Making it Stop

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ghaith al-Omari, Advocacy Director at the American Task Force on Palestine and senior research fellow at the New America Foundation talks about the necessary international pressure in order to end violence in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. Zev Chafets, journalist and author of Match Made in Heaven, discusses Israel's position on the UN cease-fire.


Zev Chafets and Ghaith al-Omari

Comments [119]

samir from Bay Ridge

Dear Daud,

I would not rush to conclusions & it would be wise to calm down, even if you've watched the usual inflammatory footage.

The details of what happened at the UN building are still under investigation, but Israel maintains it was not aware that the building was being used as a shelter and that Israeli forces fired at the building because they were attacked by Hamas terrorists launching mortars from the area.

Israel identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Asker, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza.

A witness from Jabalya said that he had seen Abu Asker in the area of the school right before the attack when he answered a call for volunteers to pile sand around the camp “to help protect the resistance fighters”.

In addition, two residents of the area near the school told the Associated Press they had seen a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street close to the school.

A series of explosions followed, indicating the presence of munitions and explosives in the building, which was not being used as a school at the time.

This is not the first time terrorists have fired mortars from a school in Gaza, nor is it the first time terrorists have exploited UN facilities. UN officials in Gaza, who never condemn Palestinian terror (the UN never passed a resolution condemning Hamas terrorism), have a long record of looking the other way while Hamas carries out its activities. UN officials in Gaza are there to help Palestinians and their bias often clouds their judgment and therefore independent verification is needed before accepting their claims.

We do know that through its use of civilians as shields, Hamas has brought death and destruction to the people of Gaza as well as southern Israel. The loss of life in Jabalya is tragic and would not have happened if Hamas was not rocketing Israel. The rush to blame Israel is also a reminder that first reports out of Gaza cannot be trusted.

Jan. 12 2009 04:45 PM

Samir at 4:24 p.m.:

I read that piece last week and have been quoting it all weekend, in discussions about "Waltz with Bashir."

I think that article points out that there are many innocent people on both sides caught in the middle of this conflict.

I do not think that it justifies as logical or productive the current military action by Israel against civilians in the attempt to target Hamas.

Yes, I find the European reaction to this very hypocritical. But when Jews in Europe are put at risk in reaction to the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza, it is time to ask some questions. Questions like: where is this military action going? Is it rational to use these kinds of missiles in such a crowded area?

The most important question that all of us should be asking is: "What is our role in all of this? And how is it potentially harming Israel's long-term goals of 1) survival and 2)peace?"

We cannot afford endless war. If you have not noticed, the US military is seriously overextended. We have no draft, and no civic culture that would support a draft.

If bombing civilian populations in pursuit of Hamas were part of some coherent strategy, instead of the psychotic election-year reaction that it appears to be, I would support it. If killing civilians had any logical connection to a future peace, I would support it. In this situation, it does not appear to be the case.

Jan. 12 2009 04:41 PM
Daud from Queens, NY

Have you seen the new the last couple of hours?
There are montsterous atrocities happening in Gaza. The perpetrator would be considered monsters, wouldn't they?
I am not from the region, I am not supporting Hamaz.
But here is one question that I do not hear anybody asking:
What are the Palastinians supposed to do? Do you have a suggestion how they are supposed to behave? Go in a big, open field and be bombarded by chemical weapons? Since they tried to hide in UN school and Isreal did not give a damn and bombed them anyway.

Jan. 12 2009 04:33 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

The New York Times reports on the scene from a Gaza hospital:

A car arrived with more patients. One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.

"Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting," he told the doctors.

He was told that there were more serious cases than his, that he needed to wait.

But he insisted. "We are fighting the Israelis," he said. "When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away." He continued smiling.

"Why are you so happy?" this reporter asked. "Look around you."
A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out. His family wailed at his side.

"Don't you see that these people are hurting?" the militant was asked.

"But I am from the people, too," he said, his smile incandescent. "They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too."

Jan. 12 2009 04:24 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

#114 - Bill - speaking of manipulation, please refrain from manipulating words of people who post on here...

I brought several examples of Hamas and other Palestinian groups lies.

Feel free to refute them.
Fee free to bring examples, if you actually have any, of Israeli lies.

#115 angry Daud
a. I'm not Jewish.
b. calling Jews "monsters" doesn't really help you or Hamas's "struggle" and should be probably be deleted by this boards monitors.

But thanks for posting your entire comment, it's a candid exposure of the type of supporters Hamas has and what those who opppose Hamas are dealing with world-over.

Jan. 12 2009 04:20 PM
Daud from Queens, NY

Here is, off hand, two major flawds:
It was supposed to be two view points (assuming two opposing) There were no two points. The second guy is a political rival of Hamaz, and therfore not much different than the first guy.
The first guy was introduced as a Journalist. Any decent journalist would cringe from what this person was saying.
Here is the current situation:
The press is not allowed, the doors to Gaza are closed and inside 1.5Mil people are subject to terror and torture.
There are chemical weapons being used on them.
(remeber why we went to Iraq? Hint: Weapon of mass destryction, i. e. chemical!!)
The preotest and outrage around the world? They are all supporters of Arabs!!
The UN? UN lies!!
The Europeans? They are antisemite anyway!!
Who needs anybody, when you have US on your side...
What kind of monsters are these jews? Really?
Shame on you Brian, shame.

Jan. 12 2009 04:08 PM

ok Samir, I guess what is going on in Gaza is all just made up and its all media manipulation and hundreds have not been killed, its all fake its all just another anti-Semite Arab lie. You win. Maybe you can tell me where Elvis is hanging out these days too, I hear he is actually alive.
When are you going to the U.N. to make your big speech so that we can all calm down?

Jan. 12 2009 03:54 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

Other Well Know Examples of Palestinian Media Manipulation (i.e. Lies)

* Even when bodies are presented as evidence, they are often not the victims of an Israeli attack and sometimes they are not even dead (a classic Palestinian video shows a funeral in which the pall bearers drop the stretcher with the “corpse” who then gets up and runs away).

* Perhaps the most dramatic example occurred when the Washington Post published a photograph (August 2, 1982) during the first Lebanon War of a baby that appeared to have lost both its arms. The UPI caption said that the seven-month-old had been severely burned when an Israeli jet accidentally hit a Christian residential area. The photo disgusted President Reagan and was one reason he subsequently called for Israel to halt its attacks. The photo and the caption, however, were inaccurate. The baby, in fact, did not lose its arms, and the burns the child suffered were the result of a PLO attack on East Beirut.

Jan. 12 2009 03:48 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

Bill, as you know Israel, among other reasons, is held much more accountable than Hamas and other terrorist groups. I challenge you to bring specific cases where Israeli lied. Otherwise you're just flinging hollow accusations.

* Even before Israel initiated Operation Cast Lead, many journalists were quick to report whatever they were told by Hamas. When Hamas staged blackouts in Gaza, the media incorrectly reported that Israel was preventing the Gazans from having fuel and electricity.

* Israel was regularly blamed for a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza while, at the same time, truckloads of goods were sent in from Israel each day. While Israel's air attacks on Gaza immediately made the front page of newspapers around the world, the rocket barrages on southern Israel, and the impact they have had on the population over the last three years, have rarely been mentioned.

* France 2, the same television network that broadcast the notoriously inaccurate story about Mohammed al-Dura during the Palestinian War, broadcast a false report showing dead children allegedly killed in the Gaza fighting. The amateur video of the dead toddlers being laid out on a white sheet was actually shot after they were killed by the explosion of a Hamas ammunition truck during a parade in Gaza in September 2005.

* The media often turns conflicts into numbers games, keeping running tallies of casualties. Israel always is accused of disproportion because fewer Israelis typically die in confrontations. Israelis, however, are under no obligation to take greater casualties for the sake of looking better in the media box score.

