Thursday, January 23, 2020

James J. Zogby, lies and fauxtography


James J. Zogby is a respected public figure in the USA, and a known critic of Israel. Recently the blog Elder of Zion caught him tweeting a lie. He published four photos depicting encounters between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians, all suggesting aggression and abuse by the Israeli side. One of them was a badly edited photo that I had the honor of busting years ago.  Exposing that hoax was easy since the original picture was available.  But even without it, the final result had its own credibility problem.  Namely, a supposedly threatening Israeli soldier, standing in an unnatural position, with knees folded, while carrying a backpack and a heavy gun. The best way to describe his position is that of sitting on air. Only circus acrobats can do that while carrying heavy cargo. And even they would not be able to threaten anyone at the same time.






Two other photos have similar credibility problems. One of them claims to show two armed Israeli soldiers abusing four Palestinian women and a toddler.  The problem is that the image of the soldier aiming his gun at them does not make sense. This soldier is holding an assault weapon with just one hand. He is holding it at the middle of the weapon, were the trigger is. Holding the weapon like that will harm his wrist. And if he was to fire it, he would not have been able to control the recoil; risking injuries to himself and to the soldier next to him. Another problem is the shadow the rear side of the gun leaves on his upper arm. While the rear of the rifle is a complete cylinder like structure, its shadow is more cone-like, with many gaps in it. The weapon itself is carried sideways, an odd position during patrol.



It is also worth noting that the two soldiers appear dressed for different seasons. The big smiling soldier on the right is dressed more warmly than the gun carrying soldier on the left. He wears a heavy coat that covers all the way to the neck and a pair of fury gloves; while the other soldier has uniforms, fitting lighter weather conditions.

The third picture shows a soldier aiming his weapon at a small child. We can say that with a sense of confidence, because he is aiming his weapon in a downwards position. What other reason he could possibly has to do that to a women and child that are just walking by?

Fake

Based on the information in that picture it is a clear case of a soldier abusing his power against a small child. One problem though, the picture is fake, edited. Look at the ditch the woman is over-passing. This ditch is coming downward from the hill, were the terraces are located. Terraces, agriculture on the hillsides, are the main form of Palestinian agriculture in the West Bank. What is this ditch supposed to do? Deliver water from the hill, were they are needed, downwards? Or maybe the water in that ditch goes upwards by itself? Maybe there is an explanation that the picture did not catch, some kind of structure, or a field. There isn't! I can say that with the utmost confidence because I have found a picture depicting the original scene. It took some time, but I have found it. And the ditch is nowhere to be seen.

Real


Comparing the two photos, shows that the one tweeted by Zogby was definitely edited. It also shows that the main scene in both pictures is the same. For Israel this pretty damming, but if this is the case why edit the photograph?

The answer is in what was edited out. According to the caption above the real photo, found at Getty images, this picture was taken on January 2004 at the Hawara checkpoint by AFP photographer Jaaffar Ashtiye. This information is valuable, and you won't find it in the fake image.  The photographer says in the caption that the soldier is aiming his weapon at a mother and a child.  However, at this close distance he can only aim it at one of them. Since the photographer is a Palestinian, he obviously has his biases, which affects his explanations of what he sees and photographs; (as do I have as an Israeli). We can see his biases in his description of the background situation. However, this does not affect the objectivity of this photo. He describes the soldier as aiming a weapon at two persons because he cannot tell who it is aimed at. The angle of the camera keeps him from doing that. It is clear that even the person that took the real photograph, the unedited one, cannot tell if the weapon is aimed against the child or not.

It is not aimed against the child!

I know that for a fact not because I am bias; and not because I know for a fact that the IDF is the most moral army on Earth. Even if we accept as a fact James Zogby's view of the IDF, as the most oppressive evil armed force on Earth, there is no way this soldier was aiming his weapon at the child. If he had done that, that would be not only an abuse of power against the weak, helpless, and undefended. It would also be a gross dereliction of duty.

There are four things we need to remember about the real picture. It is January 2004, not long after a wave of suicide bombing and other types of terrorist attacks that murdered hundreds of Israelis. These are attacks that occurred nearly every day. This is the Hawara checkpoint, southwest of Nablus, along the security barrier. The security barrier is a major factor in reducing the success rate of such monstrous attacks into near zero. The checkpoints monitor the entry of Palestinians into Israel, and are a key part of that security. IDF soldiers are not mind readers. And there are, and there have been women terrorists. The main job of this soldier, and the others at the checkpoints, is to prevent terrorists from entering Israel and attacking civilians in major population centers. If he was aiming his weapon at the child, he wouldn't have been aiming it at the mother.
Was she a terrorist?

Probably not.

Most likely not.

But until it is verified there is a slim chance that she is. Given the horrific nature of such attacks a slim chance is a risk not worth taking. Not professionally, and not personally, since the victims could be people close to this soldier. They could be family, they could be friends, and they could be friends of friends. It does not matter. He will still have to look at the survivors, and relatives in the eyes, when he goes back home.  Until it is verified, she could be hiding a bomb or a weapon in her bag or beneath her coat. So until it is verified that she is not a terrorist, the soldier must aim his weapon at her, and not the child, who is definitely not a terrorist. If she is a terrorist, and he aims his weapon at the child, he could create an opportunity for her to attack the soldiers at the checkpoint, or smuggle a bomb into Israel. If we had even a handful of such bad soldiers, the frequency of successful terrorist attacks inside Israel, would have been far greater.

So, why is he aiming his weapon downwards?

This is the razor-sharp dilemma he is going through, him, and the entire IDF. What if she is a terrorist? What if is she is not?

The only way to stop a terrorist about to attack is by firing at him immediately. And the best way to do that is by aiming at the upper body, where the injuries are more lethal. This guarantees to stop the terrorist's attack. As the white dirt on the soldier's elbow indicates, this was how he was aiming before she came close.
But what if she is not a terrorist? Why risking accidentally killing an innocent person?
This is why he employs two measures to defend her. He aims his weapon to the lower body, where the injuries are less lethal, and he keeps his trigger finger, away from the trigger. This way he is been both moral, keeping her safe as a civilian, and provides an effective defense to Israeli civilians, should it turn out that she is a terrorist. This is not an ideal solution; it has its pluses and minuses for both sides.

