Well-organized people power in northern Gaza

I have long argued– including in this article on Hizbullah, or this article on the women’s organizations of Hamas– that the bedrock of the political strength of well-organized Islamist organizations like Hamas or Hizbullah has been their ability to build sturdy, resilient civilian mass organizations covering all sectors of society– rather than merely their creation of the (much smaller) armed organizations whose activities seem to get most of the coverage in the western media.
Well now, the Hamas women have played a hugely important role in defusing the latest crisis in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.
Over the past couple of days, the Israeli occupation forces, which had forced their way back into parts of Gaza after a short-lived withdrawal from the Strip, have been mounting extensive “search-and-screening” operations in Beit Hanoun. They had surrounded the whole town of some 28,000 people and cordoned it off, announcing a complete “curfew” (i.e. lockdown) on all residents except for men aged 16 through 50– and all these men were ordered by loudspeaker to report for screening to centers the IOF had set up.
However, according to that report linked to above, which is by AP’s Yakub Ralwah, a group of menwhom he described as “dozens of gunmen” on Thursday sought refuge in the mosque, instead…

    …Most were thought to belong to the military wing of the ruling Hamas party.
    [Israeli] Armored vehicles quickly surrounded the building, and the two sides began exchanging fire that lasted throughout the night, the military and Palestinian security officials said.
    Israeli soldiers trying to pressure the gunmen to surrender also threw stun and smoke grenades, and knocked down an outer wall of the mosque with a bulldozer, causing the ceiling to collapse…

But then, as sporadic shooting continued this morning, Hamas’s radio called on Beit Hanoun’s women to walk as fast as they could to the mosque. And–

    Dozens of women left their homes to a hurry to the mosque, and en route, came under Israeli fire, witnesses and officials said.
    One woman, about 40, was shot and killed, and 10 others were wounded, they said.
    The army said troops spotted two militants hiding in the crowd of women and opened fire, hitting the two.
    By midmorning Friday, veiled women protesters had gathered outside the mosque, where troops were positioned in tanks and armored personnel carriers. The army said the gunmen in the mosque took advantage of the demonstration to escape because there were not enough soldiers to block the protesters from approaching the building, and troops did not want to shoot into the crowd.
    But live ammunition was fired in the course of the demonstration, wounding a Palestinian cameraman and an unidentified woman.
    Loudspeakers across Gaza called on people to come to demonstrations after Friday prayers to express solidarity with Beit Hanoun. By late morning, two rallies were already in progress in Beit Hanoun, and militants in the crowds were firing at soldiers, the army said.
    Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas “saluted the women of Palestine … who led the protest to break the siege of Beit Hanoun.” Haniyeh urged U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to witness firsthand “the massacres of the Palestinian people,” and appealed to the Arab world to “stop the ongoing bloodshed.”
    A spokesman for Hamas militants said 32 gunmen who had taken cover in the mosque escaped with the help of the women. The spokesman, Abu Obeida, denied reports that the men disguised themselves as women to escape, but one woman said she handed women’s clothing to some of the gunmen.

This action of mobilizing the women to come and form an unarmed interposition force around the Beit Hanoun mosque is very similar indeed to the action Ayatollah Sistani organized in Najaf back in August 2004. (See this , this, and this.) On that occasion, units of Moqtada Sadr’s Mehdi Army were holed up in portion of Najaf and the US occupation force was closing in on them… But Sistani called for “a million men” to march peacefully to the city. That call was answered by, at least, hundreds of thousands of Sistani’s supporters from around the area, and in the course of that procession, also, the Sadrists were able to make theirescape.
Hamas’s mobilization of women in this role is particularly notable. But they’re an impressive bunch. Go read that article on Hamas women that I linked to up at the top.
Regarding Hizbullah, their mass civilian organizations proved their strength and value a number of times during the horrible crisis of last summer. Most notable of these occasions was when just about the entire pro-Hizbullah population of the devastated towns and villages of south Lebanon answered Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s call to return en masse to their homeplaces starting on the very day the ceasefire went into effect, August 14. Helped by Hizbullah’s well-practiced social-relief and social support organizations, the southerners responded to that call in every way they could. As they did so, they defied and openly mocked the announcements the Israelis were making that civilians should “wait until it was safe” for them to return home. And by returning home– unarmed, and in huge numbers– they reclaimed the whole of south Lebanon for Hizbullah.
Actions like this, I should note, take considerable amounts of courage, self-confidence, trust in the leadership doing the mobilizing, and discipline. The women who gathered at the Beit Hanoun mosque today showed all those qualities.

    Update: This later filing by Ralwah tells us that two women were killed, and ten wounded. He also writes that shots were fired toward them as they approached the mosque. Imagine their courage as they continued toward their goal! You can also see some photos of the parts of the mobilization on the Yahoo website.

