Tag Archives: Gaza

Palestinians beginning to see things as they are, not as they want them to be

“It’s safer to demonstrate against Israel than against Abbas or the Palestinian Authority. Israel is at least a country of law and order and they have human rights organizations and a powerful media and judicial system. We can only continue to dream of having something like what the Jews have.”

 

In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms.

The regimes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip never miss an opportunity to remind their people of the dire consequences that await anyone who speaks out against the leaders. The two Palestinian regimes have been forcing it down the throats of their people for many years.

Still, some Palestinians seem surprised each time the PA or Hamas send their police officers to break up (or, more precisely, to break bones in) a demonstration in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip.

The streets of Ramallah and Gaza City showcase, yet again, that the Palestinians’ true tragedy over the past five decades has been failed and corrupt leadership — one that keeps dragging them from one disaster to another; one that never offers them any hope; one that has been radicalizing and brainwashing its people; one that steals large portions of the financial aid provided by the international community, and one that has brought them nothing but dictatorship and repression.

The Palestinian Authority is nearly 25 years old, but it continues to act as a corrupt dictatorship. Like most Arab regimes, the PA and its leaders have zero tolerance for any form of criticism.

Ask Palestinian journalists, bloggers and pundits in the West Bank and they will tell you (in private and anonymously; they would like to save their skins) how the Palestinian Authority cracks down on them and imposes severe restrictions on their work. In the past year alone, at least 11 Palestinian journalists and political activists have either been arrested or summoned for interrogation by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The charge: voicing various forms of criticism against the Palestinian Authority or one of its senior officials, including, of course, President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority went one step further in demonstrating to its constituents what dictatorship looks like. Hundreds of Palestinians were staging a peaceful demonstration in the center of Ramallah to call on Abbas to lift the sanctions he had imposed on the Gaza Strip a year earlier. The sanctions, which severely aggravated the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, included firing thousands of PA civil servants and cutting off social assistance to many families. Abbas has also refused to pay for the electricity and medical care that Israel supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas placed the sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the hope that affected Palestinians would revolt against his enemies in Hamas. So far, however, his measures seem to have backfired. Hamas is still in power and there is almost no real challenge to its rule over the Gaza Strip. Also, Abbas does not want to bear any responsibility for his people in the Gaza Strip; he wants the Gaza Strip to be the problem of Israel, Egypt and the rest of the world. Anyone who thinks that Abbas is eager to go back to the Gaza Strip is living in a dream world. (Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and Abbas from the Gaza Strip in 2007).

Abbas does not like to be reminded of his responsibility for what many describe as a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and he does not want any Palestinians to protest the punitive measures he imposed on the Gaza Strip.

First, Abbas issued a directive banning Palestinians from protesting in the major cities in the West Bank.

His directive, however, did not stop hundreds of Palestinian activists from taking to the streets of Ramallah on June 13 to condemn Abbas’s sanctions. What was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned out to be one of the most violent clashes between Abbas’s security forces and demonstrators, whose only crime was that they were calling on their leader to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians in the West Bank are also trying to show solidarity with their brothers in the Gaza Strip. They seem to be beginning to realize that Abbas, instead of helping the people in the Gaza Strip, is actually punishing them by cutting off their salaries and denying them medical and humanitarian aid. The Ramallah protest also came amid growing criticism (mainly from the Gaza Strip) that the Palestinians of the West Bank are indifferent to the suffering of their brothers in the Gaza Strip.

On instructions from Abbas, dozens of Palestinian policemen, both in uniform and civilian clothes, attacked the protesters with brute force, using clubs and tear gas. More than 44 protestors were arrested and 20 injured. The brutality, however, did not end there. Palestinian policemen later raided hospitals and medical clinics in Ramallah to arrest injured Palestinians suspected of taking part in the peaceful protest. At least five Palestinian and foreign journalists were wounded during the police assault, while many others had their cameras and other equipment confiscated.

