Saturday, July 29, 2006

Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers

Media Advisory
Down the Memory Hole
Israeli contribution to conflict is forgotten by leading papers


In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading U.S. papers—the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times—have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation.

Beginning with the Israeli attack on Gaza, a New York Times editorial (6/29/06) headlined "Hamas Provokes a Fight" declared that "the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas," and that "an Israeli military response was inevitable." The paper (7/15/06) was similarly sure in its assignment of blame after the fighting spread to Lebanon: "It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah."

The Washington Post (7/14/06) agreed, writing that "Hezbollah and its backers have instigated the current fighting and should be held responsible for the consequences." The L.A. Times (7/14/06) likewise wrote that "in both cases Israel was provoked." Three days and scores of civilian deaths later, the Times (7/17/06) was even more direct: "Make no mistake about it: Responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side...and that is Hezbollah."

As FAIR noted in a recent Action Alert (7/19/06), the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.

In a July 21 CounterPunch column, Alexander Cockburn highlighted some of the violent incidents that have dropped out of the media’s collective memory:

Let's go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.

Now we're really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing eight civilians and injuring 32.

That's just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.

On July 24, the day before Hamas' cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied—L.A. Times, 7/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in U.S. media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli soldier; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 7/25/06), while the Israeli taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world. It's likely that most Gazans don’t share U.S. news outlets' apparent sense that captured Israelis are far more interesting or important than captured Palestinians.

The situation in Lebanon is also more complicated than its portrayal in U.S. media, with the roots of the current crisis extending well before the July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. A major incident fueling the latest cycle of violence was a May 26, 2006 car bombing in Sidon, Lebanon, that killed a senior official of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group allied with Hezbollah. Lebanon later arrested a suspect, Mahmoud Rafeh, whom Lebanese authorities claimed had confessed to carrying out the assassination on behalf of Mossad (London Times, 6/17/06).

Israel denied involvement with the bombing, but even some Israelis are skeptical. "If it turns out this operation was effectively carried out by Mossad or another Israeli secret service," wrote Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s top-selling daily (6/16/06; cited in AFP, 6/16/06), "an outsider from the intelligence world should be appointed to know whether it was worth it and whether it lays groups open to risk."

In Lebanon, Israel's culpability was taken as a given. "The Israelis, in hitting Islamic Jihad, knew they would get Hezbollah involved too," Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at Beirut’s Lebanese American University, told the New York Times (5/29/06). "The Israelis had to be aware that if they assassinated this guy they would get a response."

And, indeed, on May 28, Lebanese militants in Hezbollah-controlled territory fired Katyusha rockets at a military vehicle and a military base inside Israel. Israel responded with airstrikes against Palestinian camps deep inside Lebanon, which in turn were met by Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks on more Israeli military bases, which prompted further Israeli airstrikes and "a steady artillery barrage at suspected Hezbollah positions" (New York Times, 5/29/06). Gen. Udi Adam, the commander of Israel’s northern forces, boasted that "our response was the harshest and most severe since the withdrawal" of Israeli troops from Lebanon in 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 5/29/06).

This intense fighting was the prelude to the all-out warfare that began on July 12, portrayed in U.S. media as beginning with an attack out of the blue by Hezbollah. While Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers may have reignited the smoldering conflict, the Israeli air campaign that followed was not a spontaneous reaction to aggression but a well-planned operation that was years in the making.

"Of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, told the San Francisco Chronicle (7/21/05). "By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board." The Chronicle reported that a "senior Israeli army officer" has been giving PowerPoint presentations for more than a year to "U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks" outlining the coming war with Lebanon, explaining that a combination of air and ground forces would target Hezbollah and "transportation and communication arteries."

Which raises a question: If journalists have been told by Israel for more than a year that a war was coming, why are they pretending that it all started on July 12? By truncating the cause-and-effect timelines of both the Gaza and Lebanon conflicts, editorial boards at major U.S. dailies gravely oversimplify the decidedly more complex nature of the facts on the ground.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

"Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese."

