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shlomi michael

Brig. Gen. Shlomi Michael publicly concedes execution of Palestinian kidnap-murder suspects. (Michael Kramer/Ynet)

In an interview in Yediot today, the commander of the Israeli Border Police Special Forces unit, Brig. Gen. Shlomi Michael, all but confirmed that his forces did a ‘Bin Laden,’ executing the two Palestinians who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli youth in the West Bank.  Michael’s identity may not be reported in Israeli media, but I identified him back in 2012 (when he was still a lowly Colonel).

I continue to feel any military commander who executes captives or prisoners (and that’s what the Palestians were once they were located) should be held accountable for his actions.  Not inside Israel of course, which is impossible.  But outside Israel, perhaps he will be known and judged.

Here is the translation of the relevant portion of the interview:

One of the soldiers said to the others: “This is it.  If the commander comes to talk to us here it’s a sign that this time we’re in the right place.”  And that is indeed what the commander told them: “I want every moment for you to have before you the image of those dead boys.  So that you remember well that this is the moment we’ve been waiting for.”  Afterward, as darkness fell upon them, a few moments before he left…he said, “you know what we must do.  You are ready for this mission and will carry it out well.  Because now it’s happening.

“I don’t quite know how to say it: this is a cycle of blood (“blood feud”) that hasn’t yet been closed.  It began with the kidnapping, continued when the bodies were found.  Afterward, there was war [in Gaza], and finally when the kidnappers were found and liquidated.  Did we then close the circle? Perhaps it’s more accurate to say we settled accounts.”

border police interview

Yediot interview with Border Police commander

Israel is less and less a country operating according to any principles or values we’d recognize here in the west.  It’s sunk increasingly into a vicious blood feud with its Arab neighbors.

It’s bad enough for two Palestinian troublemakers to take matters into their own hands and murder three Israeli boys.  But when Israel brings the full force of the State down upon them and executes them in cold blood and brags about it in the media, this is unconscionable.  No civilized person (unless they’re a pro-Israel true believer) can stomach this.

There will be a few who will point out what I’ve already noted above: yes, Obama assassinated Osama bin Laden.  I’ve written denouncing that bit of state terrorism.  It was inexcusable.  But Bin Laden caused the death of nearly 3,000 Americans.  The Palestinian suspects had killed three and they could easily have been apprehended and tried for their crimes.

The problem is that Israel doesn’t believe in legal process or rule of law when it comes to national security matters.  Those are niceties reserved for Israeli Jews.  When a Palestinian kills an Israeli it’s the law of the jungle.  And nations that live in the jungle can die there as well.  When the time comes and Israel needs the help of outsiders, why should they?  Israel violates the norms of civilized nations, why should a civilized nation care when the chips are down?

Why shouldn’t the world instead embrace BDS?  When faced with monsters like Brig. Gen. Michael (monsters who are totally normative for Israel) what’s the rest of the world to think about this country?

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After the supposed success of a Mossad website devoted to recruiting informers against Hezbollah, the Israeli Mossad is taking to social media to recruit its own Israeli agents and Arab double agents.  It’s created a Contact Us page in multiple languages (one of which is Farsi) on its website inviting Arab/Muslim wannabe double agents to get in touch for opportunities of “great personal benefit:”

Working for Mossad is for people who wish to get ahead, who wish to be well rewarded for their efforts. It is for those with a sense of adventure, for those seeking new and exciting challenges, for those who dream of a better life, for those who wish to travel, see the world, experience success and personal fulfillment and to work for a better future for themselves and their families.

Mossad recruitment website

Mossad recruitment website

I’m a bit confused about how working for the Mossad will make a better future for Israel or the recruit’s family unless assassinating Arabs is part of your altruistic vision of the making the world a better place.

In the splashy campaign launch, a high-concept video projects a bizarre image of a mother playing with her son and a drone, saying that “when I play with my child I feel like a child again.”  The drone then takes off and flies through many of the ensuing scenes, becoming a symbol of the Mossad’s omniscience and its ability to secretly surveill and intervene in events.  Thus it transforms itself from a child’s toy to an instrument of covert ops.  Creepy.

