Three Questions for Hamas

24 Aug

 

 

There is no doubt that Hamas has exhibited extraordinary resilience under the most difficult of conditions that have bedeviled its period of political leadership in the Gaza Strip that started in 2007. It also seems clear as persuasively argued by Sandy Tolan in a valuable Common Dreams article [Tolan, “Blown Chances in Gaza: Israel & U.S. Miss Many Chances to Avoid War, Aug. 13, 2014] that Hamas pursued multiple initiatives starting in 2006 designed to achieve calm and quiet in its relations with Israel, and that these initiatives, including back channel reassurance about peaceful intentions, were rebuffed without even being acknowledged by either Israel or the United States. It also seems the case that Israel acted to provoke the three most sustained military onslaughts directed at Gaza since 2008, and in each has relied on disproportionate force, inflicted numerous civilian casualties, and acted in a manner defiant of international humanitarian law. For these reasons Israel deserves to be treated as an ‘outlaw state’ for reasons set forth by Akbar Ganji and I argued in a two-part article appearing in the online pages of AlJazeera English [“The Outlaw State of Israel,” Aug. 20,21, 2014].

 

And yet Hamas also has some explaining to do if it wishes to be more widely accepted throughout the world as entitled to full respect as a legitimate political actor. This respect is crucial in the ongoing politics of enabling Hamas to play a major role in representing the national movement of the Palestinian people in all diplomatic settings. The announcement of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas was an important legitimating step in this direction. The following hard questions deserve convincing responses from those advocating the further legitimation of Hamas:

 

  • Why provide Israel with an argument for its massive military assaults by firing thousands of rockets that do minimal damage and give Israel a credible argument for recourse to defensive force applied disproportionately and causing intolerable levels of suffering for the people of Gaza? Are there not alternatives and better ways to sustain the spirit and substance of Palestinian resistance?

 

  • Is it not overdue to modify the language, tone, and substance of the Hamas Charter or Covenant of 1988 so as to reconcile such a foundational document with the more moderate diplomatic postures articulated by Hamas leaders in recent years? Why leave this gap that Israel can exploit to justify its refusal to deal with Hamas or respond to its frequently articulated political proposal of long-term peaceful co-existence? Either Hamas stands by this exterminist language or it must supersede it by a new formulation of goals and vision.

 

 

  • Can Hamas expect to be viewed favorably by public opinion and in diplomatic circles when it engages in grisly forms of revolutionary justice when dealing with Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel? As many as 21 Palestinians were reported to have been hung in prominent public places in Gaza on August 22nd on charges of collaborating with the enemy. Similar issues of summary execution arose in the context of the earlier Israeli aggressions in 2008-09 and 2012, and such behavior was then widely condemned by Palestinian human rights groups and many others in Gaza. Admittedly, the problems posed by collaborators is a great security threat given the realities of the blockade and vulnerability of Gaza, but Hamas jeopardizes its reputation and claim to be a legitimate political actor by so behaving, and to some extent nullifies the strong effort of its leaders in recent years to project a moderate ethically responsible image by word and deed. Putting the question differently, ‘why is it necessary?’ Many of us are aware that Israel uses all manner of ‘dirty tricks’ to induce collaboration when it recruits informers in Gaza, which should be the basis of empathy on the part of Hamas for compromised individuals or at the very least cause the wheels of justice to await the outcome of an evidence-based trial before imposing death sentences, and then not doing so in such dehumanizing and degrading manner?

 

I do not raise here the accusations associated with charges and counter-charges relating to the use of ‘human shields’ in the course of the fighting. The evidence is cloudy as to such behavior, and as to whether it occurrence reflects policy, or is a deviation therefrom. There are difficult issues of applying international criminal law in circumstances of asymmetric urban warfare, and an overall caveat about striking a self-righteous position with respect to the tactics used by either side is that military expediency has consistently prevailed over the constraints of law and morality throughout the history of warfare. A reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) or a consideration of strategic bombing of German and Japanese cities during World War II, including the use of atomic bombs to incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki despite their irrelevance to the outcome of the war and the horrendous impact on the large civilian populations.

 

In the last several years I have received much criticism, and worse, for urging the adoption of a positive attitude toward the Hamas effort to be treated as a political actor with legitimate grievances, and by observing that the behavior of Hamas in relation to Israel has been of a generally defensive nature in the face of constant harassment, unacceptable abuse, and an extreme campaign of delegitimation, even criminalization. It remains my judgment on the basis of evidence available to me that Hamas has sought a quiet border with Israel, and that Israel has been principally responsible for the violence, and beyond this, for virtually all of the death and destruction on the Gaza side of the border that has occurred in this period. It is also encouraging to take note of Hamas agreement to seek recourse to the International Criminal Court in pressing Palestinian grievances against Israel even though if an investigation of allegations goes forward it will include looking into contested aspects of Hamas’ behavior from the perspective of international criminal law.

 

The efforts of the international community and the UN to impose solutions, up through the failed Kerry initiative that collapsed last April, have not contributed to peace and justice either between Israel and Palestine, or in the wider region. Whether wittingly or not, the international diplomacy of the West has produced dispossession, violence, and seemingly irreconcilable conflict with disastrous and tragic consequences for the indigenous population of Palestine ever since the end of World War I.

 

101 Responses to “Three Questions for Hamas”

  1. truthaholics August 24, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    Valid, pro-active analysis of Hamas but, in essence, perhaps relocating ziocolony Israel to the US is easier than getting it to respect rule of law?

  2. Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Your basic error and misunderstanding of Hamas is to treat it as some kind of benevolent patriotic organization guilty of some rectifiable tactical errors instead of a murderous terrorist organization that cares very little about the welfare of the Palestinian people but is guided by an apocalyptic world view. The assertion that Hamas “wants quiet” is worse than a bad joke. That your only problem with Hamas’s “massive military assault” is that is “does little damage” amd gives Israel an “excuse” to fire back is almost insane. And if it did a lot of damage? Would you be encouraging it then?

    The one step that will bring the Palestinians quiet is the one you refuse to suggest: demilitarization of Gaza in exchange for open borders. That’s what Gaza had before Hamas began firing rockets – 6,000 of them in the six years before the blockade.

    • Gene Schulman August 24, 2014 at 6:16 am #

      Skolnik is forever saying he’s going to stay away from this blog, but he always reappears. Alas.

      Richard, you ask the right questions about Hamas, and they would do well to heed them. But can they really be blamed? Who else is there to defend the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians? Certainly no one in the West who fully, and always, back Israel’s serial war crimes. Without Hamas to remind us that Palestinians exists, they would already have been driven out like they were in 1948!

      BTW: Thanks for your recommendation of Victor Kattan’s book, “From Coexistence to Conquest.” An eye- opening history lesson. Academic as it is, it is still a page turner. Fred Skolnik and some of his cohorts would profit mightily from reading it.

    • ray032 August 24, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      Hamas won the right to govern in a Democratic Election all external monitors certified as free and fair in 2006.

      Is was Democratic Israel and the US that told Palestinians they had no Democratic right to elect Hamas as representing their legitimate interests after suffering the corruption and lack of progress in improving Palestinian lives under the Fatah-PLO..

      Instead of welcoming the opportunity to deal with Hamas as a legitimately elected government, the transfer of money was cut off to the Palestinians, precipitating the conflict between Fatah and Hamas, with the legitimate government of the Palestinian People contained in Gaza.

      Israel and the US, by their actions, showed Hamas gaining power legitimately at the ballot box is a mirage, and they were left with no alternative but bullets by the Israeli actions.

      ‘Gaza myths and facts: what American Jewish leaders won’t tell you’
      http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608008http://

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 7:42 am #

        Hamas didn’t win the right to govern. It won a parliamentary majority. You don’t even understand the Palestinian system of government under a presidential regime.

      • ray032 August 24, 2014 at 7:58 am #

        Like whatever party in Israel wins a legislative majority has the 1st choice to form a government and determine the Legislative agenda even with a President?

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 8:21 am #

        You still don’t understand. ray. The Palestinian government serves at the discretion of the President, who has wide-ranging powers like the French President and may dissolve a government as he sees fit. In practice a coalition government was formed but Hamas immediately took over Gaza, expelling all the Fatah people and even throwing not a few off rooftops. It is as if after winning a majority in the House of Representatives, the Republicans had taken over Massachusetts and kicked out all the Democrats.

    • Monir August 25, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Fred,
      before you scrutinize Mr Falk’s opinion and facts. ( As he has ben there and witnessed most) please check your own first, as they seem to represent the same demands ( plus Hasbara)that the Israeli criminal behavior and policy in being the aggressors has suggested for over 49 years, or we can say since the inception of the state in 48 and before. No matter what the Palestinians want, or who leads them, Israel is never happy and has killed, jailed, expelled many of the national Palestinian leaders, being peaceful or militant just the same. Its getting exposed of the true intentions of dispossessing the Palestinians of their land, and using all criminal inhumane means to achieve that. Your criticism and request is a very clear evidence of such criminal intent and the facts on the ground of the Zionists behavior for the last hundred years or so. So, please don’t advise nor correct him as you need to do that much more than him. Try the truth sometimes, it might make you feel human.

  3. Laurie Knightly August 24, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Gaza has no explaining to do. You are asking the victim to exhibit a code of ethics that the oppressor does not deserve. If a thief steals my house and all I own, it’s been the prevailing argument on this issue that I must try to reconcile with the villain and the world will stand by singing kum ba ya while subsidizing the thief. If Gaza had an endless supply of heavy weaponry, they would fight like ‘civilized’ people. The Palestinians have been lied to and cheated since World War I and maybe they have lost trust in anyone anywhere. Israel came into existence by means of terrorist groups strong enough to overcome legitimate military armies. How soon they forget and adjust history.

    • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 7:57 am #

      Gaza doesn’t have to fight. Before they began firing rockets they had an open border. If the Arabs hadn;t attacked Israel in 1948, the would have had a state and not a single refugee. If they hadn’t attacked Israel in 1967, there wouldn’t have been a square inch of occupied territory. You’re the one who’s doing the singing while the Palestinians live in misery, but you’re singing the wrong song.

      • ray032 August 24, 2014 at 8:00 am #

        Why do you believe lies? Israel started the hostilities in 1967 and the Arabs retaliated.

      • Gene Schulman August 24, 2014 at 9:11 am #

        Fred Skolnik keeps insisting on claiming that the Arabs began the wars of 1948 and 1967. But he is incorrect. That’s why I suggested above that he read Victor Kattan’s book, from which he can learn the true history. But of course he already knows the true history. He just believes that by continuing to spread the big lie, it will be believed. But that lie has been disproved in book after book by Bennie Morris, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, et al.

        No one believes that lie any more. Why should we believe the others Fred spews?

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 9:32 am #

        You’ve got to be kidding. Gene. I am not going to take you step by step through the events that led to the Six-Day War. If you need a Victor Kattan to tell you what happened in 1967, you are in a pretty sad state, not that you have any way of verifying or evaluating what you read. I am also not going to quote the Arab League declarations that preceded the Nov. 1947 UN vote, which told the world exactly what its intentions were and which the Arabs promptly put into effect the minute the British left. You still don’t seem to realize that you belong to a marginal group of Israel haters that has worked up a fictional narrative that only other Israel haters believe. It is really a shame. There is certainly a case to be made for the Palestinians but people like you discredit it by obscuring it in fantasies that no balanced person is going to take seriously.