“The Palestinian Authority has crossed all red lines,” said a Palestinian protester who was beaten up by Palestinian policemen during the demonstration. “They treated us as if we were the biggest enemy of the Palestinians. We have no idea why they used such force against us. This is a real crime and a violation of Palestinian human rights.”

The Palestinian Authority has defended its brutal assault on the peaceful protesters by arguing that the demonstrators had failed to obtain a permit for their protest. But since when do Palestinians need a permit from their leaders to demonstrate? Well, in this instance they do need a permit because the protest was directed against the Palestinian Authority and Abbas.

Demonstrating against Israel or the US and burning their flags and posters of Israeli and American leaders do not require a permit from the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. In fact, the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah have played a major role in initiating anti-Israel and anti-US demonstrations, especially in recent months. It is one thing to shout chants against the US and Israel, but it is a completely different story when a Palestinian shouts chants against his leaders. Such a Palestinian would be lucky indeed if he winds up in hospital with only with a broken limb.

So Abbas, who is already punishing his people in the Gaza Strip under the pretext of fighting Hamas, is now telling his people in the West Bank to keep their opinions to themselves or pay for the impudence with broken heads and broken bones.

Abbas’s warning was echoed by one of his senior officials, Akram Rajoub, who serves as “governor” of the West Bank city of Nablus. In a video posted on social media after the violent Ramallah incident, Rajoub is seen and heard threatening any Palestinian who demonstrates against President Abbas:

“We will curse the father of anyone who protests… From now on, we’re not afraid and we don’t care. We will strike back at anyone who curses us and harms our dignity. Cursed be the fathers of those who say bad things about us!”

Rajoub’s threats, which sound more like the language of a street thug than a senior official, came in response to widespread criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s brutal violence against the Ramallah protesters. His threat is seen as an attempt to deter other Palestinians from speaking out against Abbas’s sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

Rajoub’s threats represent a massive mockery of truth on the part of the Palestinian Authority. On the one hand, Abbas and his officials continue to hold Israel responsible for the misery of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and are calling on the international community to condemn Israel for its policies in defending itself against attacks (from the Gaza Strip), while it is, in fact, Abbas himself who is largely responsible for the current crisis. It is because of Abbas, and not Israel, that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip get only four or five hours of electricity every day. It is because of Abbas, and not Israel, that tens of thousands of Palestinian employees have not been receiving salaries for the past few months. It is because of Abbas, and not Israel, that hospitals in the Gaza Strip lack medicine and medical equipment.

These are only some of the inconvenient truths that Abbas and his cronies in Ramallah do not want the world to know or the Palestinians to talk about. That is why Abbas sent his police officers to Ramallah to beat up the protesters, whose only crime was that they had dared to call on their leader to remove the sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

For now, Abbas appears to have achieved his goal of silencing and intimidating his critics. The violent scenes on the streets of Ramallah on June 13 served as a sufficient deterrent. As one Palestinian activist commented:

“It’s become safer to demonstrate against Israel than against Abbas or the Palestinian Authority. Israel is at least a country of law and order and they have human rights organizations and a powerful media and judicial system. We can only continue to dream of having something like what the Jews have.”

The fact that Abbas is running a one-man show in the West Bank and is cracking down on public freedoms does not mean that his rivals in Hamas are any better. Sometimes, in fact, it is hard to distinguish between Abbas’s regime and that of Hamas. The two often use the same tactics to impose terror and intimidation on their people. Hamas is bad, but who said that the Palestinian Authority is good?

The scenes we witnessed on the streets of Ramallah in mid-June were replicated in Gaza City a few days later, when Hamas used the same tactic to break up a peaceful protest. On June 18, Hamas policemen and militiamen attacked a group of Palestinians who were holding a peaceful protest to call for Palestinian unity. Again, several Palestinians ended up in hospital, while scores of others were arrested by Hamas. Hamas also justified the use of force by arguing that the protesters had failed to obtain a proper permit.

