Debunking the Debunking of Israeli Myths

(Note: In my haste to get this done, I omitted supposed myth number ten. I will update it shortly.)

A fallacious UK Huffington post blog article published on July 28 entitled, oxford comma and all, Debunking  Israel’s 11 Main Myths about Gaza, Hamas, and War Crimes  has been making the rounds among the pro Palestinian blogoshpere causing much excitement and content amongst the faithful that their hatred of the Jewish State is somehow morally justified. The article is a breathtaking exercise if you desire to  test your ability to ignore facts, causality and consequence. The following is a detailed point by point refutation of the piece.

Purported myth Number 1) The Gaza Strip isn’t occupied by Israel. 

The Author, Medhi Hassan, eloquently reinforces the suggestion that the Gaza Strip is occupied by citing a Boston glob op-ed, a morally compromised human rights group, and Btselem, another morally compromised human rights group. Even with these definitive legal sources mustered, he is unable to prove anything but his own ability disprove himself.

The first source from the Boston globe is a screech rather than a source. Quoting the op ed the author finds his solace in the following

” Israeli-imposed buffer zones.. now absorb nearly 14 percent of Gaza’s total land and at least 48 percent of total arable land. Similarly, the sea buffer zone covers 85 percent of the maritime area promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords, reducing 20 nautical miles to three.”

There are indeed Israeli imposed buffer zones. There is indeed a sea buffer zone that is reduced to three miles from the 20 that was negotiated under the Oslo accords. But the Oslo accords were negotiated in 1993, 21 years ago. But if we are going to mention them, its important to note that the reason that Israel is currently imposing a blockade and restrictions on waterways and airspace is because the Gaza strip is no longer ruled by a government which is a signatory of the accords, and secondly, and more importantly, the government which currently habitats the strip is one dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and thirdly, the Oslo accords never defined what the necessary security conditions were to be if the Palestinians butchered each other and threw out their own government.

After the 2005 Israeli unilateral disengagement in both accordance and exceeding the requirements of the Oslo accords, in 2007, following the defeat of PLO Fatah forces in the Battle of Gaza, in which Hamas and Fatah waged a bloody campaign of terror against themselves and their own people, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, declared a state of emergency and dissolved the unity government, effectively ending the legitimate Palestinian ruling authority over the enclave. In response, the Egyptians and Israelis sealed their border crossings on the very legitimate grounds, as per Abbas’ decision, that the Fatah wing was no longer providing security in the enclave as it was required per the Oslo accords (Article VIII).

Borders Sealed

The borders and crossing were sealed temporarily for the reasons adduced above. In the chaos of the hamas-fatah war, Gazan civilians sought refuge from the fighting in Israel, as the border up to that time was relatively porous and open. A month after Hamas had taken control over the Gaza strip, the Israelis agreed to open their crossings to allow the Gazan residents who were stranded to return, but the action was later cancelled after Hamas threatened to open fire on the returning civilians.

The above are the facts that led to the current Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza. There is and was a legitimate reason for both the Egyptians, as they are an Oslo observer, and the Israelis to close the borders, one ironically partly provided by Mahmoud Abbas himself. But the rhetorical point the author of the article is trying to advance is that Gaza is occupied. While a military blockade is in effect, after 2005 there has not been a military occupation of the Gaza strip.

The author further stresses with a citation from Human Rights Watch that Israel still maintains control over the civil population registry of the Gaza strip. To that we must respond with a groaning yawn. So what? A civil registry is merely a record of life events of a population. And considering that the Hamas militants in 2007 were very concerned with such life events like who else needed to be purged to cleanse the enclave of Fatah representatives, it is probably best that the Israelis maintain the official documents for both the welfare of the Palestinians and to maintain an accurate record of the Palestinians’ inhumanity towards each other. To respond to the author’s whimper, the control of the statistical registry of a population does not constitute occupation, and I and many other other observers of the conflict have not yet heard labored cries about it in between calls for another intifada.