A revealing article about the effectiveness of the Israel-first media spin machine was published in the Jerusalem Post on July 17, 2006: Israel calls up media 'reserves'. Worth reading. Tells you how much countering such cynical efforts is crucial. Some excerpts:
    Israel is succeeding in delivering its messages to the world on the security situation in the North and South despite the transition of key officials in the Prime Minister's Office, Foreign Ministry and IDF Spokesman's unit, officials in the three offices said Sunday.
    Shariv said that Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese. As proof of Israel's success, he also cited a poll of Sky News viewers that found that 80 percent believe that Israel's attacks on Lebanon were justified.
    Some foreign journalists covering the conflict have complained that they have had an easier time reaching Lebanese and Palestinian speakers than getting comments from official government spokespeople. Many Israeli viewers have complained that reports in the foreign press have focused too much on claims of disproportionate force on the part of the IDF and that the reports have neglected to put the current fighting within the context of how it started. But Shariv and Meir said that Israel was winning the international battle for public opinion.
    "We take the job of explaining our position to the world very seriously and we are doing exactly what we need to do," [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's media adviser Assaf Shariv] said. "The foreign press can't complain that they don't have anyone to speak to."
    Shariv said that Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese. As proof of Israel's success, he also cited a poll of Sky News viewers that found that 80 percent believe that Israel's attacks on Lebanon were justified.[...]
    "We have never had it so good," Meir said. "The hasbara effort is a well-oiled machine."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Norman Solomon piece on Richard Cohen

Applauding While Lebanon Burns
by Norman Solomon

Syndicated columnist Richard Cohen declared in the Washington Post on Tuesday that an-eye-for-an-eye would be a hopelessly wimpy policy for the Israeli government.

"Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness," he wrote. "For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights."

Cohen likes to sit in front of a computer and use flip phrases like "punch out your lights" as euphemisms for burning human flesh and bones with high-tech weapons, courtesy of American taxpayers.

In mid-November 1998, when President Clinton canceled plans for air attacks on Iraq after Saddam Hussein promised full cooperation with UN weapons inspectors, Cohen wrote: "Something is out of balance here. The Clinton administration waited too long to act. It needed to punch out Iraq's lights, and it did not do so."

The resort to euphemism tells us a lot. So does Cohen's track record of sweeping statements on behalf of his zeal for military actions funded by the US Treasury.

On February 6, 2003, the Washington Post published Richard Cohen's judgment the morning after Colin Powell made his televised presentation to the UN Security Council. "The evidence he presented to the United Nations -- some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail -- had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," Cohen wrote. "Only a fool -- or possibly a Frenchman -- could conclude otherwise."

Cohen's moral certainties are on a par with his technical ones. While he condemns rockets fired into Israel, he expresses pleasure about missiles fired by the Israeli government. That the death toll of civilians is far higher from Israel's weaponry does not appear to bother him. On the contrary, he seems glad about the killing spree by the Israeli military.

In a column with bigoted overtones ("Israel is, as I have often said, unfortunately located, gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood"), Cohen's eagerness to support additional large-scale bombing by Israel is thematic. Consider this passage: "Hezbollah, with the aid of Iran and Syria, has shown that it is no longer necessary to send a dazed suicide bomber over the border -- all that is needed is the requisite amount of thrust and a warhead. That being the case, it's either stupid or mean for anyone to call for proportionality. The only way to ensure that babies don't die in their cribs and old people in the streets is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price."

Such phrasing is classic evasion by keyboard cheerleaders for war: "The" Lebanese. "The" Palestinians. "They will pay a very, very steep price." Meanwhile, in the real world, the vast majority of the victims of the Israeli onslaught are civilians being subjected to collective punishment.

Cohen -- like so many others in the American punditocracy -- depicts the death of an Israeli civilian as far more tragic and important than the death of an Arab civilian.

There's something really sick about such righteous support for civilian death and destruction.

Osama bin Laden, meet Richard Cohen.

Richard, meet Osama.

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." For information, go to:

Sickened by Richard Cohen

To the Ombudsman,

This is a copy of the email that I just sent to Richard Cohen in regard to his racist article supporting Israel's right to destroy another country. Unfortunately, in my email, I neglected to point out his racism and his call for the destruction of anyone who might oppose Israel. This reminds me of Hitler's destruction of Lidice and the Hitlerian view that for every dead German, 100 Jews should die. Articles such as this have no place in the Post. -- JB

As a Jew I am sickened by your diatribe as I am sickened and angered by Israel's destruction of a nation and its infrastructure. I am old enough to remember the establishment of the State of Israel, which I once wholeheartedly supported. I supported it even after a member of my former husband's family , a native of Los Angeles, told me proudly how he joined the Haganah and, in early 1948, participated in the ethnic cleansing of an Arab village. He spoke of how the hapless Arabs left their pots on the stove and their shoes by the door as they fled for their lives into Lebanon. Their village, now cleansed of its Arab residents, became a kibbutz, originally designed to be only for American Jews. I don't know whether or not my brother-in- law killed anyone. I just didn't want to know.

