Guardian claim that Martin Indyk favors Israel contradicted by Ynet interview

An official Guardian editorial on January 1, 2014, titled ‘Israel-Palestinian talks: perpetual motion‘, which predictably blamed Israel for the lack of progress in talks between the two parties up until that time, included this brief comment on US special envoy to the negotiations, Martin Indyk:

Mr Kerry has made a new start but he has made it with advisers like Martin Indyk, who lean toward the Israeli view

This throwaway line about Indyk – who previously served several diplomatic roles under Bill Clinton – struck us as a bizarre allegation given Indyk’s political sympathies and past statements. These include his enthusiastic support for New Israel Fund – an NGO which funds groups engaging in BDS and other delegitimization campaigns – and comments he reportedly made that ‘Israeli intransigence’ was contributing to US military casualties in Afghanistan.  In 2004, Indyk also publicly urged the Israeli government to cede the Golan Heights to Syria in order to achieve ‘peace’.

More recently, Indyk has been identified as the anonymous source in a report by Yedioth Aharonoth columnist Nahum Barnea last week in which an unnamed American official slammed Israel for allegedly sabotaging peace talks.

Here are a few of the comments by the official believed to be Indyk:

Settlements are to blame

“There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Palestinians don’t believe that Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at the same time, it is building settlements on the territory meant for that state. We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large-scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.

‘We need another intifada’

“At the end of a war there is a sense of urgency,” they said. And then one of them added bitterly: “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.

Stubborn Jews

The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.”

So, according to Indyk: the settlements (and Jewish stubbornness) were the primary reasons the negotiations failed, and only a new violent intifada would create the circumstances by which talks could succeed.    

Tell us: Does this sound like the musings of an American diplomat “who leans toward the Israeli view”, as the Guardian claimed?

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Guardian misleads on Israeli Druze, part 1: False claims

Phoebe Greenwood’s May 31 report in the Guardian, ‘Golan Heights braces for war as tensions rise between Syria and Israel‘, contained two false claims regarding Israeli Druze in the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams. (An additional post will fisk the broader misleading narrative advanced in Greenwood’s report.)

A brief summary of Majdal Shams and the Druze population in Israel

  • Majdal Shams is one of the four Druze communities in the Golan Heights, with a population of about 9,000.  The town sits high on the slopes of Mount Hermon.  
  • Golan, captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967, was effectively annexed when the state extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981.  Israel offered all the Druze people living there citizenship—an offer most turned down. However, they all carry Israeli ID cards.
  • Most Druze in Majdal Shams have family on the Syrian side of the border.
  • There are roughly 1 million Druze in the world, mostly in Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Factual errors in Greenwood’s report:

False population statistics

Greenwood makes the following claim:

The Golan Heights is home to more than 80,000 Druze…

This is not accurate.  There are only 41,800 people living in Golan in total, of which 20,300 are Druze according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

Mischaracterization of the Druze religion

Greenwood makes the following claim: 

[Druze represents] an esoteric Islamic sect whose insular, self-governing communities are accommodated by governments across the Middle East.

Greenwood’s claim that Druze is an “Islamic sect” is also flatly untrue. Druze is a unique monotheistic faith which emerged during the 11th century from Islam and consider their faith to be a new interpretation of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In addition, Druze incorporates several elements of Gnosticism, Greek Philosophies and other ideologies. The Druze community in Israel is officially recognized as a separate religious entity with its own courts (with jurisdiction in civil matters), and spiritual leadership. The Druze religion is secret and closed to converts.

Whilst the second post we’ll publish on Greenwood’s report will detail the misleading narrative regarding the political views of the Druze of Majdal Shams, these last two specific claims noted above are unambiguously false and not open to interpretation. 

Harriet Sherwood parrots ugly smear about Israel

In June 2007, Hamas violently took over Gaza, overthrowing the Palestinian Authority. In its place, Hamas, committed to the annihilation of Israel, set up a radical Islamist entity.

Supported by Iran, Hamas used Gaza as its launching pad to conduct terrorist attacks against Israel, and amassed an extensive armed force which included thousands of rockets.  By late 2008, Hamas rockets could reach some of Israel‘s largest cities.

Between 2007 and 2008 Israeli citizens were bombarded by over 5,000 rockets and mortar bombs, deliberate attacks which caused deaths, injuries, and terrorized tens of thousands of Israelis.

In 2007 alone, 15 Israelis were killed, and 578  injured, by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel pursued numerous non-military efforts to try and stop attacks, including appeals to the U.N. Secretary General as well as diplomatic overtures.

On Dec. 25, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued an appeal to Palestinians in an interview with the Arabic language satellite channel al-Arabiya, saying “Israel would not hesitate to respond with force if the attacks continued”.

The attacks didn’t cease and Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

What other nation on earth would fail to defend itself from constant rocket attacks launched by a designated terrorist movement on its borders? 

It’s a simple story of a nation defending its citizens – as it is morally obligated to do – from enemy rocket fire, right?

Well, if you’re the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, and you’re contemplating any act or policy by the Jewish state, you’re inclined to see darker motives.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, on Nov. 11, is ostensibly about the latest round of violence from Gaza, but also includes news of IDF warning shots fired into Syria in response to a number of Syrian shells from their civil war which landed in the Golan over the past several weeks.

The piece, titled ‘Israel fires warning shots into Syria as violence escalates in Gaza, focuses on the Syria dimension for several paragraphs before pivoting to the Gaza situation, thus:

“In the south, dozens of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza between Saturday evening and midday on Sunday by militants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations. Six Palestinians, including four civilians, were reported killed in at least nine separate Israeli air strikes.

Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.

The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January. [emphasis added]

While we’ll likely never learn the identity of the sage “observers” Sherwood is referring to who believe that Netanyahu is likely to launch a war to boost his prospects of being re-elected, they obviously influence her thinking a great deal, as she employs their political logic in the next passages as well:

“Militants in Gaza were “sustaining harsh hits” from the IDF, Netanyahu told ministers at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit with its hands tied in the face of attempts to harm us. We are prepared to intensify our response.”

Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault on Gaza in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, was launched in the build-up to Israel’s last election in 2009.” [emphasis added]

In these paragraphs Sherwood reveals one of the more telling polemical ticks often employed by Guardian journalists reporting on Israel: using blurry language which conveys an idea in a manner which is clear to those who understand the context, but without explicitly advancing the narrative – a journalistic version of ‘plausible deniability’.

While it is narrowly true that Cast Lead was launched on Dec. 27, 2008, and the Israeli elections were held on Feb. 10, 2009, Sherwood’s attempt to connect the dots – noting that the war “was launched in the build-up” to the election, without including even a word about the thousands of rocket attacks which preceded the war – represents ideologically driven propaganda at its worst.

