Thursday, March 26, 2009

the Dawg Days of the Liberation of Gaza

Late last week Dr. Dawg wrote blog post called The Liberation of Gaza based on unsubstantiated accounts reported from the Israeli daily Ha’aretz alleging Israeli combat soldiers had admitted to witnessing war crimes committed in Gaza. The Ha’aretz account went viral in less than 24 hours and found its way in almost all the large international dailies. Here’s a portion of the Ha’aretz report concerning an alleged ‘eyewitness’ account which Dawg also partially quotes as well.

Ram: "I serve in an operations company in the Givati Brigade. After we'd gone into the first houses, there was a house with a family inside. Entry was relatively calm. We didn't open fire, we just yelled at everyone to come down. We put them in a room and then left the house and entered it from a different lot. A few days after we went in, there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sharpshooters' position on the roof. The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go, and it was was okay and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."

Question from the audience: "At what range was this?"

Ram: "Between 100 and 200 meters, something like that. They had also came out of the house that he was on the roof of, they had advanced a bit and suddenly he saw then, people moving around in an area where they were forbidden to move around. I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way."

Yuval Friedman (chief instructor at the Rabin program): "Wasn't there a standing order to request permission to open fire?"

Ram: "No. It exists, beyond a certain line. The idea is that you are afraid that they are going to escape from you. If a terrorist is approaching and he is too close, he could blow up the house or something like that."

Zamir: "After a killing like that, by mistake, do they do some sort of investigation in the IDF? Do they look into how they could have corrected it?"

Ram: "They haven't come from the Military Police's investigative unit yet. There hasn't been any ... For all incidents, there are individual investigations and general examinations, of all of the conduct of the war. But they haven't focused on this specifically."
What the good Dawg hadn’t realized was Israeli Channel 2 reporter Roni Daniel managed to track down one of the two soldiers quoted extensively in the Ha’aretz article the evening after the Ha’aretz article was published. The report aired on Israeli television that same night.

I waded into the comments
and wrote this at the good Dawg’s blog and wrote this:
Sometimes I really wish you would take a pause before you give into your often overwhelimg compulsions to cast stones at Israeli Jews. If you had you might have learned Israeli TV Channel 2 correspondent Roni Daniel has already tracked down one of the two soldier’s Ha’aretz based their report on. Turns out he was witness to much ado about nothing. Channel 2 is looking for the other. The report ran last night on Israeli television.

The soldier who described the shooting of a woman and her two children was called into his commanding officer and stated, “I didn’t see it myself. There were stories like this. I wasn’t in that house and all that I said was based on rumors. The conference (where I related the story) was a social conversation, and that’s how I related to it.” The soldier who described the shooting of an elderly woman admits he doesn’t know the full story. “The credibility of the two stories is very doubtful,” the correspondent concluded. (Israel Television Channel 2-Hebrew)

Was there IDF soldier misconduct? Probably, there has been no war I have ever read/heard about when some kind of misconduct wasn’t present at some point. Was it widespread or systematic – I sincerely doubt it.

But more importantly, while you remain so critical of IDF rules of engagement, how about a post on Hamas rules of engagement – for balance’s sake

Dawg’s response:
"Cast stones at Israeli Jews?" Good grief, I didn't start this. I quoted an Israeli newspaper, referenced in the Toronto Star.

I guess if I mouthed off in a military setting and then found my name plastered all over the evening news, I might do some backpedaling too.

We're promised more accounts. I'll be watching with my normally critical eye.
I cannot speak for the Israeli soldier quoted above or even for Dr. Dawg (although he alludes to potentially backpedaling) but if I had mouthed off about witnessing a war crime you couldn’t get me to back pedal or back down in a million years or three universes. Of course, I would have followed the military code of justice at the time and reported the incident as per the demands of military code of justice but that’s just me.

Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post carried this article:
Allegations that IDF soldiers deliberately shot and killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead have been found to be categorically untrue in official army investigations, an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the investigations have not yet been officially released to the public. He stressed, however, that the investigations were close to completion.

The investigations examined claims made by graduates of the Rabin Pre-military Academy during a conference held last month, which were later written up and printed in an academy pamphlet. Some Israeli media outlets, including Haaretz, then seized on the claims, and the allegations went on to make headlines around the world. During the conference, one soldier claimed a marksman opened fire on a mother and two of her children, in full knowledge that they were civilians, after a squadron commander told them to walk into a no-entry zone. "All of the soldiers who were involved in the conference were questioned - not as a punishment - but in order to understand whether they had witnessed these things. From all of the testimonies we collected, we can safely conclude that the soldiers who made the claims did not witness the events they describe," the source said.

"All of it was based on rumors. In the incident of the alleged shooting of the mother and her children, what really happened was that a marksman fired a warning shot to let them know that they were entering a no-entry zone. The shot was not even fired in their general direction," the source said.