In both Ramallah and Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas managed to send a message to their people that anyone who speaks out against his or her leader will have his bones or skull smashed. Hamas and the PA despise each other and have been ripping each other to pieces — figuratively and literally — for the past decade. At the end of the day, however, Palestinians know that the power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is not between good guys and bad guys, but between bad guys and bad guys. These bad guys are no different from other Arab dictatorships that enslave and kill their people.

If the Palestinians ever wish to seek a better life, the first thing they need to do is rid themselves of the “leaders” who are destroying their lives today.

 

[From an article published by GATESTONE INSTITUTE]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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Gaza pauses in its ferocity and deadly clashes to bury its dead terrorists

Top stories of the day following Israel’s anniversary celebration:

1. Palestinians in Gaza spent the day burying their dead for now. Hamas’s calls for further marches on the border petered out as a mere 400 Palestinians showed up. Nevertheless, the IDF remained braced for Naqba Day violence to spread to the West Bank.

Shortly before this roundup was published, the IDF announced that 24 of the 60 Palestinians killed were terrorists from Hamas or Islamic Jihad. The army also released details about how it prevented a mass border breach.

2. Israel threatens to resume targeted killings of Hamas leaders if riots continue.

3. Palestinians managed to trash their side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing. It’s the third time they destroyed equipment and infrastructure at the crossing where Israel transfers food, fuel, medicine and humanitarian aid to the Strip. (Who gains? Hamas.)

By the way, Palestinians refused to allow 14 trucks carrying food and diapers to enter Gaza today, the Times of Israel reports. (Medical supplies were allowed through.) The Times notes, “It was not immediately clear why the border officials, who are employed by the Palestinian Authority, would not accept the shipments.”

4. Does the Media Really Understand the Gaza Violence? Thanks to the media, Gaza violence was always likely to be a win-win situation for Hamas. HonestReporting addressed a number of issues not raised in this roundup and the critique is must-read.

5. Your No-Hype Guide To The US Embassy Move To Jerusalem: Lost in the media hoopla over the US embassy move is a solid discussion of the law and history shaping this historic moment. HonestReporting’s Daniel Pomerantz explains in The Federalist.

6. Is the US Embassy Move Legal?: Israel must be treated according to the same legal standards as every other country on earth.

Israel and the Palestinians

• Israeli and US officials inaugurated the US embassy in Jerusalem. President Donald Trump addressed the gathering by a video link. Take your pick of Times of Israel or Haaretz coverage. Outside, police clashed with Israeli Arab MKs protesting the move.

• IDF called yesterday’s Palestinian violence unprecedented, as an estimated 35,000-50,000 Gazans clashed with soldiers and tried to breach the border. Military officials told Israeli media that “Hamas deployed 12 separate terror “cells” to try to breach the border at different spots,” and that they were unable to kidnap or kill any soldiers.

• Talk is cheap, but I wonder if sparking a new intifada in the West Bank was the Hamas end game all along.

 

• The New York Times and Washington Post both noted this point about the Hamas’ drive for casualties:

But the protests appeared to have a more violent edge than in previous weeks. Some young men brought knives and fence cutters. At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged protestors over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.

• The New York Times snippet on Palestinian injury figures made my antennae twitch:

A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus, cast doubt on the casualty numbers from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry; he said a large number of those listed as injured had suffered only tear-gas inhalation.

That may be true. According to the Health Ministry, live fire accounted for 1,204 injuries, bullet fragments caused 133 injuries and 837 injuries were attributed to gas. The breakdown did not account for the remaining injuries.

• A Palestinian baby died of tear gas inhalation because, well, who doesn’t bring the little ones to violent clashes? [Update: Just after this roundup was published, a Gaza doctor said the baby, Layla Ghandour had a pre-existing medical condition and may not have died because of tear gas]. Associated Press quoted Hamas-affiliated Gaza health officials that six of the Palestinians killed by gunshots were minors. Indeed, this description from a New York Times dispatch says a lot about the gulf between Israeli and Palestinian society:

At the rear of the protest area, Aseel Nasser, a determined 12-year-old girl, stood her ground. Facing a video camera operated by her brother, she recited a poem that extolled the virtues of jihad against Zionists. She was undeterred by the risks, explained her father, Khalil Nassar, 46, an education ministry official, who had brought her along. “It would be a great honor to be martyred by the occupation,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times also noted one family’s unsuccessful efforts to keep their daughter from going to the clashes. But where did Shireen learn to talk like this?

