Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Study in Distortions

The New Haven Register published a vicious anti-Israel commentary in its Forum section on Tuesday, July 8. It was entitled "Aiding and abetting the destruction of Israel's soul" and written by Melinda Tuhus, who has an email address of

Melinda Tuhus was described as a freelance writer, but she's actually a producer for Between the Lines, a radio show distributed by "Squeeky Wheel Productions." Both are inflammatory, anti-Israel entities.

Virtually every line in Tuhus' commentary merits response, so we quote almost every line and include a comment.

Primerprez encourages everyone to write letters to The New Haven Register at

Tuhus: "My first day in Palestine in mid-May, I attended a weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in, outside Ramallah, where locals - joined by Israeli peace activists and many internationals - have been protesting what they call the "apartheid wall" being constructed by Israel."

Comment: The use of the pejorative "apartheid" is an indication of the lack of interest of the writer in objective commentary about what she admits in the following paragraph isn't a wall at all.

Tuhus: "Here, it is a chain-link fence topped by razor wire, not a concrete wall. Still, it has divided the villagers from their lands and led to much hardship and humiliation for them."

Comment: Inconvenience is unavoidable, but "hardship" is a stretch and the barrier has no connection to "humiliation." Unmentioned is the fact that the barrier has prevented the greatest inconvenience of all, the inconvenience of being blown to bits by Arab terror bombers.

Tuhus: "The weekly demonstrations are led by Iyad Burnat of Bil'in Friends of Freedom and Justice. The day I was there, about 50 people walked through the village in high spirits, waving both Palestinian and Irish flags (three Irish women were there in solidarity), then descended some hilly, rocky terrain redolent of sage as they approached the fence, which has a road on the other side patrolled by a group of Israeli soldiers in riot gear.

"Burnat marched right to the barrier and raised his arms above his head, taunting the Israelis in Hebrew, but occasionally yelling in English, "Palestine will be free!"

"After awhile, the soldiers began shooting tear gas canisters our way, starting little fires of burning sage, around the same time two young men on my side of the fence began slinging stones toward the soldiers. I remembered that familiar burning in my throat and eyes from my college, anti-Vietnam War days. I ran back up the hill and recovered quickly."

Comment: Tuhus almost certainly has the chronology backwards.

Tuhus: "This is the part of the wall for which the community took Israel to court and won. The Israeli High Court ruled that the wall would have to be moved back to the Green Line, the 1967 border before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza.

"But, the government just ignored the ruling."

Comment: The description of the court ruling is factually incorrect, as may be seen by reading, among other sources,, which itself is a biased, anti-Israel web site but whose analysis makes it clear the court did not rule the barrier (which the writer again incorrectly calls a wall) did not have to be rerouted to the Green Line.

Additionally, the Green Line was not a border. Indeed, the very agreements establishing it specified it not only was not a border, but was not to prejudice future negotiations over real borders.

Tuhus: "Why is Israel building a wall?"

Comment: Once again, Tuhus refers to the barrier as something she conceded it was not, showing her deliberate decision to distort.

Tuhus: "The government insists it is for security, but Palestinians and many Israelis opposed to their government's policies say it is a land grab, as it departs in many places from the border established after the 1967 war. Upon completion, it would incorporate more than 10 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side of the barrier along with most of the region's water resources."

Comment: That Palestinian Arabs and other critics say something doesn't mean it has any validity.

The government very reluctantly agreed to build the fence, pressured by an Israeli public fed up with having their children blown apart in pizza parlors, shopping malls and discotheques. It was planned to protect people while minimizing the unavoidable inconvenience to Palestinian Arabs.

Certainly, if it was part of a "land grab," the government would have incorporated far more than 10 percent of the disputed territory on the Israeli side.

Tuhus: "The number of desperate, despicable suicide bombings inside Israel has dropped in the past few years. An obvious explanation is the barrier, but Israeli activist Hagit Ofran of Peace Now categorically denied that is the case. As we sat at an outdoor cafe in Jerusalem just outside the gates of the Old City, she and others told me the drop in violence in fact has more to do with a decision by Hamas to stop or at least suspend the bombings."

Comment: None are so blind as those who refuse to see the obvious truth. Indeed, Hamas has never stopped attempting terror bombings; it has merely been less "successful" because of the difficulties caused by the fence.

Tuhus: "In any case, she added, the barrier is only 60 percent complete, allowing any would-be bomber to sneak into Israel somewhere else along the border. One Israeli woman I interviewed at the next table said she believed the wall indeed was increasing the physical security of Israelis, but, she added, "It's killing our souls.""

Comment: The fact that the barrier is little more than half complete is further evidence that the government is building it with reluctance and it is not a "land grab."

Israel has never been happy about the measures it has been forced to take to protect itself against its enemies, as exemplified in Golda Meir's lament "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

As Israelis say, ayn briera, no alternative. Israel doesn't have a choice. Israel's critics criticize everything Israel does but never present any realistic alternatives.

Tuhus: "I'm back from my trip to the Middle East, inspired not only by the Palestinians I met who are creatively and nonviolently opposing the occupation of their land, but also by the Israelis who have joined them in solidarity and because they love their country."

Comment: The so-called "occupation" effectively ended with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, which has long administered land on which approximately 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories reside.

Tuhus: "I read the weekly e-mail reports of the Friends of Bil'in. A recent report included a video of a young Palestinian shot by Israelis with live ammunition during the protest, his leg drenched in blood as he was carried, almost unconscious, on a stretcher."

Comment: When there is violent protest, it's difficult to completely avoid injuries. That someone was injured during a violent protest isn't noteworthy; the fact that so few are injured is noteworthy and evidence of the lengths to which Israel goes to avoid harming even violent protesters.

Tuhus: "My visit and the subsequent protests in Bil'in have raised questions in my mind:

"Why hasn't the Israeli government moved the barrier to the Green Line, as ordered by its own Supreme Court last year?"

Comment: As explained, the Supreme Court made no such order. Moving the barrier without endangering more lives unnecessarily takes planning and time.

Tuhus: "Why doesn't the Israeli military just ignore the weekly actions, since the protesters are not pulling the fence down but just expressing their opposition to it?"

Comment: Portions of the security barrier have been vandalized and even torn down and the protesters almost certainly would try to destroy the fence if the Israeli military ignored them.

Tuhus: "Why do the Israelis respond with such disproportionate and sometimes lethal force to protesters who are overwhelmingly nonviolent? The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that dozens of Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded so far this year by occupation forces."

Comment: Israel's critics label any defensive measures Israel takes as "disproportionate;" that does not make it so and there is no indication that Israel has responded to the protests (which are indeed violent; the Palestinian Arabs generally call the throwing of stones, which has killed Israelis, as nonviolent) with "disproportionate force."

The Palestinian Arabs are also very skilled at making sure Israel cannot ignore their actions; when Israel tries to ignore them, they just get a little more violent.

We see that cat-and-mouse game going on right now in the so-called "cease-fire" in Gaza, with the Palestinian Arabs testing just how often they can violate the cease fire by launchi Kassams and mortars at Sderot before Israel finally acts to defend its citizens.

Tuhus: "I arrived in Palestine the day President Bush was in Jerusalem expressing eternal solidarity with Israel on its 60th anniversary, making no mention of its violations of human rights through its occupation of Palestinian lands and the attendant violence and humiliation."

Comment: The determination of what will become "Palestinian lands" awaits a negotiated agreement. The primary violations of human rights have been perpetuated by the Palestinian and other Arabs through their genocidal war against Israel and their indiscriminate murder of ordinary Israeli civilians.

Tuhus: "Right after I returned, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama paid obeisance to the extreme position of the American Israeli Political Action Committee, completely dismissing the concerns of Palestinians."

Comment: There is no such group. Tuhus is probably trying to refer to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, at which both expressed support for a two-state solution including the establishment of a new Palestinian Arab state. Obama even criticized Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

Tuhus: "Until Americans can pressure our government, the biggest financial and political supporter of Israel, into a more balanced position, we will be aiding and abetting the destruction of Israel's soul."

Comment: A more balanced position which didn't constantly pressure Israel to meet extreme Arab demands and compromise the safety of its people would indeed be welcome.

The conflict certainly is not good for Israel's soul, but a peaceful resolution of the conflict requires compromise by all sides, not only by Israel.

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