Senate’s Idiocy on Gaza

So the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed by voice vote a resolution blindly supporting Israeli attacks on Gaza and heaping derision on Hamas.

This craven display should awaken anyone who sanguinely assumed that “everything changed” on November 4.

The resolution contained numerous twists of history, but the most glaring absurdity is the following:

“Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying Israel…”

Perhaps the senators were in a rush to collect campaign contributions, so they did not have time to glance at the history of how Hamas arose to power.

Hamas was created with massive aid from the Israeli government. Following is an excerpt from my Terrorism & Tyranny (2003):

Perhaps the single largest mistake in the history of the Israeli government’s long war on terrorism was its covert financing, cosseting, and arming of Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced Hamas as “the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face.” But the Israeli government is reticent about admitting its role in creating this Frankenstein.

Beginning in the 1970s Israel began pouring money into Islamic organizations —especially the Moslem Brotherhood—hoping that religion would distract the Palestinians from political activism and the radical left-wing Palestinian Liberation Organization. Hamas was a late offspring of the Moslem Brotherhood. Prior to 1988 Moslem Brotherhood activists “had refrained from openly anti-Israel activities.” But with the outbreak of the first Intifada (uprising) in late 1987, the Israeli government was stunned to see how fast Hamas became the primary source of deadly attacks against Israelis.

Anthony Cordesman, a former State Department and Defense Department intelligence officer and currently a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, stated that the Israeli government “aided Hamas directly—the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO.” A United Press International analysis reported, “According to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.” UPI noted that, according to documents provided by Israeli terrorism experts, “Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement’s spiritual leader, as an Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma al Islami.”

The Jerusalem Post reported on May 29, 1989, that, until the late 1980s, the Moslem Brotherhood “organizations in Gaza and the Islamic University received much encouragement from the [Israeli] military government. . . . The military government believed that their activity would undermine the power of the PLO and of leftist organizations in Gaza. They even supplied some of their activists with weapons, for their protection.” During the first Intifada (uprising), the PLO and Hamas openly clashed over how to resist the Israeli occupation. The Jerusalem Post noted: “The [Israeli] security forces greeted this tension [between Palestinian groups] with satisfaction, in line with the principle of divide and conquer. In several cases, Palestinians noticed that troops stood by quietly during Hamas street activity, but did interfere when PLO activists engaged in the same activity.” The Israeli government assumed that if the PLO could be thwarted, the Palestinian problem would be solved. But Hamas was far more bloodthirsty and radical than the PLO. The PLO effectively recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1988, while Hamas devoted itself to seizing all of Palestine for an Islamic state.

TV From Around the World: On Your PC

Want to see first-hand reporting from Gaza? Al-Jazeera’s team was there before journalists were banned.

Want to watch English-language TV news from Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, Korea?

Want to watch Hezbollah TV without your provider going to prison?

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A new application called LiveStation allows you to watch thousands of different channels on your PC for free, in very high quality. Stations are being added daily, and users are able to add any stations that offer public feeds. Stations added by users become available to all LiveStation users. A chat function is also available to interact with other viewers.

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Why Not Kill All Gazans?

Reading the justifications that Israeli supporters are offering for the IDF assault, I don’t see any rationale being offered that would not justify killing everyone in Gaza.

If a single rocket is fired from Gaza territory, does that mean that everyone living in that area has automatically forfeited their life? The New York Times notes today that Israeli supporters believe that “the issue of proportionality… is a false construct because comparing death tolls offers no help in measuring justice and legitimacy.”

And we are obliged to accept whatever exonerations are offered by the IDF and their apologists. Max Blumenthal had an excellent piece on Huffington Post on the response to the initial IDF attacks on Gaza:
Almost as soon as the first Israeli missile struck the Gaza Strip, a veteran cheering squad suited up to support the home team. “Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life,” Charles Krauthammer claimed in the Washington Post. Echoing Krauthammer, Alan Dershowitz called the Israeli attack on Gaza, “Perfectly ‘Proportionate.'” And in the New York Times, Israeli historian Benny Morris described his country’s airstrikes as “highly efficient.” …. “It was Israel at its best,” Yossi Klein Halevi declared in the New Republic.

The cheering by Bush and top Republicans and Democrats for the bombing of the Gaza concentration camp epitomizes how the American political leadership has learned nothing since 9/11. The United States will be blamed for atrocities committed with American weapons and planes.
[This comment is also posted at my blog here]

They Lob Chutzpah Bombs Too

A funny little essay in a local newspaper came to my attention this morning. During an email discussion over the events and motives in the Gaza crisis, a friend of mine forwarded part of an op-ed piece that appeared in this week’s Sun Sentinel, a daily newspaper in Fort Lauderdale. I immediately thought it sounded a little too familiar. Sure, Israeli officials and other apologists are serving the same talking points across all the television networks and in print media, but this sounded like more than just simple rehash, so I plugged the quote into a search engine. Jackpot!

There was the piece, but it was on a shared website for a pair of central New Jersey papers that I normally don’t read either. It was longer, and, oh, the author was different too. With my curiosity now piqued, I could not help but search some more. I found a nearly identical one written by David A. Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, over at The Dallas Morning News. Hmm, the other two “authors” also identified themselves as AJC directors. Eventually, I located Harris over at the Jerusalem Post where he had contributed not only this same piece but many others as well. My guess is that I probably read the piece there a few days back.

Clearly, this is just a press release created by the American Jewish Committee and being passed off by its members as their heartfelt and original opinions. Another local newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, even published the same piece a day after its competitor ran it. Thankfully in this case though, it was “authored” by the same South Floridian. I wonder how many other newspapers fell for it.

I’m sure the members all do genuinely feel that way, but did they really need to fake homegrown gravitas to ensure publication in as many local opinion pages as possible? Probably. You don’t engage in large-scale propaganda – excuse me, “a public relations campaign” – unless you feel like you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. From the look of the essay, it seems that the pro-Israel crowd is going for the “but they did it first” tactic favored by young children for time immemorial. Occasionally that might work with one’s peers, but it’s a piss poor way to convince the rest of the world that they have the moral high ground – or maybe they are really just trying to convince themselves.

What’s the SOFA Say About Shooting a Deaf Girl?

Just hours after the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Iraq took effect, we reported that American forces shot a civilian woman in Baghdad.

Such a shooting was expected to be a big test for the SOFA, which ostensibly was meant to prevent the US from shooting and arresting so many civilians. But the US now has an explanation, and that seems good enough for the Iraqis.

See, that woman, an employee of Biladi Television, seemed suspicious, so they screamed at her to stop. When she didn’t, they fired two warning shots into her stomach. All perfectly innocent, right?

Except of course that the woman they shot couldn’t hear… now it’s been awhile since I read the SOFA, but I don’t recall there being an exemption for shooting deaf people in the question of legal immunity for crimes against civilians.