Terrified for their daughter’s safety, Shireen Nusralla’s parents locked her in her room Monday so she would not go to the protests. But the 30-year-old woman said she sneaked out through a window.

“I’m not afraid,” she declared as she walked toward a camp east of Gaza City, carrying a large Palestinian flag. “My dream is to get martyred or to kidnap an Israeli soldier.”

Commentary

• Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai weighs in on the embassy move, also insisting that Israel only has one capital, and it is Jerusalem.

In all my years as mayor, I have made it clear to every distinguished ambassador that we will provide him and his team with the best service to make them feel at home here, but that I am first and foremost an Israeli who is offended by the fact that his country refuses to recognize my country’s capital—Jerusalem—as Israel’s capital city.

What would the Italians say if the State of Israel decided that Milan rather than Rome was the capital of the boot-shaped country and placed its embassy there?

Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv
• The Wall St. Journal (click via Twitter) nailed the first paragraph of its staff-ed.

Violence marred the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on Monday, but the ceremony was more excuse than cause. The Palestinians from Hamas who protested along the Gaza border with Israel were continuing their eternal war against the existence of the Jewish state more than they care about where America puts its diplomats.

 

[From an article published by HonestReporting.com]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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The winds of war are blowing on Israel’s borders

Winds of war surround Israel

On Sunday, an Israeli fighter jet entered Syrian airspace and reportedly bombed a vehicle traveling from Damascus to Quneitra, a town situated in the Golan Heights near the border with Israel. One person was killed.

According to Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese news media service, the attack killed Yasser Hussein Asayeed, a member of a militia group allied with the Syrian government. Sunday’s air strike was the second military incursion into Syrian territory in three days and is evidence of the mounting tension between Israel and its northern neighbor.

On Friday, Israeli jets entered Syria and carried out an attack on a convoy transporting weapons to Hezbollah. During the attack, Syria launched surface-to-air rockets at the Israeli jets. Israel responded by firing its Arrow interceptor missile at the rockets.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Israel’s Air Force struck two separate Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. The strikes were in response to a Hamas rocket attack on Ashkelon earlier in the day. Another rocket attack from Gaza occurred on Thursday.

These attacks have many in Israel worried that war is imminent. “The winds of war are blowing on Israel’s borders,” wrote Alex Fishman earlier this week. He continued:

The Israeli strike in Syria, the Russian and Syrian responses, and the flare-up in Gaza are bringing Israel one step closer to a military collision. The relative calm along the borders in recent years, which has become a symbol of security stability and deterrence, is gradually wearing out.

The recent attacks are a sign of two important developments. First, as Fishman noted, Israel is establishing red lines with Russia, which in recent years has significantly improved its strategic position in the region.

The weekend events in the north indicate that Israel is striking in Syria not only to curb the Iranian arms convoys to Hezbollah, but also to demonstrate its presence in Syria and make it clear, especially to the Russians, that there will be no agreement in Syria without Israel’s input.

Second, some believe this level of aggression from Israel is a sure sign that it is concerned about the presence of Iran in Syria and Lebanon, and that Tehran via its proxies might even be close to launching an attack. There is evidence, as this article from the Jewish Press explained, that Iran’s strategic and military position in Syria and Lebanon has improved in recent weeks and months.

First, the Iran-sponsored Shia fighters in Syria, who 10 days ago announced the formation of a “Golan Liberation Brigade,” have done more than merely talk. Additional Iraqi Shia fighters have reportedly been deployed to Damascus (never a haunt of the Iran-sponsored force; they’ve been in Aleppo and Idlib Province) and have made public shows of military power there.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, “Hezbollah has reportedly made a separate threat to begin raining ‘long-range missiles’ down on Israel from the Qalamoun Mountains north of Damascus.” There are also signs that cooperation is increasing between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces. On February 12, Lebanese President Michael Aoun implied during a visit to Egypt that Lebanon needs Hezbollah and its weapons as a “complement” to Lebanon’s military. “The resistance’s [Hezbollah] arms are not contrary to the state project; otherwise we could have not tolerated it. It is an essential part of Lebanon’s defense,” he stated (emphasis added).

