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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Israel, Turkey, and Military Retaliation
Created by John Eipper on 11/27/12 4:33 AM

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Israel, Turkey, and Military Retaliation (Istvan Simon, USA, 11/27/12 4:33 am)

Yusuf Kanli (24 November) wrote that Israel's bombing of Gaza was not accurate. It was extremely accurate, with guided munitions. Military experts can tell Yusuf just how accurate these weapons are. The civilian casualties happened because of secondary explosions. And those secondary explosions occurred because Hamas stored munitions where it should not have: in mosques, schools and hospitals and tunnels near residential areas. So, Yusuf my friend, murder is not murder as you say, because the circumstances under which the deaths occurred are extremely important in assigning blame.

Now let's translate all this into simple language which will show exactly what it is all about. What if Yusuf were to vacation with his family in Siderot? I don't know what his reaction would be. But I do know what mine would be in similar circumstances: "IDF, kill the bastards that endanger the life of my baby, my son, my daughter, my mother."

In eight days of fighting Israel killed, according to Israeli sources, 152, with 64 civilians, or a 42% civilian ratio. But all of the civilians died because they were near, rocket launchers, weapon storage facilities, or other legitimate military targets. Most of them died not as a result of the Israeli bombs' explosion that destroyed the target with extreme accuracy, but of secondary explosions that followed it.

To put this in perspective, 200 civilians are killed every 3 days in Syria. 40,000 deaths so far in 20 months. Are not those deaths also murder?

No one is asking Turkey not to respond to mortar fire from Syria, even if this retaliation may kill more Syrians than it did Turks. Israel is the only country in the world that is being asked such an absurd and ridiculous requirement. It is not relevant that more Palestinians died than Israelis. Though personally I regret all civilian deaths, or even military ones, as I abhor violence and war, I have to point out that the purpose of war is to inflict heavier casualties on the enemy than on oneself.

The Palestinians that died in this brief fighting died because Hamas and the other terrorist organizations attacked Israel. That is all there is to it. For several years now they attacked. They launched 740 rockets at Israel this year alone prior to these 8 days of more intense fighting. They launched another 1400 during these 8 days. If the Palestinians leave Israel alone, clearly Israel will leave them alone as well. After all, Israel did not bomb either Ramallah or Bethlehem.

JE comments: I see little benefit in these blamestorming exercises (see also Cameron Sawyer, 26 November), but I would like to focus on the parallel Istvan Simon draws between Israel's retaliation on Gaza and the Turkish responses to Syrian mortar fire. Are those who condemn Israel but not Turkey speaking with forked tongue? More to the point, is such violence between two Muslim states somehow more "acceptable"?  Granted, Turkey seems to have retaliated with much less viciousness.


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  • Israel, Gaza and the War of Words (John Heelan, UK 11/27/12 9:02 AM)

    Istvan Simon (27 November) shared his hypothetical response if he were ever the target of Hamas rocket fire: "IDF, kill the bastards that endanger the life of my baby, my son, my daughter, my mother."


    Presumably, then Istvan would understand a Palestinian saying exactly the same thing, but addressing his appeal to Hamas?


    If not, would not that attitude be symptomatic of the running sore that is the Israel/Palestine problem?


    WAISers might like to take a look at the "Hasbara 2009 Global Language Dictionary," a propaganda tutorial aimed primarily at the United States. It provides arguments, "words that work" and "words that do not work." It might surprise people the number of times those "words" and "arguments" appear in WAIS.


    The Dictionary can be consulted at:


    http://thehasbarabuster.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/hasbara-booklet-just-lie.html

    JE comments:  The 116-page Dictionary looks like some interesting reading.  It's important to realize that Israel-Palestine is as much a war of words as it is of rockets and bombs.
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    • Israel, Gaza and the War of Words (Istvan Simon, USA 11/28/12 1:26 AM)
      I would understand a Palestinian saying the same thing to Hamas, as John Heelan observed on 27 November, but I would also understand an even smarter Palestinian who would say the following instead: "Stop firing rockets at Israel. It only brings retaliation which endangers my baby, my son, daughter, and mother. Why on earth cannot we live in Gaza like our brothers do in Ramallah? They do not send rockets to Israel, and they are not bombed by Israel. I'd rather not be bombed by Israel and live in safety in Gaza, than be subjected to all this constant and useless fighting."