Lastly, in amusing display of incompetence, Medhi cites a quote that refutes his supposition. From the morally backwards human rights group Btselem, “Israel continues to maintain exclusive control of Gaza’s airspace and the territorial waters, just as it has since it occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967.” If we are to suppose that control of an enemy’s airspace and territorial waters for the purposes delineated above constitutes a complete occupation of that country and not merely a blockade, then UN, NATO, and EU imposed no fly zones should also be considered occupying events. But since president Obama and his EU counterparts strained to make the distinction between “boots on the ground” and “no fly zones” during the Libya campaign we must conclude that the international community and the Law itself also makes a definitive distinction between the two. Further, the fact that Btselem has to bring up the no fly zone and the blockade is precisely because, as far as occupations go, there is nothing really to bring up at all. This passage is more a strenuous example of Btselem trying to remain relevant in the face of reality than it is any serious assessment of the international definition of occupation.

Purported Myth Number 2) Israel wants a ceasefire but Hamas doesn’t.

I am not sure from where our pal Mehdi, the middle eastern strategist, is getting his archives of Israeli myths, but this is an interesting one. Probably supplied by the Shin Bet or Massod to throw him off, this isn’t a myth about which we need to, in any manner, feel morally convicted. The Palestinian militants, whether hamas, the PLO, Islamic Jihad, or any similar faction have in the past used ceasefires to reequip and reorganize. They use them as a strategic force multiplier, a condition which stupid western diplomats are always eager to impose on the Israelis. That the Israelis rejected the ten year ceasefire suggested by Hamas after Hamas rejected the ceasefire brokered by the Egyptians is not indicative that the Israelis don’t want a ceasefire, but is rather indicative that they don’t want to reward Hamas with a strategic victory after having sustained 17,000 rockets. Hamas’ proposal essentially would have forced the Israelis to surrender and would have allowed the terrorist organization unfettered access to as many weapons as Iran could supply. The ludicrous notion that an international contingent could have curtailed the transfer of any or all weapons to the enclave now turned rocket platform has been further reduced to a laughable state by the discovery that UN schools and hospitals were acting as weapons repositories for militants, without mentioning the Bosnia Muslim’s habit of using UN safezones as springboards for terror raids on Serbs in the 90’s.

We,as supporters of Israel, should never be made to feel morally corrupt for admitting and declaring with unwavering assertiveness that our goal is to completely demilitarize the Gaza strip and forever rid the region of Hamas’ pernicious influence, for both the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

Purported Myth Number 3) Israel, unlike Hamas, doesn’t deliberately target civilians.

The reality is that the Israelis distinguish their military from their civilians and Hamas does not. The Israelis are uniformed and openly identified as combatants in accordance with the Geneva conventions of Armed Conflict. Hamas, however, purposely hides in and amongst civilians, fires weapons from civilians structures with civilians inside, and dresses as civilians and sometimes women. These are irrefutable and well documented facts. That the IDF has achieved a 1:1 ratio of combatants to civilians killed against such an enemy is a testament to the lengths to which the Israelis go to avoid civilian casualties.

Our author and holder of grand myths and secrets marshals a rather sonorous article written in the Guardian, the vanguard of journalistic integrity, which speculates that “those firing” in the strike that killed 4 gazan boys age 11-21 were “apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors” without any credible reason for concluding so. The area had been previously used by Hamas militants as a firing area. Yisrael Meded provides a thorough analysis of the tragic incident here at his blog.

As an aside, the Palestinians and Arab world are incredibly lucky for two reasons. One, their enemies are Jews and the Jewish state devoted to a regimen called Purity of Arms. And two, the Arab states posses enough oil and influence to ensure that this war of attrition continues indefinitely. For if these two conditions were not met, an inductive analysis of warfare throughout history suggests that the Palestinians would be rendered a mere footnote on the pages of human conflict.

Purported Myth Number 4) Only Hamas is guilty of war crimes, not Israel.

Closely related to the 3rd myth, this myth of myth is as easily refuted. The author provides two sources for his stance.

Human Rights Watch: “Israeli forces may also have knowingly or recklessly attacked people who were clearly civilians, such as young boys, and civilian structures, including a hospital – laws-of-war violations that are indicative of war crimes.”


Amnesty International: “Deliberately attacking a civilian home is a war crime, and the overwhelming scale of destruction of civilian homes, in some cases with entire families inside them, points to a distressing pattern of repeated violations of the laws of war.”

It is rather sad that this is the best that Medhi could muster; the internet is overflowing with blood libels against the Jewish state, but he does have to maintain some sense of credibility I suppose. The first is a speculative hypothesis from a source that has been hostile to Israel and only Israel for 20 years. It is a sentence that contains the word “may”, and thus means and proves absolutely nothing. That civilians are killed may indicate that they were targeted. Why they were targeted is the more important question and the only one relevant in determining war crimes. In nearly every case it turns out that there was something sublimely jihadic going on behind the scenes and out of reach of the reporters pen. And in those cases where it was a clear violation, Israel has a tendency to jail its own soldiers, while the Palestinians pass out sweets and talk lovingly of their martyred youths.

Amnesty International, as has been proven repeatedly by Alan Dershowitz, is no longer a reliable arbiter of moral clarity. As usual, the equation is presented backwards and facts are omitted. Storing weapons in civilian houses is a war crime. Firing rockets from civilian houses is a war crime. Destroying a house that has been used as a rocket platform after calling and texting the residents to warn them is not a war crime but an example of a near suicidal humanitarianism on the part of the Israelis, for they give the enemy as well as the civilians warning enough to stay out of harms way. There has never been a military in the history of the world to do this. Period.

Purported Myth Number 5) Hamas use the civilians of Gaza as ‘human shields’

From the entire section presented by our oracle and seer of truth:

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor: “I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.” The Guardian: “In the past week, the Guardian has seen large numbers of people fleeing different neighbourhoods.. and no evidence that Hamas had compelled them to stay.” The Independent: “Some Gazans have admitted that they were afraid of criticizing Hamas, but none have said they had been forced by the organisation to stay in places of danger and become unwilling human-shields.” Reuters, 2013: “A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.”

Jeremy didn’t see anything. The Guardian didn’t see anything. And the Independent interviewed some Gazans and then concluded that no Gazans had been forced to stay. While it may be so that no gazans were forced to stay in the line of fire, they have certainly been encouraged to do so. Anyone who believes that a society that produces pregnant woman suicide bombers is beyond such tactics is exercising a certain, perfected, kind of idiocy. As the Globe and Mail reported: “Israel’s warning to people in some northern Gaza neighbourhoods(sic) to evacuate or be in danger from a coming bombardment was effective. About 10,000 people left their homes, even though Hamas told them to stay.” Further reporting on the edifying love between Palestinians, the Noble Savages that they have become, the article continues with a quote from Palestinian President Abbas:

“It is the Palestinians who are losing with every minute that this war continues,” Mr. Abbas said, describing the victims’ blood as “fuel to those who trade in war.”

“I oppose these traders, on both sides,” he said.

Hamas officials denounced Mr. Abbas as “a criminal” and labelled(sic) him as a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party for his traitorous behavior.

“Those who trade in war” is a direct indictment of Hamas’ tactic of civilian sacrifice for the journalists who are eager to report on casualty figures. The trade off is that the journalists gets to claim the Nobel prize once the blood is dry and their conscience sufficiently purged of any notion that their inaccuracies are contributing to the conflict.  Awards ceremonies have a way of inculcating a feeling of self righteousness no matter how dirty the crime.

A united nations body accused Israel of using human shields and torturing prisoners. What else is new? This isn’t proof of anything. It would actually mean something if the title said “UN body provided evidence of Israeli crimes, or anything, for that matter. This isn’t refutation Mr. Hassan.

Purported Myth Number 6) This current Gaza conflict began with Hamas rocket fire on 30 June 2014

This purported myth must have been another attempt by Massod to make Mr. Hassan look like a complete idiot. The actual cause of the conflict was the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens by Hamas operatives. Recently there has been some disagreement about whether it was a Hamas sanctioned event or a rogue cell acting without the imprimatur of Hamas officials. In my mind it doesn’t matter. Hamas and Palestinian media, even in times of ceasefire, glorifies the killing of Jews, quoting from their source text, the Koran, about  how the “Jews are as apes and pigs” and from the  Hadith,”The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews. The Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: ‘Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him;’” If Hamas did not sanction it, it encouraged it.

The Israelis responded to the death of the three teens with airstrikes against Hamas’ top commanders. And then Hamas fired rockets. And then we were off and running. Anyone who thinks that Hamas would have stayed there compliant for any longer is refusing to see facts on and below the ground. Tunnels running from Gaza to Israeli territory built with 800 tons of concrete that Israel allowed into the gaza strip were reportedly going to be used for a mass terror attack on Rosh Hashanah 2014. And it has been further reported that the Israeli government knew of this plan. Perhaps this is a veiled Israeli preemptive strike? Perhaps not? I, personally, don’t care exactly how it started; it needed to start. If not for time and space we could trace the causal chain of events back to the founding of the state of Israel and the simultaneous declaration of war by the entire Arab world.

This is also the point at which I became disgusted with Mr. Hassan. Whereas at first I thought he was just an ignorant fool, the selective quote he provides mentions nothing of the three murdered teens, nor of the incitement and the general hatred inculcated in the Palestinian psyche not just for the State of Israel, but Jews in general, revealing that he himself is an active participant in the libel.

Purported Myth Number 7) Hamas has never stopped firing rockets into Israel

No one I know  has said that. There was a ceasefire after the 2012 operation Pillar of Defense and it was quiet for a few months. But then from who and where did those rocket come? Are we to believe that there are militant groups operating within the Gaza strip, a small area, mind you, under purported heavy blockades, that are effectively smuggling rockets, firing them from multiple outposts, and that they have continued doing so for nearly two years without any curtailment by the de facto government of the Gaza strip? Suppose we are. Then what of the de facto government? Are they not responsible for the integrity of their borders? And if they are not responsible for the integrity of their borders, why is everyone so concerned that Israel tries to maintain the integrity of their borders with the Gaza Strip? If Hamas can’t do it, then there is no reason to condemn Israel for ensuring that the borders are secure. This is a suggestion that reveals Mr. Hassan’s feebleness of analysis. Or perhaps it’s his severity of mind. For it takes quite a stomach for the absurd to be so readily defended.

Purported Myth Number 8) Hamas provoked Israel by kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers

Being generally the same accusation, refer to refutation of refutation number 6. Again the sources he uses are op eds. And there is still considerable debate about who is responsible for the killings. But if Hamas is not responsible then we have entered new and dangerous territory; for it suggests that there are many Palestinians, as in the case with Hamas’ supposed innocence in the rocket fire, that are more hateful, more violent, and more inclined to kill Jews because they are Jews than even Hamas is. While defending Hamas, Mr. Hassan has revealed the deep sickness of Palestinian society. Well done Mr. Hassan.

Purported Myth Number 9) Hamas rule, not Israel’s blockade, is to blame for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip

I must admit that I have become weary of this business. I have never seen someone confuse cause and effect so easily as Mr. Hassan. The blockade occurred because both Egypt and Israel, with the quiet blessing of Abbas, saw fit for the security of their own citizens to sanction the people of the Gaza strip for electing a radical terrorist group dedicated to the destruction of their country in clear contravention of the Oslo accords and every international Law regarding interactions amongst nations. (See refutation 1)Post facto, Mr. Hassan provides the following bit of evidence to support his claims:

“Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.. Israeli officials have confirmed.. on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.” The Guardian: “The Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza’s daily calorie needs to avoid malnutrition during a blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory between 2007 and mid-2010, according to files the defence ministry released on Wednesday under a court order.. The Israeli advocacy group Gisha.. waged a long court battle to release the document. Its members say Israel calculated the calorie needs for Gaza’s population so as to restrict the quantity of food it allowed in.”

An aside about blockades. During WW1, the British fleet blockaded the German coast. The blockade is today credited as largely responsible for the German defeat and the cessation of hostilities. During the Civil war, the United States Navy blockaded all of the southern coastal ports in an effort to limit the capability of the enemy. In neither of these cases did anyone suggest that food be allowed to pass the blockade. Indeed, the privation in Germany turned the streets into veritable cemeteries. Since 2007, Israel has been in a de facto state of war with Hamas, which happens to operate in the Gaza Strip. There has never, in the history of the world, been a conflict in which two belligerents would accord each other unfettered supplies. That the Israelis supply the Gaza strip with both water and electricity free of charge and pay for the transport and shipment of food to the enclave is far beyond the scope of what they are obligated to do by international law. Again, the Palestinians of Gaza should be thankful that they declared war on Jews. An additional article from Commentary, here, provides the final blow.

Purported Myth Number 11) All serious analysts agree it was Hamas, and not Israel, that started this current conflict

Of course the last one is the toughest. And since it the toughest I will allow someone else to do it. But first it must be noted that a 700 word article Mr. Hassan cites accusing Israel of  the conflict is not an example of  serious analysis, but is journalistic myopia. And it sells papers. Here is a excellent refutation of Mr. Hassans experts.


I am unapologetically pro Israel. The history of the Jewish state is one of them extending olive branches to be met with war and blood and hate. The 67 war was the watershed moment. A population once considered Egyptian and Jordanian became Palestinian. There was a certain myth that was created and weaponized to deligitimize the Jewish state. It was the Palestinian. The myth of the Palestinian has captured more Israeli territory and has spilled more Israeli blood than the Arab armies could have ever imagined. In as much as it is a myth, it requires a host of conveyance. And that host has been the western media, some of which was used here by our pal Mr. Hassan to distort reality in a way that cannot be morally justified. There is a criminality to this type of lie, one that allows evil to flourish and forces decency to hide.

I was recently at a Pro Israel rally in my hometown of Atlanta and I came to realize something. Our presence was occasioned by the visitation of the the pro Palestinian crowd. The had many posters. It was quite a sport for them; the women had tear drops of blood and the men wore keffiyah. One sign they were displaying proudly depicted the photo of the SS officer shooting a Jewish woman embracing her child in the Ukraine as a comparable event to that of Israel’s military action in Gaza and “Palestine” in general. This sign was flanked by others accusing Israel of genocide and of course the nearly anodyne symbolic interweaving of the swastika and the star of David.

I know a lot about this iconic though depressing photo of the woman and her child. It is a photo of an Einsatzgruppen SS operation in a small town in the Ukraine after the advancement of the Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union. The photo was sent home by an SS officer to his family with an almost hunting trophy style regard. On the back it just read “Jewish action” with the date. The photo was intercepted by polish resistance, who often times checked the mail of SS officers in order to gain intelligence. The history of the mass genocide of the Jewish people, the horror of it, the seemingly mechanical nature of it, to see it compared to Israel’s defense operation was enraging.

At one point I made lengthy eye contact with an Arab teenager on the other side of the protest barricades. He was listening to me talking , yelling really, as traffic was passing by at speed, about facts. I was giving him facts. I was entreating him to acknowledge them. He had at the time a look of absorption, as if something might have clicked. But then I glanced away for a moment and turned back to see him smiling at me, a grin of success, a grin of conquest. He began yelling erratically “Free Free Palestine!” He kept smiling. His friends were smiling. And that is when I realized that we were more angry about being accused of genocide than they were about it supposedly occurring. It was a game to them. A fun afternoon. A dress up Al Quds day. A human symbolic sculpture of self justified rage carved with the chisel of nearly seventy years of lies and distortions. That is the gap that no amount of reason can bridge between our two sides. They could have a state in a year if they wanted. But they instead want to Free Palestine!!! and grieve over genocide and historical fabrications, fabricated videos and doctored pictures of alleged Israeli atrocities,  and pictures of the dead, and blood, and limbs; a condition where a series of fallacious symbols represent a series of fallacious symbol, it goes on and on and on. And thus the war shall continue. And we shall fight on and on and on.

The Al Quds marchers had a permit to march down the street. As they were leaving amidst the sounds of screeching and groaning, the smell of engine exhaust and the steady clack of metal on cement from the mounted police officer’s horse, two middle aged Arab men turned around and gave us the Nazi salute.


One response to “Debunking the Debunking of Israeli Myths”

  1. Miriam F. Elman says :

    Very nice debunking of Mehdi Hasan’s blog. So much for ‘main myth #2: Israel wants a ceasefire but Hamas doesn’t’ with today’s unilateral Hamas violation of ceasefire to conduct a tunnel suicide bomber attack and suspected abduction of IDF soldier.

    As for supposed ‘myth #9: Hamas rule and not blockade is to blame for humanitarian crisis in Gaza’, in 2013 (after considerable international pressure) Israel relaxed the blockade allowing building materials into the strip–truckloads of cement, gravel, iron to the coastal enclave for private projects (in 2010, Israel allowed building materials into the Strip for public building projects). And we now know where all those construction materials went, and on the backs of Palestinian children used to build these tunnels, 160 who have died in those holes.

    A ceasefire should now aid the people of Gaza, not Hamas. Fatah and the PA should be returned to a demilitarized Strip. Let’s let the peacemakers and those who support co-existence get on with their jobs. It’s time to stop letting the spoilers set the agenda.

    Keep up your good work Sean Degan!

    Prof. Miriam F. Elman, Maxwell School of Syracuse University

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