This statement would not have come as a surprise to Israel. Nevertheless, together with the other developments, it was a timely reminder that Lebanon, like Syria, is essentially a hostile state with little interest in protecting the Jewish state from Iran and its terrorist proxies.

It is impossible to know if Israel is about to go to war in Syria, Lebanon, or anywhere else. But in the larger sense, these events are troubling indicators of an approaching conflict of greater intensity.

Watch Jerusalem closely watches events in this part of the world because of the biblical prophecies describing how conflict here, especially in Jerusalem, will trigger a wider conflagration.

 

[From an article by Brad MacDonald for WATCH JERUSALEM]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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Hamas fires hundreds of rockets a day into Israel, yet has the audacity to accuse Israel of war crimes

Eighty rockets.

That’s one rocket explosion every 18 minutes.

That’s what Israel endured on Monday.

140 rockets.

That’s one earth-shattering blast every 10 minutes.

That’s what Israel endured the day before, on Sunday.

As Hamas launches these rockets at Israeli civilians – minute by minute, hour by hour – it has the audacity to accuse Israel of war crimes, to threaten to take Israel to the International Criminal Court.

Israel continues to do nothing more than (1) defend itself against this unprovoked onslaught against its citizens, and (2) make every attempt it can to force the onslaught to stop.

 

Rocket threat from Hamas

Continued rocket threat from Hamas

More rockets from Hamas

The ACLJ  continues to gear up for this fight. The American Center for Law and Justice will defend Israel’s right to self-defense. They have fought and won at the International Criminal Court before, and they will fight again.
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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

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normal@usa1usa.com
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Journalists and reporters in Gaza are being severely restricted by Hamas. The truth is what Hamas says it is…

If you’ve been following the conflict in Gaza you’ve seen dramatic pictures of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, their tanks and helicopters. You’ve seen pictures of neighborhoods reduced to rubble, with Palestinian men, women and children in desperate circumstances. What you almost certainly have not seen are the combatants Israelis have been fighting. It’s as though they were fighting ghosts.

Also scarce in the major media: stories about Hamas deploying civilians as human shields, storing missiles in mosques and UN schools, setting up command posts in hospitals, using ambulances to ferry terrorists to battle, and children to dig tunnels — with at least 160 killed in the process. And how many stories have you seen about humanitarian supplies flowing from Israel to Gaza in the midst of this bloody conflict and the hundreds of Gazans treated in Israeli hospitals?

The explanation: Hamas restricts what journalists in Gaza may film, photograph and even write about. Hamas threatens and intimidates journalists who do not follow what might be called Hamas rules – rules designed to shape media coverage and influence perceptions around the world.

Let me say this as clearly as I know how: The journalists covering Gaza are brave. I’m not saying they should be braver – much less reckless. I do think they should be honest with their readers and viewers about the conditions under which they are operating:  conditions of coercion, manipulation, restriction and censorship.

A few have acknowledged their predicament, mostly on social media. For example, Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati on July 29 tweeted: “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children [today] in Shati.” In other words: having left Gaza he can now say what he would not dare report while in the territory: that it was a Hamas rocket, not an Israeli rocket, that killed 10 people, 8 of them children, at the al Shati refugee camp along the northern Gaza seacoast.

Gaza body armor by HamasIsraeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan wrote on Facebook that he had met with a Spanish journalist who had just left Gaza and asked him why TV viewers are not seeing Hamas fighters in action. Grynszpan said he was told: “It’s very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”

An oped in The Australian noted that after TV reporter Peter Stefanovic tweeted that he had seen rockets fired into Israel from near his hotel, a pro-Hamas tweeter warned: “in WWII spies got shot.” French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga was “detained and interrogated by members of Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigade at a room in Shifa hospital next to the emergency room.” He published an account of his treatment in the French newspaper Liberation – but that article has since been “unpublished” at Dagga’s request.” Why do you suppose?

