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Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!
Shooting Themselves in Both Feet. Soon, There Won’t Be Any Feet Left.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 24 November 2023 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.
War in Gaza Israel has not yet been able to justify the attack on the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City with incontrovertible evidence that a Hamas command center was located there. That could have significant consequences for the fight in Gaza.
Israeli soldiers walk on the grounds of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday morning in front of an Israeli army statue. Photo Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) via Reuters
Before it attacked Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, the Israeli military went to great lengths to portray the massive medical complex as Hamas's military nerve center in the Gaza Strip.
The military even shared with the press a detailed three-dimensional computer animation of a network of underground and well-equipped corridors and rooms from which Hamas would coordinate its war efforts.
Israel wanted to show that the hospital was a legitimate military target. Hospitals, in principle, have a protected status during wars unless they are demonstrably used for military activities.
But experts say Israel has so far failed to produce the evidence needed to justify the bloody storming of Al-Shifa. The videos that the army shared on X the day after the capture only show small numbers of Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers, grenades, and military equipment that were allegedly found.
“Israel will have to come up with much more than a handful of 'grab and go' guns to justify closing hospitals in northern Gaza, with the enormous costs this will impose on a civilian population with urgent medical needs,” tweeted Kenneth Roth, the former director of Human Rights Watch.
Israel Lost the War in the World Court of Public Opinion
An Israeli officer points to an entrance to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after the Israeli army stormed the hospital on November 15. Photo Image from Israeli army video, via Reuters
Israeli troops are still combing the enormous complex. The command center was located deep underground at the animation. And Israeli soldiers are under strict orders not to enter tunnels. They may only be explored with robots.
On Monday, the army released images of an underground shaft allegedly found at the hospital. It shows a staircase that ends in a long tunnel with concrete walls, which leads to a heavy metal door.
Is this the entrance door to the command center? The longer it takes for Israel to produce convincing evidence, the greater the skepticism among public opinion.
The faltering PR offensive around the Al-Shifa hospital shows how much difficulty Israel has in convincing the world that it is correct. In this case, the Israeli propaganda machine itself is responsible for the high expectations. The British weekly magazine The Economist writes that many Israeli soldiers behind the scenes are critical of the army spokespeople because they allegedly painted an unrealistic, exaggerated picture of what was located beneath the hospital.
“Even Israeli intelligence officials do not believe that the group currently has its headquarters – if such a thing exists – underneath the hospital,” the magazine wrote.
This suggests a severe PR debacle, which could have significant consequences for the struggle in Gaza. Because the details about the Al-Shifa hospital influence the international climate in which Israel wages its war.
Western countries have so far resisted a ceasefire because they see Israeli action in Gaza as a legitimate form of self-defense. But that is becoming harder to maintain as the Palestinian death toll rises. This was also seen in the 2014 Gaza war when images of Palestinian suffering changed international public opinion. This led to the Israeli military operation being terminated under American pressure.
Things have not yet reached that point - even though the death toll in the Gaza Strip is many times higher than in 2014. This is first of all because the reason for this war is much more severe. The images of Hamas' attack on October 7 were shocking. The international public was no longer used to violence against Israeli civilians, especially on this scale. Israel has used the horrific nature of the attack to portray Hamas as the ultimate evil, deserving of the same fate as Germany's Nazi regime. It even paid for dozens of social media ads.
Yet its effect on international public opinion appears limited. Because Israel is no longer seen as a small country that bravely holds out against Arab superior power. After more than fifty years of occupation of the Palestinian territories and several devastating wars in Gaza, Israel has changed from David to Goliath in the eyes of many Europeans. Moreover, Israel has become strongly right-wing in recent decades. The legal reforms that Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to implement were widely seen in Israel and abroad as an attack on the rule of law. His cabinet includes ministers who openly advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza.
In addition, the media environment is now very different than in 2014. People have become much more accustomed to social media as a source of news and information. But at the same time, they are also more suspicious because they have experience with disinformation and scandals. In the past, the Israeli army has often made statements that later turned out to be untrue.