My love affair with Israel came to an abrupt halt after the Six Day War, even as I worried about my Israeli family. I began to learn about the dispossession of close to 750,000 people from their lands and homes so that there could be a Jewish state. I learned that while I could "return" to a land where I had never set foot, those who were pushed out, could not. In fact, for most of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian Arabs, there was no home to which they could return. Within a few months after the establishment of the State, the new government began a systematic destruction of well over 400 Palestinian villages while pushing the majority of those Arabs who did not flee into the poorer areas of the state. Now you might say, as do so many apologists for Israel, that the Arabs could have had their own state had they accepted partition in 1947. To my mind, there is no doubt that Israel would have made a grab for that land. David Ben Gurion said as much when in the late 1930s he stated that the Jews would accept partition but when they became strong, as the result of becoming a state, they would expand to all the area. Even earlier, in 1919, Chaim Weizmann, in a letter to British PM David Lloyd George wrote: "We consider it essential that the Northern frontier of Palestine should include the Valley of the Litani, for a distance of about 25 miles above the bend, and the Western and Southern slopes of Mt. Hermon, to ensure control of the headwaters of the Litani.

Forty-six years later, on March 18, 1965 Israel bombed the irrigation works on the Litani River. It was the first of many times that Israeli bombs rained on Lebanon. With this action, the Israeli government made clear to the Lebanese government that any exploitation of the Litani for agricultural purposes was not going to be tolerated.

This unprovoked war crime against Lebanon was followed a few years later when on December 28, 1968, the Israeli Air Force bombed Beirut International Airport, destroying thirteen commercial Lebanese Boeing 707s. As a result of this crime which embarrassed Washington which had just sold jet fighters to Israel, French President Charles de Gaulle embargoed arms sales to Israel.

Mr. Cohen, you lament the fact that anti-Semitism is spreading around the world and so do I. But I place the blame directly on Israel's actions against the Palestinians, the theft of their lands and water and their many attacks on Lebanon. Israel and the defenders of the atrocities that the Jewish state is perpetrating have a lot of chulzpah when it comes to accusing people of anti-Semitism when they oppose Israel's war crimes. It is rather like the child who kills his parents and calls for mercy because he is an orphan.

I will end with an incident that occurred shortly after the start of Sharon's war against Lebanon the began in June, 1982. This was a war in which the "moral" Israeli army, just as they are doing today, deliberately destroyed villages, hospitals, water treatment plants, civilian homes, schools and people fleeing from Israeli terror.

There was a lot of consternation in the Bay Area where I live and the San Francisco Jewish Community Center hosted a debate between then MK Ehud Olmert and a member of Peace Now. After the meeting I walked up to Mr. Olmert and told him that what Israel was doing could very well bring anti-Semitism to our Jewish community here. With the coldest eyes I have ever seen, he looked at me and said, "I don't give a damn about your Jewish community." And I know that he didn't - except, of course, for people like you who cover for Israel's crimes and/or be part of the Israeli lobby.


Mill Valley, CA

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Danny Schechter's piece on media and Middle East

An interesting piece by media critic Danny Schechter, The Media War In the Middle East Targets the Truth, was published today in Common Dreams

Here are the first few paragraphs. Worth the read.

There are two wars going on in the Middle East. One is the military conflict and the other is the media war.

While the media covers falling bombs and fleeing civilians, and from time to time puts a human face on the agony of a war so far directed mostly at civilians, it rarely covers its own reporting with anything like a self-critical eye.

With the Daily Show taking potshots at “the media’s seeming inability to process the crisis,” with charges of bias on all sides, the media itself has become a battleground of warring narratives and interpretations.

The question is not just how to know what’s true, but what you need to know to put rapidly changing events into context in order to make sense of them.