John Reed of the Financial Times was threatened after he tweeted about rockets being fired from near that same hospital. The Wall Street Journal‘s Nick Casey posted a photo of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed from a room in the hospital along with this tweet: “You have to wonder (with) the shelling how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.”After “a flood of online threats,” the tweet was deleted. But Twitter accounts “continued to attack Casey, including him on lists of ‘journos in Gaza (who) lie/fabricate info for Israel’ and ‘must be sued for crimes.'”

Of course, litigation is the least of the perils weighing on the minds of journalists in Gaza. On any day, any foreign reporter could be abducted, handcuffed and hooded, while their captors reviewed their dispatches. If not satisfied with what they see, that could be all she wrote – literally.

Most reporters know that in 2006 Fox reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig were kidnapped in Gaza by a group calling themselves the Holy Jihad Brigades. Both were eventually released but not before, as Mr. Centanni stated, they were “forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.”

Some reporters slant for other reasons. Last month, NBC News pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldi out of Gaza. Many inferred that his bosses found his coverage unbalanced. A few days later, after an outcry from Hamas sympathizers, NBC reinstated him.

Mohyeldi tweeted: “I’m returning to #Gaza to report. Proud of NBC’s continued commitment to cover the #Palestinian side of the story.” How to interpret that except as an admission that he covers only one side of the story? Can you imagine a reporter saying he was proud his media outlet was committed to covering “the Israeli side of the story”?

I would argue, too, that never questioning Hamas’ “facts” and casualty figures is not tantamount to telling the Palestinian side of the story. I would further argue that Hamas is not on the side of Palestinians – at least not those who want normal lives for their children and whose highest priority is not exterminating the Jewish state next door.

Finally, a few words on more subtle forms of journalistic bias: Early in the current round of fighting, reporters for The New York Times asked an Israeli military spokesman “about the repercussions of carrying out” operations against Hamas “during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.”

If it occurred to these reporters to ask Hamas spokesmen about the “repercussions” of firing missiles at Jerusalem during Ramadan, I missed it.

I know: It would be foolhardy to pose such questions to a Hamas spokesman. I would just ask that principled journalists, once they are safely out of Gaza, tell the truth — not just on Twitter — about the pressures they faced and the way it influenced their reporting.

[by Clifford D. May, who is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a policy institute focusing on national security.  This piece was published by CNS News.]

NORM ‘n’ AL Note: The illustration in this piece was inserted by us.

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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How Mr. Obama views the Hamas vs. Israel conflict is “appalling” …

“Appalling” and “disgraceful” correctly defined:

Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.

Hamas  uses Palestinian children as human shields.

How did President Obama respond?

He said, “Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly.”

NORM ‘n’ AL Note: Mr. O should know very well what “extraordinary irresponsibility” looks like, shouldn’t he? (He should, but he doesn’t.) US citizens certainly know what it looks like.

Irresponsibly?

Kids act “irresponsibly” when they drive too fast or stay out too late. Hamas wasn’t “irresponsible;” it was evil. It has been committing war crimes, pure and simple. Evil is having no concern for lives on either side of the conflict.

But while the Obama Administration gently chastises Hamas for its barbaric and demonic lack of concern for human life, it goes after Israel by calling one of its precision attacks “appalling” and “disgraceful.” Israel’s precision responses are designed to minimize loss of life to civilians, and they do just that. The entire world knows by now that the only reason the losses in Gaza are so much higher than the losses in Israel is simply that the Hamas combatants think nothing of firing their rockets from schools and public areas, in order to draw Israeli fire in response. More casualties mean more sympathy for Hamas, at least in perverted Hamas thinking.

THAT is what is appalling and disgraceful.

In reality, Hamas is disgraceful while Israel is heroic.

