Sunday, 31 December 2017
Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza for a second straight day after shells reportedly launched from the area landed in its territory. The IDF blamed Iran for the attack, claiming it supplied the unknown attackers with weapons.
The Israeli military said its warplanes targeted a Hamas position in southern Gaza late Saturday in response for the shelling carried out by the yet unidentified militants on Friday. While Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it’s “too early” to name those culpable in the attack, he promptly blamed Tehran for the incident. “Iran has supplied these missiles to numerous groups,” Lieberman told Israeli media, saying that an initial examination of the shells fired “confirms they are from Iran.”
“The Iranian regime continues to risk the safety of the residents of the Gaza Strip and puts them in grave danger. Wherever the Iranian regime operates or is involved, it only wreaks havoc and destruction,” the IDF tweeted after the attack. The IDF also accused Iran of deliberately fomenting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through its proxies – “rogue and extremist terrorist groups” – by funnelling arms to them in an attempt to reignite stalled hostilities “after years of quiet.”
Berating Iran, Lieberman appeared to heap rare praise on Hamas for steering clear of direct military confrontation, alleging that the group could no longer keep tabs on various minor formations, that are responsible for the spike in tensions. “Hamas is being careful because they do not want war, as we do not, but the Salafist and extremist Muslim groups are acting on their own,” the minister, known for his hawkish views, told Hadashot News in an interview.
The shelling took place Friday afternoon and resulted in no casualties. It was reported that two of three shells were either intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system or fell in non-residential areas. One projectile, however, reportedly damaged a building in the Negev region bordering the Gaza Strip in a direct hit. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it responded by targeting Hamas outposts in northern Gaza with tank fire and airstrikes.
The shelling and retaliatory strikes comes amid violent unrest in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital on December 6. The controversial move drew widespread international condemnation, praise from the Israeli authorities, and prompted calls for a new Palestinian uprising, a “blessed intifada” against Israel and Washington.
A wave of violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters in the borderline areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip ensued. At least 14 Palestinians have been killed and some 3,000 injured as Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition and rubber bullets to target the “instigators” and quell the unrest.
Tehran, which has been increasingly at odds with both US and Israel, joined the chorus of those denouncing the Jerusalem move, with Iran’s Defense Minister, General Amir Hatami, arguing, that if anything, it would “hasten the destruction of the Zionist regime.” Iranian lawmakers recently approved a bill that would require its government to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
Iran’s support for Hezbollah, which is fighting along President Bashar Assad’s army in Syria and has contributed to the dismantling of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS,ISIL) terrorist group in there, has also long angered Israel. The IDF frequently struck military targets in Syria, citing the need to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah.Tel Aviv claims Tehran is trying to secure foothold in Syria to attack Israel, with PM Benjamin Netanyahu contending that Iran shares Nazi Germany’s “ruthless commitment to murder Jews.”
Another lingering point of contention is the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA )nuclear deal, which has repeatedly been slammed by Tel Aviv and Washington as inherently flawed. The US and Israel further said the landmark agreement will enable Iran to continue pursuing its nuclear programme and develop WMD, despite Tehran’s assurances that their nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful. The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has on numerous occasions confirmed that Iran is in full compliance with the multilateral agreement.
Twelve days ago, Ahed Tamimi slapped an Israeli soldier, and it is the slap heard round the world. Norman Finkelstein, a scholar of Gandhi’s views on nonviolence, sent along this quote on slapping from the leader of India’s liberation.
“Gandhi Says a Woman Who Smacks Her Attacker is Not Committing Violence
“When a woman is faced by a maniac, what is she to do? . . . In her rage she will slap him . . . That is to say, the woman will use all her physical strength. Will that not constitute violence? . . . In a situation like [this], slapping or scratching, if the occasion demands it, does not constitute violence. The trust of a woman who slaps is not in the slap, her trust is in God . . . Her expression is not an expression of violence, only of her opposition . . . Her anger, her alarm, proclaims for herself as well as for the man her preparedness to die . . . Instead of feeling helpless and scared, she should say to herself: “I shall offer up my body and life, but shall not become a coward.” Her slap or scratching indicates this resolve. It is in itself non-violence. She has no strength to cause harm. Hence her act is not violence.”
Mahatma Gandhi, “What Women Should Do in a Difficult Situation,” Collected Works, 4 September 1932
It should be noted that the soldier in the Ahed Tamimi case was occupying her back yard, in defense of an illegal settlement, and that earlier that day an Israeli soldier had shot Ahed’s cousin in the face.