* The casualty figures reported by Palestinians have also proven completely unreliable in the past and no one should take them as fact.

* Palestinians will routinely call attacks “massacres” and invent large numbers of fatalities, so journalists should be on guard for such unverified claims.

Jan. 12 2009 03:47 PM

yes and Israel would NEVER do that would they Samir? Israel would NEVER lie, they alwyas tell the truth. Hahahahah. That was a good one Samir

Jan. 12 2009 03:35 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

# Hamas Stories of Abuse from the last 3 days

* Hamas Confiscates Donations of Flour

(Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories)
Hamas is confiscating food donations sent into Gaza. Reports point in particular to the confiscation of flour and its sale, often at outrageous prices.
On Sunday, in a Hamas Internet forum, surfers complained about the confiscations of flour donations in Dir-al-Balech by Hamas.
There is also a description of how Hamas transfers the donations to its own warehouses and distributes them to only two bakeries - Albana Bakery and Al-Tzalah Union Bakery - both belonging to Hamas.

* Hamas Terrorists Hide in Red Crescent Ambulances
A senior military officer who is commanding forces fighting inside Gaza said on Sunday that Hamas terrorists hiding inside Red Crescent ambulances were trying to cross the IDF line separating northern Gaza from the south.

* Hamas Using Gaza's Shifa Hospital as Meeting Place
Public Security Minister and former Israel Security Agency head Avi Dichter said Monday that on Jan. 10, those Hamas commanders who could move around made their way to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to receive their salaries.

Jan. 12 2009 03:32 PM
samir from Bay Ridge

*Israel has learned that its enemies will do everything they can to manipulate the media to influence public opinion during conflicts such as the one going one in the Gaza Strip.

*Israel will be accused of massacres, fabricated casualty figures will be distributed, photographs will be doctored and journalists threatened. These and other ploys will be used to create sympathy for the Palestinians and cast aspersions on Israeli forces in the hope of turning world opinion against Israel.

* Too often, irresponsible journalists have repeated unverified and often inaccurate information in their haste to be the first to report a story. In an effort to present an evenhanded account, some reporters have the mistaken belief that allowing an Arab spokesperson to lie and then giving an Israeli a chance to respond represents a balanced account.

*This is like allowing a spokesperson to accuse Israelis of beating their spouses and then inviting an Israeli to deny that they beat their husbands and wives. Israel is always put on the defensive, often through outrageous and false accusations, which are repeated by other media so lies become accepted as truth.

Jan. 12 2009 03:21 PM

Edward, I don't see what the rotary club and the freemasons has to do with Israel committing war crimes.
Maybe there is some sort of case that you are trying to make with that statement, but whatever it might be, you did not make it. Try again?
I don't think that calling Israel a racist state is a smear, its the truth, Israel has always claimed to be a state for Jews, and Israel intends to keep it that way. Are you disputing that? You would be the first I think to do so.
The party holding the most seats, the Kadima, even has in their platform a statement to this effect. This is the same party founded by the war criminal Sharon.
Or maybe we should talk about the Likud party which has as its platform that there will not be two states, and that the Palestine people can only live in the framework of self rule, but not as a nation, essentially condemning them to a life where they have no right to have their own country and no rights as Israeli citizens either. Democracy? I think not.
Or maybe we should talk about the Yisrael Beiteinu party which wants to force all Arabs out of Israel. Is that factual enough for you?
So you have three members in the K-ness, from the Balad party out of 120 seats, who are not Jewish, big deal, now I guess everything is fine, never mind that fact that Israel tried to ban these people from even forming a party in the first place and were repressed for years.
Oh yeah, and just to cover the bases here, non-jew Arabs are 20% of the population in Israel. Yeah everything seems fair and democratic in Israel.

Jan. 12 2009 03:14 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


If Israel can defeat Hamas to the point where most of the world sees Israel as the victor, then Israel might be able to return to having a negotiating partner. Israel and most of its supporters want a two state solution, but that isn't going to happen with Hamas in power.

Also, the real battle now is not Israel and Hamas, it is Israel and Iran. A military victory against Hamas would force the issue more and more with Iran. And unfortunately, that is where all of this is going.

The Palestinians have always been pawns in other people's games, but Iran is a near nuclear puppet master, and that is dangerous.

Jan. 12 2009 02:01 PM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

bill, why does the Hamas Charter say that Freemasons, the Rotary Club and Lions Club are "Zionist organizations" and "sabatoge groups?

If you think I'm making this up, please look it up yourself.

Note that the nazis hated Freemasons as well.

You calling Israel a "racist state for Jews only" is another smear. There are Muslims elected to the Kenesset. Please try to educate yourself with reality and not propaganda from questionable sources.

You saying that Idi Amin ate children is racist. Just because Idid Amin who retired to Saudi Arabia is African gives you no right to engage in demagogy .

Does Hamas permit the neturi karta to have synagogues in Gaza?

Jan. 12 2009 01:56 PM

Sara, that is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is not relevant because we have more than 13 states and have the internet, which is bascialy what Bush has tried to argue in terms of Gitmo et al. The Supreme COurt disagreed with him, but that is neither here or there.
Look, the reason the Geneva Convention is relevant in the case of Israel is a) Israel has signed it and b) Israel is a conventional nation so they can certainly abide by it but they CHOSE not to.
MC, good question and you are right DPICMs and cluster bombs are similar, in the sense that they both use a variety of submuntions. DPICMs are rounds fired from artillery pieces, when you talk about a cluster bomb usually you mean a munition that originates off an aircraft, hence having a "longer range" as an aircraft can fly further than an artillery round, if you follow. They both however are very similar in a broad sense otherwise.

Jan. 12 2009 01:43 PM
mc from Brooklyn

It seems clear to me that Israel is quite capable of a military victory against Hamas. What do you think they will gain if they pursue that? Not a rhetorical question, just wondering what you think.

I can't talk about "proportional war" because that term is meaningless to me. It's like bartering human lives--somehow if you kill 5 people you are better than if you kill 500.

Jan. 12 2009 01:36 PM
mc from Brooklyn

bill?? I was serious about the question about DPICMs. Are they what is known as cluster bombs? If not, what are cluster bombs? Not picking a fight, just thought you might know.

Jan. 12 2009 01:31 PM

no edward I did answer your question you just don;t like the answer because it does not take Israel off the hook for being what they are and what they do. And they are using DPICMS because I have seen them with my own eyes. And its 400 meters, not 1600 hundred. As for "where are they" they are buried under collapsed buildings in areas which have been sealed off by the IDF so that Journalists and rescuers can not get in to count them. This has been widely reported.
As for Hamas using mosques to store rockets, it happens, the idea is that if you put them in such a place either a) they won't get hit or b) if they do, you can try and get some propaganda use out of it.
Either way, Isreal hits those targets so it does not seems to matter, so I am not sure what your argument is here, and furthermore Israel hits those targets in ways that guarantee mass civilian deaths.
The fact is both sides are doing things that they should not be doing and both lie and both use propaganda,
However there is a clear difference between deliberatly killing 900 and counting civilians (so far this past couple of weeks) and shooting a rocket that ultimately 99.9% of the time just digs a hole in the ground.
I have a question for you Edward, why does Israel have the right to be a racist state for Jews only? You don't like Iran, so why would you support Israel who does the same thing?

Jan. 12 2009 01:15 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

I don’t know if I should thank WNYC for this segment or be upset?

Last week I made two posts that were deleted.

1. If all countries fought wars in a proportional manner, we would all be speaking German. I gave WWII as an example.

2. Israel can beat Hamas in a military victory. It is just odd that so many reporters keep saying, “an Israeli military victory is not possible.