The crude Israeli caricature Sherwood conjures, of an aggressive, hostile, violent state cynically ‘beating the drums of war to gain political points, or divert attention away from other issues, indeed often colors the Guardian’s analysis of the region, particularly in their coverage of the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Sherwood’s latest narrative of Israeli villainy is merely a more sanitized, “respectable” version of the explicitly anti-Zionist malice expressed on sites such as Mondoweiss, CounterPunch and Indymedia.

One of the most chilling cartoons (published by Indymedia and elsewhere) involving Cast Lead depicted Olmert cradling a dead Palestinian baby while dreaming of the votes he’ll garner as the result of Zionist infanticide, suggesting that not only do Israeli leaders intentionally kill Palestinian children, but also that such child murder can help Israeli politicians get elected.

The cartoon was the work of an extreme left antisemitic activist named Carlos Latuff. (Open link and scroll to section on Latuff.)

If you think my suggestion that the anti-Zionism of “mainstream” journalists at the Guardian at times overlaps with such extremism is over-the-top, here’s a cartoon the Guardian published during their ‘Palestine Papers’ series, on the apostasy of Mahmoud Abbas.

This cartoon, conveying the idea that Abbas was a traitor for allegedly expressing a willingness (during peace negotiations with Israeli leaders) to compromise on the refugee issue, by depicting him as the most loathsome possible figure, a religious Israeli Jew, was a Carlos Latuff production.

When, as a media institution, you’re willing, in the name of leftist solidarity, to make common cause with political extremists, antisemites, terrorists, and their apologists it is inevitable that some of your “journalists” will begin to normalize, at times even advance, elements of their radical, racist ideology. 

The Guardian tells a porky about the Golan Heights

A guest post by AKUS

(“to tell a porky” — tell a small lie, to fib – rhyming slang? Porky pie/tell a lie)

As we have watched Harriet Sherwood wrestle with the problem of reporting from Israel while possessing very little knowledge about the country and region (and unable to speak Hebrew or Arabic), it has become apparent that she also has a problem with statistics and geopolitics.

Even if Sherwood and the Guardian’s sub editors have all ten fingers and all ten toes, it seems it’s difficult for them to use numbers greater than 20 with any accuracy at all. She and the Guardian also have trouble remembering which bits of Israel are “occupied” and which are annexed, like Jerusalem and the Golan. They also have a major problem simply checking the facts behind the porkies they tell about Israel.

Recently Sherwood bravely ventured up on to the Golan Heights, reporting from Majdal Shams, only 40 km from Damascus, that the Golan Heights [are] divided by support for Assad’s Syria.

She (or, as often seems to be the case, one of the lazy, biased sub-editors at Guardian HQ in London) wrote in the sub-header:

In the Israeli-occupied area, where most people call themselves Syrian, Bashar al-Assad opponents say they are being intimidated.

One problem with that sub-header is that Golan is not “occupied” but, rather, annexed by Israel – a part of the state. Just as the Guardian has had problems finding Israel’s capital, it seems to have a problem understanding which bits of Israel’s territory go where.

A second problem is with the math. A very good estimate for the population of the Golan is that there are approximately 40,000 people living in the towns, villages, kibbutzim, and moshavim there. Of those, Sherwood mentions, correctly, that about 20,000 are non-Druze Israelis (she refers to them incorrectly as “Israeli Jewish settlers”), and therefore about 20,000 may be Druze. 

But this is a much bigger number than the number of fingers and toes Sherwood or a sub-editor at the Guardian most likely has, so a porky creeps in.

As Sherwood could easily have discovered, as many as 10% of the Druze have Israeli citizenship, so only a possible 18,000 do not have Israeli citizenship and may be “Syrians”.  

Additionally, children born to Druze automatically have Israeli citizenship.  So, if they are included in the count of all Druze, the number of adult Druze may be less than 18,000.  

Also, a very reliable source has informed me that the real number of Druze adults secretly holding Israeli citizenship for convenience or “just in case” has been rising, especially during the last 18 months as they’ve gotten a better idea of what it might be like to live in Syria rather than in the “Zionist entity”.

So, taking into account 20,000 non-Druze Israelis (Jews and others) plus 2,000 Druze Israelis, only about 18,000 potentially “Syrian Druze” can be counted on the Golan. With a high degree of confidence I can say that it would be hard to find enough non-Druze and Druze Israelis calling themselves Syrian to make Harriet’s (or the Guardian’s) claim that  “most people [on the annexed Golan Heights] call themselves Syrian” true.

Now, you may think this is nit-picking. But the reason for this porky is that it is rather easy to ignore those “other Israelis” and tell your biased little fib when you do not really see Israelis as “people”, but only as amorphous “settlers”.

This is the third problem for Sherwood and the drones back in the UK. Not only do they struggle with simple math and geography, they find it difficult to remember that Israelis are people too.

So it is time for yet another shame-faced Guardian correction. To help them, I’ll write it for them:

 

AKUS’s postcard from Israel: Wadi Ara, Nir David, and the Golan

A guest post by AKUS

Leaving Tel Aviv early, I headed up the shore road towards Hadera, turning off towards Afula through Wadi Ara. Magnificent villas line the Wadi in the numerous Arab villages along the way:

I turned off the highway at the road up to Me Ami for a better view, looking south. This, roughly, is the area that has occasionally been proposed to the Palestinians as an area to swap for areas on the West Bank that would remain part of Israel if a peace agreement was ever achieved.  The Israeli Arabs have opposed the idea.

Driving slowly up to the top of the hills, I had a panoramic view of Umm el Fahm, the largest Arab town in Israel. The distant hills on the left are on the northern side of the Jezreel Valley, near Nazareth:

Then I plunged down to the Jezreel Valley and lunch with friends at Nir David. The outlet from the Sachna (Gan Hashlosha) pools flows through the center of the kibbutz as a river. Seeing this massive flow in a semi-desert area provides an idea why, in ancient times, the Jezreel Valley was an excellent invasion route for an army of thirsty soldiers and their animals:

The kibbutz has guest houses set aside for tourists, who can take a break from the heat in the river below the backdrop of the arid Gilboa mountains which David cursed in his lament for Saul and Jonathan: (“Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings” – Kings 2, 1:21):

After a kibbutz lunch (turkey schnitzel, of course) it was time to head through the tremendous heat past Bet Shean to the Tzemach intersection, and up the steep climb  to the Golan Heights. The ravine acts as an effective border between Israel and Jordan:

Hills like the Gamal and Susita line the shore of the Kinneret. In the picture below, bottom right, there is an example of the recent excavations that are revealing more and more about ancient Jewish settlements along the shore and on the Golan above:

Memories of war are never far on the Golan.

