Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goldstone Report: Ignoring Evidence

There are so many instances of biased and unfair news coverage, but rarely have we been afforded such an opportunity to show it on a scale easily measured. Here you have it. A report that is almost 600 pages in length...devoting only a tiny, tiny fraction to Israel's victims of 10,000 rockets...the Goldstone report was and is, a farce, it's results determined long before they released them. Listen to the testimony of an Israeli doctor, severely wounded by Hamas, further humiliated by the Goldstone mission.

"In July you invited me to testify...I told you my story," she explains.

For me, every human being is equal," the Israeli doctor explained. She treats Israeli and Arab patients without discrimination. She was wounded in a missile attack on Askhelon in which  more than 100 people were wounded.

"On May 14, 2008, my life was changed forever. I was working in my clinic. Suddenly, the building was hit by a missile fired from Gaza. I was terribly wounded. Blood was month will be my 8th operation."

"Judge Goldstone, I told you all this in detail. I testified in good faith. You sent me this letter," she continued, holding a piece of paper in the air. "Your testimony is an essential part of the mission's fact-finding. But now, I see your report. I am shocked."

"Judge Goldstone. 500 page report. Why did you completely ignore my story? My name appears only in brackets in a technical context. I feel humiliated. Why are there only two pages about Israeli victims like me who suffered thousands of rockets for eight years?Why did you choose to focus all on the period of my country's response, but not on the attacks that caused it?"

See this doctor's testimony:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Iranian Missiles and the Shield of God

There are those who claim Israel in invincible, the chosen people of God. I won't do that because it sounds too fanciful, too extremist, too foreign to modern thinking people who like to measure the world in scientific terms. Chaim Weizmann...or was it David Ben Gurion...I always get them confused, but really, it comes to the same thing so forgive me for not taking the time to Google of these great founders of Israel once said that to be a realist in Israel, you had to believe in miracles.

Israelis sat down to their last meal before the Yom Kippur meal knowing that Iran was launching a series of war games all meant to intimidate and yet, we had greater things to think about. Israel did as it always does on Yom Kippur - we withdrew into ourselves for our annual dose of introspection. Iran barked and growled and Israel ignored it.

It seems the US has finally come around to what Israel has been saying for a long time - that the Iranians have the goal of creating nuclear weapons. Only, says the US, it is now too late to stop them.

Again, these are words for a country that was too busy for words and so ultimately, if the shield of man (perhaps the US or the United Nations in some naive minds) will not stand between Israel and the Iranians, the Shield of David and God will. For me, for now, that is enough to bring me comfort.

This is, after all, Israel - a land and people that has stretched through history. Gone are the Ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Gone are the Nazis, the crusaders, the cossacks. The clouds roll in over Jerusalem this morning, the sun shines, Jerusalem glistens. It is enough. G'mar hatima tova - may the people of Israel be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year and may our enemies know no rest, no success.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Netanyahu at the United Nations

Even if you heard it, even if you read it again. Rarely has an Israeli prime minister stood before the United Nations and made us so proud. I'm not always a Bibi fan...but this speech was a speech made for all the people of Israel. 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust.  It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants.  Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews.   Is this a lie?
A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself.  Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered.  Is this too a lie?
This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp.  Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie?  One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration.  Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own.  My wife’s grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis.  Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium.  To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you.  You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame?  Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace!  What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!  Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews.  You’re wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries.  In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others.  Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century.  The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day.    Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope.   The pace of progress is growing exponentially.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.
What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code.  We will cure the incurable.  We will lengthen our lives.  We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime.  People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks.  We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one
In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza.  It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis.  We didn’t get peace.  Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv.   Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population.  It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties.   Israel chose to respond differently.  Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel.  A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals.  What a perversion of truth.  What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations,

Will you accept this farce?

Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace.  Here’s why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop.  Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy?  What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country – of war crimes?  And for what?  For acting responsibly in self-defense.  What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror.  This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All of Israel wants peace.

Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat.  We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein.  And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state.  The Jews accepted that resolution.  The Arabs rejected it.
We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years:  Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.   The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel.   This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation.  They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.
We are not strangers to this land.  It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security.  The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized.   We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.
We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved.  But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order.  The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind,” the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.
Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the “unteachibility of mankind” is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history — that we can prevent danger in time.
In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage.  Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.

A Picture that Says it All

If there is a picture of today that truly expresses justice, it is this one...of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ranting and raving to....

It is, at moment's like this...that I feel that the world is not such a bad place.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where is the justice for the innocent, the poor, the weak?