      • Monir August 25, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

        Zionists came with one intention to a land that was inhabited with its people for many centuries. Carving a piece or a whole of a land is just the same. Jews having an issue in the world and choosing to dump it on the Palestinians has no merits what so ever. Yet, today, the Palestinians are generous enough to say we will negotiate , yet aggressive belligerent Israel, as its supported by Zionists controlled America, exhibited more greed and desire for dominance than gratitude to the Palestinians in comparison to what Europe or the State was willing to offer them. So, get off your crippled donkey and humble yourself by being honest and truthful and stope hiding behind Hasbara lies and fabricated twisted history to full yourself and others. The facts are coming out and you and Israel are not looking good! Be human and have honor for a change, you might be credible!

    • Kata Fisher August 24, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      Laurie Knightly,

      Can you explain your claims? I would appreciate that.

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 8:04 am #

        Hamas fired 6,000 rockets at Israel’s population centers in the six years before the blockade was instituted, at a time wnen up to 40,000 Gazans were working in Israel every day.

        Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan. The Arabs rejected it and invaded Israel with the declared aim of destroying it.

        You know all about 1967. don’t you? Hussein’s bombardment of Jewish Jerusalem and all the rest? You do know, don’t you?

      • Kata Fisher August 24, 2014 at 8:18 am #

        Well, what we do not know – that can destroy us, not knowing.

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 8:23 am #

        I was replying to Laura Knightly.

  4. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 24, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Prof. Falk,

    I appreciate that this was a difficult thing for you to write and have mixed feelings in posting a critique. I do so because while your piece may represent a step in the right direction, it could and should have been much more.

    Frankly, your post reads like a publicist’s memo to a difficult client warning that things the client is doing and saying, which are not in keeping with what the publicist knows to be his sterling character, are making him look bad. It’s all about tactics, not content and motives which are the real reason why opinion runs against Hamas, including in the Arab world.

    There’s also a note of personal hurt in the penultimate paragraph where you lament the flack you’ve taken recent years trying the portray Hamas as a “political actor with legitimate grievances” while Hamas undermines your effort by its words and actions. It’s an instance of your “constructive imbalance” crashing up against Hamas’ reality.

    I raise this issue neither to embarrass nor insult. Like you, I believe that Hamas can and should be a central participant in seeking regional peace, and hope, albeit with much skepticism, that your benign view of what you say are new directions in its objectives is accurate. However, a talking points memo is a poor vehicle for validating this view, or getting Hamas to reflect on its objectives, especially when every question is preceded and followed by a stinging denunciation of Israel as the real villain, placed there, one assumes, to guard against anyone getting the wrong idea of where you stand.

    If your intention is asking hard questions, you might try these:

    1. Are you prepared to accept Israel as a legitimate and permanent presence in the Middle East?

    2. Israel offered to ease the Gaza blockade in exchange for de-militarization. Why did you reject the proposal?

    3. Why did you resume rocket attacks on Israel after the Cairo talks collapsed when you knew that it would cause additional casualties among Gazan citizens?

    Just these questions, without wordy diatribes against Israel, which serve to make them rhetorical. Moreover, ask them in Arabic via a media vehicle will have impact in the Arab world. Putting them on this blog will have zero impact on what happens in the Middle East.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Richard Falk August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Rabbi Youdovin:

      Thanks for comment, but your suggestion of questions illustrate just where we most deeply disagree.
      After years of effort by Hamas to seek a long-term ceasefire that Israel refused even to acknowledge,
      your kind of questions should be asked of Israeli leaders: Why did they incite an anti-Hamas rampage
      after the kidnapping incident, and continue to act as if a desperate search for living captives when
      they knew of their death shortly after it happened? Why no response to prior Hamas proposals for
      long-tern ceasefires? Why demilitarization when it is Gaza that has been repeatedly devastated and
      Israel makes no commitment with respect to its renunciation of force?
      I tried to raise questions that should be answered by Hamas. Your are posing questions that are merely
      reinforcing Israel’s posture as the aggrieved party, which I find completely misleading.

      Richard

    • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Prof. Falk

      I don’t really understand why you deleted my last reply to Mr. Schulman (and Mr. Kelso’s as well). Surely you don’t object to my calling Hamas a gang of lunatics. A lot worse has been said about Jews and Israelis. Or do you object to my suggesting that if he wishes to save Palestinian children he should go down to Gaza and advise Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israeli children, though he might end up hanging from a tree if he does. You again seem to be tilting things by selectively censoring your critics. And you still have not responded to rehmet’s habit of contemptuously referring to Jews as “Moshe” in precisely the same way that the Nazis used to refer to Jews as “Abraham” and “Sarah.”

      • Richard Falk August 24, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

        Mr. Skolnik:

        Your language used in reference to Hamas is a language of incitement, and continues to be in this comment.
        Furthermore, I have repeatedly indicated that these kinds of personal diatribes discourage the
        sort of dialogue that is constructive. As for ‘Moshe’ I do find it distasteful, but since it
        was given a positive spin by one of the most prominent of the regular pro-Israeli contributors to this comments
        section and Gene Schulman didn’t express any objection, I let it pass.

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

        Positive spin? You’re joking. Would “hymie” also have a positive spin? And you don;t think that references to Israelis as Nazis also constitutes “a language of incitement”?

      • Gene Schulman August 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

        This superb essay by Chris Hedges this morning should help to answer Kelso’s one-track mind of insisting that Richard Falk answer for Hama’s executions. A little self-knowledge, as Hedges suggests, could help us all. Apologies for “referencing”, but no one can put it as precisely as Hedges.

        http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/how_the_brutalized_become_brutal_20140824

      • Fred Skolnik August 25, 2014 at 12:18 am #

        Essays of this kind are only superb to people like yourself, Gene. Arab brutality – the manner in which Arabs treat enemies – is the legacy of a desert culture and has always been there. The idea that all brutal people, whether psychopaths, American GI’s, concentration camp inmates or Arab terrorists – are brutal for the same reason is a little simple-minded.

      • allwaysamazed August 26, 2014 at 2:20 am #

        Mr.Skolnik, your demons are showing…they haunt you mercilessly. I can’t imagine why you must parade them for all to see…unless you feel it necessary to infect everyone with the virus of savage stupidity. Dr. Falk’s integrity cannot be seriously questioned; he deserves more respect and support for his humanitarian efforts in these pages. (If “savage stupidity” is too uncivil, please replace with “mistaken assumptions of superiority”.)

      • Gene Schulman August 26, 2014 at 2:56 am #

        @ always amazed: Since I no longer bother to read Skolnik’s diatribes, I missed this one. Thanks for pointing it out and responding in a way with which I wholeheartedly agree.

    • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

      I have already answered your question, “Why did they incite an anti-Hamas rampage after the kidnapping incident, and continue to act as if a desperate search for living captives when they knew of their death shortly after it happened?”:

      “In the real world, Professor Falk, when it becomes known that kidnap victims have been murdered, the police do not stop looking for the murderers. I’m sure you understand that. And when the identity of the murderers is known, the first thing the police do is to round up all known criminals who are associated with the murderers, and in this case the known criminals are active members of Hamas residing in the West Bank. If you really think that the bombardment of a civilian population is the proper or necessary response to Israel’s police measures in the West Bank, that is fine, but until now your way of thinking has led to nothing but disaster for the Palestinian people. It is in fact the thinking of Hamas.”

      • Richard Falk August 25, 2014 at 5:25 am #

        You’re earlier answer is totally unconvincing, and does not even address the kind
        of racism that was spewed forth in the Knesset, through the media, and among
        anti-Palestinian elements in Israeli society. To repeat pure Israeli propaganda
        is not to participate in constructive dialogue. Sometime you should take a step
        back, even as an experiment, and see how others view Israel’s behavior, including
        more objective and empathetic Israelis. It is a disservice to Israel and to the
        realities of anti-Semitism to call serious criticisms of Israel as nothing more
        than examples of ‘Jew hatred’ to use your language.

      • Fred Skolnik August 25, 2014 at 5:42 am #

        I am being totally sincere when I say that I have no idea what you are talking about. What do expressions of anti-Arab feeling in time of war have to do with a manhunt on the West Bank? People in all countries at war talk about the enemy in these terms – Americans about Germans and Germans about Americans in World War II and Israelis about Arabs and Arabs about Israelis in the Arab-Israel conflict. Do you really not know how Jews have been depicted in the Arab media right from the start of the conflict? You are again applying a double standard to Israel.

        And for your information. in the 18 months before the kidnapping, around 40 kidnapping attempts of this kind were prevented by Israel’s security forces. Just a couple of days ago another Hamas plot was exposed with the full terrorist arsenal – attacks in Israel and even an attempt to overthrow Abu Mazen. It is precisely these wide-ranging dragnets that prevent murderous terrorist attacks. God help us if our security depends on your understanding of the Middle East and the Arab world.

    • Monir August 25, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

      Rabbi Youdovin,
      Why don’t I give you some advise as you are trying to advise Mr Falk. You should address Israel with this questions in this manner long ago as a good human should;
      1- why for 67 years haven’t you -being on the dominance position -worked out a peaceful compromise with the Palestinians- restoring their legitimate rights- being supported by the super power of the USA?

      2- What right under the human and international law have you to dominate ,control, dispossess, ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from their land and homes and occupy them for so long while massacring them repeatedly on many occasions ?
      3- why do you keep instigating fights with the Palestinians knowing that they don’t have the military capabilities nor weapons to fight you on equal grounds, yet you kept massacring thousands of children ,women and men and causing intentional damage to their lively hood and well being. Then totally besieging them from the rest of the world in the most inhumane ways?
      I limited it to three as you did, but I have more just out of equal share.

      I hope you take this advise as a more honorable or at least equally to the one you are trying to advise a conscious human being that happen to be Jewish, but did not let that hamper his sense of justice and empathy . I hope you and many others would learn from him and celebrate your humanity more than other loyalties . Stay well and promote peace for all not just Israel.