A memorial to a pilot, Otniel Shamir, who was shot down in in the 6 Day War:

 

A Syrian outpost near Kibbutz Haruv, from which it was possible to view and shoot at the kibbutz below:

 

Bunkers along the edge of the Golan are replaced by kibbutzim and swimming pools these days:

 

After a few hours with friends, I headed back to Tel Aviv, taking the long northern route down from the Golan as a fire had closed down the southern route:

 

But running late gave me the opportunity to stop for a meal of lamb chops at the Zetoun restaurant in Wadi Ara – spotlessly clean, superb friendly service, and prices that are hard to beat!

And then back to Tel Aviv – a trip that took just a day to go from central Israel to the north and back.

“Who benefits?” CiF contributor warns that military intervention in Syria would benefit Israel

“Who benefits?”

Of all the facile analyses of foreign policy which compete for public sympathy, this two-word query is perhaps the most egregious example of an ideology which has replaced serious thought with meaningless clichés.

Of course, when commentators pose such questions they’re not really engaged in an inquiry at all.

Whether discussing war, international monetary policy or bilateral trade agreements, employing this brief non sequitur of an interrogative allows writers to avoid messy, complicated political and moral analyses and pivot directly to their desired target.  

Thus, U.S. military involvement in the Middle East can be divorced of its geopolitical and strategic complexities, and the arduous policy considerations of the American President and his advisors, and its motivation reduced to whatever benefit the Jewish state (or other “imperialist” actor) is perceived to reap.

Indeed, the Iraq War has come to represent, for many employing such logic, the perfect Zionist storm – a conflict fought by American and NATO forces not to protect U.S. and Western interests, but to defend Israel – a state which skillfully deployed its supporters to the corridors of power to create a Middle East more to their liking. 

s ‘Comment is Free’ essay, Military intervention in Syria would be disastrous for its people“, includes the following strap line, representing a meme about an imagined threat of U.S./Western military intervention in Syria which could have been written by the Guardian’s chief “anti-imperialist” propagandist, Associate Editor Seumas Milne.  

Syrians opposed to [Western] intervention are ignored by a de facto alliance against the Shia ‘crescent’ between the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and al-Qaida.

The fact that U.S. led military intervention in Syria has all but been rejected by the Obama administration is not an insurmountable barrier to Ramadani’s desired narrative.

In fact, what does this dangerous “military build-up” remind him of?

Yes, you guessed it.

“All this sadly reminds me of the drums of the Iraq war and the media circulation of made-up stories peddled by Blair, Bush and pro-intervention Iraqi factions, while the anti-Saddam but anti-war Iraqis were marginalised.”

Later, moving on to Israel, Ramadani writes:

“It is opposition by the “crescent” to hegemony by the US and Israel, rather than religion or human rights, that worries Washington and its dictatorial allies in the region.”

“…democratic opposition organisations, at the receiving end of decades of regime repression and probably representing the will of majority of Syrians, strongly opposed the militarisation of the protests. They argued that militarisation weakened the growing mass movement for radical democratic change, left the door wide open for foreign intervention, threatened the social fabric of Syrian society and helped Israeli forces occupying the Syrian Golan Heights…”

It’s unclear how IDF forces in the Golan are assisted by violence in Syria, or how Israel benefits from the militarization of the uprisings – a conflict which had led to the loss of control by Syrian authorities over its southern border, and which,  the IDF fears, may allow for global jihadists operating in Syria to attack Israel.

Finally, Ramadani goes beyond vaguely suggesting that the militarization of the conflict is an element of a broader Western pro-Israel strategy, and floats this artful suggestion:

“Iran has…officially pointed the finger at an Israeli “terrorist training base” in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a major route for intervention in Syria.”

Get it? According to Ramadani, Israel may be operating a “terrorist training base” in Iraqi Kurdistan, and using the base to funnel weapons to Damascus, Hama and Deir al-Zor.  The Jewish state could be the party responsible for the bloodshed in Syria.

Where did Ramadani find such explosive and grossly under-reported news?

The link takes us to a report” on the site of Iranian PressTV, the official media of a regime representing the only major supplier of arms, fighters (and even troops) in support of Bashar al-Assad’s brutal campaign to crush the uprising. 

Here’s the relevant passage from PressTV:

“The [Israeli] occupier regime of al-Quds (Jerusalem) is exploiting the soil of [autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq]…a region abutting our land and even has a terrorist training base and military site there,” Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said on June 17.

So, final question: who benefits from commentary citing official Iranian propaganda to buttress a wild claim of Israeli responsibility for political phenomena completely outside its control? 

Answer: anyone who reads the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ to reinforce their obsession with the Jewish state.

The Six-Day War: Day Six

Jewish Ideas Daily commemorates the forty-fifth anniversary of the Six-Day War with a day-by-day synopsis, for which we are indebted to Michael Oren’s comprehensive Six Days of War.

After five days spent battling Arab forces, Israel now faced a new opponent: time. With the Egyptians and Jordanians out of the war on day four, and the Syrians having agreed to a ceasefire, the Security Council was becoming restless.

General David Elazar’s forces would have only a few hours to take the strategically important Golan Heights.

Fighting through the night, Elazar aimed to reach Quneitra junction in the north and Butmiya junction in the south. But the Syrians held their lines.

By dawn, Elazar had made little progress, and thinking that a ceasefire was imminent, despaired of reaching his objectives. But then he received a telephone call from Rabin: the government had not yet committed to a ceasefire; he would have more time.

Granted this reprieve, Elazar rallied his men and redoubled the assault. But now—to his astonishment—the Syrian resistance evaporated. At the village of Mansura, they found empty tanks; at Banias, the trenches were deserted. While Quneitra remained in Syrian hands, Radio Damascus was nonetheless broadcasting its capture.

Mistrusting their Arab allies, the UN, and, most of all, the Soviets, the Syrian government had given up on a ceasefire and ordered a full scale retreat. By announcing the fall of Quneitra, they had their pretext for consolidating their troops around Damascus. Indeed, the leadership did not feel safe even there: first the general staff, then the ministers fled the capital for Aleppo.  

But the Soviets had not yet given up on their Arab protégés. The Kremlin formally broke diplomatic relations with Israel and gave the White House an ultimatum: “We propose that you demand from Israel that it unconditionally cease military action . . . We propose to warn Israel that if this is not fulfilled, necessary actions will be taken, including military.” The White House issued a verbal response that the USSR should place similar pressure on Syria; but to make sure the message got through, President Johnson ordered the Sixth Fleet, sailing west of Cyprus, to turn back east to within a hundred miles of Israel’s coast.  

Having dealt with the Soviets, Johnson set about following their advice. At the UN, the the American Ambassador, Arthur Goldberg, met with the Israeli Ambassador, Gideon Rafael, telling him that “the United States government does not want the war to end as the result of a Soviet ultimatum. This would be disastrous for the future not only of Israel, but of us all. It is your responsibility to act now.”

The message from Washington came back to Jerusalem and on to Elazar at the front: Eshkol and Dayan would give him until 2 p.m. to finish the job, before agreeing to a ceasefire. Quneitra, completely deserted, fell at 12:30 p.m. But the advance was still too slow; the retreating Syrian army had littered the roads with heavy equipment, hindering the Israeli offensive. Moreover, Elazar coveted Mount Hermon, with its panoramic views of Damascus.

Yet Dayan was not out of tricks yet. He had arranged ceasefire talks with the chief UN Observer, Norwegian General Odd Bull, in Tiberias; but when Bull arrived, he found that the meeting had been moved to Tel Aviv. The two finally met at 3, and set the ceasefire for 6 p.m. But Dayan issued Bull a condition: no UN observers were allowed near the ceasefire line. Thus the war was already over when, the following morning, an Israeli helicopter crew made it to the summit of Mount Hermon and planted its flag.

The fighting was over, and the Great Powers were appeased; but between Israel and her Arab neighbors, the tension was hardly defused. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had all lost territory, military hardware, and men—in Egypt’s case, between ten and fifteen thousand. Despite her stunning victory, Israel had also suffered casualties, with some eight hundred dead, and two and a half thousand wounded. With no desire to fight again, on June 19th, Eshkol’s cabinet decided—albeit by only one vote—to surrender the Sinai and the Golan in exchange for peace.

But the Arabs were hardly amenable to reconciliation. Meeting on September 1st at Khartoum, the Arab League summit issued a resolution affirming that peace with Israel was too high a price to pay:

“The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.”

The Arab League’s commitment to the rights of native peoples did not extend to Jews born in Muslim lands. The World Islamic Congress, meeting in Amman later that month, declared:

“Jews of Arab Countries: the Congress is convinced that Jews living in Arab countries do not appreciate the kindness and protection that Muslims have granted them over the centuries. The Congress proclaims that the Jews who live in the Arab states and who have contact with Zionist circles or the state of Israel do not deserve the protection and kindness that Islam grants to non-Muslim citizens living freely in Islamic countries. Islamic governments must treat them as enemy combatants. In the same way, Islamic peoples must individually and collectively boycott them and treat them as mortal enemies.”     

Pogroms followed in Tripoli, Tunis, and Baghdad; across the Islamic world, Jews abandoned their ancient communities—many fleeing to Israel. In Egypt, the persecution began during the war. A Jew in Cairo, Benjamin Melameth, recalls being arrested on the first day of the war and systematically beaten:

“All this time officers were walking up and down whipping us with their branches of palm trees,and some of them ran and jumped on our shoulders. Anyone who lost their balance or who flinched received a rain of blows . . . . When the turn of the Rabbi of Alexandria arrived, they crucified him to the bars of the front door of the prison. Then they beat him until he lost consciousness.”

Yet it was the plight of the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank which captured international attention. Forty-five years on, with the Palestinian question still unresolved, the received wisdom holds that the Six Day War was, in hindsight, a defeat for Israel.  The Economist called it “one of history’s Pyrrhic victories,” stating that “in the long run, the war turned into a calamity for the Jewish state no less than for its neighbors.”

Der Spiegel was even more explicit, with a hint of guilty pleasure:

“But Israel still pays the highest price today in the Palestinian territories. The state that has its roots in the bitter experiences of 2,000 years of persecution had, in fact, subjugated another people itself. An army that had been established for the purpose of defense suddenly found itself in the role of an occupier.”

But to see victory as a worse outcome for Israel than defeat is to forget that Israel fought the war just to survive; victory was the only option. As Moshe Dayan’s daughter, Yael, wrote in the Daily Telegraph just a year after the war:

“A year ago I was in uniform with a division on the Egyptian border. We, in the front, had no doubt as to the inevitability of war. We also knew we were going to win it. We were not going to win because we were more numerous, more battle-happy, or more ambitious. We were going to win, at whatever cost, because losing meant extermination . . . . These obvious facts should be remembered, simply because we were victorious. When a David wins, he stops being David in a way, and his motives become suspect. On June 5, 1967, we risked all we had.”

If Israel exchanged the sympathy of a beleaguered minority for the moral dilemmas of a majority in 1967, it is only because peace with her Arab neighbors was impossible. To quote Yael Dayan again: “If our face is changed, it is only because security and peace did not prove to be synonymous and we have chosen the first, are not offered the second, and have to live with the results.”

World’s checkpoint hypocrisy

Cross posted by Giulio Meotti at Ynet

Giulio Meotti

Today there are some 50 barriers and fences in the world. Bill Clinton, who came to power promising “a bridge to the 21st century,” gave the US the wall with Mexico; Spain built fences to keep out Moroccans; India is walling off Kashmir and Bangladesh; South and North Korea share the most heavily fortified border in the world.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has an epic wall project; the glitz, wealthy Arab sheikhdoms are closing the border with dirt-poor Oman; Russia is considering walling off Chechnya; Western Sahara has “the Wall of Shame”; Cyprus is entirely divided by walls; Belfast is a fenced city of brick, iron and steel barriers, and even the ultra-liberal Nederlands built a fence around the Hook of Holland.

But only Israel’s barriers have been condemned by the International Court of Justice, only Israel’s fences have received round-the-clock coverage on CNN and front page stories on the New York Times, only Israel’s checkpoints are turned into the meccas of “peace” activists and are condemned by Western public opinion as an instrument of harassment used to subjugate a proud “native” people, whose only crime is wanting freedom, or “liberation.”

While foreign fences keep out livestock and refugees from neighboring countries, only Israel’s fences and checkpoints have a truly humanitarian reason: to secure the civilian population’s right to life. Only in Israel barbed wire, patrol roads, sand tracking paths, video cameras and electronic sensors are used to prevent a restaurant, a shopping mall or a hotel from being turned into carpets of human bodies.

Paradoxically, barriers have been anathema to Jews since 1179, when the Vatican Council established the medieval ghettos throughout Europe. Yet very soon, the Jewish State will be enclosed by steel and concrete. Israel is erecting another fence to protect its civilian population from terrorist fire. After Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian border, it’s the turn of Metulla, the northern city hit by Hezbollah rockets and where Yasser Arafat’s killers murdered tourists and students.

Vital anti-terrorism instrument

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government just removed several roadblocks in the territories to ease Palestinian daily life. It’s a difficult decision, as in the past Israelis have been killed after checkpoints were removed. Since 2008, Israel removed some 30 checkpoints throughout the territories, leaving 11, mostly located along the Green Line.

