No, it's not a question of opinion – it's a question of facts and whether they are right ... or whether they are not, either partially or in toto.
This is what political comment entails.
This is what research entails.
One doesn't have an opinion of one's own, in isolation. One has drawn a conclusion from what was found in the research and as that research is ongoing, therefore the opinion is changeable and could conceivably become the opposite of what the researcher now holds, if facts should come forth which show it to be so.
If the scholar is not this flexible, then he/she is dogmatic.
Just such a thing did occur during my own research on this matter. Initially dipping into the abundance of data which shows that these two visitors to Palestine really were, let's say 'carriers of' piffle, highly coloured and dangerous piffle at that, in that it swayed readers into accepting conclusions which were palpably false and served the propaganda purposes of the hosts – as I say, initially dipping into this, I also came across quite a bit of contra-data.
For a start, and you can be sure I've read the Palestinian material on this as well as the Israeli material, it seems incontrovertible that the Israelis do act towards the Palestinians in a most pointedly harsh manner in certain key areas whereas, away from flashpoints and corridors, where they appear to have lived together for such a long time, there seems no need for this harshness.
This can be further illustrated by the place I used to live, in Russia, where Muslim and non-Muslim, including Jews, live in relative harmony. Why can they manage that and yet in the Middle-East, they can't? There's obviously another factor in the mix, isn't there?
I found something else out which many already know. Israel used white phosphorus clouds over a residential area. As those who've read up on it are aware, it is primarily for illuminating areas where known enemy activity is taking place – Taliban and Iraq used it, the Americans used it, they all used it. The problem is the collateral damage if it touches the skin – it is a nasty anti-personnel weapon.
Now you can discount the slanted pro-Hamas videos with hysterical claims which show burnt bodies. You can discount the propaganda side of it – those bodies were more than likely the very people who were firing at Israel, the terrorists themselves and quite legitimate targets.
The thing is – you don't definitively know and I don't know but I do know you can't trust anything the western media or Hamas say because they will only show their own slant. I'd say those victims more than likely were either terrorists or their unfortunate human shields.
The weapon itself is awful and inhumane, highly nasty in its effects. One vid of Palestinian boys playing around with smoking phosporus on the ground shows the smoke is not harmful but a direct hit by one of these shells is. They were fired from the air and there was no way it might not have hit civilians, particularly as Hamas love putting children into the firing line and then allowing the media to make a video and providing spokespeople to denounce Israel over it.
The hardest thing of all is to shut out the rhetoric of the Hamas/western media propaganda machine, with their slanted video 'evidence' and rely on what you see ALONE.
Last evening I watched a video I can't find now, dammit, but it was the best of all of them because there was no commentary, just footage form a balcony showing a residential area, with phosphorus lighting up the sky. Israel certainly used white phosphorus, that's a given. The target was residential and a known area where firing was coming out of. This is the Hamas tactic – to fire at Israel from schools and hospitals – with people inc. children still there, inviting Israel to fire back.
Israel stepped over the line here and they seem to know, themselves, that they had better stop doing this. They lost a lot of credibility and the damage to the humans themselves was horrific. As a tactic itself, as well, it was pretty poor.
Ubermouth and I actually agreed the other night on something. We agreed that there was a need for the fighting and killing to stop. After she'd made her point about the poor Palestinians – she means the women and children whereas I mean Hamas and the PLO – I referred her to the history of Palestine around 1947/8 and the fact that the Palestinians were offered, not only a homeland but a good homeland alongside Israel and that the Arab nations rejected it.
On the grounds that they hated the Jews so much, they refused to accept a recognized homeland for the Palestinians.
Now that's not perspective, that's not opinion, that's not denigrating anyone in the blogosphere – that is pure, unvarnished fact. It happened. Someone who would still prefer to 'believe' the opposite is in denial over something which has been shown to be so. Belief such as this can be discounted.
To drive this point home, I don't want to personally believe the Israelis did an anti-humanitarian thing but it sure looks like it with this white phosphorus. At an absolute minimum, it was too indiscriminate.
Faced with the facts, one cannot keep on believing the opposite point of view.
Unfortunately, it is quite easy for those on the left of politics and who back the Hamas/media machine, including the Beeb, to do so. The mental set of this side of politics is one of idealism and emotion – I should know because I was on this side in the past, lived and worked day by day with these people so I could give a good character sketch of the mindset.
I used to help at Labour Party elections, was in the room at the victory parties later, spoke to the candidates and party workers – it's not that I don't know what I'm talking about here.
No one in his right mind would try to intimate that the pro-Palestinian western left are 'stupid'. I don't think so for one moment and I'm going to pause here and issue an apology to Cherie if the impression was allowed to come across that I thought she was.
If I had allowed that impression to come across that that's what I thought, then I have been grossly negligent.
Anyone observing this neck of the blogosphere knows that I have only the highest opinion of the capabilities of Cherie Pie and anyone who can keep all those trade unionists in line and focused on the job in hand needs a medal.
In Bloghounds, we have a smooth-running little group, with almost no fuss. That's Cherie's doing, not mine. You can see here that I'm feistier and more provocative. I don't wish to get sycophantic but while she is obviously wrong on the facts of the Palestinian situation, as presented, I have only the highest regard for her abilities and sharpness of intellect.
But even geniuses can be wrong at times. What was it Cromwell said?
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
To not misconstrue Cherie, let me quote her:
I actually don’t take either of the regimes side in this. Trade Unionists support other Trade Unionist no matter what country they are in. I would have no problem posting similar articles from other countries.
OK, so there it is. Let's move on.
Further evidence on Gaza
Let us look at the Gaza War in light of the concept of justification as it applied during World War II. For the past seven years the Hamas political organization in Gaza has been firing rockets into Sderot and neighboring Israeli communities west of the Negev. The rockets have zero accuracy even if directed at military targets — which they are not. The rockets are fashioned from common metal pipes filled with explosives and propellants. The fuel is made of fertilizer and sugar. The rockets are built in simple metal shops and garages. The rockets that descend upon Israel bring unspeakable terror but not much destruction.
As of March 2008 more than 500 people had been wounded by the attacks; miraculously only twelve had been killed. However, the townspeople have lived in fear of the rockets, and have confined themselves most of the time to shelters. The bombardment of undefended towns and villages is one of the oldest codified war crimes; it was prohibited by the Hague Convention of 1907.
Imagine for a moment if U.S. cities and towns near the Canadian and Mexican borders were hit by similar rockets fired by radical terrorist groups in Canada and Mexico. Would the United States tolerate such attacks for seven years? Or even seven days?
On the Egyptian side, 700 people and 10 trucks with medical aid from Arab countries were waiting to enter. Some 550 people waited to cross the other way, with priority given to those needing urgent medical treatment.
Gaza has been blockaded by Israel, and much of the time by Egypt, for two years since Hamas took control there. Despite considerable criticism in the Arab world, the Egyptian government has kept Rafah largely shut since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007.
Why has a member of the Arab League blockaded its own fellow Arab nation on its own side, for two years? Let's not, as Ubermouth says 'gloss it over' but actually answer this question in your own head. Why did this blockade begin the moment it was clear Hamas was at the reins?
Obviously, the west and the NGOs have to come up with novel reasons why no one is investigating Hamas war crimes. Amnesty says:
Human rights groups argued Wednesday that a detailed probe into Hamas’s firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli communities is not necessary, because it constitutes such a “blatant” war crime. By contrast, Israel’s actions are more complex, and therefore do require such investigation, they said... said Sarit Micha’eli of B’tselem... “It is quite clear that [Hamas is] attacking and targeting civilians... With Israel things are more complicated because Israel states it does not deliberately target civilians and that it safeguards them. With Israel, you have to investigate each specific incident because even if a civilian is killed in an attack...” “The Israeli authorities deny everything, so one has to prove what happened in a way that you don’t need to do with the Palestinian rockets,” said Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International.
The Hamas mindset:
What brave freedom fighters, booby-trapping their own families in their own homes while the brave warrior is otherwise engaged.
The ambulance drivers:
Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."
Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.
Human Rights Watch:
“These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. “The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the willful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple.”
New York Times article et al:
Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.
Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire.
In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.
New Israeli weapon:
A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.”
But the most important strategic decision the Israelis have made so far, according to senior military officers and analysts, is to approach their incursion as a war, not a police operation.
Civilians are warned by leaflets, loudspeakers and telephone calls to evacuate battle areas. But troops are instructed to protect themselves first and civilians second.
The other antagonists
Uber and I, as mentioned earlier, actually agreed on something and that was that the fighting must stop. The first and most telling step is for Hamas and Hexbollah to stop the rockets, which give Israel, under international law, every pretext to do whatever they like to defend themselves.
Look at this video from a retired British officer:
If the rockets stopped, then Israel has no pretext for harsh or invasive action against Palestine and the whole focus could then be on its actions.
That's the first point.
The second is that Them, the war machine, the multi-billion dollar global MIC, they wish for the unrest and mayhem in the Middle-Eastto continue because out of the the melting pot will come the same result that the EU is striving for, the genocide in Africa, the propping up of tin despots around the world and the maniac in Iran.
Stopping these people is a considerably taller order. Israel thinks it is being befriended by this power. They seem to have no clue that this Power is violently anti-Jewish and is the same power which allowed Hitler to rise in the 30s. Same families, same money.
Either that or Israel is arrogant enough to think it can play this power at its own game, with Jewish elements already at the head of it. This is very heavy stuff now and outside the remit of this post. Another time.
1. Hamas/Hezbollah cease the rockets;
2. All leaders, no exclusions, sit down in Paris and thrash out the boundaries, which are signed, no refusals, such boundaries a compromise between the original 1940s/50s proposals;
3. All parties are to withdraw to their own territory by a certain date;
4. An International Watch Commission is appointed, of maybe 200 people from all interested parties, representing all groups, with a brief that, if any member of that commission raises a violation, it is investigated;
5. The U.S.A., Britain, Iran and the Arab League show that they're actually serious about peace by insisting on this agreement being signed.