I have noted, a number of times, that the way Hamas and Hizbullah have been combining their use of armed action with the building and use of extensive, basically nonviolent, civilian mass organizations is very reminiscent of the way that South Africa’s African National Congress organized during the latter decades of the anti-apartheid struggle in their country. Nelson Mandela, remember, had been a key originator and the first implementer of the idea that the ANC should have an armed wing, in addition to its long-existing political organization; and it was for playing that role as head of theANC military that he was imprisoned by the authorities. That fact– and the fact that the ANC continued to keep its armed wing in existence right through to the conclusion of the peace negotiations, at which point it was integrated with the regime’s military into a new unified national defense force– both tend to get forgotten in a sanitized western media portrayal that glorifies the role of Mandela in the negotiations without saying much at all about the multifaceted nature of the ANC’s political strength…
Well, anyway, here today is a great new example of Palestinian people power in action. Yes, it is quite tragic that one of the women participants in that (unarmed) demonstration was killed by the IOF. But still, the women’s mobilization did serve to defuse the tensions around the mosque, most likely saving the lives of many more than one person at the scene. Plus, it no doubt helped show the leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian political groups– and the women participants themselves– the great value and strength of civilian mass organizations.
Yes, it would be great if Hamas transformed itself totally into an organization of civilian, nonviolent, mass action. (Ditto, of course, the state of Israel, which commands and is clearly prepared to use means of violent aggression and control that are hundreds of times more lethal than those used by any Palestinians.) But neither Hamas nor the state of Israel is, it seems, about to do that.
But still, absent a complete disarming of organizations like Hamas or Hizbullah, seeing them turn increasingly to, and recognize the value of, nonviolent means of organizing is a very important and constructive development.

53 thoughts on “Well-organized people power in northern Gaza”

  1. You’re right of course. It’s Israeli *Offense* Forces.
    Nothing so indicts the Zionists than their contempt for honest discourse.

  2. This action of mobilizing the women to come and form an unarmed interposition force around the Beit Hanoun mosque
    amazing that using civilian non-combatants as human shields (a war crime) is actually commended here.

  3. ” “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.”
    (Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3516, 75 U.N.T.S. 287, art. 28).

  4. http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/arms/iraq0202003.htm
    Human Rights Watch:
    The use of civilians, including a state’s own citizens, as human shields to protect military objectives from attack is a violation of international humanitarian law amounting to a war crime…No party to a conflict may encourage or use civilians or other non-combatants to shield military objectives.

  5. The category of “human shields” refers primarily to the coerced use of civilians to interpose them between a military organization and a legitimate military target. These women were not subjected to any such coercion.
    It is true that Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions states that The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations. I believe Israel is not a signatory of Protocol I. Certainly, Hamas is not.
    You should try reading the rest of Protocol I, as well, though, and seeing on how many counts Israel’s standard operating procedures violate it! (But no. You prefer selective quotation, don’t you, Vadim?)
    At a non-legal level, would you prefer there had been full-scale shoot-out at the mosque? This action did apparently succeed, despite the tragic loss of life, in defusing the situation and de-escalating the violence. Would you have preferred to see more extensive loss of life and tensions kept high? What is cause of your hostility to this form of civilian mass action, anyway? Are you perplexed to see Arab women showing courage, discipline, and dignity in the face of Israel’s horrendous readiness to use lethal force?

  6. If there were gunmen in the mosque, then it should have gone BOOM, no questions asked. It was downright immoral of the IDF to risk the lives of soldiers to storm it. These women were not civilians, but accomplices to terrorism; every one of them should have been targeted.

  7. People like Crow above think that by taking an incredibly aggressive approach and branding anyone resisting against Israeli occupation/crimes “terrorists,” they are somehow advancing Israel’s interests. This is pure fiction. Crow, you can murder as many women and blow up as many mosques as you want, but do you honestly think Israel will be any safer? These women are to be commended for nonviolently defusing a volatile situation.
    What you see with Crow is so typical of the neocon/Likudist movement. You demonize the enemy by claiming they’re terrorists and thus claim for yourself the moral authority to take any measures whatsoever to destroy human life in huge numbers and in any circumstances. Once your opponent is not a person but a terrorist, you think you’re free to do anything you like to them, including torture and just bombing them to death in huge numbers.
    Not only are such people incredibly self-righteous and ignorant, they are actually harming the cause of security that they say they are fighting for. They are no better than the terrorists they claim to be fighting against. They just have more money and more power on their sides.

  8. HRW considers use of “non coerced” human shields as criminal (see link, which discusses “coerced” human shields separately as ‘hostages’) Neither Geneva nor the Rome Statute distinguishes between coerced and non-coerced human shields.
    I’ll also quote the crimes of war project:
    “, death or injury to human shields…who voluntarily take up positions at the site of legitimate military objectives does not constitute “civilian” collateral damage, because those voluntary human shields have assumed the risk of combat and, to that extent, have compromised their noncombatant immunity.”
    I believe Israel is not a signatory of Protocol I. Certainly, Hamas is not.
    Does this exempt Israel from the provisions of the statute? What an interesting time to be making this point. I suppose I neednt read through the protocol since they along with HAMAS are suddenly outside the law.
    would you prefer there had been full-scale shoot-out at the mosque?…Are you perplexed to see Arab women showing courage, discipline, and dignity in the face of Israel’s horrendous readiness to use lethal force?
    Quite a series of straw men. No, I’m perplexed to see a purported advocate of non-violence cynically endorse its ABUSE by an armed faction like HAMAS. I’m perplexed to see an advocate of international law tearing up the Rome Statute and the 4th Geneva Convention. The women who risked their lives defending their armed associates are as brave as the suicide bombers who sacrifice theirs daily. Bravery doesnt reduce the severity of a war crime. Stuff like this actually devalues the civilian deaths caused by truly indiscriminate violence.

