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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

“Celebrating murder”: Writing in Al-Ahram, Egypt’s government affiliated and leading daily newspaper, somebody named Khaled Amayreh claims that “the Israeli army saw to it that the Purim rituals were reenacted more authentically and that as much ‘enemy blood’ as international public opinion would allow was shed.” After a rather snide and patronizing description of Purim, Amayreh writes:

On 7 March, thousands of Israeli soldiers, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles and supported by several Apache helicopters, swept into the crowded Gaza refugee camps of Nuseirat and Bureij. The rampaging forces ganged up on the unprotected camps and the lightly armed activists who tried rather desperately to put up a semblance of resistance against the heavily armed attackers. The ensuing bloodbath, which lasted for seven hours, left at least 15 Palestinians dead, including four children, and up to 80 others -- mostly innocent civilians -- maimed and injured. There were no Israeli casualties.

Thousands of Israeli soldiers? Rampaging Israeli forces? Sounds like gratuitous hyperbole. According to a Knight Ridder report, “In Sunday's raid, 30 Israeli armored vehicles backed by Apache helicopters moved into the Bureij and Nusseirat refugee camps under cover of darkness. Palestinian witnesses reported seeing Israeli sniper units stationed on rooftops, while soldiers began searching houses.” No mention of Amayreh’s thousands of Israeli soldiers. Plus, you’d think that thousands of soldiers and rampaging Israeli forces would have killed more than fifteen people, if killing as many people as possible had really been their objective. After all, an even smaller force was able to massacre hundreds in Jenin, or something.

It is not clear why the carnage was carried out on the very day Jews were celebrating Purim.

Oho, not clear, eh? Perhaps the Israelis needed to retrieve more blood for baking their Hamentashen, hmmm?

Palestinians say it was not a coincidence, and many Israelis, including right-wingers who say what they mean and mean what they say, seem to concur.

Pray tell, what are the names of some of these “many Israelis” who “seem to concur” that the Sunday date of the Gaza operations and Purim was not a coincidence?

Israeli military officials, including Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, were quoted as saying that "our activities" in Gaza were just "a continuation of our policy". Commander of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip Gadi Shamni put it more succinctly: "We have no problem to continue fighting for as long as it takes."

I can’t find any evidence of Ya’alon saying this. If he did, the quote is likely taken out of context, just like the Shamni quote, which had nothing to do with Purim.

Some Israeli commentators, like Ha'aretz correspondent Amos Harel, suggested that the real goal was to kill as many Palestinians as possible at one time. He quoted a field officer who had commanded similar raids as saying that the aim of the operation against the two refugee camps was to "deceive and kill" Palestinians. "The aim is to deceive the enemy (sic) in order to get him to react in an area where he is surrounded by our forces and is in an inferior position."

Fact check: Here’s the Amos Harel article in question (if the link doesn’t open to the article, click here). As you can see, nowhere does Harel suggest “that the real goal was to kill as many Palestinians as possible at one time,” and nowhere does the phrase “deceive and kill” appear. Did Khaled Amayreh somehow misread Harel’s article, or is he just fabricating things? Survey says…

Almost all Israeli commentators implied that the Gaza raid was meant, first and foremost, to shed as much Palestinian blood as possible on the Purim holiday.

Again, what are some of the names of these Israeli commentators (almost all of them, apparenty) who have “implied” this? The only person I’ve read making implications about shedding Palestinian blood on Purim is Khaled Amayreh. Not surprisingly, Amayreh conveniently forgets to mention that Harel’s article also describes Palestinians using human shields, including children. Later in his article, Amayreh claims that “This week, Israeli press reported widely on the army's desire to kill as many Palestinians as possible, both in Gaza and the West Bank, before carrying out the purported Israeli plan to evacuate some Gaza settlements.” Um, O.K., but again, who are some of these reporters in the Israeli press who’ve been writing about “the army's desire to kill as many Palestinians as possible,” and where are the articles in which they make these claims (much less substantiate them)?

A modest proposal: If killing as many Palestinians as possible is indeed the IDF’s desire, then they’re certainly going about it in a highly inefficient and self-endangering manner. That is, if the Israeli army really wants “to kill as many Palestinians as possible, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” you’d think that rather than dispatching Israeli soldiers—thousands of them, apparently—into harm’s way to confront Palestinian militants, er, “lightly armed activists,” that the military would instead, say, carpet bomb the targets. Such a tactic is quicker and easier than sending in snipers and foot soldiers; it would keep Israeli soldiers out of the line of fire; and it would be far more effective in killing large numbers of people. And there would be enough Palestinian blood shed to last until Passover!

Speaking of Al-Ahram, notice the Israeli soldier with the bloody bayonet and the Swastika arm band in the bottom cartoon by Ossama Qassim. Here’s another of his cartoons, in the same issue. Charming.

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