Today’s Top Stories
1. The UN Haman Rights Council’s inquiry into Operation Protective Edge got off to a bumpy start with the the announcement that the probe would be conducted by three investigators: Canadian Professor William Schabas (the inquiry leader), Amal Alamuddin (a Lebanese lawyer better known as George Clooney’s fiancee , who declined the council’s invitation), and Doudou Diene (a Senegalese legal expert).
UN Watch called on Schabas to recuse himself from the inquiry, documenting a veritable laundry list of prejudiced statements, including calls for Benyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres to be indicted for crimes against the Palestinians. Israel scoffed at the UN’s “kangaroo court” and Schabas scoffed at the critics.
2. Pro-Palestinian activists formally announced plans to break the blockade of Gaza with another flotilla. Contrary to earlier reports, Newsweek writes:
The coalition will attempt to breach the blockade without military assistance, insisting they have “not asked for military escort, have no intention to, and will not sail with a military escort”.
Following the first BuzzFeed report that claimed Israeli political leaders had fabricated Hamas’s involvement in the abductions in order to create a pretext for the current Gaza war, Israel’s Shin Bet security service disclosed that one of the Palestinian suspects had been in Israeli custody for weeks and had admitted to Hamas’ involvement in the terror plot.
BuzzFeed’s reporting on the crime helped fuel accusations by Israel’s critics that the Gaza war had been started by Israel, not Hamas . . .
“It’s very strange because everyone knew very quickly when this began that Hamas was involved and their footprint on this murder is something that there was no doubt of,” Shaer told the Free Beacon during an interview in Jerusalem.
4. Foreign Press Association: Hamas Threatening Reporters: Organization representing foreign journos in Israel and Palestinian territories denounces Hamas intimidation.
Israel and the Palestinians
• An internal UN audit found a number of employees of the UN Development Program in Gaza and the West Bank were involved in purchases of construction material they weren’t authorized to make, expenditures weren’t properly tracked, and workers weren’t properly monitored. The significance?
Taken together, the findings in the carefully manicured audit report — which was vetted by UNDP management at the affected office — point to a possible black hole in the supervision of civil construction, and perhaps other programs in Gaza and the other Palestinian territories for at least a year before the current explosion of terrorism.
The report adds a new level of potential credibility to Israeli accusations that internationally-managed relief supplies to Gaza were diverted into construction of the elaborate and highly-engineered tunnels under the territory that were used by Hamas terrorists to launch and coordinate rocket attacks and incursions into Israel that dramatically escalated in March.
• The Columbia Journalism Review has me wondering: What kind of psychological traumas may be hitting the foreign reporters in Gaza for the last month?
• The Daily Telegraph‘s Dan Hodges has a bone to pick with all the pro-Palestinian activists posting “atrocity porn,” which is using photos of dead kids to push political points.
The people you are disseminating your images to are not machines. We are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. I don’t need to see the child without a head to recognise the unspeakable, black, infinite horror of losing a child. And the fact that you do – or that you think I do – doesn’t draw me closer to you and your cause. It repels me.
But then you think your cause is bigger than me. This is the second great justification, or self-justification. “You may be repelled. But that’s tough. People are dying. You may not want to look at these images. But I’m going to force you to.”
Fine. But in that case, take your cause and your images elsewhere. If you are so righteous – and your calling so worthy – that you choose to engage me solely on your own terms, then you don’t need me at all. You already occupy a much higher moral plane . . .
The point I’m making is this: if you want to persuade me of your cause, persuade me. But don’t try to shame me, or shock me, or bully me onto your side.
If you do try to persuade me, do it with your arguments. Don’t do it with the broken, lifeless body of someone else’s child.
• Former ambassador Michael Oren suspended himself from CNN for the duration of Operation Protective Edge. He told the Times of Israel that an exclusivity clause in his contract didn’t allow him to appear on other news services, which Oren said was extremely limiting.
• The Guardian says it received 140 complaints from readers for running a paid advertisement featuring Elie Wiesel condemning Hamas for using woman and children as human shields. The ad made news when the Times of London refused to publish it.
• Oren Kessler weighs in on the mendacity of casualty figures coming from Hamas.
• Writing in The Guardian, Lindsey German explains why thousands of Britons are demonstrating in solidarity with the Palestinians, and not the Yazidis. You won’t see solidarity for the Yazidis unless Israel starts oppressing them.
The “why don’t they march against something else” crowd accuse us of silence on those atrocities. There are certainly many terrible humanitarian disasters in the world, most recently that of the Yazidis in Iraq, about which we must all feel anguish. Our argument is that our government and the US’s past intervention have not helped the people of the Middle East, but made things worse . . .
Why do people feel strongly enough to take to the streets over Gaza but not over other issues? Partly because there is a deep and longstanding movement in solidarity with the Palestinians that encompasses trade unions, community groups, faith groups and activists. But it is also partly because our government is seen as complicit in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
But the Daily Telegraph‘s Brendan O’Neill pokes a hole in the “complicity” argument.
It is very possible that we had to conduct this difficult experiment to see whether we can end the terrible bloodshed of our soldiers in the Gaza Strip. But one thing is now clear: Mistake or not, in retrospect the disengagement was a failure and it is time we recognize and acknowledge that fact. Anyone, like me, who wants there to be a relevant left in Israel will have to find a new and much more compelling vision than the Oslo process or additional disengagements.
• Australian columnist Andrew Bolt weighs in on double-standards against Israel.
Featured image: flickr/Armando G Alonso, Schabas via YouTube/RobertHJacksonCenter, reader via flickr/Rafiq Sarlie, demonstration via YouTube/Peacenik UK