"The marksman's commander ran up the stairs of a Palestinian home, got up on the roof, and asked the marksman why he shot at the civilians. The marksman said he did not fire on the civilians. But the soldiers on the first floor of that house heard the commander's question being shouted. And from that point, the rumor began to spread," the source added. "We can say with absolute certainty that the marksman did not fire on the woman and her children. Later, the company commander spoke with the marksman and his commander. We know with certainty that this incident never took place," he said.

CAMERA has translated the latest Ma’ariv account

The brigade commander’s findings were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, in a story titled IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings. According to the story (translation by CAMERA):

Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade’s commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander’s investigation cites the sniper: “I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ?Why did you shoot at them.’ I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots.”

Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.

CAMERA is also hosting the Roni Daniel interview with English subtitles as well as giving a little background on Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-miliary academy which hosted the forum where the soldiers shared their recall of Operation Cast Lead.

Caroline Glick’s Our World column carried a little more background on the forum where the soldier’s shared their experiences and how their ‘stories’ came to see the light of day in Ha’aretz:
Last month Zamir organized a conference of his former cadets who are now serving in IDF combat units. There, he encouraged these young soldiers to tell him and their war stories. In what can only be compared to a Communist group confessional, Zamir told Channel 10 that young soldiers were encouraged to view their actions in Gaza as immoral. A number of them accepted the terms of debate and described purportedly immoral acts they alleged were carried out in Gaza. In most cases, Zamir's soldiers acknowledged that they were not present on the scenes in the events they described.

These included killing Palestinian women and children who entered fire zones and behaving in an unfriendly manner to Palestinian civilians whose homes the soldiers commandeered during the operation. Others characterized ethical, legal standing orders - such as the requirement for soldiers to value their lives and the lives of their comrades more highly than the lives of terror suspects - as immoral or illegal.

Zamir claims that he took these non-eyewitness accounts to the IDF and asked that they be investigated. Since he refused to provide the names of the soldiers involved in the alleged incidents and his eyewitness accounts were from soldiers who had not witnessed the accounts, the IDF officers he spoke with said they would have a hard time investigating.

UNHAPPY WITH THIS response, Zamir published the unsubstantiated accounts in his school's bulletin and gave the bulletin to two far-left reporters - Ofer Shelach from Channel 10 and Amos Harel from Ha'aretz.

In an act of unmitigated journalistic malpractice, on Friday night Shelach presented the unattributed testimonials as first-person accounts. He used actors to read out the soldiers' statements as if they were the soldiers themselves, and never told his audience that the voices they were hearing were not the voices of the actual soldiers. Then, he attacked the IDF for refusing to take these accounts seriously and for having the nerve to note that the Rabin pre-military academy is a known leftist institution. He of course didn't mention that Zamir himself served a prison sentence for refusing orders or that as recently as 2004 he contributed to a book explaining why the IDF is an immoral army.

As for Harel, he published the soldiers' statements in Ha'aretz. He then wrote an "analysis" arguing that the IDF cannot discount the statements by these anonymous voices because, in his view, the soldiers have "no reason" to lie. The fact that they present no evidence of their claims is apparently of no importance.
Now by presenting these second hand accounts of battles as fact; by presenting Zamir as a credible and objective observer; and by instructing the IDF to be ashamed of itself and mend its ways, Shelach and Harel are certainly atoning for their "sin" of supporting the army in Operation Cast Lead. Perhaps for them, that was all this was about.

The Jerusalem Post also carried this little blurb Danny Zamir, the pre-military academy head who arranged the forum and supplied Ha’aretz with the ‘testimony’:
Mr. Zamir has a record. As a parachute company commander in 1990, he was tried and sentenced for 28 days in prison for refusing to stand guard over people whom he called "right-wingers" at a ceremony bringing Torah scrolls to Joseph's tomb in Nablus, then under IDF supervision.

In 2004 Zamir published a crie de coeur relating to his refusal to obey military orders, in the process of which he attacked the IDF and denied that Israel was a democratic state. This appeared in a book titled Refusenik: Israel's Soldiers of Conscience, which carried an endorsement by the icon of anti-Israeli academics, Noam Chomsky.

Let the full implications of this sink in for a moment - Danny Zamir, a parachute company commander in the IDF - refused an order to protect Israeli Jews conducting a religious ceremony at Joseph’s Tomb. And he calls himself an Israeli soldier of conscience. I don’t think I know a word in English which adequately describes the gross dereliction of humanity this act constitutes. What does it tell us about the nature of any pre-military academy who would hire such a man as their head?

In the coming days - possibly as soon as tomorrow, the IDF will release their full report and I suspect every single story of Danny Zamir’s staged managed forum will be presented as false, and if not absolutely false, the events reported will have found to be taken completely out of context. In a fair world or a just world, the international media, who was so quick to condemn the IDF for these allegations would be just as quick to exonerate the IDF of all such allegations.

In a fair or just world, the dawgs of the world would pause, and take a minute to pen their apologies. But this isn’t a fair or just world, and dawgs of the world would no more admit their quick condemnation were the result of their own prejudices and biases against the Israeli state motivated by their extreme apathy towards religious Jews in all forms.