The video features two voices supposedly standing in for actual agents.  The first is the mother’s voice which sounds eerily like a robot rather than a human.  The male agent then begins speaking.  Sometimes they say the same words at different intervals and sometimes they recite them in unison.  The effect is equally bizarre.  Perhaps it’s meant to convey the fact that though they are two separate individuals, in service to their country they act, think and speak as one.  To the uninitiated listener it sounds curiously like two robots speaking in unison.

Other scenes in the video feature a business meeting in a plush high-rise where, I suppose, the attendees aren’t planning the latest product roll-out, but perhaps the next terror attack against Iran, or Lebanon or Gaza. In another scene, the female agent is shown videotaping a computer server array with her smartphone (really, a smartphone? can’t we do better than that all you Israeli James Bonds?).

It’s ironic that the male agent tells us that his cover job is in marketing, which is precisely what the video is designed to do.

The audio features the requisite scary singing of the muzzein calling the Muslim faithful to prayer as the camera zeroes in on a target on a map.  Presumably that’s the next Muslim country Mossad plans to attack.  There is other ominous film soundtrack-type music meant to convey suspense and dread simultaneously.

Here’s the script:

Female voice: When I play with my child I feel just like a little girl again.

Male voice: My work isn’t exactly 9 to 5.

Female: Our work isn’t child’s play. I never would’ve guessed this would be what I did with my life. Simply, opening doors…

Male: My grandfather used to say that life is what you make of it.

M & F (unison): Everyone brings their own lives, their own experiences [to the job].

F: For me, it’s like a dream.

M: My friends think I’m in marketing.

F: I’m contributing in a vital way to the State of Israel. I always know that there’s someone I can rely on.

M: …That there’s always someone by my side.

F & M: The world is changing and we need new kinds of connections in order to act.

M: Every day brings a new riddle to solve.

F: I learned things about myself I’d never thought possible.

M: Even when I’m far away, I’m fully in the field [of action].

F: Your imagination is my reality.

M & F: I know that I’m in the right place.

F: This is my world. My mission. Maybe yours too…

My fear is that the next Ben Zygier is out there waiting for his chance to become an Israeli James Bond.  He’ll watch this and dream of defending the Israeli homeland and making his own contribution.  Instead, his or her life could be much more like Zygier’s.

I’ve featured the video not because it offers any new information about Israeli intelligence.  But rather because it offers a candid self-image; or at least a projection of it as conceived by a marketing firm hired to brand Mossad as a cool, smart, mysterious endeavor.

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Bibi’s Fake Iran War Option, Barak Has Alzheimer’s

Yossi Melman wrote in Maariv recently that from 2011-13, when Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak were pounding the drums of war against Iran, they were engaged in an elaborate fraud.  In 2011, Israeli secretly decided not to mount a military assault on Iran to degrade its nuclear program.  Instead, it decided to implement a plan that included continued covert sabotage of the nuclear facilities along with a grand campaign to rattle sabers and convince the world that if it didn’t take concrete, aggressive action against Iran, that Israel would.  Though Israel never intended to go to war, it used such a conviction to isolate Iran diplomatically and economically–putting in place punishing sanctions that would be only one step short of war itself.

Israel prides itself on driving its enemies back to the Stone Age, whether it be Lebanon or Gaza.  It couldn’t do this precisely to Iran since it couldn’t go to war.  But reports like this, which pointed to an Iran whose industrial methods retreated to those of the early 20th century, were music to the ears of the Israeli regime.  Israel doesn’t believe in constructive engagement or carrots.  It believes in massive punitive measures to keep opponents in line.

Returning to the military option hoax, Bibi and Barak gave convincing interviews and planted leaks with journalists inside Israel and around the world designed to persuade the world that baal habayit hishtageya (the “homeowner’s gone mad”).  Many journalists aided and abetted this hoax.  Most unintentionally and some who just didn’t care.  Journalists with a far larger audience than I have.  But I’m sorry to say that I was used as part of the hoax as well.  Stories were planted and published.  They appeared credible at the time.  Now, they are no longer so.

A highly-placed Israel source with knowledge of intelligence matters went farther than Melman.  He says there never was a valid military option and that the dramatic security cabinet meeting at which the three military-intelligence chiefs dissuaded the ministers from commencing a war was really a carefully orchestrated good cop-bad cop routine.  Bibi and Barak played the warmongers and the three chiefs the peacemakers.

