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A quick excerpt from a new documentary called “UNRWA: The Lords of Misery” describing how the UNRWA (an organization which the United States foots some 25% of its budget and even Israel contributes and yet no Arab gulf state gives any meaningful contribution) contributes and helps perpetuate Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

The media, N.G.O.s and the U.N. went to great pains to paint Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as the new Nazis who are perpetrate a holocaust on the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. During the recent fighting in Gaza the media gave credence to everything the UN, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority said about Israel’s operation. They abjectly ignored the truth and chose to spin a story where Israel is made to look like a bloodthirsty rogue state that commits war crimes at every turn.

Consider the following: on January 6th 2009 a story appeared in the Washington Post with the following headline: “Israel Hits U.N.-Run School in Gaza“. From the headline it appears that Israel deliberately targeted and attacked the school. Similarly, on the english version of Aljazeera’s website came the headline: “Israel kills dozens at Gaza school” and the New York Times published the story “Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School“. The outcry from the international community was immediate and visceral. On January 7th the daily TV and radio news program, Democracy Now!, declared

In the deadliest attack since Israel launched its assault on Gaza twelve days ago, up to forty-two Palestinians died on Tuesday after Israel fired mortars at a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Fifty-five Palestinians were also wounded in the attack. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, including many children.

(Goodman, Amy and Juan Gonzalez, “40+ Killed in Israeli Strike on Gaza School Sheltering Refugees“, Democracy Now!, January 7th 2009)

Time Magazine also ran a story immediately declaring

United Nations investigators say they have uncovered no evidence to support a claim by the Israeli military that Hamas fighters were holed up in a Gaza school, prompting a deadly attack by Israeli forces that killed 40 civilians, many of them children.

(McGirk, Tim, “UN: No Hamas Fighters in Bombed Gaza School“, Time, Inc., January 7, 2009)

Immediately the outcry from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and from vehement anti-Israel activists such as Dr. Mads Gilbert was that Israel was committing flagrant war crimes and atrocities right in front of the world. However, the truth is somewhat more convoluted than these individuals would like to admit. With regards to the UN school, the UNRWA in early February finally retracted the claim that the school had been attacked. In the retraction the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that “‘The humanitarian coordinator would like to clarify that the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school” (“UN retracts claim over Gaza school attack“, RTE News, February 4 2009). This retraction came several weeks after the accusation was initially made by the UNRWA and after reports began to surface that the UN staff made efforts to stifle the truth. In the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz the article in the Canadian Globe and Mail noted that

a teacher in the UNRWA compound at the time of the strike “was adamant” that no people had been killed inside the compound.

The newspaper [Globe and Mail] quoted the teacher as saying that, “I could see some of the people had been injured… But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere.”

(Harel, Amos, “UN backtracks on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school“, Ha’aretz, February 3, 2009)

In the article “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny” in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Patrick Martin writes of an interview in which a teacher gives his account of what happened

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”

“Three of my students were killed,” he said. “But they were all outside.”

(Martin, Patrick, “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutinyGlobe and Mail, January 29, 2009)

Why did Israel fire mortars into the streets outside the school? It turns out that Hamas militants fired from the streets just outside the school.

The army said two Hamas militants — Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar — were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. (emphasis added)

The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

(Barzak, Ibrahim and Steve Weizman, “Israel shells near UN school, killing at least 30“, Associated Press reprinted in the Detroit Free Press, January 6, 2009)

The tragedy of this whole event is that a large number of innocent civilians lost their lives in this incident. The tragedy also is that Hamas cynically uses its own people as human shields and the world remains silent. What remains as an indisputed fact is that when the incident occured the world was immediately there to shout and vilify Israel for committing an alleged atrocity. However when the truth comes out it comes out as a whisper and the world says nothing.

