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So Hamas and the Gaza flotilla folks would have you believe that Gaza is a squalid, ghetto like place where the people live in sheer and utter misery. That they are eeking out a living and barely scraping by to survive. That’s interesting…especially since it’s not true. Turns out Gaza has been improving considerably (even considering the two wars that Hamas fought with Israel in 2006 and in 2008 – 2009)…the problem is that the media doesn’t want to mention this – they only want to focus on the, yet again a new blood libel, that Israel is causing hardship and suffering on the people of Gaza (while casually ignoring the fact that Gaza shares a border with Egypt as well and the Egyptians, after Mubarak was ousted earlier this year, has “somewhat” opened their border with Gaza). The facts do not bear this out. A new website has appeared – The Flotilla Cruise Line – that shows evidence that Gaza is not the “one big squalid refugee camp” that the Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Western liberal media would like you to believe. It shows pictures of Gaza’s 5-star hotel – The Grand Palace, Gaza’s first shopping mall (although it does not include a mention of the newest, 3-story, shopping mall in Gaza) and Gazan upscale restaurants.   Even the New York Times cannot deny that the situation is not so desperate the way the flotilla organizers would like to portray it:

 In assessing the condition of the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza, there are issues of where to draw the baseline and — often — what motivates the discussion. It has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.

“We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

So what is the truth?  The truth is that the flotilla organizers as well as Palestinian sympathizers would have the world believe that Gaza is a squalid refugee camp where life hangs precariously by thin threads and that Israel is responsible.  The truth is that Hamas is the true source of the Gazans situation.  Hamas refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist; Hamas refuses to stop the rockets and the shelling coming from Gaza; and Hamas refuses to provide any information regarding the status of Gilad Shalit and refuses to allow the International Red Cross to meet with him to assess his condition – a clear violation of International law!

Israel has no obligation in throwing open it’s borders to an organization that is dead set on destroying it.  If the Arabs are so concerned about allowing free movement for the Palestinians in Gaza let them pressure Egypt to fully open the Rafah crossing.  It is beyond ludicrous that the bleeding liberal left of the world expect Israel to expose itself to more risk of attack.  Israel has a right to exist!  The Jews have a right to their ancestral homeland!  The Arabs in Israel enjoy a higher standard of living and rights that are denied to many of their brethren in their own countries – the right of free speech and the right to vote among them.

It never seems to fail that at some point history gets reworked into something other than what happened. It happens with current events — like the recent war in Gaza — but also with more distant events. Take the Arab-Israel war of 1967 — the Six Day War in which Israel roundly defeated the armies of Jordan, Egypt and Syria and captured the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. In his most recent commentary in the British paper, The Independent, Bruce Andeson gets things completely wrong. In this piece, “Israel is trapped, and the chance of peace is ever more remote” he essentially blames Israel for the failure of the peace process and revises history to fit that blame.

With regards to the recent war in Gaza, Anderson states

It is easy to understand why the Israelis reacted as they did. Once you have suffered a Holocaust at the hands of the race which produced Beethoven, Goethe and Mozart, you lose trust in mankind’s benevolence: lose faith in everything except your own soldiers and weaponry.

(Anderson, Bruce, “Israel is trapped, and the chance of peace is ever more remote“, The Independent, February 16, 2009)

He portrays Israelis as losing faith in “everything except [their] own soldiers and weaponry.” Really, then what was the Oslo Accords and the Oslo II processes about? Or the Wye River Memorandum? Or the 2000 Camp David Summit? Or the Road map for Peace? Or the Annapolis Conference? He never considers the possibility that Israelis are right to lose their faith in the process when the other side does not keep its obligations or when the other side continues to send homicide bombers into and rains rockets onto its cities. No that doesn’t enter into Mr. Anderson’s analysis at all.

He continues in his tirade against Israel’s quest for peace and security by saying

Because of the circumstances in which their Jewish state was created, most Israelis believe that they have two existential necessities, and entitlements. They want to enjoy security and they insist that their neighbours recognise their rights to do so. That does not seem unreasonable. But it is. It fails the highest test of political rationality. It is not realistic.