None of the other fenced countries have infiltrators with the “holy” purpose of killing people. Tijuana, the symbol of the wall dividing US and Mexico, is not Qalqilya, a Palestinian city 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv, ringed by a fence and checkpoints. It’s Qalqilya, not Tijuana, that has been called the “Paradise Hotel”, because the city was used by suicide terrorists as the jumping off point into Israel. It’s from Qalqilya, not Tijuana, that terrorists can bomb Tel Aviv’s Azrieli towers, which can be seen from the city’s hills.

The checkpoints, Israel’s most common barriers, are its most vital and disruptive counterterrorism instrument. Unlike Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, which today is a monument to oppression’s defiance, Israel’s checkpoints are a symbol of life. According to the IDF, some 30% of Israel’s counterterrorism arrests took place at the roadblocks.

Israel improved the quality of life at the checkpoints with bathrooms and shaded areas. But Palestinian terrorists then deliberately took advantage of it. In 2004 a Palestinian woman killed four Israelis at a checkpoint in Gaza by pretending to be disabled. Because of her condition, the soldiers performed their security checks without first using a metal detector. She then detonated her explosive device.

It’s true that everyone who goes through a checkpoint is treated as an enemy. It’s true that checkpoints are an insult to Palestinian daily life. But without the checkpoints, fences, roadblocks and barriers Israel would never be able to exist.

Explosive belts and bombs are regularly detected at the checkpoints, but Western media outlets usually don’t report it.

Today it’s only because of these symbols of security that Israelis are no longer assailed by suicide bombings and shootings like they were during the height of the second Intifada.

We can draw the same lesson from the embassies’ metal detector, Ben Gurion Airport’s strict security procedures, the guards at the entrance to Tel Aviv’s shopping malls, the so-called “apartheid wall,” and the nuclear plant in Dimona. If the Arabs disarm, there will be peace; but if Israel disarms, there will be another Holocaust.

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism

UK Dep’t for International Development or Palestinian Solidarity Campaign? (Updated)

A guest post by Oded Ben-Josef, a Freelance writer based in Tel Aviv

The DFID (Department for International Development) is a UK Government department with the laudable goal of promoting sustainable development and eliminating world poverty. The DFID recently launched a new four-year plan to support the Palestinians, and on July 2011, its Minister of State, Alan Duncan MP, visited the Palestinian Authority to promote the project.

YouTube video from the trip was posted on the DFID site and on YouTube, but was taken down and disabled at some point. 

Duncan’s opening comments leave no doubt as to how focused he is on his goal: 

“…Behind me is the wall. Well the wall is a land grab. It hasn’t just gone along the line of a proper Israeli boundary.”

To remind us that this is a poverty fighting UK government department and not a Palestinian Information Ministry campaign, Duncan explains further, that the Palestinian men behind him had to queue in the checkpoint since 2am:

“in order to go to work in Israel, where they can get a bit more money [...] It is a caged corridor through which they have to go, to get into Israel, so that’s a really really hard way of earning your living.”  

Not as hard as trying to earn it at the mercy of the Palestinian Authority itself, apparently.

What frequently puzzles me about some of those well-meaning, agile minded westerners (no irony, really!) is that they never seem to ponder what possessed a country to take such drastic measures.

For, if Israel really is just toying with those Palestinians out of sheer malice, why are they being admitted at all? Israel can simply lock all the gates and let the Palestinian Authority (PA) try to arrange jobs and a future for its people, instead of merely relying on Western donations and (at best) overlooking incitement to violence in the Palestinian media and education system.

After all, Israel already has about 100,000 foreign migrant workers, mainly from the Far East; it can always take a few thousands in place of the Palestinians.

Doubtless it is horrible to have to get up at, well I can’t even bring myself to type that hour again, for work. This is easier to type:

Dear Minister of the Crown, Alan Duncan MP:

Human conflict is not a noble thing, a concept that hopefully is now clearer to you following the August 2011 riots in the UK. Violence always involves the suffering of innocents from all sides involved. If one genuinely wants to resolve issues (as I’m sure you do), it is far more conducive, Minister, to minister to the causes of the conflict rather than apply sticking plasters for its symptoms. The public discourse in the UK seems to have no difficulty in grasping this concept regarding its internal affairs, only on the Mideast are they slow to get it.

Israel has controlled the whole of Judea and Samaria for 35 years before erecting the Separation barrier. If it had been motivated by a desire to annex parts of the area as Duncan claims, this could have been achieved far more easily and cheaply by legislation, as with  in 1967 and the Golan Heights in 1981.

In the Golan and inner Jerusalem areas, Israel tore down fences and security implements, but in Judea and Samaria, they were put up. Could this discordant approach be just a normal government-that-wants-to-stay-elected reaction to the waves of terror emanating from some places, in contrast to relatively peaceful coexistence of Jews and Arabs in others?

Later in the video, Duncan adds more ingredients to his broth and stirs: 

“Israeli settlers can build what they want, pretty well, and they immediately get the infrastructure, so that takes the water deliberately from Palestinians here.”

“[..] So, the Israelis can build, and this is not their country, but Palestinians, whose country this is, cannot build.”

Duncan doesn’t fail to fail with the usual bandwagon demagoguery, automatically bestowing historical ownership of the disputed land on the Palestinians, without feeling any need to take a minimally balanced view of the conflict.

Firstly, the 2009 construction ‘Freeze’ lasted for over a year, halting ALL Jewish building in the territories – and is now supposedly over, but it remains extremely difficult for Jewish residents in the Judea and Samaria (“settlers” as they are pejoratively referred to) to receive building permissions. Infrastructure for these Jewish communities is also not automatic, but often slow and complicated, requiring layers of government permissions.

Undeniably, demolitions of Arab property frequently get the media spotlight.  However, under-reported is the large number of Jewish buildings also destroyed, as building violations are a widespread phenomenon among both populations in Judea and Samaria. What’s more, demolition of Jewish unauthorized structures in eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem (across the ’49 armistice lines – the Green Line) equals or outpaces that of Arab-owned buildings.

Within the Green Line, most Jewish Israelis endure more red tape when closing in a ten foot porch than Americans constructing Cape Canaveral, while Arab towns and villages in Israel essentially ignore permit, zoning and environmental laws, which are largely unenforced there.

Duncan also makes it clear why a quarter of a million Israelis took to the streets in protest of housing shortages, owing partly to the intractable urban/land development bureaucracy, with thousands still camping out for weeks in protest tents, in the largest social protest movement the country has ever known. Stands to reason, as Israelis can just build what they want, wherever they want.

As to the water issue, since Palestinian farmers traditionally dig only shallow wells, and Israelis drill into deep aquifers, the water theft accusation is absurd, especially considering that Israel is the supplier of Palestinian water and other essential services, not the thief – in fact, two to three times more water is provided by Israel than stipulated in the Oslo accords.

Duncan continues:

“The trouble is, if they [the PA] face financial crisis, and at the moment, they can’t even pay their salaries on time, there are things like these basic primary health care centers are going to face a lot of difficulty.”

With half a billion dollars aid money received during the first half of 2010 alone, $1.4bn in 2009 and $1.8bn for 2008, Duncan omits to mention what is at the root of this “crisis”, perhaps because he knows that, alas, it can’t be pinned on Israel. The harsher hammer and anvil pressing the Palestinians is PA corruption on the one hand, and its growing ties with the Hamas terror and incitement movement, on the other, which are causing mounting concern amongst donors.

The video ends by announcing that it is going to be a difficult year for Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the PA because “A lot of their traditional donors will be looking at their own problems [instead of at other nations]“ 

One can only hope that both Duncan and the PA, particularly the latter, will also take up that approach, which is the only thing likely to make it a much less difficult year for them – and the entire region.

UPDATE: According to the Jewish Chronicle, a UK Foreign Office (FCO) spokesman insisted that Mr Duncan’s statement “is the government’s position”. The Chronicle sums up:

“So, according to the Foreign Office, Israel is effectively a rogue state, deliberately stealing land and water. It has taken 15 months to find out what this government really thinks. Now we know.”

UPDATE II: As noted above, DFID removed the video in question from YouTube without explanation. We’re trying to find another copy to upload and will keep you posted.

Peace: Harriet Sherwood’s Palestinian Caricature

Israel Steals Organs. Cartoon which appeared in PA Daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadid, Jan 13, 2010

One of the seminal books on the subject of Arab anti-Semitism was Peace: The Arabian Caricature, by Arieh Stav. (The PDF is available free online, here)

The book, published in 1996, the height of the chimera of a “peace process” known as Oslo, advanced arguments about the peace talks that, though quite heterodox and counter-intuitive at the time, should, in the aftermath of the 2nd Intifada, and the refusal of “moderate” Palestinian leaders to accept increasingly generous offers by Israeli leaders (which included a contiguous Palestinian state) be uncontroversial.

Stav surveyed Arab anti-Semitic cartoons at a time of relative peace: when Israel had signed a peace treaty with Jordan, had signed a Declaration of Principles with the PLO, and had already declared its willingness to withdrawal from the Golan Heights.  That is, 1996 was a time when Israel was most receptive to making compromises in the spirit of the formula “Land for Peace” – what Shimon Peres referred to as “the painful but necessary concessions for the great reconciliation with the Arab states.”

But, as Stav observed, “a perusal of the relevant [Arabic] literature showed clearly that the basic assumptions underpinning the view…that Israeli concessions would result in Arab moderation [was] nothing more than wishful thinking.”

Israel as Death.PA Daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida June 2, 2010

Stav, citing his own research – as well of that of Bernard Lewis, Rivka Ladin, and Raphael Israeli – showed that, even after the peace accords with Egypt in 1979, there was no demonstrable decrease in the degree or volume of Arab hostility towards Israel as expressed in the media, popular culture or public opinion polls.

As Lewis has stated, “since 1945, the only place in the world where hard-core, Nazi-style anti-Semitism is officially endorsed and propagated” has been the Arab world – a conclusion, I’ve noted repeatedly, also reached more recently by Professor Robert Wistrich.

Concerning Arab anti-Semitism, Lewis argued:

“The level of hostility and the ubiquity of its expression are rarely equaled even in the European literature of anti-Semitism, which only at a few times reached this level of fear, hate and prejudice.  For parallels one needs to look at the high Middle Ages, to the literature of the Spanish Inquisition, of the anti-Dreyfusards in France, the Black Hundreds in Russia, or the Nazi Era in Germany.”

Jew Eating Dome of the Rock. Image broadcast on PA State TV, July 1, 2010

Harriet Sherwood’s recent report (Palestine: the flags are already waving but will a declaration of statehood help?, Guardian, July 16) deals largely with steps taken by the PA to “create and reinforce the institutions of a state”, acknowledges that the diplomatic hurdles to unilateral statehood, in the absence of a formal agreement with Israel, are dim – and cites, as one of the several political hurdles to such a move, the quintessential Guardian bogeyman, and obstacle to all things progressive in the Middle East, the injurious influence of the US “Israel Lobby”, which, Sherwood sagely explains, President Obama doesn’t want to risk alienating in the run up to the 2012 Elections.

Though it’s in Sherwood’s characterizations of Palestinian priorities, during the course of raising the possibility of a Third “Peaceful” Palestinian Intifada, where she cites the Palestinian public opinion poll (by Stanley Greenberg) which we cited in a recent post.

Says Sherwood:

“A recent opinion survey carried out in Gaza and the West Bank by the respected US pollster Stanley Greenberg found that at the top of the priority list for Palestinians were jobs, healthcare, water shortages and education. Mass protests against Israel, and even pursuing peace negotiations, came way down. Asked to choose, two-thirds favoured diplomatic engagement with Israel over violence.”

While the full report will be published tomorrow,  based on what was already released it’s clear that Sherwood cherry-picked the results which advance the desired narrative that she, the Guardian, and the mainstream media try so arduously to maintain – as they’ve done since Oslo (and, even prior to that, since the Camp David Accords) – of a moderate Palestinian population which seeks peace and shares the same values, and practical economic concerns, as those in the West.

Of course, among the results Sherwood evidently found too politically inconvenient to report is evidence regarding Palestinian rejectionism, extremism and support for violence. 

Specifically, to put the stats Sherwood cites, on Palestinians’ alleged preference for diplomatic rather than violent means to achieve a settlement, in context, the following would seem relevant.  Per the Jerusalem Post story on the poll:

66 percent [of Palestinians] said the Palestinians’ goal should not be a permanent two-state solution, but a two-state solution as an interim stage en route to the ultimate goal of a single Palestinian state in all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – a goal that amply explains their opposition to recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland.

Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92 percent said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1 percent said the capital of Israel, 3 percent the capital of both, and 4 percent a neutral international city.

And, as I noted previously.

Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62 percent supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53 percent were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.

Also:

When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80 percent agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.

No doubt, Sherwood had access to the same poll summary as the Jerusalem Post, and it’s evident that she simply chose not report those findings which contradict her caricature of Palestinian peace.

As we’ve demonstrated previously, the Guardian is also quite adept at using photos to illustrate their ongoing tale of Israeli villainy and Palestinian innocence.  As such, her story was accompanied with the following image:

And, really.  Isn’t it evident that only the most cynical Zionists, and those possessing a heart of stone, could possibly have any serious doubts that a Palestinian society which includes innocent flag-waving children genuinely desires peace?   

Did the Palestinians shoot themselves in the foot?

