Jan 28, 2010

World Has `Privilege and Obligation' to Defend Israel, Says Israeli Leader


Polish Bishop Accuses Jews of Exploiting Holocaust 
Agence France Presse 

A retired Polish bishop accused Jews of exploiting the Holocaust for propaganda purposes in remarks that appeared Monday on a Rome-based traditionalist Roman Catholic website ... "The Holocaust as such is a Jewish invention," said the former spokesman of Poland's Bishops Conference. The Shoah is "used as a propaganda weapon and to obtain advantages that are often unjustified," he charged. Pieronek, who was a friend of the late Polish pope John Paul II, added: "You could speak just as forcefully and establish a day of remembrance for the many victims of communism, persecuted Catholics and Christians and so on." Accusing Jews of "intolerable arrogance," he said they "enjoy good press because they are supported by powerful financial means, enormous power and the unconditional backing of the United States." 

World Has `Privilege and Obligation' to Defend Israel, Says Israeli Leader
Israel National News - Arutz Sheva (Israel) 

The [Israel] government has dedicated today's meeting to the memory of the six million Jews starved, tortured and massacred in the Holocaust. This Wednesday, the United Nations and at least 20 countries will mark International Holocaust Day. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said, "I hope the United Nations will remember what happened when the Jews did not have a state - and the privilege and obligation of the international community to defend the Jewish State's existence." 

Blair Was Warned That Attack on Iraq Needed UN Go-Ahead
The Independent (Britain) 

Tony Blair [then British prime minister] was warned two months before the invasion of Iraq it would be illegal to go to war without United Nations' authority, the inquiry into the conflict heard today ... The inquiry heard how Mr Straw rejected the advice of his senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office, Sir Michael Wood, that an invasion without a UN Security Council resolution specifically authorising military action would be a "crime of aggression". Sir Michael's deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned in protest on the eve of the invasion in March 2003, described the Government's treatment of the legal advice as "lamentable". 

British Legal Decision on 2003 Iraq War Was `Lamentable' 
BBC News 

A [British] Foreign Office lawyer who resigned in protest at the Iraq war said the way ministers weighed up the legal case for the invasion was "lamentable". Elizabeth Wilmshurst told the Iraq inquiry she thought the war was unlawful without express UN backing. And she said it was "extraordinary" that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had only been asked for his opinion days before British troops went in. Ministers argue that existing UN resolutions justified the use of force. The testimony of Ms Wilmshurst and her then boss Sir Michael Wood made it clear that the legal team at the Foreign Office believed that the war was illegal under international law. 

Israeli Leader Vows to Keep Zionist Settlements In Occupied Land
BBC News 

The Israeli prime minister has taken part in tree-planting ceremonies in the West Bank while declaring Israel will never leave those areas. Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish settlements blocs would always remain part of the state of Israel. His remarks came hours after a visit by US envoy George Mitchell who is trying to reopen peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. 

China Economy Sees Strong Growth
BBC News 

China has said its economy expanded by 8.7 percent in 2009, exceeding even the government's own initial expectations. The pace of change increased as the year went on, with growth in the final quarter of 2009 increasing by 10.7 percent from the same period a year earlier. China is now on course to overtake Japan and become the world's second-biggest economy. 

Genetic Heritage Unites Jews, Says Author 
Jewish Life Televsion - Video 

Jews around the world have a remarkably high level of genetic unity, says Jon Entine in his new book, "Abraham's Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People." He cites up-to-date DNA research to show that what makes the "Chosen People" Jewish is largely a matter of shared ancestry. A JLTV "On the Hour" video report. Runtime: 7:25 mins. 

Why They Hate Us? It's Not a Secret
Ron Smith -- The Baltimore Sun 

You'll remember that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush said the motivation of the hijackers was that they hated freedom. Hating freedom seemed then and now to be a pretty weak reason to give up one's own life to inflict death and destruction on others. People who had been paying attention knew what the real reasons for the Islamist radicals' actions were -- Osama bin Laden himself had laid them out in detail. They included America's support of Israel in its subordination of the Palestinians and its attacks on Lebanon; the propping up of pro-American kleptocracies in Muslim lands; and the presence of U.S. forces on the "sacred soil" of Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War. 

Accepting Various Truths
Helen Thomas 

No one in the Obama administration is going to acknowledge that our foreign policy in the Middle East has alienated many Arabs. The U.S. pro-Israel policy and our shocking neglect of the beleaguered Palestinians underlie almost every initiative or tactical tilt that comes out of Washington ... The United States spends more for its arsenal than any other 10 countries combined. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's total military spending. China is in second place, at a relatively puny 5.8 percent. 

Obama's Alternate Universe
Scott Ritter -- Truthdig 

... The "war on terror" has the United States combing the world in search of enemies ... So long as American politicians find themselves constrained by a pro-Israeli lobby that refuses to permit the inclusion of either the concept or reality of Palestine into the lexicon of American foreign policy considerations (beyond simplistic "dual-state" and other demeaning and dishonest formulations), then there can and will be no long-term solution to any other modern Middle Eastern problem. 