(Anderson, Bruce, “Israel is trapped, and the chance of peace is ever more remote“, The Independent, February 16, 2009)

Why is it not realistic (not just reasonable) for Israel to expect to live in secure borders and for her right to exist be recognized? Israel is the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland (something that appears to be happening more and more these days among everyone else — why are the Jews to be singled out and denied this right?). The ties of the Jewish people to that land run uninterrupted for thousands of years and yet in today’s world Mr. Anderson argues that we should not expect to have these ties and our rights recognized by our Arab neighbors. Other countries, other peoples are seeing their rights recognized…why not the Jews? Why not the Israelis?

Then Mr. Anderson makes the most eggregious error in his commentary. He rewrites history and turns the 1967 Six Day War from a war of survival (where Israel is attacked first) to a war in which Israel sought out territorial gains

The first act of the current tragedy began in 1967, after the Six-Day War. Plucky little Israel was master of the battlefield. She had overrun a vast acreage of Arab territory. Almost immediately, even by those who had never been enthusiastic about the State of Israel, distinctions began to be drawn between the pre-’67 boundaries and the 1967 conquests. Israel had a tremendous hand of cards, strategic and moral. There was never a better moment for “in victory, magnanimity”.

Israel should have announced that unlike almost every previous military victor, she did not seek territorial gains; her sole war aims were peace and justice. [emphasis added] To secure them, she was prepared to trade her conquests, with the obvious exception of the Holy Places in old Jerusalem. On such a basis, and with huge international support, a deal would have been possible. But there were problems. At its narrowest point, pre-’67 Israel was only 12 miles wide. A tank thrust from the West Bank could have cut the country in two. Although the generals cannot be blamed for failing to predict the era of asymmetric warfare in which tank thrusts would only occur in war movies, their insistence on a demilitarised West Bank complicated matters. Then a temptation emerged, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

(Anderson, Bruce, “Israel is trapped, and the chance of peace is ever more remote“, The Independent, February 16, 2009)

And here he is completely wrong and exposes his ignorance and naivete. Apparently Mr. Anderson did not read the aftermath of the Six Day War. According to former Israeli President Chaim Herzog,

On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government [of Israel] voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golans would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.

(Herzon, Chaim, Heroes of Israel: Profiles of Jewish Courage, Little Brown and Co., Boston, 1989, p. 253)

Israel offered to return the territories in return for peace with her Arab neighbors. The response from the Arabs was the Khartoum Resolution of 1967 which incorporated the, now famous, three “No”s:

  • No peace with Israel
  • No recognition of Israel
  • No negotiation with Isreal

Even when Israel has acted to further peace she is met with an Arab response that demands more. Israel gave Egypt the Sinai peninsula in return for peace — a cold peace but at least peace. Israel made peace with Jordan in 1994 — perhaps the most amicable peace to date between former enemies in that area. And it has attempted, time and time again, to make peace with the Palestinians to no avail. It is not for lack of trying. Even when Israel unilaterally relinquishes territory as it did with Gaza the response from the other side is more terror. To be sure, Israel has made missteps in its pursuit of peace with the Palestinians — some considerably large missteps, others smaller. But Israelis have longed for peace since the beginning. They have longed to be allowed to live in peace in their ancestral homeland. And it is that longing that drives them to continue to pursue peace with their neighbors and the Palestinians.

Mr. Anderson ends his tirade by claiming

The country [Isreal] emerged out of tragedy. It would be heart-rending if its heroic journey ended in tragedy. Yet that is the likeliest outcome, and it would be Israel’s fault.

(Anderson, Bruce, “Israel is trapped, and the chance of peace is ever more remote“, The Independent, February 16, 2009)

No Mr. Anderson…that is not the likeliest outcome…and whatever happens it will not be Israel’s fault.

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.

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