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Gilad Shalit In The Media.

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I have meant to write more on this topic, but couldn’t.

Still, Just Journalism has a good piece on the hypocrisy that is so evident in the British media:

“There were noticeable differences between The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC News website on the reported resumption of talks between Israel and Hamas over the release of Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit.

The biggest issue relates to the fact that Shalit has been denied visits during the period of his capture – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention and International Human Rights Law. The BBC article on the renewed talks did not even mention that he has been denied all visits.

The Associated Press and Independent articles, on the other hand, did both mention that Shalit has not been allowed visits; however, they failed to cite this as a violation of international law. The Independent noted that:

‘Sgt Shalit’s family has repeatedly complained that Hamas has not allowed visits to him by the International Red Cross.’

The Independent stated that:

‘Since his capture four years ago, Shalit has received no outside visitors.’

The failure to cite international law contrasts with coverage of Israeli actions, such as construction in the West Bank, where the issue of legality is frequently raised. “

What a contrast to how the British journalist Alan Johnston’s captivity was covered in the media.

Written by modernityblog

18/10/2010 at 22:29

Gilad Shalit.

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Despite a lot of arm waving concerning human rights in bits of the Middle East there isn’t much real concern in the West for the fate of Gilad Shalit.

Gilad Shalit was, you will remember, kidnapped four years ago.

Gilad Shalit is now held by Hamas.

Gilad Shalit is not allowed access to any visitors or even the Red Cross, contrary to all accepted norms of human rights and the Geneva conventions.

Gilad Shalit is locked up in some hole by Hamas and has been for years, not that you will hear much of that in the Western media.

Gilad Shalit banner

Here’s some of my previous posts on this topic:

Ingrid Betancourt and Gilad Shalit

1,195 Days – Compare and Contrast

Gilad Shalit – One Forgotten Israeli

That’s Alright, Keep Your Guns

Update 1: HRW apparently has commented on Gilad Shalit, but will the issues surrounding he is kidnapped, imprisonment and being held incommunicado be dealt with in the Western media? I somehow doubt it, but HRW’s contribution is welcome:

“JERUSALEM — Human Rights Watch on Friday demanded that Hamas end its “cruel and inhuman treatment” of Gilad Shalit as Israel marked the fourth anniversary of the soldier’s captivity at the hands of the Islamist movement.

“Hamas authorities are violating the laws of war by refusing to allow Shalit to correspond with his family,” the New York-based group HRW said, adding that the young soldier’s prolonged incommunicado detention “may amount to torture.”

Thousands of yellow balloons were to be released across Israel for the anniversary, a candle-lighting ceremony was planned in Tel Aviv and a major newspaper distributed yellow ribbons to its readers.

Amid growing public backing in Israel for a prisoner exchange deal with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, demonstrations of support for Shalit also have been held in several capitals this week, including Rome and Paris.

On Sunday, the Shalit family accompanied by thousands of supporters will set off on a march from their home in northern Israel to Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence, a distance of about 200 kilometres (120 miles.)

Shalit, then a 19-year-old corporal, was captured by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in a deadly cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip on June 25, 2006.

He is believed to be held in Hamas-ruled Gaza, where he has had no contact with his family or the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“Regardless of Hamas?s grievances against Israel, there are no grounds to cut Shalit off completely from his family,” HRW said.

“Hamas authorities in Gaza should immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit,” it said.

The Islamist movement has said allowing outside access to Shalit could reveal his location to Israel.

HRW pointed out that Israel has prevented detainees from the Gaza Strip from having family visits since Hamas seized power in the Palestinian territory in 2007.

They are however allowed periodic Red Cross visits.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip four years ago a bid to force Hamas to release Shalit, but eased the sanctions this week amid international pressure fuelled by a deadly commando raid on an Gaza-bound activist aid flotilla.

Negotiations for a prisoner swap, mediated by Egypt and Turkey, have hit a brick wall.

Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of prisoners, including several top militants responsible for killing scores of Israelis, in exchange for Shalit — a price the Jewish state has been reluctant to pay.

