No context: Robert Fisk and Ilan Pappe

Any text without a context is a pretext.
Jesse Jackson

Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision. In Gaza, its implementation takes its most inhuman form.
Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian

As in prior posts I stated that one must begin before “What would you do if rockets were fired at you.’ and “israel has a right to defend itself” propaganda, The problem here is a lack of context, a lamentable lack of historical knowledge. As for the Hamas rocketry civilized people reject such tactics, Though none have died from these hopelessly inadequate weapons of war, ordinary people should not live with fear and the sound of sirens.
But all the tribalist and talking heads need to back up and contextualize the situation. Whoever is firing the rockets (Hamas) is not a monster. He is a human being like all of us. What drives such a suicidal response? What has happened to such a person to such bizarre behaviour? His violence is violence 2, a response to the relentless structural violence that American Jewish activist Daniel Sitarski alluded to in his brilliant spoof of the ADL’s clumsy cartoon, one which has no context



This is the “incremental genocide” the brilliant Israeli historian Ilan Pappe refers to. “ This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.”

Globe and Mail:
”The PMO says Harper reiterated Canada’s steadfast support for Israel and its right to defend itself against terror attacks. Both leaders agreed that Hamas must end its targeted attacks on Israeli citizens.”


Harper is a political naif, am amnesiac with no sense of history or apparent empathy for Palestinian life.



Acknowledged as the pre-eminent Middle East journalist Robert Fisk attempted to school the Harpers of this world in a column on July 9



OK, so by this afternoon, the exchange rate of death in two days was 40-0 in favour of Israel. But now for the Gaza story you won’t be hearing from anyone else in the next few hours.


It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those Palestinians – all 1.5 million – are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created.

And – a drawing in of breath is now perhaps required – the people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an “unjust and unjustified action”. Too bad. The  Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back.

And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza, among the “terrorists” Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.
And same again for Israel’s right to self-defence. We heard it again today. What if the people of London were being rocketed like the people of Israel? Wouldn’t they strike back? Well yes, but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.

The last time this specious argument was used was in 2008, when Israel invaded Gaza and killed at least 1,100 Palestinians (exchange rate: 1,100 to 13). What if Dublin was under rocket attack, the Israeli ambassador asked then? But the UK town of Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was under rocket attack from the Irish Republic in the 1970s – yet the RAF didn’t bomb Dublin in retaliation, killing Irish women and children. In Canada in 2008, Israel’s supporters were making the same fraudulent point. What if the people of Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal were being rocket-attacked from the suburbs of their own cities? How would they feel? But the Canadians haven’t pushed the original inhabitants of Canadian territory into refugee camps.




  1. 1

    For a week, the terrorist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip between Israel and Egypt has waged a war against Israeli civilians.

    Being terrorists, it’s not really a war they’re waging – that implies attacking another country’s soldiers and generally following military customs. Hamas prefers a coward’s violence – lobbing rockets over the border at Israel, randomly. That’s their purpose – to kill civilians and cause terror. That’s why they’re called terrorists.

    Hamas is just as terrifying to Palestinian civilians. Because Hamas launches their terrorist rockets from civilian areas in Gaza – like residential blocks, schools and mosques. They do this in the hopes that Israel won’t fire back at them. And in the greater hope that they will.

    Deliberately using civilians as human shields is Hamas’s official tactic. It works – Israel regularly aborts attacks on Hamas terrorists when civilians appear.

    Hamas knows the real battlefield isn’t in Gaza – it’s in the media, and at the UN. So they hope Israel shoots back – on purpose, or by accident – so they can blame the deaths of civilians on Israel.

    As Golda Meir, Israel’s first woman prime minister, said, peace would only come when Arabs love their own children more than they hate Israel. That day has not yet come.

    Hamas doesn’t even love its own children. In the past week, 38 out of the 961 rockets they fired landed within Gaza itself, killing their own civilians. One knocked out electricity in Gaza too. Hamas doesn’t mind. And the world’s media doesn’t care, either.

    Arabs killing Arabs isn’t news. The Syrian civil war has claimed more than 100,000. Atrocities there are a daily occurrence, and don’t even make the news anymore.

    No other country in the world fights like Israel does. Before they attack a neighbourhood in Gaza, they drop leaflets, written in Arabic, warning civilians to leave. They dial a recorded message, in Arabic, to every phone number in the neighbourhood with the same message.

    And even as Israel and Hamas fight, Israel ships in foreign aid. On Sunday alone, Israel sent Gaza 70 semi-trailer trucks of food and other general supplies, plus 376,000 litres of fuel.

    Hamas isn’t just anti-Israel, or anti-Zionist. Its official charter calls for a war against Jews, mentioning Jews 12 times. These are the new Nazis.

    While Hamas lobs rockets at Jews, Hamas’s supporters cheer along, making the Twitter hashtag #HitlerWasRight trend globally.

  2. 2

    by Alan Dershowitz: On the latest violence in Middle East (4 days ago)

    The current warfare between Hamas and Israel shatters several myths that have been accepted as gospel by many in the international community and the media.

    Myth 1: The primary cause of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s settlement policy.

    Reality: The reality is that Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israeli cities and civilian targets have little to do with Israel’s occupation and settlement policy on the West Bank. Even if Israel were to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, the rocket attacks from Gaza would not stop. These Hamas attacks are incited by the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Syria and others opposed to the very concept of the nationstate for the Jewish people. The best proof of this reality is that these attacks began as soon as Israel ended its occupation of Gaza and uprooted all the civilian settlements from that area. Israel left behind agricultural hothouses and other equipment that the residents of Gaza could have used to build a decent society.

    Moreover, there was no siege of Gaza at that time. Gaza was free to become a Singapore on the Mediterranean. Instead, Hamas engaged in a coup d’état, murdering many members of the PA, seizing control of all of Gaza, and turning it into a militant theocracy. It used the material left behind by the Israelis not to feed its citizens but to build rockets with which to attack Israeli civilians. It was only after these rocket attacks that Israel began a siege of Gaza designed to prevent the importation of rockets and material used to build terrorist kidnap tunnels.

    There are good reasons why Israel should change its settlement policy in the West Bank and try harder to achieve peace with the PA.

    But even if that were to be accomplished the rockets from Gaza would continue and Israel would have to take the kind of military steps any democracy would take to protect its civilians from lethal aggression.

    Myth 2: What is being experienced now is a “cycle of violence”, with equal blame on both sides.

    Reality: The reality, of course, is that there is no comparison – legally, morally, diplomatically or by any other criteria – between what Hamas is doing and how Israel is responding.

    Hamas is willfully and deliberately committing a double war crime by targeting Israeli civilians and using Palestinian civilians as human shields. The deliberate targeting of civilians, as Hamas admits – indeed boasts – it is doing, is a clear war crime. Hamas has aimed its lethal rockets at Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. This is a war crime. Moreover, it is firing these rockets from hospitals, schools and houses in densely populated areas, in order to cause Israel to kill Palestinian civilians.

    This too is a war crime.

    This has been called Hamas’s “dead baby strategy.” It deliberately puts Israel to the tragic choice of attacking the rockets and killing some children who are used as human shields, or refraining from attacking the rockets and thereby placing its own children at risk. Israel has generally chosen the option of refraining from attacking legitimate military targets, but when any human shields are inadvertently killed or injured, Hamas stands ready to cynically parade the dead civilians in front of television cameras, which transmit these gruesome pictures around the world with captions blaming Israel.

    Hamas has adamantly refused to build bomb shelters for its civilian population. It has built shelters but has limited access to them to Hamas terrorists. This is precisely the opposite of what Israel does – building shelters for its civilians and placing its soldiers in harm’s way.

    Most recently Hamas has forced or encouraged civilians to stand on the rooftops of military targets so as to prevent Israel from attacking these entirely appropriate targets. Indeed a lawsuit is now being brought in Israel, against the Israeli military, urging it to ignore these human shields and to attack the military targets.

    The argument is that unless the military targets are attacked, Israeli civilians will die, and a democracy has the obligation to prefer the lives of its own civilians over the lives of enemy civilians. Thus far the Israeli military has refrained from attacking military targets that are protected by human shields. There is absolutely no symmetry between the war crimes committed by Hamas and the entirely appropriate military response by the Israel Defense Forces.

    Myth 3: Mahmoud Abbas is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    Reality: Mahmoud Abbas has become part of the problem, especially in recent days. He has supported Hamas in its war crimes against Israeli civilians and has characterized Israel’s self-defense actions as “genocide” against all of the Palestinian people. I have met Abbas and found him to be a decent man who genuinely wants a peaceful solution to the conflict, but he is not a man of courage who is prepared to stand up and tell the Palestinian people the truth about the current conflict. His willingness to join together with Hamas in a governmental partnership demonstrates both his weakness and his willingness to be complicit with evil. He speaks out of two sides of his mouth, one side when he speaks in English to Western media and diplomats, and the other when he speaks in Arabic to the Palestinian street, which he knows contains many supporters of Hamas. His public support for Hamas has made it far more difficult for Israel to arrive at a negotiated solution with the PA. It has also made it more difficult for Hamas to stop the rocket barrage and agree to a cease-fire.

    The entire civilized world should be standing behind Israel as it defends itself against war crimes. That so many continue to support – or remain silent about – those who commit these war crimes tells us something deeply disturbing about their values and prejudices.

  3. 5

    People seem to like Jews when they are downtrodden, you know like the ones we see in the Holocaust films (cue emotional response). When they assert any form of defence or claim to nationhood, they are villains. Puzzling.

    • 6
      wmgrace Says:

      Kate: I think I see where you’re coming from. Its important to realize that no one here on this blog, as far as I can see, is pulling their support and empathy for the Jewish people and their tragic history – and there is no intent to do so. There is no argument around Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty – there never was. These things will never change whether you support the war in Gaza, or you do not.

      Lets keep the conversation going.

  4. 7
    mushafta Says:

    It is indefensible for Israel to continue the bombing in Gaza. By their own aission they continue to kill mostly innocents. What kind of support can they expect ? Even Harper will be dragged down in the polls if he continues his favouritist ways. Israel continues to isolate itself from the world in this needless destruction of innocents.

  5. 8

    I understand that you think it is indefensible, but you need to explain why it is indefensible. You need to address the issues. Explain the tunnels. Explain why the rockets, more than 15 hundred of them, are something Israel need not be concerned about, as if the launchers are a little more sophisticated than the 13th century catapults. And you have to explain how it is that there are no radicals to be concerned about, that they are just victims who want a life like the rest of us. You have to explain that. You have to explain the reasons for the constant rejection of peace offers in WWI. I understand your narrative, but you need to offer some evidence for it, more than public opinion. It seems to me that only by ignoring history can you buy into that narrative. And that’s the irony with Ted’s point above. Hs speaks of context, and he provides a bit of context, but when you provide more context, his narrative fails. Take the whole historical context and provide your defence. Tunnels. Tunnels. Tunnels. They cry out for an explanation.

    • 9

      Tunnels! I was fortunate to see the tunnels at the DMZ when I worked in South Korea. When prompted for an explanation, the North said that they were abandoned mine shafts. Later they implied that the tunnels were built by the south to make the north look bad. Then they said they were built for the South Koreans who wished to repatriate to the North (enticing offer!). Tunnels are still being uncovered. I only share this story because I think Palestinians and North Koreans share a penchant for propaganda. Tunnels!

  6. 10

    typo: “….since WWI”

  7. 11
    mushafta Says:

    I’ve always been a big supporter of the Jewish people. But let’s be fair, Palestine is under military control. Palestinians are prisoners and victims of Israeli oppression. There’s nothing to debate here. I don’t have to head over there to conduct interviews. I’ve talked to dozens here who completely agree with Ted’s blog. That simple!

    I do know this- human lives are lost every day because of this conflict, and it saddens me to see so much suffering .

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