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July 8, 2012 5:25 pm

Getting the Story Wrong on the Plight of Palestinians

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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The five star al-Mashtal hotel in Gaza. Photo: Trip Advisor.

Someone should tell Julie Hurley that kids are not a political katyusha to be fired against Israel in the ongoing effort to delegitimize the Jewish state.

In her Op-Ed article (“The subtle costs of constant Mideast war,” June 30), Hurley makes the following points:

1) Gaza’s inhabitants are subject to a cruel “siege” imposed arbitrarily by Israel.

2) It is not Hamas but “small militant groups” who are firing deadly rockets against Israeli civilians.

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3) Israel’s blockade is responsible for the poverty in Gaza and the cancellation of summer camps.

4) The Israeli “siege” is illegal under international law.

None of the above is correct.

I personally visited Gaza City on a solidarity trip to Israel right after 9/11 and witnessed the unspeakable poverty that prevailed under Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, even though, as The New York Times reported, by 2004 the Palestinians had become “the world’s largest per capita recipients of international aid.”

The Congressional Research Service stated, “the United States alone has committed over $4 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians.”

Sadly, very little of that money trickled down to Palestinian children due to widespread corruption and theft on the part of the Palestinian leadership.

In 2003, a team of American accountants – hired by Arafat’s own finance ministry – claimed that Arafat had wealth in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving behind no forces or blockade. But when Hamas came to power in 2006, rather than investing in infrastructure, they used their money for weapons to launch a war against Israeli civilians, firing thousands of rockets aimed at schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly.

Stopping bombs

Israel responded with a sea blockade only, designed to stop bombs and bullets from reaching Hamas terrorists. The land routes have always remained open and, contrary to the infamous “Gaza 54″ letter signed by a small group from Congress in 2010, food and medicine and other essential humanitarian aid has never been prevented from entering.

Hurley’s claim that the sea blockade is illegal under international law directly contradicts a United Nations report of July 2011 that states: “Israel’s naval blockade was legal.”

Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to attacking Jews wherever they may be found. Its covenant is deeply racist, with genocidal aspirations: “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts … until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realized.”

Hamas is also an inhuman regime that brutalizes its Palestinian citizens and is regularly censured by human rights groups worldwide. Human Rights Watch has condemned Hamas for “serious violations of international law.”

I need not add how gays and women fare under Hamas rule, whose barbarity includes widespread honor killings of young women and whose usual excuse for persecuting gays is to label them collaborators.

It is not Israel that is responsible for the suffering of Palestinian children but Hamas. Hurley’s claim that the rockets are not being fired by Hamas are belied by every credible international media agency, such as this recent report by Moran Stein in the Atlantic: “Late last month, Hamas fired 20 rockets into Israel, part of a 150-rocket volley launched by it and other Gaza-based groups.”

Wrong to blame Israel

Blaming Israel for the cancellation of summer camps for the children of Gaza is akin to blaming the United States for the deprivation of German and Japanese children in the summer of 1945.

The comparison is not exaggerated. The Hamas Charter reads like a modern-day “Mein Kampf.”

“The Day of Judgment will not come,” it says, “until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims… there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Hurley ignores the violence that has attended the Gaza summer games, including a June 2010 report in Al-Jazeera that said, “A group of armed men has vandalized a U.N. summer camp in the Gaza Strip, the second such attack in just over one month.”

Palestinians are my brothers

Palestinians are my brothers and it pains me deeply that there continues to be war between Arab and Jew.

While visiting Arab inhabitants of Paterson last week, I heard the grievances of many who have family in Gaza and who feel Israel is indifferent to their plight. But the solution is for Palestinians who currently live under the tyranny of Hamas to enjoy a benevolent, democratic government like the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel who practice a glorious Islamic faith without encumbrance, publish newspapers without interference and frolic in summer camps without fear.

None of this will happen so long as Hamas continues its reign of terror in Gaza.

Shmuley Boteach, a rabbi, is the Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.

This article originally appeared in the New Jersey Record.

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  • JohnWV

    Israel, our inseparable ally, is using American attack jets against civilians in besieged Palestinian neighborhoods. Fathers, mothers and children are being killed, splattered actually. The Jews enjoy a kill ratio of near one hundred to one. The Palestinian’s response with crude rockets is pathetic. But those rockets do confirm that Palestine will not accept defeat, they “give proof through the night that (their) flag is still there.”

    • A REAL American

      @JohnWV The so-called kill ratio is of absolutely no relevance to anyone. The object of war is to kill more of your enemy then they do of you and the object of the IDF is to defend Israeli civilians from palestinian terrorists. Since the palestinian TERRORISTS are illegally engaged in asymmetrical warfare targeting civilians–that number is naturally (G-d willing) going to highly imbalanced. The 100 to 1 number could be 100,000 to 1 or even 1 million to 1, because in this case the first number represents TERRORISTS and the 2nd number represents non-combatants.

      Israel doesn’t target civilians from the ground or from the air and has never used an “attack jet” from any country to do so.

      You are confusing TERRORISTS with civilians, which I guess is easy to do from the comfort of your home since palestinian TERRORISTS illegally dress as civilians and engage in armed combat using their own civilian population as cover for their operations. Combine these two gross violations of the Geneva Conventions on Warfare with with the fact that these same palestinian TERRORISTS are specifically targeting Israeli non-combatants and you are guilty of making a bogus defense for palestinian WAR CRIMINALS.

      The use of rockets don’t give proof that these subhumans don’t accept defeat, it gives proof that they are TERRORISTS and WAR CRIMINALS illegally targeting schools, hospitals, nursing homes and buses.

  • naro

    Remember that Gaza is also bordered on Egypt which controls shipments through its side. Hamas is a tool of Iran in its religious war with Israel. Israel has to protect itself from Islamic fanatics including Hamas.

    • Efraim

      I wish you a rocket to land on your head, maybe then you change mind- brains

  • In addition to Linda’s comment above, Mr. Boteach’s assertion that a UN report in July 2011 supports the legality of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is only partially correct. The UN report was authored by a panel of individuals, none of them experts on international or maritime law and they qualified their report with the statement that the report was not legally binding, but simply their opinion. Conversely, numerous other UN experts and specialists in international and maritime laws have concluded just the opposite of this report, declaring the Israeli blockade is illegal. Mr. Boteach should include all sides of an argument and not simply the one that supports his stance. Also a Republican, his views, and those with similar attitudes, are a key reason I am seriously considering either changing parties or seeking a career in politics.

    • A REAL American

      @T.E. Barnes Jr.

      All UN reports are authored by panels of individuals. So, does that all reports coming from the UN are invalid?

      Only resolutions from the UN Security council are legally binding. No other UN body has ability to make legally binding recommendations, reports, judgements, etc. So, if “legally binding” is your only standard, no report or resolution or recommendation coming outside of the UN Security council has any legitimacy.

      In fact, the only way you can make a legal determination of international law (or any law) is to try the case and have it decided before a judge or jury or in this case a panel of judges in The Hague.

      But this has never been attempted because outside of you and a few other politically motivate mental midgets, no one else with any real knowledge of international law–including the maritime laws believes that Israel is in violation of maritime law because maritime law specifically allows for sovereign nations to blockade ports during wartime. Since Hamas, the defacto ruler of Gaza is by their own charter and their own deeds in a perpetual state of war with Israel, Israel is absolutely within their rights to blockade Gaza. Numerous legal experts outside of the official UN report Rabbi Boteach cited have agreed with this position.

      If you still believe Israel is in violation of maritime law, you are welcome to bring charges against Israel in The Hague–but be prepared to thoroughly humiliated if you do.

      Also, based on your love of UN which has a decidedly pro third-world and anti-American slant,I doubt you have ever voted for any mainstream Republican in your lifetime, certainly not one since Gerald Ford’s presidency. If you are seriously considering changing parties simply because Rabbi Boteach extremely moderate Republican views offend you, I think it would be more likely that you would be changing from the Lyndon Larouche party to the National Socialists party than from the Republican party to the Democratic party.

  • Charity Clayton

    Benevolent, democratic government? Publish newspapers without interference? Frolic in summer camps without fear? This article is more akin to a poorly written fairy story than a serious commentary on The lives of Palestinians.

    • Shoshanna

      His comment was referring to Israeli-Arab citizens, not all Palestinians. He is describing how Arabs who live in peace with Israelis have a higher quality of life than those who live in a constant state of war with Israel. In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians live under their respective Palestinian governments, and it is a different story.

  • Ferdirand UK

    I am totally amazed that you dispute Julie Hurleys facts, which are in accordance with UN resolutions and other knowledgeable opinions. Your article has no basis in reality or facts. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Linda J

    Aren’t you forgetting some things, Mr. Boteach? Israel’s savage attack on Gaza in 2008-09 — Israel called it Cast Lead. That attack killed 1400 people, including 500 women and children. And what about Israel killing 9 Turkish people trying to bring aid on a boat to Gaza?

    Your description of the situation is absolutely ridiculous.

    • linda, why did YOU FORGET the 20,000 rockets the arabs in gaza fired into Israel which FORCED ISRAEL to say'”we’ve had enough AND WE ARE WARNING YOU NOW TO STOP OR WE ARE COMING IN TOMORROW.

      gee linda, how convenient of you to forget the ‘rest of the story.

    • linda, why did YOU FORGET the 20,000 rockets the arabs in gaza fired into Israel which FORCED ISRAEL to say'”we’ve had enough AND WE ARE WARNING YOU NOW TO STOP OR WE ARE COMING IN TOMORROW.

      gee linda, how convenient of you to forget the ‘rest of the story.

    • linda, why did YOU FORGET the 20,000 rockets the arabs in gaza fired into Israel which FORCED ISRAEL to say'”we’ve had enough AND WE ARE WARNING YOU NOW TO STOP OR WE ARE COMING IN TOMORROW.

      gee linda, how convenient of you to forget the ‘rest of the story.

    • A REAL American

      @Linda J aren’t you ignoring many things? The overwhelming bulk of the 1400 killed during operation Cast Lead were TERRORISTS engaged in illegally targeting Israeli civilians (NON-COMBATANTS).

      You are confusing TERRORISTS with civilians, which I guess is easy to do from the comfort of your home since palestinian TERRORISTS illegally dress as civilians and engage in armed combat using their own civilian population as cover for their operations. Combine these two gross violations of the Geneva Conventions on Warfare with with the fact that these same palestinian TERRORISTS are specifically targeting Israeli non-combatants and you are guilty of making a bogus defense for palestinian WAR CRIMINALS who are guilty of CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

      The Geneva Conventions on Warfare specifically outlawed military groups from conducting operations behind civilian lines. The authors of the Geneva conventions fully understood that a military or TERRORIST group operating behind civilian lines is doing so in order to use these civilians as cover. The end result is massive civilian casualties, which is the Geneva Convention places the responsibility for these casualties on the palestinian TERRORISTS.

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