What kind of a country is's just terrible?
  • This war has gone on for decades
  • In the past 20 months, the occupying power has overlooked the killing of 12 journalists + dozens more kidnapped / forced to flee the country
  • Check points are on the increase, harming the normal lives of the citizens
  • 282,000 opponents are held in prisons, of dubious conditions.
  • Mass graves are rumoured to hold as many as 40,000 people killed in the last year.
 And with all of this, the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) has agreed to give a $2.6b loan to help the OCCUPYING power.

BTW, SRI LANKA heads a special committee looking into Israel’s abuse of human rights etc etc

Perhaps "Justice" Richard Goldstone can be appointed to a special commission investigating Israel's abuses in Sri Lanka? Oh wait, he'll only be able to investigate allegations, won't he. Well, best wishes for a continued comfortable nap for the judge.

For those of you who aren't aware, Judge Goldstone was caught napping during the presentation of videos showing rocket attacks on Sderot. Perhaps that's why his report is such an unbalanced one...he was tired and slept through the facts.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goldstone report full of rotten rocks...

I wonder, at times, how blind people can be, how stupid, how determined to follow a predetermined path to the exclusion of fact and truth. Judge Goldstone was given a task...and he fulfilled that task without swerving from the road he and others knew he would follow. Now, he claims it is Israel who condemns him without reading what he has written.

The old adage "not worth the paper it is written on" is more true here than ever before. In the coming days, many will waste valuable hours reading this ridiculous report and answering.One such response was posted in the Palestinian Media Watch - an organization known to investigate and carefully document and uncover many cases of injustice. Others will appear in the coming days.

For me, I am left with one reality. Richard Goldstone proclaims himself a Jew and says that he was surprised to have been chosen to the head the committee charged with creating this report. I have little doubt that was largely why he was picked.

More importantly, every Jew stands before the heavenly courts in the coming days to be judged for his or her actions. The world and God are about to judge Goldstone and his cohorts in this pathetic, predetermined report. Others will read and explain why Goldstone's blind report filled his mandate but not truth, compromised not only his standing in this world, but likely in the world to come. I would not want to be in Goldstone's shoes when the heavenly court reads his report full or lies, mistruth and slander. 

Sept. 16, 2009
Palestinian Media Watch

Palestinian witnesses during the Gaza War:
Hamas used civilians as human shields

Hamas in 2008 expressed pride in its policy
of using women and children as human shields
to protect "Jihad fighters"

The following is a review
of PMW special reports released during the Gaza War
on Hamas's use of human shields
and Hamas's killing of Palestinian civilians

by Itamar Marcus, Barbara Crook and Nan Jacques Zilberdik 
"The [UN] Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity of their [Hamas's] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack."
[Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War, Sept. 15, 2009]
The UN's Goldstone Commission Report claimed it could find "no evidence" that Hamas intentionally used civilians as human shields during the Gaza War. But PMW's special reports during the war documented this practice, and revealed testimony from children describing how they were being used by Hamas in combat support roles
Hamas had already announced publicly before the war that using "women, children and the elderly" as "human shields" was indeed Hamas policy -- and that Hamas was proud of it. Hamas Member of Parliament, Fathi Hamad, 
pronounced with enthusiasm on Hamas TV that Hamas had made "death an industry," and that its message to Israel ("the Zionist enemy") about its use of civilians as shields was, "We desire death as you desire life."
There was also Palestinian testimony about Hamas murdering Palestinian civilians during the war.
PMW is re-releasing some of the PMW Special News Reports published during the Gaza War, documenting Hamas's use of civilians as human shields, its murder of Palestinian civilians, and Mahmoud Abbas's blaming the war on Hamas.
To see all PMW Special News Reports that were released during the Gaza War, click here.

Following is the collection of PMW Special News Reports relating specifically to human shields, Hamas murdering Palestinians and Abbas blaming Hamas for the war:
Palestinian victims describe being used as shields by Hamas
Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. They described how for years Hamas has used their property and homes as shields for military installations from which to launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas.

The following is the description in the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
"The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins...

The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town of Sderot which turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.