In his opinion piece titled “What You Don’t Know About Gaza” published on January 8, 2009 in the New York Times and in the International Herald Tribune, Rashid Khalidi makes many accusations against Israel that, in fact, are either completely misleading or patently false. In the most egregious case, Mr. Khalidi twists a statement made in 2002 by then Israel’s Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, into something that is a complete fabrication. Since the original publication of the opinion piece, the New York Times editors and the International Herald Tribune editors have redacted the original article to remove the contrived quote. However, searching on the Internet does not make it hard to find a copy of the original text of the final paragraph:

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” (emphasis added)

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The New York Times, January 8, 2009, found at Nasir Khan’s Blog)

The quote above attributed to Moshe Yaalon is either a complete fabrication or a significant twist of some other quote which Mr. Khalidi fails to provide a source. And this is not the first time that he has chosen to use this quote without verifying either its source or its veracity. In another opinion piece titled “Road Map or Road Kill” that was published in The Nation, Mr. Khalidi used the same quote and attributed it to Mr. Ya’alon there as well:

Beyond the daily brutality of a foreign army policing and denying the rights of a civilian population while their land is being stolen for the benefit of settlers, force has been used indiscriminately in heavily populated areas to crush Palestinian resistance, as per the words of Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli army chief of staff: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” (emphasis added)

(Khalidi, Rashid, “Road Map or Road Kill?“, The Nation, May 23, 2003)

He also uses the quote in his 2005 book “Resurrecting Empire.” Both the editors of the New York Times and The International Herald Tribune released a statement on January 30th stating

This quotation, while cited widely, does not appear in the Israeli newspaper interview to which it is usually attributed. Its original source has not been found, and thus it should not have appeared in the article.

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The New York Times, January 8, 2009)

Unfortunately, the editors of The Nation have failed to do so as well. This quotation, while cited widely, does not appear in the Israeli newspaper interview to which it is usually attributed. Its original source has not been found, and thus it should not have appeared in the article. The article has been revised to reflect this correction.

(Khalidi, Rashid, “What you don’t know about Gaza“, The International Heard Tribune, January 8, 2009)

This contrived quote, which has been circling around the Internet for quite some time, may have originated in the 2002 Ha’aretz interview with Moshe Ya’alon where he as asked the question by the interviewer “Do you have a definition of victory? Is it clear to you what Israel’s goal in this war is?” Ya’alon responded:

I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation: the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold. If that deep internalization does not exist at the end of the confrontation, we will have a strategic problem with an existential threat to Israel. If that [lesson] is not burned into the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, there will be no end to their demands of us.

…The facts that are being determined in this confrontation – in terms of what will be burned into the Palestinian consciousness – are fateful. If we end the confrontation in a way that makes it clear to every Palestinian that terrorism does not lead to agreements, that will improve our strategic position. On the other hand, if their feeling at the end of the confrontation is that they can defeat us by means of terrorism, our situation will become more and more difficult.

(Maoz, Jason, “What did Moshe Yaalon really say?”, The Jewish Press, January 14, 2009)

In the week following the interview in Ha’aretz, the transcript of a speech Ya’alon gave to a conference of rabbis in Jerusalem was published in Yediot Aharanot where Ya’alon is quoted as saying:

“It is imperative that we win this conflict in such a way that the Palestinian side will burn into its consciousness that there is no chance of achieving goals by means of terror.” (emphasis added)

(Maoz, Jason, “What did Moshe Yaalon really say?”, The Jewish Press, January 14, 2009)

These two quotes provide sufficient evidence to prove that Ya’alon comments were significantly altered and then posted out on the Internet where Arabs, neo-Nazis and other viceral critics of Israel could use it in their long campaign to paint Israel as a dangerous, rogue nation…something that it is clearly not. Mr. Khalidi however, has used this quote, to further the old PLO propaganda that Israel does not want to live in peace with the Palestinians on equal terms. In the late 70s and early 80s he was a spokesman for the PLO, then considered a terrorist organization, and it is becoming apparent that as a Columbia professor he has not changed his spots…although he would be expected to know how to verify a source and to cite appropriately.

June 2020

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