Zev Chafets made these very points during today’s show. Yet when I made them, they were deleted.

So thank you for airing opinions today that are different from last week’s pro-Palestinian voices. But let me make a suggestion, when someone like myself writes in with views that you strongly disagree with, your first gut reaction should not be to delete them.

I listen to WNYC to get a range of opinions, many of which I disagree with at times, especially regarding Israel. I do hope though that moving forward you all are more tolerant of views that are different then your own.

Jan. 12 2009 01:00 PM
sara from Brooklyn

How can the Geneva Convention remain relevant when one's adversary pays it no mind and it is not even applicable to them, for they wage war without being a "conventional" nation?

Forgive my ignorance if it is embarrassing;
I am not asking snidely -- I am wondering how we can continue to define the boundaries for warfare by the same standards in a world so different from the one in which they were made.

Jan. 12 2009 12:59 PM
mc from Brooklyn


What is the difference between DPICM rounds and cluster bombs? Or are they the same thing?

Jan. 12 2009 12:58 PM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

bill, is the reason you can't decide who the Islamic Republic of Iran supports is because the answer damages your arguments against Israel?

If Israel were using these DPICMs as you claim, the ones that kill over 1600 meter area, considering that Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the World, then there would be thousands of dead Gazans in one attack.

Where are they?

And why is Hamas using mosques to store rockets and high explosives?

There are people in Gaza who helpfully tell Israel where the weapons are stored. Maybe Ghaith could have shed some light.

Jan. 12 2009 12:54 PM
mc from Brooklyn

It seems to me that there is far too much complexity to paint groups with a broad brush. To say that the entire Palestinian movement is based on war crimes is as unjustified as saying that the entire Zionist movement is based on apartheid. It gets us nowhere. I interviewed a Japanese-American who lived and taught in Ramullah at the time of the intifada in 2001-2002. She said that at check points it was a matter of luck whether you would get an Israeli soldier who would hit you over the head or carry your bags for you. Which illustrates that there are many individuals involved here and classifying them solely on the basis of their nationality is useless.

Jan. 12 2009 12:54 PM

ok Edward lets use your way of thinking to look at this. From the way you put it, Iran is bad, they back Hamas, (only very recently however)and Hezbullah, and they are bad because they fight with Isreal.
Never mind the fact that many other nations, such as China has also supplied these groups with weapons, and we don't see Israel going to war with them.
The U.S. backs Israel. The U.S. also has backed Idi Amin (who ate children) the Contras, Pinochet, Trujillo, and all sorts of other monsters who murdered, tortured, stole and committed all sorts of crimes. So using your format of inductive reasoning, then Israel must be bad too since the U.S. supports them.
Ooops. Relativism, gets you every time.
Again however, the subject here is Israel, not Iran. Hence the too cute by half comment. I hope we are NOT judged by our friends and enemies as you put it, because if so then we are lost.

Jan. 12 2009 12:39 PM

Samir you are simply flat out wrong in regards to your statements about civilian casulites
You clearly do not have a military background or a legal background so let me shed some light on this.
DPICM rounds (not to be confused with phosphorous rounds, which are actually legal, regardless of what a prior poster said) are artillery rounds, fired by Israel from M109A paladin self-propelled guns.
The rounds are airburst hundreds of feet in the air over a target area.
When they burst, they release sub-munitions which will then spread out over a 400 meter wide area (that 400 meter spread is from each round, so if you place 10 rounds down range, you are in effect carpet bombing an area) these sub-munitions then rip through anything and anyone in that area, 400 square meters wide for each round.
They are designed to destroy armor and personal, and will also destroy non-hardened targets.
The very nature of these rounds ensures that such deployment will ensure mass civilian casualties, which is what we are seeing.
These rounds are not smart weapons, nor are they designed to destroy as single target, they are designed to wipe out entire areas.
When the U.S. used them in the first gulf war, a single round eliminated entire companies (roughly 120-140 people) of Iraqi troops.
They are simply devastating over a large area, and by using such a weapon in a civilian area guarantees that civilians will be killed in an indiscriminate manner, which violates the Geneva Convention. Israel knows this and uses them anyway, which constitutes a violation of the Geneva Convention.
Even if you agree with the use of such weapons on civilians, and clearly you do by arguing that this is all Hamas's fault, that does not change the fact that Israel is violating the Geneva Convention, and is deliberatly targeting civilians, and as such those responsible should be tried and stuck in the Hague where they belong.

Jan. 12 2009 12:28 PM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

bill #92. Thanks! I haven't been called cute, half or otherwise, in quite a while.

Again, who does the "Islamic Republic of Iran" back?

a) Israel
b) Hamas
c) Hezbullah

We are judged by our friends and our enemies.

Jan. 12 2009 12:13 PM

Edward, too cute by half, but nice try. This is like the kid who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court claiming he is an orphan

Jan. 12 2009 11:54 AM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

bill, we both agree that Iran is bad.

Which country does the Islamic Repubic of Iran back?

Israel or Hamas/Hezbullah?

Jan. 12 2009 11:46 AM

Samir, if I take your question at face value it is a good question, and a fair one.
The parallel I was trying to try point out is that Israel is similar in this practice to places like Iran, which is not exactly a model of freedom and fairness, and no decent person should want to be engaged in practices that go on in a place like Iran, or for that matter that went on in South Africa.
Unfortunately Israel does so, and moreover celebrates it and considers this essential. Israel feels justified in denying others freedom simply on the basis of a "demographic problem", and we are talking about Israel here, not all the other bad countries in the world.
I have plenty of bad things to say about Iran, and any country that thinks along the lines of "this land is for my tribe only".
The world is too small a place for people to go and say "Jews only" or "Arabs only" or "White Conservative Christians only" or "Germans only" or "Turks only" or "Hutus only" its all the same thing, racism and bigotry, and it needs to stop, and people like you need to stop abetting and providing false moral cover for it.
Israel is not the only country that does it but the subject in this thread is Israel.

Jan. 12 2009 11:40 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

It's Hamas who put the babies in harm's way.

*Launching missiles from civilian areas is a war crime.

*Launching missiles at civilian targets with no military value is a war crime. Hiding behind human shields is a war crime.

*The whole Palestinian national movement is built on war crimes -- i.e. attacking Israeli civillians on purpose.

The unabashed hypocrisy of Palestinians complaining of unintentional civilian casualties is outrageous.

Israel trying to avoid civilians, but it won't be blackmailed into not defending itself because Hamas put babies next to its missile launchers.

No Hamas rockets, No Gaza War.
It's pretty simple.

Jan. 12 2009 11:40 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

* No government in the world would tolerate having thousands of shells falling on its cities year after year. The most remarkable thing in the affair, the true surprise, is not Israel's "brutality"; it is its restraint.

* The fact that Hamas' Kassam and, now, its Grad missiles have caused so few deaths does not prove that they are inoffensive, but that the Israelis protect themselves, that they live burrowed under shelter: a nightmarish existence, with the sound of sirens and explosions.

* The fact that the Israeli shells create so many victims does not mean that Israel is engaging in a deliberate "massacre," but that the leaders of Gaza have chosen to expose their populations, relying on the old tactic of the "human shield."

* The Palestinians' worst enemies are Hamas leaders who have never wanted peace, have never wanted a state and never conceived of one for their people other than as an instrument and as a hostage.

Jan. 12 2009 11:37 AM
sara from Brooklyn

re: #61 "define terrorist"...

The point is not to define "terrorist" -- we know that terrorists are those who do not fight on a battlefield but among a civilian population, i.e. creating "terror" by means of random attacks against those not armed for or actively engaged in battle.

The point, as I see it at least, is, with the kind of weapons now available globally to activist splinter groups, it is the presence of these terrorist factions that are now re-defining war.

