There is little that surprises me these days regarding the callowness of the media towards the Israeli-Arab conflict. But the Wall Street Journal has sunk to a new low with its publication today of an op-ed (Islamic State Understands One Thing: Force) by senior Israeli minister and Bayit Yehudi leader, Naftali Bennett. In his bio at the bottom of the page, it notes he is minister of education and diaspora affairs. That sounds so neat and tidy. So professional.
What his bio doesn’t say is that he’s an avowed stone-cold Arab-killer, and proud of it. An Israeli reporter likened him to Captain Kurtz, the hero of Apocalypse Now and Joseph Conrad’s novella. Both characters are guilty of wholesale murder and genocide of the natives, one in Vietnam and the other in the Congo.
A few months ago Bennett boasted during a cabinet meeting (see below) that he’d killed “many Arabs” during his military service. And he was proud of it. In fact, a controversy broke out because journalists revealed that he’d actually botched one of his military operations and caused the deaths of 100 Lebanese refugees and 4 UN soldiers:
“Bennett’s force met with highly effective mortar fire of a Hezbollah unit near Kafr Qana. It was then that he realized he couldn’t prevail on his own. He needed a battery of IDF 155mm howitzers [to come to his rescue], which hit a refugee camp and killed 102 civilians.”
A few weeks ago, at the height of the latest Intifada, he was pictured proudly strapping an exposed pistol in his pants while appearing in public.
Yesterday, Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Haneen Zoabi decried Israel’s banning of the country’s major Muslim organization, the Islamic Movement. She ridiculed the false claim that this group and ISIS are the same or have the same goals. She reminded them that IM had never organized or advocated any terror attack. Instead, she asked the MKs to remember:
There are ministers…here who are proud they killed. There is an education minister who said: “I, in my time, killed Arabs.”
In his reply, Bennett accused her of “lying,” claiming to correct her by saying he hadn’t said he killed “Arabs” but terrorists, and he added: “it’s unfortunate we didn’t kill more.” Of course, the notion that there is a distinction in his mind between “Arab” and “terrorist” is ludicrous. There is no difference. Besides, this article quotes the precise statement Bennett made in a cabinet meeting in which he used the word “Arab” and not the word “terrorist:”
Bennett: “If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them.”
Amidror: “Listen, that’s not legal.”
Bennett: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”
So here we see that it was not Zoabi who was lying, but Bennett himself. He also added in his reply to Zoabi: “Anyone who raises his hand against the State of Israel must die.” These aren’t the words of a statesman or even a politician, they are the words of a stone-cold killer.
Among other bon mots in his WSJ article, he argues that the U.S. policy of drone strikes will fail: “Ground troops will be needed.” I can just imagine Captain “Naftali” Kurtz donning his combat gear once more for another foray into the heart of ISIS-darkness!
“To win, the world needs to go on the offensive.”
Indeed, the same sort of offensive which murdered over 100 innocent Lebanese civilians, who were expendable because there is no difference for Bennett between “Arab” and “terrorist.” “Offensive,” indeed; but not the military kind.
Then he has the chutzpah, given his record, to add:
“Soldiers may be put in harm’s way, but the number of civilian lives saved will be much higher.”
Not Arab civilians, mind you. But Israeli civilians. Bennett doesn’t care how many Arab civilians he killed or the west kills going after ISIS. There is only one civilian he cares about–the right kind. The one the color of your skin and mine (if yours is white, that is).
There is a further irony here: among the main military opponents of the Assad regime are ISIS and al-Nusra. Both are bloodthirsty Islamist killers. Al-Nusra is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. ISIS is the latter’s arch-enemy. Using its typical strategy of creating divisions among its Arab enemies by propping up proxies, Israel has thrown massive amounts of logistical and tactical support to al-Nusra in its fight in the Golan. So you’ll have to pardon me when I feel sick to my stomach hearing Bennett brag about Israel’s successful strategy of fighting Islamist terror. In reality, Israel supports Islamist terror too. But it’s the “right” sort of Islamist terror because it’s Israel’s pal.