A guest post by AKUS

It surely strikes any unbiased observer that what appears to have been a poorly staged attempt by paid locals  and quite possibly foreign meddlers to infiltrate into Israel on “Al Naksa Day” was largely treated as a yawn by most of the Western media and an attempt by Syria to divert attention from the brutal crackdown on its own citizens. Not, of course, by our friends at the Guardian, who went into overdrive at the thought – the hope – that this orchestrated “spontaneous uprising” would once again embarrass Israel and hundreds of thousands of Arabs would reclaim what was never theirs in the first place – the Golan Heights, followed, no doubt, in the Guardian editors’ fevered imagination, by the whole of Israel.

Of course, the entire premise of Al Naksa was absurd. On behalf of the invented nation of Palestine, which did not exist before 1967, the Syrians staged an event that with bitter irony commemorates the worst defeat the Arabs have ever had, delivered at the hands of Israel in 1967. The results of the useless theatrics were equally absurd. The deaths were caused by rioters throwing Molotov cocktails into anti-tank minefields (on the Syrian side of the border) and blowing themselves up.

The Red Cross has been unable to corroborate any of the Syrian reports that Israel killed 23 demonstrators.  As soon as the usual lies became apparent, any sympathy that might have existed for the Palestinians in the media was blown away, so to speak.

Moreover, the number of deaths, if any at all, pale by comparison with the wholesale slaughter  being meted out by the Assad regime to its own citizens. The scale is so “disproportionate”, to use a well-worn term, that even members of the United Nations were compelled to agree with Israel’s description of Syria’s complaints about the similar events on Al Nakba day as “surreal”. The Palestinians and their supporters looked simply foolish as a consequence.

Israel TV, which employs numerous Arab staff and reporters in its northern studio, reported that none of them had ever heard of “Al Naksa”, and thought it was silly of the Palestinians in Syria to have a day that commemorates Syria’s greatest defeat.

Worse was to follow.

In rage at the faked reports of deaths and anger at the cowardice of leaders who once again apparently sent others to risk their lives, crowds estimated in the hundreds turned on the leadership of the Palestinians in Damascus. They attacked the offices of the PFLP-GC (a splinter group formed by Ahmad Jibril from Habash’s PFLP and responsible for the 1974 Passover Kiryat Shmona massacre of 18 Israelis). The result was a self-inflicted massacre of at least 14  and dozens wounded by the bodyguards of such luminaries as Khalid Meshaal of Hamas. Ahmad Jibril narrowly escaped with his life (unfortunately).

New reports claim that the Palestinians are having second thoughts  about applying to the UN in November for statehood. Obama and Merkel met in Washington and among other matters warned in their closing statement  that trying to use the UN to grant statehood to the Palestinians was not going to work. Since these are two of the major donors  of the funds Palestinian leadership relies on to support their luxurious, globe-trotting lifestyle, they immediately went into reverse gear. Now they are demanding negotiations with Israel – but only if Israel first agrees to their terms!

Having said all that, there is yet another reason that the Palestinians once again destroyed their own game-plan.

Despite the fevered dreams of the Guardian staff, who apparently imagine a world-wide Stalinist proletariat arising to conquer Israel we live in a world of nation states where rampant cross-border illegal immigration – infiltration, really – is an increasingly difficult problem for the wealthy Western states. Western leaders and the responsible media understand that once again what starts with the Jews would not end with the Jews. If today the Golan, why not tomorrow Andaluz or Austria?

The US, in particular, faced with an unending flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, made it clear that it  that Israel has the right and obligation to defend its borders from being overrun, by force if necessary. Yes – that includes the borders of the Golan Heights, annexed after 1967, and never seriously challenged by the USA and EU, unlike the West Bank situation.

The Palestinians gained little sympathy, and will have even less if they or the Syrians stage a repeat performance to distract attention from what they are doing in Syria. The idea that thousands of “unarmed civilians” will just wander across the borders of another state strikes at one of the great unspoken fears of the West and many other nation states. The stakes are far too high for the world’s major powers, including Russia, China, and India who all face similar problems, for them to countenance this kind of behavior.

Moreover, these events of Al Nakba day and Al Naksa day gave pointed meaning to Israel’s oft-repeated concerns about its need for defensible borders.  The Palestinians and Syrians provided Israel with the best example it could ask for to demonstrate its case. Israel may have shot a few demonstrators in the legs as a last resort (following verbal warnings which went unheeded, shots in the air, and the use of tear gas other non-lethal force), but the Palestinians – and their paid and paying supporters – clearly shot themselves in the feet.

Where in the world was UNDOF?

Judging by some of your comments on our recent updates on the attempted Syrian infiltration of Israel’s northern borders on June 5th and the previous one on May 15th, I’m not the only one wondering where the UNDOF forces stationed in the Golan Heights were on both those days and why they made no attempt to prevent or disband these obvious provocations.

As we have previously pointed out, UNDOF has a post very near to the site of the attempted infiltrations near Majdal Shams and its main camp on the Israeli side – Camp Ziouani – is literally meters away from the site of last Sunday’s riots at Kuneitra. 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

I therefore decided to try to solve the mystery myself and picked up the phone to call the Observer Group Golan’s headquarters in Tiberias. There was no reply.

I then telephoned the UN’s offices in Jerusalem, asking for an alternative relevant phone number and managed to reach the OGG’s Liaison Officer on his cell phone. Not his department, it seemed: I would have to speak to the Liaison Officer in the Golan itself. Could he give me that phone number? No – he didn’t remember it and happened to be out of the office.

So I called the UN office in Jerusalem again and asked for that number. After some searching around, I was given the phone number of the UNDOF headquarters in Damascus and that of the Duty Officer at the Golan Camp – a Syrian telephone number. So I called there, but unfortunately was not able to make much progress as whoever answered the telephone only spoke Arabic.

The next logical step seemed to be to try to contact UNDOF by e-mail, but as their website provides no contact details, I had to send the e-mail to ‘Peacekeeping Home at the UN. More than 24 hours have passed without a reply, so I have sent another request asking the same three fairly simple questions:

Why did UNDOF not act during the events of May 15th and June 5th?

Does the UN intend to investigate its own failure to prevent unnecessary loss of life on both those occasions?

What steps is UNDOF taking to prepare for any future events of this nature? 

I will keep readers updated if I get a reply.

Update on Syrian incursions on Israel’s northern border

Here’s a brief update by Israelinurse on ongoing attempts, coordinated and inspired by the Syrian regime, to infiltrate Israel’s northern borders:

Sunday night: 

1) Druze in Majdal Shams join riots from Israeli side of fence - some footage here:

One Israeli policeman was injured in the head and one journalist was injured. A Druze boy, aged 8, fell off a roof or balcony whilst watching the riots – evacuated to Rambam hospital by helicopter, which would suggest a bad head injury because that’s the only reason we evacuate by ‘copter from the Golan to Rambam – otherwise he’d have been taken to Tsfat. 