Debunking of Myths?: Willmott's History of World War II 
James V. Koch -- H-Net 

.. .. On occasion, Willmott [in his book, The Great Crusade] offers conclusions that undermine his own position, as when he offers the judgment that the Wehrmacht exhibited "a technique, initiative and flair at both tactical and operational levels that enabled German ground formations to outfight consistently superior enemy forces -- at least until 1944," even as he argues that German military excellence is a "pernicious myth." Apparently he discounts the work of Trevor N. DuPuy and others, which suggests that the typical German infantryman was approximately 25 percent more effective than the comparable British or American. 

More States on Budget Brink 

California is hurtling into the budgetary abyss - and it's not alone. Across the nation, state tax collections in the first three quarters of 2009 posted their steepest decline in at least 46 years, according to a report this month from the public policy research arm of the State University of New York .. .. Like California, Arizona and Illinois face budget gaps above 40% of projected general fund spending, according to Pew data .. .. Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey and New York face gaps of at least 30% of their planned general fund spending by the end of this fiscal year. A dozen more states face a fiscal 2010 budget gap of between 20% and 29%. 

California: Too Big Not to Fail? 
Jeffrey M. O'Brien -- CNN 

.. .. Name almost any serious malady and the state of California has it: the nation's highest marginal tax rate coupled with an abysmal public education system; the most home foreclosures; a free-falling commercial real estate sector; lame-duck governor with no legislative support and a disdain for an annual budget process that he refers to as kabuki theater; unemployment somewhere between the official number of 12% and the whisper number of 18%; a 20% drop in year-over-year revenue; municipalities that have either declared bankruptcy (Vallejo) or are on the verge (Los Angeles); and a black-box permitting process that scares away business investment even while every week, 3,000 more taxpayers migrate to greener pastures. 

Is A U.S. Default Inevitable 
Patrick J. Buchanan 

.. .. Today, there are those warning that the United States, with consecutive deficits running 10 percent of gross domestic product, is risking an eventual default on its national debt .. .. With that share of the U.S. national debt held by individuals, corporations, pension funds and foreign governments having risen in 2009 from 41 percent to 53 percent of GDP, Penner and Walker believe it imperative to get the deficit under control. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see how, politically, this can be done. .. .. What the looming fiscal crisis of this country portends is nothing less than a test of whether this democratic republic is sustainable. 

Montgomery vs. Eisenhower: Two Generals at War
The Times (Britain) 

... It would be hard to imagine two more contrasting characters. The American general: likeable, diplomatic, balanced and gregarious. The British general: egotistical, prickly, brilliant and caustic. Yet despite their very different personalities, and frequent disagreements, they managed to work together, and won a war together ... There was continual bickering among the top Allied brass. The American generals George Patton and Omar Bradley both detested Montgomery, who responded in kind. Patton on Monty: "That cocky little limey fart"; Monty on Patton: "A foul-mouthed lover of war"; Bradley on Monty: "All-out, right-down-to-the-toes mad". 

General Patton's Warning 
National Vanguard 

... It was only in the final days of the war and during his tenure as military governor of Germany -- after he had gotten to know both the Germans and America's "gallant Soviet allies" -- that Patton's understanding of the true situation grew and his opinions changed. In his diary and in many letters to his family, friends, various military colleagues, and government officials, he expressed his new understanding and his apprehensions for the future ... In his diary that night he wrote: "There is a very apparent Semitic influence in the press. ... They have utterly lost the Anglo-Saxon conception of justice and feel that a man can be kicked out because somebody else says he is a Nazi." 

Rabbinic Text or Call to Terror?
Forward (New York) 

The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you'd find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore -- but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults. "The prohibition 'Thou Shalt Not Murder'" applies only "to a Jew who kills a Jew," write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are "uncompassionate by nature" and attacks on them "curb their evil inclination," while babies and children of Israel's enemies may be killed since "it is clear that they will grow to harm us." 

States Lower School Exit Test Standards
The New York Times 

... The situation in Pennsylvania mirrors what has happened in many of the 26 states that have adopted high school exit exams. As deadlines approached for schools to start making passage of the exams a requirement for graduation, and practice tests indicated that large numbers of students would fail, many states softened standards, delayed the requirement or added alternative paths to a diploma ... In 2008, state officials in Alabama, Arizona and Washington delayed the start of the exit exam requirement and lowered standards after seeing that many students, including a disproportionate number of minorities, would fail the tests. 

Revisionism for Our Time
Murray N. Rothbard (1966) 

... Revisionism teaches us that this entire myth, so prevalent then and even now about Hitler, and about the Japanese, is a tissue of fallacies from beginning to end. Every plank in this nightmare evidence is either completely untrue or not entirely the truth. If people should learn this intellectual fraud about Hitler's Germany, then they will begin to ask questions, and searching questions, about the current World War III version of the same myth. Nothing would stop the current headlong flight to war faster, or more surely cause people to begin to reason about foreign affairs once again, after a long orgy of emotion and cliché. 

Jewish Group Condemns Oliver Stone's Remark That Hitler is a Scapegoat
Ynet News (Israel) 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center rebuked remarks made by director Oliver Stone during a press conference for his new history documentary. Stone said, "Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and it's been used cheaply. He's the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect." The director is using the series to expose what he calls lies and biases behind the conventional interpretation of American history and that would include reexamining WWII history and putting Hitler "into context." "To talk about 'placing Adolf Hitler in context' is like placing cancer in context, instead of recognizing cancer for what it really is - a horrible disease, just as we must recognize Hitler as the ultimate expression of evil," said Rabbi Marvin Hier ... 