Bennett’s not a big fan of democracy either. When push comes to shove, he’ll take security over individual rights any day:
Liberty, freedom of speech and human rights are pillars of our democracies, but in Israel we balance them with national-security needs. Privacy is occasionally and under certain circumstances invaded
No, actually freedom of speech and human rights are not pillars of Israeli democracy. When he says they are “balanced” in Israel with national security, “Shorter Bennett” for that is: they are subsumed by national security. In effect, there are no rights for any Israeli who comes a-cropper with the security services. Largely those are Palestinian citizens, but even some Jews have been swallowed in the maw of the national security state.
On a final note, the title’s claim that ISIS understands only one language, force; is a hoary-old racist saying going back decades (Ben Gurion offered a variant here) in the Zionist movement: the only language Arabs understand is force, is the original Hebrew version. Which shows once again that Bennett makes no distinction between “Arabs” and “terrorists.”
I’ve also noted here before that Bennett’s party proudly opposes gay marriage and includes an MK who brought pigs to his own anti-gay pride march. But let’s not sweat the small stuff here (not that homophobia is small stuff) when we’re talking about Israeli ministers who support Arab-murder and genocide publishing their bon mots in the WSJ.
Next up in WSJ:
Kim Jong Ill: The Only Language U.S. Terror President Understands is ‘Boom!’
Pamela Geller: Take the Battle to the Friggin’ A-rabs!
Vladimir Putin: I Killed a Chechen Terrorist with My Bare Hands!
Ida Flemstein says
“journalists revealed that he’d actually botched one of his military operations and caused the deaths of 100 Lebanese refugees and 4 UN soldiers”
Eyewitness, David Zonsheine, the chairman of the board of B’Tselem, Israel’s preeminent human rights organization, who served in the same unit and took part in the mission, claimed on Facebook that there was nothing wrong with Bennett’s actions that night and that in any case, he couldn’t have been held responsible for the killing. Other members of Maglan came out in support of Bennett as well.
A journalist can say what he likes twenty years after the fact. I prefer the word of the eyewitness.
Witness IDF soldier in this case gets trumped by the UN report of the incident:
○ Naftali Bennett Led His IDF Unit into Ambush and Israeli War Crime
Ida Flemstein says
“Witness IDF soldier in this case gets trumped by the UN report of the incident”
The eyewitness, David Zonsheine, isn’t an ordinary soldier. He is the founder and head of B’Tselem, and that makes him the pre-eminent Israeli authority on war crimes and human rights abuses.
The issue our host raises, isn’t whether or not the drone operator knowingly called in an artillery strike on the UN compound, but whether or not Bennett is complicit.
David Zonsheine, who was by Bennett’s side when the incident happened, says Bennett is not complicit.
Isn’t it it a bit odd that now in Germany, when the real Nazi war criminals are almost in extinction, the definition of responsibility suddenly is enlarged to secretaries and book-keepers and over 90 year old telegraph operator woman, then under 20 years old, is in court facing charges of complicity in the murders of 260,000 Jews in Auschwitz.
In Israeli army and society nobody (Jewish only naturally) is ever guilty of killing tens or hundreds, not those who gave the orders, not those who did the actual killing, not those secretaries, truck drivers etc aiding the operation. It is always a tragic unplanned “mistake” and nobody should be blamed. Very simple – indeed.
David Zonsheine was speaking of culpability of higher command, not blaming the soldiers on the ground. Because of illegal acts, he became desillusioned with Israel as occupation power. I understand Maglan is an elite unit operating behind enemy lines and operated in covert action. Loyalty of brethren, similar to US Special Forces Delta Unit …
Maglan is a family, a family of warriors who believes in hard work, high moral values, credibility, professionalism, and most notably they’re quality people.
