Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The opposition on Climate? Alternative ways forward.

I didn't assemble the list of quotations below - they appeared elsewhere -  but it shows that climate science has quite a way to go to achieve consensus on CO2 - and that those who rubbish the sceptics by simply insulting them  need to do much better.  I personally believe that we must urgently protect our forests and reforest the countries that have lost their trees..... this may well have more benefit than anything else.  We need to re-water and replant the Sahara as much as possible - it once supplied the Roman empire with grain ...We should also sharply cut the use of pesticides. There is much to do - but carbon trading I feel is not the answer.... .Janine

“I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” – Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.
“Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical…The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system.” – Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”
Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” – UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.
“The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists.” – Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.
“So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.” – Scientist Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.
“Anyone who claims that the debate is over and the conclusions are firm has a fundamentally unscientific approach to one of the most momentous issues of our time.” – Solar physicist Dr. Pal Brekke, senior advisor to the Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo. Brekke has published more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles on the sun and solar interaction with the Earth.
“The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC “are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.” – Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
“It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” – U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.
“Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will.” – . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ.
“After reading [UN IPCC chairman] Pachauri’s asinine comment [comparing skeptics to] Flat Earthers, it’s hard to remain quiet.” – Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who specializes in the statistics of forecast evaluation, serves on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review.
“The Kyoto theorists have put the cart before the horse. It is global warming that triggers higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not the other way round…A large number of critical documents submitted at the 1995 U.N. conference in Madrid vanished without a trace. As a result, the discussion was one-sided and heavily biased, and the U.N. declared global warming to be a scientific fact,” Andrei Kapitsa, a Russian geographer and Antarctic ice core researcher.
“I am convinced that the current alarm over carbon dioxide is mistaken…Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science.” – Award Winning Physicist Dr. Will Happer, Professor at the Department of Physics at Princeton University and Former Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy, who has published over 200 scientific papers, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences.
“Nature’s regulatory instrument is water vapor: more carbon dioxide leads to less moisture in the air, keeping the overall GHG content in accord with the necessary balance conditions.” – Prominent Hungarian Physicist and environmental researcher Dr. Miklós Zágoni reversed his view of man-made warming and is now a skeptic. Zágoni was once Hungary’s most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol.
“For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?” – Geologist Dr. David Gee the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.
“Gore prompted me to start delving into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp…Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact.” – Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee.
“The quantity of CO2 we produce is insignificant in terms of the natural circulation between air, water and soil… I am doing a detailed assessment of the UN IPCC reports and the Summaries for Policy Makers, identifying the way in which the Summaries have distorted the science.” – South Afican Nuclear Physicist and Chemical Engineer Dr. Philip Lloyd, a UN IPCC co-coordinating lead author who has authored over 150 refereed publications.
“Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined.” – Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh.
“All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead.” – Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut, served as staff physicist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
“Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning.” – Environmental Scientist Professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, has more than 150 published articles.
“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” – Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.
“The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds.” – Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata.
“Whatever the weather, it’s not being caused by global warming. If anything, the climate may be starting into a cooling period.” Atmospheric scientist Dr. Art V. Douglas, former Chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the author of numerous papers for peer-reviewed publications.
“But there is no falsifiable scientific basis whatever to assert this warming is caused by human-produced greenhouse gasses because current physical theory is too grossly inadequate to establish any cause at all.” – Chemist Dr. Patrick Frank, who has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles.
“The ‘global warming scare’ is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society’s activities.” – Award-Winning NASA Astronaut/Geologist and Moonwalker Jack Schmitt who flew on the Apollo 17 mission and formerly of the Norwegian Geological Survey and for the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Earth has cooled since 1998 in defiance of the predictions by the UN-IPCC….The global temperature for 2007 was the coldest in a decade and the coldest of the millennium…which is why ‘global warming’ is now called ‘climate change.’” – Climatologist Dr. Richard Keen of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado.
“I have yet to see credible proof of carbon dioxide driving climate change, yet alone man-made CO2 driving it. The atmospheric hot-spot is missing and the ice core data refute this. When will we collectively awake from this deceptive delusion?” – Dr. G LeBlanc Smith, a retired Principal Research Scientist with Australia’s CSIRO.

Copenhagen Conference - warmest decade? Depends when you start

I am puzzled by yesterday's announcement by the Met office at the Copenhagen conference that this decade looks like being the warmest ever... as no cautionary notes were added to it. Surely this was needed for scientific accuracy. The BBC is no scientist but it noted the increase was only 0.44 and noted that, if other years than 2000 were selected to start this decade, then other answers would have come up. If 2002 were picked - then no increase would have turned up - and if 1998 probably a decrease.

There is also this earlier article

Climate facts to warm to
Christopher Pearson From: The Australian March 22, 2008 12:00AM

Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth still warming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"

Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could beconsiderable ..."

Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."

If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.

With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


this is the latest official map of arctic pack ice extent -as of November 2009.  Please note that in the east it is of further extent than the average from 1979 to 2000 - yet in 2007 it was in the east that it showed its largest decrease promoting international headlines. All the ice lost then is back  .. and yet this winter is only just started. It is from the US National Ice and Snow data centre in Boulder and is available on its website.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

BBC and Climate Warming - leaked emails discredit main Climate Warming advisors for Copenhagen Conference

BBC senior interviewer brings up leaked emails and questions climate warming

I put it on utube but hours later they rejected it as too long - it was just over 10 minutes long.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

THERAPY FOR OUR BANKERS - NOT CASH.. What should we do with compulsory gamblers - if they are our Bankers?

I have watched with mounting horror as we bail out not just our banks but also our bankers. The reason our banks got into trouble is because their staff gambled with our money.  For every $1000 we deposited with them, they borrowed $9,000 or more and gambled the lot, on the basis that we surely would not all ask for our money back at the same time!
If ordinary people are addicted to gambling - we do not give them more money. No- that is the last thing to do. Everyone knows this.  My brother runs a charity for people addicted to gambling. They never give them more to gamble with.   What then should we do?  If we are kind,  we give them therapy - look after them,  try to cure them. So - why are our idiot governments giving the same reckless people more money?  Do we like living dangerously?

We should be protecting our remaining savings  by removing these bankers - - that surely is what we should be doing. Give them jobs where they cannot do damage.  See how they go with therapy.