  9. By the way, Helena, I wasn’t citing Protocol I, but article 28 of the 1949 Convention. The unsigned 1977 protocol is simply more explicit.

  10. Wow. Vadim certainly has taken great offense at this event.
    Since I am relatively new to this site: is he always so aggressive in arguing in favor of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the illegal use of human shields or just in arguing against tactics used successfully versus Israel (PR if not military)?

  11. The question which vadim begs is that of Israel’s right to act in Gaza. All Israel’s actions in Gaza are illegal. It has no more right to call upon the male adult population to report for questioning, beating and torture than the Lions Club in Wichita has. Vadim employs the mangled logic which the Third Reich used in Ukraine. What is occuring in Gaza is genocide, resistance to which is not only natural but laudable. How long must they struggle unaided unhallowed as the world
    pretends not to understand, not to see that a crime is being flaunted in its face, that Israel is taunting the very ideas of justice and truth?

  12. Any nation that is bombarded with rockets has the right to act…Stating otherwise 3 times does not make it less true.

  13. At the very same time that the Hamas women were voluntarily putting themselves between the IDF and their male relatives, Palestinian civilians were being forced involuntarily, at gunpoint, to act as human shields for Israel soldiers on an arrest raid this morning in Bethlehem.
    Just part of a long tradition of the IDF using human shields, even though Israel’s Supreme Court ordered them to stop the practice last October.
    I’m sure that anyone who is offended by these womens’ act of voluntary interposition at the mosque must be positively outraged at the repeated, involuntary use of civilians as human shields by the IDF.

  14. Of course a nation bombarded with rockets may “act”. The question is whether shooting unarmed women en route to a mosque is an act more likely to stop rockets being fired than other acts, like for example finally getting out of the Occupied Territories and letting a viable Palestinian state come into being there.

  15. A couple of quick further points. As that page from Human Rights Watch that Vadim linked to above makes clear, even if people are acting as human shields, that does not remove from the fighting parties the requirement to continue doing all they can to avoid civilian casualties. And also, the taking of hostages in war (which is what is happening when are human shields are forcibly pressed into service) is an IHL violation of an even stronger order than acting as a voluntary human shield, since the prohibition against doing that is written into the main Geneva IV Convention. (Which Israel is of course a party to.)
    Also, I note that Vadim and other critics here refuse to engage in the broader political discussion I raise in the post, including the analogy with the ANC.
    Of course, maybe they agree with what Maggie Thatcher said, back in the day, when she argued that the ANC were all just a bunch of “terrorists”, too, and should never be engaged with politically??
    The discourse of (anti-)”terrorism” is an old, old one trotted out by all the European colonial powers in their time. Nothing much has changed. Oh, except the balance of power in the world as a whole, most of whose people now see clearly through those tired old discourse-suppressing and privilege-preserving ruses.

  16. Also, “bombarded” is perhaps just a slight exaggeration re the rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel? Today, for example, AP tells us that four [Palestinian-launched rockets] landed in southern Israel on Friday, slightly wounding two people.
    Back in August, when we were all discussing the considerably more damaging and scary rocket barrages that Hizbullah launched against Israel during the 33- (or 34-)Day War I wrote this JWN post about precisely the question of how Israel could best protect its civilians from Hizbullah’s rockets. I concluded there that, concluding a ceasefire agreement with Hizbullah, even if the negotiations for this are only indirect, is a very effective way for Israel to protect civilians from the threat of being shelled or otherwise attacked from Lebanon.
    I can make an exactly analogous argument with respect to Hamas in Gaza.
    The whole events of the past few months should surely have demonstrated to Israelis that no amount of building high walls along their borders can assure their longterm security unless, on the far side of those borders, there are empowered governance authorities that are willing and able to ensure the integrioty of that border from their side of it. Hamas would– based on all the evidence I have seen, as well as my own interviews with their leaders– be quite willing to exercise such discipline, if only the Israelis would allow them to establish capable governance institutions in Gaza. But no. Instead of allowing that, Israel maintained the tight siege of the whole area and its campaign of assassinations and mass arrests against Hamas supporters there and in the West Bank.
    None of which has met Israel’s legitimate security goals with respect to its borders any more successfully than the Bush administration’s very similar pursuit of a militaristic campaign of oppression in Iraq has met the US’s goals there….

  17. vadim-
    I’ve warned you before. Be more careful with your hasbara spin. You know we, the Israelis, are the ones that use to our advantage those Palestinian civilians as human shields.
    We do this all the time when we attack West Bank and Gaza. What do you think Arik did when he sent troops into Jenin back in spring 2002? What do you think Michael (the Toad, Yitz, you know him?) and I did back in the day.
    Sure, those women in Hamas are courageous. They learn from our use of “iron fist.” You know how many times, back in the day, we bombed the British? And not just King David Hotel. We the ones who move like spirits within civilian population, you fool!
    We the ones who gain from human shield! Only the Israeli people know the meaning of humanity. We teach the world about humanity!
    I don’t mean to be so hard on you. Cheney and Perle, they think you still do a decent job. Few rough edges. You will learn in due time.

  18. vadim-
    My man! You are the Grand Dragon of the Spin Machine, the Head Hasbara Honcho!!
    Five Stars from AIPAC for you, bro! Yes!!! Neo-Cons rock! Wooooosh!!!
    This election we are going to sweep those peacenik liberals! Now even Joe Lieberman is going to trounce that little vermin Ned Lamont.
    I’ve still got my fingers crossed for George Allen in Virginia. I always knew there was more than one reason why he is such a strong advocate for the State of Israel!
    After the election I would like to book you on my show. Can you make it on the 9th or the 10th? I’ve booked Joe on the 8th, and Cheney may make an appearance.
    Get back to me, ASAP.
    You the man!
    Stephen Colbert
    P.S. Crow, awesome web design! Maybe we can get you to do some graphic design work on our tv show. Hey, have you been working with that Borat guy? The one from Kazakhstan who is now all over the theaters and television screens? If so, let me know. We want to book him too!

  19. I’m sure the IDF is happy to be back in its comfort zone – shooting women and children in Gaza – after that scary encounter with those nasty Hezbollah guerillas in South Lebanon. Whenever the IDF prison guards go on one of their killing sprees in the giant civilian concentration camps of Gaza and the West Bank, it is the job of people like Vadim to explain to gullible Americans that it was really the prisoners’ fault. They should have known better than to let their wives and daughters get in the way of the Israelis’ bullets. Its kind of like those tobacco company lawyers who used to argue in court that anyone stupid enough to use their clients’ products deserved to die.

  20. Helena,
    Hamas honour their words with deeds, as your report based on the events that took place in Beit Hanouneh. The Zionist entity and civilised nations are in tune with the illegal occupation and their dispicable actions on a daily basis.
    In the news these brave women are labeled as human shields. Whatever the indeginious people of Palestine do, they will be criticized.
    Freedom is a right we are born with. When you lose your humanity you are no longer a free person. A fearful man is not a free man.
    Compare these Palestinian women to the armoured men….pathetic, no, vadim and john c.?

  21. “Neoconservatives have the president’s ear, but they also have lots of baggage. To stay relevant, they must admit mistakes, embrace public diplomacy, and start making the case for bombing Iran.”
    Joshua Muravchik’s “Operation Comeback” reads like satire, but self-deprecating humor is not a neocon attribute. And Josh’s neocon credentials are impeccable:

  22. This morning, at the very same time that these women in Gaza were voluntarily putting themselves between their relatives and the IDF, Israeli soldiers in the West Bank were forcing Palestinian civilians – at gunpoint – to act as human shields in a military operation in Bethlehem (links: http://tinyurl.com/yk4pl9 , http://tinyurl.com/vdlql).
    This is the latest in a long series of incidents in which Israeli soldiers have used Palestinian civilians as human shields (link: http://tinyurl.com/pgvp2), despite the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction against the practice in 2002, and banned it outright on 6 October 2005.
    I am sure that anyone who is offended at the voluntary interposition by unarmed Palestinians in Gaza must be positively outraged by the fact that Israeli soldiers continue to use unarmed civilians as involuntary human shields in military operations, in violation of international and Israeli law.

  23. “self-deprecating humor is not a neocon attribute”
    John C. and world Peace-that’s why all the Neo-Cons are welcome on the Colbert Report, just like Head Honcho Vadim.
    I see Muravchik, bless his lil’ battered, tattered neo-con heart, is reaching out across the partisan aisle to welcome the wandering Joe Lieberman on a 2008 GOP ticket with McCain or Giulliani. Bring ’em on!!! We might as well get honest about everything.
    Israel! Israel! Israel! You gotta love what Zionism has done for the American republic. Just imagine Giuliani-Lieberman. Wow, not since Nixon-Agnew-Kissinger! Maybe Joe can turn Sandy Berger and the Madeliene for another round of Defense and Diplomacy.
    NEOOOOO-CONs forever!!! Who needs a two-party system!

  24. Diane,
    The reason Israeli military forces use human shields is because they’re effective in protecting the soldiers who hide behind them; that is, the Palestinians don’t shoot. Compare this with the tack that Israel chooses when they’re confronted with human shields: bombs away!
    Israel’s security problems are entirely self-inflicted: no violently-enforced apartheid occupation, no violence in return.

  25. Oh Ye of Short Memory. Palestinians were offered a chance to become a state and instead ran away as their leaders wished. They vowed to destroy Israel then and Hamas still vows to destroy Israel using young people who strap explosives to their young lives to murder innocent Israeli civilians – but if Israel defends itself against being destroyed , hear the outcry! Israel wished for peace but found they had to fight to survive instead, as over 5,000 years has shown. If Palistine wishes to become a brave, upright state in its own right, negotiations still exist.
    Then their women can bare their faces to the world and join them. Patton

  26. This action of the radio station and the civillian does not deserve to be called non-violent. Those women didn’t rush out to stop a battle or make people lay down their arms. They rushed out to help one side escape. Unarmed or not they were turning themselves into combatents by aiding in the Hamas gunmen’s fight. I don’t find that inspiring, I find that abhorrent on the part of both the radio station and the women. If those women did have courage they wasted that courage on gunmen who did not deserve any sacrifice. In this one specific instance I don’t see the IDF forces at fault. When those women aided the gunmen they stopped being civilians, setting up the IDF in this case of being accused of “shooting women and children” in posts such as the demogogic post put up by John C above. This a different situation from civilian bystanders killed by bombs launched by Israel in disregard of possible casualties ( which is similar to what Crow was advocating in his post, and Crow’s blog does have some of the most morally repugnant posts I’ve read on the internet ), or collective punishment of civilians through policies such as house demolitions.
    So long as Hamas maintains its call to destroy Israel it’s unfair to expect Israel to let Hamas establish those government institutions. I agree that Western policy to the Hamas electoral victory has been ill-advised, using tactics that do nothing but endanger the populace in the occupied territories. I want Israel to drop its demand that Hamas renounce violence. Instead Israel and Hamas should agree to a ceasefire; that would end violence, from BOTH sides. With territory respected, Hamas can then build the infrastructure the Palestinians need, but AFTER a renunciation of the goal to destroy Israel.
    This incident is very emotionally charged. Maybe that’s why there’s been an uptick of joke posts on this board. Posts by “Menachim Begin”, “Colbert Report”, “world peace”, and “Patton” ( all done by the same person ) are so wrapped up in their bizarre act that they offer no clear insight at all. Just flaming. The discussion would be more useful without these troll posts cluttering up the space.

  27. Amazing to still hear bleating re “destroy Israel”. Is a repetition of that phrase supposed to have the same effect as “anti-semitic”, “holocaust denier”, that it immediately put the person who is termed as such to be beyond the pale?
    Just as it was correct to wish for the destruction of the apartheid state of South Africa, so is it correct to wish for the destruction of an Israel (a state with no defined borders) that revels in colonial settlements, ethnic cleansing and racial laws.
    Israel’s new cabinet member, Lieberman, well espouses why Israel in its present form should be destroyed. Here is someone who learned ethnic cleaning at Putin’s knee and is advocating the same murderous policies against the Palestinians that Putin has put in place in Chechnya against the Chechens. Since almost a quarter of Israelis have learned their ethnic lessons in that most xenophobic of states, Russia, his statements are met with favor among a majority Israelis. And let’s remember that recent poll on torture, where among all the various countries interviewed, Israel stood out as the only place where a majority of the people (Jews)considered torture to be acceptable.

  28. Inkan, I would be more inclined to be sympathetic to your position if there were any evidence at all that the Hamas militants had been part of a rocket brigade (and therefore, involved in acts of cross-border violence against Israel.) I have seen no such evidence presented. They were people operating inside their own completely recognized homeland as a militia. Israel sent tanks and forces into Gaza, and the Hamas men there resisted that aggressive cross-border violence, which under international law they and all other residents of Gaza were certainly entitled to do.
    Regarding Hamas and rocketing, Hamas has largely stuck to the unilateral cessation of rocketing that it and Fateh announced in 2005. Too many westerners forget that. It has been much smaller groups– mainly, offshoots of Fateh– that have persisted in the rocketing.

  29. “troll…, bizarre…, flaming…”
    I beg your pardon. I have no association with the likes of Patton, Menachem Begin, Crow, world Peace, and the likes.
    Ask yourself: when it is perfectly acceptable in America to lampoon the likes of George W., Mark Foley, Jerry Falwell, why is it Americans have no funny bone when it comes to the equally absurd characatures offered by the toad Yitzhak Shamir, the bulldozer, now comatose vegetable Arik Sharon, the original fabricator-in-chief Golda Meir, or Elmer Fud himself, the porky piggish Ehud Barak?
    Why no Vaudevillian treatment of Zionism’s absurdity?
    Imagine: at a time in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when Euopean powers were actively breaking up the Ottoman empire and bringing an end the last Islamic caliphate, a bunch of influential Ashkenazi meet in Switzerland and plan to retake the “City of David,” and recover access to the basement of the Temple Mount. All this by the end of the second millenium???
    Is this not a recipe for the insane religious warfare we see today? Does that not strike you as one of the stupidest ideas in the history of human ideas? Does this not deserve lampooning?
    You owe me a big-time apology!! Woooosh!!!! I rock!

  30. To Inkan from Patton — I am NOT the same as the other commentators you grouped me with. I have my own opinions derived from 83 years on this earth – observing and studying other human beings. You sound very much like those who declare that millions of Jews were not killed by Hitlers camps by also denying that Hamas just recently repeated its intention to destroy Israel. Don’t you read international news or is it beyond your comprehension? Oh, I know, you only understand what you learned as an under- privileged child that Jews had all the money in the world and were set on killing Christians. I heard that as a child but thought that your sort had grown up and become intelligent human beings with the rest of the world. Patton

  31. Helena, I acknowledge that I was presuming that these gunmen were a rocket brigade, and that I could be wrong about the rockets being Hamas associated.
    A ceasefire agreement needs to be enforced. One where Israel and the Hamas elected government are made to cooperate by necessity. Recognition of the Hamas elected government to exist and the state of Israel to exist would be a step for both sides to stand down. Then a Palestinian infrastructure can form with the power to stop the rocket launchers on their own. I hope answers to stop the fighting can be found in these ideas.
    Cassandra, you mean the apartheid government of South Africa. That government and its policies were abolished but the State of South Africa has persisted ( as all its residents currently wish ). It is correct to work to stop the Israeli government policies of settlements and land grabs. If a lot of Israeli residents are endorsing torture, a good number of Israeli residents are campaigning hard to change these misguided sentiments, and to vote the Olmert and Lieberman government out.
    Is Patton accusing me of being the exact opposite of what kassandra is accusimg me? 🙂

  32. Patton,
    They vowed to destroy Israel then and Hamas still vows to destroy Israel using young people who strap explosives to their young lives to murder innocent Israeli civilians –
    I think your 83 years dose not added any wisdom to your Soule.
    Can you tell us what Istaril did in Lebanon recently from using illegal weapons using cluster bombs and behind them killing daily 4 Lebanon’s kids each day, these are not young lives to murder innocent Lebanon’s civilians ? Just yours “young lives to murder innocent Israeli civilians” and the reset just not human ….
    “but if Israel defends itself against being destroyed , hear the outcry! Israel wished for peace but found they had to fight to survive instead, as over 5,000 years has shown.”
    False analogy looks for another excuse for you arguments…..
    I surprised Helena not stoping people like Crow and other nuts here…

  33. Wow, this is about as Orwellian as it gets.
    Hamas encouraged members of its “burqa brigade” to act as human shields so their rocket firing, suicide bombing, arms tunnel smuggling brethren could escape capture by the IDF. And she tries to pass this of as “non violence.”
    Don’t think that people didn’t notice you posting under two handles. That’s ok, because Helena cleaned up after you. She probably doesn’t want others to recognize the number of sockpuppets that help her in her “hasbara” for Hamas and Hezbollah.
    But she’ll delete posts when this is pointed out. So much for open and honest debate!

  34. “brethren could escape capture by the IDF”
    Oh, those nasty Muslim “brethren.” Hail, hail the IDF!! Who is the current IDF chief? Can I book him on a post-election show while we celebrate a George W. GOP victory? Maybe the IDF chief will attend with Dick Cheney. Or perhaps the next night when we interview William Hurt about his Academy Award winning role as a Nazi-loving, homosexual prison mate in a Brazilian jailhouse.

  35. Joshua, Oh Joshua, would you come on my show, bare your mighty chest, and blow my shofar that I keep backstage.
    “We give praise for the liberation of your chosen people, Oh Lord!!”
    Perhaps then, Joshua, you could read from the diaries of David Ben Gurion, and explain just how dangerous Muslim ideas are for the future of all humanity.
    “Oh lord, bring a light unto the gentiles!”

  36. I’ve never said Muslim ideas are dangerous. I do think Hamas and its ideas are dangerous, as can be seen by their latest tactic, which was to call women to serve as human shields to protect their fighters.
    Do you consider Hamas to represent “Muslim ideas?”
    You can’t hold a candle to Stephen Colbert.

  37. I did not know you were such a Muslim-loving wuss.
    “Do you consider Hamas to represent Muslim ideas?”
    And after reading the Quran, how do you think the Prophet Muhammad would respond to a Zionist takeover of Muslim lands, especially when Zionist forces target Muslims in their places of worship? Do you think Muhammad would not call the wives of those Muslims into the streets in order to rescue them?
    “You can’t hold a candle to Stephen Colbert.”
    I like the way that sounds. Just trying to do my part sharing the Hebrew light of my Judaeo-Christian heritage. Don’t I rock? Woooosh!!
    Keep it up, Joshua, and you may just find a second invitation to my very popular show.

  38. The Hamas women don’t wear burqas. The modest garb they do wear allows them considerably more mobility and situational awareness than burqas allow, as Joshua or anyone else would have noticed who had watched some of the footage of them scrambling over those earth barricades toward the Israeli tanks.
    Joshua, why are you so hostile to the idea of mobilized, unarmed women going to the rescue of their sons and brothers who are under attack in their own homeland by an invasion/occupation force? Do you think Israelis should be able to wield their violence quite unchecked?

  39. “Joshua, why are you so hostile to the idea of mobilized, unarmed women going to the rescue of their sons and brothers who are under attack in their own homeland by an invasion/occupation force?”
    Because they were not rescuing them, they were aiding and abetting their campaign of terror.
    Why are you so hostile toward the idea of a country defending itself against a racist organization that based its charter on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

  40. Helena-
    Speaking as one widely popular journalist to another, I must say I could not have asked those questions any better than had you pulled the “sock-puppet” strings in the back of my head.
    What could the creation of “sock-puppets” mean, anyway?
    Would that be what happens when real journalists begin to break through to Americans about the realities of Israel’s continued brutal treatment of the Palestinian people…about the direct connection between Zionist colonization of Palestine and the rise of Islamic militancy in the 20th century? Once that breakthrough happens, could Americans then begin to ask their own well-informed questions about the Middle East, instead of believing all that gay evangelist stuff about the rapture and the return of the messiah? Would those Americans be “sock-puppets?”
    I guess Robert Fisk has spent his whole life creating “sock-puppets.” And recently Walt and Mearsheimer, they too were just creating “sock-puppets.”
    Gee-whiz, if Joshua won’t come blow his shofar on my show, then I guess I may have to invite Walt and Mearsheimer on my popular broadcast, and we can play with all the “sock-puppets” we create across America.

  41. Ah, maybe I have the answer to my question to Joshua. P.W. Botha, the old “crocodile” who designed and ran most of the atrocities of S. Africa’s late apartheid era, recently died. Maybe his spirit has been reincarnated in the bosom of our very own…. Joshua? Certainly, his amazing attempts at justificatory legerdemain and his recourse to the crass rhetoric of anti-“terror” have been.
    “Terror”?? Whose actions do you think are terrifying, terrorizing, (and killing) the greatest number of people in Israel/Palestine these days?
    Your logic, Joshua, defies belief.
    One of my goals in this post was to point out that even under circumstances of extreme terrorization people and human groups still have nonviolent paths open to them by which they can defuse tensions, minimize casualty tolls, and point a way to the further effective use of nonviolent means of mass struggle for their rights. I still think the Hamas women’s action did that. You, Joshua, have not demonstrated anything here to the contrary.
    How would you suggest that tensions might best be defused and everyone in Israel/Palestine assured equal access to the prerequisites of human flourishing? You never tell us that. Instead, all you do is pull out a few very sterile rhetorical devices… “Terror”, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, etc.
    Meantime, do we ever hear a peep from you about the many, many excesses of violence the government of Israel engages in? I would say your credibility as an “objective” analyst of any of these matters is ways low at this point.

  42. do we ever hear a peep from you about the many, many excesses of violence the government of Israel engages in?
    ‘Team Hamas’ seems to have this base well covered. But I don’t see anyone here lauding the IDF’s use of human shields so this “point” (recited on every thread) is just a tu quoque, ie a clumsy rhetorical distraction. I’d call it ‘legerdemain’ if it weren’t so ham-handed.
    I would say your credibility as an “objective” analyst of any of these matters is ways low at this point.
    Helena do you seriously imagine yourself or any of your acolytes here an “objective” analyst of Mideast affairs? Apparently you do. Colbert, pay attention, because that’s how comedy works.
    nonviolent…defuse tensions
    As noted, civilians who coordinate tactically with armed combatants, smuggling them around in women’s clothing, hiding them in churches etc., aren’t non-violent actors. Their actions, coerced or voluntary, constitute a grave war crime per the Rome Statute of the ICC and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Please explain why these documents should be abrogated to reflect your peculiar definition of nonviolence, shared it seems by very few (if any) authorities on international law.
    The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is Russian, making it a European import like many other “Muslim ideas” (Arab Nationalism I believe is another European import the Hezbaristas don’t seem to mind.) Colbert lumps centuries of legal and philosophical scholarship together with European totalitarian screeds, and thinks he’s exhibiting cultural sensitivity.

  43. Wow, I point out a simple fact, that the Hamas-ettes were not engaging in nonviolent resistance, but serving as human shields so their violent resistors could escape and continue their campaign of violence.
    And Helena has the gall to compare me to P.W. Botha? Funny, I doubt P.W. Botha has been reincarnated into the body of a civil rights lawyer who labors for, among other things, workplace equality for minorities.
    But I think that Helena has just created a new version of Godwin’s law, that the longer the IP conflict is discussed, that someone (usually a Hamas or Hezbollah hasbarist) will make baseless personal attacks accusing the other side of Apartheid. Thank you, Helena, for once again showing you can’t even follow your own discussion guidelines.