For the full piece, go to:

Letter to Richard Cohen: You need to take Human Decency 101

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I was disgusted by your July 25 column, "No, It's Survival." I am shocked that such a racist diatribe is allowed to be printed in a respected American publication. How dare you advocate that the Lebanese or Palestinian civilians be massacred to ensure that no one challenges Israel's colonial rule over the region? Does a "realist" have to accept not only the fact that genocide happens, but that it is a desirable response to those who resist colonization?
I'm a realist too. The reality is that Israel's frequent bombardments of Arab civilian areas have never resulted in peace and never will. It's the occupation, not the presence of Arabs, that is turning the Middle East into what you deem a "pretty bad neighborhood." And by the way, by blowing up Lebanese and Palestinian civilian infrastructure, Israel is not "gentrifying" the region. You need a course in Human Decency 101.


Letter to Richard Cohen: Unacceptable ignorance

Dear Mr. Cohen:

So Israel is "gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood" - tell that to the relatives of hundreds of murdered Lebanese and Palestinian civilians! Perhaps it will comfort them to know that they are being "gentrified".

So "calls for proportionality rankle" - too bad that the principle of proportionality is a keystone of the law of war and that in taking disproportionate action, Israel has made itself a war criminal state.

When Cohen writes dismissively of "genteel expressions of fairness" and "some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war" he is presumably referring to the Geneva Conventions. How surprising that, after the Holocaust, he is so cavalier with international humanitarian law. Or does "never again" apply only to genocide against Jews?

In referring to the Holocaust and "1,000 years of mayhem and murder", he seems to forget that this is hardly the fault of the Palestinians or the Lebanese. Why should they be made to suffer for it now?

So Israel is the only demcratic state in the Middle East? If so it is only because of its deliberate destruction of the embryonic state of Palestine, whose Government was elected in accordance with every democratic norm.

Mr. Cohen's sentiments are not only unacceptable but also ignorant and plain wrong. He does not deserve another single column inch in your respected newspaper.


Letter to Richard Cohen: Disgraceful

Dear Mr. Cohen:

The word "disproportionate" does not even begin to describe the savagery that Israel has unleashed on the Lebanese people.

Israel has massacred and maimed well over a thousand innocent civilians, some as young as a month old. Hastily made mass graves receive the dead; while in some cases the bodies must be left in the rubble to rot because Israeli airstrikes make it too dangerous for the living to recover the bodies. The true death count will never be known.

Israel has destroyed entire neighborhoods, even striking hospitals and ambulances. In an effort to hide from the world what it is doing in Lebanon, Israel has targeted the telephone, radio and TV communication towers. Close to 1 million people have fled their homes. Others remain trapped in their villages without any electricity, in danger of Israeli bombs, and with food, water and medicine running out because many of the roads and bridges have been made impassable by Israeli airstrikes.

And now we learn that it appears Israel is using cluster bombs and white phosphorous in civilian areas causing horrible burns and amputations. It seems there is no end to Israel's barbarity.

For you to rant on and suggest that it is all right for Palestinian and Lebanese civilians to "pay a very, very steep price" is an indication to me that you have absolutely no conscience.

Your editorial brings disgrace not only to yourself, but to The Washington Post.

A Washington Post reader in Vermont

Letter to Richard Cohen: Shocking and racist

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I was shocked to read your column on the Washington Post's Website today. Your language to support Israel's massive bombardment of Lebanon (`Punch your lights out' and `very, very steep price') show a complete disregard for the horror that is being inflicted on innocent people. An attack on a military patrol prompted Israel to target the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon and to bomb villages on the border to empty them of their population. In spite of Israel's claims that it is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, the vast majority of the dead and injured in Lebanon are civilians. Could Israel do worse? Of course, it did so in 1982. The result was the creation of Hizballah. I dread to think what the current mindless horror will create.

I was further shocked by the almost racist references you make to us Arabs. Israel is `gentrifying a bad neighborhood'? Israel was and remains the bully of the neighborhood. Israel's brutal treatment of the Arabs has led to an ever-increasing radicalization of the region. Israel owes its creation to that brutality. Had it not been for the ruthless expulsion of Palestinians in 1948, there would be no Israel. Yet Israel seems determined to hold on to the notion that only extreme violence will bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. They have failed for 60 years, and their brutality today will only make things worse.

I couldn't believe your use of the canard of the `virgins' awaiting martyrs. You don't really believe that is why Hizballah, or indeed Hamas, are fighting?