P.S. Finkelstein has suggested a #METOO! campaign by Palestinian women, in which they slap Israeli soldiers. He acknowledges that such gestures would entail an enormous amount of risk.
Israeli journalist who called for unspeakable acts against Ahed Tamimi tries, and fails, to backpedal I
Prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit caused international furor last week, when he wrote in his Maariv article that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.
Caspit has certainly felt the heat in response to his insidious suggestions, and probably began fearing not only for his reputation, but possibly for his job, which besides Maariv also includes the respected Al-Monitor. Israeli activist Ofer Neiman tweeted: “He can’t have it both ways– writing for a liberal peace-oriented outlet and inciting rape/murder/violence.”
Caspit’s article was in Hebrew, but now he is trying to backpedal and ‘clarify’ in English – in a Jerusalem Post article from yesterday.
Caspit titles his piece “Fighting a shaming campaign with the truth”, framing himself as a victim who has simply been misunderstood. He describes his ‘ordeal’:
“Within hours you discover that you’ve turned into Public Enemy No. 1, a modern day pariah; a man who calls for the rape of young girls and destruction of families; a contemporary Nazi. A rare combination of circumstances, a phrase taken out of context, an inaccurate translation and a great deal of evil intention have planted in your keyboard things you never said, and in your brain, things you never thought. All that is left it to chase after the eternal wind in the cyber willows.”
I am proud to say I am one of those who have publicly and critically referred to his first article, though not the first. The critical and most egregious sentence mentioned above, had appeared in mainstream media a day later – for example AP and CBS. The translation was accurate and furthermore, in my article, I provided a greater context than was available otherwise, precisely in order to relate to Caspit’s greater message of incitement, and how that phrase played into it.
The other quote, which Caspit does not refer to at all in his ‘clarification’, is this, as I had written:
“There is no stomach which does not turn when witnessing this clip”, Caspit says, referring to Zionist stomachs, that is. “I, for example, if I were to encounter that situation, I would have long ago been in detention until end of procedures”. In other words, Caspit is saying he would run amok on the girls to a degree that would get him arrested. That’s what he’s indirectly suggesting would be ‘normal’, because he would do it…
You see, Caspit’s unspecified suggestion for a “price” to be “exacted”, is conditioned by his incitement mentioned here. We don’t know the details of the actions which Caspit imagines would get him arrested. And do we even want to know them? If Caspit suggests he would do those unspeakable actions in the daytime, even if there were cameras filming – what are we to think of the things he, or the others influenced by his suggestions, might do in the dark?
Caspit seeks to portray himself as a ‘man of peace’, who couldn’t possibly suggest that such insidious things be done to Palestinian girls:
“No one bothers to ask him/herself whether or not you’ve devoted your entire career to the peace cause, supported and continue to support the peace agreements and proposals, support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, see the settlements an enterprise that has caused more harm than good and is considered in Netanyahu’s office as one of the right’s greatest media enemies”, he bemoans.
In other words, Caspit is trying to point out that all these “leftist” points should count, and that if they were counted, they would ostensibly outweigh any ‘misunderstanding’ of his text. Yet as I have pointed out earlier this month, an Israeli ‘leftist’ general, interviewed extensively on the same Maariv, was calling for ‘tearing the Palestinians apart’ and ‘tossing them across the Jordan’. Being an Israeli leftist proves nothing of the kind that Caspit seeks to prove.
Caspit reduces the whole filmed episode of the soldiers occupying the Tamimi lawn to a “meeting”:
“What’s this all about?”, he asks. “A meeting between two IDF soldiers and the Tamimi family from the village of Nabi Saleh that was leaked to thee Israeli media last Monday”, he answers himself.
One is almost persuaded to think that the Tamimis sat at their kitchen table with two IDF soldiers, perhaps discussing politics and daily trivia. But no, this was not it at all. As Ahed’s father, Bassem, wrote in his excellent piece in Newsweek two days ago,
“Less than half an hour earlier, a soldier shot Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin in the face at close distance with a rubber coated steel bullet, causing severe injuries and leaving him in a coma. Then, two soldiers had jumped the wall of our backyard and forced their way on to our property when Ahed confronted them in an effort to make them leave.”
For Caspit, the video of Ahed slapping the soldier was infuriating: “The video made every Israeli’s blood boil, regardless of his/her political inclinations”, he writes. But this is not true. I am an Israeli, and it was not the video itself that caused my blood to boil. Rather, it was the madness and incitement sweeping across Israeli society, leadership and media – including, in particular, Caspit’s vile incitement.