A majority of Israelis are in favour of such a swap, according to a poll published by the Yediot Aharonot daily on Friday.

Seventy-two percent said yes when asked if they would support “a prisoner exchange deal in which hundreds of terrorists, including murderers, are released in exchange for Gilad Shalit.” “

Written by modernityblog

25/06/2010 at 01:05

Ingrid Betancourt and Gilad Shalit.

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One of my readers kindly reminded me, I had forgotten that Gilad Shalit had French citizenship, with that in mind the situation of Ingrid Betancourt is pertinent.

She was kidnapped by FARC whilst out campaigning in 2002. This BBC News article marked her 1000th day in captivity yet you would search high and low to find a similar one on Gilad Shalit.

Ingrid Betancourt has dual Colombian and French citizenship.

Gilad Shalit has dual Israeli and French citizenship.

There the similarity ends. There is precious little coverage in the Western media of Gilad Shalit’s plight.

More recently France has made a few token noises and even granted Paris citizenship to Gilad’s father, but there is nothing about Hamas’s treatment of Gilad Shalit and their contravention of his status as a POW (access to the Red Cross, etc).

What is noticeable is the inability of the Western media and policy makers to make even elementary criticisms of Hamas when the fate of an Israeli is at stake.

I suspect such an attitude doesn’t go unnoticed in Israel.

Written by modernityblog

11/10/2009 at 15:44

Gilad Shalit – One Forgotten Israeli.

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I was recently reminded that Gilad Shalit has been in captivity for a thousand days, but if you read much of the European or British media you wouldn’t know that.

In fact, if you manage to question international bodies, such as the UN or the International Red Cross, you wouldn’t even know that he was kidnapped from Israeli territory.

Most of us will remember when a British journalist was abducted outside a cafe in Gaza some years back, and the indignation of Alan Johnson’s colleagues was all too evident, yet even though Hamas and their allies have admitted kidnapping and holding Gilad Shalit, that’s about it.

Outside of some Israeli or Jewish groups there is no evidence of concern, acknowledgement of his captivity, or news of Gilad Shalit’s fate.

As far as international organisations and the Western media are concerned Gilad Shalit is a nonperson.

This attitude or apathy shouldn’t be surprising, but the very least the International Red Cross should be lobbying Hamas for access to Gilad Shalit, but is there any evidence of that? No.

Then again were frequently told that the West should recognise Hamas as the democratically elected government (that’s leaving aside their coup d’etat in Gaza), however, there is little reciprocity.

There is no pressure, no following of accepted conventions concerning prisoners of war, when they are Israelis.

The International Red Cross couldn’t give a shit, the UN neither and Hamas will probably use Gilad Shalit, whose health was weak, as some bargaining chip, that is forgetting any international conventions concerning prisoners of war, humanitarian concerns or even humanity, and no international organisation will dare disagree with them.

In complete contradiction to international conventions no outside medical staff have visited or cared for Gilad Shalit since his kidnap, some 1000 days ago. They have done nothing. Zip. Nada

So next time when you wonder why the Israelis sometimes appear a bit belligerent, a bit stroppy and seemingly unconcerned with what international organisations think of them, ponder the fate of Gilad Shalit and ask:

Where was the International Red Cross?
Where were the UN?
Where was the Western media?
Would they act like this, if the PoW wasn’t an Israeli?

And you know the answer already.

Written by modernityblog

19/03/2009 at 02:51

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“Anti-Zionists” And The Whiff Of Racism.

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Non-Jewish “anti-Zionists” will frequently tell you that they have nothing against Jews. Indeed, some of their best friends are…

Or that they hold no prejudices against Jews.

Some of them even seem sincere when they say that, but the problem is when you follow the goings-on of these “non-Jewish anti-Zionists” you often come across the whiff of racism.

The Smell.

It’s not the strong poignant smell that you get from the Far Right. It is not that choking stench that you find on the Extreme Right, but it’s there all the same. For the most part, it is not vulgar or in your face, but you can detect it if you’re sensitive to the ebbs and flows of racism.