They continued this elaborate charade in internal deliberations amongst the two of them, as well as my source confirms:

Barak & Bibi knew the US & UK spied on their offices, and deliberately communicated about the military option (that’s part of leaks and hints to the media, like this one – see last paragraph).

What I don’t understand is why a senior IDF officer would bother with planting such stories.  I not only rejected the military option against Iran.  I rejected sanctions as well.  How would planting a story with a total Israel-skeptic like me persuade anyone that Israel was prepared to go to war?  And why would any Israeli intelligence officer believe my audience was a desirable one to fool or influence?

It is true that some of my Iran reporting did earn interviews with major international media outlets like the BBC.  But in those interviews I made abundantly clear not just my skepticism of the military option, but my absolutely derision regarding it.  I suppose the Israeli intelligence services believed just having the war plan mentioned there was enough.  Perhaps they believed listeners would only hear the reporting about the military option, but not listen to my own commentary on it.  I hope they were wrong.

Further, though Israel engages in such fraud believing the world has a short memory, that’s not so much true of people like me or the good journalists of the world.  We remember such things.  We don’t like being burned.  It makes us churlish and downright mean-spirited.  Though we never put much stock in the credibility of Israeli government officials, such a fraud would send their stock even lower.

So let’s let everyone reading this blog know that Israel has engaged in yet another act of deception.  It makes you wonder when you can ever trust Israel’s leaders to be forthright, honest and straight-forward.

Speaking of Ehud Barak, my Israeli source notes this report in Israel’s News1 which says that Barak has been uncharacteristically silent over the past weeks.  He didn’t have a word to say about Operation Protective Edge and not even when allies of his arch-enemy Gabi Ashkenazi were being raked over the coals in the media.  Though News1 didn’t say what was wrong, my source tells me that Barak has Alzheimer’s.  It seems a harsh judgment for someone so full of vigor, bluster, and political energy; someone who reached the heights of political power.  It reminds one of Ariel Sharon–one moment prime minister and at the pinnacle of Israeli politics and another moment lying comatose in a hospital bed.  Someone less charitable might speak of the chickens coming home to roost regarding Barak’s terminal illness.  Whatever the case, history will appraise him and if there is any justice in it, will find him as wanting as most other Israeli prime ministers who preceded him.

He was the Israeli leader offered the chance to end both the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian conflicts, and he flinched each time success was handed to him on a silver platter.  He was also the Labor Party leader who led it into oblivion as the lapdog of the Likud-dominated governments.

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The European Anti-Semitism Hoax

star of david burns

What and who does this Star of David represent?

Now before some of you become so scandalized you start firing off comments and tweets, read what I say carefully: there is anti-Semitism both in Europe and elsewhere.  And it is a phenomenon that, given Europe’s ugly history, must be taken seriously.  It is right and proper to denounce individual incidents of violence and hate speech where and when they occur.  It is right to combat the obscenity of the Euro-right’s political anti-Semitism whether in France, Germany or Hungary.

But there is no pending European Holocaust.  Despite hyperbolic claims like this, “these are the worst times since the Nazi era” or this “synagogues are burning again in Germany in the night,” there is not even a serious, widespread attack on the Jewish community in Europe.  The rumors of the destruction of European Jewry are vastly overstated.

The question is why articles in mainstream publications are advancing some of these claims; and why Israeli politicians boost them so assiduously.  As to the first question: reporters are not historians.  They are looking for trends and seeking to be the first to note them.  For some reporters any incident that comes in twos or threes becomes a trend.  It’s one thing when the trend concerns fashion or social issues.  We’re used to such overstatement and when a reporter gets carried away, the stakes aren’t as high.  We can assume that readers or other journalist will exercise caution and criticize it mercilessly.

But when the subject is as fraught with historical significance and involves violence and death, past and present, then such exaggeration or overstatement carries heavy consequences.  That’s why it’s so important to get things right.  To be sure what you write is based on facts and not ideology or sensationalism.  Unfortunately, some of our better media sources have fallen prey to this disease.  More on this follows.

The most glaring weakness of such analyses is that they either omit entirely or downplay the political context of so-called anti-Semitic actions in Europe.  Muslims and Arabs in Europe and elsewhere were not born anti-Semites.  Nothing in their religion justifies anti-Semitism.  In fact, quite the contrary.  Anger and hatred derives from a source.  That source is the Israeli-Arab conflict.  The anger of European Muslims is not the same as traditional anti-Semitism.  It cannot be compared to the Nazi era.  No matter what hot-headed protesters may say during rallies when they express their anger and disgust, no one contemplates the wholesale murder or even expulsion of Jews from Europe.