  5. Aaron Remer August 24, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    I can’t even begin to peel away at all of Richard’s assertions. He has his followers so let them be entertained. The recent speech of Yair Lapid, an Israeli lefty in the coalition, sums it all up. I will paste below and hopefully wont be redacted by the editor:

    Lapid’s speech below says it all. There is so much to peel away in Richard’s postings that nurture his equally misguided audience. Hopefully the editor wont redact:

    A Fatal Blind Spot For Sheer Evil

    Yair Lapid is Israel’s finance minister and the chairman of the left wing Yesh Atid party.
    The following is the text of a speech delivered Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at Platform 17, Holocaust Memorial Site, Berlin

    The Holocaust causes us all to ask of ourselves the same question: What would I have done?
    What would I have done if I was a Jew in Berlin in 1933, when Hitler rose to power? Would I have run? Would I have sold my house, my business? Removed my children from school in the middle of the year? Or would I have said to myself: it will pass, it is just momentary madness, Hitler says all these things because he is a politician seeking election. Yes, he’s anti-Semitic, but who isn’t? We’ve been through worse than this. It’s better to wait, to keep my head down. It will pass.
    What would I do if I was a German in Berlin on the 18th October 1941, when the first train left this platform, heading East and on it 1,013 Jews – children, women, the elderly — all destined for death.
    I don’t ask what I would have done if I was a Nazi, but what would I have done if I was an honest German man, waiting for his train here? A German citizen the same age I am now, with three children like mine. A man who educated his children on the values of basic human decency and the right to life and respect? Would I have remained silent? Would I have protested? Would I have been one of the few Berliners to join the anti-Nazi underground, or one of the many Berliners who carried on with life and pretended that nothing was happening?
    And what if I was one of the 1,013 Jews on that train? Would I have boarded the train? Would I have smuggled my 18-year-old daughter to the northern forests? Would I have told my two sons to fight until the end? Would I have dropped my suitcase and started to run? Or would I have attacked the guards in the black uniforms and died an honorable, quick death instead of dying slowly of hunger and torture?
    I think I know the answer. I think you do too.
    None of the 1,013 Jews departing for their deaths fought the guards. Not them and not the tens of thousands who followed them from this place. Neither did my grandfather, Bela Lampel, when a German soldier took him from his home late at night on the 18th March 1944. “Bitte,” said his mother — my great-grandmother Hermine — to the German soldier. She slowly got down on her knees and hugged the soldiers boots. “Bitte, don’t forget that you also have a mother.” The soldier didn’t say a word. He didn’t know that from the bed, hiding under the duvet, my father was looking at him. A Jewish boy of 13 who over night became a man.
    Why didn’t they fight? That is the question that haunts me. That is the question that the Jewish people have struggled with since the last train left for Auschwitz. And the answer – the only answer – is that they didn’t believe in the totality of evil.
    They knew, of course, that there were bad people in the world, but they didn’t believe in total evil, organized evil, without mercy or hesitation, cold evil that looked at them but didn’t see them, not even for a moment, as human.
    According to their murderers, they weren’t people. They weren’t mothers or fathers, they weren’t somebody’s children. According to their murderers, they never celebrated the birth of a child, never fell in love, never took their old dog for a walk at two in the morning or laughed until they cried at the latest comedy by Max Ehrlich.
    That’s what you need to kill another man. To be convinced that he isn’t a man at all. When the murderers looked upon the people who departed from this platform on their final journey they didn’t see Jewish parents, only Jews. They weren’t Jewish poets or Jewish musicians, only Jews. They weren’t Herr Braun or Frau Schwartz, only Jews.
    Destruction starts with the destruction of identity. It is no surprise that the first thing done to them, when they arrived at Auschwitz, was to tattoo a number on their arm. It is hard to kill Rebecca Grunwald, a beautiful, fair-haired 18-year-old romantic, but Jew number 7762 A is easy to murder. Yet it remains the same person.
    Seventy-five years later, do we know any more? Do we understand more?
    The Holocaust placed before Israel a dual challenge:
    On the one hand it taught us that we must survive at any price, and be able to defend ourselves at any price. Trainloads of Jews will never again depart from a platform anywhere in the world. The security of the State of Israel and its citizens must forever be in our hands alone. We have friends, and I stand here among friends. The new Germany has proven its friendship to Israel time and again, but we must not, and we cannot, rely on anyone but ourselves.
    On the other hand, the Holocaust taught us that no matter the circumstances we must always remain moral people. Human morality is not judged when everything is ok, it is judged by our ability to see the suffering of the other, even when we have every reason to see only our own.
    The Holocaust cannot be compared, and must not be compared, to any other event in human history. It was, in the words of the author K. Zetnik, a survivor of Auschwitz, “another planet.” We must not compare, but we must always remember what we learned.
    A war like the one we fight today, which looks likely to continue and which the civilized world — whether it wants to or not — will be a part of, causes the two lessons we learned from the Holocaust to stand opposite one another.
    The need to survive teaches us to strike hard to defend ourselves.
    The need to remain moral, even when circumstances are immoral, teaches us to minimize human suffering as much as possible.
    Our moral test is not taking place in a sterile laboratory or upon the philosopher’s page. In the past weeks, the moral test put before us has taken place during intense fighting. Thousands of rockets were fired at our citizens and armed terrorists dug tunnels next to kindergartens with the aim of killing or kidnapping our children.
    Anyone who criticizes us must ask themselves one question: “What would you do if someone came to your child’s school with a gun in their hand and started shooting?”
    Hamas, as opposed to us, wants to kill Jews. Young or old, men or women, soldiers or civilians. They see no difference, because for them we are not people. We are Jews and that is reason enough to murder us.
    Our moral test, even under these circumstances, is to continue to distinguish between enemies and innocents. Every time a child in Gaza dies it breaks my heart. They are not Hamas, they are not the enemy, they are just children.
    Therefore Israel is the first country in military history that informs its enemy in advance where and when it will attack, so as to avoid civilian causalities. Israel is the only country that transfers food and medication to its enemy while the fighting continues. Israel is the only country where pilots abandon their mission because they see civilians on the ground. And despite it all, children die, and children are not supposed to die.
    Here in Europe, and elsewhere in the world, people sit in their comfortable homes, watching the evening news, and tell us that we are failing the test. Why? Because in Gaza people suffer more. They don’t understand — or don’t want to understand — that the suffering of Gaza is the main tool of evil. When we explain to them, time after time, that Hamas uses the children of Gaza as human shields, that Hamas intentionally places them in the firing line, to ensure they die, that Hamas sacrifices the lives of the young to win its propaganda war, people refuse to believe it. Why? Because they cannot believe that human beings — human beings who look like them and sound like them — are capable of behaving that way. Because good people always refuse to recognize the totality of evil until it’s too late.
    Time after time we ask ourselves why people in the world prefer to blame us when the facts so clearly indicate otherwise. Across the world, fanatic Muslims are massacring other Muslims.
    In Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, in Nigeria more children are killed in a week than die in Gaza in a decade. Every week, women are raped, homosexuals are hung and Christians are beheaded. The world watches, offers its polite condemnation, and returns obsessively to condemning Israel for fighting for our lives.
    Some of the criticism stems from anti-Semitism. It has raised its ugly head once more. To those people we say: we will fight you everywhere. The days when Jews ran away from you are over. We will not be silent in the face of anti-Semitism and we expect every government, in every country, to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and fight this evil with us.
    Other critics, perhaps more enlightened in their own eyes, prefer to blame only us for what happens in Gaza because they know we are the only ones who listen. They prefer to focus their anger upon us not in spite of but because we are committed to the same human values which Hamas rejects – compassion for the weak, rationality, protection of gay people, of women’s rights, of the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
    Let us not fool ourselves. Evil is here. It is around us. It seeks to hurt us. Fundamentalist Islam is an ultimate evil, and like the evil which came before it, has learned how to use all our tools against us: Our TV cameras, our international organizations, our commissions of inquiry and our legal system. Just as terror uses rockets and suicide bombers, it uses our inability to accept that someone would sacrifice the children of their people just to get a supportive headline or an eye-catching photograph.
    Standing here, in this place, I want to say clearly that the leaders of Hamas, an anti-western, anti-Semitic terrorist organization, cannot be safe while they continue to target innocent civilians. Just as every European leader would do, just as the United States did with Osama Bin Laden, so we will pursue every leader of Hamas.
    This is the evil which we all face and Israel stands at the front.
    Europe must know, if we will fail to stop them, they will come for you. We must do everything to avoid suffering and the death of innocents but we stand in the right place from which to say to the entire world: We will not board the train again. We will protect ourselves from total evil.

    • Gene Schulman August 24, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      What pure unadulterated horse s–! Ask Mr. Lapid to hold a mirror up to his face where he can see the same attitude toward the Palestinians that he suffered under the Nazis.

    • allwaysamazed August 25, 2014 at 2:51 am #

      Beware selective inattention

    • Monir August 25, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

      Strangely, but surly you and Yair suffer from the same ” Pre “Traumatic Stress syndrome . You sell us words to follow and believe in yet your actions are based in fabricated and manufactured myths by your own ,made realities that you choose to omit many things that incriminate Israel and the Zionists, and many Jews, not all ,but many. In the first part of his speech just replace two names with Palestinians and Israelis in their appropriate places, and you will find them very fitting. What is sad, that his conclusion he and seemingly you totally exonerate the Zionists /Jews and Israel from any wrong doing. From before WWII with the Boycott of Germany and all its shipping and products to financial blockade, till today at least including the repeated massacres of the Palestinians in general and Gaza in particular; 2008/9 ,2012 and 2014 and continue. That is leaving the dispossessing of over 700,000 Palestinians of their homes and land and expelling them with no return, then demolishing their villages and stealing their stone homes for Jews to live in. I don’t think that was an over sight by Mr Yair, nor by you. The deception is out in the open and more honest and honorable Jews are recognizing that they been lied to and the rest of the world does not like those threats that he had to offer. Those who live by the threats I guess they function by them too! Is that how you visualize world peace?

  6. A6er August 24, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  7. Laurie Knightly August 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Kata
    The sequence, history, and ‘legality’ of the injustice in Palestine is too much for this blog but easily available. The UN has no authority to dispose of, alienate, or abrogate the sovereignty of Palestine; it was a recommendation which Israel did not accept – there were conditions that conflicted with the plan to create Eretz Israel. Neither the US nor Israel obey UN Resolutions. Where/when has Israel stated its boundaries? Much of what has been inserted here is from the Hasbara Handbook and not relevant. As to the criticism of Hamas, they need weapons that target, like drones, – and prisons such as in Israel and Guantanamo where thousands of men can be detained indefinitely without charges and tortured privately. Countries like Israel and the US should eagerly place the question of Palestine before the World Court – espousing a system of justice as they do. Except many decent people know better. Don’t give up Richard – you are not alone.

    • Kata Fisher August 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      Dear Laurie,

      You wrote this:

      “Where/when has Israel stated its boundaries? Much of what has been inserted here is from the Hasbara Handbook and not relevant.”

      Can you please explain that. I am not sure what exactly is what you are meaning and questioning.

      This is what I do understand:

      1) Israel has not states its boundaries, as I understand. Not Israel, but other nations have done that for Israel; 2) Hasbara Handbook inserts are irrelevant compared to the Old Testament, in application.

      Is this what you meant — or not?

      Further, I believe that “the sovereignty of Palestine” may become complicate– if, in fact, it was an illegitimate self-realization and self-determinations of a people/ Palsastenians (as former Jordanians) to break off from Jordan, only so that Arabs in the region /Jordanians could play games and tactics to get rid of the Jews in Holy Land.

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

        Laurie Knightly is right. Israel does not have boundaries. It has armistice lines. That’s why real boundaries have to be negotiated, which is what Israel is committed to doing.

      • ray032 August 25, 2014 at 4:54 am #

        Fred, take your head out of the sand. As we can see with this latest murderous bombartment of the civilians of Gaza, Israel has the F-16 jet fighters, Apache helicopter gun ships, tanks and other sophisticated military hardware. They also have the economic power and control over Palestinian lives as evidenced the the slow strangulation of the people of Gaza these last 7 years.

        It’s total BS Israel is committed to Peace. If that was the case, there would be Peace by now after 47 years of Israeli idle talk. Israel wants land.

  8. kathleenow August 24, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    US and Israel expect respect yet they carry out assasinations/executions regularly by drones or when they enter homes in lands they occupy.Hamas has just changed its Charter regarding Israel.
    US and Israel have held many for years in prisons without trial or charges.US has broken Iraq,no apology,no reparations,killing thousands.
    What is Hamas to do when Israel never keeps agreements,ceasefires?
    Almost as soon as Israel steps away from thevtable

    • Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 25, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Dear Kathleenow,

      Would you be good enough to tell us when Hamas changed its Charter regarding Israel, and what the new text says? I haven’t seen this news anywhere else.

