Sunday, August 3, 2014

What Happened at Lydda. By Martin Kramer.

What Happened at Lydda. By Martin Kramer. Mosaic, July 2014.

In his celebrated new book, Ari Shavit claims that “Zionism” committed a massacre in July 1948. Can the claim withstand scrutiny?

The Meaning of “Massacre.” By Benny Morris and Martin Kramer. Mosaic, July 2014.

The debate between Benny Morris and Martin Kramer over Israel’s wartime conduct enters its second round.

Distortion and Defamation. By Martin Kramer. Mosaic, July 2014.

The treatment of Lydda by Ari Shavit and my respondent Benny Morris has consequences even they didn’t intend.

Zionism’s Black Boxes. By Benny Morris. Mosaic, July 2014.

Martin Kramer shows how Ari Shavit manipulates and distorts Israeli history; but Kramer has an agenda of his own. 

The Uses of Lydda. By Efraim Karsh. Mosaic, July 2014. 

How a confusing urban battle between two sides was transformed into a one-sided massacre of helpless victims.

Lydda, 1948: A City, a Massacre, and the Middle East Today. By Ari Shavit. The New Yorker, October 21, 2013.

Ari Shavit’s Lydda Massacre. By Alex Safian. CAMERA, October 26, 2013.

The Nakba in the New Yorker. By Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark. MuzzleWatch, October 27, 2013.

“Thanks for doing Zionism’s filthy work”: A response to Ari Shavit. By Ami Asher. +972, November 11, 2013.

Ari Shavit and American Jewry. By Caroline Glick., July 3, 2014.

What Primary Sources Tell Us About Lydda 1948. By Naomi Friedman. NJBR, February 19, 2014. 

1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle. Wikipedia.

Myths and Historiography of the 1948 Palestine War Revisited: The Case of Lydda. By Alon Kadish and Avraham Sela. The Middle East Journal, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn 2005).

Operation Dani and the Palestinian Exodus from Lydda and Ramle in 1948. By Benny Morris. The Middle East Journal, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Winter 1986). 

Ari Shavit with David Remnick: The Tragedy and Triumph of Israel. Video. 92nd Street Y, November 26, 2013. YouTube. 

Liberal Soul-Searching on Israel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. By Liel Leibovitz.

How Stupid Can You Get? Rethinking Israel Is the Way to Find Out. By Liel Leibovitz. The Tablet, August 1, 2014.

The Liberal Zionists. By Jonathan Freedland. New York Review of Books, August 14, 2014 issue. 

Liberal Zionism After Gaza. By Jonathan Freedland. NYR Blog. New York Review of Books, July 26, 2014. 


A new genre of journalism brings up the good, the bad, and the ugly of liberal soul-searching.

The hottest story out of Gaza these days has nothing to do with Palestinians. It’s not about Israelis either. It features no rockets or tunnels or tragically misunderstood secretaries of state. Instead, it is about what is clearly at the core of this conflict, namely the growing ennui some liberal writers are feeling as they contemplate the fluctuating state of their support for Israel.

When attempted intelligently, this exercise is less entirely narcissistic than it sounds. Writing in New York magazine, for example, Jonathan Chait presented a reasonable—if far from uncontestable, as Chait himself fairly admits—account of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and concluded by arguing that responsibility for failing to strike a deal lies squarely on Bibi Netanyahu’s shoulders. If you believe in that story, the war in Gaza comes off as a cynical political maneuver by a desperate politician who, having squandered a wonderful opportunity for coexistence, vies for fighter jets and surges of patriotism instead.

But the further the genre of the soul-searching liberal moved away from a well-lit attempt at interpreting the available facts, the more it sailed up the river and into the dark heart of emotional entanglements, the weirder the pieces became. Jonathan Freedland—whose newspaper, The Guardian, has a tradition of running columns with such jaunty titles as “Israel Simply Has No Right to Exist”—produced his own musing in The New York Review of Books. “The first week of Protective Edge produced awkward statistics,” he wrote. “The Palestinian death toll kept climbing while Israel’s remained stubbornly at zero.” How awkward indeed, and how stubborn those Israelis are for simply refusing to die. And what a challenge they mount to the liberal narrative by investing in bomb shelters, missile defense systems, and smartphone applications to keep its citizens safe while the other side forcefully prevents its civilians from seeking a safe shelter.

Never mind about civilians, however, when something far more important is at stake: Maintaining the purity of the author’s identity as a good liberal as defined by the ever-shifting tides of the high-brow magazines to which he or she contributes and/or subscribes. “When Israelis and Palestinians appear fated to fight more frequently and with ever-bloodier consequences,” Freedland wrote, “and when peace initiatives seem to be Utopian pipe-dreams doomed to fail, the liberal Zionist faces something like an existential crisis. For if there is no prospect of two states, then liberal Zionists will have to do something they resist with all their might. They will have to decide which of their political identities matters more, whether they are first a liberal or first a Zionist. And that is a choice they don’t want to make.”  Naturally, the possibility that the Zionist entity with its civil rights lawyers and free press and internet start-ups is itself much more neatly aligned with anyone’s version of classical liberal values than the medieval ranting of Hamas’s bearded women-oppressing, gay-bashing, Jew-hating missile-launching zealots is never entertained.

It’s easy to pity the intellectual incoherence of soul-searching liberals; for the most part, they are honestly trying to resolve what they perceive as a real clash of values. But then there are those who let their incoherence blossom into something vile. In a recent post titled “The Shifting Israel Debate,” Andrew Sullivan gave his readers a thunderous account of how the times are a-changin’. Offering up Matt Yglesias’s Liberty Lobby-style piece about how Congress is basically bought and paid for by Jews with deep pockets and narrow interests, Sullivan writes: “not so long ago, anyone saying that Jewish donor money made an even-handed approach to Israel-Palestine a pretty dead letter would be deemed ipso facto an anti-Semite.”

As we’re in ipso facto territory, let’s forget about allegations of anti-Semitism—those never go very far—and focus instead on rudimentary journalistic skills. Let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that a curious journalist came across the Israel-buys-congress’s-approval-with-campaign-contributions line of arguments. What might such an aspiring muckraker do? First, he or she might seek to prove causality, asking if cash contributions from pro-Israeli Jews were truly the sole or major reason behind American support for Israel. How to answer that complex question?

Hmmmmm. Let’s start with Google, which, if tasked with the phrase “American support for Israel,” reveals a Gallup poll from last year announcing that while 64 percent of Americans side with and support Israel, only 12 percent stand with the Palestinians. Did the Jewish lobby buy the voters too? Even among Democrats, liberals, and postgraduates—groups whose sympathies for underdogs are a matter of dogma—the Palestinians could not muster more than 24 percent of the population.

Why is that? The poll doesn’t specify, but it’s not hard to surmise that some folks way down yonder in the heartland find all that business about suicide bombings and rocket launchings and sacrificing 160 children  to build death tunnels a tad, well, un-American.

To say that American support for Israel, then, may have something to do with shared cultural values rather than balance sheets would have been enough. But a serious journalist could have gone a step further and discovered that when it comes to doling out the dough, Israel is a very low-grade player. How meek? Number 83 out of 84 countries surveyed, with a total of $1,250 spent, which is what some restaurants in New York charge for dinner for two with decent wine. Topping the list are the United Arab Emirates, $14.2 million of whose money flowed to Washington last year.

Sullivan, however, isn’t done. The other reason the brave champions of veracity who rule the internet can now break their shackles finally speak truth to power, he argues, is because blogging came along and liberated the hearts, the minds, and the pens of journalists. “Reporters from the scene,” he wrote, “can actually express in real time—outside the usual pro-Israel self-censorship that has existed for years at the NYT and WaPo – what they are actually witnessing.”

It’s tempting to chuckle at the idea of the Times censoring itself when it comes to Israel—Sullivan, apparently, is not familiar with the literary oeuvre of the Grey Lady’s crusader Robert Mackey—but more serious issues are at stake. To claim that the debate over Israel shifts because journalists on the ground are finally free to report what they’re seeing is to wantonly ignore the mounting evidence of Hamas harassing and threatening the lives of Western journalists attempting to question its rank propaganda. In recent days alone, we’ve heard the account of Gabriele Barbati, an Italian journalist who, once leaving Gaza, tweeted: “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.” We’ve also heard from Radjaa Abou Dagga, a former correspondent for France’s Liberation whose attempts at practicing honest journalism got him summoned by Hamas thugs, accused of collaborating with Israel, and told to stop working as a reporter and leave the strip at once. If Sullivan was true to his vision, if he believed in unfettered reporting, he’d promote these gutsy correspondents and their accounts. But actually, Sullivan has never reported an actual story in his long career, let alone set foot in a war zone. He’s a click-machine with an animus.

Which is the real problem with the “Let’s rethink Israel” genre in both its sensitive soul-searching singer-songwriter NYRB version and Yglesias and Sullivan’s gleeful attempt to try to rebrand rancid bigotry as the brave new forward-think of the web. Journalists, Jewish or not, liberal or otherwise, should indeed reexamine their positions about Israel. In fact, they should reexamine their positions about everything. Being reporters, their positions should be rather tightly tethered to the facts, which often swing wildly and without warning. But when pundits with very little concrete knowledge of what is actually happening on the ground fail to produce even basic reporting and indulge instead their own creepy fetishes, the insight they offer is less than meaningless.

In Defense of Zionism. By Michael B. Oren.

In Defense of Zionism. By Michael B. Oren. Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2014. Also here.


The often reviled ideology that gave rise to Israel has been an astonishing historical success.

They come from every corner of the country—investment bankers, farmers, computer geeks, jazz drummers, botany professors, car mechanics—leaving their jobs and their families. They put on uniforms that are invariably too tight or too baggy, sign out their gear and guns. Then, scrambling onto military vehicles, 70,000 reservists—women and men—join the young conscripts of what is proportionally the world’s largest citizen army. They all know that some of them will return maimed or not at all. And yet, without hesitation or (for the most part) complaint, proudly responding to the call-up, Israelis stand ready to defend their nation. They risk their lives for an idea.

The idea is Zionism. It is the belief that the Jewish people should have their own sovereign state in the Land of Israel. Though founded less than 150 years ago, the Zionist movement sprung from a 4,000-year-long bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland, an attachment sustained throughout 20 centuries of exile. This is why Zionism achieved its goals and remains relevant and rigorous today. It is why citizens of Israel—the state that Zionism created—willingly take up arms. They believe their idea is worth fighting for.

Yet Zionism, arguably more than any other contemporary ideology, is demonized. “All Zionists are legitimate targets everywhere in the world!” declared a banner recently paraded by anti-Israel protesters in Denmark. “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances,” warned a sign in the window of a Belgian cafe. A Jewish demonstrator in Iceland was accosted and told, “You Zionist pig, I'm going to behead you.”

In certain academic and media circles, Zionism is synonymous with colonialism and imperialism. Critics on the radical right and left have likened it to racism or, worse, Nazism. And that is in the West. In the Middle East, Zionism is the ultimate abomination—the product of a Holocaust that many in the region deny ever happened while maintaining nevertheless that the Zionists deserved it.

What is it about Zionism that elicits such loathing? After all, the longing of a dispersed people for a state of their own cannot possibly be so repugnant, especially after that people endured centuries of massacres and expulsions, culminating in history’s largest mass murder. Perhaps revulsion toward Zionism stems from its unusual blend of national identity, religion and loyalty to a land. Japan offers the closest parallel, but despite its rapacious past, Japanese nationalism doesn’t evoke the abhorrence aroused by Zionism.

Clearly anti-Semitism, of both the European and Muslim varieties, plays a role. Cabals, money grubbing, plots to take over the world and murder babies—all the libels historically leveled at Jews are regularly hurled at Zionists. And like the anti-Semitic capitalists who saw all Jews as communists and the communists who painted capitalism as inherently Jewish, the opponents of Zionism portray it as the abominable Other.

But not all of Zionism’s critics are bigoted, and not a few of them are Jewish. For a growing number of progressive Jews, Zionism is too militantly nationalist, while for many ultra-Orthodox Jews, the movement is insufficiently pious—even heretical. How can an idea so universally reviled retain its legitimacy, much less lay claim to success?

The answer is simple: Zionism worked. The chances were infinitesimal that a scattered national group could be assembled from some 70 countries into a sliver-sized territory shorn of resources and rich in adversaries and somehow survive, much less prosper. The odds that those immigrants would forge a national identity capable of producing a vibrant literature, pace-setting arts and six of the world’s leading universities approximated zero.

Elsewhere in the world, indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting. Yet Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish. Zionist organizations planted hundreds of forests, enabling the land of Israel to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. And the family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history’s largest Jewish community. The average secular couple in Israel has at least three children, each a reaffirmation of confidence in Zionism's future.

Indeed, by just about any international criteria, Israel is not only successful but flourishing. The population is annually rated among the happiest, healthiest and most educated in the world. Life expectancy in Israel, reflecting its superb universal health-care system, significantly exceeds America’s and that of most European countries. Unemployment is low, the economy robust. A global leader in innovation, Israel is home to R&D centers of some 300 high-tech companies, including Apple, Intel and Motorola. The beaches are teeming, the rock music is awesome, and the food is off the Zagat charts.

The democratic ideals integral to Zionist thought have withstood pressures that have precipitated coups and revolutions in numerous other nations. Today, Israel is one of the few states—along with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.—that has never known a second of nondemocratic governance.

These accomplishments would be sufficiently astonishing if attained in North America or Northern Europe. But Zionism has prospered in the supremely inhospitable—indeed, lethal—environment of the Middle East. Two hours’ drive east of the bustling nightclubs of Tel Aviv—less than the distance between New York and Philadelphia—is Jordan, home to more than a half million refugees from Syria’s civil war. Traveling north from Tel Aviv for four hours would bring that driver to war-ravaged Damascus or, heading east, to the carnage in western Iraq. Turning south, in the time it takes to reach San Francisco from Los Angeles, the traveler would find himself in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

In a region reeling with ethnic strife and religious bloodshed, Zionism has engendered a multiethnic, multiracial and religiously diverse society. Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces, in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. While Christian communities of the Middle East are steadily eradicated, Israel’s continues to grow. Israeli Arab Christians are, in fact, on average better educated and more affluent than Israeli Jews.

In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.

Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land—its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests—millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism’s adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.

The response to date has been, at best, a refusal to remain at the negotiating table or, at worst, war. But Israelis refuse to relinquish the hope of resuming negotiations with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. To live in peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors remains the Zionist dream.

Still, for all of its triumphs, its resilience and openness to peace, Zionism fell short of some of its original goals. The agrarian, egalitarian society created by Zionist pioneers has been replaced by a dynamic, largely capitalist economy with yawning gaps between rich and poor. Mostly secular at its inception, Zionism has also spawned a rapidly expanding religious sector, some elements of which eschew the Jewish state.

About a fifth of Israel’s population is non-Jewish, and though some communities (such as the Druse) are intensely patriotic and often serve in the army, others are much less so, and some even call for Israel’s dissolution. And there is the issue of Judea and Samaria—what most of the world calls the West Bank—an area twice used to launch wars of national destruction against Israel but which, since its capture in 1967, has proved painfully divisive.

Many Zionists insist that these territories represent the cradle of Jewish civilization and must, by right, be settled. But others warn that continued rule over the West Bank’s Palestinian population erodes Israel’s moral foundation and will eventually force it to choose between being Jewish and remaining democratic.

Yet the most searing of Zionism’s unfulfilled visions was that of a state in which Jews could be free from the fear of annihilation. The army imagined by Theodor Herzl, Zionism’s founding father, marched in parades and saluted flag-waving crowds. The Israel Defense Forces, by contrast, with no time for marching, much less saluting, has remained in active combat mode since its founding in 1948. With the exception of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the ideological forbear of today’s Likud Party, none of Zionism’s early thinkers anticipated circumstances in which Jews would be permanently at arms. Few envisaged a state that would face multiple existential threats on a daily basis just because it is Jewish.

Confronted with such monumental threats, Israelis might be expected to flee abroad and prospective immigrants discouraged. But Israel has one of the lower emigration rates among developed countries while Jews continue to make aliyah—literally, in Hebrew, “to ascend”—to Israel. Surveys show that Israelis remain stubbornly optimistic about their country’s future. And Jews keep on arriving, especially from Europe, where their security is swiftly eroding. Last week, thousands of Parisians went on an anti-Semitic rant, looting Jewish shops and attempting to ransack synagogues.

American Jews face no comparable threat, and yet numbers of them continue to make aliyah. They come not in search of refuge but to take up the Zionist challenge—to be, as the Israeli national anthem pledges, “a free people in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem.” American Jews have held every high office, from prime minister to Supreme Court chief justice to head of Israel’s equivalent of the Fed, and are disproportionately prominent in Israel’s civil society.

Hundreds of young Americans serve as “Lone Soldiers,” without families in the country, and volunteer for front-line combat units. One of them, Max Steinberg from Los Angeles, fell in the first days of the current Gaza fighting. His funeral, on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, was attended by 30,000 people, most of them strangers, who came out of respect for this intrepid and selfless Zionist.

I also paid my respects to Max, whose Zionist journey was much like mine. After working on a kibbutz—a communal farm—I made aliyah and trained as a paratrooper. I participated in several wars, and my children have served as well, sometimes in battle. Our family has taken shelter from Iraqi Scuds and Hamas M-75s, and a suicide bomber killed one of our closest relatives.

Despite these trials, my Zionist life has been immensely fulfilling. And the reason wasn’t Zionism’s successes—not the Nobel Prizes gleaned by Israeli scholars, not the Israeli cures for chronic diseases or the breakthroughs in alternative energy. The reason—paradoxically, perhaps—was Zionism’s failures.

Failure is the price of sovereignty. Statehood means making hard and often agonizing choices—whether to attack Hamas in Palestinian neighborhoods, for example, or to suffer rocket strikes on our own territory. It requires reconciling our desire to be enlightened with our longing to remain alive. Most onerously, sovereignty involves assuming responsibility. Zionism, in my definition, means Jewish responsibility. It means taking responsibility for our infrastructure, our defense, our society and the soul of our state. It is easy to claim responsibility for victories; setbacks are far harder to embrace.

But that is precisely the lure of Zionism. Growing up in America, I felt grateful to be born in a time when Jews could assume sovereign responsibilities. Statehood is messy, but I regarded that mess as a blessing denied to my forefathers for 2,000 years. I still feel privileged today, even as Israel grapples with circumstances that are at once perilous, painful and unjust. Fighting terrorists who shoot at us from behind their own children, our children in uniform continue to be killed and wounded while much of the world brands them as war criminals.

Zionism, nevertheless, will prevail. Deriving its energy from a people that refuses to disappear and its ethos from historically tested ideas, the Zionist project will thrive. We will be vilified, we will find ourselves increasingly alone, but we will defend the homes that Zionism inspired us to build.

The Israeli media have just reported the call-up of an additional 16,000 reservists. Even as I write, they too are mobilizing for active duty—aware of the dangers, grateful for the honor and ready to bear responsibility.

Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do. By Roger Cohen.

Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do. By Roger Cohen. New York Times, August 2, 2014.


TO cross the Atlantic to America, as I did recently from London, is to move from one moral universe to its opposite in relation to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Fury over Palestinian civilian casualties has risen to a fever pitch in Europe, moving beyond anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism (often a flimsy distinction). Attacks on Jews and synagogues are the work of a rabid fringe, but anger toward an Israel portrayed as indiscriminate in its brutality is widespread. For a growing number of Europeans, not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience. The deaths of hundreds of children in any war, as one editorial in The Guardian put it, is “a special kind of obscenity.”

In the United States, by contrast, support for Israel remains strong (although less so among the young, who are most exposed to the warring hashtags of social media). That support is overwhelming in political circles. Palestinian suffering remains near taboo in Congress. It is not only among American Jews, better organized and more outspoken than their whispering European counterparts, that the story of a nation of immigrants escaping persecution and rising from nowhere in the Holy Land resonates. The Israeli saga — of courage and will — echoes in American mythology, far beyond religious identification, be it Jewish or evangelical Christian.

America tends toward a preference for unambiguous right and wrong — no European leader would pronounce the phrase “axis of evil” — and this third Gaza eruption in six years fits neatly enough into a Manichaean framework: A democratic Jewish state, hit by rockets, responds to Islamic terrorists. The obscenity, for most Americans, has a name. That name is Hamas.

James Lasdun, a Jewish author and poet who moved to the United States from England, has written that, “There is something uncannily adaptive about anti-Semitism: the way it can hide, unsuspected, in the most progressive minds.” Certainly, European anti-Semitism has adapted. It used to be mainly of the nationalist right. It now finds expression among large Muslim communities. But the war has also suggested how the virulent anti-Israel sentiment now evident among the bien-pensant European left can create a climate that makes violent hatred of Jews permissible once again.

In Germany, of all places, there have been a series of demonstrations since the Gaza conflict broke out with refrains like “Israel: Nazi murderer” and “Jew, Jew, you cowardly pig, come out and fight alone” (it rhymes in German). Three men hurled a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue in Wuppertal. Hitler’s name has been chanted, gassing of Jews invoked. Violent demonstrations have erupted in France. The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Germany were moved to issue a statement saying “anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews” have “no place in our societies.” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, went further. What Germany had witnessed, he wrote, makes the “blood freeze in anybody’s veins.”
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Yes, it does. Germany, Israel’s closest ally apart from the United States, had been constrained since 1945. The moral shackles have loosened. Europe’s malevolent ghosts have not been entirely dispelled. The continent on which Jews went meekly to the slaughter reproaches the descendants of those who survived for absorbing the lesson that military might is inextricable from survival and that no attack must go unanswered, especially one from an organization bent on the annihilation of Israel.

A strange transference sometimes seems to be at work, as if casting Israelis as murderers, shorn of any historical context, somehow expiates the crime. In any case it is certain that for a quasi-pacifist Europe, the Palestinian victim plays well; the regional superpower, Israel, a militarized society through necessity, much less so.

Anger at Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is also “a unifying element among disparate Islamic communities in Europe,” said Jonathan Eyal, a foreign policy analyst in London. Moroccans in the Netherlands, Pakistanis in Britain and Algerians in France find common cause in denouncing Israel. “Their anger is also a low-cost expression of frustration and alienation,” Eyal said.

Views of the war in the United States can feel similarly skewed, resistant to the whole picture, slanted through cultural inclination and political diktat. It is still hard to say that the killing of hundreds of Palestinian children represents a Jewish failure, whatever else it may be. It is not easy to convey the point that the open-air prison of Gaza in which Hamas has thrived exists in part because Israel has shown a strong preference for the status quo, failing to reach out to Palestinian moderates and extending settlements in the West Bank, fatally tempted by the idea of keeping all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Oppressed people will respond. Millions of Palestinians are oppressed. They are routinely humiliated and live under Israeli dominion. When Jon Stewart is lionized (and slammed in some circles) for “revealing” Palestinian suffering to Americans, it suggests how hidden that suffering is. The way members of Congress have been falling over one another to demonstrate more vociferous support for Israel is a measure of a political climate not conducive to nuance. This hardly serves America’s interests, which lie in a now infinitely distant peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and will require balanced American mediation.

Something may be shifting. Powerful images of Palestinian suffering on Facebook and Twitter have hit younger Americans. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that among Americans age 65 or older, 53 percent blame Hamas for the violence and 15 percent Israel. For those ages 18 to 29, Israel is blamed by 29 percent of those questioned, Hamas by just 21 percent. My son-in-law, a doctor in Atlanta, said that for his social group, mainly professionals in their 30s with young children, it was “impossible to see infants being killed by what sometimes seems like an extension of the U.S. Army without being affected.”

I find myself dreaming of some island in the middle of the Atlantic where the blinding excesses on either side of the water are overcome and a fundamental truth is absorbed: that neither side is going away, that both have made grievous mistakes, and that the fate of Jewish and Palestinian children — united in their innocence — depends on placing the future above the past. That island will no doubt remain as illusory as peace. Meanwhile, on balance, I am pleased to have become a naturalized American.

Gaza’s Civilian Casualties: The Truth Is Very Different. By Richard Kemp.

Gaza’s Civilian Casualties: The Truth Is Very Different. By Richard Kemp. Gatestone Institute, August 3, 2014.

Colonel Richard Kemp Stresses Israel isn’t a War Criminal. By Rachel Avraham. Jerusalem Online, August 6, 2014.

Avraham with quotes from Kemp: 

Colonel Richard Kemp has developed a reputation as a man who speaks his mind and stands up for the truth, even if it goes against the conventional wisdom. According to Kemp, after making a public stance against the Goldstone Report charade at the UN, a female ambassador from a Muslim majority country told him that he would go to hell for what he stated.  Gerry Adams of the IRA referred to Kemp as bloodthirsty and the Al Shabab terrorist organization has Kemp on their wanted list. He has had rockets fired at him.

Kemp wears all of this opposition as a badge of honor. As former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once stated, “You have enemies? Good! That means that you stood up for something in your life.” Due to such a background and in spite of British public support for the Palestinians, Colonel Kemp doesn’t hesitate to express the reality as he sees it related to Operation Protective Edge.

“I’d like to ask the world, what would Great Britain do if they were in a similar situation? I can tell you what Britain would do and did in 1943, when Nazis sent unguided missiles at British cities. We immediately sent a bombardment and dropped 600 aircrafts full of explosives. 763 civilians died. The most important concern was for British civilians,” Kemp explained.

Colonel Kemp noted that the Nazis only sent 100 missiles per day to Great Britain. To the contrary, Hamas has sent on average 130 missiles to Israel every day since the operation began. While Israel tries to minimize civilian deaths, Great Britain “did not care about the enemy civilians. We would have done that with just one rocket,” Kemp emphasized.

Colonel Kemp stated that a UN panel has decided upon having a Goldstone 2 and the EU abstained “to our shame. Cameron spoke out against Hamas. His actions undermine his words. It’s a travesty. Another UN school was hit and the UN Secretary General called Israel criminal. I don’t know who was killed, but according to international law, if there is reason to believe that there is a rocket launcher or another security threat there, the action is protected under the Geneva Convention.”

“Proportionality doesn’t refer to how many killed,” Kemp stressed. The fact that more Palestinians were killed than Israelis during Operation Protective Edge is irrelevant from an international legal perspective. “One can hit it depending on the threat posed verses the number of civilians killed. How great a threat can a rocket of theirs pose? One cannot assume that it will be thwarted by the Iron Dome. It is left to be an abstract idea from the commander and it is not related to any number. One can kill 100 to save the life of one Israeli.”

“From what I’ve been briefed, the IDF does not deliberately target civilians. The IDF didn’t commit war crimes. If civilians are accidently killed, it’s not a war crime. The IDF has even gone further than the Geneva Convention,” Kemp emphasized. “In one particular incident, 17 missions were aborted to save innocent civilians and in the end, they gave up on the mission. The pilot said he could not live with the fact that innocent civilians were killed on his conscious. Another soldier stated that he would rather die than to kill innocent civilians.” Kemp stressed that these two soldiers are not isolated incidents, but represent routine IDF policy regarding avoiding civilian causalities.

“You don’t find that in many armies. Israeli forces have taken greater steps than anyone else in the history of warfare to save the lives of innocent civilians. The conduct of the IDF is the opposite of its image,” Kemp noted. He also stated that these humane feelings from IDF soldiers exist because Israel has a universal draft that takes every citizen into the army as a “way of life” instead of recruiting people voluntarily that has a natural inclination to fight.

To the contrary, Hamas fires rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas from heavily populated civilian areas, kidnaps and builds tunnels into a foreign country to kidnap more, uses mosques and schools to store rockets and missiles, breaks humanitarian ceasefires, utilizes child soldiers, fires at Israel’s international airport, which according to Kemp, are all war crimes.

While stressing that many people in Great Britain are anti-Israel due to the BBC and Sky News’ coverage of the Gaza conflict, he stressed that “British soldiers are different. We studied the tactics of the IDF and admire them.” In fact, the three militaries that the British military loves the most are the French Foreign Legion, the US Marines, and the IDF. He emphasized that Israeli medical and warfare technology saved the lives of many British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, Great Britain’s policy on how to deal with suicide bombings is based on advice given to them by an Israeli expert.

Kemp noted that while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls Israel “criminal” and Obama believes that Israel should do more to prevent civilian deaths, he noted that neither of them have offered Israel any solutions to prevent civilian deaths more than they presently are. “If they know, tell us. They are encouraging Hamas’ policy of human shields because they are reacting the way that Hamas wants them to when civilians die because of the propaganda value. They are also encouraging Hezbollah and extremists worldwide to adopt that method. This is going to lead to the deaths of many innocents.”

Why They Fight: Hamas’ Too-Little-Known Fascist Charter. By Jeffrey Herf.

Why They Fight: Hamas’ Too-Little-Known Fascist Charter. By Jeffrey Herf. The American Interest, August 1, 2014.

Hamas Covenant 1988. The Avalon Project. Yale Law School.

Dedication, Destruction and Hamas. By Paul R. Pillar.

Dedication, Destruction and Hamas. By Paul R. Pillar. The National Interest, August 2, 2014.

Hamas’s Chances. By Nathan Thrall. London Review of Books, August 21, 2014.