Do you remember last year - when the price of gas / petrol  shot up?  We were told it was because oil was running out.  So why then did the price go back down?  We know now that the prices shot up because the bankers' men who gambled with mortgages,  moved over into gambling with oil instead when the mortgages started to go bad. They also gambled at the same time with the world's food supplies - for the prices of these also shot up last year.  The Saudi Arabians told us this last year. They said the oil supplies were OK - that it was our speculators that were to blame.
So what do we do now?  Give them more money - or do a clean sweep - out with the speculators.  Give them safer low paid jobs  - and therapy

If two states - should the land be equally divided for long-term stability?

The two-state solution as currently advocated, will give 80% of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean to Israelis -  but here are the demographics presented in this paper

Palestinians on the Verge of a Majority: Population and Politics in Palestine-Israel
Monday, May 12, 2008
Palestine Center Information Brief No. 162 (12 May 2008)
By Ali Abunimah
Palestine Center Fellow
On the eve of the 1947-48 war, the population of British Mandate Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip today) stood at two million people. Jews, most recently arrived from Europe, were one third of the population and Palestinians'Muslims and Christians'were two-thirds.
Successive wars, expulsions continued Jewish immigration, and Israel's refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return had a dramatic impact on the demographic character of the country. The combined result was the transformation of Palestine from a majority non-Jewish country into one with a Jewish majority.
This engineered Jewish majority has been used to bolster Israel's political claim that it has a 'right to exist as a Jewish state.' Today, however, the demographic situation is on the cusp of an historic tipping point where Palestinians once again constitute the majority population. This briefing will look at the current population, future trends and consider some political implications from Israeli and Palestinian perspectives.

The Population Today

As of December 2007, the total population of Palestine-Israel stood at just over 10.8 million people. Of these, 5.15 million were Israeli Jews; 5 million were Palestinians; and 657,000 were neither. Israeli Jews constituted under 48 percent of the population; Palestinians were just over 46 percent; and others formed the remaining 6 percent, as the table below indicates. Thus, today, 52 percent of the population ruled by the government of the Jewish state is not Jewish.

Totals at end of 2007 -  Israelis 5.154,300 or 47.66%
Palestinians (including Arabs in Israel) 5,003,446 or 46.22%
Others 657,100 or 6.08%

Yossi Sarid, a former Knesset member, recently compared Israeli policies to those of apartheid South Africa but maintained that: One essential difference remains between South Africa and Israel: There a small minority dominated a large majority, and here we have almost a tie. 
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed last November that:
If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished .... The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.
from -
Sources: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Peace Now (Israel).
-- but to continue to quote it...
Demographic Trends
The Palestinian population's annual growth rate exceeds 3 percent in the West Bank and approaches 4 percent in the Gaza Strip. While the growth rate of Palestinians in Israel is 2.6 percent, it outstrips the Israeli Jewish growth rate of 1.5 percent, according to official statistics.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) estimates that by 2015, the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will exceed 5.5 million and by 2025 it will exceed seven million.9 Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) projects that by 2025 the Palestinian population within Israel will grow from over 1.4 million today (Israel counts Palestinians in Jerusalem in this number) to between 2.1 and 2.5 million by 2025.10 Meanwhile, ICBS projects that by 2025, the total Jewish population will be within a range of 6.3 to 6.8 million or about two million fewer than the combined Palestinian population.
Noted Israeli demographer, Haifa University's Arnon Soffer, predicted in the 1980s'accurately it now appears'that Palestinians would outnumber Israeli Jews by 2010. By 2020, he projects Palestinians will grow to 8.8 million while the Jewish population will number 6.3 million.
Demography in Current Israeli Political Thinking
Preoccupation about a 'demographic threat' from a looming Palestinian majority has long been a staple of Israeli politics, although it has recently taken on a new urgency. For many Israelis, 'Invading armies from neighboring countries seem a remote danger compared to the rapidly growing Arab population in Israel's midst,' wrote Haaretz's diplomatic editor in 2005.
 continues on - recommended.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

'Myth of Exile': Justifying Slaughter in Gaza

The 'myth of an exile' is 'taught to members of the Israeli armed forces.'

By Janine Roberts   (Published in the Palestinian Chronicle, January 31st)

Many have been appalled by the seemingly mindless orgy of destruction of families, children, homes, streets, shops and orchards in Gaza carried out by the Israeli armed forces. It left me wanting to know what has happened to make ordinary well-educated Israelis think that it is morally right to do this to their comparatively unarmed neighbors?

I perhaps stumbled on part of the answer in the bookstore at Tel Aviv airport on a recent visit to Israel. A map on display marked all the land from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea as Israel: there was no West Bank, no Gaza Strip. A travel book I admired for its photos of a beautiful land also described it all as Israel. Jericho was in Israel it stated, although deep inside the West Bank.

If this bookstore is as typical as I suspect, then most Israelis are convinced they already own the lands now occupied by Palestinians. It is as if they see them, not as a sovereign people, but as a host of unwelcome and unruly tenants squatting Jewish lands. If this is so, then I thought there is little hope for a “Two State” solution.

This view is deeply rooted in an Orthodox Judaism with increasing influence in the Israeli military. A booklet issued by the Jewish Rabbinate to the troops going to Gaza, "Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead," states there is "a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it."

Another publication distributed by the military Rabbinate asks: "Is it possible to compare today's Palestinians to the Philistines of the past?" It cites a Rabbi as answering: "A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land ... They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country ... Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence."

Both of the above quotes are from the "Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner," the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in an Israeli occupied house within the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The IDF rabbinate also quotes Rabbi Aviner’s advice to troops: "When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers.”

Such teachings are by no means confined to the military. A January issue of Olam Katan [Small World], a weekly publication distributed at Orthodox synagogues, cites the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Mordechai Eliyah as ruling that since the civilians of Gaza failed to stop the rocket attacks, they share responsibility for them and so must not be spared from attack.

When the Jerusalem Post asked the son of this Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, what further advice his father would have, he replied that his father would say no Israeli soldier should be put into danger but instead there should be “carpet bombing of the general area from which the Qassam rockets came.” “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand.” Rabbi Eliyahu added: “And if they do not stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop, we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

The distribution of such literature has been greatly expanded by the current IDF Chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Rabbi Avichai Ronski, through his Jewish Awareness Department headed by Lt. Col. Zadok Ben-Artzi, The slogan currently used is "Jewish awareness for a victorious IDF.” It is based on “understandings gleaned from the Bible and the heritage of Israel to enhance the army's ability to achieve victory." Formerly all troop educational work was done by the Army’s Education Corps but the Rabbinate services now dominate, with the aid of funding from Elad, a major Zionist group funded by Americans that has enabled the Jewish Awareness Department to give its services for free, unlike those of the Corps, and to include free study weekends in Jerusalem.