The widespread availability of ballistic weaponry has changed the rules of the game -- and as a consequence we are now all at risk.

Those who assert their cause -- just cause or not -- by terrorist means, negate the power of negotiation and diplomacy not only for their adversaries, but for themselves and everyone else.

Their is no high-road left; it has been blown up.

Jan. 12 2009 11:37 AM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious

The bombing of Berlin to finally convince hitler that it was time for him to enter into his first marriage - short as it was, is fine with me.

Israel is not "massacring" Jordan, Egypt because they are not attacking Israel.

Iranian proxy Hezbullah is the latest group to hijack Lebanon.

I do feel sorry for the people of Lebanon.

Why doesn't Hamas permit the ICRC, International Red Cross to visit Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to see that he is being treated humanely?

What is Hamas trying to hide from the World?

Jan. 12 2009 11:36 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

Is there any tangible evidence that Zev Hafetz is a "racist"?

(I'm not sure if discussing the current failure of Hamas rocket attacks qualifies as racist.)

Absent such evidence, it seems Israel-bashers may be tarring someone who is critical of Hamas or Palestinians or the Arab world as "racist".

Some of the same Israel-bashers are quick to whine about allegedly being called "anti-Semitic" for simply being criticial of Israel's policies.

Both practices are a distraction to the real issues and to the potential for solving the enormous issues related to the Middle East conflict.


Jan. 12 2009 11:35 AM
Glenn from Brooklyn

Edward : your last sentence seems to undo the rest of your post. You accuse the world of hoping for the Jews to be massacred just like during the Holocaust. Yet now -- your own words -- their oppenents are the ones being massacred. If that's the case, todays Palestinians have more in common with the Jews of WWII than today's Jews do. Explain.

Jan. 12 2009 11:29 AM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

My favorite question, where is there any grassroots Muslim Peace Group?

Is there a "Salaam Now"?

Is there a Muslims for Racial and Economic Justice group that marches, rallies, publishes against Hamas, against Hezbullah, against the Muslim Brotherhood?

Is there a "Salaam Now" that demonstrates against literal calls for genocide against Jews by respected Muslim religious leaders?

Why does Hamas hate Freemasons as the nazis did?

Jan. 12 2009 11:27 AM

no josh, you are wrong it is a violation of both the U.N. charter and the Geneva convention to occupy land taken in war, which is EXACTLY what Israel has done. It is not "the spoils of war" as you put it. It is illegal. Furthermore Israel continues to illegally take more and more land for settlements, which is also a violation of the Geneva convention and the U.N. charter.
You act like you know so much an that the rest of us just need to learn the truth when it seems that it is you who have not even read the law, or you have and you simply don't care and lie about it.
In addition you ignore the fact the groups like the Stern gang massacred entire Arab villages in their home, with the goal being to stamped the rest out of "Israel".
People were on that land, they were forced off it at the point of a gun and they have NEVER been compensated for it. Good try though at putting some more lies out there.

Jan. 12 2009 11:27 AM
samir from Bay Ridge

Uhm, Bill #80

You may or may not be aware that there are 56 ISLAMIC countries in the world.

Do you only have a problem with a Jewish stat?

How do you feel about the 56 ISLAMIC countries?

Just wondering....

Jan. 12 2009 11:26 AM
bill Mosihe is your response? Please tell me where in the world, in this day and age, it is acceptable for a country to be "only" for one group of people by law.
Lets see they seem to have that in Iran, Saudi Arabia maybe, and oh Yes Israel. Jews only, everyone else is second class. Israel is for Jews and that it must remain a JEWISH state.
Not a democracy where all have equal rights, regardless of background or religious creed, but first and foremost on the basis of ones race and religion.
To place this in proper perspective, this basic tennent of Israel, which is the cornerstone of Israel, would violate hundreds of U.S. civil and basic constitutional rights.
That is the real problem with all of this, Israel is inherently a racist country, by its own "constitution" or charter or what ever you want to call that disgusting documents.
That is why there is no right of return, that is why people are denied there rights, that is why there land is taken from them again and again and again, that is why people need 'travel passes. That is why Israel is worried about the "demographic problem". It is the new South Africa.

Jan. 12 2009 11:19 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

The difference that mr. jpmanhattan fails to mention, that all those jewish leaders turned to peace. They agreed to a UN mandate for two states side by side. Their actions stopped (which were acts of war, not suicide bombers on buses). The Arabs never have.

Jan. 12 2009 11:16 AM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

If Israel is losing "World support" as the Jews lost "World support" in WW2, then tough for "the World".

"The World" and the UN are upset that the Israelis are not the unarmed Jews of WW2 Europe.

I am willing to bet that in 1948, the British smugly expected the nascent Jewish state to suffer the same fate the Jews of WW2 Europe. Unfortuneately for the British, Jews with the means to defend themselves are not massacred - their attackers are.

Jan. 12 2009 11:15 AM
jpmanhattan from NYC

Hamas uses terror to achieve its goals. This is murderous and reprehensible and justifiably condemned on the world stage. However was it not equally reprehensible when the Irgun and Stern gangs used terror against the British and the then large local populations of Palestinians in the 1940s? Mr. Begin used terror and mass murder as a tool for political ends; 30 years later, as Prime Minister of Isreal, he signed a peace treaty with Egypt. Likewise, Mr. Arafat used terror as a tool for Fatah; he too evolved into a politician working on the world stage.

As many remarkable Israeli historians have conclusively and exhaustively demonstrated, Messrs. Begin, Shamir, Dayan, even David Ben Gurion all accepted or in many cases encouraged the use of terror, up to and including mass murder to create the modern state of Israel.

This uncomfortable reality needs to leaven any discussion of terror in the middle east. We desperately need to get away from a contest of comparative victimization. All sides in this conflict have dirty hands. All sides need to be able to articulate the other side's reality. As Ghandi famously said, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Jan. 12 2009 11:11 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Brian, please have a neutral party on your show that will explain to your audience who Hamas is, what are its aims, and why they were elected to represent Gaza Palestinians.

A Fatah partisan will not tell your audience of Fatah’s incompetence, corruption and it’s leaderships being co-opted by Israel under a fraudulent slogan known as the “peace process.” A process that has gone nowhere. What has happened in this so-called “peace process” is more illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and a chocking off Gaza.

Jan. 12 2009 11:09 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

Israel's on whose land? In 1948 there was a 1948 mandate. Israel abided, Arabs attacked. 1967, Arabs threated, lost a war. The land they lost is called spoils of war. During peace negotations, Israel wanted to give Gaza back to Egypt. Egypt didn't want it. They offered to give the West Bank to Jordan, they didn't want it either. Several Arab leaders claim there is no "Palestine". Israel offered 97% of the West Bank, and gaza to Palestinians at Oslo, with a bridge linking the two. Arafat said NO. What more do you want. Arabs want all or nothing. jews want peace. Why hasn't the Arabs made ANY counteroffer?

Jan. 12 2009 11:09 AM
jo from Brooklyn

Good questions, Brian. Good comments. Unmentioned or too seldom mentioned in all coverage is how Hamas is depersonalized. Aren't they also citizens? Don't they have children? How are they not to shield behind a civilian population in such a densely populated area with sealed borders? Stand up and be shot?

If Israel, the US and the rest of the world had treated them like the duly and democratically elected government which they, in fact, are and expected them to act that way, progress might have been made. Exactly who is refusing to recognise who's existance?

Instead, they are given no option but to lob ineffective 'missiles' but they are no longer the 12-year-old boys throwing stones we remember, and which they probably once were. It's very hard to find blame considering the options.

Israels pursuit of a 'long-lasting solution', on the other hand, raises much more disturbing reminiscences... Will the holocaust never end?