Maglan has seen many transformations since its founding in 1986. During its first years it was considered a unit composed of ‘crazies’ that know no boundaries and to whom IDF restrictions do not apply.
Courage to Refuse
Noam Wiener and David Zonsheine: From the very beginning of Israel’s existence, the nation has been very mindful of grossly illegal orders made in the name of the law, this stemming both from ancient Jewish thought and from the experiences of the Jewish people in the last century. We as combat officers who served in combat units know that often impossible to see the illegality of an order “on the spot”, that is probably the reason some soldiers commit illegal actions. But that isn’t the only illegality found in the service in the Occupied Territories. We find that the illegality of the occupation is broader than shooting innocent victims – and that even as officers it is impossible to make a difference when the commands, for example to level dozens of houses, are issued from very high above.
As so many times before and after, the IDF used intrusion to draw fire and knowingly use shock and awe to induce fear in the civilans so they leave their homes and villages. The IDF comes in and levels all homes, buildings and infrastructure. The UN compound was deliberately targeted. Indeed a war crime.
Ida Flemstein says
No Oui. Zonschein completely exonerates Bennett of wrongdoing vis a vis Qfar Kana.
“To get straight to the point: All the rumors, allegations and nitpicking about Bennett’s behavior in Operation Grapes of Wrath are totally baseless.”
“As someone who was in a position just hundreds of meters away from Bennett, I can say that he operated according to the rules, did not deviate from orders and went where he was told to go, according to the prior planning.”
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.637353
And Oui, please don’t insinuate that Zonschein is closing ranks to protect a brother Maglani. Either Zonschein is a man of conscience, willing to go to jail for his convictions, or he’s a bald faced liar.
He’s one or the other. You can’t have it both ways.
Richard Silverstein says
@Ms Flem: Authorities equally credible say otherwise. Bennett has shown himself in word & deed to be a bloodthirsty killer, not to mention homophobe.. That is all that matters to me.
The idea that you absolve this madman of guilt for his seamy past doesn’t surprise in the least.
Ida Flemstein says
“The idea that you absolve this madman of guilt for his seamy past doesn’t surprise in the least.”
I don’t absolve him of anything. David Zonschein absolves him of guilt regarding the Qfar Kana.
Richard Silverstein says
@No, YOU are arguing Bennett is a paragon of virtue. I’ve heard not a word from you acknowledging he is a racist & killer, which he is by his own admission.
Ida Flemstein says
“Authorities equally credible say otherwise. Bennett has shown himself in word & deed to be a bloodthirsty killer, not to mention homophobe. That is all that matters to me.”
Whether or not Bennett is a killer and a homophobe doesn’t really concern me. I don’t know what’s in his heart, and I really don’t care. My greater concern is the accuracy of the historical record. Two Israeli newspapers quote anonymous sources who claim Bennett panicked and caused a massacre. Many more sources, including Zonschein, defend Bennett.
“The ex-Maglan officer, who gave his name as “G”, also said he knew nothing about Bennett changing any plans without permission.”
The Haaretz daily’s defense analyst Amos Harel also defended Bennett, writing, “Even if we assume for a moment that he was indeed hysterical on the radio, because his soldiers were in danger — Bennett wouldn’t be the first or last company commander in IDF history to have that happen to him.”
‘Other officers involved in the incident told Harel that the charges against Bennett had “no connection to reality,” and that he did not make changes to their initial plans.’
‘Amiram Levin, who headed the Northern Command during the operation, said that Bennett “commanded a force that operated deep in enemy territory and performed admirably. At some stage, they were exposed and Hezbollah started to fire 81-mm mortar fire. Since they were falling close to them, we initiated rescue fire. He demonstrated level-headedness and did not panic.”’
Richard Silverstein says
A truer word was rarely uttered by you. And this is precisely your problem. You seek to justify death & murder by claiming in a very narrow scope to defend or justify something which can’t be justified in a broader context. So whether Bennett murdered Arabs or hates gays doesn’t concern you. What you wish to explain away is the fact that Bennett didn’t commit a war crime, which you haven’t established even with the evidence you offer.
Once again your disingenuousness astonishes. Bullets and murder are not in someone’s heart. THey are physical objects and states of being. Bennett killed “Arabs.” He admits it. THis is not something in his heart. He was at least an accessory if not direct cause of a war crime. This too is incontrovertible. This is nothing to do with one’s heart. Nor is homophobia. There are statements he has made attacking gays. These statements, made by a leader of the nation, no matter how unworthy of being so, not only cause hate, they give cover & incite murder. Whether someone commits murder or incites murder has nothing to do with the heart. It is a physical act which must be judged as such. And which you so characteristically refuse to do.
You have repeated four times the same arguments, the same quotes, the same names. THis is a comment rule violations. Read the rules before commenting again. Comments much cover new ground & not repeat past statements or claims.
As for Amos Harel, except for some good investigative reporting once in a while, he’s largely a shill. Not one of Haaretz’s best reporters by any stretch.
As for whether Bennett’s IDF superior backed up his story, what weight does any of it deserve. IDF officers are born liars. CYA is their perfected technique. Bennett was Levin’s hired killer. Of course he liked him. Oh & quoting the Times of Israel as a credible source? I don’t think so.
Because you are repeating yourself, you are done in this thread. You may comment in other threads as long as you read and respect the comment rules.
Israel’s Wrath of Grapes :: Vindictiveness of Shimon Peres
Of the total of 639 Katyusha rockets were fired into Israeli territory during Operation Grapes of Wrath, about 28 percent were launched on April 14 (eighty-one), the day after an Israeli helicopter attacked an ambulance in Mansouri, killing six civilians, and on April 19 (ninety rockets), the day after nine civilians were killed in a house in Upper Nabatiyeh in the early morning and over one hundred civilians perished in the afternoon in Qana.
Because it positioned and launched rockets and mortar shells from sites close to the Qana base on April 18, Lebanese guerrilla forces also bear responsibility for the civilian casualties caused by the massive Israeli retaliatory fire.
[Source: Human Rights Watch/Middle East, Civilian Pawns: Laws of War Violations and the Use of Weapons on the Israel-Lebanon Border]
Likewise Bennett is culpable. Following unlawful orders? Ever heard of the Nuremberg trials! Bennett thrives on violence and is in a position to give unlawful orders [seeGaza War] After he renounced his US citizenship. David Zonsheine apparently repented and he distanced himself of the unlawful actions of an occupation power.
○ Israelis See One Side of War as Lebanese Civilian Casualties Mount , Media Coverage May Change | CSM |
A GULF WAR style media campaign by the Israeli military in its offensive against Hizbullah guerrillas in Lebanon has provided Prime Minister Shimon Peres with a much-needed image makeover before May 29 elections here.
But the Israeli public – largely supportive of Israel’s nine-day campaign to force a Hizbullah cease-fire – is beginning to question the increasing number of Lebanese civilian casualties.
Channel 1 television – one of the two state-owned channels – says the network had received agency coverage of the attack on Nabatiyeh and would be using it in its news broadcast last night. But Mr. Barkai’s channel did not use graphic coverage shown internationally last week of Israeli planes rocketing an ambulance carrying women and children in southern Lebanon. Just like ‘Desert Storm’ “We didn’t show it because we don’t put such awful things on television in Israel,” Barkai says. But the station frequently shows gruesome details of Israeli victims of Islamic suicide bombings …
Fascist tendencies to punish Palestinians in Gaza, Hebron and the West Bank to provide electoral gain is usance with politicians in Israel.
Richard Silverstein says
@I don’t care if Zonshein is the Son of God. A war crime was committed. And Bennett got his troops into a mess from which they had to be extracted resulting in a war crime. That’s what matters
Ida Flemstein says
“A war crime was committed. And Bennett got his troops into a mess from which they had to be extracted resulting in a war crime. ”
If a war crime was committed, it was probably committed by the drone operator who called in the artillery, and not committed by Bennett, who only relayed a message from the company commander whose troops were being targeted by Hezbollah.
Zonshein couldn’t be more clear.
Bennett, Zonshein said, ‘did not deviate from orders and went where he was told to go, according to prior planning’.
If Bennett, ‘did not deviate from orders and went where he was told to go’, than how did Bennett get his troops ‘in a mess’? By obeying orders?
Richard Silverstein says
@Ms. Phlegm: Who put his troops in harm’s way in violationof orders? Who recklessly caused the situation requiring his evacuation & the shellfire? Sorry. He’s as culpable as the artillery spotter.
You are a quite active ‘old lady’ aren’t you? Where did you suddenly come from, I wonder? Being who you really are, is an important aspect of being taken seriously, didn’t you know? Your new identity is so transparent.
But….. it is amusing!
Jafar Siddiqui says
Including eyewitnesses to Israeli atrocities?
I hope that Bennett and others like him go after ISIS; it would be real interesting to see how well an IOF soldier measures up against an enemy with the same firepower that he has, instead of slaughtering youths armed only with slingshots. Please Mr. Bennett – get right into the middle of an ISIS stronghold and show how brave you are against the same racist, hate-driven monsters as the one you see in your mirror every morning.
Arie Brand says
Fancy this guy Bennett being the Minister of Education. Nice for the kids to see him with that murder weapon in his hands.
One of the most amazing Israeli conceits is that the Palestinians teach their children to hate them. As if they need to be taught. Children who see from their earliest age onward their parents being humiliated at checkpoints, and hear of extra-judicial executions, house demolitions, land theft, the stealing of water, the uprooting of olive trees, harassment by settlers – they would hate the Israelis even if they were told every day that they had to love their enemies.
But wait – that latter practice is only found in Israel schools:
“At the height of Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni claimed that “Palestinians teach their children to hate us and we teach love thy neighbor”
In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books, Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.
Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries.
She goes into great detail, examining and exposing the sometimes complex and subtle ways this is achieved. Her expertise in semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) comes to the fore.
Inculcation of anti-Palestinian ideology in the minds of Israel’s youth is achieved in the books through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” “
Those textbooks should show Bennett and his gun on the cover – as an imprimatur.
“My little girl was murdered because she was an Israeli by a young man who was humiliated, oppressed and desperate to the point of suicide and murder and inhumanity, just because he was a Palestinian.
“There is no basic moral difference between the soldier at the checkpoint who prevents a woman who is having a baby from going through, causing her to lose the baby, and the man who killed my daughter. And just as my daughter was a victim [of the Israeli occupation], so was he.”
[Source: Nurit Peled-Elhanan ]
○ Video – Palestine in Israeli School Books: Nurit Peled-Elhanan
○ Israeli Rights Activists File Complaint Against IDF Deputy Chief, Accusing Him of ‘Crimes’ and ‘Immorality’
To Richard and all the other Bennett bashers here:
Set aside for the moment your selective quote mining contests of who said what when.
Where is your ability to make moral distinctions? Can you not see the difference between an army, flawed as it may be, who in the course of a botched (or perhaps even negligent) operation in complicated battlefield conditions, causes the accidental death of innocent civilians, and the intentional, targeted killing of civilians for political or religious motivations, encouraged by the leaders?
The innocence of civilians is assumed, regardless of the political context.
Tragic accidents involving civilians happen in any war, including by Western armies involved in armed conflict. It’s called the civilian casualty ratio
Israel’s is about an par with other armed conflicts.
No, this is not about Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, it is about basic moral reasoning and understanding of the tragedy of war.
Both of which you people evidently lack.
I would add, that if your a priori intent is to paint Israel as the world’s most Satanic regime, you certainly are accomplishing that. Fortunately, fair minded individuals, including those in power, are not swayed by your tendentious arguments, and understand the facts of war, particularly in asymmetric conflicts involving non-state actors.
So Bennett would not be considered a “murderer” in the legal or moral meaning of the word.
Unbelievable nonsense and historically incorrect. UN Report by Major Kappen gave evidence the targeting of the UN compound at Qana was deliberate in 1996. The same for most conflicts where IDF forces are ordered to punish the civilian population. Same as fascist Nazis during occupation of Western Europe and US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read about the deliberate strafed bombing of the MSF hospital in Kunduz. More of the same war crimes as General Ariel Sharon. Why do you think the vast majority of humanity is turning away from Israel’s position? Flaunting International Law damages the soul of the Jewish state and its moral authority. A bit of reflection never hurts.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yehuda: The notion that the IDF causes the “accidental death of innocent civilians” is ludicrous. The IDF causes the deliberate death of innocent civilians and has for decades. Even in the situation in which Bennett found himself, even if his original purpose wasn’t to kill Lebanese civilians, he has never apologized or expressed any concern for those who were killed in his botched operation. He doesn’t give a crap about them and you know it.
So don’t come crying to me about the big bad nasty terrorists who intentionally kill Israelis. Those big bad terrorists fire missiles any chemistry student could cook up in a high school lab and launch them they know not where. They almost never hit their targets. You’re comparing 1,000 Goliaths with F-16s to David with a slingshot that holds not a rock, but a pebble. On a good day (for a Palestinian militant) when the winds are right and if the shooter’s aim is true, the pebble might hit exactly the right spot to kill someone. Maybe. As for the current round of Palestinian attacks, ten Palestinians have been killed for every Israeli killed. So you want me to be in high dudgeon about the Palestinian but give Bennett a pass? Really. GImme a break.
So now you are done in this thread. Do not comment here further (you may publish in other threads) and do NOT publish more than 3 comments a day here all together. I do not permit the hasbara crowd to monopolize the threads.
“Why do you think the vast majority of humanity is turning away from Israel’s position?”
You wish. The people that count– are with us. Only in your imagined world in the blogosphere do people live in radical left fantasy island confusing up from down.
Richard Silverstein says
@yehuda: which ppl that “count” are with you? Nauru? Micronesia? Daniel Pipes? Pam Geller? Those are the ppl who are with you? With such friends you don’t need enemies.
By ” people who count”‘ he may mean soulless politicians like most of our Presidential candidates.
LOL … if it wasn’t so very sad! HRC would mean another 8 years of human rights drought for the Palestinians.
I think the vast majority of HUMANITY is definitely turning away from Israel’s position, that position being the tiny, beleaguered little ‘ol only democracy in the Middle East that has such terrible neighbors (they have treaties with), who are being terrorized by stone and knife-wielding maniacs at every turn and for what? Because we’re Jews. NO! STOP TELLING THIS LIE! This is not now and has never been the reason for conflict. ZIONISM has poisoned the water well. It is ZIONISM, the nationalistic, racist political movement that is responsible for the death and destruction, the theft of land and murder of other human beings that is what the vast majority of HUMANITY IS SICK TO DEATH OF and will no longer buy the propaganda or cower in the face of being called an antisemite or STFU when the Holocaust is continually used to make the rest of the world quiet. Get used to it!
So is Naftali Bennett COLONEL Kurtz (the guy played by Marlon Brando) or CAPTAIN Willard (the guy played by Martin Sheen)?
To me, he more resembles Standartenführer Hans Landa from “Inglourious Basterds”, but that’s neither here nor there.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Strelnikov: I guess Bennett may be more like Sheen’s character, since makes this horrifying up river expedition into the Heart of Darkness. But Bennett is also like Robert Duvall’s calvary officer who enjoys “the smell of napalm in the morning.”