      With thanks is advance,

      Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Monir August 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

        Even if Hamas didn’t change its charter, which is words on paper, how about you asking Israel to change its disastrous facts on the grounds for the Palestinians which is written in their blood the blood of their children and the uprooted roots of their Olive trees. I am so amazed of the double standard bias of the Jewish supporters of Israel, denying all traces of their common senses and balance for justice and fairness . When will they know, that its being being Jewish that make people frown, but their double standard when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians ! They even lose their humanity!

      • kathleenow March 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

        The charter like Israel’s archival statements to purge Arabs is historical.Israel continues to purge the Arabs.Hamas has stated and agreed
        with Fatah about parameters of what will be Palestine within 1967 border

        Itvis not Hamas that is stealing from
        another people bit

  9. David Singer August 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    Professor Falk

    The three questions you pose to Hamas are extremely pertinent and relevant – covering areas that I and others have raised and discussed on this web page with you on many occasions

    I am pleasantly surprised that you now think it appropriate to ask these questions of Hamas.

    You must assuredly have the contacts to get an official spokesman of Hamas to provide answers to your questions.

    Let those answers be posted to this page as soon as possible.
    Let those answers be published on this page – without delay.

  10. Clif Brown August 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Why did Indians make war on the United States? In their case the outcome was inevitable defeat yet they attacked settlers, used their bows and arrows and hatchets and any more modern weapon they could obtain. Any such violence was, of course, ammunition for white Americans back east to talk of barbarism, terror and how animal-like Indians were. There were plenty of Anglo-Americans who could write at length (in the manner we find in the comments here) of how the Indians were entirely at fault and deserving of what they received, that is, nothing, and that there was nothing for it but to eliminate them and take the land (some Israelis are calling for the re-taking of Gaza).

    HAMAS, like the Indians who resisted, vows never to submit to the colonizer. It mounts attacks that fail almost entirely to reach the enemy and, like the Indians, is overmatched by technology, money and a bottomless source of supply from the United States.

    Israel finds HAMAS intolerable, not because it poses any military threat, particularly now with Iron Dome in place, but because it is adamantly defiant, even as it is more isolated than ever. It calls Israel out in stark contrast to the way Israel wants itself to be seen. Netanyahu rages at HAMAS all out of proportion to the thing it is, and in that way, is seen as commendable by many Palestinians, if only for that. HAMAS is the child on the playground who dares to slap the bully and call him a bully, though the child’s face is bloody and beaten.

    Zionism was driven by a desire for the Jew to be muscular and proud, defiant and aggressive, taking no guff from anyone and dishing out whatever was needed. HAMAS should be no mystery to Israelis.

    • Clif Brown August 24, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

      oops, have that sentence read “Netanyahu rages at HAMAS all out of proportion to the thing it is, and in that way, HAMAS is seen as commendable by many Palestinians…”

      • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

        But, Cliff, it is the Arabs who are the colonizers. They came out of the desert in the 7th century and conquered the Middle East, North Africa and large parts of Spain in an orgy of rape, massacre and forced conversions. Remember? Among the people they found in the Middle East were the Jews as well as other “Indians.” The Jewish Indians were also willing to live on one tiny reservation, called the Land of Israel, but even that was too much for the Arabs. That’s your problem, Cliff.

    • Monir August 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

      You are right, its the same mentality of the white man over the Others “savages”! while they are the ones who invade those “Savages” in their own lands and they call them savages when they resist the murder and theft of their land and their lively hood, the white man did it to the American indians, the English man did to the Asian Indians, and Israel Zionist whites of Europe did it to the Palestinians, and more in Africa and such,as they see them as sub humans and don’t deserve what they have. That is pure racism and blatant aggression . It must be a disease that they suffer from?. Israelis Eshkinazis even discriminate against other Jews, just because they are not white like them and they come from the East, Spharadeem ,or now even the dark skinned Africans/Ethiopians. They are all in denial that they are the aggressors and the Savages, and they are just projecting when the Israelis call the Palestinians Terrorist! I think its getting exposed and the world will wake up to their deeds.

  11. Moji Agha August 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Dear Prof. Falk,

    Greetings in deep respect. Along with Prof. Noam Chomsky, you are one of the earliest endorsers of the Mossadegh Legacy Institute (which I initiated in late 2012 — http://mossadeghlegacyinstitute.blogspot.com/), so you know the depth of my commitment to nonviolence, in part symbolized by the “Circles of American Nonviolence” initiative.
    In thinking about the 3 critical questions that you have suggested (wisely) should be considered by Hamas, I cannot avoid seeing profound parallels to the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
    Do you think this comparison can usefully inform the debate about these 3 “resistance” related questions?
    Peace,
    Moji Agha

    • Fred Skolnik August 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

      Your analogy is false. The Jews did not invade, attack or vow to destroy Germany. The Arabs invaded, attacked and vowed to destroy Israel. The Jews also did not fire rockets at Germany’s civilian population, or blow up German women and children in busses and restaurants. Do you understand the difference? The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto fought against the German army. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose sole aim in to murder Israeli civilians.

      • ray032 August 25, 2014 at 4:44 am #

        The Jews are blowing up women and children in Gaza. Detentions without trial, no civil or legal rights in the Israeli Military Dictatorship controlling the West Bank. These are not the kind of actions that will cause the vanquished Palestinians to love Jews. That’s fundamental!

        I’ve seen too many videos released by the IDF boasting about their precise, pinpoint accuracy in assassinating Hamas members on the crowed streets of Gaza. The massive 1000 pound bombs Israel dropped to destroy Gaza civilian and their homes were deliberate “ethnic cleansing” and all the pious denials by Israel is PR.

        IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing

        Israel was negotiating via a back channel with the very same Jabari on a long term Truce. The final draft of an agreement was delivered to Jabari and he was about to agree, when just hours later, Israel assassinated him. Then, in legitimate retaliation, Hamas started to fire rockets into Israel again. Israel started the 2012 war against the Israeli controlled Gaza ghetto. Israel also broke the effective truce that starting the War in 2008.

        When the Patriarchs of the original tribes of Israel saw the “Promised Land” for the 1st time 3800 years ago, the Jewish scriptures show them as being lying deceivers, murderers and thieves. That trait seems to be lingering these days.

      • Fred Skolnik August 25, 2014 at 5:30 am #

        Prof. Falk

        Do you also find the following “constructive”? And where is your “language of incitement” now?

        “When the Patriarchs of the original tribes of Israel saw the “Promised Land” for the 1st time 3800 years ago, the Jewish scriptures show them as being lying deceivers, murderers and thieves. That trait seems to be lingering these days.”

        This kind of thing should be labeled for what it is. It is an out and out expression of Jew hatred. It should be condemned and the creature behind it should be exposed. You are, I hope, aware of his past history.

      • ray032 August 25, 2014 at 6:32 am #

        Fred, how can this be called Jew hatred when it comes from Genesis in the Jewish Torah? I confess I’m paraphrasing, but I know the meaning of words and the images behind them. It’s just calling a spade a spade! I’m almost sure you wouldn’t look it up in Genesis 34, so thank God for copy and paste.

        And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.
        And make marriages with us, and give your daughters to us, and take our daughters unto you.

        And you shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade therein, and get you possessions therein.

        And Shechem said to her father and to her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what you shall say unto me I will give.
        Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as you shall say to me: but give me the damsel to wife.

        And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father DECEITFULLY, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:
        And they said to them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:
        But in this will we consent to you: If you will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;
        Then will we give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
        But if you will not hearken to us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

        And their words PLEASED Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.
        And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.
        And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,
        These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
        Only herein will the men consent to us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.
        Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.
        And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

        And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
        And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.
        The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
        They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,
        And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

        And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, You have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

        Stripping away all the illusions, delusions, romanticism and myth, in other words, the Patriarchs were lying thieves and murderers. They sold their own brother into slavery

      • Fred Skolnik August 25, 2014 at 6:50 am #

        And do you talk this way about the Greek character and the Greek-Turkish conflict in Cyprus after reading about how the Greeks slaughtered the Trojans in the Iliad? You’re a hypocrite and a fraud.

      • Kata Fisher August 25, 2014 at 8:19 am #

        Dear Fred,

        What Ray is saying is that Patriarchs were under the “law of the sin,” specifically. This is Scripturally valid; it is not Jew hatred.

        The “law of the sin” is not stamped out in the human race (Jews and Non-Jews), nor will it ever be.

        Hebrew tribes were under the Law and while under the Law they were also under the “law of the sin.” Meaning, if they departed from the Law — they automatically were under warning and judgment of God.

        So, it made no difference, except by believing in God and doing the will of God under the Law (just as Abraham did, prior to the Law given).

        Departing from friendship with God and law of the conscience, due to the “law of the sin,” specifically, caused human race to be given over to all they wanted fully by sin and evil nature.

        There is no Grace of God for the “law of sin.” There is Grace of God for the “law of sin” in one exception: the instance when the law of the sin is, in fact, is no longer the Law of the sin” but “the stronghold of the sin” due to the “works of Baal” that trips one under the “law of sin” / curse and stronghold of it. The judgment of God does not apply, and Grace instead when one is tripped by the “”works of Baal.” One has to do the “law of the sin” in their own will-power in order for condemnation and the judgment of God.

        I can go on and write Systematic OT/NT Theology on that — and explain it even to the detail, but I have better things to do.

        A note:

        Fred, you should be more grateful and graceful and not always accuse of Jew hatred those who are next to you, and call for condemnation of it when you are far from the substance to the accusations that you make. It is difficult to judge any man that is spiritual — one who can and may have ability to judge all things.

        Meaning, if you are not Church-Charismatic mature and in appropriate gifts of God’s Spirit — you will be in a shortfall to your accusations of the Church members.
        Meaning, it is in power of God that Church will do that for you, and with accuracy– there is no need for you to go about it.

        Receive this as a kind note, instead of correction in any type.

        I hope that this is helpful.

      • Monir August 25, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

        And also the Jewish Sh…t does not smell, don’t you understand that? They are the chosen people for a reason and all the evil deeds or crimes they commit is for the good of humanity. When is this going to be clear to you, when we dispossess and kill all the Palestinians? Or we need to do that to Iran too, that has not initiated any aggression toward any country for the last hundred years, not like Israel who done many wars, including few massacres killing thousands of innocent Palestinians just in the last six years for the good of the world?

    • Richard Falk August 24, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      Thanks for your message, Moji Agha, and your work to promote the Mossadegh Legacy and nonviolence!

      Yes, I think the comparison is historically important particularly to help Israelis and Jews to grasp
      the reality that Palestinians, especially those encaged within Gaza, have experienced for many years. It
      also should remind the liberal West of their failures to act against Naziism sooner and to have been more
      forthcoming against those Jews seeking refuge in their countries. As the world has watched while the carnage
      in Gaza has persisted this month, the analogy should act as a reminder to all with any relevant historical consciousness.
      As with all analogies, it is important to grasp differences as well as similarities.

      • Fred Skolnik August 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

        We are still waiting to hear from you, Prof. Falk, with reference to your principle “that this website should not become a venue for the exchange of personal insults and expressions of ethnic and
        religious hatred, and even intense hostility.” I will ask you again what you make of the following:

        “When the Patriarchs of the original tribes of Israel saw the “Promised Land” for the 1st time 3800 years ago, the Jewish scriptures show them as being lying deceivers, murderers and thieves. That trait seems to be lingering these days.”

        And this as a bonus:

        “Stripping away all the illusions, delusions, romanticism and myth, in other words, the Patriarchs were lying thieves and murderers.”