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    • Israel, Gaza and the War of Words (David Gress, Denmark 11/28/12 1:30 AM)
      In response to John Heelan (27 November), the difference is that Hamas intends to kill all Jews, whereas Israel does not intend to kill all Muslims. In fact, the IDF goes to extreme lengths, even unknown to the US Army, to minimize civilian casualties in their counterattacks on Gaza. You cannot blame the IDF for the fact that Hamas deliberately plants their missiles in civilian housing, hoping that the IDF in retaliation will kill civilians, so that Hamas can whine about it to the complaisant Western press, and apparently to John Heelan too. I am totally with Istvan Simon on this (and I am not Jewish, in case anyone suspects some conspiracy).

      JE comments: How sympathetic is the Western press to Hamas? In the US, not very much. Perhaps our European colleagues could explain how the Palestinian resistance is portrayed in their respective countries.



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      • Israel-Palestine: More on the War of Words (John Heelan, UK 11/28/12 6:33 AM)
        I admire Israel's overwhelming mastery in the War of Words. The Hasbara operation, its clever use of the Internet as a viral distribution mechanism etc., are very effective in bombarding the Western world with a pro-Israel slant on that events and attitudes to the extent that propaganda becomes engrained "received wisdom."  Constant repetition of that received wisdom renders it unquestioned and unquestionable. Previously (27 November), I suggested that the arguments are sometimes presented as evidence even in hallowed groves of academe such as WAIS.

        Here is pertinent example:


        The Hasbara 2009 Global Dictionary (p.48) recommends these "Words that Work":


        "Israel tried very hard to avoid civilians in their actions in Gaza, but unfortunately, Hamas and other terrorists place guns, rocket launchers and weapons smuggling tunnels in the heart of their civilian population. Israel must defend its citizens, why does Hamas intentionally place Palestinians in the line of fire?"


        David Gress wrote on 28 November:


        "You cannot blame the IDF for the fact that Hamas deliberately plants their missiles in civilian housing, hoping that the IDF in retaliation will kill civilians, so that Hamas can whine about it to the complaisant Western press..."


        This might well be true, but I would need to see independent evidence of the fact, not what Israel and Hamas PR units report.


        By the way, I fully agree with David, Istvan, and others--and I have stated it in WAIS several times previously--that Hamas cannot be serious about making peace until it removes from its Covenant its fundamental objective of obliterating Israel.


        JE comments:  One point worth considering:  it used to be that the hegemon in asymmetrical warfare always held the advantage in the War of Words--the stronger party could convey its message through its control of newspapers, television and radio.  With the Internet and social media, however, the playing field is evened out.  Do the Palestinians have an equivalent to the Hasbara Global Dictionary?  If they don't, then why not?  A harsh view of Hamas might say that their preferred PR is a dead Palestinian child.  But why don't they try tactics that are less deadly?



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        • Israel-Palestine: The War of Words (Leo Goldberger, USA 11/29/12 3:31 AM)
          The Hasbara operation (see John Heelan, 28 November) is of course no different from Public Relations attempts serving any government across the globe to promote its image, especially in the face of a negative press. To obtain one's information from "independent sources"--however that may be defined--if of course an ideal that can hardly ever be met in the world of politics, diplomacy or commercial marketing. So who can one really trust? Most certainly not an outfit like the Sabbah Report, which provides an obviously biased description of Hasbara on its very prominent website--where they also feature their "I love Palestinians" T-shirts for sale.

          Unlike my erstwhile fellow-countryman from Denmark, David Gress, I--being a Jew--will likely be suspected of harboring a pro-Israel bias, though I would need some "independent" evidence of it being the case in this context. As we all should know, it is all too easy to generalize about the charge of biases--whether it be in the spheres of anti-Zionism (as a possible cloak for anti-Semitism), racism or national characteristics.


          I am basically in favor of more informed Lux (from many and varied sources) to bring about the much-needed Pax we all seek in the Middle East.


          JE comments:  I found a great deal of "lux" in yesterday's broadcast of The World (PRI, 28 November), which had a fascinating segment on the Palestinian bid for UN status.  Their reports on the recent strife in Mali and on Karachi's Parsi Zoroastrian community were also WAISworthy:


          http://www.theworld.org/



          Leo Goldberger raises an important point:  the only way one can reach a balanced understanding is through many and varied sources of information.  On a good day, this is what WAIS seeks to provide.

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        • Israel-Palestine: The War of Words (Robert Whealey, USA 11/29/12 4:06 AM)

          I thank John Heelan (28 November) for bringing up Israel's effective propaganda instrument, The Hasbara 2009 Global Dictionary. Like John, I very seldom believe any news (always mixed with propaganda) coming out of Israel since the 1967 War. I believe John Mearsheimer's documented research, because he provides footnotes in a hardcover book. Israelis and their neo-conservative sympathizes are free to write hostile reviews of Mearsheimer's book, co-edited by Stephen Walt.



          In the latest Israeli crises, I read e-mail because it is personal. Israeli propaganda must be compared to American propaganda. Most of the e-mail coming from corporate and Republican sources can be deleted without reading. I voted for the Clinton administration, but in light of subsequent history, his administration looks more and more shoddy. I voted for Obama with 53% confidence in 2012 because I had less confidence in Romney. I doubt that Obama can do much to expose American endemic corruption in the next four years, but so far he has handled Benjamin Netanyahu with caution.


          JE comments:  I never thought of this before, but does information carry more weight if it's in a hardcover book?  If so, I fear for the gossamer-light e-analysis of WAIS!


          Pending further developments, I'm for giving our Israel-Gaza discussion a rest.  But I would like to further explore the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu.  There seems to be little love lost between the two leaders, but if Netanyahu triumphs in the January elections, they will have to deal with each other for a long time.  Remember Obama's overheard remark to Sarkozy?

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          • Israel-Palestine: The War of Words (Randy Black, USA 11/29/12 8:10 AM)

            In his 29 November post, historian Robert Whealey stated, "I very seldom believe any news (always mixed with propaganda) coming out of Israel since the 1967 War."


            I might add that the matter of "favorable" PR efforts work both ways.


            Hamas, Gaza, and other antagonists in the Middle East employ global public relations firms to spread positive words about their causes. Other nations including Qatar sponsor such activities on behalf of Gaza and Hamas by contracting with world-famous PR organizations to the tune of millions of dollars annually.


            While such efforts spend less than Israel, more than a few New York, Los Angeles, Washington and London PR firms spread propaganda favorable to Hamas, Gaza, along with those who organize the various Gaza Flotilla projects via contracts that pay fees to American and British PR firms ranging from $30,000 and up to $100,000 monthly under long-term contracts.


            For Robert Whealey to criticize the Israelis for their attempts to manipulate the media to their advantage while ignoring similar efforts on behalf of Hamas and other antagonists seems to overlook the obvious: The media will run what it's given with little effort to differentiate fact from fiction.


            JE comments:  It would be informative to see the comparative PR budgets of Israel vs. those who spend money on behalf of the Palestinians.


            We haven't yet mentioned that Palestine scored a historic PR victory yesterday (29 November), when the United Nations voted to recognize Palestinian statehood, over the objections of Israel, the US and Canada.  I recently called for a cease fire on our Israel-Gaza discussion, but with this new development, it's time to re-open the topic.  The Palestinians will now have access to the international courts, and we can expect them to present a number of suits against Israel.


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            • Israel-Palestine's War of Words: The View from China (Henry Levin, USA 12/01/12 4:29 AM)

              Greetings from Beijing--Week 7.



              The Israelis have themselves largely to blame for the one-sidedness
              of the Palestinian coverage outside of the US. In China, television
              coverage is limited to the monopoly of the PRC on CCTV (many channels,
              but one official sponsor). China is using pragmatic politics in
              courting the Islamic countries for trade and resources. But, more
              than this, the Palestinian representatives provide all kinds of free
              media with heart-rending images and sympathetic interviews of ordinary
              people and politicians. The Israelis simply give images of
              combative statements and a wooden rationale. There are few human
              stories here, mostly talking heads with bravado.


              For example, from Israel we heard this morning that Israel will
              establish 3000 more homes in the occupied territories as a response to
              the UN resolution. This was followed by a video of Israel's attempt
              to prevent Palestinian fishing boats from going more than 6 miles from
              shore and the harsh methods (shooting near the boats, and high
              pressure water pounding of boats and crew) to warn boats. Of course,
              Israel has a rationale, preventing weapons smuggling, but it does not
              show its side and tends to be overly aggressive and macho for both the
              Palestinians and the world press.


              Whatever the merits of the Israeli case, it is poorly presented. Even
              non-political media have attractive and "understandable" stories from
              Palestinian sources, whether paid for by PR firms or not. The
              Israelis think that straightforward logic from their perspective is
              compelling. It isn't. Emotional appeals are far more important, and
              the Palestinians understand this and build their case on this.


              JE comments:  My thanks to Henry Levin for this lux from China.  Does Israel err by limiting its PR efforts to the US, UK/Commonwealth, and the most sympathetic Western European nations?  More the point, why has Israel written off China?  The wild card here, of course, is Russia, where so many Israelis have cultural and family ties.  What types of outreach do the Israelis have to Russia and its media?

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              • on Israeli PR (Istvan Simon, USA 12/01/12 8:11 AM)
                I agree with Henry Levin (1 December) that Israeli propaganda is inept. The Palestinians have highly effective imagery developed in years of clashes with Israel in Gaza prior to Israel's evacuating Gaza through a decision of Prime Minister Sharon. The propaganda involved film crews and a cast of hundreds of actors who would show ambulances, people frantically carrying "victims" of supposed Israeli violence to ambulances, interviews with doctors about the "injured" and so on. This is not to say that there were no real victims in these clashes, but the "victims" far outnumbered the real victims. This has been documented numerous times, where "victims" were shown walking about perfectly healthy both before and after their brief moment of fame in front of the cameras.

                Everyone in WAIS knows that I oppose Israeli settlements. Nonetheless, everyone also knows what the final peace agreement will look like, if there is ever to be a real peace agreement with Israel. I will briefly outline this at the end of this post, but for now also let me mention one other actor, Yasser Arafat, whose corpse was recently exhumed briefly.


                If I am not mistaken, recently my friend, WAISer Yusuf Kanli, whose posts I greatly enjoy, mentioned that the second Intifadah was "provoked" by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple of the Mount. This is indeed the official Palestinian version. But I would like to suggest that this, just like the theatrical ambulance-chasing footage I mentioned earlier, was merely propaganda by Yasser Arafat. The second Intifadah was not provoked by Sharon's visit, just like the anti-Muslim movie did not provoke the disgraceful assault in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens. Instead the second Intifadah was decided by Yasser Arafat months before, when he haughtily returned form Camp David in the negotiations with then-Prime Minister Barak during the Clinton Presidency. It is Barak himself who caused this decision by Arafat.


                Prime Minister Barak had decided to settle once and for all the Israeli Palestinian conflict with a peace agreement that Israel could support. In order to accomplish this, first Barak withdrew from Lebanon. But this magnificent gesture of peace was immediately misinterpreted, and used to bolster Hezbollah's effectiveness in "defeating" the Israeli army. It was this that inspired Arafat to decide for the second Intifadah at Camp David, when once again Barak offered the best deal that the Palestinians are ever going to get, and Arafat walked out not even bothering to give a counter-offer.