Popular Music in Germany, 1934-1944

Some Third Reich "hits," by Marika Rökk, Rudi Schuricke, Zarah Leander, Ilse Werner, Heinz Rühmann, Lale Andersen, and others. 

In France, New Interest in Churchill, the `Old Lion' 
The Times (Britain) 

... France has just fallen for the charms of another British leader -- Sir Winston Churchill. "Le Vieux Lion," as the British leader was known, has found new popularity thanks to two bestselling books -- a fresh translation of his Second World War memoirs and a prize-winning biography. Enthusiasm for Churchill is being fed by new interest in the war era among a generation born since France preferred to forget the trauma of the Nazi occupation. Recent war documentaries, including a spectacular colour series on the France2 channel last autumn, have brought the period closer to modern France, said François Kersaudy, author of the new biography Winston Churchill. 

Winton Churchill: An Unsettled Legacy 
Mark Weber 

The well-entrenched idealization of Churchill is part and parcel of a drastically misleading view of the Second World War that Americans have been fed for decades. One common deceit is to give the impression that Hitler sought war against Britain and France, and that Germany aggressively attacked those two countries ... Churchill's enduringly stellar image is all the more remarkable considering that his views on a range of issues were, by today's standards, hopelessly backward and politically incorrect ... Along with most Britons (and Americans) of his era, he was also an unabashed racist. 

The Real Churchill 
Adam Young 

... With his lack of principles and scruples, Churchill was involved in one way or another in nearly every disaster that befell the 20th century. He helped destroy laissez-faire liberalism, he played a role in the Crash of 1929, he helped start World War I, and by bringing in America to help, prolonged the war and created the conditions for the rise of Nazism, prolonged World War II, laid the groundwork for Soviet domination, helped involve America in a cold war with Russia, and pioneered in the development of total war and undermining western civilized standards. 

Welcome to Orwell's World: Obama's Lies About Afghanistan
John Pilger -- New Statesman (Britain) 

... Obama's most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a "safe haven" for al-Qaeda's attacks on the west. His own national security adviser, James Jones, said in October that there were "fewer than 100" al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but "a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power". The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of "world peace" ... Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in both the Iraq and the Afghanistan adventures. 

Is Anyone Telling Us The Truth? 
Paul Craig Roberts 

... The U.S. and its puppet state allies were led to war in the Middle East and Afghanistan entirely on the basis of lies and deception. Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not exist and were known by the U.S. and British governments not to exist ... Now the same thing is happening in regard to the nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program. Forged documents leaked to The Times (London) that indicated Iran was developing a "nuclear trigger" mechanism have been revealed as forgeries. Who benefits? Clearly, attacking Iran is on the Israeli-U.S. agenda, and someone is creating the "evidence" to support the case ... 

Why Are They At War With Us? 
Patrick J. Buchanan 

... To Osama, we started the war. Muslims, the ulema, must fight because America, with her "brutal crusade occupation of the (Arabian) Peninsula" and support for "the Jews' petty state" and "occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there" was waging war upon the Islamic world. Terrorism, the direct killing of civilians for political ends, is al-Qaida's unconventional tactic, but its war aims are quite conventional. Al-Qaida is fighting a religious war against apostates and pagans in their midst, a civil war against collaborators of the Crusaders and an anti-colonial war to drive us out of the Dar al-Islam. On Sept. 11, they were over here -- because we are over there. 

Helen Thomas Deviates From the Terrorism Script 
Glenn Greenwald -- Salon 

... At a White House press conference yesterday with Janet Napolitano and John Brennan, Helen Thomas shows -- yet again -- that she's one of the very few White House reporters willing to deviate from approved orthodoxy scripts. She asks the prohibited question about the motives of Terrorists, and keeps asking as she receives complete non-responses, until they all just decide to ignore her: Brennan's answer -- they do this because they're Evil and murderous -- is on the same condescending cartoon level as the "They-Hate-us-For-Our-Freedom" tripe we endured for the last eight years. 



Michael Santomauro
Editorial Director
Call anytime: 917-974-6367
New Release: Debating The Holocaust by Thomas Dalton



Mondoweiss: At Yale, Judge Goldstone faces down his accusers



On the Lack of Interest in the Goldstone Report

Posted: 28 Jan 2010 07:46 AM PST

Many American Jews who are liberals, supporters of Israel, and generally well informed about events of the day suppress their knowledge of Israel-Palestine to a second-rate level of almost innocence. An inadequacy which (out of pride) they wouldn't allow themselves in approaching any other subject. They do it because they are afraid if they knew more, they would have to condemn much of Israel's conduct toward the Palestinians.

This mentality has a recent historical parallel, in the liberal fellow-travelers of the Soviet Union from the late 1930s through the 1950s. Such people contented themselves with half-knowledge. Their reason was that, if they knew what they might have taken the trouble to know, they would have found themselves thinking and saying things about the Soviet Union that they couldn't bear to think or say.