But there is a cool calculation in allowing this. The military needed to keep the number of Israeli deaths to the minimum if they were to retain popular Israeli support, and decided this demanded the use of highly destructive tactics. Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, explained: “During 2002's Operation Defensive Shield, in the Jenin refugee camp, disagreements developed among the different [army] units … a battalion of the 5th Reserve Infantry Brigade, which employed relatively humane operating methods, suffered 13 casualties in one single day from an ambush and roadside explosives. After those incidents, everyone took up the "Buchris method," named after the commander of the 51st Golani battalion, Lt. Col. Ofek Buchris (today a brigade commander in the reserves).” This, the paper concluded, has led to “the IDF proceeding in Gaza in a slow, orderly, efficient and very destructive manner.” Villages and suburbs were leveled in order to avoid the risk of ambush.

After the setting up of the International Criminal Court as the first permanent international tribunal for war crimes, the Israeli army has increasingly involved lawyers in its operations, in particular those of the international law division (ILD) of the Military Advocate General's Office. Daniel Reisner who headed the ILD for 10 years and now works for a major law firm in Tel Aviv, explained the “setting up of this court led to the commanders saying ‘I might find myself in that court; where is my lawyer?’ So it becomes natural for the military to put lawyers in places where they have never been before. This particularly started to happen, he added, 'when Israel started to assassinate Palestinians openly.”

“What we are seeing now is a revision of international law,” Reisner said. “If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries… International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal moulds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy."

The ILD staff at the military’s Southern Command was strengthened and legal advisers sent to the Gaza Division before the recent offensive commenced. Haaretz reported: “ILD staff regularly attend the 'operations and sorties' meetings held on Wednesdays under the head of the operations division or the operations directorate. The legal advisers receive the list of proposed targets and the relevant intelligence material ahead of the meeting, prepare a visual presentation of their remarks and voice them in the time allotted; usually between five minutes and a quarter of an hour.”

Months before the air force killed dozens of policemen on the first day of Operation Cast Lead, ILD debated how to justify this planned attack since it is normally illegal to attack a civilian police force. It was agreed that Gaza was an exception to the normal rule, since, according to a senior ILD figure, "the way Hamas operates is to use the entire governmental infrastructure for the organization's terrorist purpose.” Thus the Gaza police was ruled to be a legitimate target, as were all government buildings, including the now destroyed parliament.

The ILD also ruled: "The [civilian] people who go into a house despite a warning do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields.’ A senior ILD officer explained: ‘From the legal point of view, I do not have to show consideration for them. In the case of people who return to their home in order to protect it, they are taking part in the fighting.’

A warning might consist of “a knock on the roof,” meaning a shell fired into the corner of a roof. The legal annex to the operational order for Operation Cast Lead states "as far as possible in the circumstances, the civilian population in the area of a legitimate target is to be warned" but it then adds, unless such a warning “is liable to endanger the action or the Forces.”

What about a civilian who positions himself in front of a tank? The chilling response came from the ILD: "If someone stands in front of a tank in order to block its progress, he is participating in warfare."

Reisner explained: "We defended policy that is on the edge: the "neighbor procedure" [making a neighbor knock on the door of a potentially dangerous house], house demolitions, deportation, targeted assassination; we defended all the magic formulas for dealing with terrorism."

The lawyers' advice in Gaza was sometimes marginalized. When they pressed for “a more orderly set of tools” to authorize the “flattening of large areas to flush out people in hiding,” the general in charge, Yoav Gallant, known by the ILD as a 'wild man,' a 'cowboy' because he attaches little importance to legal advice, disregarded their modest qualms. Consequently soldiers reported: “they were destroying whole streets and neighborhoods,”

However some risk attaches to the work of the lawyers. "I have no doubt that to a certain extent, everyone who takes part in making a decision, the lawyer included, is a partner to the decision," Reisner said. He tells of how when "Three years ago I gave a talk at Cambridge University … I got a phone call from the legal department of the Foreign Ministry. They said they just wanted to let me know that there were no threats to put me on trial in England.”

A group of former Israeli soldiers called “Breaking the Silence” is currently gathering evidence of unacceptable behavior during the latest attack but has already published evidence from earlier attacks on Gaza. An officer from an “elite unit” told them of what happened during “Operation Rainbow” that destroyed the homes of over a thousand Palestinians in May 2004.

When he was asked if the war was like “a computer game,” the reply came “Yes, [all the decisions were made] in two minutes.” He was then asked: “You, as squad commander, took down half a neighborhood?” He replied: “Yes … and generally it’s a 21-year-old boy [who makes these decisions].”

It was, he explained, “our first time in the Gaza strip” and “we had terrible fear” of the local Palestinians. To take over buildings, we went in with “D-9 (armored bulldozer) and armored personal carrier. You don’t enter without them. The D-9 arrives, surrounds the building 360 degrees [with a bulldozed trench] to check if there are no explosive charges, after that you punch out a hole in the wall…“We call that the knock on the door.” “We don’t tell the occupants we are coming in…and we don’t let them leave the building while we are in it (with our snipers on the roof)…” (Hamas were accused of doing the same – using civilians as human shields.)

He was then asked: “What were your firing orders? “To kill anyone armed, or anyone doing anything suspicious, like bending down or something, that could be for laying a booby trap… someone who looks as if he’s observing (our) tanks, stands and looks at any of our tanks, that could be from a window, from a roof top or from something like it. Fire to kill.”

The soldier continued: “The most striking thing I remember from operation “Rainbow’, was the feeling of lack of restraint. I don’t have a milder description for it: an indiscriminate use of force… There was tremendous pressure from the command post…to act and not to wait. Not to be derailed in decision making by all sort of nonsense.”

“What did the Operations Officer say at the end of the debriefing?” “Two things: (a) we showed them that the IDF can be brutal when necessary, and (b) we didn’t let these left-wingers screw up our operation.” (He was referring to the Israelis calling for peace.)

The New York Times reported of Operation Cast Lead on the 19th January: “The Israeli theory of what it tried to do here is summed up in a Hebrew phrase heard across Israel and throughout the military in the past weeks: ‘baal habayit hishtageya,’ or ‘the boss has lost it.’ It evokes the image of a madman who cannot be controlled…” It is meant to terrify.

Elad, the American-funded right wing organization that helps fund the military Rabbinate’s Zionist literature, is also involved in expanding Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem and in controversial archaeological digs near the Old City of Jerusalem that seek to establish the priority of Jewish claims. Israel may well be the only country where archaeology has a place on a governmental Foreign Affairs website, where it is used to justify the claim that Jews has a right to this land that predates and replaces that of the Palestinians.

Israel rarely cites half of the text of the UN resolution that gave it its legal legitimacy as a state, UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 of 1947, for it also gave the same legitimacy to a Palestinian State – authorizing the Two State solution over 50 years ago, mapping out the territories that both states should hold, roughly half the land each.

It should be said that many Jewish people are opposed to the Orthodox fundamentalism. Henry Siegman, the former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, holds that Hamas “is a religious nationalist movement akin to the Zionist movement during to its struggle for statehood” and asks: “Why then are Israel’s leaders so determined to destroy Hamas? Because they believe that its leadership, unlike that of Fatah, cannot be intimidated into accepting a peace accord that establishes a Palestinian ‘state’ made up of territorially disconnected entities over which Israel would be able to retain permanent control.”

"The state of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza," the Foreign Minister Livni has told members of her centrist Kadima party.

Yet Zionist historians recognize that the story of Israel’s expulsion from the land by the Romans and its destined return, the central doctrine underlying the Israeli denial of the claims of the Palestinians, is but a myth.

This has come out in a current extraordinary controversy over a new work of history that has appeared in Hebrew and will shortly be appearing in English. It is When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? by Shlomo Sand. (Resling, 358 pages, NIS 94.) After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, it is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso.

According to this, the Romans did not expel the whole people from the land, as widely recounted. The ‘Diaspora’ of Judaism is instead mostly the consequence of the conversion of people from other nations, especially the Khazars of the Black Sea region, from whom most European Jews are descended. From his research, it seems that the Palestinians have more roots among the ancient peoples of the land of Israel than do most Israelis.

The book was greeted with a furious reaction from Professor Israel Bartal, the dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but not for the reasons I expected. His review, published in Haaretz, did not attack the book’s thesis, but the book’s contention that Zionist historians have concealed the mythical origin of the story of the Diaspora.

Not at all, he angrily retorted, the story of the “conversion of the Khazars, a nation of Turkish origin, [is] in the Zionist Mikhlal Encyclopedia" as is the fact that Judaism was once “a missionary religion.”

Moreover, he added, the Zionist "Toldot am Yisrael" [History of the Jewish People] explains that the number of Jews in the Diaspora during the ancient period was as high as it was because of conversion, a “widespread phenomenon in the late Second Temple period.”

He then asks: "What is Sand trying to prove in this study? In his view, the homeland of the Jewish people is not Palestine, and most Jews are descendants of the members of different nations who converted to Judaism in ancient times and in the medieval period. He claims that the Jews of Yemen and Eastern Europe are descendants of pagans."

He makes no attempt to disprove this but retorts: "My response to Sand's arguments is that no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically "pure." "Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions."

I was astonished when I read this. Perhaps what he asserts is true in his academic circles, but entirely the opposite viewpoint dominates much of the popular discourse. The "myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland" is fervently believed in by most Jewish settlers in the West Bank, by Christian Zionists and is not questioned by most of the Western media. It is in the teachings of prominent Rabbis – and, as we have seen, it is taught to members of the Israeli armed forces.

From his testimony, the story that a Jewish nation once owned this land, was dispossessed and has now returned, is not nearly as well founded as I had once thought. It seems the term “Semitic” applies far better to the Palestinians than it does to the Israelis. Yet, this widespread myth, disowned by Zionist historians, is still being used to justify much ethnic cleaning and suffering. It is hard to think otherwise than that the Israeli authorities fervently hope that, through inflicting such dreadful ‘punishment,’ the remaining Palestinians will ultimately flee from their lands or become docile, allowing Jewish control in the name of a myth.

- Janine Roberts has written for many major Australian newspapers and both the Independent and Financial Times in the UK. Her investigative films have appeared on the PBS network in the USA and on the BBC and Australian television. She was invited to testify at a US Congressional Hearing on Human rights in Africa and the blood diamond trade. Her latest investigative books are “Glitter and Greed” and the “Fear of the Invisible.” She contributed this article to Contact her at:, or visit her blog:

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Judaism - An Evangelical Religion that founded the modern Jewish Nation?.

Stunning new book....

Controversial Bestseller  challenges the basis of the Israeli State

On the northern side of the Old City of Jerusalem, a frenzied dig is funded by the same American group, Elad, that teaches Zionism to Israeli troops. Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper, reported  that a leaflet distributed to the troops cited Rabbi Aviner: "The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence." This is from the "Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner," who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

In its archeology Elad also discards all Islamic archeology as unimportant, ignores the widespread Paganism in the region in and before the Roman occupation, and searches for anything that proves great Judaic cultures existed two or three thousand years ago and dominated the region. Israel may well be the only country where archeology has a place on its Foreign Affairs website, for on it is founded the claim Jews has a right to this land that predates and replaces that of the Palestinians.

When I researched this, I was surprised to find on the contrary that Jews and Palestinians seem to be in part descended from the same ancient Canaanite people that lived between the Gaza and Haifa coast and the hills of Judaea. The Jews of Europe, I also learnt, are mostly descended of Jewish merchants who wedded converted women of the Black Sea region, founding what are known of as the Khazars. 

But now a new book puts much flesh on this narrative. A review posed these questions. "What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same "children of Israel" described in the Old Testament?"

"And what if most modern Israelis aren't descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn't "return" to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia?"

"That's the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso."

It seems the Romans did not expel the whole people from the land, as is widely recounted in stories of the Diaspora. Rather Judaism was for a period an evangelical religion that converted many from other nations.  The consequence of this?  It seems the Palestinians of today may have more roots among the ancient peoples of this land than do most Israelis.

A very revealing review of the book by Prof. Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University, was published in Haaretz. What he chose to attack was not that its thesis, but that this history was hidden by Zionism! He reported.

'Here is what was written about the conversion of the Khazars, a nation of Turkish origin, in the Zionist Mikhlal Encyclopedia that the State of Israel's Zionist Ministry of Education recommended so warmly during that "period of silencing": "It is irrelevant whether the conversion to Judaism encompassed a large stratum of the Khazar nation; what is important is that this event was regarded as a highly significant phenomenon in Jewish history, a phenomenon that has since totally disappeared: Judaism as a missionary religion.... The question of the long-term impact of that chapter in Jewish history on East European Jewry -- whether through the development of its ethnic character or in some other way -- is a matter that requires further research. '

'The Zionist "Toldot am yisrael" [History of the Jewish People] explains that the number of Jews in the Diaspora during the ancient period was as high as it was because of conversion, a phenomenon that "was widespread in the Jewish Diaspora in the late Second Temple period .... Many of the converts to Judaism came from the gentile population of Palestine, but an even greater number of converts could be found in the Jewish Diaspora communities in both the East and the West." The number of Jews living outside Israel in that period "exceeded that of the tiny Jewish community in Palestine."