The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: 'You can't say anything to the resistance [Hamas], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs.'" 
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]
Hamas explains using civilians as human shields:
We desire death as you desire life (February 2008)
The following is the full text of the comments by Hamas representative Fathi Hamad months before the war, articulating the Hamas ideology to use civilians as human shields for Hamas fighters:
"For the Palestinian people death has become an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death as you desire life.'"
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) Feb. 29, 2008]
Iranian daily: Hamas hiding forces in nurseries and hospitals
An Iranian reformist daily newspaper has criticized Hamas "for risking lives of civilians, amongst them children, by hiding its forces in nurseries and hospitals." This is reported in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam:
Headline: "Iran closes a reformist newspaper, for publishing a report criticizing Hamas"
"The Iranian news agency 'Irna' reported yesterday that the Iranian Culture Ministry has closed the reformist daily newspaper Karjo Zaran because it published a report that included criticism of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
On Dec. 30 the paper published a statement of a reformist student organization, that has criticized Hamas for risking lives of civilians, amongst them children, by hiding its forces in nurseries and hospitals. The statement was published while the Iranian government expresses a unified stands against Israel, and Tehran is overwhelmed by demonstrations against Israel." 
 [Al-Ayyam, Jan. 1, 2009]
Hamas using children in combat support roles
A child in Gaza describes how he and other children are being used in combat support roles for Hamas fighters. According to the Palestinian child, children are being used as scouts to follow Israeli movements, and as couriers to supply ammunition and deliver information to the Hamas fighters.
The following is the description of the children's combat support roles, quoted in an Israeli Arab weekly:
 "[The newspaper] Kul Al-Arab called many Gaza Strip residents, to comprehend the situation of the people who are suffering for two weeks from the wild Israeli aggression...
Khaled, from A-Rimal [in Gaza], said: 'We the children, in small groups and in civilian clothes, are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] Resistance  fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces, or by bringing them ammunition and food. We ourselves are not aware of the movements of the Resistance fighters. We see them in one place, they suddenly disappear, and then reappear somewhere else. They are like ghosts, it is very hard to find them or hurt them.'"
[Kul-Al-Arab (Israeli Arab weekly), January 9, 2009]
Hamas gangs kill Fatah members in Gaza
 The popular Palestinian singer, Jamal Najar, condemned Hamas as "gangs of anarchic security forces," describing how Hamas murdered his cousin right in front of his children, simply for stepping outside.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet."I express my condolences to my cousins, some of them were killed yesterday by the gangs of the anarchic [Hamas] security forces in the Gaza Strip... The father was killed right in front of his children, because he didn't stay at home, after they placed him under house arrest, he and everyone who belongs to Fatah."
[PATV (Fatah), January 6, 2009]
Hamas kills "dozens of Fatah members" in Gaza

Hamas has murdered "dozens of Fatah members" in the Gaza Strip for merely violating the Hamas-imposed house arrest. According to the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida the atrocities, which also included shooting people in the legs, has created a backlash in the West Bank and caused "anger, which influenced the level of popular activities carried out in solidarity with the Gaza residents in the towns Ramallah and El-Bira."

The following are excerpts from the article in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and the transcript of the words of Jamal Najar:
Headline: "Reports of persecutions and liquidation of Fatah members by Hamas members evoke anxiety and condemnation in the West Bank."

"Reports mentioning liquidations of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip by members of Hamas evoked popular condemnation which was added yesterday to the erupting anger, which influenced the level of popular activities carried out in solidarity with the Gaza residents in the towns Ramallah and El-Bira. The reports from Gaza pointed out the death of dozens of Fatah members caused by Hamas members. A prominent leader stated that isolated random incidents of murder have occurred, but ruled out that this is a case of organized persecution.

Wafa A-Najar, a Gaza resident who lives in the town El-Bira, said that her father was killed the day before yesterday and nine of her family members were injured by shooting by Hamas, among them were three small children and two young people in critical condition...

According to the family's story, a squad belonging to Hamas came to her family's house in [the] Sheikh Radwan [neighborhood] in Gaza and shot at the legs of young Badran A-Najar, claiming that he was violating the house arrest which was imposed on him, at the time when he was sitting with his cousins in front of the house...

A prominent leader in the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, Ibrahim Abu A-Naja, ruled out that this is a case of persecution by some organization, which aims at Fatah, however he pointed out that 'a number of isolated incidents' [of murder] had occurred, as has been reported by the Israeli media...

Abu A-Naja called for Hamas to halt any step which provides Israel the opportunity to attack us...
Groups within the Fatah movement in the West Bank estimated that more than 100 of its people in the Gaza Strip had been exposed to persecution, shooting, and liquidation."
   [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Fatah), Jan. 9, 2009]
Mahmoud Abbas: Hamas responsible for violence
In a news conference from Cairo, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas placed the blame for the violence in the Gaza Strip squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. He described how he repeatedly made contact with Hamas and implored them not to break the ceasefire. He lamented that the violence in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided had Hamas not broken the ceasefire.