That is why the images that the army shared of Al-Shifa Hospital are met with much skepticism. On social media, they are thoroughly scrutinized by users and professional fact-checkers. They have already discovered various inconsistencies, which undermines the credibility of the evidence presented.
Nevertheless, Western governments are still keeping Israel out of the wind for a while. However, there is growing discomfort among the population about the high number of civilian deaths. There are protests in many Western capitals. To stifle calls for a pause in fighting, Israel has decided to allow aid and fuel into Gaza. But the damage has already been done.
A recent poll showed that American support for the war has fallen from 41 percent to 32 percent. Under pressure from public opinion, President Biden has already adjusted his message. His unconditional support for Israel threatens to cost him votes. Next year, there will be elections.
What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.
By Abraham van Kempen
Published on 28 April 2017
What if, in the beginning, the Jews entered the ‘Land’ with humility, recognizing and honoring the indigenous people of Palestine, like the Biblical Abraham?
We cannot turn the clock back. But we can move toward a better tomorrow.
There are good people. There are bad people. Good people on all sides can learn to get along. Nasty people can’t. Of course, the good can become destructive and vice versa because we all have the good, bad, and ugly within us. Which we choose defines who we are. Right now, and for too long, the wrong people in the region hijack the good people, a minority tyrannizing the (silent) majority. Most people – the majority – in the Region want peace. But it is fear that keeps them apart.
When will the people in Israel–Palestine greet each other with: “Welcome home”?
There is a good side to the Israeli character. For many, certainly for my mother, the concentration camp has also been a breeding ground for compassion and tolerance. Once, my late mother said:
“We were more human in camp … we cared for each other … our lives were falling apart, yet we fell into each other during moments of most incredible suffering…“
Where are the true Israelites, compassionate and caring, filled with a spirit of generosity and kindness?
Wouldn’t it be an ironic twist if all the indigenous people in the Region were genetically connected to any of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Israelites, God’s Chosen? And even if none of the Palestinians carry the DNA of the original Israelites, indeed, God’s DNA prevails in us all because we are created in His image. And in God’s image, we are more invisible than visible. Shouldn’t we then seek to understand the other?
Why does the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the defining feud of our times, enrapture the world? Could our hearts belong to a New Jerusalem, not just ‘the City of David,’ but the ‘City of God,’ that Shining City Upon a Hill? We all carry the DNA of the original Israelites inside our souls to become a light to all nations. We know how many seeds are inside an apple. Only God knows how many apples are in one seed.
Pagan Zionist leaders, from Mr. Ben Gurion to Mr. Binyamen Netanyahu, have, according to world public opinion, taken many wrong turns in their territorial obsessions – their rage and blind ambitions – to expand their lebensraum. Instead of triumphing in peaceful harmony, they have capitulated to tribal warfare on a collision course against their Judaic conscience. Pagan-Zionism disgraces the Jewish way of life and is, in fact, anti-Semitic. They have bastardized a beautiful God-given word ‘Zionism,’ which the Sacred Texts define as “people of God in full submission and faith in God with humility, creating a heaven on earth for the people to become a light among nations.” Pagan Zionism (hell on earth) is not Zionism (heaven on earth).
Revealed as a dark side of Judaism, Pagan-Zionism rules and dominates the Israeli zeitgeist, beguiling and chaining many Jews into believing in something they are not. This aberration ruptures civility in Israel-Palestine. Pagan-Zionism has split many Jewish families apart. Worse, Pagan-Zionists, while often waving the banner of Holy Goodness in the glare of world television, torment and inter the indigenous Palestinian Arabs into concentrated encampments to live a hell on earth. The world is enraged. Israel is split apart. Israel has lost the war in the Greater Court of World Public Opinion.
Without the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, there would be an internal Israeli conflict that inevitably could unglue their social fabric, now fragilely held intact by the fear-mongering against a prefabricated common enemy. Peace could bust the socio-cultural seams between the secular, the national-religious, and the Orthodox; between the old Ashkenazi community, the Oriental Jews, and the Sephardic Community; between the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia; between the Pagan-Zionists (hell on earth) and the actual ‘Zionists’ (heaven on earth); and could further alienate the Israeli-Arab citizens, whose separation from the rest is increasing. Socially, Israel is unstable. It is even worse economically. In Israel, the disparity between rich and poor, so underreported, is reprehensible.
If another East Aleppo tears lives apart, but this time in West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, would President Donald J. Trump risk a World War? Is Israel–Palestine worth World War III”? Does ‘America First’ mean America’s self-survival first? Isn’t there a better approach to liberate all the people – the ‘good’ Jews, the ‘good’ Palestinians, the ‘good’ Christians from the claws of the Pagan-Zionists?” One who is ‘human,’ in Yiddish ‘mensch,’ senses demagoguery and warmongering in their propaganda, galvanizing the masses into fear. Pagan-Zionists still mindlessly parade themselves as kings wearing no clothes, denying the reality that history is on the side of the nearly 400 million others in the Middle East.
I want Israel to survive. I am of Jewish descent. I, too, have a spiritual connection to the land. The region is my home. I was born on the outskirts of Israel–Palestine on a British Ship, Red Sea, of Dutch parents. Inside my soul and within all of my being, I am attached to the splendor of its many colors, their tints and hues. I do not know how to explain my love and deep devotion to the land, but I understand implicitly and intuitively why neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis will ever leave.
I want Palestine to be Palestine and for the Palestinians to be honored and respected with dignity. Neither can exist without the other. Both must reconcile with each other. Neither can get away with murder nor can either get something for nothing.
“Today’s status quo, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable,” says former Secretary of State John Kerry.
I cannot be more long-winded and persuasive. Many Jews, especially the misinformed in the Diaspora, are mindlessly following the Pagan-Zionists' slippery slope toward self-destruction. Their only choice is to build the bridge and come together. Any peace accord, without complete reconciliation, will inevitably collapse. The wounds will only be temporarily soothed, letting the disease stealthily spread and eventually erupt and explode again.
The Land of Israel is the Land of Palestine
After crushing the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba in 132 CE, the Romans changed the name of Israel back to ‘Palaestina.’
- The Palestinians are indigenous to the region, not for decennia, not for centuries … for millennia.
- The Israelites (not just Jews of the House of Judah) are indigenous to the region, not for decennia or centuries … for millennia.
- And through the ages, they have lived and worked together and enriched each other materially and especially spiritually. Islam and Christianity could never have evolved without Judaism. All observant Jews, Christians, and Muslims are esteemed as People of the Book.
Will the people in Israel–Palestine ever say to each other: “Welcome home”?
What if a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians respond to the higher calling of becoming a ‘light among nations,’ ‘seeking the better angels of our nature,’ and act accordingly as responsible citizens in the community of men and women, especially among those they have hurt so much? Can and will the Israelis and the Palestinians destroy their enemy by becoming friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship? They will want nothing more than a complete reconciliation with their neighbors. “We can’t get away getting something for nothing … we can’t get away with murder … let’s tear down the walls between us, share the land, and break bread together … and here is cash, earnest money, a compensatory resolve to seal the deal.”
The vast majority of the Israeli Jews (73.8%), Israeli Arabs (97%), and Palestinian Arabs (85.7%) want peace, heretofore, either not realized or denied by all sides of the Divide. This is breaking news affirmed by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Check out their survey of Israeli and Palestinian Opinion (executive summary here, complete survey here). Respondents include 1,270 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and 1,184 Jewish and Arab Israelis.