He asks: "What is Sand trying to prove in this study? In his view, the homeland of the Jewish people is not Palestine, and most Jews are descendants of the members of different nations who converted to Judaism in ancient times and in the medieval period. He claims that the Jews of Yemen and Eastern Europe are descendants of pagans."

He makes no attempt to disprove this, but retorts: "My response to Sand's arguments is that no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically "pure."

He then extraordinarily asserts: 'No "nationalist" Jewish historian has ever tried to conceal the well-known fact that conversions to Judaism had a major impact on Jewish history in the ancient period and in the early Middle Ages. Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions." 

Perhaps this is true in his academic circles, but the opposite view certainly dominates much of the popular discourse. It is fervently believed in by the Christian Zionists who have much strengthened the American and British Israeli lobbies. I have also heard it repeated by many of the Israeli settlers that have moved into the West Bank. It is in the teachings of certain prominent Rabbis - and it is in some of the literature distributed to members of the Israeli armed forces. It seems from his testimony, and from that of this book,  that the story that a Jewish nation was owned this land, was dispossessed and has now returned, is not yet proved.

Janine Roberts

(This article draws on a review by Joshua Holland in Alternet, Jan 28th, as well as on that of the Professor cited above. The book came out recently in Hebrew.)


THE APPEAL FOR GAZA - as not on the BBC

The Guardian in the UK reported...

In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy.

The statement, from his office at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the BBC decision not to air the aid appeal for victims of the conflict "violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong".

It said the IAEA director had cancelled interviews with BBC World Service television and radio, which had been scheduled to take place at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday.

yesterday, Sky News announced it would not broadcast the appeal either. But it was the BBC's refusal to broadcast which made headlines across the Middle East, and by last night had led to more than 15,500 complaints.

Shortly before the appeal aired, in London protesters burned their TV licences in front of a line of police outside the BBC's Broadcasting House.

More than 110 MPs had signed an early day motion urging the corporation to reverse its decision. The BBC is also facing a growing revolt from its journalists, who have been told they could be sacked if they speak out on the issue.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said after last night's broadcast that it was "inclined not to comment", but added: "There is no doubt that any appeal which simply seeks to raise money for innocent civilians should be applauded."

Monday, 26 January 2009

Racism and Ideology in Israeli Military

Some of the Israeli army rabbinate's publications challenge international law according to Israeli sources.

Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper, has received some of the publications from Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers who collect evidence of unacceptable behavior in the army . Other material was provided by officers and men who received it during Operation Cast Lead. Following are quotations from this material:

"[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it." 

This is an excerpt from a publication entitled "Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead," issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from "Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner," who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Editorial critique.  

Leading article in the Independent: Welcome but fragile, this ceasefire must be only a start   Monday, 19 January 2009

When it comes to Israel/Palestine, our liberal press reveals remarkable blind spots   - as shown by this editorial.  It repeats the established line that " a way had to be found of stopping the smuggling of weapons and their components into Gaza – a lucrative business for some that provided much of the arsenal Hamas was able to draw on. "

 The Israeli Foreign Minister rushed to Washington  to get an agreement from the States to stop the tunnels into Egypt but though these pass, not just arms, but vital food and medicines that Israel has been keeping from this imprisoned nation, in an effort to starve them into submission.  The piece of paper obtained by Israel in Washington is totally impractical, a pointless piece of paper since neither Egypt nor Hamas have agreed to the presence of American forces on the borders.

But why is strengthening the prison walls an objective endorsed by Western Governments?  Is not Hamas their elected government?  Are we not saying we support Palestinian independence in a two state "solution"?  Last time I checked,  independent states have the right to import arms to protect their citizens.  What happens if in the next Palestinian election Hamas is again elected into power - as must now be considered very likely? The way to ensure weapons are not used is to end this occupation in a just and fair manner.

The editorial went on to say. "If the military wing of Hamas has, in fact, been disabled, Mr Olmert will also be able to bow out next month, having salvaged his reputation as a war leader after the troubled Lebanon operation of 2006."  Who says it has been "disabled?" Not even the Israeli leadership.  

It then concluded: "What is beyond doubt is that these three weeks of harrowing combat have changed the situation on the ground decisively in Israel's favour."  Pardon me? Beyond doubt? Israel surely has been substantially weakened by carrying out a terrifying and murderous assault on Palestinian population in front of TV cameras operated by Arab and Palestinian crews and by the quite evident, widely reported, enhanced support now given to Hamas. It surely has shattered much of Israel's credibility.

Then the Editorial went on to say. 'The impressive turn-out presided over by President Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday – which included the Palestinian President, and leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Jordan" - but it forgot to mention the other gathering of leaders that took place at nearly the same time on the Gulf attended by the leaders of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Gulf leaders and Hamas. Very strong statement, in line with those that came from this gathering,  were also made by the Prime Ministers of Iraq and Turkey. 

Clearly this conflict has torn asunder the  Middle East,  weakening the old leadership funded by the West that were in Sharm el-Sheikh - quite the opposite to what this editorial had to say.

Only a final sentence can I praise - but it is evident. It is "the cost to Israel's international reputation, which had been enhanced by its 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, is likely to have been high, especially in Arab countries. The trust essential to starting negotiations on any future, comprehensive, settlement remains as elusive as ever."

Saturday, 17 January 2009


Tonight Israel declared an unilateral ceasefire as Hamas fired more rockets.

What kind of victory has the Israeli government just declared?  They have wrecked Israel's reputation around the world;  the brutality of their army has been evident on countless millions of TV screens, anguished protests have gone up to God from a thousand million throats - and for what?

Surely Israel cannot be proud of what their armed forces have just done?  What kind of bravery is involved in dropping one ton bombs on a people who have no anti-aircraft guns and no air force?  What kind of insecurity complex is Israel suffering from? Is it that they know in their hearts that they are living on seized lands?

Why have the Israeli forces suffered relatively few deaths?  Because they adopted a strategy of destroying the homes of the Palestinian families in front of their tanks, sometimes with the families still inside them as TV journalists have extensively documented,  so Hamas soldiers could not ambush the Israeli troops, could not kidnap  them.  

Heeretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, has just reported:  " The IDF is proceeding in Gaza in a slow, orderly, efficient and very destructive manner. During 2002's Operation Defensive Shield, in the Jenin refugee camp, disagreements developed among the different units as to how much force should be applied. A battalion of the 5th Reserve Infantry Brigade, which employed relatively humane operating methods, suffered 13 casualties in one single day from an ambush and roadside explosives. After those incidents, everyone took up the "Buchris method," named after the commander of the 51st Golani battalion, Lt. Col. Ofek Buchris (today a brigade commander in the reserves): Forceful entry with "Akhzarit" ("cruel") armored personnel carriers, which demolished houses' walls before the soldiers entered them, leaving them a relatively protected corridor."

Israel's spokesmen make feeble excuses. "Hamas is hiding among civilians."  What is Hamas?  It is not only an elected government.  They are the husbands, boy-friends, sons, grandsons who fight to protect their families, who guard their families' doors, who fight against a military occupation that has cruelly ruled them for 60 years and starved them, ever since the Israelis seized their lands, driving them from their farms and towns into exile in Gaza - and then occupying Gaza itself for 40 years, regulating their every movement.

Israel says they left the Gaza strip two years ago.  Yes, the prison guards decided to operate from behind the walls in which they had imprisoned one and a half million Palestinians. That is no liberation.  

They say they allowed the Gazans the chance to develop the Gaza strip.  What development when Israel stopped them from having an airport,  drove thousands of fishermen from their seas,  held up their exports of fruit and vegetables so they rot at the border,  so their sick and pregnant die at the gates, prevent them from repairing water pumps and sewage works, reduce them to third world status  while the Israelis live in US style comfort and are allowed to compete in Eurovision unlike their Arab neighbors?


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

500 Jewish citizens of Sderot Contradict Israeli Government over Hamas Ceasefire.

500 Jewish citizens of Sderot say –'Hamas kept the Ceasefire'

By Janine Roberts c2009  email

Much has been made of Hamas’ reported failure to honor last year’s truce. But, an extraordinary correspondence between Jewish residents of the much-rocketed town of Sderot, nearby kibbutz and the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip, paints a very different picture of that truce from that repeatedly given by the Israeli government.
Barrack Obama was taken to Sderot last year to show him the effects of rocketing. He remarked on how Israeli towns looked like American from the air and offered his full support to the town’s citizens, promising to invite its representatives to the White House soon after taking office. At the time in mid-July Sderot was safe to visit. There had been no casualties from rockets since the ceasefire started 4 weeks earlier.

Obama in Siderot July 2008
On July 12th 2008, a Gaza resident, using the pseudonym of “Peaceman,”  emailed friends in Sderot to say. “The situation is calm … and this make people happy a lot, because there are no dead and wounded [but] the border is still closed… I myself have been waiting two years to go to Europe to study.’ Nevertheless ‘We have now a golden opportunity to try to build a new world without violence.’
His friends replied to say how much better it was now the rockets had stopped. They told how they cycled along the Gaza borders and were greeted with waves by Gaza residents. They revelled in the freedom from danger. A joint children’s holiday was planned and greetings cards exchanged. (See samples at end)
One such message read “I live with my family in Kibbutz Beeri, close enough to Gaza to see the houses and the sea. On weekends I ride my bike with my husband through the fields along the border … I hope the violence will come to an end and the Palestinian State will be established with peace between our peoples and peace within each of our countries between the extremists on each side. ”
Sderot is built on the lands of Najd, a Palestinian village ethnically cleansed by Jewish militia in 1948. Its residents probably fled into the Gaza strip. Most of Gaza’s population is descended from such refugees. However, this history was not allowed to prevent this growing friendship – nor were the deaths of people from both towns in the months preceding the ceasefire.
The ceasefire was still intact months after Obama’s visit. In October 2008 an Israeli in Sderot, using the pseudonym “Hopeman,” emailed his friend in Gaza to say: ‘We have lived for almost 5 months in a ceasefire situation. On my side of the border, things returned to normal and we once again felt safe. Kids played freely outdoors, streets filled once again with people, and the constant fear of the rocket alerts disappeared. My kids went to sleep in their room again, instead of the safe room, and I could walk out to the fields surrounding the town without the fear of being out in the open with nowhere to hide.’
On October 9th an Israeli newspaper, the Star, headlined: ‘Israeli town celebrates end to daily rocket fire. It reported: ‘Besieged residents of Sderot were relieved by the quiet start to Yom Kippur, thanks to the ceasefire with Hamas …Young boys horsed around on their bicycles, families hurried to make last-minute purchases at the downtown supermarket, and food stands did a steady business in shawarma and beer.’
‘”Everything is different," exulted Jasmine Aboukrat, 25, sales clerk at the Cochovit Dress Shop near Hagofer St, "People go out more." “Now you see all the children outdoors, playing," said David Coyne, 38, who owns a candy shop in the centre of town. "It's secure.”’
The paper explained: ‘For seven years, local residents barely went out at all. But, late last June, under Egyptian mediation; the Israeli government reached a ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since then, with only a few violations, the rocket salvoes from Gaza have stopped.’Sderot is ‘a rambling community of boxy bungalows and low-rise apartment blocks. interspersed by palm, cypress and eucalyptus trees, ‘ with a library that has nearly as many books in Russian as in Hebrew, reflecting its recent arrivals. It’s people ‘say they are hugely pleased with the new air of tranquillity that now permeates their town.’
The newspaper also reported that there were no more ‘punitive Israeli military incursions into the neighbouring strip – attacks that had been a frequent and deadly feature of Palestinian existence prior to the laying down of arms in June.’
But Hopeman emailed from Sderok: ” During this time I have been in touch with many friends of mine in Gaza, and from them I heard a very dark and troubling reality…The siege Israel had imposed on them continues. They have many power shortages and very little fuel and cooking gas.’
On the 4th November, the day when Americans were watching the results of the Presidential election, the Israeli army broke the ceasefire by raiding the strip. Six Palestinians were killed. Next day the Palestinians reacted as could be expected by sending a shower of rockets and Israel immediately slashed supplies of medicine, fuel, food, cooking gas for the 1.5 million people of Gaza. The number of truckloads fell from October’s daily average of 123 trucks to less than 5 trucks. Some families were reduced to eating bread made from animal feed. Others were reduced to eating grass.
An email was sent: ‘Peace Man and I talk every day. We support each other and worry for each other’s well being. I am in contact with others in Gaza and share my situation while hearing of theirs. Much fear and pain on both sides. Once again we should all call to end the violence, open the siege, start talking and bring back hope to us, civilians on both sides, pawns in the unbearable senseless political game.’
Then Hamas told Israel that a renewed ceasefire must be accompanied by an end to the increasingly cruel siege, but Israel refused to accept this.
The friends ‘realized that the situation was about to deteriorate into total chaos’ said Arik Yalin, 43, of Sderot, the spokesman for this Israeli-Arab group. They put up a website that stated:’ Up until now we have cried, called, demonstrated, and asked our leaders to do something about this insane reality in which we live. The leaders have tried every possible idea that involves violence and military force – with no success at all.
‘We shoot at them and they shoot at us. We retaliate and they strike back.
This is an endless and vicious cycle.
‘Today we say: ENOUGH! It is our turn to take our destiny into our own hands and to ACT to stop the cycle of bloodshed.’
They sent a petition to the Israeli Government in the name of their group; ‘’Kol Acher’ (The Other Voice). Five hundred citizens of Sderot signed it as well as another 1300 Israeli and Palestinian citizens. It read:
‘Kol Acher from Sderot and the communities around Gaza calls on the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister to act urgently to restore calm in the area.
The ceasefire changed the lives of the people of Sderot, Ashkelon and the region beyond recognition, allowing all of us to experience again a life that is more normal and sane. The continuation of this calm is essential and critical to the residents of the region from every possible aspect: physical, mental, spiritual and economic.
Another round of escalation may break our already brittle spirit, and take us all to another round of self-destruction and pointless bloodshed. It is not certain that we will survive. And you must be aware of that, if you indeed care about the residents of this area. We’ve been through this movie too many years–and results speak for themselves: feeling trapped, abandonment, and hopelessness for our children and us!
On the other side of the border live a million and a half Palestinians under unbearable conditions, and most of them want, like we do, calm and the opportunity of a future for themselves and their families.
We live in the feeling that you have wasted that period of calm, instead of using it to advance understandings and begin negotiations, as well as for fortifying the houses of residents as promised.
We call on the Prime Minister and the Defence minister not to listen to the voices of incitement and do everything they can to avoid another round of escalation, to secure the continuation of the calm and to work...towards direct or indirect negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in Gaza in order to reach long term understandings.
We prefer a cold war without a single rocket to a hot war with dozens of victims and innocent fatalities on both sides.
We ask you to offer us the possibility of political arrangement and hope and not an endless cycle of blood.’

