA in a military coup
d’états in June 2007 in killing 550 and leaving hundreds injured 6. Since
then, the people of Gaza have been living under the tyranny of a violent
extremist regime 7. Hamas hatred is not only towards Israel but also against
their Palestinian brethren 8.
As for the alleged “aggression of Gaza by Israel”. The current cycle of
violence began when Hamas operatives abducted and murdered three
settler teens in the West Bank. Without prejudice to the question of the
legality of settlements, the cold-blooded murder of innocent teens is
inexcusable. Amidst arrests of Hamas operatives that followed, Hamas
began indiscriminately barraging of Israeli towns. Israel initially limited its
response to air strikes aimed at the missile launchers and Hamas terrorists.
On June 15th Israel agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire and halted its
attacks. Hamas rejected the ceasefire and shot over 80 rockets at Israeli
civilian populations 9 , and violated a UN sanctioned humanitarian
ceasefire. The U.S, EU, and most of the international community
recognized Israel’s right to defend itself against the aggression of Hamas
and commended it for accepting the ceasefire. And then came the terror
The first assault by 13 terrorists emerging out of a terror attack tunnel near
an Israeli town armed with assault weapons and syringes occurred on July
17th. Their goal was to murder and kidnap Israelis. The IDF has since
uncovered 31 such tunnels, and counting. Interrogations of Hamas forces
paint a disquieting picture. A maze of tunnels accommodating two
hundred hamas terrorists led to six Israeli towns. On Rosh Hashana, (the
Jewish New Years Eve) when families would be sitting for dinner, Hamas
was planning to emerge from the tunnels, kill entire communities and
† Corroborated in personal communications with Gisha “an Israel non-for-profit
organization aimed at protecting the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially
Gaza residents”. http://gisha.org
kidnap the youngsters 11. This calamitous plan would have been an Israeli
It seems unreasonable that an impoverished community such as that of
Gaza, would have such a sophisticated and extravagant offensive
infrastructure. The question is, where did the money come from?
Over the past decade, Hamas has received an excess of $10B in foreign
aid. The signatories were quick to contend that Israel’s policies led to
“hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity…sewage
outflow…”. They claim, “building materials have been blockaded so that
schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt.” Nothing could
be further from the truth.
In one week of groundwork, Israel discovered over 30 terror tunnels with
estimated 500 tons of cement in each 12. The cement and materials used
to build these tunnels, alongside the reported 900 tunnels Egypt has
destroyed over the past year, could have been used to turn Gaza into an
oasis. Out of the reported hundreds of millions of dollars in aid just about
zero schools, hospitals, and institutions were built. The money, we now
know, is all underground cementing terror passages and stockpiling
ammunition bunkers 13, 14. 15.
A significant share of these funds went to cushion the pockets of Hamas
“leaders” such as Musa Abu Marzuk ($2-3B), Khaled Mashaal ($2-5B),
Ismail Haniyeh ($4M) while the people of Gaza
were left in ruins.
In addition to blaming Israel for the below-par economic situation, the
authors questioned the moral asymmetry in the conflict. There definitely is
asymmetry. Israel’s strategy is aimed at protecting life. Hamas’ strategy is
to exploit children. Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed while
building the terror tunnel network 17 and more recently, as shields.
Hamas’ use of civilian objects and populations to launch it attacks is
atrocious. The recent EU Council conclusions published on July 22 stated
that “…The EU strongly condemns calls on the civilian population of Gaza
to provide themselves as human shields 18. There is asymmetry. While
Hamas’ “golden hour” terrorists ride in ambulances, Israel build a field
hospital. While Israel spends billions on civil defense, Hamas use donkeys
as IEDs ‡ and dress up as elderly women to launch perfidious attacks. UN
facilities have become a haven for terrorist activity, as acknowledged by
‡ Improvised explosive device
the UN itself 19, 20. Hospitals such as Shifa Hospital, mentioned in the Open
Letter, “[have] become a de fact headquarters for Hamas leaders who
can be seen in the hallways and offices” 21.
The authors claim that the IDF is “clearly directing fire to target whole
families killing them within their homes”. This outrageous accusation is
baseless.22. Al Jazeera published an updated list of casualties in Gaza. The
data (82% of fatalities men, 66% of them between the ages of 18 and 38)
attests to the fact that the IDF is indeed targeting combatants 23.
While Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, Israel
has been working tirelessly to develop high precision weapons and
warning mechanisms to minimize civilian causalities. Such measures (text
messages, leaflets, repetitive announcements §) surpass NATO operations
in precision and its proportionality calculus. Civilians are never a target.
Unfortunately, Hamas’ military tactics attempt to ensure maximum civilian
Given these conditions, even the most humanitarian army cannot avoid
civilian casualties, however hard it tries, however tragic. International
Humanitarian Law is on Israel’s side 24. When a civilian target is used for
military purpose, it loses its protective status and becomes a legitimate
target. While every life is sacred, urban warfare has its gloomy realities,
and international law recognizes and accommodates such bras tacks.
Israel should not apologize for its low death rates. It has spent billions of
dollars to create technologies and infrastructure for the world’s most
advance civil defense system. While at the same time, Hamas did nothing
for its citizens.
The authors claim to have a moral high ground. More than 170,000 Syrians
have been murdered since the conflict began in March 2011 and 2.8
million people have been displaced 25 . I wonder how many of the
signatories visited Syria over the past 4 years. Israeli physicians have been
treating Syrian casualties in our hospitals as well as in a dedicated military
field hospital erected just to this end. 700 was the latest count of Syrian
victims treated by Israel 26.
