@Israelconsulate responses : Government PR on Twitter

IndignityAs promised, here’s the responses I received to questions posed to Israel’s Consulate in New York, represented by Consul @DavidSaranga in a governmental world first public press conference on Twitter today.

One of the aims appeared to be pushing a slick vidcast ad about life under Hamas bombing in Sderot complete with petition – perhaps in the interests of global citizen’s democracy and balance, the Israelis will turn the power back on in Gaza so its hapless populace can prepare a glossy vid of their own.

Though one couldn’t say real twittering rapport was achieved, the flood of questions from round the planet kept the Consul’s fingers hopping! Twitter is probably not the best medium to conduct open press conferences that are likely to attract large numbers of participants – still, I gained a few interesting followers and was pleased some of my questions were answered, albeit with nothing particularly unpredictable – where information delivered was questionable, I took the trouble to reply with correct links where applicable.

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate what is your understanding of the word “apartheid“? [link]

IC:

@Jinjirrie: There are no Israelis are living in Gaza so there is no segregation. the only solution is a 2 state solution #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate gaza effectively occupied by israel , yet without rights enjoyed by israelis … justification? #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate why not aim for a wonderful 1 state solution? sooner or later demographic facts will make this inevitable surely #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate why did Israel break the ceasefire with Hamas with incursions in November? http://is.gd/e7c0 #AskIsrael [link]

IC:

@Jinjirrie: Hamas decided to break the CF: http://tinyurl.com/3v4gkl #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate better source for cf here http://is.gd/dTEH – hamas offered to renew truce, on very reasonable terms – comment? #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate why is Israel attacking a civilian mercy ship? #AskIsrael #gaza http://is.gd/e8n6 [link]

IC:

@jinjirrie During CF 3 ships were let in. Due to escalation, we have decided to keep the ships out of harms way 4 their safety.#askisrael [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate how is ramming an aid ships & firing round it keeping ‘them out of harm’s way’? #askisrael [link]

SETH:

@israelconsulate Ur reply to @jinjirrie disingenuous.Aid ship blocked 4 its own safety? Imagine they know risks http://is.gd/eds8 #askisrael [link]

IC is now spinning the story on its site, saying the Dignity rammed an Israeli vessel. Those on the boat however say the Dignity was in fact rammed – three times.

The captain of the Dignity told Penhaul he received no warning. Only after the collision did the Israelis come on the radio to say they struck the boat because they believed it was involved in terrorist activities.

The captain and crew said their vessel was struck intentionally, Penhaul said, but Palmor called those allegations “absurd.”

“There is no intention on the part of the Israeli navy to ram anybody,” Palmor said.

“I would call it ramming. Let’s just call it as it is,” McKinney said after the boat docked in Lebanon. “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front and one on the side”

“Our mission was a peaceful mission to deliver medical supplies and our mission was thwarted by the Israelis — the aggressiveness of the Israeli military,” she said.

The incident occurred in international waters about 90 miles off Gaza.

Followup questions I asked pursuant to replies received by others:

IC:

@anotherpundit Isr. only targets mil. installations. Unfortunate damage 2 civ. targets occurs. Hamas purposely puts civ. at risk. #AskIsrael [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate why does israel bomb civilian police stations & universities if it ‘only targets military installations?’ #askisrael [link]

IC:

@realprince IL is pro ceasefire, but due 2 R exp. these R used 2 strengthen Hamas. we’d rther negotiate than fight. #AskIsrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate ‘rather negotiate than fight?’ why a different tune from you to israeli politicians http://is.gd/ediV #askisrael [link]

IC:

@jranck crossings r open. 2day 33 trucks of aid & 5 ambulances. Among them r: UNRAW, MSF, ICRC & WFP. In the last 6 mnts: 17,000 @askisrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate UN says 600 lorry loads of food & medicine needed daily & israel allows in 33 .. discrepancy??? #askisrael [link]

IC:

@xylem we believe talking is the best way, but we’ll talk only to factions that accept our right to live. a right Hamas denies #AskIsrael\ [link]

JIN:

@israelconsulate http://is.gd/edAy hamas conditns for accptig israel were clear & reasonable esp. ending the illegal occupation #askisrael [link]

And lastly, my remaining unanswered questions, which I hope will be addressed at a later date:

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate when did the psyop warning phone calls to gazans start after the initial Cast Lead surprise? #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate how long before abbas stops being a suitable ‘partner for peace’ like all the others before? #askisrael [link]

JIN:

@IsraelConsulate 5000 palestinians koed by israel & 14 israelis koed by rockets in 7 yrs – when will the illegal occupation end? #askisrael [link]

A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity – Nelson Mandela

Israel and Peace – mutually exclusive terms

Gazan father weeps before dead sonBombs are raining down on Gaza. In that tiny, densely populated strip of land on the Mediterranean, under merciless siege for the past 18 months, there is nowhere to hide, no sophisticated air raid shelters or safe zones. When the chilling phone call comes from the Israeli psyops that one’s home is near a target, there is nowhere safe to go. The initial Israeli attack however was reportedly a surprise.

It is well worth considering that 55% of the 1.5 million Gazan population are under the age of 18. Israel has killed 31 children and wounded 140 thus far in the past 4 days of its pogrom from a total 360 375 people killed and counting.

Israeli politicians and their complicit foreign muppets coldly bleat about how Hamas must stop its barrage of homemade rockets which have killed 4 people during Operation Cast Lead.

Seamus Milne observes:

During the last seven years, 14 Israelis have been killed by mostly homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments in the world. And while no rockets are fired from the West Bank, 45 Palestinians have died there at Israel’s hands this year alone.

Yet Israel refuses to seek a truce – they have more killing in mind and a powerful military funded gratuitously with yankee dollars with which to accomplish their goals.

Are they are enjoying this slaughter, this reenactment of the Shoah which was visited upon them long ago and with which they have threatened the people of Gaza this year? Will they stretch out their criminal collective punishment of the Gazan people until that mindless fool Bush is out of office?

How does Israel benefit from its vile acts of genocide? As Johann Hari accurately comments (the whole story is essential background to the current disaster):

Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don’t take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security service Shin Bet, “told the Israeli cabinet [on 23 December] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms.” Diskin explained that Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet – high with election fever and eager to appear tough – rejected these terms.

The core of the situation has been starkly laid out by Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad. He says that while Hamas militants – like much of the Israeli right-wing – dream of driving their opponents away, “they have recognised this ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.” Instead, “they are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” They are aware that this means they “will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original goals” – and towards a long-term peace based on compromise.

The rejectionists on both sides – from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Bibi Netanyahu of Israel – would then be marginalised. It is the only path that could yet end in peace but it is the Israeli government that refuses to choose it. Halevy explains: “Israel, for reasons of its own, did not want to turn the ceasefire into the start of a diplomatic process with Hamas.”

Why would Israel act this way? The Israeli government wants peace, but only one imposed on its own terms, based on the acceptance of defeat by the Palestinians. It means the Israelis can keep the slabs of the West Bank on “their” side of the wall. It means they keep the largest settlements and control the water supply. And it means a divided Palestine, with responsibility for Gaza hived off to Egypt, and the broken-up West Bank standing alone. Negotiations threaten this vision: they would require Israel to give up more than it wants to. But an imposed peace will be no peace at all: it will not stop the rockets or the rage. For real safety, Israel will have to talk to the people it is blockading and bombing today, and compromise with them.

The sound of Gaza burning should be drowned out by the words of the Israeli writer Larry Derfner. He says: “Israel’s war with Gaza has to be the most one-sided on earth… If the point is to end it, or at least begin to end it, the ball is not in Hamas’s court – it is in ours.”

The last thing Israel has ever wanted in its blighted, ugly existence is peace – it has proved this time and time again. Until it has expropriated all it wants from the Palestinians, it is in the interests of the Zionist enterprise to divide and conquer using Hamas and Fatah as pawns, manipulate international opinion, run a concentration camp in Gaza and get away as it usually does with endless bloody murder.

Israel on twitter

Boing Boing posts an alert that Israel is utlising Web 2.0 to interact with the world, with an inaugural citizen’s twitter conference to be held today between 1 – 3 pm EST.

If you are twitter shy, you can follow the conference here and here.

Our questions?

@IsraelConsulate what is your understanding of the word “apartheid“?

@IsraelConsulate why did Israel break the ceasefie with Hamas with incursions in November? http://is.gd/e7c0 #AskIsrael

In contravention of international maritime law, Israel is compounding its criminal travesties with an assault on civilian emergency supply ship Dignity.

So we’ve asked another question:

@IsraelConsulate why is Israel attacking a civilian mercy ship? #AskIsrael #gaza http://is.gd/e8n6

Israel Go Home NowIsrael’s current massacre in Gaza has been characterised by United Nations regional envoy, Richard Falk “as a massive violation of international law because it was punishing an entire population for the actions of a few” – thus an extension of the collective punishment of the blockade inflicted on the civilians in Gaza over the past year.

Falk also accused Israel of “targeting civilians and of a disproportionate response to the threat posed by Hamas’s equally illegal rocket attacks on its southern border.”

Israeli Foreign Minister and electoral hopeful Tipsy Livni’s response, backed by the usual muppets in the US administration? The attacks were needed “to change the reality on the ground. That reality … was one where Hamas continued rocket attacks on the people of southern Israel without retaliation.”

Yet it was Israel which deliberately broke the ceasefire with Hamas last November after which were rockets fired in retaliation that Israel then used as propaganda in a transparently deceitful attempt to justify the present pogrom against the people of Gaza, further claiming spuriously that civilians are not being targeted.