Their petition had no effect. On December 27th, while politicians in the West were on holiday and the US had a lame duck President in his final weeks of office, Israel launched its savage assault.
That same day the Israeli Foreign Ministry changed its website, removing charts giving the numbers of rockets and mortars fired every month from the Gaza strip, perhaps because they revealed the near-total cessation of fire during the truce. These charts were based on statistics supplied by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and provide striking evidence of Hamas’ good faith. Contrary to government statements made repeatedly since then, Israeli government statistics show Hamas kept the ceasefire.

Removed Israeli Government Graph. ‘Monthly distribution of rockets hits.’

Together with a similar graph for mortar fire, these reveal that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza fell from over a hundred a month to just 12 in all from the start of July to the end of October. The Ministry has replaced these graphs with one that is harder to interpret. It claims ‘227 rockets were fired during the lull in the fighting’ but notes that 203 of these were fired after November 4th, the date when Israel broke the ceasefire. This is still on the Government website. It is reproduced below.

Credit for the 12 rockets fired during the ceasefire were reportedly claimed by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad or the "Badr Forces.’ Hamas condemned them.

It is worth going back to what else Obama said in Sderot: “I will not wait until a few years into my term or my second term if I'm elected, in order to get the process moving. I think we have a window right now that needs to be taken advantage of. I think you've got a set of moderate Palestinian leaders who are interested. I think the Israeli people are interested in moving this process along. But I also think there's a population on both sides that is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress. And where there's hopelessness and despair, that can often turn in a bad direction.”
Obama on January 11th said he would be ready to do all he can to bring peace from the day he takes office. But – has Obama heard these voices of Sderot? I doubt he did when he went to their town, but, if he did, then he will know that the Israeli government is wrong to claim that the only way they can stop the rockets is by physically destroying Hamas with all the slaughter this entails
Perhaps Obama should also take advice, not already doing so, from the former UK Ambassador to Israel, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. On 9th January 2009 he unhesitatingly said during a BBC interview: “Hamas is not a terrorist organisation,” adding he knows from talking to them that they are focussed on ending the decades of military occupation. He also affirmed; “Israel broke the truce by its actions on 4th November.”'
Perhaps Obama should also listen to the Catholic priest, Fr. Latham, who preached in Bethlehem on Sunday 4th January, saying the Palestinians are being ‘crucified everyday.’


Janine Roberts c2009

The post cards sent from Sderot to Gaza Strip for Eid – to see them all click here.

With thanks to Daniel Edelson whose article for an Israeli newspaper alerted me to this.

Janine Roberts has written for many major Australian newspapers and both the Independent and Financial Times in the UK. Her investigative films have appeared on the PBS network in the USA and on the BBC and Australian television. She was invited to testify at a US Congressional Hearing on Human rights in Africa and the blood diamond trade. Her latest investigative books are “Glitter and Greed” and the “Fear of the Invisible.”

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Children of rocketed Sderot call for peace

For more about this - see the post on ignored connection between Sderot and Gaza below (click to make bigger)


History of Gaza Conflict.

this is a work in progress - it will be expanded..

It all started back in 1948 when Gaza’s population more than doubled as Palestinians sought refuge there from Israeli gunmen. Then in 1967 Gaza was occupied by Israeli army – at which point the welfare of the captive population become legally an Israeli responsibility – as it remains to this day.

In 2006 the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Assembly for the West Bank and Gaza strip were convincingly won by Hamas. They win 74 seats against Fatah’s 45 - out of a total of 132 seats. International observers judge the elections fair.

But this democratic result was judged totally unacceptable by Israel, the US and European powers – and from this derives much of the misery of today. The Israeli army launched a savage campaign to prevent Hamas from taking power. Over 30 of the elected Hamas representatives were arrested by Israel and imprisoned – making it impossible for the Palestinian Legislative Assembly to function.

Fatah, despite losing the election, was and still is supported by the West as if it had won this election; while the elected Hamas government has found most of its funding cut off – including tax revenues to which it was legally entitled. These sanctions on Hamas for daring to win were given the outspoken support of Labour Friends of Israel, a UK parliamentary lobbying organization of considerable influence that is now openly supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Israel began to restrict food and medical supplies to Gaza. Students who had won university places in the West were refused permission to take up their places. Women die of birth complications as they are prevented from going to Israeli hospitals by the Israeli forces. Many Palestinians were killed, civilian facilities were destroyed. The gates in the wall Israel built around Gaza were frequently kept closed.  Agricultural output rotted on trucks.  This wrecked the Gaza economy.  80% became unemployed.

