Thursday, November 30, 2023

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare

 This was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on November 29, 2023. I have updated it with a few comments placed in parentheses.

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare


I am writing this on Friday morning, Nov. 24, while watching live the apparent release of 13 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza for seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. They are the first of four groups scheduled to be released during a four day pause in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7. (There have now been seven groups released, each time with some drama orchestrated by Hamas, and efforts are being made to extend the pause even more. Each day it is extended is a double-edged sword, with more terrorists being released, more aid sent into Gaza to be stolen by Hamas and used to extend the war and kill more people, more pressure being exerted on Israel for a permanent ceasefire that would let Hamas survive, rearm, and perform more atrocities.)

Some children are being released with their mothers while their fathers are still being held hostage. Some children are now orphans who saw their parents slaughtered in front of them; some still have one or both parents still held hostage by Hamas, perhaps one parent murdered and the other held hostage. (In  several cases, in violation of the agreement, Hamas has released children without their mother. In at least one case, they claimed they didn't know where the mother was, but it was determined the mother and daughter had been held together until they were separated two days before the daughter's release, meaning the mother had been separated AFTER the ceasefire agreement.)

This first transfer to the Rafah crossing into Egypt was apparently delayed because when they were transferred to the Red Cross some were in such need of urgent care that it couldn’t wait for the short ambulance ride to the Rafah crossing. (In a later release, one elderly woman was released in critical condition because she wasn't given medication she needed to stay alive and lapsed into a coma soon after being hospitalized in Israel.)

At this moment, they have just passed the into Egypt and are receiving additional urgent care before being transferred Israel, where they will be evaluated and transferred to hospitals.

The children are not yet being told whether their parents are alive or dead; that will not happen until they are in the care of trained professionals, and then only if it is known whether their parents are alive or dead.

And they are the “lucky” ones.

They are not among those who were beheaded on Oct. 7, or burned alive, or had their limbs torn off so their Hamas torturers could enjoy watching them bleed to death.

They are in the first group, with the scene to be repeated on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while their relatives are still living wondering whether their children will be returned and in what condition.

They are not among the nearly 200 innocents who will remain held hostage in Gaza, underground, not knowing the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

If the lopsided deal doesn’t fall apart, 50 Israelis will be released over four days — along with a handful of Thai and Filipino citizens whose release was arranged separately through agreements between their governments and Hamas, but at a very heavy price even without the inevitable violations by Hamas, which started immediately. (Hamas has at least once attacked Israeli troops during the ceasefire and exploded at least two IEDs.)

All Israel was supposed to get according to the agreement was the release of 50 women and children and the International Red Cross being allowed to visit the remaining 190 or so hostages, give them emergency medical care and give Israel a list of their names and conditions. Not surprisingly, Hamas is not allowing that access to the International Red Cross. (When the ceasefire was extended, Hamas again committed to allowing Red Cross access and again reneged.)

Besides a temporary cease fire, which Hamas quickly violated with a volley of rocket fire for the first 15 minutes, Israel agreed to allow massive amounts of “humanitarian aid” into Gaza, including fuel. We can be sure much, if not most, of that “aid” will be stolen by Hamas and used to regroup, rearm and keep firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns, just as the massive terror tunnel complex used by Hamas was built using cement transferred to Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

Israel also agreed to stop its aerial surveillance, by aircraft, drones and balloons, of southern Gaza and also stop its surveillance of northern Gaza for six hours each day. One does not need much imagination to figure out why Hamas made that demand: it will give Hamas the opportunity to move the hostages around, eliminating the value of any intelligence about their location Israel might gain from the hostages who get released and making their rescue far more difficult.

Plus Israel will be releasing 150 terrorists, three terrorists for every innocent Israeli released. One of the terrorists to be released stabbed her next door neighbor; that Israeli woman survived but will now live in the fear that she try again, or go after her children. One must pray the Israeli security forces will keep a very close eye on all the released terrorists.

Perhaps the most problematic part of the deal is the cease fire and its timing, coming when Israel was days away from taking complete control of northern Gaza and being in a position to completely destroy the terror infrastructure there.

Pausing operations halts Israel’s momentum and will undoubtedly lead to pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease fire, leaving Hamas intact and able to rebuild. Already, the prime ministers of Belgium and Spain came to the Rafah crossing not to welcome today’s release of a handful of hostages but bizarrely to criticize Israel and call for a permanent cease fire.

There is also the provision that if Hamas releases more hostages, Israel will release 30 more terrorists and extend the cease fire another day for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas. As Yogi Berra observed, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future, but it would be surprising if Hamas didn’t decide to drag out the release of more terrorists in order to extend the cease fire and attempt to make irresistible the pressure on Israel to not destroy Hamas. (This has actually happened, with dramatics orchestrated by Hamas each time.)

We must stand with Israel and, for the good of Israel, for the good of America, for the good of the democratic world and for the good of the Gazans themselves, make sure Israel resists that pressure and help it put an end to the rule of Gaza by terror groups.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

More Information from Yale Zussman on the Eve of Thanksgiving

 Hi Folks,

With the announcement of a "pause" in the news this morning, it is becoming increasingly clear that the critical battlefield has moved from Gaza to global public opinion.  I present several items that will help you if you choose to become engaged in this front:
REVEALED: The U.S. Charitable Network That Subsidizes Hamas, and the Donors Behind It
by Sam Westrop
November 14, 2023
Outlines how entities presented as charities are actually structures that raise money to finance Hamas and similar Islamist groups.  
Ten Myths to be Busted about Israel's War Against Hamas
David M. Weinberg
Oct. 27, 2023
Guidance for addressing the Western domestic front of Hamas's, and generically the Islamist, war against Israel, and again generically, Western Civilization.
Jihadi Journalism
Richard Landes
Nov., 20203
Thoughtful and extensive assessment of the role Palestinian "journalists" play in promoting Hamas propaganda in the main-stream media.
Jewish students unimpressed with universities’ response to rising antisemitism
November 22, 2023
One of the principal fronts in the Islamist war against Western Civilization is on college campuses. Few university administrations have mustered the moral integrity to defend Jewish students against attacks, so, for now, the Islamists are winning. Please contact your college or university administration and tell them they have to get their act together on this.
No Surrender: Lacking Other Options, Israel Needs to Finish the Job
Jeff Robbins
Nov 23, 2023
Robbins rips apart the various "experts" who recognize that Hamas must be destroyed but insist that Israel not do what is necessary to achieve this end.
Let me close with:
Hamas delenda est, and 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 13, 2023

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling


A version of this was published November 12, 2023 in the Waterbury Republican-American.

I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t want to accept it; my wife asked whether I was sure I wanted to go and told me to try not to throw up if I went; my daughter bluntly said, “Don’t go.”

The offer was to screen the footage compiled by Israel from GoPros worn by the terrorist perpetrators of the Oct. 7 Simchat Torah Massacre, videos from dashcams and cell phones of the terrorists, rescuers and victims and videos from drones.

It wasn’t something I wanted to see, but I owed it to the memory of the victims, those who were murdered, those who were maimed, those who were dragged into Gaza and are being held hostage there by Hamas.

So I went. Security was strict at the Israeli Consulate in Boston. We had to leave behind all electronics. We were to respect the privacy of the victims and not say or write anything that would reveal their identities or in any way compromise their privacy and dignity.

I sat in a room with the only five journalists who had accepted their invitations. Maybe those who declined had other commitments they couldn’t change; maybe they were too squeamish; maybe they didn’t want to see atrocities that would force them to question their biases and prejudices.

The others present were the executive director of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, and Israel’s Consul General and Assistant Consul General for New England.

Meron Reuben, the consul general, gave a brief introduction, but his most important remarks came after we viewed the video, when he noted it’s “very difficult for someone who lives in a tranquil neighborhood in Greater Boston to understand what went on.”

The 43-minute long video started. I saw. I cringed. I felt drops forming in my eyes.

Here’s a snippet of what we saw and heard.

Near the start, we saw evidence of the depravity and the cruelty of the terrorists, most apparently from Hamas but some from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even from Fatah, the group led by Mahmoud Abbas, who’s supposed to be Israel’s “peace partner.”

The terrorists see an empty, parked ambulance. They shoot out the tires, lest Israeli medics later use the ambulance to bring mortally injured civilians to a hospital.

They see a lone dog in a field. No humans in sight. They shoot the dog. At least three times to make sure it’s dead.

