Citizen Action Monitor

Windsor Star/Postmedia News publishes blatant pro-Israeli drivel, claiming “facts are on Baird’s side”

Is this the best a Postmedia journalist can offer? What rubbish!

No 1110 Posted by fw, July 28, 2014

Postmedia journalist Michael Den Tandt’s article, copied below, reads like it came right out of Israel’s propagandist handbook.

My rebuttal of Den Tandt’s so-called ‘facts’ is interspersed throughout his piece, bracketed by asterisks ***** and typed in bold italics.

In debate over Israel’s war with Hamas, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has facts on his side by Michael Den Tandt, Windsor Star/Postmedia News, July 24, 2014

John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, has elicited the usual outrage from the usual quarters over his recent declarations about Hamas’ war with Israel, currently in its third week. In particular Baird has raised eyebrows with his blunt assertion that Hamas, the terrorist organization that holds power in Gaza, is solely responsible for the now more than 700 deaths on the Palestinian side. It’s more fodder for those who are convinced Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a foreign-policy Neanderthal, and John Baird his senior club-wielder.

But weighing against all that, is this: The facts are on Baird’s side. And the test of that is simply to pose this one question: What can Israel logically do, other than what it is now doing?

***** Den Tandt has to be kidding, right? Israel is slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza in their hundreds and Den Tandt has the unmitigated impudence to suggest they [the Israelis] have no other choice? Den Tandt, who conveniently ignores the historical context of current hostilities, has the insolence to suggest that Israel has no other choice? Had he done his homework, Den Tandt, might have stumbled across the sage advice of the eminent Israeli columnist, Gideon Levy – “If Netanyahu wants to stop the rockets, he needs to [lift the siege and] accept a just peace” – instead, Den Tandt has the studied woodenheadedness to say that Israel has no other choice? *****

There is no minimizing, explaining away, looking away from, or justifying the horror of what is unfolding in Gaza. Thursday, The Associated Press reported, Israeli shells hit a United Nations school. At least 15 people died and many more were injured. The dead and wounded, according to reports, were fleeing the violence outside. Gaza is crowded, poor, with ramshackle and shoddy services, even in times of relative peace. For Palestinian families trapped between Hamas rocketeers and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with water and food running short, the suffering is unimaginable.

That is why, virtually since the conflict began 17 days ago…

***** For Den Tandt the conflict may have begun 17 days ago. But as Israeli history scholar, Ilan Pappé, notes — “…two very basic historical kind of backgrounds are being missed. The very immediate one goes back to June this year, when Israel decided, by force, to try and demolish the Hamas politically in the West Bank and foil the attempts of the unity government of Palestine to push forward an international campaign to bring Israel to justice on the basis of the agenda of human rights and civil rights. And the deeper historical context is the fact that ever since 2005, the Gaza Strip is being—or people in the Gaza Strip are being incarcerated as criminals, and their only crime is that they are Palestinians in a geopolitical location that Israel doesn’t know how to deal with. And when they elected democratically someone who was vowed to struggle against this ghettoizing or this siege, Israel reacted with all its force. So, this sort of wider historical context that would explain to people that it is a desperate attempt to get out of the situation that…is at the heart of the issue.” *****

… there have been efforts towards a ceasefire. The first, brokered by Egypt, was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas. This week Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal torpedoed the idea again by insisting, from the safety of his perch in Qatar, that there can be no truce before Israel’s eight-year economic blockade of Gaza is lifted, a border crossing with Egypt is opened, and Palestinian prisoners are released, the BBC reported. That slams the door on any ceasefire plan, because these are conditions Israel cannot accept.

***** First, Den Tandt has Hamas “rejecting” a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, omitting the fact that Egypt did not bother to seek Hamas’ input in the ceasefire negotiations. Second, as for Den Tandt’s ridicule of Hamas leader Mashaal speaking “from the safety of his perch in Qatar”, perhaps Den Tandt would rather Mashaal be in Gaza where he could more conveniently be assassinated, as were hundreds of other Palestinians since 2000 in targeted Israeli murders. Third, turning to Den Tandt’s main point about Hamas conditions being unacceptable to Israel, this pro-Israeli Postmedia News journalist conveniently ignores the reasons why Israel “cannot accept” Hamas’ conditions. As Gideon Levy has explained – and Den Tandt, who appears to have a chronic aversion to the truth, has not bothered to research and read – “Israel just doesn’t want a just peace. And it’s all about justice. You look backwards, and you ask yourself: In which stage, in which moment, was Israel willing to give up the occupation? Give me one example in which there was a genuine readiness to put an end to the occupation. It was never there. It was all about gaining time and maintaining the status quo. And it’s also now about gaining time and maintaining the status quo—namely, the West Bank occupied, Gaza under siege, peaceful life in Israel.” *****

It is clear today, as it has been since Hamas launched its first volley of rockets that the organization’s leadership wants the conflict to continue. It is also clear that it is seeking precisely the outcomes we’re now seeing, that is to say the bombing of schools by the IDF. Its strategic goal is to isolate Israel internationally. The fact that such schools are being used by Hamas to stockpile rockets is sure to be eclipsed by photos of the carnage.

***** Give me a break, Michael Den Tandt. First, you’re quick to jump all over an isolated rocket stockpile incident, omitting some significant details, such as: the weapons cache was the first of its kind, the United Nation agency for Palestinian refugees found weapons in just one of hundreds of schools it runs in the Gaza Strip, and the school was vacant and the weapons were quickly removed. Moreover, you imply that the weapons’ find is justification for Israel’s slaughter of innocent civilians. Second, you allege that Hamas’ strategic goal is to isolate Israel internationally? Surely you’re joking — Israel, through its merciless terror campaign, is isolating itself internationally, thank you very much, with no help from Hamas necessary.*****

Why can’t Israel accede to Hamas’ demands? The first part of the answer is quite simple: Hamas wants all Israeli Jews dead, and an Islamist theocratic dictatorship established over all the current territory now encompassed by the State of Israel. The organization says so explicitly in its founding charter, which dates back to 1988. “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them),” reads Article 7 of the charter, “until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

***** Finally, we arrive at the heart of Den Tandt’s dizzying display of innuendo, misinformation, and Israeli propaganda – the Hamas Charter. In rebuttal, consider these points

  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock has argued that Hamas has not adopted their charter since they won the Palestinian legislative election, 2006 as part of their political program. Instead they have moved to a more secular stance. 
  • In 2008, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, stated that Hamas would agree to accept a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, and to offer a long-term truce with Israel
  • In 2010 Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated that the Charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons.” 

Additionally, in a 2013 CBC interview, host Evan Solomon pushed his guest, Afif Safieh, the Ambassador of the Palestinian Diplomatic Corps, to respond to concerns over Hamas as a terrorist organization, and over its Charter: — Solomon says — “You know that Minister Baird and our Prime Minister have said that though officially Canada does support the establishment of a Palestinian state, they regard Hamas as a terrorist organization. They have asked Hamas to renounce violence, to respect Israel and to recognize formally Israel. And they cannot, they say, trust that Fatah has a partner with, a partnership with an organization like Hamas. So the question is does the politics represented by Hamas represent a fundamental obstacle to peace by both from the view of the Canadian government and the Israeli government? …Hamas has an official charter that calls for the destruction of Israel, and they regard it as a terrorist organization, so how does the Canadian government deal with Hamas?

The articulate Safieh responds: — “I would invite those that voice that type of opinion to be equally as demanding vis-à-vis the Israeli political establishment and the Israeli political class and the Israeli political parties. You’re not without knowing that many Israelis are ashamed on the emergence of very extreme right-wing tendencies in their own society that are daily presented in the Knesset and are coalition partners imposing very important policies on the coalition in Israel – being equally as demanding would be a more …better inspired policy than being aligned on one side showing demands vis-à-vis one side and not showing vis-à-vis the other.”

“You spoke of Hamas and its policies. Do you know that when Menachem Begin – [who, incidentally, before the creation of the state of Israel, was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun] — was elected for the first time as Prime Minister of Israel in 1977. His party platform and his party anthem was ‘the Jordan River has two banks, the West Bank is ours, so is the East Bank’, meaning the Jordanian monarchy. Yet nobody I remember hearing Canada or elsewhere said that he’s not an interlocutor viable because of those radical expectations and aspirations and ambitions. So, sir, I am not in favour of encouraging people to differently demanding vis-à-vis different players in the international system. I ask and hope and expect fairness.” *****

There is no negotiating with Hamas; no two-state solution; no land for peace.

Part two of the answer is linked to part one. Hamas is not a government, as westerners typically understand the term. It cannot really even be categorized among thuggish governments or garden-variety dictatorships. It is a terrorist group, with some of the powers of a state. It has launched numerous suicide bombers against Israel, successfully, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians in mass murders on buses and in restaurants or hotels.

Hamas has habitually sent dogs and donkeys laden with explosives towards Israeli targets, and continues to do so, according to a report from Britain’s London Daily Telegraph. It has built an extensive network of assault tunnels into Israel. And, Hamas deliberately fires rockets from densely populated areas, knowing most of these will be shot down, apparently in the hope of drawing return fire, which furthers its propaganda aims. In other words, Hamas appears to be deliberately provoking and perpetuating the killing of its own people. To that long list of barbarities we can now add the strategic targeting of international civilian aviation, with rockets aimed at Ben Gurion Airport.

*****Let us now compare who are the real terrorists. First, if Hamas is a terrorist organization, as Den Tandt claims, what does that make Israel’s government, especially given the IDF’s ongoing murderous slaughter of innocent Palestinians in Gaza? Here’s how Israeli scholar Ilan Pappé replied when asked if he saw a change in his country: “I think Israel, in 2014, made a decision that it prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy, and it still hopes that the United States would license this decision and provide it with the immunity to continue with the necessary implication of such a policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.”

Second, Edward Peck, former Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, wrote this about terrorism: “In 1985…they [the US government] asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities. After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can Google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says ‘international terrorism,’ means ‘activities that,’ I quote, ‘appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.’ Certainly you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. And I think it’s useful for people who discuss that phrase to remember that Israel was founded by terrorist organizations and terrorist leader, Menachem Begin, who became statesmen and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And Nasrallah may not be the same kind of guy, but his intentions are the same. He wants to free his country from domination by another.”*****

Can Israel stop the barrages of rocket attacks by means other than those it is now employing?

***** To repeat what Gideon Levy said“If Netanyahu wants to stop the rockets, he needs to [lift the siege and] accept a just peace” *****

If so, no one has yet properly explained just how.

***** Explaining this to a close-minded Israel propagandist like Den Tandt would take some doing and probably end in failure. *****

To belabour the point, the rockets are launched from densely populated areas in Gaza. There is no desert outpost or collection of empty tents or mostly deserted factories to symbolically target with Cruise missiles, as U.S. president Bill Clinton did in Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998.

Horrible though the reality is, Hamas has put Israel in a position where it has no choice but to defend its citizens. Canadians, Americans, and Europeans would not tolerate for a day the terror Israelis are being subjected to now.

***** Den Tandt is so desperate he even trots out this tired old red herring that Israel “has no choice but to defend its citizens….yadda yadda…” The man has no shame. *****

Baird has been among the clearest voices internationally in describing this situation for what it is. For that he deserves credit, and not the reflexive brickbats of “human rights” advocates who have grown far too accustomed to casting Israel as the villain, regardless of the facts.


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