Jan. 12 2009 11:09 AM

I read a headline this weekend, something like: Israel says it is close to achieving its military goals in Gaza.

I guess if your military goal was to eliminate worldwide support for your own country, then they may actually have surpassed that.

I think we really share a responsibility in this. Our government has not been a good friend to Israel - if we had been, we would have brokered a peace. We would acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians.

By ignoring the Palestinian side, we have actually backed Israel into a dangerous corner. We need to think more carefully about this. I have never seen Israel in such a perilous state. I have never seen public opinion so condemning of Israel. This is a sea change.

Our policies in the Middle East have been a failure, not just for ourselves, but for Israel.

Jan. 12 2009 11:03 AM
jpmanhattan from NYC


This is a pretty unbalanced show. Clearly this is a subject fraught with emotion for you as well as many listeners, but this show shed much more heat than light.

A bigoted, fact free Isreali propagandist who claims everyone with a different point of view from him is lying. What a moral beacon for Isreal. With supporters like Chafets, no wonder Isreal is continually losing the support of world opinion. You could have done so much better.

On the Palestinian side, you have someone worth talking to, but who is clearly an opponent of Hamas, which is in a bitter struggle with Fatah. So the actual conditions on the ground in Gaza seem to have vanished from the discussion. The BBC/Guardian/CS Monitor/Wall St Journal all reported at the time that the first breach of the cease fire was in NOVEMBER when Isreal decided to assassinate an alleged Hamas leader. Also the cease fire imposed conditions on BOTH the Isreali government and Hamas. Hamas was supposed to stop violence (eg missiles) against Isreal and Isreal was supposed to open up the blockade sufficiently to permit economic development to resume in Gaza. The first happened, more or less, as acknowledged by virtually all parties. The second did not. Isreal permited a fraction of the agreed amount of commercial traffic (food,medicine, imports, exports) to pass through its military blockade. A blockade is a military action; is that so hard to keep in mind when talking about who started what and who is innocent?

You can do better. We need it.

Jan. 12 2009 11:02 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Jan. 12 2009 11:01 AM

hah! Moisehe you conveniently ignore the rest of the Geneva convention which Israel violates.

Maybe you can answer why Israel is deploying DPCIM rounds in civilian areas, in violation of the Geneva convention.
Maybe you can answer why Israel continues to seize land and build new settlements on in in violation of the LAW. Anything Moishe? Huh? Please tell me how putting a bunch of farmers on land taken illegally helps Israel defend it self.
Or does it really just come down to Israel is right and this land is ours, throw the Palestines into the sea, which is EXACTLY what 20% of the current Knesset calls for.
Why does Israel refuse to grant millions of people their full rights as citizens? After all Israel argues that there is no Palestine, and never was, so if Israel is the rightful government why have they denied basic rights, including citizenship, to millions of its people? Either Israel is the rightful government or its not, can't have it both ways.
The answer is simple, racism, because they are not jews. That is the truth about Israel Mosihe. Its every bit as bad as South Africa was under Apartheid.

Jan. 12 2009 11:01 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Eva, what's wrong? Israel can't build in its own country? They're confiscating whose land? You're wholly misinformed and now become a propagandist for terrorist entities whose whole life desire, is to murder every Israeli, to be a shahid and get to some perverse heaven. See and

Jan. 12 2009 11:01 AM
Shivi from Westchester

I gave up the expectation that the global media would care about the fate of Israel or its citizens. But surely you all care about Palestinians and their plight. So the media's lack of willingness to reveal Hamas's brutal killing machine that terrorizes the citizens of Gaza and the Palestinian people is not just terribly irresponsible but also dangerously ignorant. Where was the world's outrage about human rights violations in Gaza when Hamas took power forcibly back in 2005? How come to world did not care about poor Palestinian lives when Hamas has been murdering, terrorizing, and using Palestinians in Gaza to strengthen itself as a terrorist organization? Surely you don't care about the Israeli women and children who for six years have been the target of Hamas's deadly rockets. But you seem to really care about the Palestinians. So instead of strengthening Hamas by this ignorant outpour of sympathy, the world's media should rally behind Israel and Palestinians together to help get rid of Hamas and it's growing threat to democratic and peaceful Middle East. Forget the Jews, sure, you don't care about Israel. We get this. But if you really care about Human Rights violations in Gaza and the lives of Palestinians there, tell their story. Show the pictures of Hamas' weapons bunker under the city's largest hospital. Show the booby-trapped schools. Tell that Hamas were the ones to disconnect Gas and Electricity to Palestinians home in the outset of this war. Israel is not the enemy. Hamas is. Not just Israelis' enemy, but the enemy of modern, democratic Palestinian state. The evidence is there, you're just not willing to report it. And your reportage of the the wrong story will cost not only the Palestinians, but the whole Middle East and the world -- a lot more blood.

Jan. 12 2009 10:58 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

Israel did not break the ceasefire. Hamas never stopped firing missles to begin with, period. There is no ceasefire if one side keeps firing.

Jan. 12 2009 10:58 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Their are two reasons Israelis haven't died at a good enough pace for the world's desire, God and because they've been unable to work, go to school, shop, or live because they've been underground or running to underground shelters for eight years. Tens of thousands of Israelis are emotionally harmed for life from the fear of dying because Israel has not retaliated sooner and stronger.

Jan. 12 2009 10:56 AM
Deeadra from Jackson Heights

This segment disingenuously represented two moral sides. They both blame Hamas for this war rather than Israel's ongoing, immoral, occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel's two-year seige of Gaza.

By the way, unlike what Brian repeatedly states, Israel broke the cease fire.

Jan. 12 2009 10:55 AM

from that CS Monitor piece:

"The 850-plus dead Gazans, more than a dozen dead Israelis, and some 3,000 injured have since the end of the cease-fire become part of what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once called the birth pains of a new Middle East.

It didn't have to be this way. We could have talked instead of fought.

Hamas never called for the elections that put them in power. That was the brainstorm of Secretary Rice and her staff, who had apparently decided they could steer Palestinians into supporting the more-compliant Mahmoud Abbas (the current president of the Palestinian authority) and his Fatah Party through a marketing campaign that was to counter Hamas's growing popularity – all while ignoring continued Israeli settlement construction, land confiscation, and cantonization of the West Bank.

State Department staffers helped finance and supervise the Fatah campaign, down to the choice of backdrop color for the podium where Mr. Abbas was to proclaim victory. An adviser working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) explained to incredulous staffers at the Embassy in Tel Aviv how he would finance and direct elements of the campaign, leaving no US fingerprints. USAID teams, meanwhile, struggled to implement projects for which Abbas could claim credit. Once the covert political program cemented Fatah in place, the militia Washington was building for Fatah warlord-wannabee Mohammed Dahlan would destroy Hamas militarily.

Their collective confidence was unbounded. But the Palestinians didn't get the memo. Rice was reportedly blindsided when she heard the news of Hamas's victory during her 5 a.m. treadmill workout. But that did not prevent a swift response.

She immediately insisted that the Quartet (the US, European Union, United Nations, and Russia) ban all contact with Hamas and support Israel's economic blockade of Gaza. The results of her request were mixed, but Palestinian suffering manifestly intensified."

Jan. 12 2009 10:54 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Brian Lehrer,
You, or whomever at WNYC and/or NPR, are lagging the news. Your questions have been addressed all over the internet. Why don't you view the Israel DEFENSE Forces videos of how Israel is targeting only missile launchers, booby traps, i.e.d.'s, etc. They are dropping notes warning people not to stay with the terrorists who are firing at Israeli soldiers and into Israel. They are calling thousands of calls a day to Gazans to get out of areas that Israeli soldiers are going to come into to try to get rid of the thousands of weapons so many Gazans have smuggled into Gaza to destroy Israel.
This entire story of Gaza and Israel may be summed up, "Sorry, world, Israel will not permit itself to be destroyed."
The better alternative would have been what has always been the right choice for Gaza. Israel should tell Gaza to leave back to their country, Egypt, the rulers of Gaza from 1948-1967 who lost the war with Israel.

Jan. 12 2009 10:53 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

One more thing about the rallies, Those pro Hamas wind up violent (they put 5 cops in the hospital yesterday) and Israel's are peaceful And why are arabs in foreign contries attacking jews? israelis shot in a mall in Denmark, Synogogues in France.. Proof that Arabs just want jews dead. I don't see jews in London bombing mossques.

Jan. 12 2009 10:53 AM
hjs from 11211

if two sides are at war (and have been for 50 years) define terrorist

Jan. 12 2009 10:52 AM
Edward from Washington Heights aka pretentious "Hudson Heights"

Anyone with any question as to what Hamas's goals are, should read the Hamas Charter of 1988 (1988 coincidentally is the same year that Pan Am 103 was bombed). The charter is easily found in the net, you might need to access Googles cached version.

In the Hamas Charter I was shocked to see that Freemasons, Rotary Club, Lion Club are according to Hamas "Zionist organizations". I do remember that the nazis also hated Freemasons.

Jan. 12 2009 10:49 AM
Moishe from Rockland

No, Maureen, the terrorists around the world are angry now when they're destroyers of Israel aren't murdering the 1,400 Israelis they have since 2000. No, Maureen, they'd be quiet if it was Israel being destroyed.

Jan. 12 2009 10:46 AM

I was very shocked yesterday to learn that this weekend, in Antwerp, a pro-Palestinian rally became violent and there was rioting. The "rally" then began to move toward the Jewish part of town.

While I condemn the current actions of Israel in this conflict as bizarrely counterproductive, self-destructive and clearly inhumane, I am concerned also about a protest like that.

It's important to recognize that there are a large number of Israelis, and European and American Jews, who are against the current actions of the Israeli government. And even if there weren't, looting the Jewish neighborhood in Antwerp (?!) is an irrational response.

The reaction to this issue is never entirely rational - it seems that people all over the world (yes, even in ANTWERP) bring a kaleidoscope of strange emotions into it.

I think we should also note our own responsibility in this - specifically what the CS Monitor makes clear is Condi Rice's share of the blame, see:

Jan. 12 2009 10:46 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Fawaz Gergez, a frequent Arab (Lebanese) guest on this show has said many times in writing and interviews that the Palestinians as well as Egyptians and other Arabs have a history of fighting inept wars. Why is it racist when a factual comment comes from a Jew (Chafets) when Arabs say the same thing.

The Palestinians (Fatah, Hamnas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) have fired about 10,000 rockets into Israel over the past 8 years and only a few have hit their targets. Not racist, that is just a fact.

Jan. 12 2009 10:44 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Missing piece of the debate:

Hamas won the election, but they did not win a majority of the vote. The election rules were complicated and Hamas's foe(s) ran a stupid campaign. Even though the foes got more votes, Hamas won the election.

(I'm not drawing any parallels to anything, at least not intentionally. And I don't think that comparisons should be made.)

Part of Israel's strategy seem to be an attempt to convince the people of Gaza not to re-elect Hamas. But the civilians are not responsible for Hamas's control of of Gaza. It actually is the people who made the election rules and the idiots or ran Hamas's political opponents' electoral strategies. Few or none of which remain in Gaza.

So, is this a moral intermediate goal, given what really happened? And are the current efforts necessary to achieve the goal of getting Hamas out of power?

Jan. 12 2009 10:43 AM
maureen fadem from brooklyn

in addition, we need to stress the importance of distinguishing between massacre and battle or war

it is very clear to most people in the world that the people of gaza have been completely incapable of defending themselves

that what israel has done in this case is simply launch a massacre in gaza, they have not started a war with hamas, or any other group working against the state, they have simply decided to slaughter hamas and in the process to slaughter anyone who might be nearby or might unfortunately get caught up in the massacre

this choice on the part of the state is EXTREMELY UNFORTUNATE because i think most people also know: it will and likely already has worked to burgeon the size of islamic militant extremism, which is precisely the opposite of what israel needs

all of this has been said by a person who has always supported israel

i support them no longer

~maureen fadem, CUNY/brooklyn

Jan. 12 2009 10:42 AM
Peaches from NYC

Wow. This Chafets guy is nuts. Whether you agree or not, at least al-Omari sounds honest and reasonable.

Jan. 12 2009 10:42 AM
Ben from NY

It was shocking to hear the Lehrer-Chafets segment a short while ago. Brian usually strikes me as well-prepared, but in this case he seemed shockingly ill-prepared, at one point even stating (wrongly) that no one has been killed by the rockets in Israel. He kept on repeating anti-Israel propaganda in his questioning to Mr. Chafets.

I wonder if Brian has ever been in Israel. Has he ever been in that area that he was expounding on as if he were well-informed? I challenge Brian to go there and see firsthand what the situation is. If the Mayor, President-elect, Police commissioner and even Joe the plumber can, why can't Brian the NY intellectual?

Jan. 12 2009 10:42 AM
Moishe from Rockland

See the real honest truth at's website, Israel at War -


And, at Palestinian Media Watch's site,, 2 parts on Hamas' background

Jan. 12 2009 10:41 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

I see a lot of people comparing the death toll. Hamas fires hundreds of rockets a week. Is it Israel's fault Hamas misses? Should Israel ignore the missle attacks because Hamas couldn't hit the side of a barn? The only reason more Israelis are not dead is simply because Hamas is a bad shot. What if they killed 5 people per missle like a suicide bomber?

Jan. 12 2009 10:41 AM
Bernie Rosenfeld from NJ

It is true that few Israelis have been killed in the incessant rocket attacks by Hamas. However, Israel is completely within its rights to do what is necessary to stop the rockets from raining down on its citizens, even if it results in the unintentional deaths of Gaza civilians.

If Hamas chooses to hide among the civilian population, then it is unavoidable that there will be civilians killed. Israel does what it can to accurately target Hamas forces and avoid civilian casualties, but Hamas' operating out of populated areas makes collateral deaths unavoidable.

Hamas, on the other hand, intentionally attempts kill Israeli civilians. This is terror, by definition.

Jan. 12 2009 10:41 AM
peter from manhatten

@adf, just wait a few minutes then you can get the podcast

Jan. 12 2009 10:41 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

I feel the real winner may not be Isarel or Hamas, but Iran's ability to drive everybody crazy. The Palestinians like to say that Israel is occupying them. No, it is not Israel, it is Iran. Even if Israel "wins" and Hamas is weakened, Iran has proved that Hamas are their puppets - this does not bode well for peace.

Jan. 12 2009 10:40 AM
Moishe from Rockland

This Arab is lying. Hamas has only one goal, destroy Israel and eventually the West.

Jan. 12 2009 10:39 AM

Only came in at the last couple minutes (when Chafetz said that the israelis are lucky that arabs can't shoot straight).

Can someone provide a list of racist comments he made in the segment beside the insult above? thanks!

Jan. 12 2009 10:39 AM
maureen fadem from brooklyn

regarding your discussion, brian, with the gentleman who was just defending the current actions of israel:

you just asked: why is there not more global condemnation of hamas as there has been of israel, here is why:

hamas has never massacred the isr
aeli people

right now, in gaza, israel is massacring the palestinian people

when you have a death toll that looks like this (and this is the issue i was taking with your former guest): as of y'day it was:

896 dead gazans
13 dead israelis, 3 of those by israeli friendly fire

what those figures tell us, and they speak loudly if not scream, is that the people of gaza have been entirely helpless, powerless to defend themselves

which is why we must stop referring to this as a war

it is a massacre, full stop

israel had many other options in terms of how to deal with hamas

they have chosen to do that in a way that sacrifices many palestinian lives, including over 300 children, which means israel has devalued the life of a palestinian to zero

that is not only a massacre, it is a holocaust

Jan. 12 2009 10:39 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Notes from previous post:
[1] See: UN Resolution 3314 (XXIX). Definition of Aggression.
[2] United States Department of State, Draft Articles on State Responsibility, Comments of the Government of the United States of America, March 1, 2001. See:
[3] See: UNSC 1269, 1368,1373, 1377

Jan. 12 2009 10:39 AM
Moishe from Rockland

What unites Palestinian Arabs is their opposition to Jewish nationalism and a desire to stamp it out - not aspirations for their own state. Murdering Jews is a collective Palestinian Arab effort that requires a collectively sensible response. Israel's reaction to nearly eight years of shelling Israeli civilian population centers from the Gaza Strip is nothing more than a measured, fair response, designed to effectively terminate armed attacks and more importantly - to prevent its recurrence. All of Israel’s actions in this regard are supported by international law.

Hamas - a United States designated foreign terrorist organization, by their aggression and initial use of armed force against Israeli civilians and non-combatant Jews in breach of the United Nations Charter, constituted prima facie [Latin: on its face] evidence of an act of aggression - aggression being defined by international law as "the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force." 1

Therefore, the rule of proportionality in this case of continuous aggression, needs to be met by Israeli acts that will induce the wrongdoing aggressor to comply with international obligations. A countermeasure need not be the exact equivalent of the breaching act. 2

United Nations Resolutions demand of states to combat terrorism and reaffirm their:
"unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed." 3
Judge Schwebel, the former President of the International Court of Justice is quoted saying:
"In the case of action taken for the specific purpose of halting and repelling an armed attack, this does not mean that the action should be more or less commensurate with the attack.

Jan. 12 2009 10:38 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Hamas has been attacking Israel for a long time. It is ridiculous to compare how many are killed on each side just after the second combatant started fighting back. If you insist on comparing actual body counts, you've got to include all the attacks, even if they were still one-sided.

However, the much better moral question is about how many deaths are prevented by war. If Israel did not respond at all, how many deaths does Israel think would occur? How many injuries?

And a much harder moral question is how one compares terror and destruction of a way of life to body counts.

You see, Hamas is trying to terrorize Israelis, and kills or injure as many as they can. (Their weapons are not good enough to get the body count up, at least not yet.) What is a moral response to that kind of attack, if killing and injuring is not.

Jan. 12 2009 10:38 AM
Greg from NYC

Don't pull the wolf's tail if you do not want to get bitten. Questioning the scale of Israel's response is ridiculous. The media should have been giving as much coverage to Hamas's rocket campaign against Israel.

Jan. 12 2009 10:37 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

Both sides have their own moral problems. Yes, Israel has killed civilians. However Hamas purposely hides their "offices" and weapons in civilian areas for procisely this reason. They have a command center underneath Shifa Hospital (which Egypt built with help from the US). Israel does have a videotape of Hamas firing from that UN school. It might have been from 2007, but the truth is, they were there. When Hamas didn't stop firing rockets, they new this was going to happen. Hamas does not recognise Israel period. They should missles unprovoked specifically at civilians. Israel is now in self-defence and hits civilians because Hamas purposely puts them at risk. Don't forget they voted for Hamas in the first place.

Israel, has treated Gaza unfairly leading up to this. They should have looser with the borders. If the public feels Hamas is justified because of Israel's actions, that still doesn't make Hamas rockets justified. Why is nobody condemning Hamas? The blockade is because uses it to smuggle weapons. Hamas steals the aid trucks for themselves and sell it. The UN, Red Crescent Aid groups, several other governments say so. They run a currency black market too. They licence the tunnels and sell to civilians. Plus the electricity utilities they hoard for them are actually provided free from Israel They refused food aid (fruits and vegetables from Israel) Why aren't they taken to task for harming their own civilians?

Jan. 12 2009 10:37 AM
Moishe from Rockland

Only Hamas is killing children (many of whom are 17 year old terrorists dressed in civilian clothing.
Hamas and the Gaza population bear full and complete legal and moral responsibility for every and all civilian death occurring in Gaza.
Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977
Section 1: General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities
Chapter II: Civilians and Civilian Population
Article 51: Protection of the Civilian Population
3.Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations. 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.

Jan. 12 2009 10:36 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

It is easy to sit at home and find fault with the coverage of this, and other programs. I certainly have done a lot of that. I like that this show has on a Zev Chavets, it is a nice response to all of the guests last week who seemed to be on the "Israel is wrong for defending herself" side of things.

In the future, it would be neat to hear someone like Mr. Chafets discuss his views with one of the previous guests like the one from Haaretz.

Jan. 12 2009 10:36 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

Wow. I have heard Mr. Lehrer challenge guests and callers who offered overtly racist views.

Chafets does so and not one word of objection from Mr. Lehrer.

Jan. 12 2009 10:35 AM
cmb from Harlem

I'm disappointed that someone with such little knowledge of international humanitarian law is allowed to speak on this armed conflict. Chafets' misstatements on the law of war, humanitairan obligations towards civilians, and the role of the UN and the ICRC are outrageous and I can't belief that Brian isn't challenging him on this.

Jan. 12 2009 10:34 AM
Catherine from Rockville Centre

This man's insistence that all criticism of Israel is by the very fact of being criticism is biased is exactly the problem with Israeli policy and the defense of it. He actually said that counting bodies is intended as a criticism of Israel... trying to figure out the logic here... the truth is a conspiracy against Israel, too? Hmm...

Jan. 12 2009 10:34 AM
JO from White Plains

Would it be too much to ask, Brian, that you actually have a guest representing the "Israeli side" (as if there is some SINGLE Israeli view on the war) by someone who is actually a reasoned and nuanced voice on the issue? Do you have to have the most extreme voice you can find?

I get the feeling you're trying to make this inflammatory rather than an actual discussion. Nice. Perhaps I should just tune in to Howard Stern...he does it much better than you.

And the name is pronounced "Hafets" with an aspirated "H" sound.

Jan. 12 2009 10:34 AM
Wendy from Brooklyn

Please ask him how he determines that and when the UN is lying.

Jan. 12 2009 10:34 AM
J from Westchester

This guy is avoiding the true questions at hand. Why does he act like he is too good to answer the questions? How could he say that Israel isn't acting immorally?? Killing innocent children and UN personnel isn't bad enough?

ahh! This guy makes me mad...

Jan. 12 2009 10:34 AM
Frank from Manhattan

This is the problem with this conflict. The hawk on the phone, like numerous others, believes Israel can do no wrong. If Israel dropped a nuke on Gaza he'd respond " well, they asked for it."

Jan. 12 2009 10:33 AM
Norman from NYC

Thank you, Brian, for demonstrating that Israel's partisans can't give a logical, reasonable defense of Israel's actions.

Jan. 12 2009 10:33 AM

What a sad man. Pathetic.

Jan. 12 2009 10:33 AM

Israel a democracy? That is a crock. Its a democracy the same way Apartheid South Africa was a democracy for whites

Jan. 12 2009 10:32 AM
robert from park slope

I grew up in Memphis during the 1960's. Comments about looting TV's is, verbatim, what was said by whites about blacks during riots of 1968.

Jan. 12 2009 10:31 AM
bip bop

"untold psychological damage occurs every time a rocket goes off" is his response to your point that there have been *ZERO* israeli deaths as a result of rocket attacks.

thanks for letting this guy talk...israel's demented cheerleaders are their worst spokesmen.