        I’m sure there are people who can do a lot better on Christ and Muhammad and Christians and Muslims. Do you want to bring them into the discussion too?

      • Kata Fisher August 25, 2014 at 9:55 am #

        Fred,

        Scripture is indicating that tribes of Jacob did practice the law of the sin before the Law was given and while the Law was given. Even God regretted and wanted to destroy them on the way to the Promised Land due to law of the sin that they practiced and have continuously departed from Abrahamic promises of Faith.

        You are attributing “personal insults and expressions of ethnic and
        religious hatred and even intense hostility” in a non-existing substance for a valid accusation.

        Your (and not only yours) perception needs to be balanced out by the Scripture, but I will refuse to do that, in detail.

        It is impossible to do anything for Christ or Muhamed if is not done for God, fist and foremost.So in reality — you do nothing for Christ and Muhamed if you do not do what God said is to be done.

        However, I am sure that someone will be moved to teach from Holy Quran or Gospel, as well as from Old Testament.

        Let’s look and see what is ought and ought not to be done.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 25, 2014 at 11:05 am #

        Here we go again with Israelis=Nazis. The conversation grows tedious.

        I won’t get involved for the umpteenth time in explaining why Gaza is not analogous to the Warsaw Ghetto. Anybody who hasn’t as yet made up his/her mind is welcome to Google the on-going debate.

        I will say that drawing analogies invariably ignites a debate that is unhelpful to the Palestinians. Conditions in Gaza are sufficiently horrible to be discussed for what they are. Attempts to draw analogies for propaganda purposes may rile up some people, but they tend to proceed on their own and thus draw attention from the actual situation.

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Kata Fisher August 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

        Dear Rabbi,

        Israelis are not Nazi – but there is a manifestation of that Nazi-spirit is in Israel and Holy Land. Meaning, not all Israelis are in that spirit.

        Specifically, this spirit is common to all religions and it is not of the Faith-valid, and it manifests only in these who are in irrevocable sins – they are just hyper in that spirit– or strong held by that spirit in their will-power, and sometimes one can outside their will-power be defiled by that spirit by bad ministry in that spirit.

        I was strong held by that spirit in the form of oppression, and it was never part of me—still, I had to put continuously up with that spirit. I experienced similar weariness that Jews under Nazi regime did in the camps. It was humiliating. Although, not in all of the same strength and man-imposed; it was the spirit that was coming against me in the form of spiritual attack.

        I was just exhausted by it, and it is a very awful church that trips you by that spirit, without question.

        My friend Renee explains the manifestation of that spirit as this: “In the Church it does whatever it wants, and no one can do anything about it.” Then she told me specifically what taking place was; it was unrepentant Church, so she left it.

        This was not girl that came to my house here in US, and has performed black ministry toward me, after so many years that I knew her while in Germany. However, she was Colorado native, and we were in US.

        While we were in Germany, and my entire Family was around me – she never mentioned any ministry of the Church-charismatic in any shape or form. Back then, she was Charismatic, as well, but not on her legit territory—legally, she could not touch me as immature Christian by that spirit.

        However, I am in complete forgiveness toward that girl, and this is why: when she was about 12 year-old-kid, a woman ministered to her, and outside of the Church oversight, and that woman was from the line of Kenneth Copeland ministry/ anointing- a counterfeit church and ministry in other spirit/s.

        My friend Rene has a specific name for women that are busybodies in that spirit, and I agree with her.The pattern of works that are manifest in those people are just not of God, and it is of Baal instead.

        Regardless what you tell them they cant respond to their conscience and submit so to bear the impression of the moral law or Spirit of God.

        It is really difficult to get rid of that spirit, and only legal strongholds of God and God’s Spirit can annul and stronghold it by the Church Order and/or the Laws appointed. Meaning, in natural there, must be Laws that are appointed to a strong hold that multilevels of powers of a principality.

        I hope this is helpful way to look at this issues with that spirit.

        I myself really do not like to go about this, but I feel obligated by Spirit.

      • Moji Agha August 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

        Thank you Prof. Falk. As for Rabbi Ira Youdovin’s remarks, I remind him (not that I have much hope of his conscience hearing the message) of what Rabbi Michael Lerner said recently: “My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis…Israeli behavior toward Palestinians is destroying Judaism…I’m…mourning also for a Judaism being murdered by Israel.” http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/mourning-for-a-judaism-being-murdered-by-israel

      • Richard Falk August 31, 2014 at 1:21 am #

        Dear Moji Agha: I do not go as far as Rabbi Michael Lerner, who is a friend, but I share his basic sentiments. My views are less Judeo-centric than his,
        and more in line with a kind of species humanism that I am seeking to understand better myself. Israel’s behavior
        is daily raising the risks you mention, but we must not remove our gaze from the tragic victimization of Palestinians, especially those encaged in Gaza.

        with greetings,

        RF

  12. darangenwomentoday August 25, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    Reblogged this on Darangen Women Today.

  13. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 25, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Richard,

    I’m confused, but sadly not surprised, by this comment. Confused, because I thought your purpose in posting “Three Questions for Hamas was to urge Hamas to address an image problem. As you frequently accuse me of misconstruing your words, this is what you wrote:

    “And yet Hamas also has some explaining to do if it wishes to be more widely accepted throughout the world as entitled to full respect as a legitimate political actor. This respect is crucial in the ongoing politics of enabling Hamas to play a major role in representing the national movement of the Palestinian people in all diplomatic settings.”

    I thought, and continue to think that presenting three softball questions immersed in a sea of anti-Israel vitriol won’t help achieve this objective. Much of the world—not just Israel and the United States—see Hamas as a dangerous terrorist organization. You, yourself, wrote a long post denouncing the Arab world for abandoning (you said “betraying”) Hamas. Pointing an angry finger won’t help. Straight answers to straight questions might, especially if Hamas actually believes the things you say it does.

    You ripped my post completely out of context, casting it as criticism of Hamas that should be directed at Israel. I say I’m confused but not surprised. For that’s the way you and the Blog Faithful address everything. Israel is guilty, full stop! The Palestinians are innocent victims, full stop. There are no grey areas. No nuances. No introspection. No self-evaluation. Yes, dissenting opinion is posted. But it’s immediately attacked, and most often, so, too, are its authors who are subjected to ugly verbal abuse, despite your oft-repeated and asymmetrically enforced standards of civility. The Blog functions much like a rigidly orthodox religious sect. Anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism and a little too much anti-Semitism are regarded as Holy Writ. Those who disagree are not merely wrong. We are heretics and should be treated as such.

    My concern is not for Israel and the Jewish People. We’ll survive this blog. We’ve survived worse. My concern is for the Palestinian People. They’ll survive, as well. In time, hopefully they’ll thrive. But you will not have contributed to their achievement. Your adherence to a totally one-sided doctrine has marginalized you. Count the number of people who can be called the Blog Faithful and you get some idea of what I mean. You’re talking to one another but nobody else is listening.

    Personally, I consider this to be a tragedy. Most, perhaps all of you are genuinely concerned about the Palestinians’ plight and want to help them. But you’re on the wrong track. Reconciliation requires that both sides look deeply and honestly into themselves, and, at the same time, put themselves into the other person’s shoes. Israelis and their supporters need to do that. But also the Palestinians and their supporters. Pointing fingers at Israel and endless debates over what the Balfour Declaration really said help not at all. It only widens the gap, hardens positions and impedes reconciliation. That’s the last thing the Palestinians need/

    Ira

    • Richard Falk August 25, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Ira:

      As I am in the midst of a conference in Spain I can only briefly respond:
      –I find it beyond understanding that you describe the issues I raise as “three softball questions”; they pose difficult and fundamental challenges
      directed at the ethics and politics of Hamas;
      –when you place the burden on Hamas to explain why it did not accept the Egyptian brokered ceasefire, and do not even consider the blockade that Israel
      has imposed or the failure over the years by Israel to respond to any of the Hamas diplomatic initiatives and overtures by the their leaders, it gives the
      impression that only Hamas has explaining to do in relation to the present impasse, and that is a position I cannot accept;
      –when you refer to those who do not share your views on either Israel and Palestine by the derisive language of ‘the blog faithful’ you are implying that
      there is some kind of unthinking set of attitude on the part of those of us who believe that Israel is primarily responsible for the failure to find a solution
      for the conflict;
      –finally, the Gulf geopolitics are complex, and preoccupied with destroying threats to their own stability arising from political Islam, and hence have turned
      against the Palestinian and Hamas.

      Richard

    • Moji Agha August 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      lk. As for Rabbi Ira Youdovin’s remarks, I remind him (not that I have much hope of his conscience hearing the message) of what Rabbi Michael Lerner said recently: “My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis…Israeli behavior toward Palestinians is destroying Judaism…I’m…mourning also for a Judaism being murdered by Israel.” http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/mourning-for-a-judaism-being-murdered-by-israel

  14. ray032 August 25, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    ‘Israeli peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce’

    Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit, says Israel made a mistake that will cost the lives of ‘innocent people on both sides.’

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-peace-activist-hamas-leader-jabari-killed-amid-talks-on-long-term-truce.premium-1.478085

    • Ken Kelso August 25, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184410#.U_uCvp3D-M8
      IDF Reveals the Gaza That the UN is Hiding
      By Ari Yashar
      8/25/25

      UN maps show damaged buildings in Gaza – but that’s only half the picture, as IDF exposes in an informative new video.

      An informative new video posted to YouTube on Monday by the IDF shows how the damage in Gaza reported by the UN is only giving half of the picture, and skewing the facts on the ground.

      In the video maps published by the UN showing Gaza buildings damaged in Operation Protective Edge are represented by red dots. However, the video goes on to clarify how these buildings – which include private homes, hospitals and schools – are being used to launch rockets and attacks from terror tunnels.

      The video corroborates an IDF report which was declassified last Tuesday, and which details how Hamas embeds itself in the civilian infrastructure of Gaza to launch terror attacks on Israel.

      According to the report, during the course of its recent terror war on Israel, Hamas has fired over 1,600 rockets from civilian sites, cynically using UN facilities, schools, graveyards, mosques and power plants, among others.

      Numerous IDF soldiers have reported on the rampant use of human shields and its damaging effect on the army’s operational ability. The commander of the IAF special reconnaissance Flying Camel Squadron likewise said recently that aborting airstrikes due to Hamas’s tactics of embedding among civilians “sabotages” the operation.

      In context of the difficulties posed by Hamas’s warfare, Barak Seener, an Associate fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, told Arutz Sheva on Monday that Israel is “choosing not to win” in Gaza.

      According to the British expert, Israel should have gone in harder and quicker, should reclassify human shields as enemy combatants and stop aborting airstrikes, noting Israel “should not subject itself to norms and procedures that no military of any western liberal democracy would ever consider.”

    • Ken Kelso August 25, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      Richard Falk, what are you talking about.
      Did you ever hear of the Barak and Olmert offer.
      Only when the Palestinians and realize that Israel is not going to be an Arab state will their will be peace.

      http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-leader-vows-never-recognize-israel-140726192.html
      Hamas leader vows never to recognize Israel
      Dec 8, 2012

      GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, making his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, vowed on Saturday never to recognize Israel and said his Islamist group would never abandon its claim to all Israeli territory.

    • Kata Fisher August 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Kelso: you need to stop, and sincerely in that way to stop. There is much more to worry about while you are mis-portraying. Your goals?

  15. kathleenow August 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Very recent.Guess you missed it.Israel leaders including current one and original leaders all have said and made sure Palestinians will never have state.Hamas has accepted 1967 borders.
    Hamas has kept ceasefire agreements.
    They resume resistance when Israel kills their people.If you want to claim Hamas terrorists rather than
    resistance under occupation;Israel fits terrorist description far beyond Hamas
    And Israel refuses ongoing to accept Palestinians right to exist free in its own Home

    • Kata Fisher August 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      @ kathleenow

      You are mixing things up about this:

      “…Israel fits terrorist description far beyond Hamas
      And Israel refuses ongoing to accept Palestinians right to exist free in its own Home…”

      Can you please explain this, without mixing things up? I would appreciate that.
      Israel has no borders, only armistice lines. 1967 borders are not legit borders/landmark to recognize for Israel; it is armistice line, instead.

      I believe this is accurate claim that I make based on the previous discussion about those issues.

      In addition to that Jews as the people of Faith have a legitimate right to exist in Holy Land under Spiritual Authority of Old Testament and not Holy Quarn, and that under divine provisions of Old Testament that never expire, and Israel as a Kingdom.

      Palestinians are former Jordanian — they were a part of Islamic rule/kingdom. This rule is not applicable in Holy Land under Old Testament Laws and provisions of Old Testament. With that,not co-existing with Jews will be impossible for Islamic people who would to claim Holy Land under Islamic rule. It is under International Law and Old Testament/Judaism.
      Nation of Jews has its home regardless if under Judaism or Islam. They have to work out their differences and Spiritual Authority in Holy Land.
      This, however, is not done by lay-people.

  16. rehmat1 August 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Dr. Falk, You may not know British Jewish writer and blogger Paul Eisen. He has commented on your three questions to Hamas, which I agree 101%.

    First, in my view, it’s fine that Hamas don’t seem to much care if they’re accepted as ‘a legitimate political actor’, so long as they’re accepted as ‘a legitimate political resistor’.

    Second, much of Hamas’ resistance lies precisely in their abandonment of strategy. Who cares ‘if-we-do-this-will-they-do-that’, whatever the Palestinians do the Israelis will try to eliminate them.

    And who cares about the tone of their Charter? The Hamas Charter is about resistance, so what does it matter what the Israelis and the rest of the grovelling world think? And by the way, if Hamas uses the J-word for those slaughtering their children, then that’s just about right. And if Hamas calls for the elimination of the Israeli state (not the people), that’s fine by me.

    And as far as the recent summary execution of collaborators which Falk finds so objectionable – well, my understanding is that the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto did much the same. Would Falk like to condemn that as well?

    I’m afraid Richard Falk has fallen into the trap of so many of those Jewish sages to whom the Palestinian people are so indebted. He presides over the discourse, allocating moral brownie-points to all and sundry – but fails to see who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.

    I may add to Paul Eisen’s comments by saying: “Hamas is the most moral terrorist group.

    http://rehmat1.com/2014/08/01/hamas-the-moral-terrorist-group/

  17. rehmat1 August 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    @ Aaron Remer – Do you remember your racist finance minister’s Passover prayer? He posted on his Facebook page, asking his Talmudic G-d to make Palestinians disappear from the Holy Land.

    “I know You cannot remove this burden. But couldn’t You just role it to the side a bit? This (Palestinian) boulder is a heavy burden on our hearts. They say no one can stop a terrorist. But You can – and we need You in so many situations like that, where we have no other solution,” wrote Lapid as reported by Arutz Sheva newspaper on April 14, 2014.

    Now, tell me, is Hamas not right in refusing to trust such evildoers?

    http://rehmat1.com/2014/04/15/passover-prayer-a-palestine-without-palestinian/

  18. david singer August 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Professor Falk

    Have you managed to put your three questions to Hamas yet?

    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri should be able to answer them for you.

    You must have some contacts with Hamas or the PLO to get these very important questions to Zuhri and answered by him.

    Might I respectfully suggest you spend your time making contact with Zuhri rather than being sidetracked by and answering the irrelevant posts that are being regularly posted here that have nothing to so with the very serious and highly relevant questions to Hamas posed by you.

  19. Fred Skolnik August 26, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Dear Monir

    Since you ask specific questions, I will try to answer them.

    1- why for 67 years haven’t you -being on the dominance position -worked out a peaceful compromise with the Palestinians- restoring their legitimate rights- being supported by the super power of the USA?

    First, because the Arabs refused to talk to us, saying explicitly in Khartoum: no peace, no negotiations, no recognition. Had Hussein been willing to talk to us, he would have gotten everything back within a month, except for the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem with the Wailing Wall and maybe Gush Etzion. After Oslo, because the Palestinians turned down two reasonable offers from Barak and Olmert which would have involved a land swap among other things. Under Abu Mazen, because he isn’t strong enough to declare an end to the conflict with both sides relinquishing all future claims. Obviously Netanyahu isn’t too eager either to make peace with a weak Arab leader when Hamas is waiting in the wings. The contours of an agreement are understood by everyone so I won’t repeat them.

    2- What right under the human and international law have you to dominate ,control, dispossess, ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from their land and homes and occupy them for so long while massacring them repeatedly on many occasions ?

    Israel had every right to occupy Arab land after the Six-Day War. You start a war, you lose a war, you get your land occupied. No one dispossessed them, if you are referring to the settlements, since they were all built on public land; and certainly no one massacred them if you are talking about Gaza. Hamas turned Gaza’s hospitals, clinics, schools, playgrounds, mosques, private homes and apartment buildings into part of a war zone and is responsible for the inevitable civilian casualties.

    3- why do you keep instigating fights with the Palestinians knowing that they don’t have the military capabilities nor weapons to fight you on equal grounds, yet you kept massacring thousands of children ,women and men and causing intentional damage to their lively hood and well being. Then totally besieging them from the rest of the world in the most inhumane ways?

    Israel doesn’t instigate fights. The terrorist organizations do.

    I’ll be happy to answer any other questions you have but I’m not going to get into screaming match with you.

  20. Oldguyincolorado August 26, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    I was almost fooled for a second by this article. I thought that “finally” the Prof did notice the shifting sands under the clay feet of Hamas; that there might be some sense of fairness and balance in his analysis. No, it was just a feinting move to show some veracity before going back to the same “old stuff”: Deflecting the honest criticism he recognizes might be getting through his nonsense; criticism being validated by others. Just more ex nihilo nihilfit. But he now has “something” to show others when they ask (as I have)…”have you ever written anything against Hamas?”. Of course the clarifying responses by the Rebbe and others will not appear so the illusion can become the “reality ???”.

  21. Kata Fisher August 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Monir:

    I started to have terrible brainstorming about things that you wrote.

    I have a reflection:

    Palestinians (who are former Jordanians) are not the first and the last that have and have had legitimate inheritance in Holy Land.

    World-wide Jewish-exiles are coming back, along with the world-wide Jews. The more the merrier.

    Palestinians /Arabs are too selfish if they will to have a state and/or entire Holy Land to themselves. (The blame can go both ways).

    Israeli state (as in bad condition as it is ) is still grafting in all three of the Faiths, and other Jewish-exiles, as well. Arabs are kicking out other faiths and/or are forcing conversions– this is a fact.

    With that, it is not just about that what you said: “And also the Jewish Sh…t does not smell, don’t you understand that?” It is more about exiles-Jewish “Sh…t does not smell, don’t you understand that?”

    Exiles-Jew that are populating Holy Land from all over, and Israeli-Jews are the one who will have to put up with all of that. Am I wrong? Well, I am not.

    God is in power to judge Jews Israeli and Muslim Palestinians in marvels ways because there were manipulations to the Holy Land while His Plan is to have world-wide Jewish-exiles coming back to their Homeland.

    Here — you will find and read this about “religious equality in Holy Land”:

    https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/whose-two-state-solution-end-game-or-intermission/#comments

    Likewise you said, “Even if Hamas didn’t change its charter, which is words on paper, how about you asking Israel to change its disastrous facts on the grounds for the Palestinians which is written in their blood the blood of their children and the uprooted roots of their Olive trees.”

    Words matter, and what Charter is saying matters, too. It does have an effect in spirit-realm and legal binding of it, yes with the legal power that is destruction all over. You do not understand. Why is blood and uprooted trees in Holy Land? Yes, tell me that. I can tell you why, and you will say this: “No, it is not.”

    It is just like this: Arabs, give the territory of the Holy Land Back. The Holy Land is under Spiritual authority of Old Testament.

    Everything reveals the wrath of God. Moreover, you will say, “What God, and what wrath?” I say, “God of King David.” Also, you will say, “there is no such God?”

    Oh, yes, there is, and generational sins may as well be upon us, I say? I do not need to say that…

    I am Church Charismatic, and generational sins are not applicable to me…I believe.

  22. Laurie Knightly August 28, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Recently, Jewish Voice For Peace posed 10 questions for PM Netanyahu. They would correspond well with Prof Falk’s 3 questions for Hamas. This type of inquiry, without rational answers or even unanswered, still has value. There are statements in the questions.

  23. Zak August 30, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    I don’t pretend to speak for Hamas or Palestinians, but there are straightforward answers to your questions. I must qualify approaching this topic by first stating unequivocally that Hamas is not required to answer these questions to gain political legitimacy. This is not demanded of any other political actor in the world. What is asked of them is adherence to domestic laws and domestic support (through elections, referendums, legislation or executive decisions). Adherence to codified international standards is inconsistent and usually not required to be treated as a legitimate political actor. Hamas meets these domestic standards quite clearly.

    But, you have previously said that you raise issues like these more as suggestions of a tactical nature rather than demands, so I would like to stress that point to preempt any criticims that you are telling a national liberation movement what to do. You clearly are not.

    The first question of rockets is about domestic legitimacy, leverage in negotiations and a legitimate act of self defense from the perspective of an occupied, besieged and protected population. From all credible accounts (Hamas or other Palestinian groups) armed struggle is part of a path that differentiates them from the Vichy-style regime in Ramallah (corruption as well, but that is connected). As the Fatah/PLO/PA administration has been correctly seen as a corrupt collaborator who has taken on the role of domestic enforcer for the occupation regime, Hamas and other armed groups have gained legitimacy because of their insistence on continued struggle for legally recognized rights and resistance to occupation and continued attacks.

    Just today, I came across the description of a student who visited Jerusalem during the latest attack. He recounts that “On the Palestinian side, each rocket that falls on Israel is a deliverance. I was in the old city of Jerusalem when three rockets hit the western and Israeli part of town. I will forever remember the clamor that spurred from the Arab crowd at this instant. Even the most moderate kept repeating that the rockets have become the only way to make the voice of Palestinians heard, facing an inflexible Israel and a passive international community.”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/29/a-rubber-bullet-to-the-head/

    If we look at the relevant laws, the right to self determination is enshrined in the UN Charter (Article 1). There is also a requirement that all member states aid in this struggle, in accordance with the principles of the Charter (Article 2). Whether armed force can be used in the course of this struggle is up for debate, legally speaking. The UN General Assembly has confirmed the legitimacy of armed struggle by national liberation movements, though this is not binding on member states, and there is no international judicial ruling on this (that I’m aware of). The idea that Israel can negotiate this issue – borders and sovereignty – in return for peace with an occupied population, is neither consistent with anything in the Charter, any international judicial ruling or other item that may be considered equal (in terms of jurisdiction).

    The next legal position we can look at is the Geneva Conventions, which are interpreted by all major human rights regimes to outlaw the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons, and on that basis have called the use of rockets by Palestinians war crimes. There are problems with this interpretation though. Israeli military officials and negotiators have conceded that Hamas can indeed aim these weapons somewhat accurately, and does so regularly. In situations where Hamas needs to demonstrate to the domestic population that it is resisting but is in fact not looking for any Israeli casualties, they aim rockets at empty fields and spaces, and are largely successful at this (Gershon Baskin, one of Israel’s main Hamas negotiators, speaks about this). This lends serious doubt to the inherent indiscriminate nature of these weapons, as described by the human rights regimes.

    There is also the hypocrisy of the approach to Palestinian resistance and Israeli attacks. The rights regimes all maintain that many of the weapons used by the Israelis against Palestinians are used in a context where high civilian casualties are expected (in densely populated areas, for example) but the actual act of attacking is not usually described as a war crime. This ignores the Geneva Conventions that they themselves cite, which define Palestinians as “protected persons” under occupation law. Nowhere in the Geneva Convention governing occupations have I seen authorization for military actions against occupied populations.

    I’ve seen allowances for security measures and policing action like investigations, curfews, detentions, etc., with a heavy focus on due process, I must add. But not wholesale bombing, airstrikes, assassinations or shelling though. And I’m not talking about the crimes that are focused on by the rights regimes – chemical and banned weapons, targeting civilians, social infrastructure, livestock, using economics and utilities as weapons, mass kidnappings/disappearances, torture of minors, etc. I’m talking about the act of attacking an occupied population, no matter whether the customary rules of are followed or not. It is suspect for those interpreting the law to speak about war crimes, but not the war as a crime itself, when citing a document, a legal treaty that defines the Palestinian population as “protected persons”.

    Now, of course I’m no expert and I may be incorrect, but I have seen legal scholars and lawyers make this point, as well as looking for it myself. In any case, whether any “security” concerns the Israelis cite for their behaviour towards protected persons or not, that security can be secured immediately by withdrawing to their legally recognized borders. In terms of how self defense is described in international law, the most important being the UN Charter, violence is not permissible when peaceful options are available. And violence is only acceptable when “an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”. Given that the Security Council has taken measures and had resolutions in place to “maintain international peace and security” – the withdrawal of Israel to the pre-June 1967 borders, it’s pretty clear Israel violence is not compatible with international law. In the case of Israel-Palestine, because Palestine is not a member state, I guess the argument could be made that the rules don’t apply – to Palestine. They most certainly do apply to Israel, as a condition of continued membership in the UN.

    In the case of Palestine being granted observer status, there me be requirements that go along with that privilege, but the bottom line is, focus cannot be on Palestinian actions. Especially when the context of an almost 50 year illegal occupation is considered. It is irrelevant whether this “provide[s] Israel with an argument”. The argument is inconsistent with international law, and is not a “credible recourse”, as recognized by governments and populations around the world (80-something cities was my last count, of locations where protests took place during this latest massacre). The focus should be on Israeli crimes until the occupation is terminated and Palestine is a sovereign entity. I don’t mean legal focus, the law should be applied equally and consistently, but in terms of demands outside the law.

    The strategic aspect of using the rockets is not a matter of law, but of military or guerrilla tactics. Your question should be to the US and UN about how they can be taken seriously when they provide cover and material support for Israeli crimes while demanding demilitarization or a cessation of armed resistance to occupation. You have posed this question many times, so I won’t pretend there is any hypocrisy here, but I just don’t think this is a legitimate question that Hamas or Palestinians must answer in order to gain political legitimacy.

    There are other options, namely legal avenues. Non violence has been tried and so has political action. Non violence is met with tear gas, beatings, disappearances and live ammunition, like the first 3 days of the second Intifada, when Israel boasted about expending a million bullets into crowds of peaceful demonstrators. When the PLO held elections and ousted the minority rejectionist factions from the leadership (1977 Executive Committee elections), they were bombed out of Beirut – the need to foil yet another “peace offensive” being of the utmost importance, as described by Israeli analyst Avner Yaniv. When Hamas accepted the 2 state solution and won legislative elections, Gaza was strangled and brutalized, as described by Norman Olsen, a US Foreign Service and State Department official.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0112/p09s01-coop.html

    There are other options but international law has legitimized the right to struggle for self determination and is either neutral or supportive of the use of force in such a struggle, depending on how you interpret the law. What’s clear though is that the use of force by those engaged in such a struggle is not outlawed. It’s ridiculous to demand the Palestinians abandon the option. The Warsaw ghetto did not abandon it. The French Partisans and the anti-fascist resistance in Europe did not abandon it. Palestinians, especially those caged inside Gaza, have made it clear during the recent massacre, that they expect their leadership not to abandon it.

    The next question also has a very simple answer. It’s irrelevant. In the late 70s and early 80s, the PLO Covenant was also used as a pretext for preventing negotiations, peace agreements and solutions. This pretext was ridiculed within Israel for being such an obviously flimsy diversion (Elie Eliachar, Mattityahu Peled). As pointed out back then by prominent Israeli figures, the PLO Covenant was not changed for the same reason the Likud platform was never changed, nor was the Basel Declaration of the first Zionist Congress ever altered. This same ridicule is now directed at the Hamas Charter diversion by staunch zionists like Henry Siegman.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/31/us_jewish_leader_henry_siegman_to

    Take a look at The Jewish Home, Kadima. Even Labour, who’s current platform completely ignores the occupation, cannot claim it supports the 2 state solution as there has historically been more settlement building under Labour than any other government (I read recently that this figure is changing due to Netanyahu’s massive settlement expansion, but the general point stands). The various Israeli political platforms of different parties which totally reject an “additional Palestinian state” west of the Jordan river (because, as everyone knows, Jordan is the Palestinian state, no matter what the Jordanians or Palestinians think) are not regarded as “obstacles” to peace.

    In any case, regardless of the platforms or declarations of the various parties to this conflict, it is not Israeli political platforms which pose a threat to peace or which prevent a Palestinian state. It is Israeli actions like settlement building, the annexation wall and occupation, which pose the threat and block a peaceful solution. Likewise, Hamas’ Charter is irrelevant, especially given their efforts to secure peace along the lines of the international consensus. Since the early 2000s, they have publicly accepted the 2 state solution – ’67 borders (includes East Jerusalem and settlements) and a “just” resolution to the refugee issue. It is Israel and the US who defy the international community, year after year, when they vote “nay” on the “Question of Palestine” – the 2 state solution – and while they continue settling the OPT and entrenching the occupation. The question of legitimacy and rejectionism needs to be directed at Israel and the US, not the Palestinians, if we are being truthful about the documented record and law.

    No one demands for the racist and elitist language of the US constitution to be rewritten in order for them to be granted political legitimacy. Netanyahu was reported in the Israeli press just weeks ago to have given a speech (in Hebrew of course) where he stated that there will never be a Palestinian state as defined by the international community and Palestinians, ie a sovereign state. He has written a book about this and his father has proclaimed that his son doesn’t “mean it” when he publicly spits rhetoric about 2 states. Are there any demands that he change this position or language in order to be recognized as a legitimate actor in international political circles?
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-finally-speaks-his-mind/

    The context here is that focus is on a decades old founding charter of a resistance movement while actions today which continue to change “facts on the ground” are ignored, almost completely. We are told that the ancient words of long dead founders are an obstacle to peace while actions right now which are gobbling up land meant to be handed over, are “security” measures or some other pretext that doesn’t even rise to the level of cheap comedy. It’s a ridiculous notion and hollow pretext. Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is your thinking, I’ve seen too much of your work and know better. But this is where this demand comes from, diversion and pretexts meant to maintain the status quo. Serious people should not be fooled by them, let alone adopt them as legitimate.

    As with the hasbara of morphing the “recognition of Israel” into recognizing the “right of Israel to exist” to now the ridiculous “legitimacy of the right of Israel to exist”, the focus from the PLO Covenant decades ago to the Hamas Charter today, is rightly ridiculed inside and outside of Israel as a pathetic attempt to keep moving the goal posts, so as to prevent a solution along international terms and buy time in order to maintain and entrench the status quo of perpetual expansion. It’s simply not a relevant topic, especially given the wide differences in Palestinian actions which are in near unison with international law and the international community, and Israeli actions which are in gross violation of dozens of international laws and are a complete rejection of the will of the international community.

    We don’t – or shouldn’t if we are serious – gauge Obama by his grand rhetoric on democracy, freedom and justice, we judge him on his actions, which are in great contrast to his words. Likewise, we should not be judging the Palestinians or Israelis by their words, but rather their actions. And we should not accept this sort of inverse logic and misleading framework by others.

    Lastly, being viewed “favorably” is simply not important or relevant. Most actors within these global circles are far worse than Hamas. The US regularly executes individuals domestically after trials, and globally without any due process except the suspicion of Mr. Hopey Changey over there in the White House. The strongest allies of the “west” – Saudi, Colombia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, all have, and continue to, engage in wholesale murder, torture, assassinations, illegal detentions and other serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. Why on earth would Hamas feel compelled to conform to a higher standard? Even my country, Canada, has aided and abetted the torture and kidnapping of it’s own citizens and the prosecution of child soldiers, in violation of our constitution, as confirmed by our Supreme Court. But you ask Hamas this question?

    Israel, the other main protagonist here, routinely engages in executions. Almost all airstrikes during “ceasefire periods” are assassinations, or attempts at extrajudicial killings. Just a few months ago, 2 Palestinian teens were murdered in cold blood, shot by snipers, all caught on camera. Yet it’s Hamas who needs to gain legitimacy or be seen “favorably” by international political circles? The idea is ridiculous. The views of these political circles are irrelevant. Not in terms of the weight they hold, they surely have great influence in terms of shaping policy, but in term of facts. This question of legitimacy can instantly be dismissed by pointing to the behaviour of their own governments and allies. Yes, they need to be convinced, in one way or another, that their policies must change. But those ways do not include legitimizing demands to an occupied population to abandon their legal rights, or to accept conditions by outside actors that do not conform to international law.

    What is important is international law and public opinion. On the former, capitol punishment is frowned upon and technically a violation of humanitarian law, but in practicality and in terms of enforcement, it is widely accepted (unless of course we’re talking about an official enemy, like Iran, who will be condemned to no end for a judicial process that to executions). Especially in contexts of foreign conflicts, like war. It is important to note that Hamas claims it has a judicial process and carries out trials for these executions. Military tribunals are also routine around the world and to ask Hamas to justify this behaviour while there is no apparent international crime, is just not serious. Especially in terms of gaining political legitimacy.

    The later factor, public opinion, would be easy to approach if mass media actually did their jobs. With such an audience reached, there would howls of support for the trials and execution of convicted collaborators once the examples of the Warsaw ghetto and American Revolution were cited. American spies that were put to death during the cold war, and on and on and on. Those who executed convicted spies and collaborators that helped the oppressors against their own people, are championed as patriots and heroes by the general public. This would be true of any society. I doubt that Kurds or Armenians who collaborated with the Turks would elicit much sympathy from local populations if they were executed, after trials and convictions. It’s just not a serious issue. Maybe a domestic issue that Palestinians need to deal with within their own society, but most certainly irrelevant in terms of Hamas being treated like any other political party on the international stage.