The following is Mahmoud Abbas's statement at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit:
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet."I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders in Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side... We spoke with them by telephone and we said: 'We beg of you, we hope that you won't break [the ceasefire.] As the [Egyptian foreign] Minister said: "Don't break the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop." In order to avoid [violence] that has happened. If only we had avoided it."   
[PA TV Dec. 28, 2008]
Theft of ambulances by Hamas
The Goldstone report claimed it could find no evidence that Hamas stole ambulances during the Gaza War:
"The Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes." 
[Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War, Sept. 15, 2009]
However, PMW reported in May that Hamas stole 46 ambulances donated for use in the war and used them as "military vehicles":
"The [Palestinian] Health Ministry stated yesterday that Hamas militias had raided 46 ambulances, donated by Arab states during the recent aggression on the Gaza Strip, of the medical equipment that they contained... and used them as military vehicles to arrest civilians, after painting [the ambulances] black. The Ministry's director of public relations and information, Dr. Omar Nasr... said that the medical equipment removed from the ambulances was expensive. He demanded that the Hamas militias declare, courageously and openly, what had become of the thousands of tons of medical equipment which had been brought into the Gaza Strip as assistance for the Palestinian people."  
 [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yashar LaChayal - Organization Helping Israel's Soldiers

One of the things that happens when you become a soldier's mother, is that you begin to make connections with other families whose sons serve, other soldiers. You share their worries, their concerns, their pride. I've made so many connections over the last two years - a network of mothers and fathers here in Israel and around the world, even current and former soldiers. You learn very quickly that there is family beyond family; sons that become yours, concerns and realities beyond your borders. Along the way, I also began to work with an organization that takes helping soldiers to a whole new level. Please bear with me - I don't do this often, but this is so important.

Unlike most charity organizations, all the money this organization raises goes directly to the soldiers (thus the name Yashar LaChayal, direct to the soldier). They often assist in very personal ways, sometimes as personal as you can get. When soldiers went into Gaza and came out, Yashar LaChayal was there with clean underwear, deodorant, and even shampoo.

They gave gloves, long underwear, anything that was needed. They've donated refrigerators and washing machines to soldiers from needy families, send packages to lone soldiers, and so much more.Their site is full of all the ways they have helped soldiers since the organization was founded during the Second Lebanon War and so I won't list them here. On their website, they give an example of a simple mother's plea, and how they responded.

From Yashar LaChayal website: “My son is cold,” says one mother, and within days, her son’s unit was given thermal pants and socks.

A few months ago, they asked me to join the Amuta as a Board Member. It was an easy answer for me because I know first hand the work they do, and some of the people they have helped. Several years ago, I drove to the Lebanese border for this organization to deliver supplies to a unit that was just about to enter Lebanon. A few months ago, I drove south to deliver supplies to a unit stationed outside Gaza and experienced my one and only Color Red in Ashkelon on the way.

In the last few days, Yashar LaChayal has sent around this note about their work and the upcoming holidays. I'm posting it here because if you make a habit of donating a small bit of charity before Rosh Hashana, I hope you'll consider this organization and send aid directly to our soldiers:

Rosh Hashana is a time when we traditionally look forward and backwards. We close one year and look forward to the challenges that will face us in the future. It is hard to imagine that a year ago, we had only an inkling that Israel might find itself, yet again, embroiled in war. Now, as we close this year and welcome the new one, we once again reflect on Israel, where it is, what it has experienced this past year, and where we hope its future lies. We also do it with a sense of pride because once again, just as our soldiers were challenged to meet our enemies on the battlefield, our country was challenged to meet the needs of our soldiers, to show them that they are important to us, their concerns ours.

Israel has been, since its establishment in 1948, a nation at war. It asks, even demands daily sacrifices from its sons and daughters. If Israelis live relatively normal lives, going to work, raising their children, celebrating the milestones just as people all over the world do, it is because behind it...and in front of it...stands it soldiers. When all goes well, the soldiers provide for Israel's security and Israel provides for its soldiers.

This is where our organization has stepped in, again and again. The army simply can't meet all the needs and soldiers are forced to stand their ground or make do with what they have, Yashar LaChayal steps in. This was the case during the Second Lebanon War, and again during the recent Gaza War. This is the case on an almost daily basis, beyond the needs of war.

Recently when a lone soldier, someone whose family doesn't live in Israel, found himself without something as simple as army socks on an isolated base with no way to get off base to purchase the socks and no money even if he found the time, his mother was frantic. From somewhere in the middle of the United States, she contacted a friend in Israel, begging her to find a way to help her son. The friend turned to Yashar LaChayal, who immediately arranged a special delivery so that the soldier received not only the warm socks he needed, but a supply of other warm clothes for the winter. You can follow our progress at:

Yashar LaChayal is guided by one simple principle - all must go directly to the soldiers.

The number of soldiers we have touched in the last year easily reaches into the tens of thousands and we have so much more we would like to do, that we need to do. As the New Year approaches, we hope you will investigate our worthy organization (our website is: and join many others who have come to support our efforts. Please take a moment to write to friends and family and ask them to support Yashar LaChayal as well.

May you and your family, and all of Israel, be granted a year of health and safety, happiness and peace.