We hear a recording of conversation between one of the terrorists and his parents. The call is made using a phone taken from one of the Israelis he murdered. He tells his father to be proud, that he’d killed ten Israelis with his bare hands. And now he’s going to find more Israelis to murder.

A phone call is made to a Hamas official in Gaza, who tells the terrorists to play with the heads on the ground. One of the terrorists then took a hoe and repeatedly struck a corpse on the ground in order to separate head from body while shouting Allahu Akbar. This was the one part where I looked away; I don’t know if he succeeded.

We saw a trail of blood in a video that must have been taken by one of the rescuers, since the trail continues from one room to another, getting bloodier and bloodier, until it reaches the spot where the murder must have been executed. Where did the terrorists drag the body? Did they add it to a collection in the kibbutz? Did they drag it to Gaza?

We saw hoards of burned and charred corpses. Some were without heads. We saw videos of bodies still aflame.

We heard another call, with the Hamas official in Gaza giving the order to “bring him” and “hang him” and “let the people play with his body.”

We see a body — maybe the same body, maybe a different body — being dragged out of a car in Gaza while a crowd, some terrorists, some ordinary civilians who are now being provided with “humanitarian aid,” joyously celebrates.

Most chilling was the similarity between the joy on the faces of Israelis as they sung and danced at Nova music festival just before Hamas turned it into a killing field and the joy on the faces of the terrorists as they reveled in glorious atrocities.

I have seen the faces of evil and, without the brutalized corpses of their victims scattered around them, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from ordinary teenagers.

Which brings me back to the observation made by Meron Reuben, that it’s difficult for someone living a normal life in a country like the United States to understand the nature of many in the Middle East, including enemies of the West. Since in Western democracies we would never behave the way they do, some imagine the terrorists must have horrendous grievances and blame the United States for 9/11 and Israel for 10/7.

This has led to decades of misguided policies that have strengthened the forces of evil and led to numerous wars, terror attacks and other disasters.

These horrors will continue until we stop fooling ourselves and recognize terrorists’ values are not our values. We must stay united with Israel and others who are on the front line of the war, not only for their survival, but for the survival of our values and our civilization.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Editors’ note: As a companion to this op-ed, we suggest readers view the 1956 film “Night and Fog,” available on several streaming services, which documents similar atrocities committed in Nazi Germany.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What is Genocide?

 What is Genocide?

By Daniel Hart

What is genocide? Are the actions of Hamas against Israeli Jews genocidal? Is Israel, in its war against Hamas, actually committing a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza? This may seem like a confusing scenario  and concept for many to understand but the answer should be very clear for any thoughtful person once they have been presented with the facts. 

First, what is Genocide? Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group. Let’s review past and present actions of the parties to this longtime conflict. 

Part I - Is Hamas (as well as other Palestinian Arab groups) committing genocide of Israel’s Jews? The short answer is YES. There is indisputable proof that Hamas and other Palestinian Arab groups have been waging a decades long genocide of Israel’s Jews. It’s not merely the events of October 7th, Black Shabbat. There is a long history of these terror groups murdering Jewish Israelis because they are Jewish. Hamas’s charter literally calls for the genocide of all of Israel’s Jews. 

Article 8 of Hamas’ charter, originally published in 1988, following the year it was founded states “Allah is Hamas’s goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” For those who aren’t aware, jihad is an Arabic word which literally means “striving” or “struggling” especially with a praiseworthy aim. It is most frequently associated with war and armed struggle against unbelievers (infidels, aka non-Muslims). 

Another article from its charter, Article 13, states that “one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders” and references a hadith (a statement or endorsement of Muhammad) which states that the Day of Judgment would not come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews. And that “There is no negotiated settlement possible. Jihad is the only answer.” 

Hamas is obviously a sadistic genocidal antisemitic terror organization. The message in the Hamas charter comes from the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. This is not merely the individual words of Gazans. It is the stated national ambition of the government in power in Gaza. 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on innocent civilian Israeli women, men and children are also acts of genocide. You might think that because these triple war crime rockets haven’t resulted in high Israeli casualty rates therefore couldn’t constitute genocide, however, Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states acts committed with INTENT to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as 1. Killing members of the group; 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, all constitute genocide. As the convention considers intention rather than success, the Palestinian Arabs are guilty of genocide against the people of Israel. 

And don’t think it’s just Hamas. It’s also the Palestinian Authority and all the other incorrigible Palestinian terror groups. 

The PA, for example, spends $400,000,000 per year to directly incentivize the terror murder of Jews. The more Jews the terrorists kill, the more money they and/or their families receive for life. (Don’t believe me? Google “Palestinian Martyr Fund”.)

As I have already clarified, the international crime of genocide does not require that you be successful in mass killings. It merely requires that you have only the purpose and intention of wiping out the people you are targeting and that you carry out even a single killing in furtherance of that purpose. The PA violates this every time a Palestinian terrorist murders a Jew. And Hamas has obviously violated the genocide convention in the case of each of the 1400 plus Israelis killed on October 7th, Black Shabbat. That’s 1400 individual acts of genocide alone!

Part II - Is Israel carrying out a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs? 

It’s easy to see why some very moral people believe this is true. They see Palestinian suffering and thoughtlessly accuse Israel of genocide without taking into consideration the international rules of war and the nature of the purpose of Israel carrying out defensive strikes against Hamas terrorists. But when one carefully examines the facts of the conflict and the justification for Israel’s retaliatory actions, it is obvious that those accusations are not based on reasonable judgement about the facts of history and present day events. 

Israel literally invented moral warfare and uses well thought out moral-as-possible responses to Palestinian terrorism. Israel even requires a judge advocate general be present during military operations who oversees retaliations against Hamas and PIJ terrorists, making sure that they are proportionate and therefore legal under international law. The judge advocate general has the power and authority to override a decision to attack a terrorist made even by the Israeli prime minister.

Israel’s precision strikes on Hamas and PIJ military targets in Gaza are a good example of Israel keeping civilian casualties to a minimum in carrying its mission to eliminate top Hamas and PIJ commanders and their terrorist network of Hamas and PIJ fighters and their support network. Those that are quick to criticize Israel for those strikes point to the high civilian casualty figures reported by the Gaza Health Ministry. But the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas and clearly Hamas has a record of telling all-out lies about its casualty rates. It fails to point out casualties that result from Hamas and PIJ rockets falling short in Gaza (approximately 30% of all rockets they fire) and killing Palestinian Arab civilians. It also fails to properly discern between terrorist lives and civilian lives. It also fails to properly discern between adult and child casualties and consistently exaggerates the child casualty rates, as well as overall/total casualty figures. 

Also, Israel has no charter or laws that call for the deaths of any ethnic people. In fact, 20% of Israeli civilians are Arab. And under Israeli law, all Israeli civilians regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity have equal rights. Clearly Israel isn’t genociding 20% its own population. 

Some accuse Israel of genocide based on Israel’s strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. But these accusations simply don’t hold water. For example, the recent bombings of the so-called refugee camp in Gaza are also where Hamas has tremendous support and contributors and where Hamas terrorists reside. Israel bombed this camp knowing the value of the Hamas targets at the camp and killed Gaza’s Hamas leader in doing to. 

The targeting rule in international law says that you CAN target enemy combatants and also those that contribute to and support Hamas even if they are civilians. The refugee camp in Gaza is filled with both. 

Also under international law, the collateral damage rule is referred to as "proportionality" and says that you can target your enemy, in this case Hamas, a sadistic, genocidal terror organization, under the targeting rule even if there is collateral damage, and even extensive collateral damage to civilians so long as the collateral damage is not clearly excessive in relation to the military necessity. Obviously, the military necessity in this circumstance is HIGH. The necessity of Israel in this war is to destroy the sadistic, genocidal terror organization of Hamas that committed the atrocities on October 7th. Because Hamas committed these atrocities and is still committing war crimes by attacking Israeli civilians and by holding Israeli hostages and is still attempting to invade Israeli territory to carry out more attacks, it is essential that Israel carry out a successful attack on Hamas as quickly as possible. Collateral damage is obviously warranted in this scenario. 

The only conclusion from this analysis of the accusation of genocide will be crystal clear to almost everyone. Some people, however, have a deep seated hatred of Israel and regardless of the facts will continue to accuse Israel of genocide when Israel is genuinely acting in its own self defense and waging a war against the government and military forces in Gaza.