The dawgs of the world wanted the Ha’aretz accounts to be true because it affirms their false beliefs and prejudices, and so, they will suspense all caution to the wind and primed their pens with bile and to hell with those who are smeared in the process.

They wanted it to be true, because they felt it was true in their heart, because a Jewish state represents all which they loathe, and therefore, should be a pariah state among the community of nations. Not for a minute do they believe a Jewish state should be allowed to exist, and what they would grant to any other group of people; they will not grant to the Jews. So they write and post these allegations as if it was unquestionably true. At no point, did they acknowledge accounts were coming to the surface which should require an objective thinker to take these accounts with a grain of salt.

Dr. Dawg claims he will be watching with his normally critical eye. This is code for dawgspeak which means; I will backpedal or reject any evidence which directly contradictions or challenges any evidence which does not support the bias written in my heart.

The Jerusalem Post ended their report with a quote from the IDF source:
"Unfortunately, due to competition, sections of the press picked up this story and ran with it. It is a shame the media promoted this sort of spin all over the world," he added. It is unlikely the damage to Israel's image from the allegations can be repaired, irrespective of the results of the investigation, he noted. "It is a shame that the media allowed Palestinian manipulations to spread," he said. "Look at the allegation that we killed 48 civilians in a UN school in Gaza. In reality, seven people were killed, and four to five of them were terrorists. The UN apologized, but the damage is done," the source said.

Oh, dear, I think Dr. Dawg posted on that UN school incident as well…. I’m sure there is a follow-up - or probably not.

I will end with this quote from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov which I found at A Simple Jew:
When a person writes he puts his soul into his writing. Therefore, by looking at a person's writing the true tzaddik can know about a person's soul, his soul's inner essence, his emuna, and the root of his emuna.
I make no claims of being a tzaddik or even make a pretension of standing as a righteous woman but I suspect Rebbe Nachman might have given us all a little bit of wisdom to follow about those who do stand and write among us.


Dr.Dawg said...

Well, I'm certainly relieved to learn that the IDF has cleared itself. I didn't see that coming.

Here's but one more story coming out--and, from the sounds of it, there will be more.

Never mind. The IDF will no doubt debunk them as well.

Kateland, aka TZH said...


It’s not so much the “IDF” debunked the stories as much as the soldiers who made those allegations – refused to stand behind the tales they told, and not only would they not stand behind these stories - no one else could be found who collaborated their tall tales from the forum. This is just one of those ways - one is able to shift the truth from falsehood.

What I find more depressing than anything else is how you wasted so little time between smears. You could not even manage to restrain yourself for 1 day before proving my point, nu? As much as I enjoy being ‘right’ there are times when I take very little pleasure in it - and this is one of those times.

Look, you could have acknowledged your role in spreading lies and smears and apologizing for it - instead you choose just to switch gears to come up with another one.

What a cold brittle place your soul must be.

Dr.Dawg said...

I wasn't quite as quick as the anti-Semites down at Haaretz, though, right?

We don't know, in any case, that the reports were lies. Or the reports about white phosophorus. And I myself didn't claim anybody was in the UN school--the killings in fact happened outside, and I've never said anything to the contrary.

My post on that merely debunked the IDF claim that it had been returning fire from inside the school. Think about that one for a minute.

In any case, if you could enumerate the "lies and smears" that you claim that I've been circulating, please do so. In the instant case, picking up what Haaretz (and Maariv, apparently) reported is hardly spreading either lies or smears. Why don't we wait to read the further accounts we've been promised, instead of assuming that every suchclaim must be untrue because the IDF says it is?

Kateland, aka TZH said...

“we now learn that a lethal combination of racism and indiscipline was unleashed upon the terrorized population of Gaza during the Israeli assault”

Of course, my bad, the above wouldn’t ever be considered either a lie or a smear from a man who could in clear conscience write “Well, the "Hezzies" toss a few overgrown firecrackers that have done almost no civilian damage for the years they've been shooting off those things. The Israelis strafe buses full of kids and ambulances full of wounded, kill hundreds of civilians, make a third of Lebanon homeless, and set the country back twenty years in terms of infrastructure.

Dr.Dawg said...

Is there anything in what you've quoted from me that is not factual?

Dr.Dawg said...

Good grief, you needed to switch to moderated comments now? As though anything I've posted here has been uncivil?

Kateland, aka TZH said...

To the first comment, I would say 'racism and indiscipline' - where is the evidence of that? Or 'overblown firecrackers' well, the damage down under Hezbollah's missile fire was not a case of a few 'overblown firecrackers'.

The second comment, come Friday night the blog goes on moderation until Saturday night as I am away from the computer. Sometimes it doesn't get turned off until Monday. I also turn it on whenever my travels take me away from my computer for any length of time.

Full moderation is also on any posts older than 6 days. Quite a great deal seems to happen on the backend so to keep the spammers or never-do-wells at bay so I have the moderation turned on.

It's not personal or directed at you specifically, but I have found if I am not around to monitor it odd things have a way of showing death threats to either me or others etc.

Dr.Dawg said...

My fault for forgetting Shabbos. I beg your pardon.