Thursday, May 12, 2011


Here are some contrasting opinions by leaders of the UN, EU, Britain, France, Norway, the Vatican, Japan and elsewhere, following Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin, the leader of the Hamas terrorist organization in 2004 and the killing of Osama bin Laden last week.

Yassin, of course, was proportionately responsible for far more deaths of Israelis than bin Laden was of Americans, particularly the deaths of Israeli children. Yassin had ordered the bombing of school buses, children's birthday parties and so on, and was continuing to order more attacks at the time of his death. Soon after Yassin and his deputy Abdel Aziz Rantissi were killed, there was a sharp decrease in the number of suicide bombings against Israel.

(Among past dispatches on this, please see: "A minute's silence by British MPs for Sheikh Yassin" (April 19, 2004) )

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "I condemn the targeted assassination of Ahmed Yassin. Such actions are not only contrary to international law but they do not help the search for a peaceful solution."

Killing Bin Laden:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed Osama bin Laden's death as a key turning point in the struggle against terrorism.

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, described the assassination as "very, very bad news".

Killing Bin Laden:

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: "I would like to congratulate the U.S., pay tribute to its determination and efficiency in reducing the threat posed by terrorists and underline the close cooperation between the EU and U.S. in the fight against terrorism."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "Israel is not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing and we condemn it. It is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives."

Killing Bin Laden:

Prime Minister David Cameron said that bin Laden's death would "bring great relief" around the world.

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

French President Jacques Chirac "unreservedly condemned" Israel's assassination of Hamas terror leader Yassin. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous also said: "France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law."

Killing Bin Laden:

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said on that bin Laden's death is a "victory for all democracies fighting the abominable scourge of terrorism. France, the United States and European states work closely together to fight terrorism, so I'm overjoyed at the news."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen: "This act will contribute to increased tensions in the area and will make it more difficult to implement an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza."

Killing Bin Laden:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the death of bin Laden "a break-through in the fight against terror".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

"The Holy See unites with the international community in deploring this act of violence that cannot be justified in any state of law. Lasting peace cannot come from a show of force."

Killing Bin Laden:

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that while Christians "do not rejoice" over a death, bin Laden's death serves to remind them of "each person's responsibility before God and men" and "bin Laden must answer to God for having killed an innumerable number of people and exploiting religion".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Israel's actions were "thoughtless and reckless, and cannot be justified."

Killing Bin Laden:

Japan's Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said today that the country welcomed the death of Osama bin Laden as "significant progress of counter-terrorism measures. I pay respect to the US officials concerned."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

The Brazilian government said it "deplored the murder of Sheik Ahmed Yassin."

Killing Bin Laden:

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said the death of Al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden is "important and positive".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Malaysia strongly condemned the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin: saying the action was a manifestation of terrorism.

Killing Bin Laden:

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he hopes that the death of bin Laden would help bring universal peace and harmony.

***This list could go on and on...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Targeting Killing Vindicated

The killing of Osama Bin Laden has really brought to the forefront, the rampant hypocrisy of the world at large. The words of Obama seem to reflect the same words that could have been used when Israel managed to eliminate the senior Hamas leaders.

"We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda - an organisation headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against Al-Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.”

And yet, the world at large does not seem to accept that Israel also needs to protect its citizens.

Our article of the week by Alan Dershowitz seems so relevant to the on-going war against Hamas and Hizbollah in this region. We hope you agree.

Jewish World Review May 4, 2011 / 30 Nisan, 5771

Targeted Killing Vindicated

By Alan M. Dershowitz

The decision to target and kill Osama Bin Laden is being applauded by all decent people. Approval to capture or kill this mass-murdering terrorist leader was given by Presidents Obama and Bush. It was the right decision, both morally and legally.

Although Bin Laden wore no military uniform and held no official military rank, he was an appropriate military target. As the titular and spiritual head of Al Qaeda, he was the functional equivalent of a head of state or commander in chief of a terrorist army. From the beginning of recorded history, killing the king was the legitimate object of military action. The very phrase "check mate" means "the king is dead, "signifying the successful end of the battle.

Yet there are those who claim that all targeted killings are immoral and illegal. These critics characterize such actions as "extrajudicial executions" and demand that terrorist leaders and functionaries be treated as common criminals who must be arrested and brought to trial.

The operation that resulted in Bin Laden's death was a military action calculated to kill rather than to "arrest" him. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that he could have been captured alive and brought to trial. The decision to employ military personnel with guns, rather than a drone firing rockets, was probably made by generals rather than lawyers.

Had it been militarily preferable to fire a rocket, that option would almost certainly have been selected--as it was by the NATO forces that rocketed Ghadafy's compound. A rocket attack would have been a pure targeted killing with no possibility of live capture. The operation directed against Bin Laden may have been designed, in part, to have preserved the theoretical option of "arrest", though the likelihood of a live capture was virtually impossible under the circumstances. Indeed it is likely that Bin Laden's death was deemed preferential to his capture and trial, because the latter would have raised the probability that Al Qaeda would take hostages and try to exchange them for Bin Laden.

Indeed, a US national security official has confirmed to Reuters that "this was a kill operation" and there was no desire to capture Bin Laden alive. This was a targeted kill appropriate for a military combatant but not for an ordinary (or even extraordinary) criminal.

Nonetheless, our government felt it necessary to announce that Bin Laden was shot after he allegedly resisted thus suggesting he was not killed in cold blood. But it is clear that he would have been killed whether or not he resisted, since this was a kill operation from the outset and it is unlikely he was ever given the opportunity to surrender an opportunity not required under the laws of war.

Accordingly, those who have opposed the very concept of targeted killings should be railing against the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Among others, these critics include officials in Britain, France, Italy, Russia, the EU, Jordan, and the United Nations. Former British Foreign Secretary once said, "The British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called targeted assassinations of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counterproductive." The French foreign ministry has declared "that extrajudicial executions contravene international law and are unacceptable." The Italian Foreign Minister has said, "Italy, like the whole of the European Union, has always condemned the practice of targeted assassinations." The Russians have asserted that "Russia has repeatedly stressed the unacceptability of extrajudicial settling of scores and 'targeted killings.'" Javier Solana has noted that the "European Union has consistently condemned extrajudicial killings." The Jordanians have said, "Jordan has always denounced this policy of assassination and its position on this has always been clear." And Kofi Annan has declared "that extrajudicial killings are violations of international law."

Yet none of these nations, groups or individuals have criticized the targeted killing of Osama Bin Laden by the US. The reason is obvious. All the condemnations against targeted killing was directed at one country. Guess which one? Israel, of course.

Israel developed the concept of targeted killings and used it effectively against the "Osama Bin Laden's" of Hamas, who directed terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, killing and wounding more Israelis, as a percentage of its population, than the number killed by Bin Laden. It was when Israel managed to kill the head of Hamas, that the international community, with the striking exception of the United States, decided that targeted killing was illegal and immoral.

But now that it has been used against an enemy of Britain, France, Italy and other European nations, the tune has changed. Suddenly targeted killing is not only legal and moral, it is praiseworthy (except, of course, to Hamas, which immediately condemned the US killing of Bin Laden).

Well the truth is that when used properly, targeted killing has always been deserving of approval—even when employed by Israel, a nation against which a double standard always seems to be applied.

Indeed, in Israel, the use of targeted killings has been closely regulated by its Supreme Court and permitted only against terrorists who are actively engaged in ongoing acts of terrorism. In the United States, on the other hand, the decisions to use this tactic is made by the President alone, without any form of judicial review. So let the world stop applying a double standard to Israel and let it start judging the merits and demerits of military tactics such as targeted killing. On balance, targeted killing, when used prudently against proper military targets, can be an effective, lawful, and moral tool in the war against terrorism.

Help Us to Help You

By HASAN AFZAL 04/27/2011

It’s time for a hasbara rethink, says the director of British Muslims for Israel.

In Europe, hasbara is nothing more than a theory that friends of
Israel allude to at interfaith events, and the occasional objection to a boycott motion through the student union. Yet among the countless threats with which the Jewish state must deal, it is indisputable that one of them is perpetual delegitimization, to the point where the state’s very existence is now up for debate.

It is not easy to fight this phenomenon when grassroots hasbara in the UK is almost solely a Jewish endeavor. If a non-Jewish student on campus wishes to campaign against Hezbollah, oppose a university’s attempt to twin with a Hamas-controlled university or run an event with a pro-Israeli speaker, who does he turn to? He certainly can’t go to the “human rights” societies that work with Islamist speakers. Nor can he turn to the somewhat exclusive Jewish society which is entrusted as the sole steward of hasbara on campus.