From Jews for Justice for Palestinians:

“The Israeli government steadily sought to break down the ceasefire, not just in Gaza since early November, but also in the West Bank. Israeli forces have carried out an average of 33 incursions, 42 arrests or detentions, 12 woundings and 0.84 killings a week in the West Bank during the ceasefire. The tactic has been to continue attacking Hamas and other militants in the West Bank, provoking responses in Gaza, and to use the responses as the pretext for the massive attacks of the last 24 hours.”

Israel rejected Hamas offers for an extension of the cease fire:

“On 23rd December Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire if Israel would undertake to open border crossings for supplies of aid and fuel, and halt incursions. For those of us appalled at the collective punishment involved in the ongoing siege, and concerned that Israelis should not fear death or injury from Qassam rockets, that seems a truly reasonable response.

For Israel to reject it bespeaks a bankrupt body politic especially since the army and the politicians are acting against the wishes of the Israeli public. It is after all the civilians on both sides who will bear the brunt of this dangerous folly.”

Other sources indicate the planning of Israel’s attack on Gaza occurred over several months, so it’s fair to assume the Israeli incursion provocation in November formed part of the strategy to exonerate the Zionist enterprise from blame.


Israel is refusing any truce with Hamas
and has foreshadowed weeks more collective punishment. Does this mean its government believes its propaganda campaign is working and they can continue to bomb Gaza with impunity, with little to no censure from the international community?

What does Israel really hope to achieve with its abominable slaughter and destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure?

In an excellent dissection of the issues, Hugo Foster discusses the counter-productivity of Israel’s attack on Gaza:

The assumption that hurting Palestinian civilians, either through air strikes or through starvation and power cuts, will make them rebel against their leaders is farcical. Hamas is a religious nationalist movement that above all aspires to defend Palestinian land and security, something that the majority of Gazans believe is worthwhile. This has been shown to be so time and time again.

The EU, France, Russia, UN and belatedly Britain have condemned the ongoing air strikes. But the US, the one power with any real hold over Israel, has shamefully refused to follow suit, urging Israel simply to avoid civilian casualties. As one Jerusalem Post commentator writes, ‘The [US] State Department’s reaction seemed to be a repetition of the one we heard two years ago [regarding the July war in Lebanon], but with Hamas replacing Hezbollah and Gaza standing in for Lebanon: the war is Hamas’s fault, Hamas should stop shelling Israel with rockets, Hamas is a terror organization, the people of Gaza are suffering because of Hamas’.

This kind of nonsense, in ignoring the true dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, will in the long run do nothing for Israelis or Palestinians. Our leaders should remember that most of Gaza’s inhabitants are children of refugees, the sad legacy of protracted conflict in the Middle East, and a reminder that all attempts to date to produce a military solution to the Palestinian question have fundamentally failed. And any government not yet convinced as to just how explosive the issue of Palestine is across the Middle East need only look at the ripples of civil unrest reported in just about every capital city in the region in the last three days.

Nir Rosen describes the counter-productive consequences of Israel’s hideous, masochistic strategy:

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas’s military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

In the Independent, Robert Fisk makes some comparisons between Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and British responses to the IRA:

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army’s “research and assessment division” announced that “no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them”. Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn’t want to lower ourselves to the IRA’s level.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated “terrorism”. So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.

The plight of the Gazan people inflicted by the 18 month long blockade and the perfidy of exceptionalist Israeli propaganda is further highlighted in the video below.

First Dog On The Moon Captures Cat

Fringe CatI’m admiring my new haughtily petulant, verging on malevolent, inscrutable cat avatar by divine Australian cartoonist, FirstDogOnTheMoon (@firstdogonmoon), conjured up from a photo of my companion Voldemorte, a siamese cross black cat.

FirstDog inhabits the First Blog On The Moon, an inspired compendium of cheerful animal observations, biting(sic) political satire, cartoons and comics. His artwork can be found regularly elsewhere on Australia’s premier online news and commentary site, Crikey.com.au – don’t miss the hilarious FirstDogOnTheMoon Christmas Spectacular! And now, his precocious animalia has overrun the twitterverse.

Interlopers should note my delicious black cat avatar should not be copied or used elsewhere at the risk of deep doo doo – it belongs to the artist and is for *my* use.

Again thanks, FirstDog – your work is treasured!

Best of the Best 2008 lists

Somebody think of the children takes the cake with a list of the 20 worst censorship outrages in Australia in 2008.

Huffington Post’s 10 Best Youtube clips Someone pointed out there might be a problem – wonder which one?

Scott Bridges at New Matilda looks at Oz Political Wingnuts and Tragics for 2008.

On Freedom to Differ, Peter Black sports two lists – Best of TV and Best of the Web and he’s in line for a well-deserved 2008 Weblog Award – good luck! In mock pique, Stilgherrian, whom we’ve nominated for a Shorty Award for #irony, has objected to his elevation on Freedom to Differ.

All the best for 2009 folks, it’s going to be a great year!