You yourself note that Israel only withdrew from Gaza and South Lebanon because it decided that it could no longer hold on to it. The lesson is that it is Israel that only responds to violence. Whenever there is an opportunity for negotiations with moderate forces, Israel rejects the very solutions that in the end it is forced to accept. It has never done anything because it is the right thing to do.

And the solution is so obvious, obvious except to those in Israel who still dream of expanding the borders of what is currently described as Israel proper into the West Bank.


Columnist Richard Cohen advocates genocide

In his July 25th Column, "No, It's Survival", Syndicated Columnist Richard Cohen advocates that the final solution against the Palestinians and anyone else who comes in Israel's way is an acceptable option. See full Palestine Media Watch action call at:

Monday, July 24, 2006

CNN on surgical strikes

CNN's Octavia Nasr referred Sunday afternoon to surgical strikes against Lebanon. This is completely contradicted by Anthony Shadid's account of Sunday's attacks by Israel. He cited Lebanese civilians discussing indiscriminate Israeli strikes in a devastating account of the situation in and around Tyre.

Letter urging The Washington Post to cover protests in support of cease-fire

I forwarded a July 24 letter from the Refuser Solidarity Network to Scott Wilson, the primary Washington Post Jerusalem bureau reporter in response to an article by him printed July 22 about the moral clarity troops felt compared to the murky feelings about enforcing the occupation. He responded by saying that a piece on Israeli cease fire protesters would be coming in a few days and thanked me for the note. Cover letter, Wilson's response, and RSN letter follow:

Refuser supporter,


Dear Scott Wilson,

Your article (For Troops A Sense of Moral Clarity, Sat July 22) was a good start under deadlines in a fluid reporting environment. I understand that anything written can become outdated in a day like a computer manual can become outdated in 6 months. However the article still minimized the clarity that over 1000 soldiers feel against the West Bank occupation from within and Gaza from without. Deadlines cut off the Sat July 22 protest mention in the article that ran stateside that day. Will any mentions of it be in near future articles beginning with a sentence such as "Meanwhile, in separate events...." I have mentioned the founding of in other communications through the clickable byline email method. Message from USA-based refuser organization with an Israel-based contact Peretz Kidron of Yesh Gvul follows for more background.

Mr. Wilson's response:

Thanks for the note, and yes, we'll be doing a whole piece in the
demonstration/calls for cease-fire here in coming days.

Best regards,

RSN letter:

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Refuser Solidarity Network:

We write to you at an excruciating moment in the ongoing Middle East conflict, in order to ask you to renew and increase your support for the refuser movements in Israel. As the Israel Defense Forces steps up its military action in Lebanon, it must increasingly rely on reservists in the West Bank (an initial group of 5,000 were just called up), and when it does it will once again be confronted by the dramatic and powerful act of refusal.

In fact, we have just learned of the first Lebanon War II refuser, Iztik Shabbat, a signer of the Courage to Refuse letter, who refused on July 19 to go to the Territories to free other soldiers for the invasion of Lebanon.

As one demonstration of the power of refusal, refuser groups, in particular Yesh Gvul, were heavily involved in organizing (with a wide range of groups) a large protest of between 2,500 and 5,000 Israelis on Saturday, July 22 (if that sounds small to you, please recall that the population of Israel is approximately 1/40th that of the United States. So a comparably-sized protest in the US would have resulted in between 100,000 and 200,000 people!). Clearly, Israeli society is not uniformly in favor of this war -- and the Israeli peace movement is just getting started. [You will find at the end of this note a letter from Peretz Kidron of Yesh Gvul with more information about this demonstration.]

It is, therefore, a crucial time to make sure that the refuser groups, from the group that got its start in the first Lebanon War (Yesh Gvul) to the brand-new collaborative between Israeli and Palestinian refusers (Combatants for Peace) are able to project their voices loud and clear into the national debate raging through Israel about this latest war.

To recap the situation for you briefly:

* Israel Air Force bombs have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including more than 100 children. They have also destroyed much of the Lebanese infrastructure, from bridges to roads to power generators. Half a million Lebanese have been forced from their homes;

* Hezbollah missiles rain on towns across northern Israel, killing dozens of civilians and causing widespread damage, and strengthening Israeli public support for the devastating attacks on Lebanon;

* Israeli soldiers remain captives in Lebanon and Gaza, while thousands of Palestinians, including dozens of members of the Palestinian Parliament, are held indefinitely in "administrative detention";

* Dozens of innocent civilians have been killed by IDF operations in Gaza, which continue with little attention now that war has broken out between Israel and Hezbollah.

These actions raise many complex moral, legal, and practical issues. Israel, the United States, the American Jewish community would like to have you and the rest of the world believe that these issues can be addressed in simple, black-and-white terms terms which mean in the short run that bombs and missiles will continue to kill innocents.

We certainly believe that Israel has the right and obligation to defend its citizens. Hezbollah must end its bombardment of Israeli towns if there is to be any hope of peace. Yet the bombing of Lebanon is massive and indiscriminate, not only inflicting awful casualties, but also weakening the Lebanese government and radicalizing another generation of Lebanese and sympathizers in the Arab world. There is absolutely no justification for the path that Israel has taken.

The Refuser Solidarity Network joins the growing chorus around the world in a call for an immediate cease-fire of all hostilities. We call on Israel to end its bombing of Lebanon and withdraw its soldiers from that country. We call on Hezbollah to end its shelling of Israeli territory. Everyone knows there is no real military solution to this conflict, short of cataclysm. A negotiated path to peaceful co-existence is the only possible solution.

We agree, however, with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice that a cease-fire is not the same thing as a permanent resolution to the conflicts. And once again the actions of the refusers point the way to peace. To paraphrase a popular saying, you can't have a war if the soldiers stay home.

As Yonatan Shapira, leader of the Air Force Pilot refusers and co-founder of Combatants for Peace said this week, In order to defend my country, I ask the world for its support to make my government stop. Itzik and the entire the refuser movement now need our support more than ever.

As the operations in Lebanon and Gaza continue and expand, we fully expect that other refusers will become the first and most prominent line of opposition within Israel to continued war. Please respond to Yonatans call!

Take a public stand in your community, contact your elected representatives to pressure them to support an immediate cease-fire, write a letter to your local newspaper. And please make a donation to RSN so that we can pass on your contribution to the refuser groups, strengthening their work and lending them support as this horrifying and crucial time.

We thank you in advance for your support,

The RSN Board of Directors

Letter from Peretz Kidron of Yesh Gvul

Saturday's peace march in Tel Aviv was mounted by a coalition of left-wing parties and non-parliamentary peace groups, Yesh Gvul included. Participation turned out much larger than anyone had foreseen ("over 2,500" according to Ha'aretz, "almost 5000" by Uri Avnery).

Bystanders looked on in amazement as the noisy demonstration chanted slogans against the war (one offered a Hebrew version of a Vietnam era cry: "Defence Minister Amir Peretz, how many kids have you killed so far ?"). The Israeli media have promoted the false impression of 100% unity behind the attack on Lebanon, and citizens seemed stunned to hear such outright voices of dissent.

Among the speakers at the concluding rally, Yesh Gvul coordinator Ishai Menuchin focussed on the war crimes being committed daily, calling on soldiers to refuse any part in such excesses, and warning that perpetrators will ultimately face justice, before Israeli courts if possible; if not, he promised that the movement would act to bring them before foreign courts.

Further protests are in preparation. The anti-war coalition is determined to step up its efforts, and we rely on our friends and supporters worldwide to spread the word about internal Israeli opposition to the war. We need your help and solidarity !

To soldiers and reservists: Yesh Gvul is operating its hot line with counselling for those refusing to take part in the Lebanon offensive (02.6250271)

Photographs from the march and rally will shortly go up on our website

CNN ignores world-wide protests against Israeli invasion

A new action call from Palestine Media Watch:

PMWATCH - July 24, 2006 -- A large number of protests against the Israeli invasion and assault of Lebanon has swept across the globe. Protests have been held in virtually every country, from Morocco, to Indonesia, to Russia, Germany, Scotland, Britain, France, and even Israel. And yet, if one were to confine one's source of information to CNN (let alone Fox News or MSNBC), one would be under the impression that the world is sitting by mute.

For more, see:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

CNN downplaying Lebanese civilian suffering

A new action call from PMWATCH.

PMWATCH - July 16, 2006 -- CNN is at it again: choosing its words and images carefully to remain safely well within the officially accepted and sanctioned storyline: Israel is reacting to provocation -- perhaps a bit heavy-handedly -- but reacting all the same.

For full action call, go to: