Falkland Islands
Image source: Peace Now
The empty spaces in Gaza

by Alan M. DershowitzAugust 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

How many times have you heard on television or read in the media that the Gaza Strip is “the most densely populated area in the world”? Repeating this statement, however, does not make it true. There are dense parts of Gaza, especially Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, but there are far less dense areas in Gaza between these cities. Just look at Google Earth, or this population density map.
The fact that these sparsely populated areas exist in the Gaza Strip raise several important moral questions: First, why don’t the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities? There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that’s precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn’t show these areas is that Hamas won’t let them. That too would be a story worth reporting.
Second, why doesn’t Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels? Were it to do so, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically.
That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig. The difference between Israel and Hamas is that Israel uses its soldiers to protect its civilians, whereas Hamas uses its civilians to protect its terrorists. That is why most of Israeli casualties have been soldiers and most of Hamas’ casualties have been civilians. The other reason is that Israel builds shelters for its civilians, whereas Hamas builds shelters only for its terrorists, intending that most of the casualties be among its civilian shields.
The law is clear: using civilians as human shields—which the Hamas battle manual mandates—is an absolute war crime. There are no exceptions or matters of degree, especially when there are alternatives. On the other hand, shooting at legitimate military targets, such as rockets and terror tunnels is permitted, unless the number of anticipated civilian casualties is disproportionate to the military importance of the target. This is a matter of degree and judgment, often difficult to calculate in the fog of war. The law is also clear that when a criminal takes a hostage and uses that hostage as a shield from behind whom to fire at civilians or police, and if the police fire back and kill the hostage, it is the criminal and not the policeman who is guilty of murder. So too with Hamas: when it uses human shields and the Israeli military fires back and kills some of the shields, it is Hamas who is responsible for their deaths.
The third moral question is why does the United Nations try to shelter Palestinian civilians right in the middle of the areas from which Hamas is firing? Hamas has decided not to use the less densely populated areas for rocket firing and tunnel digging. For that reason, the United Nations should use these sparsely populated areas as places of refuge. Since the Gaza Strip is relatively small, it would not be difficult to move civilians to these safer areas. They should declare these areas battle free and build temporary shelters—tents if necessary—as places of asylum for the residents of the crowded cities. It should prevent any Hamas fighters, any rockets and any tunnel builders from entering into these sanctuaries. In that way, Hamas would be denied the use of human shields and Israel would have no reason to fire its weapons anywhere near these United Nations sanctuaries. The net result would be a considerable saving of lives.
But instead the UN is playing right into the hands of Hamas, by sheltering civilians right next to Hamas fighters, Hamas weapons and Hamas tunnels. Then the United Nations and the international community accuses Israel of doing precisely what Hamas intended Israel to do: namely fire at its terrorists and kill United Nations protected civilians in the process. It’s a cynical game being played by Hamas, but it wouldn’t succeed without the complicity of UN agencies.
The only way to assure that Hamas’ strategy of using human shields to maximize civilian casualties is not repeated over and over again is for the international community, and especially the United Nations, not to encourage and facilitate it, as it currently does. International law must be enforced against Hamas for its double war crime: using civilian human shields to fire at civilian Israeli targets. If this tactic were to be brought to a halt, then Israel would have no need to respond in self-defense. Applying the laws of war to Israel alone will do no good, because any country faced with rockets and tunnels targeting its civilians will fight back. When the fighters and tunnel builders hide behind human shields, there will inevitably be civilian casualties—unintended by Israel, intended by Hamas—regardless of how careful the defenders are. Israel has tried its hardest to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas has tried its hardest to maximize civilian casualties. Now the United Nations and the international community must try their hardest to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Alan Dershowitz’s latest book is “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law”.

Related Topics:  Palestinian Authority  |  Alan M. Dershowitz



The citizens of Israel are now into their second week of a horrific war of rockets inflicted upon them primarily by the Hamas terror group operating out of Gaza. So far over 1350 rockets have been hurled at Israeli population centers, traumatizing children and putting an unfathomable burden on the little country. Tens of thousand of Israeli reservists have been pulled from their families and await possible orders to enter into a dangerous ground war with a ruthless enemy.