Last week, Israel set up a field hospital near the Gaza crossing to provide
care for those caught in the crosshairs. Hamas on its end, shot mortars at
the field hospital on July 23rd, clearly considering their own wounded as
§ BBC. Israel Defense Forces: recorded message phone warning. July 16, 2014.
negligible compared with the potential triumph of killing an Israeli doctor
27. Israeli physicians treat Palestinians routinely and in special programs
such as “Save a Child’s Heart” where kids from the Palestinian territories,
Iraq, and Iran (over 200 kids to date) receive free open-heart surgeries in
Israel **. In 2013, Israel treated 1-year old Amal, granddaughter of Hamas
leader Ismail Hanieyh for gastroenteritis, while scores of Gazans are
treated in Israeli hospitals at any given time.
We applaud The Lancet for addressing the current situation in our region.
We would welcome an unbiased approach though, not as much
unsubstantiated political rhetoric. We are appalled by the choice of its
authors’ terminology, and with the lack of “scientific rigor” in presenting
the facts. Such incitement only widens the gap of mistrust and solidifies
the notion that no matter what Israel does, no matter how hard it tries, it
will never be good enough for a hypocritical community that denounces
aggression “on the basis of our ethics and practice” – but only if Israel is
There is suffering, grief and pain on both sides. We sincerely hope this will
end soon, and that peace will be upon us all. Until then, as a service to
those living in the region and to our colleagues from around the world, we
call on The Lancet to promote informative dialogue and discussion.
** Please refer to http://www.saveachildsheart.org and see the kids currently getting
1 Haaretz. During kidnapping crisis, Abbas’ wife secretly undergoes surgery in Israel. July
15, 2014. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.598899
2 Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D et al. An open letter for the people of Gaza.
The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 23 July 2014. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61044-8
3 Oren M. Hamas media strategy relies on deaths of civilians. July 22, 2014.
5 Feldman T, Bashi S. Scale of control: Israel’s continued responsibility in the Gaza strip.
November 2011. http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/scaleofcontrol/scaleofcontrol_en.PDF
6 www.kofiapress.com 2.6.2010.
7 The 43-page report, “Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza,” documents extensive
violations by Hamas security services, including warrantless arrests, failure to inform
families promptly of detainees’ whereabouts, and subjecting detainees to torture. –
Human Rights Watch
July 25, 2014.
8 Human Rights Watch. Gaza: Hamas should end killings, torture. April 20, 2009.
9 Weaver M, Yuhas A. Israel accepts UN-proposed ‘pause’ as Hamas rockets fall – the
day’s events. July 16, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/israel-warns-
10 Conway JT. The moral chasm between Israel and Hamas. July 24, 2014.
11 Franklin LA. Hamas mega-attack planned through terror tunnels. July 25, 2014.
12 Sherwood H. Israel targets ‘terror tunnels’ in Gaza ground invasion. July 18, 2014.
13 Rosen A. Qatar’s purchase of billions of US weaponry – and support for Hamas – shows
how awkward foreign policy can be. July 24, 2014.
14 Chesnoff RZ. Gaza and Palestinian leadership: the more it changes, the more it gets
worse. July 22, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-z-chesnoff/gaza-andpalestinian-
15 BBC. Israel halts ‘weapons shipment from Iran’. March 5, 2014.
16 Levy-Weinrib E. Meet the Hamas billionaires. July 24, 2014.
17 Freimann M. Hamas killed 160 Palestinian children to build terror tunnels. July 25, 2014.
18 Summary: 22 July 2014, Brussels – Council of the European Foreign Affairs Council
meeting conclusions on the MEPP. http://www.euun.
19 France-Presse A. UNWRA investigating discovery of 20 rockets found in empty school in
Gaza. July 17, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/unrwainvestigating-
20 UNRWA. UNWRA condemns placement of rockets, for a second time, in one of its
schools. July 22, 2014. http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwacondemns-
21 Booth W. While Israel held its fire, the militant group Hamas did not. July 17, 2014.
22 Stephans B. Israel’s 60-year test. May 6, 2008.
23 the algemeiner. Al Jazeera publishes updated list of Gaza dead; analysis confirms
Israel targeting combatants. July 21, 2014. http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/21/aljazeera-
24 Henckaerts JM and Doswald-Beck L. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Customary International Humanitarian Law Vol. 1 Rules, Pages 25-34. Cambridge
University Press, 2005.
27 Ispish S. Cruelty: Hamas fires on IDF field hospital treating Palestinians. [Hebrew].
Friday, July 4th, 2014
On its 238th birthday, the United States is faced with threats to the security of the homeland a result of the crumbling of Obama’s derelict foreign policy. His failure to act decisively in Syria’s chaotic civil war, which has spilled into Iraq, has resulted in an increasing threats from al Qaeda affiliated jihadists. A passageway from Syria to Europe has opened for jihadists, many holding western passports. Lawmakers and intelligence officials are very concerned about the possibility of an attack. The failure to effectively fight the militants in the Middle East has pushed the terrorist theater to Europe, just a plane ride away. This was highlighted by a Fox News report of July 3rd:
“The federal government is increasing security measures at some international airports with direct flights to the United States, based on recent intelligence about the continuing, worldwide terror threat, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday. Johnson gave no information about a specific threat, saying only that the change was based on the U.S. and its allies ‘continually (assessing) the global threat environment.’ However, the beefed up security is almost certainly a response to recent intelligence reports suggesting that al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria are working with members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a commercial aircraft headed to the U.S. or Europe… Another U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the increased security measures had nothing to do with the July Fourth holiday or any specific threat.”