I suspect that part of the reason that it is not such an astringent smell, is that it comes from supposedly highly educated people. It is, more often than not, a product of the metropolitan elites, not vulgar thugs in the street, so is seen in a different light. Nevertheless, you can detect the racism, if you try. It leaves a bitter taste on the back of the throat.

Racist Websites.

So imagine my surprise when reading a left-wing blog, Bob from Brockley, that two racist websites were recommended by a “anti-Zionist”.

Firstly, this “anti-Zionist” suggests the Occupied Palestine blog, which I previously demonstrated had a love of neo-Nazi material.

Next, the “anti-Zionist” rates Alison Weir’s not too subtle racism, I dealt with it here.

It is an exceedingly discomforting sensation to think that you will be discussing politics with reasoned anti-racists, then to be confronted with repulsive anti-Jewish racism from one of the participants.

I think the worst part is, that this particular “anti-Zionist” is an adult, a political activist with over a decade’s experience and an Oxbridge graduate.

What Are They Thinking?

It does make you wonder what goes through the minds of “anti-Zionists” that they can read this racist material and it does not ring alarm bells with them.

None of this pricks their conscience, nothing seems to get through, their supposed opposition to racism is shown to be non-existent, their understanding of racism merely a set of words. All is a sham.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kidnapping In Gaza.

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In a bizarre twist, an ISM activist has been kidnapped by a group even more extreme than Hamas, AFP reports:

“GAZA CITY — A Salafist group of radical Islamists kidnapped an Italian activist in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kill him, the group and aid workers said.

Foreign aid workers in the enclave named the man as Vittorio Arrigoni and said he was an activist with a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was also working as a journalist and writer.
In a video posted on YouTube, the Salafist group said it had taken him hostage in order to secure the release of an unspecified number of their members who had been arrested by the security forces in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

It said it would execute him if their demands were not met by 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Friday.

“We kidnapped the Italian prisoner Vittorio and we call on the Haniya government … to release all our prisoners,” it said, referring to Hamas premier Ismail Haniya and naming an imprisoned jihadi leader called Sheikh Hisham al-Suedani.

“If you don’t respond quickly to our demands, within 30 hours from 11:00 am (0800 GMT) on April 14, we will execute this prisoner,” it said.
The interior ministry of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza said it was checking the reports of the kidnapping.

The West Bank-based Palestinian leadership called for the “immediate and unconditional release of this foreign activist who is working in support of the Palestinian cause and people.”

“This action does not help the just cause of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, it harms it,” a statement said.

The kidnappers identified themselves in the video as belonging to a previously unknown group called The Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima.

The group described Arrigoni as a “journalist who came to our country for nothing but to corrupt people — from Italy, the state of infidelity, whose armies are still in the Muslim countries.” “

I hope they release Vittorio Arrigoni unharmed, and at the same time, that Hamas make an effort to free their own captive, the kidnapped Israeli, Gilad Shalit.

Gilad Shalit has been held without any external contact or competent, independent, medical supervision (which contravenes the Geneva Convention) for 4 years, 9 months and 20 days.

Written by modernityblog

15/04/2011 at 01:16

Imagine If….

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This piece, unintentionally, highlights the dual standards which exist in the West, when it comes to the welfare of Israelis:

“Imagine if the UN announced tomorrow that it was suspending all UNWRA activities and funding in the Gaza Strip until Gilad Shalit was released. Imagine if the EU refused to allow imports of strawberries and flowers from Gaza until the Red Cross was granted regular access to Gilad in accordance with his rights under international law. Imagine if Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or B’Tselem did more than release the occasional tepid statement. Imagine if the BBC and the Guardian actually reported this story with the same zeal and intensity as they invested in the kidnapping of Alan Johnston.”

World Conflicts.

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I remember last year watching a small video which discussed some of the 300+ conflicts in the world, now Bob scours the Web with greater skill than me and points us to Open Democracy’s discussion of forgotten conflicts.

I think, for anyone with an internationalist prospective, it is an interesting question to ask why the West is so focused on certain conflicts but not others.