The pro-Palestinian movements are successful because they are diverse. Islamists, socialists and middle-class white women all wave the Hamas flag quite happily at anti- Israel protests .It is imperative that those of us who are Christian, Muslim or Hindu be given a chance to help.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. It guarantees minority rights and political pluralism, holds its politicians to account both in and out of office, and is the only country in the Middle East that provides equality under the law for homosexuals and women. Despite these trophies of liberty, the state is relentlessly demonized by the Western world using the language of human rights.

Sadly, too few people in the
United Kingdom are aware of the facts. When well-meaning Europeans are informed of the realities in Israel and the neighboring states, their reaction is often complimentary. With the right kind of advocacy, those who consider themselves pro-Palestinian can be persuaded to rethink their position.

“The only democracy? The only place with legal equality for homosexuals and women?” they query. With the right sort of advocacy from the right sort of person, self-styled Palestinian activists can be encouraged to confront the increasingly extreme “student leaders” and radical Islamists that manage and exploit the Palestinian solidarity movements. Those who become aware that they have been ill-informed are, of course, left wanting answers.

Recently, I was invited to give an interview to Israel’s Channel 10, and I highlighted this exact point. When one moves Israeli advocacy from a reactionary approach to proactively focusing on the human rights situation in the Middle East, it immediately invites people to reconsider their position. Islamists can no longer shroud themselves in the sanitizing perspective that Israel is an “oppressor” - an excuse that legitimizes the Islamists’ real agenda. Rightfully reclaiming the human rights agenda is the type of hasbara we assume is happening, but shockingly, in reality it is rarely practiced in Europe.

No rational observer doubts that Israel has an excellent army, but now the Jewish state must beef up its public diplomacy to defend its image. Israel must hold those to account who, in the Western media, academia and political sphere, attempt to rationalize the terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas by calling them “strikes” – painting them as somehow morally acceptable. We must challenge those who consistently demonize Israel, and expose their visceral hatred and double standards.

Urgent action is required. People in Europe are no longer thinking about how a two-state solution may be implemented, but have begun asking nonsense questions such as, “Should Israel exist?” The faculty and student societies in universities regularly invite speakers who offer a one-sided, anti-Israel point of view. Islamist groups frequently parade openly anti-Semitic speakers, who enjoy the very freedom of expression they seek to destroy. Hasbara cannot be merely reactive – a manifestly failed method still employed by a large majority of British Jewish leadership. It must be proactive. It is all very well to splutter that boycotts are bad, but what use is that when there is no one to say Israel is good?

Wherever Hamas apologists lurk in the media, a carefully chosen story with selective quotes and violent pictures will do their cause wonders. In other words, the other side realizes that though it can never defeat Israel militarily, if it can define the conflict, rewrite its history and put up a convincing story, then although Israel may have won the military battle, it will lose the real war – the war of ideas.

Even more scandalous is the state of affairs in the Palestinian territories. Palestinian nationhood is increasingly being defined by extreme violence and a culture of victimization. Gaza is now a breeding ground for Islamists willing to kill their own people as Gaza descends into a culture of wanton violence far more terrifying than under the Arab nationalism of the PLO. We should be asking the world, how can you stand by and allow the Palestinian people to be represented like this? We must ask how the world, in all seriousness, can attack the way Israel defends its peoples and their democratic values against the tyranny of Islamism, especially while Islamists perpetually and overtly demonstrate that when their ideology is left to reach its logical conclusion, the effects are always violent and fatal.

Israel must empower and equip its friends in Europe to rightfully reclaim the human rights agenda from the anti-Israel mobs.It must ensure that hasbara activists can make the case that Israel is under attack from an enemy that wishes to replace our civilization with a society run by clerical fascists. The conflict is not solely taking place in the Middle East, but in Western television studios, radio stations, blogs and social media. As religious and community institutions, whether intentionally or not, finance the murderous ideals of Palestinian terror groups, we need your support – help us help you.

The writer is director of British Muslims for Israel, a pro-Israeli advocacy group fighting the delegitimization of Israel in the British Muslim community and beyond. British Muslims for Israel is under the umbrella of The Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy.