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.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

HRW non-in depth examination of war crimes in the Gaza conflict of 2014 Part 5 of 5

Human Rights Watch as war criminals

Helping criminals avoid justice is a criminal offense in its own right. It is known as accessory after the fact. And when that crime is a war crime, those who help the perpetrators avoid justice, should be regarded as war criminals as well.  There are several reasons why this entire account, of all three incidents is an accessory to the war crime committed by Islamic Jihad against their people at Rafah, on August 3rd, 2014, in front of the Preparatory 'A' Boys' School.

1.       This is what it does. By focusing their investigations and the resulting accusations only against Israel and the IDF, they build a mindset were Israel is the only guilty party to be considered. This mindset turns people away from the possibility of a Palestinian responsibility.

2.       According to their account they were there on August 3rd, the day it happened, and they could not see it?? They investigated, gathered information, build a picture of the events that took place in that horrible day, and nothing? The details of Islamic Jihad's crime are in the account and testimonies they collected, and they could not see it? Kids are outside the safety of a public shelter after the collapse of a cease fire and as far as HRW is concern it is as mundane as buying ice-cream on Venice Beach, California? Even if there was no criminal intention behind this, how could human rights activists of all people be indifferent to it?

3.       Nameless 45. Nameless 45 is one of the perpetrators of this war crime. His age suggests he had some kind of a command function. By treating him as a regular witness they gave him the aura of legitimacy.

4.       Where are the other two witnesses? They promised six witnesses, but published the testimonies of only 4 witnesses. The most noticeably missing testimonies are those of the UN staff that run that school. Why omit them? As employees of the United Nations their testimony is the most valuable there is. Even if HRW is biased against Israel there should be no reason to do that. The relationships between Israel and the UN agencies working in the Gaza Strip, especially UNRAW, are so bad and bitter that the likelihood that the testimony of any of their employees will carry even the slightest favorable view of Israel does not exist. The absence of their testimonies, especially of the UN organizer present at the open front gate at the time leading to the incident, omits only one thing. It omits their side of the debate that took place at that open front gate. The debate between him and the three volunteers. These volunteers did not share the nature of that debate, nor where they asked about it. If they were a part of a criminal activity that took place there, then they certainly had a good reason to hide this. But what were the reasons HRW investigators had to hide this debate or ignore it? Isn't it necessary background, like the family that asked nameless 45 for an extra gallon of water, or the heat and humidity of that day?

5.       This is the best way to cover up a crime. What is the best way for corrupt criminal investigators to cover - up a crime? What is their best way to hide the identity of the criminal actually responsible for the crime? The best way to do that is by not asking a single question that can raise that suspicion.
Look at what they did, and look at what they did not do. They were able to ask a common sense question criticizing the Israeli side but were unable to ask common sense question that criticizes the Palestinian side. On one hand they were puzzled by the IDF's decision to take out that motorcycle at that specific time and place. On the other hand, they were undisturbed by the presence of kids outside the safety of their shelter during wartime. One sided questioning does not make any sense, unless some kind of bias is involved. But it is more than just bias, because each of these questions leads to a different place.
Asking the IDF why it chose that time and place to fire at that motorcycle is a legitimate question. One that has an answer, there was no choice. Fast moving objects are simply difficult to hit. There is no reason to believe the drone did not try to hit it before; after all the motorcycle was running away from it. But only when it slowed down, the missile was able to catch it. There was no option to take out the motorcycle after it slowed down because this could have been a part of getaway maneuver. The presence of a getaway vehicle over there shows that indeed it was.
On the other hand the question not been asked of the Palestinian side leads to more questions. Why the gate was open after the collapse of the cease fire, and the sighting of the drone? What the ice-cream and sweats vendors were doing out there, tempting the kids to step into a likely danger zone, especially when they couldn't make a profit? The answer to these questions requires an investigation that digs out more details from this account. These details portray the most probable explanation regarding that horrific day. According to this explanation, members of an armed Palestinian group, most likely Islamic Jihad, operated inside that school. Acting as volunteers they kept the gate open with the ice-cream vendors outside in order to tempt children to leave the safety of that shelter. Their plan was to use some of those kids in the escape maneuver of their friends on the escaping motorcycle.  They wanted the drone to site the children in order to have it cancel the pursuit. Whether the drone operators were able to spot them in time or not, is needed to be investigated. But one thing is without any question. If it had not been for the Islamic Jihad cell working inside that UN run school all those kids (and adults), would have been alive and well today. In HRW account there is not a single reference to that possibility. Every word, every phrase, every sentence, and every question leads away from that possibility.  A possibility that once dug out of this account becomes the best explanation to this murderous incident, if not the only one.  HRW treatment of the horrific events of August 3rd 2014 in Rafah is simply a cover-up. It functions as a cover-up, it is constructed as a cover-up, and it produced a cover-up. Therefor it is extremely likely, if not certain, that it was intended to be a cover-up. A cover-up that helps war criminals avoids justice by removing any suspicion from them.

6.       What's the rush?  On August 11th Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, North Africa and Middle East Division, wrote a public letter to US secretary of state John Kerry. The letter demanded from the United – States to place severe punishments on Israel. This was before their investigation was complete. As the account reviewed here says, they visited the Beit Hanoun School on August 12, 13, and 29. And the Jablya school at August 13. The only investigation they did complete was the one in Rafah, on August 3. This raises the suspicion that Israel's guilt was decided in advance.  Thus shedding a negative light on all previous investigations. By the nature of their work human rights activists are in-charge on one of the most ethically demanding subject of modern lives. Here however they had violated the most basic of ethical codes by pre-determining guilt before an investigation is completed. Why would, intelligent persons do that?  This could be a simple case of over confidence, which again sheds negative light on all previous investigations.  But working under the shadow of criminal complicity is a more powerful motivation. The sooner they can point the finger at Israel, the sooner they can point the finger away from themselves.
Sarah Leah Whitson,
 Human Rights Watch Director of Middle East and North Africa division
7.       HRW's poor criticism of Islamic Jihad. Historically HRW had criticized Israel, a lot, and offered some criticism of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. But there is very little criticism in their archives of the Islamic Jihad. This is strange and puzzling since it is the third largest Palestinian military organization, and second largest official organization in the Gaza Strip. With an estimate of 8,000 fighters it is far smaller than Hamas, but significantly bigger than the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and the PLFP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Yet, it had been the subject of the same amount of criticism as these two small organizations, little to nothing between 2002 and the end of Operation Protective Edge.

8.       A letter of self-incrimination. The content of Sarah Leah Whitson's letter can serve as a verification of these charges. In this letter she begins by accusing both sides of human rights violations. What is incriminating is the kind of actions she wants the United States and the world to take. On one hand she calls on the United States to limit the military technologies given to Israel. Technologies Israel is using to successfully defend its citizens. On the other hand she calls for the removal of all barriers over the transportation of goods and commerce into the Gaza Strip. An act that will allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to get better military technologies, allowing them to violate more human rights. If both sides are violators of human rights, shouldn't there be restrictions on both of them? If her recommendation were to be implemented it will be more difficult for Israel to protect its civilians, and easier for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to kill them. She is literally offering aid to the Gaza based armed Palestinian organizations in violating the human rights of Israelis. If she can do that, what is keeping her from helping them violate the human rights of Palestinians?

9.       The actual series of events vs. the actual series of investigations. Is this entire account a case of gross incompetence or criminal complicity on behalf of Human Rights Watch? So far this review has argued that it is a cover up. A cover up that helps members of Islamic Jihad evade war crimes charges regarding a war crime they committed against their own people. Islamic Jihad's guilt cannot be disputed. However, HRW culpability could be simply a case of gross incompetence.  Such cases, of mind boggling illogical and stupendously amateurish decision making processes, are known to have happened throughout history. They happened to governments and militaries, banks and corporations, associations of various kinds, and religious institutions. Just as it happened to them it could happen to any human rights organization. No type of organization is immune. If this is the case here, then they are so incompetent that they are acting as if they are guilty of covering up someone else's war crime. It is certainly a possibility, but a weak one. The first thing that points to a cover up rather than incompetence is the actual series of investigations. The account describes each of the tragic events in their order of occurrence.  First is what happened in the coeducational elementary school in Beit – Hanoun, on July 24. This is followed by the Jablaya girls` school tragedy from July 30. And concludes with the attack on the motorcycle, outside the Preparatory 'A' Boys' School in Rafah on August 3. This lineup supports a scenario of ever growing incompetence. In their account of the tragedy at the UN run school in Beit Hanoun, they showed limited understanding of mortars fire behavior in an urban area, with no necessary supporting technical information. In the Jablaya incident they showed poor understanding of international law. This is a far worse case of ignorance in the material been used, since international law supposed to be their area of expertise.  And in Rafah they could not distinguish between war criminals and witnesses, unable to see what is in front of their eyes. But this is not the order of their investigations. First to be investigated was the Rafah motorcycle attack, on the day it happened, followed by Beit Hanoun, investigated on August, 12, 13, and 29, and Jablaya on August 13. The biggest demonstration of incompetence is the first investigation they made. This raises a great suspicion since the motive to a crime always comes before the crime. According to the cover up accusation, the later bad investigations are a part of the cover up, aimed to consolidate an anti – Israel mindset. Therefore it will be logical that the crime been covered up, will be the first investigation.

10.   Growths of the poisoning motive. With the Rafah investigation been the actual first investigation; it's not only stands at the beginning of this process like a motive would, it acts like one. It corrupts the two following investigations in a way where virtually every fault that exists in this investigation is found in either or both of the other two investigations:  A.) All three investigations are incomplete. In the Rafah account they claimed the operators of the Israeli Spike missile could see the children that were heart by the explosion because the Spike missile has an optical guidance system. But failed to show that there was no interference to its field of view from the surrounding urban environment. They also did not explain how come one of the occupants of the targeted motorcycle survived the attack while 12 people, including 8 children, were killed farther away from it. And of course they did not investigated why contrary to common sense the front gate of that shelter was kept open. In the Beit Hanoun account they did not provide any technical information to support their claim that the firing of the mortar shells showed precision. They did not eliminate all the possibilities that point to a Palestinian culpability. Most notably ignoring the possibility of bad maintenance practices. In the Jabalya account they relied mostly on someone else's investigation, the UN. Both investigations accused Israel and the IDF of irresponsible use of force but failed to demonstrate it. Instead the detailed they do provide show that the IDF did went to a great length to save Palestinian lives. And was successful in doing so. The 20 deaths that did occur, tragic though they are, are less than 1% of the 3,200 people sheltering there at the time. Since anything below 1% is most definitely the lowest possible minimum, international law had been implemented here to the letter. International law requires armed forces to minimize the death and harm inflicted on civilians by their weapons. On the other hand, both investigation teams, those of the UN and HRW, did not look for Palestinian mortar positions, even though this was Israel's main argument. That the IDF had fired at mortar position less than 180 meters from this UN run school.  But most importantly neither offered any analysis of the IDF's actions during that attack. Analysis needed to establish the accusation that Israel behaved irresponsibly that day and not as someone attacking mortar positions adjoining the UN run school. When an analysis is done the findings are the exact opposite. Because the smoke and laminations shells Israel is reported to have used are exactly what an attack like this requires when done responsibly. B.) Unprofessional investigation practices. In the Rafah account they investigated the Spike missile and its guidance system, but not the warhead and not the trajectory. Both of which are relevant technical information, relevant to the accusations been made. This had repeated itself in the Bet Hanoun were they failed to provide technical information necessary to support their precision argument.  C.) The specter of bias. This review suggests that HRW is covering up a Palestinian war crime against their people. At bare minimum this suggests an anti-Israel bias on behalf of HRW. We first came in contact with this suspicion when we read Sarah Leah Whitson letter to the US secretary of state. There she predetermined Israel's guilt before the investigations were complete. With every corky investigation always pointing the finger at Israel, the specter of that bias follows their entire account. But it is especially noticeable in the Beit Hanoun account. In this investigation they did not do a lot of the things required in order to substantiate their accusations. Yet, they spent three days investigating there. What were they doing there when they were not doing their job?  D.) Abusing the human rights of Israelis.  This entire account and the conduct it represents is an abuse of the ideals of human rights but it also contain specific threats to the human rights of Israelis. This threat first appears in Sarah Leah Whitson letter to the US secretary of state. There she calls for restriction to be imposed on Israel, while removing restrictions from Hamas. Needless to be repeated, should this be implemented it will be more difficult for the Israeli defense forces to defend the lives of Israelis, and easier for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other armed Palestinian groups to harm, kill, and murder Israeli civilians. We also see such a threat in the Jabalya account. There HRW introduces an interpretation of international law that gives legal protection to Palestinian fighters. It is a legal protection given to areas and places adjoining UN shelters. With that protection they can launch every military action they want; against the Israeli military, as well as against Israeli civilians, with impunity.    E.) Abusing the human rights of Palestinians. As bad as the abuse of the human rights of Israelis is, the abuse of the human rights of Palestinians is far worse. As said above, the interpretation of international law they presented in the Jabalya account allows ordinary Palestinians to be used as human shields. That is far worse than just putting them at risk. It is placing them in immediate danger. Much like Islamic Jihad did in Rafah, the crime HRW is accused of covering up. Even the Beit Hanoun investigation constitutes an abuse of human rights. People had died there, needlessly so. And their death deserves more than this botched job. Here we see the demonstration of a known universal truth regarding human rights. That when we allow one party to violate the human rights of one group, we open the door for the violations of the human rights of members of other groups. The hard bitter lesson is that what is true about the various brunches of the government and military is true just the same when it comes to human rights organizations.      

11.   Establishing bias. It is the bias that points away from incompetence and towards culpability more than any other suspicious characteristic of this account. The first thing that can be said about this bias is that it cannot be denied. Here, even incompetence cannot make excuses. In her letter Sarah Leah Whitson recognizes that in order to protect civilians, access to weapons and technologies should be limited.  But this recognition is an extremely selective recognition. As said above, even though Sarah Leah Whitson and HRW recognize that Hamas activities also harm civilians, they do not call for any restrictions over Hamas' access to weapons and technologies.  On the contrary, they want all existing restrictions to be removed. An act that will give Hamas access to more weapons and technologies that will harm more Israeli civilians. Are we to understand that when it comes to Israel they are intelligence enough to understand the impact of these restrictions, but when it comes to Hamas they are inept enough not to understand the impact of removing similar restrictions? This selectiveness goes deeper than that. It also ignores the fact that Israel is using its weapons and technologies to defend its citizens. Importantly but separately, this shortcoming is a part of a chronic problem that HRW has; the one that ignores the existence of hard heart wrenching dilemmas in times of war, where life vs life decisions have to be made. (See the background part, at the beginning of this review). As for Sarah Leah Whitson's type of selectiveness, this one is literally a characteristic of the entire account. In the Jabalya account the HRW investigators fully acknowledge the dense urban nature of most of the Gaza Strip. It is their main argument against Israel's using 155mm artillery shells in the urban environment of the Gaza Strip. But when the same reality of the war provides a defense to the Israeli side, this reality evaporates into a condition of not been mentioned or investigated. We saw that in the Beit Hanoun account, where the witnesses at the UN run school could not have seen whoever fired the mortar rockets at them because of the urban nature of the area, (unless unique and unusual conditions of visibility existed, none of which are provided.)  And we saw that in the Rafah account.  Here they argued that the Israeli drone operators could see the children near the targeted motorcycle, since the Israeli Spike missiles have an optical guidance system. But they did not address the possibility that the presence of trees and buildings near that school could have blocked that view. In the Jabalya account they are intelligent enough to notice what is there for everyone to see. But in accounts of Beit Hanoun and Rafah, where the same features provide a defense for Israel, they are too inept to see the very streets they walked through, when headed to investigate those UN run schools. This is an absurd that repeats itself with the technical data, (information regarding the weapons and munitions used, and their capabilities). When we examine the role of this information in these accounts we see the same contradiction. We are given a detailed description of capabilities, impact, and risks of the 155mm shells involved in the Jabalya tragedy. (This is very useful in order to understand what had happened. But it does not contradict the Israeli version; since the main debate there is over the interpretation of international law). On the other hand we have a complete lack of such information regarding the mortars used in the Beit Hanoun tragedy. In this case they claimed the rockets showed precision without giving the information from which they reached that conclusion. They also did not explain how they could make such a deduction based on just four rockets, and without identifying the intended target. With mortars the level of precision is determined based on the distances of the shells' hit points from the intended target.  The greater the number of hits that are closer to the intended targets the more precise the mortar is. But a large number of hits are needed in order to make that determination. Not doing that and not being able to identify the type of rockets, 120mm or 81mm, suggests a lack of professionality. Yet they are professional enough to identify the 155mm artillery shells of Jabalya and the Spike missile of Rafah. Again, whenever a piece of information may leads to an exoneration of Israel, incompetence reigns supreme. Selective incompetence is a proof of bias, and bias is a calculated act. But even bias can be blind to what is in front of it, and all around it. It is the very nature of the most extreme forms of bias. 
12. The final incriminating bias. The selectiveness demonstrated by HRW does not end here. When we look deeper into their treatment of technical information we find a greater absurd. They offer us the technical details regarding the Spike missile, and its guidance system, but not its warhead, and not its trajectory. The selectivity is practiced within a single investigation of the only weapon been studied.  This leads to the forth area of selectivity, the area of the 'could have beens'. We came across one case of a 'could have', earlier in this review. In the Beit Hanoun account HRW argued that the presence of Israeli tanks in the vicinity of the UN run school suggests that this is a place from which mortar rocket could have been fired. And that is enough for them to make it an incriminating argument against Israel. The problem is that there are more cases of 'could have' in this account, where a missing piece of information could support the Israeli side. And at the same time it couldn't, because the reason could is the poorest argument there is, is because for every 'could' there is a 'couldn't'. For example, there is no reason to state, with any degree of confidence, that information regarding the Spike's warhead would exonerate Israel. Perhaps there is a way a warhead can explode in a way that spares one person that is nearby while killing many others that are farther away. It is up to the experts to answer that. The same goes for the information regarding the Spike's optical guidance system. It is possible its field of view was blocked, but there is no way of knowing that for certain without examining its trajectory and the field of view along that path. Based on the currently available information, it is equally possible its field of view wasn't blocked. We do not know that it was; we only know that it could have. Any could have is a T junction. In the Beit Hanoun account HRW claimed Israeli mortar shells were responsible. All their arguments were flawed, and the investigation incomplete. This leaves the actual identity of those who did fire the mortar round, undetermined. It could have been an Israeli source. It could have been a Palestinian one. In Beit Hanoun HRW avoids other field of inquiry that could or couldn't exonerate Israel. The missing technical information could exonerate and show that no precision firing was involved. But there is always a chance no matter how slim that it could do the opposite. The same goes for Palestinian maintenance practices. In the Beit Hanoun account HRW argued that there is no way four Palestinian rockets could veer of target, within the same round. That is another faulty argument. If maintenance conditions are poor this will happen. Since HRW did not investigate this matter, we only that it could exonerate, not that it would. What we have here is a very strange selectivity. One that is completely unnecessary if the intention is just bias. On one hand we have the "could have been" argument that they do use. This is the presence of Israeli tanks in the vicinity of the UN run school in Beit Hanoun. Which HRW declare could have been the source of the mortars that were fired at that school.  This could have been possibility is enough for them to make an argument in support of war crimes allegations against Israel. On the other hand, there is a list of 'coulds' that HRW has completely avoided. Most of them mentioned above. They are integral parts of any investigation of this nature and are fundamental to understanding what has happened. Yet, they are not investigated, not addressed, and are not even mentioned. These raises two questions: first, why ignore these 'coulds'? Since all they suggest is that Israel could be innocent, they also suggest Israel could be guilty.  All a biased HRW author has to do is to phrase the matter in a way that fits his/hers convictions, just like they did with the tanks. Second question, how did they know to avoid these 'coulds' in the first place? There is only one answer to both of these questions. They knew in advance what really had happened. In Beit Hanoun, as well as in Rafah. They knew the Palestinians were responsible for both of these tragedies, and avoided any line of inquiry that led into that conclusion. This is why they avoided all these 'could have beens', and this is how they knew to avoid them in the first place. In Beit Hanoun, the UN run school was hit by Palestinian mortar shells. These shells either fell short of their intended target due to poor maintenance. Or due to mistaken identity, a case of Palestinian friendly fire situation. In Rafah however the picture is clearer. An Islamic Jihad faction, working as volunteers inside the UN run school, lured children outside using ice cream vendors. They willingly and knowingly sacrificed these kids in a failed attempt to rescue three of their comrades that were on that motorcycle. In sacrificing those kids, and causing their deaths, they committed a war crime against their own people. And HRW knowingly covers that up in the abysmal report reviewed here. A cover up that helps the main perpetrators of this war crime escape justice, thus turning HRW personal into accessories to this war crime. 

As Elise Keppler, the acting director of HRW's justice program, had said, "For World's worst crimes, Justice really matters." And for justice to matter it also must have credibility, and implemented on all those who violate human rights, even if they are human rights activists themselves.


Let us not forget the contribution of Hamas