That’s why articles like this one which speak about European anti-Semitism while hardly voicing a word about the context of the current wave which originates in Israel recent devastating assault against Gaza, do a disservice to both European society and journalism itself.  We cannot learn much about what is really happening if journalists refuse to understand reality in all its complexity.  Other articles like this one do acknowledge that European protests against Israel emanate from the war against Palestine, but they refuse to make any distinction between historical anti-Semitism and contemporary anti-Israelism.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that such ugly rhetoric shouldn’t be condemned and aggressively combated by politicians and other social leaders.  But again, it’s important to place these expressions in a historical and political context.

Reporters will take a single statistic such as the rise in emigration by French Jews to Israel without understanding that even if 6,000 leave this year, 500,000 remain.  This also omits the reverse side of the coin: there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli emigrants who’ve taken up permanent residence in European cities, especially Berlin.  Many of them left Israel because they are disgusted with the endless cycles of war and violence and refused to force this life on their own children.

Why would reporters or European Jews be surprised that social media reflect, or even amplify some of these hatreds?  A passage like this one makes me wonder whether the reporter and his subject are either naive or disingenuous:

…Since the start of the conflict in Gaza this summer, many describe social media, especially Facebook, as a swamp of hatred.

“I have friends who are never political and they are posting things about Gaza every day,” said Ms. Frommer, the employee of the nonprofit organization. “It seems like an obsession. Is your obsession because you want to save children, or because you have a problem with Jews?”

The fact that a European Jew would discount the good faith of those who protest the death of Gazan children; and the fact that she wouldn’t understand that apolitical individuals are so shocked by the outrageousness of Israel’s actions that even they are aroused to protest.  This should tell her much more about the evil Israel is doing than she allows it to.

The same  journalist claimed some Muslim neighborhoods are “no go” zones for Jews, without understanding that similar types of ethnic hostility have been a factor of urban life for centuries.  Some of the articles neglect the failure of European countries themselves to integrate poor Arab and Muslim immigrants into their own educational, vocational and employment systems.  If Europe’s Muslims are angry at Israel or even at Jews, they are angrier at their host governments for promises unfulfilled.

Why should reporters use a single incident when Muslims patrolled a neighborhood in Germany dressed with signs identifying themselves as “Sharia police,” when ultra-Orthodox Jews in London erected signs exhorting all Jewish women in the neighborhood to walk only on one side of the street, segregated from men.  Why is the Muslim example more alarming than the Jewish one?

Current European anti-Israel outbursts which are often conflated with anti-Semitism, are directly related to anger at Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian land, at Israel’s vicious wars and massacres which have cost tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian lives over the decades.  Whenever Israel asserts its military might and attacks Palestine or Lebanon, blood flows in the streets of Arab lands and other Arabs are naturally angry about this.

Expecting that every Arab who participates in a protest will understand the sensitive history of the Jews in Europe and adapt their slogans, banners and actions accordingly is far-fetched.  Though of course, when those phenomena rear their ugly heads they should be called out.

Gen. David Petraeus once famously conceded that the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict endangers the lives of U.S. military personnel throughout the region by heightening tension and fueling terror attacks.  Though the Israel Lobby derided him for expressing views so supposedly hostile to Israel, he never retracted them.

In truth, Israel can expect all this clamor against it every time it attacks its Arab neighbors.  And the worse the carnage and mayhem is, the worse the response will be.  I liken it to the political corollary of Newton’s law: for every bad action there will an equal and opposite reaction.  Except in this case, the Arab-Muslim response is nowhere near as violent as the Israeli actions which precipitate it.

Yes, Jews have been killed in Europe in the past few years.  And such acts have rightfully been condemned, investigated and punished by those in power in Belgium and France, where such attacks occurred.  But if you compare the carnage on one side it pales in comparison to the carnage on the other.

It is simply unreasonable for Israel or world Jewry to expect that there will be no blowback from Israel’s actions in the world.  Israel may not kill with impunity without paying a price for it.  Again, this is not to justify Arab retaliation against Israel.  But to regard such acts as originating in some ancient Islam-inspired blood feud is ridiculous.

There is only one way to end the stream of Euro-violence, to end Israel’s spilling of Arab blood in the region.  As long as Israel continues its endless wars there, the counter-violent response will continue.  Israel must settle the conflict.  As long as it does not, it has no right to complain at the response.  As the noted scholar of anti-Semitism, Steve Beller writes:

If Israel continues its attitude of defiance of international legal norms and of the wishes of the international community as regards settlements, then this is almost inviting a real resurgence of a form of historical anti-Semitism, together with, ironically, a xenophobia exacerbated by Islamophobia.

Though this is a chilling statement, it reveals just how much is at stake for world Jewry.  Continue down the path of absolute pro-Israelism and you risk an attack on not just Israel, but all of us.

It’s an error to label hate or violence directed at Israel as conventional anti-Semitism.  It should probably be called anti-Israelism.  Beller says:

Calling…hostility to current Israeli policies…and towards the Jewish communities who are usually explicitly…supporting these policies, ‘antisemitism’, or even the relatively recent ‘new antisemitism’…[is] a deliberate attempt by Israel and its supporters to obfuscate the actual political and moral situation, and to smear Israel’s opponents with the guilt of the Holocaust. Let us call these protests ‘anti-Israeli’, ‘anti-Zionist’…but I do not think they have the same causation as historic antisemitism, and it is misleading to continue dragging this term in here.

There will be those who point to the slogans which explicitly ape those of the Nazi era and ask why we shouldn’t call this classic anti-Semitism.  The reason is that Israel’s leaders and the Israel Lobby have themselves conflated Israel with the Jewish people.  When Bibi shreis that Iran wants to nuke us, he doesn’t say it wants to destroy Israel, he says it wants to destroy the “Jewish people.”  When Shimon Peres seeks to dramatize the so-called Iranian nuclear threat he calls an Iranian bomb a “flying Holocaust.”  This further reinforces the notion that the Muslim world seeks to exterminate the entire Jewish people.

By deliberately confusing Israel and Jews, pro-Israel forces invite their opponents to do the same.  If the Arab world sees Israel speaking on behalf of world Jewry; if they see the Israel Lobby insisting that the single unifying element in Jewish identity is fealty to Israel–then such confusion is understandable.  As Beller wrote:

If the leadership of…Jewish communities adopt an approach of complete solidarity with the aggressive foreign policy of Israel, as a sovereign state separate from the countries in which those Jewish communities live, then this is an externalized relationship of conflict…

If Jews wish to end such confusion, they must loudly and deliberately set a border between themselves and Israel.  To be a Jew is not to be an Israeli.  In saying these things, I’m not asking Jews to abandon their identification with Israel.  But there must be a clear distinction between who we are and who they are.  And there should be a clear distinction between the foreign policy interests of states like the U.S. and Israel.  Contrary to the Israel Lobby mantra, there should be daylight between political leaders and policies of both countries.

It’s not surprising Israel would seek to conflate Zionism and Judaism.  It’s a lot harder to attack Israel when you also have to attack all of world Jewry.  It’s also a lot harder to attack Israel when it invokes the specter of the Holocaust and its ruinous legacy of anti-Semitism.  Israel would much rather force its opponents to defend themselves from such charges so it doesn’t have to explain or defend the bloody pursuit of its own political interests in the region.

When I used the term “hoax” in the post title, I meant to say that the abuse of anti-Semitism by pro-Israel forces constitutes a fraud that must be called out.

The ultimate irony for Herzlian political Zionism is that the creation of Israel has disproven one of the movement’s key tenets: founding a Jewish state was supposed to normalize the Jewish people.  It was supposed to empower them as European peoples were empowered by the states in which they held sovereignty.  Jewish power would create Jewish security.  Unfortunately and tragically, it’s done just the opposite.  To be a Jew in the world has never been more dangerous since World War II.  Not only are Israelis endangered in their own land, Israel’s intransigent rejection of political compromise (just this week, Bibi Netanyahu called the Arab League peace initiative an artifact of a bygone era), has brought all Jews into the crosshairs.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

The embrace of classical Zionism by Diaspora Jewry has impoverished Jewish life outside Israel.  We are left with no independent identity.  We have no traditions of our own.  We are the shadow and Israel is the sun.  All sustenance derives from the source and that source may only be there (in Israel).  This denies the richness and success of centuries of Jewish life after the destruction of the Second Temple.  We do have valued traditions, rituals, art, culture, music that derives from the genius of Diaspora.  This must never be dismissed or devalued.  We must cultivate our independence.  We must produce separately.  We must not be a satellite or extension of anything.