Most respondents are shocked that the other craves peace and just about all misconstrues each other’s intentions. It gets worse. Most everyone wants peace, but few agree on getting there. Even if I invite only the peacemakers to partake in a buffet-style feast of culinary delights, I’d have to separate them into two rooms. Why? One group, a slight majority, wants a two-state solution (Israeli Jews 53.4%, Israeli Arabs 87.1%, Palestinians West Bank 50.9%, Palestinians Gaza 52.1%). The other group, a minority, wants a one-state solution (Israeli Jews 20.4%, Israeli Arabs 52.4%, Palestinians West Bank 32.8%, Palestinians Gaza 37%).
The Region is meant to be shared because The Promised Land (Hebrew: הארץהמובטחת, translit.: Ha'Aretz HaMuvtahat; Arabic: أرضالميعاد translit.: Ard Al-Mi'ad) is the land which, according to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), was promised and subsequently given by God to Abraham and [all] his descendants. God names Abraham to mean “father of a multitude of nations.”
Abraham’s legacy was that he lived a life filled with profound courage and moral imagination. He shared the Promised Land. And humbly, Abraham persisted in paying an honest price for his grave, which was much more than what the indigenous people wanted. They intended to present the land as a gift to someone they revered. The most dominant lesson to be learned from the Biblical Abraham was that in his blind ambition to obey, God stopped Abraham from killing in His name.
Pagan-Zionism defiles the good in the Abrahamic Faiths and defies the prime directive in the Sacred Texts: Revere the Stranger. Pagan-Zionists are obsessed with creating an exclusionary community (Kampf), lebensraum for a ‘Chosen Few,’ by deploying brute force without considering the consequences of the other, by unconscionably dispossessing them from their properties, displacing them from the land and imprisoning them in servitude behind iron walls with no hope ever to return; with neither compromise, concession or conciliation; them or us; the end justifies the means! It’s either ‘my way or the highway.’ This perversion and aberration, this depraved, distorted, and deviant ideology – this false religion – can never have a happy ending. Ask Nazi Germany!
We, the people of the world, disdain Fascism as demonstrable to the vote (and veto) of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on 23 December 2016, outlawing illegal settlements … making it a criminal offense to dispossess, displace and imprison the indigenous people from their land. “We cannot give up on the search for an end to this conflict,” says President Obama in his response to my letter dated 16 August 2016.
So what is it that the people of Israel-Palestine want?
- “Among Israeli Jews, 1) a Jewish majority (identity) is seen as the most critical value (35%), followed by 2) peace (32%), 3) democracy (20%), and 4) a Greater Israel (10%).
- Among the Palestinians, 1) Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders and 2) the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with 3) East Jerusalem as its capital is seen as the most critical value (45%), followed by 4) obtaining the right of return for refugees to their 1948 towns and villages (32%), and 5) building a pious or moral individual and a religious society (13%)”.
BOTTOM LINE: most Israelis and Palestinians want to be safe from ‘terrorist’ attacks, especially state terror. Most Palestinians worry more about jobs than about territory or borders. Most people on all sides want little more than for the other side to leave them alone. Before they are willing to break bread with the other, they want to put bread on their tables to care for their families and raise their children. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everybody wants to wake up to a more fulfilled life. On all sides of the Divide, people do their best to provide food, shelter, and education. Jews, Christians, and Muslims everywhere whisper the same daily prayer: ‘Take care of our children.’
Many work their hammer to forge steel, to shape something that lasts. Others pick up their hammer to shatter glass, to harm, injure and destroy. We are all challenged to choose either of these two options, day in and day out. Israelis and Palestinians must reclaim their guiding principles and fundamental beliefs derived from the Sacred Texts: “Love your neighbor,” “Love the stranger,” and “justice, justice shalt thou pursue.”
Israel - Palestine is, after all, the Holy Land.
The essence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam insists upon its adherents to trust their moral compass, synchronized with moral courage and moral imagination to envisage full acceptance of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians, and Muslims (and not just in Israel - Palestine).
“How Does One Reunite a Million-Year-Old Rain Drop With a Million-Year-Old Blossom” (American Poet Dario Robleto)?
Sooner than later, the people of Israel - Palestine can and will be Living Together inside ONE Home Land within TWO borderless states (zones), their ONLY option. Will the people of Israel-Palestine take up the challenge and converge toward a series of catalytic possibilities? The alternative will inevitably result in more cataclysmic calamities.
During the long history of propaganda battles between Zionists and Palestinians, each community has perpetrated pain and suffering against the other. Rabbi Michael Lerner, the author, states: “Both sides have made and continue to make terrible mistakes. Yet the choices of both sides are also understandable, given their perceptions of their own and the other’s situation”.
Rabbi Lerner continues: “As long as each community clings to its own story, unable to acknowledge what is plausible in the other side's story, peace will remain a distant hope.” Repeatedly rehearsing and nursing their hurts reflect the history and hysteria of their individual and collective traumas. Though it is difficult to erase the memories aggrieved by the oppressors against the oppressed, we can seek solace in turning onto the many highways toward peace. All roads lead home. All roads lead to God.
The task is no longer a question of ‘who is right’ but to focus on building a path that will be best served for all. Let’s start fresh and new. The timing is opportune. We need stability in the Region. If peace is possible there, it is possible everywhere.
The Biblical Abraham is Key …
And, the Biblical Abraham is critical: ‘father of a multitude of nations’, in full submission and faithful to the one God with humility to whom God has entrusted the Promised Land, meant to be ‘Zion,’ heaven on earth for the people to be a light among nations. The tradition of Abraham is to honor, respect, and dignify the other, in short, Revere the Stranger.
Secret talks between Hamas, Israel, and the US continue as the war in Gaza drags on.
A view from the southern Israeli city of Sderot of the sun setting over the Gaza Strip on November 17. / Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images.
By Seymour Hersh
18 November 2023
In 1991, I published a book, The Samson Option, about Israel’s then little-known and still officially unacknowledged nuclear arsenal. Israel did have the bomb, lots of bombs, but the real secret the book revealed was the extent to which three American presidents—Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson—had helped the Israelis produce, deploy, and lie about them.
No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Still, I remain mystified by the ongoing inability of the Biden administration and the Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to tell the truth about what may or may not be grim news.
Earlier this week, I wrote that secret talks were going on between Israel and Hamas about the release of hostages. I also noted that the Israeli military and intelligence community believed there was a network of tunnels and a command-and-control bunker where Hamas had been hiding its hostages under the campus of several buildings at the Al-Shifa Hospital.
A knowledgeable American official has since told me that the Israeli intelligence community suspected from the outset of the war that the Hamas tunnel system, as widespread as it was throughout Gaza City, was not going to be the final destination of the hostages. “The tunnels are five-and-a-half feet high and three-and-a-half feet wide, just wide enough for someone with combat gear to get through,” the official said. The big fear was that Hamas may have killed all of the soldiers right away. “Moms and children are valuable. Soldiers are not.” The official added that Israel's intelligence “does not know where all the hostages are.” But they do know where some of them were.
Israeli intelligence, which has mapped the tunnel system, understood early on that many of the Hamas hostages were at some point hidden in the underground floors of some of the hospital buildings in the Al-Shifa complex. They also learned that at some point, the hostages, like the citizens of Gaza City, were moved south in the forced migration that Israel imposed as it continued its citywide bombing of homes, apartment complexes, and office buildings, all suspected for years to have tunnel entrances in their basements.
“There is no doubt at all—none,” an Israeli insider told me, “that a large group of hostages, especially the women and the young, were taken to Al-Shifa. Israeli soldiers and medics who have been searching the hospital room to room, bed to bed, have found plenty of evidence of the presence of the hostages—Israeli-made clothing, diapers, milk bottles.”
In addition, he said, “DNA from blood on the floors where the Israeli-made items were found was matched to DNA samples taken from family members of the hostages.” The Israeli military has announced the discovery in the past few days of the bodies of two of the Israeli hostages near the hospital complex area.
The insider explained that “Israel now also knows that about two hundred Hamas terrorists who entered Israel escaped back to Al-Shifa and were hiding there for about three weeks before heading south.”
“Israel believes,” he said, that some hostages “were kept at the Al-Shifa complex for two to three weeks.” When they moved south, “they did so with their faces covered by bandages” to prevent the Israeli surveillance drones from identifying them. The insider further said that Israel knows, with confidence, where the new hiding places, underground, of course, are in the south.
There is also great Israeli anger, the insider said, at the doctors at the Al-Shifa campus “who helped cover the hostages with bandages and helped to smuggle them out.”
It is also known, as has been reported, that some hostages were taken by other terrorist groups and residents of Gaza City who took advantage of the sudden opening to Israel to steal, rape, and murder and return home with hostages.
The forced migration from Gaza City to the south also included untold thousands of Hamas fighters and their leaders. Combat experts in Washington believe that the infantry tactics of the Israeli army, aided by guidance from Lieutenant General James Glynn, who previously led the Marine Corps Special Forces, were highly effective. Glynn has since returned to the United States.
The widespread Hamas tunnel system enabled the officers and fighters of Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, to spend days at work underground and then return home via the tunnel system to have dinner and spend the night with their families. There were thousands of entry and exit points to the tunnel system under apartment and office buildings in Gaza City. The Israelis had mapped the system and thus were able to assassinate many Hamas brigade commanders and their families in their beds in ways that surprised the senior Hamas command. Most of the surviving Hamas military officers have also fled to the south.
It was this knowledge that led Israeli war planners to disregard the laws of war and decide to target every apartment building and office building in Gaza City known to have basement-level access to the tunnel system, despite the vast numbers of civilian fatalities such strikes would entail. That those strikes might constitute war crimes did not matter. The bombing also kept the main force of Hamas fighters locked underground and vulnerable to the sealing of tunnels and even the potential use of tear gas. Israel then brought in heavy trucks to clear the rubble and create pathways for its tanks and armored vehicles that would control the ground war in Gaza City.
Talks between the Hamas leadership and Israel, with support from the United States, are now going on in Qatar. The American team includes CIA Director William Burns, President Biden’s most experienced foreign policy aide. A tentative agreement was reached days ago: Hamas agreed to release fifty women and older hostages in return for the release of hundreds of women and teenage girls of Hamas families who are now in Israeli jails. The United States insisted that the children and family members of any hostage to be released must also be removed. The release of a mother without her children, who were also captives, was not acceptable.
The American demand thus called for the release of 71 hostages. There was agreement on that score, but Hamas also insisted on a five-day halt to the war. That was immediately rejected by Netanyahu, who has continued to ignore the increasing anger of the hostages’ families, whose rallies and protests are gaining momentum in Israel. Netanyahu and the generals running the war are convinced, the insider said, that “Hamas still hopes to live to fight another day. This is why they insist on long pauses for each group of hostages they release.”
At this point—with the war essentially won—the fate of Hamas soldiers still in the bunkers of the north is dire. There is also worry about the teenage Israeli boys who are captives and who are considered from the age of fifteen on by Hamas to be combat soldiers. Most of the Israeli men known to be captured are reservists, who are eligible to be summoned for active duty until they are forty-five.
The Israeli insider told me that the Israeli military has taken photos of slain Hamas fighters and has asked the families of those killed on October 7 if they wished to view the photos of the dead bodies to bring closure.
“Some families want to see the pictures.” the insider said. “Most do not.”
The Middle East has complex geopolitical dynamics, and any escalation in one area can reverberate across borders. Historically, regional conflicts have often drawn in multiple actors, turning local disputes into broader confrontations. Col. Macgregor and Judge Napolitano discuss the looming signs of this conflict expanding shortly.
Peace on the South China Sea, where we viewed Chinese surfers with no warships in sight.
By Abraham A. van Kempen
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