Jan. 12 2009 10:31 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

The UN always lies. Jimmy Carter always lies. Jews critical of Israel are "self-hating" Jews. Any non-Jew critical of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, Zev Chafets offers -- in writing -- blanket condemnations of _all_ Muslims, _all_ Arabs.

So who is the racist.

Jan. 12 2009 10:31 AM
KC from Brooklyn

Brian: UN convoys weren't just attacked; one of their drivers was killed, during the ceasefire, on a mission that had been coordinated with the Israeli army. They were sending the UN a message.

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Finally a gust w/o an agenda!

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM

Thank you # 16

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Finally, pose him this question:

You say that this is war of self-defense, and that it is necessary because Hamas -- who has sworn to destroy Israel -- is the the opponent.

Doesn't "necessary" imply that it will lead to a desirable outcome? What is the basis upon which one might think that this kind of response from Israel will actually bring Hamas to and end?

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM

There is an interesting story from the CS Monitor about the US role, and specifically the decisions of Condi Rice, in the current conflict. To sum it up, the article basically says: "don't blame Israel or Hamas, blame Condi." Here is a link:

I also recommend "Waltz with Bashir" which is a beautifully made but very haunting Israeli animated documentary about the Sabra/Shatila massacres. It is in theaters now. It covers a different time period, but the film is important and relevant in showing the complicated emotions of people caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The director has made a point of saying it is not a political film, but a personal one. Whichever side of this discussion you fall on, I recommend seeing it.

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM

this guy is wrong, the "war" is about Isreal continuing to occupy land taken in war and then on top of that creating new and expanding illegal settlements on additional land in violation of the Geneva convention. That is what the war is about.

Jan. 12 2009 10:30 AM
HC from nyc

ooops i sent that early by mistake here is what i meant to say:

To the remark your guest just made, that immorality begins with the enjoyment of killing: is that really the point of immorality? Isn't it equally as immoral if the killing of civilians is simply accepted as a fact of life? Isn't that part of Hanna Arendt's point in her book on Eichmann and the Banality of Evil?

Obviously your guest considers the life of a Palestian civilian to be worth far less than that of an Israeli citizen.

Jan. 12 2009 10:29 AM

Why do Israeli Supporters continually justify and deny the inhumane treatment of Palestinians. So unfortunate.

Jan. 12 2009 10:29 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Brian, focus a little less on your list of prepared questions and instead follow up on the reasoning he is putting forward.

Ask him if the quantity of missile attacks from Israel into Gaza was necessary to meet Israel's goal.

Ask him if the ground troops are also necessary.

Jan. 12 2009 10:28 AM
Anne from Manhattan

Where did you find this Israeli guy? He's rude and smug. He does not represent the views of many peace-minded Jews and pro-Israel people.

This is a difficult situation. Your guest is making crude generalizations and sounds like someone who is gloating over someone else's suffering.

Please bring on a more intelligent and well-spoken representative of the Israeli viewpoint.

Jan. 12 2009 10:28 AM
Dan from Kearny, NJ

I believe I heard a recent remark from a Hamas leader that the car-bombs would be returning to Israel. How can Israel stop now?

Jan. 12 2009 10:27 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Numerous international groups - the UN, the ICRC, Israeli human rights groups, Amnesty International, and others -- are raising very serious questions about likely Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Many observers, including aid workers and what few journalists are in Gaza, have reported on _deliberate_ Israeli attacks on civilians.

Mr. Lehrer betrays his own bias when he assumes that Israel is not deliberately targeting civilians. There have been decades of reports of Israel attacking civilians. There are many _first-hand_ accounts of deliberate attacks upon civilians and aid workers in Gaza.

Since 2001, _fewer than 40 Israelis of any kind_ have been killed by Hamas rockets and mortars.

Israel's monstrous, deliberate massacre of civilians is deeply repugnant to any principle of human rights.

Moreover, it is _not_ established (contrary to Mr. Lehrer's claim) that Hamas was first to break the ceasefire. There was an Israeli attack on or around the American election day.

Richard Falk, Desmond Tutu, JImmy Carter and many other international experts have reported on Israeli war crimes.

Time to stop apologizing for Israeli atrocities.

Jan. 12 2009 10:27 AM
peter from manhatten

so people who object to the mass slaughter of civilians are "morally stupid" according to your guest. what a guy.

Jan. 12 2009 10:27 AM
Yosif from Manhattan

Telling innocent people to go into a building for shelter, and then bombing it, killing UN relief workers, leaving children with their dead parents in a building for four days with no food, using white phosphorous, bombing UN schools. Who could defend these actions with a "moral compass"?

Jan. 12 2009 10:26 AM
KC from Brooklyn

Ha. Right off the bat, he hits the exact same talking point all of this invasion's apologists are hitting: people opposed to this must be anti-Israel (and, by extension, antisemitic). "With us or against us," if you will. So stupid, so obvious, so counter to anything productive. Shame on you, Chafets.

Jan. 12 2009 10:25 AM
MichaelB from UWS Manhattan

The central point in this question of morality is the continued positioning of military resources amongst civilian populations.

Jan. 12 2009 10:25 AM

ask him why the IDF is firing DPICM rounds into civilian areas, which is a clear violation of the Geneva convention

Jan. 12 2009 10:24 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

wow good non answer to a yes/no question.

Jan. 12 2009 10:24 AM
Herb E

Why don't they use the tunnels to import food instead of weapons?

Why don't you take hamas to task for putting civilians at risk?

How long should Israel wait before they stop the rockets?

Is running for shelter from rocket attacks for eight years excessive?

Why doesn't the press enter Gaza from the tunnels or from the Egypt border crossing?

Send one of your Jewish reporters to Gaza to get the story. When he is there he should take pictures of the nonexistent churches.

Hamus's mission is "No Israel". They say on your NEWS reports. They Target civilians, they say so, it is policy. Listen to Public Radio News to varify.

I have more to say. Call me 646-458-2036. All the best, Herb

Jan. 12 2009 10:16 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

This is a grossly skewed guest choice. Ghaith al-Omari is a Fatah partisan. Ask him how many years it has been since he was in Gaza.

Zev Chafets is an unabashed pro-Israel, anti-Arab bigot.

He has explicitly condemned _all_ of Islam as "an aggressive, violent political ideology".

That is pure racism. If something comparable were said of Judaism, it would rightly be condemned as anti-Semitism.

Would WNYC and Mr. Lehrer invite someone who is unabashedly, unreflectively anti-Semitic? Then why ask someone who is so bigoted with respect to Islam?

A shameful and offensive choice, Mr. Lehrer. I take it you were unable to line up Alan Dershowitz or Daniel Pipes.

Jan. 12 2009 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC

Censorship on this topic again. How sad. I will actually tune out to protest it. (I hope that was kind enough to be posted.)

Jan. 12 2009 10:05 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

On January 6, the American Task Force on Palestine issued a press release that said:

"The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today condemned an Israeli military attack near a UN school in Gaza in which at least 30 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed and many more injured."

Please ask Mr. al-Omari why the ATFP did not condemn Hamas for firing on Israeli troops from within or near a school filled with children? Is it Mr. al-Omari's position that when Hamas uses Palestinian children as human shields, the correct course of actions is to blame Israel?

Jan. 12 2009 09:58 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Please ask Mr. Chavets:

Will Israel and its supporters introduce any resolutions at the UN to protect Palestinian children from being used as human shields by Hamas and others?

Jan. 12 2009 09:58 AM
BL Producers

It is important to The Brian Lehrer Show that you are able to post comments to each show segment. Our listeners often provide great reporting tips, thoughtful questions for our guests and information that augments many of our segments.

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Jan. 12 2009 09:43 AM

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