Related posts:

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  3. while the Obama administration worries about the unfairness of the Goldstone report…

At Yale, Judge Goldstone faces down his accusers

Posted: 28 Jan 2010 06:48 AM PST

200-foot wide Star of David Israeli soldiers carved a into Palestinian farmland in Gaza with their tanks. (Photo: UNOSAT)

Judge Richard Goldstone gave a speech at Yale last night and though he said he would not be talking about Gaza, his report came up again and again, and in fact the anti-Goldstoners tried to turn the event into a circus. They waved Israeli flags, and two of them held up a banner comparing the judge's report to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the accusers of Dreyfus. A group followed the judge afterward into the wine-and-cheese on the second floor, and surrounded him and some barked at him, and though now and then the judge held up his hand and turned away at a loud voice, he seemed ready for anything, and more than held his own, and left the crowd with an education in what it means to try and advance the regime of international law.

Goldstone's references to the report in the actual speech were pointed. It is fine if Israel wishes to evade international investigation and prosecution by doing an investigation of its own. That is a core principle of international law– complementarity– the idea that it is preferable that localities apply international standards law themselves. But that investigation must not be behind closed doors, by the military, it must be open and credible. I will get the actual quotes in a day or two. 

He said that equality meant dignity; and when we deny the dignity of other human beings, we dehumanize them, and pave the way to human rights violations. The persecution of Gaza was all through that statement.

If militants are attacking you from the roof of a hospital, it does not mean that you can bomb the hospital; it means that you must take care; and yes maybe some civilians will die when you are going after the militants there, but it violates the principle of proportionality to fire missiles at the hospital. The judge spoke of a hypothetical; but it was a clear reference to the missile attacks on Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City that the Goldstone Report details–though the report never states that there were militants on the roof.

The Q-and-A was all Gaza. A white-haired professor with an accent said, why should any country, Israel, Serbia, yield power to an international court, when we all know how political such courts can be. Goldstone said it was a great question, then pointed out that such courts can only establish confidence through the steady application of legal processes and the cooperation of the powerful nations. Why, he said, in '96 Bill Clinton had specifically asked Nelson Mandela to allow Goldstone to extend his tenure as prosecutor in the international tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, even as American troops were going in there, because Clinton regarded him as a fair judge. (So much for the US congressional resolutions condemning Goldstone, and Obama's dismissal of the judge; no, it's Palestine, Jake).

A frenetic man at the back got applause when he said that Goldstone's standards were unequal. What Israel did in Gaza doesn't come anywhere near what happened in Rwanda, or in other countries that routinely violate the rule of law. Look at Sri Lanka. 20,000 Tamils were killed last year during the sectarian violence. Where is the investigation of that?

A good question, and the judge was brilliant. "I recognize the distinction you seem to be making. Similar crimes should be treated similarly" without exception. But that's in a perfect world. "It's not going to happen." If ten murders are committed in New Haven, and only one is prosecuted, the murderer who's prosecuted can say, I'm treated unequally, nine peole are getting away with it. And "morally and philosophically no one can disagree." But it's an "unfair" world. Just because you can't go after them all doesn't mean you shouldn't go after any. The thrust of his remarks was, We will never have a regime of international law until we begin to apply that law, to develop it, and if that means singling out the accessible, well we must do so. And the reference to New Haven reminded us that all law is applied unequally.

The question was framed again, sharper this time. A woman with an accent said– and I think there were a ton of Israelis in the hall– Why the double standard? A few million people are killed in Africa, and nothing happens.

The judge was wise and frank. "You know it's a complex issue… It's a matter of politics, not of morality. The United Nations has a dominant group of the non-aligned movement, and the issue of the Palestinians has assumed a tremendous importance to them, and they're using it."

It used to be the South Africans, he said with equanimity. There were many more UN resolutions passed against South Africa than against Israel.

"Humbly may I ask you, why you allow yourself to be used?" the woman said.

"I don't see it that way at all. I accepted what I regarded to be an evenhanded mandate. I didn't see myself as being used. I heard exactly the same from the Serb leaders. Why was I allowing myself to be used by an organization set up against Serbia by the United States. You know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Applause from the silent majority.

Upstairs the circle of accusers formed around him near the door. They angrily quoted his own words to him from clippings, or said he was afraid to debate Dershowitz, or said he was publicizing "untruths." Goldstone's a man of medium height with a round face and narrow owlish eyes and a calm slightly dour expression. My friend said it's a face out of a 19th century oil portrait; and the judge did not ever crack– a smile, a wince. The Orthodox man who had held the banner about Protocols said he would convey the judge's words to the people of Auschwitz, and the judge turned away. A woman said he was holding Israel to a higher standard, and the judge said that he was, you do that to countries that say they are democracies. When someone said he should call it apartheid, he said that was an emotionally-laden term, so he avoided it–but in fact they did not have separate roadways in South Africa, as Israel does in the West Bank.

And when someone said that Israelis would not do such things, would not inflict wanton destruction–this was another Israeli, a woman, who had been in the army for Lebanon '06–the judge said that she should look at the satellite imagery accompanying his report (the report is a pdf). Israeli soldiers in their tanks had carved a 200-foot wide Star of David into Palestinian farmland in Gaza, to be seen from the sky.

It seemed to upset the judge, and you can see why.

Related posts:

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Media watchdog asks: Is Ethan Bronner's son in the IDF?

Posted: 28 Jan 2010 06:32 AM PST

The venerable media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting is asking the question many of us are wondering – Does NYT's Top Israel Reporter Have a Son in the IDF?:

What the Times needs to ask itself is whether it expects that its bureau chief has the normal human feelings about matters of life or death concerning one's child.