    It is telling that after such global condemnation of Israeli crimes has forced mainstream media to slightly change their tone, to include details previously hidden or denied, and to report on violations and atrocities as fact, Israeli hasbara is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find mud to sling at the victims. More than 100,000 people marched in London to tell the BBC they were complicit in crimes against humanity. Barely a peep. Some collaborators in Gaza are put on trial and executed and this appears in every newspaper. It has nothing to do with Hamas’ political legitimacy, just as the US’ continued use of capital punishment in rejection of the condemnation of all major human rights regimes, does not affect the political legitimacy of the “honest broker”.

    And finally, I would like to say that I agree with you on many points in regard to tactical advice or strategy. I don’t think Palestinians should be attacking non-military targets, regardless of the weapons they use. But it’s not so simple when you’re a Palestinian, say a 13 year old girl, who gets riddled with bullets by an Israeli commander trying to “confirm the kill”. If she cannot walk home within Gaza’s borders without being slaughtered, how can Palestinian fighters approach military targets? Regardless, I agree with the principle that civilians should not be attacked.

    I agree that capital punishment should not be used, by anybody, and that violence on a state level should only be used when all other options have been exhausted. But I don’t think the questions you asked have anything to do with Hamas’ political legitimacy, and I certainly don’t think they are any sort of obstacle to peace. To adopt this attitude is to adopt the hasbara that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been churning out for decades.

    • Richard Falk August 31, 2014 at 1:23 am #

      Thanks, Zak, for these detailed reflections relating to the three questions. I will study what you have written before
      hazarding a hasty response, but from what I understand, I share your approach and would welcome similar responses from
      Hamas, although I also agree that Hamas should not be singled out fro scrutiny. Best, RF

      • Zak August 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        Thank you for taking the time professor. All I ask is if there is something factually incorrect that I’ve stated, or that I’m assuming (in terms of the law, or political/diplomatic responsibilities and requirements), please let me know. It is only because I’ve understood certain facts to be true, and confirmed, that I can attempt to reach any conclusions, whether on this topic or any other.

    • Fred Skolnik August 31, 2014 at 6:18 am #

      This is a very admirable exercise and shows us to what lengths apologists for Arab terrorism will go to rationalize and justify the murder of Israeli civilians. It is also a little crazy in its view of reality:

      “Non violence is met with tear gas, beatings, disappearances and live ammunition, like the first 3 days of the second Intifada, when Israel boasted about expending a million bullets into crowds of peaceful demonstrators.”

      About 1,000 Arab noncombattants were killed in the second intifada in the years 2000 to 2005 (and about 1,000 Israeli civilians. The idea that the Israeli army fired “millions of bullets” into Arab crowds over a period of three days is insane. My guess would be that those “millions of bullets” would have killed hundreds of thousands of people in those three days, and wounded hundreds of thousands more. What do you think, Prof. Falk? Or is this just the usual manner of speaking?

      • Richard Falk August 31, 2014 at 7:11 am #

        Fred Skolnik:

        The statistics are secondary, although I agree with you that many more Palestinian
        civilians would have died had Israel used that level of munitions with the intent to kill.
        What is beyond reasonable doubt is that Israel first provoked the second intifada (by Sharon’s
        deliberately provocative visit) and then turned in a violent direction by having snipers fire

        live ammunition at unarmed Palestinians in the early demonstrations. You may explain this away
        as ‘security,’ but my reading of the events strongly suggests otherwise.

        RF

      • Fred Skolnik August 31, 2014 at 7:21 am #

        You are of the opinion, Prof. Falk, that Israel provokes everything and wants unrest, chaos, violence and Palestinian suffering. That is not the sense of things I got living in Israel and serving in the army.

      • Richard Falk August 31, 2014 at 8:21 am #

        The Chinese have a proverb: “Two persons sleep in the same bed but they have different dreams.”
        There are Israeli voices, including those who have served in the IDF, who share my understanding of the realities.
        Also throughout history, those who sometimes see the realities of a country best are not its residents; this has
        certainly been true of the United States, leaving aside novelists.
        For Israel I would trust David Grossman or Amos Oz more than most ‘experts.’ Would you?

      • ray032 August 31, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        Fred, I live in CanaDa and I have to find the Truth reading between the lines of many news outlets, both print and visual, that are not without bias.The sense I got is Israelis were spared the gruesome images of the massive Death the IDF inflicted on the Civilians and the civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

      • Fred Skolnik August 31, 2014 at 9:01 am #

        Actually it is not a matter for me of trusting experts or novelists. It is a matter of understanding a factual reality at first hand and ascertaining what is really happening. You seem to me to be a little too opinion- and interpretation-oriented and that may derive from your academic background or from your distance from the theater of operations, so to speak. When you have a solid sense of a country you are able to evaluate the spirit in which information is being disseminated, how the local media operate, how objective or ideological their reporting is, whether army spokesmen are telling the whole truth or maybe covering something up, or what your friends and neighbors are capable and not capable of on the field of battle. As for Grossman and Oz, they are a little less solidly in your camp than you may think. Grossman told the author of that “Goliath” book to tear up his phone number when he saw what he was up to, and Oz recently asked an interviewer what he would do if his neighbor was standing behind his child and firing at the interviewer’s child.

        All this, among other things, leads me to state that it is rare for an Israeli with a gun, a big gun or a small gun, to intentionally seek to kill Palestinian civilians. It also leads me to understand that the country, including its leaders, wants quiet and not upheaval, certainly for the most selfish of reasons, to be able to get on with its day-to-day life. In fact it leads me to understand much of what I have been arguing about Israel’s motives and intentions.

      • Zak August 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

        So, I guess Israeli officials and press are “apologists for Arab terrorism” then? lol cause that’s where the figure comes from. In fact, I think it was actually 1.3 million bullets expended, but in the interest of simplicity, I rounded down to a million. You can take some time away from your hasbara duties and google it if you’re actually intetested in the truth.

    • Fred Skolnik August 31, 2014 at 6:21 am #

      Excuse me, “a million bullets,” not that it would have made a difference in the final tally.

    • Fred Skolnik August 31, 2014 at 6:42 am #

      Forgive me, I am still trying to work this out. Say you have 1,000 peaceful demonstrators and the Israelis get it into their heads to kill them all. They would be at fairly close range and let go with a barrage.
      We’ve all seen those WWII films. Now how many bullets do you think it would take to kill everyone. It would be very quick of course – one volley and everyone would be on the ground bleeding to death. 5 bullets per demonstrator? That’s a lot, but let’s say 5,000 then for all 1,000 of them. That would mean your million bullets would net you 200,000 dead demonstrators, and I would guess another 200,000 wounded – at the very least. I am doing the math to show you the absurdities you arrive at when you get carried away in trying to criminalize Israel at all costs, and that unfortunately typifies this entire blog.

    • ray032 August 31, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      Zak, I appreciate your contribution to this discussion. I did follow your 1st link to the Christian Science Monitor article, ‘An inside story of how the US magnified Palestinian suffering
      The covert push to empower Fatah failed. And isolating Hamas just made things worse. But it’s not too late to change course.’

      If you haven’t seen it already, you will find this story from Haaretz confirming many elements of the CSMonitor record:
      ‘Gaza myths and facts: what American Jewish leaders won’t tell you
      Myth: Gaza is free. Fact: it has been under Israeli occupation since 1967 to this very day.’

      http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.608008

      • Zak August 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

        Thank you for the link. The problem with Haaretz is many articles require subscriptions so I usually have to check out their material when it is reposted somewhere else.

        What’s so interesting about the Israeli press – even the English stuff, I can’t really access the Hebrew versions before they’ve gone through IDF censorship unless I get quotes/translations from a book or Israeli source – is how honest they are compared to a lot of international press. There are well known facts which are widely reported through UN agencies, various human rights regimes, indie and Israeli press which are just categorically denied or ignored by mainstream outlets in developed countries. It really makes it important to keep yourself updated with the news coming out of Israel. Thanks again.

      • ray032 August 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

        Zak, I agree with your assessment the remnants of a Free Press are still freer in Israel than in any other Country, including CanaDa’s. I expressed the same sentiments in other articles in this Blog.

        It does appear the Israeli Free Press was less free during this war than any previous, unfortunately.

        I start my Day reading The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz,, The Washington Post, and then on from there to other International news media.

        I believe Armageddon starts with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian war. With the latest conflict, it seems the grapes of wrath were sown, reaped, and are now fermenting.

        And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (false beliefs about God in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Atheism)
        For they are the SPIRITS OF DEVILS, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth (Pope, Presidents, Prime Ministers, the 1%, CEOs and other IDOLS OF THE PEOPLE) and of the whole world, (the rest of us) to gather them to the BATTLE OF THAT GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY.

        Behold, I come as a thief. (when you least expect it)
        Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
        And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. (derived from Har Megiddo in the Roman occupied West Bank 2000 years ago. Har Megiddo/Armageddon still exists as a place, now located in temporal Israel recreated from the Bible after an absence of 3000 years.)
        Revelation 16

        We can see the Revelation of it unfolding with our flesh eyes these Days.

      • Zak August 31, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

        I’m not sure how appropriate it is to bring spiritual prophecies into this topic. lol I lie, I don’t think it’s relevant all, so I’ll leave that be.

        In terms of the media, I would never regard Israeli outlets as “free press”. There is heavy censorship on anything published in, or officially translated to, English. Like other mainstream outlets in othet countries, the Israeli press is beholden to their advertisers and corporate structures. There is the added layer of IDF/state censorship as well, but I don’t think I could agree with blanket statements that this or that country is “better” in terms of press. Al Jazeera will have great coverage on Palestine, but will be copletely useless in regards to Syria, Iran and most of the Gulf countries. Canada’s mainstream press will be quite good for the facts about our economic situation, say like budget figures, inflation and growth, but absolutely horrific in terms of commentary on economic policy, advice and theory. Even worse, bordering on criminal, when it comes to the treatment of our indigenous population, crimes in Alberta, our banking cartels in the Caribbean and our global mining operations.

        RT news will be great when it comes to reporting on Washington’s crimes and hypocrisy, but completely subservient when it comes to the violations of Moscow. And I think this general principle is pretty accurate to all mainstream media outlets that have the advertising-based business model. The major advertisers of such outlets will usually be among the biggest and wealthiest sectors of any society, inevitably being close to the domestic governments. The indie press, activist based, or those that stick to subscriptions and donations, are the only break in this pattern.

        My view is that a lot of information reported within Israel not really meant for global consumption, is a lot more honest about the occupation and Palestinians than mainstream media elsewhere in the world. It’s hard to quantify, but most of the key pieces of informatiom that I’ve come across on this topic have come from Israeli academics, historians, activists, gov officials, rights groups, etc. I would not call Israel a “free society” by any measure, other than in comparison to say, Saudi Arabia, but on the issue of the occupation and crimes against Palestinians, there is a lot more truth coming out of Israeli sources than we are led to believe.

  24. Iakovos Alhadeff September 16, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    The Israel-Egyptian-Jordan Natural Gas Agreement and the July 2014 Gaza War
    http://iakal.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/the-israel-egypt-jordan-natural-gas-agreement-and-the-july-2014-war-in-gaza/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Three Questions for Hamas - August 25, 2014

    […] Go to Original – richardfalk.wordpress.com […]

  2. Tre domande per Hamas - August 26, 2014

    […] Originale: Richardfalk.com […]

  3. Three Questions for Hamas - September 1, 2014

    […] Reposted with permission from from his Richard Falk’s blog: Global Justice in the 21st Century […]

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