Religious (Druze) elders of Majdal seem to have been able to calm the rioters down. 

2) The White House is ‘worried‘ and apparently taking Syrian casualty figures at face value. 

3) Rioters on Syrian side camping out there overnight: refusing to go home.  Trouble expected to continue tomorrow. 

4) At Kuneitra 3 were arrested. Molotov cocktails thrown by Syrians set off fires which triggered land mines (on the Syrian side of the border), causing several deaths and injures.

Monday morning: 

1) IDF inquiry shows some protesters (8) caused their own deaths by igniting brush fires which triggered Syrian landmines.

In addition, when cease fires were called to allow the Red Cross to evacuate injured protesters continued to engage in violence – delayed evacuation and possibly contributing to fatalities. 

2) AP reports that the Syrian police are now preventing rioters from approaching the border by setting up checkpoints. 

3) IDF Chief of Staff tours border area: instructs soldiers to continue to be restrained. 

Funerals will begin tomorrow around noon in Kuneitra. IDF sure that the Syrians have inflated the numbers.

4) Israeli Police apparently are considering making the Druze villages a closed military zone over the holiday.

5) Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah comments on situation: (Translation of Hebrew report on Israeli news site by Israelinurse)

“All that is happening now in Palestine and the victories of the resistance, and what happened in the Golan – proves that the Palestinians have strong will. It proves that they are not disheartened.”

 “Today we must stand by the Palestinians with pride and especially with those who stood steadfast in the Golan against Israel and sacrificed their blood.”

“Khomeini is convinced that Israel is going towards annihilation and that its disappearance is near.”

Our faith and our region have stood against the most dangerous war in our history. All the military, intelligence, economic and psychological resources used by the US and Europe to conquer our region in order to establish a new Middle East have failed.”

What the Guardian won’t report: Assad regime paid impoverished Syrian farmers to participate in riots on Israel’s borders

H/T Challah Hu Akbar

A Press Release by the Reform Party of Syria:

The Reform Party of Syria has learned today, from intelligence sources close to the Assad regime in Lebanon, that Syrians storming through the Golan Height next to the Quneitra crossing are Syrian farmers who have migrated in recent years from the drought-stricken northeast Syria to the south. Estimates put the number at 250,000 impoverished migrants.

Information received cite the regime has paid hundreds of these farmers $1,000 each to show-up and $10,000 to their families should any of them succumb to Israeli fire. In Syria, an average salary is about $200 a month and to these impoverished farmers, such a one-time sum can keep them economically afloat for six months.

Such a tactic was used in the past by another defunct Ba’ath Party in Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, to pay Intifada-driven Palestinians the sum of $25,000 to their next-of-kin should they die throwing stones. That measure had a worldwide impact and it seems the Assad regime is using the same play from a twin playbook.

It is obvious, with this action, Assad wants to divert the attention of the world away from his own massacres and brutality that resulted in some 70 deaths yesterday and about 30 today in Jisr al-Shoghour. RPS expects, on the basis of today’s success, for these operations of incursions to multiply in scope in the near future for two reasons: 1) Divert the attention away from Assad’s barbarism and savagery, and 2) Stand tall again in the eyes of the regime’s supporters whose morale has taken quite a beating the last 3 months because of the violence perpetrated by Assad against unarmed civilians.

On this day of Naksa, RPS strongly believes in ownership and title of its Golan Heights. But unlike a regime bred on the use of violence, the Syrian people, demonstrating how peaceful they are as they endure one massacre after another, believe in peaceful negotiations to repatriate our lands. If Assad really wanted the Golan Heights, he would walk the same peaceful path Anwar Sadat walked long before him. But then, if he does, how can he justify his own existence as the Commandant de laRésistance. 

For Assad, winning through peace means also losing the war against his own people.

Syrian rioters attempt to breach Israel’s borders: Assad Regime is again the likely instigator

Israelinurse contributed to this report

Several Syrian rioters, marking the 44th anniversary of the Arab “downfall” in the Six Day War (Naksa Day), were injured today when hundreds attempted to breach Israel’s northern border with Syria in the Golan Heights, near Majdal Shams. And, while Syrian authorities were claiming several fatalities, the IDF was unable to confirm this.

Israel’s Channel 2 is reporting that five bus loads of protesters at Majdal Shams were bused in from the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, where the Syrian security forces have full control.  Further reports suggest that Syrian soldiers present in the area made no effort to stop people getting to the border and even engaged in provocation.

“We issued warnings for them to stop advancing. When they continued, we fired warning shots in the air,” said an IDF spokeswoman

When the demonstrators continued toward the Israeli fence, they said, shots were fired at their feet. “We know of 12 injuries,” she added.

IDF forces were sending Arabic-language messages through loudspeakers over the border, warning that anyone approaching the fence would be stopped.

Below is a warning issued by the IDF to rioters approaching the Syrian-Israeli border near Majdal Shams:

“Stop! You are breaching an international border. We warn you not to damage security infrastructure. Whosoever attempts to violate Israel’s sovereignty or security infrastructure puts himself in jeopardy. Please return to Syria.”

Video of the warning:

Reliable IDF sources have informed us that, during the confrontations, the International Red Cross requested that the IDF hold their fire so Red Cross personnel could safely evacuate those injured, a request honored by the IDF.  However, the rioters took advantage of the cease-fire and continued storming the fence.

Though the Syrian media is reporting several fatalities, there is no independent confirmation of such reports, and the IDF spokesperson I talked to seemed skeptical that the injuries sustained by Syrian protesters could result in fatalities.

A second demonstration took place on the Syrian border in Kuneitra, where 200 to 300 demonstrators amassed.  Syrian protesters there hurled molotov cocktails towards IDF positions, but there are no reported injuries and the riots were successfully contained.  Of note, there were no sign of the UN forces yet again – despite the fact that the Kuneitra demos were meters from their camp.

Elsewhere today, hundreds rioted near the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem. The Protesters were hoisting signs reading “A million shahids are marching in Jerusalem,” “The people want and end to occupation,” and “occupation is illegal,” and clashed with Border Guard forces, stoning them. A reporter from Israeli Channel 2 says there were 100-200 demonstrators at Qalandiya but stresses that most are members of NGOs rather than ‘authentic Palestinians’.

The IDF was able to use tear gas and other non-lethal methods to successfully disperse the crowd.  One Border Guard officer suffered mild injuries.

Finally, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, this morning there were a few dozen rioters who approached the Israeli border but the situation was soon brought under control, by around noon, no injuries were reported and the fence was not damaged.

Regarding the incidents on the Syrian borders, IDF officials were certain that the Syrian regime initiated the incidents in order to divert attention to the regime’s increasing brutality on Syrian civilians protesting the rule of Bashar Assad. 

Rioters in Qalandiya