Caspit is arguably more dangerous than the rightists who regularly bark racist statements against Palestinians (like for example lawmaker Oren Hazan, Likud, who yesterday got on an ICRC bus of Palestinian family relatives from Gaza traveling to an Israeli prison, calling their children “dogs”). It’s precisely because Caspit wears the cloak of a respectable, leftist journalist, that such suggestions coming from him can carry weight also for those ‘peaceniks’ (whose blood nonetheless boils when 16-year-old girls provoke them…)
Caspit tries to argue that actually, he wasn’t inciting at all, quite the opposite, as it were. He claims that the essence of his article was hailing ‘restraint’:
‘In the article itself, I praised the IDF soldiers, for their “superhuman restraint” against Palestinian provocation’, he writes.
There is of course no provocation whatsoever in all this, from the soldiers, in Caspit’s rendering (let us also put aside the seldom mentioned slap from the Israeli soldier which hit Ahed 5 seconds before she slapped him). Anyway, in Caspit’s original Maarivarticle, he wasn’t actually hailing their restraint for itself, but rather for its PR value:
“Sometimes also restraint is power, and in the case before us, the combatants are worthy of a medal of honor, not reprimand. To keep one’s restraint in this impossible situation is far more difficult than applying force, especially when the bitter enemy in front of you is three girls who do everything to get beaten up, knowing fully well that any laying of a hand by armed combatants upon supposedly innocent girls will serve as a deadly propaganda weapon in the endless war fought for hearts on social media”, he wrote last week (as I had also quoted in my earlier piece).
Caspit is bewildered as to how people (of the “social media masses”) could possibly have misunderstood him so badly:
“Where, then, did the social media masses find the story, according to which I had proposed that the IDF should rape Ahed Tamimi under the cover of darkness? Where did the Satanic plan – accredited to me – to make Palestinian families disappear or to carry terrible crimes on them in the dark come from?”, he asks.
Well, I for one did not say that Caspit necessarily suggested that the girls would be raped. But his suggestion, with its insidious language (paired with the above mentioned additional incitement), certainly left a huge open space for creeps and their wild imagination. On this I wrote:
These are not just words. It’s like when last year, an Israeli former chief educator suggested in a Sheldon Adelson paper that Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström might get the ‘Bernadotte treatment’ (assassination), for daring to suggest that Israel might be applying a policy of extrajudicial assassinations. The author, Zvi Zameret, later said that he didn’t actually suggest her assassination. Just like Caspit was not actually saying Ahed Tamimi should be beaten or raped. The details of the crime can be left to the wild imagination of those perpetrating it, “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.
Caspit suggests that all this “misunderstanding” came exclusively from non-Israelis:
“No one in Israel understood my article in this light because it was read in the right context – regarding the argument over the timing of Ahed Tamimi’s arrest”, he writes.
Whoa. I’m an Israeli. I understood it “in this light” (or rather darkness). Ofer Neiman, who by the way recently started a petitionto hold Caspit to Press Council discipline, has certainly understood it “in this light”. Shani Litman asks today in Haaretz (Hebrew):
“Did the hand of Ben Caspit tremble when he wrote these lines? In polished, clerk-like language, and without saying anything explicitly, the prominent journalist Ben Caspit managed to write a sentence which in its entirety is a threat of chilling violence against the young Tamimi women.”
Litman additionally quotes Caspit who wrote that “the IDF has sufficient capabilities, creativity and means to create such inputs, without paying an exorbitant public price”, and Litman then asks:
“Did the editor hesitate when they read this sentence, the thickness of the words “girls”, “in the dark, without witness and cameras” and “creativity”, and feel totally comfortable with it? How is it possible that no one stopped for a moment to digest these words, that no one’s stomach turned?”, Litman writes (echoing Caspit who wrote that “there is no stomach which does not turn when witnessing this clip”).
These are Israeli people, folks. We’re not that stupid. And Caspit, in his desperate attempt to backpedal, is providing an even more pathetic article, which suggests that its just the goyim who didn’t understand Israeli jargon. So take it from us, the ‘other’ Israelis – you didn’t really misunderstand him. He is now trying to convince us that his whole suggestion was just about timing – arrest them in the night, rather than in the day, as it were (and remember, no cameras, and be creative). Nothing to look at folks, move quietly on.
No, there’s a lot to look at here, and Caspit should be doing a major soul-searching, rather than investing time in such tiring self-apologia.
Towards the end of his Jerusalem Post article, Caspit shows his ‘reasonable’ and ‘merciful’ face concerning Ahed Tamimi:
“As this article is being written, it has been announced that Ahad Tamimi’s custody has been extended by four days. Just as I had originally thought that it was best to arrest her quietly, I now believe that it is unnecessary to keep her for so long in custody.”
So now Caspit is complaining that Ahed is being treated too harshly! Crocodile tears? The system is simply being ‘creative’ – isn’t that what Caspit was suggesting? Ahed Tamimi has been carried around to various prison facilities, put in cold cells, and not even allowed a change of clothes at least in her first 6 days of detention. Israeli-Palestinian lawmaker Ahmad Tibi tweetedyesterday (Hebrew):
‘Ahed Tamimi aged 16 is detained for 6 days and despite the decision of the court President to provide her clothes, this has not been done. “The system” is exacting revenge’.
That ‘revenge’ is the ‘price’ that the system is now ‘exacting’ upon Ahed Tamimi and her family. It is happening in the darkness of cold cells, where there are no cameras or witnesses. And Ben Caspit has been a part of the incitement leading to all this.
Author: Martin Berger
The recent chain of events in the UN General Assembly has clearly shown that the world is not just no longer willing to obey Washington’s global dictate, it’s now fully aware of the decline in America’s moral authority that allowed it to play a part in solving global challenges. Yet, we witness the reluctance of the overwhelming majority of countries to take into account Washington’s position on a number of global issues.
Less than two weeks ago, the United States and the Ukraine found themselves pretty much the only states that chose to oppose the adoption of a resolution condemning glorification of Nazism at the UN General Assembly, with a total of 133 states choosing to support the resolution. Those speaking in front of the UN General Assembly would express their deep concern over repeated attempts made in certain states to make fascist forces in any shape and form look heroic, along with the steps made by certain players to provide an excuse to the members of the destroyed Waffen-SS by honoring their memory through memorials. At the same time the resolution would recognize repeated attempts to desecrate or even destroy those monuments that were erected in memory of those who sacrificed their lives fighting the German Nazi regime in Germany during the Second World War.
The document draws attention to the rise of fascist groups and ultra-right parties that are getting an ever increasing number of seats held in a number of national and local parliaments, while openly expressing racist and even xenophobic views. The UN General Assembly would urge all countries to take concrete steps both in the legislative and educational spheres to prevent the revision of the Second World War through the denial of those despicable crimes against humanity committed by Nazi forces throughout the conflict. The UN General Assembly vote and even the wording of the above mentioned resolution demonstrates an ever-growing chasm in the approaches enjoyed by the United States and the rest of the world, that is still determined to uphold true human values. Against this background it’s no wonder that Washington’s repeated attempts to isolate Russia have basically failed.
It is noteworthy that on the same day the above mentioned resolution was adopted the General Assembly would vote on the issue of Crimea, the fact that Washington was planning to abuse in its anti-Russian propaganda campaign aimed at isolating Moscow through the consolidation of the so-called Russophobic coalition. However, the vote on this issue left Washington in a pretty shameful position, with a total of 76 abstaining from voting, with a total 25 countries openly supporting Russia’s position. But what is more curious is that about a dozen delegations would choose not to honor the discussion by their presence.
But there’s little doubt that the decision of the White House to demand the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has put the final nail in the coffin of America’s diplomatic standing. The outright armature foreign policy of the Trump administration has been turned down by the UN General Assembly. It is noteworthy that the UN GA voting was preceded by an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, where a total of 14 members of the Council would vote against this step, leaving Washington on the ropes. With no other option but to veto the UN Security Council vote, Washington was forced to face a special session of the UN General Assembly that hasn’t been assembled in many years. It’s curious that no state can exercise veto during the UN General Assembly vote, thus Washington initiative to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli territory was rejected by a majority vote of 128 states. Moreover, it is very revealing that the resolution was supported by the majority of EU states, which manifest the ever growing alienation of Brussels.
Washington’s repeated attempts to avert the PR disaster that the resolution condemning American recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital has proven to be through intimidation that was employed by President Trump himself and the sitting United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley produced to no positive result. Washington has made it very clear that the states supporting the resolution in question won’t receive America’s assistance, marking the most boldest attempt to blackmail UN members states in the history of the UN. One cannot be so naive not to assume that this very assistance has been used repeatedly to affect decisions made by foreign players, but this has never been done so openly.
Due to these empty threats and the fact that Trump has no authority at the international stage even the states that can be described as Washington’s obedient satellites like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with the regional partners and allies of those like Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq would all vote against America. It’s curious that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan would find the words to express the position of all those outraged by this latest blackmail attempt noting that his country was not for sale. As a result, the majority of state would condemn Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while stressing that this decision has no legal bearing whatsoever.
Of course, this grave blow will not force the stubborn Trump administration to adjust its position, instead it will get increasingly more critical of the United Nations.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”