[from a letter received from Jay Sekulow, director of the American Center for Law and Justice]

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Lincoln could teach Obama a lot about war…

Abraham Lincoln hated war as much as Barack Obama does. He saw so much more of it firsthand, lost friends in it and waged it on an immensely vaster scale than Obama has. And yet, almost exactly 150 years ago (Aug. 17, 1864, to be precise), he wrote this to the squat, stolid general besieging the town of Petersburg, south of Richmond: “I have seen your dispatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible.” And so Ulysses S. Grant persevered.

Therein lies the difference between Lincoln and Obama, which explains much of the wreckage that is U.S. foreign policy in Gaza and elsewhere today. Lincoln accepted war for what it is; Obama does not. The Gaza war is a humanitarian tragedy for Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire. It is also a barbaric conflict, as leaders of Hamas hide their fighters behind children while baiting their enemy to kill innocents. But first and foremost, it is a war, a mortal contest of wills between two governments and two societies.

By 1864, Lincoln, Grant and Grant’s no-less-grim lieutenants William Tecumseh Sherman and Philip Sheridan had concluded that their conflict had shifted to what historians call “the hard war.” They knew not only that they would have to destroy the armies of the Confederacy but also that they would have to break the will of the people of the South to wage war. That is precisely what they did — in the siege of Petersburg, the devastation of the Shenandoah Valley, the march through Georgia and North Carolina, a close blockade and cavalry raids deep into the South.

Lincoln understood how to fight a war...And the gentle, humane and often grief-stricken president pushed them hard to do it. When, earlier in August, Grant ordered Sheridan to drive the Confederates from the Shenandoah — which he burned out thoroughly as he went — Lincoln commented, “I repeat to you it will neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.”

 The Israelis, having left Gaza only to be showered by rockets and harried by border raiders, have concluded that they are waging that kind of war. In a rare spirit of unity, they seem determined to break Hamas in Gaza. A more sensible U.S. administration would understand that and stand with our tough little ally, rather than attempt to stop its destruction of this Islamist partner of Iran and enemy not only of Israel but of Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well.

The problem is not the reported antipathy between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is that the Obama administration simply cannot accept that war is war. This explains, among other things, the debacle of our Libya policy, in which the administration studiously insisted that its bombing to help overthrow Moammar Gaddafi was not a war and left in its wake chaos that roils to the present day. It explains the administration’s declarations that drone strikes in Pakistan and the assassination of Osama bin Laden had brought al-Qaeda to the edge of strategic defeat — even as the ideology of the group and similar ones has metastasized and Islamist movements have extended their sway in the Middle East and Africa.

It explains our hand-wringing over the slaughter of some 200,000 people in Syria as if it were a massive Ebola outbreak, when what is going on is, in fact, a war pitting Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon against an increasingly Islamized foe. It explains the long, disgraceful appeasement of Vladimir Putin and the administration’s continuing reluctance to say, simply, that Russia is waging war against a sovereign neighbor.

The president famously said in 2011 that “the tide of war is receding” in Iraq and Afghanistan, when in fact all that was happening was that we were (temporarily, perhaps) withdrawing from our wars, which entered new and more violent phases among the people we were leaving behind.

The most curious thing about this president is that he was elected in the midst of three open wars — the struggle against al-Qaeda and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — and several more covert conflicts, including Iran’s long and bloody effort to drive the United States from the Middle East, and yet he could not conceive of himself as a war president. He cannot give the speeches that explain these wars, that call for sacrifice, that bring his domestic opponents along to confront a foreign foe, that rally foreign friends and strike fear in the hearts of common enemies. And he appears to have little capacity for empathy with an ally whose population must seek shelter when sirens wail.

War is war. We may wish that it could be waged like an 18th-century duel, with exquisite protocols and rules, and scrupulously circumscribed uses of violence, but it stubbornly remains what it became in the 19th and 20th centuries: a ferocious struggle among nations. That does not mean discarding the constraints of decency and civilization, but it is a dark truth to be faced. Lincoln understood it; our president today does not.

[by Eliot A. Cohen, writing for The Washington Post]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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