Here’s Noah Bernstein:

“The Western media’s fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long overshadowed death and oppression in other parts of the world. Gilad Shalit and the Qassam rocket are known to many; the death of 5.9 million in the eight-nation Second Congo War is not. Recent Israeli and Palestinian elections were covered worldwide in real-time, while images of genocide in Rwanda and Sudan did not surface until it was too late. Countless articles argue media bias in favour of Israel or the Palestinians, yet few address the media bias towards the conflict itself.

The disproportionate media coverage raises several uncomfortable questions: why were the deaths of Congolese civilians at the hands of the LRA deemed less newsworthy than, in the first instance, crumbling cease-fire talks and, later, the deaths of Palestinian civilians? More generally, why is the west so consumed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what are the consequences of underreporting other conflicts? Finally, can anything be done to redress the media balance so that the rights of all humans – regardless of colour, ethnicity, and geography – are given equal weight?”

[My emphasis].

Written by modernityblog

23/03/2010 at 03:11

1,195 Days – Compare and Contrast.

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Recent events set me thinking, Alan Johnston, the journalist, was held in Gaza for some 114 days.

The Western media were full of stories about him, delegates of worthy citizens pleaded for his safe return, so many column inches were expended on his plight.

Compare that with Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped from Israel’s territory during an attack in June 2006, pulled down a tunnel back into Gaza.

Held as a POW by Hamas, but afforded none of the rights, no visits, no Red Cross, etc.

Gilad Shalit’s family, until now, had no confirmation if he was alive or dead. No information was forth coming from Hamas, nothing, nada, zip.

After a brokered agreement by the Egyptians and Germans a video of Gilad Shalit and some letters were exchanged for 20 female prisoners in Israel’s jails.

Gilad’s captors, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, even made him state how wonderful their treatment of him was, here’s a cached copy of their web site.

If you followed the Western media you’d hardly see anything about the Israeli solider, kidnapped, deny the basics under the Geneva convention, held in incommunicado for three and a half years.

Hardly a sausage in the media about Gilad Shalit’s treatment, yet plenty about Gitmo or even Abu Ghraib.

Compare and contrast that with Alan Johnston’s fate. The BBC even have a whole web page devoted to him, masses of information.

Oh, how the Western media agonized about poor Alan Johnston, but Gilad Shalit’s predicament barely registers.

Oh, Western sensibilities, how fickle you are. Why don’t you question Hamas about their treatment of Shalit? Or perhaps he isn’t British so doesn’t count?

That’s Alright, Keep Your Guns.

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I had not intended to blog on Alan Johnston’s release as so many people have covered this topic and with greater clarity then I could hope for, but an item caught my eye in the Times:

“…But by 3am the negotiations had again hit a stalemate: Mr Dagmoush was afraid that if he disarmed, enemy clans with whom he and his men had longstanding blood feuds would swoop on them. In the end, Hamas agreed that the kidnappers could keep their weapons – if they used them against Israel – and that the Islamic movement would protect them against their enemies. Still, Mr Dagmoush hesitated.

Both sides finally agreed to bring in an outside mediator. The only man they could mutually agree on was Salman Dayeh, a 49-year-old independent religious cleric who teaches Sharia at the Islamic University.

“He is known for his justice and fair dealings all over the Gaza Strip. He was the only person who could command the respect needed to end this crisis,” said Abu Khatab, an uncle of Mr Dagmoush who served as one of his chief advisors during the negotiations.

Mr Dagmoush asked the cleric one question: “What is God’s opinion regarding the abduction of this journalist?” Sheikh Dayeh recalls his answer: “According to religious law the answer is clear: his freedom has to be returned to him. Keeping him in captivity is against religious law.” The answer amounted to a fatwa, or religious order. Mr Dagmoush found himself backed into a corner.

Certain members of Mr Dagmoush’s family, including Abu Khatab, had been pressing him to release Johnston. Their reasoning was partly financial: the family’s arms smuggling business had been boycotted by some of its best customers because it was holding the British journalist….”

The Dagmoush clan kept their weapons, gun running and criminal operations.