  44. Whose actions do you think are terrifying, terrorizing, (and killing) the greatest number of people in Israel/Palestine these days?
    Once more class, 1.) military superiority establishes guilt 2.) the weaker party in any conflict is exempt from all restraint. Whichever side is better armed, or more legally accountable, they’re the guilty ones, from religious compounds in Waco TX to besieged Moscow theatres to “Palestine/Israel.” No wonder Quakers make such effective policemen.
    Jihadists in the market for “positive PR” (as Derek put it) might take refuge among the greatest possible number of civilians (chivalrous, no?), since the inevitable bloodbath makes for such compelling news feeds and so perfectly exploits this ass-backwards & arbitrary morality. Easy to sell in the context of occupation when the instigators are laying their low-rent siege across a national border from unoccupied territory,. No, dumb and unfeeling cattle though they may be, the US public will know that line of crap -I think kassandra used the unkind term ‘bleating’ – when it’s fed to them.
    Let’s not forget the”reality based” solution: “Destroy Israel in its present form!” says kassandra (beaming her report in from “reality-base one”, the tinfoil spaceship she’s built in her living room.) ‘Replace it with a humanist & secular democracy, blind to sectarian & ethnic identity!‘ Laugh out loud funny. Reminds me of the time one of “Helena’s Hezb’aristos” flipped out over the term ‘Arab’ and claimed the bit in HAMAS’ charter calling for ethnic cleansing was a Zionist forgery. Way funnier than Stephen Colbert on a good day. Funnier even than “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and they’re a scream.
    Getting back to Helena’s point about the ANC, without any doubt they were a terrorist group, and I’m here using the term ‘as Helena herself has defined it, so I hope I can avoid those comforting scare quotes she’s suddenly adopted for the term. I don’t know enough about the ANC to establish why reconciliation was possible with them and not with HAMAS. I think their manifestos present an effective comparison. Compare
    We are fighting for a South Africa in which there will be peace and harmony and equal rights for all people. (“we are at war!”/1961)
    to this:
    The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. (HAMAS covenant, 1988)
    To Helena I guess these sound just alike.

  45. I surprised Helena not stoping people like Crow and other nuts here…

    Speaking of nuts, Salah, I’ll never forget that time when you denied that hundreds of Jews were killed in the WTC. Colbert-esque. Hysterical.

  46. I don’t understand why some posters here bother to continue to fight. I’m not denying the right to, I just don’t understand why some seem to relish the abuse. This sight is obviously anti-occupation (Iraq and “Palestine”). I wonder how it can draw the interest of people who support occupation and its often brutal tactics.
    What motivates people to willingly draw abuse to themselves?

  47. I wonder how it can draw the interest of people who support occupation and its often brutal tactics.
    Like who? Israel’s recent incursion into Gaza hasn’t anything to do with occupation. It’s a response to rockets being fired on Israel. The fact that rockets continue to fall on Israel proves that occupation isn’t the chief motivator of attacks, since Gaza wasn’t occupied when Gilad Shalit was abducted, and Israels evacuation didn’t end the barrage of Qassam missiles from Gaza. notwithstanding its much-advertised “discipline” and popular sympathies, HAMAS seems unwilling or unable to curb these attacks. If missiles were being lobbed into New York from Quebec, and the Canadian government did nothing to stop them, the United States would have every right to defend itself through projected military force.
    None of the commentators here hostile to HAMAS are pro-occupation or pro-settlement. Why would this surprise you? Occupation isn’t relevant to every political dispute. Is the “postcolonial” political vocabulary really so limited?

  48. I’m new to this debate and so not fully familiar with the post-colonial vocabulary. From a newbie’s perspective, it seems like some people’s posts are continually attacked regardless of the validity of the claims. I’m sure both sides think they are right and the other wrong. No opinions are being changed. It seems like some people just like to argue, some people relish the abuse and some people just can’t give up and walk away. Why bother?

  49. Jameela al-Shanti in The Guardian
    “Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel’s artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.”

  50. That attack that left 18 civilians killed, that case I would call a slaughter of innocent civilians, brought on by callous disregard by Israeli Defence Force commanders. Apologies won’t fix this. The Israeli government has to acknowledge that the way they conduct warfare spills rivers of civilian blood, and find a different way.

  51. Is the “postcolonial” political vocabulary really so limited?
    I’m afraid it is. Unfortunately, there are a significant number of people who are hell bent on making certain that the meek do indeed inherit the earth, no matter how many have to die in the process.

  52. Human Rights Watch has suggested that voluntary human shields are similarly not participating in hostilities because “their actions do not pose a direct risk to opposing forces” and they are not “directly engaging in hostilities.” This interpretation is excessively narrow. Most importantly, the standard is participation in hostilities, not engagement therein. In this particular case, the human shields are dleiberately attempting to preserve a valid military objective for use by the enemy. In essence, they are no different from, for instance, point air defenses, which are employed more to protect the target than to destroy attacking aircraft. Indeed, to suggest otherwise would actually run counter to the underlying purposes of humanitarian law in that it would encourage voluntary shields by minimizing the risk they assumed by their actions. This would heighten, in turn, the risk to the civilian population generally by disrupting humanitarian law’s delicate balance between military necessity and protection of civilians.
    Michael Schmitt, Professor of International Law and Director of the Executive Program in International and Security Affairs, Marshall Ctr. for European Studies
    (p. 16)

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