This explains the "odd" behavior of the second soldier, the unarmed one. We see more of him in the edited footage because the real picture, the one from Getty images, is not the source material for the forgery. Photojournalists take many pictures in quick succession, in a short amount of time. Therefore, there had to be more pictures depicting this original scene. One of them, taken almost immediately after the published one, is the source material for the forgery. Both of them show this soldier walking close to the arched wall. They show him keeping a large distance between himself and the woman with the child. Why is he doing that? Is he afraid of them? Are we to assume that when one soldier is abusing them, the other is afraid of them? Does that make sense? The only way this makes sense is that they're both doing their job, one is providing security, the other is checking papers, and looking for hidden weapons. He is keeping to the wall in order not to get into the firing line. He also keeps a safe distance from her in order to have enough time to response should she attack him. When the soldier handling security is been lenient for humanitarian reasons, the soldier handling the verification process must be extra cautious.   

Israel's "critics" may dismiss this explanation, but there is one person that agrees with this; the forger; the one that created the fake photograph used by Joseph Zogby. Why else, edit the photograph? What reason is there to edit out the checkpoint? The Israeli checkpoints along the West Bank are the target of a lot of outrage by opponents of Israel, with claims of abuse, ordeal, and worse. There is not supposed to be any reason for a critic or a hater to remove the checkpoint from the image. But much like those fake pictures, first impression is misleading. First, who said this outrage is based on accurate information? Second, anyone familiar with the issues that make up the Israeli Palestinian conflict knows that any true discussion of the checkpoints will bring up the Israeli side of the issue: The right of all Israeli civilians, men, women, and children for security; and the duty of the Israeli government, any government; and its armed forces; to provide it! And Israel's haters wish to erase that. They are really not that different from the terrorists that physically erase those lives. 

They have another thing in common with them; Palestinians lives do not mater to them. Look at that ditch. It had been added to create the illusion that the mother and the child are just walking by. And therefore the soldier aiming his weapon at them is doing so in an arbitrary, and  abusive way. To make the ditch look authentic, the forger extended it towards the hill. But for anyone who knows a little bit of the Palestinian way of life in the West Bank this is a major red alert regarding the authenticity and credibility of the picture. As said above, the hills are where the terraces are. This an agricultural way of life that grows crops along the hillsides, in order to gather the rain water as they fall downhill. This is a method that won't be sending water downhill in a ditch. They are heading there anyway. This is something the author of the fake photo should know. This person, either does not care to know, or knows and does not care. Once ordinary Palestinians have no more use as propaganda pawns they are tossed aside into oblivion. This is the same disregard for human lives that Hamas and Islamic Jihad practice when they use Palestinian civilians as human shields.




And now we come to the last photograph, the only real one in this quartet.


Real but partial


The fact that it is real, unedited and not fake, does not means it does not have its own problems of credibility. First, one real photo does not redeem three fake ones. Second, context. Context is always important. In this case it is the impression created by three fake images. Since the images are fakes, so is the context they create. Third, the picture is indeed an upsetting sight. No one likes to see a child been arrested by a lot of men, each bigger than him. Rest assured that the soldiers doing this arrest do not like doing it. At the same time remember that arresting children is not illegal or abusive under international law. It all depends on circumstances and treatment. And what do we know about them? Based on that picture alone, Nothing! And this is the forth reason why the credibility of this picture is problematic. An old Jewish proverb says half a truth is worse than a lie. This picture, on its own, is much less than half the story. It does not tell us what happened before, and what happened after. Was the child throwing stones? Was he actually arrested or released shortly after? And if he was arrested, were his rights kept by the Israeli authorities, or not? You may agree politically with the act of Palestinian children throwing stones. That is your right, whoever you might be. But that does not change the fact that it is illegal, criminal, and violent. Your political convictions, just like mine, are not above the law. And what kind of politics sends children to do its bidding? …Violently?! 

In response to all the partiality of this picture I combined it with other picture to create a different context. I created two of them, one complex, one challenging. They may be biased, but all the pictures in them are real, and they come from Palestinian and international sources. 

 
.


Every aspect of Palestinian stones throwing has always been a spectacle.

 It had never been a resistance.







All these pictures together, 3 fakes, and 1 selective, combine into a false accusation against Israel and the IDF. It is a falsehood that wishes to erase Israelis, the way Palestinian terrorists have been doing. And it regards Palestinian civilians as nothing more than pawns. The way Palestinian terror organizations have been doing. The question is how much different James Joseph Zogby is from these terrorists, and forgers? He could have just fallen into the trap of confirmation bias. It is a trap we are all likely to fall into, and many of us did fall into. With the high and mighty, one sided moral judgment; he passed on Israel, it is difficult to disassociate him from the desire to erase Israelis; and from the willingness to reduce Palestinians to mere pawns, in the process. May be there are redeeming  factors. On the other hand, this is and has always been the essence of Palestinian and Anti Zionist politics. And he has always been a part of that system. But even if there are genuine, objective, redeeming facts, from his life and personal history, this cloud is gonna stick even if he deletes that tweet.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Fabrications, and half-truths in Climate Change denialists' bear party

Global warming deniers had a bear party, a polar bears party. Early this century concerns were raised that the observed decrease in the surface of arctic sea ice in the summer, will lead to their extinction due to loss of habitat. Apparently that did not happen. And now there is a debate as to the exact numbers of polar bears population today, especially in North America. The mainstream scientific community is convinced some impact had taken place. While one Canadian zoologist by the name of Dr. Susan J Crokford introduced data that doubt it. Her data is backed by claims of the Inuit community in Canada, saying that the numbers had increased in a way that threatens the lives of the Inuit population.

For the community of global warming deniers this was enough to turn them both into heroes and a cause for celebration. Their logic, if polar bears are not facing extinction, global warming is not taking place. As one critic of this party pointed out: "If they can push over the polar bears domino, all other examples of climate change are dismissed by association." Ironically Dr. Susan Crokford and the Inuit council are not exactly global warming deniers. While Dr. Corkford had some past association with global warming minimalists, in an interview she gave Glenn Beck, she acknowledged that the surface of the arctic sea ice is decreasing (minute 1:58). And the Inuit council agrees that climate change is taking place, it's just that the Polar bears are not affected by it, not yet. Here is their statement quoted in several news outlets: "Although there is growing scientific evidence linking the impacts of climate change to reduced body condition of bears and projections of population declines, no declines have currently been attributed to climate change," ….. "(Inuit knowledge) acknowledges that polar bears are exposed to the effects of climate change, but suggests that they are adaptable."

To the Inuit council, climate change is a fact, why wouldn't it be? After all they see the changes all around them, changes that their ancestors and their oral traditions do not recall. They also agree with the science that raised the original concerns. In their opinion it did not materialized not because climate change is wrong, but because the bears adapted. Naturally these facts are absent from the denialists bears party.

As the provided link show, the denialists also rely on other dubious arguments. One of them is the failure of worst case scenarios that warned of an ice free Arctic Ocean within a few years. If a concerned and inquisitive mind is honest and authentic than more questions should be asked. Are these the only scenarios? Are there best case scenarios? What is the likelihood of each scenario, or each type of scenario, best, medium, or worst? These questions are not asked by the denialists because propagandists and ideological fanatics do not need to ask questions. Once an argument is formed in-favor of the ideas and causes they promote, they do not need to ask any questions about it. Facts checking and self-criticism are redundant. Without these questions we all allow a deception to occur, as if there were only worst case scenarios to consider. It is important to emphasize here that this deception was helped by the global media giving attention only to the worst case scenarios.

Another denialist's argument is an outright lie, (even if they believe it to be true). "No other icon of 'Global Warming' epitomizes its very own false narrative like the polar bear does for 'Climate Change'." The idea that the size of the polar bears population is an argument that can debunk climate change is ludicrous not just because of the fact that Dr. Crokford and the Inuit council do not make that claim, (on the contrary, they acknowledge that sea ice is decreasing, see above); But for other reasons as well. First, bears are indeed adaptable. As these two videos show, you do not need to be an Inuit or to live near the North Pole in order to know that. Bears are curious creatures that like to explore new territories, and new things. And they are curious enough to test them and benefit from them if they work. It also helps when you are big and strong. Second, we also have to take into account the impact of past preservation efforts. Forth, there is no doubt that there are other factors to look at, factors that experts and local people know better than a Mediterranean person like myself.

The actual size of the polar bears population is therefore no argument against climate change, unless you find a way to exclude all the other factors, and their combined effect. Just think of this lopsided logic. The sun keeps us warm, therefore if we are warm than the sun is shining. If we are cold it isn't shining. Therefore, if its night time and we are warm, the sun is shining. And if it is day time, and we are cold, the sun is not shinning. Giving critical dominance to one factor, without examining other factors, is therefore not the responsible way to handle the data. Unfortunately, the worst case scenarios suffer from a similar problem. But at least they do not manipulate the data.

The biggest lie in the quote is the impression it create, as if other "icons" of climate change had also been debunked. They haven't. To start with these "icons", indicators, are too numerous to debunk. They come from the fields of biology, ecology, climate sciences, oceanography, and demography, and various inter disciplinary fields of research. There are not enough scientifically trained denialists to debunk all of them.

The icons they have targeted have missed the mark by a mile or more. For example, the Great Barrier Reef in Eastern Australia has been a point of concern for a long time. Here, denialists have on their side Dr. Peter Reed, a marine physicist from James Cook University in Northern Queensland. His "debunking" of those concerns is based on faults he found in 9 old studies he reviewed and dozens of others that he ignored. This gross selectivity a major short coming and I am been diplomatic here.

When it comes to the most immediate concern, the rise of sea level, denialists rely on another gross selectivity. They pick trends of decrees in the sea level that do not change the total trend, and use that as an argument against the existence of the total trend. This manipulation of data had been dubbed cherry picking by main stream science. And as this video shows, it has a simple explanation.







This video also shows that there is more than one type of scenarios as to the progress of climate change.

This cherry picking practice is used in the related debate regarding the amount of Arctic sea ice, and it is easily debunked, as I show in the image I have provided below, a child can do that.





While the population of polar bears may or may not have been affected by the decrease in Arctic sea ice, one species had defiantly been affected, human beings, us. As the ice decreases new economic opportunities opened up, in the form of new trade routes, and access to undersea row materials. These opportunities are so hot that leading powers on this planet are now engaged in a new competition, often described as 'the New Cold War'. Armed forces alongside science research crews and representatives of commercial interests, private and governmental, are racing across the new ice-free portions of the Arctic Ocean. The title of this new race may suffer from sensationalism; if so it is only drawback it has as 'icon' of global warming. It will be interesting to see how denialists "debunk" this icon/indicator.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The protesters at the Gaza border fence are not unarmed and are not protesters, and here are the evidences.


And now that I have your attention let me be more specific. The constant attacks, since March 2018, on the border fence between Israel and the Hamas control Gaza Strip, by civilian looking crowds, are not protest. And the "protesters" are not unarmed.
Yes, there were real protesters at some distance from the border fence, tens of thousands of them, for many days, and yes, they were unarmed; and yes; they were unharmed. But the attacks on the border fence are a totally different kind of activity, and only those engaged in it were harmed by Israeli forces. 
The border fence is a military installation protecting Israeli civilians from violent infiltration by armed squads of Palestinian terrorists. These are members of organizations that have a rich record of murdering high numbers of Israeli civilians.  Attacking it and removing it opens the way for these armed groups to reach Israeli communities, putting at high risk the lives of the Israeli civilians protected by this fence.
It is interesting, to put it mildly, that while the world’s media had largely accepted the fact that most of the Palestinian killed when attacking the fence are members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad; they still treat the wounded as innocent nonviolent protesters. After all, both the wounded and the dead were hurt in the same circumstances, attacking, violently, the border fence. Isn't it common sense to assume that the wounded are also members of these armed groups? The statistics does not support this common sense. It also does not challenge it. The statistics simply does not exist. Those who can publish it are on the Palestinian side of the border, and they are not doing it. Now, why would they act this way? Are they trying to hide something?
A suspicious behavior is not a proof of guilt. But it adds up along with other evidences. And here they are:
The first are these figures. They are from the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. And they were published on the 25th of April, in the Ha'aretz English edition.




This map shows two things: first, that the wounded and the dead were hurt in the same circumstances, attacking the fence at the same places. It also shows the selectivity of the IDF, its effort not to kill and not to maim. While the numbers of wounded in each location is in the hundreds, the numbers of the dead are not higher than 10, for each of the locations. Such a gap can only exist if the Israeli side had made an extreme effort not kill. And as it is shown by the rest of the evidences: also not to maim. According to the article, 408 Palestinians suffered from gas inhalation. In order to suffer from such an injury, the victim has to be in some kind of a confine space. For this to happen in the open areas of the Gaza border fence, and to a large number of people, two conditions must be met. There has to be a massive amount of tear gas released, in huge volumes. And the people been targeted has to be in huge numbers themselves. This way they create confine spaces that magnify the effects of the riot control gas. This means that this less violent mean was given a huge preference over the more violent means of live ammunition.

And when we follow the data to its source this conclusion is confirmed. In May 10th the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, published another account, containing statistical information. That account contain the following description: “Each Friday instances took place in which hundreds of demonstrators approached the fence in an attempt to damage it, burning tires, throwing stones and, to a lesser extend Molotov cocktail towards Israeli forces deployed on the other side. On several occasions, demonstrators flew kites with flaming materials attached to them, into Israeli territory, setting crops into Israel on fire.” [Emphasis B.T.] Hundreds of demonstrators in each incident are what it takes to create circumstances of confine space in open fields. And it takes large volumes of riot disposal gas to chase them away.
The publication has its bias against Israel. Demonstrators trying to damage a fence, or any other structure, are not demonstrators. They are violent attackers. In a later part of this publication it gives the legal opinion that there were no justifications for the lethal use of live ammunition, because such means are only to be used as a last resort in response to imminent threat of death or serious injury. But in the above description it mentions the use of several sources of fire by these "demonstrators". Fire, by its very nature, is both an imminent threat of death and the risk of serious injury; not only to the soldiers, but as it spreads through the fields behind them, it is a threat to the civilians living there. So is the removal of defense structures, like the border fence that protects those Israeli civilians from the live ammunition of the other side. Yet this legal opinion claims no such threats occurred. And as their own data shows, Israel did use it as a last resort. First preference was given to riot disposal gas, followed by snipers shooting to wound. Only afterword came the situations requiring to kill the attackers. 









United Nations statistics

This contradiction, of publishing information exonerating Israel, but interpreting it the opposite way, is a characteristic of anti-Israel bias. And it cannot achieve its purpose without manipulating the data to fit the ideological convictions. While manipulated, the additional information the OCHA publication provides, see above, contains more evidences of Israel selective and responsible use of firepower. First, their map shows that the no go zone was limited to the narrow path of the fence. Second, the gender and age distribution of the injured shows a higher representation of male adults. According to this information the number of adults injured is more than 4 times the number of children, and the number of males hurt is more than 15 times the number of females. There are 3 ways of interpreting this. One is that Israel’s preferred target was adult men. Two, is that most of these attackers pretending to be demonstrators were adult men in the first place. The third option is both. We do not know which of the possibilities is correct, because the information is manipulated; manipulated by omissions.
We do not know what they were doing when they were hurt, or by what they were hurt from. We have the general distribution of causes of injuries, but not the more specific ones, per age group, and per gender. This is important because of another omission, within another category of causes of injury called ‘other.’ ‘Other’ suggests a grouping of several categories into one category. This is usually done in statistics when in each of the categories groped together the figures are too small to be significant. In most cases when they are added into a single category, called other or miscellaneous, the final figure is also not very high. In most statistical releases this is one of the smaller categories. And it constitutes a small percentage of the total. Here however, it is nearly a quarter of the casualties, and the second largest category. For this to make sense this category will have to include at least six or seven different causes of injuries. These causes could be the responsibility of Israel, and they could also be the responsibility of Hamas. The article does not detail the category, living the impression that Israel is the only one responsible. But if the IDF is to be blamed, than what means has it used that hadn't been mentioned already? Tear gas, live munition, rubber bullets (the smallest category), and leaflets, all have been mentioned in this report. They have also been mentioned in all other coverages of this situation. However, there is no evidence of other means used; not in an article and not in a photograph. Since, the category of other must be made from several means; it is common sense to assume that at least one of them was caught by camera. Yet no such photo exists.  At the Palestinian side however, there are three causes of injury that are identified easily. The first two are unavoidable. These are accidents of various types that happen whenever there is a large gathering of people. And there are also self-inflicted injuries known as friendly fire incidents, when the violent means used by the Palestinian "demonstrators" accidentally hurt their own side. The third cause is the much covered mass use of burning tires by the "demonstrators." How likely it is for the first two causes to be large contributors for the high percentage of the category 'other,' depends on the level of organization. As for the massive use of burning tires, here there is no way to make an assessment, since no one has done something like this before. Only a careful professional study can answer that question. The lack of such study by the relevant authorities, local and international, is grossly irresponsible. There is no question that this kind of smoke is harmful. And there is no question that children are more vulnerable to it, as they are more vulnerable to any other kind of air pollution. With the popularity of the Palestinian struggle in many parts of the world, and the sympathetic media coverage, it is highly possible that someone else will try to copycat this kind of protest. Denying this information from them puts the lives of their civilians and their children at risk.
If the number of people, and children, badly affected by the massive burning of tires is high, then that irresponsibility is a criminal one. And if that number is indeed high, and most of the causes of injuries to children are self-inflicted, then the actual situation is far different the picture portrait in this report.


Just how harmless a single tear gas canister is in an open field, can be seen by this Gazan show of. Source Israellycool





Do you consider these pictures to be iconic, heroic, or child abuse?


This data can be dismissed as representing the early part of this confrontation. But a later report, by an anti – Israel site called the Middle East Eye, shows that pattern continued all the way to November. This time among the dead.




This data shows that the overwhelming number of the dead is adult men, nearly five times the number of children, and almost 80 times the number of women. this web site tries to bend the data against Israel by creating a new category, 29 and under, mixing adults with teenagers. it also tries to so by adding the personal stories of those killed. but most of the names on the list do not have a story attached to them. nearly 100 of the 190, were killed "east of ___" major community in the Gaza Strip, without any farther detail as to the location. Only 19 have background stories. But those stories do not represent the complexities of each of those attacks on the border fence. Again, hiding by omissions. They are just doing it differently than the OCHA reports do.   



Why would the preferred target of the IDF be adult men?
Well, these are men at combat age; they can carry weapons, and the can be more effective in tearing down the fence. Tearing down any defense structure is a military activity. It is given to a brunch of the military engineering core known as sappers. Show me where in international law they enjoy special protection the way medical personal do.  

The fact that they could does mean that they do. Evidences suggest they did. There are plenty of images showing these "demonstrators" tearing down the fence. As for been unarmed; the second evidence I bring suggests otherwise. It comes from this picture, published on May 16, 2018 in the Sky news website as a part of an unsympathetic coverage of the IDF.




A detailed analysis shows however, a group of armed men, surrounded by a crowd that includes a lot of young men, some unarmed, some not so clearly. But also many children, a few medics, and at least three men dressed as members of the press. There is no question that children, mostly teenagers, are used as here as human shields, a war crime in its own right. But the most important thing about this picture is that it shows organization. The charge is led by a young man with a flag and an ax. There is a man with binoculars, studying the area ahead. In the back of the left side a group of kids is getting instructions from an adult. And in the middle, a man carrying explosives has a teenager behind him and another in front of him.    


From left to right, an ax at the lead, a pointed chain wheal, explosives, Molotov cocktail, and incendiary liquid in bottles.  




Teenagers and children all over


Medics and press folks in the attacking crowd.



Teenagers around the explosives guy


A group of kids getting instructions from an adult


More evidence of organization 

As a human shield these kids are used as a defensive weapon, defending an armed assault. That picture shows the great length Hamas is going through, in order to get as many as possible of their own children, injured and killed. This makes the efforts by the IDF to bring down the number of casualties among the underage group only more remarkable. To be clear, every death is a tragedy, and every death of a child is an outrage. But who should be the focus of the outrage? Those who deliberately put them in harms way? Or those that go to great length not to harm them, while effectively protecting their own children?


Another picture of Gazan children used for military purpose. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

One reason as to why the Israeli Palestinian conflict has not been resolved, and nine irrelevant ones

Commentary on Bradly Burston’s Opinion piece from Ha’aertz of June 20th 2018.


There is only one reason why the Israeli – Palestinian conflict hasn't been resolved in nearly 100 years; and one reason alone. The constant rejection of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state by the Palestinian leadership, historic and current. From the rejection of the first partition plan in 1937; Until the refusals of Mahmood Abbas's to even enter the negotiation room and talk with Benjamin Netanyahu. And this is during and under the auspices of the Obama administration, the most anti settlements president in US history.

None of this is new. And a lot of excuses were made for Abbas's conduct. The problem with those arguments is that they only prove the opposite. If Mahmmod Abbas was truly bothered by Israeli policies such as settlements, checkpoints, security barrier, etc., he should have entered that room and tried to get an agreement that among other things would have ended those policies. With both the US administration and the world public opinion lining to his side, even a failure would have worked for his advantage. Instead, he walked away, not allowing the talks to even begin.

This is a simple and obvious fact. But to the political Left, including the Zionist one this is more than an inconvenient truth. It is an identity crisis, one that has not been resolved since October 2000.

One example is Bradly Burston confused opinion piece in Ha’aertz of June 20th 2018. There he names nine other reasons for the protraction of the conflict. Those reasons get the title 'both sides suck' suggesting equal share of the blame. The problem with those reasons is that they are not nine, and they are all not relevant to the inability to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The equivalence they suggest is an absurd, and morally problematic.

Reasons 1, 4, and 5, are different expression of the same thing, street rhetoric. Reason 1 refers to the content of that rhetoric, 4 to the tools of expression, and 5 is a suppose profile of those that spread this language. To be clear, street rhetoric is indeed counterproductive. When political leaders use it, it is known as demagogy. It is then that it is harmful enough to prevent a resolution of a conflict. But this is not what Bradly Burston is talking about in those three reasons. He is talking about nameless and faceless individuals. These are the folks that make up that street. And they can do and they do inflict a lot of harm. The most painful examples are the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin. But even after those horrific tragedies, the peace process continued. Mubarak Kept the Camp David accords, and Netanyahu, the Oslo accords. He even evicted the greater part of Hebron. Both did it reluctantly, but they did it. And yes, Netanyahu has used demagogy in more than one occasion. And it was foolish and nasty for no reason. But he did not use it against Gaza. He used it internally, once against Israeli Arabs, and a few times against the Israeli left.

Bradly Burston also gets the street mostly wrong. Accusing Israel of been a Nazi does not come from Hamas. Hamas, like the PA, advances the story that Jews are related to apes and pigs. Hamas, like the PA, indoctrinate children to welcome the day when all Jews are gone from the land of Israel. And both see those that do murderous violence in the service of that cause as heroes and patriots. And when they die in the process they are martyrs, 'shahids'; in the eyes of both PA and Hamas. Accusing the Israeli side of Nazism, or Nazi like activity comes mostly from the European left, and the American left. The Palestinian side does find it useful, but they have other messages for their people.

Yes, there is a "who was here first debate?" but god is not the authority on both sides, facts are. Those on the Israeli side point to the archaeological record. Those at the Palestinian side point to a mixture of real facts and appropriated facts. Their real facts are the cultural and commercial lives Arabs had in the land of Israel prior to 1948. These cultural and commercial lives did not stop with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. And they did not stop with the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The appropriated facts include the soccer match between the all Jewish, Zionist soccer team of Maccabi Palestine vs Australia in 1939, introduced as the evidence for the existence of an Arab Palestinian state prior to 1948.

The problem with Bradly Burstun's analysis is not only that he gets the street wrong, or mostly wrong. The street talk is not the cause of the perpetuation of the conflict. It is another symptom of that cause, bigotry. Historically it did not stop the peace process, not with Egypt, not with Jordan, and not even with the Palestinians. Only the actions of the leaders had an impact on it. And they have the power to choose if to make street language a tool of policy or not.  

Another thing Bradly Burstun gets wrong is social media. Bradly Burstun set out in his piece to explain why this nearly 100 years long conflict has no end in sight. The problem is that social media, like Bibi Netanyahu, and Donald Trump did not exist 100 years ago, neither did Hamas for that matter. As for the current role of social media, the idea that armchair keyboard activists from long distance are contributing to the deadlock is so 2009. We are in the era of Russian hacking, fake profiles, and uncontrolled data mining. Within the context of this conflict, in this present day of age, late 2018, social media has two demonstrated roles. One, is as another venue of expression of street rhetoric, there it has the same effect as it had with previous tools of expression. It does a lot of harm on occasions, but not enough to derail the resolution of the conflict. The other function is as a part of a recruitment mechanism for terrorist organizations and/or the encouragement of "lone wolfs" to conduct terrorist activities. Best examples are the Jewish terrorist attacks against Israeli Arabs and Palestinian civilians that came under the banner of 'tag mehir,' price tag. These attacks picked with the mass murder of most of the members of a Palestinian family in the village of Duma on July 31st, 2015.  There is also the so called 'knifes intifada' of Palestinian teenagers targeting mostly Israeli civilians on both sides of the green line. This intifada gave us a 13 years old stabber, the killing of a pregnant woman in front of her children, killing a teenage girl in her bed, and the killing of an entire family in Halamish on July 21st 2017. And the more recent tragedies, at Gush Etzion, and Barakan, and those that followed, from both sides; show us that this phenomena has not stopped. And the final example, Daesh, (ISIS); they used social media to recruit people into their organization, and to inspire "lone wolfs'" attacks across Europe and North America.

Bradly Burston demonstrate a strange and surprising lack of the concept of time. He shows a lack of understating of both history and the present day. That makes his argument irrelevant in the most fundamental way. And it does not stop there.

In reason 6 Bradly blames the corruption of both sides. First corruption is not an impediment to peace, or to sound judgment in managing a conflict. Sa'adat was corrupt, Begin was no saint, and King Hussain of Jordan was no role model in the eyes of human rights organizations. And if I have to detail their contribution to the peace process to Bradly Burston, ot to anyone else, then this whole response is a waste of time.

Second, comparing Netanyahu to Hamas is a false parallel. No one in the Gaza strip is investigating Hamas for their corruption. And the corruption Bibi is suspected of is not ripping off the country's infrastructure. Hamas's rule in the Gaza strip most certainly does that. In the first part of his article Bradly Burston describes the ecological disaster the Gaza Strip had become. The main cause of it is the loss of the water aquifer beneath the Gaza Strip. The facts show that Hamas is the only one responsible for this situation. Instead, Bradly Burston alludes to a shared blame with the Netanyahu government. There is no shared blame here. If Israel had attacked the water infrastructure of the Gaza Strip none of its residents would have been able to use it to pump the water out of the aquifer. Because Israel and the IDF remain true to their high moral and ethical standards; that infrastructure remained mostly intact. And that is despite recurring hostilities. This allowed Hamas to manage the use of water as they saw fit. In this case, allowing the residents to pump dry the aquifer. Now it is salinized with sea water and contaminated with sewage that permeated into the empty aquifer. And yes, Israel is under an ecological threat because of that. And no, no one saw this coming. Even the biggest critics and opponents of the disengagement from Gaza did not predict that Hamas will be this criminal in its negligence of its most basic civilian responsibilities. And since they are capable of this level of indifference to the needs of their civilian population, one that had turn most of the Strip into an open sewage dump, be certain that they are capable of lesser monstrosities. Those monstrosities been the confiscation of material sent to the Gaza Strip for civilian purposes and using it for military ones. The best example is the concrete used by Hamas for their attack tunnels.     
Bradly Burston's false parallels are bewildering. He makes a comparison between Hamas' encouragement of the use incendiary kites and balloons against Israelis, with Netanyahu discussing the future of TV broadcasting in Israel. This is like comparing acid with milk; albeit not a very tasty milk. TV broadcasting is not a violent activity that causes a massive destruction of property. Not to mention that there is nothing unusual for heads of states in times of conflict to find time for civilian matters.
Reason 6, along with reasons 2, 7, 8, and 9, are a part of his Netanyahu reasons. For obvious reasons he is getting the greater share of the blame. Reasons 2 and 7 are also the same thing, hardline political stand. Is talking tough an impediment to peace or a necessary tool in negotiations between arch enemies? That is open to debate. Negotiating with Hamas has its unique problems. First most of the negotiations that do take place are wartime negotiations. In wartime, enemies on both sides, no matter how bitter, negotiate prisoners' exchange, cessations of violence, arms control, and the welfare of civilians affected by the conflict. In the mad realities of war, any war, this is normal and not unusual. And so is talking though.
And this is war. There are frustrations. And there is a lot of pain, a lot of bitterness, a lot of anger. But Hamas is not just talking though. They are giving orders to do harm.  One good example that was caught on tape: Yikhya Sinuar, head of Hamas' military wing, encouraging the people around him, to attack the border fence and take out the hearts of the people they meet on the other side. Israeli politicians do talk tough on occasions, sometimes as deterrence, sometime as a talk to their base, but never as orders to the troops on the ground.  We do not have to like any of these talks. As a matter of fact it is a good thing that we don't. But when we lose the distinction between the two different examples we lose our moral clarity. And a lack of moral clarity is a key characteristic of Bradly Burston's piece.
Reasons 8 and 9 are also the same thing, both sides are out of control. Israel, because the UN opposes its policies and president Trump support those policies. And Hamas is out of control because the UN takes there side, and Trump takes Israel's side. First, Hamas does not need the UN, Trump, or anyone else to relive them from their constraints. They do not believe in constraints. And they have a charter and an ideology that justifies all forms of violence. Second, Netanyahu does not need to show that the UN is hostile to Israel. The UN has been doing it on its own long before Bibi's political career had begun. Do you remember David Ben Gurion Um Shmum remarks?
Third, what constraints has Israel released itself from? It took the IDF several weeks before it begun to respond to the arsonists sending incendiary kites and balloons into Israel. Those are legitimate military targets, using a tool of war used continuously since ancient times, fire. And they use it to attack Israelis by torching their properties. Yet Israel avoided harming these arsonists, for nearly a month.
Even the image of the IDF troops firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters, does not verify his claim that Israel is out of control. This is from the simple fact that it is not true. During June and July 2018 there were a lot of protesters near the border fence, in the tens of thousands of them, day after day. They were overwhelmingly unharmed. Those that were harmed by Israeli live ammunition were engaged in an activity distinctively different than protest. They were attacking the border fence. This fence serves as an obstacle, preventing terrorists from infiltrating Israel, and attacking and murdering its civilians. Hamas’ intentions and commitment to murder Israelis is an undisputed fact. We all saw that the spates of suicide bombings that took place in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. We saw it in the rockets raining down on the Israeli communities in vicinity of the Gaza Strip. And we see it in the incendiary kites and balloons send repeatedly into Israel, by these “protestors.” The only difference between those methods is their success rate. Israeli defenses along the Gaza Strip make sure that success will be kept at a very poor level. Without that fence, and its protectors that success rate will increase. And it does not matter by how much. The duty of the Israeli army is to defend the lives of Israelis and in these cases that duty demands the defense of that fence; even if it is attacked by an unarmed horde. But it was not attacked by an unarmed horde. It was repeatedly attacked by organized groups, armed with rocks, Molotov cocktails, demolishing devices intended to remove the fence, and occasionally firearms, and those assisting them. (That is as of June 2018, since then thing got a lot worse in the firearms department). And the IDF repelled most of them by using teargas. Only when there was a danger to the fence live ammunition was used, selectively, by snipers. First to wound, and later to kill, when the breach was inevitable. We already know that most of the dead were members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. None of them wore a badge that identified the organizations they belonged to. They were killed by Israeli snipers because they were engaged in activities that threaten the fence and the Israeli civilians living behind it. Those are the kind of activities that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have committed themselves to. It is therefore not surprising that most dead were man, and most of them were members of known terrorist organizations. Those that were killed and those that were wounded were hurt in the same circumstances. Therefore the idea that the wounded are of a different category does not make sense. Since the whole world believes in this irrational perception, debunking it requires another article. One that will be published alongside this one.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The moral crisis of the American immigration policies of 2018.

A critical review of all of us.




Immigration, by its very nature is always at a state of moral crisis. Especially when it is mass migration. The need to leave one’s home, usually not by choice; and the difficulties of absorption, of adjusting to new places, with new rules and customs; this is not an easy experience. This never-ending pressure of cultural shock, and cultural differences, aggravates the difficult choices the immigrants must make, in order to survive. Those of us that have not gone through such an experience must be grateful for these choices that we don't have to face.
But we must also take into consideration the impact of mass migration on the absorbing countries. These are not the kind to be dismissed. When mass migration centered in specific regions within a country, these places are transformed into alien looking territories for the local population. Feeling alien in places one once felt at home is an unsettling and stressful experience for many. It is fascinating only to a few. Such a stress does not justify hatred and bigotry, and definitely not the violent manifestation of such ideologies and emotions. But it is also not justified to treat it with contempt by those fascinated by the newly available cultural experiences. [And no absolutely no. When reality changes like this and new cultures get expressed in huge volumes, it is not genocide of any previous culture, and it is not occupation].
Adding to that is the impact on the economy. Immigrants of mass migration are usually a cheaper work force. This is a work force that will take jobs the local work force won't go near. For the same reasons they are also willing to work for less in jobs the local labor force already occupies. Their desperation is understood and deserves more than sympathy and empathy. And so does the situation the local workers had found themselves in. They now have to compromise on their working conditions, conditions that took generations to improve. In the short run it is a choice between dumping the immigrants and dumping capitalism.  This is why stress is the more common experience among the local population, including the political echelons. The fruits of immigration are historical facts in most cases, but that is in the long run. When mass migration takes place they are far from certain. During that time the future is largely a frightening unknown to all those caught in it. While the immigrants chose that unknown; the veteran inhabitants did not. Such anxieties test the moral fiber of both sides, and compromise is often the rule everybody eventually practices.
But there is compromise, and there is a complete dismissal of any moral guidelines. Sadly, the story of the American policy of zero tolerance toward undocumented migrants belongs in the latter category. Nothing demonstrates that better than the wide scale separation of children from their families. These are families of undocumented migrants that entered the USA illegally. And the apologetic furry of some rightwing American activists only shows that they fully acknowledge that. But their arguments were not very effective. They tried to shift the blame to the Obama administration, by pointing out that it was practiced earlier by his administration. In the process they omitted the fact that it was in a much smaller scale. Their second accusation, that the Obama administration also released adults with children into the general population only serves to contradict their main accusation because it is the exact opposite action. This is not just a question of what is therefore the wrong policy. Is it the policy of letting-in all the families that have entered illegally that is wrong, or is throwing them all out wrong? The Obama administration is not above criticism. This was the administration of rhetoric in the face of crisis and challenges. When actions were needed and difficulties arose, rhetoric usually led their withdrawal from any action or decision. That is how the Obama administration handled a lot of issues. This is not one of them. For started there was not a lot of talk on this issue by him, not beyond what was necessary. Second, mass migration is a global phenomenon. It is not unique to a single country or continent. In my personal opinion, solving the problems related to it is more difficult than solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and I will elaborate later. Third, this flip-flopping allegation only serves to show that the Obama administration did try to solve this matter. And that is a point of credit, even if they failed. Forth, by pointing out that this practice has early history, all they show is that both sides in the debate had time to address the problem of families’ separation; but didn’t. And no, this does not mean that there is plenty of blame to go around. It is the American right that made immigration a cardinal issue. If they cared, they should have addressed this sooner. The fact is that they did not. This is because the original Miller – Sessions – Bannon line was ok with this practice. "The morality isn't the law. They are criminals when they come across" Bannon told ABC. In doing so they refuted that apologetic fury, before it even began. Their rational, zero tolerance against illegal immigration is where the problem lies.
Zero tolerance against illegal immigration groups these migrants with ordinary criminals and that is inherently unjust. Real criminals not only break the law repeatedly. They also hurt others with the full intention of doing so. Illegal immigrants break only one law; the border they illegally crossed. Such an act is indeed a violation of a nation’s sovereignty. And any nation or state has the right to protect its sovereignty against this violation, even by deportation. But no policy maker can ignore the fact that this is not done in order to deliberately harm the locals. Like the legal immigrants, they are trying to improve their lives, not to harm others. And when faced with difficult hardship in the new country, only a minority will turn to the life of crime.

Steve Bannon at ABC, June 2018 

Acknowledging that does not mean that a policy of sweeping amnesty or relaxation of enforcement should be adopted. Such policies will make the distinction between legal and illegal immigration pointless. They will also encourage all sorts of criminals to come over. And any country has the right to be upset when the social problems of other countries are exported to it. Not to mention that that too will conflate criminals with ordinary people coming over illegally. Keeping away criminals is a duty of every sovereign nation. It is a duty to all its citizens and residents, and that includes immigrants, legal and illegal ones.
Zero tolerance sound deterring, but that depends on its effectiveness. It may catch a thousand, but thousands more will escape. And most of the criminals are likely to be among those that were not apprehended. After all they already have experience in evading the law. These are the brightest that are more likely to be deterred, the ones president Trump wants to bring in. This is because each and every legal immigrant is one bureaucratic mishap away from been classified as illegal. And the more complex the bureaucracy is - the greater are the chances for a mishap. Therefore the mere risk of been treated as a criminal is enough to deter away those that have alternatives. And the brightest have alternatives. And if they have to fear been separated from their families, their children, then the less attractive possibilities will become more attractive, far more.
The biggest falsehood in the immigration debate is the perception that there are easy solutions. Whether it is Steve Bannon's Zero tolerance policy, Jeremy Corbyn's let them all-in advocacy, or the Israeli policy of ignoring the issue as if it is going to go away on its own. With the third example been the dumbest, wit is not the demonstrated property of any of these approaches.
The Israeli policy of no policy had turned a handful of neighborhoods into dumping grounds for the illegals. This had created over crowdedness that was beyond the ability of the local infrastructure to support. Obviously, this made life miserable for these migrants, and the local residents. This added to the tension between the two populations, which in turn added to the stress. And this cycle has so far, no end in sight, even after this migration wave has largely stopped. 




Migrants from East Africa in southern Tel Aviv,
source Calcalist 

The let them all-in policy, practiced and led by Angela Merkel, brought about the Cologne riots of December 2015. This massive criminal and sexual assault that took place in several German cities was perpetuated largely by work migrants from North West Africa, not war refugees. They first had exploited the open door policy of Western Europe known as the good will policy. That policy was aimed at helping refugees from war turn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. But the countries in North West Africa that these work migrants came from do not suffer from the turmoil of the Arab spring. They are just poorer countries. We all have the right for social mobility, but should we do it at the expense of someone else's lives? This was a clear-cut case of massive exploitation and abuse of the good will policy and the plight of the actual war refugees. Having done one wrong collectively, it was easy for a sizeable portion of them to do other wrongs collectively, and openly.
Here, Europe failed to distinguish between lands where people's lives were in daily danger, and those that are simply at an economic disadvantage. Such a distinction is not always easy to make. In some countries the economic conditions are so dire; poverty places people's lives in almost daily, life threatening situations, especially children. This is what amplifies the difficulties in forming a policy, both in Israel and the USA. No one wants to send people to their death. And nobody wants that desire to be exploited; by anyone – for whatever reason. In the events leading to the Cologne riots, such a distinction could have been made easily. Instead European decision makers grouped all Muslims and all Arabs into one category of helpless individuals. This allowed the better off North West Africans to abuse both Europe’s, and those that were truly running for their lives. The backlash that was created by this had turned against all the immigrants.



The Bannon doctrine had been shamed by the families' separation affair. But that is just a symptom of a greater folly. As I said before, solving the problems relating to immigration is more difficult than solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict, or any other political conflict for that matter. The reason is because this is not something a single act or a single policy can resolve. It is a management challenge, a global one. This means working with others to resolve it, and Trump's election rhetoric sabotaged that. His rhetoric was generalizing, de-humanizing, and racist. No matter how severe the problem of crime in the USA is; and even if those illegal migrants are over-represented in the statistics of criminal activity. That rhetoric remains unjustified. It also alienated vast segments of the American public, and not just the Hispanic population. Among communities that historically suffered a lot from racist oppression, this language reawakened traumas that weren’t dormant in the first place. And the list is long, with Jews and African Americans on the top. For many of them standing up to president Trump and Bannon became a matter of survival and anger. Survival: because of the bitter lessons of the past regarding the outcome of such rhetoric. Anger: because they see it as the need to do the civil right struggle all over again. And the resentment that came from that is aimed against any member of the Trump administration, and any idea and any policy they come up with, good or bad.
Trump’s rhetoric and Bannon’s ideas created two management problems, external and internal. The external problem is the alienation of the people of Mexico, were most of the migration movement goes through, as well as many of the migrants. And there is no doubt other nationalities across Latin America were also alienated. The internal one is in the shape of what is known as sanctuary cities. These are cities, states and counties that decided to go against the federal government over the immigration issue and protect the illegal immigrants living in their territory. The fear created by the rhetoric of the president of the USA been the main reason.

In order to have a working policy on immigration, the Trump administration has to work with both oppositions, at home and abroad. A simple matter of realpolitik by the relevant countries across Latin America will make it possible. But the resentment of the general population will limit that cooperation.
As for the internal opposition, this one is made up of people afraid for their very lives. They won't compromise so easily. One of the ways to overcome this opposition is to win over those cities and states in upcoming elections. This is what Bannon is doing in Europe. If successful, nationally and globally (globally been Europe, not Latin America), all of the responsibility of solving the problems of global mass migration will fall on them, on the Bannon camp. They will have to go beyond demagogy, and beyond policy, and manage the issue with other governments across the world. However, some of these governments are so corrupt they are in bed with global criminal organizations and human traffickers. That means they will be working with people they now know will screw them over. This is a reality every government in the democratic world faces, no matter what its ideology is. The problem is that the main outcome of zero tolerance on illegal immigration, along with restrictions on legal immigration, is a higher demand for the services of human traffickers; by their very victims. This will give them a stronger hand or even an upper hand. This is something no politician can afford, especially those that promised to make fighting crime a high priority.
The failure of world’s leadership to properly and effectively address the challenges of global migration has left the ground open for populists of all sorts. These populists have made the management of the situation more difficult. If they win overwhelmingly, management will not be possible. If they lose, mainstream politicians will have to take into account the social forces they have gathered, undermining the little effectiveness better management can create. The biggest tragedy is that should any or all of these populist politicians decide to actually resolve this; they will have to go against their base, against their election promises. Since this is a management challenge, solution will not be immediate. And such incumbent candidates will not be able to justify this to their base. And that may open the door for the pure and unapologetic, poisonous bigots. And while non-of these possibilities is an apocalyptic nightmare, the harm that will come from this mis management, will affect us all. The need to make moral compromises does not mean that every morally problematic decision is the wise one. History has shown us that mass migration stopped only when the conditions in the countries of origin had changed. The forces of history had more to do with those changes than actual policies. It shouldn't be the case now, but it is. This crisis does not need populist slogans. It needs new ideas. I wish I had any to give.