There is hopefully some comfort for Israel in the stalwart support of tried and true organizations  like the Jewish National Fund, the Orthodox UnionMagen David Adom,One Family and the Jewish Federations of North America, all who have set up Emergency Funds to support the beleaguered Jewish state. These special campaigns are providing much needed services like counseling , medical assistance, mobile shelters, toys and foodstuffs.

We are thrilled that our “Stop the Sirens” campaign is being implemented in collaboration with local Jewish Federations-  and other groups. We in North America stand shoulder to shoulder with all Israelis.  - Jewish Federations of North America

One organization, the New Israel Fund  issued an impressively evenhanded press release today to publicize their very own efforts to support and raise the morale of the besieged citizens of Israel. 

Given the military confrontation between Israel and Hamas, which came on the heels of unprecedented incitement and tension between Jewish and Arab Israelis, the New Israel Fund stands ready to fund projects through our Emergency Grant Program

The New Israel Fund (NIF) promotes itself as a younger, hipper pro-Israel organization, and they certainly are trend setters. As part of their own Emergency response to the terror war on Israel, NIF has authorized an expedited grant to “Al Amar to help establish a series of special working groups for young Palestinian-Israeli political activists to help them organise non-violent protests.”

Emergency grants to fund protests against Israel

Emergency grants to fund protests against Israel

What a great morale booster it will be to Israeli families hunkered down in their bomb shelters to hear the heartwarming chants of NIF funded protesters rushed to the scene to decry the Jewish state.

NIF is no less concerned about the stresses this war has inflicted upon the valiant men and women of the IDF. It will be a source of great comfort for the soldiers to know that NIF has rushed an emergency grant to BDS funded B’Tselem an organization’s whose sole purpose is to critique and thus hamper Israel’s defensive operations. As a nod to the appreciation Israeli’s have for B’Tselem’s efforts, NIF has designated funds for extra security at B’Tselem’s offices. 

While the sentiment of NIF’s efforts to “support Israel” in these difficult times is certainly appreciated, we respectfully suggest that they consider redirecting some of that same type of “support” to Hamas, the IDF would surely appreciate the help.

המלחמה קשה למי שמאמין בהידברות וחושב שזו הדרך לפתור מחלוקות. המלחמה היא אתגר למי שמאמין באהבה. היא מגלה שיש מי ששולל את זכותך להתקיים, לא משנה כמה תאהב אותו. המלחמה היא אתגר קשה למי שמאמין בזכויות הפרט, כי מבטלים בה את כל זכויות הפרט של האויב, לפעמים אפילו את זכותו לחיות.

המלחמה קשה למי ששייכים לפוסט־מודרנה גלובלית, שהפנימו רעיונות של ניו־אייג’, ואיבדו בדרך את זהותם הישראלית. המלחמה מסכנת את ה”אני” שלהם. סכנת אובדן “האני המאפשר”, ה”מקבל כל אחד כמו שהוא” תחייב אותם להוכיח שמלחמה היא טעות. המלחמה כה מזעזעת את עולמם, שכדי לשרוד נפשית הם צריכים להעלים מן התודעה את אכזריותו של האויב, או לקחת חלק מהאשמה על עצמם: לא סיפקנו לחמאסצורכי יסוד, לא הקשבנו באמת לצד השני, לא נתנו לעזתים חופש תנועה שהוא מיסודות זכויות הפרט.

גדל כאן דור שאינו יודע להתמודד עם תופעה שאי אפשר לפתור באמצעות חשיבה חיובית, אי־שיפוטיות, מאבק על זכויות המיעוט, אפליקציה, או אוכל טבעוני. הניצחון במלחמה מסוכן להם כמו ההפסד.

העולם אכזר. אויבינו נמנים עם האומות האכזריות ביותר. רק הצבא יכול היום לנהל את מצרים. רק רודן אכזר כמו סדאם חוסיין הצליח להחזיק ביחד את כל המרכיבים של עיראק.אסד והאיראנים נראים פתאום מתונים יחסית לדאע”ש.

קשה לקבל כי אויבי אינו שותף לערכי. שהוא לא עבר את עידן הנאורות וההשכלה ולא הפנים את ערכי הדמוקרטיה. הערכים האלו שלי, הם איום על עולמו, על המשפחה המסורתית שהוא מתקשה להמשיך לקיים כשילדיו חשופים לאינטרנט. מזעזע לגלות שערכי האהבה, ההידברות, וזכויות הפרט הם בעיניו סימנים של חולשה. מזעזע לגלות מתחת לשכבה הדקה של התרבות, את האכזריות של זולתי, ושלי. אנושיות היא המאמץ להישאר אנושי גם במקום שאין בו אנשים.

