Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Israel must accept it is not the only victim

It is refreshing to find that there are still people in the world, whose views are not tinted by the biased media prevalent in the western world.
I was heartened by two letters that appeared in the Scotsman. The letters are reproduced here.

Published Date: 27 April 2010

It is unfortunate that three of your contributors (letters, 26 April), supporters of Israeli policies, are unable to tolerate the views of Israelis/Jews with whom they do not agree.
Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East – such democracy is not served by this lack of tolerance and has led to the continual state of military readiness Israel finds itself in.
The assumption that only it has rights and only it is a victim led to Israeli refusal to allow Armenians to erect a monument in memory of its own Holocaust victims (about 1.5 million people) near a Jewish monument.

It should not be forgotten that Israel was a nation born of terror, and in terrorism. No-one would deny Israelis a homeland, but they should examine the past from more than one perspective. British soldiers were murdered by the Hagannah and Irgun, British office workers were blown up in the King David Hotel; Israel continually takes land from its neighbours, bombs civilians indiscriminately from sophisticated air platforms and assassinates political opponents.

When Israel invaded Lebanon, 20,000 Lebanese were killed. Israel has ignored 63 United Nations resolutions, but any breach by Arabs is condemned. Israel will only be at peace when it acknowledges the aspiration to peace and happiness that others hold.


Rosemill Court

Newmills, Dunfermline

have often seen letters written by Joy Wolfe of Cheadle, Cheshire, in Scottish publications. It is a pity that she, Mr Grossman and Ms Selwyn have not acquainted themselves with the facts. For example, Ms Wolfe appears to believe that Israel was responsible for the invention of computers as well as mobile phones and various drugs.

I am a retired journalist, born in Edinburgh of Jewish parents. From the 1960s, I lived in London and travelled extensively in Israel and the Arab countries, carrying out, for four years, the research for my book, Prophets in Babylon: Jews in the Arab world (Faber & Faber). I visited Israel to write something about the 1967 war. I was appalled by the way the Palestinians were being treated by Jews who had taken over their country and were talking about "cleansing the land" as the Palestinians were forced out at gunpoint.

Ms Selwyn has written that "Gaza is not occupied by Israel but by Hamas, supposedly elected". Hamas was democratically elected and there was a cease-fire, which was ignored by Israel although not by Hamas.

Various human rights organisations have reported details of Israel's invasion and siege of Gaza from December to January, 2008-9, which followed an 18-month siege and blockade during which an occupied population experienced starvation, deprivation and trauma on a horrendous scale.

The invasion resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Palestinian civilians. More than 5,400 Palestinians received horrific wounds, burns and amputations. Ten Israeli soldiers were killed (four by their own fire) as were two Israeli civilians.


Nelson Street, Edinburgh

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nato strike kills 33 civilians in Afghanistan

BBC reports that at least 33 civilians were killed in a Nato air strike that included women and children in southern Afghanistan on Sunday.
Nato said it hit a suspected insurgent convoy, but ground forces later found "a number of individuals killed and wounded", including women and children.
The attack, in Uruzgan province, was not part of a major Nato-led offensive in neighbouring Helmand province.
Civilian deaths in air strikes have caused widespread resentment in Afghanistan, and embarrassment to Nato.

Last year, Gen Stanley McChrystal, the Nato and US commander in Afghanistan, introduced much tougher rules of engagement in a bid to minimise such casualties.
The BBC's Chris Morris in Kabul says three vehicles on a road were hit by the strike on Sunday morning. But Sultan Ali, the governor of Uruzgan province, told the BBC all of the dead were civilians.
McCrystal has apologised to President Hamid Karzai and pledged a full investigation into the latest deaths" I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people, and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission.

These tougher rules of engagement don’t seem to make any difference to fatalities.
Is this just paper exercise? Surely if these rules were being applied then there would be a difference. They keep saying we are here to protect the Afghan people. However they keep making these mistakes again and again and they will keep repeating it unless someone is held accountable. Of course that is not going to happen because Afghan lives are cheap. You can simply write it off as collateral damage and issue an apology. An apology is just meaningless to the people whose loved one have perished because someone else’s mistake. Foreign force are there to protect the Afghan people. Is is how one protects people?

These lives are cheap because they happen to be muslims..
Here is what has happened so far:

  • Sep 2009: Up to 140 civilians die in Kunduz province
  • May 2009: At least 26 civilians die in strikes in Farah province
  • Aug 2008: Ninety people killed in Herat province, UN says
  • July 2008: Raid in Nangarhar kills up to 47 civilians at wedding party

Whenever people in Afghanistan read of civilians being killed by foreign military forces, there is going to anger right across the political and social spectrum.