Might he feel hostility, for example, when interviewing members of organizations who were trying to kill his son? When the IDF goes into battle, might he be rooting for the side for which his son is risking his life? Certainly such issues would be taken very seriously if a Times reporter had a child who belonged to a military force that was engaged in hostilities with the IDF; indeed, there's little doubt that a reporter in that position would not be allowed to continue to cover the Mideast conflict.

Having a conflict of interest, it should be stressed, is not the same thing as producing slanted journalism; rather, it means that a journalist has outside motivations that are strongly at odds with his or her journalistic responsibilities. That a journalist has been "scrupulously fair" in the past does not excuse an ongoing conflict of interest; journalists should not be placed in a position where they have to ignore the well-being of their family in order to do their job, nor should readers be expected to trust that they can do so.

That said, Bronner's reporting has been repeatedly criticized by FAIR for what would appear to be a bias toward the Israeli government.

FAIR is asking people to ask the New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt to look into whether Bronner has a child in the Israeli military, and, if so, why this is not seen as an unacceptable conflict of interest. Hoyt's email address is

Related posts:

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Testimony to Goldstone: 'What happened at the mill is total destruction'

Posted: 27 Jan 2010 03:35 PM PST

elbaderflourmillThe Al-Bader Flour Mill. The destroyed area in the middle contained the mill's production facility. (Photo: gloucester2gaza)

Ethan Bronner's article on the Israeli response to the Goldstone Report said that Israel hopes to discredit Goldstone's account of the conflict, and especially the contention that Israel purposely attacked Gaza's civilian infrastructure. Bronner referenced the destruction of the Al-Bader flour mill, Gaza's only working flour mill at the time, and shared Israel's version of events:

The Goldstone report asserts that the Bader flour mill "was hit by an airstrike, possibly by an F-16." The Israeli investigators say they have photographic proof that this is false, that the mill was accidentally hit by artillery in the course of a firefight with Hamas militiamen.

Bronner inexplicably did not seek out confirmation of Israel's claims, and instead just reported on the Israeli "proof." We have been posting segments from the Goldstone Report, and one of the amazing resources that the United Nations has made available are the actual transcripts of the testimony the Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict heard. Here is the testimony regarding the destruction of the Al-Bader flour mill. It was given during a public hearing in Gaza City on June 29, 2009. You can find all the transcripts here.

(Note: The UN makes clear this is an unofficial transcript and is "posted as an information guide to the contents of the Public Hearings.")

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Well, good afternoon. This is – I welcome you back for the afternoon session on this, the second and concluding day of our public hearings in Gaza, and our first witness this afternoon is Mr. Rashad Hamada. I welcome you, Mr. Hamada, and thank you very much for coming to speak to us. I just want to confirm that you are aware that the proceedings are being televised, not only in Gaza but elsewhere in the world and that you have no objection.

Voice of interpreter speaking Arabic

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Thank you very much indeed. If you could tell us your full name and what you do, and then if you can talk to us about the events concerning the Al-Bader Flour Mill,that is owned by you and your brother.

Mr. Rashad Hamada

To begin with, I would like just salute to all the members of this Mission. My name is Rashad Mohammed Abraham Hamada. I am the general director and in charge of all the companies of Rashad Mohammed and Brothers Holdings. My brother and myself are the owners, and we work in the field of food production. We have a factory for tomato canning and another factory for fruit canning, in addition to Al-Bader Flour Mills, these were targeted during the Israeli aggression against Gaza.

In addition, we have a factory for the production of diapers. Our company, in normal days, has about 200 employees, be they engineers, technicians or workers. This is my introduction about myself, as you asked.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Thank you, Mr. Al-Bader, if you would continue telling us something about the factory, the size, where it's located and what happened during the Operation Cast Lead.

Mr. Rashad Hamada

During the Cast Lead Operation against Gaza, Al-Bader Flour Mill were destroyed. These flourmills of Rashad Hamada and Brothers, we had established in the year 2000. The production capacity is 220 tons daily. To establish this flour mill in the Gaza Strip was originally to make sure there was a provision of flour to all the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, especially during times of crisis, especially during the event of 2003, during the incursion into the Gaza, uh –. And at the beginning of the year 2000, we also had very large production, and at the beginning of the siege of Gaza, there were 15,000 tons of wheat and we were able to provide supplies for all the inhabitants of Gaza.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Wheat, ah, flour.

Mr. Rashad Hamada

The local market, the local market, because the local market needs the full capacity of production of the mill. In addition, in 2005, we also faced some problems at the crossings because of the repeated closures. The mill covered all the needs of the Gaza Strip. This flourmill, and we thank God it is a private flourmill with no political affiliation. It is a purely economic activity.

At the end of last year, in particular, after the fourth of November 2008 the crossing points were closed. Wheat was denied access into the Strip. Fortunately, the flourmill had a reserve. This reserve was about 9,000 tons of wheat. This quantity of flour was the protective shield for the inhabitants of Gaza in order not to force a famine and a shortage of flour in the Gaza Strip.

We continued working with this quantity from the fourth of November until the day of the war, on the 27th of December 2008. One week or ten days before the start of the war, all the other flourmills in Gaza no longer had any wheat, and the concentration of flour for the whole need of the Gaza Strip was only from our factory, from Al-Bader Flour Mill. And we coordinated with the bakeries to distribute wheat only to bakeries, not to houses, not to households, because the flour, when given to the bakeries, every particular quantity or bag of wheat can cover for 20 families, when given to a bakery. However, when the bag itself is sold to a household, then it is only sufficient for one household. And it may not even be able to buy another bag because of political instability and each household may even buy four to keep in reserve.

On the 27th of December the war was waged. We continued working for four or five days. During the war, the mill was working 24 hours a day and we had also been working 24 hours a day one month prior to this date, we were working around the clock. We received a recorded message by telephone on a landline asking us to evacuate the mill. This call came from Israel. That was a Wednesday, the Wednesday after the beginning of the war.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Did the person say who he was, with who he was calling for, from?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

The person speaking on the phone, I did not hear him personally but I was told by the worker at the factory who had received the phone call that the Israeli Defense Force orders to evacuate the factory.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Mm hmm.

Mr. Rashad Hamada

I remember that was on a Wednesday, so it was the 30th or 31st of December 2008. We evacuated the factory of all workers, a total evacuation and waited until the next day. The factory was not hit. We went back to work for 24 hours, another 24 hours. We worked until Saturday or Sunday. So, this was about eight, nine days after the beginning of the war.

We received another message, I do not remember – the workers told me that it was Sunday, maybe, or Monday. We were told to evacuate the factory. The factory was evacuated. I would just like here to give you an idea of what this factory consists of. The factory is a part of several factories that are located in a closed area, a completely closed areas of 45,000 square meters was the surface area. It is surrounded by an external wall that is four meters high of cement, in addition to barbed wire at four meters distance.

The flourmill is located at 6,500 meters from that area. Next to the flourmill, there is also a diapers factory and it has refrigeration for the tomato canning. And there is also a plant for tomatoes – processing of tomatoes. We also have warehouses, commercial warehouses, and there are two houses, a house for my brother and a house for my children. And always there are three guards in this area.

After getting the second warning telling us to evacuate the plant, it was totally evacuated and my children and my brother also evacuated the land area of the flourmill where the houses are. And we have other houses and other factories, other businesses in El Tofah neighborhood in Gaza so we went there, and we left the guards in that area, in the factory land.

On the dawn of the tenth of January, we received a call from the guard telling us that the factory was targeted by air with a missile and that it had caught fire. After 15 minutes, he called us again and told us that there are tanks approaching the area and that the factory was targeted with tank fire. We immediately informed the ICRC and the Civil Defense in order to put out the fire in the mill. At 11:00 a.m., we were told by the Civil Defense that the fire had been put out and that the guard had been evacuated from the surface area of the factory.

el bader flour mill2 hamdan m hamada
Hamdan Hamada shows the remains of Al Bader Flour Mill. (Photo: Karl Schembri, Oxfam)

What happened at the mill is a total destruction, a total destruction of the whole production line of the factory. Because this factory, in fact, is vertical, the equipment is set vertically. There are six floors. The production line was destroyed from the sixth floor to the ground floor. Three floors, the fifth, sixth and fourth were destroyed including all the equipment, total destruction, therefore the building and the equipment. And the other three floors, the first, second and third floors, they were totally burned. This led to the following.

Firstly, this flourmill today is no longer operational at all. Secondly, this flour mill – the wheat that – that had to be, eh, that was to be brought in from the Israeli companies could not come through, could not be received at the mill, and the workers and employees who used to work for this factory are now unemployed. We also have a worse catastrophe. Our losses in this mill are 2.5 million American dollars. In addition to the loss of income from the day of the strike until this very day, as I said, there is also another problem because we lost what is more precious than the treasures of the world, my – our son, my nephew and the son of my partner and my brother-in-law, Dr. Mahir Hamada, who has six children, he fell from the fifth floor to the ground and that was during his going through to check on the results of the events on the 19th of February 2009.

In addition to all of the above, we have 3,000 tons of wheat in the Yivolei Hatavor, Israeli company. This company is now refusing to deliver this – these goods for, uh, an amount of 1.5 million U.S. dollars, that's the value of the goods. Alleging that I did not receive the goods at delivery time and therefore, the company had to go bankrupt and the money of the 3,000 tons are included in this bankruptcy.

We have a side problem, and here I would like to address an appeal to Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, because this is a problem I have with the U.N. UNRWA owes me $6,500.00 since 2006. I ask Mr. Ban Ki-moon to ask Mr. John Ging to help give this money back to me for some reason or another, Mr. John Ging refused to pay this amount for reasons that I believe are unjustifiable. Today, we have $1.5 million lost because of the Israeli businessman, we have 2.5 million lost because of the loss of equipment. The minimum is that Mr. John Ging would give us $360,000.00, this is money that he had received, that the goods received by UNRWA, that if he gives us this money we would be able to pay our workers, we'd give them their salaries.

If John Ging believes that we are at fault, the faultive must not be decapitated, he must not be put to death. What we have already suffered from the practices of the occupation is tremendous and I know that the United Nations is here to help the Palestinian people not to take revenge on the Palestinian people. I therefore appeal to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and I appeal Mr. John Ging and your good selves to help me get back the $360,000.00 which is the price of the goods that was received by UNRWA, so that we may be able to pay the salaries to our workers.

There is something else I would like to refer to with regards to this hearing. The Israelis and I – and us, we have to live side by side on this land. We're destined to live together on this land, and I call on all political factions to work on achieving peace in this region and I call on Mr. Barack Obama, the U.S. President, to do his utmost to achieve peace on this land. Peace is the objective of the Palestinian people, of the United Nations and of all peoples of the world. We are a peace-loving nation. We want peace. All wars take place and at the end we achieve peace, and this is what we want, we want peace, enough war.

And in conclusion, I appeal to the world and the Mission and the United Nations, and I am hopeful that this will be the last fact-finding mission to come to our country to investigate crimes. We want you to come in celebration, to celebrate the establishment of our state and to fly high our Palestinian flag and to live in peace with our neighbors and our people.

In conclusion, we call on you to quickly lift the siege and allow goods to go through so that we can reconstruct our factories and reconstruct our homes. If the siege is not lifted, this mission and other missions will remain in vain. We do not want words, we want acts. We want the United Nations to take action. We have been suffering for two full years under siege. We did not see the United Nations doing anything for us. We see that in Darfur there is a problem, the whole world goes running to Darfur, in Cambodia and Laos, everywhere in the world, but here, when we speak of the Palestinian people, everybody closes his ears, they do not want to hear about us or our problems. We call on the world, we call on the United Nations and we call on all those responsible in this area, in this region to find a solution to this conflict. Enough war, enough bloodshed.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Mr. Hamada, thank you very much for your coming – for telling us about the destruction of your factory, and in particular, I would like to thank you for the very moving plea for peace. And I can assure you that I know I speak on behalf of all four of us, that nothing would make us happier or more fulfilled or content than if this is the last fact-finding mission into violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law in this area. Let us hope and pray that that may come about.

I'll now ask the members of the Mission if they would like to ask any questions.

Colonel Desmond Travers

Mr. Hamada, thank you very much for your very detailed presentation. You mentioned that the strike by the F-16 was very precise or very deliberate. Can you tell us why, in your opinion, that this was so?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

Let us be truthful in what we say, war is war. War is war. Be it economic through siege, be it, uh, through F-16s, it is war. It is a war that took place and, uh, continues. It is a war that was launched by Israel and these are the results. We see the results. The shelling, the death and the destruction, but war is war. We have been dying for over two years, dying of siege and the last war came as a culmination of the siege.

Hina Jilani

Thank you, Mr. Hamada, for your statement. Do you have any opinion on why the Israeli defense forces targeted this particular establishment, this particular mill?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

From what we could see on the ground and from what we had in Gaza, this flour mill was the only flour mill for the past ten years providing for the needs of the Gaza Strip in wheat. It is well known everywhere in Gaza. And in Israel, they know that Al-Bader Flour Mill – know that the strategic reserve of flour for the strip was there. The Israelis prohibited the entry of wheat on the fourth of November 2008.

There is no flourmill that works except ours and it was shelled. I do not want to give conclusions. It is well known, this is a flourmill that works and that provides for the needs of the country. It was targeted because we are in a state of war. There is no peace. What I know is that war is war. We hope that all of this will end and will be replaced by peace and that we will forget about these hearings.

As for the targeting, it is because a flourmill that is working. There were four flourmills that were not producing and were not targeted. My flour mill is far from international borders, by six kilometers distance, and it is far from the eastern borders, also six kilometers. I am at the seashore, at the seaside and it's an open area. There is no resistance there. After the end of the war, I went to have a look and I asked are there any combatants that died here, any Israelis that died? Not at all, nobody told me of any kind of resistance in the whole area.

And as I told you, this flourmill is in a closed area, 45 dunums, that is totally fenced, cement walls and there are three guards who are permanently present. We do not allow any person to enter except with a special authorization. Therefore, I – I do not want – what I can say is that war is war. All the factories in the eastern region were destroyed. Did they also have resistance? I don't know, but what I do know is that vital factories were targeted. Why? Because war is war, I say it again, and we want peace, enough war.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Mr. Hamada, if I can just get some understanding. The – you refer to the factory being in a closed area with a wall, was that just for the flour factory or was it closed also for other factories and other businesses?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

This factory – this flourmill – the flourmill is a part of a whole, it is one part. The mill is 6.5 dunums within 45 dunums that are totally closed. In this area there is the tomato factory, the tomato refrigeration, there are the diapers factory, the warehouses. There is the house of my brother, my house. All of this together is closed in four meters high cement walls and barbed wire. Only the production line of the flourmill was targeted.

The tomato factory was not targeted. The diapers factory was not targeted. The houses, uh, they were taken in after the incursion. They used the houses, the houses were entered into at that time, but nothing in the mill justifies it, there is no resistance, nor in the mill nor around it, neither in the mill nor around it.

And as I told you, after they ceased fire and the end of the war, I asked the neighbors, I asked everybody around, did anybody die, anybody was a martyr, anybody wounded, any Israeli wounded, any Palestinian wounded. I was told there was no resistance whatsoever.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

And was the whole closed area part of the Al-Bader – under Al-Bader ownership?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

Yes, exactly. The closed area, the whole closed area, 45 dunums or 45,000 square meters is the property of the owners of Bader, Rashad Hamada and Brothers. It is private property. We are four brothers, co-owners of all of these businesses.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

When was the factory built?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

It was built in the year 2000.

Christine Chinkin

Thank you again for your very full account. I understand that after the shelling of the factory, the Israeli soldiers came in and fired from the roof of the factory into the surrounding areas, is that right and could you describe what are the surrounding areas, what were they firing into and what were the targets there?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

This is correct. I do not know what they were targeting, I wasn't there. However, I saw the results of the firing in the flourmill, I didn't see who they were targeting or where they were firing, I wasn't there. Testimony has to be real, it's a word of truth, I cannot tell you what they targeted or who they targeted. What I did see are the empty bullets in the factory, on the factory roof, that's what I saw.

Christine Chinkin

But what is in the surrounding areas? What are the surrounding areas like?

Mr. Rashad Hamada

They are all residential houses and agricultural land. Agricultural and residential property, this is what surrounds it.

Christine Chinkin

Thank you.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Well, thank you again, Mr. Hamada, and for coming to talk to us. We are very grateful to you. We'll take just a five-minute adjournment while the next witness is getting comfortable.

Mr. Rashad Hamada

I have just a small world, where at the end of this encounter, I call again on the Mission and those in charge in the United Nations to work on lifting this siege as quickly as possible and to allow us to reconstruct our property. In Arabic, we say don't cry over him who lost his, uh, his money, but cry over him who lost his work. Today, we have lost our work in the flourmill in addition to losing the production of the other factories, the diapers, the tomato canning and the other canning facility, we lost all of that because raw material is not allowed into the Gaza Strip.

So we appeal to you to work on lifting the siege so we may receive raw material. And here, I would like to let you know that I spoke to the Israelis, I called them and I sent them a message, saying that I call on them to allow us to bring in equipment in order to restart working the flour mill, and they answered please send us a letter. I did, I sent a letter with details of what I need and they said that they would look into this as a special request so that they would allow us to reconstruct the flourmill and bring in the necessary machinery. Thank you.

Chairman Richard Goldstone

Thank you, Mr. Hamada. I assure you that the Mission will take into account very seriously all of the pleas that you have made this afternoon. We'll adjourn for five minutes.

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Friedman Beat Goldstone to Gaza/Lebanon Comparison

Posted: 27 Jan 2010 04:04 PM PST

I'm glad to see that Mondoweiss is posting relevant pieces of the Goldstone Report chunk-by-chunk — bite-sized morsels from the hundreds of pages of documents in the full report. But we didn't need Goldstone to confirm that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strategy in Lebanon was a model for Gaza. That claim was made way back when the fighting was still going on — by a staunch friend and supporter of Israel, no less. But enough from me; res ipsa loquitur. I give you Tom Friedman of the New York Times as the Gaza War raged on January 13, 2009 (my emphasis):

Israel's counterstrategy [in the summer of 2006] was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future. [...] That was the education of Hezbollah. Has Israel seen its last conflict with Hezbollah? I doubt it. But Hezbollah, which has done nothing for Hamas, will think three times next time. That is probably all Israel can achieve with a nonstate actor. In Gaza, I still can't tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to "educate" Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.

At the time, Friedman was undecided. But a year later it's clear which of his options the IDF went for: To "educate" Hamas, as Friedman grotesquely characterized an assault that saw the destruction of universities and schools. With all the destruction and death of Friedman's "education," it's scary to even think about what an effort to "eradicate" Hamas might have looked like (as Friedman hints).

The column was problematic in so many ways, I don't even know where to start. (Though the piece was a slight improvement over his nonsensical column of the week before, which was skewered brilliantly by Matt Taibbi.) First up was a glaring mistake where Friedman says the dovish Israeli approach of the late '90s led to unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Of course, both are very much under military occupation both outright and by siege, respectively. Another problem was the naivete of his prescription for healing the crisis:

Now [Israel's] focus, and the Obama team's focus, should be on creating a clear choice for Hamas for the world to see: Are you about destroying Israel or building Gaza?

It's obvious now that Israel also had no intention of giving Hamas the opportunity of "building Gaza"; see the siege. But the most mind-numbing aspect of Friedman's column was that he seemed to have bumbled his way into admitting that civilians were targets of the IDF operations in Lebanon and Gaza in an attempt to show them the price tag of supporting non-state resistance groups. Violence against civilians to effect political change is terrorism — and Friedman endorsed this "education" policy."It was not pretty, but it was logical," he wrote of Lebanon, The only one I saw who picked up on that irony was Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The watchdog put out an Action Alert a day after the op-ed ran, trotting out a similarly callous Friedman quote from 1999:

The "logical" plan, as Friedman explained it, is to punish civilians in the hopes that this will force the political change you prefer. This is precisely the "logic" of terrorists. [...] This pro-terrorism argument has been made before by Friedman, who advocated the same sort of terror against Serbs, writing (4/6/99) that "people tend to change their minds and adjust their goals as they see the price they are paying mount. Twelve days of surgical bombing was never going to turn Serbia around. Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance."

It's a quote he uses again and again — "Give war a chance." And it keeps winning him Pulitzers and other accolades like being named overwhelmingly Washington's most influential columnist in a poll of "Congressional and political insiders" — representative of the "Beltway bubble." I'm not exactly sure why. I find his mind to be a literary black hole leading to dark and foreboding places, as Friedman himself might say. But since so many people buy into Friedman's stuff, you'd think that when Goldstone makes the same claim — in less strident language — it might gain some traction. But the same Congress that picked Friedman overwhelming denounces Goldstone. Not to mention Israel's response to the Goldstone Report.

This post originally appeared here at LobeLog. Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief.

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