Hamas are happy for this band of thugs and brigands to keep their weapons as long as they are aimed at Israelis. Hmm, yeah, sure they want peace? Oh yeah.

Johnson’s release should heighten our concern for Gilad Shalit, a new blog is dedicated to him.

Written by modernityblog

07/07/2007 at 02:05

Posted in Uncategorized

Cat Out of the Bag

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For all of those gullible souls that shouted “we are all Hizbollah” during the summer of 2006 here is an interview with former Hizbullah secretary-general Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili, who let’s the cat out of the bag.

“Hizbullah is an Integral Part of the Iranian Intelligence Apparatus

Question: “You were formerly Hizbullah secretary-general. Is the [situation in Lebanon] within the strategic framework of Hizbullah? Does Hizbullah have an outlined and prepared plan that is being implemented today? Why do you think Hizbullah has become a source of anxiety for the Lebanese? “

Al-Tufeili: “It wasn’t like this in the beginning. Hizbullah’s activity was limited to resistance [operations]… But, unfortunately, the problem has developed today to the point where they have succeeded in changing Hizbullah from a resistance force into a tool to be used in [whatever] direction they want.”

Question: “Does this mean that Hizbullah does not make its own decisions, and that its orders come from outside [Lebanon]?”

Al-Tufeili: “Yes, Hizbullah is a tool, and it is an integral part of the Iranian intelligence apparatus. Unfortunately, all the elements in the [Lebanese] arena have become tools, and take orders from outside [Lebanon]…”

Abducting the Soldiers Was “An Unsuccessful Adventure”

Question: “Can you see any justification for the July [2006] war after southern Lebanon was liberated in 2000?”

Al-Tufeili: “Following the abduction of the Israeli soldier [Gilad Shalit] in Gaza, and the enemy’s response to that operation, [i.e.] the shelling, and the abduction of Palestinian ministers and MPs… I was amazed when Hizbullah announced that it had abducted two Israeli soldiers…

“[Israel is] an enemy we know. It has plundered our land, murdered our people, and slaughtered our children. [Was it reasonable] for us to carry out an operation like this after we have seen the response to it in Gaza and in occupied Palestine? [Was it reasonable for us to carry out such an operation] when we know that Israel attacks us, murders our children, and destroys our country [even] without us giving it excuses to do so…? I think that any sensible person could have assessed the enemy’s possible response to the abduction operation… On the one hand, they [Hizbullah] are saying, ‘Had we known what the reaction would be, we would not have abducted the soldiers.’ On the other hand, they are giving the Israeli enemy a pretext to launch aggression against us…

“When we look at the causes of the war, there is no choice but to [admit] this. If [the war] had gotten worse, it could have led to the loss of the [entire] country… Are we allowed to destroy our country [just] so we can say that we abducted two soldiers – when we all knew what the magnitude of the Israeli response [would be]? What happened was an unsuccessful adventure, and there is no escaping the fact that those who carried it out will bear the responsibility for it…”

Iran Must Stop Using Hizbullah for Its Own Aims in Its Struggle with the West

Al-Tufeili: “[Furthermore], why was… the South [Lebanese] front the only one left burning, and why was Lebanon the only arena of bloodshed? Why weren’t all fronts opened?… Why has Hizbullah become a tool [serving] individual interests that have nothing to do with the resistance? In my opinion, the issue is broader than the local [context], and is connected to the regional struggle – but it is being carried out by a local tool [i.e. Hizbullah]…

“After all that has happened, I hope that Iran will change from an element seeking its political interests in the region [into an element acting for the] liberation of Jerusalem – if Iran indeed wants to liberate Jerusalem as it claims. [It must stop] using the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] for its own aims in its struggle with the West…”

Hizbullah is Leading the Country to Civil War

Al-Tufeili continued: “Until not long ago, the March 8 Group [a term for the Lebanese opposition] was a partner in the government, and participated in parliamentary elections.

“The March 14 [Forces] did not mislead [the Lebanese opposition]… They are openly allied with of the U.S. and France; they say openly ‘We do not agree to weapons in Lebanon, except for those of the military.’ They are demanding that Hizbullah hand over its arms, but in the framework of [internal Lebanese] dialogue, not by force. [They are also saying] that they want an [international] court [for the Al-Hariri assassination]. All this they said prior to the elections as well as after the elections, before they became ministers and after they became ministers.

“So where is their treason? Whom have they betrayed? Their position is clear; this is their plan, and [Hizbullah] entered into [an alliance] with them [just] for the election campaign… Yesterday, [Hizbullah] had an alliance with them, and gave the March 14 Forces a majority in parliament and in the government, and had no dispute or problems with them. [Hizbullah considered this alliance] to be for the good of the homeland.

“Today, [Hizbullah] is leading the country to civil war, in order to obtain a third [of the government]… If this third is so important, then [Hizbullah] must be punished, because it itself was the one who gave it to the [March 14 Forces in the first place]. If it is not important, then Hizbullah is leading us to civil war, to destruction and to the ruin of the country, for no good reason…”

I Do Not Believe Those Who Say They Are Against Civil War Yet Behave in a Way that Will Lead to Civil War

“I find no [justification] for us having reached such a situation… This is how wars begin. What we are seeing today in Lebanon is the preparation of an emotional, popular, military, media, and security climate [leading] towards a war that might break out at any moment. I don’t believe anyone who says he is not interested in [civil] war, [yet] behaves in this manner. This is the behavior of someone who wants war.”

“Iran is the Main Nerve in the Activity Today in Lebanon”

Referring to Syria’s role in the events in Lebanon, Al-Tufeili said: “Syria is undoubtedly Iran’s ally. It has undoubtedly been harmed by the March 14 Forces, and by the establishment of the [international] court. Thus, it is part of this battle; but it is not the most influential factor…

“Iran is the main nerve in the activity today in Lebanon. All Hizbullah activity [is financed] by Iranian funds. Syria has an important role, but Iran is the main and primary support of [the Lebanese opposition]. On the other side, the U.S. is supporting the March 14 Forces.”

Written by modernityblog

19/01/2007 at 01:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Where Is It All Going?

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My cynical view of Hamas’s recent attack on Israeli soldiers, as a way to deflect from their own splits and political crisis, seems to be borne out by events.

Israelis’ incursion is now the focus of vitriolic attacks in the Westen media, which seemingly forget that:

1) It was Hamas and their proxies that actually provoked this situation.
2) It could have been settled very quickly by releasing Gilad Shalit.
3) Hamas and their proxies rejected any of the proposed compromises from Egyptian mediators.
4) Hamas are not really interested in the welfare of the Palestinians, only using them as political pawns in Hamas’s nihilistic game against the dreaded “Zionist entity”.

Witness the recent evidence from a Hamas video, where Hamas followers chant about “Drinking the blood of the Jews” (thanks to John-Paul for highlighting it).

But I am interested in alternatives to the current Israeli strategy?

Let’s see it from other countries perspectives (USA and Syria):

Hypothetically speaking, what would the USA do, if Mexico had launched some 1000 rockets at American civilians in the past year?

What then if Mexico kidnapped an American trooper?

Hum, yeah, I can see the USA (or any other country) emulating Ghandi with non-violence and prayers? Whilst the likes of Hamas provoke conflict, with rockets and kidnapping.

Or look at it another way, suppose the roles were reversed, with say Syria?

Hypothetically speaking, suppose that Gaza was full of Israelis and Syria was in Israel’s position, what would they do? They would have flattened Gaza with every Israeli in there, in a heartbeat.

So instead, most of IDF has been camped in the north of Gaza, whilst mediation took place

However, as you might expect, the Hamas terrorists have rejected any negotiated settlement, which was all part of their original game plan.

Sadly, the weak Olmert government will probably inflict unnecessary damage on the Gaza infrastructure and kill civilians playing straight into Hamas’s hands.

In the West, the causes of this crisis will conveniently be forgotten and Israel further demonised.

All very unnecessary, stupid, callous and with the Hamas leadership I can see it only getting worst for the Palestinians.

Written by modernityblog

05/07/2006 at 21:41

Posted in Uncategorized