I despair that this is possible.  Throughout the Diaspora, Jewish leaders have thrown in their lot with Israel.  I call it the closing of the Diaspora Jewish mind. They have turned Israelism into a religion that displaces Judaism.  They have allowed a violent, hateful settlerism to become a legitimate expression of Judaism.  They have allowed us to be hijacked in service to a political enterprise rooted in theft, oppression and ethnic cleansing.  It is not enough to protest against this.  It’s not enough to deliver sermons from pulpits.  It’s not enough to “shoot and cry” as Israelis say.  There must be action: assertive, even aggressive action.  We must take back our religion and expel those who have debased it.

But a single example, is the refusal of mainstream Jewish groups like the Reform movement to dissociate themselves from the Conference of Presidents and its insular pro-Israelism under the leadership of the far-right, Malcolm Hoenlein.  When Hoenlein rejects J Street’s membership, no one makes him pay a price.  No one leaves the table and starts a new more inclusive entity.  If you are timid, if you don’t have the power of your convictions (remember Yeats’ “the best lack all conviction?”), you have only yourself to blame when those who have more energy and conviction outsmart you.

I have no faith in Diaspora Jewish leaders.  The Pierre Mendes Frances, Nahum Goldmans and Arthur Hertzberg’s are long gone.  In their day, they could stand up to the Kahanes and tell them forcefully: not in my name.  And they were believed.  In their place, today we have right-wing pro-Israel ciphers like Ronald Lauder or milquetoast moderates like Dennis Ross or Martin Indyk.  They have neither powerful convictions, ideas nor stature.  They represent the Jewish Organizational Man.  They won’t stand up to anyone when it comes to saying: thus far and no farther.

If there are any readers who believe this topic is a critical one, as I do, and have some money tucked away, a few thousand dollars would enable me to organize a public event on the subject which I’d love to do featuring speakers like Steven Beller and Antony Lerman (among others).  The event would be videotaped and uploaded to YouTube to create better public awareness of the issues.

NOTE: This week, WBEZ did a radio interview with me about Unit 8200 and the inspiration it could offer to the NSA to expand the surveillance state against us.  Give a listen and promote it for me, please.

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Ynet published an astonishing interview with several commanders of the Givati brigade, whose unit lost three soldiers during a Hamas ambush in which Hadar Goldin was captured (perhaps after he’d already died). The interview gives some of the clearest admissions yet that the IDF explicitly commands its officer to kill soldiers captured by the enemy rather than let them live and become future hostages.

The interview comes as the IDF prepares to commence a faux investigation into the massacre that followed the capture and announcement of a Hannibal Directive. This massacre led to the murder of 160 Palestinians and the utter destruction of large portions of Rafah. The ostensible goal was to kill both the Hamas cell which captured him and to exact revenge of the entire neighborhood into which the cell had retreated. It is widely believed that the IDF has launched such an investigation in order to forestall the UN Human Rights Council’s own inquiry which will review the same events, presumably from a far more critical perspective.

Israel needs to have a counter-narrative it can present to world media and the international community which will deflate, at least to a certain extent, what promise to be very strong condemnation from the UN panel. Far from being a legitimate or independent investigation, the IDF effort will be a dog-and-pony-show proclaiming its troops free and clear from any blame for Black Friday’s slaughter.

It’s important to note that the article explicitly says Ynet could not publish the names of the officers (who range in rank from Major to Lt. Colonel) out of fear they would be prosecuted for war crimes.

Here is some of the testimony from the eyewitnesses to the attack, how they reacted and why:

Battalion Commander Eli Gino:…”We officially declared Operation Hannibal about 20 minutes after the incident began.  We asked for air attacks on those places where we suspected shafts [entrances to tunnels].  We knew it would decrease the chance we would find Hadar [Goldin] alive, but that was the best way to deal with it.  In such a situation you must choose the least bad option.”

Major David describes the moments after the kidnapping [sic] became known as “an aggressive, crushing attack, because you understand that the faster you are the more likely you will achieve your objective–not conquering territory, but stopping the incident [the ambush and capture].  We acted as we’d been taught with with deliberation…Once you’re in the midst of such an incident you prefer a dead soldier to one captured by Hamas–a Shalit 2.  You prefer a corpse to a kidnapped [sic] soldier.

We drilled [our troops] many times about the threat of kidnapping [sic] and the goal of disrupting it should it occur, by striking the enemy, even at the price of hitting your own fellow soldier.  I said to myself: ‘Even if I bring back a corpse, the main thing is to bring back the missing soldier.  In such a situation you do everything to avoid getting the nation involved in the Gilad Shalit mess.  Everything I did, whether it was destroying buildings or striking on Palestinians was done with the firm belief in the rightness of the path and doing what was expected of us, just as the army taught us to do.”

Commander S. was no less decisive: “concerning this incident my conscience is even more clear.  We have to admit, they succeeded in hitting us.  In such a situation all means become acceptable including striking the innocent [ed., which might mean Goldin or Palestinian civilians or both].   Battalion Commander Gino completely supports those under his command: “We’re completely satisfied with the attack [on Rafah that followed] and proud of the immediate response of the unit… I’m at peace with the orders I gave.  The fire was proportional. When they kidnap [sic] one of your soldiers all means are OK, even if involves a cost [again, this could refer both to Goldin's killing and the subsequent Palestinian massacre].  A kidnapping is a very grave matter.  There was no rampage in Rafah and we only attacked suspected targets…I have no fear being the focus of an investigation.  We acted according to the values of the purity of arms, proven by the fact that not a single elderly Palestinian took a bullet.

In reading this, it became clear to me that these words were rehearsed.  Clearly, the interviewees had been coached by both their commanders and military lawyers telling them what to say and how to present their narrative in the strongest light possible.  The absolute certainty and conviction that they did not just right, but honored the nation and the military code in their actions strikes me as the ultimate bravado.  Something a spin doctor would tell his client to say if he faced a political scandal or criminal charge.  Don’t just say you were good, say you were the best damn soldier that ever was.

This is not just a scam, it’s an outrage.  For an IDF commander to claim not even an aged Palestinian was killed when 160 such elderly men were killed by his bullets is unconscionable.  But there is no consideration either of conscience or even of credibility within the army.  Every word that originates there is false to its core.

The IDF committed an unpardonable war crime in Rafah.  Deliberately killing its own soldier, as these men have admitted publicly for the first time, was the least of it.

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SCOOP: Israel Shoots Down Syrian Plane In Syrian Territory

Israel significantly escalated its confrontation with Bashar al-Assad by shooting down a Syrian air force jet that had strayed 1/2 mile into Israeli-occupied Golan.  Al Jazeera reports the wreckage landed in Syrian territory.  My Israeli source confirmed my suspicion (based on evidence presented below) that while the missile was fired when the plane was over Israeli-occupied Golan, it struck the plane over Syrian territory.

Israel could see the plane was attacking rebel positions and not intending hostile action against Israel.  I asked my source why Israel didn’t escort the plane back into Syrian airspace and instead adopted the hair trigger approach.  He responded that Israel feels it has no reaction time and shoots down anything that overflies its zone.

There will be those who argue that Israel made an error that was excusable considering the short distances from the armistice line to Israeli population centers.  But that’s why you have complex computer systems controlling weapons and calibrating distances and borders.  If the Israeli officer who fired the rocket didn’t know he’d be shooting down a Syrian plane over Syrian territory, he was incompetent.

This is an egregious violation of Syrian sovereignty; though Israel routinely tramples over the sovereignty of any country standing in its way, never seeming to pay a price.  It should also be noted that a U.S.-built Patriot missile shot the Syrian plane down.  That’s what friends are for.

Given the Israeli military’s shoot-first, ask questions never approach to these matters, it’s little surprise such an incident occurred.  In the boiling cauldron that is current Middle East politics, such mistakes could easily trigger war.  Major wars throughout history have been provoked by less.  Anyone who doubts Israel could easily light such a match and cause a conflagration that envelops other frontline states is burying their head in the sand.  By the way, the last time Israel shot down a Syrian plane was in 1985.  Turkey also shot down a Syrian fighter jet.  But it did so over or near the Mediterranean and the plane was more than likely in Turkish territory.

It’s also important to note that even if the plane was in Israel-held territory, no one in the world recognizes this territory as Israeli.  The world considers the territory conquered and occupied.  It is legally Syrian.  So Haaretz’s headline reporting the plane was shot down over “Israeli territory”  is a total misnomer.

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Shin Bet Murders Palestinians Who Killed Three Israeli Youths

marwan qawasmeh

Marwan Qawasmeh’s family memorializes him. (Maan)

Another chapter has closed on the horrible cycle of killings and revenge murders that plagued the West Bank in the weeks before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge.  A joint team of IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police cornered the two Palestinian boys and murdered them.  I use the deliberate term “murder” though you will never see any Israeli source admit this.  Here is what I wrote about today’s incident (two and a half months before it happened!):

There is one thing of which you may be certain: when and if they are found, they will be summarily executed.  Of course, it won’t be presented to the media that way.  The IDF never puts a bullet in a Palestinian from point blank range.  It’s always: ‘the terrorist fired at soldiers who returned fire and killed him;’ or when told to surrender he fired a fusillade of bullets, which the IDF responded to, killing him.’

Here is the official statement announcing the murders:

[Israeli censorship] permits us to announce that after a joint intelligence operation of the Shabak, in collaboration with the IDF and Border Police, the hiding place of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aysha, two residents of Hebron who carried out the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sher, and Eyal Yifrah, was located.  There was an attempt to detain the suspects as a result of which there was an exchange of fire in the course of which the suspects were hit.

Note the use of the euphemism “hit.”  They don’t even want to acknowledge they were killed.  My Israeli source called it a ‘targeted killing.’  He says the force intended to liquidate them.  It hardly mattered whether they fought back or surrendered.

Hebron’s Palestinian governor confirmed that the suspects were executed:

“It’s clear now the two martyrs, al-Kawasme and Abu Aysha, were assassinated this morning during a military operation in the Hebron University area. We condemn this crime, this assassination, as deliberate and premeditated murder,” he said.

Today’s Haaretz further confirms this account. Note the firepower brought to bear:

The Shin Bet said that the two suspects, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, were hiding in a house in the West Bank. Israeli forces approached the house with an excavator vehicle and fired a rocket at the house, according to Palestinian reports.

You fire a rocket into a house to kill those inside. You bring an excavator to bury the victims alive. If there was a firefight as claimed it was the equivalent of a peashooter against an F-16. This was an execution. The state equivalent of a mob hit.

Israel’s foreign ministry hasn’t gotten the Shin Bet’s memo.  The headline of its press release says the Palestinian suspects were “apprehended” and the body of the release says they were “hit” by Israeli fire.  There is not even a mention of the fact that they were killed.

It should be noted the much higher level of ‘civilization’ evidenced by today’s Shin Bet compared to the primitive values displayed in the 300 Line bus hijacking.  After two Palestinian hijackers were captured alive, a Shin Bet agent took a rock and stove their heads in with it: cold-blooded murder.  After the Shin Bet tried to blame the IDF for the murders, the IDF fought back and the truth was revealed.  Even after the truth was known, the political echelon, including that august nonagenarian, Shimon Peres, rallied to the murderers and gave them a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.  No one was ever charged or punished.

Now, things are so much cleaner.  There are no photographers or reporters allowed on the scene of today’s targeted killings as there was in the Line 300 incident.  All the actors play their parts and have them rehearsed, including what to say in the aftermath.  The blood is swept away.  The crime vanishes, just like Hitchcock’s “lady” in that vintage film.  After the killings the trigger man goes out with his comrades and celebrates with a drink at the pub.  A job well done.

Some near-sighted people may look at this as the closing of the circle on the developments that subsequently led to the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Israeli pogroms in the West Bank, Hamas’ revenge rocket salvos and Israel’s response leading to the murder of 2,100 Gazans.  This may be the end of a chapter.  But the end of the book is nowhere in sight.  Unlike Churchill who said it wasn’t the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning–this isn’t that.  This is yet another bloody spiral which will continue ad nauseam, thanks to the impotence of the world community to end the violence and injustice.  This is a horror movie that keeps producing more victims, allowing Freddy to continue his spree forever.

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