- Dieudonné mis en examen pour organisation frauduleuse d'insolvabilité (AFP)
"Le polémiste Dieudonné a de nouveau été mis en examen la semaine dernière à Paris, soupçonné d'avoir organisé son insolvabilité pour ne pas payer des dommages et intérêts à la Licra, a-t-on appris mercredi de source proche de l'enquête. Dans ce dossier, instruit par le juge Renaud van Ruymbeke, Dieudonné a déjà été mis en examen en juillet 2014 pour fraude fiscale, blanchiment de fraude fiscale et abus de biens sociaux.
Condamné à plusieurs reprises par les tribunaux pour ces provocations verbales, dont certaines à caractère antisémite, mais aussi pour des délits routiers, il ne s'était pas acquitté de ses amendes et dommages et intérêts pendant des années. [...] Dieudonné est soupçonné d'avoir tenté d'échapper au paiement des sommes, notamment en expédiant des fonds au Cameroun, pour plus de 450.000 euros entre 2009 et 2014, ou en dissimulant des espèces en sa possession, a précisé la source. En janvier 2014, lors de perquisitions, la police avait trouvé quelque 650.000 euros en liquide à son domicile. [...]
Sur le volet fiscal, le polémiste est mis en examen pour des soupçons de minorations de déclarations au titre de l'impôt sur le revenu, entre 2009 et 2013, et des omissions sur la même période en matière d'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), selon des sources proches du dossier. Cet impôt s'applique aux patrimoines supérieurs à 1,3 million d'euros. Les transferts de fonds au Cameroun lui valent aussi une mise en examen pour blanchiment de fraude fiscale. Dieudonné est également mis en examen pour abus de biens sociaux car il est soupçonné, en tant que gérant de fait de la société de production de ses spectacles, d'avoir détourné à son profit des recettes versées en espèces. [...]"
- Clash diplomatique entre la France et Israël sur le dossier palestinien (i24)
"Des entretiens stratégiques entre diplomates français et israéliens sur l'initiative du ministre des Affaires étrangères Laurent Fabius dans le dossier israélo-palestinien ont viré à la polémique la semaine dernière. Jérusalem accuse en effet Paris d'avoir agi sans concertation.
C'est dans le cadre de la réunion stratégique annuelle entre les deux pays qui s'est tenue cette année à Jérusalem que la discussion a dégénéré. Les délégations se sont rencontrées au ministère des Affaires étrangères à Jérusalem et étaient menées par le directeur-général Nissim Ben-Shitreet pour Israël et son homologue français Christian Masset. La réunion avait pour mission des échanges sur des dossiers sécuritaires et diplomatiques, mais elle avait également pour but de symboliser l'étroite coordination entre les deux pays. Selon les diplomates israéliens, au cours de ce genre de forum, les deux parties mettent généralement en exergue ce qu'elles ont en commun tout en essayant d'éviter tous les points qui "fâchent", à savoir les polémiques et désaccords sur certains sujets.
Dès le début des conversations, il est devenu évident, rapporte le journal Haaretz, qu'il serait difficile, voire impossible de rapprocher les positions, en particulier pour ce qui touche au dossier israélo-palestinien pour lequel la France entend présenter une résolution devant le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations-Unies. Les diplomates des deux parties ont confié que les échanges difficiles ont été la preuve de la profondeur de la tension entre les deux pays.
La proposition française devant l'Onu pour une tentative de règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien a conduit à des éclats. Les diplomates israéliens ont affirmé avoir reçu ces dernières semaines des informations indiquant que les Français discutaient avec les Palestiniens, des pays arabes et certains membres du Conseil de Sécurité, à Paris comme à New York, de la formulation de la résolution qui devrait être présentée, alors qu'Israël n'a, à aucun moment, été consulté.
Selon des sources israéliennes proches du dossier, le directeur-général Nissim Ben-Shitreet aurait dénoncé la conduite française. "Vous parlez avec le monde entier de votre initiative, sauf avec nous. Vous semblez avoir oublié que nous sommes également partie prenante dans ce dossier et que vous devez nous y impliquer", aurait déclaré Ben-Shitreet, selon les sources israéliennes qui ont précisé que les diplomates français se seraient mis sur la défensive, niant avoir présenté un brouillon aux Palestiniens et aux pays arabes.
"Ils (les membres de la délégation française, ndlr) ont dit que les choses étaient à un stade préliminaire et que lorsque quelque chose se profilerait, ils nous l'aurait présenté. Ils ont ajouté que cette procédure devant le Conseil de Sécurité était dans notre intérêt et qu'ils tentent d'aboutir à une formule qui soit acceptable pour les deux parties et qui pourrait permettre de faire redémarrer le processus de paix", ont encore rapporté les sources.
Les Israéliens, cependant, n'auraient pas été convaincus par les explications des représentants du Quai d'Orsay et le ton serait monté, virant aux récriminations mutuelles. "A un certain moment, le dialogue stratégique est devenu un dialogue de sourds", a souligné un diplomate israélien. Les deux délégations ont convenu que le ton et la tension des discussions reflètent l'état actuel des relations entre les deux pays. [...]
Selon les termes de la proposition française, la résolution comprendrait l'établissement d'un Etat palestinien sur les bases des frontières de juin 1967 avec des échanges de territoires, Jérusalem comme capitale des deux Etats, israélien et palestinien, avec une date butoir pour mettre fin à l'"occupation" et le tenue d'une conférence internationale pour la paix.
Les Etats-Unis et plusieurs autres pays, y-compris arabes, ont demandé durant ces deux dernières semaines au gouvernement français de repousser son initiative de résolution devant le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies sur le dossier israélo-palestinien.Cs pays demandent à Paris d'attendre au moins jusqu'au 30 juin, date butoir pour un accord sur le nucléaire iranien. [...]"
- Quatre personnes blessées dans une possible attaque à la voiture bélier (Times of Israel)
"Quatre personnes ont été blessées lorsqu’un véhicule a foncé sur un poste d’auto-stop en Cisjordanie jeudi après-midi. Cela serait une possible attaque terroriste. L’attaque a eu lieu en dehors de l’implantation d’Alon Shvut au Gush Etzion dans le sud de Jérusalem, l’endroit où il y a eu une attaque mortelle similaire en novembre. Un suspect a été arrêté un peu plus tard et a été remis au service de sécurité du Shin Bet pour subir un interrogatoire. Le suspect serait un résident palestinien de Hébron. [...]"
- Attaque à la voiture bélier : le conducteur avoue avoir voulu tuer des Israéliens (i24) - "Muhammad Arfaaya, 22 ans, originaire de Hébron en Cisjordanie, a avoué avoir intentionnellement renversé des piétons israéliens".
"Processus de paix"
- Fatah official glorifies arch-terrorist who planned killings of 125 (PMW, Vidéo 1mn24) - juste ignoble.
"- Fatah Central Committee Member Abbas Zaki: "[Abu Jihad] was a substantial threat to Israel, starting with the Savoy operation (i.e., terror attack, Savoy hotel Tel Aviv, 11 killed) to the Dalal Mughrabi operation (i.e., bus hijacking, 37 killed). I am talking about the large-scale operations, the prominent ones and not the small ones: Dalal Mughrabi (i.e., bus hijacking 37 killed), Dimona (i.e., attack on bus, 3 killed) and the attempt to capture the [Israeli] Ministry of Defense. That is why this man, who it seems Allah created just to confront this enemy, dedicated his time to serious activity. Likewise, he had a talent for persuading young people to die as Martyrs and to always be prepared to sacrifice, give and be patient... Everyone should know that this region needs pioneers [on] the path of brother Abu Jihad." [Fatah-run Awdah TV, April 19, 2015]
Abu Jihad (Khalil Al-Wazir) was a founder of Fatah and deputy to Yasser Arafat. He headed the PLO terror organization's military wing and also planned many deadly Fatah terror attacks. These attacks, which killed a total of 125 Israelis, included the most lethal in Israeli history - the hijacking of a bus and killing of 37 civilians, 12 of them children. [...]"
- Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign, Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
"Palestinian activists on May 11 broke up a conference in east Jerusalem where Israelis and Palestinians met to discuss the two-state solution. The activists belong to the "anti-normalization" campaign, which aims to thwart meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.
The conference at the Ambassador Hotel was organized by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) think tank based in Jerusalem. It has been working towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Entitled, "Is The Two-State Solution Still Relevant?," the conference was supposed to include a discussion on the issue from the perspectives of the Palestinian side and the Israeli Left. Organizers said the event was made possible by the support of the Government of the Netherlands.
The Israeli side was represented by Dr. Alon Liel, former Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to South Africa. The identity of the Palestinian representative was not announced before the discussion, apparently to avoid pressure from the "anti-normalization" activists. Liel is an outspoken critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Two years ago, he told The Times of Israel that he supports cultural boycotts of Israel, and that he himself started boycotting goods produced in the settlements to protest the lack of progress in the peace negotiations.
But all this did not stop the "anti-normalization" activists from disrupting his speech and forcing him to abandon the podium at the Ambassador Hotel. Shortly after the discussion began, scores of Palestinian activists, many of whom are affiliated with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, stormed the conference room and chanted slogans denouncing "normalization with Israel." The protesters also chanted slogans condemning the Palestinians who hold meetings with Israelis as traitors. In addition, they chanted, "Jerusalem is Arab!" and "Palestine is free!"
One of the protesters announced that he and his friends came to express their opposition to "normalization meetings" between Israelis and Palestinians. Another protester explained: "This is not the first time that such meetings take place in Jerusalem and the West Bank. This phenomenon has to stop." That some of the activists are affiliated with Fatah did not stop them from condemning the PA leadership for maintaining security coordination with Israel in the West Bank. Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist and is opposed to any meetings with the "Zionist entity," was quick to praise the activists who broke up the meeting in east Jerusalem. [...]"
- Makovsky: Most land tenders announced during peace talks were agreed to by Abbas (JP) - "During the nine months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that ended in failure in 2014, 62 percent of Israel’s publicly announced tenders for housing beyond the Green Line were earmarked for the 1.9% of West Bank land that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had once consented would remain in Israel’s hands".
- Les forces de la sécurité en état d’alerte pour le ‘Jour de la Nakba’ (Times of Israel)
"Les forces de sécurité israéliennes étaient en état d’alerte vendredi, alors que les Palestiniens célébraient le Jour de la Nakba, la commémoration annuelle de la « catastrophe », comme les Palestiniens s’y réfèrent, pour parler de la création d’Israël il y a 67 ans. Les événements du Jour de la Nakba ont commencé avec une longue sirène de 67 secondes dans les villes palestiniennes, une seconde pour chaque année écoulée depuis la guerre de 1948 au cours de laquelle Israël a gagné son indépendance et où quelques 700 000 Palestiniens ont été déplacés lorsqu’ils ont fui ou ont été expulsé.
Les marches dans la mémoire de la Nakba ont eu lieu dans plusieurs endroits à travers le pays. Des signes de tensions ont été signalés entre les manifestants et les forces de sécurité à Issawiya, un village au nord-est de Jérusalem, près de la prison d’Ofer au nord de Jérusalem, près du checkpoint de Qalandia au nord-est Jérusalem et à plusieurs autres endroits, selon site de nouvelles NRG. Al Manar TV, un média affilié au Hezbollah au Liban, a indiqué qu’un groupe de réfugiés palestiniens vivant au Liban marchait près de la clôture à la frontière israélienne en mémoire de la Nakba. Les résidents de Gaza ont aussi défilé dans la bande de Gaza.
Des groupes palestiniens, y compris le « Nakba Memorial Committee » et le « Comité de Résistance », ont publié des communiqués appelant à « l’unité palestinienne par la voie du Jihad et le soulèvement pour exterminer ceux qui essaient d’enterrer la question palestinienne et à nuire aux droits du peuple palestinien… Les sionistes occupent notre terre et nos lieux saints. L’occupation essaie de détruire la mosquée al-Aqsa et d’établir le Temple [juif]. Nous devons lutter contre ce régime afin de sauver les lieux saints de l’islam ».
L’"appel du Comité de résistance à agir" a expliqué que « toute tentative de résoudre le problème [le conflit israélo-palestinien] à travers des initiatives politiques au détriment des droits des Palestiniens ne réussiront pas. La terre palestinienne est un territoire Waqf [propriété religieuse] et ne peut être cédée. Ce qui a été pris par la force ne sera repris que par la force », a indiqué NRG qui citait le groupe. Les manifestants dans divers endroits ont brandi des pancartes combinant les couleurs du drapeau palestinien et la forme d’une clé, symbolisant les maisons des Palestiniens abandonnées pendant la guerre de 1948 [voir images sur le site]. [...]"
- 'We will return even if we have to wait another 67 years' says 'Nakba Day' protestor (JP) - “We will return even if we have to wait another 67 years. If we don’t return, our children or grandchildren will return. We educate our children that this [the West Bank] is not our homeland. Our real homeland is there, in Palestine. There is no Israel.”
"[...] Many participants in the Ramallah march wore black T-shirts with the message, “1948, the return is a right and the will of the people.” Others carried keys as a symbol of the refugees returning to their homes.
A woman carrying a placard with the name of her former village, Bet Nabala, shouted, “We will return even if we have to wait another 67 years. If we don’t return, our children or grandchildren will return. We educate our children that this [the West Bank] is not our homeland. Our real homeland is there, in Palestine. There is no Israel. This is the land of Palestine from where we were forcibly expelled.”
Ramallah Gov. Leila Ghannam, who addressed the rally on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas (who is currently abroad), said that Palestinians would never forget or relinquish the rights of the refugees. “Some think that with the passing of time, the right of return ceases to exist,” Ghannam said. “Our rights won’t be abandoned, and the young people won’t forget. Jerusalem must return to its owners, regardless of the plans to Judaize the city.”
Zakariya al-Agha, head of the PLO’s refugee department, said in his speech that although 67 years had passed since the “Nakba,” the Palestinians would never forget the right of return. “Israeli practices won’t stop the Palestinians from returning to the homes of their fathers and grandfathers,” he declared. Agha warned that Israel’s insistence on getting recognition as a Jewish state was aimed at expelling its more than 1.5 million Arab citizens and preventing five million refugees from returning to their former homes.
Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction said in a statement that the “right of return is a sacred right,” adding that no force in the world could deny it or force the Palestinians to “capitulate.” Fatah vowed to continue the struggle until the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital “on the historic and natural land of Palestine” [...]"
- What You Won’t Hear about “Nakba Day”, Sarit Catz (CAMERA)
"Friday, May 15, has been designated by Palestinian Arab leaders to mark this year's “Nakba Day,” the day they commemorate the “catastrophe” of the founding of Israel. There will be marches, rallies and demonstrations. And, there will be media coverage but it will likely not include some of the major elements in the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example...
1) Over 800,000 Jews either fled or were driven out of their homes in Arab countries during and after Israel's war for independence. This is roughly equivalent to or even greater than the number of Palestinian Arab refugees created by that war. Israel absorbed the Jews who immigrated there but the Palestinian refugees have been kept in camps for decades, used by Arab leaders as a cudgel to batter Israel. (For more information, please see CAMERA's Backgrounder on Refugees.)
2) There is no such thing as a Palestinian “right of return.” Those who claim there is such a right often cite as its basis United Nations Resolution 194, passed on December 11, 1948. This is a General Assembly resolution and therefore does not carry the weight of international law. Further, the Arab states voted against 194 precisely because it did not create a “right of return” and have violated it numerous times since its passage. As CAMERA notes:
"[Resolution 194] only recommends that refugees be permitted to return, it can hardly be characterized as creating a “right.” Moreover, the requirement that returnees first accept living “at peace with their neighbors” meant that Palestinian returnees would have to accept Israel's right to exist, something that very few of them, even today, seem truly willing to do. Further, it did not even hint at any return rights for descendants of refugees.
It should also be noted that (1) the resolution applies equally to Palestinian refugees from Israel and to the similar number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who came to Israel after 1948, and (2) that it placed repatriation, resettlement, and payment of compensation on an equal footing."
Most importantly, the “right of return” is a ruse to flood Israel with Palestinian Arabs and end its existence as a Jewish state. [...]"
- "Nakba survivor" admits she fled without seeing a single Jew (Elder of Ziyon) - "this was the pattern for the large majority of the Arab refugees - they left their homes based on wild Arab rumors or direction from Arab leaders, promising that they would return in no time. But the vast majority of Arabs who left what became Israel were not expelled and never even saw an Israeli soldier".
"Every year, on "Nakba Day," Arab newspapers scramble to find old people who can act as eyewitnesses to the horrors of how Israel treated their people who would become to be known years later as "Palestinians." Al Watan Voice published an interview with 80-year old Mrs. Kalhout, who lived in a village called Ni'ilya which was near Gaza. She describes how her family fled the town - and makes an interesting admission.
Residents of the village and surrounding areas tried to prepare themselves battle. Leaders gave them clubs to go out and attack the Jews. But they didn't find any, and returned to their homes. Then, she says, after hearing about the massacre by Israel in Deir Yassin and in other Arab towns and villages up north, home towns of the northern region and carrying out massacres there, everyone fled to Gaza without seeing a single Jew enter their towns. In fact, this happened in November 1948, many months after Deir Yassin, and the IDF fought with Egyptian forces in the area. Mrs. Kalhout says that they thought they would be able to return after a day but they couldn't.
In fact, this was the pattern for the large majority of the Arab refugees - they left their homes based on wild Arab rumors or direction from Arab leaders, promising that they would return in no time. But the vast majority of Arabs who left what became Israel were not expelled and never even saw an Israeli soldier. I don't recall ever seeing a first-hand account of Arabs who were told to or forced leave their homes by Israeli soldiers. It definitely happened in some cases, especially where the areas were critical for Israel's defense, but that was by far the exception rather than the rule.
And that goes as well for none other than Mahmoud Abbas, who admits that his family left Safed voluntarily:
""Until the nakba" (calamity in Arabic - the loaded synonym for Israeli independence), he recounted, his family "was well-off in Safed." When Abbas was 13, "we left on foot at night to the Jordan River... Eventually we settled in Damascus... My father had money, and he spent his money methodically. After a year, when the money ran out, we began to work.
"People were motivated to run away... They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations - particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising.... They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale - saving our lives and our belongings"."
When people say that the Nakba is the anniversary of the Arabs being expelled from Palestine, they are lying."
Rapport Breaking the Silence
- The Latest "Breaking the Silence" Report Isn't Journalism. It's Propaganda, Matti Friedman (ex-reporter for Associated Press) - "The vast media coverage devoted over the past week to this little piece of agit-prop from a little country — its claims parroted without proof, shorn of context and comparison, and presented as journalism to people around the world — must lead us to ask what, exactly, is going on. What is motivating all of this?" Une excellente synthèse des problèmes posés par le rapport Breaking the Silence, et notamment par la couverture médiatique mondiale qui s'en est suivie. A lire.
"Last week, a report by an Israeli group called Breaking the Silence made headlines in the U.S., Britain, and most of Europe, becoming one of the week’s biggest international stories. The subject was the Gaza war of 2014. The headline in the Washington Post was representative: "New report details how Israeli soldiers killed civilians in Gaza: “There were no rules”."
This report is worth dwelling on because there will be more rounds of fighting in Gaza, and more reports like this one, and more reporting of this kind—and because, for all observers of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is important to understand the sources of information that shape our thinking.
1) Let’s look first at the report itself. Breaking the Silence, usually identified as an organization of Israeli veterans, says its goal is to “expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.” In recent years, expanding that mandate to Israeli warfare in general, it has released numerous reports. For this one, which was published in both Hebrew and English, the group’s staff interviewed “over 60” soldiers. There are no dates or names. In most cases we are given a rank and the section of the army (“infantry,” “armored corps”) to which the soldier belongs; in a few cases there is no identification at all.
The soldiers’ accounts, presented in short excerpts, are interesting, offering a gritty, personal, and frequently awful look at the kind of combat that has become common in this century, and at its toll on combatants and civilians. A reader of the English report notices that in some places the translators and editors could have been more knowledgeable or careful: there is confusion between mortars and artillery (in the Israeli military, these are considered different classes of weapons and are employed by different units), and between a platoon and a division, and one editor believes that an M16 rifle is a weapon mounted on a tank.
More seriously, having promised to reveal the secret of the civilian death toll in Gaza in the form of systematic Israeli misdeeds, and having selected, with that purpose in mind, the most incriminating segments from much longer interviews, the report fails to deliver. Perhaps that is why, instead of letting readers examine the interviews and decide for themselves, the activist-editors of Breaking the Silence felt compelled to add a heated introduction announcing that their report “exposes” the true face of the Gaza operation—namely, its “disturbing” and “unprecedented” violence directed at civilians by the Israeli military. This is probably also why each testimony opens with a headline like “If you shoot someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal,” or “Those guys were trigger-happy, totally crazy.”
The editors seem to want readers to believe there were “no rules” in Gaza, and that the IDF acted without taking civilian life into consideration. In fact the interviews themselves show the army taking numerous steps to avoid harm to civilians. The soldiers regularly mention warning leaflets, “roof-knocking” rockets, phone calls, warning shells, warning shots, lists of protected sites like UN facilities, and drones vetting targets for civilians before an airstrike. All of the action we encounter in the report is happening in areas where the army had already warned Gazan civilians (and, of course, Hamas guerrillas) that soldiers were about to arrive. Indeed, what is truly striking is that the soldiers simply take all of these steps for granted, as if they were obviously part of warfare, when in fact many are unique to Israeli military practice.
We encounter good behavior, ugly behavior, and two or three instances that would warrant prosecution. One, in which a soldier describes firing with his tank at civilian vehicles and a bicyclist for no reason at all, should result in a lengthy jail term. If it’s true, that is, and this incident strikes me as less credible than any of the others—not because I doubt a teenage soldier’s capacity for thoughtless cruelty but because it’s unlikely that a tank gunner could fire multiple shells and machine-gun bursts at easy targets and miss every time, as he claims. But even here no one is reported killed. In fact, nowhere in the entire report are there rapes, massacres, or anything similar, or a single incident in which a civilian is shot in circumstances that could not be defended as either warranted or as a legitimate error on a battlefield where even a grandmother could have been (and, in 2006, was) a suicide bomber.
The activists from Breaking the Silence aren’t journalists, and their report is intended not to explain but to shock. It’s propaganda. That’s fine if you understand what you’re reading, but I suspect most people don’t. Equally important, at least to me, is the question of whether the soldiers who cooperated with Breaking the Silence understood what kind of use would be made of their stories abroad. I can’t ask them because none of them is identified. But as someone who knows many combat soldiers, who was a combat soldier himself and still serves as one in the reserves, and who has both heard and expressed criticism of the army as a civilian and as a soldier, I am willing to guess that in many or most cases the answer is no: these soldiers did not fully understand whom they were talking to, or what they were participating in.
2) If I believed the activists from Breaking the Silence were merely trying to complete or correct the picture presented to the Israeli public about service in the Palestinian conflict, I would be supportive of their efforts, and have been in the past. Like any corporation or government agency, the army is fully capable of lying in its public statements, at least by omission, and much information goes unreported.
But there is, to borrow a phrase from the group’s own report, a “yawning gap” between what Breaking the Silence says it is and what it actually is. For a group ostensibly trying to influence Hebrew-speaking Israelis, why invest so much to produce, at considerable expense, an English translation of all 237 pages of this report? We learn from the news item filed by the Washington Post’s Jerusalem correspondent that Breaking the Silence arranged a meeting for him with one of the soldiers. Are Israeli ex-pats the people Breaking the Silence is trying to influence in Washington, D.C.?
The list of the group’s current donors includes the Danish Lutheran organization Dan Church Aid, the French Catholic group CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the governments of Norway and Switzerland, and many others along similar lines, none of them Israeli. This, too, raises questions. Do Norwegian taxpayers fund an organization that encourages, say, British soldiers to reveal British army wrongdoing to the international press? Does Switzerland try to get Hamas soldiers to open up about things they’ve done?
Funding is not a technical detail. Were the Israeli army to adopt what Breaking the Silence appears to recommend—that is, to act with less force and expose soldiers to greater risk—Hamas would have an easier time fighting Israel and more Israelis would die. Let’s say the Israeli death toll was doubled, and the Hamas death toll halved. Israelis of nearly all political persuasions would agree that this is a negative outcome. But is it a negative outcome for Dan Church Aid? What about the Norwegian government?
Breaking the Silence’s money is foreign, not Israeli, and the primary customers for its product are foreign, not Israeli. At its extensive English website, Jewish soldiers are presented for international consumption as a spectacle of moral failure, a spectacle paid for by Norwegians, French Catholics, and Germans. This being so, it is completely reasonable for Israelis to wonder what exactly this group is and which side it is on.
3) In analyzing trends in the press I have found it most helpful to keep an eye on the mainstream and avoid extreme cases. So let’s look again at the Washington Post, a good U.S. paper, to see how a report of this kind becomes major international news.
The Post receives a document about Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza war that has been produced in English by a group of Israelis funded by European organizations and governments. The paper’s correspondent, recently arrived in Jerusalem from a posting in Mexico, takes at face value that this is an “Israeli” organization and also an organization of “veterans,” perhaps not grasping that, because Israel has a mandatory draft, the term is quite meaningless; most people can plausibly claim to be “veterans.”
The correspondent then selects some of the most egregious examples in the report, summarizes them, and presents them as representative not only of the report but of the entire Gaza operation. He takes the words of people whose identity is not known to him, who have been interviewed by people whose identity is similarly not known to him, the interviews edited and redacted in a process not known to him, and pastes them into his article. As a reporter, you wouldn’t be able to get away with publishing purely anonymous testimony that you have collected, but it is one of the peculiarities of Israel-related journalism that you are allowed to use anonymous material if it has been pre-packaged for you by a political NGO.
To set up the story, the reporter suggests that Israel’s rules of engagement in Gaza were “permissive,” without comparing them with those of any other army, and also that civilian casualties were “high,” without comparing them with any other conflict. He duly notes that the information in the report is “impossible to independently verify.” And then, the gods of ethical journalism having been placated, he writes not one but two articles in which he treats the whole thing as completely true.
The idea that there has been “silence” about Israel’s actions in its conflict with the Palestinians cannot be taken seriously; over the past two decades, probably no international story has been covered more than this one. But there are important silences at work, and the frenzy surrounding this latest Breaking the Silence report offers a good opportunity to point them out.
For years prior to last summer’s war, Hamas was busy building an impressive network of tunnels under residential areas in Gaza, some of them leading under the border into Israel; stockpiling rockets; and raising and training a large fighting force, including a naval commando unit. That meant thousands of people, mostly Gazans, were about to die. The local contingent of the international press, one of the world’s largest, was silent about this.
As presented openly in its charter, Hamas’s ideology holds that Jews control the United Nations and the world media, were responsible for both world wars as well as the French and Russian revolutions, and “sabotage” societies through the Freemasons and the Rotary Club. It also asserts that God wants Jews to be murdered. The unwritten rule of the press corps requires silence about this. For a good example, take a look at the charter and then at this “summary” of it once published by the Associated Press.