At the international level, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan suspended financial aid to the Palestinian National Authority, leading to economic hardship and further suffering of Palestinian civilians.

When the Hamas-led government found alternative sources of funding, the US mounted pressure on the international and Arab banks transferring these funds. Consequently in Gaza most civil servants, police, hospital workers, teachers, could not be paid. Development projects funded by international donors, including roads, schools, housing projects and sewage, were completely halted. By 2007 the situation in Gaza was desperate. Sewage started to run in the streets.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, supporters of Fatah carried out a series of retaliatory attacks against members, supporters and institutions of Hamas. They targeted health and cultural associations, charities, press offices, television and radio stations, sports clubs and some local councils, which have been run by Hamas following local elections. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Right’s (PCHR) documentation, at least 50 public and private institutions were attacked; 3 persons, including a child, were killed; and at least 60 persons were kidnapped in the period 13-17 June 2007.

The US funded a program of arming Fatah and 5,000 trained Fatah fighters were sent into Gaza, but a brutal short civil war leads to a Hamas victory in Gaza and a Fatah victory in the West Bank.The Fatah leaders then illegally replaced the elected government on the West Bank. Hamas succeeded in retaining control in Gaza.

On 19 September 2007, Israel declared the Gaza Strip as “a hostile entity,” a prelude for more measures of collective punishment. These crimes have included; willful killings; extra-judicial executions; settlement activities; land confiscations; construction of the Annexation Wall; illegal arrests; and restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the OPT.

According to PCHR’s documentation, in 2007, IOF carried out 37 extra-judicial execution attacks, in which 68 Palestinians were killed. Many of these murders were carried out in crowded Gaza streets.

The child death toll dropped in the latter part of 2007 but rose dramatically during the first six months of 2008, largely as a result of a large-scale IOF military operation across the Gaza Strip at the end of 9 February 2008 code-named “Operation Winter Heat”, as well as IOF killings of children in the border areas of the Central and Eastern Gaza Strip. PCHR noted with grave concern that IOF killed more children in the Gaza Strip during the first four months of 2008 than during the whole of 2007.

A medical investigation into psychological trauma among Gaza’s children found that 74.5% of the sample tested had witnessed IOF tanks and heavy artillery firing on their homes, and 86.7% had witnessed bombardments of other local homes by airplanes and helicopters. 71.3% of the children had experienced the violent death of a friend. In addition, 75% had witnessed a public assassination carried out by Israeli forces. (PCHR interview with Dr. Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet, 7/07/08)

The IOF siege of Gaza, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. For example:
• The Gaza Power plant completely stopped operation due to the lack of energy fuel. Over the past three weeks, IOF have allowed only 1,721,610 liters of energy fuel into the Gaza Strip, an amount which can operate the power plant for only 5 days.
• The main concern of 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip is to obtain their basic needs of food, medicines, water and electricity supplies.
• The majority of the civilian population lack access to drinking water.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights asserts, according to its monitoring of the situation on the ground, that the IOF has perpetrated grave breaches of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the course of its military actions in Gaza. The Center also asserts that the vast majority of IOF's targets in Gaza are civilian targets that must not be deliberately targeted. This includes houses, mosques, police stations and at least one ambulance. Most of the casualties are not combatants and were not involved in any hostilities when they were targeted by IOF.

Despite all this, in early 2008, due to international mediation,  Hamas agreed to a truce for a minimum of six months, including stopping the firing of rockets from the Gaza strip. In return Israel held out that it would ease the siege.  Hamas rigorously policed this truce. Israeli settlers in nearby towns reported that life had nearly returned to normal. They petitioned the Israeli authorities to extend the truce. They set up direct links with dozens of Gaza representatives.

Then in early November Israeli forces mounted a raid on Gaza. Rockets were fired in revenge. But Hamas again offered to renew the truce - but insisted that Israel must end the siege in return.  Israel refused  - for it had its attack now planned. It would destroy Gaza in order to destroy the government it elected, it hated them so much.

The Israelis justified this by speaking of the Hamas charter as filled with hatred, and as calling for the destruction of Israel. There is indeed much that can be criticized in this document, as is also true of some of the documents of the Israeli settlers taking West Bank land  - but this does not excuse the terrible events to which we are witnessing. No matter what this document states, Hamas had offered Israel a long-term truce with no rockets,  but the price they asked for this, the ending of the siege, while reasonable and sensible, was not something the Israel was willing to give and for this demand now the people of Gaza are being slaughtered


Tariq Ali reported in the Guardian newspaper in the UK on 30th December 2008 that “the assault on Gaza, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing, was designed largely to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the right and the far right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon in 2006, sit back and watch.
“Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet. The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians etc (for all the gory detail, see Harvard scholar Sara Roy's chilling essay in the London Review of Books) were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had "provoked" Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect. The moth-eaten Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and Nato's favourite Islamists in Ankara failed to register even a symbolic protest by recalling their ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not convene a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the crisis.
As result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of those very organisations that the west claims it is combating in the "war against terror".

“Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The west and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the "international community" in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, US and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run.
“Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza – in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer, "the public will then support the Authority against Hamas."
“Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this. Hamas's electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those of the party it had defeated at the polls. Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority's combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a "peace process" that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people.
“It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad base of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran. How far its conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly exposed during Hamas's unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and maintained throughout the summer, despite the Israeli campaign of raids and mass arrests that followed, in which some 300 Hamas cadres were seized from the West Bank.
“On August 19 2003, a self-proclaimed "Hamas" cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus in west Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated the Hamas ceasefire's negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas, in turn, responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization – a longstanding demand of Tel Aviv.
“What has actually distinguished Hamas in a hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline – demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner, Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it. Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and missiles in the longest-armed oppression of modern history.
"Nobody can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering under military occupation for 45 years against occupation force," said General Shlomo Gazit, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993. The real grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The west's priority ever since was to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas – as publicly picked for his post by Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul – at the expense of the legislative council is another.
“No serious efforts were made to negotiate with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have been rapidly suborned to western and Israeli interests, but it would not have been unprecedented. Hamas' programmatic heritage remains mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the existence of Israel altogether or acceptance of the dismembered remnants of a fifth of the country.”