                So what are the outlines of the Peace deal that I think the Palestinians could get today? Basically it is a worse version of the Camp David agreement that Arafat rejected. Israel will remove remote settlements, but will annex Palestinian land on settlements near the 1948 armistice lines. These will be exchanged for land in less desirable areas.


                Jerusalem will not be ever divided again. Thus it cannot be the capital of Palestine, unless a much more modest capital is accepted by the Palestinians. The area around the Temple of the Mount, but excluding the Wailing Wall, could be the administrative seat of the Palestinian capital. But it will be surrounded by Jewish Jerusalem, much like the Vatican is surrounded by Italians.


                There will be no right of return of Palestinians to their former homes in Israel, just like there will be no right of return to the million plus Jewish refugees that were expelled from Arab lands with their property confiscated. Instead a bilateral commission will examine claims of compensation by both Jewish and Palestinian refugees.



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                • Israeli PR (John Heelan, UK 12/01/12 2:42 PM)
                  PR effectiveness used to be measured in column inches in print media, until it got overtaken by minutes-visibility on TV and cable stations. Nowadays, given the success and penetration of the Internet, the number of website hits has become important. Maybe even that measure will become less important with the expansion of the spread of sophisticated mobile telephones increasing the numbers of Facebook "friends," Twitter followers and texting. State control of the last three are also far more difficult, as was seen in the Arab Spring and today in Syria.

                  Relative skills in technology are important. Israel's greater skills are helping it to win the "War on Words" in the developed world. Palestine has a substantially lower skill set in this area. Israel has recruited and deployed globally a paid and volunteer cyber-army (except perhaps in China) to exercise viral marketing and comb the Web to rebut anti-Israel information with a consistent set of persuasive arguments. Palestine is far less competent in this area with the result that when the two meet in Internet PR combat, Israel maximises its undoubted technological advantage.


                  The PR/propaganda world has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Level of PR spend is becoming less important than access to and mastery of the opportunities presented by the Internet and social networks. Marshall McLuhan was perspicacious in changing his aphorism "The Medium is the Message" to the "Medium is the Massage."


                  All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. ("The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects," p. 26)


                  JE comments: The Assad regime blacked out the Internet and cell phones this week. Don't know if service was restored today, but this is a strategy of desperation. Remember that when Mubarak did the same in Egypt, he was gone from power within a fortnight.


                  We haven't discussed Marshall McLuhan in recent years, but how about this uncanny fact: McLuhan (born 21 July 1911) was exactly ten days older than our Founder, Ronald Hilton.



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                • on Israeli PR (Tor Guimaraes, USA 12/02/12 11:37 AM)
                  Istvan Simon (1 December) seems to have extremely biased views on the Palestian/Israeli conflict. He needs to think about the many decades ahead, and educate himself about the opinions of more peaceful Israelis, and great friends of Israel such as Jimmy Carter, the only one who seems to have truly accomplished something useful and lasting: the Camp David Agreement.

                  To hopefully balance his view somewhat, I recommend to Istvan the book The General's Son written by the Israeli Miko Peled. It provides a unique, exceptionally unbiased view of how the Israeli military establishment goes about being patriotic by creating wars and developing their own stories to look righteous and justify more resources to "defend" a nation against their mortal enemies. What makes this book truly amazing is that the now peace activist author was born in Jerusalem to a well-known Zionist family; his grandfather, Avraham Katsnelson, was a Zionist leader and signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence; and his father, Matti Peled, was a military officer in the 1948 war and a general in the 1967 war.


                  The book basically accuses prior Israeli governments and the Netanyahu administration of deceiving the world, including the Israeli people, regarding a unnecessarily harsh militaristic approach toward Arab countries, and an active ethnic cleansing policy against the Palestinian people.


                  JE comments: I haven't read The General's Son, but I know it caused quite a stir in Israel. Other WAISers' thoughts on Peled's book?


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