The vast media coverage devoted over the past week to this little piece of agit-prop from a little country—its claims parroted without proof, shorn of context and comparison, and presented as journalism to people around the world—must lead us to ask what, exactly, is going on. What is motivating all of this? No one observing our planet of violence and injustice in 2015 can claim any longer that Israel is covered the same way other countries are covered; that the coverage is proportional to the scale of events; or that the tone of moral condemnation—growing in its hysteria, and crawling from the fringes deeper and deeper into the mainstream press—is in the realm of reasonable reportage.
In all the talk purporting to be about the Gaza war, many are beginning to see more clearly the outlines of another war entirely. What is the nature of this war? That is where the real silence lies."
- Israeli Soldiers Angered by ‘Breaking the Silence’ Claims Against IDF, Matti Bernhardt (Tazpit News Agency)
"A group of former IDF soldiers, incensed by an Israeli NGO’s claims that they abused Palestinians during last summer’s fighting in Gaza, have taken to social media to fight the allegations.
Under the hashtag #my_truth in Hebrew, the soldiers, many of whom faced heavy fire from Hamas and other terrorist groups during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge, have begun posting stories of cases showing how they went to great lengths to avoid harming Palestinians. They also mention cases in which civilians took part in terrorist activity. The goal of this initiative is to counter damning anonymous testimonies by other troops published by the NGO Breaking the Silence, which publicizes claims that the IDF mistreats Palestinians. [...]
The latest counter-initiative to the NGO report began after Israeli left-wing Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On posted one such hostile testimony last Tuesday on her Facebook page. In the allegation from Breaking the Silence, Gal-On quoted the following: “the unit identified two figures walking in an orchard around 900 meters from where we were posted. The figures were two girls. The observation post could not see them well, so the commander sent a UAV. The UAV marked them as dangerous. The unit directed an aircraft who fired on the girls, killing them. When the bodies were checked they had no weapons on them,” the allegation said.
Such accounts, which purport to show the IDF in a bad light, are among those which prompted the numerous counter-claims from other IDF soldiers, who have attempted to portray a more positive view of IDF activities during the foray. After reading the Breaking the Silence pamphlet, former IDF soldier Matan Katzman wrote on his Facebook page last Thursday that “during Operation Summer Rains in Beit Hanoun [in the northern Gaza Strip in 2006], we entered a house with a couple living in it. We asked them if they’re involved with Hamas, they said ‘no, not at all.’ We asked them if they have weapons in the house, they said ‘no, not at all.’ We stayed in the house for a couple of hours. When we left, we moved the couch and discovered an IED [Improvised explosive device].”
The informal pro-IDF campaign by former Israeli soldiers also cited examples of humane and respectful behavior towards non-combatants during operations in Judea and Samaria. Avishai Shorsham recalled in a testimony that he wrote of his service on his Facebook page on Wednesday, that “During an operation in the Nablus Kasbah, while we are in the middle of a stakeout, an old man who lived in the house felt sharp pain in his chest. Without accordance with our orders, we evacuated him in the middle of the night while endangering ourselves.” [...]"
- ‘#MyTruth’ Movement Grows Among IDF Soldiers Protesting ‘Breaking the Silence’ Report, Eliezer Sherman (Algemeiner)
"[...] One story, posted by Avihai Shoshan and Dror Dagan, tells of a risky 2004 mission to kill the head of Hamas’ Beit Lechem military operations, who was responsible for a deadly bus bombing in January that year which killed 11 people.
“The Duvdevan Unit was chosen for the task, and after just a day-long briefing, set out to settle the score. The maneuvers themselves were complex and dangerous. For the purposes of security, we won’t elaborate. As we broke into the house and quickly checked the rooms, somebody fell and fainted who was later identified as the wife of that very senior Hamas operative.
“Dror, the company medic, didn’t hesitate and started treating the woman. Not two minutes passed when it turned out that the story of the fainting woman was really a trap. Everything was a show, a stalling trick to allow the wanted man to get organized. Inside a hollow wall, the wanted man is hiding and starts shooting indiscriminately. Several soldiers are immediately wounded, among them Dror the medic, who is mortally wounded.
“After a long rehabilitation, Dror is paralyzed from the chest down and is registered 100% disabled. Dror is wounded because he was educated on IDF ethical procedure of treating any wounded casualty, even if the casualty is the wife of a senior terrorist who faints during an arrest.” The authors posted a picture apparently showing Dror in a wheelchair below the story.
Shorshan, one of the movement’s promoters, posted a call to fellow soldiers to “publish truth against the lies that Breaking the Silence has spread in Israel and around the world.” The Breaking the Silence report included stories of indiscriminate tank fire on distant houses and the unprompted firing on a Palestinian man riding a bicycle."
- Real Breaking the Silence 3: Yet another IDF soldier speaks (Elder of Ziyon) - "During one of our operations in the outskirts of Sajaia (city in Gaza), our location was discovered. Hamas didn't wait long and sent towards us a 10 year old boy with an explosive belt on him. Against protocol and orders to kill the terrorist, a friend from the crew that was guarding the door at the time, decided not to open fire. He took cover and ordered the boy to strip and take off the explosive belt. We arrested the boy and after an interrogation in Israel he was released safe and sound. (By the way, during the interrogation it turned out that his brother, a senior Hamas member, paid him 10 shekels to go and blow up on us)".
"From Avihai Shorshan, translated on Facebook by Tomer Elias:
"I'm also breaking the silence. Here is my report, nothing special, just the tip of the iceberg.
- During our operation in the Kasbah of Schem, while we were stationed inside a house for an ambush, an old man, one of the residents of the home started feeling pains in his chest. Because the Red Sahar are a group of useless golems, against orders we evacuated the old man in the middle of the night on a stretcher while seriously risking the troops in the area, and risking exposing the our ambush location.
- During our duty in Gaza, the battalion commander decided that all the food supply crates that were sent to the unit for lone soldiers would be distributed to the Palestinian families during our next operation. (We received many more food crates as compared to the amount of lone soldiers in the unit). During one of our operations before Rosh Ha'ashana, we entered the Jabalia area by foot, and the armored vehicle that came in after us brought the crates with all the food supplies. Every home we entered during the operation received a gift for the holiday.
- During one of our operations in the outskirts of Sajaia (city in Gaza), our location was discovered. Hamas didn't wait long and sent towards us a 10 year old boy with an explosive belt on him. Against protocol and orders to kill the terrorist, a friend from the crew that was guarding the door at the time, decided not to open fire. He took cover and ordered the boy to strip and take off the explosive belt. We arrested the boy and after an interrogation in Israel he was released safe and sound. (By the way, during the interrogation it turned out that his brother, a senior Hamas member, paid him 10 shekels to go and blow up on us).
- After preparing for two weeks for an operation that was a little crazy, we left to arrest the Hamas leadership in Janin. We had intelligence that they were all going to meet in the same coffee shop. After a long walk, and two weeks of combat readiness, the force reached its destination and we were all locked on the target location. But only then the intelligence realized that the coffee shop and the surrounding area were packed with uninvolved people, and the order was given to cancel the operation, and return empty handed in order to avoid harming innocent people.
What I wrote here is not rare, and not an outlier, I can write an entire book just from the cases that we personally experienced in our crew. Every soldier that served in these areas can share many more similar experiences.
I'm not closing my eyes, during combat, especially in an urban environment, innocent Palestinians are hurt. However, I know, with a full heart, that the commanders on the ground, and the higher ups, will go beyond what is necessary in order to minimize the number of casualties. Even when it does happen, it is a mistake and an error, things that unfortunately happen in every way, all around the world.
"Breaking the Silence" is trying to defame and make a controversy, and nothing else. The organization is not willing to work together with the IDF or to share its investigation material, despite the IDF constant pleas that they share the information. Besides all the testimonies are anonymous... Every person with a head on their shoulders will come to their own conclusion... Everyone that fought in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), and Gaza knows what really happens on the ground, and what the orders are.""
- Real Breaking the Silence 4: Matan Katzman (Elder of Ziyon)
"I'm breaking the silence. Here is my report, continuing an important initiative under the Hashtag #האמת_שלי (Hebrew for #My_Truth).
- Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Strip, 2006. Operation "Autumn's Clouds".
We're entering a home. At the entrance, we meet a man and his wife. We take them to a side room and offer them something to drink. We ask the man if he has anything to do with Hamas. "No, of course not, we have no connection to them." Then we ask if they have any weapons in their home. "No, of course not," he replies. The team stays at the house for a few hours. Before leaving it, soldiers who stayed in one of the rooms decide to move the couch, revealing an explosive device aimed at detonating armored vehicles. The man is safe and sound.
- Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Strip, 2006. Operation "Autumn's Clouds".
We are searching for weapons in the town center (Kasbah) and are advancing from one house to the other. In one of them, a middle-aged civilian man doesn’t feel well. Our medic, Roi, diagnoses possible heart problems. We halt the weapons search and advancing to other houses so that Roi can treat him. With the assistance of the man's daughter, a fluent English speaker, we call the Red Crescent and prolong our stay in his home, thereby exposing and endangering ourselves even further.
Shortly after we hear a powerful boom and shrapnel flies all around. An IDF team from an adjacent team operating nearby who has not received word that we are still providing emergency medical treatment to the man in the previous house accidentally activates a break-in device on the door of the home just a few meters from us. It is a miracle that nobody is injured.
- Zaytoun neighborhood, the Gaza Strip, 2009. Operation "Cast Lead".
My team is ordered to take control of an apartment building home to a prominent Hamas operative was living there with his family. The IDF could have easily bombed it from the air but we endanger ourselves and search the building by foot. On the second floor, in the in the parents bedroom there is a large clothes cabinet with a big mirror over it. In a compartment in the cabinet we find grenade launchers, mortar shells, hand guns, rifles, hand grenades, army vests, two-way radios, cell-phones and thousands of bullets.
In the backyard we find two rocket launchers nestled between the olive trees, likely where the sons of the Hamas operative play. In a corner of the yard is a suspicious hut, which, upon searching it, we identify as a factory for assembling rockets. The hut is filled with rockets, explosive devices, fertilizers used for preparing explosives and Arabic manuals for assembling and launching rockets - all this in a private home in which the operative lives with his wife and children. Though the IDF had strong suspicions about what we will find in the home, all of which – and more - ultimately proves to be true, the house is not bombed from the air. IDF soldiers – myself and my team – are dispatched to search the house, thereby minimalizing damage to property and Hamas.
I'm writing here after sitting and reading dozens of pages of anonymous testimonies given by "Breaking the Silence" which, like many other testimonies are out of context, lack proof, do not explain the complexities of war and ignore the reality of Hamas’ cynical use of civilians. They are simply ignorance and another opportunity to bash Israeli soldiers.
There are stories that are a thousand times more heroic than mine. I am not looking for, nor do I need, any attention. I'm doing this because I am proud of the IDF, I have full trust in the soldiers who fought beside me, and I believe in their high standard of morality. I refuse to allow a tiny, anonymous minority, to slander the IDF. I am aware of mistakes and errors conducted by soldiers in the battlefield. These cases represent a tiny fraction of Israeli soldiers. They are an exception and do not represent IDFs soldiers and officers – including myself - in any way. [...]""
Syrie, Liban & Hezbollah
- Israël : un officier du renseignement met en garde contre les risques conflits (AFP) - "Tout village libanais est un bastion militaire. La prochaine fois que nous mènerons une guerre avec le Hezbollah, nous aurons à attaquer chacune de ces cibles et nous espérons que la population civile ne s'y trouvera pas".
"Un haut responsable du service des renseignements militaires israéliens a mis en garde aujourd'hui contre la menace croissante de conflits aux frontières d'Israël d'ici deux à trois ans. Cet officier a également souligné lors d'un briefing avec des journalistes étrangers qu'Israël "aura à" cibler des zones civiles au Liban en cas de future confrontation avec le mouvement chiite armé Hezbollah étant donné la dispersion des sites d'armement de cette organisation.
Cette menace a été lancée après une attaque du Hezbollah en janvier au cours de laquelle deux soldats israéliens ont été tués dans le secteur occupé des Fermes de Chebaa, aux confins d'Israël, de la Syrie et du Liban. Cette attaque avait fait craindre le déclenchement d'une guerre. L'officier, qui a requis l'anonymat, estime que le Hezbollah, avec lequel Israël a livré une guerre durant l'été 2006, détient plus de 100.000 roquettes cachées dans des zones civiles de villages libanais qui pourraient toucher le nord de l'Etat hébreu ainsi que des "centaines" d'autres roquettes capables d'atteindre tout le territoire israélien. "Tout village libanais est un bastion militaire. La prochaine fois que nous mènerons une guerre avec le Hezbollah, nous aurons à attaquer chacune de ces cibles et nous espérons que la population civile ne s'y trouvera pas", a poursuivi l'officier.
Concernant la probabilité "d'une guerre de la part d'un pays ou d'une organisation qui se déclencherait subitement contre Israël", l'officier a estimé qu'elle était "moins élevée qu'il y a deux ou trois ans". "Mais la probabilité d'une guerre résultant d'une escalade ou d'un mauvais calcul est beaucoup plus élevée que dans le passé en raison de la situation des organisations déployées autour d'Israël", a-t-il souligné, en faisant directement référence au Hezbollah, un allié de Téhéran.
"La menace iranienne constitue une menace tangible pour Israël. L'Iran aspire à dominer et contrôler le Moyen-Orient. Et le Hezbollah est un des instruments que l'Iran utilise pour appliquer cette politique", a poursuivi l'officier. Selon lui, un accord sur le nucléaire iranien en cours de négociations actuellement permettrait à Téhéran de prospérer économiquement, ce qui devrait lui permettre d'accorder une aide financière plus importante à des organisations telles que le Hezbollah."
- Yarmouk and the Failure of Palestine Solidarity, Ben Cohen (The Tower) - "The silence of leaders of Palestine solidarity activists is in many ways confirmation that their movement is motivated primarily by detestation of Israel’s existence, rather than advocating for Palestinians wherever they may be".
- Bombardement mosquée : l'armée US dément (AFP) - "Le commandement militaire américain au Moyen-Orient (Centcom) a démenti aujourd'hui le bombardement d'une mosquée en Irak par la coalition contre le groupe Etat islamique, dans une attaque qui selon le ministère de la Défense irakien visait des chefs de l'EI". J'ai furieusement l'impression que si l'Etat juif était soupçonné de bombarder des mosquées, on en parlerait quelque peu davantage.
- Moscou : Pas de rétablissement automatique des sanctions contre l’Iran (Times of Israel) - "Un diplomate de Moscou dément l’affirmation des États-Unis que les sanctions seraient rétablies immédiatement si Téhéran violait l’accord".
"Un responsable russe a résolument rejeté mercredi les allégations selon lesquelles les sanctions contre l’Iran serait immédiatement rétablies si la République islamique violait les termes de l’accord destiné à freiner son programme nucléaire, contredisant ainsi un argument central de la Maison Blanche qui etait censé apaiser les critiques à l’accord. S’exprimant sur Bloomberg News, l’Ambassadeur russe à l’ONU, Vitaly Churkin, a déclaré « qu’il ne peut y avoir d’automaticité, absolument aucune » à l’égard des sanctions contre l’Iran. Il n’a pas précisé davantage.
L’administration Obama avait affirmé que la Russie a accepté « en principe » la nécessité de réimposer des sanctions si l’Iran ne respectait pas l’accord, mais le gouvernement russe n’avait jamais confirmé être d’accord avec une telle position. Les Etats Unis avaient souligné à plusieurs reprises la possibilité d’un « rétablissement automatique » [snapback] des sanctions si l’Iran devait violer l’accord, dans le but d’apaiser les craintes de ses alliés que Téhéran puisse échapper aux sanctions sans réduire réellement son programme d’enrichissement. Les critiques avaient exprimé des doutes sur le fait que l’ONU puisse réimposer des sanctions automatiquement, ou qu’il y ait même une volonté internationale de le faire en particulier de la part de la Russie et de la Chine."
- Sweden's third-largest city is not a welcoming place for Jews (Haaretz) - "It's not just the residents of Malmo who make the city an uncomfortable place to live. It's the city itself".
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