יש עת להידברות ועת שאסור בה להידבר. יש עת לאפשר, ועת לקחת מהזולת את כל מה שיש לו. יש עת לאהבה, ועת שתוקפנות הישרדותית צריכה להוביל. ואחריה, לקוות, תהיה שוב עת להידבר. קהלת, שלימד אותנו שיש עת לכל דבר תחת השמש, לא האמין בכוח ולא האמין בהידברות. הוא לא האמין בזכויות הפרט, ולא האמין במלחמות. חייו היו מאורגנים ממקום אחר. מלחמה ושלום היו בעיניו מרכיבים באישיות שצריך למצוא להם את המקום, הזמן, והמידה הנכונה.

ד”ר כספי הוא מנהל מרכז “פסיכולוגיה ויהדות”

Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The main Hamas command and control bunker in Gaza is located underneath it.

As everyone knows, Hamas has embedded its command posts, rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities within the civilian population of Gaza. This makes it difficult to destroy them from the air without large numbers of civilian casualties. It is also the case that important installations are underground where they are difficult to destroy from the air.

I have been expecting (and I admit it, hoping for) the IDF to mount a ground attack against Hamas in Gaza. But there may be an alternative, better, approach.

The very knowledgeable Dr. Mordechai Kedar lists some of the difficulties of going after Hamas in the heavily populated Gaza city area:

1. Population size and density, especially in urban areas such as Gaza City, Khan Yunis, Rafiah and the refugee camps make it necessary for Israel to introduce large infantry forces to a considerable number of points.

2. A tank has no advantages in urban areas as it has limited maneuverability, cannot aim at upper floors and is a slow-moving, easily hit target for antitank weapons, such as RPGs and rockets.

3. An armored jeep is also an easy target for antitank weaponry in a built up area.

4. Soldiers making their way on foot in built up areas are sitting ducks for snipers. Hamas has laid mines, built tunnels underneath the houses, fortified sniper positions in strategically placed buildings.

5. Eliminating Hamas military and civilian infrastructure requires a large Israeli presence over a lengthy period of time, enabling Hamas to attack command posts and headquarters (that is what occurred in Tyre).

6. Total elimination of Hamas will not prevent its resurgence as soon as our soldiers leave.

Kedar makes two points: that the ground attack would be costly — both to Israel and to the civilian population — and not assured of success, and that even if the Hamas infrastructure were completely destroyed, a permanent IDF presence would be required to keep it from being rebuilt.

Keep in mind that Hamas is depending on the “international community” to force a cease-fire and then help it rebuild; this will be accelerated by civilian casualties in Gaza. It has therefore encouraged its population to become human shields by ignoring IDF warnings, even going to rooftops of houses that are expected to be bombed.

Hamas sees casualties both among IDF soldiers and Gazan civilians as advantageous, and is doing everything it can to force Israel into a ground war in order to increase them. It certainly has been behaving as though this is its aim, deliberately crossing red lines and bragging about its intentions.

Here is Kedar’s strategy:

1. Israel must not enter Gaza and continue dealing with the problem from the air, where Israel has a significant advantage over Hamas and the other terror organization.

2. Israel must continue and expand its targeted assassinations against activists and leaders. Israel must give Hamas political leaders clear warning that continued rocket launching will lead to their elimination.

3. Israel must announce publicly that two days after the aforesaid announcement, it will shut the supply of electricity, water, food and fuel to Gaza, and that this will continue until the rockets cease. Israel can also threaten to cut off all line-based communication to Gaza that goes through Israel. There has never been a situation in which a country continues to provide supplies and services to an area from which it is being shot at. This two days in advance warning is intended to deal with legal, public, political and media issues that might result from the cutoff.

The third point is important because Israel is providing a propaganda victory to Hamas by its humanitarian policies, enabling it to retain popular support:

Our side keeps saying: We differentiate between terrorists and civilians: we fight terror and send food to the civilians. There is nothing more infuriating and incorrect, because think about it – who hands out the food to the people? Israel or Hamas? In other words, the people thank Hamas for succeeding in blackmailing Israel into transferring food even though Hamas is raining missiles on Israel.

We say that we are transferring food and fuel so that world media will report it. This, too, is a faulty approach, because it is based on a twisted scale of values, according to which Israeli lives are less important that Israel’s image.

Continuing to transfer food, water, fuel and electricity, is seen as a sign of weakness by  the other side, and weakness invites more pressure in the form of rockets and missiles. Stopping the supplies would cause the residents of Gaza to demand that Hamas cease to launch rockets. Clearly, continued transfer of supplies is the reason for the continued rockets.

Kedar would prefer that Hamas — a humiliated and weakened Hamas — maintain control of Gaza, while being forced to stop its aggression against Israel.

I think he’s right about the contradiction between ‘humanitarian’ assistance and warfare. After all, the population of Gaza overwhelmingly voted for Hamas in 2006, and overwhelmingly supports its objective of killing Jews. We have no obligation to place the well-being of Gaza’s population over that of our own. The opposite is true!

If we cut them off, we can expect great international pressure to resume the transfers. Our response can only be: “yes — as soon as Hamas stops its attacks and begins to disarm.” Continued transfer will depend on the progress of disarmament.

I don’t suggest that we embark on this course unless we are prepared to follow through, because surrender to pressure would be far worse than not taking it at all. It must be made clear that the fate of Gazans is in Hamas’ hands, not ours.

Unfortunately, Hamas is probably correct that this war will end with an imposed cease-fire like previous conflicts. Our strategy should be designed to 1) hurt Hamas as much as possible — materially and psychologically — before this occurs,  2) establish conditions afterwards that will work against a recurrence of the conflict, and 3) protect our own people, both civilians and soldiers.

It is possible to combine air attacks with small, targeted ground operations by special forces without committing to a major ground offensive that sees dozens of tanks rolling across the border. I think that this can be combined with a cutoff of Gaza’s lifeline as advocated by Kedar to best achieve our goals.

Thomas Barnett:

Let’s rethink America’s military strategy
TED2005 · 23:43 · Filmed Feb 2005 

In this bracingly honest talk, international security strategist Thomas Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering U.S. military that is both sensible and breathtaking in its simplicity: Break it in two.
pinThis talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Military strategist

Strategic planner Thomas Barnett has advised US leaders on national security since the end of the Cold War. His bold ideas about the future of warfare and the military are spelled out in his best-selling book The Pentagon’s New Map. Full bio

Banner - exoclick - clean (dating) - 0.10% click ratio (comverse.tumblr.com - comverse.tumblr.com):

A non-racist, unbigoted inquiry into the core teachings of Islam and what it all means (if anything) for non-Muslims

THE FOLLOWING is the article What Makes Islam So Successful? separated into a linked outline. I thought it might be useful to break each of the elements into separate posts. Here are some of the key components of the package of ideas (or bundle of beliefs) known as Islam: 

A standardized version of the idea-collection is written down. 

The Quran includes instructions for its own spread. 

The idea-collection includes instructions for its own preservation, protection, and duplication. 

Islamic doctrine commands its followers to create a government that supports it. 

Permission to spread the religion by war. 

Lands must be conquered.

7. The idea-collection provides new soldiers by allowing polygamy. 

It is a punishable offense to criticize Islam. 

You can’t leave Islam once you’re in. 

Islam must be your first allegiance. 

Dying while fighting for Islam is the ONLY way to guarantee a man’s entrance into Paradise. 

You must read the Quran in Arabic. 

You must pray five times a day. 

The prayers involve moving together in time. 

A woman is in a thoroughly subordinate position. 

The only way a woman can guarantee her passage into Paradise is if her husband is happy with her when she dies. 

Allah gives Himself permission to edit His own work. 

The Quran uses the carrot and stick to reinforce behavior. 

Islam provides a huge and inspiring goal.

20. Non-Muslims must pay a large tax. 

A Muslim is forbidden to make friends with a non-Muslim. 

The Quran counsels the use of deceit when dealing with non-Muslims. 

Islam must always be defended. 

Islamic writings teach the use of pretext to initiate hostilities. 

The explicit use of double standards. 

It is forbidden to kill a Muslim (except for a just cause).

27. If Muslims drift away from Mohammed’s teachings, Allah will end the world. 

The message in a standard Quran is difficult to decipher. 

WHAT SHOULD we do with this information about Islam? That’s a good question. For some, the solution is to hate Muslims, but that doesn’t make any sense. Most Muslims had no choice in their religion, and many of them don’t know as much about their own religion as you now do.

I think the best thing any of us can do is to simply help other non-Muslims learn about Islam. Because Islam is so successful, its teachings are becoming more and more influential on the world stage, and its built-in aggressiveness should be curbed. But the only way it can be curbed is if enough people know about it. The way we understand Islam determines what policies we collectively endorse or reject about it.

So first, learn more about it. And then share what you know with others. And let them know what they can do about it too. To learn more, I suggest you first read the Quran. This is the version I recommend.

If you’d like to do something more, start here: What Can You Do About It?
INSS - המכון למחקרי ביטחון לאומי
Strategic Assessment, Volume 16, No. 3, October 2013
Amos Yadlin, Avner Golov
Amos Yadlin

Many in the West and in Israel have warned of a tough Iranian response and escalation into regional war in the event of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program. Close scrutiny, however, suggests that these assessments are exaggerated, with the likely Iranian response far more limited. Moreover, such overestimation serves the Iranians, providing an excellent tool for deterrence, and dilutes the goal of a credible military threat prompting the regime to agree to a diplomatic solution. This article analyzes Iran’s capabilities and the range of possible Iranian response toward Israel, including the response capabilities of Iran’s allies in the region, particularly Syria and Hizbollah. The article challenges the scenario of a regional war in the wake of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, and offers recommendations for a response to the anticipated Iranian retaliation that would reduce the likelihood of extensive regional escalation.


Posted by: Aussie Dave in Aussie Dave November 25, 2013

It is hard to believe, but this next 
BBC report does not seem to contain one negative word about Israel.

flying pig

In the maternity unit at the Sieff Hospital in the Israeli city of Tzfat, the safe arrival of every baby feels like a minor miracle.

But on the day we visited, there was one little boy among the row of newborns who will one day have quite a story to tell. That is, if his parents ever decide to tell him.

The child’s name has to be withheld: publishing any kind of information which could identify him might put him in danger when he goes back to his home village – which is in Syria.

His mother’s name or any personal information that might identify her can’t be published either. She looked tired but happy when we met her, quick to praise the kindness of the Israeli medical staff who had treated her.

She was already in labour when she went to her local clinic in her home village in Syria – but they told her that they could not treat her.

Her worried husband knew that it was possible to get her treated in Israel – and so the couple began a dangerous race to the frontier in a country at war and a desperate race against time.

She had to be taken to a point inside Syria from where she could be seen by Israeli soldiers patrolling the fence that marks the old ceasefire line between the two countries that dates back decades.

A military ambulance then took her to hospital – she made it on time.

The humanitarian chain that got the woman from her home village under heavy shellfire to the boundary fence and then to hospital links guides in Syria to Israeli Army paramedics on the frontier, to the doctors and nurses in Tzfat.

For the woman, every step in the process worked perfectly, perhaps because it has become a well-trodden path.

She was the 177th person to make the journey to the emergency room in what has become one of the most extraordinary subplots of Syria’s agonising civil war.

Syria and Israel regard each other as enemies. A state of war has existed between them for decades.

And yet, since the first patients arrived around nine months ago, the informal system of patient transfer has become so well-established that some patients have even arrived with letters of referral written by doctors in Syria for their Israeli counterparts.

Dr Oscar Embon, the director of the Sieff Hospital, says simply: “Some beautiful relationships have started between the staff at the hospital and the people that we treat. Most of them express their gratitude and their wish for peace between the two countries.”

The Israelis say they are treating everyone who needs treatment. That often means women and children but it is possible that among the young men who have been patched up, there may well be fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or jihadist rebels who in other circumstances would attack Israeli targets if they could.

Dr Embon says that policy of not discriminating between the sick and the hurt is entirely consistent with what he sees as the values of his country and the ethics of his profession.


At the centre of the system is an Israeli Arab social worker who asked us to refer to him only by his first name, Faris.

He calms the fears of disoriented patients who are shocked to find themselves suddenly being treated in an enemy state.

He organises charity collections to provide them with toiletries and toothbrushes.

And he listens to their stories.

Read the whole thing.

Wow, a story that shows Israel treating hurt Syrians, and which features an Israeli Arab social worker.


An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder of Israellycool, one of the world’s most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks